The Newtown Pentacle

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vitally encrouched

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Back to base.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Having decided it was time to head home, one nevertheless diverted his path over to Queens Blvd. to gather just a few more shots of the elevated tracks of the 7. This is at the western corner of Van Dam Street, which I can now describe to you as enjoying a major rat infestation. While approaching this spot, several large banks of clustered shadow along the sidewalk began to disassemble and scatter into hidey holes. Not sure why this particular spot is so attractive to mammalian scavengers, but it is, so there you are. Maybe there’s a cheese monger in the old Swingline Stapler building.

The 7 line runs fairly frequently, so it was decided to set myself up again at another nearby point of view and wait for a train set to appear.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

What I wanted from the shot above was the light streak and ambience offered by the passing subway train, with the intention that it would provide a bit of illumination for the factory windows as well as providing some separation from the night sky. The temperature had been dropping the entire time I’d been out – lurking in fear down Northern Blvd., then shadowing in Queens Plaza, and scuttling towards Skillman Avenue. By the time these shots were gathered, gloves had been donned and my sweatshirt hood raised, and the filthy black raincoat buttoned.

As a note, I’m particularly fond of this year’s hoodie sweatshirt. The hood completely encloses my head, and all you can see of my face is the tip of the nose and a wisp of gray beard. The hood is large enough to to hook over the bill of my too tight baseball cap, too. I really look menacing, crazy, and kind of scary when it’s all done up. Win.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One last shot upon crossing Northern Blvd. and back up the hill into Astoria, of a Major Auto World Garage which won’t be there too much longer. There’s going to be a large footprint, and architecturally banal, apartment house rising in this spot before long.

It’s fair to say that nearly everything you’ve seen in this series of posts won’t be there too much longer, and that it all will be replaced by large footprint and architecturally banal apartment houses.


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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.

Written by Mitch Waxman

January 23, 2020 at 2:00 pm

thought them

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…a good night…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Just imagine trying to find a spot to park a sleigh with a full team of magick reindeers in Western Queens… you’d take the train too if you were Santa. Giving presents out to nice kids in celebration of his boy’s birthday is what God forces Satan to do, after anagrammatically mixing up the devil’s name, on Christmas Eve. If you can’t enjoy the little things as a supreme being, what’s the point? That’s why the antichrist is forced to play Santa Claus every year.

It’s not an accident that Santa Claus can walk through millions of fireplaces without getting burned, knows everything about naughty and nice (which will come in handy when the kid eventually dies and gets judged), and can accurately discern that which we desire most for gifts. The only indication of who Santa actually is gets revealed when you discover that some Christmas present requires a certain kind of battery which you don’t possess and have to special order from a shady dealer on EBay.

That’s how he gets ya, that wiley Satan. Ho, Ho, bwahhh ha ha, Ho.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One has always suspected, and sought knowledge in pursuance thereof, that Christmas lights are part of some evil conspiracy. Unlike aglets (the plastic or metal tips on the ends of shoelaces), proof of their sinister nature has never emerged. Electric Christmas lights were invented by a guy who worked for Con Ed, as a note, but those strings of blinking bulbs aren’t exactly a washer/drier or air conditioner in terms of energy usage. Maybe they are blinking out some sort of subliminal code?

Satan is probably involved in the holiday lights business somehow. He usually gets his claws into whatever pie is available for flicking, so…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Having grown up Jewish, I would often react in credulity when my Mom would begin to decorate for the December holidays. She’d buy blue and white lights, tape together two xmas star ornaments to make a six pointed Star of David out of two fivers, and set up a blue and white plastic Christmas Tree. She called it a “Channukah Bush.” I call the thing in the shot above an inflatable antichrist, just to illustrate that you can call a thing whatever you want to but it doesn’t mean other people will adopt your terminologies. Channukah Bush, sheesh.

Being the asshole kid I was, which foreshadowed the professional asshole I became, I’d make it a point of reminding Mumsies that amongst the very few plantings mentioned in the Torah, there was prominently a burning bush. Suggestions that we drag it outside and douse the thing in lighter fluid were seldom greeted affectionately. My Uncle Marty said it might be borderline heresy to do so, and Marty knew a good heresy when he encountered it.

Merry Christmas, lords and ladies, and to all…


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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.

Written by Mitch Waxman

December 24, 2019 at 11:00 am

correlated little

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Rounding the week out with the trains

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One is just about done with 2019 here, as I imagine most of you are. It hasn’t been a great year, but there you are. As my old man used to say, if you’re able to complain about it you’re still alive so there isn’t that much to complain about. He’d then indicate that I was probably bored if I had time to complain and offered to fill my time with some chore. Nobody has wished me a Fun Festivus (which is Monday the 23rd, btw) at any of the holiday parties I attended, which I’m upset about. It’s good though, as I’m a little “partied out” at this point in time, and don’t have the bandwidth to gather around the aluminum pole and air my grievances this year.

What can I say, I’ve always been a grumpy loner, now I’m a grumpy old man.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Where am I going next? It’s an existential question I keep asking myself, and the answer is ultimately “where the world takes me.” One of the bits of sage wisdom this grumpy old man can offer is to not try to force things into happening. Paradoxically, I’ll also offer that the world only makes sense when you force it to do so.

To put it into mundane analogical terminology – it makes no sense to lean over the platform edge looking for the subway, as it won’t force the subway to appear. The train is going to get there when it gets there. Making good use of your “dwell time” in the station (as MTA refers to it) is forcing the world to make sense somehow. In my case, that means taking a lot of photos.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A recent encounter, which wasn’t the particular moment I was shooting this set of photos, involved the “what and why are you taking pictures of” trope down in one of the sweating concrete bunkers under Manhattan. This encounter wasn’t with law enforcement, members of which I had a couple of notable “in the field” conversations with in 2019, it was just some fellow commuter. I explained my activities to this particular petitioner by asking if she ever saw any of those cool old photos of NYC depicting subways or trolleys in BW photos from the 1930’s or 40’s on her Facebook feed. When she responded yes, I said “I’m the one whose photos your grandkids will be looking at.” She chuckled.

On that note, the 2020’s are coming and I plan on doing a lot of roaring in the next decade.


“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 20, 2019 at 2:30 pm

efflorescent powder

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Thursday, it affects us all.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One encountered this beauty over in LIC last week, a burned out vehicle which the coppers had parked nearby the Queens Midtown Tunnel. Some other bloke was examining the wreck at the same time I was, but we didn’t talk. I prefer it that way. Without loneliness and isolation, I just can’t be happy.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A singular Christmas party is all that remains on my calendar for 2019, and then I’m free of having to pretend any sort of civility for a couple of weeks. This is awesome sauce, and what with the broken toe no longer broken (mostly healed, but still hurts) I can finally get back to wandering the concrete devastations of Newtown Creek like some mendicant in the new year.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On my way home from LIC, I found myself at the Queensboro Plaza 7/N/W platform. The fog which had defined that particular day had broken and transitioned to a light rain. As is my habit, as the trains were coming and going – I was waiting for an N – the camera got waved around. I’m fond of this shot of the 7.


“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, 2019 at 1:00 pm

utmost fortitude

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There’s always something to complain about.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One has mentioned in the past that a singular virtue of the Governor’s “enhanced stations” project – and construction spending – on the Astoria line elevated subway stops along 31st street has been the abundance of street lighting they have introduced to what was formerly a dark and unfriendly series of street intersections. Also mentioned, repeatedly, is the fact that a humble narrator is still somewhat crippled by a crush injury to the big toe of my left foot, and I’ve been trying to “keep it local” as much as possible for the last few weeks to avoid reinjuring or impeding the healing process in the affected phalange. I plan to be back to full capability in the new year, after all.

Accordingly, the residents of my side of Astoria have begun to adjust to a sight often witnessed by the denizens of several other nearby communities – that of a strange old man wearing a filthy black raincoat and brandishing a camera about wherever municipal infrastructure stands naked and revealed.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On the subject of complaining, or “freelance unsolicited criticism” as my pal Special Ed once called it, right about now that’s all I’ve got to fill my time. One likes to believe that he has weaponized complaint, and milled it down into a quiver of razor tipped arrows which can be fired – with some precision – at an opponent’s vital bits. Ten years of daily blogging… you get good at grousing, I always say. Nobody cares, though.

That’s the intersection of Broadway and 31st street pictured in today’s post, from three different angles. The first looks westwards, the one above south west, and the one below is looking northwards from a different corner.

On the alternative subject of people in my neighborhood getting used to seeing a humble narrator at work, unlike Maspeth or Greenpoint where the residents go out of their way to avoid human contact, Astorians will just stride right up and ask what I’m doing. Such mendacity is part of the reason that I call Astoria my home.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The guy in the food cart with the glowing window seemed rather concerned about my activities, but a quick wave of the hand and his paranoia seemed assuaged. A few people who announced, unheeded, that they didn’t want to be photographed received my usual speech about long exposure shots and that unless they were standing statue still for at least half a minute while in frame there would be little more of them than a ghostly whisper or blurred outline of them in the final shot.

On that subject, I’ve got an idea about how to advance these night shots up a level, and plan on exploring a new set of techniques in the coming weeks. Somebody will end up complaining about that, though.


“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 6, 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

stark mad

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I know why it’s so hot, always, at the Times Square station.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There’s nothing quite as enjoyable as arriving on a Subway Platform in Manhattan and then finding out that there’s signal problems at Queens Plaza. The marketplace of aerosol pathogens carried by the human infestation into this subterranean structure is far better than getting a flu shot in terms of bolstering one’s immunological system, and the sheer unpleasantness of the ambient temperature is always a treat. Learning that you’re going to be spending a substantial bit of time waiting for your ride home – now that’s priceless. The “A” in MTA is for “adventure,” after all, and on Sunday nights the “M” stands for “Magnifique.”

The high temperature at the Times Square stop cannot solely be attributed to an annoying bureaucratic tendency amongst MTA station managers to not actuate their ventilation systems. Surely, it’s because the subway station was built atop the cavern carved out by Lucifer and the other rebel angels when they were swallowed into the ground during an argument they had with the Creator entity over Adam and Eve’s place in the celestial pecking order.

Said discourse occurred where Dave and Busters sits atop 42nd street, a location which was part of the Garden of Eden “back in the day.” Somewhere beneath the subway station itself is a lava tube that leads directly to hell. “Da Deuce” thereby, is a hellmouth.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A succession of Subway trains which do not go anywhere close to where I needed to go arrived and departed the station, during an interminable interval. As is my habit, I passed the time photographing the trains entering the facility, which raised the suspicions of several dead eyed MTA employees. Of course, being employees of MTA, they barely gave a crap despite being suspicious. As any member of the International Brotherhood of Screw Turners Local 6 will tell you, that’s somebody else’s job.

My retirement plans involve capturing a photo of a suicidal human jumping off the platform in front of an arriving train. Sales and licensing of said shot will make me rich beyond the dreams of avarice. My wealth will allow me to exact Dante style revenge on those who have offended… sorry, that was the influence of the Times Square Hellmouth that I was standing on which was talking there.

It affects us all, in different ways, the hellmouth.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

While waiting, and boy oh boy I was waiting a good half hour at this point, I noticed that something had imparted a good amount of kinetic force onto one of the steel structural columns and blasted a hole in the paint covering it.

The modern day dark green paint MTA uses sat over a duller green which I seem to remember them using about 15 years ago. The white and the red layers seem familiar to me, from earlier eras in NYC. Might just be primer, but I seem to recall red being used in the early 1990’s for column paint. Again, might just be the hellmouth talking.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Another pneumatic piston arrived, driving the usual cloud of sewer smell, rat shit, and powdered cockroach onto the platform. Normally, one would happily take the N just to get out of Manhattan and away from the hellmouth at 42nd street, but maintenance work was causing the N to go no further into Queens than Queensborough. Really, there is no better time to experience the joys of the MTA than a Sunday night.

Ultimately, I needed to wait for an R to get anywhere close to home.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

While I was studying the layers of paint on that column, a pigmentary coating which had to be layered on 3/8 to 1/2 inch thick mind you, an R finally arrived. Luckily it was quite crowded and the MTA had made the logical decision that since it was October you didn’t need to run any sort of ventilation or air conditioning onboard. This was especially well received by a humble narrator given that atmospheric humidity was close to 90% and also since it was raining all day, everybody onboard was soaking wet and their clothing was evaporating additional humidity into the subway car atmosphere.

It really is a pleasure to be in NYC these days, ain’t it? The fairness, the equity, the affordability of housing… truly has our Mayor improved things.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There has to be a word – if we were a German speaking culture there would be – for the sense of relief you experience upon finally boarding a subway train that’s heading back towards your home after passing through the gauntlet of MTA’s expert patience testers. Luckily, the folks already onboard the train were as well mannered as usual. You had the people playing games on their phones with the speaker turned on, the lady screaming into her phone in an unknown guttural at some remote husband, and there was a fellow eating a fried and quite aromatic fish dinner with his fingers.

If I could, I’d have held my breath the entire ride. Who eats on the Subway? Ugh.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle


Come on a tour!

With Atlas ObscuraInfrastructure Creek AT NIGHT! My favorite walking tour to conduct, and in a group limited to just twelve people! October 29th, 7-9 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

October 24, 2019 at 11:30 am

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