The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Posts Tagged ‘photowalk

noncommittal way

leave a comment »

It’s National Ravioli Day, in these United States.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It’s been so gray and cold for the last few weeks, I think it’s time for an injection of warm colors, and a break from the photos of intensely ugly things which a humble narrator normally presents. Don’t worry, next week this – your Newtown Pentacle – will dive back into the hellish reality which we’ve created for ourselves, but for right now… flowers, and puppies, y’know – the good things.

That’s a happy, busy, and quite buzzy bee above, whose countenance was recorded on the north – or Greek – side of Astoria last summer.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Speaking of Greek, that’s what a certain part of Greece looked like the last time I was there. Specifically, it’s a village house in Crete, during the early spring. The problem with waving a camera around in that part of the world is that there’s just too much light. Controlling the amount of information hitting the camera sensor is quite an endeavor at that latitude.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Closer to home, specifically my own porch, and an example of the domestic bounty which Our Lady of the Pentacle promulgates. Similar issues with an abundance of light are encountered in the shot above. Heavily saturated images like the one above are difficult to develop. The original raw shot was just a blob of brick red, and it took a bit of kajiggering to arrive at something that more closely resembled reality.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Sunflowers terrified me as a small child. My next door neighbor, a Polish holocaust survivor named Mr. Klein, was a prolific gardener who used his back yard plot to grow vegetables and fruit. To keep pesky kids like myself from jumping his fence in pursuit of an errant baseball, Mr. Klein planted an impenetrable hedge of sunflowers along his fence.

Cannot tell you how many times a young but already humble narrator stood there in terror, transfixed with loathing, staring at the wall of rotting sunflower heads swarming with bees. One still has dreams and night terrors related to this.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

March 20, 2017 at 11:00 am

half way

with one comment

It’s National “Eat like an Irishman” day, in these United States.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

To begin with, apologies for the weird half post some of you received yesterday. One hit “publish” accidentally, instead of “save draft.” An effort has been underway of late to try and focus the production of this – your Newtown Pentacle – onto a mobile device tablet (specifically an iPad) and as any user of an iOS device will tell you – it’s a temperamental beast. Photo development and “heavy lifting” chores are still handled through my desktop, of course, but one of my winter projects has been to not sit at my office desk quite as often. I like the ability to set up, research, write, and so on at coffee shops and bars with wifi. Unfortunately, there are occasional technological bumps such as yesterday’s, so there you go.

It’s all about freedom. 

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Freedom is something which seems to be on my mind at the moment, probably because of the trash fire that’s burning in the Oval Office at the moment. I’m not entirely sure that Team Trump actually understands what the Government is meant to do, incidentally. Let’s take a refresher course:

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

“Establish Justice” is generally interpreted to mean the presence of some sort of law enforcement, open access and obeyance to the rulings of the Judicial Branch. Once the Judges have interpreted the issues of the day through the letter and intent of the law and issued a ruling, you have to live with it. “Insure domestic tranquility” is related to the Justice bit, but it’s also been interpreted to mean that the Government is there to quell internal strife and create a stable environment in which a free people can go about their business. It’s part of the reason that the States aren’t allowed to create tariffs or tax barriers between each other, and that interstate trade is administered over by the Federal rather than local state.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

“Provide for the common defence” refers to the administration of State militias and a common Federal military (back at the end of the 18th century, that largely meant the Navy). Jefferson and the rest lived in an era when individual European nobles held standing armies, and they foresaw what would happen if an “Army of Georgia” got into a fight with the “Army of Massachusetts” somewhere down the line (which as it turns out, was the Civil War). Common defence is on steroids now, covering most of the Western Hemisphere, and has been for the last 75 years. All enemies “foreign and domestic” are mentioned after the preamble, when the Constitution begins to get into details, and that language is included in the oath which both our President and military personnel take when entering service.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

“Promote the general Welfare” has been interpreted a lot of ways over the centuries. It’s involved railroads and trade deals with foreign nations, the expansion of civil liberties, deepening of harbors and rivers, the regulation of what can sold as foodstuffs, even the creation of the Interstate Highway System. It also means setting standards for schools.

The reason that the “administrative state” exists is because of the excesses witnessed by our ancestors. Tuberculoid pork and tainted beef being pumped full of dye and preservatives? That’s how the FDA and USDA came into existence. Corruption at the docks? Waterfront Commision. Pouring industrial waste into rivers and lakes? EPA. The list goes on, but there’s a reason all of these agencies exist.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

“Secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity” means that we aren’t supposed to burn down the house in the name of political exigency. It also means that we are meant to keep the ship afloat in the name of there being a future for Americans yet unborn. If you haven’t read the Constitution of the United States of America, and most Americans haven’t, I’d suggest giving it a quick scan this weekend.

It’s no “fifty shades of gray” or anything, but it’s definitely worth a look.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

March 17, 2017 at 1:30 pm

well on

with 2 comments

It’s National Artichoke Heart Day, in these United States. 

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One does not want to deceive you, lords and ladies. A humble narrator often thinks about subjects both arcane and nebulous. A recent bit of pondering involved finding a way to hide things in plain sight, although my thoughts did not venture into the realm of nefarious or dubiously legal character. In Hollywood movies, there is a concept called the “Macguffin” – which is an object of desire that drives the protagonists and plot of an action movie. It’s the Lost Ark of the Covenant, the Maltese Falcon, the jewel called the Pink Panther. The Macguffin itself is less important than the events and characters surrounding it, of course. Where would you hide a Macguffin in modern day NYC?

I’m thinking the fleet of green Boro taxis would work. 

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Manhattan and its fleet of yellow cabs are relatively contained. Close the bridges and tunnels, monitor the shorelines, and you’ve created a closed box to search systematically in. The infinity of Brooklyn? The vast tracts of Queens and Staten Island, or the “attached to the continent” borough of the boogie down Bronx? Now you’ve got an intractable problem in finding the Macguffin, with open borders to other counties. The Boro cabs are largely individually owned, and do not return at set intervals to a central location in the manner of the yellow taxi fleets, which complicates locating them. Further, they are dispersed geographically, unlike the yellows.  

The green cabs, due to their meters and other electronic components are able to be found on a GPS map, of course. Saying that, there’s a lot of turf to cover and you’ve only got so many cops. Additionally, once you shut the engine off and park the thing, it’s just another one of the hundreds of thousands of vehicles in NYC.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Nefarious purposes notwithstanding… let’s say the Macguffin is a box of pastry prized by the gendarmes, and not some dirty bomb or other claptrap. A box of donuts, for arguments sake. Would it be possible for the Cops to catalog the contents of every single cab? 

One can report that, based on apocryphal reports offered by those involved with the trade, narcotics and other illicit goods are commonly moved about the City by taxi and car service rather than by private vehicle. Criminal elements amongst us know everything there is to know about forfeiture laws, and the building of RICO cases by association. The favored methodology for moving “weight” is not to have a known gang member carry the stuff (a kilo of Macguffins), but rather to find an innocuous courier whom the cops will not notice nor suspect. In my old neighborhood in Brooklyn, it was common for the mob guys to employ Orthodox Jews as paid couriers for cash and dope for exactly this reason. They blended into the background, just like the Boro Cabs. 

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As a note – something about living in Trump’s America has been causing my conspiratorial theorizing to go into overdrive. Hasn’t been this attuned to the hidden and obscured since the late 1980’s. Paranoid wonderings and obscure connections just seem to blossom these days. A box of donuts isn’t just a box of donuts anymore, instead it’s likely something sinister and laden with more than just too much sugar and fat. We live in a bigly country, and donuts are great again. 

I wonder if I could move a box of donuts through the City, undetected, using nothing but green cabs. 


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

March 16, 2017 at 2:22 pm

bubbling steps

with 2 comments

It’s National Egg Cream Day, in these United States.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One has always had an odd dream, inspired by that old television series “The Wild, Wild, West.” The two leads of the show lived on a train which carried them to their adventures, specifically in a sleeper car that had been modified for their usage. One has always wondered about the specialized rolling stock which might be attached to the end of a subway train. I’ve seen some of MTA’s more esoteric kit over the years – their work trains, a specialized unit which analyzes the tracks, once or twice I saw the actual “money train” shooting by on an express track. I’ve always desired a private sleeper car on the Subway. This would be selfish, and more than I deserve or could afford, so it would need to operate like a hotel. 

So, here’s my idea: we attach a car to each and every subway train that has blacked out windows and a custom interior, whose doors only open with a key card swipe. There can be several types of these private units, used for a variety of purposes which currently elude officialdom on the surface. 

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A certain percentage… say 70%… of these Subway rooms would be luxury units (the LUX line). The State would list availabilities for these units on AirBNB type sites, and found within would be all the amenities expected at a high end hotel. The walls are lined with mahogany panels, the floor lushly carpeted. There’s a king size bed, a heart shaped hot tub, and a commode with fine finishes. Naturally, there’s a mini bar as well. 25% of these short stay residential cars could also be set up as dormitory style hostel cars (the ECON line), designed for students and European tourist cheapskates. 

The remaining 5% would take its interior design cues from either 19th century slave ships or Soviet era army barracks, and these could function as homeless shelters – accomplishing the “out of sight, out of mind” policies of both Mayor de Blasio and Governor Cuomo nicely. The Mayor doesn’t take the train, and neither does the other guy. 

Alternatively, should Riker’s Island ever get closed down and cleared of jails so that the real estate guys can develop it, a couple of cars on each train could repurposed to serve as mobile jails. This would be the “DFPS line,” named for the Mayor, our very own Dope from Park Slope. The big guy would probably love this, as it would completely eliminate NIMBY’ism from the creation and placement of homeless shelters. “It’ll only be in your neighborhood for 3 minutes…”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On a non sarcastic note, I finally filled in one of the two holes in my photographic catalog of NYC’s Subway lines with a shot of the Times Square Shuttle, as seen above. I just need to get to Brooklyn to get a shot of the elusive Z and then I can move on to other things. Perhaps, someday, when this current cold waste has retreated…

Go have an egg cream, lords and ladies.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

March 15, 2017 at 2:25 pm

important sidelight

with one comment

It’s National Potato Chip Day, in these United States.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Any part of the urban landscape which the voracious minions of the Real Estate craze sees as “having a large footprint” is in danger of being consumed by it. Supermarkets, factories, warehouses, and in the case of today’s post – gas stations. One has noticed over the last few years that filling stations with a small bodega have largely replaced the “gas pump and mechanic” style facilities. These latter versions, which host a larger number of pumping units than their forebears did, now seem to be disappearing as well. There’s a few left in the “central core” of NYC, but this non municipal infrastructure seems to be disappearing as well. 

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Used to be… not too long ago… back when I was a boy… how sick one grows of using these phrases. Cab drivers have told me that they are often forced to travel long distances to fill their tanks these days. Forget about “normal” vehicles, of course. What are we going to do when all that’s left in NYC are apartment buildings? 

Pictured above is a gas station on Northern Blvd. at Steinway/39th Street, where one can witness – around 3:30 in the afternoon, an armada of taxi cabs filling up before the shift and driver change at 4 p.m. Here in the Astoria and Sunnsyide sections of LIC, there’s still a few gas stations left, but this one – so close to what would be the development site described in the Sunnyside Yards decking proposal – would clearly be wiped away.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Part of the reason that the yellow cabs fill up in Queens is that there are so few gas stations left in Manhattan. The taxi industry used to be based along Manhattan’s west side, until a real estate craze there in the 1970’s and 80’s pushed them out. They relocated to LIC, largely, where the same process that pushed them out of Manhattan is now playing out. 

That’s one of the few survivors in Manhattan, below 96th street, pictured above. It’s at the northern edge of Hells Kitchen, adjoining the Hudson Yards development site. 


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

March 14, 2017 at 1:16 pm

incessant mixings

leave a comment »

It’s National Coconut Torte Day, in these United States.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There’s about three thousand commercial air flights on any given day in the NYC area. This includes helicopters, all three airports, even the sort of goofy water plane you see in the shot above. One such as myself has no desire, or ability, to leave “home sweet hell.” NYC is where everybody else is working to get to, but if you’re born here, that’s already been all sorted out.

Personally speaking, I’d like to just get out of Astoria for a few days, but back to back colds in March and a pulled abdominal muscle at the end of February have kept me on the bench, and the injured list. Into each life a little rain must fall and all that, but jeez…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The good news is that my infirmaties have allowed for catching up on a lot of television shows which all my friends have been rattling on about. One can highly recommend the Marvel “Daredevil” show on Netflix, which purports to be set in Manhattan’s Hells Kitchen but which is shot in Greenpoint, Bushwick, and especially Long Island City. Long time readers of this – your Newtown Pentacle – will likely be thrilled seeing “The Man without Fear” duking it out with an army of Ninjas in LIC’s Degnon Terminal nearby LaGuardia Community College. 

In many ways, it confirms something I’ve always believed might be occurring on the rooftops of LIC, but you’d need some sort of aircraft (or maybe a drone) to witness it. The Marvel Netflix series are largely being produced at the Broadway Stages company based in Greenpoint, so it’s an easy reach to see why LIC looms so large in it. Also, Manhattan’s west side doesn’t really look like NYC anymore, due to the real estate craze. 

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Just because a humble narrator switched gears and stopped writing and drawing comics a few years back doesn’t mean that my childhood fascinations have abided. I can also recommend to you Marvel’s “Doctor Strange” film. What does all this have to do with a blog devoted to the history of Newtown Creek and the communities surrounding it? 

Nothing, but you’re going to need something to do when that blizzard hits us. 


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

March 13, 2017 at 1:00 pm

fragrant memories

leave a comment »

It’s National Blueberry Popover Day, in these United States.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A few odd and end shots of critters encountered today. Low tide at Hells Gate will offer you a chance to observe a gaggle of gulls exploiting the exposed intertidal zone. Gulls evolved what turns out to be one of the most important adaptations for survival on a human dominated planet – inedibility. You can actually eat them, but reportedly they taste heavily of all things maritime and you have to worry about worms and accumulated toxins. In their world, Gulls are near the top of the food chain and their diet consists of critters which the environmental activist community would describe as “bio accumulators.” Apparently, there are people who eat gulls, but gussy them up with bacon and a whole pack of spice.

Bacon could make a turd taste nice, I believe, but it ain’t kosher.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Squirrels are regularly eaten by Americans, although this one from Astoria Park doesn’t have to worry too much about being consumed by a human. It’s main problem are Hawks and Falcons, Dogs and Cats, and Raccoons. I’m told that Opposums and even Rats will go after squirrel nests. There’s something about the phrase “squirrel nest” that just fills me with an indefatigable whimsy.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A culinary tradition from Europe continues in the United States, which states that swan meat is reserved for the tables of royalty, and it’s generally not on the menu for us common folk. Another water fowl near the top of its food chain, the Mute Swan pictured above probably has a liver full of mercury and PCB’s, and it’s flesh is likely riddled with parasitic worms picked up out of the sewage laden waters of New York Harbor – or in the case of the bird above, Luyster Creek in Astoria on the forbidden northern coast of Queens.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As you many have discerned, it’s time for a humble narrator to organize up his luncheon. Y’know, a blueberry popover sounds pretty good right now.

See you Monday, with something completely different at this – your Newtown Pentacle.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

March 10, 2017 at 1:00 pm

%d bloggers like this: