The Newtown Pentacle

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Archive for the ‘Dutch Kills’ Category

outside absolute

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Tuesday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Staggering in fear amongst the darkened streets of Long Island City, with its peculiarly utilitarian angularities of cyclopean masonry thrusting rudely at the sky, a humble narrator was experiencing quite a bit of pain at this stage in his evening. The left ankle is currently malfunctioning, which is a bodily component just uphill from that big toe which one discovered to be broken – due to the action of gravity and a planting trough – at the end of 2019. Instinct would suggest one first punches the painful ankle a few times, then use an ace bandage on the hinge, and eventually make a decision between lopping it off with a cleaver or making a Doctor’s appointment. One normally waits until it is absolutely necessary to engage Medical Professionals, Legal Professionals, or really any of the Professions, unless you have to. Gets expensive. Painful ankle after walking five miles? Find a spot to sit down for a few minutes. Good god, I’ve gotten to the age where you have to sit down for a few minutes every now and then…

“Bah! One such as myself can bear all, pain is neurological like the brain is and the brain is you so if you have control over your self you control the brain and the nervous system and you don’t feel pain… there is no spoon, nothing is real!”

That’s what I was thinking when I stood up after sitting down for a few minutes. My ankle felt better after a quick rest period, and I stopped mentally picturing the bruised and swollen toe, and resumed pointing the camera at stuff.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

You can’t know “everything” about something, quite obviously, unless you were there before it and will be there after it. Saying that, I can do an improv lecture about this corner that would easily fill an hour’s worth of your time – Montauk Cutoff, Long Island Railroad, Long Island City, NYC Consolidation, Bob Moses, Long Island Expressway, New Real Estate Development – those are the bullet points just off the top of my head. There’s a whole story just with those empty sign boards that involves Organized Crime, the Feds, Court Cases.

I’d offer a second hour on the Graffiti culture of LIC, but I have to get a third or fourth party to do the actual lecture. I’m a casual fan, but not part of the street art scene and am not that knowledgable.

I’ll tell you what, though. There’s a LOT more graffiti flying all over the place than I’ve seen in 30 years. A lot of it is also, coincidentally, pretty good. There’s kind of a postmodernist vibe going on, even with just tags.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Obviously, I’ve seen panel trucks graffiti’d on all over NYC my entire life. Saying that, this sort of vehicular graffiti pictured above seems to be on an uptick. Of course, my geographic “range” has been limited and the sample area largely heavy industrial, but the scene is similar to dozens of others I’ve photographed in the last year. Maybe I wasn’t “seeing it” in the past, but the frequency of panel truck graffiti definitely seems tuned up. Truth be told, I like the “custom wrap” look of this particular vandal’s artwork.

It’s not good, it’s not bad, it just is. Neither hot nor cold. Nothing is real.

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, February 22nd. 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

February 23, 2021 at 11:00 am

nether earth

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Monday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

With great solemnity and a terror quickened gait did a humble narrator dance along the Borden Avenue Bridge, spanning the Long Island City constrained Dutch Kills waterway (tributary of an aqueous ribbon of Municipal neglect and malignant reputation known as the Newtown Creek), scanning the poison depths for any possible sign of “it.” My inquiries regarding “it” initially pointed me in the direction of certain tales told by the aboriginal inhabitants of the Dutch Kills area. Back then, prior to the arrival of the European Colonialists, this section looked quite different. Sub tributaries, tidal streams and pools, swamps, marshes, and all of it teeming with the sort of life that bites and flies and wriggles and lays its eggs in your skinvelope. Of course, we only know this because of the surviving reports of the colonialists who witnessed it, and from scientific studies of geographical bores and depositional stratigraphy offered by their descendants.

While pointing a lens at the waters, with my camera’s sensitivity to ambience turned up quite high, a sudden smacking sound and an energetic splash of water gathered my attentions. Surely, my mind – wrecked from months of quarantine and the worries of societal tumult – was telling me what I wanted to hear. I saw nothing. I did not see “It.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Another bridge, same Dutch Kills tributary of that loathsome cataract of urban industry which the children call Newtown Creek, this time it was the Hunters Point Avenue Bridge – same scanning the putrid surface of the water looking for “It.”

There’s often a mucosa of unknown slimes right on the surface of Dutch Kills in this section, no doubt due to the presence of several high volume open sewers or “Combined Sewer Outfalls.” The pipes found here at Dutch Kills are part of NYC’S wastewater disposal system, extending for miles and miles under and into Queens. Perhaps that’s where “It” goes, which makes me wonder if “It” might be a strictly local phenomena or is it occurring on grander scales in terms of both geography and scale.

Will have to make inquiries – contact and cajole Professional Mariners, gossip with the Dock Workers, shoot the shit with friendly Sewer Smithys…

Wonder if “It” might have any connection to what’s living at the bottom of the East River at Hells Gate in Astoria? If so, “It” might represent something far older than the aboriginal stories encountered by the Colonialists. “It” might even connect with the original human population of the harbor, the so called “Clovis Point” culture whose remains have been observed in the hinterlands of Staten Island.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

With my palpitant heart all a flutter at the canonical heresies now liberally circulating through the cerebellum did a humble narrator stagger forth into the Long Island City night. Along the way, a car carrier truck was noticed and I thought it looked cool so I took a picture of it. That’s what I told the driver when he rolled down his window and asked me I was taking pictures of him for. We both laughed, or at least I did… I think that happened but maybe it didn’t. It’s been so long since I’ve interacted with other people regularly that I’m not sure what I’m saying or doing or what’s even real these days. I’ve got a photo, so at least that’s evidence.

The good news is that despite the weather I’ve been maintaining my regular cycle of photo-walk nights, burning up and grinding down the soles of my shoes. Last week saw an Apocalypse of Zoom meetings (3 Zoom’s = A Holocaust, 6 Zoom’s = An Apocalypse. Don’t do 9 Zoom’s, you don’t come back from 9 Zooms) pop up out of nowhere which I had to attend. I even had to get up early for one of them!

To be seen by so many diminishes one.

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, February 22nd. 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

February 22, 2021 at 11:00 am

exotic eccentricity

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Friday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A humble narrator is taking a break this week, as his anxiety and or stress levels have become absolutely maxed out. Thusly, you’ll be seeing single shots and regular postings will resume next week.

Pictured above is the Dutch Kills tributary of Newtown Creek.

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, February 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 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

February 19, 2021 at 11:00 am

abnormal ticking

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Tuesday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Empty Corridor is what I call those streets of Long Island City which are particularly shadowed by the ferrous gargantua that is the Long Island Expressway’s “Queens Midtown Expressway” elevated truss section. The blighting effect of this 160 feet at its apex, 1940 vintage, span is all encompassing – both because of its inescapable presence and for the supernal amount of automotive related pollution which it represents. 32 million vehicle trips a year, lords and ladies, push along this truss bridge on their way to and from Manhattan via the Queens Midtown Tunnel. Were these vehicle trips moving along the ground, at least Queensicans could benefit from it by selling bottles of water or bags of oranges to the drivers. Instead, we get all the bad and nothing good from its presence.

Pictured is a section of the centuried Montauk Cutoff elevated railroad tracks, mentioned many times here at Newtown Pentacle.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One has experienced a few close calls, human interaction wise, in the Empty Corridor in recent months, and this “zone” as a whole has impressed one as having become somewhat “crimey.” This is partially the paranoia of a middle aged fellow marching around in the dark by himself, of course, but it’s also the prosaic observation of a life long New Yorker who knows what trouble looks like when it’s walking your way. Be careful out there, keep an eye on others, and ask yourself why somebody might be making a beeline towards you despite there being a respiratory plague spreading. Nobody is that friendly.

Many of my younger friends believe that the stories we tell about “the bad old days” in NYC are reflections of systemic racism, outright fiction, or overblown reportage. What I can tell you is that what my younger friends think is uninformed and wishful thinking, romantic aspiration for who they wish sympathetic characters were, and that getting “jumped” is something that’s never happened to them – apparently. The late 1970’s and the entire 1980’s were no joke. Back then, you had to learn how to improvise weapons on the fly. Metal garbage can lids are no longer available for ready hands to use, and there’s fewer glass bottles lying around to break and use as a slashing weapon due to the return deposit cash in. Plastic bottles, as a note, make for shit shivs. When you hit a guy with a plastic bottle it makes a comical and hollow “blonk” sound.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One time in the mid 80’s, I was crossing the street at 21st street and Third in the City. Some guy had his back to traffic on 21st and got hit by a car. He hit the crosswalk with his forehead, which pretty much “asphalt erased” his face, and his corpse was set up in a tripod formation with his knees flat on the street along with what remained of his head, the arms were arranged straight back and it looked a lot like he was praying. The cops were so busy with handling corpses back then that they just threw a blanket over the body and set out a traffic cone while waiting for the Coroner to scoop up the mess, and the whole tableau was still in place about three hours later while I was walking the other way. His blood was running into the sewer. There’s a metaphor there, I thought.

Early 90’s, a guy got shot on the corner of 99th and Broadway while he was talking on the phone in one of those half size phone booths. An ice storm blew in, and the poor SOB’s body and in particular his hand froze up while he was still grasping the phone receiver. When I passed by on my way to work the next morning, his body was swaying in the wind and the phone cord was the fulcrum supporting him. The Cops smoked cigarettes and drank coffee while similarly waiting for the morgue’s meat wagon to appear.

I’m not arguing for any sort of Police state Götterdämmerung moment, by the way, I’m just saying that there’s always been a different set of rules on the street. A lot for these rules aren’t what you’d like them to be, aren’t fair, and have nothing to do with justice.

It’s all true. The Force, Luke Skywalker, the Death Star, all of it.

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, February 8th. 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

February 9, 2021 at 11:00 am

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Monday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A holocaust of Zoom meetings notwithstanding, one still finds the time to wander about Queens aimlessly in the dead of night with a camera. These shots have arrived in front of you due to one of my bimonthly visits to the Dutch Kills tributary of Newtown Creek, which can be found comfortably nested in with and amongst the concrete devastations of Long Island City. There’s a lot of science hereabouts, and not enough fiction.

The fiction is found a few blocks away, in the lobby offices of those shiny new luxury apartment towers, staffed by Real Estate Industrial Complex worker drones who never mention or instead misrepresent the heavy industrial/environmental history of LIC to their tenants prior to getting the rubes to sign on the proverbial dotted line.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It shakes my basic faith in people. They’ll spend hours watching documentaries about where and how McDonalds produces and manufactures its gruel, or the mean reality of the production line for Hallmark Greeting Cards, but won’t bother trying to find out if the luxury condominium they’re entering into thirty years of debt for sits on the former site of a chemical factory. They’ll expound upon on the political issues of the day and adjure you to “do your own research” but don’t bother googling up an old map of the area where they’re investing in property to see what used to be where. Also, as a note, googling something is not research. It’s exactly the same thing as asking a librarian where to find a book. Reading the book isn’t even “research,” but it can be a part of that process.

Just last week, I attended a community board meeting in which a project was being offered to Astoria as a panacea to solve an intractable issue of affordable senior housing, by a highly politically wired developer. As soon as I saw the address, I said “Hey, that’s the Nelson Galvanizing Superfund site.” Why am I the only person in Queens who knows about and talks about these things?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

In Brooklyn or Manhattan, if you were to crumple up a gum wrapper and throw it in the gutter, before it hit the pavement somebody would have already formed a nonprofit group to combat the phenomena. In Queens, you could dissolve truck tires, with gaseous chlorine, in a hole you dug out of your yard and that’s not just peachy keen – it’s also cool. When the vapors kill your neighbor’s dog, also cool. When a kid gets killed, the Politicians will show up and christen a bike lane, and they’ll “tsk tsk” about your chlorinated tire habits but won’t actually do anything to stop you. Hell, the Queens Chamber of Commerce will probably show up and give you a trophy for being industrious and taking care of the old tire problem.

Clean your room. Do you want to get sick? Don’t buy a new construction condo without first inquiring what used to be there.

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, February 8th. 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

February 8, 2021 at 12:00 pm

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