The Newtown Pentacle

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Posts Tagged ‘Woodside

waking life

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It’s Thursday. The first rule of Thursday is you dont talk about Thursday.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Another Northern Blvd. gas station, another night for a humble narrator. Presuming that when I went for my vaccination this week (I’m writing this on Sunday, appointment is Tuesday, you’re reading this on Thursday, so who the hell knows what’s happened since Sunday) I didn’t end up in anaphylactic shock or something, I’m now one month away from getting my life back from the Corona Virus Pandemic. Fantasies of good times in the company of human strangers are taking the form of intrusive thoughts for me right now. So’s going back to living a somewhat normal life. Eating in a restaurant, riding the Subway, visiting Staten Island’s North Shore… you take all of this for granted until it’s out of reach, huh?

This has been a fairly brutal 12 months for all of us, hasn’t it? It has been mainly banal and terrifying for me, but conversely, I’ve been insanely lucky as the people in my life who have suffered a COVID infection have all survived it. Perspective, huh?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Perspective seems to be a missing quality these days, with everybody standing on calcified points of view and opinions. You disagree with someone about a nuance of some issue and you’re automatically Hitler. Recidivist elements of the old dialectic, with no chance to learn from mistakes and grow or evolve in the re-education camp, might as well send them to meet their makers. The proverbial “come to Jesus” moment doesn’t seem to exist anymore. One misstep and you’re done, forever. Personally, I’m reminded constantly that my points of view are disingenuous because of my racial identity, or gender, lifestyle, or whatever other drum the person I’m talking to is banging on. This gets old pretty fast, and unfortunately confirms a deeply held belief that people who have suffered oppression at the hands of others will immediately begin to inflict similar harms on others when they get into power. There’s a certain Middle Eastern nation state which comes to mind when I think about that subject, but that’s another story and controversy which I don’t want to get involved with.

At the moment, I’m seriously considering rolling everything back and retreating into my shell. Ending the Pentacle, resigning from whatever public facing position I hold, and just focusing in on selfish matters. In short, returning to being just another face in the crowd who doesn’t care about anything at all other than his bank account. I don’t mind a fight, but I mind fighting about nothing and the splitting of hairs. This may surprise you, but people in general aren’t terribly nice, and those you meet in the “political world” are often monsters. I’m tired of it all.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Another one of the subjects on my shot list, in addition to gas stations and tire shops, are Chinese Restaurants. I got into a screaming argument about two years ago with somebody about whether or not calling the menu offered at such establishments “Chinese Food” was racist. What a ridiculous waste of time and energy that argument was… but that’s kind of the point. Why oh why would this be something you want to argue for or against? What do you hope to achieve, and have you actually considered the opinions of the people who work and sell this particular cuisine or is it just another talking point on your agenda to prove that the world is corrupt and that you’ve somehow evolved? Conservation of energy, people.

A humble narrator has been narrating humbly for a long time now, and it’s entirely possible that I don’t want to narrate humbly anymore. Grrr.

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 4, 2021 at 2:00 pm

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

adventurous assurances

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It’s Tuesday again, now more than ever.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As mentioned yesterday, my obligations to the Community Board carried me along to Northern Blvd.’s intersection with Broadway recently to inspect an area where the NYC DOT is planning on expanding its network of protected bike lanes. I really don’t care what your opinion of this program is, since nobody really cares what my opinion is, and this is a Governmental effort which spawns from the highest eschelons of the political world. Thereby, my opinion matters only in the context of pointing out and advocating for small changes to the overarching scheme. Amongst my small changes were reminders that the new pathway will bypass three distinct religious facilities, and to offer the observation that such entities routinely conduct funerals and weddings, and that the planners should plan on that being a problem they need to solve by incorporating loading and unloading zones nearby those facilities.

Seriously, the level of divisiveness surrounding bike lanes mystifies me. We’ve got electrical transformers exploding and torching parked cars, utility cables hanging off of the poles, wandering wackadoodles, porch pirates, race cars rallying… and… remember all the fireworks from last summer? With all of this going on, you’re worried about bike lanes and about losing parking?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Who’s Papi, you might ask. Tires by Papi is the answer, if you’re a member of the tire buying and tire replacement market. The ebullient signage and quarter acre of warm light offered by this tire shop on Broadway in Woodside always pulls me in. In addition to Gas Stations, one of the other disappearing vehicle maintenance parts of the streetscape are tire shops. I’ve got a friend, really a friend of a friend, who finds his way through the worldly milieu selling hubcaps, wheel covers, and other automotive ephemera. My pal Kevin Walsh from Forgotten-NY is the connective tissue with this fellow, whom Kevin has christened as “Hubcap Joe.” Now that… that… is a nickname.

I’ve got Hank the Elevator Guy, Sean the Carpenter, Mumbly Joe the Insulator, Lee the Machine, the Bulgar… the list goes on and on. Nicknames are a funny thing, more often than not they’re related to occupation, but sometimes you just need to seperate people with common names. Used to be that the bar I hung out at during the before times had a lot of Chris’s. We had to develop a system for these Astorian Chris’s. Croatian Chris, Crazy Chris, Glazier Chris, Pharmaceutical Chris, Real Estate Chris. In college, there was Dave Prime, Dave Squared, Dave Cubed. One Thai guy at my second advertising job, whose name I couldn’t pronounce, was called “Not Dave.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Another gas station, another attendant pondering whether or not he should be concerned about the rough looking fellow in a filthy black raincoat taking pictures of his workplace at night.

Seriously, this is probably the most interaction I’ve had with a stranger in the last six months. My luck is holding out as far as finding exactly the most depopulated and empty route to take through the neighborhoods. It’s actually a bit terrifying how I can move about through one of the most densely populated sections of the planet and somehow not have another living soul closer than a block away from me.

Unliving souls, on the other hand…

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 2, 2021 at 11:00 am

nameless expectancy

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Monday is arrived.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A humble narrator has been seriously applying himself to the pursuit of mastering his equipment in the first quarter of this new year, specifically the camera and lens combinations recently acquired. What that involves if you’re a normal person would be to take a few shots and see what you get. For me, this means wandering throughout Western Queens in the middle of the night and pointing the camera at fairly difficult to capture and ever changing subjects. Car washes, as pictured above, fascinate.

What makes the shot above difficult to capture is the combination of ambient darkness, ultra bright artificial light and abundant reflective surfaces, and the desire to “freeze” the scene so you could see all the soap and water flying around the brushes and car. This is a lot harder to calculate, camera settings wise, than you’d think it would be.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This particular excursion, which saw me leaving Astoria and heading eastwards along Broadway through Woodside in the direction of Jackson Heights, was undertaken for rather mundane reasons. I’m currently serving as Co-Chair of the Transportation Committee on the local Community Board and since the NYC Department of Transportation – or DOT – had recently informed the CB that they intended to strengthen certain aspects of the Northern Blvd. and Broadway bike lanes. Accordingly, I took a walk and explored the confines of their project to examine the street conditions. It’s best to observe in person rather than look at the place on maps, so as to spot areas that might end up being problematic.

Food trucks seem to draw my attention these days. Seldom do I partake, but I’m fascinated by the trade dress and attention grabbing signage of these things.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A new item on my “shoot this” list are Gas Stations. I’ve talked about this recently in some detail, but the disappearing filling stations of NYC are now something I’m making it a point of recording. From a camera POV, this is a damned hard subject to do justice to, given many of the same issues mentioned in the car wash shot at top. Reflective surfaces, super bright and or saturated neon lighting, ultra contrasty interaction with the dark street surrounding it… ain’t the easiest exposure triangle to figure out.

My photo gathering schedule continues to revolve around an “every other day” system, which sees a humble narrator leaving the house well after dark – 8, 9, sometimes even 10 o’clock – and then spending 2-3 hours burning through 5-10 miles of walking. These shots are about a month old, gathered during the last week of January.

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 1, 2021 at 1:00 pm

apoplectic faced

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Monday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A humble narrator is taking a break this week, as his anxiety and or stress levels have become absolutely maxed out. Thusly, you’ll be seeing single shots and regular postings will resume next week.

Pictured above is the corner of 48th street and Queens Blvd., the fulcrum of a neighborhood angle twixt Woodside and Sunnyside here in Queens.

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, February 15th. 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

February 15, 2021 at 11:00 am

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