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somewhat shamefaced

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Monday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Camera in hand, lonely and friendless, filthy black raincoat snapping about in the hard wind of late winter. Sometimes I’m on a boat.

Having grown up in southeast Brooklyn (Canarsie/Flatlands), one’s native speech pattern is best described by recitations of the “Brooklyn Alphabet.” “Fuckin A, Fuckin B, go fuck yourself C, kiss my ass D” and so on. This is part of my heritage, and the Brooklyn accent of my parents would pronounce common words such as birds as “boids,” toilet as “terlet,” and oil as “erl.” As an adult, an attempt is made to show a finer veneer to all of the fancy pants people I meet. Dis is da struggol you gots when’s you growed up in Brooklyn.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Thereby, one has embraced creative expressions of surprise for my daily use that don’t include the use of Brooklyn vernacular. Lately, I’m embracing ones like “by the misty mountains of Kuala Lampur” or “Great galloping Ganesh.” I don’t know if Kuala Lampur actually has mountains or not, or whether the beloved Hindu deity is known to gallop – but since Ganesh is an elephant, it probably would have a certain proclivity towards the occasional gallop – if only for shits and giggles.

“Holy jumping Jesus” is also another one of my refrains although scripture never mentions the Christian Savior as leaping about. My Lebanese buddy Sal has instructed me in the many possible usages of Allah u Akbar (god is great), which is the Islamic equivalent of Aloha or Shalom in terms of being an omnivorous response one is able to deploy in a variety of circumstances. New Baby? Allah U Akbar! Your mom died? Allah U Akbar… Sal has informed me that it’s all about inflection.

Saying all that, whether Ganesh or Allah or Jesus, you’re probably accidentally pissing someone off with an off hand religious reference, so “by the misty mountains of Kuala Lampur” it is.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Riding back home on the NYC ferry from the Bronx, I got to exclaim “Holy Homeland Security” when I spotted this NYPD Harbor unit boat performing that particular mission for our ferry boat. Not too long ago, I was riding on the Staten Island Ferry and a couple of tourist types asked me why the Coast Guard was following our big orange boat with machine guns deployed while we navigated from Manhattan to… Staten Island…

They really couldn’t put it together about how big a target a ferry boat might be for the bad guys. I’d tell you who the villains are, but I’m not really sure anymore. Are we still mad at the Arabs? If so, I’ll let Sal know. As mentioned, he’s Lebanese, so not too big a fan of the Arabs.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It was nearly sunset, and an executive decision was arrived at to debark the boat at East 90th street, alongside Gracie Mansion, and find a spot to get set up with the tripod as the burning thermonuclear eye of god itself dipped behind New Jersey.

Along the way, I couldn’t help but get a shot or two of the natural light painting occurring on the Hell Gate and Triborough Bridges.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

At East 90th, I took a minute to sit down and chill for a minute, then got busy again. If you set up a camera on a tripod and say “Eric Adams” three times, there’s a 40/60 chance he’ll appear, just like Candyman or Bloody Mary. Didn’t work this time, though.

This area at E 90th, by the way, is more or less the famous spot where the old Astoria Route ferry dock was found. The one that Robert Moses destroyed, an incident which Robert Caro wrote about in Power Broker.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The burning thermonuclear eye of god itself was already beginning to disappear behind New Jersey as I found and claimed my spot.

From the looks I was getting from the passerby, you’d think that I had just released a kite into a thunderstormwhile laughing maniacally, in preparation of bringing a homemade monster to life. Really?

More tomorrow.


“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 11, 2022 at 11:00 am

slight blurring

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Wednesday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A humble narrator didn’t have anything scheduled for the 23rd of February, and since one of my favorite things to do solo revolves around riding the NYC Ferry to some distant point, that’s what I did.

I boarded the Astoria line boat, headed over to Manhattan’s 34th street ferry dock hub, and transferred onto the Soundview line. Soundview heads over to the East River coastline of the Bronx, and the service had recently opened a new stop there – Ferry Point Park.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

After a stop at Manhattan’s East 90th street, NYC Ferry navigates through the Hells Gate section which adjoins Astoria Park. You get some pretty great views along the way. Saying that, they really open up the engines when heading north, so hold on to something. One hand for you, one for the boat.

The “normal” service on the East River is pretty smooth, and conducted at relatively low speeds. On the Rockaway, St. George, and Soundview routes, however, the boat is moving very fast and that means it’s bouncing around and smashing into waves.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A tug and fuel barge combo was navigating south west as we left 90th street. Believe it or not, there are “lanes” in the water which ship captains have to follow. Navigational depth, underwater obstructions and hazards, wake sensitive shorelines and construction areas, even environmental factors go into the designation of these “lanes” by the United States Army Corps of Engineers and the United States Coast Guard. Also, boat people call these lanes “channels,” ok?

When leaving HQ, I had geared up fully and was carrying my entire traveling kit with me. since I wasn’t going to be trekking miles and miles on foot, I figured “why not”?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The fuel barge was empty. You can tell that by how high it’s sitting in the water, and there’s a line of corrosion midway up on its outer hull that gives an idea of where it sits relative to the waterline when full.

That fuel barge carries the equivalent cargo of 38 heavy trucks, incidentally. We are about 10-20 years from seeing self driving barges, ones that are electrical motor driven, navigating the nation’s waterways. In NY Harbor, you’ll nevertheless likely see a tug accompanying the things for a decade or two after the new technology appears and gets deployed into the wild. That will have more to do with safety and homeland security than operational concern.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Moving up through Hells Gate, you first pass under Mighty Triborough’s East River Suspension Bridge. Triborough is a complex of bridges and highway on and off ramps, and one of the most complicated bits of engineering ever accomplished.

The East River span connects the Grand Central Parkway and Astoria/LIC’s local traffic to the bridge complex centered at Randall’s/Ward’s Island.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Next up is the Hell Gate Bridge, which carries railroad traffic off of Long Island and into the Bronx. From the Bronx, rail heads north and then west onto the continent from the archipelago of New York City. If you want to see what it looks like from up there, check out this post from last fall describing an Amtrak trip to Vermont’s Burlington.

More tomorrow.


The Newtown Creekathon returns!

On April 10th, the all day death march around Newtown Creek awakens from its pandemic slumber.

DOOM! DOOM! Fully narrated by Mitch Waxman and Will Elkins of Newtown Creek Alliance, this one starts in LIC at the East River, heads through Blissville, the happy place of Industrial Maspeth, dips a toe in Ridgewood and then plunges desperately into Brooklyn. East Williamsburgh and then Greenpoint are visited and a desperate trek to the East River in Brooklyn commences. DOOM! Click here for more information and to reserve a spot – but seriously – what’s wrong with you that you’re actually considering doing this? DOOM!


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle


Buy a book!


The Newtown Creekathon returns!

On April 10th, the all day death march around Newtown Creek awakens from its pandemic slumber.

DOOM! DOOM! Fully narrated by Mitch Waxman and Will Elkins of Newtown Creek Alliance, this one starts in LIC at the East River, heads through Blissville, the happy place of Industrial Maspeth, dips a toe in Ridgewood and then plunges desperately into Brooklyn. East Williamsburgh and then Greenpoint are visited and a desperate trek to the East River in Brooklyn commences. DOOM! Click here for more information and to reserve a spot – but seriously – what’s wrong with you that you’re actually considering doing this? DOOM!


“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 6, 2022 at 11:00 am

puerile kind

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Monday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Now that’s what I call fog, baby. A promising weather report drew me over to the East River’s Hells Gate section, which paid off for a humble narrator. For these shots, I was using the Ultrapod camera support that I’ve mentioned in the past. Said device is a metal plate with four feet under it, and a tripod ball head mounted right in its center on top. This gizmo allows me to place the camera into fairly odd places, including right down on the sidewalk or onto the ledge of the Shore Blvd. retaining wall. Don’t worry, the camera’s strap was still firmly attached to my person.

That’s the Hell Gate Bridge, as if you didn’t already know that.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

When an NYC Ferry boat, operating on the Soundview Route, came speeding by I quickly readjusted what the camera was pointed at and changed my lens. I was quick enough to catch the displacement wave of the ferry’s passing impacting the shoreline here in Astoria. It’s dark down there, so I set the exposure to about 30 seconds, which is why the wave water looks like smoke or mist in the shot above.

The fog helped me with this shot, as a note, since it allowed for the diffusion of illuminated light coming from Randall’s/Wards Island and the Triborough Bridge.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Speaking of mighty Triborough…

This is, of course, just a part of the bridge complex known as Triborough and it’s specifically the East River suspension bridge section.

Fog, baby, fog.


“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

February 14, 2022 at 11:00 am

infinity eddied

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Friday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Temperature inversion with an extremely high atmospheric dew point? Yes, please. Seriously, this sort of statement from the TV weather people is electrifying. As soon as it’s uttered, one gathers up his old kit bag and smiles, smiles, smiles. Fog, and in particular – peas soup fog – is the order of the day. Given NYC’s relationship to the ocean, most of our foggy days are actually “precipitating mist” days, which are ruinous for photographic pursuit. You can’t keep the lens clean due to the precipitant part of that condition.

Proper fog is fairly rare in these parts, and when it comes, a narrator humble hits the streets and heads off in the direction of something both visually interesting and distant. On my way I couldn’t resist an exposure of this “Matthew’s Model Flat” rounded corner. I’m told that the street level shop was historically a candy store. Today, I believe it sells Santeria oriented potions and charms.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Hell’s Gate was my destination, which is one of the things I enjoy saying out loud as it makes me sound spooky and mysterious. A quick scuttling found me on Hoyt Avenue North, alongside mighty Triborough and heading towards the turgid waters of the East River.

The air was thick, and it smelled like a combination of sewer gas and petroleum exhaust, with a hint of cinnamon. There was also a nearly imperceptible hint of thyme as well, but somebody nearby was probably roasting a chicken. You smell a lot of things in Astoria, but mostly weed. Astoria smells like college most days.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My path carried me through Astoria Park’s parking lot, which definitely smelled like weed. Weed, and Tinder/Grindr hook ups. I kept my head on a swivel, as the saying goes. Lots of weird shit happens in Astoria Park at night, of the sort which you don’t want to be involved in. It’s dark, and there’s small groups of people everywhere. Some have malign intent, some are just looking for a place to sleep where they won’t be hassled, others are looking to fill their pockets with whatever you might have in your own.

Saying all that, made it through the park in fine fettle and nobody messed with me. Got myself down to Shore Road and made myself conspicuous by whipping out the camera and getting busy with it. Unfortunately for you, lords and ladies, you’ll have to wait till next week to see what I saw.


“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

February 11, 2022 at 11:00 am

sputtering attorney

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Friday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Another day, and this time I was out at sunset here in Astoria. Shore Road, alongside Astoria Park, offers commanding views of the Hells Gate section of the East River and the two bridges spanning it.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Triborough Bridge’s East River Suspension Bridge section is in the fore, and the Hell Gate Railroad Bridge is in the rear. I’m purposely letting the photos speak for themselves today rather than describing the tableau, by the way.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It was actually a lucky stroke for me to be here on this particular evening, as the sunset colors were explosively saturated.

Back next week.


“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 10, 2021 at 11:00 am

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