The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

somewhat shamefaced

with 2 comments


– photo by Mitch Waxman

Camera in hand, lonely and friendless, filthy black raincoat snapping about in the hard wind of late winter. Sometimes I’m on a boat.

Having grown up in southeast Brooklyn (Canarsie/Flatlands), one’s native speech pattern is best described by recitations of the “Brooklyn Alphabet.” “Fuckin A, Fuckin B, go fuck yourself C, kiss my ass D” and so on. This is part of my heritage, and the Brooklyn accent of my parents would pronounce common words such as birds as “boids,” toilet as “terlet,” and oil as “erl.” As an adult, an attempt is made to show a finer veneer to all of the fancy pants people I meet. Dis is da struggol you gots when’s you growed up in Brooklyn.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Thereby, one has embraced creative expressions of surprise for my daily use that don’t include the use of Brooklyn vernacular. Lately, I’m embracing ones like “by the misty mountains of Kuala Lampur” or “Great galloping Ganesh.” I don’t know if Kuala Lampur actually has mountains or not, or whether the beloved Hindu deity is known to gallop – but since Ganesh is an elephant, it probably would have a certain proclivity towards the occasional gallop – if only for shits and giggles.

“Holy jumping Jesus” is also another one of my refrains although scripture never mentions the Christian Savior as leaping about. My Lebanese buddy Sal has instructed me in the many possible usages of Allah u Akbar (god is great), which is the Islamic equivalent of Aloha or Shalom in terms of being an omnivorous response one is able to deploy in a variety of circumstances. New Baby? Allah U Akbar! Your mom died? Allah U Akbar… Sal has informed me that it’s all about inflection.

Saying all that, whether Ganesh or Allah or Jesus, you’re probably accidentally pissing someone off with an off hand religious reference, so “by the misty mountains of Kuala Lampur” it is.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Riding back home on the NYC ferry from the Bronx, I got to exclaim “Holy Homeland Security” when I spotted this NYPD Harbor unit boat performing that particular mission for our ferry boat. Not too long ago, I was riding on the Staten Island Ferry and a couple of tourist types asked me why the Coast Guard was following our big orange boat with machine guns deployed while we navigated from Manhattan to… Staten Island…

They really couldn’t put it together about how big a target a ferry boat might be for the bad guys. I’d tell you who the villains are, but I’m not really sure anymore. Are we still mad at the Arabs? If so, I’ll let Sal know. As mentioned, he’s Lebanese, so not too big a fan of the Arabs.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It was nearly sunset, and an executive decision was arrived at to debark the boat at East 90th street, alongside Gracie Mansion, and find a spot to get set up with the tripod as the burning thermonuclear eye of god itself dipped behind New Jersey.

Along the way, I couldn’t help but get a shot or two of the natural light painting occurring on the Hell Gate and Triborough Bridges.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

At East 90th, I took a minute to sit down and chill for a minute, then got busy again. If you set up a camera on a tripod and say “Eric Adams” three times, there’s a 40/60 chance he’ll appear, just like Candyman or Bloody Mary. Didn’t work this time, though.

This area at E 90th, by the way, is more or less the famous spot where the old Astoria Route ferry dock was found. The one that Robert Moses destroyed, an incident which Robert Caro wrote about in Power Broker.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The burning thermonuclear eye of god itself was already beginning to disappear behind New Jersey as I found and claimed my spot.

From the looks I was getting from the passerby, you’d think that I had just released a kite into a thunderstormwhile laughing maniacally, in preparation of bringing a homemade monster to life. Really?

More tomorrow.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

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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

April 11, 2022 at 11:00 am

2 Responses

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  1. Nope, no mountains in Kuala Lumpur, at least the last time I was there. But one may find the Misty Mountains in Middle Earth. So try adding instead “By Durin’s Beard!” to your repertoire for that outre’ nerd chic as you truly do the worst impression of a Brooklyn accent. Which is strange as you come from Brooklyn, if Canarsie can legitimately claim to be a part of Brooklyn instead of the comic invention of some Borsch Belt jokesters.
    Or perhaps you slept through the Brooklyn accent class back in Spetnaz school?

    Donald Cavaioli


    April 12, 2022 at 9:08 pm

  2. Love your bridge photos. The Triboro and Hell Gate were in the view out of the bedroom window of my childhood. I naturally assumed that the great stone towers of the Hell Gate held up the ends of the steel arch, right? No:
    “[The] original design left a gap of 15 feet (4.6 m) between the steel arch and the masonry towers. Fearing that the public assumed that the towers were structurally integral to the bridge, [Gustav] Lindenthal added aesthetic girders between the upper chord of the arch and the towers to make the structure appear more robust ” (Wikipedia)


    June 13, 2022 at 9:12 pm

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