The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Archive for the ‘animals’ Category

writing impossible

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Wednesday photos of the after times, and the search for “it.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Nothing to see here, Officer, just an old schmuck with a camera hanging off the side of the Borden Avenue bridge at midnight, shining a laser into the water to excite the schools of little fishies in the hope that their activity will attract “it” into frame. Of course, if any of the rumors about “it” are true, it would be big enough to pull a large dog off the shore and drag it to the bottom of Dutch Kills.

Excitement abounded, during the process described above, when a sudden flurry of shoreline movement and chittering began to emerge from the darkness.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Whipping out my pocket flashlight, I soon discovered that the sound wasn’t coming from “it” but rather from “them.” On my way to this particular location, one encountered a lovely woman named Virginia whom I discovered as being the mysterious person that had been feeding the colony of feral cats along Dutch Kills for the last few months. Her deposits of cat food and water, apparently, had been contributing to the growth of a family/colony of Procyon lotor – or Raccoons if you must. The notion that wild mammals are inhabiting the banks of Newtown Creek is encouraging, given the fearsome reputation and environmental issues which put the waterway on the Federal Superfund list.

I only got a clear shot of the one pictured above, but I counted around seven sets of eyes shining back at me from the self seeded brush lining Dutch Kills’ banks. Speaking as I do on behalf of other creatures of the night, being shy and careful is a great survival mechanism.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My inspection for “it” continued, and given that “it” has always been reported to me as being aquatic, the camera was again pointed at the water. Unfortunately, the mirror surface of Dutch Kills betrayed the fact that not too much in the way of living activity was occurring this particular night. During the summer months, oxygen levels in the waters of Newtown Creek fall precipitously due to the heat. The warm water, which is fed into by NYC’s Combined Sewer system, becomes a haven for algae that live and die in the stagnant water. When the algae die off, their remains precipitate down into the water column and bacterial entities go to work consuming these leave behinds. The life cycle of the bacterial world consumes dissolved oxygen in the water and produces carbon dioxide and other gases in its stead. The bacteria then die and putrefy, which in turn promulgates the growth of the next algal bloom.

If you spend enough time around Dutch Kills, you’ll notice the waters are sometimes yellow ochre, then olive green, then black, then silver, and then the cycle repeats.

Note: I’m writing this and several of the posts you’re going to see for the next week at the beginning of the week of Monday, July 13th. My plan is to continue doing my solo photo walks around LIC and the Newtown Creek in the dead of night as long as that’s feasible. If you continue to see regular updates here, that means everything is kosher as far as health and well being. If the blog stops updating, it means that things have gone badly for a humble narrator.


“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 blurb.com for $30.

obvious effort

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Friday shots from the before time.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Critters greet you today, photos of which were captured prior to the war on statuary. Amongst those whose political dial leans toward the left, a humble narrator maintains an unpopular opinion that iconoclasm is never a good thing. If a statue of Godzilla is encountered, you are not going to bring Tokyo back by destroying the statue. Perhaps, you might want to create some signage for the statue describing what the beast did, and all the people it hurt, but you aren’t going to change history by knocking the face off of the Godzilla statue. Such practice has a long and ugly history, and usually signals that “the revolution” has run out of steam. Ever lament at the works of figurative Roman or Greek art in museums which are missing their faces? Roiled when the Taliban blew up those Buddha statues 20 years ago? Should the Polish Government grind away the remains of Auschwitz and build a shopping mall on the site?

Sometimes, when a statue of a bad person stands in the public square, you can change the message originally intended to illustrate evolving morals and modern points of view. Do you think Putin would be able to do what he’s been doing if statues of Stalin and Lenin were still glowering over and reminding the Russian people of the price of “strong leadership”? Also, you can’t exact revenge on somebody who has been dead for centuries by knocking down a statue.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Personally, I like to wallow in my sins, and am proud of the fact that my points of view are always evolving and changing. It indicates, to me at least, that I still have an open mind and that empathy and compassion haven’t died within. It also indicates that I haven’t become an ideologue governed by some anonymous hive mind idea.

Of course, free thought and a personally arrived at point of view are things you’re not supposed to have anymore. Follow the leader, kid, or you might get cancelled. Otherwise – some jackass bike enthusiast in Astoria might tweet mean things at you at 3 a.m., or a firearms enthusiast might…

Pepsi comes in a blue can. Coke comes in a red one. It’s all carbonated sugar water dosed up with caffeine. Drink some water.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Beyond the brave new world of calcified support for people who couldn’t care less if you lived or died, something which has come up in conversation repeatedly in the last few days with a certain segment of my friends is the fact that this is the first time in our collective memory during which we’ve actually had the summer off. For me, it’s nearly 15 years since I haven’t been waking up at six in the morning on summer weekends, then leading a walking tour of Newtown Creek and coming home at “hot o’clock” in the afternoon.

I certainly miss going to work, doing “my thing” as it were, and wish that this summer off didn’t involve a plague. I always said that what this City needed was a good plague, and here we are. Be careful what you ask for, I guess. See y’all next week with some photos collected during the after time.

Note: I’m writing this and several of the posts you’re going to see for the next week at the beginning of the week of Monday, July 6th. My plan is to continue doing my solo photo walks around LIC and the Newtown Creek in the dead of night as long as that’s feasible. If you continue to see regular updates as we move into April and beyond, that means everything is kosher as far as health and well being. If the blog stops updating, it means that things have gone badly for a humble narrator.


“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 blurb.com for $30.

Written by Mitch Waxman

July 10, 2020 at 2:00 pm

shadowy cottage

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It’s Friday!

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Dutch Kills, as in the tributary of Newtown Creek and not the neighborhood just north of Queens Plaza, was where one found himself on a recent late afternoon/evening. I need a bit of exposure to the burning thermonuclear eye of god itself, so a point has been made of revealing myself to the world. For the last several months, one has been vouchsafing his travels in plague torn NYC by leaving HQ late in the evening or just after midnight when all of you cootie carriers have been locked away inside.

Avoidance of sunlight however, has rendered my skinvelope into a sort of translucent jelly. Pallor has contributed to deficiencies of certain vitamins generated when the skinvelope is exposed to solar radiates. One is brittle, stiff, and toadstools have begun to appear on my back. Lichens too.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

At Dutch Kills, just like the scene of Skillman Avenue mentioned yesterday, other people were uncharacteristically present. They were jogging, bike riding, and some individuals were even seen scaling things. One was not amused.

Newtown Creek is not a summer camp, yo. Be careful around these parts, as it’s an easy place to get dead, fast. So’s everywhere else these days, I guess, but at least there’s symmetry.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On a somewhat more positive note, this spring’s cadre of feral Kittens have produced a fine corps of Cats. I noticed this adolescent gadabout stalking around on one of the rip/rap piles which form part of the shoreline here at Dutch Kills. I have friends in the bird appreciation world who hate seeing wild cats, since these critters like to eat their critters. Personally, I like seeing ecosystems recovering, and that includes having predators as well as prey (baby chickens). Also, the people who create shelters and leave out water and food for these cats aren’t using chemical pesticides to control their onsite rodent population in the same concentrate that non feline hosting site managers do.

Less poison, more cats, I say. A little predation also force the birds to up their game and evolve, possibly even start a Darwinian arms race. Did you know there used to a be a five foot tall terror goose (Garganornis ballmanni) roaming around Italy? How does a nine feet tall Australian “Demon Duck” sound to you? The only thing standing between you and a future encounter with a terror bird might be that cat. All it takes is one egg with a mixed up genetic formula to start us down a road no one wishes to travel.

Kitty!

Note: I’m writing this and several of the posts you’re going to see for the next week at the beginning of the week of Monday, June 1st. My plan is to continue doing my solo photo walks around LIC and the Newtown Creek in the dead of night as long as that’s feasible. If you continue to see regular updates as we move into April and beyond, that means everything is kosher as far as health and well being. If the blog stops updating, it means that things have gone badly for a humble narrator.


“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 blurb.com for $30.

Written by Mitch Waxman

June 5, 2020 at 11:00 am

unknown spheres

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Archive.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Shouldn’t have spoken so soon about wandering around with the camera the other night, as one ended up drinking a bit too much wine and went to bed early instead. Accordingly, a few shots from the Newtown Pentacle archives are on offer today. I did go for a short walk last night, but didn’t do too much shooting.

That’s a bee that was having itself a sunflower party in Astoria on a warm summer day a few years ago when I encountered it, one of the many hundreds of visually interesting things you might encounter here in the ancient village. Astoria is quite buzzy.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A different day, while walking home from somewhere, I encountered a chicken corpse lying in the gutter. Did this chicken lead a dissolute life? Was this chicken a dick? Was it merely an escapee from one fo the local “Pollo Vivo” abattoirs? Did it not pay its debts? Who can guess?

Lots of mysteries here in Astoria, can’t begin to solve them all. I’m told by the local gendarmes that at least once a week somebody flips their car over within the confines of the 114th pct. Further, as I did inquire, it’s not the same person who is flipping their car over and over. Instead it’s a heterogenous population of lousy drivers.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I like riding the Staten Island Ferry. One of the things which a humble narrator enjoys during these intervals on the big orange boat are the acrobatics of the seabirds which take advantage of its slipstream for a free ride between Manhattan and… Staten Island. Hitch hikers.

That’s some kind of gull pictured above, but one is always more than hesitant to offer speciation or classification for the avians. I will invariably get it wrong, which then invalidates every other statement I’ve ever made. Thereupon, I will be strung up and pilloried. There is no in between.

Note: I’m writing this and several of the posts you’re going to see for the next week at the beginning of the week of Monday, May 11th. My plan is to continue doing my solo photo walks around LIC and the Newtown Creek in the dead of night as long as that’s feasible. If you continue to see regular updates as we move into April and beyond, that means everything is kosher as far as health and well being. If the blog stops updating, it means that things have gone badly for a humble narrator.


“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 blurb.com for $30.

Written by Mitch Waxman

May 14, 2020 at 11:00 am

chill wind

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Floop.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Pictured above is an often photographed and displayed Bodega here in Astoria, found across the street from my house, and the image is simply a “wide open” f1.8 test of a new lens I found myself having to purchase last week. My old “nifty fifty” is so full of dust, and has grown rather “cranky” after more than a decade of use that I needed to replace it. It seems that Canon has redesigned the thing since the iteration I’ve been carrying was issued, and I can report that they have improved it in several ways. Luckily, this is another one of the “cheap” lenses, so it didn’t eat up too much of that stimulus check I received. A Christmas present I received from a friend last year was a Yongnuo knockoff version of the original Canon lens formula, but it suffers from a series of defects in terms of chromatic aberration and missed autofocus which I cannot describe as being “charming” or “uniquely characteristic.”

One of the challenges I’ve set for myself is to see how many photos I can acquire without leaving the house, here in CoronAstoria.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A bird on a wire? I’m told that what you’re looking at is a Morning Dove, which is a cousin to the more common Pigeon. What I can tell you, given my legendarily bad skills in describing the Ornithological sphere, is that when this particularly skittish bird gets excited and flies around it makes a sort of squeaking sound. I’ve been trying to catch a shot of a hawk which has been patrolling the neighborhood in recent weeks, but haven’t been able to make that happen. I really don’t know where the wildlife photographers of the world find their patience. A humble narrator gets bored easily.

I sing rhyming nonsense songs to Zuzu the dog all the time, and am almost ready to unveil a Broadway show worth of tunes with lyrics like “yellow sigma three, that’s what dogs say, dee dee dee dee.” I’ve also got a novella I’m working on with the dog which I call “Flippity Floppity Floop, it’s a lot of good to gloop.” You have to find ways to fill the time you’d normally be spending out there in the big old world.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My next door neighbor is a shut in, seems to own a couple of dozen cats, and has a plugged up drain on her roof. Additionally, the owner of the building next door to hers has been allowing his yard to go feral for several years – hence the dead tree slipped over her roofline. That’s the circumstance, but… you guessed it, more experimentation with esoteric camera technique is on display.

There are actually two shots combined into one up there. Both were shot with a wide open aperture of f1.8, and I used a technique which is common in macro photography to get it sharp throughout called “focus stacking” to combine them. The wide open aperture of f1.8 allows a low iso to be used, and also promulgates a quality of light capture which I find pleasing. Problem is that a wide aperture like f1.8 produces a narrow depth of field which is most easily explained as “if you focus on the eyes, the tip of the nose and the ears are blurry.” Stacking allows you too work around that.

Back tomorrow with something different, at this, your Newtown Pentacle.

Note: I’m writing this and several of the posts you’re going to see for the next week at the beginning of the week of Monday, May 4th. My plan is to continue doing my solo photo walks around LIC and the Newtown Creek in the dead of night as long as that’s feasible. If you continue to see regular updates as we move into April and beyond, that means everything is kosher as far as health and well being. If the blog stops updating, it means that things have gone badly for a humble narrator.


“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 blurb.com for $30.

Written by Mitch Waxman

May 5, 2020 at 12:00 pm

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