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latent fright

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Review Avenue.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The property at the left handed side of the shot above is all that remains, original building wise, of Standard Oil’s Queens County Oil Works. Workers at Standard referred to this facility as the “Candle Factory,” I’m told, as their principal product output involved the handling and manufacture of materials which would be incorporated into road flares and other fuel “candles” made from petroleum derivates like naphtha and paraffin. The footprint of the old Queens County Oil Works site incorporates the properties of the first large oil works on Newtown Creek, but that’s another story.

On the right hand (or eastern side) of the shot is First Calvary Cemetery’s great masonry wall, which contains the tomb legions.

The (presumptively) Consolidated Edison people have been busy for the last six months or so on that eastern side of the street replacing a few utility poles and stringing new high tension electrical wires between them, as well as digging out underground vaults for and then installing new electrical transformers in.

The new wires they’ve arrayed interact with tree branches growing off of the masonry elevation’s crown at Calvary, the interaction thereof producing eerie sounds as they sway in the wind. There’s a “clacking” staccato when the branches strike the wires, and a deep basso sound is produced when the wires rub sonorously against the wooden boughs. It sounds a great deal like some grandiose orchestra is playing a weird and alien tune, and kind of freaks you out.

Again, not wearing headphones nor listening to music or an audiobook at the moment, in an attempt to be 100% aware of my surroundings.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One often opines to elected officialdom and NYS regulator alike about the overload of weight that the utility people place onto those poles of creosoted wood, which carry the abundant wiring that keeps our civilization powered and connected here in Western Queens. I notice things, and this thing is concerning.

To wit, observe the bowing of that utility pole in the shot above, at the corner of 37th street and Review Avenue. The only thing keeping this wooden cylinder from snapping in half, as this is an older utility pole and not a newly installed one, is a conduit of iron piping which is acting like a spine.

A non emergency problem to solve in a different time, I say. Another reason to survive all this is looking forward to annoying the NYS Utility Board regulators on this topic – and looking forward to it, I am. One was conspiring with Assemblyman Brian Barnwell’s office on this topic, regarding the utility pole situation back in Astoria, before CoronAmerica manifested its ugly face and the world went to hell.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Observationally speaking, I’m not sure how the medallion taxi industry is going to survive this crisis. Everywhere that I’ve been marching about, which as you’ve seen here are the abandoned industrial streets of Long Island City, entire fleets of yellow cabs are sitting inert. Whereas the FEMA people famously have their “Waffle House” index to gauge the impact of hurricanes and storms, I have a yellow cab index.

I also have a drug dealer index. Now, I’m not in that particular market, but I keep an eye on it and periodically check in with people I know who are narcotic enthusiasts about the supply and demand situation. I like to know commodity prices. It seems that a “weed drought” is on, and that the heroin people are literally climbing the walls trying to find a fix. Don’t know many coke people these days, but apparently that’s another imported commodity which is becoming ever harder to acquire.

Also, on a personal note, today is the day in 2011 that we lost my Newtown Creek Alliance pal Bernie Ente.

Note: I’m writing this and several of the posts you’re going to see for the next week at the end of the week of Monday, March 30th. 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.


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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.

ancient overmantle

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Walking in Blissville.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A recent night found one scuttling about in the darkness while drawn towards the weird illuminations of the Kosciuszcko Bridge, which spans the fabulous Newtown Creek. Pictured above is the northeast corner of LIC’s First Calvary Cemetery, a photo which was shot using a somewhat different technique than the now tried and true methodology I use for night shots, which is why it looks a bit “different.”

An observation made during the walk, from Astoria to Blissville via Sunnyside, was that since all of the humans are staying in at night now, and automotive traffic is at an all time low, the normally furtive eidelons of nature are free to wander about.

Lots and lots of Raccoons, Opossums, and Rodents of all typologies were spotted along the way. Proof of what I’ve been saying for years, that if we were able to allow the mechanisms of the natural environment just a little bit of room, we’d lick the various problems facing our civilization pretty quickly.

Unfortunately, it’s taken the near collapse of that civilization to prove my point.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Growing up in a home where the reaction to leaving a faucet dripping was greeted with the same emotional and tangential severity as having discharged a firearm, one developed a series of coping mechanisms which have served me well over the years and have gained me the reputation of being “good in a crisis.” Unlike most, when I see that the house is on fire, my first instinct isn’t to assign blame but rather to pick up a hose or fire extinguisher and fix the problem in the most expeditious fashion possible. “Plenty of time to freak out afterwards” I always say. I guess I learned something from my batshit crazy mother after all, which at least takes the form of how and when one should react to random stressors.

Saying that, even my legendary ability to subsume and bury emotional stress is fracturing. Periodic walks like the ones described in recent weeks are sanity inducing.

Just as I was shooting the image above, a couple of plain clothes NYPD officers rolled up on me and began asking the familiar “why are you taking pictures of the bridge” queries. The encounter was short and non eventful, but it actually made me feel “normal” for a few minutes. Afterwards, rumination revealed that whereas I’ve had this exact same conversation with private security dozens of times in the last few years, it had been a long while since I had to have it with a badge.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Not having the super bright lights of the new Koscisuzcko Bridge blow out the highlights of any night shot they’re in is still a challenge which I haven’t been able to conquer, in a single exposure, yet. The middle shot in today’s post was severely underexposed to compensate for the bridge lighting, as I wanted to get the “red, white, and blue” pattern it was displaying. The shadows were “pushed” during processing to allow for detail in the shot. One technique I’ve experimented with is to do two exposures and then marry them together, but it’s a lot of work to get them to look “right.” I prefer to “get it in one” and whereas I know all about HDR, that technique really isn’t the answer either.

Luckily, I have lots of time on my hands to experiment. How are you spending your Quarantine, Lords and Ladies?

Note: I’m writing this and several of the posts you’re going to see for the next week at the end of the week of Monday, March 30th. 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.

pacing nervously

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Hitting the road…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As of this post, so far in the month of January has a humble narrator walked some sixty six and a half purposeful miles in the dead of night around Queens. By “purposeful” I mean that it’s not shlepping through my normal daily round, rather it refers to leaving HQ all kitted up and ready to wave the camera around. By my standard, this number still represents baby steps, of course, but whereas the broken toe drama of 2019 is now just another one of my unpleasant memories there are still physical consequences to having just sat on my butt for two months at the end of last year. Mainly the effects involve the size of my butt, muscle tone in my calves, and a few other “conditioning” issues. A new regime of personal discipline has been established, incorporating changes to both diet and exercise.

This has nothing to do with a New Year’s Resolution, as a note, it’s merely self preservation and the need to experience the world directly after a couple of months of convalescent boredom. On the particular night which these shots were gathered, I was walking along the Woodside/Sunnyside border, where a tiny industrially zoned area bumps up against the fencelines of the second, third, and fourth divisions of Calvary Cemetery.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My ultimate destination for the evening was – what else – Newtown Creek. From Astoria, you’ve got “corridor approaches” which lead you to the various sections of the waterway. 39th street to Skillman Avenue for Dutch Kills, Pulaski Bridge and LIC, or 39th street to Greenpoint Avenue for Blissville and the Greenpoint Avenue Bridge, 43rd street for Kosciuszcko Bridge and the DUKBO area, whereas 48th street takes you to the industrial Maspeth “Haberman” section where Maspeth Creek and the Maspeth Plank Road are found. The 48th street corridor also deposits you within throwing distance of the Grand Street Bridge, so I always pay it a visit when I’m in the neighborhood.

Coincidentally, 43rd street used to be called Laurel Hill Blvd. during earlier times, and it connected the Alsop properties along Newtown Creek to the south with the Berrian and Rycken holdings at Bowery Bay to the north in Astoria after crossing through the Moore and Jackson holdings nearby modern day Northern Blvd. 48th street in Maspeth was the Shell Road, which connected the southern waterfront with Middleburgh (Sunnyside) and Woodside, as well as Greenpoint and Flushing via modern day Greenpoint Avenue.

This and the previous shot were gathered along 49th street, rather than 48th, since a group of teenagers were walking towards me and I got scared. I scuttled over to 49th and hid behind a dumpster for a bit, as pictured above. A feckless quisling and vast physical coward remain I. On the plus side, I met a friendly cat whilst behind the dumpster.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A weird and lonely stretch of pedestrian space is found underneath the elevated Long Island Expressway section which bisects two of the Calvary’s. I’m told there’s a fair amount of drag racing here on summer weekend nights but I haven’t witnessed it directly. Notice that the NYS people haven’t felt compelled to replace the old sodium lamp luminaire heads for their street lighting to comply with NYC’s adoption of the cold blue LED units. You’ve still got that comfortable old orange glow hereabouts.

More next week, at this, your Newtown Pentacle.


“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

January 31, 2020 at 11:00 am

dual formula

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Never know what you’re going to find…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On Saturday last, one attended the Newtown Creek Alliance “Kingsland Wildflowers” event at 520 Kingsland Avenue over in Greenpoint. Sort of a block party set up in a TV studio’s parking lot, it was quite successfully attended by the Greenpoint “nose ring” crowd, and I stuck around until the light got nice and then set off to walk back home to Astoria. As is my habit, Greenpoint Avenue in LIC’s Blissville section was chosen as my path, and since the light was indeed “nice” I got busy on the way.

The security patrol at Calvary Cemetery had already locked the gates of the their Polayandrion Necropolis up, but the regular apertures in their stout iron fencing nevertheless allows one to grab a shot or two from the sidewalk.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Whilst scuttling along, the red envelope pictured above was noticed.

If I was a fish, this is exactly the sort of thing you’d bait your hook with in pursuance of making a dinner out of me. “You never know what you’re going to find at First Calvary Cemetery,” I always say, and the only thing surer to draw me in than a big red envelope saying “help” would be a big red button that says “do not push.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Dare I look within? I darest.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Within the envelope was a hand written index card bearing some liturgical nonsense, a phone number, and a street address resolving back to Roosevelt Avenue between 68th and 69th streets in Woodside.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Given the particular joy one takes in deflating people’s religious beliefs, (I once talked a Jehovah’s Witness into tossing his Watchtower stock into a trash bin and head straight to a bar for his first drink) the sort of language on the card immediately said “Prosperity Gospel” to me.

The term refers to a certain facet of the evangelical and pentecostal paths in which the Church you belong to espouses the religious requirement of tithing 10% (and in the particular case of the organization at the address above, gross pre tax earnings 10%) to them. Tithe honestly and regularly, and god will return the investment, or so the prosperity gospel adherents believe. It’s like a celestial scratch off lottery ticket.

Hey, I don’t care what you do with your money or believe in. As long as you can sleep at night and aren’t hurting anyone other than yourself…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I believe that Jor El sent his only begotten son to live amongst us, with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men. I believe that the savior pretends to be one of us, lies to all of his friends, and continually gas lights his lady love. This is pointed out simply to state that all kinds of people have all sorts of goofy ideations.

The church which the Calvary Card is meant to lead you to is the Iglesia Universal del Reino de Dios, or the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God in english. A Brazilian founded order, which dates back to 1977, the UCKG claims 8 million global adherents. They operate out of a mega church building modeled after and called the “Temple of Solomon” in São Paulo, Brazil. The founder of the church, and its Bishop, is a fellow named Edir Macedo. Macedo is a billionaire, owns what seems to be the Brazilian version of Fox News, and is heavily involved in Brazilian politics. Poor people in Queens give this fellow ten cents on every dollar they earn, before tax.

There you are.


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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 23, 2019 at 1:00 pm

another moment

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Lots and lots going on in Queens and Brooklyn this week.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

At Aviation High School, tonight, the NYC EDC will be presenting the latest iteration of their outlandish and quixotic plan to deck over the Sunnyside Yards. This municipal boondoggle has been going on for years now. Community opposition to this monster has grown and grown even as EDC has doubled down on it. The estimated numbers for what this project is currently projected to cost are on the order of waging a small war. I’ve got intel on what the internal estimates which are being floated at EDC for the cost of just building the deck itself. I don’t want to say them out loud since that might “out” some of the people internally at the organization who secretly oppose the Sunnyside Yards project, but let’s just say this:

If you were able to save $100,000 a year, it would take you 220,000 years to save enough for this decking project. You’d alternatively be able to purchase 733,000 cars at $30,000 a pop. If dollars were miles, you’d be able to enjoy 46,044 thousand round trips to the moon. If dollars were tax refunds, you’d be able to write a $66.77 check to every living American citizen (all 329,467,210 of us).

The Sunnyside Yards meeting will be held at Aviation High School (45-30 36th St., corner of Queens Blvd., in Long Island City, NY 11101) tonight between 5 and 8 p.m.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On a personal note, I’m a little bit behind schedule as this week starts, and am struggling to keep up with the various “have to’s” which are upcoming. A few pretty exciting, to me at least, opportunities are coming up in coming weeks. I’m going to get to ride on a freight train, and inspect Port Newark with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. There’s also a couple of swell parties coming up.

This Saturday; Newtown Creek Alliance, Broadway Stages, NOoSPHERE Arts, Greenpoint Innovations and Alive Structures will be offering the Kingsland Wildflower Festival in Greenpoint between 2 and 6 in the afternoon.

Details for the event can be found here.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

If you want to watch me pretending to be an adult, and a responsible member of society, Astoria’s Community Board 1 will be gathering tomorrow night (Tuesday the 17th) at Astoria World Manor (25-22 Astoria Boulevard) at 6:30 p.m. to discuss issues of the day and resume the monthly meeting schedule after the summer hiatus. I don’t think anything earth shattering will be happening, but you never know, and if you haven’t attended a community board meeting… well, why not? That’s how republics die – apathy.

The Newtown Creek Community Advisory Group – or CAG – will also be resuming its meeting schedule with the various powers that be on Wednesday (the 18th) night over in Brooklyn and also at 6:30 p.m. at PS 110 auditorium (124 Monitor Street).

October 3rd will see a Newtown Creek Alliance benefit event – the “Tidal Toast” – occur at 520 Kingsland Avenue in Greenpoint. Want to help us do what we do? Support the “reveal, restore, revitalize” work that NCA does? Grab a ticket. There’ll be food, and drinks too! Click here for more info.


“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 16, 2019 at 12:00 pm

general noisesomeness

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Things I’ve seen, in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Sunday last, the estimable Working Harbor Committee (which I’m proud to be a part of) produced the 2019 Great North River Tugboat Race over on the Hudson River. One had to show up medium early in Manhattan for this one, but a good time was had by all and it was a fairly nice day – weather wise. WHC will be publishing official race results and describing who won what trophy as soon as everyone recovers from the effort.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My pal Val drove into the City for the event, and then gave me a lift home afterwards. While crossing the East River on the Queensboro Bridge, the camera was brandished – as is my habit – and the shot above was collected. Funnily, it reminds me of the opening video scrawl from the ’80s sitcom Taxi.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

First Calvary Cemetery in the Blissville section of Long Island City just before sunset offers long shadows for the itinerant photographer to record, and luckily I was there at a particularly picturesque moment.

Back next week, with more sights.


“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.

relative quantities

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This week is for the birds.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Happenstance and scheduling have finally conspired to give a humble narrator a bit of summer time off, which I’m considering as being a lucky stroke, and which indicate that the universe wants me to take a week off. I’m out galavanting around the City, accordingly, waving the camera around and smiling sardonically.

Next week, I’ll show you what I captured, if it’s not crap.


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

August 15, 2019 at 11:00 am

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