The Newtown Pentacle

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Wednesday odds and ends.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

At the time of this writing, one is in a rather tough spot in terms of fresh photos with which to illustrate the glories of Western Queens, but a week long curfew and suspension of Habeus Corpus will do that to a guy. Hopefully, I’m going to have been out and about a few times between the “then” and the “now.”

So, other than worrying a lot, how did a humble narrator spend his time during the curfew week, while stuck at home?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Well, I worked on perfecting the whole “stars” thing, which involves one of those fairly complicated bits of mathematical formula calculating. There was one evening in particular when the weather was on my side, which means a low dew point and atmospheric humidity. Thing is, you’re basically flying blind when shooting the night sky – manual focus, manual everything and all you can see on the camera is a black screen. A few test shots are required to ensure that your lens is set to “infinity” and everything is sharp. That’s when the camera settings come in to play, which are also manually arrived at. None of this is as simple as it sounds, which is the way I like it – complicated. I used one of my “good” lenses for the shot above, the Sigma 18-35 f1.8.

If you’re interested in pursuing this sort of thing, there’s all sorts of online calculators out there for astrophotography which will guide you through the process of settings and so on. The calculations involved in this boil down, ultimately, to lens focal length and aperture versus the rotation of the earth. The wider the lens, the longer the exposure you can capture without the stars motion blurring. If you can’t see stars in the shot above due to reading this on a device with a small screen, click the image and it will open in Flickr with a larger preview.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One is really “raring to go” back out into Queens by now. I’ve found a new windmill to tilt my lance at over in Blissville, and am desirous of seeing the ocean again sometime soon.

Pictured above is the intersection of Queens Blvd. with Greenpoint Avenue and Roosevelt Avenue. It used to once be Greenpoint Avenue all the way to Flushing, connecting the two Dutch colonial centers, but that was a long time ago.

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, June 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 as we move into April and beyond, 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

June 10, 2020 at 11:00 am

breathing stertourously

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A few odds and ends.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Turns out that the NYPD has a wrecker tow truck stationed in Woodside, all kitted out with their colorways, logos, and flair. The coppers have all the good toys. I think we, as a City, should license out and sell toys of all of the municipal vehicles the way that the Star Wars people do. Have you got the limited edition mobile oppression platform? How about a Dermot Shea talking action figure? You pull a string on its back and it makes excuses for the Mayor’s policies while resisting the urge to call him an asshole.

The cops have aircraft of all types, drones, tanks, boats, cars, trucks, buses… someday I think there will be an NYPD branded Mobile Suit Gundam deployed on the mean streets of New York. Now, more than ever.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It is absolutely startling to see Roosevelt Avenue empty. This is the corner of 58th street, which is one of the busier intersections in the borough of Queens under normal circumstance. A short burst of rain had just broken out. There were cops driving around with their lights off, seemingly looking for someone. The 7 train rattled by on the overhead tracks, puncturing the quiet. I did see a pair of guys carrying a whole lot of beer back to their apartment. Also, I had to pee.

That burst of rain occurred after a period of sweaty humidity and a subsequent ground fog had built up, when a strong cold wind began blowing through in a northerly direction. I can tell you this first hand, as I had actually been roaming around Queens for hours at the moment that this shot was gathered, and I was sweaty and rain soaked and growing steadily more chilled. It had been a warm night, so no filthy black raincoat, just a sweatshirt. The need to urinate had nothing to do with the weather, rather it was normal renal function at work.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

38th Avenue runs between Woodside Avenue/58th street and 61st street. It mirrors and follows the path of the Long Island Railroad tracks which are elevated up on a berm and surrounded by vegetated slopes. The section of it between Woodside Avenue and 54th street is spooky. There are homes on the north side of the street, but their back yards and driveways are what face 38th. It’s dark, and a few of the people who live here have not very high fences and excitable dogs. It’s a creepy street, for some reason. I instinctively don’t like walking down this stretch during the daylight hours, either. Can’t tell you why.

It’s a Queens 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, May 4th. 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 as we move into April and beyond, 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

May 8, 2020 at 11:00 am

pacing nervously

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Hitting the road…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As of this post, so far in the month of January has a humble narrator walked some sixty six and a half purposeful miles in the dead of night around Queens. By “purposeful” I mean that it’s not shlepping through my normal daily round, rather it refers to leaving HQ all kitted up and ready to wave the camera around. By my standard, this number still represents baby steps, of course, but whereas the broken toe drama of 2019 is now just another one of my unpleasant memories there are still physical consequences to having just sat on my butt for two months at the end of last year. Mainly the effects involve the size of my butt, muscle tone in my calves, and a few other “conditioning” issues. A new regime of personal discipline has been established, incorporating changes to both diet and exercise.

This has nothing to do with a New Year’s Resolution, as a note, it’s merely self preservation and the need to experience the world directly after a couple of months of convalescent boredom. On the particular night which these shots were gathered, I was walking along the Woodside/Sunnyside border, where a tiny industrially zoned area bumps up against the fencelines of the second, third, and fourth divisions of Calvary Cemetery.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My ultimate destination for the evening was – what else – Newtown Creek. From Astoria, you’ve got “corridor approaches” which lead you to the various sections of the waterway. 39th street to Skillman Avenue for Dutch Kills, Pulaski Bridge and LIC, or 39th street to Greenpoint Avenue for Blissville and the Greenpoint Avenue Bridge, 43rd street for Kosciuszcko Bridge and the DUKBO area, whereas 48th street takes you to the industrial Maspeth “Haberman” section where Maspeth Creek and the Maspeth Plank Road are found. The 48th street corridor also deposits you within throwing distance of the Grand Street Bridge, so I always pay it a visit when I’m in the neighborhood.

Coincidentally, 43rd street used to be called Laurel Hill Blvd. during earlier times, and it connected the Alsop properties along Newtown Creek to the south with the Berrian and Rycken holdings at Bowery Bay to the north in Astoria after crossing through the Moore and Jackson holdings nearby modern day Northern Blvd. 48th street in Maspeth was the Shell Road, which connected the southern waterfront with Middleburgh (Sunnyside) and Woodside, as well as Greenpoint and Flushing via modern day Greenpoint Avenue.

This and the previous shot were gathered along 49th street, rather than 48th, since a group of teenagers were walking towards me and I got scared. I scuttled over to 49th and hid behind a dumpster for a bit, as pictured above. A feckless quisling and vast physical coward remain I. On the plus side, I met a friendly cat whilst behind the dumpster.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A weird and lonely stretch of pedestrian space is found underneath the elevated Long Island Expressway section which bisects two of the Calvary’s. I’m told there’s a fair amount of drag racing here on summer weekend nights but I haven’t witnessed it directly. Notice that the NYS people haven’t felt compelled to replace the old sodium lamp luminaire heads for their street lighting to comply with NYC’s adoption of the cold blue LED units. You’ve still got that comfortable old orange glow hereabouts.

More next week, at this, your Newtown Pentacle.


“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 31, 2020 at 11:00 am

nitrous stone

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Someday, I’ll have an army of atomic supermen.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Mad scientist, that’s what I aspired to become when I grew up. What kind of dweeb roots for the hero when someone as cool as Doctor Doom is doing his thing. Imagine my disappointment upon discovering, at the age of 9, that any kind of scientist needs to be fairly adept at mathematics – a subject which I have little more capacity with than a particularly slow witted goat does. Oh, the horrors and monstrosities which I could populate our world with if only I wasn’t arithmetically challenged. I’d have the whole chemical rack setup, with machines that spewed bolts of electricity and made humming sounds. One thing I am really good at is megalomaniacal laughing, it should be mentioned.

One has realized that he will need a staff of mathematically competent scientists, outfitted with heart plugs or neck bombs to ensure their absolute loyalty and obedience (of course), if my dream of creating my own race of Atomic Supermen is ever to be realized. Funding remains an issue, as I’d first need to purchase a lair of some kind, and neither minion controlling heart plugs nor neck bombs are cheap to buy or install. Then you have to light and heat the lair, worry about OSHA regulations… nothing’s easy.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

If you really want to hide a less than legal operation, like a Mad Scientist’s lair or a meth lab or something, I’ve always believed you should keep it moving. Sure, hollowing out a chamber in the heart of a volcano or establishing an underwater base sounds cool, but now there’s a static target for the legions of do gooders to target. Just a matter of time before some lantern jawed hero shows up and foils your plans.

Hide in plain sight, I always say. Disguise your mobile laboratory as a City bus or a panel truck and hire some clueless schmuck to drive you around day and night. The citizenry is too busy staring into those little glass rectangles all the time to notice anything that doesn’t have a thousand “likes.” The mutant army I’m planning on producing – I call this “Plan Nine,” incidentally – will take advantage of the abundance of cemeteries along the Brooklyn/Queens border for biological components. Amazon has a sale right now on mind control chips, so that’s a saving. They won’t sell me the radioactive isotopes I need, so thanks Chuck Schumer, for making me download TOR and get supplied via the highly unreliable “dark web.” So frustrating when you order Cesium and get Palladium instead.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One of the big traps that most mad scientists find themselves in is that inevitable moment when your creation turns on you. To avert this, I’m going to install a video board into each member of my army, which will manufacturing bitcoin. This will fund a nice retirement pension for them, after the new order has been established, and I alone will hold the cypher password. You want loyalty from your thralls? Pensions, that’s how you get and demand loyalty from your minions.

I’m stuck at the moment whether or not my army of Atomic Supermen will have a gun hand or a crab claw hand, or both. Either option has benefits. I’ve settled on triocular vision for them, just like the engineers at Apple have with the latest iPhone.

I’ll be in one of my lairs this weekend, working on generalized revenge against a world which does not appreciate me, and has forced me to live the life of an outcast. Home? I have no home, the jungle is my home. If some bus or a large truck passes you by, and you hear maniacal laughing emanating from within, that’s me, but don’t put it on Instagram or anything. Last thing I need is to have to deal with some secret agent or something. Remember whose side you want to be on after the Plan Nine plays out to the end and the new order is instituted.


“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

September 20, 2019 at 1:00 pm

correlate every

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Artsy fartsy on Roosevelt Avenue.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Funnily enough, I was actually talking on a conference call about MTA with a couple of colleagues while shooting the shots in today’s post. Additionally, I was freezing my yum yums off, but what does a little existential discomfort matter when one is pursuing the muse? I had scuttled along this pathway on Roosevelt Avenue sometime in the last couple of weeks and decided there and then that I needed to come back with the intention of capturing the artificial light playing along the steel of the IRT Flushing or 7 Line elevated subway tracks above. These shots are from where and when I did so.

Last Monday and Woodside, which sounds sort of anticlimactic, I guess.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As mentioned yesterday, during the day, the steel structure casts harsh shadows that are framed by extremely bright shafts of sunlight which reduces photo exposure options significantly. At night, however, traffic and street lights – even light spilling out of apartment windows – creates a random and often quite colorful luminance. Throw in passing auto traffic and illuminated shop signs? Yup, interesting place to do some long exposures.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Roosevelt Avenue, however, isn’t exactly a backwater. It’s densely travelled by vehicles of all kinds and there’s lots of pedestrians as well. Luckily, the steel girders supporting the overhead trackage provide lots of places for you to set up and compose a tripod shot. Unfortunately, these girders seem to be favorite spots for illegal dumping or vomiting and are very popular with the canine population of Woodside. C’est La Vie, ay?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The path I decided on walking was, by necessity of climatological conditions, short by my standard. A quick subway ride on the M train from Astoria to the Roosevelt Avenue stop carried me to Jackson Heights, whereupon a southeasterly posture was assumed by turning onto Roosevelt and walking up the hill towards Queens Blvd. After finishing up my self appointed task, one walked down the hill at 48th street and back to HQ in Astoria.

Yes, I was tempted to cut things short and hail that cab in pursuance of warming up my yum yums.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The conference call I was on, as mentioned, revolved around the MTA and various issues surrounding it in Queens. Given the dearth of subway lines serving 75% of the Borough, and the fact that most Queensican commuters have to rely on Buses, I volunteered to begin using the bus system more and more to “get smart” about it. Back when I was full time advertising guy Mitch, one of the agencies I worked for was Ogilvy & Mather, founded in part by a fellow named David Ogilvy. Ogilvy was one of the first scientific marketers back in the “mad men” era, and wrote several books about his experiences and realizations. One of his bits of advice involved signing up for or using your customer’s products, to learn what the experience is of the said customer you’re trying to sell something to.

I’m not trying to sell you bus rides, of course, but within a year I’ll be able to speak a lot more intelligently than I can now (I literally live over a Subway line, so I’m going to have to go far afield of “my way” on this one) about what’s good or bad about Bus service in – at least – Western and Northern Queens.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Baby, it was cold outside. Luckily, I arrived at my turnaround point at Queens Blvd., packed up the tripod and wide angle lens, refitted the camera to handheld settings and affixed a “bright” night lens. As it turns out, my yum yums survived the cold and are in fine fettle.

Next week – something completely different at this, your Newtown Pentacle.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

January 18, 2019 at 11:00 am

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