The Newtown Pentacle

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Friday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Washington D.C. was hot and overcast when I visited. I was in town for a rail layover, the interval between NYC and my next destination, and I had about five hours of photo time to “do my thing.” As mentioned yesterday, I had “stock shots” in mind. Saying that, I also had “serendipity” figured in. What that means are unplanned shots that just jump up and say “take a picture.”

Things were starting to go south for me physically due to sleep deprivation, hunger, and thirst. There was literally no place to pee other than directly on National Monuments, which really isn’t an option for me since “respect.” Luckily, I was thirsty and sweating so profusely that having to pee stopped being a problem about two hours into the excursion.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The World War 2 monument in Washington D.C. hosts a fine fountain. As mentioned yesterday, for some reason or another I was very interested in photos of fountains on this particular morning. Maybe it was the thirst.

Maybe it was that I was able to stand in the shade while taking this shot. It was HOT, I tell you, HOT! Seriously, I left NYC where it had been about 65 degrees and stepped into an 87 degree Washington D.C. super humid/sun on my back morning while I’m carrying 25-30 pounds of back packs kind of deal. Uggh. I had three bags, two camera and one full of travel luggage stuff – clothes, toiletries, all that.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One continued slouching roughly towards the Potomac River and across the Federal Mall after spending some time with the WW2 monument’s fountain. This monument is a fairly recent addition to the scene hereabouts, having been created in 2004.

Jeez. The last time I was in Washington was probably thirty five years ago. I needed a shot of Congress as reference for a comic book I was drawing, and drove through with a Kodak disposable camera on my way home from a comic convention in Virginia. This particular comic, which I also wrote, centered on an invasion of Washington by a group of Aztec supervillains (they had been hiding since 1520 in Venezuela and plotting their revenge on the Europeans under the tutelage of an immortal Wizard) which was countered by an army led by an American Battle Android which ended up housing the mind of President George H.W. Bush after the Aztecs speared him one through the chest.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The physical suffering was getting pretty awful by this point, and I had descended into bargaining with myself. One more shot dude, just one more.

It’s hard to describe the weird physicality side of photography, which can often involve being on your feet for 8-12 hours at a pop. I’m always outside, whether it’s hot or cold, raining or during snow. You end up squishing yourself into all of these uncomfortable yoga poses to get behind the camera to catch some uncommon angle, or spend all your time doing calisthenics while dropping to one knee for the shot. There’s also the carrying of the gear. That camera is always in my hand. Even if I’m not shooting, I’m ready to do so.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I liked the shot of the fountain at the Museum of the American Indian presented in yesterday’s post best, as my “shot of the day.” The runner up is the one above, depicting the Lincoln Memorial and reflecting pool. It was shortly after finishing up this one that I broke down the tripod and returned to hand held shooting mode.

This is also when I spotted – after something like three hours – an open shop selling refreshments. I inhaled an entire bottle of yellow Gatorade in two big gulps, sucked about two pints of water out of a bottle in three gulps, and also managed to score a large cup of steaming hot black coffee. As far as needing to urinate, let’s just say that where I found myself had very few national monuments and lots of bushes. Sorted!

– photo by Mitch Waxman

At the bank of the Potomac River, you encounter the Arlington Memorial Bridge leading out of the Federal District and into Virginia. As the name implies, this bridge leads the Arlington National Cemetery. Despite its appearance, this is a fairly modern structure, having been built in 1932.

My time had run out, as far as the allotted period for this leg of my trip. A quick ride share trip took me to the Georgetown section of the greater Washington metro area, where a reunion with an old and dear friend occurred over a luncheon. I guzzled water, and a Bloody Mary, while we quaffed cheeseburgers and talked about Amtrak, Washington, and also caught up on where our lives were going. He eventually offered to give me a quick automotive tour of the surrounding area, with the proviso that I needed to return to Union Station for my assignation with Amtrak.

More next week, at your traveling Pentacle.


“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

October 15, 2021 at 11:00 am

Posted in Photowalks

Tagged with

slackened speed

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Thursday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There will be a post later on in this series that focuses in solely on Washington D.C.’s Union Station, pictured above, but for today’s post – that’s what it looks like at about 7 in the morning. I was told by a friend who lives in the area, later on in the day, that the City of Washington distributes camping tents to homeless folks – which is why you see those tents in front of the station. That’s some basic humanity at work, I would offer.

Most of the street people I’ve known over the years, which is a considerable number – incidentally – worked assiduously towards ensuring their unfortunate circumstance. Addicts or Alcoholics, plain crazy or “bad crazy,” unlucky or unskilled. There isn’t a single “homeless problem,” rather there’s thousands of individual problems with the single commonality of living rough. No answer fits all of their questions.

Saying all that – empathy and kindness, and don’t judge them. Thank your lucky stars that your life has worked out differently and remember that “but for the grace of god, there go I.” Imagine walking around having to take a dump and not being allowed near a public bathroom, as a member of this proscribed class. Imagine being thirsty, or just wanting to wash your face, and seeing municipalities getting rid of public drinking fountains. Imagine living in a world where all that matters is money, and you have none. That’s what it’s like, with the extra layer of not being able to bathe and being surrounded by other people in the same circumstance who are equally desperate and hungry. So… we’re supposed to be a Christian morality influenced nation, right? Empathy. Kindness.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My goal for the morning – I had about five hours of photography time planned in before meeting up with my old friend for lunch at 12:30 – was to walk the National Mall in the direction of the Potomac River. Unfortunately for a sleep deprived but quite humble narrator, I was shlepping a week’s worth of clothing and a full camera bag. Having learned my lesson on the Burlington leg of my travels, a laptop computer had been added into the mix, which unfortunately also added about ten pounds of weight to my pack.

It was characteristically hot and humid in Washington, and the burning thermonuclear eye of God itself was staring directly at my back.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My plan for the excursion didn’t involve trying to find some unique view or anything. This is probably one of the most photographed places in human history, after all. Back in NYC, I generally don’t take the lens cap off when I’m anywhere near my alma mater, the School of Visual Arts on 23rd and 3rd. SVA has a world class photography program, and a saturation of street and architectural photos radiate out from their buildings.

Mainly what I was going for were the “stock” shots.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I made it a point of getting fancy pants with the tripod and filters at the reflecting pool leading towards the major Presidential monuments, but right about the moment I was taking this photo is when I started to physically crash. Having left Astoria at 2:30 in the morning, and boarded an Amtrak at 3:30 which I managed to nap for about 90 minutes on, then walked out into the bright and hot environs of Washington with all of the gear I was carrying… that’s where Covid ended up biting me in the butt.

Nothing was open. There were no food trucks or hot dog guys to buy a bottle of water or Gatorade from, no coffee to bolster my fading energy, nada. Nowhere to take a piss, either. Bleh. Regardless, I soldiered on, and thought about the people living in the tents back at Union Station.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian opened in 2004, and the fountain at its entrance is pictured above. The shot above ended being my “shot of the day” in Washington. For some reason, I was really into shooting fountains on this particular morning. I happened across it by accident, as I was mainly looking for a planted area with shady trees where I could divest myself of “my carry” for a few minutes and sit down. “Hot” in D.C. ain’t no joke, yo.

When I do my next bit of traveling, I’m going to be trying to find access to waterfalls in a natural setting. Something is calling me towards photographing flowing water these days.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One of the weird things about the National Mall on this particular morning was a nearly complete lack of people there. No doubt due to Covid, but this is normally a very crowded area, even at 7-8 in the morning, with tour buses disgorging thousands of eighth graders from all around the country onto the Mall. There’s also usually a great tumult of other tourists and lookie loos. There were people there, yes, but you could describe them as being in the “dozens,” rather than “hundreds” or “thousands.” That’s why, ultimately, I was “plotzing” for a bottle of water. Why show up to vend, when there’s no one to vend to?

More tomorrow – at this – your traveling Pentacle.


“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

October 14, 2021 at 11:00 am

Posted in Photowalks

Tagged with

untellable secret

with 3 comments

Tuesday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The next excursion on my September list of places to go involved a wedding in Watertown, New York. Watertown is in the same neighborhood as West Point, and my pal Hank the Elevator Guy was also invited to the affair, so we arranged to meet up with him and he drove Our Lady of the Pentacle and myself there. The trip was pretty straightforward, and once we cleared the 7 or so miles it would take us to get the hell out of NYC, was fast moving.

Triborough to Cross Bronx to George Washington Bridge to Palisades Parkway – I think that’s the basic route. Hank was angrily jumping around in his seat while driving through the choke points leading out of the City. Our Lady was playing with her phone, and I was shooting from the open windows.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

“Upstate” and heading towards the AirBNB lake house we had rented for the weekend. The fellow getting married is one of my oldest and dearest friends. Jim and I misspent a lot of our youth together at biker bars. We used to be fixtures at Coyote Ugly, Hogs and Heifers, Village Idiot and too many irish bars along Third Avenue to mention. For at least half of the stories I tell about those years, Jim is one of the main players. My buddy.

As a note, I believe that’s the Bear Mountain Bridge, crossing the Hudson River.

Jim left NYC a few years ago, after a stint working as a Union Iron worker, after he met his future bride. He’s been living in Watertown for a while now, and is a volunteer fireman in his off hours. Good guy, Jim is.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

When we arrived at the lake house, it was discovered that the lake it adjoined was a bit more of a marsh or swamp than it was advertised as being. This is Beaver Dam Lake, which is in the next town over from Watertown – New Windsor. It’s an artificial waterbody, which was created by a dam to act as a water reservoir, in the 1870’s, for an outfit called the “Arlington Paper Mill.” A few years ago, it seems, it was determined that the dam needed to be rehabilitated to insure against catastrophic failure and consequent flooding so the lake was drained and it became a meadow.

Work on the dam was finalized, and the lake/meadow was allowed to flood again. As the water level goes up, the shoreline vegetation will alter, but for right now there’s this weird swamp along the waterfront.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Given that it’s impossible for me not to photograph everything I see or experience, an alarm was set for early in the morning so I could feed the mosquitos while setting up the tripod and camera.

Another couple from my friend group arrived at the lake/swamp house, and after us getting all “faputzed” we attended the wedding – which ended up being quite the bacchanal. Wouldn’t expect anything different for my buddy Jim’s big day, actually. What surprised me was that nobody rode a Harley in and onto the dance floor.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Seeing the way that the evening was proceeding, I made an early decision not to drink too much. The role of custodian for drunken friends is one that I often found myself in back in the old days, given my particularly high tolerance for intoxicants of all kinds. I’m one of the two people who “talked to the Cops” back during college, thereby, promising the gendarme that I’d get the subject of their ennui home safe and keep them from doing anything untoward on the way. Really – getting me drunk – drunk requires voluminous amounts of booze. I can out drink a Russian if I have to. It’s a life skill. When I get drunk, it’s usually an accident.

A recent example of this sort of accident involved me losing count of how many Gin and Tonics I had quaffed at an Astoria bar, and starting to nod out. It turned out, according to my bartender’s recollection the next day, that I had drank more than a half gallon of Gin and Tonics over a three hour period. Woof, accident. Thing is, with the crowd that I used to run with back in the old days, that sort of volume is considered to be “just getting started” on your weekend.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

We left New Windsor the morning after the wedding, and Hank the Elevator Guy returned Our Lady and myself to Astoria. Relaxation was not on my to do list for this Sunday afternoon, however, as I had to prepare and pack for a week long trip on Amtrak which I would be embarking on early Tuesday morning. I would have to get ready for a long photo oriented solo trip, one which would start at 3:30 in the morning on Monday night/Tuesday morning. Batteries to charge, lenses to clean, how many pairs of socks would I need to take with me?

The adventures continue tomorrow – at this – your Newtown Pentacle.


“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

October 12, 2021 at 11:00 am

portentous meanings

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Wednesday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One found himself at the Maspeth Avenue Plank Road site recently, attending and photographing a Newtown Creek Alliance cleanup event that occurred on a lovely Saturday afternoon. One of the property owners nearby this site has recently been compelled to do some remodeling of their shoreline. I’ve known about this for a bit, but given that I’m usually here either at sunset or after dark, haven’t explored the new situation.

It’s not a good idea to be poking around in the bushes after dark in Industrial Maspeth, and especially so if you’re on foot and alone. Given that NCA had a fairly large group here, scooping garbage and debris off of the shoreline, I figured “why not?”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The shoreline in this spot has been fairly impassable during my years at Newtown Creek, and largely ignored by the industrial operation which worked busily on the other side of a large concrete and steel fence. An artist I know had briefly set up a small structure back here which he used as a hangout and ad hoc painting studio. That structure had been taken over by some mendicant in the last year or two. Artist, structure, and mendicant are all gone now and there’s all sorts of geographically appropriate plantings here now.

This is where I got into the fight with a raccoon back in 2020, during which I had to poke at the thing with my tripod.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s the mouth of English Kills, the Newtown Creek tributary that flows all the way back to Johnson Avenue in Bushwick. It’s also where water quality along the Creek sharply drops off. If you think Newtown Creek is bad, as everybody including the Federal Government does, you should see English Kills. Yuck.

Back tomorrow with more from my beloved Creek.


“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

September 15, 2021 at 11:00 am

ostentatiously on

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Tuesday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A few odds and ends today, including a shot above accomplished using some of my DIY made at home camera technology. That’s an office setup at one of the many auto dealerships found along Northern Blvd. here in Long Island City, one which I shot through a plate glass window. Reflections were cancelled out using an air conditioner foam insulator collar affixed to one of my lenses. Boo-yah!

I like it when my DIY stuff works.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A woman lives in that plastic cocoon pictured above. The cocoon is found along Northern Blvd. in LIC nearby another one of the many auto dealerships mentioned above. She’s the one who makes bird sounds, and then laughs in a manner which can only be described as “maniacal” whom I’ve mentioned in the past. What I mean by maniacal is the sort of laugh you’d expect an extra to offer in a “Hammer House of Horror” movie about Bedlam, a laugh which Peter Cushing’s character would ignore.

Before you ask, as I already have, she just wants to be left alone. Doesn’t want socks or “stuff” or access to services, just solitude to deal with whatever’s happening to her. Ok. She’s been here a couple of years, so…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Coming back into Astoria via Steinway Street, one encounters an automotive repair shop which often offers interesting insights into what could happen on the streets of New York City to an innocent motorist. On this particular evening, no spectacular wrecks were encountered but for some reason this towing truck with a hatchback on its bed caught my eye.

Back tomorrow.


“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

September 14, 2021 at 11:00 am

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