The Newtown Pentacle

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Posts Tagged ‘Project FIrebox

feeble spirit

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Wednesday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Umbrella? Yeah, better bring one. As mentioned in previous posts, one has been experiencing several annoying and somewhat painful conditions which have been getting in my way. One of them is a pulled muscle in the spinal region. This condition is certainly temporary, which is how my experience with similar injuries in the past have played out, but it’s made me question every single item in camera bag from the point of view of weight. Sticking the umbrella in there is a drag, even though it’s only a pound or two. Seriously, when you’re marching along with the gear, even a few ounces of weight make a real difference in how happy you might be.

That’s the view of Astoria’s Broadway from HQ, gathered as one of these recent crazy storms was just blowing in. I was hoping to catch some lightning, but no luck.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Somebody on Newtown Avenue, in another section of Astoria, purpled their firebox. I know for a fact that the guys and gals who ride on the noisy red trucks don’t like when the citizenry do this, but in recent years I’ve noticed that people are taking the painting of fireboxes into their own hands.

This one isn’t too far from The Saw Lady’s house. Maybe she knows who and why. Is there a massive Prince fan living nearby?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Another walk, another Tylenol for my aching back. As mentioned in the past, Sunnyside Yards is always in focus around these parts. That’s an Amtrak maintenance facility, as you may have guessed.

Lots of intentional stretching and not repeating the physical behavior which resulted in my back hurting is underway, so everything seems to be on the mend. I still need to sit down more often than normal, and I’ve figured out the exact spot between the shoulder blades to press my thumb into. That causes an audible “click” and allows the trapped muscle to degauss or disengage or whatever it is that’s going on in there.


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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

July 21, 2021 at 11:00 am

firmament alien

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Monday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

If you get caught out in a wild summertime thunderstorm, wouldn’t it super lucky if you were at a friendly bar with wide awnings that allowed you to be little more than a dry spectator to the cloudburst? What if that bar was an Irish bar, found at the Times Square of Astoria at 42nd and Broadway? Then you’d know how happy a humble narrator was when this exact scenario played out at my local.

The best thing that can happen when something dramatic is happening is to be ensconced in a place where you can observe, but not participate in, the misery others are experiencing.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Even by the standards of NYC’s legendarily harsh climate – with the blizzards and heat waves and hurricanes – the last few weeks have been “wack a doodle.” Oy. It’s so humid. I don’t even want to look at the electric bill.

I was absolutely enthralled by the reflected light pouring off that young lady’s mirror, it should be mentioned.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Firebox down! That was the subject of the message I sent over to the offices of my local City Council Member – Jimmy Van Bramer. This one is on Skillman Avenue and the “Mitch Waxman Early Warning System” let the powers that be, through the aforementioned power that is, know about it.


“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

July 19, 2021 at 11:00 am

particularly alien

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Tuesday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It was quite an afternoon for a long walk, Sunday the 25th of April was, here amongst the rolling hills of Astoria. Speaking of, 21st Avenue at 43rd street seems to be the highest “natural” prominence on the north side of the neighborhood. Someday, I’d love to see a 3D topographical map of Astoria sometime. It’s fairly flat, yes, but there’s a series of shallow hill and valley formations encountered after crossing Astoria Blvd. while heading north. I like to imagine that they’re ridges of mud and stone deposited hydrologically in some unrecorded era of yore. I’ve never seen this elevation change between 20th Avenue and Astoria Blvd. described on a map, but there has to be a 40-50 foot differential.

That’s Astoria’s Luyster Creek pictured above. It’s also sporadically described in maps. A friend of mine who is an expert in the cartographic arts has been looking into the subject of this particular waterway for me, which has been immensely helpful.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

After scuttling from HQ on the other side of the neighborhood, a humble narrator found himself next wandering about at Hells Gate nearby Astoria Park. For once, I was lucky enough to get there just as a train was passing over the eponymous bridge spanning this, the Hells Gate section of the East River.

Based on the reactions of passerby, my appearance must be shocking. Old ladies were clutching at their pearls, children cried, dogs growled. I saw a group of older Hellenic men preparing torches.

One decided to get out of the area quickly. The Greeks invented “peasant mob chases monster with torches” along with most other things.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

While escaping the attentions of the mob, one noticed this particularly weathered fire alarm box mounted on a pole. The graffiti would indicate that this is a silent alarm… get it? Omertà… silence…

I have fun.


“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

May 18, 2021 at 2:00 pm

puerile extravagance

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Wednesday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One of several great things about the new camera system I’m working with is that I can pretty much leave the tripod at home when going out for a night time walk. What’s cool about that is that the somewhat laborious process of “stop/set up/shoot” has now been replaced with “hey, look at that, take a picture.” I still use the tripod occasionally, but it’s kind of an intentional thing rather than a necessary thing. For those of you who might not be photography obsessed gear heads, carrying less and doing more with it is kind of the name of the game when you’re on the street. Studio photography, as in the standard three light portrait shot you were likely the subject of during school photos or family portraits, still requires a bunch of gear. Saying that, you can’t instruct a passing Q104 bus to hold still, smile, or say “cheese.”

So, when do you need a tripod or other camera support when packing one of these very modern mirrorless cameras? When you want to do a long exposure, or a time lapse, or any number of photo genre’s that you want to play with which require an absolutely static relationship between camera and composition – that’s when.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Forgive me for rattling on about this at least once a week, but I’m still absolutely astounded by the set of capabilities which Canon has baked into this new gizmo, and am still exploring its limits. Hell, the biggest feature and selling point on this new generation of Canon cameras is face and eye based autofocus tracking and I haven’t even turned that one on yet due to the pandemic and my avoidance of other people. Just the other night I found a tiny button on the thing by accident – that I didn’t even know was there – that allowed me to toggle back and forth between manual and automatic settings. The only reason I found that was because I was wearing gloves and accidentally activated the thing.

The gloves are a step up for me as well, as I’ve finally found a pair that incorporate some sort of material into the finger pads which smart phone and other touch screens can acknowledge. If this process continues to its logical conclusion, I’ll be wearing an Iron Man suit by July.

Actually, I’d love an Iron Man suit, but they don’t have them in the husky department at Alexander’s. Now, how’s that for an obscure reference?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The other day, while presenting a Sunnyside Yards shot gathered at a fence hole I refer to as the “old reliable,” I mentioned that whomsoever it is at Amtrak that’s been put in charge of fence holes at the rail complex during the Biden era has been busy. A couple of new ones have appeared, including one that allowed the shot above, depicting a Long Island Railroad train heading towards Manhattan.

Now, that’s a shot which my older camera would have categorically required a tripod to get. What I would’ve been unhappy about would have involved the train being motion blurred due to the shutter speed. The new unit had zero problems operating at low light and offers the use of a shutter speed which allowed me to produce a sharply defined and quite frozen moment.

See y’all tomorrow at this – your Newtown Pentacle.

Note: I’m writing this and several of the posts you’re going to see for the next week at the beginning of the week of Monday, March 8th. 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 here, 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

March 10, 2021 at 11:00 am

untrammeled land

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It’s Wednesday again, say its name.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Firebox, firebox, firebox. The one pictured above, encountered on Roosevelt Avenue in Woodside, is telegraphic. You pull the handle, a circuit is broken within the thing, and the bells go off at the local firehouse which brings out the lads and ladies who drive the big red truck. It’s likely a product of the Gamewell Company, which controlled about 95% of the market for this product at the start of the 20th century when the modern day FDNY was being formed and the Tammany crew were writing the checks. This, in my observation, the most common encountered form of fire alarm box you’ll find in NYC. The mount it’s sitting on is far more modern, but the alarm box itself probably dates back to the 1930’s or 40’s.

There are so many features of our New York streets that thoroughly blend into the background, and do it so well that you barely notice them. Manhole or access covers, utility poles, weird antennae… there’s all sorts of gear.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Midnight wanderings, especially with all the bars closing early, can be a lonely affair. What with the quarantine and such, it’s been hard for me to find a few minutes to myself for “psychic butt scratching time.” The phone keeps ringing, Our Lady of the Pentacle requires company, there’s all of these Zoom meetings… I’ve really come to value these little snatches of nocturnal freedom more than I can say. Also, whereas in a spot like the one pictured above I’m quite obviously masked up, it’s been a sincere pleasure to forego the thing while marching about in the cold solitude of a January night.

If everything went to plan this week, as you’re reading this it will have been some 24 hours since a humble narrator received his first of two vaccination shots. If, by this time, you’ve received news of a humble narrator toothsomely tearing into passerby in pursuit of consuming their brains – you’ll know that we have arrived at a Walking Dead sort of scenario and you should avoid me. Who can say?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

During the late 1970’s and throughout the 1980’s, NYC began retiring the old Gamewell Telegraphic Fire Alarm Boxes in favor of a dual duty fire/police telephonic unit. This was during the crime wave which too many of you believe to have been a myth, or caused by “systemic racism,” or whatever other political terms you’re enamored with. People just like you, and Bill De Blasio, were in charge back then too. If crime, and being a victim thereof, is an intellectual concept for you rather than an ironclad memory that involves spitting out the bloody shards of your teeth, you really need to rethink your stances. I’m not advocating for bootlicking, nor for taking the Cops at their word and not holding them to account for every little thing, but very few of you “new people” have any idea what NYC was actually like prior to the current day. These new people have coined new lexicons, so the disconnect is logical.

Allow me to translate the recent past for you – “sex workers” controlled entire blocks, and all night long cars driven by “clients” would trawl around the neighborhood. In the mornings, used condoms and empty or smashed liquor bottles littered the sidewalk. Beyond the skin trade – school playgrounds were covered in broken glass, drug dealers operated with impunity and owned entire blocks, the Mafia controlled construction and private garbage collection as well as a bunch of other things and if you were smart you didn’t pay much attention to them. The cops did nothing but respond to 911 calls, and otherwise wouldn’t leave the safety of their cars to be proactive. The FDNY alarm boxes would alert fire houses of burning buildings, but FDNY wouldn’t be able to start fighting fires until armed Cops showed up to protect them. Rape didn’t involve being made to feel uncomfortable because somebody said something ugly or pointed at you. It was a world without bike lanes, if you can imagine such a thing.

Note: I’m writing this and several of the posts you’re going to see for the next week at the beginning of the week of Monday, March 1st. 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 here, 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

March 3, 2021 at 11:00 am

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