The Newtown Pentacle

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traumatic incursions

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It’s all so depressing.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One has given up hoping for a “win” and have instead begun to embrace the concept of mitigating the width and depth of loss. Going to sleep with the same number of fingers and toes that I woke up with is pretty much my daily goal at the moment. A humble narrator has reached that chronological age when body parts just fall off randomly, so I’ve begun carrying a tube of Krazy Glue around with me if I need to perform an ad hoc repair “in the field,” as it were.

My mood will certainly improve once my landlord gets the heat fixed, since right now HQ is the temperature of a meat locker. I told the superintendent last week that there was no heat on that suddenly cold day, and he informed that it “would come on automatically.” It didn’t, doesn’t, and hasn’t, and I think I can see a pinky toe lying under the couch.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

If you speak one of those South African Bushman languages, the sort comprised of clicking sounds, you shouldn’t expect anyone to understand you. It’s like that with obscure tongues. One constantly reminds my colleagues along Newtown Creek that when we say “PRP” or “PCB” or “RI” or “CSO” to people new to the environmentalist world that they have no idea what we’re talking about and it sounds a lot like those aforementioned clicking sound languages. If you’re discussing something that’s novel, or known only to cloistered experts, you need to be explicit and clear while explaining things and avoid introducing cultic acronyms. You also need to educate people about what you’re doing, before you do it.

The new bike lanes on Skillman Avenue are full of clicking sounds for pedestrians, bikers, and vehicle operators. What the hell do all of these new striped in chevrons and curvy symbols mean? What are you meant to be doing here? “Buffer zone” means that you do what, where, and when?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Fully realizing that I have a better chance of getting killed by a dead bird falling out of the sky and hitting me on the head than actually winning, I went out last night and bought a Mega Millions Lottery ticket. There’s an absolutely ludicrous amount of money on the table in this particular drawing, which I would use in pursuance of raining vengeance down upon all that have offended me in the manner of an Old Testament God. If you see me on the news tomorrow with a big evil smile and you know that I’ve taken issue with you in the past, it would be a great idea for you to start planning a long trip or just move to the West Coast as I’m going to be going all Michael Corleone, and real quick like.

The way I see it, if life hands you lemons, the best thing to do is squirt lemon juice into the eyes of those who have opposed or thwarted your will. I’d also buy a few space heaters, since my apartment is freaking freezing.


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Written by Mitch Waxman

October 19, 2018 at 1:15 pm

time at

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A splash of color for a gray world.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A humble narrator is not having a good week, and as it’s only Tuesday, portent does not offer much in the way of hope. The weather isn’t helping, either. This gray, misty, and unseasonably warm climate is depressing. Accordingly, since I haven’t been doing too much in the way of shooting for the last week or two, the archives have been accessed in pursuit of color and polychrome light. Consider this a public service from your Newtown Pentacle.

Or don’t, I’m too numb to care.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This whole climate change business seems fairly obvious now, don’t it? The butterfly in the shot above is the one responsible, and I was there when it flapped its wings.

I should be living inside a hoodie sweatshirt by this time of the year, damnit.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It feels like we didn’t get a “spring” in 2018, and that the summer was composed merely of the uncomfortably humid and hot days and punctuated by rain. Bah!


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Written by Mitch Waxman

October 9, 2018 at 1:00 pm

popularly linked

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Texting while driving?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A humble narrator is taking a break this week, and single images will be greeting you sans the verbose drivel they’re normally accompanied by. It’s a rather busy week that I have ahead of me, but look for a strange old man wandering about the concrete devastations of the Newtown Creek with a camera. That’ll likely be me.


Tours and Events


Dutch Kills Dérive. Free!
Saturday, September 8, 2018, 9:30 AM – 12:30 PM with Flux Factory

Drowning in our own muck and mire, modern society must transmute its existence into that of an allegorical baptism in order to emerge a society of water protectors. The historic facts of exactly how our civilization has transformed the historic Dutch Kill waterway into a sewershed will act as both a numbing analgesic and a point of illumination. Tickets here.


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Written by Mitch Waxman

September 7, 2018 at 11:00 am

academic alienists

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Something fishy going on?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A humble narrator is taking a break this week, and single images will be greeting you sans the verbose drivel they’re normally accompanied by. It’s a rather busy week that I have ahead of me, but look for a strange old man wandering about the concrete devastations of the Newtown Creek with a camera. That’ll likely be me.


Tours and Events


Dutch Kills Dérive. Free!
Saturday, September 8, 2018, 9:30 AM – 12:30 PM with Flux Factory

Drowning in our own muck and mire, modern society must transmute its existence into that of an allegorical baptism in order to emerge a society of water protectors. The historic facts of exactly how our civilization has transformed the historic Dutch Kill waterway into a sewershed will act as both a numbing analgesic and a point of illumination. Tickets here.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

September 6, 2018 at 11:00 am

despair’s profundity

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Just another day in paradise, yo.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

At the height of last week’s “hot” one found himself at Hallets Cove here in Astoria, killing some time with the camera whilst waiting for the NYC Ferry to arrive. Unfortunately, the long exposure shots from Hallets Cove didn’t turn out well, as in the midst of calculating exposure times and compositional angles, a humble narrator omitting calculating the effect of setting up a tripod on sand. It was my firm belief that that the tripod legs were spread out far enough to create a stable enough platform for the camera, but alas, like sand through the hourglass (or within five feet of the tide line) so are the days of my life – shifting, insubstantial, and without foundation. The long exposure above and below were actually gathered at Socrates Sculpture Garden where a more solid firmament is found.

Accordingly, I spent the entire weekend beating myself up over coming home from Hallets Cove with a bunch of motion blurred shots which would have otherwise been quite fetching.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As is always the case this time of the year, one is more introspective and self critical than is usual, which is usually “very.” I still retain vague recollections of the impending doom felt during childhood for the “back to school” part of the late summer, an atavist memory which always colors my mood. It’s also a particularly depressing week for me personally, since I have a birthday coming up and my birthdays never seem to go well. There’s been like fifty of them so far, and maybe five haven’t resulted in some sort of traumatic experience. Our Lady of the Pentacle and my coterie of friends try their hardest, but I’m just jinxed when it comes to birthdays.

Speaking of, today is H.P. Lovecraft’s birthday.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Check out the link (below) to a boat tour I’m going to be conducting on the 30th of August, after all this birthday business has passed. It’s underwritten by a grant that my pals at Waterfront Alliance and Working Harbor Committee managed to get that commemorates the bicentennial of the opening of the Erie Canal. Only five smackers for this one, and we’re going to be onboard a NY Water Taxi leaving from Red Hook. First, we’re heading north along the East River as far as the Brooklyn Navy Yard, then reversing and going south towards Erie Basin and Industry City in South Brooklyn and eventually returning to Red Hook. 

I’ll be on the mike for this one, and I’m planning on regaling the folks onboard with maritime history. It should be a fairly vulgar display of my rhetorical prowess. Also, it’s only $5, so if I’m as disappointing in real life as many tell me you don’t have much to lose.


Tours and Events


Canal to Coast: Reuniting the Waters Boat Tour. Only $5!
Thurs, August 30, 2018, 6:30 PM – 8:30 PM with Waterfront Alliance

Learn about the origins of Brooklyn’s Erie Basin as the Erie Canal’s ultimate destination, and its current role as a vital resource for maritime industry on this guided tour of Red Hook’s Erie Basin and the Brooklyn working waterfront, departing from and returning to New York Water Taxi’s Red Hook Dock. Tickets here.


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Written by Mitch Waxman

August 20, 2018 at 11:15 am

no matter

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Da national boid.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A humble narrator is taking a short break this week, and single images will be greeting you through the July 4th Holiday week while I’m out shvitzing and photographing things.

Today is July 4th, and just like the rest of the calendar, there’s always a series of events that occurred over the centuries which seems to suggest that history might not be all that random. Alternatively, it probably is, and it’s the nature of human beings to attempt to form ordered patterns out of chaos.

  • 1054 – A supernova, called SN 1054, is seen by Chinese Song dynasty, Arab, and possibly Amerindian observers near the star Zeta Tauri. For several months it remains bright enough to be seen during the day. Its remnants form the Crab Nebula.
  • 1776 – American Revolution: The United States Declaration of Independence is adopted by the Second Continental Congress.
  • 1826 – Thomas Jefferson, third president of the United States, dies the same day as John Adams, second president of the United States, on the fiftieth anniversary of the adoption of the United States Declaration of Independence.
  • 1855 – The first edition of Walt Whitman’s book of poems, Leaves of Grass, is published In Brooklyn.
  • 1911 – A massive heat wave strikes the northeastern United States, killing 380 people in eleven days and breaking temperature records in several cities.
  • 1918 – Bolsheviks kill Tsar Nicholas II of Russia and his family (Julian calendar date).
  • 2004 – The cornerstone of the Freedom Tower is laid on the World Trade Center site in New York City

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Written by Mitch Waxman

July 4, 2018 at 11:00 am

Posted in animals, birds

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never fainted

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I now know it was you, Larry.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Leaving HQ the other day, this is the scene which greeted me. Our Lady of the Pentacle spotted this tableau separately. Astoria, Queens is a place full of mystery, but you can’t beat the “block watchers” when you’re playing detective. On Saturday late afternoon/evening, while enjoying a few pints of beer at the “local” with some of the local commentariat, we put our heads together and pieced together the story of a skeleton cat wearing a collar that read “heartbreaker” which appeared in front of my door.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My neighbor Kenny, who is in many ways the adult man that Nelson from the Simpsons (the haw haw kid) would grow up to become, provided many of the individual pieces of the puzzle. He described seeing an affable fellow named Larry emerge from his building with the skeleton cat in hand, who thereupon placed it on the sidewalk with the intention of letting it find a new home.

Another neighbor described the Cat being picked up by ready hands and then abandoned again. It seems to have moved up and down the block a few times before coming to rest in the tree pit in front of HQ, one building lot from its original placement by the aforementioned Larry.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Heartbreaker apparently made it most of the way up to Newtown Road from the Broadway side of the block before track of it was lost. Having satisfyingly assembled the origin and travels of the thing, discussion of the articulation and manufacture of the skeleton cat ensued. Such are the minor points of interest upon which the neighborhood grinds away, here in Astoria. Whether or not Larry was the original owner of the thing, I cannot say, and speaking for the community – we’ve lost interest and moved on to other topics.

The possibility of having a block party during the late summer months came up, whereupon everyone turned to me in pursuance of getting a permit for said function.


Upcoming Tours and Events

June 30th – The Skillman Avenue Corridor
– with Access Queens.

Starting at the 7 train on Roosevelt Avenue, we will explore this thriving residential and busy commercial thoroughfare, discussing the issues affecting its present and future. Access Queens, 7 Train Blues, Sunnyside Chamber of Commerce, and Newtown Creek Alliance members will be your guides for this roughly two mile walk.
Skillman Avenue begins at the border of residential Sunnyside and Woodside, and ends in Long Island City at 49th avenue, following the southern border of the Sunnyside Yards for much of its path. Once known as Meadow Street, this colonial era thoroughfare transitions from the community of Sunnyside to the post industrial devastations of LIC and the Dutch Kills tributary of Newtown Creek.

Tickets and more details
here.


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Written by Mitch Waxman

June 27, 2018 at 11:00 am

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