The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

bright again

with one comment

An accidental encountered.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Whilst perambulating to the gustatory battlefield which is the Thanksgiving ritual feast table, Our Lady of the Pentacle and myself encountered an “accidental” along the way. We missed the moment of kinetic contact betwixt the two motor vehicles, but the aftermath was spread out along the intersection of 45th street and Broadway, here in Astoria, for all to see. By all appearances, at least one of these vehicles – possibly both – were moving at quite a clip where they collided. There didn’t seem to be any obvious injuries, or at least there weren’t any pooling puddles of blood or other human juices.

I’ve always wondered if human blood could be called a juice. Maybe it’s a broth, or a gravy? I guess it depends on your dietary preferences, huh?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I’m not a fan of the archaic yellow cab industry, and display zero sympathy for either drivers or medallion owners. A half century lived in NYC has imparted a sour taste in my mouth towards these stalwart livery service workers and the oligarchs they work for. Saying that, I hope the driver didn’t suffer any injuries other than losing the day’s earnings and what will end up being a substantial repair bill at the auto mechanic.

I recognize the white car from the neighborhood. One of the many vehicles which have been tuned up to make as much noise during normal operation as possible – it’s part of what we’ve come to refer to as the “fast and furious” crowd here in the local zone. Alterations of the proper functioning of the carburetor and fuel injection systems increase engine noise, often resulting in backfires as they sit in traffic. This crackling explosive sound must somehow excite the females in their social circles, and encourage them into mating with the drivers, which must be why the males who perform these noisy alterations risk the concurrent damage to their expensive automobile’s engines and exhaust systems.

The endless permutations of primate display behaviors offered by the human infestation hereabouts is fascinating to one such as myself.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

We didn’t stick around to see the cops show up, nor the tow trucks and ambulances which usually follow the constabulary into situations such as this. Our grandiose feast and celebration of American abundance awaited.

One was busy cooking for most of the morning, assembling the contributions to the Thanksgiving meal which Our Lady and myself were participating in. I was trying to avoid all social media on Thanksgiving, since my friends who are “woke” were passing the time waiting for their feast to emerge from the kitchen reminding all who might listen about just how shit the world is, was, and will be. Additionally, they needed to remind the universe about the Native American genocide as well as imparting the importance of composting the inedible portions of the feast. Bah!

Take a day off, I say.


“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 4, 2019 at 1:00 pm

agriculturally challenged

with 2 comments

Does anyone ever say “thank god, it’s Tuesday”?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Banal and sad is how I’d describe the current state of the Steinway Street commercial corridor here in Astoria, where the most interesting destination restaurants are often food trucks. Online, and in person, conversations about the subject lament the modern state of this old commercial strip.

Block after block of empty storefronts, sidewalk gathering places for lawless inebriates, law and order issues, blight. High commercial rents are usually blamed, or Amazon, or the “new people” who don’t shop locally and order everything online. High traffic volumes, a dearth of street parking, are also offered as causal factors for the current state of the street. Funny thing is, there are plenty of shops on Steinway which are doing extremely well, serving the needs and wants of the “new people.” I’m suspicious of all this, and wonder if some game is afoot. The answer offered to any problem these days is to demolish the current building stock and erect new structures, right?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The best example of this going on in the neighborhood, in my eyes, revolves around the not too far in the future expulsion of the used car and automotive businesses along Northern Blvd., in favor of building more and more “affordable” housing on the large footprint property lots these entities currently occupy. Why we aren’t talking about converting these spaces over to some sort of retail or other commercial function is beyond me. I’ve long believed that what Astoria, and LIC in general, needs is to cease being a referential dormitory community dependent on Manhattan and to plan/develop purposely as an exurb “city” instead.

The problems facing Steinway Street’s commercial establishments are hardly unique in modern day NYC, but the solution isn’t going to be offered by “anchor tenants” like Taco Bell or Chipotle. Steinway Street is not some midwestern shopping mall. Look to Roosevelt/Corona or Flushing for solutions to the retail crisis.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Given my recent trials, it’s kind of a rare thing for me to present either a shot of the Sunnyside Yards or a photo captured while the burning thermonuclear eye of God itself was twisting about in the sky, but there you are. One happened to be returning from a protest event offered by a cabal of leftist groups decrying the Sunnyside Yards proposal last week, and on my merry way back home I couldn’t help but crack out a couple of exposures at one of the facilities many fence holes, most of which are in my mental catalog.

Back tomorrow with something else, at this – your Newtown Pentacle.


“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 3, 2019 at 1:15 pm

damp pavement

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It’s Monday, are you cybering?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The fractured phalange situation is improving, and accordingly a humble narrator has been enjoying brief trots about the neighborhood once more. One is still taking it easy – baby steps as it were – since the busted toe smarts a bit and it’s always best to error on the side of caution with such matters. Nevertheless, the camera can’t be allowed to accumulate dust any longer and neither, concurrently, can I.

That’s 45th street between Northern Blvd. and 34th avenue pictured above, which will soon be where a vulgar display of power will be offered by the real estate industrial complex. It’s coming, Astoria.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

In my attempts at staying close to home, one has been positively haunting the Northern Blvd. and Broadway corridors here in Astoria. Of special interest during the endeavor, long exposure views of automotive traffic seem to be catching my eye. One has opined to anyone who might listen that this camera technique can reveal the hidden patterns of automotive “desire paths” and act as an aid to conversation about how to better use the shared roads of NYC.

Pictured above is a Q66 bus, which arrived in frame at an opportune moment.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One will resist the urge to visit Newtown Creek this week, unless duty calls. There’s a Newtown Creek Community Advisory Group meeting tonight at Sunnyside Community Services on 39th street, which I’m hoping will provide me with an opportunity to wave the camera around afterwards. I’m also meant to attend a holiday party towards the end of the week in lower Manhattan, one which I’ll likely sneak out of for a bit to set up the tripod and do some shooting. It’s nice to be mobile again.

If anybody knows of a section of Western Queens where an over the top display of Christmas lights might be found, leave me a message in the comments.


“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 2, 2019 at 12:15 pm

labyrinths impelled

with one comment

Heading home.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I won’t lie, my broken toe was really starting to smart when walking down the marble staircases at Grand Central Terminal. I’d been on my feet shooting for around 4 hours at this point, and whereas flat ground and standing still has become normal again, stairs and in particular walking down stairs seems to aggravate the still inflamed nest of rubber bands (tendons and ligaments) and the busted piece of chalk (the broken bone) in my left foot and big toe.

Interestingly, when I had it x-rayed, the medical folks referred to it as “the great toe” but there really isn’t anything that great about it. It’s funny, we have special names for all the fingers, but toes are just toes in the common tongue.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I made a special effort to find and use escalators on my journey into the deep. It seems that most people don’t understand the purpose of these devices and insist on running or walking down the moving steps. Seriously, I’m never in that much of a hurry given my nearly pathological need to show up early or on time with 15 minutes to spare for an appointment or obligation. Said pathology tends to negate and defeat the vagaries of mass transit.

In this case, however, I really couldn’t care less how long it would take to get back to Queens, as I was one stop away and would need to transfer anyway on the better side of the river anyway.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A quick transfer to the N at Queensboro Plaza and soon I was back in Astoria.

A ten minute walk from 31st street, with a stop at the Pizza guy, and a humble narrator was limping in the front door with a full camera card worth of new images to noodle around with. Dare I say it, Lords and Ladies?

Back in session.


“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 29, 2019 at 11:00 am

diminished perceptibly

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Happy Thanksgiving.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

After a couple of hours spent along the urban corridors surrounding Grand Central Terminal, one acceded to the ideation of “not overdoing it” regarding my broken toe, and began making my way towards the entrances at the western side of Grand Central Terminal in pursuance of boarding a subway which would carry me back to the rolling hills of raven tressed Astoria back in Queens. Along the way, I couldn’t resist cracking out a few more shots.

The one above involved a bit of cheating. It’s actually two exposures blended together, with one set for the Chrysler building and surrounding background and the other for the brightly lit entrance to Grand Central Terminal.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There’s a fancy pants skyscraper going up on the corner of Vanderbilt Place and 42nd street, the same one which I’ve been complaining about as ruining the fine silhouette of the Chrysler Building on the Manhattan skyline. As is the case with any construction job, even at night there’s a ton of activity going on.

Since I was about to enter the MTA properties again, and they have fairly iron clad rules about cameras, tripods, and so on… I broke down the kit I’d been using out on the streets and stored it away in my camera bag. The camera was then adorned with the sort of gear which isn’t forbidden by the MTA rules and I headed inside Grand Central Terminal.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Couldn’t resist capturing the cliche phot above, a time exposure which renders anybody not standing perfectly still as a shadowy phantom moving through the frame.

Often will I ponder about this sort of thing. Yes, it’s been done before, and thousands of times at that. Thing is, I haven’t done it before, so should I not do it? Is there nothing to be learned by capturing a familiar and quite “tourist” shot?


“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 28, 2019 at 11:00 am

relief party

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Grand Central Terminal at night.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As detailed in prior posts, a fairly serious crush injury and subsequent broken bone within the big toe of my left foot has been getting in the way of my normal activities, and a humble narrator has had to think strategically about how to continue working behind the camera while conserving my steps. Given that I normally ignore anything “The City” except the shorelines of Manhattan, and that the entire transit system is “Manhattancentric,” it seems that I’m going to be visiting the Shining City a bit more than normal in the coming weeks. Hell.

The particular outing detailed in this week’s Newtown Pentacle involves a ride on the 7 train through LIC and into Manhattan while recording some of those landmark structures overlooked in favor of the outlier areas that are normally inhabited by one such as myself. That’s Grand Central Terminal, quite obviously, in the shot above.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Now – during my art school days in Manhattan, at the School of Visual Arts, my focus wasn’t on photography. I was an illustration and cartooning major, and if you saw a young but already humble narrator in these parts pursuing his craft it would have involved a sketchbook. I’d always have one with me, and would often find a place to sit down and start drawing. I had friends who were majors in the photo and fine arts programs, and would sometimes run into them wandering around with film camera setups or behind an easel with a canvas on it “working from life.” In the 1980’s, it was a fairly common sight to see artists at work all over NYC.

Based on the looks and stares I was receiving from the modern populace, it is apparent that seeing artsy fartsy folk doing their thing is no longer a common sight in the Shining City. Seemingly, the only people who live in Manhattan these days are either millionaires or homeless. As a note, the crazy pants and or clown shoes crowd seem to like hanging about the Grand Central area as well. Guess they’ve been booted out of their traditional hunting grounds in the Union Square and Penn Station zones.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Speaking of art school, one drawing class which I remember fondly was one where we’d disperse into Grand Central and do quick three minute drawings of people. Now, 1980’s Grand Central wasn’t what it is today. Back then, it was hive of scum and villainy, and was colloquially known as the world’s largest homeless shelter. If you liked the crack, or the needle, it was likely that you were sleeping in, on, or around Grand Central Terminal. The structure itself was in a horrible state of repair. Squalid, dirty, nasty. Back then, you could still smoke inside of public buildings in NYC, and a pall of tobacco smoke hung about. The lower levels were the worst, and quite dangerous to hang around.

A buddy of mine claims to have visited the so called “condos” which the MTA swears up and down as having never existed. These were makeshift residences in side tunnels and accessways created by “morlocks” or “mole people” who never saw the burning thermonuclear eye of god itself wheeling about in the sky.


“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 27, 2019 at 11:00 am

lamenting bitterly

with one comment

More 7 train shenanigans.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

For the shot above, it took three attempts to get what I was looking for. I had to time the exposure so that I clicked the shutter roughly ten seconds before the 7 left the station, which gave me the open doors and some detail on the exterior of the train set. The twenty seconds that followed saw the doors close and the 7 leaving the station, hence the streaks of light from its running lights.

This shot was of the sort I had in mind when I set out from HQ in Astoria, on my “not too much walking” photo walk. That busted toe is still a factor.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I rode the 7 into the City, and debarked at the Grand Central stop. This platform can be referred to as “Grand Central Station” as it’s not the final stop for the subways rolling through it. The grand old building it sits under is Grand Central Terminal, indicating it as the destination for the rolling stock used by Metro North. The 7 has two terminal stops, one in Flushing out in Queens, and the other at Hudson Yards on Manhattan’s west side. I’m not nerdy about trains, but specificity is important when discussing any subject in an intelligent manner.

“Revenue service,” as in carrying paying customers, began in this station on the 22nd of June in 1915. Back then, the 7 was a short run, transiting between LIC’s Vernon Jackson and Grand Central. It wasn’t until November of 1916 that the trains began going to Queensboro Plaza, and the Flushing Line extension (to Alburtis Avenue) didn’t open until April of 1917. Times Square was reached in 1927, and 1928 is when the 7 reached Flushing. 2015 is when the Hudson Yards stop opened.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Upon arriving on the streets of Manhattan, a humble narrator hit the streets and changed the camera’s setup over to a proper tripod and a better lens configuration. My plan for the night was to try and keep both the Chrysler Building and Grand Central Terminal in frame and never stray too far from “Da Deuce,” or 42nd street for those of you not from “here.”

The broken toe thing, and I’ve got at least another month of healing ahead of me, means that one has to keep the scuttling to a minimum and really work the hell out of a spot when I’ve arrived at it. I can hear industrial Maspeth calling, but I dare not answer for a few weeks. In the meantime, the Shining City is sitting there like some kind of cheap whore, just waiting to be exploited.


“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 26, 2019 at 11:00 am

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