The Newtown Pentacle

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Posts Tagged ‘street furniture

shimmers afar

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Monday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Scuttling always scuttling, camera in hand, filthy black raincoat flapping wildly about in the wind. Sometimes it’s really, really cold.

A bit of housekeeping, firstly. For the next few weeks you’re going to be seeing six image posts. One has been unusually motivated and somewhat prolific in recent months, and there are an abundance of images which I’m anxious to share. Problem is that I’m quite out of step with the calendar and if I was to continue doing the traditional three image posts, you’d still be seeing snow on the ground as late as June. Accordingly, six image posts are on the menu for an interval.

That’s the Long Island Railroad passing through the Harold Interlocking at Sunnyside Yards, in Long Island City, pictured above in a photo captured on the 5th of February of 2022.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This was one of my short walks, a constitutional, if you will. One left HQ in Astoria, scuttled south over the Honeywell Street Truss Bridge that crosses over the rail yard, and then over to Queens Boulevard. The shot above was captured nearby Queens Boulevard’s very busy intersection with Van Dam Street.

One was quite distracted while gathering this one, as some bloke decided that I was very interesting and he had maintained a constant position roughly 20 feet away from me and parallel to my back for a few blocks. One was sort of waiting for him to come rushing at me, but when I turned around and gave him the patented “Mitch Waxman laser eyes” look, he lost interest and shuffled off to find an easier victim.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One was specifically trying to avoid visiting Newtown Creek or any of its tributaries for a change, so after having executed a confusion of evasion maneuvers to obfuscate any attempt that this fellow might enact to reacquire me as a target, I decided to stick to a few more commonly travelled places. A solid bit of 1980’s NYC advice I would offer – signal them so that they know that you know, keep moving, and don’t act like you wouldn’t be into fucking them up if they tried.

In future posts, we’ll explore – for those of you under the age of 40 – how to live with the existential dread of the Cold War and the threat of looming nuclear annihilation. If any of you have ever wondered the what’s and why’s of the paranoid psychology underlying the Baby Boomer and Generation X mentality, then welcome to the party kids. I’d suggest hitting the YouTube and watching “Threads” and then “The Day After” and then reconsidering the hardened black and white absolutism of your politics while embracing the singular fact that our world is painted in shades of gray. “Special Bulletin” also comes to mind… what?… how many episodes of “The Walking Dead” have you sat through? What do you think all those Zombie and Alien Invasion movies are really about?

The Cold War generations didn’t receive grief counseling or consolation, we got shelter drills and invented Punk Rock and Hip Hop. Go make some art, you’ll feel better.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The good news is that you’re looking at, in the shot above, what would probably be ground zero for a nuclear strike if the Russians actually decided to commit suicide and launch. I’ve heard from multiple sources that Sunnyside Yards is what that particular group of militarist apocalypse engineers use to target NYC. Russians don’t go for precision, they go for “Grozny,” a term which translates as terrible or horrible. The good news is that I live a few blocks from here and thereby it would all be over pretty quickly for me. Nanoseconds, in fact.

It wasn’t Ivan the Terrible, it was Ivan Grozny. “Russians don’t even trust themselves, so it’s folly to trust Russia as a country.” Bismarck said that. “Never trust a Russian, the only people they love – in their dog hearts – are the last ones who fed them.” My Ukrainian Jewish Grandmother said that one, and she once got to see a Cossack behead one of her brothers.

“You lost that Cold War feelin’
Whoa, that Cold War feelin’
You lost that Cold War feelin’
Now it’s gone, gone, gone, whoa-oh

Now there’s no welcome look in your eyes when I reach for you
And now you’re starting to criticize little things I do
It makes me just feel like crying
‘Cause baby, something beautiful’s dyin”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On a lighter note, I’ve been encountering all sorts of street furniture of late, here in Queens. I don’t mean street benches, utility poles, or fire hydrants by “street furniture,” I mean actual feral decor which has been released into the wild.

Pictured above is what I’d describe as a work desk, of the kind once used by mechanical engineers. What makes it cool is that little knobby thing on the side, which would allow you to adjust the angle of the work surface. I’ve still got my old drafting table folded up in a corner here at HQ.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Just up the block from the drafting desk, these seats were encountered. These look like the sort of seating you encounter in an airport bus, or one of those passenger vans that work as “dollar cars” along Flatbush Avenue. Or sitting out on a street in Astoria, I guess.

More tomorrow.


The Newtown Creekathon returns!

On April 10th, the all day death march around Newtown Creek awakens from its pandemic slumber.

DOOM! DOOM! Fully narrated by Mitch Waxman and Will Elkins of Newtown Creek Alliance, this one starts in LIC at the East River, heads through Blissville, the happy place of Industrial Maspeth, dips a toe in Ridgewood and then plunges desperately into Brooklyn. East Williamsburgh and then Greenpoint are visited and a desperate trek to the East River in Brooklyn commences. DOOM! Click here for more information and to reserve a spot – but seriously – what’s wrong with you that you’re actually considering doing this? DOOM!


“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.

mighty silence

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Friday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Long Island City is one of those places where a constancy of tumult and change can be expected. It’s photographically interesting to me, and even though you’ve walked down either this block or that one a hundred times before I guarantee that there’s some feature or weird thing you probably haven’t noticed before. My pal Ms. Heather over in Greenpoint coined the term “street furniture” for finds like the one above.

As is often the case, one had to stand in the street to get this shot. As is also often the case, the minute I decided to step off the curb, traffic volumes on this particular street rose to downtown Manhattan 1960’s levels.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I’m always on the lookout for evidence of Mad Science or Supervillain lairs in Long Island City. High real estate valuations have priced most of the lesser villains out of LIC in recent years. You have to be a Luthor, or a Cobblepott or Osborne, to be able to afford mad sciencing here these days. Most of the lesser villains have moved their operations north, south, and east. Edward Nigma is out on Staten Island, as are Kraven the Hunter and the Crimson Dynamo. Word has it that Kiteman is now operating out of a split level ranch house in Bayonne. I wonder what villain is operating out of those repurposed shipping containers pictured above, making monsters.

I’d like to live in a world where getting bit by a radioactive spider doesn’t just give you blood poisoning and or cancer.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I always remind people to respect the traffic in LIC, as even the traffic signs aren’t safe hereabouts. I always follow official instructions to the letter, so when the signage above points a certain way, I obey the edict. That’s why I ended up walking into a brick wall.

The brick wall didn’t give me super powers or anything, just scrapes and a bruise.


“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 20, 2021 at 11:00 am

avoided commerce

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Palpitant, I nevertheless declare this as Wednesday.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

In the shot above, my love of Newtown Creek smashes wholeheartedly into my vast appreciation of the Northern Blvd. corridor, as the fuel truck filling the tanks at this filling station is delivering fuel from the Kinder Morgan (formerly BP Amoco) tank farm terminal in Brooklyn’s Greenpoint section, which is found at the corner of Apollo Street and Norman Avenue. See? This is what it’s like inside my head.

As far as the second vaccine shot I received yesterday – yes, there are side effects with this one. Last night I got the hot/colds coupled with some body aches and most peculiarly the psychological state of “fever dreams” was plaguing me through the night, although I don’t have a fever. Fever dreams often take the form of widely spaced out awakenings, whereupon I’m convinced that I didn’t actually fall asleep and have been dreaming that I’m awake, but upon inspecting a bedside clock I discover that I’ve actually been out cold for several hours. Weird.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Street furniture – that’s what City Planners call utility poles and fire hydrants and benches. Street furniture as I define it are abandoned bits of furnishings which somebody has abandoned and left on the street for somebody else to deal with. You see feral couches and dining room chairs all the time, and this one was spotted on the corner of Northern Blvd. and Standard Lane while on my way home one night.

If I didn’t know the cause, I’d be telling Our Lady if the Pentacle that I was in the edge of getting sick right now, and expecting the rest of this week to be a wash. In addition to the immune system reaction I’m experiencing from the 2nd shot, for some reason this time the actual injection site in my shoulder is quite tender. The 1st shot felt like somebody had punched me in the upper arm, the 2nd proudly hurts.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Whatever. This process makes it highly unlikely that I’m going to either cease living, or end up becoming some sort of Typhoid Mary who cause’s others to similarly cease. I still know quite a few people who are resistant to the idea of the vaccine, which is bizarre to me. As I’m wont to remind them when this opinion is offered – you’re going to have a hard time traveling, or getting on a cruise, going to Disney – all that stuff, without proof that you’re not transmissible.

And so does the winter of discontent end, with neither bang nor whisper.

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 22nd. 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 24, 2021 at 11:30 am

dismal eyrie

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It’s Wednesday, the day of Woden (Odin), from the Old English word “Wōdnesdæg.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Street furniture. That’s the term coined by my old friend Ms. Heather at NY-Shitty for the abandoned or dumped furnishings or accoutrements you encounter while walking around the city. I always get a giggle out of that one, but in the case of this love seat encountered on the Pedestrian/Bike path of the Kosciuszcko Bridge, I have to respect the amount of physical labor it must have taken moving this fairly massive hunk of furniture to a prime viewing location fairly close to the center of the bridge.

A lot of muscle, time, and energy goes into illegal dumping. It’s so much simpler to throw things out in a legal fashion. The number of tires you see submerged in Newtown Creek is absolutely staggering, for instance.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This shot looks down from the bridge on the truck yard of a company which calls itself Empire Merchants. They do the holy work of god, which is delivering liquor and beer to bars and retail shops. This company has a fairly large footprint in Greenpoint, with both enclosed warehouse spaces and large vehicle storage yards like the one pictured above. They’re officially a “distributor” as a note. “Last mile delivery” is the current buzz phrase for this sort of business.

I’d love to see them replace the surface of their parking lot with something a bit more environmentally friendly in order to drink up rain water, but this isn’t necessarily the place where you’d want a lot of water entering the underground. The Greenpoint Oil Spill is centered a few blocks away, and this particular spot sits on top of a different environmental nightmare – the Meeker Avenue Plumes. Said plumes are composed of dry cleaning chemicals spilled by a now out of business factory. The hard cap of asphalt and concrete insulating the ground water from surface flow actually helps keep those chemicals in a static position.

Who can guess, all there is, that might be buried down there?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Part of a largish waste transfer station, one which handles all of the good stuff – paper, metals, and putrescents – but specializes in construction debris, is pictured above. One of the interesting things, for me, about the new Kosciuszcko Bridge walkway is the window it gives you onto this sort of scene.

For years, when walking by on the street, you’d be able to see peeks of this scene. The fellows who work here… well… let’s just say that they’ve never been friendly to the odd itinerant photographer and environmental activist who was just passing by.

Back tomorrow with something else, 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, August 3rd. 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

August 5, 2020 at 11:00 am

kindred wells

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The Astoria street furniture dance has begun anew.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The other night, one noticed the display above on the corner of Broadway and 43rd street. The cast off box spring somehow evaded the bulk pickup day efforts of the DSNY, or it came from an “illegal” apartment, and had made its way down to the corner, where some wise Astorian had decided to attempt disposal of the large item by putting it into proximity with the corner trash basket. The entirely accidental nature of its pleasing esthetic – with a slab laid in triangular fashion over the cylindrical trash barrel – is fairly common for these parts. Everyone is an artist, even if they don’t know it.

For those of you not in the know, or who sleep on the floor, a box spring (or Divan) is a wooden or metal frame covered in fabric that encapsulates metal springs. It provides a base for, and adds height to, a softer mattress which sits on top of it. Box Springs used to be a fairly western european and american “thing” but as the material and financial pleasures of a “modern western economy” have spread around the planet, so too has this style of bedding. A notable holdout on this are the Japanese people, who still prefer their traditional “futon” style bedding.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Box Springs, and mattresses for that matter, are fairly robust in construction and cause no small amount of trouble for DSNY (NYC Department of Sanitation) and other entities that handle the flow of waste and trash. Bedding is fairly huge, easily lights on fire, and is designed to resist both weight and pressure. Bedding items choke shredding machines, fill landfills and collection trucks up rather quickly, and given their central role in the citizenry’s off hour pursuits (sex, sleep, drooling etc.) are often biohazards. Recent years have seen regulations created here in NYC that demand box spring and mattresses left out for bulk collection be wrapped in specialized plastic sheeting to keep them from spreading the plague of bedbugs (or vantsem, in Yiddish).

Here in Astoria, where we have a fairly severe problem as far as the subject of illegally dumping unwanted items on the sidewalks on a good day, the dance of the street furniture has officially begun. This thing will be, and has been, moving around Broadway.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The shot above was captured the same night as the first two, just a few hours later when I was returning from my evening activities.

So… why did the box spring cross the road?

Short answer is the likely one, which is that the building owner on the side of Broadway where it was originally discarded didn’t want to take the chance of getting a ticket from the DSNY inspectors who would be showing up along with the collection trucks the next morning, so they shunted the problem off onto someone else. I’ve observed the “dance of the street furniture” before, and it’s entirely likely this thing is going to become very well travelled before it finally gets taken away.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle


Upcoming Tours and Events


Thursday, July 25, 6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.

Greenpoint Walking Tour w NYCH20

Explore Greenpoint’s post industrial landscape and waterfront with Newtown Creek Alliance historian Mitch Waxman.

Click here for ticketing and more information.


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 24, 2019 at 1:00 pm

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