The Newtown Pentacle

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Thursday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

October 20th and a humble narrator had just received the most critical bit of equipment needed to enable his “escape from New York.” A car.

All of these years in Queens, I’ve been a dedicated pedestrian and married to mass transit. I’ve always opined that having a car in Astoria is more of a curse than a boon. It was actually cheaper for me to use ride shares or cabs when I needed a ride than it was to own one.

I’m moving to America, and quite literally to “Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood,” where you cannot exist on the continent without a vehicle so I had to drop the hammer. Placed the order in July, and got a fresh from the factory new car in late October.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Since becoming hyper mobile and independent of the geographic restrictions which are governed by how far my feet can scuttle, as well as the physical constraints of how long I can carry my photo kit, one has been ranging all over the city. Saying that, what is being missed out on now are the little things that you can’t see when driving along as you’re moving too fast.

After getting my driver’s license reinstated earlier this year, I rented a few different vehicles from Avis and Hertz, looking for a good fit for Our Lady of the Pentacle and myself. The Toyota RAV4 Hybrids rose to the top of my list, and we ordered one from one of the new car dealerships on Northern Boulevard. My accountant opined that even if I bought the thing in Alaska, NYS would still bill me for sales tax since my legal address would still here at the time of purchase, so I bit the bullet. Hopefully, this will be my last really large contribution to the black hole that Albany throws our earnings into to finance its dysfunction.

One of the bits of advice I offer is “if you’re thinking about buying a car, rent the model for a week first, and see if you like it.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

October 21st saw me taking advantage of this new mobility to get a few shots from an area that has always been a little too far off the grid for me to walk around, the coast lines of College Point and Whitestone.

That’s the Bronx Whitestone Bridge pictured above and below.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Funnily enough, I’ve got more shots of this bridge from the Bronx side than I do the Queens one, due to there being a ferry stop on the Soundview NYC Ferry line in the former location.

I tooled around the area, exploiting several points of view which I had previously scouted out on Google maps. The Google Maps app is a great tool as far as finding potential points of view in areas which are either tangentially known or are complete mysteries. I never would have thought to visit the “Whitestone Bridge Observatory” otherwise, or even suspected such a roundabout street end existed.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Whitestone seems to be a super wealthy community, with expansive homes that border on “mansion” nestled right up against the water. It looks more like a suburb than it does NYC. You don’t see piles of cast off garbage or debased humans lying in the street, for instance.

I had several photo set ups planned for the day, and since I was in a car, didn’t mind carrying all of the heavy kit which would normally create a limit on how far and wide I could range.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There aren’t too many Sandy beaches on the East River. I think it’s about 6 or 7, that I know about at least. That’s one of them, above, at Francis Lewis Park. Nice spot.

One kept on heading eastwards, right up and sometimes over the City/Nassau County line.

More on that tomorrow at your – now – hard driving Newtown Pentacle.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

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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

November 17, 2022 at 11:00 am

bold entreaty

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Tuesday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On October 5, it was raining in the City. A diminishing meteorological system had stalled over the megalopolis for several days and all was moist. Regardless, one required a bit of exercise and time for thought, so off on a scuttle did a humble narrator go.

My plan was to hug the fence lines of the estimable Sunnyside Yards, and commit a few exposures to the “same old, same old.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As mentioned ad infinitum in the past, HQ is a few blocks away from the yards and my habit is to use it’s curvilinear border streets to transit back and forth to Newtown Creek, so I’ve passed through this corridor often over the nearly twenty years that I’ve been living in Astoria. As also mentioned, I’m suddenly trying to capture a lot of “portrait format” vertical shots.

That’s the Long Island Railroad passing through the Harold Interlocking, as seen from “hole reliable.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One really isn’t a “rail guy,” rather rail is something which I find very interesting as far as photography challenges go. Surprisingly difficult to get a decent rail shot, especially so in challenging lighting conditions. Shiny things festooned with bright lights which are moving at a high rate of speed is a problematic situation, camera wise. There’s also an abundance of busy detail in frame – wires and lamp posts with super bright lights, occluding infrastructure, all sorts of stuff to worry about.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It was just getting dark as I scuttled around and onto Skillman Avenue.

The former Citigroup building, or as I’ve previously styled it – the Sapphire Megalith of Long Island City – has always been one of the two far points that I focus on when I want everything in a certain part of a shot to be “tack sharp.” The engineering of a lens has a “hyper focal” distance built into it, which essentially means that when it’s focused on “infinity” at a particular aperture setting, everything between a certain point in front of the lens and infinity will contain the field of focus. In the shot above, and at the aperture I was using, that field was about twenty feet away from me. Notice the blur of the signal pole, which was about ten feet from me.

The other far point is the Empire State Building, which you used to be able to see from everywhere in Long Island City.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One continued on. This was one of the walks which saw me carrying a light kit bag – one bright prime lens on the camera, another in the bag. I did have a little camera support gizmo with me, but didn’t end up using it at all on this walk, as I was in a handheld kind of mood.

Although I didn’t intend to walk all the way to Dutch Kills on this particular evening, it seems that’s where I was heading to.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

By the time I crossed Queens Boulevard, it was “proper dark” out.

Well, the night time is the right time, I always say…

More 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

November 8, 2022 at 11:00 am

cryptical hill

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Monday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One of my little aphorisms is “NYC never looks better than it does while it’s raining.” My walk in the rain on October 3rd carried a humble narrator fairly far afield of Astoria’s 31st street, where I started.

Having crossed under the vampire infested steel carrying the elevated subways above – while dodging bicycles, cars, and guys riding on those big wheel things at Queens Plaza – one had entered the brave new world.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

When you’re planning on stealing the sky, the first thing you have to do is rename something to break association with the past. For those well over the age of consent – let’s say you were alive during the Reagan Administration, for instance – the phrase “Queens Plaza” doesn’t have a great brand association. Lots of sordid stuff and institutional memories are packed into those two words. The “South Bronx” has the same problem.

Call the adjoining area “Court Square” instead, for instance.

So, back to stealing the sky. You’re going to need some help.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

You’ll need to carefully shape your spending during election periods, and not just in the immediate vicinity. You’re going to have to go to a few functions in Albany too. Sit downs with labor organizations will need to happen as well, and with the connected parasites in the local non profit industrial complex. Maybe set up a couple of your own pet non profits in the area – art organizations, religious groups, that sort of thing. Make them love you and your donations, even when you show up to community board hearings in a white stretch hummer outfitted with an LED light kit. Doesn’t matter what the neighborhood thinks, the bosses like your money.

By this point, the players are coming to you. What you really need, though, is an advocate in City Hall to ask for rezonings or an exception. You’ll have to give them some political meat, so you have your architect draw in a bunch of one room elevator shaft adjacent apartments which will satisfy their need to announce “affordable housing.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Land will be yours. Whatever small potatoes business that’s currently housed on that land is either cheaply bought out or your friend in City Hall will relocate them with costs paid to Hunts Point in the Bronx or maybe Sunset Park’s Bush Terminal.

Soon… soon your dreams will come true, when you’ve privatized the sky. People will pay big money to see the sky, especially after your politician buddies have muddied the environmental history of the site where your sky stealing edifice will rise.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Long Island City. This shot is from the “historic district,” where the row houses of the architects Root and Rust are protected landmarks. This block where the domestic mailing address of Long Island City’s last Mayor – Patrick “BattleAx” Gleason – was. Gleason famously warned that once the Manhattan people got a hold of Queens…

So, you’ve stolen the sky – what’s next. Well… you started that non profit, right? Why not feed it a little bit of money and turn it into a lobbyist organization? You made a lot of money stealing the sky, why not go for another section of it?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The roadblocks you hit – like going to those damned fundraisers in Albany, that jerk loser on the Community Board who held you up over public space, the whole zoning thing… why doesn’t NYC just allow you to build, and build, and build – until the entire sky has been blotted out? The entire system needs to be streamlined. You’re the one Ayn Rand wrote about, after all.

Unleash your lobbyists, have them say “Yes, in My Back Yard.”


“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

November 7, 2022 at 11:00 am

falling on

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Thursday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On September 10th, one found himself at the Maspeth Avenue Plank Road, here in NYC’s borough of Queens. The Tribute in Lights at the World Trade Center site in Manhattan, and this section of Newtown Creek has pretty good views, so there you are.

This shot was gravy, I was there for a musical performance.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My pals at Newtown Creek Alliance helped out with this event, called the Newtown Odyssey. Kind of ethereal music, the high concept kind, was being performed. As part of the ensemble, they had rigged up these floating doohickeys with ukulele’s. A bow attached to a connected but separate float that rose and fell with the water differently the ukulele one did would play the ukuleles like violins.

There you go.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Back in Astoria, on September 13th, and I was at a bar drinking a beer when this “Smash My Trash” truck came by. Do yourself a favor and check out the site link for this outfit.

At last, lords and ladies, real anti-zombie equipment is in the field. Mobile, fuel efficient, smashing.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On the 14th, a humble narrator waited until about a half hour before sunset to sally forth for an evening constitutional. This was a relatively short walk, all in all. One of the type where I walk somewhere sort of far away from HQ and then take the train back to Astoria. On this particular night, my penultimate destination was the Hunters Point Avenue 7 train stop in Long Island City.

I stopped by “hole reliable” at Sunnyside Yards, and photographed trains for a little while.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It was a relatively busy interval at hole reliable, and commuter trains were zipping around down at the track level of the Sunnyside Yards. The one, on the left coming at you, is an Amtrak heading for the Hell Gate Bridge via the NY Connecting Railway, and the one on the right is a Long Island Railroad heading into the City.

I’ve literally taken this sort of shot, from this vantage point, thousands of times. Can’t get enough of it.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One decided that since I hadn’t been to Dutch Kills in a couple of weeks, and inspected its collapsing bulkhead on 29th street, that it would be a good idea to do so.

South, headed a humble narrator. More 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

October 13, 2022 at 11:00 am

narrower alleys

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Thursday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One last shot of the Power Plant in Yonkers, specifically its Hudson River moat, was gathered on the way back to My Pal Val’s Valmobile. She offered to drop me off somewhere convenient on her way back to Nassau County on Long Island, so I greedily lept at the idea of catching a ride at least part of the way back home.

She had opted for the Whitestone Bridge.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I cracked this one out through her windshield while we were on a highway, which is a lot easier said than done. I think it’s the Whitestone, but it could also be the Throgg’s Neck. I’m sure some nagging presence on one of my social media accounts will take the opportunity to hijack this post and use it to express how much more knowledgable they are than I about the bridges of the East River.

Soon, we touched down in Queens, and I was dropped off nearby the Whitestone Expressway’s exit and entrance ramps in Flushing.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Well… don’t mind if I do, Flushing Bay.

I had a bit of a walk ahead of me to get to the 7 train. I could have easily made it to Main Street and the station there, but it was a pretty nice day and I wasn’t quite done with shooting yet so I scuttled off towards Citifield instead.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There are multiple generations of politicians in Queens who should burn in hell for what they’ve done to or allowed to be done to our ancestral waterways.

Sigh… nothing matters, nobody cares, nothing matters, nobody cares, nothing matters, nobody cares.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

After the one above, I packed up the tripod kit and reverted back over to handheld shooting mode. I decided to walk over to the Citifield stop in order to catch the 7 line, which I’d take to Jackson Heights and transfer to one of the two underground lines that stop near HQ.

My “escape New Yorkmobile” is on order, and I’m expecting the dealership to be calling any day to let me know it’s time to come in and sign the loan agreement which will allow me to leave this dystopian shithole behind me at last. Saying that, I’m enjoying all the mass transit I can before becoming part of the problem.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I keep on telling myself that there’s plenty of super polluted waterways where I’m going. The good news is that I’ll be able to drive to them.

Tomorrow – something different.


“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, 2022 at 11:00 am

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