The Newtown Pentacle

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defined apprehensions

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Twirling, ever twirling.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The affability of recent climate has seen me visiting old haunts and novel locale alike in recent weeks, which might be described as having been a somewhat pleasurable set of experiences. That would mean, of course, that your humble narrator was actually capable of experiencing a sensation called “pleasure.” A series of dull events punctuated by occasional gastro-intestinal distress, all sorts of bacterial and viral infections, and the oft bizarre actions of others is the way one such as myself describes “Life.”

One bright spark in the otherwise gathering clouds of existential horror which plague me are unexpected moments of serendipity.

A train passing by can excite one endlessly, and reminds that “you have to appreciate the little things.”

In my case, it’s big things that go “thruuummmm thruuuuuuummmm thruuummmm” or “claaacckkclaaacckkclaaacckk” as they pass by, but I’m all ‘effed up.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Good days are ones where I’m not walking to go anyplace in particular. Days when I leave the house and decide only which compass point to walk toward. For some reason, its not east that often, as that’s usually looking into the light. Instinct always points my path towards water, no matter where I am. It was kind of interesting finding myself in Queens Plaza, which I used to inhabit back in 2009 and 2010 during the Queensboro Bridge Centennial period but which I mainly cross through these days on my way to someplace in Brooklyn or Hunters Point.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Luckily, Our Lady of the Pentacle had agreed to visit the Brooklyn Grange roof top farm here in Astoria with a friend of ours who subscribes to their CSA program and I tagged along. While they picked up some quality produce, I got busy with the camera. Serendipity at work, when I woke up that morning, seeing this vista overlooking the Sunnyside Yards and the Shining City of Manhattan was not on the menu.

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humid seas

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By jove, I nearly got wet yesterday.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Yesterday, despite the somewhat solitary inclination of mood which a humble narrator awoke to find himself in, nevertheless did he need to go to Sunnyside to talk to some people about some thing. Post facto, a leisurely stroll back to Astoria was planned upon.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

As is my custom, certain breaches and apertures in the fencing which secures the Sunnyside Yards from casual observation by most, and the attentions of malodorous sappers and mad bombers in particular, were exploited for photographic use. The sky was dramatic, and active. A weak wind blew chilled air, from west north west.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Looking towards 36th avenue, from Northern Blvd., a certain sense of doom was laconically accepted. Surely, this will be how all is ended, in a storm. The Vikings, alas, seem to have been correct in their prophecies of the world’s end. If Ragnarok comes to Queens, it’s going to look something like the shot above.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Some wicked fancy seemed to be animating this cloud, but contemplation of such matters was not a luxury at hand. Not having any sort of umbrella or rain gear with me, haste was made to cross the few short blocks back to Newtown Pentacle HQ.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Evacuating birds were shooting through the winds, which had picked up in intensity. Oddly, there was no thunder, but a present and palpable expectation hung pregnantly about. The storm was about to break.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Just as I hit 44th street, the clouds attack began, and even your humble narrator found himself struck by airborne missiles of water which had been fired from thousands of feet above. These missiles, luckily, splattered.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Cover was sought behind a simple row house, one which had a small awning. Notice the “rain shadows” forming on the sidewalk.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Experience informs that summer squalls like this are short lived, quickly passing through the neighborhood, and not worth going to extreme measures over. In the twenty minutes or so spent sitting upon some anonymous stoop, observations of the passing humans included a fellow strolling along in a business suit acting as if it were not raining and a handsome young woman who walked by with a plastic bag over her head.

“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 14, 2014 at 11:00 am

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

constantly felt

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All of my trains are filthy.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

One has mentioned the Train Washing Station at the Sunnyside Yard before, in this post from june of last year. Recently, while walking the camera about one evening, happenstance brought me to the Train Washing Station just before sunset as a dirty locomotive arrived.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Unfortunately, all I had on me was my wide angle lens (I wasn’t anticipating this sort of thing, instead, my mission for the evening had involved shooting indoors) so these shots didn’t allow me to get right up next to the engine. Normally, I’ve got the equivalent of a 150mm with me all the time, but a humble narrator has been trying to travel a bit lighter this summer.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The photo bag has swelled out to outlandish proportion in the last year or two, with multiple lenses and strobes. One enjoys having the widest range of options, of course, but carrying ten pounds of glass across the concrete devastations wreaks havoc upon my fragile spine and aging musculature. Unless I know I’m going to need the full Monty – I leave most of it at home these days, and try to travel about with just one lens.

“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.

mounting eagerness

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Man, I’ve barely mentioned my beloved Creek lately.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Yesterday, business took me to Red Hook’s Erie Basin, a trip which turned out to be abortive as that which I went to photograph would not be available until next week. Having a free afternoon, unexpectedly, one decided to walk home to Astoria. Shots from the journey are being processed, but your humble narrator found himself all along the river, and everywhere from Brooklyn Bridge park to The Navy Yard. My back started to ache in Williamsburg, and discretion being the better part of valor, I cut the walk off at Metropolitan and Roebling. Not bad for my first serious perambulation of 2014, but I am badly out of shape after a hibernation forced by incessant ice and snow.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Vast soliloquy governed my thoughts on the walk, and a realization that I havent been spending much time on the Newtown Creek- personally and at this blog – in the last few months left me thunderstruck. Accordingly, pictured above is the DB Cabin rail bridge, spanning Dutch Kills, which carries LIRR Montauk branch traffic. DB Cabin hasn’t been opened since 2002, as its motors are non functional. Accordingly, Dutch Kills is an industrial canal which cannot accept anything larger than a rowboat, and that’s only at low tide. There are those who would like to throw this inheritance away, and turn it into some sort of bullheaded swampland, but that’s something that sounds good at cocktail parties. They forget about Mosquitos, and jobs for those beyond their clique, and that M1 zones are for industry – not water sports or bird watching.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

This bridge frustrates me as I’ve never gotten a decent shot of a train crossing it. There’s another rail bridge at English Kills which has stymied my desires in similar fashion over the years, but its just a matter of time until I get both. That’s the thing about me and my beloved Creek – I ain’t going nowhere. There are some who wish I would just fall in and disappear into the black mayonnaise, probably due to my brash nature and overwhelmingly unwholesome aspect, but they can go jump in the East River and swim to Manhattan to beg the Mayor for a job for all I care.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Newtown Creek is the subject of much speculation, discussion, and debate. All over the world – architects, planners, and engineers sniff at the air and smell a giant bucket of Federal money about to spent here. They anxiously twist their hands trying to conceive of some angle by which their pet projects can be shoehorned into the Superfund process. They forget that this is the home of industry, which must be encouraged to not just stay here, but to reinvest in Brooklyn and Queens – albeit in a manner which is less destructive to the processes of human and animal life along the waterway. You can have both.

Also, all bets are off, and your Newtown Pentacle is back in session.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

rusty impediments

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Your motive is loco, man.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

So few places to go, no one to see. The gray frigidity has me down, lords and ladies, and it is not impossible that over the last few weeks, I’ve watched everything on Netflix- including a couple of episodes of “Power Rangers Jungle Fury.” Playing with the cords on my hoodie, counting the floor tiles, bored. That’s me. Cabin Fever, I think they call it.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Been reading lots of good stuff, including a marathon exploration of the dissimilar topics of leprosy and the genetic consequences of multi generational incest- both of which led to the Hapsburgs. None of this relates one little bit to the history of Newtown Creek nor Queens, which actually has been my intention. Little projects like mine tend to drag you down a long drill hole, and you become so focused that you lose sight of the bigger picture… which somehow includes leprosy and incest.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Its cheerier reading than I normally do during this time of year, when my google searches have historically included “stages of putrefaction of cadaver” and “common practices of yeast distillation in 19th century america.” Hey, a guy gets curious about things. Its better to know something, well… some things… than to remain willfully ignorant about unpleasantries.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

skillful blows

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Random events witnessed and recorded.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

While heading for Brooklyn one morning, I noticed these guys screwing up Queens at the Sunnyside Yards. They were part of the army of construction crews working on the East Side Access project, I’d wager.

If you’ll notice, they are literally operating a giant screw housed on that yellow piece of equipment.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Not too sure what they were doing, but one suspects it has to do with the complex hydrology which underlies the yard. When the place was established at the start of the 20th century, all sorts of issues were encountered in the name of conquering the land.

This was once an enormous swamp, found at the foot of a rocky outcrop known in the 19th century as “Long Island City Heights” which was rebranded in the 20th century as “Sunnyside.”

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Speaking of Sunnyside, I’ve been keenly watching the construction of the new school on 43rd street. This is a BIG project, and the steel for the new building is rocketing up towards the sky. Good to see that the municipality is actually reinvesting in the infrastructure of the neighborhood as the rapacious eye of the Real Estate Industrial Complex bears down on western Queens.

We get a few more hospitals, schools, fire houses, and police stations and there just might be a possibility of us surviving the 21st century in as fine a fettle as we did the 20th.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

October 25, 2013 at 7:30 am

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