The Newtown Pentacle

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Posts Tagged ‘Calvary Cemetery

made wild

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It’s freaking Friday?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A few odds and ends for today’s post. That’s a Department of Sanitation recycling pickup truck exiting from DUGABO – Down Under the Greenpoint Avenue Bridge Onramp – back onto the normal street grid in Long Island City’s Blissville section. Now, as I often chide – you’ve got garbage trucks from all over Queens making their way to Newtown Creek to drop off their collections. The truck above is based at DSNY’s Queens 13 garage, which is in Flushing. This bit of information should make you wonder about equity, environmental justice, and why you don’t find transfer stations (which is what you call the facilities which garbage trucks dispose of their collections) in the communities which are generating the trash.

Instead, little Blissville does the job for the rest of the Borough, and what do they get in return? Local hiring? Compensation for the annual tens of thousands of truck trips moving through their community? What?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Apologies for today’s post being a couple of hours behind normal schedule, but one was up late exploring on of those internet rabbit holes you occasionally find yourself trapped in. This one involved people setting themselves on fire. Combustion seems to be another one of those concepts which some do not grasp, or seem to have much foreknowledge of. I saw one where, for some reason, a young lady decided it would a great idea to fill a drinking glass with rubbing alcohol and then strike a match.

Fire is a punk way to die, incidentally. Brrr.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It would seem that here in Astoria there’s a fellow named Omar who only has one boxing glove. If you’re reading this, Omar, 34th Avenue and 44th street is where the left one is. Another public service offered.

More fun next week, at this – your Newtown Pentacle.

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 15th. 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.

stamped out

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Maspeth!

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That recent long walk I mentioned found me over in industrial Maspeth, experimenting with various camera settings, as regarding capturing photos of the Kosciuszcko Bridge and its weird illumination. LED lights, architecturally speaking, are insanely bright. They also produce unnatural colors which wreak havoc on the color theory algorithms in digital cameras. Since the Governor literally flipped a switch turning on the bridge’s lighting system a couple of years ago, I’ve been fairly bedeviled by its idiosyncrasies.

A big part of the problem is that the bridge’s lights rotate through a chroma key, turning yellow, green, blue, red, violet… when all those colors add up on your camera sensor it equals bright white – as you see in the shot above.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Not wanting to sacrifice the sharpness of the captured image at my lens’s hyper-focal “infinity” setting, one has been playing around with length of shutter speed and sensor ISO sensitivity all winter and into the spring. The shot above, depicting both the Kosciuszcko and the Empire State Building flashing red and showing Newtown Creek as well, represents a set of trade offs which I’m kind of happy with.

When you’ve got a bunch of time on your hands, and all of your summer gigs have been cancelled due to a pandemic, you might as well figure out new ways to configure and work with the camera – right?

That which doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, with the notable exception of polio. Polio makes a mess out of you.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A different set of experiments are at work in the shot above, which is actually three separate images combined into one in a Photoshop process called “focus stacking.” You set up a stable camera base – a tripod or whatever – and then move the shot’s focus point around. One focus point is on the distant Kosciuszcko Bridge, another on the mid ground tomb stones, and the third is on the trunk of that tree. These are narrow aperture shots, so all these elements would have been sharply rendered anyway, but the stacking technique is a skill I’ve been meaning to understand and use for a while, and since I essentially have no there reason to wake up I might as well hone some of my lesser used skills. Also, the “stacking” assures a uniform level of sharpness throughout the image.

Back Monday, or whatever, with something else. I don’t know what exactly, I’m just hoping to still be alive by then.

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, April 27th. 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.

guards around

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I remember…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There used to be others… They had distinctive faces, but I can’t remember what they looked like anymore. Some were tall and ugly, others short and pretty, and they came in a variety of sizes and colors. That was then, before the masks and the sirens. Now, it’s just me, wandering in wan darkness towards weird illuminations and through the abandonments. The concrete devastations remain the same, as does their odor.

One has finally worked out the correct procedure for capturing the queer lighting of the new Kosciuszko Bridge, but who might know? The shot above depicts the span, alongside the garbage train, on Review Avenue in Blissville and across the street from a polyandrion which is called Calvary by the Roman Catholics.

The weather was chill, my urethral bladder full, and hurt did my left foot do. Other than that, a humble narrator was having a grand old time. I’ve always opined that what this city needed was a good plague, and here we are.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

When you really want to embrace hopelessness, despair, and truly commune with how screwed we all are right now – talk to a history boy like me. I’ll tell you about historical plagues – civilization enders all – which lasted for hundreds of years. The so called Plague of Justinian is my go to for that sort of thing, and it really wipes the smile off of listener’s faces. Calvary Cemetery, pictured above, actually owes its existence to a series of epidemics that scythed through early 19th century NYC, resulting in the Rural Cemetery Act of 1848.

Of note during our current collective storyline, the NYS Anti Mask Law of 1847 is going to end up having some dire consequence with all of us walking around with masks on, I fear. NYPD was enforcing that one as late as 2011, during the “Occupy Wall Street” protests. Did you also know that’s it’s illegal to keep a goat in your apartment in NYC? I’m not judging if you do keep a goat, after all what a person does inside the confines of their residence isn’t for me to judge, but it is technically illegal. Same thing with owning a ferret. Sodomy is kosher, though.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Closer to home, and actually on my way back home to Astoria, I was attracted by the glowing white cruciform adorning the fortress like walls of a mega church on 37th Avenue. It’s the New York Presbyrterian church, as a point of fact, and just for the history boy trivia folks – 37th Avenue used to be called Dutch Kills Street prior to the creation of the Sunnyside Yards. The congregation is largely Korean in ethnicity, I’m told, and the building that the church is housed in used to be an industrial laundry operation. In 1999, a 1,500 seat sanctuary was added to the prexisting complex.

Said complex was built in 1931 for the Knickerbocker Ice Company‘s Laundry division, which inhabited the space until 1970. The Naarden Perfume Company was then based in the space until 1986, whereupon the building was sold to the church people. Apparently, the size of the congregation qualifies this as a “mega church,” which is a fun thing to say out loud in full Brooklynese. Try it. May Gah Choich.

There used to be others…

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, April 27th. 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.

latent fright

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Review Avenue.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The property at the left handed side of the shot above is all that remains, original building wise, of Standard Oil’s Queens County Oil Works. Workers at Standard referred to this facility as the “Candle Factory,” I’m told, as their principal product output involved the handling and manufacture of materials which would be incorporated into road flares and other fuel “candles” made from petroleum derivates like naphtha and paraffin. The footprint of the old Queens County Oil Works site incorporates the properties of the first large oil works on Newtown Creek, but that’s another story.

On the right hand (or eastern side) of the shot is First Calvary Cemetery’s great masonry wall, which contains the tomb legions.

The (presumptively) Consolidated Edison people have been busy for the last six months or so on that eastern side of the street replacing a few utility poles and stringing new high tension electrical wires between them, as well as digging out underground vaults for and then installing new electrical transformers in.

The new wires they’ve arrayed interact with tree branches growing off of the masonry elevation’s crown at Calvary, the interaction thereof producing eerie sounds as they sway in the wind. There’s a “clacking” staccato when the branches strike the wires, and a deep basso sound is produced when the wires rub sonorously against the wooden boughs. It sounds a great deal like some grandiose orchestra is playing a weird and alien tune, and kind of freaks you out.

Again, not wearing headphones nor listening to music or an audiobook at the moment, in an attempt to be 100% aware of my surroundings.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One often opines to elected officialdom and NYS regulator alike about the overload of weight that the utility people place onto those poles of creosoted wood, which carry the abundant wiring that keeps our civilization powered and connected here in Western Queens. I notice things, and this thing is concerning.

To wit, observe the bowing of that utility pole in the shot above, at the corner of 37th street and Review Avenue. The only thing keeping this wooden cylinder from snapping in half, as this is an older utility pole and not a newly installed one, is a conduit of iron piping which is acting like a spine.

A non emergency problem to solve in a different time, I say. Another reason to survive all this is looking forward to annoying the NYS Utility Board regulators on this topic – and looking forward to it, I am. One was conspiring with Assemblyman Brian Barnwell’s office on this topic, regarding the utility pole situation back in Astoria, before CoronAmerica manifested its ugly face and the world went to hell.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Observationally speaking, I’m not sure how the medallion taxi industry is going to survive this crisis. Everywhere that I’ve been marching about, which as you’ve seen here are the abandoned industrial streets of Long Island City, entire fleets of yellow cabs are sitting inert. Whereas the FEMA people famously have their “Waffle House” index to gauge the impact of hurricanes and storms, I have a yellow cab index.

I also have a drug dealer index. Now, I’m not in that particular market, but I keep an eye on it and periodically check in with people I know who are narcotic enthusiasts about the supply and demand situation. I like to know commodity prices. It seems that a “weed drought” is on, and that the heroin people are literally climbing the walls trying to find a fix. Don’t know many coke people these days, but apparently that’s another imported commodity which is becoming ever harder to acquire.

Also, on a personal note, today is the day in 2011 that we lost my Newtown Creek Alliance pal Bernie Ente.

Note: I’m writing this and several of the posts you’re going to see for the next week at the end of the week of Monday, March 30th. 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.

ancient overmantle

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Walking in Blissville.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A recent night found one scuttling about in the darkness while drawn towards the weird illuminations of the Kosciuszcko Bridge, which spans the fabulous Newtown Creek. Pictured above is the northeast corner of LIC’s First Calvary Cemetery, a photo which was shot using a somewhat different technique than the now tried and true methodology I use for night shots, which is why it looks a bit “different.”

An observation made during the walk, from Astoria to Blissville via Sunnyside, was that since all of the humans are staying in at night now, and automotive traffic is at an all time low, the normally furtive eidelons of nature are free to wander about.

Lots and lots of Raccoons, Opossums, and Rodents of all typologies were spotted along the way. Proof of what I’ve been saying for years, that if we were able to allow the mechanisms of the natural environment just a little bit of room, we’d lick the various problems facing our civilization pretty quickly.

Unfortunately, it’s taken the near collapse of that civilization to prove my point.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Growing up in a home where the reaction to leaving a faucet dripping was greeted with the same emotional and tangential severity as having discharged a firearm, one developed a series of coping mechanisms which have served me well over the years and have gained me the reputation of being “good in a crisis.” Unlike most, when I see that the house is on fire, my first instinct isn’t to assign blame but rather to pick up a hose or fire extinguisher and fix the problem in the most expeditious fashion possible. “Plenty of time to freak out afterwards” I always say. I guess I learned something from my batshit crazy mother after all, which at least takes the form of how and when one should react to random stressors.

Saying that, even my legendary ability to subsume and bury emotional stress is fracturing. Periodic walks like the ones described in recent weeks are sanity inducing.

Just as I was shooting the image above, a couple of plain clothes NYPD officers rolled up on me and began asking the familiar “why are you taking pictures of the bridge” queries. The encounter was short and non eventful, but it actually made me feel “normal” for a few minutes. Afterwards, rumination revealed that whereas I’ve had this exact same conversation with private security dozens of times in the last few years, it had been a long while since I had to have it with a badge.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Not having the super bright lights of the new Koscisuzcko Bridge blow out the highlights of any night shot they’re in is still a challenge which I haven’t been able to conquer, in a single exposure, yet. The middle shot in today’s post was severely underexposed to compensate for the bridge lighting, as I wanted to get the “red, white, and blue” pattern it was displaying. The shadows were “pushed” during processing to allow for detail in the shot. One technique I’ve experimented with is to do two exposures and then marry them together, but it’s a lot of work to get them to look “right.” I prefer to “get it in one” and whereas I know all about HDR, that technique really isn’t the answer either.

Luckily, I have lots of time on my hands to experiment. How are you spending your Quarantine, Lords and Ladies?

Note: I’m writing this and several of the posts you’re going to see for the next week at the end of the week of Monday, March 30th. 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.

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