The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Archive for November 24th, 2021

damned effrontery

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

My Tree of Paradise grows out from under a cosmetics factory found on a superfund site in Long Island City. It’s all I’ve got to cling to, really. It represents something to me. That’s why I left HQ at about 4:45 in the morning on a recent chilly morning, paid money for a cab to drop me here in Long Island City at Dutch Kills, and explains why I was standing there on the Hunters Point Avenue Bridge with a tripod setup just as the burning thermonuclear eye of god itself peeked up from behind Nassau County. I got what I wanted, which was the shadow of a factory roof pointing an arrow at my tree of paradise.

Why take a cab rather than walk or take the train? Have you read the headlines? Things have gotten a little weird out there these days and particularly nights, and it’s not worth taking the chance that you’re going to run into some malign actor in the dark while burdened down with bags of camera equipment.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

For those of you relatively new to New York City, which I’d describe as being any of you who moved here after “Giuliani Time,” there’s a series of sensible prophylactics you’ll want to acquaint yourself with.

First is that you keep your money and your wallet in separate pockets. This way, if you do get cornered by a mugger you can give them the cash, and avoid the pain in the ass of replacing all of the cards and documents in your wallet. Second is that even if you’re a millionaire, dress like you’re living rough on the street. Predators will not notice you that way, and they’ll instead stalk richer or fatter prey. Third is “keep moving.” Fourth is to carry a flashlight or some other piece of metal in your coat pocket to use as a bludgeon. Fifth is not to be embarrassed to yell for help at the top of your lungs. You’d be surprised at how well #2 and #5 work.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One such as myself – a feckless quisling and vast physical coward – spends a lot of time alone on the deserted streets of NYC at night. I generally have a camera dangling off of me, which makes me “noticeable” and a bit of a target. Number six on my list of NYC survival tactics, which is built on the third motto of “keep moving,” is to not take unnecessary chances. Given that you know that the Subway system has been repurposed as a nocturnal shelter for people too high or crazy to be allowed into the homeless shelters during Covid, and that the cops aren’t going to do a single thing about anything until De Blasio is out of office, it’s best to just acknowledge that fact and take a cab.

Pictured above is a storm sewer found along Dutch Kills, underneath the Long Island Expressway. The water wasn’t actually glowing green, instead it was early morning light filtering through tree canopy that lent the hue to the water. Enjoy your giving of thanks.

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In the Shadows at Newtown Creek,” an 88 page softcover 8.5×11 magazine format photo book by Mitch Waxman, is now on sale at for $30.

Written by Mitch Waxman

November 24, 2021 at 11:00 am

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