The Newtown Pentacle

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spiritual dread

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My beloved Newtown Creek.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

These shots were gathered while I was riding on a hybrid ferry boat, which at the time was running on its electric mode. This was a novel experience, I must say. Beyond the whole environmental thing, what was fascinating about this vessel was how quiet it was, and how the deck plates weren’t vibrating with transmitted engine oscillations. Can’t tell you much about the thing, as it wasn’t my “show.”

Saying that, my “show” will be once again opening its curtains on Wednesday October 15th, with an Atlas Obscura/Airbnb “experience” offering my “Infrastructure Creek” walk to a very limited group of 12. This will be an evening/night walk, which should be pretty exciting. Link is both above and below, so please come with if you can. The same tour will be repeated on October 29th. These tours are part of how I keep a roof over my head, so any and all tickets sold essentially feed me, and fund the various technologies which allow me to bring you Newtown Pentacle five days a week and fifty two weeks a year.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Astoria Community Board 1 will be gathering at Astoria World Manor on Astoria Blvd. tonight at 6:30. It promises to be an interesting meeting. The Transportation Alternatives organization (Bicycle people) will be offering a presentation pushing for their latest advocacy position which asks the City to create a protected bike lane on Crescent Street connecting the Triborough and Queensboro Bridges. This is sure to be the subject of much conversation and gnashing of teeth in the coming months here in the ancient village, so… Additionally, there is a proposal to develop two currently industrially zoned properties on the Ditmars side of the neighborhood on 45th and 46th street into largish apartment houses.

Discussion of the latter has obsessed the frequent commenters found at Facebook’s Astoria discussion group for the last week. That particular cadre of opinion offerers seem to be composed largely of people who moved out of Astoria in the 1980’s that offer an overly sentimental picture of the “good old days” which has little resemblance to reality. For instance, somebody who is in their mid 60’s in 2019 that says “you could leave your doors unlocked back then” is referring to the late 1970’s in NYC. That’s the midst of an era when you not only triple locked your door, you also installed iron bars on both first AND second story windows.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That aphorism about leaving your door open is something I’ve encountered my entire life. My maternal grandparents offered it when referring to living in the “Shtetl” or Lower East Side of Manhattan during the 1920’s when they first got here. My mom and dad also repeated the refrain when referring to East New York’s Brownsville or Brooklyn’s Borough Park where they respectively grew up (the Waxman family’s ancestral property holdings are now a part of the Maimonides Hospital parking garage). You heard this in the neighborhoods which I grew up in, and the saying was always tinged with a certain amount of racism, with the underlying implication that things were better during a more segregated era (red lining was a practice in the real estate world which only allowed certain ethnicities to live in certain areas. It’s part of the “how and why” which NYC’s “ethnic” enclaves were formed by – African American Bed Stuy and Bushwick, Hispanic North Brooklyn, Jewish Midwood and Crown Heights, Italian Bensonhurst and so on).

Back tomorrow with something else. See you tonight at CB1 if you want to come watch the show. Me, I wish I was going to be on a boat tonight during the storm, electric or not. I spend too much of my life in meetings.


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Come on a tour!

With Atlas ObscuraInfrastructure Creek AT NIGHT! My favorite walking tour to conduct, and in a group limited to just twelve people! October 15th, 7-9 p.m.

Click here for more information and tickets!

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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DUPBO, in LIC.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Down Under the Pulaski Bridge Onramp, or DUPBO in Long Island City, is pictured above. Recent endeavor found one wandering around this area just after sunset about a week ago, and one decided to get busy with the camera.

The Pulaski Bridge was built by the NYC DOT as a replacement to the older Vernon Avenue Bridge which was found about a block or so to the west. The old bridge connected LIC’s Vernon Blvd. with Greenpoint’s Manhattan Avenue, and there was a streetcar or trolley service which connected the two shorelines of Newtown Creek. The former Orchard Street (bet Greenpoint Avenue and the Creek) in Brooklyn was renamed “Manhattan Avenue” about 1915 (I believe, and that’s from memory so don’t trust me on that), as the LIC side offered proximity to the brand new IRT Flushing line (the 7) subway. The trolley stop in LIC, where the trolley came to rest, is the NYC Parks Dept.’s “Vernon Mall” today. Back then, you named streets for where they were going, today you give parks meaningless names which obfuscate the past, but that’s why Greenpoint’s Orchard Street is Manhattan Avenue today.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The derelict shoreline of LIC in DUPBO between the bridge and the Vernon street end is occupied and exploited by a colony of squatter boats these days. A hundred years ago, you would have been looking at a fleet of small tugs owned by the Newtown Creek Towing Company, whose HQ was found next door to an Ulmer Brewery Tap room on Vernon beneath the old bridge. Back then, modern day 54th and 53rd avenues were part of the LIRR Pigeon Street rail yard, which adjoined the Hunters Point Yard on the north and had tracks feeding into the Jack Frost sugar factory on the East River. The squatter boats are all blurry looking because they were rolling around on the wake of a tugboat and barge combo which had just navigated past.

The large structure on the Greenpoint side is the former Chelsea Fiber and Jute Mill at the end of Manhattan Avenue, which is known to modernity as the Greenpoint Manufacturing and Design Center – or GMDC.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As part of the post WW2 citywide expansion of arterial roadways, drawn up by and overseen by Robert Moses, the Pulaski Bridge was designed as a high draught drawbridge which would span the Newtown Creek and magnify the amount of traffic flow between the two boroughs. Both 11th street in LIC and what would come to be called McGuinness Blvd. in Greenpoint were widened to accommodate this extra traffic. From DUPBO, you may notice that the Pulaski sports what appears to be an unfinished traffic ramp which arcs off of the eastern or Queens bound side. I’ve never been able to confirm it definitively, but the general presumption I hold is that Moses and his crew once intended to connect the Pulaski’s “flow” with the Long Island Expressway.

A bascule drawbridge of paralell counterweight design and driven by electrical motors, construction of the Pulaski Bridge was overseen by the New York City Commissioner of Public Works – Frederick Zurmuhlen – and the general contractor employed in building it was the Horn Construction Company, with steel and expertise supplied by Bethlehem Steel. It opened in September of 1954 at a cost of $9,664,446.25 – and a reconstruction of the bridge in 1994 cost $40 million. It carries five lanes of vehicular traffic, as well as dedicated (and now separated) bicycle and pedestrian lanes, and it’s a primary crossing between north Brooklyn and western Queens.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Looking eastwards along Newtown Creek, a tug and barge passed through this thirty second exposure, causing a colorful light show to appear on my camera’s sensor. I’m fascinated by this sort of time capture, incidentally. The normal procedure for photographically capturing the passage of time is to record video, of course, or even to fire off a burst of shots. One of the things that’s emerged during all of this night photo long exposure work I’ve been doing for awhile now is that I can reveal traffic patterns, the passage of normally invisible critters in the water, even the invisible currents of air if I set the camera up correctly. You can see the pathways of fish in the water, rendered out by the reflective streaks coming off of their scales, for instance.

If I was sure that I wouldn’t blow up Brooklyn or Queens (or the Buckeye Pipeline), I’d love to throw a block of magnesium into the water and photograph it as it sank and burned – illuminating the bed of the creek. Who can guess, all there is, that might be swimming around down there? Subaqueous features, sunken boats, Jimmy Hoffa?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s the staircase leading up to the LIC side of the pedestrian walkway atop the Pulaski Bridge. One advises all not to hold onto the side rails unless they have to, as the Pulaski’s rafters are full of pigeons and the entire bridge is covered in layers of guano.

The lady on the bicycle annoyed me, incidentally. Seeing me standing there with a camera and tripod setup, she first stopped her bike literally two feet away and in front of me for an interval of playing with her phone. I gently asked “excuse me, miss, can I ask you to just move forward two feet so as you’re not in my shot?” to which she silently shot me back a look of annoyance and then rolled further into the shot and right in front of the stairs. So enthralled with her glowing piece of telecommunicative glass that bodily movements all but ceased, she appears in the shot above as a semi transparent statue. There’s a metaphor in there somewhere, but I wouldn’t want to trigger the “waiting to be offended” or “overly sensitive” millennial crowd.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Looking upwards at the control tower of the Pulaski Bridge from the waters edge, which is what you’re seeing. That’s where the various knobs, dials, buttons, and levers that open and close the thing are found.

These shots were gathered using my “minimal” carry setup (2 light lenses, cable release, air blower, couple of lens cloths, and that Ultrapod camera support gizmo), and I used the cheapo Canon “pancake” 24mm lens which I’ve mentioned in the past for all of them. For a variety of reasons, it doesn’t always work for me to grab the whole kit and kaboodle on my way out of HQ, and I’m also trying to carry a bit less around with me than I usually do at the moment in general. Also, not having zoom lenses and being “mission specific” forces me to think more about the “where” of my shots and there’s also the whole “be intentional” thing.

Also, lest I forget, “Pulaski Bridge” – Casimir Pulaski was a Polish military officer who joined General Washington’s Continental Army of the 13 colonies in order to assist in their war of rebellion against the Hanoverian Throne of England during the Revolutionary War. Google him, interesting person, and a Polish National Hero.

I have to don my monkey suit tonight and head off to the City for a party with the fancy folks on the Hudson side of things. I’ll be carrying the minimum kit again, so let’s see what I can get.


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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

October 7, 2019 at 11:00 am

latter presently

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My busy week is busy as promised.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A humble narrator managed to get onboard that United States Army Corps of Engineers Harbor Inspection boat which I hoped to be on yesterday. One had a pretty nice day, despite having to get up at six in the morning to get there. Soldiers get up early, what can I tell you, and if you want to hang out with them so do you. The excursion returned to dock at about 2:30 in the afternoon, whereupon a quick train ride back to Astoria ensued. While the photos on my camera were downloading to the computer (the boat circumnavigated Staten Island, and the USACE described their various flood resiliency projects) Zuzu the dog received a bit of my attention.

Then I had to attend a Transportation Committee meeting for Astoria’s CB1 in the evening. There were two items on the agenda.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The first was a request for support by the Durst Organization, who are petitioning the NYC Ferry service to include the E. 91st street (Manhattan) stop on the Astoria Ferry Route. As you’d imagine, I stepped up and did a lot of the talking with them on this one, given the whole maritime side of my life. It’s a good idea, ultimately, but this would add another ten minutes or so onto the Astoria route which has already been lengthened by the addition of a stop at Brooklyn Navy Yard. I asked if the Durst people were agnostic about which route would connect the Hallets Cove and E. 91st routes, and suggested that the Soundview Route might be a good candidate for the service. Additionally, I asked for their petition to include the creation of a stop at Randalls/Wards Island, to allow the kids from Astoria and in particular the NYCHA Astoria Houses easy access to all the ball fields on the islands. They liked that one. As a rule, when somebody wealthy is asking you for a favor, you ask for something in return. They became wealthy by being transactional, and this is a normal thing for them. Try to get something done for your community before saying “yes.”

Then came the bike lane discussion.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Transportation Alternatives people are currently working on getting a protected bike lane installed along Crescent Street. It’s not a bad idea at all, and there’s a lot of support for it, and not just amongst the Elected Officialdom who are seemingly terrified of drawing the group’s ire. The Transportation Committee voted unanimously to send a letter requesting that the NYC DOT look into it, and do a study. The study would then be presented publicly, whereupon commentary from the actual community and not activists would be received by the Community Board which would then vote on it according to the local feedback. Odds are pretty good that the project would be controversial, but adopted. That’s the correct procedural methodology, according to the veteran community board members and committee chairs who were present.

Thing is, if you’re a belligerent group of activist bullies…

I won’t go into names and or details here, but suffice to say that several members of the committee are far more than just ideologically aligned with TA. They began an hour long circular argument that requesting a “bridge to bridge” study wasn’t good enough, and that they specifically wanted the committee to request a “Crescent Street” route which would align neatly with their advocacy position. The Chair of the Transportation Committee was adamant about not doing that, as it was procedurally inappropriate. The bullies, including one who couldn’t be bothered to attend but was instead texting to a present member and using them like a sock puppet, were incensed. In the end the motion for calling it a Crescent Street lane versus a Bridge to Bridge lane ended up being withdrawn.

I do not like belligerence, bullying, or a group of ideological activists shoving their current advocacy campaign down my throat. When one of them asked to review a copy of Robert’s Rules of Order…. grrr.


“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

September 26, 2019 at 1:30 pm

sufficient period

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How minimalist are your Wednesdays, anyway?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Red Hand, or El Mano de Roja as my bagel guy Jose calls it, is pictured above. El Mano de Roja is my enemy, and is always forbidding from doing those things which I wish to do. The Red Hand is everywhere, a seemingly omnipresent and inescapable scold who works for the government. Freedom demands an end to the tyranny of the Red Hand. Freedom’s soil is best fertilized with the blood of tyrants, and blood is red – just like the hand. The Red Hand is part of the janitorial staff, at the house of tyranny and encroachment on individual freedoms.

What can I tell you, I’m an idiot.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

If a vampire was riding a bicycle past the hidden driveway on 39th street – or the Harold Avenue Truss Bridge over Sunnyside Yards if you must, which the traffic mirror above services – a trucker would never know they were there and would likely strike the cycling strigoi. Not sure if you can kill a Vampire with a mack truck, but I’m sure you could ruin its day with one. I’ve always wondered about the whole mirror thing with the Nosferatu, as in why do their clothes turn invisible too – reflection wise – but only when they’re wearing them. Shouldn’t you just see an empty suit and cape standing there reflected in the silvered glass? Is it the silver in the glass? What if the mirror is backed with some sort of plastic? If the proverbial cyclist vampire was crossing through the field of view of that mirror pictured above, would you just see the bicycle?

These are the sorts of things which keep me up at night.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Working for the same creeping tyranny group as the Red Hand, but in a different department, the adjure offered above indicates the presence of active rail. You’d probably notice this from the tracks splayed out on the ground, or the bells and flashy lights affixed to the movable barriers, or the dozens and dozens of box cars blocking the road – but some folks plainly refuse to notice the nose at the end of their face, so there you are.

If everything worked out as I planned it, as you’re reading this I’m onboard a boat with the United States Army Corps of Engineers, inspecting the Harbor of New York and New Jersey – specifically Port Elizabeth Newark. I’ll tell you all about that at the end of the week, hopefully.


“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

September 25, 2019 at 11:00 am

clutching inkiness

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Simple things, in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Amongst the first things that one of my neighbors in Astoria wants to know is what zodiac sign you were born under. When you indicate where your birthday lands on the wheel of the year, she shoots a knowing look at you and acts like you just revealed the code you use for the ATM terminals at the bank. It’s made up, astrology is. Bunk.

Another neighbor loudly pronounces that “he doesn’t give a ‘eff” before doing something stupid or self destructive. He’s part of a whole crew I know that doesn’t give an ‘eff about this or that. At my age, the single thing that I’ve gleaned about life is to give lots and lots of ‘effs. Not giving an ‘eff can get expensive, consequence wise. I’ve gotten to the point these days to proactively give ‘effs, just to save some dough.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Something I use as a gauge of intellect in the people I meet and encounter is whether or not a stressor will cause the phrase “I don’t care, call the Cops, I don’t care” to emerge from their face hole. The statement is meant to elicit fear in the listener, and indicate how “thug,” “street,” or just plain “bad ass” the petitioner is. Usually, the statement is offered as part of a series of aggressive primate display behaviors, with a lot of hand waving and other declarative statements (see paragraph above) wound in.

Nobody, and I mean nobody, doesn’t care when the Cops arrive. If you don’t care when they get there, NYPD will ensure that you do. Me? I do not wish for encounters with people who believe in the efficacious nature of dime store astrological advice and who do not “give an ‘eff” to escalate into requiring the mediating presence of the gendarmes. Seriously… what is wrong with our culture these days?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Everybody you see is under constant pressure… the rent is due next week, tick tock. This thing is wrong, and that thing hurts for no reason, and the subways, and now that his Presidential Campaign is done the Mayor is going to get back to doing stupid things again… Washington, and the Executive Branch in particular, is currently being staffed by comic book villains. Everybody is under constant existential pressure, and the ropes tighten up a bit every single day. I can see the appeal of embracing the pseudo scientific, supernatural, and behaving as if you were a mafioso when you are… in fact… a dry wall installer or drive a truck or something.

The question I always ask is “what do you want to achieve,” or “what result do I think this particular set of things I’m doing and saying will cause to happen”? Was it my status as a Virgo that caused me to break a car window while screaming “Call the Cops, I don’t care, I don’t give an ‘eff” and did it cause me to act like an asshole when I got my wish and get all aggressive towards them when they show up? Smart move is to give up. A cop on the street has the legal right to kill you, they are god on the street. Starting from the minute that the cuffs go on, and progressing through the arrest process, the street cop becomes less and less godlike. Be smart.

I just don’t understand people. Really don’t. Better to spend my time alone, wandering through the concrete devastations. There are no fortune tellers there, nor vainglorious fools shouting “worldstar.”


“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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Never know what you’re going to find…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On Saturday last, one attended the Newtown Creek Alliance “Kingsland Wildflowers” event at 520 Kingsland Avenue over in Greenpoint. Sort of a block party set up in a TV studio’s parking lot, it was quite successfully attended by the Greenpoint “nose ring” crowd, and I stuck around until the light got nice and then set off to walk back home to Astoria. As is my habit, Greenpoint Avenue in LIC’s Blissville section was chosen as my path, and since the light was indeed “nice” I got busy on the way.

The security patrol at Calvary Cemetery had already locked the gates of the their Polayandrion Necropolis up, but the regular apertures in their stout iron fencing nevertheless allows one to grab a shot or two from the sidewalk.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Whilst scuttling along, the red envelope pictured above was noticed.

If I was a fish, this is exactly the sort of thing you’d bait your hook with in pursuance of making a dinner out of me. “You never know what you’re going to find at First Calvary Cemetery,” I always say, and the only thing surer to draw me in than a big red envelope saying “help” would be a big red button that says “do not push.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Dare I look within? I darest.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Within the envelope was a hand written index card bearing some liturgical nonsense, a phone number, and a street address resolving back to Roosevelt Avenue between 68th and 69th streets in Woodside.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Given the particular joy one takes in deflating people’s religious beliefs, (I once talked a Jehovah’s Witness into tossing his Watchtower stock into a trash bin and head straight to a bar for his first drink) the sort of language on the card immediately said “Prosperity Gospel” to me.

The term refers to a certain facet of the evangelical and pentecostal paths in which the Church you belong to espouses the religious requirement of tithing 10% (and in the particular case of the organization at the address above, gross pre tax earnings 10%) to them. Tithe honestly and regularly, and god will return the investment, or so the prosperity gospel adherents believe. It’s like a celestial scratch off lottery ticket.

Hey, I don’t care what you do with your money or believe in. As long as you can sleep at night and aren’t hurting anyone other than yourself…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I believe that Jor El sent his only begotten son to live amongst us, with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men. I believe that the savior pretends to be one of us, lies to all of his friends, and continually gas lights his lady love. This is pointed out simply to state that all kinds of people have all sorts of goofy ideations.

The church which the Calvary Card is meant to lead you to is the Iglesia Universal del Reino de Dios, or the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God in english. A Brazilian founded order, which dates back to 1977, the UCKG claims 8 million global adherents. They operate out of a mega church building modeled after and called the “Temple of Solomon” in São Paulo, Brazil. The founder of the church, and its Bishop, is a fellow named Edir Macedo. Macedo is a billionaire, owns what seems to be the Brazilian version of Fox News, and is heavily involved in Brazilian politics. Poor people in Queens give this fellow ten cents on every dollar they earn, before tax.

There you are.


“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

September 23, 2019 at 1:00 pm

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Joy.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Last night, the NYC EDC’s dog and pony show for their Sunnyside Yards project at Aviation High School went down in flames when a large group of protestors showed up, started chanting, and took over the event. The best part? I had nothing to do with it. This was a youth oriented thing, by my observation, and I recognized people from the Democratic Socialists of America, Queens Neighbors United, the Justice 4 All coalition, and a few other leftie groups amongst the protestors. The EDC had neglected to hire any Pinkertons to crack heads or maintain order, and the only security in the room was provided by two high school security guards who frankly “dint want any of that.” The “powers that be” in LIC were clearly worried, and scampered back to their nice and safe Manhattan luxury towers in Ubers.

Me? I’m no socialist, but think that this nation of ours would benefit by moving the needle a couple of notches back and to the left towards the center of the gauge. It made me happy though, to see the generation who were young kids on 9/11 voicing up. They’re mad as hell, and won’t take it anymore. I’d advise DSA to scale back on the Trotsky stuff in their public rhetoric, however, as that doesn’t play well at all in the United States.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

“You come to my house and complain about the noise?” is what John Goodman bellowed in the explosive finale of the Cohn Brother’s “Barton Fink” movie. That was what I was thinking about while walking home last night. My part of annoying these EDC people was when I noticed that they had affixed white tape over one of the lines on the astounding 59 signboards which lined the space. It was a line discussing the astounding projected $22 billion cost of the deck project, and it’s something I pointed out to the various reporters in the room whom I know.

The EDC folks got very nervous about this, peeled off the tape, and began telling me how transparent they are. I agree, EDC is very transparent. These people could fuck up making a sandwich.

If one wishes to hire a contractor of any kind, you would review their resume. These are the people who brought you the Staten Island Ferris Wheel, the largely empty Industry City project which made EDC the 4th largest landlord in NYC, and the Amazon debacle. Do you want to give this group $22 billion to manage another boondoggle? I sure don’t.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The World’s Borough is awakened, mad as hell, and doesn’t want to take it anymore.

Chaotic and scary, ain’t it? Interesting times. Can’t wait to be branded either a counter revolutionary element of the old regime who needs to be ideologically corrected in a gulag, or as a disestablishmentarian busybody without any tangible investment in Long Island City. I give it five years before rhetoric gives way to brickbats.


“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

September 17, 2019 at 1:30 pm

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