The Newtown Pentacle

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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

ominous things

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Tuesday’s are the most malign days of the week.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That puddle there is permanent. I’ve walked through this section of Maspeth during summertime drought conditions when it was hot enough to bake bread on the sidewalk and that puddle permanently persists. I’m told this is one of the lowest spots in NYC, as far as it’s relationship to sea level, which I’ve been known to describe this spot as being “the bottom of a soup bowl” that’s formed by the high grounds surrounding the alluvial flood plane of the legendary Newtown Creek.

There’s a sewer grate under the puddle somewhere, one which is choked by concrete and street garbage, which is meant to drain directly into the Maspeth Creek tributary of the larger Newtown Creek waterway without ever visiting a sewer plant. This is puddle is more or less on the spot where the town docks of Maspeth would have once been found, where DeWitt Clinton dreamt up the Erie Canal. I can see through time, but time is only a construct, as everything is actually happening all at once. We live in an explosion, and there are puddles.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Puzzling statement, no? Well – ponder it, bro. I don’t want to get into chemical decay and quantum states in today’s post. Puddles, that’s my bag, bro.

The big plumbing warehouse whose property sits behind both the eternal puddle, and a fence, used to be the United Enameling and Stamping Company. They made bathtubs and sinks and toilets and the sort of stuff that connected such items to water supply systems as well as enameled cooking equipment. Their huge parking lot used to be filled with dipping tanks, which were filled with esoteric compounds and cancer juices used in their manufacturing processes.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Next door to the plumbing warehouse is a concrete company – Ferrara Bros. You see their characteristic orange trucks making deliveries all over the City. This isn’t Ferrara’s only corporate footprint, here in industrial Maspeth. I think they’ve got a couple more giant factories in other boroughs, possibly another one in eastern Queens but I’m guessing there and can’t be bothered to find out more.

By my count, there are three big concrete processors around Newtown Creek. Ferrara Bros. here in Maspeth, NYCON at Dutch Kills in LIC, and Tec-Crete Transit mix over in Ridgewood. There’s others, of course, but that’s the three who more or less touch the shoreline of the lugubrious Newtown Creek.

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 19, 2021 at 1:00 pm

ominous potions

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Maspeth Monday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One scuttled over to the Grand Street Bridge “zone” one recent evening, an area found some 3.1 miles from the East River and straddling the lamentable Newtown Creek, to see what’s what. It was chilly, but it is – in fact – wintertime.

Eschewing a perambulatory tour of the Brooklyn side, one instead set his toes towards Industrial Maspeth, oft referred to as “my happy place.” Did I mention the cold?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One seems to recall this particular night as being a Sunday, as if the nomenclature of an individual day might matter during this dark and endless era of pandemic, sedition, and financial desperation. Frankly, I’ve lost track of how many days have passed here in the “after time” since March 13th of 2019. I could check with google to find out, but one tries to remember things rather than using technology for the basics.

Industrial Maspeth has received several new layers of graffiti paint, and more than a couple of its industrial businesses have flown the coop. The downed fence-line, pictured above, used to vouchsafe a large property that housed construction cranes and other heavy equipment. Don’t know if they went out out of business or just moved on to grayer pastures somewhere else.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Patrolling the lighting choked streets of the Newtown Creek like some sort of low rent Batman, one is constantly scanning the environment for potential threats and hazards. Recent weather events had deposited a fair amount of liquid onto the grease stained and quite concretized devastations of industrial Maspeth, which offered an extra layer of slippery hazard to my worries.

One interesting observation I can offer is that there are a large number of people who are living in RV’s and trailers and exploiting the long term parking rules of the industrial business zones nowadays. This is a trend I started noticing a couple of summers ago, but since we exited the “before time” it’s really kicked into gear.

More 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, 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 18, 2021 at 1:00 pm

strangely aromatic

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Walden had his pond…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Last month, we had a bit of snow, so one made it a point of marching over to the Dutch Kills tributary of Newtown Creek with the hope of photographing a certain tree (pictured above) which I’ve been shooting all year surrounded by frosty goodness. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, the western shore of the waterway it is rooted into was free of powder and ice. Oh well. Got busy anyway, despite not being able to feel my fingertips. As a note, manipulating camera controls when you can’t feel your fingers is a challenge.

I’ve become quite emotionally attached to this self seeded urban cultivar over the last year, and it’s come to represent something to me during the pandemic. It’s stalwart, and despite having sprouted under a factory and along the banks of a superfund listed waterway, it grows and grows. Someday I’m going to arrive at this spot and some jerk will have cut it down. Odds are I’ll drop to my knees and start bawling like a newborn.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One is desperately hanging onto sanity with his cold numbed fingertips at the moment. The level of anxiety I’m experiencing is massive. This is something I’ve been trying to be quite open about with friends and acquaintances, for a couple of reasons. One is that I’m fairly good in crisis situations, and am usually the person that you call when you’re in trouble or just having a hard time. One of my little mantras is “there’s plenty of time to freak out, cry and scream later, right now we need to deal with “this.” I’ve never understood the need people have to express their pique or disbelief that their house is on fire, running about hysterically, instead of setting about the process of extinguishing the flames. When the shit hits the fan… you have to be the Rock of Gibralter.

If somebody like me is feeling this level of constant anxiety, as there has been a constant wave of shit hitting all the fans for a long time now, I can’t imagine how difficult it is for others who don’t have the psychological toolkit I developed as the child of a malignant narcissist. You’re not alone, we’re all feeling it. Hang in there, the finish line where you get a needle jabbed into your shoulder, go back to work and a social life, and we start rebuilding the world is just around the corner.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The shot above is one of the focus stacking arrangements I’ve been experimenting with. This one uses differing exposures to find some sort of middle point between the brighter than daylight lighting of the FedEx last mile shipping hub and the darker than Satan’s heart ambience of Dutch Kills’ eastern bank which it adjoins.

There were Canada Geese rolling around in the water, and as you know, Canada Geese are dicks. Once got into a fist fight with a Canada Goose, but that’s another story.

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 11th. 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 12, 2021 at 2:35 pm

hypnotic fumes

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Monday is Monday, whatever year it is.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A couple of weeks ago, I decided that getting a few shots of the Superfund related dredging being conducted down at the Gowanus Canal in in South Brooklyn might come in handy down the line for my beloved Newtown Creek. Accordingly, I decided to head over to the Red Hook/Sunset Park area. Normally, I’d just hop on the Subway, but… y’know… plague times, so I took the NYC Ferry instead as I’d be able to hang out on the top deck in the open air rather than sitting on the thermos bottle like G train for an hour. My plan was valid, but the day I chose to go ended up being an incredibly cold one.

I spent the prior evening packing my camera bag, and laying out warm clothes. Slept on the couch so as to not terrify Our Lady of the Pentacle when my alarm went off at 4:30 in the morning. One woke, inhaled a bunch of coffee and a couple of glasses of water, then bathed and dressed. Left HQ at about 5:30, when it was still dark, and got an egg sandwich at the local bagel shop to provide fuel for the mission. Walked over to the East River, and boarded a southbound ferry as the burning thermonuclear eye of god itself rose in the eastern sky. Luckily, my forethought and preparation involved a secondary layer of thermal underwear, as it was bitterly cold out.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The NYC Ferry offers a free transfer within 90 minutes of activating (via the app) or buying your ticket. The service allows you to jump from one line to another at several locations, notably the 34th street and Pier 11 stops on the Manhattan side act as hubs where multiple ferry lines meet. I rode the Astoria line boat to Pier 11/Wall Street in lower Manhattan’s financial district and then transferred onto the South Brooklyn service. South Brooklyn Ferry now has a stop inside of Atlantic Basin, which is meant to serve the Red Hook neighborhood. In retrospect, I should have debarked there, but instead I went to the Brooklyn Army Terminal stop about a mile or so south.

Hey, I got up at 4:30 in the morning for this, you think I’m not going to walk through Industry City when I’m in the neighborhood? Sheesh.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My ultimate goal was to get to the Gowanus Canal about 10 a.m., which is when my sources inside the Federal Superfund Operation told me that I’d most reliably see dredging operations at work. Thing is, it’s been so long since I’ve been out with the camera during daylight hours that I decided on making this one of my “adventures.”

Adventure and excitement are things which a Jedi does not crave, of course, but I am no Jedi. There are so many experiences which I was forced to leave on the table in 2020 due to the Pandemic that the notion of having an interesting day was just too much for me to pass up. More tomorrow, at this – your Newtown Pentacle.

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 4th. 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 4, 2021 at 1:00 pm

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