The Newtown Pentacle

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Archive for the ‘Northern Blvd.’ Category

waking life

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It’s Thursday. The first rule of Thursday is you dont talk about Thursday.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Another Northern Blvd. gas station, another night for a humble narrator. Presuming that when I went for my vaccination this week (I’m writing this on Sunday, appointment is Tuesday, you’re reading this on Thursday, so who the hell knows what’s happened since Sunday) I didn’t end up in anaphylactic shock or something, I’m now one month away from getting my life back from the Corona Virus Pandemic. Fantasies of good times in the company of human strangers are taking the form of intrusive thoughts for me right now. So’s going back to living a somewhat normal life. Eating in a restaurant, riding the Subway, visiting Staten Island’s North Shore… you take all of this for granted until it’s out of reach, huh?

This has been a fairly brutal 12 months for all of us, hasn’t it? It has been mainly banal and terrifying for me, but conversely, I’ve been insanely lucky as the people in my life who have suffered a COVID infection have all survived it. Perspective, huh?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Perspective seems to be a missing quality these days, with everybody standing on calcified points of view and opinions. You disagree with someone about a nuance of some issue and you’re automatically Hitler. Recidivist elements of the old dialectic, with no chance to learn from mistakes and grow or evolve in the re-education camp, might as well send them to meet their makers. The proverbial “come to Jesus” moment doesn’t seem to exist anymore. One misstep and you’re done, forever. Personally, I’m reminded constantly that my points of view are disingenuous because of my racial identity, or gender, lifestyle, or whatever other drum the person I’m talking to is banging on. This gets old pretty fast, and unfortunately confirms a deeply held belief that people who have suffered oppression at the hands of others will immediately begin to inflict similar harms on others when they get into power. There’s a certain Middle Eastern nation state which comes to mind when I think about that subject, but that’s another story and controversy which I don’t want to get involved with.

At the moment, I’m seriously considering rolling everything back and retreating into my shell. Ending the Pentacle, resigning from whatever public facing position I hold, and just focusing in on selfish matters. In short, returning to being just another face in the crowd who doesn’t care about anything at all other than his bank account. I don’t mind a fight, but I mind fighting about nothing and the splitting of hairs. This may surprise you, but people in general aren’t terribly nice, and those you meet in the “political world” are often monsters. I’m tired of it all.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Another one of the subjects on my shot list, in addition to gas stations and tire shops, are Chinese Restaurants. I got into a screaming argument about two years ago with somebody about whether or not calling the menu offered at such establishments “Chinese Food” was racist. What a ridiculous waste of time and energy that argument was… but that’s kind of the point. Why oh why would this be something you want to argue for or against? What do you hope to achieve, and have you actually considered the opinions of the people who work and sell this particular cuisine or is it just another talking point on your agenda to prove that the world is corrupt and that you’ve somehow evolved? Conservation of energy, people.

A humble narrator has been narrating humbly for a long time now, and it’s entirely possible that I don’t want to narrate humbly anymore. Grrr.

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 1st. 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 4, 2021 at 2:00 pm

adventurous assurances

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It’s Tuesday again, now more than ever.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As mentioned yesterday, my obligations to the Community Board carried me along to Northern Blvd.’s intersection with Broadway recently to inspect an area where the NYC DOT is planning on expanding its network of protected bike lanes. I really don’t care what your opinion of this program is, since nobody really cares what my opinion is, and this is a Governmental effort which spawns from the highest eschelons of the political world. Thereby, my opinion matters only in the context of pointing out and advocating for small changes to the overarching scheme. Amongst my small changes were reminders that the new pathway will bypass three distinct religious facilities, and to offer the observation that such entities routinely conduct funerals and weddings, and that the planners should plan on that being a problem they need to solve by incorporating loading and unloading zones nearby those facilities.

Seriously, the level of divisiveness surrounding bike lanes mystifies me. We’ve got electrical transformers exploding and torching parked cars, utility cables hanging off of the poles, wandering wackadoodles, porch pirates, race cars rallying… and… remember all the fireworks from last summer? With all of this going on, you’re worried about bike lanes and about losing parking?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Who’s Papi, you might ask. Tires by Papi is the answer, if you’re a member of the tire buying and tire replacement market. The ebullient signage and quarter acre of warm light offered by this tire shop on Broadway in Woodside always pulls me in. In addition to Gas Stations, one of the other disappearing vehicle maintenance parts of the streetscape are tire shops. I’ve got a friend, really a friend of a friend, who finds his way through the worldly milieu selling hubcaps, wheel covers, and other automotive ephemera. My pal Kevin Walsh from Forgotten-NY is the connective tissue with this fellow, whom Kevin has christened as “Hubcap Joe.” Now that… that… is a nickname.

I’ve got Hank the Elevator Guy, Sean the Carpenter, Mumbly Joe the Insulator, Lee the Machine, the Bulgar… the list goes on and on. Nicknames are a funny thing, more often than not they’re related to occupation, but sometimes you just need to seperate people with common names. Used to be that the bar I hung out at during the before times had a lot of Chris’s. We had to develop a system for these Astorian Chris’s. Croatian Chris, Crazy Chris, Glazier Chris, Pharmaceutical Chris, Real Estate Chris. In college, there was Dave Prime, Dave Squared, Dave Cubed. One Thai guy at my second advertising job, whose name I couldn’t pronounce, was called “Not Dave.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Another gas station, another attendant pondering whether or not he should be concerned about the rough looking fellow in a filthy black raincoat taking pictures of his workplace at night.

Seriously, this is probably the most interaction I’ve had with a stranger in the last six months. My luck is holding out as far as finding exactly the most depopulated and empty route to take through the neighborhoods. It’s actually a bit terrifying how I can move about through one of the most densely populated sections of the planet and somehow not have another living soul closer than a block away from me.

Unliving souls, on the other hand…

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 1st. 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 2, 2021 at 11:00 am

nameless expectancy

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Monday is arrived.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A humble narrator has been seriously applying himself to the pursuit of mastering his equipment in the first quarter of this new year, specifically the camera and lens combinations recently acquired. What that involves if you’re a normal person would be to take a few shots and see what you get. For me, this means wandering throughout Western Queens in the middle of the night and pointing the camera at fairly difficult to capture and ever changing subjects. Car washes, as pictured above, fascinate.

What makes the shot above difficult to capture is the combination of ambient darkness, ultra bright artificial light and abundant reflective surfaces, and the desire to “freeze” the scene so you could see all the soap and water flying around the brushes and car. This is a lot harder to calculate, camera settings wise, than you’d think it would be.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This particular excursion, which saw me leaving Astoria and heading eastwards along Broadway through Woodside in the direction of Jackson Heights, was undertaken for rather mundane reasons. I’m currently serving as Co-Chair of the Transportation Committee on the local Community Board and since the NYC Department of Transportation – or DOT – had recently informed the CB that they intended to strengthen certain aspects of the Northern Blvd. and Broadway bike lanes. Accordingly, I took a walk and explored the confines of their project to examine the street conditions. It’s best to observe in person rather than look at the place on maps, so as to spot areas that might end up being problematic.

Food trucks seem to draw my attention these days. Seldom do I partake, but I’m fascinated by the trade dress and attention grabbing signage of these things.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A new item on my “shoot this” list are Gas Stations. I’ve talked about this recently in some detail, but the disappearing filling stations of NYC are now something I’m making it a point of recording. From a camera POV, this is a damned hard subject to do justice to, given many of the same issues mentioned in the car wash shot at top. Reflective surfaces, super bright and or saturated neon lighting, ultra contrasty interaction with the dark street surrounding it… ain’t the easiest exposure triangle to figure out.

My photo gathering schedule continues to revolve around an “every other day” system, which sees a humble narrator leaving the house well after dark – 8, 9, sometimes even 10 o’clock – and then spending 2-3 hours burning through 5-10 miles of walking. These shots are about a month old, gathered during the last week of January.

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 1st. 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 1, 2021 at 1:00 pm

copious seepage

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Wednesday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Recent wanderings, as mentioned earlier in the week, have seen me sticking fairly close to HQ due to the cold. Luckily, I happen to live within walking distance of some visually interesting sections of Long Island City such as the Sunnyside Yards, a portion of which is pictured above. Those are Amtrak train sets, overnighting in Queens.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I’m a big fan of whomsoever it is at Amtrak who is responsible for poking holes in their fences. I’m an even bigger fan of whomsoever it is at Canon who has been designing lens with a smaller than usual lens element which I can fit into those pokey holes.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Another thing I’ve become a fan of are the few remaining gas stations in Western Queens, islands of saturated color and cold light shining in the night.

More wandering, in tomorrow’s post, 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 25th. 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 27, 2021 at 2:00 pm

amorphous liquid

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Tuesday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Another day night, and another walk around Western Queens with the camera. As mentioned yesterday, one is unnaturally vulnerable to cold weather. Partially, this is due to the side effects several of the medications my team of Doctors insist upon, and to the underlying medical conditions which their prescriptions are designed to remedy. My genetic flaws affect the circulatory system, heart, and the liver’s regulation of blood chemistry which – in simple terms – means that when it’s cold out my hands and feet go all bloodless and numb. This results in me having a fairly uneven and sometimes painful gait, and the loss of physical acuity and haptic feedback in the fingers. If you notice a pile of black rags with a camera lurching and weaving along Northern Blvd. some evening, that’ll be me.

Don’t worry, my fettle is fine, just trying to be quite transparent these days about my various maladies and weird moods. Hoping that you might cut me a break for my many malapropisms, micro aggressions, and madness in the future.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Somebody I used to hang out with at the neighborhood bar, in the before times, spent some effort describing my “micro aggressions” to me one night. I explained them away saying that I was quite unaware of any projected enmity, and reminded my companion that I’m the kind of person who doesn’t consciously project “micro” anything. If I’m mad at you, it’s “macro aggression” time, and the last time you experienced anything like what it’s like when I’m angry was at the end of the Jimmy Cagney movie “White Light, White Heat.” There’s an overlay of the climax of “Barton Fink” as well, specifically evoking the finale denouement of John Goodman’s role (without the hitler part, though). Ain’t pretty.

I do like that the particular set of things I will call someone out on are specific to their circumstance, as I try to avoid broad stroke denunciation based on creed or orientation. I once called some fellow a “shoe wearing, ginger ale drinking, motherflower.” When the asshole you’re yelling at falls to the floor laughing, you win.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There are two things one is continually struck by on my night time wanderings – particularly in the last couple of months – first is that I’m somehow able to pick a pathway through one of the most densely populated sections of North America wherein the only other humans are safely sealed up inside of automobiles and trucks rather than on the sidewalk where they can blow their cootie laden breath at me, the second is that the City that never sleeps now goes to bed about ten p.m.

The latter factoid is bizarre, walking through Sunnyside or Astoria and seeing that every restaurant and bar is shuttered. The odd pizza joint will be open, but the “24 hour City” is a thing of the past.

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 25th. 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 26, 2021 at 1:45 pm

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