The Newtown Pentacle

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Posts Tagged ‘Carridor

burned out

with 2 comments

Hey, what’s with all this Northern Blvd. stuff?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I know what is to come. In recent years, the NYC Dept. of City Planning was working on something they called “LIC Core,” a planning document centering around Northern Blvd. between 31st street and Woodside Avenue. My understanding is that the planning document has been abandoned, and that the Real Estate Industrial Complex will just be allowed to do whatever they want under the proviso that a politically viable number of “affordable” apartments are a part of their plan. The whole “affordable” thing, and the arithmetic by which the concept of affordability is determined, is a bugbear of political deception which I don’t want to get into.

As mentioned in the past, I’m now a member of Community Board 1 here in Astoria, and before the summer break, a humble narrator was obliged to vote for or against a couple of these projects. Now, when you’re on a community board – and I seem to be the only person in Queens who adheres to this – it’s meant to be like serving on a jury. The petitioner presents their facts, you make inquiries, and then you vote. In the case of two large projects just a few blocks from my own home, I voted yes. Here’s why…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Close to transit, shopping, and City services? Check. Best use of the land? Well, I don’t think used car lots are the best use of the land within one to two miles of the East River. How densely populated is the area already? Well…. let’s just say that when the kids want to experiment with cannabinoids well outside the purview of their parents or just see how loud their car stereos are, the side streets along Northern Blvd. are where they go, as it’s a ghost town at night after all the car lots and mechanics shutter their doors. People sleep in their cars along these blocks, or on cardboard boxes piled up against the walls.

Just like when you’re on a jury, your CB vote is supposed to be based not on personal prejudices or preconceived notions, rather it’s meant to be guided by the presented facts and informed by your personal knowledge of the area. Saying that, my queries and comments to the various entities seeking to develop residential properties in the neighborhood revolved around topics that longtime Newtown Pentacle readers will find familiar – green roofs, truly public space, stormwater capture, hospital beds, school desks, and transit. Also, what are you going to plug the building into, since our electrical power system hereabouts… frankly… sucks.

Also – since this has come up a few times during the summer when I was talking to the press about unrelated Newtown Creek business – I in no way speak for CB1, and if you want an official opinion of the group on anything, talk to the Chair or call the office and ask for one. I’m still new to the Community Board, and getting to know not just my fellow members but also the procedural norms under which it operates. My plan for the next set of sessions, which begin again in September, is to show up and observe the way things work and then vote my conscience on the various issues presented. What you read here is from my personal POV, and all opinions are my own. If I’m speaking “officially” on behalf of any of the groups which I work with, I’ll state that. Otherwise, it’s just some schmuck with a camera mouthing off again.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Saying all that, and I’m still startled at the number of people who have willingly made their homes in Queens Plaza, living along Northern Blvd. seems like a poor choice. You do have fairly regular bus service, but the closest subway stops (other than the 36th street R/M) are all several blocks to the north – in Astoria proper – along Broadway. I’ve long called this stretch of Northern Blvd. the “Carridor” as it’s a super wide primary automobile and truck route that offers some of the scariest street crossings in all of Queens. Really, Steinway at Northern… brrrr…

At the moment, I’m spending some effort on recording what’s found on the Carridor right now, in order to create some kind of record before it all gets swept away by the forces of modernity and the rapacious hunger of the Real Estate Industrial Complex. The history of NYC is a story of wrenching, and quite sudden, change. Take a picture when something catches your interest, as it might not be there 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

August 27, 2019 at 11:00 am

hastily filling

with 3 comments

Back in session.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A humble narrator has enjoyed his self allotted time off, if you’re the curious type. Given the tropical clime and frequent rainstorms, the last two weeks haven’t exactly been a wonderland of joy, but evening hours when the temperatures were a bit more tolerable were exploited. During these nocturnal scuttlings around the various neighborhoods I keep an eye on, it was decided to severely limit the amount of “kit” one carried and utilized in my pursuits.

The normal “everyday carry” of heavy zoomable lenses, tripod, and all the other crap I normally drag around was left at HQ. Leaving the house, all I had on me were two prime lenses – a 24mm pancake lens and the 50mm “nifty fifty.” For camera support, I was carrying a gizmo called an “ultra pod,” which is a metal plate with a tripod head on it and four latex furniture caster feet. Beyond that, all I had on me was an air blower and a couple of lens cloths, a flash light, and a cable release. The camera bag weighed more than what was inside it. Perfect for roaming around on sultry August evenings, here in the Borough of Queens.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One of the worst things you can tell any kind of artist is “do whatever you feel like.” Limitations are important, as that’s where challenge lies. The tyranny of the blank page has demolished the aspirations of many, whereas forcing oneself to write or draw or photograph within set limits is an invitation to “get creative.”

The cool thing about the ultrapod and the tiny and extremely light lenses I was using was that this setup forced me to slow down a bit and really put some thought into where the camera was placed, rather than just zooming in on a subject. Additionally, it put me back into the mental space I used to operate in back when I first got serious about shooting and was using a Canon G10 mounted on a magnetic tripod. My camera has been sitting on top of fireboxes, on the sidewalk, windowsills – you name it – for the last couple of weeks.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Saying all that, the one thing I was constantly wishing for during this particular two week long exercise was a more modern camera body with one of those neato keen flip out screens. Composing the shot above found a humble narrator lying prone and belly down onto the pavement on the corner of 38th street and Northern Blvd., which was kind of gross.

The Canon 7D is a champion camera body – tough, resistant to the constant physical and emotional abuse I inflict on it, and quite the omnivore as far as the number of common tasks it can handle ably. Saying that, I’m quite attracted to the new Canon mirrorless R series cameras, but everyone I know recommends getting a Sony A7 series with a third party adaptor for my lenses instead. This is all intellectual, of course, as a humble narrator doesn’t have two pennies to rub together. I’d need several hundred thousand rubbable pennies for a new camera.


“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

August 26, 2019 at 1:00 pm

piled coffins

with 3 comments

Friday odds and ends.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Queens Cobbler knows no shame, as evinced by the baby booty pictured above, which the probable serial killer left behind as a ghastly trophy and taunt on Northern Blvd. Babies, Cobbler?

Today’s post carries a few images I captured while doing something else or heading towards a location where I was intending to do some shooting. “Catch as catch can” shots like these fall under my category of “snapshots” rather than the ones I consider “photographs.” What’s the difference? “Intentionality” would be my answer.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

To wit, that’s a fairly nice shot from the Celtic Park section of Sunnyside depicting the Empire State building rising on the horizon. I didn’t set out to get the shot, rather I was walking over to the Kosciuszcko Bridge to get some “photographs” and while crossing the street this image just jumped out at me. I’m not downplaying serendipity, and being ready for captures on the fly, but you could have just as easily gotten this shot with your phone as I did with the dslr I always have dangling off of me.

I’ve always got the camera ready to fire, as a note. Always.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Over in Brooklyn’s Sheepshead Bay section, this butterfly suddenly appeared. How can the itinerant photographer not capture its splendor?

I’ll be conducting a tour on the NYC Ferry Soundview line tomorrow morning, link is below. Come with? Looks like it’s going to be a perfect summer day. Back Monday with something completely different at this, your Newtown Pentacle.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle


Upcoming Tours and Events


Saturday, August 10, 10 a.m. 12.00 p.m.

Exploring the East River, From General Slocum Disaster to Abandoned Islands – with NY Adventure Club.

June 15th is one of those days in NYC history. In 1904, more than a thousand people boarded a boat in lower Manhattan, heading for a church picnic on Long Island — only 321 of them would return. This is the story of the General Slocum disaster, and how New York Harbor, the ferry industry, and a community were forever altered.

Join New York Adventure Club for a two-part aquatic adventure as we explore the General Slocum disaster, and historic sights and stories along the East River, all by NYC Ferry.

Tickets and more details
 here.


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

August 9, 2019 at 1:00 pm

urbane rector

with one comment

It’s National Caramel Day, in these United States.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As a well known physical coward, and after having observing that a quartet of fourth graders (whose aspect I did not like) were heading my way along Northern Boulevard the other day, it seemed logical to duck under a parked car and hide. You really just cannot be too careful these days. While passing the time it would take for these rough looking nine to ten year olds to exit the scene, one pondered about life in Western Queens and the meaning of it all. Also, I wondered how I was going to wiggle my fat ass out from under this car, which was pretty easy to dive under, but which ended up being a tighter fit than one would have guessed.

Banal reality is all I’ve got, what can I tell you?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

“The Queens Cobbler” is the name I’ve assigned to a likely serial killer operating hereabouts whose macabre trophies adorn the streets of Queens in the form of singular orphan shoes. The Cobbler left behind one of his or her little messages on Broadway in Astoria recently, pictured above. It’s my belief that, just like Jack the Ripper, the Queens Cobbler is connected to one of our noble political families and that both the press and police are laboring to keep the thing quiet just for the sake of maintaining everyone’s patronage. You won’t get to be judge, or a DA, or a Captain, or an editor, if you piss them off. There’s rumors, of course…

Maybe that’s just a cast off shoe, or maybe not… the question you have to ask is – where’s the other one? You and your “Occam’s razor.” pffft.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Usually, whenever a humble narrator leaves the house, people point and stare. Women clutch at their handbags, mothers gather their children close, and dogs begin to whine pitiously. If one steps out of line in any minor way – say jay walking, or depositing metal foil in a bin marked for paper – a crowd gathers and law enforcement displays an enviable level of efficiency and deployment. These sorts of experiences are why one is constantly confused by the freedom enjoyed by serial graffitists, the bastards who post those cash for cars stickers, and those who can urinate anywhere they choose to.

My reverie beneath the car was broken when the owner of my hiding place began heading towards the vehicle, as signaled by the “beep boop” signal sent by the electronic key chain fob to the conveyance. One rolled out from my shadowed safe space and discovered that that the threatening quartet of sinister seeming children had moved on, so once again I stood and faced the concretized reality of Western Queens – here in the Newtown Pentacle.


Upcoming Tours and events

First Calvary Cemetery walking tour, May 6th.

With Atlas Obscura’s Obscura Day 2017, Calvary Cemetery Walking Tour – details and tix here.

MAS Janeswalk free walking tour, May 7th.

Visit the new Newtown Creek Alliance/Broadway Stages green roof, and the NCA North Henry Street Project – details and tix here.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

April 5, 2017 at 11:00 am

utmost interest

with 3 comments

It’s World Hijab Day.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Boy oh boy, it has been a fairly depressing couple of weeks, huh?

As mentioned in the past, several of the casual friendships I enjoy at my local saloon include fellows who were Trump supporters. They’ve been forcing the rest of us to eat crow since the election, a phenomena which I’ve termed as being “sore winners.” Funny bit is, last week I was sitting alongside one of them “shooting the shit” when his phone began to light up as his union coworkers began teasing him that he’s too fat to be able to climb back in to the country over Trump’s wall. He, Mumbly Joe that is, presumed that when Mr. Trump talked about illegal aliens or those who have overstayed their visa period it was in reference to Mexicans and not Croatians. In my neighborhood, here in Astoria, back in the 1970’s when the predominant numbers of Yugoslavian and Greeks emigrated – it was far easier to get citizenship and green card paperwork fulfilled by certain distaff members of the Italian community for a fee than it was to “go through channels” with the Feds. This is also true for the Irish emigres of the 70’s and 80’s, incidentally.

As always – be careful what you ask for, as you just might get it.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One has truly enjoyed watching Mayor de Blasio attempting to position himself as figure of national importance during all this, presenting himself as the opposition to the current administration in Washington. The Mayor of NYC is an important position, of course, but City Hall does not “get you a seat on the rocket” which will launch and preserve the lives of important people as the world is ending. It’s also been a joy comparing him to Dickens’ Jakob Marley, dragging the chains of his own perfidy and legal trouble around as he has postured on the national stage.

Speaking on a strictly local level – why are we taxpayers expected to pay the nearly twelve million bucks for the legal defense teams that will attempt to keep the “dope from Park Slope” and his cronies from paying the piper for his sins?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It has actually been a pleasure watching the Democrats, both national and local, trying to figure out a way to attach themselves to the spontaneous and self organizing protests springing up all around them. Ever since the 1990’s, the national party has been operating in a space which – back in the 1980’s and 90’s – would have labeled them as centrist Republicans. Big business, corporatism, a deep embrace of the “forever war.”

When I’ve had labels thrown at me in the last few years – libtard, liberal, etc. – I’ve asked “What does that mean”? There hasn’t been a true liberal in the national sense since President Johnson (or just maybe Carter) and the last “actual” conservative on the Republican side was Bush the elder. Bill Clinton and Obama were actually left leaning conservatives, Bush the younger was a “radical,” and what we’ve got now… well, there isn’t a name for what Trump is yet.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My buddies at the bar all tell me “give him a chance.”

I respond that Trump has already blown that chance, just in the first days he’s been in office. I’ve been following with great interest the early signs of factionalization amongst the National Republicans, as the actual “conservatives” are beginning to break away from the White House. One thing that’s been truly interesting to consider is the observation that Speaker of the House Paul Ryan is actually the most powerful person in the country right now, simply because it’s the Speaker of the House who holds the switch that triggers impeachment. In the meantime, Donald Trump has nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons, as well as the ability to unleash the greatest military machine in human history on anyone he wants.

The Congress hasn’t held this much actual power since the early days of the imperial Presidency back in the 1950’s, incidentally.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s it for my little missive about National and Local Politics. As I’ve been saying since the election, National stuff is way above my pay grade, and I’m laser focused on local matters which directly affect me and mine. The Sunnyside Yards decking battle is coming, and the Superfund situation on a certain local waterway is about to come to a head. We are being developed to death by the Real Estate shit flies, and Western Queens is under siege by opportunists from Manhattan. There’s an Underground Railroad to set up for the Mexicans… simply put, there’s lots to do.

Bill de Blasio and his vainglory must be sent back to Park Slope, and ultimately – Carthage must be destroyed.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

February 1, 2017 at 2:00 pm

unctuous haggling

with one comment

Banal pedantry, Northern Blvd., and the carriers of cars – in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Wandering about in the dark along the Carridor, or Northern Blvd. as most people call it, one was recently contemplating his place in the world and the meaning of everything. Given that any long hard look in the mirror only depresses a humble narrator, I tend to avoid turning my famously incisive vision upon myself for fear of what I may see in a pane of silvered glass. I’ve taken to wandering about in the dark these days, suffering the lapsing of the lonely hours one must endure before the beckoning of the grave becomes irresistible, and in darkness so as to spare others a chance meeting with one so aberrant.

How’s that for holiday season depression? Pretty good, huh?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This section of the Northern Blvd. Carridor is distinguished by gargantuan used car lots, and the biggest one is owned and operated by Major Auto World. There’s a couple of smaller players, but if you’re between 43rd and 47th streets and spot a car lot, the odds are that the auto retailer is owned or franchised by Major.

The good news is that unlike Northern Astoria or Maspeth, no mob of torch wielding peasants has ever chased me around these parts. A monster does have feelings, y’know.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One became fascinated watching the dark of night show as multiple car carriers disgorged their cargo to the various car lots for display and eventual sale. Car Carriers are endlessly engaging and curious vehicles to me, although the ones I’m truly occupied by are the ones that carry trucks to the car lots. The whole idea of a truck which carries trucks appeals to me, but – after all – I am an idiot.

At any rate, the ones spotted recently at the Carridor were carrying cars, not trucks.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The amazing part of all of this action on Northern Blvd. – to me – was the haphazard manner in which it was conducted. Spending as much time as I do around union guys – my neighbor Mario sets up safety cones when we BBQ – it is startling to see the car carriers unloaded right into the middle of oncoming traffic with nothing more than the truck’s hazard lights to indicate to oncoming traffic that a sticky situation is about to be entered.

What do I know, however? It’s all banal, isn’t it?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The trucker unloading this car carrier rig noticed me taking pictures and shot me what would have been called – in my old neighborhood in Brooklyn – as the “hairy eyeball.” Not really caring too much, and hoping for some sort of antagonist provocation to break through the numb pedantry of my daily round, I kept shooting.

Nothing happened, though, and it was decided that my existential boredom hadn’t peaked yet.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One last shot, captured whilst scuttling away to the west.

The whole “night photography thing” continues to excite me, as you may have noticed. A couple of new “digital darkroom” tricks I’ve worked out and have begun to institute in pursuance of conquering the digital “noise” inherent in lowlight shots are also proving highly interesting.

Saying that, I’m still not exactly in love with my results, but I’m starting to get close to where I want to go.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

To wit, this shot from Greenpoint, which is the sort of “range of human vision” effect that I’m pursuing.

Something to do in the dark, I guess. It’s all pretty depressing, though.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

December 6, 2016 at 11:00 am

past imagining

with one comment

Wandering, wandering.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Last week, a brief interval allowed me to escape from HQ, where a kitchen renovation has been underway for the last couple of weeks. My landlord, distressed by my reports of rodentine occupation in the so called “wet wall” found behind the 1970’s era cabinetry affixed to it, sent in the Croatians. Said Croatians have been doing a brilliant job, and are nearing completion of the project after two weeks of work (which is bit of a miracle itself here in Astoria), but I’ve been stuck here keeping an eye of things and ensuring that Zuzu the dog doesn’t wander into a tile saw or something.

Luckily, Our Lady of the Pentacle invoked a “work from home day” last week, allowing me the freedom to go on one of those ridiculously long walks across Queens for which I am sort of known. This time around, my path wasn’t towards the East River, nor Newtown Creek – instead, I headed east along Northern Blvd.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The first thing which caught my eye was, as always, something Robert Moses left behind – the Brooklyn Queens Expressway. This is literally the “Northern Blvd. exit” by the way, which empties the highway onto the local streets in a confusing series of curved and badly marked lanes. As with all things Moses, “pedestrian friendly” is at best an afterthought. The BQE does serve a purpose for me, however, as a geographic reference point.

It’s easy to know which community of Western Queens you’re moving through when on the neighborhood’s “main drag.” You have no doubt about whether it’s Jackson Heights or Woodside when you’re on Roosevelt Avenue, for instance. Same thing with Sunnyside, Woodside, or LIC. There’s a distinct “feel” to these neighborhoods.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Northern Boulevard, however, was built as a high volume road for automobiles. Most of what you’ll find along its length, from its transmogrification at 31st street from Jackson Avenue to Northern Boulevard all the way to its titular end of pedestrian friendliness at 114th street in Corona (and yes, I know route 25a continues all the way to Suffolk County) are automobile related businesses and chain store restaurants. Northern gets a bit more residential when you get out east into the 80’s, 90’s, and so on but it’s still pretty automobile focused. We’ll talk about that in subsequent posts that spawn out of this particular walk.

The funny thing is, of course, that a few phone calls were made to friends who grew up in Queens to double check my impressions of “where I was” while developing this set of shots. You can’t trust the real estate people, who will try to describe parts of East New York as Williamsburg if you let them.

As I said to Hank the Elevator Guy – “so if I’m on 78th and Northern…” There was some debate amongst my Queens natives on that one, incidentally, as to whether that particular area counts as Jackson Heights or Elmhurst. Consensus was achieved when several parties said “it depends on which side of Northern you’re on.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The fellow pictured above, who made the absolutely terrible decision to stand on the off ramp of the BQE in what is definitively Woodside (62nd and Northern), bore a bit of signage adjuring passing motorists to toss him a few handfuls of loose change. A sign of the times, this fellow actually is. Emblematic of the current Mayoral admistration’s anitipathy towards the enforcement of “quality of life” regulations which have distinguished our municipal experience over the last twenty years. I’m sure he will be replaced shortly by some guy with a squeegee and a bottle of windex. I’d vote for the squeegee guy over our current First Citizen in a heartbeat. I’d also vote for a parakeet just to see the First Citizen sent packing back to Park Slope.

This walk, an escape from the domestic construction project mentioned at the top of the post, was a bit mad btw.  One emulated the proverbial “bat out of hell” and covered quite a bit of ground. Starting at Woodside Avenue and Northern Blvd., I walked east along Northern to 114th and then headed Northwest along Ditmars into East Elmhurst and then southwest back into Astoria.

Many interesting things were observed, which will be offered and described in subsequent posts at this – your Newtown Pentacle.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Tours –

July 26th, 2015
Modern Corridor – LIC, Queens Walking Tour
with Brooklyn Brainery, click here for details and tickets.

As detailed in this recent post, my camera was destroyed in an accident.

For those of you who have offered donations to pay for its replacement, the “Donate” button below will take you to paypal. Any contributions to the camera fund will be greatly appreciated, and rewarded when money isn’t quite as tight as it is at the moment.

Donate Button with Credit Cards

Written by Mitch Waxman

July 24, 2015 at 11:00 am

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