The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Posts Tagged ‘sunnyside

common tongues

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The angle between…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

For a long time, I’ve been using the term “angle” to describe those spots which form the borders of neighborhoods in Western Queens, which are actually historic remnants of the pre consolidated City of Greater New York. One of them is found where the steel of the elevated IRT Flushing line sweeps off of Queens Blvd. and instead overflies Roosevelt Avenue. This is the former border of Long Island City’ Middleburgh (alternatively LIC Heights) and the town of Woodside, and is today the border of the neighborhoods of Sunnyside and Woodside. Recent endeavor found a humble narrator negotiating his way home well after midnight, and just as it was starting to rain.

What sucked was that I didn’t have an umbrella.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I posted the shot above to a couple of my social media accounts, so sorry if you’re seeing it twice, but I stand by the text that accompanied it declaring that NYC looks best when it’s wet. Given my lack of an umbrella, and the startling amount of electronic devices affixed to my person, some care was exercised in my path down Queens Blvd. in the pursuit of not becoming soaked by the sudden downpour. There’s two ways to do this – one is to walk so fast that you’re actually dodging raindrops (which is illogical and doesn’t actually work), and the other is to utilize the “rain shadow” offered by the built environment. It had been around eight hours since my last meal at this particular moment, and given that I wasn’t going to be hitting the sack until the wee hours of the morning, the only option available at the particular time involved a fast food chain. Lemmee tell ya, Lords and Ladies, the denizens of the City who inhabit fast food restaurants after midnight in Sunnyside are an interesting demographic.

My high fat and calorie hamburger consumed (have you noticed what the fast food people consider a “small” coke is these days?), and with the rain actually having intensified, I decided to hire a taxi for the short jaunt across the Sunnsyide Yards and back to HQ in Astoria.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Having grown up in a solidly blue collar section of Brooklyn, my first instinct is always to support the working people rather than big corporations. That’s how I found myself standing in a bus shelter and trying to hail a cab. For the last couple of years, I’ve had a taxi app – Lyft – on my phone which I’ve been using for the occasional cab ride. I like it because the cab comes to me, and given the weird places and transit deserts like industrial Maspeth that I spend my time you’re not going to have many opportunities for street hails so Lyft is my go to for those sorts of spots. Queens Blvd. and 40th street, however? Use a yellow or green cab, one will be by in a minute or two. That’s what I thought, and when a yellow cab pulled up and rejected any other destination but Manhattan, I was reminded why I don’t care about the dying medallion cab industry nor its asshole drivers. Yellow cab drivers in particular would seem to prefer it if they just rolled down the window for you to throw money into the front seat before they spit at you and drive away.

I fired up the Lyft app and was home in about ten minutes.


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Written by Mitch Waxman

January 15, 2019 at 1:30 pm

stolen skies

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Day late, dollar short.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Lost the opportunity to post a proper post today, as I was up late (I mean LATE), writing about the history of Irish emigration and the creation of the NY Archdiocese last night – as you do. It won’t be long now before I reveal the secret project I’ve been working on to y’all, and why I’ve been so nocturnal for so long.

The shot above was gathered at the Woodside/Sunnyside border, one recent evening.


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Written by Mitch Waxman

January 11, 2019 at 3:16 pm

deeply worried

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Scuttling, always scuttling.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Don’t worry, a humble narrator won’t be waxing all philosophic or talking about camera settings in today’s post. Instead, a few odds and ends collected or encountered when wandering home from industrial Mapseth last weekend at night are on offer. If you’re wondering, yes I was wearing my reflective construction vest over the filthy black raincoat. As is my habit, main streets are avoided, as I prefer to wander along the fencelines of cemeteries and abandoned factories. These lanes less travelled, however, are often badly lit and act as high speed byways for errant vehicles. Best to stay visible.

Also, for some reason, when I’m wearing the vest, nobody asks me why – or of what – I’m taking pictures.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Carridor, or Northern Blvd. if you must, hosts a large number of used car dealerships. You often get to see a semi truck tagged with southern state plates hauling a delivery of cars here at night, and witness the frenetic unloading of vehicles which will be marked up and put on sale at the lots.

By me, it always makes for interesting photos, filed under “you don’t see that every day.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I suppose this scene is technically found in Woodside, although ai normally associate this zone with Maspeth. It’s actually Borden Avenue down below the elevated Long Island Expressway, which runs between Second and Third Calvary Cemeteries.

A visually interesting and lonely spot, and another one of the dimly lit corridors found in the Newtown Pentacle.


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Written by Mitch Waxman

October 25, 2018 at 11:00 am

sound oversight

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Too much time on your hands isn’t a good thing, find something to do.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As a humble narrator’s beard has grown whiter and whiter over the years, there’s a few things one has gleaned from experience. My cohort of friends includes people of most ages, races, religions, and types – and with the younger members of this tribal group, I cannot help but share adages of the mistakes that I’ve made in the past and present, and ones which I plan to make in the future. The way I figure it, when you finally have life down to a science at some point, you get cancer or dementia and then become a science experiment. Between now, and then – when inevitability knocks on the door – you might as well stay busy, and keep on screwing up so that the reaper maintains his distance.

Additionally – you really, really need to be a better friend to yourself and get enough sleep. A doctor friend of mine once opined that it takes the liver and kidneys about seven hours to turn over your blood supply and clean out all the toxic juices that accumulate in it while you’re awake. Don’t know if she was just trying to scare me, but it’s been working out pretty good for me ever since.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One has often opined that he’d like to visit a hospital about once a year, get split open like a hog, and then get the works hosed down with a warm solution of detergents. You’d do this with your car’s engine, as a point, if you lived in a place with unpaved roads. The Docs use a fancy word for this – Lavage. Conventionally, this sort of invasive rinsing out is typically only done with cancer patients who have just undergone surgery, and instead of using a garden hose and water the Docs use chemotherapy compounds. The idea behind the chemo Lavage is to kill off any errant cells which they might have missed while chopping and slicing. I’m just interested in getting the skinvelope rinsed out.

Who can guess, all there is, that might be sticking to me on the inside?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

American hypochondriacism and fatalist thinking is fascinating to me. Every little pain must be related to, or be a revelation of, cancer. I’m guilty of it myself, and have sometimes found myself staring in the mirror at three in the morning with saucer sized eyes thinking “this is it, here we go.” Over the years, I’ve developed a minor but quite common orthopedic condition in my left foot, specifically in my big left toe, directly related to all the walking. An easily inflamed ligament leading from the foot to the toe knuckle flares up occasionally, causing minor discomfort. The condition is called “turf toe,” and it’s caused by pushing off into a step by putting my weight on that particular toe, inflaming a certain tendon or ligament. I convinced myself that I had developed foot cancer after a few google searches.

As a note, foot cancer is one of the most unlikely things you can contract. You actually have a better chance of getting hit by lightning, if you work outside.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The particular political moment that we are all living in really shouldn’t have taken anybody by surprise. Nazis, white power people… they’ve been here all along, lurking at the edges. Back in the ’80’s, there was a fellow named Tom Metzger who ran an outfit called “WAR,” which stood for “White Aryan Resistance.” WAR’s themology involved the recruitment of skinheads and rednecks, who were told to either let their hair grow out or to take a shave. Adherents were advanced money to secure college degrees and encouraged to join the workforces of both public and private entities and wait for their time to come. A lot of the kids of my generation who joined WAR are now at senior levels in the Police, Political, and Corporate worlds. That was Tom Metzger’s plan.

Erosion of trust in Government and other organs of cultural stability were accomplished through popular entertainment. The X-Files opined that “The Truth is out there,” painting the staid FBI and CIA as some sort of shadowy counter government secretly running the entire show and colluding with extraterrestrials. “Who killed Kennedy?” is a question that is more valuable than the answer ever could be. “The TV News guys are in on it, and the news is all fakery and cover stories.” Nothing is real, all is false, and in chaotic times the proletariat will always put its faith in strongmen who purport to represent the values and mores of generations past.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As I’ve advised my young friends, so too has wisdom been shared with those old enough to know better. A little mystery hanging about one’s shoulders is a good thing, but for those involved in public life an absence of information offered is an opportunity for blanks to be filled in erroneously. I can opine about battle and conflict, but suffice to say I don’t think you should ever telegraph what you’re going to do or say next, and instead recommend that you just make things start happening after a prior gentlemanly final warning. Raining blows down upon an enemy is a great way to balance your chi, after all. There’s nothing like grinding someone to dust and listening to the lamentations of their women.

I have never understood the male posturing that occurs before a physical conflict, as a note. “I’m gonna kick your skedooch, mothaflowah” and all that is redundant. Just stick your finger in the other guys eye or kick him in the crotch, pummel him until he’s tender or oozing, empty a garbage can or piss on him, and then get out of dodge before the cops show up… that’s the Brooklyn way. The sports guys call it “explosivity.” Movie fights and boxing matches see mutiple exchanges of blows, real fights last 2-4 minutes, tops. It’s always best to try and talk it out or walk away, as a note, but life ain’t about “should be,” it’s all “have to.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

An oft repeated refrain invokes “not giving a fuck.” My advice to all is to give lots of fucks. It’s your life, take some agency over it. This is a real problem I’ve noticed with the generations coming up behind me. My politically conservative friends attribute this to “participation trophies,” which is something I don’t understand the obsession they have for. Politically liberal friends describe the generations coming up as “woke,” which is a term I don’t fully comprehend. Either way, the people I know in their early and late twenties and mid thirties are an extremely reticent group. They like to take political stands, decry the societal system that made them, and wallow or embrace their sorrows. None of them talk about superseding their limitations or conquering obstacles, rising above, or succeeding “in spite of.”

My take on these kids – they’re kids to me – is that these are the people who saw 911 playing out on TV when they were ten or eleven years old, and have come of age during what I have come to call “The Great Unraveling.”


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Written by Mitch Waxman

October 24, 2018 at 11:00 am

palpably diabolic

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Being stressed out is a crutch, yo.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One was scuttling along on a recent afternoon, marveling at the wonders of Queens. My day’s photographic targets having been captured, and fully entranced by one of my favorite HP Lovecraft audiobooks (The Horror at Red Hook, read by Wayne June), the path I was on had been chosen to get me home to Astoria from Newtown Creek as quickly as possible via 39th street in Sunnyside. There’s bunches of lovely residences along this stretch, but my visual instinct is generally unexcited by homes and gardens. Nevertheless, the camera is always ready to click and whirr should something interesting pop up.

I am, it should be mentioned, fascinated by the concrete clad topography of Western Queens. The “lay of the land” as it were. There’s all sorts of elluvial hillocks and ridges hidden beneath all the asphalt and brick, and when you walk these streets a lot, you can easily discern where water once flowed or pooled prior to the massive land reclamation and drainage projects of the early 20th century. These projects, and the concombinant political corruption involved with the execution of them, ended the careers of several of the early Borough Presidents of Queens in court.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

File the shot above under “you don’t see that every day,” and even for a humble narrator who has become jaded by the wonders of municipal industry, it isn’t every day that you see a heavy tow truck clad in FDNY trade dress towing an ambulance. I’m sure that the combination was ultimately heading for Maspeth, where the Fire Department maintains a couple of vehicle maintenance facilities.

After capturing the shot, I offered the driver a friendly wave of the hand. He smiled and waved back. Only employees of the FDNY seem to do this, amongst all the City agencies. Cops and Sanitation workers just kind of glare at me. I figure anything that a City employee is driving is partially owned by me anyway, so click and whirr.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The shot above is from a different afternoon, the day that the Bicycle Fanatics came to Sunnyside to stage a protest. I took a bunch of shots of their “human protected bike lane” hooey, but do not wish to inflate their egos or cause any further than necessary. Accordingly, the crepuscular rays dancing about the Sapphire megalith and the ominous mestastase of the LIC skyline are presented instead.


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Written by Mitch Waxman

June 14, 2018 at 12:00 pm

blind courage

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Luggage, shoe, gloves – in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Since I am a vast physical coward, and feckless quisling, the normalized habit of a humble narrator is to avoid the horror of meeting another’s gaze by staring down at the pavement while scuttling along his path. This helps one pretend that others are not pointing, laughing, or otherwise reacting in shocked horror as he waxes and wanes through their visual field. The plus is that I seldom miss the discarded items which others strew across the public way. Most modern New Yorkers seem to leave a debris field of manufactured items behind in their wake, much like a torpedo stricken merchant ship would as it steams inexorably forward into the open sea with a crew of dead and dying men onboard.

The suitcase pictured above… what redolent cargo might it have hidden? The fetus of an albino Gorilla? A fortune in narcotics? A few pairs of dirty socks and a t-shirt? Never will I know, having been too wracked with terror to investigate any further than by recording its presence photographically.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On 31st Avenue at Crescent Street in Astoria, just a few days after encountering the portentous luggage, evidence of the latest outrage by the Queens Cobbler was observed. A likely serial killer whose ghoulish delight is leaving behind a singular shoe as a taunt to law enforcement and wholesome community members alike, the Queens Cobbler has been mentioned many times at this – your Newtown Pentacle. Last Christmas, the monster signaled that he or she knew where my home address was – as described in this post. This isn’t the first time that I’ve found a child’s shoe, as a note.

I fear you no more than every other living human being, Cobbler, which is absolutely and completely.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Oddly enough, I’ve been seeing a lot of gloves lately, positioned neatly on the sidewalks upon which they were evulsed.

You don’t suppose that there’s a Queens Gaunter running about as well?


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Written by Mitch Waxman

May 31, 2018 at 11:00 am

childish eyes

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Opposites can repulse or attract, no matter what Paula Abdul said.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Laboriously explained over the last few weeks of night shooting, the tripod technique one has been exploiting involves using small apertures, low ISO camera sensitivity, and long exposures to gather images. It’s rather the opposite of my normal shooting procedure. Out for a scuttle one recent afternoon, a humble narrator decided that since it was incredibly bright out he’d do the opposite of that normal procedure for daylight shots – wide open aperture photos with a shallow depth of field.

That’s the Harold Interlocking pictured above, at the Sunnyside Yards. A night shot from the same vantage point was offered in last Friday’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Given that I was pointing the camera into a scene full of reflective surfaces which the sun was setting behind, and the aperture was set to f1.8, I had to reduce sensor sensitivity down to ISO 100 and use a shutter speed of 1/8000th of a second to control the light. 1/8000th is as fast as my shutter will flip, I would mention. That’s fast enough to freeze a bee’s wings mid flap, or to render an in flight helicopter blade static.

It’s kind of thing with me… when it’s not a shot “I have to get,” I like to experiment and see what the capabilities of the capture device are at their extremes.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I wandered around a bit with this particular set of settings, which is something else I force myself to do periodically. There are days where I leave my camera bag and zoom lenses at home and go out for a stroll with just a 50mm lens attached and the camera settings locked. The “nifty fifty” as its called, offers an aperture range between f1.8 to f22, with its only real limitation being that it’s a prime lens and fixed to its singular focal range. That means I need to either get close or go further away from a subject.

There’s a reason for this, which is to keep on my toes.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Limiting yourself can sometimes force you to get a bit more creative, or just deep dive into the inner workings of the camera. The shot above won’t be finding its way into National Geographic, for instance, but it was a fine balancing act challenge – exposure wise.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Be back tomorrow with something completely different at this – your Newtown Pentacle.


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Written by Mitch Waxman

March 8, 2018 at 11:00 am

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