The Newtown Pentacle

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dismantled laboratory

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Chancing the vampires.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My practice for the last few months, given the broken toe drama of late 2019 and the subsequent recovery thereof, has been to go for a long walk and then hop on a train or a bus for the proverbial “last mile” home. This has been working out pretty well for a humble narrator, but what with the current “death cooties” epidemic and all, avoiding the Subway in particular has become a bit of a preoccupation for me. Under the best circumstance, the MTA system is a microbial nightmare, let alone during the “season of the Corona.” A pedestrian life for me, for the time being at least.

Problem is that I had to make my way through Queens Plaza, and down Jackson Avenue to get back to Astoria, and as I’ve often opined – there are Vampires up in the steel rafters of the elevated tracks. I reached into my camera bag and affixed the garland of garlic cloves which I always carry with me, and set out towards home.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Queens Plaza is always crowded, even during a Quarantine. Luxury condos, built in the name of worshipping at the altar of the City Planning crowd’s beloved “density,” are chock full of the children of the well off. These tower buildings disallow it’s residents several activities, notably smoking. Accordingly, a few dozen young adults were standing on the sidewalk wearing surgical masks and smoking cigarettes while staring into their phones. The mask would get edged up, and the cigarette would get sucked. One enterprising young woman had poked a hole in her mask large enough to stick a cigarette through. Yes… she poked a hole in the mask so that…

You have to love the humans, I always say. Years ago, I was on the subway and some guy boarded the train. He grabbed the pole, then used that hand to first dig the crust out of his eyes, followed by a generous amount of ear canal poking, followed by a quick nose pick and… yes, I was watching and waiting… he stuck that finger in his mouth to dislodge some food off a tooth. Every possible path to the brain covered, he then squeezed at the little bottle of hand sanitizer attached to his knapsack and rubbed a bit of the stuff into his hands. A seat opened up and upon sitting down he rested his head on the metal pole. Bravo, thought I. My goal is to touch nothing at all except the ground and only with my shoe covered feet. Don’t get me started on sandals.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Ford dealership building on Northern Blvd. which had been used as a Taxi company’s HQ in recent years – just off 31st street – has been demolished. Yet another part of old industrial Queens bites the dust, huh? Luckily, the scions of Manhattan’s real estate scene have ensured that yet another multi story self storage building will replace it, so that their mad quest to pack ever more people into ever smaller apartments can be supported with off site closets in Queens. I’m fairly sure that the Lost Ark of the Covenant is sitting in a lock box at the old Johnson Wax building.

The temporary roadway pictured above, if you’re curious, leads to the muster area for the East Side Access project’s laborers at the Sunnyside Yards.

Note: I’m writing this and several of the posts you’re going to see for the next week at the start of the week of Monday, March 23rd. 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 as we move into April and beyond, 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

April 3, 2020 at 11:00 am

hung indefinitely

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Great galloping Jehoshaphat, it’s Monday again.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One was required to attend a Community Board function recently, which utterly angered me since the evening was particularly photogenic and atmospherically offered a thick blanket of fog. This whole “participating in the Democracy of our Republic” thing gets old sometimes, man. It also eats up a lot of time.

Thing is, I can’t “not show up” since life has taught me that any set of rules which everyone else gets to break are always rigidity enforced when it comes to me – people love making an example out of me. It’s been like this since I was a little kid, and experience has taught me that whereas the rest of you get to be as nasty, corrupt, and venal as you want to be, I don’t. Saying that, realizing what sort of photo opportunity I was going to miss, I left HQ a bit early so I could fit in some “me” time. That’s mighty Triborough, of course, as seen from the edge of Astoria Park.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The cadre of liquor enthusiasts who populate the corner of Broadway and 42nd street here in Astoria like to rummage through people’s trash in search of cash convertible treasures. Often, they’ll find cast off children’s toys like the plushie ones pictured above. More often, they arrange these toys in interesting ways after discovering that neither the thrift store nor random passerby want to purchase the things. There’s a script for Pixar in all this, I tell you.

I’m really into this whole democracy thing, and would only support a dictatorship if the penultimate citizen was me. Who wouldn’t want to be a dictator? It ends badly, but if you play your cards right it’s likely you’ll get ten to twenty years at the top of the heap. If that’s how my story ends up playing out, there will be no abandoned toys, by edict. It’s just too sad.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Also on my list, in that dystopian future where people will fearfully chant my name, are the assholes pictured above. They are part of the neighborhood crew who have modified the exhaust systems on their vehicles – in this case motorcycles – to emit as much sound as possible. This is a subject I recently discussed with a member of the gendarmes, in a side conversation at the aforementioned Community Board meeting. It seems that this noisy vehicle fad is yet another one of the things which the current Mayor has made legal – as in abandoning the prohibition against the kits which modify the exhaust systems on both automobiles and motorcycle to make as much noise as possible. NYPD is aware of the problem, and is seeking jurist approval for an interpretation of using a different statute to squash out the racket offered by these fast and furious assholes, apparently.

Everyone is an asshole to me at the moment, as I’m a sick of it all humble narrator. Happy Monday.


“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, 2020 at 1:00 pm

looming up

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Continuing a night time stroll down Jackson Avenue.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

For generations have the children of Queens cried out in anguish and despair that they were denied their birthright – a chance to live in a small to medium sized but quite expensive apartment in or near Queens Plaza. Luckily, the powers that be over in Manhattan heard the children’s pleas and have answered their prayers. The under construction structure pictured above will be capped off by an “infinity pool,” which should answer another group’s longings – specifically the statistically relevant number of people who have always wanted to swim in a pool high above Queens Plaza. It’s a magical place, after all.

I get nostalgic for the porn shops and hookers, personally. They really dressed the place up, back in the day.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The stretch of Jackson Avenue lying betwixt Queens Plaza and 31st street is just horrible. You’ve got security fences and fortress walls on one side of the street, and long featureless construction fences on the other. A dizzying amount of automotive traffic occupies the center, and above there’s the tormenting sound of steel subway wheels grinding against the elevated rails. Jackson Avenue is too dark, and too bright, all at the same time. Everything is a confusion. It’s terrifying crossing the street, as every intersection is rumbling with traffic waiting to spring forth. Also, there’s vampires hiding up there in the steel.

God almighty, how I love places like this.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Dormitory style living awaits just a few blocks away, where all of that traffic – both automotive and locomotive – is coincidentally heading towards. Queens Plaza is where an automotive choke point turn off of Jackson Avenue carries you towards the onramps of the Queensboro Bridge. It’s also where the Flushing line subway conjoins with the Astoria service, so you’ve got that extra bit of steel rail sound to contemplate. I could not hear anything playing on the headphones jammed in my ears while shooting these photos, which indicates just how loud Queens Plaza actually is.

There’s lots and lots of new construction here, so the kids of Queens can finally live the dream. There’s 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 20, 2020 at 11:00 am

chiseled formula

with 2 comments

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

beyond certain

with one comment

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

damp pavement

with one comment

It’s Monday, are you cybering?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The fractured phalange situation is improving, and accordingly a humble narrator has been enjoying brief trots about the neighborhood once more. One is still taking it easy – baby steps as it were – since the busted toe smarts a bit and it’s always best to error on the side of caution with such matters. Nevertheless, the camera can’t be allowed to accumulate dust any longer and neither, concurrently, can I.

That’s 45th street between Northern Blvd. and 34th avenue pictured above, which will soon be where a vulgar display of power will be offered by the real estate industrial complex. It’s coming, Astoria.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

In my attempts at staying close to home, one has been positively haunting the Northern Blvd. and Broadway corridors here in Astoria. Of special interest during the endeavor, long exposure views of automotive traffic seem to be catching my eye. One has opined to anyone who might listen that this camera technique can reveal the hidden patterns of automotive “desire paths” and act as an aid to conversation about how to better use the shared roads of NYC.

Pictured above is a Q66 bus, which arrived in frame at an opportune moment.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One will resist the urge to visit Newtown Creek this week, unless duty calls. There’s a Newtown Creek Community Advisory Group meeting tonight at Sunnyside Community Services on 39th street, which I’m hoping will provide me with an opportunity to wave the camera around afterwards. I’m also meant to attend a holiday party towards the end of the week in lower Manhattan, one which I’ll likely sneak out of for a bit to set up the tripod and do some shooting. It’s nice to be mobile again.

If anybody knows of a section of Western Queens where an over the top display of Christmas lights might be found, leave me a message in the comments.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle


Come on a tour!

With Atlas ObscuraInfrastructure Creek! My favorite walking tour to conduct, and in a group limited to just twelve people! December 14th, 1:30-3:30 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.

Written by Mitch Waxman

December 2, 2019 at 12:15 pm

burned out

with 2 comments

Hey, what’s with all this Northern Blvd. stuff?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I know what is to come. In recent years, the NYC Dept. of City Planning was working on something they called “LIC Core,” a planning document centering around Northern Blvd. between 31st street and Woodside Avenue. My understanding is that the planning document has been abandoned, and that the Real Estate Industrial Complex will just be allowed to do whatever they want under the proviso that a politically viable number of “affordable” apartments are a part of their plan. The whole “affordable” thing, and the arithmetic by which the concept of affordability is determined, is a bugbear of political deception which I don’t want to get into.

As mentioned in the past, I’m now a member of Community Board 1 here in Astoria, and before the summer break, a humble narrator was obliged to vote for or against a couple of these projects. Now, when you’re on a community board – and I seem to be the only person in Queens who adheres to this – it’s meant to be like serving on a jury. The petitioner presents their facts, you make inquiries, and then you vote. In the case of two large projects just a few blocks from my own home, I voted yes. Here’s why…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Close to transit, shopping, and City services? Check. Best use of the land? Well, I don’t think used car lots are the best use of the land within one to two miles of the East River. How densely populated is the area already? Well…. let’s just say that when the kids want to experiment with cannabinoids well outside the purview of their parents or just see how loud their car stereos are, the side streets along Northern Blvd. are where they go, as it’s a ghost town at night after all the car lots and mechanics shutter their doors. People sleep in their cars along these blocks, or on cardboard boxes piled up against the walls.

Just like when you’re on a jury, your CB vote is supposed to be based not on personal prejudices or preconceived notions, rather it’s meant to be guided by the presented facts and informed by your personal knowledge of the area. Saying that, my queries and comments to the various entities seeking to develop residential properties in the neighborhood revolved around topics that longtime Newtown Pentacle readers will find familiar – green roofs, truly public space, stormwater capture, hospital beds, school desks, and transit. Also, what are you going to plug the building into, since our electrical power system hereabouts… frankly… sucks.

Also – since this has come up a few times during the summer when I was talking to the press about unrelated Newtown Creek business – I in no way speak for CB1, and if you want an official opinion of the group on anything, talk to the Chair or call the office and ask for one. I’m still new to the Community Board, and getting to know not just my fellow members but also the procedural norms under which it operates. My plan for the next set of sessions, which begin again in September, is to show up and observe the way things work and then vote my conscience on the various issues presented. What you read here is from my personal POV, and all opinions are my own. If I’m speaking “officially” on behalf of any of the groups which I work with, I’ll state that. Otherwise, it’s just some schmuck with a camera mouthing off again.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Saying all that, and I’m still startled at the number of people who have willingly made their homes in Queens Plaza, living along Northern Blvd. seems like a poor choice. You do have fairly regular bus service, but the closest subway stops (other than the 36th street R/M) are all several blocks to the north – in Astoria proper – along Broadway. I’ve long called this stretch of Northern Blvd. the “Carridor” as it’s a super wide primary automobile and truck route that offers some of the scariest street crossings in all of Queens. Really, Steinway at Northern… brrrr…

At the moment, I’m spending some effort on recording what’s found on the Carridor right now, in order to create some kind of record before it all gets swept away by the forces of modernity and the rapacious hunger of the Real Estate Industrial Complex. The history of NYC is a story of wrenching, and quite sudden, change. Take a picture when something catches your interest, as it might not be there tomorrow.


“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

August 27, 2019 at 11:00 am

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