The Newtown Pentacle

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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.”


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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.

beetling precipice

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Tuesday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

God, I love the loneliness of it all. I’ve got a speech I make occasionally – one usually offered when somebody asks about how I got involved with the whole Newtown Creek thing. The best part of the speech is when I say “and just like every other piece of wind blown trash in New York City, I found myself on the shorelines of Newtown Creek.” It sounds good, and makes for a good quote that a journalist can use. If you don’t give them a quote to take back to the office, they’ll use something you don’t want them to.

Industrial Maspeth is famously my happy place, where I go when I want to be by myself. Unfortunately that’s changed during the pandemic months, as Industrial Maspeth has become quite a busy place again. Different sort of busy than the old days, but there are concurrences between now and then.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The last mile shipping industry – UPS, FedEx, and the Amazon people – have quietly expanded their operations – massively – during the blitzkrieg of bad news we’ve all experienced over the last couple of years. There’s a huge industrial population of package sorters, package loaders and unloaders, road truck drivers and local delivery truck drivers who congeal around the various shipping facilities in Maspeth. Amazon is building a Taj Mahal sized shipping facility on Grand Avenue on what used to be the campus of Star Corrugated Box.

This population of people working “in the zone” have brought all sorts of things along with them to my beloved Creek. Five years ago, this happy place of mine was a post industrial wasteland which people drove through and seldom stopped in. In the last couple of years, as this new group of workers have filled in; I’ve seen a prostitution racket using the LIRR tracks for their assignations, lots and lots of druggery, and of late a while new racket.

Kids, as in late teen and early twenties, are riding into the shipping warehouses on delivery bikes and raiding the baskets of packages awaiting their temporary destination on the local delivery van. Two man teams, arranged like Scythian Archers with one facing backwards, swipe stuff in boxes and then tear ass away from the scene as fast as the bike will go. The various teams communicate with other using cell phones.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

So, where are the photos of that, Mr. Wind Blown Trash Newtown Creek? Well, there are certain things which you don’t want to be noticed noticing when you’re alone and on foot at night in Industrial Maspeth, I tell’s you.

Street level trouble is one thing – a weird encounter with a homeless guy, or a group of menacing teenagers nearing – but there’s a higher level of sinister which you just don’t want to be anywhere adjacent to around these parts. Notably, you don’t want to be a witness when somebody is in the early stages of organizing their crime. Careful out there, peeps.


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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 1, 2022 at 11:00 am

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Thursday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On one of the very few public facing Newtown Creek walks of 2021, I was approached afterwards by one of the Gradate Students who had attended the thing. They asked me if I’d be willing to “show them the ropes” on the eastern side of Newtown Creek. This was before the current Pandemic surge condition set up, so I said “sure.”

I set a meet up point at 43rd street and Queens Blvd., but decided to take the train there from Astoria instead of the Q104 bus or just walking. M line to Jackson Heights, and transfer to the 7.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A buddy of mine in Astoria gives me the “you’re crazy” face when I tell him to go this way, as he likes transferring to the 7 Line at Court Square. He’s wrong, as it’s three stops to Jackson Heights from my stop in Astoria and 4 stops to Court Square. Given that his route goes through Queens Plaza, it’s always going to take longer.

I’m smart… Smart, not dumb, not like people say.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The particular path I took the grad student on involved some of the less visited spots along Newtown Creek like Maspeth Creek. As open sewers go, it’s a beauty.

Foliage, that’s what I kept on thinking. Foliage.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Luckily, the pandemic has annihilated another Newtown Creek business, this one a distribution hub for an international bakery company that sells snack cakes. Accordingly, open fences, and an opportunity to get a shot that I’ve never gathered before.

Funnily enough, some of my Newtown Creek people – who always tell me that I’ve seen too many movies – recently discovered that the Mafia are still active in the Maspeth area. Surprising, huh? Beverage and snack food distribution using fleets of trucks to deliver to all cash businesses like Bodegas… who would associate the Mafia with that… I mean, it’s not like you grew up in New England and I grew up in 1980’s Flatbush and Canarsie. Thereby, your point of view on this topic is superior to mine. Saying that, I had a neighbor whose car horn literally played “The Godfather”’s theme music.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Around the end of our walk, I asked the Grad Student where they wanted to be for sunset, which was greeted with a shrug. I suggested the Grand Street Bridge, and the view you see above.

This shot is from early December, which ended up being a pretty productive month for a humble narrator. The reason I’m embedding six shots in the posts at the moment is to try and catch up with the actual calendar.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Technically, this shot was captured in Brooklyn. The actual dividing line between the boroughs is more or less the dead bang center of the Grand Street Bridge.

More tomorrow.


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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.

Written by Mitch Waxman

January 6, 2022 at 11:00 am

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Monday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One found himself wandering through the happy place, as Industrial Maspeth – here in the Borough of Queens – is often referred to at Newtown Pentacle HQ, and transfixed by the patriotic vehicle wrap adorning the concrete mixer truck pictured above. It’s a Kenworth, but I’ll be damned if I could tell you what model or year it is. Recently, one was informed by a reader here at Newtown Pentacle that the concrete industrial complex here in NYC is in the process of consolidating under a single corporate umbrella. Given that the last time a single conglomerate controlled this sector was during the late 1980’s with the head office either a coffee shop/social club on Mulberry Street or a certain Mansion on Staten Island, what could go wrong? I know. I’ve seen too many movies. Everything that’s happened in the past didn’t really happen except when it fits into a modern political narrative.

I often muse about the somewhat obscure history of Queens, and how it’s a puzzle if you don’t understand the predicates of the surrounding world which created the modern day milieu.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

In Industrial Maspeth, you can find literal pieces of the puzzle just sitting there on the sidewalk waiting for you to notice them. Seriously, this thing was just sitting there, and was about the size of a dinner plate.

Part of the modern narrative in NYC describes the boiling pot of real estate development. With a straight face, developers will tell you that the modern era is challenging for them financially, despite the booming economies of demolition and construction as well as the expanding heavy equipment rental business. NYC has been in high gear for about twenty five years now, construction wise. Why is that? Can it be that the old “tax” imposed on the real estate people by a certain group of people is now a margin pocketable by these developers personally? How did this anchor weighing down the glorious rapacity of capitalism find itself ameliorated? The answer doesn’t fit the narrative, meaning that the puzzle pieces are anomalous to modern eyes.

There are certain “rackets” which made their margin off of sins – gambling, prostitution, drugs, and loan sharking. The rackets which really paid the bills involved the Kosher meats trade, newspaper printing and delivery, the garment industry, the Ports, the construction trades. Trucking, both local and interstate, also was particularly profitable. A few pennies from every kosher chicken, a couple of bucks from every stick of lumber, a c-note for a ton of concrete, a buck or two from every window replacement at a NYCHA building can make you rich quick. The trades are the best business out of them all. Couple that with indirectly owning a bunch of all cash businesses where you could change the dirty money to untraceable clean cash – pizzerias, bakeries, newsstands, laundromats – NYC was a working class thief’s paradise until about thirty years ago. That’s when the Lawyers and Politicians muscled the working class gangsters out and set their own people up instead. That’s why they call the loan shark biz “payday loans” today instead of shystering.

These days, all you need is an MBA and a Realtor’s license to be a gangster.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Everybody asks me if I’ve seen bodies floating in Newtown Creek or seen a corpse with cement overshoes there. They make a weird face when I tell them that only an idiot like that Serial Killer who got caught (Joel Rifkin) would try and dump a body in Newtown Creek, or the East River, for that matter. Newbie.

There’s barely any current in these waters, and the body would just stay there waiting for the Cops to notice it. If you wanted, or needed, to dispose of a corpse you’d want to use the Hudson or Jamaica Bay due to the strong currents. As far as the former, you’re taking a real chance that your victim might wash up in Staten Island or Bay Ridge before getting swept out to sea. It’s also a pretty busy shipping channel, which magnifies your chances of getting attention from the aforementioned Cops. If you’re “criming” you really want to worry about Cops, which seems obvious, but having witnessed how godawful and blatant Millennials are at crime this bears mentioning. You don’t want the body found, period. I’d rather you didn’t “crime,” either, but you do you.

In my old neighborhood, they would cut your victim up after draining the blood out, then put the pieces into paper grocery bags and wing them out the window on the Belt Parkway for the crabs and rats to take care of. Larger chunks got disposed of at the Fountain Avenue Landfill nearby Starrett City.


“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 10, 2021 at 11:00 am

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.


“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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