The Newtown Pentacle

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Tuesday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Another day, another walk. As mentioned, one is increasing the frequency of his exercises in the name of reducing his body weight. Thereby, a lot of “not too far from home” scuttles are underway.

That’s a section of the Sunnyside Yards in Long Island City pictured above, as seen from a fence hole along Thomson Avenue.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Before the recent spike in Covid numbers, one had been enjoying the option of using mass transit again, but c’est la vie.

That’s an M line subway entering the Court Square station, heading into Queens from Manhattan.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I laugh a bit whenever I encounter this particular food truck, which proclaims itself as being “The Boss of The Tacos.” I wonder if there’s any consensus between the food trucks as to who’s boss. Are there Taco factions, rivals, or breakaway Birria enthusiasts? Tacos are artisanal by their nature, since you’ve got to touch all of the components with your hand to assemble them.

Los Tacos, soy el Jefe!

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I’ve mentioned my recent fascination with photographing gas stations. It’s a damned difficult shot to get the exposure right, and also a real task to handle the photoshop/RAW processing on them. Bright lights, contrasting, saturated colors that want to go all comic book on you.

This one’s on Northern Blvd. and Newtown Road, nearby the Woodside Houses NYCHA campus.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A similar set of issues occur with car washes. This operation is a couple of blocks east of the gas station pictured above. The difficulty encountered with this shot is that I was standing across Northern Blvd. on the opposite sidewalk, and finding a fractional shutter interval without a vehicle moving into frame takes a while.

As you may have guessed, this particular evening’s walk was headed east rather than west. I like to mix things up occasionally.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There’s a small industrial zone found at the border of Astoria/Woodside/Sunnyside which I like to wander through. It’s a little too “populated” for my taste, surrounded as it is by a residentially zoned area. Check out that graffiti van though. That’ll teach this guy not to park here anymore, huh?

Back tomorrow with more.


“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 11, 2022 at 11:00 am

haggard watcher

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Monday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A humble narrator has really been hitting the bricks recently. Physical fitness has been a casualty of the pandemic for me, and I’ve passed through “overweight” and into “fat.” No doubt is held in my mind that the problems I’ve been experiencing, regarding my trick left foot, can be ameliorated by shedding body weight. Of course, the recursive side of this is that I’ve got to walk those pounds off, further aggravating the orthopedic situation in the affected foot, but as my grandmother used to say: suffering is why you were put here.

As mentioned last week, my exercise regime involves frequent short walks most days, with long walks occurring about every three to four days. A short walk for me starts at HQ in Astoria, nearby the 46th street stop on the R/M lines. I’ll scuttle in one direction or another, and in the case of today’s shots, that direction was towards the Hunters Point section of Long Island City.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On a short walk I try not have a specific destination or “shot list” in mind. Rather, I follow my toes, and go wherever they happen to be pointing. This is 29th street nearby the corner of 39th Avenue, looking southwards towards Queens Plaza and the looming glassine dormitories recently installed in the area.

There’s a narrative at work in this zone, wherein local residents who once stridently identified themselves as proponents of large scale hotel construction in the Dutch Kills neighborhood just north of Queens Plaza have suddenly realized the error of doing the Manhattan people’s bidding. The former Mayor decided that these hotels would make excellent homeless shelters during the pandemic.

There are so many homeless shelters here now that the people who supported the hotel build out are somewhat outnumbered in their own neighborhood by the transient population. Said transients are accused of misdeeds, offenses, and outright criminal behavior. The former Mayor didn’t want the Police involved in disciplinary applications for the transients, preferring that the shelter operators use private security. Of course, the City didn’t check to see if these operators actually hired anybody to perform that security function, but that’s kind of the De Blasio story – ain’t it?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Avoiding concentrations of the human infestation is always at the top of my list, but this becomes increasingly difficult due to the aforementioned installation of those glass walled dormitories in Long Island City. I really have to scuttle far afield for this pursuit, but no matter where you go, there they are.

Why dormitories, you ask? When a developer is erecting a building that participates in the “affordable housing” scam, ask them how many of those apartments aren’t studios or one bedrooms. The statistics on this are critical, since the “affordable” aspect is over and done with once the original tenant moves out and the apartment begins to move towards “market” price with every new lease signed. Two and three bedroom apartments attract families, who will predictably occupy the space continually while their kids journey through 13-14 school years. One bedroom, and studios, flip on average once every couple/three years.

Get it? See the way that works?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The last iteration of the City Council, in those mad last sixty days which those three termed rapscallions treated us to – after they were insulated from electoral consequence after Election Day – saw a plan for a skyscraper on the upper east side which will house facilities for the NY Blood Center approved by the body. Mention of the Blood Center’s presence here in LIC, in a two story warehouse building with a half block sized footprint, never came up. One wonders what will happen to the property in LIC. A hospital, school, or perhaps a modern precinct house for the 108? Bwahhh. You kidding?

They now call it “deeply affordable housing.” My favorite 9/11 era messaging involved the usage of the term “Now, more than ever” to sell laundry soap and Ford automobiles. Be alarmed, all the time, and your patriotic duty is to buy things. How can you be against “deeply” affordable housing… are you a systemically racist remnant of transphobic capitalism or what?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Things haven’t been the same in LIC since the thing in the cupola of the sapphire megalith departed. An inhuman intelligence which could not possibly exist, it stared down on low lying LIC and Astoria with its three lobed burning eye, coveting. A couple of years ago, it left the building in the manner of Elvis, leaving behind a mostly empty sapphire shell. The cupola used to be the highest point on Long Island, the tallest perch outside of Manhattan, but today it’s become a medium sized anachronism of earlier times.

Sarcasm, it drips, like venom.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Chickens come home to roost, most consequence is unintended, and housing is only “affordable” if someone can afford to pay the rent. Right now that’s the case, and landlords are somehow finding tenants that can drop 30-50 grand a year into their pockets. A lot of dirty laundry is going to start appearing soon, I think, as the twelve year long incumbents are out of office and the new seat fillers are going to have to start distracting the electorate away from their own machinations. The process of “throwing the last guy under the bus” is already underway. Thankfully we have a new Mayor.

Adams is going to be the best Mayor in New York City’s – or in fact the world’s – history – just ask him – he’ll tell you so.


“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 10, 2022 at 11:00 am

he wishes

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Friday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A bit of personal news, firstly. On December 30th, a humble narrator began to notice his throat feeling a bit sore. On New Year’s Eve, a wicked ibuprofen proof headache set in, and on New Year’s Day I developed a low grade fever with hot and cold flashes accompanied by body aches and fatigue. Given that this more or less describes the way I felt after getting the Covid vaccine a few months prior, guess what? The good news is since I am full vaxxed, the entire experience only lasted about 36 hours, and I’m back to the fine fettle I normally enjoy. Our Lady of the Pentacle is feeling similar symptoms as you’re reading this, minus the fever.

It was pretty miserable, but I’m glad that say that the vaccine protected me from ending up in a hospital. Overall, I’d give Covid 3 of 4 stars for physical misery, were I leaving it a Yelp review. Compared with what people I know experienced in middle 2020, this was a cakewalk, and wasn’t even close to the sickest I’ve ever felt from a virus.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Saying all that, won’t be heading out for a walk again for a few days, despite desperately needing some outside time and exercise. Pictured above is one of the very few “independent” gas stations left in Western Queens. I’ve been making it a point of recording gas stations for a couple of years now. Gas Stations are targets for Big Real Estate because of the size of the lots they inhabit, and because the titans of affordable housing tax abatements know that they can get New York State to pay for the environmental cleanup of said lots under the “NYS Brownfield Opportunity Areas” program. Believe me when I tell you that the local political people aren’t going to be approving any new permits for such establishments anytime soon, because climate change and “Four wheels bad, two wheels good.”

This is Maspeth, in a legendary locale known only as Haberman.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Oh, industrial Maspeth, the happy place, how I long for thee.

After shooting this photo, I boarded a rideshare taxi and headed home to Astoria. The shots above were captured after I had departed the company of that Grad Student whom I mentioned earlier in the week. Given that I had already scuttled around for about seven miles, I figured that a bit of comfort would be welcome. My driver told me about his theory that the last person legally elected President was Herbert Hoover. Under my mask, there was a big grin. My favorite conspiracy theories are the ones so grand in scope that they approach opera.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I was out the next night and shlepping down Steinway Street when I spotted a pair of atavist automobiles in front of a mechanic’s storefront. This was the first of several recent perambulations which I’ve described to Our Lady of the Pentacle as “local” and “not leaving the neighborhood.”

I’m trying to take more frequent walks these days, ones which are a bit shorter than walking home from the Brooklyn Navy Yard, in the name of burning off some of the pandemic blubber suit which I’m wearing. I’m not just overweight right now, I’ve gotten fat.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The plan I’ve hatched is to jack up my metabolism a bit with a two pronged regime. First is to cycle in daily walks of no less than 90 minutes, with longer walks scheduled every three to four days. What that means, as an example, would be to walk from Astoria to Dutch Kills in LIC and back – roughly 4 subway stops each way – followed by a longer walk on the third day – industrial Maspeth or East Williamsburg or Flushing. The dailies build up my stamina and endurance, while the longer ones build muscle and eat up the adipose. The wild card is that trick left foot of mine.

Hopefully, by late spring or early summer I can begin to see “fighting weight” coming up in my rear view mirror.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That green splotch on the left side of the shot is what happens when it starts to rain and a blob of water lands on the lens. There’s actually something I really like about the way that a distant traffic signal’s green light flowed into the droplet.

Back next week with some images from a newly instituted schedule of constant movement 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 7, 2022 at 11:00 am

he flees

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Thursday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On one of the very few public facing Newtown Creek walks of 2021, I was approached afterwards by one of the Gradate Students who had attended the thing. They asked me if I’d be willing to “show them the ropes” on the eastern side of Newtown Creek. This was before the current Pandemic surge condition set up, so I said “sure.”

I set a meet up point at 43rd street and Queens Blvd., but decided to take the train there from Astoria instead of the Q104 bus or just walking. M line to Jackson Heights, and transfer to the 7.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A buddy of mine in Astoria gives me the “you’re crazy” face when I tell him to go this way, as he likes transferring to the 7 Line at Court Square. He’s wrong, as it’s three stops to Jackson Heights from my stop in Astoria and 4 stops to Court Square. Given that his route goes through Queens Plaza, it’s always going to take longer.

I’m smart… Smart, not dumb, not like people say.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The particular path I took the grad student on involved some of the less visited spots along Newtown Creek like Maspeth Creek. As open sewers go, it’s a beauty.

Foliage, that’s what I kept on thinking. Foliage.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Luckily, the pandemic has annihilated another Newtown Creek business, this one a distribution hub for an international bakery company that sells snack cakes. Accordingly, open fences, and an opportunity to get a shot that I’ve never gathered before.

Funnily enough, some of my Newtown Creek people – who always tell me that I’ve seen too many movies – recently discovered that the Mafia are still active in the Maspeth area. Surprising, huh? Beverage and snack food distribution using fleets of trucks to deliver to all cash businesses like Bodegas… who would associate the Mafia with that… I mean, it’s not like you grew up in New England and I grew up in 1980’s Flatbush and Canarsie. Thereby, your point of view on this topic is superior to mine. Saying that, I had a neighbor whose car horn literally played “The Godfather”’s theme music.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Around the end of our walk, I asked the Grad Student where they wanted to be for sunset, which was greeted with a shrug. I suggested the Grand Street Bridge, and the view you see above.

This shot is from early December, which ended up being a pretty productive month for a humble narrator. The reason I’m embedding six shots in the posts at the moment is to try and catch up with the actual calendar.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Technically, this shot was captured in Brooklyn. The actual dividing line between the boroughs is more or less the dead bang center of the Grand Street Bridge.

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

January 6, 2022 at 11:00 am

he seeks

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Wednesday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The last stop on my early morning walk from the Brooklyn Navy Yard to Astoria… well, I didn’t make it to Astoria on foot since my left one was screaming with arthritic pain by this point… was the Meeker Avenue Street End site in Greenpoint. This used to be the Brooklyn side mooring of the Penny Bridge, replaced in 1939 by the “New Penny Bridge” which was renamed as the Kosciuszcko Bridge in 1940 and has since been replaced by the modern day Kosciuszcko Bridge seen above. I cannot count how many times I’ve had to make all of those connections to explain Penny Bridge over the years.

In every post describing every step of the way, I’ve mentioned the constancy of needing to find a place to pee or poop. Why? Well, in the midst of all the high fallutin political movements here in the City that never sleeps, one of the things that we continually ignore is basic human biology. You can decarcerate, you can include, you can… but you can’t work out how to create public bathrooms. The City has a hundred billion dollar budget and there’s no way to solve this.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

During non pandemic times, the “NYC system” revolved around walking into a diner or fast food joint and ordering something cheap off the menu – like a coffee – and then asking if the facilities are available. That’s what’s known as “passing a problem off to the private sector.” We do a lot of that here in NYC. The political estate mandates stuff all the time, and then hopes that the private sector can work out the details. It’s a big part of the pandemic issue right now. Vaccine requirements are meant to be enforced by bars and restaurants, but there’s no clear set of regulations for them to follow, nor is there a clear set of instructions for what to do if somebody refuses to cooperate other than summoning the cops to come and do their usual wrecking ball “overt display of authority” thing. It’s dopey.

My understanding is that NYPD’s morale is at the lowest it’s been since the late 1980’s. Telling people what to do is different than convincing them to do what’s best for everyone. It’s not a Cop’s job to do the latter, it’s a politician’s. Our Politicians all want to be superstars, and spend most of their time coming up with new laws rather than finding ways to make the old ones work better, and expect the cops to enforce whatever the hell it is they just came up with. Also, our laws never get retired, despite irrelevancy or ineffectiveness. You still can’t keep a goat, ferret, or chicken in your apartment for instance, and the NYC Anti Mask mandate of 1845 is still on the books. It’s illegal to wear a mask in public in several regions of the United States, which was a 1960’s statutory response to the Ku Klux Klan. The NYC version was installed to keep landlords from sending masked gangs into tenement buildings to keep their tenants in line.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Politicians rattle on about climate issues, but the vast majority of the so called affordable housing built under the recent regime, in the last decade, is rated “D” or worse by the City’s Department of Buildings on energy efficiency. Fossil fuel companies are the culprits, they say, and not the political campaigns which take election year contributions from National Grid and a host of other “energy and job providers.” What is the “super power” of a City Council member? It’s called ULURP, for NYC’S “Uniform Land Use Review Procedure,” which effectively gives an office holder the power to shape development in their district. ULURP power is also held by the Borough Presidents, and City Hall. You need Council, BP, and Mayor’s offices to sign off on this process. The latter can overwrite what the former opposes, but that’s a whole other story which involves pecking order and rank.

Let’s say that you’re a City Council Member – would you demand that new construction in your district include real estate investment that has environmental benefit and green space? Playgrounds? Transit contributions? Or – would you just let the same players who have been raping the urban environment and exploiting the political system’s vanity your whole life sidle up to the trough for another rich meal? Tenants don’t write checks during election campaign season, after all, landlords do.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The mantra… Nothing matters and nobody cares…

There’s a situation at another section of the fabulous Newtown Creek, one in Long Island City, which grows increasingly perilous. A collapsing shoreline and tidal action which is clearly undermining a well travelled street that’s within a stone’s throw of LaGuardia Community College and several charter schools. Reporting the situation to the relevant agency was the most depressing experience I had in 2021, and given what the rest of that cursed year was like… The agency essentially said that they wouldn’t even inspect the situation since they looked at it three years ago when a different section of the shoreline collapsed.

Now, if a thumb tack was found in a bike lane – they’d call the FBI – but… Bah.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A few people on the Twitter have asked me why I keep on rattling on about bike lanes, which is a program and network expansion thereof that I’m generally very much in support of. Here’s the thing – bike lane support doesn’t make you an environmental crusader – and support for a network of protected pathways for non automotive traffic to flow through isn’t a substitute for talking about the frankly existential storm water issue, and about legitimate and actual open soil green space. The actual implementation of most of these bike lanes has been piss poor – painting the gutter green, and surrounding it with plastic sticks about 30% of the way isn’t sufficient. You need actual physical separation, as in concrete barriers, not paint and plastic sticks. You also need to install a fourth lens on traffic signals, which will allow bikes an extra thirty to forty five seconds to cross and clear intersections before vehicular traffic gets the go ahead. Other cities with fewer resources have managed this.

If I’m wrong, then why did the Vision Zero years see traffic related fatalities go up instead of down? I swear, if anyone brings up Amsterdam to me again… Amsterdam has a population of just under 900,000 living in the central city, and about 2.5 million in its “greater metropolitan” area. The latter number is about how many people live just in the Borough of Queens. When a City agency tells you why they can’t do something it’s “because of scale,” but then they bring up freaking Amsterdam as an example of what’s possible. This is New York City, we don’t follow trends, we set them.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

See that leaking fire hydrant? I’ve watched it leak for about 15 years. It’s been reported to the City hundreds of times. The water it oozes carries street garbage to a nearby sewer grate which empties directly into Newtown Creek. The garbage causes the grate to become clogged, which creates a garbage pond. The pond, in turn, slowly empties into Newtown Creek carrying trash along with the flow. The last time that I managed to get the drain cleared, you want to know who I called to bring in a work crew? ExxonMobil. They operate some of their pumping equipment nearby, for the oil spill cleanup operation, and when I mentioned the “optics” of this to one of their principals, it was handled quickly and they used heavy equipment to scoop away the garbage pond’s embankments. Saying that, it was about four or five years ago. The hydrant continues to leak, and the pond grows. Someday, there’s going to be a waterbody called “Lake Meeker” here. Will that qualify as green space, or parkland?

Nothing matters, and nobody cares.


“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 5, 2022 at 1:00 pm

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