The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Archive for the ‘Queens Boulevard’ Category

wailing grew

leave a comment »

Minimalist Wednesdays? I dunno.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One has always opined that Queens will show you things if you just listen to her. Sometimes these things are ominous and weird, like the abundance of single iterated cast off shoes associated with the notorious Queens Cobbler. Other times they are just puzzling, and turn out to be a missing piece of the Queensboro Bridge. Go figure.

Recent endeavor encountered this hollowed out watermelon on Queens Blvd. It looked like somebody was eating it with a big spoon. I know… you’re thinking “rats,” but look at those clean (and clearly made by a knife) edges on the thing. Also, that would be one hell of a rat and rats don’t use giant spoons, as their hands as shaped like sporks with fingernails. Who can guess, though, what weird forms of (watermelon eating and giant spoon using) intelligence may exist, hidden in plain sight along the Boulevard of Death?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Something else one might witness along the old “bulevar de la muerte,” if – like a humble narrator – you’re trying to look “up, down, and all around,” whilst scuttling along the pedestrian lane are non standard sewer grates and other atavistic street furniture. The hodge podge of municipalities, towns and villages which were composited in 1870 as “Long Island City” and later as “Queens” is something that the first Queens Borough Presidents spent a lot of money on. If you look carefully, you’ll see a variety of approaches to drainage and sewer systems in the various neighborhoods. Several are relatively modern, others – like the one pictured above – date back to about the First World War. South Sunnyside was still defined by small family farms back then, and the area we call the Sunnyside Yards still had buildings standing that dated back to the Dutch Colonial period.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

So, what’s up with this “minimalist wednesday” thing, and how does it involve what the Romanians would call the “Bulevardul Morții”?

Simply put, every once in a while I try to frame up simplified and isolated shots, which is a lot easier said than done here in the super complicated layer cake of attention grabbing clutter called NYC. It’s kind of a challenge to do so, so… hence.

As far as the “Boulevard Mortis” – as you’d say it in Latin – goes, it’s just where I happened to end up one day, along with all the other wind blown trash in Queens.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle


Upcoming Tours and Events


Thursday, July 11, 7 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.

“Infrastructure Creek” Walking Tour w Newtown Creek Alliance

If you want infrastructure, then meet NCA historian Mitch Waxman at the corner of Greenpoint Avenue and Kingsland Avenue in Brooklyn, and in just one a half miles he’ll show you the largest and newest of NYC’s 14 sewer plants, six bridges, a Superfund site, three rail yards with trains moving at street grade (which we will probably encounter at a crossing), a highway that carries 32 million vehicle trips a year 106 feet over water. The highway feeds into the Queens Midtown Tunnel, and we’ll end it all at the LIC ferry landing where folks are welcome to grab a drink and enjoy watching the sunset at the East River, as it lowers behind the midtown Manhattan skyline.

Click here for ticketing and more information.


Saturday, July 13, 10 a.m. – 12 p.m.

“Exploring the East River, From General Slocum Disaster
to Abandoned Islands” Boat Tour w NY Adventure Club

Onboard a Soundview route NYC Ferry – Join New York Adventure Club for a two-part aquatic adventure as we explore the General Slocum disaster, and historic sights and stories along the East River, all by NYC Ferry.

Click here for ticketing and more information.


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

July 10, 2019 at 11:00 am

abundantly able

with 4 comments

Hot time, summer in the city…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

While wandering around recently, on a particularly warm and sticky day, the burning thermonuclear eye of god itself seemed positively fixed upon the humid surface of Queens. A humble narrator was wearing his summer costume, which includes a white shirt and hat, but regardless of this – shelter from its radiation was required. As one made his way eastwards long Queens Boulevard, the cement overpass which carries the IRT Flushing line subway offered surcease from the emanations, and since I have always thought it a visually interesting place, I got busy with the camera shutter.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Shadow and bright sunlight offer an interesting quandary to the roving photographer, given the high contrast and conflicting exposure triangles needed for both. The particular late afternoon light encountered, however, was casting long shadows punctuated by shafts of white hot light.

The burning thermonuclear eye of god itself, indeed.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Huitzilopochtli or Tonatiuh, Apollo or Helios, Surya, Shamash, Nyambi, Ra – everybody had a name for the deity of the sun, and they were almost always warrior gods who required some sort of appeasement. Sol Invictus was what the Romans called it, as in the “unconquered sun.”

A humble narrator grew up in a monotheist tradition however, so my perception of the nuclear fireball in the sky is that of a single unblinking eye set into the starry face of an extra dimensional intelligence who keeps count of how many times each and every human being has masturbated.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle


Upcoming Tours and Events


Thursday, July 11, 7 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.

“Infrastructure Creek” Walking Tour w Newtown Creek Alliance

If you want infrastructure, then meet NCA historian Mitch Waxman at the corner of Greenpoint Avenue and Kingsland Avenue in Brooklyn, and in just one a half miles he’ll show you the largest and newest of NYC’s 14 sewer plants, six bridges, a Superfund site, three rail yards with trains moving at street grade (which we will probably encounter at a crossing), a highway that carries 32 million vehicle trips a year 106 feet over water. The highway feeds into the Queens Midtown Tunnel, and we’ll end it all at the LIC ferry landing where folks are welcome to grab a drink and enjoy watching the sunset at the East River, as it lowers behind the midtown Manhattan skyline.

Click here for ticketing and more information.


Saturday, July 13, 10 a.m. – 12 p.m.

“Exploring the East River, From General Slocum Disaster
to Abandoned Islands” Boat Tour w NY Adventure Club

Onboard a Soundview route NYC Ferry – Join New York Adventure Club for a two-part aquatic adventure as we explore the General Slocum disaster, and historic sights and stories along the East River, all by NYC Ferry.

Click here for ticketing and more information.


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

July 9, 2019 at 1:15 pm

where goeth

with 2 comments

Prognostication is a specialty.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One considers himself able to not just look backward into history, but forward as well. I can make a reasonably good bet about a few subjects I know a bit about, and that have some historical context which instructs and informs. As an example of my thought process in this dimension, when I board a train or a plane I tend not to check the time too often while onboard. “Are we there yet” indicates that you didn’t think your journey through. You’ll know when you’re there, since the thing you’re riding in will stop and it’s operators will tell you to leave. Intervals are absolute, it seems, and you’re often disappointed if you don’t acknowledge that some things take time.

There are few, if any, moving sidewalks. No personal jet packs, or highways weaving around skyscrapers twenty stories up, and there is not a geodesic dome covering NYC. This is the 21st century, and none of that stuff exists in our daily lives, despite the promises of futurists from times gone by. We do possess computers, in our phones, that we can talk to, however. That’s pretty cool, but this ain’t the future we were supposed to get. Instead it’s kind of a pedantic and boring one, but, there you are. As the aphorism offers – wherever you go, there you are.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Self driving vehicles got you worried? The futurists and engineers haven’t really figured that out for trains that operate on tracks yet, or for cargo ships guided by actual satellites, so my guess is that whereas the driverless car is certainly a fascinating experiment – it ain’t happening quite yet. As soon as it does, though, porn will be shot in them while the car is driving down highways and the AI is pretending it doesn’t know what’s happening inside the passenger cabin. That’s two prognostications for the price of one, right there.

Additionally, even if some form of ultra clean “Star Trek” style energy production technology were to emerge tomorrow, we’d still be using petroleum for fuel for at least another century. I know this because we’re still using coal and gas, which are centuries old technologies. There’s a technological concept called “installed base,” which governs such matters. In layman terms, you ain’t changing the furnace in your basement out until you have to, and the old Buick still runs pretty good. Saying that, I’m all for lurching blindly forward and declaring one of our futile and very American “wars” on Climate Change. The one on drugs worked out great, right? What could go wrong?

I’d recommend creating a non variable zoning regulation instead, demanding all new construction include a green roof, for our cities. Activation of the 4H club and the various Scouting organizations in pursuance of tree planting along highways in rural areas would also be a plus. Reforestation seems to part of the answer, but it’s probably best to ask the farmers what they’d do. The religious zealots? Tell ’em that God wants ‘Murica to recreate Eden, and they’ll burn litterers on the stake.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Warfare is the cheap harlot of history, with its pageant and tragedy. It’s also the substance of what most of “the powers that be” would want you to build the shelves of your mental bookcase with. Even the Real Estate guys use it, selling “pre war” apartments at significant markups. “Pre War”? Which war? Are we never not at war in the United States? There’s a cognitive dissidence often encountered which somehow equates the far more important cultural, economic, and industrial history of the nation state as being encapsulated by “eras” defined either by conflict or the coarse and often bellicose personalities of various politicians and their regimes. It wasn’t the “Reagan era,” or the “Vietnam era” that you should be building those shelves out of.

Can you imagine what the historians of the future will call our time? They’ll focus in on foreign war and bombastic politics (both of which provide an excess of documentation, making the job of piecing together a narrative easy) but I think they’ll miss the particular mood of our time. That weird “us” versus “them” mentality which needs to be torn out of the body politic root and stem. As mentioned at the start, one often looks backwards to understand the tyranny of the now.

Americans aren’t much different from the Ancient Egyptians, or more recently the citizenry of the late Roman Republic. Like the Egyptians, we’re obsessed with death and honor, deeply superstitious, and willing to tolerate a lot of nonsense in the name of not offending the gods, and we also have a well founded belief that we can beat the snot out of anyone who messes with us. The Egyptians weren’t all that different from the late in the game Republic of Rome, but the Romans are a bit more familiar in outlook. They saw warfare as a business opportunity, just like us. I read about Rome a lot. There’s a lot to read.

The “blues and the greens” of Constantinople come to mind, but that’s really just a political analogy that sits nicely into our left/right narrative. Instead, I’m thinking about Caesar, and how the Liberators had absolutely no plan whatsoever in place to rule after those twenty seven stabbings in the Senate House happened. If you’re going to kill Caesar, you should have a really good plan for a post Caesar future. If you don’t, the Republic you were trying to save from a tyrant just might collapse, and give rise to a penultimate tyrant.

Interpret that last prognostication as you may. A smart auger leaves things a bit vague.


“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

May 29, 2019 at 11:00 am

what matter

with one comment

Megalomaniacal ambition, it affects us all.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

If you saw an older fellow lying prone on the turf at Astoria Park recently, with a laptop that had two speaker wires leading from its usb port down into an ant hill, yeah that was me. I’m trying to hack into both ant and termite mounds, in pursuance of recruiting some of the most numerous and industrious species to be found upon the land to do my bidding. My disastrous 2008 experiments with primates, which were first called “Operation Tarzan” and then later “Operation Damn Dirty Ape,” taught me many lessons. That’s why, while performing field work on “Operation Formicidae” (as I’ve styled it) I leave the bag of sugar cubes at home rather than having them on site. That shipping container from Chiquita was just too much temptation for my nascent ape army to resist. I know better now.

Someday, instead of a Queen, the ants will have a King. He will be as terrible as the oncoming storm, and in his name will vast armies skitter forth from their holes. Together, we will form a construction company, and grow rich in both fungus garden and bank account. My company will be called Myrmidon, LLC., and despite having billions of employees, I won’t have to pay them in anything but empty beer bottles and leaf cuttings. This is Capitalism at its purest, lords and ladies.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Another one of my projects involves an adaptation of the biological sixth sense enjoyed by sharks, made possible by the “ampullae of Lorenzini,” which allows these cosmopolitan predators the ability to detect the electromagnetic fields produced by the movement of muscle tissue in living organisms. The Great White Shark, for instance, can detect field variances of half a billionth of a volt, allowing it to home in on a beating heart at close range. I’m not sure what my “shark skin suit” will be used for, but it will likely come in handy for a variety of tasks.

I mean, look at all those wires here in Astoria… can you imagine?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My landlord, and Municipal regulators, insist on a strict “Mad Science” policy of “zero tolerance” here in Astoria. That “Astoria Borealis” thing… it wasn’t me, I swear. The official story explaining it away sounds reasonable… no? It’s not like someone was working on reanimating a corpse and accidentally opened a dimensional portal, that’s crazy. The fact that the corpse disappeared during the light show… what does that mean? Nothing, I tell you, nothing. Also, that “Beast of Berrian Bay” thing that the construction guys go on about at the bar is just a story.

Also, as a note, the teams of scientists studying the Great White Shark population around South Africa’s Seal Island have observed Great White’s operating cooperatively in a clan system not unlike that of a wolf pack. There’s a social hierarchy, and an “alpha,” and there seems to be some kind of behavioral custom they follow when encountering other “clans.” Sharks that cooperate with each other… Maybe I should be trying to hack the sharks, instead of the ants.

That’s some mad science, kid. It’s also kind of the scariest thing I’ve ever heard.


“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

May 28, 2019 at 11:00 am

hopeless howl

with one comment

The whole “human interaction” thing isn’t going well.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Behavioral quirks and noisome habits notwithstanding, one doesn’t consider himself to be too much of a chore to be around. Much like Billy Joel’s eponymous Piano Man, I’ll gladly tell you a joke or light up your smoke, but there’s someplace I’d rather be. Saying that, one is continually puzzled by the humans. Just this weekend, I had to stand between two friends who were about to come to blows over literally nothing, and encourage the angrier of the two to remember that he – as the managing partner of a multi million dollar corporation here in NYC – would be badly serving himself by getting into a bar fight. The following day, an encounter I had with an acquaintance here in the neighborhood went sour, but I refused to be goaded into “taking the bait.”

Embrace your inner sociopath, I say. Everybody is just ready to fly off the handle about every little thing these days. I’m sick of it, but getting angry isn’t the answer to all of life’s problems. Just add that person to “your list” and when the time is right, that’s when you deny them something they want. That’s the American way.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Speaking of the “American Way,” Thursday last found a humble narrator at the local pub sitting at a sidewalk table and enjoying a frosty pint of beer when the late model Chevy pictured above rolled by. Can’t tell you what it was, as I didn’t get a good enough look at its grill to identify it via the usual means, but I can tell you that the driver was a Billy Joel fan as “We didn’t start the fire” was blaring from within. Personally, I think Mr. Joel’s “Glass Houses” is a near perfect album, but I appreciate a good pop standard as much as the next guy.

In tune with the current era, one of you is now meant to leave a comment on this post telling me that I’m a fool for my stated opinion, or describe in exacting detail how that opinion indicates that I’ve been unconsciously co-opted into stating it by some shadowy cabal. One of my favorite songs, ever, is the theme song from an old 1970’s kid’s show – The Banana Splits. Great song. Here’s a link to a cover of it by 80’s band “The Dickies.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Now, you may of may not like the Dickies, or the Banana Splits theme song, or dispute my opinions on which Billy Joel album is best. It doesn’t mean that I think you’re an asshole for not being one hundred percent in tune with me, and I won’t write you off to the dustbin of history over it. It means we disagree about something. Civility surrounding disagreement is the actual American Way, which is that thing which Superman and Captain America were always rattling on about in the comics. The villains in comic books, on the other hand, were always seeking unity of thought – Darkseid and the Anti Life equation, or Doctor Doom’s various schemes.

Don’t be like Doctor Doom, aspire instead to be Superman.

Of course, Superman is a sociopath. He lies to all his friends, pretends to be someone he’s not, and can burn you to a cinder with one withering glance. The lesson in that is “be nice” to people you don’t know much about, because they very well might be an alien overlord with laser eyes and freeze breath who is invulnerable to whatever petty bullshit you decide to send their way. Being Clark Kent isn’t Superman’s critique of humanity, instead it’s his testing environment. It’s easy to be nice to the cape persona, and easier still to shit all over the nerdy reporter. He wants to know how the apes he lives amongst really treat each other, and we constantly disappoint him.

Thing is, Superman isn’t like that, he just wants to help people despite being a sociopathic liar.


“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

May 13, 2019 at 11:30 am

evidently achieved

with 3 comments

Ain’t Queens cool?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The views available from the IRT Flushing, or 7 Line subway, tracks along Queens Blvd. never fail to impress. The three shots in today’s post were captured at the 40th Lowery stop in Sunnyside one recent late afternoon/early evening. One was returning to the neighborhood from some adventure and I had decided that rather than transferring to R line in Jackson Heights, which comes quite a bit closer to HQ than the 7 does, I’d instead take the train to somewhere photogenic and then walk home instead. This is one of my little habits, and guilty pleasures.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I’ve always loved the telephoto possibilities along the 7, as there aren’t all that many spots along the elevated lines where you can capture an entire train in one picture. In recent weeks, as mentioned in prior posts, a humble narrator has been beset by obligation and I haven’t had too many chances to say “cool” about the various sights which have rolled in front of the daily grind.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One is fairly shattered – physically – today by yesterday’s Newtown Creekathon, which saw me guiding and narrating a walking tour of the entire Newtown Creek. It’s the shouting, ultimately, which exhausts. Couple that with the multiple miles crossed, and I found myself passing out on the couch in the early evening yesterday. At some point, one must’ve found his way into the bed, but a clear memory of moving from one set of cushions to the next doesn’t exist.


“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

April 29, 2019 at 1:00 pm

sounds beneath

with 3 comments

Ok, I haven’t done this sort of post for awhile, so away we go.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Ask anyone who knows me in real life, and they’ll tell you that the following post is just like hanging out with old Mitch, and that it’s absolutely exhausting listening to the constant drone of me talking about Queens… That’s the Q60 rolling down Queens Blvd. on a recent rainy night.

Queens Blvd. is 7.5 miles long, starts at Queens Plaza nearby the Queensboro Bridge, and was created by merging two older roadways – Thomson Avenue and Hoffman Avenue – in the early 20th century shortly after NYC consolidation. In the 1920’s and again in the 1930’s the boulevard was widened and by the 1940’s there was serious talk of turning into it an arterial highway by – guess who… Robert Moses… but that obviously never ended up happening.

The IRT Flushing Line subway stops on Queens Blvd. opened in 1917. A trolley line (owned by the Manhattan and Queens Traction Company) that used to run off the Queensboro bridge and up Queens Blvd. since 1913 was made redundant by the elevated train service, but the streetcar staggered along for a bit. It took until 1937 for that trolley to go the way of all things, whereupon a private bus company – called the Green Bus Company – recreated the trolley’s “Queens Boulevard” route in 1943 using automotive buses. MTA took over the route in 2006, renaming it as the Q60 bus line. Like the old trolley and Green Bus, the Q60 service starts over in Manhattan on Second Avenue and then crosses over Queensboro into LIC, with its terminal stops occurring all the way out in Jamaica, Queens.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Same rainy night, but a different byway – this time it’s Greenpoint Avenue in Sunnyside.

Diagonally situated against the street grid of most of the communities in Queens which it runs through, both Roosevelt and Greenpoint Avenues were created out a colonial era pathway that ultimately connected the waterfront communities of Greenpoint (East River) in Brooklyn with Flushing (Flushing Bay and Long Island Sound), using a centuried crossing at the Newtown Creek. Prior to Neziah Bliss building the first real bridge carrying Greenpoint Avenue over Newtown Creek in 1850 (the Blissville Bridge), you’d pay for a toll crossing on a flat bottom barge pulled across the waterway by donkey or mule powered ropes. In modern times, you just use the 1987 vintage Greenpoint Avenue Bridge and cross for free. Modernity defines the Roosevelt Avenue leg of this main drag, which travels though Sunnyside, Woodside, Jackson Heights, Corona, Willets Point, and ultimately Flushing as the “7 train corridor.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Same night, but many many hours later.

I’m always shooting, even when – as in the case of the shot above – I’m wasted drunk. I had attended a friend’s birthday party and overdid it with my consumption of gin martinis. The shot above, and a couple of others which I frankly don’t remember taking, jogged my memory the next morning of how and when I ended up back at HQ in Astoria. It was still raining when I left the party in the wee hours, and still raining when I woke up.

NYC receives an average precipitation of just over 45 inches of water per square acre (as in a 45″ tall flood of water which is one acre long on each of its 4 sides) – and despite my perceptions – 2018 was a fairly normal year for rain with some 46.78 inches of precipitant having been observed by those who record such matters. 2017 was a record breaker, which saw some 60.78 inches of precipitant falling on NYC. I say precipitant, as a significant amount of that water takes the form of snow. 2019 is shaping up as a record breaker as well, so far in January we’ve received a whopping 3.54 inches of rain. That’s apparently nearly 1/13th of all of last year just in the first three weeks of January, but I’m notoriously a mathematical moron, so if that arithmetic seems wrong you’re probably right.

More tomorrow.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

January 28, 2019 at 1:00 pm

%d bloggers like this: