The Newtown Pentacle

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apoplectic snort

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Thursday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The endless marching about in a limited area constrained by how far I can walk on any given day is about to come to an end, thanks to the forthcoming second shot of vaccine juice I’m set to receive at the end of this month. Holy smokes, I never thought I’d miss the Subway, but there you are.

On the particular evening these shots were gathered, a humble narrator was in Long Island City’s Degnon Terminal zone. That’s Degnon as in Michael Degnon, a late 19th and early 20th century construction czar. Degnon enjoyed several lucrative Government contracts during the 20 years surrounding the year 1900, including installing the masonry cladding of the Williamsburg Bridge towers, completing the construction of the East River IRT tunnels which the 7 line subway runs through (which had been started by William Steinway and then August Belmont), and a massive land reclamation project surrounding the Dutch Kills tributary of Newtown Creek in LIC. The Degnon Terminal, as he called the latter reclamation project, involved a concurrence of rail, road, and water freight infrastructure that was baked into a multi acre campus of gigantic factory buildings. The factories in this area were constructed using an at the time novel construction technique that used lumber “forms” and steel rebar to shape poured concrete into walls. The Loose Wiles biscuit company, Everready Battery, Chicle Gum and other mega factories in LIC were all a part of the Degnon terminal, which was built at the same time that the nearby Sunnyside Yards were being constructed by the Pennsylvania Rail Road Company. The Degnon Terminal had a rail system that interfaced with the Yards, so all of the PRR and their subsidiary Long Island Railroad tracks were de facto networked to it as well.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Every culture since the beginning of civilization has had to develop a system for organizing and concentrating its resources towards some common goal. In Southeast Asia, you’ll find religious institutions which are older than the Roman Empire who still handle the water resovoir and canal delivery systems for rice paddies, for instance. Even the Soviets had a system for concentrating and focusing resources on their projects. In the United States, financial capital is concentrated via bond offerings and stock shares on one end, or by tax receipts and a combination of private and public banking and lending institutions on the other. The Degnon Terminal became a focus point for every sort of investment scenario available at the time.

That building in the shot above, the self storage warehouse with the green accent, used to be the largest part of the nine building General Electric Vehicle Company complex in LIC. That’s where they manufactured electric cars and trucks, in 1915. Like the Degnon Terminal, it was built and funded using private capital, meaning stock or bond market and perhaps commercial bank loans.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The large steel truss in the shot above, however, which transverses the Degnon Terminal high over Borden Avenue was built with public capital and NY State “Authority” issued bonds. It’s the Queens Midtown Expressway section of the larger Long Island Expressway, which became folded into Robert Moses’s TBTA or a Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority (the LIE terminates at the Queens Midtown Tunnel). The funding for this construction was arrived at by the issuance of municipal and TBTA bonds which were offered to investors through the purview of a commercial banking entity. The banks loved Robert Moses, since he always paid his many debts on time. To be fair, Moses was backed up by the river of dimes and nickels collected at the toll plazas of the Triborough Bridge and eventually at the QM Tunnel’s toll plaza.

This pedantry is offered in response to a recent conversation a humble narrator was privy to between some of the self identifying Democratic Socialists of Queens, who seem to think that Socialism means that money – where you get it, how you manage it, who spends it and on what – doesn’t matter and will matter less in their new dialectic. Even the citizens of the Soviet Union paid income taxes, and if the Marxist Leninists in Moscow wanted to build a new tractor factory they had to figure out a way to concentrate their financial and material resources to build the thing. It wasn’t straight up analogous to the Lord of the Flies type of capitalism practiced in the USA, of course, but they had a system.

Everybody has a system, even if it involves enslaving a subject nation to build you a pyramid, or tithing people to finance a cathedral. Socialist countries have central banks, investment methodologies, and an economy.

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, March 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

March 11, 2021 at 11:00 am

honest physician

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Remember when Friday was special?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As mentioned in the past, there’s something about the design principles of the “House of Moses” – which is what I call the teams of municipal engineers and architects that were employed by Robert Moses and who designed the network of highway, expressway, and parkway infrastructure of NYC between the early 1930’s and late 1960’s – which has always appealed to me. There seems to have been a governing philosophy back then that despite the mission calling for you to draw something utilitarian and inherently ugly – a high speed road, for instance – you should go out of your way to gussy it up and find ways to make it aesthetic. This is before Brutalism and massing shapes became the calling card of civil works.

I’m not being sarcastic, look at that 1940 section of the Long Island Expressway above. It could have been so much worse, and there’s all sorts of small detail built into what’s essentially an off ramp and an elevated travel lane. Truly under appreciated, I’ve always thought. The cloverleaf ramps nearby LaGuardia Airport are also quite visually pleasing to me.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

When I’m screaming at Government Employees in the modern day, I’m usually the only person in the room who’s not standing on a firm “Go ‘Eff yourself” on new or upgraded municipal infrastructure. Instead, I’m asking why they can’t spend a bit more time thinking about what it’s going to be like living with this stuff nearby. Why not make it visually interesting or even attractive? Look at the new Koscisuzcko Bridge, or the sewer plant in Greenpoint, for examples of what I’m talking about. I mean… you’re spending the money anyway, why not make it nice?

Pictured above is a Long Island Railroad train rolling through the Harold Interlocking at the Sunnyside Yards, photographed from my favorite hole in the fences. Want to talk about screwing up the public interface for a municipal facility? Look at the plate steel fences they’ve thrown up around the Yards, which are graffiti magnets. Uggh.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Despite the pandemic, ChristmAstoria is risibly present again this year. Lights are deployed and electrified, and luckily the fad for light strings with xmas music speakers attached seems to be dying. I’m into the decorative lights, but detest the piping of holiday music into the streets.

Back next week with more shots from different adventures.

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, December 7th. 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.

sardonic actuality

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Holy shmegoalie, its Wednesday again.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Scuttling about in the dark, as I do, there’s a lot of time for thinking. Recent musings found me thanking an earlier version of myself for getting interested in night and low light photography, as this particular passion of mine has been the only creative outlet available through the pandemic. My habit has been to wait until 8 o’clock or so, when the streets are becoming relatively unpopulated and free of humans, and then set out. My paths have become so well chosen that once I get out of residential Astoria and into the “IBZ” or “Industrial Business Zone” section, I’m finding myself completely and utterly alone for hours at a pop. It’s an odd sensation, moving through one of the most densely populated sections of the entire planet in solitude.

Generally speaking, when I’m back there and all by myself, I unmask. My habit is to slavishly wear the thing when moving about during the day, or in populated places. When I get to an area where the only other humans present are driving past in vehicles, or I can see empty sidewalks stretching out in every direction…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The mask is annoying, and fairly uncomfortable, I’ve found. Factor in the fact that I wear eyeglasses, and I’ve got to deal with them fogging up and occluding vision as I’m trying not to get squished by trucks while crossing streets. Additionally, I have a beard, which – since they weather has turned cold – collects the breath condensation contained by the mask and my chin coiff becomes quite moist. Whatcha gonna do?

One of my super powers revolves around being able to prophesy the near future based on current circumstance, which is something I do using branch logic methodologies. Back at the beginning of this I told my friends in the political world that “food and housing security, riots, structural fires, and a vast underreporting of domestic violence” were on the horizon. I told them about race cars and fireworks back at the beginning of April.

What’s next, then, Ezekiel? We’re wearing masks, even with a vaccine, for a minimum of the next two years. Also, based on recent tectonic activity all over and all around North America, I think 2020 might have one last big surprise in store for us.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One has just a few more Zoom meetings to get through in the next couple of weeks and then we’re done for the year on both Creek and Community Board. Tonight, the Transportation Committee is meeting, and we’re going to be talking about the absolute mess which is Astoria Blvd. Parking rules vary block to block, sidewalks are inconsistently sized, signage and street lighting is either on functional or missing… There’s lots of fixing to do there, which I’m hoping that the Governmental Agencies which oversee this street will agree with me about.

That’s not Astoria Blvd. pictured above, as a note, it’s Laurel Hill Blvd. in the Blissville section of Long Island City.

Back tomorrow, Lords and Ladies.

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, December 7th. 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

December 9, 2020 at 1:00 pm

doubted greatly

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Hey ho, what d’ya know, it’s Monday again.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Lonely, that’s how I like things. Deserted industrial zone streets, at night, are perfect when you want to be alone with your thoughts.

For many years, semi ironically, I’ve stated that what this City needs is a good plague. We’ve got that now. Turns out I was right that it would force people to reassess what’s truly important to them, but unfortunately this particular plague has really been a bit of a buzz kill. I recently watched the George Romero classic “Day of the Dead.” I always thought it was a bit cartoonish and unrealistic – “people don’t act like this during a biological pathogen spawned emergency” I used to say. Turns out Romero was right, and if anything, deliberately understated things.

I now accept that if the living dead were walking up the street, there would be people saying “it’s not real” or “I don’t believe what the bureaucracy wants me to believe” or “I haven’t been bitten, so I’m not worried.” There’s no such thing as zombies, or at least there wasn’t until Nancy Pelosi…

Hear the pipers, hear the drummers…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

According to a startling set of statistics encountered over the weekend, there are now 3,000 COVID related deaths a day in these United States. That’s a daily 9/11. Good work everybody. Before you start in with “those people were already sick anyway with…” – yeah – they were. But they weren’t on their death beds yet. If you have cancer and get squished by a falling safe – it was the safe that killed you, not the cancer.

I’ve been consuming right wing propaganda recently, quite on purpose. Adherents to that fascinating philosophical bent – reminiscent of the “Lord of the Flies” – are very worried about gay amphibians, AOC and socialism, and also having somebody – especially some member of a Mexican Drug Cartel – steal their personal information. You have to work George Soros, Jeffrey Epstein, Bill Gates, and of course Hillary Clinton into your storyline or postulate for it to be credible.

Also, people on the right seem to believe that whereas a Democrat can’t open their mouth without lying… sigh… why would you offer any politician your full trust? Presume they’re lying as it’s part of their job, or at least not telling the whole truth, whatever party they’re from. We used to be a lot better at processing all of this political stuff for what it is just a few years back.

I don’t want to hand blame off solely to the right for current circumstance, by the way, but the current group of charlatans and clowns offered from that side of the aisle really need to learn how to read a room – or listen to doctors. Airplanes work, as do computers and nuclear bombs.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Personally, I find the ultra lefties to be just as hamstrung by ideology and virtue signaling as the ultra righties are. That’s probably because my political odometer is set more or less one notch left of center. I have no problems whatsoever sitting down and dealing with either side, as getting tangible things done is far more important to me than scoring points with bike riding hippies or suv driving corporatists.

All I can really do right now is avoid others, try not to get sick, keep my head above water and my butt housed. Winter is here. Discontent along with 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, December 7th. 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

December 7, 2020 at 1:00 pm

furry blasphemy

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Friday, it’s Shabbos to some, a nightmare for others.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My initial reaction to the new camera system (the Canon R6) has been pretty positive so far, can recommend. Last night at three in the morning, I finally figured out how to use about half of my lens collection with the thing as well, so there’s that.

Also, the Montauk Cutoff should be open to the public, I can recommend that too. As promised, I did get up there last night, and I did a whole photographic walkthrough at night which you’ll see sometime in the near future.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I’ve often referred to the series of streets – 50th and 51st avenues in particular – shadowed by the steel truss carrying the Long Island Expressway’s “Queens Midtown Expressway” section as “the empty corridor.” In the shot above, you can see why.

Personally speaking, I’m kind of digging the reappearance of epic street graffiti in LIC. The old white washed “Giuliani time” streetscape has needed to reintroduce a bit of chaos and color, in my mind.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

So… I’m all geared up and ready to rock. Where do I go next? When leaving the house, after all these months of pandemic isolation, my feet are basically on autopilot and they turn the toes towards LIC and the Dutch Kills tributary of Newtown Creek. Either that or industrial Maspeth, and sometimes Greenpoint.

Just saw an ad on Facebook from the Empire State Building people, claiming that I can spend a bit of time on their observation deck in return for a fairly affordable and pandemic era discounted admission price, so I might just venture into the City at some point in the near future. Who can say?

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, November 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 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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