The Newtown Pentacle

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Archive for the ‘Cool Cars’ Category

common sheet

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Archive, again.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Given that I still haven’t produced any images worth showing to you in the last few days, today is another post pulling photos from the Newtown Pentacle archives. Luckily, over the years, I’ve been able to put the camera in front of some pretty cool stuff. Pictured above is the Kirby Moran tugboat, navigating through Newark Bay, with the Bayonne Bridge in the background. This was shot while onboard a Working Harbor Committee trip. WHC is a Manhattan based non profit, dedicated to educating the public about the harbor of New York and New Jersey, and one which I’ve worked with for more than a decade as official photographer and occasional tour guide.

I fear that there won’t be any boat excursions in the cards for me this year, which would and will be sorely missed. Being out on the water is a big part of my life during the warm weather months. Honestly, I do not know what I’m going to do with myself on Tuesday or Thursday nights in July and August.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s a New York & Atlantic train in the shot above, captured on a Waste Management campus in East Williamsburg last year. I got to ride on the train, and had unusual levels of access to the folks who own and operate the freight service the day this shot was captured. I also got a cool baseball hat with their logo on it which I wear all the time now. NY&A operates mainly on Long Island Railroad’s rights of way, and handle LIRR’S freight duties for Kings, Queens, Nassau, and Suffolk counties. Just behind the train is a fence, and just behind the fence is the English Kills tributary of the fabulous Newtown Creek.

The context of why I was able to shoot this train, and enjoy access to the site, was due to an invite by the North Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce offered to myself and several other members of Newtown Creek Alliance – a Brooklyn based non profit dedicated to reveal, restore, and revitalize Newtown Creek. I’ve been NCA’s historian and general tour guide for more than a decade as well, and I’m also a member of the board of directors for the organization.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I see a lot of cool cars when I’m wandering around Brooklyn and Queens, including this cherry Ford Mustang all done up with racing stripes. This particular auto was encountered on the Astoria side of Northern Blvd., which happens to sit within the jurisdiction of Queens Community Board 1, a Governmental body which I was sworn into and joined last year.

I’m currently a member of the Transportation and Environmental Committees, but have made it a point to attend a meeting of every committee CB1 has in order to understand the structure of the organization. The only ones I haven’t attended so far are Public Safety and Health. Saying that, I occasionally sit in on the 114th pct.’s community council meetings.

I’ll definitely be getting out in the dead of night this weekend, wandering through the plagued streets, and gathering some new images for next week. See you then, 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 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.

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The darnedest things, you see.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

So, I’m coming home from the Community Board offices one night after a meeting, and I spot a wrecked car body dangling on the end of a tow truck’s wire. Not the sort of thing you see everyday, thought I, and worthy of a picture or two. Well, to be fair, I do see this sort of thing a lot, but most of you probably don’t.

Transiting to and from that Community Board District office is why there’s been a sudden proliferation of shots from the Industrial Business Zone found along the Grand Central Parkway and Astoria Blvd. of late. It’s no industrial Maspeth, mind you, but there’s a few interesting things to point a camera at hereabouts. If only St. Michael’s Cemetery was open at night, huh?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I’m sure this is the sort of thing that someone who works for the City is just dying to write a fine for, but y’know – it’s the 108th precinct – and they’ve got bigger fish to fry. NYPD has got to be a scary place to work right now, first responder wise. Along with FDNY they’re literally the front line of the epidemiologist response team, and you’ve got to figure that they’re worried about tracking something back home after the shift ends. When all this is all over, rounds and rounds of drinks are on the rest of us for all of your services in these times of trouble, you coppers and smoke eaters.

Fun times, huh?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The joke which I’ve been trading with friends and family about “social distancing” is that what I normally consider a good time is to wander around a deserted industrial zone by myself, so this is just another day for me. Additionally, as a proud member of Generation X, social isolation and avoiding interaction with other people is imperative and a long denied desire. Don’t stand so close to me, as the old Police song opines.

Cooties.

Note: I’m writing this and several of the posts you’re going to see for the next couple of weeks at the start of the week of Monday, March 16th. 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

March 18, 2020 at 11:00 am

hopeless howl

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The whole “human interaction” thing isn’t going well.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Behavioral quirks and noisome habits notwithstanding, one doesn’t consider himself to be too much of a chore to be around. Much like Billy Joel’s eponymous Piano Man, I’ll gladly tell you a joke or light up your smoke, but there’s someplace I’d rather be. Saying that, one is continually puzzled by the humans. Just this weekend, I had to stand between two friends who were about to come to blows over literally nothing, and encourage the angrier of the two to remember that he – as the managing partner of a multi million dollar corporation here in NYC – would be badly serving himself by getting into a bar fight. The following day, an encounter I had with an acquaintance here in the neighborhood went sour, but I refused to be goaded into “taking the bait.”

Embrace your inner sociopath, I say. Everybody is just ready to fly off the handle about every little thing these days. I’m sick of it, but getting angry isn’t the answer to all of life’s problems. Just add that person to “your list” and when the time is right, that’s when you deny them something they want. That’s the American way.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Speaking of the “American Way,” Thursday last found a humble narrator at the local pub sitting at a sidewalk table and enjoying a frosty pint of beer when the late model Chevy pictured above rolled by. Can’t tell you what it was, as I didn’t get a good enough look at its grill to identify it via the usual means, but I can tell you that the driver was a Billy Joel fan as “We didn’t start the fire” was blaring from within. Personally, I think Mr. Joel’s “Glass Houses” is a near perfect album, but I appreciate a good pop standard as much as the next guy.

In tune with the current era, one of you is now meant to leave a comment on this post telling me that I’m a fool for my stated opinion, or describe in exacting detail how that opinion indicates that I’ve been unconsciously co-opted into stating it by some shadowy cabal. One of my favorite songs, ever, is the theme song from an old 1970’s kid’s show – The Banana Splits. Great song. Here’s a link to a cover of it by 80’s band “The Dickies.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Now, you may of may not like the Dickies, or the Banana Splits theme song, or dispute my opinions on which Billy Joel album is best. It doesn’t mean that I think you’re an asshole for not being one hundred percent in tune with me, and I won’t write you off to the dustbin of history over it. It means we disagree about something. Civility surrounding disagreement is the actual American Way, which is that thing which Superman and Captain America were always rattling on about in the comics. The villains in comic books, on the other hand, were always seeking unity of thought – Darkseid and the Anti Life equation, or Doctor Doom’s various schemes.

Don’t be like Doctor Doom, aspire instead to be Superman.

Of course, Superman is a sociopath. He lies to all his friends, pretends to be someone he’s not, and can burn you to a cinder with one withering glance. The lesson in that is “be nice” to people you don’t know much about, because they very well might be an alien overlord with laser eyes and freeze breath who is invulnerable to whatever petty bullshit you decide to send their way. Being Clark Kent isn’t Superman’s critique of humanity, instead it’s his testing environment. It’s easy to be nice to the cape persona, and easier still to shit all over the nerdy reporter. He wants to know how the apes he lives amongst really treat each other, and we constantly disappoint him.

Thing is, Superman isn’t like that, he just wants to help people despite being a sociopathic liar.


“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 13, 2019 at 11:30 am

public sentiment

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#twotondeathmachines

– photos by Mitch Waxman

“Two Ton Death Machines” is the term which the bicycle fanatics use when discussing automobiles and their murder happy drivers. If I played guitar and was starting a metal band, Two Ton Death Machine would be what I called the outfit, and my first album would be called #CARNAGE. C’est la vie.

The big project I’ve been alluding to for the last several months, which has been actually been distracting me for more than a year, is beginning to come to fruition. This involves the pulling together of tens of thousands of disparate photos, separating them by typology and subject matter, and then stringing them together into some sort of coherent form. The “Cool Cars” YouTube video above is one of the initial attempts. I’d love to put some sort of soundtrack to it, but as mentioned above, I’m no musician. If any of you are, and would be interested in riffing a track for me to include (I’ve got zero $) I wouldn’t say no.

I’m going to figure out how to include narration on forthcoming videos, as a note, but for now there’s no audio – so, be very quiet, the two ton death machines and their death hungry drivers are rolling about and hunting human victims to squish into the pavement and they might hear you. #vrooom


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Written by Mitch Waxman

November 7, 2018 at 11:00 am

terror withheld

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PSA: August 23 is the “Night of the Living Dead.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On 45th street, here in Astoria, a water main replacement project has been playing out. That’s the Tully company at work above, contractors for the NYC DEP, doing the work of trenching and replacing old pipe. There’s been a LOT of roadwork and utility construction work happening in the neighborhood for the last couple of years – replacing gas mains leading to either LaGuardia Airport or Astoria Energy on the forbidden northern shore, Vision Zero oriented work on street corners along 31st street, sewer line repairs along several of the avenues.

It’s never quiet for long around these parts, I tell’s ya.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There’s been an unusual amount of Police activity as well, here in the 114 pct. Just a couple of weeks ago, the neighborhood along Broadway in the 40’s and 30’s was all abuzz about the Machete Man Bandit, for instance. There there was the Peeping Tomás near by 36th street, and that crazy murder suicide near Hallets Cove which was all over the news.

Even Los Burrachos, the railroad bums that gather nearby the paint shop on 42nd street, have been startled by the sudden appearance of dozens of new homeless inebriates – whom even they look down on. Many have been given nicknames like “Shit his Pants, and American Flag shirt, guy” (which distinguishes this particular fellow from “shit his pants guy”) or “Krustie McGee” and “Surprisingly fat for a homeless guy Guy.” We’ve also suddenly amassed a group of retirement age junkies who have decided to base themselves around the Broadway Branch of the Queens Library and are charismatic but ultimately tragic characters.

Before you ask, these folks are generally what the pros would call “services resistant,” and I reached out to Jimmy Van Bramer about them, and the councilman sent out a DHS counseling crew whom they pretty much ignored. They’re not homeless because of a run of bad luck. Drunks, junkies, bums, street urchins – this is their life and they’re the ones living it, not you. Best you can do by them is to call 911 when you find them passed out on the sidewalk, so they can go sleep it off in a supervised bed, get a shower, and eat a meal on the City at Elmhurst Hospital.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Omnipresent is the thing in the sapphire megalith of Long Island City, gazing down upon the world of men through its unblinking and three lobed burning eye. This thing, which cannot possibly exist, covets. Through its global armies of often unsuspecting acolytes, this thing which does not nor cannot breathe or feel gnaws into the flesh of the world and feeds passively. From the cupola of that sapphire dagger, dug deeply into the heart of Queens, the thing watches men and their folly. It enjoys itself, and plans to someday reveal to mankind new ways for us to revel, and feed, and enjoy ourselves in its manner. 

That last paragraph was just for me, as a note. It’s my birthday, and I’ll cry if I want to.


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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It’s National Ice Cream Cone Day, in these United States.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A few odds and ends, in today’s post at this – your Newtown Pentacle.

There’s nothing that somebody who works for the City hates more than being photographed while pursuing their occupation, and none moreso than the NYPD. Saying that, if you’re doing a traffic stop right in front of me while I’m hanging out with my pals at the neighborhood saloon… what’s a humble narrator to do? Constitutionally speaking y’all have less of a right to privacy in the public sphere than the rest of us do because you’re wearing that blue suit and sporting the badge, and the inherent lack of privacy that all of us suffer when out in public is the constitutionally justified reason y’all can get away with hanging surveillance cameras and speed trap gizmos on lamp posts.

Big brother? Little Brother? All part of one big happy, and quite paranoid, family.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Same corner in Astoria, different day, and a DSNY garbage truck was experiencing mechanical problems. You don’t see tow trucks of the type pictured above too often… well… I do, but most don’t. I didn’t stick around too long to watch them towing the truck back to 58th street and the garage found at the angle between Woodside and Maspeth.

I had somewhere to be, people to see, politicians and officials to annoy.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Down in Hunters Point one night, as I was passing by the LIRR yard, I noticed this cool bit of kit. My surmise, based on the sort of tools that the gizmo sported in its front end, was that this was a track maintenance mechanism. It had what looked like two claws that stuck out of the front which were positioned pretty close to where the steel tracks are found.


Upcoming Tours and events

The Insalubrious Valley of the Newtown Creek Walking Tour,
with Atlas Obscura – Saturday, September 23rd, 11 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.

Join us on the wrong side of the tracks for an exploration of the hidden industrial heartlands of Brooklyn and Queens, with Newtown Creek Alliance Historian Mitch Waxman details here.

Exploring Long Island City, from Luxury Waterfront to Abandoned Factories Walking Tour,
with NY Adventure Club – Saturday, October 7th, 1 p.m. – 3 p.m.

Long Island City is a tale of two cities; one filled with glittering water-front skyscrapers and manicured parks, and the other, a highly active ground transportation & distribution zone vital to the New York economy — which will prevail? With Newtown Creek Alliance Historian Mitch Waxman details here.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

September 22, 2017 at 12:00 pm

true conditions

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It’s National Salami Day, in these United States.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On this day, in 70 AD, the Romans sacked Jerusalem. In 1776, the very first submarine attack on a warship occurred in New York Harbor when the Turtle attached a time bomb to the hull of HMS Eagle. In 1860, Garibaldi entered Naples and began the process of creating the modern day Nation of Italy. In 1921, the first Miss America pageant was held in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Over in San Francisco back in 1927, inventor Philo Farnsworth demonstrated the first television signal. Benjamin, the last of the thylacines, died alone in a Tasmanian zoo in 1936. In 1940, the Nazis began the London Blitz, and in 1978 Rock and Roll drummer Keith Moon kicked the bucket.

The cool car pictured above was spotted in Greenpoint, incidentally. I was out one night conducting a walking tour of Newtown Creek and happened across it. The graffiti is what drew me in.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

After conducting the walking tour, one set upon his path back towards the rolling hills of almond eyed Astoria, but had to pass through the concrete devastations of Hunters Point and Queens Plaza in order to do so. It was a nice night, and I decided upon walking home. On my way, I passed by the Queens Midtown Tunnel and captured this shot.

The funny bit – to me at least – about the current efforts by the State of New York to elimate toll booths in favor of electronic tolling is that no one thought about what happens on the Manhattan side of the tunnel. I’ve been noticing massive traffic backups on the Long Island Expressway since they instituted the new system, which was meant to ease traffic and smooth the commute for the 80,000 or so daily vehicle trips through the tunnel. The toll booths had the effect of causing traffic to pulse through the toll plaza four or five at a time, but now the traffic just snakes into it. The head of the snake emerges into the City and is met by traffic lights on second avenue. Those traffic lights are now the de facto governors of how fast traffic can flow through the tunnel, and on the 71 miles of the Long Island Expressway found to the east of it.

The military guys and gals have a word for this sort of thing – it’s “FUBAR.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Back in Astoria, it was preternaturally dark when I arrived home, but this sort of thing doesn’t bother my little dog Zuzu. She operates by smell and sound, my dog, and as we engaged in her evening saunter and as she performed her investigative sniffing, I was growing increasingly apprehensive for some reason.

My pineal gland was twitching with latent horror.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As we swung back around onto Broadway and made our way back towards HQ, a large group of teenaged men were riding their bicycles down the block in a pack. According to a report I saw on the local CBS TV news, events such as this are to be viewed in a menacing light and feared. I found it menacing simply because they’re all teenagers. Darned kids, with their bicycles and the hip hop, engaging in group activities without first obtaining police permits or parental approval. Chaos!

There should be a curfew for anyone under the age of thirty, I tell ya. Damn kids.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Bicycles such as the ones pictured above are a fairly modern invention, but some scholars attribute the first bike design to a sketch by one of DaVinci’s students in 1534. The first verified appearance of bicycles was in the 19th century, specifically in 1817 Germany with the “dandy horse.” These were “running machines” which were operated sans pedals or chains. The velocipede era saw the addition of pedals to the front wheel, but it wasn’t until 1863 that a french engineer came up with what we’d recognize instantly as a bike – with pedals and a chain driven rotary crank. What you’re looking at in the shot above are 21st century variants of what was introduced as the “safety bicycle” back in 1885. John Dunlop introduced the pneumatic tire in 1888. In 1889, the diamond shaped frame of the modern bike was introduced, in a model that also folded. The modern multi geared bike, which included a “Derailleur” mechanism on the chain, came on the scene at the start of the 20th century. Everything since has simply been refinement of the design.

Teenagers, however, have always been dangerous and unpredictable. Curfew!


Upcoming Tours and events

Calvary Cemetery Walking Tour, with Atlas Obscura – Saturday, September 9th, 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Explore NYC history, hidden inside sculptural monuments and mafioso grave sites, as you take in iconic city views on this walking tour, with Newtown Creek Alliance Historian Mitch Waxman details here.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

September 7, 2017 at 1:00 pm

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