The Newtown Pentacle

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swam curiously

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From Hells Gate.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Whilst wiggling about and adjusting the camera settings to capture the image above, a humble narrator was photographed by the occupants of a passing minivan (which slowed down to do so) on Shore Bouelvard alongside Astoria Park last Sunday. The largish iPhone brandished at me skillfully ignored all the folks engaged in romantic congress in the front seats of their cars, or the small army of marijuana enthusiasts who were similarly situated in the parking lane. Clearly, the iPhone person had uncovered some nefarious activity being committed by a strange old man in a filthy black raincoat, and would be reporting so to the proper authorities. I was waiting for the goon squad to arrive and kick in my front door back at HQ later that night.

Mighty Triborough, and the Hell Gate Bridge, in today’s dark light post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There is just something about camera equipment that sets off the accent crowd here in Astoria which I’ll never understand. It’s kosher to wave your phone around wherever you go, but if they see a DSLR, it’s regarded with the same sort of caution and concern that you’d expect for brandishing an assault rifle. Given that the times I’m not carrying a camera are so rare that they are statistically irrelevant, it means that I get stared at a lot.

I’d get stared at a lot even if I wasn’t carrying the camera, as a note.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Children gasp or cry, dogs growl, old ladies clutch at their purses… all things that happen when one such as myself scuttles past. Men puff themselves up and assume aggressive posture, police slow down and observe, security cameras pivot on their swivels. The only living creatures which do not react negatively to me are birds, and one can walk through a flock of them pecking away at the ground with nary a ruffled feather.

A few years ago, whilst wandering about, I snapped a quick photo of the facade of a local Greek church – St. Irene’s. A small mob of old Greek ladies suddenly appeared and literally chased me for about 3/4 of a mile.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I favor atmospherics like fog for these kind of shots, normally, but for structures as massive and far reaching as Triborough and Hell Gate – fog and mist get in the way and obscure too much detail. It’s particularly dark on this section of the East River as well, which causes any sort of artificial lighting to flare due to the contrast.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

In my never ending quest to break habits, a rare vertical or portrait format shot from the “House of Moses.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I walked into Astoria Park to get this final shot of Hell Gate. I do wish Amtrak would light this bridge up at night.


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Written by Mitch Waxman

February 23, 2018 at 11:00 am

faery goldenness

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Astoria style Currier and Ives, by request, for George The Atheist.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Last week, frequent commenter George the Atheist opined that he’d like to see some wintertime landscape shots offered at this – your Newtown Pentacle – so when the snow began to fall last Saturday, a humble narrator got busy here in Astoria. The bodega/grocery store pictured above is across the street from HQ, owned by a lovely Lebanese family, and is open nineteen hours every day. They’ve recently began a lunch counter in the back of the shop, and I can recommend the Kofta Hero with everything. That is indeed a tripod shot above, but with increased ISO sensitivity and shutter speed designed to capture the individual snowflakes falling. I did a few smoother shots at lower ISO and longer shutter speeds, but the airborne snow tended to smear and disappear in a long exposure – and just illustrated the conical path which the street lamp’s light was following down to the road.

The Indian place next door to the bodega is pretty good, if you happen to be in the neighborhood. Try the Salmon Tikka.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Above is an example of what happens when you slow things down during weather and accrue some time on the camera sensor, while looking northwards up my block in the direction of one of those new LED lamps which the City has been installing. It’s a whiter and colder light than yesterday’s model of NYC street lamps, which were yellow orange. If you click through on either this or the first shot to my Flickr account, you’ll see that one was experimenting with time and sensitivity in the shots immediately before and after the ones in today’s post. Always messing about, me.

The hard part about shooting in any sort of precipitatating atmosphere doesn’t really involve the camera body (plastic shopping bag cover) but the business end of the lens itself, which quickly becomes spotted with moisture requiring maintenance polishes between shots.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Sunday last, one suddenly found himself in Astoria Park after dark and so a quick “set up” for this shot of the arches of the New York Connecting Railroad, where it feeds rail traffic onto the Hell Gate Bridge, was accomplished. The snow from Saturday was still present, and all lit up by the yellow orange sodium based lighting which is still used by the Parks Dept. I always refer to the half melted stuff as “rotting snow” for some reason.

One seems to be obsessed with decay. It would also seem that I take requests. What do you want to see? If it’s reasonable, I’ll try and shoot it.


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Written by Mitch Waxman

February 21, 2018 at 11:00 am

private collector

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These pants are too tight.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As mentioned in prior posts this week, a walk over to the Bushwick side of the fabulous Newtown Creek was recently endeavored upon. As I often mention, this time of the year is never a good interval for a humble narrator, who often finds himself staring out the window wishing that it wasn’t quite as rainy or snowy or cold as the winter season typically is in New Yrok City. Atmospheric hurdles notwithstanding, one nevertheless found himself standing on the Scott Avenue footbridge over the Bushwick Branch tracks contemplating his problems while capturing a lovely winter sunset on a chilly night.

As a note, that’s the garbage train you see on the tracks below. By garbage, I mean the “black bag” or “putrescent” waste stream, which is containerized up by the Waste Management company at a couple of spots along Newtown Creek, and which will be “disappeared” out of the City by a rail outfit called the New York and Atlantic.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The other day, in a post congratulating the Grand Street Bridge on its 115th birthday, I mentioned the Grand Avenue Bus Depot in Maspeth but didn’t show it. The shot above rectifies that, and it’s one of the few times that I’ve grabbed a shot of the place without being hassled by MTA’s “rent a cop” security. I don’t argue with the septuagenarian security guards there anymore, instead I write complaint letters to MTA HQ in Brooklyn, asking about exactly when the MTA decided it was kosher to abrogate my rights.

I’m becoming quite crotchety in my old age.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Buses have been increasingly focused on in recent months for one reason or another. Like a lot of the other municipal stuff which we are surrounded by, these vehicles pass by unnoticed and uncommented. They sort of blend into the background of the City and roll on by. I’ve become fascinated by them, in the context that buses are basically giant boxes of light moving along the darkened streets of the hive, and can be somewhat difficult to photograph. I like a challenge.

That’s the Q104, heading east along Astoria’s Broadway. As is the case with many of the bus routes of Queens, a part of the Q104’s replicates that of an old and forgotten trolley route. For the modern day residents of Astoria, myself included, it’s provides a vehicular connection to the Costco retail operation next door to Socrates Sculpture Garden.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s the Q102 on 31st street in Astoria, another line which I’ll periodically use when I’m returning from Newtown Creek and lazy sets in while I’m marching up Northern Blvd. About 800 million rides occur on MTA’s roughly 5,700 buses annually. Depending on the model of bus, which have an average life span of about 12 years on the streets of New York City, MTA pays out anywhere between $450,000 and $750,000 for EACH one of its diesel buses, and the hybrid models pictured above can add about $300,000 to the price tag for a new unit. You read that right, btw.

A lot to spend on a big box of light, no?


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lingered tenaciously

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Atmospheric temperature inversions are cool.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As you may recall, last Friday was unusually warm for a day in January, and a patch of heavy fog fairly permeated the ether. Later in the evening, when the temperature began to drop towards seasonal norms, many would have described weather conditions as rainy but in actuality it was a precipitating mist. A variety of social functions saw one flitting to and fro in the cloud of vapor which occluded human vision and lent a mutiplicity of illuminates full discourse to dissipate and diffuse into its heaving forms.

Paragraphs like the one above are part of the reason that I don’t get invited to many parties, so when I am on a guest list – I go.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A soirée in Sunnyside to celebrate a friend’s birthday was attended, and after escorting a third party back to her home, one found himself close enough to home to walk. The City of Greater New York is always at its most photogenic when it’s moist, and given that the temperature was pleasant… why not?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The next time a temperature inversion occurs and misty banks of vapor are observably rolling across the concrete devastations, my intention is to cancel or back out of any and all interpersonal plans. One shall pack up the tripod and camera kit and head over to the Newtown Creek.


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Written by Mitch Waxman

January 17, 2018 at 11:00 am

almost snatched

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Project Queens is a work in progress, and always has been.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It often seems as if everyplace I find my heels clicking upon the sidewalks of Western Queens is a construction zone. This one got my attention the other day when I noticed a shaft of sunlight while riding a train, somewhere between the 46th Street and Steinway Street stops on the venerable R line tracks. After returning to the ancient village from points west and south, a brief investigatory wander revealed it to be a crew from the MTA construction division hard at work on Astoria’s Broadway. I walked up on the end of this process, but it seemed that they had cut a hole in the street in order to deliver bundles of lumber and other heavy materials to the sweating concrete bunkers below the street.

I know, that sounds ridiculous, cutting a hole in the street. Why go to such lengths and expense, inconveniencing an entire neighborhood, when you could just use a work train to transport materials to the job site… but… I did say “MTA” didn’t I?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Can you imagine the sort of existential horror that would ensue if the current Mayor of NYC’s mad plan to deck over the Sunnyside Yards happened? Often have I contemplated the nightmare scenario of materials laden heavy trucks criss crossing through Woodside, Astoria, Dutch Kills, Hunters Point, and Sunnyside while carrying tonnages of construction equipment and materials. The noise alone…

It would be less instructive, IMHO, if they were to just extend the Dutch Kills tributary of Newtown Creek a couple of blocks to the north and bring it all in via a maritime shipping channel. That is, in a scenario in which this Queens killing abomination actually happens, of course.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Whilst marching about on Skillman Avenue nearby Queens Plaza, a work train crew was spotted on the overhead tracks. Presumptively, these folks were working on the long overdue CBTC signals project on the 7 line. This project, which seems like its been going on for decades (it has been) and must be millions over budget (it is) will allow the estimable scions of the MTA the opportunity to run one extra train per hour on the 7 line. Will the perfidy displayed by Jay Street ever end?

One of the military industrial complex concepts, which I wish the MTA would adopt in planning and spending, is the “resource to kill ratio.” In layman’s terms, that call that “bang for the buck.” You don’t use a million dollar missile to kill a guy on a camel, essentially. You use a sniper instead.


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Written by Mitch Waxman

January 15, 2018 at 11:00 am

with astonishment

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I’m not being paranoid, everybody hates me.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Everywhere a humble narrator goes, people point and laugh. Some grasp at their purses, or point me out to their children as an example of what can happen if you don’t do your homework and behave properly. Sometimes, a mocking crowd will gather and hurl garbage collected off the street. The names I’m called by these assembled strangers are hurtful, because more often than not there’s a kernel of truth to their accusatory defamations. The guy above told me “You stink.”

The whole world is against me, I’m telling you.

from wikipedia

According to the DSM-IV-TR, persecutory delusions are the most common form of delusions in paranoid schizophrenia, where the person believes “he or she is being tormented, followed, tricked, spied on, or ridiculed.” They are also often seen in schizoaffective disorder and, as recognized by DSM-IV-TR, constitute the cardinal feature of the persecutory subtype of delusional disorder, by far the most common. Delusions of persecution may also appear in manic and mixed episodes of bipolar disease, polysubstance abuse, and severe depressive episodes with psychotic features, particularly when associated with bipolar illness.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Sometimes, I’ll innocently greet a person whom I’ve met before. Instantly they will begin to offer excuses as to needing to be somewhere else, describe a sudden onset of nausea, or begin to speak in a different language. Shock and horror greet my arrivals, it seems. Often it seems as if groups of people have organized around ostracizing a humble narrator, forming into whispering circles with their backs turned towards me.

I don’t think I smell particularly bad, or at least no worse than other people.

from wikipedia

Paranoia is an instinct or thought process believed to be heavily influenced by anxiety or fear, often to the point of delusion and irrationality. Paranoid thinking typically includes persecutory, or beliefs of conspiracy concerning a perceived threat towards oneself (e.g. “Everyone is out to get me”, which is an American parochial phrase). Paranoia is distinct from phobias, which also involve irrational fear, but usually no blame. Making false accusations and the general distrust of others also frequently accompany paranoia. For example, an incident most people would view as an accident or coincidence, a paranoid person might believe was intentional.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One loves to argue, to be fair. A humble narrator will take on any argument, anytime, and if I had the funding to keep a legal professional on staff I would be constantly in court pursuing frivolous lawsuits over minor points. It’s my right to complain to anyone who will listen, after all, and especially so to government employees and officialdom. One did not like “the look” which a deputy commissioner of the DEP gave me one time back in 2011, and I’ve been saving up in my penny jar since to hire an attorney to pursue the slight.

Best served cold? Pfahh, what kind of revenge is served cold?

from wikipedia

In the legal profession and courts, a querulant (from the Latin querulus – “complaining”) is a person who obsessively feels wronged, particularly about minor causes of action. In particular the term is used for those who repeatedly petition authorities or pursue legal actions based on manifestly unfounded grounds. These applications include in particular complaints about petty offenses.

Querulant behavior is to be distinguished from either the obsessive pursuit of justice regarding major injustices, or the proportionate, reasonable, pursuit of justice regarding minor grievances. According to Mullen and Lester, the life of the querulant individual becomes consumed by their personal pursuit of justice in relation to minor grievances.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One spends a lot of his time wringing hands and gnashing teeth, which partially contributes to the sorry state of my dentition. Acquaintances such as the fellow pictured above have counseled me to just relax and forget about the slings and arrows lest I be branded a contrarian lunatic. He also suggested that I invest in some decent aftershave or cologne to cancel out the stench of sewage and garbage which I carry about my person.

from wikipedia

Stigma is a Greek word that in its origins referred to a type of marking or tattoo that was cut or burned into the skin of criminals, slaves, or traitors in order to visibly identify them as blemished or morally polluted persons. These individuals were to be avoided particularly in public places.

Social stigmas can occur in many different forms. The most common deal with culture, obesity, gender, race, illness and disease. Many people who have been stigmatized, feel as though they are transforming from a whole person to a tainted one. They feel different and devalued by others. This can happen in the workplace, educational settings, health care, the criminal justice system, and even in their own family.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This stimatization and social suffering sucks. It’s gotten so bad that a humble narrator recognizes facial postures such as the one above as being one of normal greeting. I’m not just paranoid about being socially isolated and rejected, it’s getting to the point where I’m not even sure of whose face it is staring back at me from the bathroom mirror at three in the morning, after my nightly hysterical fit. There’s some old guy in the mirror, where I’m supposed to be.

What’s real? I’ll tell you what’s real, people suck, and I don’t smell that bad.

from wikipedia

The most distinguishing symptoms of BPD are marked sensitivity to rejection or criticism, and intense fear of possible abandonment. Overall, the features of BPD include unusually intense sensitivity in relationships with others, difficulty regulating emotions, and impulsivity. Other symptoms may include feeling unsure of one’s personal identity, morals, and values; having paranoid thoughts when feeling stressed; dissociation and depersonalization; and, in moderate to severe cases, stress-induced breaks with reality or psychotic episodes.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Numbed to such pain and rejection, what one truly worries about are the sometimes violent reactions people have when I’m near. When I say “I got stoned this afternoon,” it’s not a story of ingesting some cannibinoids instead it’s a report that people hurled chunks of masonry and rock at me. The whole world is out to get me, and not invite me to parties.

The fellow above, after accusing me of taking his picture, which I denied – punched me in the neck. Hard.

from wikipedia

Social anhedonia is defined as a trait-like disinterest in social contact and is characterized by social withdrawal and decreased pleasure in social situations. This characteristic typically manifests as an indifference to other people. In contrast to introversion, a nonpathological dimension of human personality, social anhedonia represents a deficit in the ability to experience pleasure. Additionally, social anhedonia differs from social anxiety in that social anhedonia is predominantly typified by diminished positive affect, while social anxiety is distinguished by both decreased positive affect and exaggerated negative affect. This trait is currently seen as a central characteristic to, as well as a predictor of, schizophrenia spectrum disorders, as it is seen as a potential evolution of most personality disorders, if the patient is above age 24, when prodromal schizophrenia may be excluded.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Social isolation, punches to the neck, hatred and thwarted vengeance, accusations of stink and carrying the odors of the tomb about wherever I go… I’m not sure why I leave the house sometimes. How do you think you would smell, if children were always hurling rotten eggs at you? What did I ever do to deserve all of this?

Maybe, I should get some aftershave? I’d have to shave more, or at all, then.

from wikipedia

In humans, the formation of body odors is caused my factors such as diet, gender, health, and medication, but the major contribution comes from skin gland secretions and bacterial activity. Humans have three types of sweat glands; eccrine sweat glands, apocrine sweat glands and sebaceous glandss. Eccrine sweat glands are present from birth, while the two latter becomes activated during puberty. Between the different types of human skin glands, the body odor is primarily the result of the apocrine sweat glands, which secrete the majority of chemical compounds needed for the skin flora to metabolize it into odorant substances. This happens mostly in the axillary (armpit) region, although the gland can also be found in the areola, anogenital region, and around the navel. In humans, the armpit regions seem more important than the genital region for body odor which may be related to human bipedalism.


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Written by Mitch Waxman

January 8, 2018 at 11:00 am

in cipher

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On this day in 1898, the City of Greater New York was born.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Happy New Year.


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Written by Mitch Waxman

January 1, 2018 at 3:41 pm

Posted in Astoria

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