The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Posts Tagged ‘Gas Stations

waking life

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It’s Thursday. The first rule of Thursday is you dont talk about Thursday.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Another Northern Blvd. gas station, another night for a humble narrator. Presuming that when I went for my vaccination this week (I’m writing this on Sunday, appointment is Tuesday, you’re reading this on Thursday, so who the hell knows what’s happened since Sunday) I didn’t end up in anaphylactic shock or something, I’m now one month away from getting my life back from the Corona Virus Pandemic. Fantasies of good times in the company of human strangers are taking the form of intrusive thoughts for me right now. So’s going back to living a somewhat normal life. Eating in a restaurant, riding the Subway, visiting Staten Island’s North Shore… you take all of this for granted until it’s out of reach, huh?

This has been a fairly brutal 12 months for all of us, hasn’t it? It has been mainly banal and terrifying for me, but conversely, I’ve been insanely lucky as the people in my life who have suffered a COVID infection have all survived it. Perspective, huh?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Perspective seems to be a missing quality these days, with everybody standing on calcified points of view and opinions. You disagree with someone about a nuance of some issue and you’re automatically Hitler. Recidivist elements of the old dialectic, with no chance to learn from mistakes and grow or evolve in the re-education camp, might as well send them to meet their makers. The proverbial “come to Jesus” moment doesn’t seem to exist anymore. One misstep and you’re done, forever. Personally, I’m reminded constantly that my points of view are disingenuous because of my racial identity, or gender, lifestyle, or whatever other drum the person I’m talking to is banging on. This gets old pretty fast, and unfortunately confirms a deeply held belief that people who have suffered oppression at the hands of others will immediately begin to inflict similar harms on others when they get into power. There’s a certain Middle Eastern nation state which comes to mind when I think about that subject, but that’s another story and controversy which I don’t want to get involved with.

At the moment, I’m seriously considering rolling everything back and retreating into my shell. Ending the Pentacle, resigning from whatever public facing position I hold, and just focusing in on selfish matters. In short, returning to being just another face in the crowd who doesn’t care about anything at all other than his bank account. I don’t mind a fight, but I mind fighting about nothing and the splitting of hairs. This may surprise you, but people in general aren’t terribly nice, and those you meet in the “political world” are often monsters. I’m tired of it all.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Another one of the subjects on my shot list, in addition to gas stations and tire shops, are Chinese Restaurants. I got into a screaming argument about two years ago with somebody about whether or not calling the menu offered at such establishments “Chinese Food” was racist. What a ridiculous waste of time and energy that argument was… but that’s kind of the point. Why oh why would this be something you want to argue for or against? What do you hope to achieve, and have you actually considered the opinions of the people who work and sell this particular cuisine or is it just another talking point on your agenda to prove that the world is corrupt and that you’ve somehow evolved? Conservation of energy, people.

A humble narrator has been narrating humbly for a long time now, and it’s entirely possible that I don’t want to narrate humbly anymore. Grrr.

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, March 1st. 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 here, 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

March 4, 2021 at 2:00 pm

adventurous assurances

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It’s Tuesday again, now more than ever.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As mentioned yesterday, my obligations to the Community Board carried me along to Northern Blvd.’s intersection with Broadway recently to inspect an area where the NYC DOT is planning on expanding its network of protected bike lanes. I really don’t care what your opinion of this program is, since nobody really cares what my opinion is, and this is a Governmental effort which spawns from the highest eschelons of the political world. Thereby, my opinion matters only in the context of pointing out and advocating for small changes to the overarching scheme. Amongst my small changes were reminders that the new pathway will bypass three distinct religious facilities, and to offer the observation that such entities routinely conduct funerals and weddings, and that the planners should plan on that being a problem they need to solve by incorporating loading and unloading zones nearby those facilities.

Seriously, the level of divisiveness surrounding bike lanes mystifies me. We’ve got electrical transformers exploding and torching parked cars, utility cables hanging off of the poles, wandering wackadoodles, porch pirates, race cars rallying… and… remember all the fireworks from last summer? With all of this going on, you’re worried about bike lanes and about losing parking?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Who’s Papi, you might ask. Tires by Papi is the answer, if you’re a member of the tire buying and tire replacement market. The ebullient signage and quarter acre of warm light offered by this tire shop on Broadway in Woodside always pulls me in. In addition to Gas Stations, one of the other disappearing vehicle maintenance parts of the streetscape are tire shops. I’ve got a friend, really a friend of a friend, who finds his way through the worldly milieu selling hubcaps, wheel covers, and other automotive ephemera. My pal Kevin Walsh from Forgotten-NY is the connective tissue with this fellow, whom Kevin has christened as “Hubcap Joe.” Now that… that… is a nickname.

I’ve got Hank the Elevator Guy, Sean the Carpenter, Mumbly Joe the Insulator, Lee the Machine, the Bulgar… the list goes on and on. Nicknames are a funny thing, more often than not they’re related to occupation, but sometimes you just need to seperate people with common names. Used to be that the bar I hung out at during the before times had a lot of Chris’s. We had to develop a system for these Astorian Chris’s. Croatian Chris, Crazy Chris, Glazier Chris, Pharmaceutical Chris, Real Estate Chris. In college, there was Dave Prime, Dave Squared, Dave Cubed. One Thai guy at my second advertising job, whose name I couldn’t pronounce, was called “Not Dave.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Another gas station, another attendant pondering whether or not he should be concerned about the rough looking fellow in a filthy black raincoat taking pictures of his workplace at night.

Seriously, this is probably the most interaction I’ve had with a stranger in the last six months. My luck is holding out as far as finding exactly the most depopulated and empty route to take through the neighborhoods. It’s actually a bit terrifying how I can move about through one of the most densely populated sections of the planet and somehow not have another living soul closer than a block away from me.

Unliving souls, on the other hand…

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, March 1st. 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 here, 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

March 2, 2021 at 11:00 am

nameless expectancy

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Monday is arrived.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A humble narrator has been seriously applying himself to the pursuit of mastering his equipment in the first quarter of this new year, specifically the camera and lens combinations recently acquired. What that involves if you’re a normal person would be to take a few shots and see what you get. For me, this means wandering throughout Western Queens in the middle of the night and pointing the camera at fairly difficult to capture and ever changing subjects. Car washes, as pictured above, fascinate.

What makes the shot above difficult to capture is the combination of ambient darkness, ultra bright artificial light and abundant reflective surfaces, and the desire to “freeze” the scene so you could see all the soap and water flying around the brushes and car. This is a lot harder to calculate, camera settings wise, than you’d think it would be.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This particular excursion, which saw me leaving Astoria and heading eastwards along Broadway through Woodside in the direction of Jackson Heights, was undertaken for rather mundane reasons. I’m currently serving as Co-Chair of the Transportation Committee on the local Community Board and since the NYC Department of Transportation – or DOT – had recently informed the CB that they intended to strengthen certain aspects of the Northern Blvd. and Broadway bike lanes. Accordingly, I took a walk and explored the confines of their project to examine the street conditions. It’s best to observe in person rather than look at the place on maps, so as to spot areas that might end up being problematic.

Food trucks seem to draw my attention these days. Seldom do I partake, but I’m fascinated by the trade dress and attention grabbing signage of these things.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A new item on my “shoot this” list are Gas Stations. I’ve talked about this recently in some detail, but the disappearing filling stations of NYC are now something I’m making it a point of recording. From a camera POV, this is a damned hard subject to do justice to, given many of the same issues mentioned in the car wash shot at top. Reflective surfaces, super bright and or saturated neon lighting, ultra contrasty interaction with the dark street surrounding it… ain’t the easiest exposure triangle to figure out.

My photo gathering schedule continues to revolve around an “every other day” system, which sees a humble narrator leaving the house well after dark – 8, 9, sometimes even 10 o’clock – and then spending 2-3 hours burning through 5-10 miles of walking. These shots are about a month old, gathered during the last week of January.

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, March 1st. 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 here, 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

March 1, 2021 at 1:00 pm

induced gate

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Thursday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Fill ‘er up, buddy. You don’t get to say that very often, or at least not geographically often, in Western Queens these days. The rapacious hunger of the Real Estate Industrial Complex, which will be slaked only when each and every property lot in NYC has had a residential tower built upon it, often focuses in on the easy kill. Like lions stalking a wounded antelope, the REIC agents hungrily circle around gas stations and supermarkets. The large footprint and air rights enjoyed by these businesses cause gastric juices to drip from the quivering maw of the REIC agents, and the sight of open sky causes the deeply seated pancreases to begin secreting hormones that quicken the pulse and respiration. Kill, kill. More, more. AMI, MIH, jobs, more, more.

Most of the gas stations remaining in NYC are franchises, parts of some far flung petrochemical empire run out of air conditioned offices in other states that smell of expensive cologne. The one pictured in today’s post is that rarest of prey animals for the REIC predator – an independently owned filling station which offers no corporate logo or branding. They sell gas and fix cars, here at Bridge Stop.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The REIC acquisitions people are trained killers, and are the agents of extinction for small business. It surprises me that neither the Silvercup crew, nor the Kaufman Astoria mechanics, or the HANACssassins have pried the deed for this property away from whomsoever holds it. This is the turf of those three members of the REBNY crime families. Want to know how they do business, the Real Estate Industrial Complex? One of them was just your President, the one who was impeached for inciting a mob to storm Congress. His son in law and principal advisor is another member of this club, but his holdings are largely found in the WIlliamsburg and Greenpoint sections of Brooklyn, as well as an aptly addressed Manhattan office tower at 666 Fifth Avenue.

Long have I advocated for the Federal Government to conduct a RICO investigation of not just the Real Estate Board of New York, but also of their enablers in municipal service at the NYC Economic Development Corporation. Perhaps, someday, all the poisons in the mud will leech out…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

1909 was a pretty big year for Queens. The Queensborough Bridge, Sunnyside Yards, Subway work was underway, the NY Connecting Railroad… all kinds of good stuff was being built. Back then, you still had people growing potatoes in fields around these parts as the steel for the transit system was being installed. The infrastructure was built, and that lit off a fifty year long period of breakneck economic growth and development. The growth was bolstered in the 1930’s and 40’s when Robert Moses began building highways, and Cord Meyer began building eastern Queens suburbs to surround the off ramps of those highways. Again – infrastructure creation was followed by economic growth. Pattern?

The way they’re trying to do it today is backwards, but the people doing the planning these days eat Pizza with a knife and fork. New York City does not have a housing problem, it has a transit problem. We solve transit for the 21st century, we save the City, and in turn we save the country. We begin by learning to ignore the zombie hordes of “YIMBY’s” and the “housing growth first” cult of density worshipping sycophants with their shadowy connections to Real Estate Industrial Complex.

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, February 22nd. 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 here, 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

February 25, 2021 at 11:00 am

dark polarity

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Wednesday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Arch Street Yard is a locomotive maintenance facility in Long Island City, found at the westernmost edge of the rail complex called Sunnyside Yards. There always seems to be a couple of decrepit Long Island Railroad trains stored here. Maybe they use them for parts, who knows? Luckily there’s a hole in the fence big enough for my camera lenses. Of course, that’s presuming that I’m not imagining or dreaming this circumstance and scene, which is a presumption that my quarantine addled thought process might not still be reliable and that the fence hole is not some wild hallucination. I’ve got a photo, so it’s likely real, but who knows…

Fence holes – dey’s is me bread-n-buttah, presumptively.

The setup on this particular evening involved me using my Canon R6 with the 35mm f 1.8 lens. This one is now part of the permanent carry, in terms of what goes in my camera bag. This lens has image stabilization at f1.8! Between the IBIS (In Body Image Stabilization) and the lens’s stabilizer – that’s 8 stops of light! That can’t be real, can it? I mean… physics…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One of my practices is to walk a new tool around to familiar places and spaces, and given that the walk I took it on – which included a few times when I sat down for few minutes here and there to rest a sore ankle – moved through an area extensively explored and photographed in the before time.

There used to be a diner on 49th Avenue in LIC, then it became a fancy pants restaurant, and it’s sat empty like this for years now. This isn’t because of COVID, instead it’s the old Queens trope about a landlord discovering that their tenant is doing well so they jack up the rent hoping to cash in and then put them out of business. That is a fresh layer of pandemic graffiti, however, and one finds those compositions pleasing to the eye.

Of course, at this stage of the pandemic, I find a dripping faucet endlessly fascinating. Is the faucet even real? Am I? Is any of this? How could things have fallen apart so completely and so fast, in not just the United States but in New York City? Why is toast better than bread?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On this particular scuttle around LIC, I abstained from my pandemic habit of not having headphones plugged into my ear holes. I was listening to an audiobook describing the last decades of the Roman Republic according to Plutarch, and let me tell you this friends – history does, indeed, repeat itself. My assertion that we haven’t arrived at the time of Caesar – yet – remains in place, but we have clearly skipped past the Gracchi Brothers and entered into a political era analogous to that occupied by Marius and Sulla.

Was Rome even real? Did Romans fight about reallocating the horse parking spaces on the public Via in favor of creating protected Chariot lanes? Did you know that the City of Rome had no Police Force, nor a Fire Dept.? Rich guys like Croesus maintained the fire fighting crews, and he’d sell you back all the stuff they rescued from the burning building. If you couldn’t afford to pay, he’d sell it to someone else. There’s a reason that the phrase “richer than Croesus” is still used 2,000 years after he died.

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, February 22nd. 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 here, 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

February 24, 2021 at 11:00 am

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