The Newtown Pentacle

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recent notes

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Still no rat hordes, but I’m a-hoping.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As described yesterday, a recent walk found one on the western end of Railroad Avenue in the Blissville section of Long Island City. Some people ignore the 10,000 or so industrial jobs and the businesses which employ them along the bulkheads of the Newtown Creek. That’s where I come in, My name’s Waxman, I carry a camera. The weather in NYC was cool, and I was working out of Newtown Creek Alliance’s Queens Division. Reports from Federal Authorities have warned about hordes of ravenous and cannibalistic rats of unusual size, so I was patrolling the tracks of the Long Island Railroad Lower Montauk Line in search of them. The garbage train parks here.

Thankfully, things were uneventful, and I moved on. This is based on a true story.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On my way home to the rolling hills of almond eyed Astoria, one eschewed the normal path back and instead proceeded northwards from Blissville through the “Crane District” of industrial Maspeth. Neither the Dept. of NYC Planning nor Google Maps have caught up with my daring nomenclature quite yet, still referring to the “Crane District” as “West Maspeth” or “Laurel Hill,” and only a few esthetes and scholars use the archaic “Berlin.” Savages.

Why do I call it the “Crane District”?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A heady mix of socialism and an indignant vendetta against societal norms have infected me with the need to tear away at the foundations of society, and rename places according to whatever whim strikes me. There are no cranes here, that’s fake news.

In all seriousness, though, people still live hereabouts, in the Crane District. There’s private homes all over the place.

Note: I’m writing this and several of the posts you’re going to see for the next week at the beginning of the week of Monday, June 8th. My plan is to continue doing my solo photo walks around LIC and the Newtown Creek in the dead of night as long as that’s feasible. If you continue to see regular updates as we move into April and beyond, that means everything is kosher as far as health and well being. If the blog stops updating, it means that things have gone badly for a humble narrator.


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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.

pitiable tones

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My Creek always welcomes my triskaidekaphobia.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Shlep, shlep, shlep. That’s my game. As an old Christmas cartoon used to musically opine – “put one foot in front of the other, and soon you’ll be walking out the door.” Why it is that when I leave the house I inevitably end up in places like this is somewhat mysterious. What draws a creature like me out into the public sphere in the first place, as I belong in a catacomb or dungeon awaiting unwary travelers like some great spider? All interaction with others is strained and painful for me. My countenance causes children to cry, dogs to yelp, and induces startled reactions from adults. When I begin to speak, the croaking notes and gurgling exhalations are often described as being scented by and carried aloft on a bilious breeze. If I could get away with it, I’d wear naught but prophet’s robes, but come close with the filthy black raincoat and hooded black sweatshirt. Every now and then I catch a reflection of myself in a shop window and even I’m scared at what I see.

I’ve arrived at an age where pieces are about to start falling off as if I’m some sort of a biblical leper. Truly objectionable am I, ask anyone. God hates me, but to be fair, that’s probably my fault.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

People have always enjoyed making an example of me, or holding me to a higher standard than others despite my low social status. As a child, I’d be sitting in a school auditorium reading a book quietly while my classmates were all acting like irradiated monkeys and pyromaniacs. The Principal would surmount the stage and scream “WAXMAN” into the loudspeaker, whereupon my daily humiliations would resume.

I can’t help it that I stand out. I was born this way. These experiences, and many more, have caused me to become quite “vengeance” based in my thinking. I’m going to make the world pay, and pay dearly, for what’s been done to me.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My beloved Newtown Creek is the same way – reviled, ruined, lonely, lost. She and I have an understanding with each other, and since we are kindred spirits, the Creek never disappoints when I’m visiting. I feel like I should throw in a “verily” here.

Look at my sweetie, the way she opened the Greenpoint Avenue Bridge for me just as I happened to be passing by. She’s a good old girl, the Newtown Creek.

Enjoy your Friday the 13th, lords and ladies, especially so since there’s a full moon tonight. As a note, Sunday marks the “ide of March” as well as being National Egg Cream day.


“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.

altered youth

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Like every other piece of wind blown trash, I always end up at Newtown Creek.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

God, how I love it so – the wastelands of Long Island City at night. One can just let it all hang out, laugh maniacally without scaring the neighbors, and embrace the dissolution and horror of it all here at the titular center of the great urban hive. The Coronavirus wouldn’t last two seconds around here, as far nastier and better established pathogens would beat the crap out of the newcomer. Hand sanitizer? Look where I like to hang out on a Saturday night. Hand sanitizer would bubble, boil, and froth if you poured it on the sidewalk here in Blissville.

The good news about all this pandemic panic is that I finally have an excuse to not have to shake hands or exchange hugs with the humans. Nepenthe.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s Green Asphalt pictured above, a company whose raison d’être is the 2010 Solid Waste Management Act, dictating that NYC can no longer use landfills to dispose of road surfacing materials. When the contractors working for the NYC Department of Transportation scrape away a road’s armor, the milled materials are transported to Green Asphalt or a similar operation where the stuff is heated up and mixed with a small amount of new product. The resulting mass of steaming goo is then used to repave a street, often the very same street it’s was just milled off of.

That’s called recycling, baby, recycling.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Green Asphalt is found on one of my very favorite streets in Queens, Blissville’s Railroad Avenue. Why do I like it so very much? Could be those jet black cats with the glowing yellow eyes. Also might be the railroad tracks which give the street its name, or the ghosts of industrial titans like Fleischman’s Yeast, Van Iderstine’s rendering plant, or even the lesser branches of the Haberman family tree which used to stretch out hereabouts. I like darkness, and solitude, so there’s that too.

It’s hard to find a place in NYC where you can be truly alone, but one such as myself is always alone, even in a crowd.


“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.

vital nature

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Engine 400? New toys at NY&A?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As mentioned yesterday, after a series of puzzling moments over on the Newtown Creek side of industrial Maspeth, a humble narrator decided to begin the journey back to HQ and headed northwards. Often have I described how ridiculous I look when I’m out night scuttling – as the usual filthy lack raincoat has a yellow reflective vest draped over it. In addition, I’ve got the tripod, camera, and a knapsack full of camera stuff. I’m the lone pedestrian you see when driving down the truck routes and waterfront edges, and it’s not unknown for me to walk for hours at night around the Creek without seeing another living soul. Not Monday.

Just as I got to a particular intersection near a certain burnt out diner that I used to frequent, a New York and Atlantic train set rolled by on a spur of the Lower Montauk tracks. I asked one of the crew who was working the signals if he anticipated that the train old be coming back anytime soon and he indicated that it indeed would be. I inquired as to a safe spot to stand and shoot from that wouldn’t interfere with their operations, and in the zone indicated I found a relatively photogenic spot, and began to set up for my shots.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This section of Maspeth was once like Chicago, with lots and lots of rail customers amongst the industrial powers back here. These days, there’s still industrial freight clientele around these parts, but the rail spurs (secondary tracks) that serve these businesses are largely inaccessible without straight up trespassing through all sorts of property – government, private, you name it. While I was waiting for the train to return, a van with MTA branding on it pulled up next to me and the two Cops inside inquired as to what I was up to. “Nothing sinister, I assure you” was my reply. I explained my purpose, identified myself without being asked, and offered the two badges a short history lesson about the Long Island Railroad in Maspeth and described my night photography project to them. They said “no problem” and explained they had to inquire as it looked odd seeing someone take pictures in the dark around the properties they patrol. They drove off and the train rolled in. Not a problem.

I offered part of the above missive to some friends on Facebook, and was surprised at their sentiments towards the cops. Speaking strictly as someone who expresses his First Ammendment rights regularly, I full throatedly say that I bloody well want the cops inquiring when they see some weirdo in a black raincoat and safety vest standing near a rail line in the middle of the night with a tripod setup in NYC. They didn’t interfere with me, or even get out of the van, just were asking what was up and why I was there. As a counterpoint, the MTA’s Security Guard/Rent A Cops at the nearby Grand Avenue Bus Depot are aggressive and have chastised and interfered with photographers – including me.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The NY& A folks had seemingly visited another customer on a hidden spur found to the west of the intersection. The signal arms went up and I crossed the tracks over to the north side of the street. The signal arms triggered again and I got into position for one last shot as they descended.

So, I’m going to be conducting a free walk in LIC on the 30th of March, it would seem. The Sunnyside Yards project has roared back to life in the aftermath of the Amazon debacle, and since the Manhattan people are going to all sorts of effort to get this thing done… Click here for details on the “Skillman Corridor” walk.


“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.

private collector

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These pants are too tight.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As mentioned in prior posts this week, a walk over to the Bushwick side of the fabulous Newtown Creek was recently endeavored upon. As I often mention, this time of the year is never a good interval for a humble narrator, who often finds himself staring out the window wishing that it wasn’t quite as rainy or snowy or cold as the winter season typically is in New Yrok City. Atmospheric hurdles notwithstanding, one nevertheless found himself standing on the Scott Avenue footbridge over the Bushwick Branch tracks contemplating his problems while capturing a lovely winter sunset on a chilly night.

As a note, that’s the garbage train you see on the tracks below. By garbage, I mean the “black bag” or “putrescent” waste stream, which is containerized up by the Waste Management company at a couple of spots along Newtown Creek, and which will be “disappeared” out of the City by a rail outfit called the New York and Atlantic.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The other day, in a post congratulating the Grand Street Bridge on its 115th birthday, I mentioned the Grand Avenue Bus Depot in Maspeth but didn’t show it. The shot above rectifies that, and it’s one of the few times that I’ve grabbed a shot of the place without being hassled by MTA’s “rent a cop” security. I don’t argue with the septuagenarian security guards there anymore, instead I write complaint letters to MTA HQ in Brooklyn, asking about exactly when the MTA decided it was kosher to abrogate my rights.

I’m becoming quite crotchety in my old age.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Buses have been increasingly focused on in recent months for one reason or another. Like a lot of the other municipal stuff which we are surrounded by, these vehicles pass by unnoticed and uncommented. They sort of blend into the background of the City and roll on by. I’ve become fascinated by them, in the context that buses are basically giant boxes of light moving along the darkened streets of the hive, and can be somewhat difficult to photograph. I like a challenge.

That’s the Q104, heading east along Astoria’s Broadway. As is the case with many of the bus routes of Queens, a part of the Q104’s replicates that of an old and forgotten trolley route. For the modern day residents of Astoria, myself included, it’s provides a vehicular connection to the Costco retail operation next door to Socrates Sculpture Garden.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s the Q102 on 31st street in Astoria, another line which I’ll periodically use when I’m returning from Newtown Creek and lazy sets in while I’m marching up Northern Blvd. About 800 million rides occur on MTA’s roughly 5,700 buses annually. Depending on the model of bus, which have an average life span of about 12 years on the streets of New York City, MTA pays out anywhere between $450,000 and $750,000 for EACH one of its diesel buses, and the hybrid models pictured above can add about $300,000 to the price tag for a new unit. You read that right, btw.

A lot to spend on a big box of light, no?


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