The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Archive for March 21st, 2022

shimmers afar

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

Scuttling always scuttling, camera in hand, filthy black raincoat flapping wildly about in the wind. Sometimes it’s really, really cold.

A bit of housekeeping, firstly. For the next few weeks you’re going to be seeing six image posts. One has been unusually motivated and somewhat prolific in recent months, and there are an abundance of images which I’m anxious to share. Problem is that I’m quite out of step with the calendar and if I was to continue doing the traditional three image posts, you’d still be seeing snow on the ground as late as June. Accordingly, six image posts are on the menu for an interval.

That’s the Long Island Railroad passing through the Harold Interlocking at Sunnyside Yards, in Long Island City, pictured above in a photo captured on the 5th of February of 2022.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This was one of my short walks, a constitutional, if you will. One left HQ in Astoria, scuttled south over the Honeywell Street Truss Bridge that crosses over the rail yard, and then over to Queens Boulevard. The shot above was captured nearby Queens Boulevard’s very busy intersection with Van Dam Street.

One was quite distracted while gathering this one, as some bloke decided that I was very interesting and he had maintained a constant position roughly 20 feet away from me and parallel to my back for a few blocks. One was sort of waiting for him to come rushing at me, but when I turned around and gave him the patented “Mitch Waxman laser eyes” look, he lost interest and shuffled off to find an easier victim.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One was specifically trying to avoid visiting Newtown Creek or any of its tributaries for a change, so after having executed a confusion of evasion maneuvers to obfuscate any attempt that this fellow might enact to reacquire me as a target, I decided to stick to a few more commonly travelled places. A solid bit of 1980’s NYC advice I would offer – signal them so that they know that you know, keep moving, and don’t act like you wouldn’t be into fucking them up if they tried.

In future posts, we’ll explore – for those of you under the age of 40 – how to live with the existential dread of the Cold War and the threat of looming nuclear annihilation. If any of you have ever wondered the what’s and why’s of the paranoid psychology underlying the Baby Boomer and Generation X mentality, then welcome to the party kids. I’d suggest hitting the YouTube and watching “Threads” and then “The Day After” and then reconsidering the hardened black and white absolutism of your politics while embracing the singular fact that our world is painted in shades of gray. “Special Bulletin” also comes to mind… what?… how many episodes of “The Walking Dead” have you sat through? What do you think all those Zombie and Alien Invasion movies are really about?

The Cold War generations didn’t receive grief counseling or consolation, we got shelter drills and invented Punk Rock and Hip Hop. Go make some art, you’ll feel better.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The good news is that you’re looking at, in the shot above, what would probably be ground zero for a nuclear strike if the Russians actually decided to commit suicide and launch. I’ve heard from multiple sources that Sunnyside Yards is what that particular group of militarist apocalypse engineers use to target NYC. Russians don’t go for precision, they go for “Grozny,” a term which translates as terrible or horrible. The good news is that I live a few blocks from here and thereby it would all be over pretty quickly for me. Nanoseconds, in fact.

It wasn’t Ivan the Terrible, it was Ivan Grozny. “Russians don’t even trust themselves, so it’s folly to trust Russia as a country.” Bismarck said that. “Never trust a Russian, the only people they love – in their dog hearts – are the last ones who fed them.” My Ukrainian Jewish Grandmother said that one, and she once got to see a Cossack behead one of her brothers.

“You lost that Cold War feelin’
Whoa, that Cold War feelin’
You lost that Cold War feelin’
Now it’s gone, gone, gone, whoa-oh

Now there’s no welcome look in your eyes when I reach for you
And now you’re starting to criticize little things I do
It makes me just feel like crying
‘Cause baby, something beautiful’s dyin”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On a lighter note, I’ve been encountering all sorts of street furniture of late, here in Queens. I don’t mean street benches, utility poles, or fire hydrants by “street furniture,” I mean actual feral decor which has been released into the wild.

Pictured above is what I’d describe as a work desk, of the kind once used by mechanical engineers. What makes it cool is that little knobby thing on the side, which would allow you to adjust the angle of the work surface. I’ve still got my old drafting table folded up in a corner here at HQ.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Just up the block from the drafting desk, these seats were encountered. These look like the sort of seating you encounter in an airport bus, or one of those passenger vans that work as “dollar cars” along Flatbush Avenue. Or sitting out on a street in Astoria, I guess.

More tomorrow.

The Newtown Creekathon returns!

On April 10th, the all day death march around Newtown Creek awakens from its pandemic slumber.

DOOM! DOOM! Fully narrated by Mitch Waxman and Will Elkins of Newtown Creek Alliance, this one starts in LIC at the East River, heads through Blissville, the happy place of Industrial Maspeth, dips a toe in Ridgewood and then plunges desperately into Brooklyn. East Williamsburgh and then Greenpoint are visited and a desperate trek to the East River in Brooklyn commences. DOOM! Click here for more information and to reserve a spot – but seriously – what’s wrong with you that you’re actually considering doing this? DOOM!

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Buy a book!

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.

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