The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Posts Tagged ‘photowalk

central and supreme

leave a comment »

I been everywhere, man.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Actually, despite the bold statement above, I’ve hardly been anywhere at all. There are spots which one is overly familiar with, of course, but the daily grind does tend to oppress. Just the other day, one had to undertake one of those ludicrous commutes which have been enjoyed throughout the last year, crossing from Astoria out to the New Jersey side of… Staten Island… via mass transit.

What I was doing on Staten Island will be the subject of a post later this week, but today I’m just complaining about how long it all took. Rapid transit indeed.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The 59th and Lex Subway Station is surely meant to serve as a vast sculptural interpretation and exemplar of the spiritual concept known as “oppression.” Kafkaesque in layout, it always seems claustrophobic when I visit. The ceilings are lower, platforms narrower, stairs steeper… Last week, at least, I got to add a shot or two to my collection of “photographs of photographers photographing.”

- photo by Mitch Waxman

An somewhat accidental detour into Brooklyn occurred on the return trip, which I found rather ironic. It was nice to visit the Borough Hall station, but I needed to get back home before the indomitable bladder of Zuzu the Dog exploded. Has it ever been mentioned that my own personal version of hell is an eternity spent on a long commute through an endless labyrinth of tunnels?

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Walking Tours-

Saturday, November 8th, Poison Cauldron
Walking Tour with Atlas Obscura, click here for tickets and more info.

Note: This is the last Newtown Creek walking tour of 2014, and probably the last time this tour will be presented in its current form due to the Kosciuszko Bridge construction project. 

Written by Mitch Waxman

November 3, 2014 at 11:00 am

was indubitably

leave a comment »

Samhain has nearly arrived, are you prepared?

- photo by Mitch Waxman

A humble narrator is prepared for a siege originating in the occult world, and has gathered bags of salt, bees wax candles, and vast amounts of blessed holy water unto himself in preparation for Samhain. One shall avoid descending into the sweating cement bunkers of the Subways after this morning, for who knows how deep some of those tunnels might go?

Perhaps - some connect to the upper reaches of Tartarus (this would explain the smell at the Queens Plaza R/E/M station, incidentally). Mephitic miasmas, carried along by the piston action of the train carriages, might mutate, metastasize, or metamorphosize men into malign or malfeasant monsters. Normally, this would be paranoid fantasy, and a mad ideation. Not so on the holy day of the Witches, when the psychospheric climate is appropriate for the fantastic and impossible to randomly occur.

The Horned God will have his annual dance.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Beginning at midnight tonight, salt will be laid across every entrance to HQ, and “Mezuzah’s” will be affixed to each door and window post. Mirrors will be affixed to the doors themselves, and garlic hung from the lintels. I have a couple of those “super soaker” water gun rifles which I’ll be filling with the holy water. Also, a local butcher has agreed to supply me with a few gallons of lamb’s blood today, with which I intend to paint the sigil of the archangel Michael upon my doors, in the style of the Jews of ancient Egypt. Just for good measure, and to hedge my bets, I’m going to render the sigil representing the archangel Lucifer in butcher’s blood as well.

Just in case.

One feels that it’s best to try not to offend anyone, after all, and keep your options open. Samhain, or Halloween, is not a time you want to take chances, or choose the wrong side.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Concerns about certain steel and concrete gateways to the underworld, found here and there in LIC, form the primary firmament of my concerns. As is the case in the shot above, some of these portals are rather large. Gigantic daemon things could easily find their way to the surface on the annual sabbat of the old gods, walk upon the surface of the earth, and unleash the chaos of the pit itself upon the concrete devastations of Queens. Titanic in scale, there would likely be very little that the average citizen could do to combat the influence of these elder things and their minions. When confronted with such entities, most will simply abandon sanity - retreating into the blanketing comfort of gibbering madness, after all.

Luckily - and not many people know this – NYPD issues silver bullets to its patrol units on Halloween and their ESU teams (Emergency Services Unit) atypically bring a third man along on its calls – a Police Exorcist.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Walking Tours-

Saturday, November 8th, Poison Cauldron
Walking Tour with Atlas Obscura, click here for tickets and more info.

Note: This is the last Newtown Creek walking tour of 2014, and probably the last time this tour will be presented in its current form due to the Kosciuszko Bridge construction project. 

Written by Mitch Waxman

October 30, 2014 at 11:00 am

intoning endless

with one comment

A dream to some, a nightmare to others.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The shots in today’s post were gathered at an Atlas Obscura event in Green Wood Cemetery last weekend, which was a soirée of sorts. Cocktails in the Catacombs is how it was described, and an eager band of explorers responded. Your humble narrator wormed his way into the event, but did not partake or partay, I was too busy working. “How often do you get to photograph a cemetery in total darkness?”, after all. You’ll notice a crude bit of lighting in the shots above and below, which was barely visible during the image capture. A battery operated LED flashlight, if you must know.

It was late evening when I was shooting, the event started at ten and I left the cemetery for Astoria about one in the morning. These photos are long exposure, and tripod shots. To the human eye, there was naught but darkness framed against a brooding sky. Leaving the shutter open for 20-30 seconds at a pop, one can gather a range of color and tone which would otherwise be imperceptible. The small LED flashlight becomes a flood light in such circumstance.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Funny thing was that although you know that you’re “safe as houses,” the fact remains that you are standing in near total darkness in a cemetery and the slightest sound – a tree branch falling, for instance- is enough to trigger an irrational flight or fight response. Fear is so much fun, isn’t it?

The imagined stuff, I mean, not the sort that accompanies bad news from doctors or accountants, or lawyers, or the kind of existential angst that arises when you encounter drunk cops or pistol wielding teenagers.

Personally, my days are usually filled with horror of one stripe or another – although more often than not it’s of the “kafkaesque” type – and the wild hallucinations experienced during those daily intervals of fevered unconsciousness – that some may call “sleep” – consume a third of my life and they both terrify and inform.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

A recently recurring hallucination of the nocturne has been a scenario in which your humble narrator is sitting at his desk and working, with Zuzu the dog lying at my feet. There’s a white flash, and suddenly everything is darkness and pain. Limbs are pinned by some unknowable weight, and there is a smell of copper as something begins dripping onto my face, and a certainty that one is completely helpless is realized. There is also pain, unknowable pain. Unable to wipe this unknown drip away from my eyes, immobilized in total darkness, a bit of light becomes visible and seems to be some distance away but it illuminates my situation. Surrounded by bloody concrete and rebar, the light grows brighter and begins to assume a hue as it intensifies. Orange yellow and growing brighter, the light illuminates clouds of dust which are picking up on an air current beginning to sweep through mounds of broken masonry and shattered bricks, as the ambient temperature begins to rise. The smell of cooking meat greets. My eyes begin to blister, and all vision perishes in fire just as the…

That’s when I wake up. At least this has replaced an older nightmare – one where I fall into an industrial carpet loom and am torn apart by clock works and bobbins of spinning yarn.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

There’s also a series of “consigned to suffer” and “torn apart by sharks” ones, and a fantastic internal narrative that involves a rapid onset of Leprosy that completely disincorporates a humble narrator in the interval which it takes the R train to reach Manhattan’s 59th and Lex from the Steinway Street stop in Queens has emerged recently. When the Subway doors open in the city, my mortal remains gush out onto the tracks unnoticed. The last thing witnessed before waking, in this fantastic example of Freudian angst about Ebola, is a herd of rats licking up the crimson juice which once called itself a humble narrator.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Walking Tours-

Saturday, November 8th, Poison Cauldron
Walking Tour with Atlas Obscura, click here for tickets and more info.

Note: This is the last Newtown Creek walking tour of 2014, and probably the last time this tour will be presented in its current form due to the Kosciuszko Bridge construction project. 

Written by Mitch Waxman

October 29, 2014 at 12:15 pm

wondered whether

leave a comment »

My Bubbe would have described the first shot as “Yoyzel on de cross.”

- photo by Mitch Waxman

For those of you who didn’t grow up in a Jewish family, “Bubbe” is Grandma, and let me tell you this – Sarah would not have liked me even taking pictures of a crucifix, let alone hearing about me wandering through First Calvary cemetery on a regular basis. She was not a big fan of Halloween either, preferring to see the masks and costumes come out for Purim instead. Hailing from the Pale, and having lived through late 19th and early 20th century Pogroms (and other indignities) inflicted upon her rural community by the Cossacks, my Grandmother was particularly suspicious of the Goyem. She instructed that one should dwell with their own kind, because at least then “you’d see it coming when somebody had it in for you.” You have to cut the old lady some slack though, she saw her younger brother’s head chopped off by the Cossacks, who played a drunken match of polo with it afterwards. For Bubbe Sarah, the word “Russian” was a synonym for “rapist.”

- photo by Mitch Waxman

While reminiscing about transmitted generational prejudices and familial lore, one happened to notice this odd scene at the monument to Sarah Bell and the Kelly family. A doll lay upon the loam, in a position which would be familiar to crime scene investigators. No investigation of the Bells or Kelly’s has been undertaken, but one suspects that their sentiments about the English were probably quite similar to my Bubbe’s feelings about the Russians. It amazes me to this day how much effort, finance, and political capital these two empires expended in the name of oppressing and exploiting rural peoples – the Irish and the Jews of the Pale – over the centuries. The same goes for the United States, incidentally. How much has our government spent over the centuries suppressing – not just the aspirations of negroes and native Americans – but a vast rainbow of minority opinions?

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Personally, I’m in the “if it doesn’t affect me, why should I care what you do” camp, and that’s the end of my progressive neo prudentialist liberal politics for the day. Bubbe would have been beside herself at the idea that some child had lost her dolly, however. She would have used the astoundingly forceful personality for which she was famed, during her “shtetl” and Lower East Side garment worker days, to compel me to stand out in the middle of Greenpoint Avenue and ask every passing motorist if their child had lost their toy until it got dark. The old lady was tougher than leather, but had a big heart, which bled for everybody that told her a sad story. She also made one hell of a pot of chicken soup, which is dearly missed by one such as myself in the autumn.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Walking Tours-

Saturday, November 8th, Poison Cauldron
Walking Tour with Atlas Obscura, click here for tickets and more info.

Note: This is the last Newtown Creek walking tour of 2014, and probably the last time this tour will be presented in its current form due to the Kosciuszko Bridge construction project. 

Written by Mitch Waxman

October 28, 2014 at 11:20 am

devil cursed

leave a comment »

Magickal Astoria, where “small parts and small balls” may be found.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

One had no particular place to go, one recent afternoon, but the desire to stretch my roadway interfaces, get away from my desk, and exercise my aches and pains away overwhelmed. Accordingly, a short saunter from HQ down to the East River and back was enacted. Along the way, one encountered these vending machines adorning a supermarket near Crescent Street. The very idea of occult talismans being offered in such a manner tickled me, as it is so very American, and the camera was deployed to record the scene.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Upon returning to HQ, the shots were copied off of the memory card and inspection of the images revealed this lovely bit of legal ass covering incorporated into the signage adorning the trinket dispensing device. The “small parts and small balls” line mightily amused me, but I’ve never really grown up and am emotionally locked into a junior high school level psychology. I’m from Canarsie, in Brooklyn, and you cannot say “small parts and small balls” to me without causing a smirk to cross my face.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Inquiries with merchants and shop keeps about similar retail level vending machines, including the sort of “ride” pictured above, have intrigued me. Several bodega owners have told me that the ride just showed up in front of their place one day. The owners and maintainers of these devices offer a 50/50 split with the shop, I’m told. One or two friendly shop keeps have told me that these machines can earn several hundred dollars a month, money which the shops are not obliged to report to tax officials as their cut is paid in cash. My interest in them is strictly artistic, and I’ve noticed a distinctive set of “hands” at work in many of their paint jobs.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Walking Tours-

Saturday, October 25th, Glittering Realms
Walking Tour with Atlas Obscura, click here for tickets and more info.

Written by Mitch Waxman

October 22, 2014 at 11:00 am

acquired enough

with 2 comments

A short one today

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Just a single shot today, depicting 31st street’s borderland between the Astoria and Dutch Kills sections of the neighborhood. That’s the N and Q tracks above, which can emit a calamitous cacophony second to none during rush hours.

Back tomorrow…

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Walking Tours-

Saturday, October 25th, Glittering Realms
Walking Tour with Atlas Obscura, click here for tickets and more info.

 

Written by Mitch Waxman

October 20, 2014 at 11:00 am

abhorrent discords

with one comment

Queens Plaza is antithetical to life.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Long has one theorized that the biblical Garden of Eden was actually located in what is now known to be North America, specifically at the corner of 42nd and Broadway in Manhattan. The metaphor of mankind turning a paradise into Times Square is somewhat delicious, but one wonders if perhaps this theorized location of the former Garden of Eden is just a little too far west and that paradise lost is actually found in Queens Plaza. A vile place, fraught with multiple hazards for the itinerant pedestrian, Queens Plaza wants you dead – and it will try to kill you.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

All of the human senses are under severe assault in this place. Harsh light creates glaring contrasts, and oily shadows slither twixt and fore. From above, a cacophony that drowns out all other aural information is accrued as two elevated subway lines converge. The tumult is amplified by the roadways and their torrent of automotive flow, as well as the many vertical metal surfaces which tend to amplify and reflect noise rather than abate it, while steel columns heavily shadow the pavement. Engine exhaust fills the air, and lungs, with an oily miasma. From below – the thrumming vibrations of speeding locomotives burrow deep into the intestines, shaking the bowels. Bike lanes cross and intersect with pedestrian ones, allowing spandex clad missiles purchase to surprise and surpass an ambling innocent, and a truly byzantine series of street markings conflict, confuse, and astound.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s what one experiences just as you near Queens Plaza, as vague and existential dread overtakes you. Realization of the true randomness of fate blossoms upon reaching the locus of the Great Machine, where vehicles of many types and descriptions approach mighty Queensboro. One might trip while walking cracked pavement cloaked in shadows, be pummeled by some loosened piece of the overhead tracks, or be impacted upon by 200 pounds of spandex clad primate riding his bike at 10-15 mph on the sidewalk. A car might strike, a bus would hit, a truck could squish. There’s also the other pedestrians to consider… with their blood shot eyes rapaciously darting and or noticing passerby. The world is a scary place, for one such as myself, and Queens Plaza is especially scary.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

October 16, 2014 at 11:00 am

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 894 other followers

%d bloggers like this: