The Newtown Pentacle

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whirling fancy

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Thursday has stumbled in again.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One found himself in the “happy place,” as I refer to industrial Maspeth, during an extremely low tide. Pictured above is Maspeth Creek, with its exposed mounds of Black Mayonnaise. Maspeth Creek is one of the sections of the larger Newtown Creek which I’d like to see “delisted” as a navigable waterway (according to Coast Guard) and reclassified as an “environmental benefit” area. All of us at Newtown Creek Alliance can talk endlessly about the benefits that such a conversion would bring not just to the entire Newtown Creek waterway but also the industrial business zone surrounding it. Essentially, creating a tidal salt marsh environment here would be so beneficial that it could help offset the impact that the many, many truck based heavy industries of Maspeth create. A guy can dream, huh?

It was aromatic, to say the least, when this shot was gathered.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A few blocks away, at the Maspeth Plank Road site, you can actually see how low this tide was. It looks like you could just walk out and touch the wooden artifacts of the bridge which once crossed the Newtown Creek between Furman Island and Greenpoint’s Maspeth Avenue, but I would have sunk to mid thigh into the mire. Normally, all of that pebbly sediment is sitting under a few feet of water.

Wish I could say that I planned on hitting this low tide, but it was pure luck and coincidence – I was just out taking a long walk in a place with a virtually zero night time population.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

For the photography curious, these are all handheld shots. The newish camera I’m sporting these days, the Canon R6, coupled with a couple of fairly “bright” lenses is allowing me to leave the tripod at home when I don’t intend on doing either long exposures or any of the fancy pants focus stacking stuff. I’m not leaving all that behind, of course, but it’s been great fun to leave HQ with just two prime lenses and a camera in tow.

That, lords and ladies, is your Newtown Pentacle Thursday installment.


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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.

tenants thereof

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Hie, Tuesday.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One question about NYC which non “lifers” don’t ask, a pondering query which has been mentioned in prior posts over the years, is what happened to all of those packs of feral dogs which used to wander about? Back in the 1970’s and 80’s, you needed to have dog fighting skills if you intended on walking through the sort of places I do. A lot of these puppers were former guard dogs, or runaways, or wild born strays. Speciation wise, you’d generally see large breeds at the head of the pack with the smaller dogs acting like naval corvettes protecting the flanks. You know my little missive “that in the neighborhood I grew up in you only ran when something was chasing you”? In my neighborhood, more often than not that “thing” was a pack of wild dogs. Seriously, if you walked down E. 59th bet Flatlands and Avenue J…

My supposition is that the heavy discounting of closed circuit television security camera systems in the early 1990’s is what put the guard dogs out of work. Without the need for guard dogs to protect your property, the feral population of dogs decreased to their current day level of near zero. Often do I ponder whether or not the abundance of raccoons, opossums, geese and other critters whose utter novelty is remarkable in the modern era is due to the lack of canine hunters.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Another one which I ponder while endlessly dogging my way through the cold waste involves prostitutes. Used to be that working gals were everywhere you looked, prior to “Giuliani Time” as we referred to it “back in the day.” Just the other night, I wandered past what appeared to be a transaction based personal training assignation along the railroad tracks in Maspeth. The presumptively post coital participants split up afterwards, with the female soon finding shelter in the cab of a passing truck, and the male member headed off to the nearby regional HQ of a well known last mile delivery business. I don’t think they were talking politics, if you know what I’m saying, and they were both pulling their pants up, so… Can’t say for sure it was transactional, but it sure looked like it. Talk about rail fanning, huh?

Williamsburg was notorious for its “in your face” street prostitution during the late 80’s and 90’s, but I remember driving home from work from an uptown job in Manhattan and predictably hitting traffic jams caused by potential clientele pulling over to negotiate with the various entrepreneurs and service providers walking the streets in lingerie. There was a huge pimping operation on Park Avenue in the high 30’s in Murray Hill, and in the 8th and 9th Avenue sections of Hells Kitchen in the 40’s and 30’s. In Brooklyn, I can tell you that Coney Island and Brighton Beach also hosted a remarkable number of individual entrepreneurs who operated in this “personal touch” space. Crack, bro, made people do a lot of weird shit.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Lastly, the overarching question in my mind these days is “why so serious”? If somebody calls me a name – let’s use the one that motherflower reminds you of – am I going to empower the assignation by arguing that I don’t flower my mother or just ignore them entirely? In my experience, there is no worse “dis” than ignoring someone. If you want to argue with me in an abusive fashion, I refuse to engage. Physical threats? Same thing, turn around and walk away. The last time somebody told me he was going to “kick my ass,” I responded with the infuriating phrase “use your words, instead.” Given that this particular fellow had a fiery swastika planted in a base of yarmulke wearing skulls and the motto “a good start” tattooed on his back, what sense would it have made trying to either reason with or beat some sense into him? Why so serious? It’s better to mock and laugh at iceholes than it is to fight with them, since you’re giving them what they want. Try shaming them instead, and shaming anyone who suborns such behavioral tics or overtly offensive skin decorations.

TLDR: who let the dogs out, where the ladies at, check yo self fore yo wreck yo self.


“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 30, 2021 at 11:00 am

translate itself

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Lo, Monday.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Industrial Maspeth is my happy place. Every visit fills me with ineluctable joy. A recent tiptoe through the industrial tulips, a few weeks back, found a humble narrator negotiating icy streets, mountainous piles of gray black snow, and heavy truck traffic on his nocturnal path to Newtown Creek. One has long offered the opinion that NYC never looks as good as it does when it’s wet, as evinced above. This is from 48th street, aka “the Shell Road,” which was a colonial era pathway from north to south paved with crushed oyster shells. Pictured is a lonely FDNY alarm box, sitting on a patch of sidewalk which barely exists anymore due to the expansion of corporate fencing.

The Shell Road slouches gently in altitude, down from the distant prominence of Greenpoint Avenue to the dark havens of Newtown Creek.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

People do live here in industrial Maspeth. I’m always surprised, finding a well cared for 1 or 2 family semi attached home plunked down in the middle of some otherwise hellacious industrial stretch. There might be constant noise and pollution, but there isn’t alternate side parking to contend with here in the industrial buisness zone, and it’s pretty quiet on the weekends. Want to park a boat on the street, bro? You do you.

Dichotomies abound, of course. When most say “Maspeth,” what one pictures are pretty as you please blocks of tract housing which have a somewhat suburban aspect that neighbors schools and shopping. When I say Maspeth, I’m picturing what’s generally referred to as “West Maspeth” in modernity, and it’s the darkest of the hillside thickets surrounding the fabulous Newtown Creek.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The “Happy Place” has been nepenthe for a humble narrator during the plague year, a place where I can freely breathe sans mask or precautions due to the utter lack of population hereabout. I will also admit to enjoying the esthetics.

Night time walks around this area demand the usage of a safety vest or some other reflective material to signal your presence to the truck drivers and heavy equipment operators. A recent “hack” to my camera bag introduced a strip of reflective fabric tape to the bag’s strap, which Our Lady of the Pentacle handled for me using her darning skills. Hey, when you’re known for wearing all black clothing with a filthy black raincoat over it all, it can’t hurt to be a little bit visible.


“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 29, 2021 at 1:00 pm

country legends

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Thursday, and how I almost broke my neck.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Maspeth is quite hilly. I’ve always opined that walking up 69th street, leading up from Queens Blvd. to Borden Avenue, is not unlike visiting one of the Mayan pyramids and that there should be similarly be a chain laid down on the sidewalk to grab onto and aid you in climbing the ascent. The reason behind this steep elevation is geological, as the terminal moraine of Long Island’s western extent begins in Maspeth (at Mt. Olivette cemetery) whereas the lower declination closer to the East River are a sort of glacial mud puddle. When you’re in a boat on Newtown Creek, you can easily visualize the ridge which gives Ridgewood its name, and see the geologic “soup bowl.” In the shot above, you can discern the radical change in elevation of Maspeth which is encountered in just one city block, an ascent of something like three building stories of height.

While walking down this hill, I slipped on a chunk of metal, while holding the camera tripod in front of me in a posture not unlike that of carrying a rifle. I found myself propelled forward head first, and rather than try to fight gravity, my instinctual response was instead to sprint into the fall. Running allowed me to regain my balance, which was lucky. If I hadn’t saved myself here, it would have been a tooth breaking face plant on the sidewalk, and my torso would have smashed the camera and tripod into the pavement. As it is, it took me running all the way to that utility pole in the shot above before I regained proper walking balance. It was actually quite comical.

Gravity and momentum, they affect us all, bro.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Luckily, I managed to pull a muscle in my back and the act of locking up my abdomen and chest to maintain an erect running posture caused my neck and shoulders to cramp up, but that’s what it’s like being in your early 50’s. These are also the sort of banal adventures which an intrepid urban explorer encounters while walking around on anything but flood planes. In my defense, neighborhoods in my county of origin had names like “Flatlands” and “Flatbush.”

I expect that there’s some security guy who had a good laugh watching the cctv footage of this particular moment the next morning. The word you’re looking for is “klutz.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Back to those “corridors” mentioned yesterday, one set out for hq along the 43rd street/Laurel Hill Blvd. corridor. This entails a fairly terrifying walk along a sidewalk which barely has a curb and which adjoins the onramp of the Brooklyn Queens Expressway leading onto the Kosciuszcko Bridge. Tire tracks left behind by automobiles and trucks on this sidewalk provide efficacy of the commitment to street safety which is offered by the NYC DOT.

I plan on calling Thrive NYC to discuss my worries about all of this. Chirlane will know what I should think.

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, January 18th. 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

January 21, 2021 at 11:00 am

sinisterly wooded

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Wednesday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One finds himself wandering over the same ground over and over due to the efficiency of certain routes. There are de facto passes – gateway points – between the residential neighborhoods of Queens and the industrial business zones. That means that I end up moving through and towards these choke points all the time. Some of these “passes” are created by highways, cemeteries, or rail yards. In the case of the “happy place” Maspeth area of Newtown Creek, there’s the 39th/43rd/48th street corridors.

Interesting Queens historical trivia is that back in Dutch and English times, 39th street used to be called Harold Avenue, 43rd street used to be called Laurel Hill Blvd. and ran from Berrian Bay to Newtown Creek, and that 48th street was “the Shell Road” which was paved with crushed oyster shells.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Normal scuttling finds me looking for the most direct route from “A” to “B” but given that there’s nothing normal about the world right now, one finds himself wandering about a bit more than usual. Why not walk down that street or avenue you’ve never consciously explored before? It’s not like you have somewhere else to go.

My fascination with photographing the skeletal silhouettes of wintry street trees is becoming an issue for me, so I’m planning on calling Thrive NYC to ask Chirlane DeBlasio for some advice on kicking the habit. She’s apparently the wisest of all people, according to the Mayor, but he’s only watched a few of the videos.

Seriously though, seeing a tree this large and this old which has survived in the darkest of the environmental thickets of Newtown Creek’s industrialized hinterlands long enough to get up to forty or fifty feet is just inspirational. You’ve got to take hope when you find it, lords and ladies.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This lobster truck, which has clearly seen better days, sits at the top of a hill in the section of West Maspeth which was sometimes referred to as “Berlin” or “Berlinville” in the late 19th century and for the first decade of the 20th. There are residential buildings hereabouts, scattered here and there amongst the factories and warehouses, and queries I’ve offered to the folks who live here over the years have revealed no living memory of the Berlin thing. Saying that, there was the Berlinville Railway disaster, and I’ve seen the term scribed onto fire insurance maps, so…

It’s parked on what should be the eastern slope of Berlin Hill. Laurel Hill is where First Calvary cemetery resides. The shallow valley between them, which the BQE runs through, used to host a lost tributary of Newtown Creek called “Wolf Creek,” or so the legend states…

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, January 18th. 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

January 20, 2021 at 11:00 am

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