The Newtown Pentacle

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Archive for the ‘Triborough Bridge’ Category

damnable resemblance

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A bit more Triborough, and some thoughts on the current crisis…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Ok, here’s the way things are going to go here at the old Newtown Pentacle “for the duration.” I’m writing this and several of the posts you’re going to see for the next couple of weeks at the start of the week of Monday, March 16th. 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. That’s the reality right now, it’s all a craps shoot. As of right now, all of my tours and summer events are on hold until we see the way this shakes out.

Also, if anything truly critical happens which needs to be broadcast, I’ll augment the regular blog schedule with news posts. If you’re in any kind of trouble and need help, here in Astoria or in LIC, contact me here and I’ll try to make the powers that be aware of your situation. This isn’t 911 or anything, but I’ve got a line of communication or two with officialdom that most people don’t have, so consider me as a resource.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Speculative logic, as in purely speculative – Epidemiological playbooks for the United States Government can and might take the form of soldiers deployed on our streets. Their mission might and will probably include maintaining law and order (the cops are going to be overwhelmed, and will get sick too), as well as vouchsafing and handling the delivery of essential supplies, and possibly handling mortuary practicalities. Border control between the States might happen too. I’ve already seen some goofy things happening on the streets here in Astoria, including some jack ass beating up his girlfriend in front of my house a couple of nights ago. You REALLY don’t want to be incarcerated right now, so best behavior, all.

The traditional American sophistry says that “we’ll get through this together,” whereas the Coronavirus pandemic utterly negates the concept of “together.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

So… I hope you’re all doing what you can to stay safe and healthy. Saying that, an aerosol based virus is a very difficult thing to control and contain. If you encounter a situation where you can be kind as opposed to cruel in the coming weeks, please consider enacting the former behavioral set. Check in on your family and friends, via phone rather than just text, especially those in your circle who suffer from mood disorders and other psychological bad weather. Tell people you love that you love them. Don’t start a witch panic by sharing obvious malarkey on social media.

If Newtown Pentacle stops updating, and a humble narrator is no more, please look in on Our Lady of the Pentacle occasionally and make sure that she has enough milk for her tea.


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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

March 17, 2020 at 11:00 am

universal belief

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Supermoon in Astoria.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One had yet another of the seemingly endless series of community meetings he is obliged to attend occur, and afterwards a friend gave me a lift over to Astoria Park so that I could wave the camera about for an interval. It was that unseasonably warm day we all experienced, and the celestial calendar indicated that a “supermoon” was going to occur. I had already decided, before getting to my location, that I wasn’t going to be trying to record the “astro” shot palaver where you can see all the details on the moon as well as a clear back and foreground, and was instead going to be shooting more of a landscape dealie with a glowing orb lighting up the sky.

To wit, above is the supermoon framed by the Triborough Bridge.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The “palaver” mentioned above requires multiple exposures which are then combined in a photoshop composite. You expose one shot for the moon, which is actually as bright as the sun to the camera. Then you expose for the sky, and finally for the other elements in the composition. I’ve done this a bunch of times, so I’m quite familiar with the technique. One of the snags you hit with this however, is that despite what the perception of the human eye indicates, the moon is actually traveling at quite a clip through your frame. Depending on where it is in your frame, you’ve got between 2 and 8 seconds to “get it” before it’s movement causes motion blur. Since it’s night time, you need to calculate the other exposures and when compositing the final shot, compensate for the movement of the orb through the shot.

It is possible to “get it in one” of course, but that’s fraught with technical issues as well. I just went for the “ambience” instead.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Thing is, I wasn’t feeling terribly secure as far as my personage when shooting these images. As is the usual case on nice nights, every “Astoria Boy” in the neighborhood was on station along Shore Blvd. There were hundreds, possibly even a thousand, of impulse control challenged post adolescents milling around down there. Their music, played at top volume, was terrible. The clouds of weed smoke rising from their assemblage and drifting across Astoria Park was intoxicating. If you like the “wacky tabacky,” save yourself a few bucks by just sitting downwind from this crowd.

Just to make sure I’m perfectly clear about this most salient of points – their music was computer generated (badly), irredeemable, and unabashedly terrible. Gah.

Teenagers… brrr.


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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

March 16, 2020 at 11:00 am

starved monsters

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The darkness of Hells Gate.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Why the Amtrak people have never sprung for a lighting system for the Hell Gate Bridge, I cannot imagine. It’s like owning a luxury car and never washing or polishing it. Might have something to do with not disturbing those battrachian things, that cannot possibly exist, which live on the bottom of the Hell Gate section of the East River. Peter Stuyvesant is rumored to have left behind a message scrawled onto a piece of yellowed parchment, which every Mayor of NYC has received on their first day in office, advising that there are things in NY Harbor which are best left alone. The Lenape knew that it is best not to delve too deep, nor stare too long into the abyssal water hereabouts, lest that which dwells below takes notice.

Do you honestly believe that the United States Army Corps of Engineers set off the greatest explosion in human history here back in 1885, a detonation whose force was only exceeded after the emergence of the Atomic Bomb, merely to aid navigation?

Fools ye be.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As mentioned in yesterday’s post, it was the promise of a foggy night which drew me to this spot. It’s not exactly industrial Maspeth, Astoria Park and the associated properties surrounding it, so it’s the very definition of off my beaten path as it’s “nice.” I hung around the zone for about an hour or so, occasionally climbing over a fence for a POV as in the shot above.

There wasn’t much movement in the water, but I was prepared to bolt just in case. I’ve heard tell of an orthodox priest named Kiriglou that would spend his evenings along this stretch of Hells Gate back in the early 1980’s. Rumors and stories, myths and legends, that’s what the native Astorians routinely offer in return for a shot of whisky. Supposedly this Kiriglou fellow would toss some kind of charm, attached to a stout cord, into the water and mutter words described to me as a rough sort of Cretan dialect, one which the teller believed to originate in the rugged Sfakia region of that ancient island. Nobody knew if Kiriglou was associated with one of the wholesome Orthodox churches frequented by the local Hellenic community, or was some sort of heretic or ascetic. What happened to him, and what he was doing with that charm, is just another Astoria story.

Ever hear the one about the child molester who lived in the Queens side tower of the Hell Gate Bridge, behind that iron door found under the dedication plaque?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As the mists were beginning to precipitate, a humble narrator decided that it was time to begin the journey back to HQ. Before long, a driving rain set up, and one arrived in the Broadway area just in time to avoid a drenching.

Just out of curiosity, have any of you out there got an Astoria Story you’d like to share? Haunted house, lizard man, next door neighbor chanting at the moon on Hallomass? Kids playing bad music loudly? I want to hear it.


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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

March 3, 2020 at 11:00 am

awful formula

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Bridge2bridge.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One has been spending quite a bit of time around the fabled Newtown Creek since the first of the year, after suffering through months of broken big toe infirmity and de facto isolation, and shots of the type above – depicting the new Kosciuszcko Bridge from alongside the fenceline at First Calvary Cemetery – have been gathered, but recent endeavor found this particular troll underneath a completely different bridge.

Temperature inversions usually bring fog as well as rain, both of which can either enhance or eviscerate photographic opportunity. Not having quite enough time during a recent foggy episode to head down south to my beloved Newtown Creek, one instead found himself pedantically scuttling northwards.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Astoria Park offers gorgeous views of both the Hell Gate and Triborough Bridges, but the winter time opportunity for me involves finding ways to incorporate its skeletal trees into the shot, to act as a frame for the mighty spans. I love me a creepy looking tree, I do.

This was a shot of opportunity, as in it wasn’t “intentional,” rather it just popped up at me while I was wandering past. Weirdly enough, despite the February cold and damp, people were running the track and doing all sorts of exercising. Freaks.

Since I set the standard for sanity in this world, just like Caligula did in his day, I say that the only logical pursuit on an evening like this would be listening to Black Sabbath’s entire discography on shuffle while carrying around a camera and tripod and trying not to fall into the East River.

I have spoken.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I had to walk in gooey mud for this one, so for those of you who like this shot, part of its journey to you involved me having to first break out a broom and then a vacuum to clean up the mud which I accidentally tracked back into the house upon returning to HQ. Yuck.

Unfortunately, the fog on this particular evening wasn’t quite the “pea soup” that I was hoping for. There’s definitely a bunch of moisture hanging in the air, but it was nowhere near as opaque as I wished it to be.


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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.

imperfect salts

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Getting my groove on in Astoria.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Pictured today are the POV’s from 31st street and Astoria Blvd., which is one of the worst street crossings for pedestrians and bicycles in all of Queens. The construction materials are related to the “enhanced station initiative” that Governor Cuomo introduced a few years back, which has been playing out in incremental stages all up and down the 31st street corridor between Northern Blvd./Jackson Avenue and the terminal stop of the N and W Astoria lines at Ditmars Blvd. One was admittedly skeptical about this when it was described, but – in my opinion, at least – the newly redesigned stations are pretty good. They supply an abundance of light to what has historically been a dark and somewhat menacing streetscape, and the “upstairs” component is pretty clean visually.

Saying that, the corner pictured above which… y’know… has a train station over it and thusly a lot of pedestrians, is terrifying to navigate on foot and particularly so at night.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Ultimately, the high volume traffic problem is due to the Triborough Bridge, which spits thousands of cars a day out onto a two block long stretch of local streets which lead to the entrance ramps for the Grand Central Parkway. Why there aren’t express lanes leading directly to the parkway from the bridge is yet another one of those Queens mysteries nobody can answer. The Grand Central Parkway runs through a trench sunk into Astoria Blvd. which stretches from roughly 33rd street to 47th street, where it eventually joins the same altitude as the surrounding local streets. The trench is due to topography, of course, and both sides of Astoria Blvd. for the more or less 3/4 of a mile between 33rd and 47th are heavily trafficked one lane service roads with a parking lane along a fairly narrow sidewalk.

Why not deck the highway and create a green space/park over it? It would save the State a bunch of money in terms of snow removal, create a planted area in place of highway, contain the particulates of auto exhaust wafting off the Grand Central and into the residential streets surrounding the thing, and would likely eliminate the de facto “us and them” factor between the bifurcated neighborhoods of Astoria (one centering around the commercial strip of Ditmars to north and the southern 30th ave./Broadway zones). We’d drink up a lot of storm water with a green space, and break up the heat island effect – and as I’m often wont to point out – there is no greater magnifier for real estate valuations than the presence of a nearby park. Everybody wins – contractors, labor, drivers, pedestrians, politicians, real estate people, even the actual community itself.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Over in Brooklyn’s South Williamsburg, where the BQE runs through a similar trench, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams has been talking about something similar for quite a while. They’ve done a bunch of the math for this sort of thing, and it’s not outlandishly expensive as long as conversation about the subject stays away from creating a deck structure that needs to support buildings, only parkland. You’d be able to prefabricate the sections, install them one by one during (relatively) low traffic intervals, and give a section of NYC remarkable for its lack of parklands a new reason for the citizenry to move in and join the party. Also, this would likely end up being a fully union laborer operation, so all the Politicians could wet their beaks at the trough of a happy Building Trade Council. Again – win, win, win.

Why not here in Western Queens? Tell me why this wouldn’t improve things for the people of Astoria?


“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

September 19, 2019 at 11:00 am

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