The Newtown Pentacle

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Archive for the ‘Subway’ Category

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As detailed in this recent post, my camera was destroyed in an accident.

For those of you who have offered donations to pay for its replacement, the “Donate” button below will take you to paypal. Any contributions to the camera fund will be greatly appreciated, and rewarded when money isn’t quite as tight as it is at the moment.

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

Queens, particularly Western Queens, is far and away my favorite place in NYC to wander through. It’s actually difficult to go more than a block or two without having some sort of eye candy appear. The best thing about Manhattan is not being in it, as you can see the heroic skyline of the Shining City. Brooklyn is fun, mind you, but full of busy body’s and wise asses asking “what are you taking pictures of” while the petitioner is sizing you up for how much he or she can get if they boiled you down for elements. Staten Island… well… it’s largely a residential zone and I don’t like taking pictures of people’s houses so I stick to the shorelines for maritime stuff. Rumor has it that there is some incalculably northern locale known as the Bronx, but I regard that as mere legend.

Queens is the place for me, bro.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Last week, at the Queens Plaza E/M/R station, I discovered that we need to install bike lanes on the subway platforms. One of my daring suggestions for the de Blasio administration to consider is that once half of all NYC surface streets have been converted over to bike lanes, we should consider digging trenches in the remaining vehicle lanes which would be flooded for the usage of kayakers. Also, zip lines should be considered for commuters to fly over the East River to alleviate Subway over crowding.

Why? Affordable housing. This Mayor and his henchmen justify any of their crazy schemes simply by answering “affordable housing.” Pissing on the street? “Affordable Housing.” Reverse twenty five years of crime reduction and return the City to the era of identity politics which nearly destroyed it?  “Affordable Housing.” Allow Al Sharpton to be the person vetting Municpal policies?  “Affordable Housing.” Operate City Hall as the second coming of the Dinkins adminstration? “Affordable Housing.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Over in Sunnyside, alongside the Sunnyside Yards (“Affordable Housing”) the native art form of Queens is expressed daily. Illegal dumping is accomplished in Queens with a compositional panache you just don’t see in the other members of the pentateuche which composes our civic archipelago. In Brooklyn, a van door slides open and trash is roughly thrust onto the street. In Queens, refuse is carefully arranged, and the negative space of the environs incorporated into the “work.”

In western Queens, illegal dumping is curated, and really should be considered to be an installation. Why? “Affordable Housing.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Why do I love shooting in Queens so much? Perhaps it’s the fact that “Affordable Housing” hasn’t entirely blotted out the sky yet and you can still feel the sun on your face. The sepulchral shadows of Manhattan, and the gathering shadows of Brooklyn, the residential splendors of… Staten Island…, even the supposed existence of the Bronx… you can have them. I’ll take Queens.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Tours –

July 18th, 2015
Newtown Creek City of Water Day Boat Tour 
with Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance, click here for details and tickets.

July 26th, 2015
Modern Corridor – LIC, Queens Walking Tour
with Brooklyn Brainery, click here for details and tickets.

Written by Mitch Waxman

July 16, 2015 at 11:00 am

in connection with

with one comment

Subway fever dreams, in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One such as myself generally doesn’t recall the hallucinations which occur during those dark hours when biological imperatives overcome and consciousness is lost. At least once per day, but more often than not – at night – a sudden wave of fatigue drowns out all other motivations and I find myself lapsing into a death like state which is accompanied by wild visions. I cannot tell you what happens during these intervals, which can sometimes consume a third of any day. Perhaps this is why I maintain the presence of an ever present and watchful dog, who on more than one occasion has pulled me out of this state when danger approaches with her ululating vocalizations. This daily failing is excaberated when my biological functions are impeded or hampered by injury, or some bacterial or viral infection.

A wild gyre occurs during these spells, with thoughts unrestrained by physics and possibility. My conscious mind rejects all remembrance of these visions upon reawakening. This is certainly true of any hallucination which might be deemed “pleasant.” It is only the terrors of the night which persist into the sunlit hours. A recent injury to the fleshy stalk upon which my head is mounted resulted in a series of Subway oriented visions.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One recurring hallucination took the form of an endless Subway trip. Transfers and long distances occur, but one never seems to get to a destination. When the trains pull into unknown stations, the exits and stairs are always boarded up. Usually these barriers were adorned by signage warning about the presence of some sort of airborn toxin, as indicated by the skull and crossbones iconography which one does not immediately associate with a MTA logo, and were one to walk up the steps to the surface a dire fate awaited.

One is always given the impression that something terrible has happened to the world above, and the Subway is improbably the only safe place remaining.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One of my nocturnal phantasmagories featured entire Subway trains traveling on the R line – the R stood for “Refugee” – which had been converted over to shelter dwellings. The trains were kept moving so as to avoid undue exposure to whatever might be mingling with the dust of desiccated rat droppings and fungal spores in the station atmosphere.

At certain stations, this Refugee train did not stop, as the platforms were crowded with ragged caricatures of the human form – desperately clawing at the moving metal and glass surfaces, and seeking entry into the traveling refugee village. Making matters worse, the car which this scenario played out in was populated by at least three Korean street ministers, who my fellow travelers and I would have gladly fed to any cannibal mob.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Another hallucinatory vision saw a Q train which never exited the subterranean tunnels nor encountered any station, crawling along in an obsequious and onbnoxiously slow fashion. This train provided no shelter from the infestation of human survivors however. Instead, the Q stood for “Quarantine” and all of my fellow riders were suffering from some sort of hemorrhagic fever.

The image which quietly withstood the regaining of consciousness early the next morning was that of a Subway train filled, ankle deep, with blood and gore.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Another horrible imagining occurred just as the healing process within the ruggose tube that supports my head began, one wherein a long Subway ride was experienced in a car in which your humble narrator was the only occupant that wasn’t a busker or street performer.

One was surrounded by Mariachi’s and those teams of acrobatic dancing youths, and along with them were accordionists and the “if anyone is hungry, I’ve got sandwiches” people. One sat at the center of a pulsing crowd of perfomers and prosletizers, as the street ministers and clipboard volunteers were along as well. Several members of lesser cults, seperatists, and joiners were also present. All thrust dirty plastic cups at me, asking for a dollar or two.

In one corner of the train, a hipster girl filmed the scene on an iPhone, in a somewhat disaffected manner. She’d seen it all before.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Always, the rays of the burning thermonuclear eye of God itself interrupts these bizarre hallucinations, rousing me from the comatose and back to a world of harsh reality. At the end of my recent infirmity, one hallucination was running full bore when I awoke in a cold sweat with a rapidly beating heart.

I travelled through the City’s intestinal crevasses, and encountered another dreamer who informed me that my whole life had, in fact, been what they had been having nightmares of since childhood. This person had been suppressing me with psychiatric care, and a schedule of narcotic drugs. After having directly encountered my personage, this person – an amiable Spaniard – decided to kill himself forthwith. Sometimes I have that effect on people, I guess.

I wondered – and more than wondered – can all of this reality of ours simply be someone’s, or some thing’s, dream? Is there something out there, which lies not dead but dreaming?

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Tours –

July 12th, 2015
Glittering Realms – Greenpoint, Brooklyn Walking Tour
with Newtown Creek Alliance, click here for details and tickets.

July 26th, 2015
Modern Corridor – LIC, Queens Walking Tour
with Brooklyn Brainery, click here for details and tickets.

Written by Mitch Waxman

July 8, 2015 at 11:00 am

simple swains

with 2 comments

Most photogenic Subway line nomination, in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The elevated 7 line has become quite famous for its multitudinous delays, entire weekends wherein service is suspended, and the frustrations of the vast population who count on it as their daily conveyance to and from the Shining City from Queens. One would offer that despite all of this, it looks great, and since appearances are all that really matter under the current administration in City Hall and Albany…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The underground lines just don’t have the same panache as the elevateds, and there are analogs for them in every major human infestation found upon the earth. The subterranean lines are dirty, dark, and the sweating concrete bunkers through which they run are the kingdoms of the rat. The first shot in today’s post emanates from a point in space roughly one hundred or so yards above the one above depicting the E line, incidentally.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The 7 even looks good from high above, as it turns out of the Hunters Point stop into the open air over the Sunnyside Yard and heads towards Court Square. If the MTA has a “Belle of the Ball,” it’s clearly the 7 – esthetically speaking. There’s a lot to be said about the scenery at Bushwick junction as well, but the 7…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Further east, where the so called international express heads through Sunnyside and Woodside and Jackson Heights high over Roosevelt Avenue – towards its eventual destination in Flushing – the 7 carries itself with a certain bearing and sharply appointed charm. One therefore nominates the 7 as the best looking of NYC’s subways.

Remember, it’s better to look good than to feel good, and that form always trumps function.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Tours –

July 12th, 2015
Glittering Realms Walking Tour
with Newtown Creek Alliance, click here for details and tickets.

Written by Mitch Waxman

June 24, 2015 at 11:00 am

… down there?

with 3 comments

Second Avenue Subway, 72nd to 86th street, in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As detailed in several posts last week, with today’s offering as capstone, I was invited to join with a group of photographers and reporters on a walk through of Phase One of th Second Avenue Subway project with MTA President of Capital Construction Michael Horodniceanu. We entered the project at 63rd street, and walked all the way to 86th street, experiencing differing levels of “finish” as we went.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A constant issue encountered was the presence of other people, which bedevils me wherever I go, and efforts were made to move slowly and find myself at the rear of the group in order to attain “clean shots” of the project.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

86th street was far and away the least developed section we encountered, and work on the actual tracked hadn’t progressed much past foundations. Platforms were still under construction as well. When invited to come along, MTA personnel had warned that at the end of the trip, we would have to “climb a 130 step staircase.” One was a bit worried about the “climb” designation.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As it turns out, I was right to worry about that word “climb.” Some anonymous laborer had scrawled the graffito “heart attack ridge” on the temporary landing and by the time a humble narrator had achieved that height, a heart attack felt like it was a real possibility. As my grandmother would have said – I couldn’t stop shvitzing.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Nevertheless, I plodded up the steps with camera gear in tow, while wearing my heavy steel toe boots and “PPE.” At the landing, all of us old guys decided to take a breather.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A construction worker in his mid twenties admonished us that he did this flight of stairs several times a day, which tells you about the sort of fortitude it takes to wear a hard hat. Insult to injury was added when Donna Hanover came bounding up the stairs like a mountain goat.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Back at the surface, one avoided the Q&A section of the trip, and a hasty retreat back to Queens and my beloved Astoria was enacted. I had a speaking engagement on for the evening, discussing the Sunnyside Yards development plans with the United Forties Civic over on the Woodside/Sunnyside border, and needed to get home and shower off all the concrete dust and “shvitz.”

Tomorrow, something completely different, at this – your Newtown Pentacle.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Tours –

June 7th, 2015
13 Steps Around Dutch Kills Walking Tour
with Newtown Creek Alliance, click here for details and tickets.

June 11th, 2015
MADE IN BROOKLYN Hidden Harbor Boat Tour
with Working Harbor Committee, click here for details and tickets.

June 13th, 2015
The Insalubrious Valley of the Newtown Creek Walking Tour
with Atlas Obscura, click here for details and tickets.

June 20th, 2015
Kill Van Kull Walking Tour
with Brooklyn Brainery, click here for details and tickets.

Written by Mitch Waxman

June 1, 2015 at 11:00 am

… buried…

with 3 comments

Second Avenue Subway, beyond 72nd street.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Continuing with the image rich posts detailing a recent visit to the MTA’s audacious Second Avenue Subway construction project in today’s post, the shot above depicts a group of laborers installing rebar in a side chamber.  Everywhere you looked, there were crews of union guys busily doing this and that.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

We visited the switch and signal room, where vast banks of electronic controls were in varying stages of completion.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

An enormous antechamber, of cyclopean scale, was encountered. This section was open to the sky, and that giant blue thing at the right hand corner of the shot was a crane which transports materials from the surface to the chasm below.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

At the north end of the 72nd street station, we encountered actual customer facing areas, where commuters will be found in a few years. This was also where we began to fully appreciate the monumental scale of all this.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

MTA’s Michael Horodniceanu, who was our guide, assured the group that we wouldn’t have to climb the temporary wooden staircase he was posing against. A collective sigh of relief rose audibly from the group of photographers.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The construction guys were running up and down the breastworks, which I believe were the place where long escalators would be installed to ferry passengers to and from the station.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Northward, we continued moving through the construction site, and one paused for a moment to grab a shot of the chamber we had just exited.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Around 73rd or 74th street, the group was brought back together (we were all sort of trailing out by this point) and informed that we would be walking the final section of tracks – from 72nd to 86th – and then a Q&A session would be occurring once we regained the surface.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This section was still very much under construction, and both temperature and humidity had risen a bit – no doubt due to the curing of freshly poured concrete all around us.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

We were directed towards the uptown tube.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

In Monday’s post, we’ll finish out what I saw and experienced down in the guts of Manhattan at this – your Newtown Pentacle.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Tours –

May 30, 2015 –
The Skillman Corridor with Atlas Obscura

with Newtown Creek Alliance Historian Mitch Waxman, click here for details and tickets.

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

June 7th, 2015
13 Steps Around Dutch Kills Walking Tour
with Newtown Creek Alliance, click here for details and tickets.

June 11th, 2015
MADE IN BROOKLYN Hidden Harbor Boat Tour
with Working Harbor Committee, click here for details and tickets.

June 13th, 2015
The Insalubrious Valley of the Newtown Creek Walking Tour
with Atlas Obscura, click here for details and tickets.

June 20th, 2015
Kill Van Kull Walking Tour
with Brooklyn Brainery, click here for details and tickets.

Written by Mitch Waxman

May 29, 2015 at 11:00 am

…that might be…

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From somewhere under Manhattan, the Second Avenue Subway Series continues.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There were work lights arrayed within the deep, pushing back against the enveloping darkness. Happily, they were polychromatic, and provided one with an interesting series of contrasts. Additionally, a flash gun was employed in the capture of some of these images, an evil necessitated by lighting conditions.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This section of track, which had been continuously installed in the tunnels from our starting point at 63rd street, led into a complex of chambers which will one day be the 72nd street station. One noticed that electrical equipment was already installed. This spot would likely be around 70th street.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The design of the Second Avenue Subway passenger stations is distinct from the older sections of the system, there were no steel beams hanging down from the ceiling for instance. The stations take the shape of a series of flattened cylinders with cathedral like interiors.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The gaggle of photographers and press people whom one had joined were directed to follow the tracks as we walked north, more than 100 feet below the surface of the Shining City.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

In this section, the roadbed hadn’t been installed yet, and prefabricated sections of the tracks were simply placed. Notice the rebar nest underlying the sections, into which concrete will be pumped, which will provide the firm footing for the river of trains which will flow through here.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My strategy of staying at the back of the group paid off several times, this shot is looking southward towards the section we had just traversed.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The actual 72nd street, lower level, station appeared. There’s that rack thingamabob pointed out at the 63rd street station, which is designed to allow water to flow without destroying the “finish” tiles which will be attached to it.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The group was directed to climb the stairs up to the upper level.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This is where the scale of this project really began to come into view.

More Second Avenue Subway walk through shots in tomorrow’s post at this – your Newtown Pentacle.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Tours –

May 30, 2015 –
The Skillman Corridor with Atlas Obscura

with Newtown Creek Alliance Historian Mitch Waxman, click here for details and tickets.

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

June 7th, 2015
13 Steps Around Dutch Kills Walking Tour
with Newtown Creek Alliance, click here for details and tickets.

June 11th, 2015
MADE IN BROOKLYN Hidden Harbor Boat Tour
with Working Harbor Committee, click here for details and tickets.

June 13th, 2015
The Insalubrious Valley of the Newtown Creek Walking Tour
with Atlas Obscura, click here for details and tickets.

June 20th, 2015
Kill Van Kull Walking Tour
with Brooklyn Brainery, click here for details and tickets.

Written by Mitch Waxman

May 28, 2015 at 11:00 am

…all that there is…

with 2 comments

Second Avenue Subway, continues in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As mentioned yesterday, one managed to attach himself to the press tour offered by the estimable MTA Press Office of its under construction facilities of the Second Avenue Subway project.

Part of largish band of reporters and photographers, one grew increasingly annoyed at the inability to capture a shot of the tunnels sans evidence of humans.

Bother.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The atmosphere in this newly carven intestine of the Megalopolis was actually a bit on the warm side, but not uncomfortably so, and no unpleasant nor mephitic odors were encountered in any abundance. Curing concrete coupled with a somewhat static and dusty air mass contributed to bodily perspiration, however, a process exacerbated by the requirements for wearing “PPE” or “Personal Protective Equipment” insisted on by the work site management.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Vests and construction hats, as well as safety glasses, were gladly offered by our hosts on this trip to the underground world. Required dress code also included long pants, and sleeves, as well as heavy boots.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Such precautions are standard going when visiting active industrial sites, in ones’ own experience, and a sturdy pair of steel toe boots are part of my personal arsenal of equipment. These are not the most comfortable shoes in the world, but the so called “steel toes” did provide me with a bit of prevaricating logic that explained to the MTA handlers why I seemed to be lagging along at the rear end of the group.

“Still breaking them in” uttered a humble narrator.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A fascinating ideation was rattling about in my thoughts, namely that after a lifetime of avoiding a situation wherein I would find myself standing on the tracks of some Subway, here I was.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One other fellow seemed to be thinking like me, hanging a little further back than me. He didn’t seem to be feigning a slight limp as I was, but there you go. The head of this press snake was pretty far ahead of us by this point, and we were asked to “catch up.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

For my part at least, the request was answered, and soon I was back in a crowd of reflective vests, hard hats, and flashing cameras.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One bent over to retie the laces of the “steel toe” boots, which allowed a plausible reason for dallying. I found myself at the end of the line, walking along with the tour’s “sweeper.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One decided to retie the other boot as well, out of an abundance of caution.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It’s the little things which make me happy. 

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Tours –

May 30, 2015 –
The Skillman Corridor with Atlas Obscura

with Newtown Creek Alliance Historian Mitch Waxman, click here for details and tickets.

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

June 7th, 2015
13 Steps Around Dutch Kills Walking Tour
with Newtown Creek Alliance, click here for details and tickets.

June 11th, 2015
MADE IN BROOKLYN Hidden Harbor Boat Tour
with Working Harbor Committee, click here for details and tickets.

June 13th, 2015
The Insalubrious Valley of the Newtown Creek Walking Tour
with Atlas Obscura, click here for details and tickets.

June 20th, 2015
Kill Van Kull Walking Tour
with Brooklyn Brainery, click here for details and tickets.

Written by Mitch Waxman

May 27, 2015 at 11:00 am

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