The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Archive for the ‘Calvary Cemetery’ Category

sane harborage

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Monday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Last week, one was wandering through Blissville. For one reason or another, a humble narrator decided it would be good to get a few shots of the enormous masonry wall offered by First Calvary cemetery for the amusement of passerby on Review Avenue.

My understanding of the function of this structure is that it acts as a retaining wall. Laurel Hill, the landform which Calvary was carved into starting in 1848, used to slope down towards Newtown Creek. Review Avenue is a “cut” and the engineers who worked for the Church probably had to worry about mudslides when laying out the place.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The wall itself is enormous, and based on observation from within the cemetery and atop it, around ten feet thick at the top and an unknown width at bottom. It’s composed on concrete and boulders, and likely bottoms out several yards under the level of the street and sidewalk. The boulders are typical glacial till, likely harvested from native soils, and nothing special.

My intention when shooting this was in theoretical pursuance of doing a cutaway illustration of the wall and subterrene, which was going to be accompanied by a bit of narrative reminiscent of an HP Lovecraft short story called “The Statement of Randolph Carter” wherein the exploration of a mortuary complex’s underground chambers results in a typically horrifying conclusion for a Lovecraft tale. That’s my actual thought process leading up to actuating the camera shutter.

That’s when I spotted them.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

When queried as to why I always have a camera with me, the answer is usually “if I don’t have this, then a ufo would land in the intersection and Bigfoot and Elvis would disembark from it.” Usually, a camera is your best defense against anything interesting happening within eyeshot.

These two defied that maxim, however, and they are to be applauded.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

They seemed to be a couple, these two, just picking their way along the rock wall.

So intent on their task were they that notice of the strange old fellow with a camera trained on them standing across the street and laughing hysterically didn’t seem to register. This genuinely amused me, and I like to believe that one of them said to the other that “the floor is lava.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

They never got more than five or six feet off the lava, I would mention.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As I’m often quoted as saying – you never know what you’re going to see at Calvary Cemetery. Even when the place has remained inexplicably closed to the public at exactly the moment when its acres of green space have been most needed, the people of LIC will make it their own.

Awesome sauce.

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, September 14th. 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.

Written by Mitch Waxman

September 14, 2020 at 11:00 am

intuitive knack

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Thursday, it seems.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Archive shots again today, as a humble narrator has a bit of a situation playing out here at HQ and Newtown Pentacle’s never ending cavalcade of adventure and imagery has had to take a back seat. Zuzu the dog is quite elderly, and quite ill at the moment. One has therefore been trying to spend as much time as possible with her. When you’ve got a dog like Zuzu in your life, you signed a contract with her when she was a puppy. She’s always been a very good girl, has made my life immeasurably better, and keeping her comfortable at the end of it all is my end of the bargain. Zuzu is 14 years old, and is a fairly large dog in all actuality despite my usual description of her as “my little dog.” She’s been suffering from arthritis and spinal issues for a few years.

Overall, things are looking pretty grim for her at this writing.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The conqueror worm gets us all in the end, though.

Saying that, googling what to do in NYC if your dog dies is pretty depressing. There are private services that will collect and cremate the cadaver, but the City’s DSNY will take the body on garbage pickup day. Procedure, as described by the official 311 site, is to put your dog in a black plastic garbage bag and label it “dead dog.” The garbage guys will grab the body and then carry it off.

Jesus, that’s cold.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

We almost lost her a few months ago, but Zuzu rallied and recovered. Last week she messed up her back and hasn’t been able to use her back legs at all for a few days. The palaver of finding a Vet who does house calls during a pandemic is playing out right now for Our Lady of the Pentacle and myself. Her regular doctor doesn’t do house calls.

“Tsuris,” that’s the Yiddish word for “troubles.”

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, August 24th. 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.

Written by Mitch Waxman

August 27, 2020 at 11:30 am

almost unassailably

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Well, flippity floppity floop, it’s Friday again.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Recent endeavor found a humble narrator scuttling through the humidity thickened July atmospherics typical of Western Queens and heading towards Newtown Creek for a session of waving the camera around. Pictured above is the 1848 vintage First Calvary Cemetery in Blissville, looking westwards from Laurel Hill Blvd.

What with all of this pandemic business and the new Kosciuszcko Bridge offering a pedestrian and bike path between Greenpoint in Brooklyn and Blissville here in the Long Island City section of Queens, there’s now a lot of people milling around. For years and years, it was just me wandering around this area. It’s taking a lot of “getting used to” seeing others in my happy place.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The views from the Kosciuszcko Bridge are epic, and I timed my walk to put me Center span just as the burning thermonuclear eye of God itself was descending behind Manhattan and New Jersey. This point of view is 2.1 miles from the East River, for the morbidly curious. The right side of the shot is in Queens, the left is in Brooklyn.

Newtown Creek is a tributary of the East River which extends south/eastwards 3.8 miles from its junction with the larger waterway, eventually terminating in Brooklyn’s Bushwick neighborhood. There are multiple tributaries of Newtown Creek which snake off the main stem of the waterway.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Luckily, for me, a tug and barge combination was navigating its way eastwards while I was set up and shooting. Once one fo the busiest maritime industrial waterways in these United States, Newtown Creek is still quite busy. While I was out shooting, I saw the Greenpoint Avenue Draw Bridge – roughly a mile to the west – open and close three times.

A recent meeting with the United States Army Corps of Engineers described the ideal depth of these waters as being 23 feet. The last time a proper navigational dredging of the entire Newtown Creek occurred (other than a minor channel maintenance operation performed at the behest of the NYC DEP a few years ago) was in the early 1970’s. Tug and barges, therefore, stick to the center of the channel where the water is deepest when navigating through.

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 27th. 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.

made wild

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It’s freaking Friday?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A few odds and ends for today’s post. That’s a Department of Sanitation recycling pickup truck exiting from DUGABO – Down Under the Greenpoint Avenue Bridge Onramp – back onto the normal street grid in Long Island City’s Blissville section. Now, as I often chide – you’ve got garbage trucks from all over Queens making their way to Newtown Creek to drop off their collections. The truck above is based at DSNY’s Queens 13 garage, which is in Flushing. This bit of information should make you wonder about equity, environmental justice, and why you don’t find transfer stations (which is what you call the facilities which garbage trucks dispose of their collections) in the communities which are generating the trash.

Instead, little Blissville does the job for the rest of the Borough, and what do they get in return? Local hiring? Compensation for the annual tens of thousands of truck trips moving through their community? What?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Apologies for today’s post being a couple of hours behind normal schedule, but one was up late exploring on of those internet rabbit holes you occasionally find yourself trapped in. This one involved people setting themselves on fire. Combustion seems to be another one of those concepts which some do not grasp, or seem to have much foreknowledge of. I saw one where, for some reason, a young lady decided it would a great idea to fill a drinking glass with rubbing alcohol and then strike a match.

Fire is a punk way to die, incidentally. Brrr.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It would seem that here in Astoria there’s a fellow named Omar who only has one boxing glove. If you’re reading this, Omar, 34th Avenue and 44th street is where the left one is. Another public service offered.

More fun next week, 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, June 15th. 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.

stamped out

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Maspeth!

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That recent long walk I mentioned found me over in industrial Maspeth, experimenting with various camera settings, as regarding capturing photos of the Kosciuszcko Bridge and its weird illumination. LED lights, architecturally speaking, are insanely bright. They also produce unnatural colors which wreak havoc on the color theory algorithms in digital cameras. Since the Governor literally flipped a switch turning on the bridge’s lighting system a couple of years ago, I’ve been fairly bedeviled by its idiosyncrasies.

A big part of the problem is that the bridge’s lights rotate through a chroma key, turning yellow, green, blue, red, violet… when all those colors add up on your camera sensor it equals bright white – as you see in the shot above.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Not wanting to sacrifice the sharpness of the captured image at my lens’s hyper-focal “infinity” setting, one has been playing around with length of shutter speed and sensor ISO sensitivity all winter and into the spring. The shot above, depicting both the Kosciuszcko and the Empire State Building flashing red and showing Newtown Creek as well, represents a set of trade offs which I’m kind of happy with.

When you’ve got a bunch of time on your hands, and all of your summer gigs have been cancelled due to a pandemic, you might as well figure out new ways to configure and work with the camera – right?

That which doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, with the notable exception of polio. Polio makes a mess out of you.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A different set of experiments are at work in the shot above, which is actually three separate images combined into one in a Photoshop process called “focus stacking.” You set up a stable camera base – a tripod or whatever – and then move the shot’s focus point around. One focus point is on the distant Kosciuszcko Bridge, another on the mid ground tomb stones, and the third is on the trunk of that tree. These are narrow aperture shots, so all these elements would have been sharply rendered anyway, but the stacking technique is a skill I’ve been meaning to understand and use for a while, and since I essentially have no there reason to wake up I might as well hone some of my lesser used skills. Also, the “stacking” assures a uniform level of sharpness throughout the image.

Back Monday, or whatever, with something else. I don’t know what exactly, I’m just hoping to still be alive by then.

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, April 27th. 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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