The Newtown Pentacle

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tenants thereof

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Hie, Tuesday.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One question about NYC which non “lifers” don’t ask, a pondering query which has been mentioned in prior posts over the years, is what happened to all of those packs of feral dogs which used to wander about? Back in the 1970’s and 80’s, you needed to have dog fighting skills if you intended on walking through the sort of places I do. A lot of these puppers were former guard dogs, or runaways, or wild born strays. Speciation wise, you’d generally see large breeds at the head of the pack with the smaller dogs acting like naval corvettes protecting the flanks. You know my little missive “that in the neighborhood I grew up in you only ran when something was chasing you”? In my neighborhood, more often than not that “thing” was a pack of wild dogs. Seriously, if you walked down E. 59th bet Flatlands and Avenue J…

My supposition is that the heavy discounting of closed circuit television security camera systems in the early 1990’s is what put the guard dogs out of work. Without the need for guard dogs to protect your property, the feral population of dogs decreased to their current day level of near zero. Often do I ponder whether or not the abundance of raccoons, opossums, geese and other critters whose utter novelty is remarkable in the modern era is due to the lack of canine hunters.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Another one which I ponder while endlessly dogging my way through the cold waste involves prostitutes. Used to be that working gals were everywhere you looked, prior to “Giuliani Time” as we referred to it “back in the day.” Just the other night, I wandered past what appeared to be a transaction based personal training assignation along the railroad tracks in Maspeth. The presumptively post coital participants split up afterwards, with the female soon finding shelter in the cab of a passing truck, and the male member headed off to the nearby regional HQ of a well known last mile delivery business. I don’t think they were talking politics, if you know what I’m saying, and they were both pulling their pants up, so… Can’t say for sure it was transactional, but it sure looked like it. Talk about rail fanning, huh?

Williamsburg was notorious for its “in your face” street prostitution during the late 80’s and 90’s, but I remember driving home from work from an uptown job in Manhattan and predictably hitting traffic jams caused by potential clientele pulling over to negotiate with the various entrepreneurs and service providers walking the streets in lingerie. There was a huge pimping operation on Park Avenue in the high 30’s in Murray Hill, and in the 8th and 9th Avenue sections of Hells Kitchen in the 40’s and 30’s. In Brooklyn, I can tell you that Coney Island and Brighton Beach also hosted a remarkable number of individual entrepreneurs who operated in this “personal touch” space. Crack, bro, made people do a lot of weird shit.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Lastly, the overarching question in my mind these days is “why so serious”? If somebody calls me a name – let’s use the one that motherflower reminds you of – am I going to empower the assignation by arguing that I don’t flower my mother or just ignore them entirely? In my experience, there is no worse “dis” than ignoring someone. If you want to argue with me in an abusive fashion, I refuse to engage. Physical threats? Same thing, turn around and walk away. The last time somebody told me he was going to “kick my ass,” I responded with the infuriating phrase “use your words, instead.” Given that this particular fellow had a fiery swastika planted in a base of yarmulke wearing skulls and the motto “a good start” tattooed on his back, what sense would it have made trying to either reason with or beat some sense into him? Why so serious? It’s better to mock and laugh at iceholes than it is to fight with them, since you’re giving them what they want. Try shaming them instead, and shaming anyone who suborns such behavioral tics or overtly offensive skin decorations.

TLDR: who let the dogs out, where the ladies at, check yo self fore yo wreck yo self.


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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 30, 2021 at 11:00 am

vital nature

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Engine 400? New toys at NY&A?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As mentioned yesterday, after a series of puzzling moments over on the Newtown Creek side of industrial Maspeth, a humble narrator decided to begin the journey back to HQ and headed northwards. Often have I described how ridiculous I look when I’m out night scuttling – as the usual filthy lack raincoat has a yellow reflective vest draped over it. In addition, I’ve got the tripod, camera, and a knapsack full of camera stuff. I’m the lone pedestrian you see when driving down the truck routes and waterfront edges, and it’s not unknown for me to walk for hours at night around the Creek without seeing another living soul. Not Monday.

Just as I got to a particular intersection near a certain burnt out diner that I used to frequent, a New York and Atlantic train set rolled by on a spur of the Lower Montauk tracks. I asked one of the crew who was working the signals if he anticipated that the train old be coming back anytime soon and he indicated that it indeed would be. I inquired as to a safe spot to stand and shoot from that wouldn’t interfere with their operations, and in the zone indicated I found a relatively photogenic spot, and began to set up for my shots.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This section of Maspeth was once like Chicago, with lots and lots of rail customers amongst the industrial powers back here. These days, there’s still industrial freight clientele around these parts, but the rail spurs (secondary tracks) that serve these businesses are largely inaccessible without straight up trespassing through all sorts of property – government, private, you name it. While I was waiting for the train to return, a van with MTA branding on it pulled up next to me and the two Cops inside inquired as to what I was up to. “Nothing sinister, I assure you” was my reply. I explained my purpose, identified myself without being asked, and offered the two badges a short history lesson about the Long Island Railroad in Maspeth and described my night photography project to them. They said “no problem” and explained they had to inquire as it looked odd seeing someone take pictures in the dark around the properties they patrol. They drove off and the train rolled in. Not a problem.

I offered part of the above missive to some friends on Facebook, and was surprised at their sentiments towards the cops. Speaking strictly as someone who expresses his First Ammendment rights regularly, I full throatedly say that I bloody well want the cops inquiring when they see some weirdo in a black raincoat and safety vest standing near a rail line in the middle of the night with a tripod setup in NYC. They didn’t interfere with me, or even get out of the van, just were asking what was up and why I was there. As a counterpoint, the MTA’s Security Guard/Rent A Cops at the nearby Grand Avenue Bus Depot are aggressive and have chastised and interfered with photographers – including me.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The NY& A folks had seemingly visited another customer on a hidden spur found to the west of the intersection. The signal arms went up and I crossed the tracks over to the north side of the street. The signal arms triggered again and I got into position for one last shot as they descended.

So, I’m going to be conducting a free walk in LIC on the 30th of March, it would seem. The Sunnyside Yards project has roared back to life in the aftermath of the Amazon debacle, and since the Manhattan people are going to all sorts of effort to get this thing done… Click here for details on the “Skillman Corridor” walk.


“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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