The Newtown Pentacle

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Wednesday is a shocking realization, to some.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My beloved Creek. Unfortunate truths for the wandering mendicant and itinerant photographer include the fact that if you want to accomplish a shot of something you have to go get it, and the weather be damned. That’s why I often find myself out in storms, heat waves, or cold snaps. Luckily, I’ve learned how to be prepared for the inclement. On the evening revolving about getting the shot above, it had just finished snowing and the air temperature was in the high 20’s. It was also fairly windy, and quite uncomfortable despite my having worn several layers of insulating garments beneath the filthy black raincoat.

Truth be told, what lured me out of HQ was the presence of snow on the ground, and the visual possibilities thereof. Part of my governance, philosophy wise, is to only shoot things as I encounter them. No set ups, no lights, no “move it a few inches into frame” or any other alteration to circumstance is allowed. Trust in the Newtown Creek and especially the Borough of Queens, they’ll show you something interesting every time.

Of course, on this particular evening I was crossing Newtown Creek on the Kosciuszcko Bridge and heading into Brooklyn – Greenpoint specifically.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Graffiti truck is still sitting down there, in Greenpoint, so at least there’s some consistency left in this world. One thing about smashing about in industrial zones in the dead of night is that you want to pick your path carefully. Twist your ankle or fall in a hole on a Friday night, it won’t be until early Monday morning that somebody shows up and notices you. When snow is fresh and ice has newly formed, I will often leave the house with a cane in hand. The third point of contact with the ground changes your walking equation when it’s slippery.

Ideally, when my physical degeneracy and advancing age have robbed me of such mobility, I’d like to ride around in something resembling the Martian Tripods from Wells’ War of the Worlds. Scaled down to a two seater, my commuter tripod would be referred to as the “mobile oppression platform” and be street legal to park in front of HQ. Wait till the bike people see the tripods, huh?

Two wheels good, four wheels bad, but what’s best is three legs with a heat ray that can melt armored vehicles on the ground and cook war planes out of the sky.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One debarked the Kosciuszcko Bridge, found a semi private spot to release some water back into the environment which I had been internally filtering since leaving Astoria, and looped around to the Greenpoint Avenue Bridge crossing of Newtown Creek about 3/4 of a mile west of the larger Kosciuszcko. One thing about the Annum Pandemicum which is seldom commented upon, except by me seemingly, is the nagging problem of human biology versus these sanitarian prophylaxis rules. Where do you piss?

As a bloke, this isn’t too much of an issue for me. There’s always a couple of trucks you can find some temporary privacy between. The old system, wherein you’d walk into a diner or something and order a cuppa joe and ask to use the terlet doesn’t exist anymore due to the COVID rules.

Me? I’ve been painting the town yellow for the last year. You?

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 15th. 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 17, 2021 at 11:00 am

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Friday is urban bucolia day.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Marching, endlessly marching, one noticed that a bit of excavation has been performed on the former Mobil oil properties alongside the Greenpoint Avenue Bridge on the Brooklyn side of the fabulous Newtown Creek. This particular piece of American soil has long been owned by some third party, and it’s not a part of the modern properties which ExxonMobil’s tenancy is still extant upon.

Not sure what’s going on here, but I like a good hole, and the construction guys seem to have dug a truly ribald one. Huzzah!

– photo by Mitch Waxman

ExxonMobil is still working on the remediation of the semi legendary Greenpoint Oil Spill, along with their contractors – called Roux – for this particular situation. They maintain a large property at 400 Kingsland Avenue, which used to be the entrance to the Mobil refinery that operated here until 1966.

Just last year, the team at ExxonMobil invited a group of interested neighborhood people and activists to one of their offices to give us an update on the cleanup efforts, which are coming along nicely according to the their data. There’s a couple of recovery wells which are now bringing up ground water rather than petroleum, but they are still working with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation on cleaning up the historic mess left behind by their forebears.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One hasn’t spent too much time on the Brooklyn side of Newtown Creek during the pandemic, given that my walks would have carried me through some rather populated areas that I wanted to avoid.

There’s a window of cautious safety right now, according to my perceptions, that I’m trying to exploit before things get weird again. Things are going to get weird again, and I’m saying by middle to late October probably, by Thanksgiving definitely. Enjoy yourselves while you can.

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, September 21st. 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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It’s freaking Friday?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A few odds and ends for today’s post. That’s a Department of Sanitation recycling pickup truck exiting from DUGABO – Down Under the Greenpoint Avenue Bridge Onramp – back onto the normal street grid in Long Island City’s Blissville section. Now, as I often chide – you’ve got garbage trucks from all over Queens making their way to Newtown Creek to drop off their collections. The truck above is based at DSNY’s Queens 13 garage, which is in Flushing. This bit of information should make you wonder about equity, environmental justice, and why you don’t find transfer stations (which is what you call the facilities which garbage trucks dispose of their collections) in the communities which are generating the trash.

Instead, little Blissville does the job for the rest of the Borough, and what do they get in return? Local hiring? Compensation for the annual tens of thousands of truck trips moving through their community? What?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Apologies for today’s post being a couple of hours behind normal schedule, but one was up late exploring on of those internet rabbit holes you occasionally find yourself trapped in. This one involved people setting themselves on fire. Combustion seems to be another one of those concepts which some do not grasp, or seem to have much foreknowledge of. I saw one where, for some reason, a young lady decided it would a great idea to fill a drinking glass with rubbing alcohol and then strike a match.

Fire is a punk way to die, incidentally. Brrr.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It would seem that here in Astoria there’s a fellow named Omar who only has one boxing glove. If you’re reading this, Omar, 34th Avenue and 44th street is where the left one is. Another public service offered.

More fun next week, 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, June 15th. 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 as we move into April and beyond, 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.

phenomenal softness

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Back in Queens.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A longish night time walk from Astoria to the Pulaski Bridge spanning Newtown Creek, and then over the Greenpoint Avenue Bridge and back into Queens, was punctuated by FDNY activity at nearly every step of the way. A deployment at one of the homeless shelters in Blissville actuated not only the fire house on nearby Greenpoint Avenue, it also pulled in units from Brooklyn’s Greenpoint as well. Engine 238 (pictured) and Tiller Truck 106, if you’re curious about Brooklyn fire units. I can’t help but take photos when FDNY is doing their thing. Firemen, firemen!

This shot is from the corner of Greenpoint and Review Avenues, looking towards Brooklyn across the Greenpoint Avenue Bridge.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My pathway home took the shape of walking along Greenpoint Avenue, where the startling view of a Long Island Expressway with no traffic whatsoever greeted me. Earlier in the evening, one observed something similar at the Queens Midtown Tunnel.

Last time I saw anything like this was in the week or two following Hurricane Sandy. Should one be lucky enough to survive this pandemic business, I hope to be awarded a three disaster ribbon by the City. It’s been one heck of a couple of decades here in the megalopolis, hasn’t it?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Of course, just as I arrived back in the zone of HQ, an ambulance went screaming past. I’m not going to launch into some speech here, rather…

You want to underexpose for a passing ambulance, due to the strobing light. I already had the color temperature of the camera set to 3750K, my standard “go to” for modern day NYC street lighting at night. It’s f2.8, 1/200th of a second, and at ISO 6400. The shot did get noodled around with a bit in the developing process, but most of that involved dealing with sensor noise.

Note: I’m writing this and several of the posts you’re going to see for the next week at the end of the week of Monday, April 6th. 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 as we move into April and beyond, 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.

great purgation

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Greenpoint, in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As mentioned in prior posts, I have no idea as to how the medallion yellow taxi people are going to survive CoronAmerica. They were taking a real beating from the ride share business, as well as predatory financial speculators, before all this started. Here on Provost Street, nearby a taxi company’s HQ, there are hundreds and hundreds of these normally busy vehicles just sitting idle. At a similar facility closer to home in LIC, I noticed that many of the cabs had their medallions removed from the bonnet or hood plate, no doubt for safekeeping or possibly to oblige some obscure regulation.

One didn’t intend to spend much time here in Brooklyn, I was just looping through Greenpoint and circumnavigating the sewer plant on my way back to Queens after walking over the Pulaski Bridge. Incidentally, they’ve changed the name of the sewer plant again. It’s now the Newtown Creek Wastewater Resource Recovery Facility. Accordingly, from now on I’m just going to refer to it as “the sewer plant in Greenpoint” or something similar. Can you imagine being the person who answers the phone at someplace called “Newtown Creek Wastewater Resource Recovery Facility”?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

“Supply lines,” that’s what I was thinking while grabbing a shot of this semi tractor trailer truck parked opposite the sewer plant in Greenpoint. The “human factor” of our supply lines is something I worry about all the time. You can offer a long haul trucker all the money in the world to make a run, but he’s still going to have to convince his wife that it’s worth the risk for making the run into NYC. Our Lady of the Pentacle is British, and she receives a series of worried missives from friends and family overseas whenever a news report airs describing the center of the pandemic as being in Queens and literally two subway stops away from where we reside. The lurid newscasts are presenting us living in a war zone, here in the City. Can’t imagine how the rest of the country is reacting towards all of our bad news, and “supply chain” or “trucker’s wife” wise, what the effect of that will be.

Will our supply of Soy Milk be interrupted?

The truck carries the corporate branding of a company called Sunland Distribution, a Florida based company specialized in temperature controlled shipping.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One continued back towards Astoria, marching across the Greenpoint Avenue Bridge into LIC’s Blissville section. There seems to be a bit of bulkhead reconstruction going on at what was once part of the Mobil refinery on the Brooklyn side of Newtown Creek. ExxonMobil still maintains an operation or two just up the Creek from here, which are dedicated to operations revolving around the recovery of the Greenpoint Oil Spill.

More of the outside world 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 end of the week of Monday, April 6th. 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 as we move into April and beyond, 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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