The Newtown Pentacle

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standard works

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Monday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

November 22nd was a busy day, and one that was full of “last times.”

My pal Val and I met up and headed over to the East River for my last ride on the NYC Ferry. As mentioned in the past, one absolutely refuses to write one of those cliché soliloquies which New Yorkers feel hell bent to offer when they finally leave NYC.

I’ve lived my whole life in this crazy place. School, career, friends and foes, love and loss – all of it happened here. For broad ranging criticisms of how the City functions, its endemic corruptions or temptations or dangers – all of that – just read through the archives linked to just to the right of this text. There’s posts in that list which span back to 2009 that will spell out my various opinions on the milieu.

Saying that, on our way to the boat, I got to grab a shot of the Real Estate people’s minions at work, demolishing yet another small business’s premises in order to make room for luxury waterfront condos.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Nobody in my world could believe it when I said that I would be moving at the end of 2022. “C’mon Mitch,” where are you going to go? What will you do? You’re “Mr. Newtown Creek!” Why Pittsburgh?

The escape plan for Our Lady of the Pentacle and myself, one we hatched during the COVID isolation months, has played out over the last 14 months or so. We started with the question “what do you want?” This allowed for the creation of a data set built around these wants, one which could be sought and pursued. That’s when the question of “who are you” and “what do you need” took primacy.

I’m a city boy – so urban, and given the stage of life Our Lady and myself are entering, pretty decent health care resources coupled with a quieter form of life that offered fewer existential dangers due to living cheek by jowl with the random madmen who howl on the other side of the wall. Pittsburgh, in the final analysis. offered the “wants, where’s, and who’s” we were looking for in “Act 3.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

First tasks involved solving a few paperwork issues on my end. An expired drivers license’s replacement was complicated by a similarly expired passport. That was January. By April, I had solved both problems. Next up, we needed to buy a vehicle, since you can’t live in “America” without a car. Research, consciously saving the cash for a down payment all year, and a couple of car rentals later – the Toyota RAV4 had risen to the top of my list, and an order was placed for a new one with the Queensboro Toyota outfit on Northern Boulevard. It wouldn’t end up arriving until the week before Halloween, due to the supply chain problems, but that fit our timeline.

In September, I began to quit jobs, and sever my ties with the various organizations that I was associated with. First one to go was Community Board 1 in Astoria, where I was the Transportation Committee Chair. For those of you interested in serving on a CB, it’s definitely worth the effort, and there is a “Jeffersonian responsibility” to participate in the mechanics of the Democracy but there’s also a whole lot of bullshit you have to put up with – mainly from your fellow board members.

I next rolled up my business with all of the non profits that I either worked with, or was on the board of, over the next two months and made arrangements for a few “goodbye” moments like the Fireboat trip mentioned a couple of weeks back.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Riding the NYC Ferry one last time was on my list of “have-to’s.” Particularly during the COVID interval, access to the ferry has been nepenthe for me. For just a few bucks, you can get out on the waters of NY Harbor for a bit, and if you time it correctly – be out there for sunrise or sunset during the flood tide when the rivers are thick with maritime traffic. Photographer paradise. Particularly this photographer.

When I told my pal Val (also a photographer) that I wanted to do this trip, she insisted on coming along for one last go.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

All year, I was telling my friends that when things got to late November, things would be moving at a thousand miles an hour. My prediction was correct. I had to work doubly hard for the five days or so leading up to the 22nd in order to buy enough time to get this day off. Boxes to pack, cupboards to be emptied. All that. I got lucky as far as weather goes.

The plan for late November and early December included spending about a week at the new address in Pittsburgh, where I’d be driving Our Lady of the Pentacle and some bare essentials out to Pittsburgh in order to set up housekeeping in the new digs. After a week or so, I’d need to drive back to Queens to handle the final stages of the move and supervise the moving crew, leaving Our Lady of the Pentacle out west in the new PA house while doing so.

After the movers left the Astoria HQ, I’d have to drive back out to Pittsburgh on my own, this time with a carload of hard drives and camera gear, which I don’t trust anyone else to handle. Thereby, in an 8 day period, I ended driving something close to 1,600 miles with all the back and forth. Post facto, this is all kind of a blur for me at this point.

This ferry day in November was, thereby, my last dance with the East River in NYC. It’s so weird saying that.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I know what’s in those blue boxes on the barge, can describe what the bottom of that tugboat’s hull looks like, and there’s also a story I can offer about each and every thing in the frame. The sort of knowledge I’ve gained in the last twenty or so years can be suffocating.

Want to hear about the time that Mose the Fireboy, the legendary giant of the 19th century “Gangs of New York” era Bowery B’hoys, wrestled a serpent out of the water here at Corlear’s Hook? How the skin of the water monster was draped over the bar mirror at McGurk’s Suicide Palace on the Lower East Side near St. Mark’s? How about the Constellation fire at the Navy Yard? The Sewer Rats gang who would paddle out to anchored ships at night to rob them at knife point? General Slocum, as in the politician whom they named the infamous excursion boat for? Boss Tweed, who lived in George Washington’s Presidential Mansion on Cherry Street in Manhattan, a few blocks back from the water?

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

December 19, 2022 at 11:00 am

proper edge

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Monday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

October 27th found a humble narrator driving back from an assignation in Brooklyn’s Greenpoint section. As part of the big move to Pittsburgh, one decided to inventory literally every possession and scrap of paper which has accumulated into HQ over the years and decide whether or not I wanted to move it 400 miles west with me or not. This process revealed a staggering amount of electronics waste – cables, old computers which I’d been keeping for parts, gizmos and gadgets. Lots of stuff made of metal also didn’t make the cut. Thereby, several carloads of gear were transported to one of the local scrapyards for recycling or whatever. There’s also a lot of paper which went to a different recycling company found along Newtown Creek.

On my way back to Astoria from one of these junk yards one recent afternoon, one decided to try and grab a few last shots of places familiar and loved. The first two are from “DUPBO” or “Down Under the Pulaski Bridge Onramp.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Said onramp is pictured above. I get asked all the time about the off ramp to nowhere on the Pulaski, which I’m told was originally meant to connect to the Long Island Expressway. Apparently they ran out of money to complete that, in the late 1950’s when this bridge was erected.

Wish I could have lingered, but there’s been so much to do.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On my way back to Astoria, I did find a minute or two while waiting at traffic lights to stick the camera up through the car’s moon roof.

Depicted above, the Queensboro Bridge and the nearby TerraCotta House, as seen from Vernon Boulevard.

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 28, 2022 at 11:00 am

weary journey

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Friday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A long walk continued, and the East River coastline in Long Island City was visited. One of the fervent arguments I have, all the time, with the “bicycle people” revolves around how there’s actually entire multi block streets in Western Queens that don’t even have sidewalks.

Two wheels good, four wheels bad, nobody cares about pedestrians.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The sky had gotten dramatic while I was scuttling along and I couldn’t resist the saturated colors NYC had on offer.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This one looks up 44th drive towards the Citigroup Megalith at Court Square. I think we should rename 44th Drive as “Eric Adams is Awesome Avenue,” and then he’ll send us all vegan candy and money in the mail.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Don’t worry, there’s a bike lane under that puddle.

No sidewalk, but there’s a submerged bike lane. God almighty, does this City suck or what? The City DOT’s paving unit is literally based across the street.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Really. The brick wall with the barbed wire and the graffiti is them.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My shot of the night is presented above, depicting the Queensboro Bridge from under one of its onramps.


“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 27, 2022 at 11:00 am

gaseous consciousness

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Tuesday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

What with the crazy heat wave and other obligations experienced last week, including having to quarantine for 3 days until I could get tested for Covid – because an Anti-Vaccine idiot friend of mine decided that his freedom to avoid vaccination trumped mine to not be needlessly exposed to a plague – a humble narrator is a bit behind on his schedule. Hey Anti-Vaxxer, I know that god is going to protect you from Covid and all that, but using that logic – why do you need to own a gun?

Shot 1, above, is a modern shot from 2021. For yesterday and today’s posts I’m reaching into the archives.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Back in 2009, the Queensborough Bridge Centennial celebration happened on June 9th. I was one of the parade Marshalls, which allowed me otherwise unthinkable access to the span. Zero traffic, and about an hour for me to “do my thing” while completely alone up there except for a couple of cops.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Also in 2009, a friend’s birthday celebration found me in Manhattan just as a thunderstorm was blowing through. A spectacular atmospheric display occurred at sunset. Luckily, I was a few blocks from the Chrysler Building.

Back tomorrow with something different at this – your Newtown Pentacle.


“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

August 17, 2021 at 11:00 am

inconceivable tensions

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Thursday, Brü, Thursday.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Priorities are a big deal for a humble narrator. First thing’s first, and there’s other less time sensitive stuff you leave on the back burner while dealing with exigent reality. If something suddenly bursts into flame, you drop everything and deal with that. The people in charge of our common enterprise – the Government, as it were – don’t seem to think like this. This isn’t about political party or philosophy, it should be mentioned. At the moment, there’s a fairly large bundle of “have to’s” which seem to have been overlooked, while the stuff that really isn’t urgent – for whatever reason – is being treated as number one with a bullet.

If you’re fighting to rezone a Manhattan neighborhood in this part of 2021, and acting like it’s a 4 alarm fire to get it done “right now,” you’ve mixed up your priorities. NYC’s existential crisis isn’t “big business” related, rather it’s small business. We need to marshal the forces of our society right now in the name of entrepreneurs and shop owners, and for small landlords who own residential buildings with less than eight units. The latter entities are the most commonly held form of small business citywide, and the ones who are really in trouble at the moment, but the Governmental types and their masters in the Real Estate Industrial Complex seem hell bent on demonizing and destroying them in favor of mega corporations.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Establishing Municipality based Credit Unions and low fee Financial Institutions designed to serve and service the sort of people and businesses written off by commercial banks like Chase or Citigroup would be a great start for the so called “Progressives” and “Socialists.” So would creating a mechanism by which NYC and NYS could resell the same insurance plans offered to their own employees with a small markup margin. That margin assures the Unions that they still enjoy an edge and advantage over the private sector, and would provide the funding required to extend health and pension benefits to the destitute or needy. The business of New York City is business, but the people who run NYC don’t seem to have ever thought about owning or operating their own business. It certainly doesn’t occur to them that few of us started out rich. Policy these days favors Alexander the Great situations. It’s easy to be remembered as “great” when your Dad built the world’s greatest army and died when you were still a teenager. We need more Phillips, and fewer Alexanders, right now.

John Lindsay went out of his way to make the poorest New Yorkers dependent on the City in the 1960’s. Michael Bloomberg went out of his way to insinuate a social Darwinism aspect into that dependency in the early 2000’s. Bill De Blasio and his ilk are a nightmare combination of the two.

Why isn’t encouraging and laying the groundwork for good old fashioned American Entrepreneurship not a part of the equation when the redistributing of common treasure occurs via taxation? Ecosystems work best when they’re varied and broad. You need a top predator – a wolf or tiger like Chase – but you also need mice and shellfish and shoreline vegetation for the baby fishes to hide in. In a properly functioning ecosystem, food falls off of the trees and everybody gets fat.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Next – Imagine if we created a single semester class for High School Seniors that taught the stuff you actually have to know as an adult. The significance of April 15th, how to claim legitimate deductions on your 1040, and how to approach starting a generic business in New York City. Jury duty, how to vote, the basic rules which adults have to follow in pursuance of avoiding fines and or jail time. What to do and who to call if you do get into trouble with the cops. I’d even plan in a remote visit or two with the “Scared Straight” crew at the local Penitentiary. How do I get health insurance, and what’s involved in signing a lease. What’s a household budget, and how much of your income should you save for a rainy day? Basically… Life 101.

When I was in High School, back in the early 1980’s when a young Joe Piscopo taught us all how to laugh again, there were mandatory classes called “Home Economics” and “Shop,” and whereas “Civics” had already been combined with “History” as “Social Studies,” they still talked about all this stuff. Saying that, I’m a grown ass man and that list in the former paragraph intimidates. Imagine being a kid trying to figure out the playing field and its rules?

Speaking of fixing the world… what are you doing on August 7th? I’ll be conducting a WALKING TOUR OF LONG ISLAND CITY with my pal Geoff Cobb. Details and ticketing available here. Come with?


“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

July 29, 2021 at 11:00 am

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