The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

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peeking through

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Minimalist Wednesday.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The shots in today’s post are decidedly citrus in flavor. During the cold weather months, I’ll often set up a table top studio in my kitchen and experiment with various gizmos and time consuming techniques. In the case of today’s post, citrus fruit is sliced with a razor blade with the goal of creating sections that are about a centimeter thick. I set the slices up on a petri dish, which is in turn affixed to a little stage. Under the stage is a fairly powerful flashgun, which blasts light through the cultivar revealing its hidden structures.

That’s a navel orange in the one above.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The lemon one above is one of my favorites, since the light passing through it illuminates the ovum casing of the seeds.

The fruit slices end up operating as defacto light filters, I’ve discovered. The burst of flash lighting moving through the slices gets recorded on the camera sensor sans the opposite color frequency, as in the shot above which ended up with little or no representation on the blue plate of the rgb image. If you really want to get into the “nitty gritty” of how digital imaging works, a controlled environment with known parameters for color temperature and so on can really teach you a lot. Believe it or not, lessons learned while photographing centimeter thick slices of lemons in my kitchen informs and improves the underlying technique used to shoot a tugboat or bridge out in “the wild.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A humble narrator is under medical orders not to eat limes or grapefruits, due to a medication that is consumed daily, which regulates my blood cholesterol levels. It seems that the pill is essentially a refined and concentrated form of a compound found in both cultivars, and that consumption of the fruit might create a dangerous set of conditions in the liver. That’s sucks, as I really used to enjoy drinking a “Cuba Libre” cocktail every now and then.

I’m particularly fond of the shot above, as everything just went right with it.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle


Come to the library!

In the Shadows at Newtown Creek – The Roosevelt Island Historic Society has invited me to present a slideshow and talk about my beloved Newtown Creek at the New York Public Library on Roosevelt Island, on November 14th, 6 p.m. Free event!

Click here for more information.!

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

November 13, 2019 at 11:00 am

Posted in Astoria

Tagged with , ,

anguished frenzy

with one comment

Cut and cover.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Let’s say that a humble narrator announces a tour of the fabulous Newtown Creek, or a boat excursion to some remote corner of the harbor, and I end up taking a bath on the endeavor and lose money. Did I take a risk that didn’t pay off? When I’m talking about my empty right hand pocket, do I pretend that the roll of hundred dollar bills and the bag of assorted gem stones maintained in my left pocket doesn’t exist? What if my left hand pocket assets included billions and billions of dollars of Manhattan real estate? Can I just confess that I didn’t market the tour properly, or manage its costs competently, or proceeded with the operation under some rose colored ideation that it would sell out and make me richer than Croesus? Did I employ the services of a bunch of incompetents who are related to or friends with various political party officials, using my project as a patronage mill?

Or do I just blame the audience, accuse them of trying to get one over on me, and then go further in debt to hire a small army of armed guards with marching orders to generate revenue via fines and tickets because I can’t be losing money unless someone is stealing from me? Of course not, I’m not the MTA.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The practice of blaming the ridership, accusing them of theft of service, pretending that your pocket is empty when in reality you are one of the biggest landlords in New York State… that’s the MTA. Need a few billion bucks? Maybe sell your office building on Jay Street in Brooklyn and move your operations to a less tony location in Nassau or Suffolk County, or maybe Westchester. I understand that Mount Vernon and Yonkers have several abandoned office parks which would be quite affordable to move your army of bureaucrats into. Still underfunded? How about selling off some of your investment properties in upper Manhattan while the real estate market is hot?

That, or you can just wait for the next video of a bunch of cops having a fist fight with teenagers over $2.75 to make the nightly news.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Me? I’d let the Wall Street guys have a go at MTA. Let the bean counters in there to look for redundancy and cost savings through consolidations. Funny thing is, this would barely be felt by the Union people who actually keep the system running. MTA loves publicizing the fact that some shlimiel on the LIRR collected an outlandish amount of overtime pay, but never discusses the number of empty suits populating the office cubicles at their Jay Street HQ. I’d like to smash the system over there, where the subways are still operated as if the IND and IRT were distinct. There’s multiple bus companies, LIRR and Metro North have virtually zero interoperability… it goes on and on. The MTA real estate and property manager folks operate in shadow, with virtually zero public awareness of their shenanigans.

If NYC is an organism, with DEP the liver and kidneys, MTA operates the venous system. Arteriosclerosis is something I’m familiar with. The best treatment, long term, for this sort of disease vector is lifestyle change.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle


Come to the library!

In the Shadows at Newtown Creek – The Roosevelt Island Historic Society has invited me to present a slideshow and talk about my beloved Newtown Creek at the New York Public Library on Roosevelt Island, on November 14th, 6 p.m. Free event!

Click here for more information.!

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

November 7, 2019 at 11:00 am

debased attainments

with 2 comments

The ole 11103.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Given my current limitations, let’s just say that one of my normal pedestrian based travelogues through industrial Maspeth isn’t going to be on offer for a bit. One is more or less confined to a very narrow slice of almond eyed Astoria, and unless it’s directly related to a “have to” or work I’m not going to mess around with the healing process for the broken big toe. Luckily, Astoria is seldom boring.

Yesterday, my “have to” related to limping over to my optician to get the lenses in my spectacles updated with a new prescription. While waiting for the process to finish, I noticed this artifact of the recent holiday displayed vulgarly atop a fire hydrant.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Returning towards my side of Steinway Street along Broadway, laborers were busy clearing out the remains of the Duane Reade which has occupied the corner of Broadway and Steinway for the entire time I’ve lived here. Duane recently announced that their landlord had raised the rent for this cavernous space to usurious levels and the corporation decided to shutter this location.

Man, if Duane Reade can’t pay the rent…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I don’t title photos, since I’ve always hated the ego which such a practice displays. Back when I was a retoucher working on Madison Avenue, a standard refrain one might hear being shouted from my cubicle was “I HATE PHOTOGRAPHERS.” The level of preciousness attached to imagery by some of us just drives me crazy. It’s not an oil painting, despite the amount of skill and practice it takes to produce quality shots. Studio or big outdoor shots with props and lighting equipment do not change the equation all that much, in my mind. I know comic artists and fine art painters who don’t treat their works as preciously as some photographers do. The only members of the discipline whom I’ll grant the preciousness thing to are the photo journalists who work in war zones, capturing scenes of combat from “within the trenches.” That shot up there is a “snapshot” of a garbage can on 43rd street in Queens, and it doesn’t deserve much in the way of preciousness.

So, as mentioned, I don’t title photos. If I did, the one above would be called either “Childhood’s End,” or “Mommy and Daddy don’t live together anymore.”


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle


Come to the library!

In the Shadows at Newtown Creek – The Roosevelt Island Historic Society has invited me to present a slideshow and talk about my beloved Newtown Creek at the New York Public Library on Roosevelt Island, on November 14th, 6 p.m. Free event!

Click here for more information.!

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

November 5, 2019 at 11:03 am

Posted in Astoria, Broadway, NY 11103

Tagged with ,

joy denying

with one comment

The most wonderful time of the year.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

To start, Our Lady of the Pentacle and myself will be gathering with our crew at Doyle’s Corner (found at the Times Square of Astoria, 42nd st and Broadway) after 4 p.m. to hand out candy to the children. Join us. I’ll be the one wearing the Mitch Waxman costume. To continue, I’m aghast at the efforts of the Dental Industrial Complex to deny the youth their annual birthright, and really must offer the chide that you people have to get a grip and quit it with the teachable moments. For the sake of all that is unholy, don’t politicize Halloween.

You’ve got your radical Pentecostals, Evangelicals, Hasids, and other groups who propagate the mythology that Halloween is a celebration of the Devil itself. That’s just ignorant. Also, the Dentists should embrace this holiday, as it means their cash drawers will be full by Thanksgiving.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There’s probably several radical lefties who don’t like this holiday as well. Pumpkins causing global warming? Somebody out there announcing that the carbon points of each candy bar can be calculated into a seemingly random number of dead Rhinos? Some stupid statement about the day which got tweeted out of the White House? What did the Mayor and Chirlane dress as? Halloween as an example of a capitalist or consumerist orgy of sugary greed coming from the socialists? Are the Trick or Treaters blocking your bike lane? Are Halloween’s origins in the European Catholic mythos exclusionary to Muslims, Buddhists, or the Baha’i?

Take a break today, folks, it’s a holiday. At least give the rest of us a day off to have a little fun without it having dire import.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

In my case, I don’t need to watch any horror movies today. The swelling in my smashed toe is going down, which means I am now experiencing the fullness of pain one would associate with a fractured bone. Regardless of this uncomfortable situation, one cannot ignore his obligation to sugar up the neighborhood kids, lest a refusal of treats results in an abundance of tricks.

I’m officially bored to tears after several days of rest and keeping the foot elevated, and cannot endure watching any more television. I haven’t annoyed anyone who works for the government this week either. Officially, I’d like to thank everybody who has filled my head with horror stories of people they know who have suffered foot injuries which became infected which led to sepsis, amputation, and early death as well. That has been a real treat, having that in my head while trying to fall asleep as the toe throbs.


“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

October 31, 2019 at 1:00 pm

Posted in Astoria, Photowalks, Pickman

Tagged with ,

nervous coordination

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Wet, that’s me.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

These shots aren’t from yesterday’s rainstorm, instead they’re from last week’s deluge. My little dog Zuzu and I were eagerly awaiting the eventual return of Our Lady of the Pentacle from a social engagement last Wednesday when the sky opened up and biblical amounts of rain began to fall. What was odd about that particular storm was that the airborne droplets seemed to be swirling on their way down to the mean streets, negating any chance of finding a “rain shadow” to record the scene from. Even setting up my camera on a windowsill inside HQ didn’t really provide the lens with much cover as the rain seemed to be falling sideways. Weather is weird.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One of the interesting things that has come out of all the long exposure stuff I’ve been doing for a while now has been the revelation that you can visualize traffic patterns moving through urban streets using this technique. Head lamps, and running or brake lights, leave behind tell tale trails. For some reason this is fascinating to me, and since anything that isn’t standing still in the frame for at least fifteen to twenty seconds is effectively “ghosted” those trails are the only indication of where a vehicle was and what its path was. The reduction of item based distraction allows one to record actual “desire paths” chosen by the driver.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One of these days, I’ve got to do a series of these and then blend them into a time lapse video. I’d love to somehow take up position thirty to forty feet over the double yellow line, of course, but you’d need one of those mobile oppression platforms used by NYPD or a cherry picker basket on a telecom maintenance truck to do so. The mobile oppression platform would be best, of course, since it’s got a solid cop roof on it.

I spent a lot of time shooting stuff in the rain this last week, and it’s going to be a moist five days here at the Newtown Pentacle.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle


Come on a tour!

With Atlas ObscuraInfrastructure Creek AT NIGHT! My favorite walking tour to conduct, and in a group limited to just twelve people! October 29th, 7-9 p.m.

Click here for more information and tickets!

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

October 21, 2019 at 1:00 pm

Posted in Astoria, Broadway, NY 11103

Tagged with , ,

ultimate abomination

with 3 comments

Hullabaloos.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Last Sunday, whilst enjoying an autumnal afternoon with the neighbors at the local pub, a sudden explosion of noise and tumult occurred when the FDNY suddenly arrived at a call on 42nd street right off of Broadway here in Astoria. Given that – despite my advancing age – I still run down the street yelling “Firemen, Firemen” when the big red trucks are screaming past, one couldn’t help but get excited and start waving the camera at them.

Predictably enough, it was the engine and hook and ladder you’d normally associate with Astoria who answered the call – Engine 263 and Ladder 117 – who are based out of a house on Astoria Blvd.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Not sure what the emergency was, based on what I was seeing and what they were carrying with them, I’d guess that somebody had reported smelling gas or something. They didn’t stay too long, which usually indicates that the emergency conditions were overstated and that the talents of the FDNY weren’t required to ameliorate it. Not pictured was one of those red big jeep vehicles which the FDNY brass ride around in, but which was present. There were no ambulances either, so it must have been purely a structural call. We get a whole lot of FDNY personnel showing up whenever a drunk is being scooped up by EMS units for some reason.

A few people at the bar were grousing about overkill. I offered one of my little aphorisms about not questioning the appropriateness of what professionals think is correct, and especially so in the case of FDNY. If they think it’s right to show up with a small army…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Thankfully, the emergency – whatever it was – was resolved quickly. The normal pattern of life in Astoria resumed, and as the photo above can confirm, delivery bicycles began to flow freely about without impediment again.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle


Come on a tour!

With Atlas ObscuraInfrastructure Creek AT NIGHT! My favorite walking tour to conduct, and in a group limited to just twelve people! October 29th, 7-9 p.m.

Click here for more information and tickets!

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

October 17, 2019 at 1:00 pm

imperfect salts

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Getting my groove on in Astoria.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Pictured today are the POV’s from 31st street and Astoria Blvd., which is one of the worst street crossings for pedestrians and bicycles in all of Queens. The construction materials are related to the “enhanced station initiative” that Governor Cuomo introduced a few years back, which has been playing out in incremental stages all up and down the 31st street corridor between Northern Blvd./Jackson Avenue and the terminal stop of the N and W Astoria lines at Ditmars Blvd. One was admittedly skeptical about this when it was described, but – in my opinion, at least – the newly redesigned stations are pretty good. They supply an abundance of light to what has historically been a dark and somewhat menacing streetscape, and the “upstairs” component is pretty clean visually.

Saying that, the corner pictured above which… y’know… has a train station over it and thusly a lot of pedestrians, is terrifying to navigate on foot and particularly so at night.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Ultimately, the high volume traffic problem is due to the Triborough Bridge, which spits thousands of cars a day out onto a two block long stretch of local streets which lead to the entrance ramps for the Grand Central Parkway. Why there aren’t express lanes leading directly to the parkway from the bridge is yet another one of those Queens mysteries nobody can answer. The Grand Central Parkway runs through a trench sunk into Astoria Blvd. which stretches from roughly 33rd street to 47th street, where it eventually joins the same altitude as the surrounding local streets. The trench is due to topography, of course, and both sides of Astoria Blvd. for the more or less 3/4 of a mile between 33rd and 47th are heavily trafficked one lane service roads with a parking lane along a fairly narrow sidewalk.

Why not deck the highway and create a green space/park over it? It would save the State a bunch of money in terms of snow removal, create a planted area in place of highway, contain the particulates of auto exhaust wafting off the Grand Central and into the residential streets surrounding the thing, and would likely eliminate the de facto “us and them” factor between the bifurcated neighborhoods of Astoria (one centering around the commercial strip of Ditmars to north and the southern 30th ave./Broadway zones). We’d drink up a lot of storm water with a green space, and break up the heat island effect – and as I’m often wont to point out – there is no greater magnifier for real estate valuations than the presence of a nearby park. Everybody wins – contractors, labor, drivers, pedestrians, politicians, real estate people, even the actual community itself.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Over in Brooklyn’s South Williamsburg, where the BQE runs through a similar trench, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams has been talking about something similar for quite a while. They’ve done a bunch of the math for this sort of thing, and it’s not outlandishly expensive as long as conversation about the subject stays away from creating a deck structure that needs to support buildings, only parkland. You’d be able to prefabricate the sections, install them one by one during (relatively) low traffic intervals, and give a section of NYC remarkable for its lack of parklands a new reason for the citizenry to move in and join the party. Also, this would likely end up being a fully union laborer operation, so all the Politicians could wet their beaks at the trough of a happy Building Trade Council. Again – win, win, win.

Why not here in Western Queens? Tell me why this wouldn’t improve things for the people of Astoria?


“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

September 19, 2019 at 11:00 am

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