The Newtown Pentacle

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Posts Tagged ‘New York City

chiseled formula

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This isn’t a costume, it’s a lifestyle.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A too tight hat caused one’s circulatory system to malfunction in the head region during a recent walk down Northern Blvd. By the time Steinway Street was crossed, it felt as if one had drank a bottle of strong whiskey. Traffic was whizzing about, going wherever it is that people go. Having nowhere to go myself, I generally don’t whiz, and one rather prefers a gentle pace. I’ve timed it, my pace, and it’s about two miles an hour – presuming I don’t get distracted by something shiny or some flashing light.

Once, I got stuck in front of a lascivious “we’re open” sign for two hours, drooling.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Recent encounters with the humans have left one numb and depressed.

As a note, this section of Northern Blvd. is at the beginning of a period of profound alteration, in case you’re wondering why I’m paying so much attention to it lately. The “safe streets” crowd in City Hall has decided that pedestrian islands need to be installed, which is already a “done deal” and a project which will be starting up shortly. Additionally, the failure of NYC City Planning to launch a cohesive redevelopment plan for the section of Northern between Queens Plaza and Woodside Avenue they had been working on called “LIC Core,” has brought on a flood of speculative real estate investment along Northern Blvd., or as I call it – The Carridor – which will see the street transformed by new construction in the coming years. A humble narrator is making it a point of creating some sort of record of what “was” here at the start of the 21st century.

Despite the fact that my mind was numbed by the too tight hat, restricted blood flow did not alter me from my intended action. Focus, boy, focus.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Even the former LIC FDNY Hook and Ladder 66 firehouse which has been occupied in recent years by the NYPD Emergency Services Unit is up for sale at the moment.

Since the broken toe drama which brought 2019 to a crashing halt is seemingly resolved, one has been on a positive arc in the new year. A return to daily perambulatory and photographic pursuits has been undertaken, and such activity has assumed a level of primacy in my priorities. Muscle tone and endurance has begun to return, and two months of flabby fat accumulation has begun to melt away. I’ve been out and about with the camera constantly, wandering the streets while the rest of you sleep and dream.

If only I can remember not to affix my hat too tightly.


“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 16, 2020 at 2:00 pm

sealed up

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Better late than never?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Sorry for the single shot today, but my schedule got the better of me. Back tomorrow with something that won’t leave you hungry an hour later.

Pictured is thirty seconds of recorded light and time on Astoria’s Broadway.


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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

January 14, 2020 at 2:30 pm

was unyielding

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Lurking through Astoria, always in fear.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One attended a presentation by Tom Grech, show runner and the head poobah of the Queens Chamber of Commerce, last week at the offices of Community Board 1 here in Astoria. Tom, whom I’ve known for some time now, described his organization’s operation and history to the gathered members of this particular committee (I’m attending at least one meeting of every CB1 committee in addition to the two I’m actually assigned to – which are environmental and transit). Tom also explored some of the economic conditions, situations, and challenges here in the World’s Borough, and listened to experiential anecdotes from a gathered group which included several local business owners. All in all, a positive and optimistic conversation. The meeting ended, and despite several people offering me a ride home in their automobiles, one opted instead on scuttling back to HQ and photographing interesting sights encountered along the way.

This is my way.

This particular predicate is offered to explain why one such as myself was wandering around the Grand Central Parkway in the late evening recently, as I’m forced these days into excusing and explaining my activities, motivations, and very existence to any random petitioner who might inquire. Advice is often graciously offered to a humble narrator as well by well wishers – about how to right his life, conform to societal norms, or prepare for an uncertain future. A wandering mendicant remain I.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A trench carved out of Astoria carries the Grand Central Parkway, a principal arterial high speed road designed to funnel Manhattan bound automotive traffic – pulsing out of Nassau and Suffolk counties – towards the toll plazas of the Triborough Bridge. According to a 2015 study by the NYC DOT, approximately 165,000 vehicle trips are calculated as occurring along the Grand Central Parkway daily. The Grand Central Parkway is found entirely within the Borough of Queens, is roughly 14.6 miles long, was created in 1936, and its designation as a parkway is due to it once having wooded land on either side of the road that was publicly accessible. A widening project in 1961 eliminated the “park” concept, but the name “parkway” is still used. If I had my way, you’d see this road decked over, with parks built on the local streets grade level.

One was drawing attention to himself while photographing these shots, notably from a Police Officer who was lying in wait for speeding vehicles. There is an air of vulnerability in this section of Astoria, a sense of “nowhere to run or hide,” and the sure knowledge that if trouble arrived you’d be dealing with it all on your own. Well, on this night, I’d have that Cop who was eyeballing me, but… The streets surrounding the Grand Central hereabouts are part of an “IBZ” or Industrial Business Zone, and therefore deserted at night. Damaged throwaways, lunatics, addicts, nefarious ruffians, and social outsiders like myself wander about the area at night. Everywhere do the cyclopean eyes of security cameras scan and record.

It was cold, dark, and I had to make pee pee.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The local street elevation provides an interesting window for a long exposure exploration of how traffic flow patterns play out in the “real world.” In the near future, should those postdeluvian prognostications of the scholarly climatologists come true, this will be the site of a Grand Central Canal, filled with six to ten feet of water. Imagine what sort of battrachian monstrosities will be spotted swimming in its depths of this trench, having migrated out of Long Island Sound and the northern stretches of the East River.

In a century, will we see hundreds of thousands of amphibious watercraft moving to and from Manhattan along this stretch of the Grand Central? What of the tentacled horrors which would lurk in its voluminous murk? Will this be the Astoria Abyss?


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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

January 13, 2020 at 11:00 am

beyond certain

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Flat out in the hood.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The other night, while scuttling down Northern Blvd., a group of teenagers walked by. One reacted badly to their presence, and although I was able to maintain a placid facade of indifference as they passed, it wasn’t long after that a humble narrator swooned down onto the pavement in a paroxysm of panic. It has been a while since my vast reservoir of physical cowardice initiated “one of my states,” but you take the good with the bad I always say. Adolescents are unpredictable and possibly ferocious creatures, after all, and despite the fact that this particular group didn’t seem to be over 14 years in age, nor over 100 pounds in weight, their threatening nature was clearly implied. Two of the females in particular seemed like they might be rather mean spirited, and apt to utter comments of the cutting variety. I managed to maintain composure until they disappeared from view, whereupon I then fell into a triggered heap. I’m not meant to be around the humans, particularly the young ones.

Of course, in my neck of the woods here in Queens, it’s become a rather common sight to see a grown man passed out on the sidewalk, so… Nobody cares.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One has been fastidious about his return to regular perambulatory pursuits, and on the night these images were captured, a perfunctory local route was chosen. The veritable spring is returning to one’s step, after the broken toe drama which defined the last months of 2019, but muscle tone has definitely degraded during my recovery period. Daily scuttling is required, therefore. A minimum interval of 4-5 miles a day dedicated photowalking time is my goal, although inclement weather can easily derail that routine. So can the sudden and jarring appearance of young adolescents.

After picking myself up from that puddle of tears one shed during the nervous fit, the camera began to be actuated again, a pursuit which corrected ones mood. Several years ago, a group of 12 year olds so thoroughly spooked me that I hid behind a tombstone in Maspeth’s Mt. Zion cemetery for so long that I narrowly avoided getting locked into the facility by its attendants. Amongst men, I am no fierce lion, rather am I tremulous, a fainting goat.

One such as myself is meant for the gentle pursuits of the parlor, and controlled circumstance. No surprises, either. I’m delicate.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On my way back to HQ here in Astoria, several lumbering steps carried me up to the hoary hills of Newtown Road, where a smallish green house has always demanded a certain fascination. The property hosts a driveway set onto a path diagonal to the street grid, and it very well might be a remnant of “Old Ridge Road.” This enigmatic structure is found at the corner of 46th street if you want to examine it for yourself. There’s are obvious additions welded onto an older structure (see the diagonal roofed section, for instance), but you can still see the rugged outline of a small farmhouse in the central section.

Another group of adolescents were noticed approaching from the direction of Woodside, silhouetted lasciviously by street lamps, and from deep within a humble narrator did a wave of anticipate panic begin to rise. One spun on his heels while they were still several blocks away, and I walked at a quick pace back towards the safety of HQ, with its layers of stoutly locked doors.


“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 10, 2020 at 11:00 am

intimate circle

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Bulging and watery… eyes staring in from the darkness.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

How I’ve missed industrial Maspeth, at night, with its creepy unlit streets and often nonexistent sidewalks. The blind turns, the odiferous hint of marijuana oozing from the windows of passing cars, the discarded liquor bottles and illegal dumping… its been way too long, Queens.

Speaking of too long, as I mentioned at the start of this four day travelogue, I had left HQ in Astoria and scuttled over to the Kosciuszcko Bridge in pursuit of communion with my beloved Newtown Creek. As I was shooting the particular image above, it was noticed that my camera battery had only one bar of charge left in it. Additionally realized was that the first few drops of a prophesied rain event were beginning to pitter and patter into the automotive soot and finely shattered glass which forms those dusty dunes adorning the broken pavement of industrial Maspeth.

That’s odd, thought I, regarding the battery. Ok, I had been doing long exposure tripod shots for a bit, and it was medium cold out, but I so seldom have to change a battery “in the field” that it struck me as weird.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

No matter though, as a few quick actuations saw me sliding a fresh battery into the camera. I’ve always got at least one extra battery with me, one in the camera sack and another in a pants pocket. I got back to shooting, here along that malignant saraband which carrying automotive traffic between 43rd and 48th streets known as 54th Avenue, which intersects with an off ramp of the Long Island Expressway. This is a corner which the NYC DOT has missed changing the luminaire head of their street lamp over to the modern LED type, and an old style sodium lamp is pushing out orange illumination contrasting with the cold blue light of the newer system. Colormetrics! What fun. Go Mets, huh?

This is when I realized that all of the aches and pains which have been bedeviling me for the last few months had receded into an anhedonic amnesia. If you saw a creepy old guy in a black raincoat on the side of the road last week, cackling to himself briefly while working a camera, that was me feeling like me again.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Making way towards Sunnyside, the rain began to drizzle insistently and I decided to had back to HQ in Astoria. One last shot of industrial Maspeth was recorded… that’s actually the corner where an Orthodox Yeshiva stood at the start of the 20th century. For some reason, the presence of a religious academy of that persuasion being based here/then is incongruous to me, and it’s story is something that’s on my research list. More to come at some point hence.

By the time I arrived at Queens Blvd., the drizzle had begun to set up into a proper rain and I decided to pull out my phone and summon a ride for the remaining interval. Somehow I had lost track of time, or perhaps I’m experiencing some sort of Newtown Creek induced missing time, as the clock revealed that it was 3 in the morning.

I was out and alone at the witching hour, in the rain, on a moonless night… and this too was… nepenthe.


“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 9, 2020 at 11:00 am

surprising volume

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A whole lot of garbage.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The high flying pedestrian and bike lane section of the new Kosciuszcko Bridge is something which I’ve been waiting to explore and exploit since I first learned of the bridge replacement project years ago. The bridge(s) officially opened last year, and I personally witnessed our Sith Lord Governor cut the ceremonial ribbon on the project with that red laser sword of his, but Darth Cuomo was fibbing when he said construction was done. The Governor would likely offer that he finds my lack of faith disturbing.

Principal construction, yes, but the contracts for this project don’t end until at least the end of 2020. Within two days of the official opening, vehicle lanes were blocked off by jersey barriers vouchsafing construction equipment and tool sheds, and orange netted wooden breastworks were once again hugging the bridge’s superstructure and perfectly visible to the children of Blissville and Maspeth. While I was on the bridge last week, for instance, a crew of Union electricians were working on perfecting the street lights illuminating the roadway. That’s the Sith way, I guess.

I’m still trying to figure out how to photograph that series of unearthly LED generated “colours out of space’ which the decorative lighting systems produce.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

See that Waste Transfer Station pictured above, found in Greenpoint?

Hostile reaction to the presence of wandering mendicant photographers over the years at this site have marked my general preoccupation with recording its splendors. Once, a brusque exchange with some hard hatted fellow driving a pickup truck resulted in a humble narrator being actively pursued as he walked quickly away from a threatened physical encounter. I lost the guy after darting across Meeker Avenue, but for a minute there I was sweating. It was August, so I was sweating anyway, but…

Don’t mess with the garbage guys, they specialize in making things disappear and go away. Newtown Creek, especially back here, isn’t Disneyworld and it’s real easy to get hurt if you don’t know the lay of the land. Say it with me – BROOKLYN.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Despite it all, I do love a good mound of trash.

A problem our City has, though, revolves around trucks being the primary means for transporting this material out of the City after it’s processed. Big players in this industry like Allocco Recycling and Sims Metal use maritime industrial resources to float our recyclable waste away on barges, towed by Tugboats. Waste Management has two giant facilities along the Creek which are serviced by railroad, providing the putrescent cargo which the infamous “Garbage Train” hauls through the Fresh Pond Yard and out of Queens over the Hell Gate Bridge. In either example, however, local collection trucks operated by DSNY or private carters focus their routes in on narrow corridors and intersections around the Newtown Creek, logarithmically increasing traffic in the surrounding residential neighborhoods, on their way to and from any or all of these “waste transfer stations.”

As I remind the “bicycle people” all the time, their quest for safer streets is directly related to reducing the personal waste flow of every New Yorker. According to officialdom, the average New Yorker produces about 1,300 lbs. of garbage a year. Reduce that by even a single percentile, and you’ve taken some of these trucks off the streets. Garbage, lords and ladies, will bury us all.

One wishes Darth Cuomo could fix that.


“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 8, 2020 at 11:00 am

into life

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Back in the saddle.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Infirmity is conquered… sort of… and a humble narrator is back on the beat.

The first 2020 nighttime photowalk saw me scuttling southwards from the rolling hills of almond eyed Astoria all geared up and ready to go. To make it official, I keyed up one of my favorite audiobook iterations of “The Call of Cthulhu” on my headphones as I left Astoria about 9 in the evening. The chosen path carried me across a Robert Moses widened stretch of Jackson avenue which modernity calls Northern Blvd., up Laurel Hill Blvd. (now known as 43rd street), through Middleburgh (aka Sunnyside) and over to Blissville’s border with Berlin (West Maspeth). My goal was to arrive at the modern day version of the Penny Bridge, the Kosciuszcko if you must, and commune with that loathsome ribbon of municipal neglect and hidden history known simply as the Newtown Creek.

For too long have I been missing her. My path was chosen for its lines of ley, and carried me past the great polyandrion of the Roman Catholics, called First Calvary Cemetery. Why the lines of ley, you ask? Simply, my batteries are low.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The actual eastern border of historic Long Island City – on the southern side of the Long Island Expressway, Laurel Hill Blvd. – retains its ancient nomen, rather than masquerading as “43rd street” as it does on the northern side. Laurel Hill is the landform into which the farm and homestead of the Alsop family were built, and its geological prominences were reduced by Irish and German laborers not too long after the Roman Catholic Church purchased the Alsop properties in 1848. On the eastern side of the Brooklyn Queens Expressway, which sits firmly upon the pre consolidated border, is industrial West Maspeth, once known as Berlin. There is a 43rd street in Maspeth, but it doesn’t concur with the southern iteration of the street, for which you can thank Robert Moses and the adoption of the so called Philadelphia plan in the early 20th century. Maspeth’s 43rd street was once called the shell road, and was paved with crushed oyster carapace. That’s before the forgotten Yeshiva, or Phelps Dodge.

The closer I got, the more I felt it calling. Like some great subterrene drum, whose emanations burst within my chest in inimitable sense impacts… a sound which certain groupings of the aboriginal Lenape would have pronounced “Hohosboco,”or the “Bad Water Place.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Upwards on the path went a humble narrator, ever upwards.

Like every other piece of wind blown trash, discarded toy, or intestinal discharge in New York City, Newtown Creek is where I belong and end up. No destination is more final, nor more desirable for one such as myself.

Here amongst the ghosts, and in the night wind, belong I.


“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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