The Newtown Pentacle

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Archive for January 12th, 2023

a church on Polish Hill

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Thursday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On the 28th of December, one had an errand to run. It’s seems that the ubiquitous ATM machines of a certain NYC based bank which my accounts are with are not so commonly found here in Pittsburgh. That meant that in order to avoid paying a fee when withdrawing some cash, I needed to drive for a bit in order to do so. I will crawl through broken glass to avoid paying ATM fees, as a note. That’s how I ended up in the Oakland section of Pittsburgh, nearby the campus of the University of Pittsburgh or “PITT.”

That’s the literal crowning glory of their campus, called the “Cathedral of Learning.” I know very little about it, but the Wikipedia link attached to the name can explain it all to you, lords and ladies.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Since I was sort of in the neighborhood, I satisfied my curiosity regarding an impressive religious building that I had spotted from the flatlands of the Strip District on prior outings to this area.

That’s the Immaculate Heart of Mary Church, a 1905 structure that hosts a presumptively Polish Roman Catholic congregation. The prominence it is set onto is called Polish Hill.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One thing I can report, after my very limited experience here in the Pittsburgh area, is that the neighbors are quite friendly. Several times have I been approached while taking pictures of this or that, expecting the old refrain of “what are you doing, or you can’t do that, or are you in Al Qaeda” that I’ve often encountered. Instead, there’s a real pride in the neighborhood bubbling out of the locals, as in the case of an older gentleman who walked over to me while I was cracking out a few exposures. Before ten minutes rolled by, he told me his whole life’s story before he had to skedaddle off to meet a girlfriend. Dude had to be 80. You go, son, you go!

Most of the chats have been the usual ones – they have a camera that they don’t know how to use and do I know what it’s worth – that sort of thing. The second I open my mouth to speak, and they hear the accent, they’ll ask “where are you from.” When I tell them I just moved to Pittsburgh from New York, they look at me all puzzled and say “Why?”

This has happened several times.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One circled around the church in the automobile, easily finding spots to park in when an interesting point of view appeared. This one is looking north towards the Allegheny River from up on Polish Hill.

A lot of my time at the moment is being spent trying to a) finish the moving process and get established here, and b) learn the jigsaw puzzle of the neighborhoods and roads which form Allegheny County.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There’s an abandoned looking parochial school just up the hill from Immaculate Heart of Mary, which is one of the very few places I’ve seen graffiti. I don’t know if it’s municipal will or civic pride, but I find it striking how little of that sort of thing I’m seeing. Maybe it’s just how over the top NYC is with graffiti. I’m not talking about the nice “street art” murals kind of graffiti, mind you, I’m talking about “punks” “tagging” stuff.

It’s been very interesting living in a place where the government doesn’t seek to “monetize” you quite as much as the NYC one does. Robot cameras aren’t sitting on the traffic lights, there’s abundant free or fairly cheap parking for motor vehicles, especially so nearby mass transit centers, and when you need to go somewhere only a few miles away you can do so without passing through a crucible of purposely induced traffic jams. You can also go from one section of the metroplex to another without having to shell out an hour’s wages in tolls.

Again, it ain’t necessarily sunshine and handjobs out here, but it’s nice not having an army of professional assholes thinking up new ways to get the buckaroos out of your pocket so they can fund some numbnut’s political ambitions.

Say… how’s d’at fer da most Brooklynz t’ing I’s said inna last few weekz?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I really, really want to get inside this building. I’m positive that I’ll figure out a way to do so, and my desire to photograph whatever glories it contains should be obvious to longtime readers. I like photographing Catholic Churches (Greek ones too!). This is, of course, something I’m going to figure out a way to social engineer some official permission for. I’ve never been one of those guys who walks into a church and just starts shooting without asking. That’s rude.

I mean, I’ve done it, but it was rude. Like I said, this part of the country has manners, and is polite. They also don’t curse as much, if you can ‘effin believe that.


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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 blurb.com for $30.

Written by Mitch Waxman

January 12, 2023 at 11:00 am

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