The Newtown Pentacle

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Monday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

October 8th was one of the days in Long Island City that passerby might have noticed a pile of black sackcloth being carried along by the wind. Closer inspection would have revealed a humble narrator clothed in his street cassock, a filthy black raincoat flapping about in the poison breeze. One was enjoying an afternoon constitutional, and occasionally startling the elderly and their dogs if they gazed upon my countenance while passing by. A face for radio, that’s me.

One was feeling particularly invigorated, and it was a beautiful day for a stroll over to a hopelessly polluted industrial zone.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Somebody left their shop door open, and I cracked out an exposure or two of the scene within while shambling past. Neat!

In accordance with recent policy shifts here at HQ in Astoria, one had timed the walk for the late afternoon. This was around 5 p.m., give or take. In October, the burning thermonuclear eye of god itself lobs about in the sky at fortuitous angularities relative to the street grid of New York City. Not so much in January, so take advantage when you can.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One of the torments which my friends endure revolves around me having led them through over hill and dale and onto hell’s favorite streets, baking in the sun the whole way, whereupon I present them with a description of our destination as being “only 2-3 miles more to go” followed by “but, it’s all down hill from here.” To wit: the shot above. Several of you reading this just groaned.

What you’re actually looking at above is the hydrological reservoir and surrounding sloped basin of the Dutch Kills tributary of Newtown Creek. The flat lowlands around the waterway were wetlands, or “waste meadows” as they called them in the old days. Behind me, and further up the hill from where I was standing, is Greenpoint Avenue. Greenpoint Avenue connects with, and used to incorporate Roosevelt Avenue, which went all the way to Flushing back in the days of the decadent Dutch in the form of a turnpike. Greenpoint Avenue was set up as a high ground ridge road which connected two isolated waterfront colonies separated by bogs, swamps, and grass land.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

1940 is when the monstrosity pictured above, which largely follows Borden Avenue’s far more ancient path, was opened for traffic. Formerly, the horse or oxen drawn traffic followed Borden or Hunters Point Avenue on its path to the East River, where ferry or boat transport would complete the journey of passengers or cargo to Manhattan from Queens. Back then, there were shops and restaurants and inns along the route. Houses too, a few blocks back.

When the City bound traffic disappeared onto the Long Island Expressway and into the similarly aged Queens Midtown Tunnel, it blighted the area, and an already onerous catalog of industries in this area got worse in terms of character and pollution.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

When you’re on the south side of the Long Island Expressway, you’ve entered Blissville. That’s the name of the neighborhood. Really.

This neighborhood, and many of its residents, have a special place in my heart. I like having beers at Bantry Bay on Greenpoint Avenue, and I can point you at a very comfortable socialist bench nearby Review Avenue (it was donated to the Blissville Community by the campaign of Jonathan Bailey, who ran as a Democratic Socialist for City Council in the last cycle, so “socialist bench.”)

I am unaware of any public furniture donations to Blissville from the Republican Candidate for the seat, Marvin Jeffcoat.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One such as myself is probably the only person in Brooklyn or Queens happy to see the Greenpoint Avenue Bridge opening at 5:30 p.m. on a weekday, but there you are. I enjoyed the show, and waited patiently, unlike everybody else, for the thing to resume “bridging” after it finished “drawbridging.”

More tomorrow.


“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

November 14, 2022 at 11:00 am

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Thursday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

First off – Newtown Creek Alliance will be honoring John Lipscomb of Riverkeeper, Christine Holowacz, and… your humble narrator… tonight, (the 20th) at the annual “Tidal Toast” fundraising event. Ticketing information can be found here, and the tax deductible donation of your ticket money will help to fund NCA’s ongoing mission to Reveal, Restore, and Revitalize Newtown Creek. NCA has been at the center of my public life over the last 15 years, and I hope you can make it. This is officially my finale, in terms of public facing events, and the end of this chapter of my life.

On the 23rd of September, a humble narrator set out for what ended up being an extremely long walk. Upon leaving HQ, a black cat with yellow eyes skated past me. Such an occurrence is always indicative of a good photo day coming. You have to learn how to listen to Queens, I always say, and recognize her omens.

The late model pick up truck pictured above was the first cool thing that she showed me. I’m going to miss Queens, but I don’t think she’ll miss me. I don’t think anyone in NYC is actually going to miss “me,” rather they’ll miss the idea of me. I think, on the other hand, that there will be a lot of people happy to see me go.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My next stop was at “hole reliable” at Sunnyside Yards, which lived up to the name I’ve assigned it. Hole Reliable is a surveyor’s aperture cut out of the plate steel fencing over the Harold Interlocking.

Wonders, I tell you, wonders.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My pathway continued on, south to Greenpoint Avenue and then into Blissville, which carried me over the Long Island Expressway.

Why do I think no one will miss me, and why some will be happy to see me go? Experience. It’s the way of NYC. When somebody leaves the megalopolis, or dies here, there’s a lot of hugging and handshaking for a little while but then life goes on. As far as the “happy to see me go” people, I’m either in their way right now, or perceived as a wizened scold whose knowledge of past events and the circumstances is inconvenient to the current dialectic on offer.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Down Under the Greenpoint Avenue Bridge Onramp, in Long Island City’s Blissville section, that’s where my next stop was. Railroad Avenue, specifically. I call it DUGABO.

Melancholy actually rules my roost at the moment. On the one hand, ebullient excitement for all of the challenges and opportunities that relocating to a different part of the country offers is undeniable. Conversely, I’m leaving behind everything I know and everything I’ve ever known. It’s manic and depressing – all at the same time.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There’s a reason that they named this particular street in Long Island City “Railroad Avenue.” During my travels on Amtrak last year, one of the realizations I enjoyed was the one that stated “Everywhere you go, there’s a Railroad Avenue.” Really. I found one along Lake Champlain in Burlington, Vermont, of all places.

I’ve been forced to craft a little speech in order to save time. It starts off with “Not to get all Doctor Who here, but we’re all different people at different times of our lives…” Deep thoughts have accompanied the underway diving expedition of ridding myself of the material detritus of a lifetime in preparation for this move. Over all, I like to think that I’ve done some good, in this most recent version of myself.

The trash bags in front of HQ have included yearbooks from schools that some early variant of me attended, the toys and tools acquired over a half century by several of the “me’s”, and clothing worn by a younger man which no longer fits.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Saying all that, a humble narrator is currently exhausted. A thousand thousand small but important details are being maintained in active thought, and a never ending landslide of physical task work, that I’ve scheduled around garbage pickup days, is underway at HQ.

There’s no way that NYC is going to let me go without an attempt at slamming some kind of whammy at me on the way out – that’s my governing terror. One of the reasons I’m so exhausted is that I have my radar on at full power every time I leave HQ just to buy a bagel.

More tomorrow.


“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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Friday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My long walk around a short creek continued, and the Newtown Creek Nature walk allowed me an easy path through Brooklyn’s Greenpoint section. Pictured above is one of the lesser known tributaries of Newtown Creek – Whale Creek – and that’s a NYC DEP “Sludge Boat” docked along it.

Sludge Boats transport the processed/treatment sewer solids from the 12 sewer plants to the 13th one on Randall’s/Wards Island where it’s dewatered in centrifuges.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Kingsland Avenue hugs the fences of the sewer plants, and it’s also where Newtown Creek Alliance HQ is found (520 Kingsland).

It’s a pretty crappy experience on foot, have to say.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Those cylinders are exhaust pipes for the sewer plant, which burn off the methane produced by the treatment process, directly into the atmosphere. That makes the Department of Environmental Protection the single largest and most constant source of greenhouse gases in the entire Borough of Brooklyn.

Remember that when Eric Adams mandates that you need to spend $100,000 to convert your house over to electric from whatever you use to heat and cook in it right now.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Kingsland Avenue carried my carcass to Greenpoint Avenue and it’s eponymous bridge. This shot is looking east along Newtown Creek. Brooklyn is on the right, Queens on the left.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Things were getting pretty surreal, sky wise. Everything was painted in saturated radiates as the burning thermonuclear eye of God itself descended into whatever the hell might be on the other side of New Jersey.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My very productive day wasn’t over yet, I’d mention.

Cannot tell you how many times this exact same route has disappointed. Part of the reason I walk it so often are days like the 12th of April.

Back next week with more wonders, 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.

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Monday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Scuttling, always scuttling, camera in hand, filthy black raincoat flapping about, shoes scraping the concrete. That’s my life. Wherever I go, there I am. Nothing ever changes, nothing matters, nobody cares. Everyday, it all starts over again. Sometimes it rains.

Recent endeavor found me friendless, and wandering through Long Island City on my way home to Astoria after a long walk around a short tributary of the fabulous Newtown Creek. An FDNY crew seemed to be taking a break, but this particular ambulance was instead awaiting its turn to enter a gargantuan vehicle services garage that the agency maintains about a block away. I can’t ignore it when the fire people start strobing colored lights around the study area, so…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

You have to pick your route, I always say. There’s so many “corridors” in Long Island City’s still industrial areas that dead end at a rail yard or a highway that you need to put a little thought into whether turning left or right at a particular corner is a good move. Make the wrong choice and you’re suddenly presented with an extra four to five blocks of walking in the cold dark.

Y’know, I never see stray cats or dogs around these parts. You see cats nearby certain industrial sites and shipping warehouses, but they’re generally being “kept” with food, water, and shelter to assist with pest control. You do hear a lot of hawks and falcons, but they are an illusion. The cries of these birds of prey echo about the empty streets, with said utterances being played through roof mounted speaker systems to scare away prey species like gulls, pigeons, and their ilk. The fear induction mechanism is meant to keep these feathery loiterers from nesting on building roofs, and degrading them structurally with guano.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

While scuttling back towards HQ, my empty existence was suddenly illuminated by the appearance of a single shoe, perched along the fencelines of the gargantuan Sunnyside Yards. It would seem that the Queens Cobbler has reemerged from lockdown. A probable serial killer who leaves macabre singular shoe trophies to mock law enforcement and the surrounding communities, the Queens Cobbler has followed me home at least twice – and left behind personalized messages adorning the fence surrounding HQ.

How long will the Queens Cobbler’s reign of terror continue?


“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 7, 2022 at 11:00 am

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Wednesday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Three Queens neighborhoods in one scuttle, now that’s what I’d refer to as a “long walk.” It’s everything I can do not to just end up at Newtown Creek every time I leave the house, so an effort is made not to do so.

That’s an N train on the Astoria Elevated tracks, found along 31st street. The cross street is Newtown Road, which I’ve been told is a pathway through the area that predates the arrival of the Europeans and that once followed the course of running water.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Spotted this one on 39th street in Sunnyside, and found it comical. The reference is of course to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement operation at the Federal Dept. of Homeland Security. The reason I find it comical is the absolutism of the slogan. You really, really don’t want to abolish the Customs Dept., in particular. I’d be in favor of some reform when it comes to the Immigration Dept., but suspect that what I’d have in mind differs wildly from what the writer of this graffiti has in mind.

Y’know, I advise my leftie buddies all the time to be mindful about giving Tucker Carlson something to talk about on Fox, but there you go.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Over at the border of Blissville and Sunnyside, you’ll find the Long Island Expressway. I’ve always been fascinated by the design motifs and cues offered by the design teams at the “House of Moses” back in the 1940’s and 50’s. That’s Robert Moses, of course. I mean, it’s an inherently ugly thing – a highway off ramp – but there’s something esthetically pleasing in the design, to my eye at least.

More tomorrow.


“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, 2022 at 11:00 am

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