The Newtown Pentacle

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Posts Tagged ‘Rain

invocation addressed

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Rain, rain, hold still while I take a picture.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One didn’t get out too much over the week between Christmas and New Years due to a variety of reasons, amongst them was that spate of drenching rain which hit the neighborhood here in Astoria, Queens. Regardless, inactivity and I don’t enjoy each other’s company, so I set up the camera and experimented a bit right here at home.

If you were making your way down Astoria’s Broadway and saw the silhouette of a weird old guy and a camera up on a tripod in a window, you should have waved. That was me.

Since I’ve lived in this neighborhood, that bodega has had three owners and never changed its name. The first set of owners were brothers, ones whose family had a farm back in Lebanon. Back then, they had great produce, and either brother was your go to for finding out whether or not a pomegranate was ripe or not. They sold it to another Lebanese family, one which had a large group of sons that were all fitness fanatics. I used to call them the “Lebanese Olympic Weight Lifting team” and it was always fun watching what would happen when someone tried shoplifting at the bodega. Older brother Gazi once punched a crook so hard that the fellow lifted about four feet into the air and traveled about six feet horizontally, making a quite satisfying “slap thunk” sound upon his landing. The current owners are South East Asians (Indian or Bangla, I’m not sure), who don’t carry much in the way of produce you’d want to buy, and are not obsessed with going to the gym, but are otherwise nice.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Whenever it rains for an extended period, my thoughts always drift toward my beloved Newtown Creek. One of the curses suffered by my favorite waterway involves the “combined sewer outfalls” which transport excess storm water mixed with untreated sewer water directly into it. These NYC owned pipes are often at least a century old, and use a pre modern era approach to waste water management summed up by the old adage “the answer to solution is dilution.” I know way too much about NYC’S sewer system, as a note.

That sewer grate, which is on my corner, is connected to a large pipe found under Broadway which connects all of the corner grates. That large pipe connects to an even larger pipe found at 42nd street called an interceptor. If you stand on the north side of 42nd and a Broadway in Astoria, you can hear water roaring through it through the access or manhole cover. This pipe goes to Northern Blvd. where it takes a right and follows the slope of the street through Queens Plaza, then goes diagonally under the Sunnyside Yards and towards the Dutch Kills tributary of Newtown Creek where it outfalls.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I dream of dropping rubber duckies into the drain during a roaring thunderstorm, then racing over to Dutch Kills to catch a photo of them popping out of one of the outfalls. I’ve also fantasized while in the grip of somnambulant hallucinations, about pouring tons and tons of gelatin into the sewer, just to see what happens. Yes, I literally dream of such things.

Last night – for instance – I had a dream that I had adopted a gigantic French Bulldog the size of an ox, and that I was able to put a saddle across its back and ride it around. I mention that in an attempt to dissuade you of wondering why I dream about sewers, and to point out that rubber ducky fantasies are hardly the weirdest thing my brain manufactures.


“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 3, 2020 at 11:00 am

disjointed fragments

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Hells Kitchen in the rain.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One of my destinations last week was a Christmas Party get together with my pals from the Working Harbor Committee at a bar in the City, specifically in the Hells Kitchen section. Well, I guess it’s Hells Kitchen as it was on 9th and 50th, which sure ain’t what you’d call the theater district. One used to be employed nearby, when the Ogilvy and Mather ad agency was based in the Worldwide Plaza building. The building owners used to save money when stocking the toilets with “consumables,” and the 1 ply stuff they’d fill the men’s room toilet paper dispensers with just didn’t sit right with me. I’d keep a couple of rolls of Charmin in my desk for when nature called. It’s the small comforts which make life worth living, I always say. I’d always make a show of taking a crap at work, since I loved, and still do, the idea of getting paid to defecate.

Pictured above is a lineup of those pedal cabs on 9th Avenue which the tourists love so much. I’ve heard them referred to as “tuk tuks” but that’s a term normally used for a sort of motorized for hire vehicle common in south east Asia. A friend of mine held a part time gig once as a repairman for these things, but then he decided to devote himself entirely to his other and more lucrative career as a Union Glazier.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A core belief of mine, mentioned many times, is that NYC never looks better than it does when it’s raining. Sure, it’s often uncomfortable and inconvenient, but our town is usually in need of a nice bath and all the reflected and refracted lights rippling around in the puddles are just magic.

Frequent commenter George the Atheist asked recently why I eschew zoom lenses in such circumstance in favor a single prime lens (in the case of these shots, 24mm). Short answer is that when the zoom lens telescopes in and out of its barrel, it tends to pull dust and moisture into the mechanism, so… rain. Additionally, I’m digging on the challenge of the limitations offered by a single focal length lens.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Tonight, there will be a Queens Community Board 1 meeting at Astoria World Manner at 6:30 which I’ll be attending. It doesn’t seem that there’s anything earth shattering on the agenda, but the good news is that as of right now it’s the last “have to” I’ve got for this decade. There’s a bunch of “I want to’s” between now and New Year’s Eve, which is good news, but they mostly revolve around libation oriented social events.

The wheel of the year turns and turns.


“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

December 17, 2019 at 1:10 pm

thinkers perspective

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NYC looks best when it’s wet.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Biblical scholars believe that the Garden of Eden is metaphorical, but theorize that its supposed location would be where the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers run into the Persian Gulf. Others postulate that Eden was on the Iranian Plateau, or on the Armenian plain. Hacks.

Eden, which is the metaphysical center and starting point of the entire universe as far as three of the major religions go, was in Manhattan. Specifically Times Square. Seriously, what would the rest of you do without me to set things straight?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It was 42nd street between 7th and 8th avenues where the Adamic pair were presented to the angels by Yahweh, and this is the block where the great schism occurred amongst the sons of fire. That’s where Sammael became Lucifer, right where Dave and Busters is, along with a third of the angelic host who then fell into the ground with it and became demons. As a note, using “him” or “her” for god and the angels is incorrect both grammatically and factually. They are definitively “it’s.” Extradimensional and non material undying intelligences with seemingly limitless power are “it’s.”

The part of the Adam and Eve (or Adam and Hawwa for our Muslim friends) story everybody passes over, for some reason, is that the expulsion from Eden happened not just to punish the pair for eating the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, it was to ensure that they didn’t also eat fruit from the Tree of Life. The latter’s ovum would impart immortality to the primeval gourmand, and was protected from consumption or approach by a cadre of fierce Cherubim (which are “lower” and automaton like Angels that have little room for interpreting their orders) and a free floating flaming sword which was set on smite.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The actual location of the Tree of Good and Evil is pictured above, and was more or less where the Times Square Subway station entrance is found (accounting for continental drift, of course). The Land of Nod where the whole Cain and Abel thing happened is obviously Staten Island, but back then there were land bridges between Manhattan and Richmond County. Humanity, therefore, populated the planet starting from Times Square out.

The crossing of a lot of geography and vast oceans, and the epic tale of how the bloodline of Adam made it to the modern day Middle East and then incestuously populated Eurasia, must have been lost during Noah’s flood. Suffice to say, Times Square is the literal and metaphorical actual center of the Universe.

It also looks great when it’s raining.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle


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 29th, 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.

Written by Mitch Waxman

October 23, 2019 at 2:30 pm

nervous coordination

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Wet, that’s me.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

These shots aren’t from yesterday’s rainstorm, instead they’re from last week’s deluge. My little dog Zuzu and I were eagerly awaiting the eventual return of Our Lady of the Pentacle from a social engagement last Wednesday when the sky opened up and biblical amounts of rain began to fall. What was odd about that particular storm was that the airborne droplets seemed to be swirling on their way down to the mean streets, negating any chance of finding a “rain shadow” to record the scene from. Even setting up my camera on a windowsill inside HQ didn’t really provide the lens with much cover as the rain seemed to be falling sideways. Weather is weird.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One of the interesting things that has come out of all the long exposure stuff I’ve been doing for a while now has been the revelation that you can visualize traffic patterns moving through urban streets using this technique. Head lamps, and running or brake lights, leave behind tell tale trails. For some reason this is fascinating to me, and since anything that isn’t standing still in the frame for at least fifteen to twenty seconds is effectively “ghosted” those trails are the only indication of where a vehicle was and what its path was. The reduction of item based distraction allows one to record actual “desire paths” chosen by the driver.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One of these days, I’ve got to do a series of these and then blend them into a time lapse video. I’d love to somehow take up position thirty to forty feet over the double yellow line, of course, but you’d need one of those mobile oppression platforms used by NYPD or a cherry picker basket on a telecom maintenance truck to do so. The mobile oppression platform would be best, of course, since it’s got a solid cop roof on it.

I spent a lot of time shooting stuff in the rain this last week, and it’s going to be a moist five days here at the Newtown Pentacle.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle


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 29th, 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.

Written by Mitch Waxman

October 21, 2019 at 1:00 pm

Posted in Astoria, Broadway, NY 11103

Tagged with , ,

unmistakable allusions

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It’s National Cranberry Relish Day, in these United States.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A variety of obligations and impediments have caused one to come up short on content this week and last. Additionally, given that we are sidling towards Thanksgiving, and historically speaking there will be less of you reading the Newtown Pentacle this week than any other during the year, I’m going to continue on with my little vacation.

As is my custom, accordingly, single shots which I like for one reason or another will be presented at this – your Newtown Pentacle. Regular programming will resume on Monday the 27th after the holiday weekend.


Upcoming Tours and events

Calvary Cemetery Walking Tour, with Atlas Obscura – Sunday, December 10th, 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Explore NYC history, hidden inside sculptural monuments and mafioso grave sites, as you take in iconic city views on this walking tour, with Newtown Creek Alliance Historian Mitch Waxman details here.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

November 22, 2017 at 11:00 am

Posted in Astoria, Broadway

Tagged with

humid seas

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By jove, I nearly got wet yesterday.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Yesterday, despite the somewhat solitary inclination of mood which a humble narrator awoke to find himself in, nevertheless did he need to go to Sunnyside to talk to some people about some thing. Post facto, a leisurely stroll back to Astoria was planned upon.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As is my custom, certain breaches and apertures in the fencing which secures the Sunnyside Yards from casual observation by most, and the attentions of malodorous sappers and mad bombers in particular, were exploited for photographic use. The sky was dramatic, and active. A weak wind blew chilled air, from west north west.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Looking towards 36th avenue, from Northern Blvd., a certain sense of doom was laconically accepted. Surely, this will be how all is ended, in a storm. The Vikings, alas, seem to have been correct in their prophecies of the world’s end. If Ragnarok comes to Queens, it’s going to look something like the shot above.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Some wicked fancy seemed to be animating this cloud, but contemplation of such matters was not a luxury at hand. Not having any sort of umbrella or rain gear with me, haste was made to cross the few short blocks back to Newtown Pentacle HQ.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Evacuating birds were shooting through the winds, which had picked up in intensity. Oddly, there was no thunder, but a present and palpable expectation hung pregnantly about. The storm was about to break.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Just as I hit 44th street, the clouds attack began, and even your humble narrator found himself struck by airborne missiles of water which had been fired from thousands of feet above. These missiles, luckily, splattered.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Cover was sought behind a simple row house, one which had a small awning. Notice the “rain shadows” forming on the sidewalk.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Experience informs that summer squalls like this are short lived, quickly passing through the neighborhood, and not worth going to extreme measures over. In the twenty minutes or so spent sitting upon some anonymous stoop, observations of the passing humans included a fellow strolling along in a business suit acting as if it were not raining and a handsome young woman who walked by with a plastic bag over her head.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

This weekend-

Saturday, August 16th, LIC’s Modern Corridor
With Atlas Obscura, click here for tickets and more info.

Sunday, August 17th, 13 Steps Around Dutch Kills
With Brooklyn Brainery, click here for tickets and more info.

Written by Mitch Waxman

August 14, 2014 at 11:00 am

Greenwood Cemetery Photos

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

Happy Halloween, major post coming later today, meanwhile- enjoy some eerie shots from the macabre Greenwood Cemetery in Brooklyn.

Click here for the full set, click here for the cool slideshow.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Written by Mitch Waxman

October 31, 2009 at 4:02 am

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