The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Archive for the ‘Long Island Rail Road’ Category

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A short one today.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A humble narrator is anxious to get outside and “into the field” today, so a single image greets you this morning, depicting the Long Island Railroad entering Woodside via its ancient path. Back tomorrow with something a bit more substantial at this – your Newtown Pentacle.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Tours –

May 3, 2015 –
DUBPO, Down Under the Pulaski Bridge Onramp
with Newtown Creek Alliance Historian Mitch Waxman, a free tour offered as part of Janeswalk 2015, click here for tickets.

May 31, 2015 –
Newtown Creek Boat Tour
with Working Harbor Committee and Newtown Creek Alliance Historian Mitch Waxman, click here for tickets.

Written by Mitch Waxman

April 15, 2015 at 11:00 am

directly upward

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Whence goeth I?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Despite my vulnerability to cold – hey, Superman’s got Kryptonite but he still gets out – last week I found myself wandering around Long Island City in what felt like a negative a thousand degrees air mass. Owing to my particular weakness, rather than walking from place to place, mass transit has been utilized. Of late, I’ve found myself on a staggering number of buses and Subway lines, which is a sobering reality for the inveterate pedestrian. Don’t forget, during warmer climes I routinely walk back and forth from Astoria to Red Hook. Funnily enough however, Long Island City – which is the concentrating point of rail and subway on Long Island – often forces you to walk great distances in search of conveyances. It’s virtually impossible to find a cab here as well, despite it being the de facto home of the Taxi industry.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Walking is my preferred methodology for getting around, of course. I detest using mass transit as it’s an admission of defeat. Problem is the derelict condition of the sidewalks – isn’t there a law about shoveling snow and clearing the pavement? There is such a law, but as in many other cases, the rules which the City of Greater New York enforces upon the citizenry does not apply to itself. I can actually spot city owned property by its unkempt state during the winter, and can report that when you’re in a municipal building things are not exactly “up to code.” There ain’t no water saving toilets or CO2 detectors readily visible on Chambers Street, in my limited observations of the municipal lairs. There are hundred year old marble stand up urinals, however, which are framed in black mold.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

At Queens Plaza, the old CN building complex has been obliterated. The Real Estate Industrial complex has seized control of the site, and construction crews are busily preparing the ground for yet another residential tower. I know what you’re thinking – “Wow, I’ve always wanted to live in Queens Plaza.” “Thank goodness that the “market” has finally responded to this desire, and I can have the 7 train and thousands of motor vehicles rolling right past my window 24/7.”

I hope that this new building will be one of the transformers – apartment towers which can autonomously turn into giant robots that defend the City – which are called “the CondoBots.” At the CN site, another one of the smaller transformers was sighted, that yellow earth mover in the shot above. It calls itself Diggity Dig Dig Dig. Nice enough cyber guy, but a bit single minded.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

padding, clicking, walking

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Want to feel better? Take a walk in Queens.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Skillman Avenue between 39th street and 49th avenue is “big sky country” here in Western Queens, with the majesties of the Sunnyside Yard and the glorious skyline of the Shining City laid out for all observers. It has always been one of my favorite spots for a stroll, and never more so than at twilight.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There’s a number of things I can tell you about the yards. When it opened, this was the largest coach yard on the planet, and it hosts the busiest tracks on earth to this day – specifically, the Harold Interlocking, which is shared by Amtrak and the Long Island Railroad. There’s an ocean of PCB’s and other industrial chemicals in the ground here, and its likely going to be listed for some sort of environmental cleanup or remediation before too long.

The odd and continuing appearances of cast off single shoes found along the fence line continues to intrigue and puzzle a humble narrator, but that’s another story.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It seems that the whole “deck over the yard and build a new neighborhood on top of it, with a stadium and hotel complex at the Queens Plaza side and affordable housing to the east” chestnut has surfaced again – the latest iteration of a plan espoused by Dan Doctoroff early in the first Bloomberg term. A number of people have asked me what my thoughts on the matter are.

My reply is always: How, in any way, would that be good for Queens? Does the proposal to deck the yards include hospitals and schools, an annex for the already stretched 104th and 114th precincts, additional FDNY personnel and equipment, or some mechanism to incorporate this new population into the existing wastewater system? Who will bear the costs of these municipal services? It won’t be the entity that builds a stadium or hotel complex, one guarantees you.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

certain scenes

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Not fit for this world, I tell ya, not fit.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

So I’m on the train back to Astoria recently, and at 59th street, the guy pictured above got on the same train as me and unveiled an accordion to all the commuters onboard. I noticed him only because that horrible droning version of the theme from the Godfather which he was attempting to play was interfering with the music which I was listening to quietly, on my headphones. As is the case with all things which annoy me, I took a picture of him.

Notice that he’s giving me the finger with his keyboard hand? He later insistently stood in front of me with his hat in hand, gesturing for some sort of tip. I inquired if he knew how to get to Carnegie Hall from our location in the Queens Plaza subway station. He indicated that he did not. “Practice, my friend, lots and lots of practice.” I’m a real pistol, I am.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

You wouldn’t believe what I had to walk and climb through to get this one, nor the intangible risks to the disposition of ones very soul which were encountered. Moments before this capture, a well meaning Hippie with a smudge pot in one hand and a feather in its conspirator sprang at me and anointed me with some sort of incense. He was part of some group, everyone seems to be part of some group, it would seem. They might have been witches, I can’t be sure, but more than one of them were bare foot… in Long Island City.

Only a witch’s foot could stand that sort of punishment. Around these parts, people buy shoes and boots for their dogs to wear.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Speaking of witches, here’s my obligatory shot of the so called supermoon, which couldn’t have been easier to capture as I set the tripod and telephoto gear up on my own porch right here at home in Astoria.

“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 13, 2014 at 11:00 am

this splendor

with one comment

If these guys go out, what in the name of god itself will I take pictures of?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One isn’t too sure about the details of the current beef between the LIRR unions and the State of New York’s MTA – but my concerns about an impending strike have little to do with the crippling effect it will have on NYC and all of Nassau and Suffolk counties, nor the living hell which commuters will endure getting too and from their Manhattan jobs, or the financial consequences to both organized labor and state officials. Purely selfish motivations rule, as your humble narrator is overly concerned about the lack of photographic opportunity which a cessation of locomotive service in LIC will cause. Hey! This one affects me personally, what am I supposed to take pictures of without any trains?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There’s always tugboats, I guess, although I’ve been shooting less and less maritime in 2014. No particular reason, it’s just that life have led me away from the harbor in the first half of this year, and I’ve been busy upland. Nice thing about industrial Maspeth, I always say, is the random movement when a train suddenly busts through the scene. If there is a LIRR strike… let’s just say that it diminishes us all, and industrial Maspeth most of all.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One wonders if freight operations will be suspended as well? I’d imagine so, but I’m a stranger to the world of organized labor except by neighborly osmosis. The industries I’ve worked in – Advertising and Comics – eschew organized labor. The excesses of both are legendary, but you’ve probably watched “Madmen” so I don’t have to discuss Madison Avenue. As an example for the comics industry, the guy who created Superman ended up walking into DC Comics one day while working as a delivery man. The guy who created all those characters in the Marvel movies – Hulk, Captain America, etc. – was Jack Kirby, whose heirs get ugatz from Marvel. Either way, I’ve got to find something else to take pictures of, somewhere in the Newtown Pentacle.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

There are two Newtown Creek walking tours coming up.

Saturday, July 26th, The Insalubrious Valley of the Newtown Creek
With Atlas Obscura, lunch included, click here for tickets and more info.

Sunday, July 27th, Glittering Realms
With Brooklyn Brainery, lunch included, click here for tickets and more info.

furious delirium

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Your music sucks, why do you play it so loud?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

In the midst of everything else, a humble narrator has to worry about getting the laundry done, which is not always as easy a proposition as it sounds like. More often than not, indecision about the logical process by which one arrives at some sort of conclusion about whether a soiled garment should be considered for the “colors” or “darks” bags reduces one to gibbering madness. Crouched in the corner of the room, wild eyed and slaked with cold perspiration, I often find myself impaled on the horns of dilemma. That navy blue shirt… where does it belong? Does it belong? Where do any of us belong? This is why I largely dress in black.

All ‘effed up, me.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Dire portent abounds. A general tension is palpable, and even the normally laconic army of bicycle delivery guys seem tense, here amongst the raven tressed hillocks of Western Queens. As one sorts his socks and towels, preparing them for drop off at the local laundry shepherd, a distinct sensation of dread permeates the atmosphere hereabouts. Even my little dog Zuzu seems to sense approaching calamity, as she drums her claws across the worn floorboards. At least the humidity seems to have broken.

I fear the polar vortex itself might return, carrying with it certain things which Esquimaux legend only hints at, and am quite unsure if I should send certain articles of Our Lady of the Pentacle’s wardrobe to the laundromat or segregate them out for dry cleaning.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Were this the 21st century that a humble narrator was promised, when still an innocent moppet – the one which had jet packs and moving sidewalks and flying cars – we’d all be dressed in self cleaning space age fabrics which would obviate little need for the services of the laundry shepherds. These were supposed to be “onesies,” or speed suits as Dr. Venture would refer to them, whose coloration would be indicative of social rank. Unfortunately, the world we’ve got is neither “Brave” nor “New.”

Oh no… what do you do with a sock that has red, white, and black stripes? Oh dear lord… the horror of it all…

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

sights and glories

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Not sure if this thing sucks or blows, but I think that it probably just blows.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Spotted recently at the LIRR Hunters Point station, an esoteric bit of kit, which was boldly labeled as the TC 888 and which bore the branding of something called “ESSCO.” Certainty exists that shortly after hitting “publish” on this post, one of my rail fan pals will leave a comment or send an email describing this device in brain dissolving detail, but your humble narrator is focused simply on a single query.

Does it suck, or does it blow?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

To me, it looks like something which really blows.

That’s a jet engine at the wide part of the funnel, and the fuel hatch had writing stenciled on it that advised “Kerosene Only.” Also, a lack if any sort of receptacle for the resultant materials which might be produced by an interval of powerful sucking, nor a visible connection to a feeder mechanism designed to interact with other external equipment, suggests that it probably doesn’t suck at all.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

So, this pinkish orange Track Cleaner must in fact blow, and there’s no doubt that the jet engine must be able to blow chunks of trash and other debris from the trackbed. One cannot tell you if Hunters Point was getting blown, or just storing the device temporarily.

Either way, it’s clear that it doesn’t suck, and that its job is to blow.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

There are two Newtown Creek walking tours coming up.

Saturday, June 28th, The Poison Cauldron
With Atlas Obscura, click here for tickets and more info.

Sunday, June 29th, The Insalubrious Valley
With Brooklyn Brainery, lunch included, click here for tickets and more info.

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