The Newtown Pentacle

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There does not seem to be a verifiable national food holiday for Oct. 9th, although one checked source suggests that it’s National Moldy Cheese Day.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A humble narrator, for one, is sick of this summer stuff at this point. One realizes, as my pal Chrissy Remein from Riverkeeper pointed out to me recently, that this global warming thing is getting pretty apparent by this point and that this is the “new normal,” but regardless – I’m tired of the shvitz. I shouldn’t have to leave the house in October dressed as I would be for a July afternoon, and as another friend of mine would opine – “get home with total swamp ass.”

Pictured above is the scene as observed just west of Queens Plaza late on last Saturday afternoon.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I conducted an LIC tour on Saturday, during which the weather was – as mentioned, “shvitzy and swamp ass” – but as is my habit I arrived at the meetup spot a bit early. Vast clouds of haze were rising from the vicinity of the Queens Midtown Tunnel and so a humble narrator investigated. It would seem that road work crews were installing a new coat of asphalt to east bound toll plaza, which accounted for the misty haze as VOC (volatile organic compound) tainted steam rose from trucks of a superheated industrial waste product (produced by the petroleum industry) which we as a culture mix with concrete and liberally spread about on vehicular roadways.

Those are the work crews pictured above, in DUPBO – Down Under the Pulaski Bridge Onramp.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The preceding Friday was equally as uncomfortable to be moving through the Newtown Creek industrial zone, with its affection of the so called “Maspeth Heat Island” effect. This environmental condition, named for the area of industrial Maspeth just east of LIC but is similarly experienced along the banks of the entire Newtown Creek, sees ambient temperatures rise 5-15 degrees higher than in surrounding neighborhoods due to the complete absence of vegetation and abundance of concrete. The concrete and masonry walls of factory buildings, sidewalks, and roads all bake in the radiation of the burning thermonuclear eye of God itself and store up energy, becoming radiant sources of heat. It feels a bit like walking about in a kiln, or oven, even on days when the Mercury never rises out of the 70’s. Forget about the sensation encountered when the atmosphere is already in the 90’s early in the morning.

That’s the Hunters Point Yard of the Long Island Railroad pictured above, which is similarly in DUPBO.


Upcoming Tours and events

The Hidden Harbors Of  Staten Island Boat Tour,
with Working Harbor Committee – Sunday, October 15th, 2 p.m. – 4 p.m.

A very cool boat tour that visits two of the maritime industrial waterways of New York Harbor which adjoin Staten Island and Bayonne in New Jersey – The Kill Van Kull and the Arthur Kill. There will be lots of tugboats, cargo docks, and you’ll get to see multiple bridges from the water – including the brand new Goethals Bridge. I’ll be on the mike, narrating with WHC board member Gordon Cooper details here.


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It’s National Vanilla Custard Day, in these United States. 

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One insists on a couple of cups of coffee in the morning, accompanied by a bit of quiet time to read the papers. I’m not one of the artisanal coffee people, as a note, as I favor the supermarket brand Folgers. I’ll actually sacrifice an hour of sleep and wake up at 4:30 in the morning to get my morning coffee time in on days when I have to leave the house early to catch a boat or something. Once upon a time, when I was a full time advertising fellow, you’d see me riding the train in the morning with one of those travel mug things, but in recent years I’ve realized that doing that sort of thing is just servicing the need for morning caffeine rather than servicing the need for some “me” and composing my thoughts time. 

This whole morning coffee ritual is critical to my day long happiness, and something I enjoy. Now, it’s up to the Internet commentariat to tell me that I’m deluding myself, and being some kind of asshole, because that’s the world in which we now live. Mind your own business, and don’t tell me what to think or do. Look in a mirror instead, and work yourself over instead. I don’t have time, nor do I want, to argue semantics. My day is busy enough by the time I finish that coffee. 

– photo by Mitch Waxman

When I’ve finished my coffee, I usually get down to business. There’s always shots to develop, calls to make, posts to write, schedules to keep, checks and payments from clients I need to chase down. There’s “deliverables” which I need to get out to those clients, attention to pay to the dog, trouble I need to start involving the Newtown Creek or any of the hundreds of little existential things I care about here in Queens. I’m also sort of obligated to do the social media thing a few times a day, promoting this or that event or trying to call attention to some of those aforementioned “Queens things” I care about. 

Occasionally, over the course of the day, I’ll check in on the various video games I have in my iPad and play a round or two for diversion (at the moment, that means “Boom Beach” and “Star Wars Commander”)

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Sometimes I’ll knock off in the late afternoon and head over to the local pub for a pint or two of beer and chat with the neighbors to find out what they’re thinking and what they care about, and then head home to get dinner ready. Post meal, I’ll hang out with Our Lady of the Pentacle for a bit, and then I try to stick to a schedule of reading some dry text related to the history of NYC for a couple of hours. By this point, I’m dying for another cup of coffee, but resist the urge since it means that I’ll be up all night while buzzing on caffeine. I’ll usually hit the work again before drifting off to bed since – as mentioned – there’s always more of it to do. 

That’s a day in the life, for a humble narrator. What’s your life like? What do you do? Who do you spend your time with? Where do you go? Why do you go there? 


Upcoming Tours and events

DUPBO Newtown Creek Walking Tour, with NYCH20 – Thursday August 24th, 7 p.m. – 9 p.m.
Explore Greenpoint and Hunters Point, with NCA Historian Mitch Waxman details here.

America’s Workshop Newtown Creek Walking Tour, with Atlas Obscura – Saturday August 26th, 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Explore the Dutch Kills tributary of Newtown Creek in Long Island City, with NCA Historian Mitch Waxman details here.


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It’s National Peanut Butter Cookie Day, according to the National Peanut Council, in these United States.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

For those of you who didn’t get the notification, the City has updated the Queensboro Bridge’s firmware over the weekend. You’ll no longer find your driving directions in “citytunes,” instead they’re now in a separate app.

That’s a joke, of course, for those of you who are literally minded, but this last weekend was a commuter nightmare subway wise, which resulted in a surface transportation clusterfuck of vehicular traffic trying to exit or enter Queens. A classic example of “you can’t get there from here,” multiple subway lines were rerouted or nonexistent due to track work, and the entire experience of getting around town was framed by a couple of conversations I was a part of last week with the NYC EDC, regarding their Sunnyside Yards Feasibility study.

One had two opportunities last week to throw shade at them about the project. One was at the Queens Chamber of Commerce – while wearing my Newtown Creek Alliance Hat – which saw me asking EDC about truck routes and what exactly they think they’re going to be able to plug 28,000 units of housing into. The other was wearing my Access Queens hat (we don’t have actual AQ hats, btw) and I queried as to how half the population of Boulder Colorado would manage to get to work in the City using just three subway stations (33rd Street/Rawson and 40th street/Lowery on the 7, and 36th street on the R/M) every day. Other questions involved hospital beds, NYPD, FDNY, and we explored the chronology involved with transport to Elmhurst Hospital or Bellevue for a citizen who might be experiencing a heart attack or stroke from the ostensible center of the project at Queens Plaza.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Over in Hunters Point, the dig for Captain Praa’s Golden Horde continues. The semi legendary Dutch sea Captain who settled on the northern side of the Mispat, or Newtown Creek, is meant to have buried a blasphemous treasure he collected on a journey to and from the mysterious Micronesian island of Pohnpei (formerly known as Ponape) in the South Pacific. In the native tongue, Pohnpei translates to “upon a stone altar,” and it is where you’ll find the archaeological site of Nan Modol (which translates to “the spaces between”). Legend has it that Praa was terrified by the latent occult implications of the golden treasure he carried home, and ensured that it would be forever lost in the mud and silt. The tall tale that frog headed monstrosities, reported as periodically rising from the Newtown Creek in the historical record, followed him back to NY Harbor is completely unsubstantiated and fantastic in implication.

from wikipedia

According to Pohnpeian legend, Nan Madol was constructed by twin sorcerers Olisihpa and Olosohpa from the mythical Western Katau, or Kanamwayso. The brothers arrived in a large canoe seeking a place to build an altar so that they could worship Nahnisohn Sahpw, the god of agriculture. After several false starts, the two brothers successfully built an altar off Temwen Island, where they performed their rituals. In legend, these brothers levitated the huge stones with the aid of a flying dragon. When Olisihpa died of old age, Olosohpa became the first Saudeleur. Olosohpa married a local woman and sired twelve generations, producing sixteen other Saudeleur rulers of the Dipwilap (“Great”) clan.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Over the weekend, one encountered an online conspiracy theory describing the retail giant Wal-Mart as playing a seminal role in a secretive FEMA plot which would see a declaration of martial law enacted in pursuance of the confiscation of personal firearms. This plot, as reported, had Hillary Clinton as its fountainhead. Mrs. Clinton was just an agent, however of a shadowy cabal populated by internationalist Jewish Bankers in league with the Bilderberg group, who are upset that Donald Trump has emerged to thwart their nefarious goals. Who knew?

It made me wonder, and more than wonder, what role the Harley Davidson people might be playing in this global power grab. What other large scale American corporations might be working to subvert individual liberty and institute a new world order?

Moreover, why isn’t anyone talking or worrying about the antediluvian horrors lurking in the seas of the South Pacific just off Pohnpei, specifically located at 47°9′S 126°43′W – where the nightmare corpse city of R’lyeh lies sunken beneath the waves…  in all of its slimy green immensity – which was built in the measureless eons behind history by those vast, loathsome shapes that seeped down from the dark stars?

I think we can all guess who that flying dragon that Olisihpa and Olosohpa built Nan Modol with is, after all.


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It’s National Mint Julip Day, in these United States.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

When one was a young narrator, it was common to observe me stamping my feet while hysterically imploring my parents about why Queens Plaza was denied to us as a homestead. One fears that this is actually a common experience, after all. What native New Yorker hasn’t wished that they could live in Queens Plaza? Luckily, that cursed malignity of fate has been altered by the good graces of the Real Estate folks and you can finally acquire a luxury apartment hereabouts. You’ve got all the modern amenities (except supermarkets, laundromats, shops, local jobs, or hospitals), but I’m afraid that the porn shops and hookers are no longer anywhere to be found. You’re very close to multiple transit lines, which will be literally right outside your windows.

The Vampires are still here in Queens Plaza, however, so there’s that for historical character and local color.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As far as the Vampires go, you’ll need to meet the neighbors quickly, for the slabs of mirror glass rising all around Queens Plaza tend to throw off strobing reflections of the burning thermonuclear eye of God itself which pierce the otherwise preternatural and permanent twilight beneath the MTA trackage.

This reflected and refracted light illuminates those everpresent particulate clouds of automotive exhaust in Queens Plaza, diffusing it into the miasmic atmosphere – an effect which is beginning to scare away and displace the famously heliophobic Nosferatu. My understanding is that this vampiric legion, which has called Queens Plaza their home for decades, have begun to migrate eastwards along the 7 line – and are now beginning to homestead in Woodside, Jackson Heights, and Roosevelt – so better get down here quickly if you want to experience a slice of that famous “vibrant diversity” while you still can.

Flushing and Corona is too long of a commute for them, and the elevated subway tracks are a bit higher out east, which allows for an uncomfortable amount of sunlight to suffuse.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On a personal note, it’s been a very exciting few weeks for a humble narrator, and there’s lots to tell all of y’all about.

I have been allowed into the company of the humans on more than one occasion, and there has been diversion after diversion to amuse and occupy oneself with. Additionally, I’m finally nearly caught up with processing the thousands of photos which I’ve captured during my various travels about the megalopolis, and this – your Newtown Pentacle – is back for summer session.


Upcoming Tours and events

Newtown Creek Alliance and Riverkeeper Visioning, June 3rd, 1-4 p.m..

Imagine the future of Newtown Creek with Riverkeeper and NCA at the Kingsland Wildfowers Green Roof (520 Kingsland Avenue in Greenpoint) details here.

Newtown Creek Alliance History lecture with NCA historian Mitch Waxman, June 3rd, 5:00- 7:30 p.m.

An free hour long lecture and slideshow about Newtown Creek’s incredible history at the gorgeous Kingsland Wildfowers Green Roof (520 Kingsland Avenue in Greenpoint) followed by a walk around the roof and a Q&A – details here.

Green Drinks Queens LIC, June 5th, 6:00- 9:00 p.m.

Come celebrate UN World Environment Day with Green Drinks: Queens on the LIC Waterfront! This year’s theme is “Connecting People With Nature.”details here.


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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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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

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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

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