The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Archive for November 2019

labyrinths impelled

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Heading home.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I won’t lie, my broken toe was really starting to smart when walking down the marble staircases at Grand Central Terminal. I’d been on my feet shooting for around 4 hours at this point, and whereas flat ground and standing still has become normal again, stairs and in particular walking down stairs seems to aggravate the still inflamed nest of rubber bands (tendons and ligaments) and the busted piece of chalk (the broken bone) in my left foot and big toe.

Interestingly, when I had it x-rayed, the medical folks referred to it as “the great toe” but there really isn’t anything that great about it. It’s funny, we have special names for all the fingers, but toes are just toes in the common tongue.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I made a special effort to find and use escalators on my journey into the deep. It seems that most people don’t understand the purpose of these devices and insist on running or walking down the moving steps. Seriously, I’m never in that much of a hurry given my nearly pathological need to show up early or on time with 15 minutes to spare for an appointment or obligation. Said pathology tends to negate and defeat the vagaries of mass transit.

In this case, however, I really couldn’t care less how long it would take to get back to Queens, as I was one stop away and would need to transfer anyway on the better side of the river anyway.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A quick transfer to the N at Queensboro Plaza and soon I was back in Astoria.

A ten minute walk from 31st street, with a stop at the Pizza guy, and a humble narrator was limping in the front door with a full camera card worth of new images to noodle around with. Dare I say it, Lords and Ladies?

Back in session.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle


Come on a tour!

With Atlas ObscuraInfrastructure Creek! My favorite walking tour to conduct, and in a group limited to just twelve people! December 14th, 1:30-3:30 p.m.

Click here for more information and tickets!

Buy a book!

In the Shadows at Newtown Creek,” an 88 page softcover 8.5×11 magazine format photo book by Mitch Waxman, is now on sale at blurb.com for $30.

Written by Mitch Waxman

November 29, 2019 at 11:00 am

diminished perceptibly

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Happy Thanksgiving.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

After a couple of hours spent along the urban corridors surrounding Grand Central Terminal, one acceded to the ideation of “not overdoing it” regarding my broken toe, and began making my way towards the entrances at the western side of Grand Central Terminal in pursuance of boarding a subway which would carry me back to the rolling hills of raven tressed Astoria back in Queens. Along the way, I couldn’t resist cracking out a few more shots.

The one above involved a bit of cheating. It’s actually two exposures blended together, with one set for the Chrysler building and surrounding background and the other for the brightly lit entrance to Grand Central Terminal.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There’s a fancy pants skyscraper going up on the corner of Vanderbilt Place and 42nd street, the same one which I’ve been complaining about as ruining the fine silhouette of the Chrysler Building on the Manhattan skyline. As is the case with any construction job, even at night there’s a ton of activity going on.

Since I was about to enter the MTA properties again, and they have fairly iron clad rules about cameras, tripods, and so on… I broke down the kit I’d been using out on the streets and stored it away in my camera bag. The camera was then adorned with the sort of gear which isn’t forbidden by the MTA rules and I headed inside Grand Central Terminal.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Couldn’t resist capturing the cliche phot above, a time exposure which renders anybody not standing perfectly still as a shadowy phantom moving through the frame.

Often will I ponder about this sort of thing. Yes, it’s been done before, and thousands of times at that. Thing is, I haven’t done it before, so should I not do it? Is there nothing to be learned by capturing a familiar and quite “tourist” shot?


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle


Come on a tour!

With Atlas ObscuraInfrastructure Creek! My favorite walking tour to conduct, and in a group limited to just twelve people! December 14th, 1:30-3:30 p.m.

Click here for more information and tickets!

Buy a book!

In the Shadows at Newtown Creek,” an 88 page softcover 8.5×11 magazine format photo book by Mitch Waxman, is now on sale at blurb.com for $30.

Written by Mitch Waxman

November 28, 2019 at 11:00 am

relief party

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Grand Central Terminal at night.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As detailed in prior posts, a fairly serious crush injury and subsequent broken bone within the big toe of my left foot has been getting in the way of my normal activities, and a humble narrator has had to think strategically about how to continue working behind the camera while conserving my steps. Given that I normally ignore anything “The City” except the shorelines of Manhattan, and that the entire transit system is “Manhattancentric,” it seems that I’m going to be visiting the Shining City a bit more than normal in the coming weeks. Hell.

The particular outing detailed in this week’s Newtown Pentacle involves a ride on the 7 train through LIC and into Manhattan while recording some of those landmark structures overlooked in favor of the outlier areas that are normally inhabited by one such as myself. That’s Grand Central Terminal, quite obviously, in the shot above.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Now – during my art school days in Manhattan, at the School of Visual Arts, my focus wasn’t on photography. I was an illustration and cartooning major, and if you saw a young but already humble narrator in these parts pursuing his craft it would have involved a sketchbook. I’d always have one with me, and would often find a place to sit down and start drawing. I had friends who were majors in the photo and fine arts programs, and would sometimes run into them wandering around with film camera setups or behind an easel with a canvas on it “working from life.” In the 1980’s, it was a fairly common sight to see artists at work all over NYC.

Based on the looks and stares I was receiving from the modern populace, it is apparent that seeing artsy fartsy folk doing their thing is no longer a common sight in the Shining City. Seemingly, the only people who live in Manhattan these days are either millionaires or homeless. As a note, the crazy pants and or clown shoes crowd seem to like hanging about the Grand Central area as well. Guess they’ve been booted out of their traditional hunting grounds in the Union Square and Penn Station zones.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Speaking of art school, one drawing class which I remember fondly was one where we’d disperse into Grand Central and do quick three minute drawings of people. Now, 1980’s Grand Central wasn’t what it is today. Back then, it was hive of scum and villainy, and was colloquially known as the world’s largest homeless shelter. If you liked the crack, or the needle, it was likely that you were sleeping in, on, or around Grand Central Terminal. The structure itself was in a horrible state of repair. Squalid, dirty, nasty. Back then, you could still smoke inside of public buildings in NYC, and a pall of tobacco smoke hung about. The lower levels were the worst, and quite dangerous to hang around.

A buddy of mine claims to have visited the so called “condos” which the MTA swears up and down as having never existed. These were makeshift residences in side tunnels and accessways created by “morlocks” or “mole people” who never saw the burning thermonuclear eye of god itself wheeling about in the sky.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle


Come on a tour!

With Atlas ObscuraInfrastructure Creek! My favorite walking tour to conduct, and in a group limited to just twelve people! December 14th, 1:30-3:30 p.m.

Click here for more information and tickets!

Buy a book!

In the Shadows at Newtown Creek,” an 88 page softcover 8.5×11 magazine format photo book by Mitch Waxman, is now on sale at blurb.com for $30.

Written by Mitch Waxman

November 27, 2019 at 11:00 am

lamenting bitterly

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More 7 train shenanigans.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

For the shot above, it took three attempts to get what I was looking for. I had to time the exposure so that I clicked the shutter roughly ten seconds before the 7 left the station, which gave me the open doors and some detail on the exterior of the train set. The twenty seconds that followed saw the doors close and the 7 leaving the station, hence the streaks of light from its running lights.

This shot was of the sort I had in mind when I set out from HQ in Astoria, on my “not too much walking” photo walk. That busted toe is still a factor.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I rode the 7 into the City, and debarked at the Grand Central stop. This platform can be referred to as “Grand Central Station” as it’s not the final stop for the subways rolling through it. The grand old building it sits under is Grand Central Terminal, indicating it as the destination for the rolling stock used by Metro North. The 7 has two terminal stops, one in Flushing out in Queens, and the other at Hudson Yards on Manhattan’s west side. I’m not nerdy about trains, but specificity is important when discussing any subject in an intelligent manner.

“Revenue service,” as in carrying paying customers, began in this station on the 22nd of June in 1915. Back then, the 7 was a short run, transiting between LIC’s Vernon Jackson and Grand Central. It wasn’t until November of 1916 that the trains began going to Queensboro Plaza, and the Flushing Line extension (to Alburtis Avenue) didn’t open until April of 1917. Times Square was reached in 1927, and 1928 is when the 7 reached Flushing. 2015 is when the Hudson Yards stop opened.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Upon arriving on the streets of Manhattan, a humble narrator hit the streets and changed the camera’s setup over to a proper tripod and a better lens configuration. My plan for the night was to try and keep both the Chrysler Building and Grand Central Terminal in frame and never stray too far from “Da Deuce,” or 42nd street for those of you not from “here.”

The broken toe thing, and I’ve got at least another month of healing ahead of me, means that one has to keep the scuttling to a minimum and really work the hell out of a spot when I’ve arrived at it. I can hear industrial Maspeth calling, but I dare not answer for a few weeks. In the meantime, the Shining City is sitting there like some kind of cheap whore, just waiting to be exploited.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle


Come on a tour!

With Atlas ObscuraInfrastructure Creek! My favorite walking tour to conduct, and in a group limited to just twelve people! December 14th, 1:30-3:30 p.m.

Click here for more information and tickets!

Buy a book!

In the Shadows at Newtown Creek,” an 88 page softcover 8.5×11 magazine format photo book by Mitch Waxman, is now on sale at blurb.com for $30.

Written by Mitch Waxman

November 26, 2019 at 11:00 am

wholly allied

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A Jedi craves not these things…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My hermitage and recovery period for the broken toe has been, frankly, driving me nuts with boredom. Given the diminished capacity one is experiencing on the walking around front, a humble narrator evolved a plan which would involve a fairly minor amount of scuttling about while also putting the camera in front of picturesque locales. A quick limp over to my local subway stop ensued, whereupon a transfer to the IRT Flushing or 7 Line subway line was accomplished in Jackson Heights – pictured above.

A long standing assertion of mine is that the 7, of all NYC’s subway lines, offers the most interesting and picturesque set of views to be found in the entire system (Ok, I’ll admit that Broadway Junction over in Brooklyn is pretty amazing as well).

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Given that I have been a caged animal and literal cripple of late, I haven’t been able to shoot anything intentional in awhile. What I’ve been offering for the last few weeks here at Newtown Pentacle has either been shots from the archives or “catch as catch can” snapshots gathered when I absolutely positively had no choice about being “out there” despite the broken toe and badly swollen left foot. Last week, I finally got to think out a route – and plan in advance – a few shots I was desirous of capturing.

The one above represents around a thirty second exposure from the 40th/Lowery stop, looking down on the northern side of Queens Blvd. from the elevated station. I was using that ultrapod gizmo I’ve been rattling on about, which is small enough to allow me to skate around MTA’s rules about using a tripod on their properties without a permit. Saying that, I did have the photo bag kit and kaboodle with me, gear which was used at other locations with less restrictive rules.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The shot directly above is from the 33rd/Rawson stop on the 7, looking again towards the northern side of Queens Blvd., and that factory building with the inflatable tennis dome on it is the former Swingline Staplers factory. One of the things I find interesting about the long exposure stuff is the way that traffic patterns get visualized by the long streaks of brake light as automobiles shoot through the frame. When you talk to transportation advocates or the city planner types, they always spout about “should be’s” and “design intents.” I usually offer them unwanted feedback about “desire paths” and “the best laid plans of mice and men.”

Whatever these characters want people to do on these roads, pictured above is a graphic representation of what actually happens.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle


Come on a tour!

With Atlas ObscuraInfrastructure Creek! My favorite walking tour to conduct, and in a group limited to just twelve people! December 14th, 1:30-3:30 p.m.

Click here for more information and tickets!

Buy a book!

In the Shadows at Newtown Creek,” an 88 page softcover 8.5×11 magazine format photo book by Mitch Waxman, is now on sale at blurb.com for $30.

Written by Mitch Waxman

November 25, 2019 at 11:00 am

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