The Newtown Pentacle

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Wednesday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Another night, another scuttle. This was a longish sort of walk. Starting in Astoria, along Broadway in the 40’s, I carried the camera into Sunnyside, then Long Island City, Blissville, and into industrial Maspeth. What fun.

First up was a stop at “ole reliable,” an oft visited fence hole at the Sunnyside Yards, one which provides a great point of view on the Harold Interlocking. The busiest passenger train junction in the United States, this spot is where both Long Island Railroad and Amtrak pass through on their way to and from Penn Station.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A taxi company in Sunnyside is based in a structure reminiscent of the sort of early 1970’s toys that little boys craved. They have ramps and lifts and pipes that bellow steam. Also, since every parking spot on the blocks surrounding this company is claimed by one of their cabs, I don’t feel guilty peeing in between two of their taxis so it’s a bit of a destination.

One of the weird leave behinds of my experiences during the Covid period relates to the fact that the very few places you used to be able to piss – a McDonald’s or Diner bathroom for instance – have been closed and off limits. This means that I’ve gotten into the habit of “taking care of business” in the manner of a domestic dog. This has become a bit of an issue for me during the various travels to other cities detailed in earlier posts, as the citizenry of other communities generally take a dim view of such practices. Well, you can take the boy out of the dystopian shithole…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My fascination with gas stations is another Covid period “thing.” To be fair, though, they’re very difficult subjects to photograph in low light – just like the LIRR train in the first shot – and that sort of camera related challenge draws me in like a moth to a candle’s flame.

At the start of Covid, we had pantry moths show up in the house. They arrived in a bag of dry dog food. It took the better part of two years to exterminate the little bastards using pheromone scented traps. Freaking Lepidoptera.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Queens Boulevard, the so called “boulevard of death,” was crossed next, and south did a humble narrator walk. Given that the streets of Queens aren’t quite as “crime lite” as they were a few years ago, one has renounced the habit of listening to audiobooks or music via headphones. I want to be able to hear someone’s sneakers slapping the pavement as they’re coming for me.

It’s actually amazing how quickly the entire City fell apart under the rule of De Blasio and his fellow fun lovers. Mr. Fairness and Equity oversaw a widening of the gap between rich and poor, an explosion of racially motivated crimes directed towards people of Asian descent, and every time he opened his mouth he would piss somebody off. Truly, that man was the Trump of the left. Incompetent, high on his own supply, and every opportunity to learn something new was rejected in favor of an ideological interpretation. At least Adams is fun.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Blissville, a section of Long Island City which borders industrial Maspeth, was the next place to be blighted by my foot steps. Blissville in the centuried home of First Calvary Cemetery, the polyandrion of the Roman Catholics. As a note – I never cross a fence line, and almost never trespass. The shot above was instead captured from the public way’s POV and I used the stout iron fences of the cemetery to steady the camera.

The mausolea pictured above is sort of unusual for a Catholic cemetery. The human remains encapsulated aren’t in the ground, rather they seem to reside within the granite capsule guarded by the Angel statue. Normally, the Catholics use the loam for the disbursement of their departed, burying the box (coffin or casket) about six feet down. Jews do the same, except when it comes to Mausolea. In Jewish funerary tradition, a mausoleum shelf or compartment is meant to be lined with soil from the Levant (Israel) prior to the placement of the box and its dearly departed cargo. Yes, it’s a racket.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Having fairly exhausted myself, after arriving at the “Crane District” of Industrial Maspeth, one summoned a ride share service to cart my sorry butt back home to Astoria. As mentioned in the past, I seem to have developed some brand loyalty towards the LYFT service as opposed to the Uber one.

One of my practices is to use a subway or bus or cab to deposit me somewhere, and then walk back to Astoria from… say… Flushing or Bushwick. This is something I started doing back before Covid, in fact. It vastly increases what I would consider to be walking distance, since the trip is sort of one way.


The Newtown Creekathon returns!

On April 10th, the all day death march around Newtown Creek awakens from its pandemic slumber.

DOOM! DOOM! Fully narrated by Mitch Waxman and Will Elkins of Newtown Creek Alliance, this one starts in LIC at the East River, heads through Blissville, the happy place of Industrial Maspeth, dips a toe in Ridgewood and then plunges desperately into Brooklyn. East Williamsburgh and then Greenpoint are visited and a desperate trek to the East River in Brooklyn commences. DOOM! Click here for more information and to reserve a spot – but seriously – what’s wrong with you that you’re actually considering doing this? DOOM!


“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.

hollow betwixt

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Tuesday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Another brutally cold night, another short walk. This one was routed from HQ, along Astoria’s Broadway in the 40’s, to 31st street and then to Astoria Boulevard, and since my feet were still in a kicking mood, all the way to Skillman Avenue in Long Island City. About three to four miles, all told, I’d guess. I really don’t keep track as I trek.

Occasionally I’ll check the “health” app on my phone. It has a wildly inaccurate step counter, but often offers interesting observations about your movements. Apparently, I’ve got a 6.2% limp related to my left leg, which jibes with all the bitching and moaning about “my trick left foot” that I’ve subjected you all to since 2019, when a falling planter shattered the big toe of my left foot.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Incidentally – I’m still marinating about the NYC DOT representatives who told me, in response to a service request offered through the local Community Board’s Transportation Committee – which I’m the chair of – that 31st street has perfectly adequate street lighting. Sigh. Nothing matters, and nobody cares.

The next corner north currently hosts the Neptune Diner and a Staples store. Both will be demolished this year to make room for a luxury condo tower or two which will climb dozens of stories into the sky. Now – I too have always been desirous of living along the Grand Central Parkway at its junction with the Triborough Bridge, and a particularly noisy elevated subway track would be a bonus, but my bet is that when the rich people show up it’s going to become a priority to do something about the dark and dangerous 31st street corridor lighting situation.

Fuck you, very much.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Another prognosis I will offer is that once the Neptune project gets going, the smell of blood in the water will draw out all of the smaller Real Estate sharks and shit flies. They will hunt along Astoria Blvd., I imagine. Gas Stations and supermarkets, due to the size of the property lots they inhabit, are prime targets for these sort of creatures.

Astoria is beginning a process, once that’s just finishing up in Hunters Point, Court Square, and Queens Plaza, and Williamsburg, and Greenpoint. The only thing saving us right now are high interest rates and other inflationary factors. As soon as there’s cheap credit again, the bulldozers will begin to arrive, and the sky will be privatized.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One turned his heels at 46th street, where realization that I hadn’t taken any photos of a recently renovated playground set in. Before this renovation took place, this playground – and especially its grassy edges – were beloved by my sorely missed and dearly departed doggie Zuzu. The joke was “Zuzu’s checking her pee mail,” when we would slowly walk around the edges of the place, with her sniffing and inspecting every tree and blade of grass for neighborhood’s dog to dog news.

As mentioned, it was quite cold but being well wrapped, I kept on scuttling. Why not?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One marched across Northern Blvd. and soon found myself at one of my “go-to” fence holes nearby the Harold Interlocking. Lucky timing saw me arriving just as a Long Island Railroad train was passing through.

It was right about here that I decided on my “turn around” point. I was beginning to feel a bit of fatigue, which – like all french words – I intentionally mispronounce as “Fatygway.” If you’re from the part of Brooklyn that I am, mispronunciation of France Talk is a form of sport. “Hors d’oeuvres” is meant to pronounced as “whores da overs,” ain’t it? C’mon, Bro.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My turnaround point was for a spot where it’s entirely kosher for a privately owned taxi company to gobble up every available parking spot to store their fleet. Ever notice you don’t hear the safe streets crowd complaining about this form of “free car storage”? Wonder why that is?

More tomorrow at this – your Newtown Pentacle.


The Newtown Creekathon returns!

On April 10th, the all day death march around Newtown Creek awakens from its pandemic slumber.

DOOM! DOOM! Fully narrated by Mitch Waxman and Will Elkins of Newtown Creek Alliance, this one starts in LIC at the East River, heads through Blissville, the happy place of Industrial Maspeth, dips a toe in Ridgewood and then plunges desperately into Brooklyn. East Williamsburgh and then Greenpoint are visited and a desperate trek to the East River in Brooklyn commences. DOOM! Click here for more information and to reserve a spot – but seriously – what’s wrong with you that you’re actually considering doing this? DOOM!


“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 22, 2022 at 11:00 am

wide scattering

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Thursday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Another night, another walk around Long Island City in the wind and cold. Another shot of the same gas station in the dark. One thing about this pandemic time… it enforces you being in a rut. Same old, same old, nothing matters, nobody cares. Meh.

I want to see waterfalls and mountains. Vast forests, full of critters, and experience the novel, the new, the unexpected. Right now, I’ve got traffic and gasoline tanker trucks though, so I can’t justify the ennui. Better than nothing, or homogeneity and sprawl. As the now classic song by TLC would advise – Don’t go chasing waterfalls.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One reminds himself that he’s actually grown quite jaded over the years, here in Western Queens. When you’ve got a high school with a fighter jet in its parking lot just a short walk from the house, which you pass by on your way to what used to be the world’s most valuable maritime industrial zone, not finding “something worth taking pictures of” speaks to your own lack of imagination more than anything.

I was going somewhere specific this particular evening, however.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s 29th street, between 47th avenue and Hunters Point Avenue, in the Degnon Terminal section of Long Island City. Just beyond the chain link fence in the shot above is found the Dutch Kills tributary of Newtown Creek. Specifically, it’s the “turning basin” of Dutch Kills. If you look at an overhead map, this is the hammer head shaped area.

There’s been a slow moving shoreline collapse happening for about three years now. When the original collapse began, NYC DOT came out and inspected the roadway for signs of instability. They pronounced it safe for travel and traffic, three years ago. Subsequent collapses have not drawn them back out to take another look.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Thanksgiving weekend of 2021, about 25-30 feet of land collapsed into the water, and just about the second week of 2022 the rest of it gave way. Now, this area was a wetland/swamp just over a hundred years ago and the land was “reclaimed” by a developer named Michael Degnon, hence the dub of “Degnon Terminal.”

The way they used to do this, back in the day, was to build out a network of timber box cells. These timber structure boxes, with piles driven into the water and muck, were then filled with rubble and fill which created dry land that they could build on. It’s that hundred year old timber which is giving way, allowing the contained fill to excavate into the water. Unfortunately, 29th street is sitting on top of this and the street itself has started to sag downwards.

As mentioned – nothing matters, and nobody cares. This, however, matters to me and I’m working on making “them” care.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Nothing is natural here, it’s all built environment.

This land was once owned by a Governor of New York State – Roscoe P. Flowers. Gov. Flowers passed away in the late 19th century, and Degnon purchased the so called “waste meadows” of Long Island City from his estate shortly before the Pennsylvania Railroad announced that they would be developing the adjoining marsh and swamp land into the Sunnyside Yards.

Degnon was either incredibly lucky or he had the inside scoop, but either way that’s how the Degnon properties came to be and how they were “reclaimed” from the tidal wetlands of Dutch Kills. Dutch Kills was canalized, and at the end of the turning basin there used to be infrastructure that could load rail cars onto barges and vice versa. This connected to a series of tracks known as the Degnon Terminal Railway, which offered connections to the Pennsylvania Railroad tracks at Sunnyside Yards and to the nearby Long Island Railroad Lower Montauk tracks along Newtown Creek. When the PRR and LIRR assets became “nationalized” by Nelson Rockefeller in the late 1960’s and the MTA was created, the properties here in the Degnon Terminal were part of the property portfolio that the agency was thereby born with.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

29th street isn’t a proper NYC street, thereby. It’s a “railroad access road” which the NYC DOT surfaces and sets parking rules on, as well as deciding traffic patterns, and they get to erect signage over it. MTA/LIRR still owns the land below, and the bulkheads which touch the water. Thing is, this NYS land is regulated by another agency – the DEC, and NYC DOT, and the Army Corps, and the Coast Guard, and the EPA because of superfund and…

Calgon, take me away


“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 3, 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

hushed evening

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Tuesday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

What with the vaccine and everything, I’ve been out a lot during daylight hours and have been missing my nocturnal scuttles. To remedy this, one packed up his old kit bag and smile, smile, smiled. This was a relatively short after dinner walk, one which saw me head out of Astoria in the direction of Queens Plaza where I looped back around onto Skillman Avenue for the return trip. Luckily, this is a feature rich and visually interesting pathway.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Evidence suggests that wherever the Queens Cobbler went to during the pandemic, said Cobbler being a probable serial killer who leaves behind single shoes as macabre tokens, they have returned to continue their campaign of savage conquest here in Queens. This particular momento was observed in the gutter on 42nd street at Northern Blvd.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On my way back home, which found me walking along Skillman Avenue, several examples of Long Island Railroad’s inventory were observed hurtling along the tracks. The particular nature of the fences along this stretch negate photographic opportunity, but there’s a spot or two just big enough to squeeze a lens into.

You have to know where they are. I do.


“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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