The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Archive for the ‘sunnyside’ Category

breathing stertourously

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A few odds and ends.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Turns out that the NYPD has a wrecker tow truck stationed in Woodside, all kitted out with their colorways, logos, and flair. The coppers have all the good toys. I think we, as a City, should license out and sell toys of all of the municipal vehicles the way that the Star Wars people do. Have you got the limited edition mobile oppression platform? How about a Dermot Shea talking action figure? You pull a string on its back and it makes excuses for the Mayor’s policies while resisting the urge to call him an asshole.

The cops have aircraft of all types, drones, tanks, boats, cars, trucks, buses… someday I think there will be an NYPD branded Mobile Suit Gundam deployed on the mean streets of New York. Now, more than ever.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It is absolutely startling to see Roosevelt Avenue empty. This is the corner of 58th street, which is one of the busier intersections in the borough of Queens under normal circumstance. A short burst of rain had just broken out. There were cops driving around with their lights off, seemingly looking for someone. The 7 train rattled by on the overhead tracks, puncturing the quiet. I did see a pair of guys carrying a whole lot of beer back to their apartment. Also, I had to pee.

That burst of rain occurred after a period of sweaty humidity and a subsequent ground fog had built up, when a strong cold wind began blowing through in a northerly direction. I can tell you this first hand, as I had actually been roaming around Queens for hours at the moment that this shot was gathered, and I was sweaty and rain soaked and growing steadily more chilled. It had been a warm night, so no filthy black raincoat, just a sweatshirt. The need to urinate had nothing to do with the weather, rather it was normal renal function at work.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

38th Avenue runs between Woodside Avenue/58th street and 61st street. It mirrors and follows the path of the Long Island Railroad tracks which are elevated up on a berm and surrounded by vegetated slopes. The section of it between Woodside Avenue and 54th street is spooky. There are homes on the north side of the street, but their back yards and driveways are what face 38th. It’s dark, and a few of the people who live here have not very high fences and excitable dogs. It’s a creepy street, for some reason. I instinctively don’t like walking down this stretch during the daylight hours, either. Can’t tell you why.

It’s a Queens thing.

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, May 4th. 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.


“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 8, 2020 at 11:00 am

convulsive cry

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Getting used to living with the tyranny of the now.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One recalls all of the angry men who drove these yellow cars, and their frustrations. The angry men would have vastly preferred not having to drive you anywhere you needed to go, instead they’d have liked you to just toss a few bucks in their open window when they drove off after hearing that you didn’t want to go into Manhattan. These yellow cars were always dirty, uncomfortable, and the drivers generally bad tempered. When the ride share corporations began to chip away at the exclusive franchises of medallion taxi’s, nobody really cared about the drivers of the yellow cabs, since one of the commonalities of life in NYC involves a story about some asshole cab driver who… fill in the blanks.

Functionally speaking, there is no such taxi industry right now. The ride share drivers have been reduced down to making food and supply deliveries, but at least they’re working. Everywhere I go, entire fleets of yellow cabs are being stored in the parking lots of closed businesses, along the curbs, or anywhere you can park.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The MTA buses are still operating, as are the subways. Both options are ones you could not pay me to take right now. Since the start of all this, a thought which has been optimate and repeated like a mantra revolves around “dwell time.” It’s one thing to risk exposure to infection in terms of a quick trip to a shop – you’re in, you’re out. It’s another to “dwell” in a biologically hazardous environment. This is something I’ve learned over the years along the Newtown Creek. Don’t misunderstand me, you can still catch a viral load if all you’re doing is buying a pack of gum at a bodega and you’ve only been in there for a quick minute, it’s just that the odds of inhaling something malign are somewhat lessened if you’re not in that bodega for a half hour or hour. The longer you dwell in an air mass with people who aren’t your “quarantine buddies,” the more epidemiological mathematics begin to work against you. “Quarantine buddies” you ask? That’s your family and or domestic partners, and all of the people with whom both you and they interact with. The bigger the buddy group, the better the chance you have of getting sick.

If you’re riding on a bus, like the Q32 pictured above, everybody on the bus and everybody they interact with are now your buddy. Theoretically, so is everyone else who rode that bus since the last time it was fully disinfected – which should include the internals of the heating vents – but – MTA, so…

I think we should pay a lot of attention to filters on HVAC systems, moving forward.

Saying all that, I’m just a schmuck with a camera who likes talking about NYC history, not a doctor or an epidemiologist, and the paragraphs above represent an opinion not a fact. Do whatever the hell you want. Bleach, estrogen, fire, whatever.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Right now, a humble narrator is wishing that he had access to a private vehicle – a car, truck, or even an electrically powered bike. Under normal circumstance in the past, the cost and effort has been something I eschewed, but during those intervals one had access to the entire MTA system, ride share services like Uber and Lyft, and those angry fellows driving the yellow cars to rely upon. I’d love to jump behind the wheel right now and pop over to Plumb Beach or Rockaway and sit on a large rock while staring at the sea. C’est le vie, no?

Could be worse, of course, at least I live in a place that’s visually interesting and am surrounded by other areas which are similarly idiosyncratic and within walking distances. Also, still alive and not sick yet, so…

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, April 27th. 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.


“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.

had strangled

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Used to be, long ago…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One remembers when there were people here. Loiterers, louts, loudmouths, lords, ladies, lingerers. They would walk dogs and smoke intoxicating substances and argue about bike lanes. Some would play athletic games until late in the night, trading an inflatable ball back and forth over a net while shouting at each other in some foreign tongue. They’re all hidden away now, and a humble narrator was the only midnight perambulator on Skillman Avenue during one recent midnight hour.

The quiet is quite deafening, in all actuality, punctuated as it is by bird song and a several blocks distant sound of empty locomotives performing the pantomime of passenger service. Spring has arrived in the quiet, and these echoing streets are in bloom. Raccoons sit on double yellow lines, fearing not the roar of trucks. Only silent electric delivery bikes were spied moving about, their operators staring out a thousand yards into the dark over their respiratory masks.

Whatever… at least I’m finding a way to get outside for some exercise and keep the camera busy.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One is always an outsider, no matter what or when or where, but this new world of ours is disconcerting even for me. Thousands are nearby, huddled in their apartments and presumptively gathered around the hearth of their televisions and phones. The sound of sirens in the distance, and that of the unseen but omnipresent helicopters overhead, punctuated with the clatter of the birds.

It’s lonely on Skillman Avenue. When somebody else who is out for a stroll passes by, a nervous wave is offered and is sometimes returned. Nobody gets too close on purpose, and all bear a sinister aspect. Unclean? Sick? Perhaps a criminal?

Paranoia abounds, but the pavement stretches forth and a humble narrator scuttles forward, camera in hand. Wonders, there are, wonders.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Saying all that, I haven’t found any trouble whatsoever on these midnight walks of mine, or at least trouble hasn’t found me as of yet. As far as authority figures, back in April, a couple of cops inquired what I was taking pics of over in Blissville one night. Another, some MTA railroad cop was shooting me the hairy eyeball nearby the Sunnyside Yards, and a few people have asked me for spare change here and there. The cops drove off, the MTA cop never got out of his car when I waved and smiled, and I’m fairly sure that one of the rather ragged looking coin petitioners here in Astoria would have performed sexual acts in exchange for the spare change.

Saying all that, perched up in my digs in Astoria, I’ve been noticing a lot of new faces roaming around the neighborhood. One new “skel” found an empty drug bag along the curb and after carefully examining the thing, pocketed it. Another was trying household and automotive doors to see if they were locked or not. I’m a lot more worried about a few of the neighborhood troublemakers who have recently been released from Riker’s. Just the other night, the streets were suddenly populated by detectives or perhaps alienists searching for somebody. Additionally – one fellow, let’s call him Cicero – is back on the loose again. I overheard him petitioning random passerby about whether or not they would sell him a pistol.

Cicero got angry when the people he petitioned said they didn’t have a pistol to sell him. He’s still angry that the cops took his old gun away, when they caught him masturbating atop a step ladder while staring in someone’s back yard window.

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, April 27th. 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.


“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

April 28, 2020 at 11:00 am

guards around

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I remember…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There used to be others… They had distinctive faces, but I can’t remember what they looked like anymore. Some were tall and ugly, others short and pretty, and they came in a variety of sizes and colors. That was then, before the masks and the sirens. Now, it’s just me, wandering in wan darkness towards weird illuminations and through the abandonments. The concrete devastations remain the same, as does their odor.

One has finally worked out the correct procedure for capturing the queer lighting of the new Kosciuszko Bridge, but who might know? The shot above depicts the span, alongside the garbage train, on Review Avenue in Blissville and across the street from a polyandrion which is called Calvary by the Roman Catholics.

The weather was chill, my urethral bladder full, and hurt did my left foot do. Other than that, a humble narrator was having a grand old time. I’ve always opined that what this city needed was a good plague, and here we are.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

When you really want to embrace hopelessness, despair, and truly commune with how screwed we all are right now – talk to a history boy like me. I’ll tell you about historical plagues – civilization enders all – which lasted for hundreds of years. The so called Plague of Justinian is my go to for that sort of thing, and it really wipes the smile off of listener’s faces. Calvary Cemetery, pictured above, actually owes its existence to a series of epidemics that scythed through early 19th century NYC, resulting in the Rural Cemetery Act of 1848.

Of note during our current collective storyline, the NYS Anti Mask Law of 1847 is going to end up having some dire consequence with all of us walking around with masks on, I fear. NYPD was enforcing that one as late as 2011, during the “Occupy Wall Street” protests. Did you also know that’s it’s illegal to keep a goat in your apartment in NYC? I’m not judging if you do keep a goat, after all what a person does inside the confines of their residence isn’t for me to judge, but it is technically illegal. Same thing with owning a ferret. Sodomy is kosher, though.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Closer to home, and actually on my way back home to Astoria, I was attracted by the glowing white cruciform adorning the fortress like walls of a mega church on 37th Avenue. It’s the New York Presbyrterian church, as a point of fact, and just for the history boy trivia folks – 37th Avenue used to be called Dutch Kills Street prior to the creation of the Sunnyside Yards. The congregation is largely Korean in ethnicity, I’m told, and the building that the church is housed in used to be an industrial laundry operation. In 1999, a 1,500 seat sanctuary was added to the prexisting complex.

Said complex was built in 1931 for the Knickerbocker Ice Company‘s Laundry division, which inhabited the space until 1970. The Naarden Perfume Company was then based in the space until 1986, whereupon the building was sold to the church people. Apparently, the size of the congregation qualifies this as a “mega church,” which is a fun thing to say out loud in full Brooklynese. Try it. May Gah Choich.

There used to be others…

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, April 27th. 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.


“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.

maddening suggestions

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Keepin on keepin on.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

So far so good here at HQ, and the only thing I can report to as involving coughing and wheezing so far involves the seasonal allergies which one has always contended with. Why we plant flowering trees in NYC is something I cannot fathom. Pollen is the age of pandemic is a “poop your pants” situation every time you sneeze or blow the shnoz.

As described in prior posts, one needs to maintain a fairly regular schedule of exercise for health reasons. Accordingly, I’ve been leaving Astoria at opportune times when the streets are entirely unoccupied and then heading towards similarly unoccupied areas in the industrial zones surrounding Newtown Creek. Personal security is something which I’m very, very aware of given the deserted sidewalks and thusly I haven’t been sticking my headphones into my ears as is the normal custom. Situational awareness, I call it. It’s part of what I promise Our Lady of the Pentacle when I’m leaving the house and she opines “Be careful.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Long Island Railroad traversing the Harold Interlocking at the Sunnyside Yards is pictured above, a set of tracks which are said to normally be the busiest right of way in the entire country. On this particular walk, one noticed breadstuffs scattered about on the sidewalks, often arranged in cruciform patterns. Could have been something random, and it wasn’t worth taking a picture of frankly, but does anyone know anything about such practices? Desperate and scared people typically embrace ancestral magic and peasant rituals during crises. Many cling to their magic books or scrolls, thinking the imagined power of the words contained therein will protect them from pestilence and misfortune. I grew up in a Jewish neighborhood which was partially populated by people with numbers tattooed on their arms, who would have gladly offered to any that queried them that those scrolls didn’t do them one bit of good when the wolves arrived.

This is the hour of the Wolf for our civilization, isn’t it? We’re all locked up inside and some forest monster is scratching at the door in the dead of night. Stay frosty, I always say, and be smart. Your god won’t vouchsafe you, instead fate helps those who help themselves when the wolves are near.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s why I’m continuing to march about, all alone in the night. When it comes time to put everything back together, we are going to need strength – both emotional and physical – to bury the dead and comfort the living. I’m hoping to count myself as part of the latter, but it’s impossible to predict whether or not a plague will take you.

The only thing you can do is lock your doors, and keep that wolf at bay.

Note: I’m writing this and several of the posts you’re going to see for the next week at the start of the week of Monday, March 23rd. 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.


“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

March 31, 2020 at 11:00 am

pacing nervously

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Hitting the road…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As of this post, so far in the month of January has a humble narrator walked some sixty six and a half purposeful miles in the dead of night around Queens. By “purposeful” I mean that it’s not shlepping through my normal daily round, rather it refers to leaving HQ all kitted up and ready to wave the camera around. By my standard, this number still represents baby steps, of course, but whereas the broken toe drama of 2019 is now just another one of my unpleasant memories there are still physical consequences to having just sat on my butt for two months at the end of last year. Mainly the effects involve the size of my butt, muscle tone in my calves, and a few other “conditioning” issues. A new regime of personal discipline has been established, incorporating changes to both diet and exercise.

This has nothing to do with a New Year’s Resolution, as a note, it’s merely self preservation and the need to experience the world directly after a couple of months of convalescent boredom. On the particular night which these shots were gathered, I was walking along the Woodside/Sunnyside border, where a tiny industrially zoned area bumps up against the fencelines of the second, third, and fourth divisions of Calvary Cemetery.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My ultimate destination for the evening was – what else – Newtown Creek. From Astoria, you’ve got “corridor approaches” which lead you to the various sections of the waterway. 39th street to Skillman Avenue for Dutch Kills, Pulaski Bridge and LIC, or 39th street to Greenpoint Avenue for Blissville and the Greenpoint Avenue Bridge, 43rd street for Kosciuszcko Bridge and the DUKBO area, whereas 48th street takes you to the industrial Maspeth “Haberman” section where Maspeth Creek and the Maspeth Plank Road are found. The 48th street corridor also deposits you within throwing distance of the Grand Street Bridge, so I always pay it a visit when I’m in the neighborhood.

Coincidentally, 43rd street used to be called Laurel Hill Blvd. during earlier times, and it connected the Alsop properties along Newtown Creek to the south with the Berrian and Rycken holdings at Bowery Bay to the north in Astoria after crossing through the Moore and Jackson holdings nearby modern day Northern Blvd. 48th street in Maspeth was the Shell Road, which connected the southern waterfront with Middleburgh (Sunnyside) and Woodside, as well as Greenpoint and Flushing via modern day Greenpoint Avenue.

This and the previous shot were gathered along 49th street, rather than 48th, since a group of teenagers were walking towards me and I got scared. I scuttled over to 49th and hid behind a dumpster for a bit, as pictured above. A feckless quisling and vast physical coward remain I. On the plus side, I met a friendly cat whilst behind the dumpster.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A weird and lonely stretch of pedestrian space is found underneath the elevated Long Island Expressway section which bisects two of the Calvary’s. I’m told there’s a fair amount of drag racing here on summer weekend nights but I haven’t witnessed it directly. Notice that the NYS people haven’t felt compelled to replace the old sodium lamp luminaire heads for their street lighting to comply with NYC’s adoption of the cold blue LED units. You’ve still got that comfortable old orange glow hereabouts.

More next week, 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

January 31, 2020 at 11:00 am

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…


“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 24, 2019 at 11:00 am

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