The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

a day in the neighborhood

with one comment


– photo by Mitch Waxman

First off, when you’re driving through Pittsburgh and you want to stop and get out of your car, you can find a metered parking spot pretty easily. As in, you drive somewhere and there one is. They use an electronic system here, one where you go to a nearby kiosk, enter your license plate information, and then pay your due. They also use coin meters here and there, but there you go. It’s mostly the kiosk version downtown, by my very limited observation. As a former New Yorker, this is a startling innovation to me.

When you leave an abusive relationship, normal courteousness seems revelatory to you.

Coming back from the Allegheny Observatory, I stopped off at the river it’s named for, and set up the tripod to take advantage of the late afternoon lighting. That’s downtown Pittsburgh pictured above.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I found myself a slightly elevated location to shoot from where I wouldn’t have to worry too much about watching my back. This allowed me to concentrate on what I was doing. The entire time I was shooting, I was hearing the words and songs of Fred Rogers, as in Mr. Rogers. “I like you just the way you are,” “everybody is special,” and so on. I wasn’t going crazy, instead I was at the Mr. Rogers memorial!

I should mention that I love Fred Rogers, and if you’re Generation X as I am, you probably do as well. That guy

– photo by Mitch Waxman

In the American culture, we venerate warriors and businessmen and killers and sports heroes, generally. It’s not often that someone rises to the top of the heap for being kind to children. Rogers was a Pittsburgh native, and his show was produced at the local PBS station – WQED. A friend of mine who’s lived here for a few decades described seeing Mr. Rogers regularly at a local supermarket in the Squirrel Hill section where they both lived, and often overheard him talking to kids – “you seem very smart… I bet you know how to spell Broccoli, don’t you?” was the gist of how he described those encounters to me.

The monument to Mr. Rogers is wired for sound, and plays a repeating reel of him singing, and his various sayings. Fantastic!

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I had set myself up for “landscape” mode with the camera, shooting “low and slow” as I describe it. This is when I feel “creative” while shooting, rather than just being a shutter monkey. The problem you encounter with this setup – which involves a filter and a series of settings designed to reduce the amount of light moving through the lens – is when something is entering the frame and suddenly you want to capture it, without it going all motion blurry.

That’s the Fort Pitt Bridge and the entrance to the Fort Pitt tunnel which pierces Mount Washington pictured above.

Luckily, I’ve learned to be prepared for this change of circumstance when the camera is in landscape mode by the University of Newtown Creek, and I can be shooting “fast” images within about 20 seconds of rapid dial twisting and settings adjustments and without having to remove the filter or otherwise alter the operation.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I saw both the freight train and the tugboat coming together from opposite sides of the frame, and managed to pop off this shot.

It was time to head back home to Dormont. I packed up the gear, hopped back in the wheels, and made a decision that I was going to rely solely on my own sense of direction to get back to HQ rather than use any sort of navigation software. I’m going to come back to this spot at dawn sometime soon.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On my way, I hit a small patch of rush hour traffic wherein the vehicle and I were only traveling at about 20 mph through downtown Pittsburgh. Heh. Traffic… what was that I was saying about abusive relationships?

I got stuck at a few traffic lights during this interval, but I popped open the moon roof on the car and took advantage of that on the way.

More next week, from the Paris of Appalachia, at this – your Newtown Pentacle,

“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

January 6, 2023 at 11:00 am

One Response

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  1. Ramps, bridges, and arches. Ramps, bridges, and arches.

    georgetheatheist . . . claustrophobic area

    January 6, 2023 at 3:47 pm

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