The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Posts Tagged ‘Subway

is where

with 4 comments

Is there anyplace smellier than the IND station at Queens Plaza?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Stumbling home through the dark recently, a humble narrator found himself at Queens Plaza, waiting for the R or M to arrive and carry his stinking carcass back to Astoria. “It seems that I’ve been dead for quite a while, judging by the smell,” thought I. That’s when I realized that it wasn’t the standard “eau d’ jew” which accompanies the end of a period of physical exertion and exercise which I was discerning, rather it was some other reeking horror that was permeating the Subway Platform.

At the end of the platform, or at least the side where the last Queens bound subway car arrives, that I found the source of an odor which I can only describe as Satan’s diarrhea.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The good news is that the syringe had already separated itself from this bubbling spring of buboes breeding Queens juice, but the smell of it…

Now remember, I’m the Newtown Creek guy. I hang around Sewer Plants, and open drains which carry liquids whose coloration ranges from olive green to cadmium yellow, and am possessed by fond memories of walking amongst the settling and aeration pits of the DEP. When I say an odor is nose hair curling, will wither away plastic, and describe something as having smelled like the dysentery of the Devil itself – pay attention.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I can guess where this water is coming from, but it would only be a guess. The underground IND Subways in Long Island City are essentially concrete bath tubs which were set into a wetland that was already despoiled by sewage and industrial pollution by the time LIC incorporated in 1870. The subways didn’t come along until the 20th century, of course, but the waterways that flowed through Queens Plaza are still very much present.

One of them was the Dutch Kills tributary of Newtown Creek itself, which flowed across what’s now the Sunnyside Yards and was navigable all the way back to 40th avenue at the corner of Northern Blvd./Jackson Avenue. Just ask the East Side Access guys, they drilled right into it.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Commuters in Queens who transfer at Queens Plaza, and at the 21st street G station, will tell you about seeing green water spilling out from behind the tile walls and gag a bit trying to describe the smell. In the case of 21st, it’s a different tributary of Newtown Creek – contained into a sewer tunnel – called Jack’s Creek. If you see, or smell the phenomena at Queens Plaza – my bet is that it’s Dutch Kills.

Can I prove this? No. Call it a hunch, or an educated guess by a guy who spends his time on the shorelines of Dutch Kills’s extant path who can recognize its particular pungency from a half mile away.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Who can guess, all there is, that might be buried down there?

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

February 1, 2016 at 11:00 am

copper eyed

with 2 comments

The timid banality of it, in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One enjoys the pained expression on the faces of Subway train operators and that uncomfortable look which washes across them when they see some odd character in a filthy black rain coat on the subway platform, in the process of photographing them while in their offices. A rare caprice, for one such as myself, are the moments which occur only when a momentary glimmer of joy breaks through that dire cloud normally occluding my mood. Few of these glimmers are more dearly held than those that are coincidental to some other task, which renders these annoyed expressions intrinsically whimsical.

The task, in these cases, is the continuing usage of NYC’s finest low light photography workshop – by a humble narrator for his endless experimentation with camera exposure triangles. Hey, I’m down there anyway, and headed on my way towards some miserable fate, might as well make some use of otherwise wasted time.

F 3.2, ISO 6400, 1/125th of a second, tungsten color temperature. 

Btw, that’s the R line entering the 46th street station along Broadway in Astoria. The R line came online in this part of Queens back on the 19th of August in 1933.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s the E line entering Queens Plaza on its way towards Manhattan. The IND (underground) station at Queens Plaza also opened on August 19th in 1933, but back then it only ran as deep into Queens as Jackson Heights at Roosevelt Avenue. On the Manhattan Side, it went to what was once called Hudson Terminal, a spot which we refer to as Ground Zero these days. The E’s range was extended several times throughout the 1930’s until it achieved a route which extended deep into Queens. Cutbacks began in the 1940’s, and continue to this day on the E.

F 3.2, ISO 6400, 1/160th of a second, tungsten color temperature. 

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The 23rd street Ely Avenue IND Station, over in Long Island City, opened on August 28 in 1939, about six years after the elevated IRT station “Court Square” was opened for business. That’s the M train coming into the station. The M line is part of the (in LIC and part of Manhattan) IND 53rd street line, which is a section of the IND Queens Boulevard line in terms of the larger system.

There you go. 

F 2.8, ISO 5000, 1/160th of a second, tungsten color temperature. 

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Over in Manhattan, at the deepest kind of a subway platform which one can mentally conjure, and at what has to be only 20-39 feet above hell itself – the 4 train illuminates one of those rotting concrete tunnels it inhabits while entering the scene. Notice how the train jockey is writhing whilst realizing he’s being photographed… hee hee. Why so serious, say I?

This station opened at two in the afternoon on the 17th of July in 1918. I’ve been using this line more and more often these days, as the less time the spent on the Subway the better, and the Lexington Express gets me to the Staten Island Ferry in Lower Manhattan just as quick as you can.

F 3.2, ISO 5000, 1/125th of a second, tungsten color temperature.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Bowling Green in Lower Manhattan, and the 5 train is entering the tableau. This used to be the terminal stop for the Lexington line, when the station opened on the 10th of July in 1905. Service to Brooklyn also started in 1905. It’s an IRT station, just like 59th street. IND and IRT are terms which refer to the old dual contracts era of the Subway construction era, which have created the A and B divisions of the modern day MTA New York City Transit Authority.

F 3.2, ISO 5000, 1/200th of a second, tungsten color temperature. 

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s the G train entering the Greenpoint Avenue stop in the shot above, and also showcasing the decidedly uncomfortable expression characteristic of an MTA subway employee who suddenly realizes he or she is being photographed while at work. Another of the August 19th of 1933 era lines in Brooklyn and Queens, the G is officially called the IND Crosstown Line by MTA insider and rail fan alike.

F 4.0, ISO 5000, 1/160th of a second, tungsten color temperature. 

– photo by Mitch Waxman

An IRT train, the 7 line enjoys its elevated existence under the ever watchful burning thermonuclear eye of God itself, upon having entered Queens. The stop at which this shot was captured is the 40th street Lowery stop, which opened for business in 1917.

One is always amazed at the series of late dates upon which these stations opened, incidentally. Assumptions that the Broadway line through Astoria opened in the 1920’s are acknowledged, given the density of apartment houses along the line which are both admitted to and offered at this – your Newtown Pentacle.

F 7.1, ISO 250, 1/250th of a second, daylight color temperature. 

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

December 10, 2015 at 11:00 am

consistently toward

leave a comment »

It has been one heck of a couple of weeks.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One tends to become a bit overwhelmed at times, and the last couple of weeks are an exemplar of this truism. Accordingly, posts at this – your Newtown Pentacle – have been a bit… light on the hidden facts and occluded history and all the other stuff I’m normally obsessed with bringing you. A particular series of recent imbroglios surrounding my beloved Newtown Creek have occupied a bit of the brain space. Pictured above is the Kosciuszko Bridge spanning the troubled waterway.

Recent meetings and presentations offered by the various powers that be in the Superfund story have been generating a tremendous amount of debate amongst the activist community on the Creek – which is actually a great thing. It is only through hand wringing and intellectual conflict that a community can find the correct path towards the future by finding the “middle way.” There is a corporate side, a governmental side, and a community side to the story of rectifying Newtown Creek’s environmental issues. All have valid interests, and all must be acknowledged as we proceed through the superfund process.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Recent endeavor, the sort of thing one occupies himself with when the burning thermonuclear eye of God itself dips below the horizon offered by the shield wall of Manhattan, is presented in the “table shot” above. The photographic exercise was less about the technical aspects of the shot than it was about color purity and reproduction. The pencils were part of my old kit from back when I was drawing comics, and representative of the sort of palette which was often employed in the manufacture of my four color fantasies. This was a one light source one camera flash shot, for you curious shutterbugs out there.

The big flaw in the image is the color pollution notable in the orange brown shadows falling on the white substrate at the bottom of the shot, something which I’d retouch away if it was a “commerical” image rather than an exercise.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Around two in the morning one recent night, the sound of an angry toddler screaming drifted through my windows from the sidewalk below. Turns out that this kid wanted to go for a midnight walk and his VERY patient Dad was trying to explain to him why that was a bad idea. This fellow deserved the “Dad of the Year” award, imho. The kid kept on trying for the street, and Poppa kept on pulling him back in a kind manner, patiently explaining that playing in the streets was a bad idea.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Lastly, the 5 train entering the bunker found at 59th street in Manhattan. For the last year or so, my normal habit of just getting on some Manhattan bound local train and lazily “sitting out” the trip has been avoided. I’ve been trying to use the system in a somewhat more intelligent way, which involves a lot of transfers. Don’t want you to think I’ve become a transit nerd… but I’m becoming a transit nerd.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Tours –

October 3rd, 2015
Calvary Cemetery Walking Tour
with Atlas Obscura, click here for details and tickets

Written by Mitch Waxman

September 25, 2015 at 1:05 pm

noisome herd

with one comment

There really is no hope for the future, is there?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Recent endeavor saw a humble narrator headed eastwards towards the ancient hillocks of Maspeth from Astoria, and since time was short, a bit of the old mass transit was called for. My plan involved getting to Elmhurst by train and grabbing a Q53 bus at Queens Blvd. which would carry me up the surprisingly steep slope that 69th street is set into to my eventual destination nearby Borden Avenue and the LIE. Accordingly, one found himself at the estimable Steinway Street stop of the R and M lines.

This particular subway station is one of two I frequent, the other being 46th street. Both are in somewhat deleterious condition, as least as far as the passenger visible areas are concerned, but are fairly serviceable. A bit of steam, bleach, and elbow grease could work wonders for these facilities but… well… the borough motto is… after all… Welcome to Queens, now go fuck yourself.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There’s a lot of fingers you can accusingly point at our commonly held municipal employees, particularly the ones who work for the NYCTA division of the MTA. The transit system is the last true home of trade unionist sentiment, and often it seems that if a fire was to break out down in the sweating concrete bunkers that the trains move through, it would be allowed to spread if no representative of “Fire Alarm Pullers Local 103” were present.

Fair enough, I guess, as the Union guys and gals who work down here are battling against the Doctor Doom of faceless bureaucracy on a daily basis. Nobody beats the MTA for what the military would call “fold up fucktard” policies, or at least that’s what I’ve been told by people who work for them.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The situation, however, pictured above isn’t the fault of either Union Labor nor Albany Wonk. This one is on us. There’s observably been a growing issue with litter citywide, wherein entire generations of New Yorkers seem to have been able to get all the way from Kindergarden to College without once being exposed to the concept that you shouldn’t just abandon your trash wherever you feel like it. The concept of finding a proper receptacle for trash is alien to most, it would seem.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Never mind the eclectic collection of beverage containers and bits of paper, who tosses a soccer ball into a Subway pit? If a train’s leading edge caught this ball in Astoria…

Seriously, what is wrong with you people, would you do this at home?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Not to be a scold, but here’s the way it’s supposed to work:

If you have generated trash during your daily rounds – say, a water bottle or crumpled up piece of foil from a sandwich or something – you are meant to hold on to it until you spot a proper receptacle. Said receptacle is called a “garbage can.” A group of Municpal employees will ostensibly come by at somewhat regular intervals to empty these cans. What you don’t do is a) just drop it, b) throw it onto the Subway tracks.

I swear, what this City needs is a good plague.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Tours –

October 3rd, 2015
Calvary Cemetery Walking Tour
with Atlas Obscura, click here for details and tickets

Written by Mitch Waxman

September 22, 2015 at 11:17 am

perhaps retreat

leave a comment »

In LIC, the night time is the right time.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The reason that I found myself on Hunters Point Avenue in LIC at around 11 p.m. with both Our Lady of the Pentacle and our little dog Zuzu is immaterial. Suffice to say that the whole family was present in the concrete devastations last weekend, and that as we were making our way back to a world less inchoate, called Astoria, Queens was putting on a bit of a show for us down in LIC. The 7 train was rising from the rotting concrete of its subterranean corridors, and riding noisily on the elevated tracks which overfly the Sunnyside Yards.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As longtime readers will attest, one of my projects for the last couple of years has been to master the art of low light photography sans the use of a camera support like a tripod or portable illumination like flash or battery lights. Tripod shots are awful at capturing a fast moving shot anyway, as the long exposure technique employed with that methodology produces motion blur. There’s something to be said for that, of course, but preparation and set up of the equipment removes all spontaneity from the shot and Queens comes at you “a mile a minute.” In pursuit of this technical goal, I’ve been shooting down in the Subway’s underground system and have developed certain “go to” ratios of exposure and ISO which have proven somewhat reliable in capturing fast moving shiny things as they pass through dark environments.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Employment of these techniques in the night time streets of NYC are now underway, and all of the shots in today’s post were captured while Our Lady of the Pentacle and Zuzu patiently waited for me to conclude my incessant recording of the extant world surrounding us.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

August 11, 2015 at 11:00 am

incomprehensible if

leave a comment »

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.

Donate Button with Credit Cards

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Citizen Narrator found himself walking through the pedestrian paradise called Queens Plaza recently. The commissars who guide the workers paradise of Queens – from the offices of central planning in the Shining City – would encourage every common worker to do so, in order to experience the glorious cultural vibrancy and ethnic diversity of this testiment to collectivism and proletarian rule. Under our glorious new system, all citizens will be afforded the opportunity to visit secular cathedrals like Queens Plaza. Just a short time ago, when the financial industry vampires occupied City Hall, such things were one hundred percent denied to any common worker and reserved for the aristocracy.

Imagine what it was like in those bad old days, when public defecation was still considered a crime, under the despotic rule of these capitalist strigoi and fascists who so recently monopolized our municipal life.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Under the guidance of First Citizen De Blasio, all injustice shall soon be struck down. Crime is only criminal if it is so defined to be. The First Citizen learned his trade in the 1980’s in Nicuaragua, while defying the official edicts of the Capitalists in Washington, who denied aid and comfort to the enemy. So great was the First Citizen’s compassion, and true his convictions, that he continued to rally aide for the Ortega regime after returning to his native New York.

The First Citizen has many loyal supporters, of course, for no great champion of the Proletariot can work alone. Accusations by recidivist elements of the old regime notwithstanding, it is ridiculous to suggest that the First Citizen’s agenda is bought and paid for by this cabal of concerned comrades.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The vampiric elements of the old regime, who inflicted a million trees upon the people and imprisoned them for minor offenses like public drunkeness or urination, writhe and twist under the reforms offered by the First Citizen. Luckily enough for the proletarian masses, our leader has cut funding for maintenance of these examples of “green infrastructure” shortly after rising from within the Party to his well deserved position as our leader. The First Citizen demands that all new infrastructure be red.

Soon, the only crime prosecutable by the Police will be the harboring of counter revolutionary ideologies.

“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 17, 2015 at 12:29 pm

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

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,165 other followers

%d bloggers like this: