The Newtown Pentacle

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vitally encrouched

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Back to base.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Having decided it was time to head home, one nevertheless diverted his path over to Queens Blvd. to gather just a few more shots of the elevated tracks of the 7. This is at the western corner of Van Dam Street, which I can now describe to you as enjoying a major rat infestation. While approaching this spot, several large banks of clustered shadow along the sidewalk began to disassemble and scatter into hidey holes. Not sure why this particular spot is so attractive to mammalian scavengers, but it is, so there you are. Maybe there’s a cheese monger in the old Swingline Stapler building.

The 7 line runs fairly frequently, so it was decided to set myself up again at another nearby point of view and wait for a train set to appear.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

What I wanted from the shot above was the light streak and ambience offered by the passing subway train, with the intention that it would provide a bit of illumination for the factory windows as well as providing some separation from the night sky. The temperature had been dropping the entire time I’d been out – lurking in fear down Northern Blvd., then shadowing in Queens Plaza, and scuttling towards Skillman Avenue. By the time these shots were gathered, gloves had been donned and my sweatshirt hood raised, and the filthy black raincoat buttoned.

As a note, I’m particularly fond of this year’s hoodie sweatshirt. The hood completely encloses my head, and all you can see of my face is the tip of the nose and a wisp of gray beard. The hood is large enough to to hook over the bill of my too tight baseball cap, too. I really look menacing, crazy, and kind of scary when it’s all done up. Win.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One last shot upon crossing Northern Blvd. and back up the hill into Astoria, of a Major Auto World Garage which won’t be there too much longer. There’s going to be a large footprint, and architecturally banal, apartment house rising in this spot before long.

It’s fair to say that nearly everything you’ve seen in this series of posts won’t be there too much longer, and that it all will be replaced by large footprint and architecturally banal apartment houses.


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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

January 23, 2020 at 2:00 pm

hardly fitting

Cacophonies of tumult.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Having staggered and stumbled down Northern Blvd.’s Carridor, and then down the vampire infested expanse of Jackson Avenue, one made the turn away from Queens Plaza, towards Skillman Avenue and onto one of the truss bridges carrying pedestrian, bicycle, and vehicle traffic over the narrow part of the Sunnyside Yard while wearing a too tight hat.

This is a pretty busy byway, as a note, with thousands of vehicle trips an hour passing through, and since LaGuardia Community College is just a few blocks away there’s also a considerable amount of pedestrian and bike movement. This is another one of those spots where utilitarian concerns trumped all other considerations, including esthetics, when it was created. Unfriendly is the word.

Far and away this is one of the most unwelcoming, ugly, and down right hostile passages in all of NYC for perambulatory pursuits, in my experience. It’s also badly lit, and there’s a hundred places for a bad actor to lie in wait for passerby. Luckily, since there’s running water in the ground below, no vampires are found above.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Just as the truss bridge ends at Skillman Avenue, the street officially gets listed as Queens Blvd., but “technically speaking” the actual Boulevard of Death begins at the corner of Van Dam Street and Thomson Avenue. There’s spots like this all over Queens where an overpass above (the one pictured today carries the IRT Flushing or 7 Line Subway) obscures the actual street name below and cartography gets vague. One interesting thing about the design of Queens Plaza is that if makes you want to get out of Queens Plaza just as quickly as possible. It’s not the sort of place where you look around for a cafe with out door seating, where you’d want to sit down to enjoy an espresso.

This was the “turn around” point in my scuttle, where I orient my steps back towards HQ in Astoria. An eastwards turn onto Skillman Avenue was executed.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I had to “Frankenstein” the shot above, or I should say “shots.” One of the problems often encountered while gathering these night photos is the uneven illumination. The exposure for the gas station was literally half of what was required for the rest of the shot. Accordingly, it’s actually two shots welded together, which you can get away with doing if you’re using a tripod and the camera is in a fixed position. Luckily, the 7 was delayed during the longer exposure so it renders as something other than a streak of lights.

Formerly common commercial establishments seen in NYC were gas stations. When the fires of gentrification begin to be stoked in any neighborhood, large footprint businesses like gas stations are usually amongst the first to go. Supermarkets too. A point has been made in recent years to record their location and appearance.


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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

January 22, 2020 at 1:00 pm

bewildered shakings

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Barren, broken, dispossessed… that’s me!

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Having successfully avoided garnering the attention of those vampires who conspire and dwell in the steel rafters of the elevated subways along Jackson Avenue, one found himself immersed in the tumult of Queens Plaza. Given my particularly medieval sense of criminal justice, I’ve always thought this area an excellent location for getting cruel and unusual as far as punishment goes. Rapist? Yup, we suspend the perp from the elevated in one of those iron cages which the Ottomans liked to use, naked. Jackson Avenue could become the Appian Way of Queens, with lines of crucified child molesters providing an ad hoc barrier shielding a protected bike lane. I’d want to see Corrections Officers dress properly for this task, however. Shirtless, with black hoods and leather wristbands, carrying flails and whips. Non violent offenders – the embezzlers, grifters, real estate agents, and other con artists – could be collared and team tied onto leads like oxen, to pull buses of commuters to and from Queens Plaza – a climate friendly form of incarceration and a transit improvement. Win!

Why not, everything is flippity flop crazy in this country right now.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One of the things I like about Queens Plaza is that all of the plans which anyone in Manhattan have ever come up with for “fixing Queens” are on display. The ground isn’t the ground, rather it’s either the roof of a subway station or it’s part of a truss bridge overflying a rail yard. You’ve got a horrible excuse for a park stuck in the middle of a traffic nightmare caused by around 170,000 vehicle trips a day, a set of post industrial environmental nightmares which have recently seen high density apartment houses built atop them, and a dripping set of shrieking subway tracks where two distinct elevated lines converge. The rail yard, incidentally, is a New York State Superfund site, and has been named as a responsible party in the Federal Superfund site at Newtown Creek, which is about a half mile away.

Can you think of a better place to get “cruel and unusual”?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One such as myself suffers from a complete emotional and physical numbness, and is given to withdraw and isolate himself from social interactions due to the hopelessness of it all. I’ve always been poor at social adjustments, bad at handling life when it’s going well, and disappointed in the other humans and their silly ideations. This crushes any sense of compassion or empathy in me, except when it concerns the welfare of animals and small children. It’s why I prefer to wander the streets of Queens at night, and alone, cutting endlessly through the January dark. It’s why I’m drawn to Queens Plaza, where I can get psychologically cruel and unusual on myself.

Seriously, though, watch out for those vampires.


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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 21, 2020 at 1:30 pm

looming up

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Continuing a night time stroll down Jackson Avenue.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

For generations have the children of Queens cried out in anguish and despair that they were denied their birthright – a chance to live in a small to medium sized but quite expensive apartment in or near Queens Plaza. Luckily, the powers that be over in Manhattan heard the children’s pleas and have answered their prayers. The under construction structure pictured above will be capped off by an “infinity pool,” which should answer another group’s longings – specifically the statistically relevant number of people who have always wanted to swim in a pool high above Queens Plaza. It’s a magical place, after all.

I get nostalgic for the porn shops and hookers, personally. They really dressed the place up, back in the day.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The stretch of Jackson Avenue lying betwixt Queens Plaza and 31st street is just horrible. You’ve got security fences and fortress walls on one side of the street, and long featureless construction fences on the other. A dizzying amount of automotive traffic occupies the center, and above there’s the tormenting sound of steel subway wheels grinding against the elevated rails. Jackson Avenue is too dark, and too bright, all at the same time. Everything is a confusion. It’s terrifying crossing the street, as every intersection is rumbling with traffic waiting to spring forth. Also, there’s vampires hiding up there in the steel.

God almighty, how I love places like this.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Dormitory style living awaits just a few blocks away, where all of that traffic – both automotive and locomotive – is coincidentally heading towards. Queens Plaza is where an automotive choke point turn off of Jackson Avenue carries you towards the onramps of the Queensboro Bridge. It’s also where the Flushing line subway conjoins with the Astoria service, so you’ve got that extra bit of steel rail sound to contemplate. I could not hear anything playing on the headphones jammed in my ears while shooting these photos, which indicates just how loud Queens Plaza actually is.

There’s lots and lots of new construction here, so the kids of Queens can finally live the dream. There’s that.


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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 20, 2020 at 11:00 am

chiseled formula

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This isn’t a costume, it’s a lifestyle.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A too tight hat caused one’s circulatory system to malfunction in the head region during a recent walk down Northern Blvd. By the time Steinway Street was crossed, it felt as if one had drank a bottle of strong whiskey. Traffic was whizzing about, going wherever it is that people go. Having nowhere to go myself, I generally don’t whiz, and one rather prefers a gentle pace. I’ve timed it, my pace, and it’s about two miles an hour – presuming I don’t get distracted by something shiny or some flashing light.

Once, I got stuck in front of a lascivious “we’re open” sign for two hours, drooling.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Recent encounters with the humans have left one numb and depressed.

As a note, this section of Northern Blvd. is at the beginning of a period of profound alteration, in case you’re wondering why I’m paying so much attention to it lately. The “safe streets” crowd in City Hall has decided that pedestrian islands need to be installed, which is already a “done deal” and a project which will be starting up shortly. Additionally, the failure of NYC City Planning to launch a cohesive redevelopment plan for the section of Northern between Queens Plaza and Woodside Avenue they had been working on called “LIC Core,” has brought on a flood of speculative real estate investment along Northern Blvd., or as I call it – The Carridor – which will see the street transformed by new construction in the coming years. A humble narrator is making it a point of creating some sort of record of what “was” here at the start of the 21st century.

Despite the fact that my mind was numbed by the too tight hat, restricted blood flow did not alter me from my intended action. Focus, boy, focus.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Even the former LIC FDNY Hook and Ladder 66 firehouse which has been occupied in recent years by the NYPD Emergency Services Unit is up for sale at the moment.

Since the broken toe drama which brought 2019 to a crashing halt is seemingly resolved, one has been on a positive arc in the new year. A return to daily perambulatory and photographic pursuits has been undertaken, and such activity has assumed a level of primacy in my priorities. Muscle tone and endurance has begun to return, and two months of flabby fat accumulation has begun to melt away. I’ve been out and about with the camera constantly, wandering the streets while the rest of you sleep and dream.

If only I can remember not to affix my hat too tightly.


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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 16, 2020 at 2:00 pm

sealed up

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Better late than never?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Sorry for the single shot today, but my schedule got the better of me. Back tomorrow with something that won’t leave you hungry an hour later.

Pictured is thirty seconds of recorded light and time on Astoria’s Broadway.


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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 14, 2020 at 2:30 pm

was unyielding

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Lurking through Astoria, always in fear.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One attended a presentation by Tom Grech, show runner and the head poobah of the Queens Chamber of Commerce, last week at the offices of Community Board 1 here in Astoria. Tom, whom I’ve known for some time now, described his organization’s operation and history to the gathered members of this particular committee (I’m attending at least one meeting of every CB1 committee in addition to the two I’m actually assigned to – which are environmental and transit). Tom also explored some of the economic conditions, situations, and challenges here in the World’s Borough, and listened to experiential anecdotes from a gathered group which included several local business owners. All in all, a positive and optimistic conversation. The meeting ended, and despite several people offering me a ride home in their automobiles, one opted instead on scuttling back to HQ and photographing interesting sights encountered along the way.

This is my way.

This particular predicate is offered to explain why one such as myself was wandering around the Grand Central Parkway in the late evening recently, as I’m forced these days into excusing and explaining my activities, motivations, and very existence to any random petitioner who might inquire. Advice is often graciously offered to a humble narrator as well by well wishers – about how to right his life, conform to societal norms, or prepare for an uncertain future. A wandering mendicant remain I.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A trench carved out of Astoria carries the Grand Central Parkway, a principal arterial high speed road designed to funnel Manhattan bound automotive traffic – pulsing out of Nassau and Suffolk counties – towards the toll plazas of the Triborough Bridge. According to a 2015 study by the NYC DOT, approximately 165,000 vehicle trips are calculated as occurring along the Grand Central Parkway daily. The Grand Central Parkway is found entirely within the Borough of Queens, is roughly 14.6 miles long, was created in 1936, and its designation as a parkway is due to it once having wooded land on either side of the road that was publicly accessible. A widening project in 1961 eliminated the “park” concept, but the name “parkway” is still used. If I had my way, you’d see this road decked over, with parks built on the local streets grade level.

One was drawing attention to himself while photographing these shots, notably from a Police Officer who was lying in wait for speeding vehicles. There is an air of vulnerability in this section of Astoria, a sense of “nowhere to run or hide,” and the sure knowledge that if trouble arrived you’d be dealing with it all on your own. Well, on this night, I’d have that Cop who was eyeballing me, but… The streets surrounding the Grand Central hereabouts are part of an “IBZ” or Industrial Business Zone, and therefore deserted at night. Damaged throwaways, lunatics, addicts, nefarious ruffians, and social outsiders like myself wander about the area at night. Everywhere do the cyclopean eyes of security cameras scan and record.

It was cold, dark, and I had to make pee pee.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The local street elevation provides an interesting window for a long exposure exploration of how traffic flow patterns play out in the “real world.” In the near future, should those postdeluvian prognostications of the scholarly climatologists come true, this will be the site of a Grand Central Canal, filled with six to ten feet of water. Imagine what sort of battrachian monstrosities will be spotted swimming in its depths of this trench, having migrated out of Long Island Sound and the northern stretches of the East River.

In a century, will we see hundreds of thousands of amphibious watercraft moving to and from Manhattan along this stretch of the Grand Central? What of the tentacled horrors which would lurk in its voluminous murk? Will this be the Astoria Abyss?


“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 13, 2020 at 11:00 am

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