The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Archive for December 26th, 2022

worthy gentleman

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

Wednesday the 23rd of November, but there was going to be no Turkey served at HQ in Astoria the following day. Our Lady of the Pentacle and myself had arrived at “prime time” in terms of our big plan to escape New York. After packing up boxes all day, and fine tuning the next stages of the effort, a humble narrator decided to head out onto the porch with the camera and capture the milieu one last time after pronouncing himself “done for the day.”

The shot above is a bit of an experiment. I set the camera up to do a time lapse, cracking out a two second exposure every five seconds. Normal procedure for this sort of thing is to marry all the individual photos up as frames in a video file. Instead, I decided to combine 81 individual shots into one photo stacked image. Clicking on it will take you to Flickr, where a higher resolution file awaits that you can zoom in on.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I’d always been hesitant to say exactly which corner in Astoria I lived on, always referring to it as “Broadway in the 40’s.” Now that I’m safely ensconced on the side of a mountain of coal in Pennsylvania… it was 44th street and Broadway, right over Gino’s Pizza. For a dozen years, this was the view from HQ – the second floor perch where I took my calls and wrote a lot of what you’ve read here at Newtown Pentacle.

Here’s a panorama. The large brick building, which I’m positive will be sold, demolished, and replaced by a mirror glass rhombus shaped condominium within the next few years, is the Chian Federation. The building was originally built by the Long Island City Turn Verein, a German fraternal club that is where a lot of its intriguing iconography comes from. These days, there’s a church which operates out of the place on Sundays, but when I first moved into this particular apartment, the Chians would set up a boxing ring inside the big room and amateur tournaments would be held there, exhibiting local pugilists.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I’ve known four distinct owners of that Bodega pictured above, which has been a frequent photographic subject for me on cold and rainy nights over the years. The 44th street apartment’s porch had a wooden pergola structure on it, which provided me with cover during rain events to set up a tripod and zoom in from a dry place. That porch, I tell’s ya, was a lifeline during COVID. Outdoor space, that’s what we had.

This shot is also a photo stacked usage of a time lapse sequence.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My next door neighbor was an older woman with a terrible spinal condition that forces her to live life bent over at the waist, so she’s always looking straight down at her feet. This neighbor occupies three floors of a building on Broadway all by herself, along with an unguessable number of cats. We never had much interaction with her, except for hearing her cry and wail every morning from the other side of the bathroom wall. One of the other walls we shared with her was always “wet” and bulged inwards. “Why” is a question which I’ll never have – nor do I want – an answer to.

This shot looks westwards at the backyards behind the shops on Broadway in Astoria, past the Mexican whore house which pretends to be a bar and towards an Albanian Mafia bar. The lit up orange structure is the smokehouse of the Muncan delicatessen, and both my dearly departed doggie Zuzu and I would station ourselves in the path of the prevailing breeze whenever Muncan opened the flue on that thing. The bacon wind was blowing.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Social animal that I am, a point was always made of at least meeting the neighbors. One of the mistakes you can make in NYC is “cocooning” and locking yourself away in the apartment after work. You have to talk to people, and let them talk to you, if you want a community. You really, really want to know at least some of your neighbors.

I’ll miss the crew along Broadway. Sean the Carpenter, John the Junkie, Charlie from the Limo place, Jose Bagels, Crazy Johnnie and his brother AntKnee, the Burrachos, Leo the Pizza guy, the lot of them.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One last stacked image of the Bodega. It’s actually from a bit earlier in the evening, obviously. So, the question is: Will I miss all this?

The answer is, actually, “no.” I’ve had my fill, it’s someone else’s turn to experience this place and these things.

“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

December 26, 2022 at 11:00 am

Posted in Astoria

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