The Newtown Pentacle

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radiating spokelike

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Thursday lurking, in fear.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Last week, while scuttling about in Long Island City, a group of adolescents were spotted riding around on skateboards and that induced a humble narrator into one of his states. Terror bubbled up the esophagus, poured down the alimentary track, and a sheen of cold hormonal perspiration began to express from the skinvelope. A feckless quisling and vast physical coward, your humble narrator found himself obeying a genetic level set of programming instructions to hide and flee from potential danger. Adolescents… brrr… no impulse control. What if they were members of those squad of ubiquitous rascals called Antifa, or a Trumpist neoliberal cadre? If captured, I’d be forced into doctrinal solidarity in one of their re-education camps, and might then be forced to carry signage indicating my role as a counter revolutionary element from the old regime. Flight was my only hope, and boy oh boy did I flee.

Antifa ride skateboards and bicycles, Trumpists drive SUV’s or electric assist mobility chairs. Either way, one wants nothing to do with either horde of idolators.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Lurking solitarily in fear, as I do, offers a lot of time to think. One prefers this.

Extreme elements of our society will insist that every act and action be viewed through a prism of their choosing. You’re not eating a hot dog, instead you’re part of the problem and here’s why… this, this is why I insist on lonely walks through deserted industrial zones at the omphalos of New York City. I swear, it’s enough to make a libertarian out of me, but I’m married and also can’t afford a sixty inch tv so that leaves me out of the incel world of the libertarians. They all have huge tv’s.

As I’ve been telling my friends on the left for years now, identity politics is dehumanizing and dangerous, as you run the risk of the other side playing the same game. The most successful identity politician in history was Hitler, for instance. I’m a “rugged individualist” type, and can argue cogently that there is virtually no one person whom I’m similar to.

There is a mid point found somewhere between Mao’s Cultural Revolution and Lord of the Flies style unregulated capitalism, I believe, a median position which 90% of the population would be quite comfortable with. We should strive for that. We should also heavily oppress the prerogatives of both adolescents and senior citizens, given the latent dangers and lack of impulse control they represent.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

What do I know? I have no desire to hurt anyone, nor to tell them how to live. I’m some schmuck with a camera, wandering around Brooklyn and Queens during both day and night with no destination in mind. As my mom would often remind me – what, you think you’re normal? You’re an asshole, so show up early to appointments so at least they can’t use that against you. She’d then continue on with a travelogue of the many times that I’d disappointed or embarrassed her, just in case I’d forgotten it from the last time. If my Mom was still around, given her peculiar points of view and prejudices, I’m absolutely certain she’d be attending MAGA rallies.

As a kid, I learned that when the grown ups were fighting over nothing at all but going for the throat, it was best to retreat to the back yard or a side room and read comic books until it was all over. Pictured above, my current back yard.

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 21st. 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 24, 2020 at 2:00 pm

balustraded terrace

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It’s always Monday somewhere

– photo by Mitch Waxman

These images have nothing to do with the route, but I conducted a short walking tour on Saturday. First one of the year. Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney attended. That’s me, Mr. Big Pants.

One of the Newtown Creek Alliance “revitalize” projects – we have a “reveal, restore, revitalize” mission statement – is playing out in the Hunters Point section of Long Island City. The plan involves the replanting of a median strip nearby Gantry Plaza State Park so that cultivars chosen to attract the attentions of insectivorous pollinator species can be installed. A fairly large group of volunteers showed up to pull weeds and turn over the soil, and on Wednesday of this week another crew will show up to plant said cultivars. Next Saturday, I’ll be leading another short walk if you’re interested in coming along. Masks and distancing required, obviously.

It was nice to feel useful again.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Tonight, one of the Queens Community Board 1 committees I’m a member of – Environmental – will be hosting a zoom meeting discussing various issues here in Astoria. Contact the CB office if you’d like to virtually attend. It should be a fairly uneventful conversation, as we have to procedurally focus in on budgetary recommendations for most of it. If you’ve got anything environmental in nature you’d like to bring to the groups attention, please do so.

Again, it’s nice to feel like I’m actually earning my dinner again.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Next Sunday, the 27th, marks the ten years in point since the declaration of Newtown Creek as a Superfund site by the Federal EPA. This has put me into a reflective mood, which never works out well for a humble narrator.

Before any of you ask “how the hell did you narrate a walking tour while wearing a mask,” I used a small amplification gizmo which has a microphone headset and a belt worn speaker to compensate for the muffling effect.

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 21st. 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 21, 2020 at 11:00 am

inextricably blended

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Wednesday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s a bird. Spotted it at Dutch Kills, in Long Island City. Any attempt to identify the bird’s speciation will result in me being mocked for my complete ornithological incompetence, so “bird.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s a materials handler, outfitted with a rig that allows it to pick up railroad box cars, spotted at the Waste Management facility in LIC’s Blissville section.

One experiences greater success with identifying this sort of thing than birds.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Those are three birds, in Maspeth.

This has been a minimalist Wednesday kind of post, and one will be back in a more typically verbose fashion tomorrow.

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 16, 2020 at 11:00 am

moldering structure

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Wednesday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Let me tell ya, I really seem to freak out the security guards when I whip out the tripod and set up the camera. It’s always surprised me how people react when they see a camera. I once got chased by a group of old ladies here in Astoria, who saw me taking a picture of St. Irene’s church and then logically concluded that I was a terrorist. Luckily they were pretty old, so I lost them after a few blocks. Homeland Security indeed.

In the case of the rather innocent shot above, depicting the former offices of Irving Subway Grate, I got to say “Hi” to somebody providing security services for the UPS shipping center across the street. At this particular time of night, UPS parks a good amount of its truck fleet in the street and on the sidewalk, and he must’ve figured I was screwing around with their illegally parked trucks. My retribution for this interruption of my photography “flow” involved a full 25 minute history of Irving Subway Grate and a more generalized 10 minute lecture about Newtown Creek. I could have hit him with a 25 minute history of the United Parcel Service company and the Teamsters, but decided to be merciful.

Mess with the bull, you get the horns. Mess with Mitch, you get a long ass historical lecture about something you never wanted to know anything about.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Empty Corridor is the name I’ve given to the lonely streets you encounter under the 106 foot high steel truss bridge that carries the Long Island Expressway over LIC and Dutch Kills. There’s actually a lot going on down here, but the street scape is bare and unforgiving, hence the cognomen. Any vegetation you might encounter here is self seeded, “weed trees” as we would call it back in the old neighborhood. The street is pockmarked and broken, the sidewalks are shattered, and many times are impassable as businesses just take them over to store equipment or park trucks.

There’s also a smell, best described as “hot food garbage,” that permeates. High above, a constant mechanical tumult rings out, broadcasting vibrations down through the steel and singing a cacophonous din into the auditory realm. What can I tell you, it’s an expressway up there carrying millions of vehicle trips a year to and from Manhattan.

You think that’s going to be quiet?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s the Montauk Cutoff at the top of the shot above, an abandoned set of Long Island Railroad tracks which connect across Dutch Kills to the Lower Montauk tracks along Newtown Creek on one side, and the Sunnyside Yards on the other. At least, they used to do so, but the connection to Sunnyside Yards has been demolished and the bridge over Dutch Kills is now fenced off and is scheduled for demolition itself.

Several of us at Newtown Creek Alliance have been working on turning the Montauk Cutoff into public space for a while now, but… y’know… MTA.

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 10th. 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 12, 2020 at 11:00 am

sharp toothed

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Tuesday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My weekly visit to the Dutch Kills tributary of the fabulous Newtown Creek, found in the Degnon Terminal section of the Long Island City industrial zone here in Queens, was perpetrated recently. My pandemic long investigations into the presence of “it” continue, here in the former “Workshop of America.”

What is “it”? It is likely people having some cruel fun with my credulous nature, and taking advantage of the boredom and anxiety which the pandemic has induced in a humble narrator. Regardless, most of the stories I’ve received about “it” revolve around the Hunters Point Avenue Bridge section of the waterway so I keep on finding myself here. I’m also kind of obsessed with the indomitable nature of that tree in the shot above, and have been making it the focal point of various photos all year.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One has been forced into using certain esoteric practices behind the camera to properly record the darkness down on the water. Next up in my bag of tricks will be the use of polarizing filters to reduce the reflectivity of the water and allow the device to peer down into the gelatinous fathoms. It’s actually only about a single fathom, maybe a fathom and a half, here at Dutch Kills. It is fairly gelatinous, however.

One way or another, what I can say is that I didn’t see “it” but had the definite impression that there was something odd going on in the water. There were all sorts of splashes and ripples being caused by one critter or another down there.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The streaks in the water are the reflections of fish scales moving around during what ended up being a thirty second exposure. I’ve actually become quite fascinated by the artifacts of movement which turn up in these shots. Can’t tell you what sort of fishies were swimming around down there, but it’s likely these were Mummichogs.

Mummichogs (Fundulus heteroclitus) are essentially the bottom of the vertebrate food chain at Newtown Creek, but in a larger sense that’s the niche they occupy in the brackish and environmentally compromised waterways of the northeastern United States. They are omnivorous, and can thrive in fairly awful conditions. A bit of pescatarian trivia is that a Mummichog was the first fish to go to Space, having been studied on NASA’s Skylab back in 1973. Environmental scientists use these fishies as an indicator specie, meaning that you catch a bunch of Mummichogs and then grind them into a goo. The goo is then analyzed for the presence and concentration of certain chemical compounds like pcb’s or heavy metals.

The search for “it” continues.

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 10th. 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.

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