The Newtown Pentacle

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Thursday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

October 20th and a humble narrator had just received the most critical bit of equipment needed to enable his “escape from New York.” A car.

All of these years in Queens, I’ve been a dedicated pedestrian and married to mass transit. I’ve always opined that having a car in Astoria is more of a curse than a boon. It was actually cheaper for me to use ride shares or cabs when I needed a ride than it was to own one.

I’m moving to America, and quite literally to “Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood,” where you cannot exist on the continent without a vehicle so I had to drop the hammer. Placed the order in July, and got a fresh from the factory new car in late October.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Since becoming hyper mobile and independent of the geographic restrictions which are governed by how far my feet can scuttle, as well as the physical constraints of how long I can carry my photo kit, one has been ranging all over the city. Saying that, what is being missed out on now are the little things that you can’t see when driving along as you’re moving too fast.

After getting my driver’s license reinstated earlier this year, I rented a few different vehicles from Avis and Hertz, looking for a good fit for Our Lady of the Pentacle and myself. The Toyota RAV4 Hybrids rose to the top of my list, and we ordered one from one of the new car dealerships on Northern Boulevard. My accountant opined that even if I bought the thing in Alaska, NYS would still bill me for sales tax since my legal address would still here at the time of purchase, so I bit the bullet. Hopefully, this will be my last really large contribution to the black hole that Albany throws our earnings into to finance its dysfunction.

One of the bits of advice I offer is “if you’re thinking about buying a car, rent the model for a week first, and see if you like it.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

October 21st saw me taking advantage of this new mobility to get a few shots from an area that has always been a little too far off the grid for me to walk around, the coast lines of College Point and Whitestone.

That’s the Bronx Whitestone Bridge pictured above and below.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Funnily enough, I’ve got more shots of this bridge from the Bronx side than I do the Queens one, due to there being a ferry stop on the Soundview NYC Ferry line in the former location.

I tooled around the area, exploiting several points of view which I had previously scouted out on Google maps. The Google Maps app is a great tool as far as finding potential points of view in areas which are either tangentially known or are complete mysteries. I never would have thought to visit the “Whitestone Bridge Observatory” otherwise, or even suspected such a roundabout street end existed.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Whitestone seems to be a super wealthy community, with expansive homes that border on “mansion” nestled right up against the water. It looks more like a suburb than it does NYC. You don’t see piles of cast off garbage or debased humans lying in the street, for instance.

I had several photo set ups planned for the day, and since I was in a car, didn’t mind carrying all of the heavy kit which would normally create a limit on how far and wide I could range.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There aren’t too many Sandy beaches on the East River. I think it’s about 6 or 7, that I know about at least. That’s one of them, above, at Francis Lewis Park. Nice spot.

One kept on heading eastwards, right up and sometimes over the City/Nassau County line.

More on that tomorrow at your – now – hard driving 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.

Written by Mitch Waxman

November 17, 2022 at 11:00 am

seventy steps

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Tuesday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

First off – Newtown Creek Alliance will be honoring John Lipscomb of Riverkeeper, Christine Holowacz, and… your humble narrator… this coming Thursday night (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.

Heading back towards Astoria, from a far ranging walk on the 16th of September, which saw me visiting places familiar and loved, I decided that the course northwards and towards HQ would involve 48th street, where Woodside and Sunnyside collide. To get there, I scuttled along an access road that follows the Brooklyn Queens Expressway’s connection to the Long Island Expressway.

This is a lonely path through my “happy place” borderlands of Industrial Maspeth. You needn’t fret overly about marauders, muggers, or molesters here, instead you worry about monsters. Not metaphorical ones either. If you’re going to get got by a werewolf or zombie in NYC, this is the neighborhood where that’ll happen. Vampires? Nope, that’s Queens Plaza.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Cool cars abound in the borough of Queens, but they’re given to mechanical failure, so tow trucks also must exist. Universal rule.

At the moment, since this is another one of the things people keep asking me, I’m still maintaining my every other day schedule of “part of one day out shooting and then one day back at HQ.” The length of the walks I take on one of the “out days” is based purely around whatever else I’m obliged to do that day and how the physical plant is behaving. Of late, it hasn’t been too easy to detach myself prior to about 4-5 in the afternoon, and as the burning thermonuclear eye of God itself is currently dropping down behind New Jersey sometime in the 6 o’clock hour here in NYC so I seem to be catching a lot of sunsets.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My mood is fairly serious but I’m not as anxious or stressed out as you’d imagine, as I’m driven by the exigent circumstances of the day, and I’m actually feeling quite positive. As described in the past, one of the things I do when scuttling around is think in a meditative fashion. I like to believe that all of this alone time over the last fifteen or so years has allowed me to figure some things out, about myself at least. What I can say is that I’m a very different person than I used to be.

Physically, I’m what I’d describe as “ok” but I’m still really fat and haven’t been able to drop the weight I put on during COVID, despite all the walking. Saying that, the trick left foot seems to be a little less tricky these days and despite being in my middle 50’s – four out of seven days a week I’ll walk between five and fifteen miles around this hellish industrial zone while lugging around ten pounds of camera crap with me. Rain, snow, hot, cold. That’s me. I’m still made of leather.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One looks forward to living in the Pittsburgh area. I’m thinking about augmenting my nascent car ownership with an electric pedal assist bike of some kind, which would allow me the option of parking the larger vehicle somewhere and then exploring the various neighborhoods of Pittsburgh on 2 wheels until I get a feel for the place. As mentioned in the past, I don’t think you can see or understand a place from behind the wheel of a car, as you’re moving too fast to notice things. Even a bike moves a bit too fast. Walking, that’s the trick, but until you’ve found pathways through a city it’s best to be mobile in case trouble lurks.

Perhaps I can find a pair of robot pants which would walk up and down those hills in Pittsburgh for me.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Of course, there’s all sorts of stuff there that you can just walk right up to and photograph without having to shoot through a chain link fence like you do with literally everything in NYC. Pictured above is the interchange between the BQE and LIE, at the Maspeth/Sunnyside/Woodside border mentioned at the top of this post, the one whose access road I was walking along – and it’s a photo shot through a chain link fence.

This point of view is found along 48th street, at the Woodside and Sunnyside Border with the happy place of Industrial Maspeth. From here out, as I headed north, 48th street is entirely residential for several blocks. Nothing too interesting to shoot there, I’m afraid. I also don’t really like taking pictures of people’s homes, as it looks really, really suspicious and weird. Given how suspicious and weird I look as a default…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Luckily for a humble narrator, just as I got to Queens Boulevard at 48th street, the Q104 bus was pulling up and after a quick “maximum boogie” sprint across the so called “Boulevard of Death,” I was utilizing the MTA’s newish OMNY fare payment system to buy myself a ride the rest of the way back home to the rolling hills of almond eyed Astoria.

The next few days were meant to be rather “involved,” and they certainly were. More on that 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

October 18, 2022 at 11:00 am

furtive groping

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Wednesday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As described yesterday, one was perambulating through a long walk back to Astoria from East Williamsburgh in Brooklyn, and transversing Maspeth. There’s lots to see, and even more to photograph on this route.

Along the Long Island Railroad tracks nearby the legendary Haberman siding, a company involved in the minerals trade was filling rail cars with their stock products.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A brief sit down in a shady spot along Rust Street was enjoyed, and one of those Spotted Lantern flys landed on a branch nearby. I wish that I had a macro lens on the camera for this one, instead of the long lens telephoto job that was already onboard. This is an extremely cropped and zoomed in photo, if you’re wondering.

One continued down hill, and along the way ran into an old friend with whom I argued about vaccines for a few blocks. She was heading off in another direction, and I was heading for the sort of place which is everybody’s last mailing address, eventually.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I was told that this is a Kestrel, by an actual Ornithologist, and it was spotted sitting on top of a statue monument at First Calvary Cemetery in Long Island City’s Blissville section.

It’s been a long, long time since I wandered through Calvary, a place where I used to spend a lot of my time.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

All the familiar places, huh? Leaving NYC at the end of the year, and the psychological process that’s kicked off, has made me soppy and sentimental. Every time that I find myself in a place which has had meaning for me in the past, I think “this is likely the last time I’ll see this.”

The last boat trip on Newtown Creek, the last East River Ferry ride, the last walk through Calvary… that’s me, right now. I’m also trying to see a few friends whom I’ve not been in the physical presence of for a while, because realistically – odds are I’ll never see them in person again.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

After crossing out of Calvary, and over the Long Island Expressway, I was in “proper” Long Island City and heading north. Along the way, I had the horrible realization that the teenagers are physically back in school now when walking past Aviation High School.

Brrr… teenagers… no impulse control.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Some will tell you that the section of Queens you’re looking at above is in Sunnyside, but most of them are Real Estate Agent Shit Flies. I stand hard on the notion that Sunnyside starts at 39th street. Don’t argue with me, I’m right and you’re wrong if you disagree. This is LIC.

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

October 12, 2022 at 11:00 am

rest without

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Thursday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

April 24th saw me taking a very long walk indeed. Truth be told, I ended up having to stamp out a small fire in the afternoon, and decided to get the time back by taking a cab to an opportune jumping off point in Industrial Maspeth – or as I call it “The Happy Place.”

I just couldn’t stand the thought of spending an interminable hour and change walking through residential neighborhoods and losing the light accordingly. It was worth the $20.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

MTA has a maintenance facility hereabouts, and they were in the process of decommissioning several Long Island Railroad passenger cars. One scuttled on and on.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

At Maspeth Creek, I noticed a Canada Goose on a nest. She said “NAAAG” and stuck her tongue out at me, which I’ve since learned is goose for “go away.” I’ve since said “NAAAG” to other Canada Geese, and they seemed shocked that I’ve learned some of their language.

NAAAG. I speak a little goose now.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A few blocks away, a Momma and a Poppa Canada Gooses were guarding their progeny, pictured above.

They’re so cute when young, and such assholes when mature, the Canada Gooses. Just like people. NAAAG.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

What they were guarding the chicks against is pictured above, a nearly spherical floop of a cat. The kitty seemed surprised that I noticed it, and had probably convinced itself that it was a stealthy predator rather than an adorable fur balloon.

Floop.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A broken water main in front of a NYC DEP building flows freely in Industrial Maspeth, which is… just…

Anyway, the broken water main is accomplishing the goal of hydraulically removing litter and garbage from the streets of Industrial Maspeth. Unfortunately, that sewer grate above doesn’t lead to a sewer plant, rather it empties directly into Newtown Creek.

“DEP” stands for “Department of Environmental Protection.”


“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.

langorously under

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Wednesday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My long walk on March 14th continued along Newtown Creek, and I visited all of favorite places west of 48th street. Vainglorious thoughts cause me to refer to my circumlocutions of the Newtown Creek as a “patrol.” Irregular in schedule, it seems that about every six weeks or so, I walk the entire shoreline of the waterway, and have done so for nearly fifteen years now.

I really should have gotten into building model airplanes or something.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Dark and lonely is the way I like it. Sure, there are passing cars and trucks, but I’m the only pedestrian usually. It’s actually a bit surreal, truth be told. Moving about in the veritable geographic center of NYC, and more often than not – complete and utter solitude.

It’s been a panacea during the pandemic, I tell’s ya.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I grew up without siblings, so being alone is normal for me. Unfortunately, what’s going through my mind during these long walks is a non stop review of all of my failings. I really work myself over psychologically during these long walks. Why? Well, even if your Jewish mother is dead, it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t do to yourself what she used to do and rake yourself over the coals for every mistake you’ve ever made dating back to potty training.

A particular quirk of mine involves the way my memory works. I don’t remember anything good that I’ve done or said, instead the milestones in my psychological roadmap revolve around failure.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Sleights or arguments – those stick around. Complimentary relationships or personal victories are soon forgotten. I’ve gotten better about this stuff as I’ve gotten older, but in my late 20’s and early 30’s it was crippling to exist behind these eyes and between the ears. On this particular walk, I was processing painful memories retained from when I was in Junior High School. Pedantic, huh?

For the curious – I remember being embarrassed, and hoping that nobody who has ever met me as an adult would find out about that time in 7th grade when I decided to wear a pair of “Tale Lord” jeans to school and was roundly mocked for months about it.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Recently, I was reminded by a cousin of the great esteem one used to espouse for the band “U2,” in my senior year of high school. Given that I barely listen to that outfit anymore, but still stand behind the statement that the albums “Boy” and “War” were pretty great, I grew embarrassed about that too. Working myself over about all of the stupid things I’ve said and thought over the years…

Part of this thought process revolves around the aging process. We are all different people at different times in our lives, and the trick is to accept that as the years stack up that you’ve evolved – hopefully. That trick eludes me as – since mentioned – my focus and lattice of memories are built on a foundation of professional and personal mistakes, and saying exactly the wrong thing at exactly the right time. My internal Jewish Mother will never let me forget about failures.

You’re supposed to succeed, what do you want, a medal? Mr. Big Shot, remember the time you shit your pants when you were at cousin Nancy’s first wedding in Washington when you were 4? Your father was so embarrassed he had indigestion for the entire Carter administration. What about the time you…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Saying all that, I positively feed upon all of this ennui. Wouldn’t do it to myself if it didn’t have some positive effect, right? Maybe it’s why I work so hard and so often. Why I strive to try and not be a Dick.

Tomorrow – something completely different, 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.

Written by Mitch Waxman

May 11, 2022 at 11:00 am

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