The Newtown Pentacle

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Wednesday odds and ends.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

At the time of this writing, one is in a rather tough spot in terms of fresh photos with which to illustrate the glories of Western Queens, but a week long curfew and suspension of Habeus Corpus will do that to a guy. Hopefully, I’m going to have been out and about a few times between the “then” and the “now.”

So, other than worrying a lot, how did a humble narrator spend his time during the curfew week, while stuck at home?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Well, I worked on perfecting the whole “stars” thing, which involves one of those fairly complicated bits of mathematical formula calculating. There was one evening in particular when the weather was on my side, which means a low dew point and atmospheric humidity. Thing is, you’re basically flying blind when shooting the night sky – manual focus, manual everything and all you can see on the camera is a black screen. A few test shots are required to ensure that your lens is set to “infinity” and everything is sharp. That’s when the camera settings come in to play, which are also manually arrived at. None of this is as simple as it sounds, which is the way I like it – complicated. I used one of my “good” lenses for the shot above, the Sigma 18-35 f1.8.

If you’re interested in pursuing this sort of thing, there’s all sorts of online calculators out there for astrophotography which will guide you through the process of settings and so on. The calculations involved in this boil down, ultimately, to lens focal length and aperture versus the rotation of the earth. The wider the lens, the longer the exposure you can capture without the stars motion blurring. If you can’t see stars in the shot above due to reading this on a device with a small screen, click the image and it will open in Flickr with a larger preview.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One is really “raring to go” back out into Queens by now. I’ve found a new windmill to tilt my lance at over in Blissville, and am desirous of seeing the ocean again sometime soon.

Pictured above is the intersection of Queens Blvd. with Greenpoint Avenue and Roosevelt Avenue. It used to once be Greenpoint Avenue all the way to Flushing, connecting the two Dutch colonial centers, but that was a long time ago.

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.


“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

June 10, 2020 at 11:00 am

breathing stertourously

with one comment

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

some curse

with 4 comments

Twirling, ever twirling.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

From HQ in Astoria, I’ve got several approach vectors to the various sections surrounding the Newtown Creek. Walking south on 39th street and making a right on Skillman Avenue takes me to Dutch Kills in LIC, for instance. 43rd street carries me across Sunnyside and towards the Kosciuszcko Bridge. South on 48th street will point my toes at Maspeth Creek and or the Grand Street Bridge. In all the cases above, one walks downhill out of Astoria to cross a low point at Northern Blvd. and then up a shallow hill and the ridge which Sunnyside sits on. After crossing a certain point, the declination of the land begins to slope back down towards the flood plains surrounding Newtown Creek.

Then there’s the Woodside Avenue/58th street path, which is what I call “good cardio.” What makes it good is that you are pretty much pulling up hill towards the Maspeth Plateau the entire way. On this path, you get to stop and consider the place marker on 58th street and Queens Blvd. installed by the Dept. of City Planning denoting the geographic center of NYC, walk along the walls of Calvary Cemetery’s second and third divisions, and dodge a lot of traffic. Fun.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Theoretically, the street pictured above is Laurel Hill Blvd., which is overflown by the Brooklyn Queens Expressway on an elevated ramp. Calvary 2 is on the north side of the street, Calvary 3 on the south. Both sections of the funerary complex sport high masonry walls which are somewhat oppressive, and are oddly free of graffiti. My understanding is that there is a street racing scene hereabouts on Laurel Hill Blvd., but I’ve never observed it. Recent experience has revealed that the fast and furious crowd currently prefers Review Avenue in Blissville, nearby Calvary 1, for their antics. To the North and East is the Woodside section, West and North is Sunnyside, and heading South brings you to Maspeth.

Oddly enough, this section of road is terrifically well travelled, even at night. It seems to be a bit of a shortcut for drivers, and the Q39 bus enjoys a couple of stops down here. As mentioned from a post a couple of weeks back, the State controlled highway which the street lamps are mounted on has not switched over to LED luminaires as the City has and old school sodium lights offer a now nostalgic orange glow.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

58th street itself, between the BQE and the Long Island Expressway, is essentially a trench running between two cemeteries – the aforementioned Calvary properties to the west and Mt. Zion to the East. Truly terrifying for a pedestrian, what passes for sidewalks are essentially earthen berms piles up against the cemetery walls.

Not everybody walks past a cemetery fence at night wishing that the property was open 24 hours, and regretful that the photographic splendors therein are out of reach, but I do. One couldn’t resist getting a few shots through the fence of Mt. Zion while picking my way along the rough hewn berm. Oh, to gain purchase within and spend time with the night gaunts and tomb legions.


“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 25, 2020 at 1:00 pm

nitrous stone

with 2 comments

Someday, I’ll have an army of atomic supermen.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Mad scientist, that’s what I aspired to become when I grew up. What kind of dweeb roots for the hero when someone as cool as Doctor Doom is doing his thing. Imagine my disappointment upon discovering, at the age of 9, that any kind of scientist needs to be fairly adept at mathematics – a subject which I have little more capacity with than a particularly slow witted goat does. Oh, the horrors and monstrosities which I could populate our world with if only I wasn’t arithmetically challenged. I’d have the whole chemical rack setup, with machines that spewed bolts of electricity and made humming sounds. One thing I am really good at is megalomaniacal laughing, it should be mentioned.

One has realized that he will need a staff of mathematically competent scientists, outfitted with heart plugs or neck bombs to ensure their absolute loyalty and obedience (of course), if my dream of creating my own race of Atomic Supermen is ever to be realized. Funding remains an issue, as I’d first need to purchase a lair of some kind, and neither minion controlling heart plugs nor neck bombs are cheap to buy or install. Then you have to light and heat the lair, worry about OSHA regulations… nothing’s easy.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

If you really want to hide a less than legal operation, like a Mad Scientist’s lair or a meth lab or something, I’ve always believed you should keep it moving. Sure, hollowing out a chamber in the heart of a volcano or establishing an underwater base sounds cool, but now there’s a static target for the legions of do gooders to target. Just a matter of time before some lantern jawed hero shows up and foils your plans.

Hide in plain sight, I always say. Disguise your mobile laboratory as a City bus or a panel truck and hire some clueless schmuck to drive you around day and night. The citizenry is too busy staring into those little glass rectangles all the time to notice anything that doesn’t have a thousand “likes.” The mutant army I’m planning on producing – I call this “Plan Nine,” incidentally – will take advantage of the abundance of cemeteries along the Brooklyn/Queens border for biological components. Amazon has a sale right now on mind control chips, so that’s a saving. They won’t sell me the radioactive isotopes I need, so thanks Chuck Schumer, for making me download TOR and get supplied via the highly unreliable “dark web.” So frustrating when you order Cesium and get Palladium instead.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One of the big traps that most mad scientists find themselves in is that inevitable moment when your creation turns on you. To avert this, I’m going to install a video board into each member of my army, which will manufacturing bitcoin. This will fund a nice retirement pension for them, after the new order has been established, and I alone will hold the cypher password. You want loyalty from your thralls? Pensions, that’s how you get and demand loyalty from your minions.

I’m stuck at the moment whether or not my army of Atomic Supermen will have a gun hand or a crab claw hand, or both. Either option has benefits. I’ve settled on triocular vision for them, just like the engineers at Apple have with the latest iPhone.

I’ll be in one of my lairs this weekend, working on generalized revenge against a world which does not appreciate me, and has forced me to live the life of an outcast. Home? I have no home, the jungle is my home. If some bus or a large truck passes you by, and you hear maniacal laughing emanating from within, that’s me, but don’t put it on Instagram or anything. Last thing I need is to have to deal with some secret agent or something. Remember whose side you want to be on after the Plan Nine plays out to the end and the new order is instituted.


“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 20, 2019 at 1:00 pm

common tongues

with one comment

The angle between…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

For a long time, I’ve been using the term “angle” to describe those spots which form the borders of neighborhoods in Western Queens, which are actually historic remnants of the pre consolidated City of Greater New York. One of them is found where the steel of the elevated IRT Flushing line sweeps off of Queens Blvd. and instead overflies Roosevelt Avenue. This is the former border of Long Island City’ Middleburgh (alternatively LIC Heights) and the town of Woodside, and is today the border of the neighborhoods of Sunnyside and Woodside. Recent endeavor found a humble narrator negotiating his way home well after midnight, and just as it was starting to rain.

What sucked was that I didn’t have an umbrella.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I posted the shot above to a couple of my social media accounts, so sorry if you’re seeing it twice, but I stand by the text that accompanied it declaring that NYC looks best when it’s wet. Given my lack of an umbrella, and the startling amount of electronic devices affixed to my person, some care was exercised in my path down Queens Blvd. in the pursuit of not becoming soaked by the sudden downpour. There’s two ways to do this – one is to walk so fast that you’re actually dodging raindrops (which is illogical and doesn’t actually work), and the other is to utilize the “rain shadow” offered by the built environment. It had been around eight hours since my last meal at this particular moment, and given that I wasn’t going to be hitting the sack until the wee hours of the morning, the only option available at the particular time involved a fast food chain. Lemmee tell ya, Lords and Ladies, the denizens of the City who inhabit fast food restaurants after midnight in Sunnyside are an interesting demographic.

My high fat and calorie hamburger consumed (have you noticed what the fast food people consider a “small” coke is these days?), and with the rain actually having intensified, I decided to hire a taxi for the short jaunt across the Sunnsyide Yards and back to HQ in Astoria.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Having grown up in a solidly blue collar section of Brooklyn, my first instinct is always to support the working people rather than big corporations. That’s how I found myself standing in a bus shelter and trying to hail a cab. For the last couple of years, I’ve had a taxi app – Lyft – on my phone which I’ve been using for the occasional cab ride. I like it because the cab comes to me, and given the weird places and transit deserts like industrial Maspeth that I spend my time you’re not going to have many opportunities for street hails so Lyft is my go to for those sorts of spots. Queens Blvd. and 40th street, however? Use a yellow or green cab, one will be by in a minute or two. That’s what I thought, and when a yellow cab pulled up and rejected any other destination but Manhattan, I was reminded why I don’t care about the dying medallion cab industry nor its asshole drivers. Yellow cab drivers in particular would seem to prefer it if they just rolled down the window for you to throw money into the front seat before they spit at you and drive away.

I fired up the Lyft app and was home in about ten minutes.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

January 15, 2019 at 1:30 pm

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