The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Archive for the ‘Queens Boulevard’ Category

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.


“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 22, 2020 at 1:00 pm

mysterious archways

with one comment

Humbug.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Recent endeavor found one eager to waste his time attending yet another Newtown Creek oriented meeting, this time at a banal public room in Sunnyside. The puropose of this one was to give a cabal of trans national energy corporations the chance to have one of their contractors describe a cleanup process which, out of the goodness of their hearts, said cabal wishes to enact for the waterway several years ahead of schedule. It was a rainy night, my busted toe was hurting, and I took the bus over to the Queens Blvd. side of the world.

My universe is fairly limited at the moment, so a 15 minute bus ride can pretty much get me where I need to go without much fuss and also make my day. It should be mentioned that “I’m in a mood” right now. The world is a joyless pile of crap, I’ve forgotten how to be happy or satisfied with anything, and my “ass kicking foot” is still out of commission. A few friends have recently asked me, repeatedly, “are you ok?” My answer has been “yes, everything is fantastic, things are great, couldn’t be better.” Nobody wants to actually hear anything else, or really cares, they just want to be able to say they asked.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My journey involved negotiating a few blocks of Queens Blvd. on foot after debarking the bus, a feat which is now within my capabilities again. The steel shielding which the relentless incompetence of the MTA has necessitated the installation of along the 7 line, designed to vouchsafe against having chunks of steel raining down from the elevated tracks above onto the street and sidewalk alike, provide a new and visually appealing feature. Likely impermanent, the reflective metal causes a whole lot of light to bounce around in an otherwise dark and barren scene.

Dark and barren pretty much sums things up at the moment. Wet too.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One is purely an audience member at the moment, and unable to actuate or in any way affect the world around me. It’s all darkness and cold. I’m sticking to the shadows, traveling light, and have grown tired of it all. In accordance with this temporary weakness caused by the busted toe, I’ve stupidly shown a bit of vulnerability, which the humans surrounding me have read as an opportunity to show their true colors. The ass kicking foot will be healed up by the start of the new year, they should remember, but let them have their fun for now. Thanks are offered to all of those who have reminded me of their own sinister nature and the general state of human interaction.

Dark and horrible will be emerging in 2020, and something wicked this way comes, I think. A humble narrator is feeling cranky, and the world only makes sense when you force it to do so.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle


Come on a tour!

With Atlas ObscuraInfrastructure Creek! My favorite walking tour to conduct, and in a group limited to just twelve people! December 14th, 1:30-3:30 p.m.

Click here for more information and tickets!

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

December 9, 2019 at 11:00 am

wholly allied

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A Jedi craves not these things…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My hermitage and recovery period for the broken toe has been, frankly, driving me nuts with boredom. Given the diminished capacity one is experiencing on the walking around front, a humble narrator evolved a plan which would involve a fairly minor amount of scuttling about while also putting the camera in front of picturesque locales. A quick limp over to my local subway stop ensued, whereupon a transfer to the IRT Flushing or 7 Line subway line was accomplished in Jackson Heights – pictured above.

A long standing assertion of mine is that the 7, of all NYC’s subway lines, offers the most interesting and picturesque set of views to be found in the entire system (Ok, I’ll admit that Broadway Junction over in Brooklyn is pretty amazing as well).

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Given that I have been a caged animal and literal cripple of late, I haven’t been able to shoot anything intentional in awhile. What I’ve been offering for the last few weeks here at Newtown Pentacle has either been shots from the archives or “catch as catch can” snapshots gathered when I absolutely positively had no choice about being “out there” despite the broken toe and badly swollen left foot. Last week, I finally got to think out a route – and plan in advance – a few shots I was desirous of capturing.

The one above represents around a thirty second exposure from the 40th/Lowery stop, looking down on the northern side of Queens Blvd. from the elevated station. I was using that ultrapod gizmo I’ve been rattling on about, which is small enough to allow me to skate around MTA’s rules about using a tripod on their properties without a permit. Saying that, I did have the photo bag kit and kaboodle with me, gear which was used at other locations with less restrictive rules.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The shot directly above is from the 33rd/Rawson stop on the 7, looking again towards the northern side of Queens Blvd., and that factory building with the inflatable tennis dome on it is the former Swingline Staplers factory. One of the things I find interesting about the long exposure stuff is the way that traffic patterns get visualized by the long streaks of brake light as automobiles shoot through the frame. When you talk to transportation advocates or the city planner types, they always spout about “should be’s” and “design intents.” I usually offer them unwanted feedback about “desire paths” and “the best laid plans of mice and men.”

Whatever these characters want people to do on these roads, pictured above is a graphic representation of what actually happens.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle


Come on a tour!

With Atlas ObscuraInfrastructure Creek! My favorite walking tour to conduct, and in a group limited to just twelve people! December 14th, 1:30-3:30 p.m.

Click here for more information and tickets!

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 25, 2019 at 11:00 am

wailing grew

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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

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