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unrelieved insanity

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It’s National Chocolate Covered Cherry Day, here in these United States.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One fine day at the end of December, my calendar informed that a holiday party was on my schedule at seven p.m. in Manhattan’s Hells Kitchen neighborhood. Having few things holding me at home, and desirous of an end to my “bouncing off the four walls” that typifies my response to the Christmas season, I decided to make a day of it. I packed up the camera bag and left Astoria at around two in the afternoon. My path first carried me down the Carridor, or Northern Blvd. if you must, and at the undefended border of the neighborhoods of Astoria and Dutch Kills (31st street) one encountered a gargantua construction project whose goal – I believe – is to deliver yet another badly needed hotel to the Dutch Kills neighborhood.

There’s only about twenty or so of them there now, and god knows we need more, as at least one of them has been converted over to a homeless shelter by the administrative geniuses employed by our beloved Mayor – the Dope from Park Slope, Bill de Blasio.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Construction projects have stolen the sky in Long Island City in recent years. Long shadows are cast, and bizarrely reflected sunlight glares from the mirror box surfaces of the new towers. The glare sometimes illuminates a long shadowed factory block, burning away the mold and nitre of the early 20th century Industrial Age of Queens. The towers eradicate these ancient factories and warehouses which still hosted hundreds of blue collar and industrial jobs, replacing them with residences. It’s all done in the name of providing jobs, I’m told, although after the 24-36 months of construction work is done those jobs move on.

Luckily there’s still a handful of jobs for servile labor – doormen, porters, building superintendents. There would be delivery boys too, if the designers and funders of these towers had remembered that a neighborhood is more than just a collection of apartment buildings, and that you need doctors offices, laundromats, and supermarkets too.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Queens Plaza seems to be quite the focus point for construction activity at the moment, answering the clarion call that all New Yorkers have been singing for generations demanding the opportunity to live here. As mentioned earlier, the only good part of these new structures to me is that they act as sun reflectors during the late afternoon and illuminate the transportation hub that serves as the de facto focusing point for nearly all the Midtown Manhattan bound vehicular traffic of Long Island and the locus point for the screeching steel wheels of the elevated N, W, and 7 Subway lines.

I do wish that the orange construction netting was a permanent feature, of course, as it provided for a nice color contrast with the stolen sky.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I’ve always been fascinated by the elevated Subway architecture hereabouts, which forms – technically speaking -“Queensborough Plaza.” The underground Subway complex, where you’ll find the E, R, and M lines, is called “Queens Plaza.” One of the things that has long puzzled me, however is why there isn’t a free transfer between upstairs and downstairs. If I get off a train at either complex, there are free transfers to the NYCTA Bus lines which Queens Plaza is lousy with, via some sort of magical Metrocard alchemy.

Conversely, MTA doesn’t allow a free transfer from… say, the N line to the R. Instead, you’re told to transfer to the 7 from the N, go to the Court Square stop, and transfer there instead. Not too big a deal, but why?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Crossing under the elevated tracks, and towards the Citi building megalith, one encounters another construction zone. These buildings are further along, many have been open and renting for a while now. I know a couple who live in the “Linc LIC” building at the right of the shot above, and they proclaim great satisfaction with their new home.

Of course, as I’m ever a black spider crawling across clean white linen, one had to inform them of their proximity to half a dozen State Superfund sites, and to the Dutch Kills tributary of the noisome Newtown Creek Federal Superfund site. It seems that the realtors of NYC are under no obligation to inform buyers and renters of these new properties about environmental issues present in their new neighborhood. The realtors would be obliged to disclose if the property was known to be haunted by a ghost, conversely, in accordance with NYS jurisprudence.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Regardless of opinion, sense, or a web of infrastructure capable of maintaining this new population – construction continues. Hospital beds – Who needs ’em? Sewer plant upgrades – nobody cares about that. 7 train at capacity already, according to the MTA – haven’t you got something else to worry about, Mitch? Clouds of toxic dust mixing into the air column from construction sites – pfahhh, have you tried the new muffins at Coffeed?

Well you get the idea, and it is National Chocolate Covered Cherry Day after all, so why aren’t you out shopping for some? What are ya? Some kind of commie? Go buy something. Maybe an apartment in Queens Plaza.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Swinging around onto 23rd street, under the elevated tracks of the 7 line, in an area which I’ve always referred to as “the fedora district” since it’s the sort of place you can picture working guys wearing old school hats – I encountered some politically expressive vandalism on the plywood fencing of what promises to be yet another construction site.

The same writer installed the screed “Trump is your fault” around the corner. Politics and vandalism versus expression notwithstanding, one realized that he had left the house without eating breakfast. After counting out how many pennies I had in my pocket – I went to the ever reliable Court Square diner and ordered a sandwich which I call a “cholesterol bun” – 2 scrambled eggs, with ham and swiss cheese, on a roll.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Whilst quaffing my cholesterol bun and sitting on the sidewalk of Jackson Avenue, the construction site occurring on the site of the former 5Ptz caught my eye. This is the one that burns me, incidentally. Maybe people do want to live in Queens Plaza. Maybe I’m just a recalcitrant preservationist and my knowledge of the intricacies of LIC’s environmental woes and infrastructure deficiencies prejudices the way I perceive all of this construction activity which the avarice of the politically connected Real Estate Shit Flies have created.

Thing is, a significant number of people who are moving in to LIC have been sold on its “vibrant art scene” which doesn’t actually exist. There WAS a vibrant art scene at 5Ptz, but nobody in power raised a finger to save the one thing which drew crowds of “artsy fartsy lookie-loos” to LIC. It’s a a crime what happened to 5ptz, from the literal whitewashing of its walls onwards. What’s rising are two more bland towers overlooking an elevated, busy and quite noisy, subway track.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Disgusted by all the short sightedness, and abundant entropy of LIC – and after the consumption of my yummy cholesterol bun – one entered the MTA “system” and paid my fare for a ride on the most photogenic of NYC’s subway lines. As mentioned at the top of the post, I had a social obligation to keep in Hells Kitchen, and it was time to head into town. LIC will shortly resemble a Hells Kitchen anyway – surviving tenements converted to one family “pied a terre” and surrounded by outré scale luxury towers that host the minimum number of low income housing allowable by law, and suffused by staggering levels of congested vehicular traffic.

My plan was to take the 7 to the western end of the line, in… Manhattan. More on that tomorrow, at this, your Newtown Pentacle.


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maximum diameter

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Well, that sucks.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One is dismayed at the results of yesterday’s election results, and I’m in fact struck dumb by them. I was hoping that the United States wouldn’t succumb to its baser instincts in this election, but I’ve been disappointed before. It always strikes me as odd that working class people across the country continually vote against their own interests – which is what a vote for either one of the major parties ultimately turns out to be.

Saying that, as I’ve opined several thousand times in the last year – the National level stuff is above my pay grade, and that the only thing we can really have any effect on are the local issues.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I can offer you predictions – based on having lived through several rightist swings in the White House about what the next half decade holds. There will be war, and recession, an unregulated corporatist nirvana, and the very same rural and rust belt people who voted the new administration into power will be the ones most impoverished by its policies.

This is nothing new, of course, and it hasn’t been so since Marius and Sulla.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The mistake made by the leftists in this election was in the choice of a technocrat candidate who seemed to be awaiting a popular voter enabled coronation to the Presidency – despite being remarkably unpopular. The national level party bosses repudiated, and destroyed, the chances of the populist wing in their own party structure in the name of ensuring this coronation. As the Book of Revelations says – you are neither hot nor cold, you are lukewarm, and I spit you out.

They ran a 20th century campaign in 2016, and lost.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The rural/urban divide is something I’ve been talking about for a long time, incidentally. I’m of the belief that we are headed for a second Civil War in these United States, one that isn’t based around a North and South divide, but instead one that is based around whether you live in a City or a Town.

Cities are internationalist, towns nationalist.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Beyond all of that, one is absolutely speechless and sort of terrified. Apoplectic is an appropriate word.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Thing is, this election came out of NYC.


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Written by Mitch Waxman

November 9, 2016 at 12:30 pm

oblong apartment

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Getting high over the East River, in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It seemed like every time I turned around last week, I had to go to Manhattan for one reason or another. I’ll tell you about the reason that I was at the Waldorf Astoria next week, but I was done with that sliver of my life by around 5:45, and the thought of boarding a rush hour train was anathema. Besides, after the chicken fried bacon incident, I had a serious desire to get some exercise… a lot of exercise.

Walking home to Astoria from midtown, rather than using the subway, I soon logically found myself at the Queensboro Bridge, which I haven’t perambulated across in several months for some reason. Queensboro is a fairly decent bit of “cardio” exercise, incidentally, due to the long sloping ascent to its high point over the river at mid span.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There’s a VERY well used pedestrian and bicycle path on the north side of the bridge, one that I used to find myself walking quite often back during 2009 when I was working with the NYC Bridge Centennial committee, which organized the parades and events celebrating the hundred year anniversary of the East River bridges (also, one over the Harlem River, and the Borden and Hunters Point Avenue bridges over the Dutch Kills tributary of Newtown Creek).

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Queensboro is beautiful. Period. It’s one of my favorite sites to photograph in the entire city, and I never get bored of it.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I like Queensboro in the late afternoon during fall and spring, as the quality and angles of the light – and the dramatic contrast it creates – are just lovely. Brooklyn Bridge gets all the tourists, and attention, but I’ll take Queensboro any day.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The pedestrian and bicycle path crests at mid span, and the wide open vistas encountered are breath taking. If you haven’t had this experience for yourself, why not get off the couch and check it out? I refuse to repeat anything from Great Gatsby, Paul Simon, or a Spiderman movie.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On the Queens shoreline, that’s the Big Allis power plant in the Ravenswood section.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Even the NYCHA housing at the western side of Queens Plaza look pretty sweet from up here.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Looking back from the pedestrian walkway towards Manhattan.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The pedestrian and bicycle walkway lands in Queens at Queens Plaza, nearby Crescent street.

Upcoming tours and events:


“First Calvary Cemetery” walking tour
with Brooklyn Brainery, Saturday, October 8th from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
Click here for tickets.


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Written by Mitch Waxman

October 6, 2016 at 11:00 am

clean shaven

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Getting around town, in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The wheel of the year is about to turn again, and the particular station we are in – what the Pagan crowd would call “Lughnasadh” – is about to give way to the pleasant temperatures and beneficial quality of light which will begin to lessen when Samhain rolls around at the end of October. The whole pagan wheel of the year thing is directly tied to harvesting various sorts of agricultural crops, of course, but a humble narrator is no farmer. Rather, for me the harvest is about photos.

Pictured above is mighty Triborough, as seen through the windshield of an “automobile” owned by a friend who allowed me to enter her moving mechanical contrivance for an afternoon. These “automobiles” are bothersome contrivances given to toxic exhalations and the consumption of a troublesome form of fuel, but quite handy when one’s desire is to photograph the “House of Moses.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The twisting complications leading away from the Queensboro Bridge in Long Island City, are pictured above. These ramps were erected to serve the needs of the automobile, and given that unlike Mighty Triborough – the Queensboro was not erected upon a fairly blank slate – they wind and snake through a shadowy and confusing warren of buildings. The ramps emerge and then disappear behind buildings, seeking out connections to the high speed roads built long after the Queensboro itself was built.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My preferred method for getting around the City is found in the shot above. Given that I live three stops out from the titular center of the megalopolis, it is madness to consider owning one of these “automobiles” for one such as myself. One does miss the freedom offered by these devices, of course, as your humble narrator used to be an enthusiastic motorist in his younger days. Saying that, one does enjoy the challenges offered by mass transit, and the puzzle of getting from A to B when unfamiliar destinations are scheduled to be focused in upon.

Saying that, I cannot fathom why Manhattan’s 34th street Herald Square station is so damned hot.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

August 25, 2016 at 1:05 pm

reptilian devils

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I want to believe…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The world would be so much more interesting if all the nutty and paranoid stuff was true. How I do wish that the Queen of England was actually a human alien hybrid, that Kennedy was killed by the CIA and a cabal of militarists, that Area 51 was anything except for a place where exotic fighter jets and stealth aircraft are tested. “Chem trails,” “banksters,” and the rest of the fantasy scenarios are all built around an elaborate mythology that paints the government of the United States as some great machine which operates with impunity and precision.

Have you actually interacted with the government? Try it out, and that should sunder all notions of the “hidden hand.” These people can barely tie their shoes, cannot keep a secret, and are more concerned with getting approval for overtime than they would be in conspiring with alien overlords (unless they were hiring). If anything, officialdom would start applying for grant monies to form committees to study the alien overlords.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

For the last week or so, I’ve been telling people I meet that “Holy Crap, just the other night, Obama himself kicked in my door looking for guns to take.” The general reaction has been either “well, at least he did something” or “it took him long enough.” I don’t have any guns – I’m more of a blunt force trauma guy – but the point I’m trying to make is that the whole notion of this sort of conspiracy is sophomoric.

Try arranging a lunch date for five people to meet up at the same time and place, purposely excluding someone inside your social circle. The excluded person WILL find out about it, and loudly proclaim their resentment. Magnify that out to any topic associated with conspiratorial secrecy and do the math.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I’ve always believed that the reason people cling to conspiratorial fantasy is the utter banality of real life. Perhaps it’s the nihilist philosophy that I cling to, which renders everything I experience as shades of cold gray. If you were a member of some cabal, there would have to be some sort of bank account associated with it to cover costs and handle payroll. There would be paperwork which someone would have to administer, and an excel spreadsheet generated to track the project.

Even Mafiosos and ISIS keep paper records. Nixon did, and that’s what did him in. Ollie North did. Bill de Blasio does. There’s no such thing as a secret if somebody other than you knows about it.

Upcoming Events and Tours

Saturday, June 25, 10:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. –
The Insalubrious Valley of the Newtown Creek,
with Brooklyn Brainery. Click here for more details.

Sunday, June 26, 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. –
Calvary Cemetery Walking Tour,
with Atlas Obscura. Click here for more details.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

June 23, 2016 at 12:00 pm

found unfastened

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It used to be called Jane Street, y’know.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Recent occasion found one perambulating from Astoria to Hunters Point. My eventual assignation was scheduled for the early evening (or late afternoon if you sleep in) and a decision to walk a less than efficient route was undertaken. A crooked hypotenuse is what I’d call the route chosen for transversing the somewhat triangular area, which would carry me into a couple of places I haven’t walked through in about a year. A year in LIC is long enough for square blocks of the place to have been demolished and for hundreds of feet of glass tower raised from the rubble, and since it was a nice day – off I went.

The DSNY earth mover was seen on Vernon Blvd., and for some odd reason, presenting these shots to you in a timeline inverse to their actual capture works better. Go figure.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Queensboro never disappoints. The Terracotta House restoration seems to finally be just about finished and a cursory inspection suggests that a pretty nice job of it has been done. For those of you not in the know about the New York Terra Cotta company, nor the sole remaining remnant of their presence in LIC, click here for a fairly old Newtown Pentacle post on the subject – from 2009.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One spent an awful amount of time in this area back in 2009, during the centennial celebrations of the great bridge. I was a parade marshall for the event, the first time I’d ever done something like that. I’ve become an old hand at conducting tours and being in public at this point, but back then everything was shiny and new.

If I knew then what I know now… I tell ya…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It won’t be long before Queensboro is hemmed in on all sides by towers and condominiums, and the glorious light of a winter afternoon will be occluded in the same manner as the East River Bridges in Brooklyn. For those of you who have never wandered around this area, it is highly recommended, but watch your back.

You are generally pretty safe around these parts, but if things go bad it happens pretty fast and the consequences can be awful. You mainly have to worry about traffic, but there are also inslaubrious characters hanging about here and there. Just keep moving, I always say.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The north side of the bridge had already been overshadowed by a series of new high rise construction projects. The tower you see in the shot above is over in the shining city of Manhattan across the river, a residential luxury tower which vaingloriously surpasses the height of the Empire State Building – called 432 Park Avenue.

As mentioned at the top of the post, the Queensboro bridge landing in Queens Plaza was once LIC’s Jane Street.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

February 24, 2016 at 11:00 am

sophist shuffling

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Taking my chances, vampire wise, in Long Island City.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As all residents of Western Queens know, the Vampires which infest our section of the borough begin to wake up as the sun is setting. Accordingly, a humble narrator normally performs his daily rounds in the morning and afternoon, but one recent perambulation found me out and about during the danger time around sunset. Bereft of the normal sachet of garlic worn during evening walks, my steps quickened as I made for the relative safety of Astoria where bloodsuckers fear to tread due to the prevalence of Croatian and Serbian residents.

Both nationalities have long traditions regarding the nosferatu, as do the Greeks and Italians. South Eastern Europeans don’t play around with the Strigoi. My neighbor Dario spends his free time sharpening wooden spikes in the basement of Newtown Pentacle HQ, for instance, and the superintendent of the building next door keeps a ready supply of granulated garlic at the ready in case of emergency.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I decided the safest course for me to follow would be to leave Skillman Avenue and head home via Jackson Avenue. One of the many viaducts which cross the Sunnyside Yards is often referred to as “Queens Blvd.” but that street name only applies once this viaduct intersects with Thomson Avenue a block away. This is officially Queens Plaza South, and it provides a crossing for pedestrian, bicycle, motor vehicular, and IRT subway traffic over the titan rail yard. It’s not the friendliest environment for pedestrians, with the caterwaul of the subway above and the mephitic emanations of motor vehicles, but when one is concerned about vampiric attack – the most direct route is the best one.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Looking north easterly across the yards, the surviving factory buildings which surround the yards may be observed. The fires of gentrification have burned many of these older buildings away in recent years, replacing them with bland residential and hotel buildings. The yards were constructed back the first decades of the 20th century, after the Queensboro Bridge opened in 1909. Back then this pathway was called Jane Street, and it crossed an ancient swamp fed by Newtown Creek’s Dutch Kills tributary. LIC used to drain its sewerage into the swamp, which fed a series of endemic water based pathogens – typhus, cholera – that sort of thing.

Legend has it that the Vampires began to arrive in LIC about when the English displaced the Dutch, but that they avoided feeding hereabouts due to the various blood conditions in the populace caused by the stagnant water.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Heading towards Queens Plaza, one quickened his steps as movement was observed in the shadowed rafters of the IRT rail bridge carrying the 7 train over the yards. Plump and well fed after several holiday meals, my vital fluids would be a prized delicacy to the undead. The sun was dipping down in the west, after all, and I had no silver on me. My delicate physical condition, carefully maintained by a team of doctors with an arcane set of medications, began to manifest psychologically. Nervous and skittish by nature, one felt himself descending into “one of my spells” which usually ends with a humble narrator running through the streets screeching.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Elevated mood, coupled with a stertorous action of the heart, caused one to constantly look back over his shoulder for ghastly pursuers. Blood began to evacuate the extremities, rendering fingers into little more than chalk white claws clutching desperately at a camera. Beneath a filthy black raincoat, my shoulders began to hunch, and due to the aforementioned exsanguniation of extremity, my gait began to alter and I noticed that one of my feet was dragging along the pavement forcing the other leg to do all the work.

My eyes began to bulge, and mouth grow dry, which caused my lips to draw back over the teeth.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Signs and portents of lurking horror accompanied every pained step as a desperate narrator made for the safety of Astoria in a bizarre and somewhat ataxic gait. Surely the monsters nested above had noticed me at this point, and were licking their chops at the though of consuming the corpulent pedestrian below them. The night haunts would soon be dropping from the IRT rafters in the manner of rotten fruit, loosed from the prison which the burning thermonuclear eye of God itself imposed upon them. That’s when a plexiglass window, impressed into a construction fence at a former chemical factory being converted into residential housing revealed that it was already too late, one of the monsters appeared.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

But… a reflection? Vampires enjoy no reflection.

Staring into the pale visage of an ancient monster – with its bulging eyes, and lips drawn back over yellowed teeth, it’s pale and numbed claws reached out towards me – and I was compelled to do the same. That’s when the supreme horror presented itself, as my finger touched that of the monster’s in the reflection, and it is why I shall never again know peace.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

January 14, 2016 at 11:00 am

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