The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

grotesque night

with one comment

Vampires be damned, I’m going out!

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As you might recall, last Thursday saw the Newtown Pentacle experiencing a temperature inversion whose unseasonable warmth generated a not insignificant amount of mist and fog. Atmospheric humidity was measured in the high end of the ninetieth percentiles, and the air temperature – even at night – never dipped below seventy degrees on that scale which was offered by and named for German physicist Daniel Gabriel Fahrenheit in 1724. Accordingly, one decided to stay up and go out into the fuligin.

After preparing and quaffing several decanters of caffeinated beverages, and having slavishly outfitted the camera bag for “night shooting,” I left Astoria at four in the morning, with a certain destination in mind, and my full kit on my back (including tripod). The tripod wasn’t deployed for a while, however, and all of the shots you’ll see over the next couple of days are handheld.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One decided on 48th street as offering my best southern path from “a” to “b,” with “b” in mind as being the lugubrious Newtown Creek. This is essentially one long incline, passing from the former marshlands of Northern Blvd., over the ridge into which Sunnyside Gardens was embedded, and continuing up the crest of Laurel Hill whereupon a gradual descent to the elluvial flood plains of the Newtown Creek and its tributaries once suffused a vast and mosquito breeding wetland environment.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The thickening of the atmosphere – due to the high humidity – and combined with ascending the gradual slope, caused a heavy wave of perspiration to start which was soon oozing out of my skinvelope. This occult liquid, thick with secretions, began to soak into my clothing and cause no small amount of discomfort. Of more concern was the effect which the atmospherics might be having on my camera, which – unlike the meaty carriage utilized to carry my brain around – was functionally the same temperature as the surrounding mass of air so accretions of airborne moisture sought to coat it. I had long ago stored away my eye glasses, as their continual fogging made them more trouble than they were worth.

High humidity plus air temperatures in the chillier range, to the glassy parts of a lens, are a terrible combination. Condensation is ruinous. The prophylactic measure is to hold the camera close to my body, which warms it up a bit.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Passing over Queens Blvd., and under the elevated concrete viaduct of the high flying IRT subway tracks, one began to feel a bit creeped out. It is an odd sensation moving through a City in the dark, knowing full well that any of the humans encountered will likely be inebriated or possessed of malign intent – or possibly some combination. Sex criminals and burglars are out at 4:30 in the morning – as well as photographers, it would seem.

As always, my headphones were in place, and the playlist of audio books employed for my night time jaunt were exclusively the writings of H.P. Lovecraft – as read in unabridged form by Wayne June.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Maybe it was the Lovecraft, or June’s basso performance of the material, but one found himself looking over his shoulder a lot. In the shadows and mist, unccommented upon men – if men they were – moved about in a manner which suggested that some series of neighborhood bacchanals had been well attended. All around me were cemeteries, ancient burying grounds locked away behind high iron gates. The desire to trespass was cut down by the sure knowledge that there are some things one does not wish to know.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

At the height of Laurel Hill, the darkened streets began to brighten as the phosphorescence and sodium lighting of industrial West Maspeth began to illuminate the fog and mist. A quickness of step began to sharply increase my pace, which unfortunately began to increase the levels of perspiration one was experiencing.

Realization that my hair and clothing were saturated, and that although I was perspiring heavily, there was no way that this amount of liquid could have emerged out of me caused me to wonder – and more than wonder – why I was so moist.

The fact that I was walking through a gaseous vapor, a grounded cloud as it were, occurred when a casual touch revealed that my camera bag had become somewhat moistened as well. The closer I got to Newtown Creek, the more that an obsequious combination of automotive exhaust combining with the fog began to roil the olfactory senses, and my eyes began to sting. Regardless of discomfort, one had come this far, and the creeklands awaited.

Tomorrow – more.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

November 9, 2015 at 1:00 pm

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  1. […]  and a series of posts about a pre dawn walk from Astoria to industrial Maspeth – “grotesque night,” “betraying myself,” “duplicate and exceed,” and “ultimate […]

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