The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

tripping on

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Glamour, intrigue, concerns about Popeye’s health – that’s what I’m about.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Raconteur is not how you’d describe a humble narrator, but I am a man about town. So much so that I find myself positively dizzied from exposure to those malfeasant atmospherics typically found within that nightmare of the claustrophobe which is particularly known as the NYC Subway system. Often, it feels as if one has become detached from reality when below, and has been reduced down to a statistical average. Limbo, indeed.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Perhaps it is the unwillingness of Station Managers to activate the exhaust fans at certain stops along the line? The unwelcome dustings of rodent feces and other foul exhalations which signal the arrival of a train? Mayhaps, it is the dripping concrete and smell of rotting masonry? On long trips which require many connections, one such as myself experiences a disordering of thought. If there is a hell, my specific punishment will be an infinite commute.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Often, one experiences his most intriguing thoughts while attempting to ignore the quite possibly dangerous humans who infest the system. All social interaction is fraught with risk, so the humans are best avoided. Instead, one ponders deep thoughts while lost in the labyrinth.

Recently, while considering the appearance of the cartoon sailor Popeye, it occurred to me that the characters peculiar physiognomy might indicate that he is a stroke victim. Frozen expression, swollen extremities, speech impairment – think about it, he’s also a smoker. The spinach might be on advice of medical professionals. Also, Poop Deck Pappy presents the same disabilities, so it might be some form of hereditary arteriosclerosis which affects the mariners.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Time lost, time gained. Down here, where I am useless and bored, is the platform for deciding the right course of action on a series of meaningless points. Often, I find myself just clicking the camera off randomly, turning it at funny angles to the scene. That’s kind of how the shots in today’s post came together. While developing them, I realized that my brain was working really hard working out the angles and perspectives.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Unconsiously, my head kept on turning, craning over to one side, as the visual information processing section of my head took over. When I caught myself doing this over and over, autonomiclly, a point was made to pass some of my time in subterranea waving the camera around randomly.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There’s something so odd about this image, and it’s just that it was shot upside down. It’s interesting, neurologically speaking, this “perception thing,” isn’t it? Ever notice that when you see a photo or video of yourself, it doesn’t seem to look right? That’s not the face you see in the mirror every day, is it? Thing is, what we think of as “our face” is actually a flopped mirror image, which indicates… what do I know, I’m on the friggin subway all the time.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle


Written by Mitch Waxman

October 2, 2014 at 12:23 pm

One Response

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  1. Oh, how spoiled is Modern Man…
    There is nothing to compare the subway of today with the bygone days of the past. Consider the 3rd Avenue Elevated when it was steam powered. Even out in the open, the smoke and soot could be overpowering. The early 20th century with its crushing crowds worse that our rush hours. Then what of the subways during the 1970’s? The less said, the better.

    Really, it’s quite nice compared to the past. The subways in any case should send an infrastructure geek into a state of exaltant epiphany with all the attendant flowery prose.

    But there is always an exception to the rule. He who wallows in negativity does sometimes have a valid point.

    Have you ever been in the Grant Ave station of the A line at 2 am? A station that should really be named Leng Road?

    A truly dismal, forgotten place. Plain and utilitarian, and with its sickly, pale green tile covered with a thin film of a nameless, unguessable patina. At such dead times, the lone passenger on the platform, with a long, seemingly endless, wait between trains fights against falling into a profound fugue.

    One could almost imagine it as purgatory itself while waiting for Godot in the guise of an old, weather beaten, R-46 subway train. Then when the aged train finally arrives, the door opens revealing a dim, flickering fluorescent light barely illuminating the few dark misshapen huddled figures within. The traveler steps in wondering if his fellow passengers are indeed living humans and that the next stop is really going to be 80th St. or some nameless, blasphemous place.
    A station that would certainly have inspired the Master himself to his most darkest musings.
    You really need to see it! You’ll love it as much as I do!


    October 2, 2014 at 3:36 pm

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