The Newtown Pentacle

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multifarious items

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Dutch Kills at sunrise, in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Breaking off in a generally northern direction, from the main course of the Newtown Creek, is its Dutch Kills tributary. Just under a mile in length, Dutch Kills is encountered about 3/4 of a mile into Newtown Creek from its junction with the East River, in Long Island City. Dutch Kill is crossed by five bridges – the railroad bridges DB Cabin and Cabin M, Borden Avenue Bridge, the Queens Midtown Expressway truss, and the Hunters Point Avenue Bridge.

Recent obligation found one scheduled to meet up with my chums from Newtown Creek Alliance at 9 am on a Sunday nearby Dutch Kills, in pursuance of us walking it and discussing the near future hereabouts.

Since I set the standard for sanity in this world, much like Caligula once did, I got there four hours early, and some two hours before sunrise. I set up the tripod and started getting busy roughly 5:30 a.m.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Funnily enough, and photographers don’t normally say things like this, I was unhappy with how abundant the ambient light was. I’ve been spending so much time working in near total darkness of late that it’s almost become rote. Having to constantly figure out new exposure triangles every ten minutes got annoying.

Pictured are Cabin M, in the foreground, and DB Cabin. They are two of those five bridges mentioned above, and are both railroad bridges owned by the Long Island Railroad. Cabin M, which these days carries mostly graffiti, is meant to be demolished according to this year’s MTA capital budget plan. It connects the Blissville Rail Yard and the very active Lower Montauk tracks along Newtown Creek to the deactivated Montauk Cutoff tracks leading to the Sunnyside Yards.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Looking north east from another span over Dutch Kills – the Borden Avenue Bridge – towards the 106 foot tall Queens Midtown Expressway truss bridge. In the distance is a Fed Ex ground shipping center and the Degnon Terminal IBZ.

Even though the light was becoming uncomfortably stronger, one hung around and kept on shooting all morning waiting for the Newtown Creek Alliance crew to arrive for our appointed round. More tomorrow.


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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.

vague presentiment

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Mighty, Queensboro… and I guess I’m a troll now.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One of my recent jaunts, carrying the camera about, found me wandering around the footings of the Queensboro Bridge in LIC. The amount of wasted space under here, which is frankly squandered by the NYC DOT, is colossal. DOT has the whole area gated off, with utilitarian fencelines of the chain link type bearing signage warning passerby of non existent security, and the city block sized lots under the bridge are used as parking lots for DOT’s municipal vehicle fleets, storage areas for various sorts of equipment like bike racks and tables, or they just sit empty.

For an area that’s so visually interesting, and so close to the largest of the NYCHA campuses, not having some combination of playgrounds and sitting areas… or even a single sign talking about Lindenthal and 1909… bah.

Trolls hang out under bridges, right?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I’ve got a special place in my three sizes too small heart for Queensboro, as the centennial for her was the first time that I participated in a public event. A humble narrator was a Parade Marshal for that event, and in fact, the very first post at this – your Newtown Pentacle – carried a shot from the upper roadway shot on that day. That’s the first and only time I got to meet Mayor Bloomberg, the first time I interacted with Congresswoman Caroline Maloney, Borough President Helen Marshall, or then DOT Commissioner Jeanette Sadik Khan.

In many ways, it was my coming out party.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Now, I’ve been bringing the thunder to Western Queens ever since, of course, but yeah Queensboro’s Centennial was the first time I stood up out of the shadows and said “Hi.”

Pictured above is one of those monumental wastes of space discussed above, a mostly empty parking lot for some of DOT’s fleet of passenger cars. Ever wonder why the DOT doesn’t require its people to ride bikes? I mean, institutionally speaking, they are the ones pushing the whole “bike lane agenda” in cooperation with the almighty TA Bicycle Lobby. You’d think they’d be providing some sort of moral example by abandoning their cars and riding bikes. The bike lobby is pushing the slogan that “street parking is theft,” right? So… what would you call that parking lot pictured above? Wouldn’t something else be a better use of the public land?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There’s an intricate web of ramps leading onto and off of Queensboro Bridge at the western side of Queens Plaza. You’ve also got structural steel aqueducts that carry subway lines to and from the area. The streets are pretty high volume as far as private vehicle traffic goes as well. It’s not terribly pedestrian friendly down here.

Ever notice how the pedestrians always get left out of the argument? Most people walk to and from either their cars or their bikes, as a note, and there’s some like myself for which walking is their primary manner of getting around. Saying that, it’s all about parking versus bike lanes.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On the bike lane front, a significant amount of conversation in the coming months is going to involve Crescent Street. The bike people, and the elected officialdom crowd, have started a process which is calling on the NYC DOT to study creating a “bridge to bridge” bike lane on Crescent Street which will negate a lot of parking, reduce the number of vehicle lanes on the southern side of the street down to one, and create a protected bike lane. It’s not necessarily the end of the world, as some would offer, and not necessarily the solution to all things as others would say. What it is, however, is problematic in terms of engineering the street’s ultimate flow of both motor vehicles and bikes onto Queensboro.

Pity me, I’m going to be right in the middle of this on Community Board 1’s Transportation Committee.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s the 7 line subway tracks pictured above, and the streak of light exiting stage left is the line itself. Cannot tell you how long I stood on this corner waiting to get this shot, but I can tell you it was pretty chilly out and that shortly after the capture above, rain started to drizzle down. One headed over towards the north side of Queens Plaza, whereupon I discovered that the R line had been shut down for the night due to repairs and that MTA was running a shuttle bus instead. Luckily for me, that shuttle wasn’t asking for a swipe of the old Metro Card, so I got a free ride home.

Tomorrow, back to the fabulous Newtown Creek, at this – your Newtown Pentacle.


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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

February 17, 2020 at 11:00 am

possible significance

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Freaking fantastic, it’s Friday!

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On one of my nocturnal jaunts across the concretized realities of Western Queens, it began to drizzle. Luckily, one happened to be hauling his carcass about in the vicinity of Queens Boulevard – the proverbial Boulevard of Death itself – and advantage was taken of the shelter which a path under the vaults of the IRT Flushing (or 7) elevated subway line would and did offer. One had his hood up, which seemingly made several of the people whom I passed by suspicious and or apprehensive of me. Humpf! No one at the Creek ever complains about my sartorial elegances.

Seriously though, this has been a thing my whole life. Sans traveling with armed guards, the safest you are ever going to be is when I’m around, but old ladies have been clutching their handbags and pearls in my presence since I was a kid. Sometimes, good guys don’t wear white.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I don’t like the act that modern day old ladies put on, actually. If you’re an old lady in 2020, odds are you were rolling around in the mud at Woodstock with some bloke and didn’t used to be the innocent and easily shocked type which you pretend to be now. The classic “old lady from Pasadena” who somehow made it to their golden years without ever experiencing the coarser side of life has always been a stereotype to reject. Of course, in general I reject any sort of stereotyping so I’m never surprised when folks turn out to be quirky and odd. This seems to be an anomalous position, especially when chatting with friends in their 20’s and 30’s who often tell me what I’m feeling or thinking based on my status as an “old white cisgender male.” When I point out that this is actually a prejudice based point of view that dehumanizes and reduces my individuality down to some identity politics check mark, and represents an inherently racist point of view, they get angry with me.

Discourse during my entire trip on this planet has been built around the attempt to not see or judge people based on their tribal/religious affiliation, skin coloration, or accent. If you think in this way, you’re actually very much in tune with the Nazis, despite your claim that this “oppressed group” or that “shunned clique” are automatically morally superior based on their prior experience of institutional or societal discrimination.

Individuals. We are all individuals, lone sailors lost on a heaving sea. Identity politics is going to be the death of this republic, as the entire ideation plays directly into the hands of actual racists. Me and you are “Us,” so stop focusing on “them.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This is amongst the many reasons why I absolutely love wandering around in the dead of night during the winter, in a filthy black raincoat with my voluminous sweatshirt hood pulled up in a manner that scares old ladies, by myself. Solitude, and not having to deal with other people’s depressing views of the world, is nepenthe. I get enough of the derision and virtue signaling at all the governmental meetings I have to attend, and where I have to be somewhat polite towards the mindset. Thing is, where I belong is out here on the street, alone.

Every minute during which I’m not engaged in the operation of my camera, I’m basically wasting my time.


“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

February 14, 2020 at 11:00 am

uncanny resonance

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Thunderation, it’s Thursday.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There’s a (I believe to be owned by) Con Ed electrical substation in the Dutch Kills neighborhood, nearby the Scalamandre Silk building on 38th aevnue. Used to be that when you walked past it, presuming that like me you had your headphones stuck into your ears and you were listening to Black Sabbath, you’d hear a weird electronic buzzing playing through them. For one reason or another, I haven’t been inhabiting this zone too frequently in recent years, but it used to be a regular sight for me. More than once during those halcyon days of frequent passage, a humble narrator had actually experienced electric shocks transmitting into my ear canals via that headphone route while scuttling past this facility, which is part of why I’m stupid. On the particular evening these shots were captured, I’m happy to report that no such buzzing or zapping occurred.

Modern design, huh?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Speaking of Black Sabbath, I’d like to take this opportunity to propose changing the National Anthem to either “War Pigs” or “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath.” That is my recommendation, so just deal with it and go start a popular movement to do so. I have spoken.

This substation occupies an entire city block, as a note. I didn’t focus the camera too deeply into the lot, but this place has all sorts of science fiction looking coils and frammistats within its fence and should be on one of those listicles you see all over the web about “five things to see in Queens.”

Don’t forget about that Black Sabbath National Anthem thing, either. I’m counting on y’all. Imagine how much cooler Baseball will be when we all stand up and take off our hats while Sabbath Bloody Sabbath plays.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A few blocks away, one encountered this display. It was hard to notice, really. There was a huge crowd of people further down on the sidewalk, where a barrier had been erected “closing it,” and they were tragic. Lost souls bottlenecked at the barrier, unable to conceptualize backing out, pressing agains the green plywood with desperation. At the very front of the group, crushed skeletons ground into the barrier, making a disconcerting sound. Luckily, a humble narrator caught himself before proceeding. They should really try to get people’s attention in a more obvious fashion, but life is cheap in Long Island City, and not dearly held.

Black Sabbath.


“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

February 13, 2020 at 11:00 am

deeply initiated

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Woh, it’s Wednesday again.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As you lords and ladies may have figured out by now, one hasn’t seen too much of the sun in the last few weeks, preferring instead to wander around Queens in the dead of night. What’s awesome is that the sweatshirt I’m usually wearing under the filthy black raincoat this winter has an extra large hood which is voluminous enough to tuck over the bill of my baseball hat. This provides a structure to the hood and all you see of my face is a bearded chin poking out of the shadow, making me look extra creepy. Based on the reactions of passerby, I’m cutting quite a sinister figure, apparently.

A recent walk found me wandering in the general direction of Queens Plaza again, and I couldn’t help myself from capturing a hand held shot of one of our many, many Astorian taco trucks along the way. The self proclaimed “King of the Tacos” was in its regular spot several blocks to the East along Broadway, of course.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My path meandered down 31st street, and the sound of an approaching N line subway to the north was causative in the setup of the tripod and camera for a longish exposure. A surprising amount of light gets cast down from on high, illuminating one of the otherwise dark and scary stretches of sidewalk that 31st street is notorious for offering in between its elevated train stops. It’s always surprised me that despite the commercial avenues intersecting it being so busy and bustling, 31st is the opposite – dark, lonely, and guilty of imparting a sensation of exposed vulnerability to the itinerant pedestrian.

Of course, I live for that sort of feeling. I like looking over my shoulder, lurking about in fear, and wondering if I’m being stalked by some sort of urban predatory mammal.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Dutch Kills isn’t just a tributary of Newtown Creek, as a note, it’s also the name of a section of Long island City. Nestled between Astoria, Ravenswood, Queensbridge, and Hunters Point – Dutch Kills is where you’ve noticed all of those Eurocentric hotels going up. It’s a mixed zoning area, with lots and lots of small homes standing right next door to warehouses, taxi yards, and factories.

The construction project in the middle of the shot is that gigantic Durst Organization building going up in Queens Plaza, if you were wondering.


“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

February 12, 2020 at 11:05 am

startled auditor

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Terrific, it’s Tuesday.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Recent endeavor found one scuttling along the sidewalk on the Harold Avenue Truss Bridge, or 39th street if you must, over the Sunnyside Yards. For a glaring visual example of why I’m so opposed to decking over the railyard, the Standard Motor Products building at top right would be about a story or two shorter than the “ground level” of the platform, and large scale apartment houses would have their lobby entrances at that altitude. “Large scale” you ask? The EDC and their planners have said that “height isn’t their goal” you offer? Well…

If you’re interested in buying some real estate, there’s a bridge connecting Brooklyn and Manhattan I’d like to show you, found just a few miles south of here. I know the owner, and can handle the whole transaction, as long as it’s in cash. Give me the money, you wait here, and I’ll bring you back the deed, OK? Sound good? Will you Queens people never learn? The City people lie, like rugs.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There is an absolutely impressive amount of traffic observable on the Harold Truss – or 39th street – and pictured above is about thirty or so seconds of its intersection with Northern Boulevard. On the north side of the intersection, 39th becomes Steinway Street, and continues all the way to 19th Avenue in Astoria. The terminus of 39th street, to the south, is found at the start of Hunters Point Avenue nearby the masonry shield wall which the Long Island Expressway rides on. It’s got nearly arterial road levels of traffic, which would all be running through a post deck tunnel, I suppose.

This truss bridge is also – oddly enough – a spot where water bubbles up and out of the sewer grates continually. This is despite being the grates about four stories up over the actual ground at the rail yard, and it’s puzzling. Queens is like that, though.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I’d love to tell you that the electrical transmission utility pole in the shot above was purpose built as a cruciform to help control the vampire problem here in Western Queens, but that would likely be over the top. This shot is from just about the middle of the Harold Avenue Truss, or 39th street, so it’s mainly there to give you some idea of how high over the actual rail yard this point of view actually is. In this area, the planners at EDC have indicated that the deck would only have to be a story or two higher than that pole and sickly little tree.

That wibbly series of horizontal silhouettes you might notice on the fence are water hoses, recently installed as part of the East Side Access project. The hoses are part of the last phase of that particular MTA boondoggle. The hard hats have been building a separate trackway for Amtrak to use, here at the Harold Interlocking – which is the busiest rail junction in the United States.


“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

February 11, 2020 at 11:00 am

virtuous bluster

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Happy Monday!

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Recently, a few of my friends have received a request to “be a guinea pig” for a new walking tour I’m planning on conducting this year. Accordingly, I recently dragged one of them up onto the Kosciuszcko Bridge, which will be a part of the experience. That’s one of the literally hundred shots I gathered in under twenty minutes up there, a frequency that was indicated by something like every five to ten steps. Lots to see up on the Kos. We didn’t hang around for sunset, as my friend on this particular day was desirous of heading over to Queens Blvd. and the 7 line tracks, so that she could wave her camera at the oncoming trains.

So far, one hasn’t been hassled by any of the new Subway cops when sitting in the system, and in fact, haven’t perceived their presence whatsoever in Western Queens. I’m looking forward to the hassle, as “Giuliani Time” is so long ago at this stage that I’m actually nostalgic for the over reaching and invasive enforcement of no actual law. It’s one hundred percent kosher to photograph non commercial work in the MTA system, barring the use of tripods, lights, and flashes. If you wanted to use any of that equipment down below or up above, you need to contact the MTA and get a permit.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One has always been enamored with the design of the 7 line concrete aqueduct on Queens Blvd. Concrete and steel go so well together, especially when they were combined in the era of the First World War. So utilitarian! So retro!

My favorite thing, though, about the stretch of Queens Blvd. between 33rd and 48th streets is the way that the vaulted concrete arches form a “whisper gallery.” Don’t ask me to explain the physics of it, but if you’re so happy (and you know it) that you clap your hands, the percussive sound waves will travel for blocks and blocks under this structure. If you speak loudly, your voice will echo and boom. I’d like to stage a concert down here someday, one with somebody playing drums. Actually, drums and bagpipes.

File that one under “how to annoy all of Sunnyside.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Upstairs, of course, you’ve got the IRT Flushing or 7 line. I’ve got to admit, since they finished the signals upgrade – and in my experience – the 7 is arriving far more frequently than it used to. It’s also a lot more crowded than it used to be, particularly at either end of its course in Queens. I’ve also observed the train completely emptying out at its Manhattan “Grand Central” stop and have ridden in a totally empty car to the end of the line at Hudson Yards more than once. A private ride to the camera store, for a humble narrator, essentially.

I’ll let y’all know about the new walking tour when I’ve got it all set up. Going to be a good one, that. Bring a camera.


“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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