The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Archive for October 18th, 2022

seventy steps

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

First off – Newtown Creek Alliance will be honoring John Lipscomb of Riverkeeper, Christine Holowacz, and… your humble narrator… this coming Thursday night (the 20th) at the annual “Tidal Toast” fundraising event. Ticketing information can be found here, and the tax deductible donation of your ticket money will help to fund NCA’s ongoing mission to Reveal, Restore, and Revitalize Newtown Creek. NCA has been at the center of my public life over the last 15 years, and I hope you can make it. This is officially my finale, in terms of public facing events, and the end of this chapter of my life.

Heading back towards Astoria, from a far ranging walk on the 16th of September, which saw me visiting places familiar and loved, I decided that the course northwards and towards HQ would involve 48th street, where Woodside and Sunnyside collide. To get there, I scuttled along an access road that follows the Brooklyn Queens Expressway’s connection to the Long Island Expressway.

This is a lonely path through my “happy place” borderlands of Industrial Maspeth. You needn’t fret overly about marauders, muggers, or molesters here, instead you worry about monsters. Not metaphorical ones either. If you’re going to get got by a werewolf or zombie in NYC, this is the neighborhood where that’ll happen. Vampires? Nope, that’s Queens Plaza.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Cool cars abound in the borough of Queens, but they’re given to mechanical failure, so tow trucks also must exist. Universal rule.

At the moment, since this is another one of the things people keep asking me, I’m still maintaining my every other day schedule of “part of one day out shooting and then one day back at HQ.” The length of the walks I take on one of the “out days” is based purely around whatever else I’m obliged to do that day and how the physical plant is behaving. Of late, it hasn’t been too easy to detach myself prior to about 4-5 in the afternoon, and as the burning thermonuclear eye of God itself is currently dropping down behind New Jersey sometime in the 6 o’clock hour here in NYC so I seem to be catching a lot of sunsets.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My mood is fairly serious but I’m not as anxious or stressed out as you’d imagine, as I’m driven by the exigent circumstances of the day, and I’m actually feeling quite positive. As described in the past, one of the things I do when scuttling around is think in a meditative fashion. I like to believe that all of this alone time over the last fifteen or so years has allowed me to figure some things out, about myself at least. What I can say is that I’m a very different person than I used to be.

Physically, I’m what I’d describe as “ok” but I’m still really fat and haven’t been able to drop the weight I put on during COVID, despite all the walking. Saying that, the trick left foot seems to be a little less tricky these days and despite being in my middle 50’s – four out of seven days a week I’ll walk between five and fifteen miles around this hellish industrial zone while lugging around ten pounds of camera crap with me. Rain, snow, hot, cold. That’s me. I’m still made of leather.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One looks forward to living in the Pittsburgh area. I’m thinking about augmenting my nascent car ownership with an electric pedal assist bike of some kind, which would allow me the option of parking the larger vehicle somewhere and then exploring the various neighborhoods of Pittsburgh on 2 wheels until I get a feel for the place. As mentioned in the past, I don’t think you can see or understand a place from behind the wheel of a car, as you’re moving too fast to notice things. Even a bike moves a bit too fast. Walking, that’s the trick, but until you’ve found pathways through a city it’s best to be mobile in case trouble lurks.

Perhaps I can find a pair of robot pants which would walk up and down those hills in Pittsburgh for me.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Of course, there’s all sorts of stuff there that you can just walk right up to and photograph without having to shoot through a chain link fence like you do with literally everything in NYC. Pictured above is the interchange between the BQE and LIE, at the Maspeth/Sunnyside/Woodside border mentioned at the top of this post, the one whose access road I was walking along – and it’s a photo shot through a chain link fence.

This point of view is found along 48th street, at the Woodside and Sunnyside Border with the happy place of Industrial Maspeth. From here out, as I headed north, 48th street is entirely residential for several blocks. Nothing too interesting to shoot there, I’m afraid. I also don’t really like taking pictures of people’s homes, as it looks really, really suspicious and weird. Given how suspicious and weird I look as a default…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Luckily for a humble narrator, just as I got to Queens Boulevard at 48th street, the Q104 bus was pulling up and after a quick “maximum boogie” sprint across the so called “Boulevard of Death,” I was utilizing the MTA’s newish OMNY fare payment system to buy myself a ride the rest of the way back home to the rolling hills of almond eyed Astoria.

The next few days were meant to be rather “involved,” and they certainly were. More on that tomorrow.

“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.

Written by Mitch Waxman

October 18, 2022 at 11:00 am

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