The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

slackened speed

with 2 comments


– photo by Mitch Waxman

There will be a post later on in this series that focuses in solely on Washington D.C.’s Union Station, pictured above, but for today’s post – that’s what it looks like at about 7 in the morning. I was told by a friend who lives in the area, later on in the day, that the City of Washington distributes camping tents to homeless folks – which is why you see those tents in front of the station. That’s some basic humanity at work, I would offer.

Most of the street people I’ve known over the years, which is a considerable number – incidentally – worked assiduously towards ensuring their unfortunate circumstance. Addicts or Alcoholics, plain crazy or “bad crazy,” unlucky or unskilled. There isn’t a single “homeless problem,” rather there’s thousands of individual problems with the single commonality of living rough. No answer fits all of their questions.

Saying all that – empathy and kindness, and don’t judge them. Thank your lucky stars that your life has worked out differently and remember that “but for the grace of god, there go I.” Imagine walking around having to take a dump and not being allowed near a public bathroom, as a member of this proscribed class. Imagine being thirsty, or just wanting to wash your face, and seeing municipalities getting rid of public drinking fountains. Imagine living in a world where all that matters is money, and you have none. That’s what it’s like, with the extra layer of not being able to bathe and being surrounded by other people in the same circumstance who are equally desperate and hungry. So… we’re supposed to be a Christian morality influenced nation, right? Empathy. Kindness.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My goal for the morning – I had about five hours of photography time planned in before meeting up with my old friend for lunch at 12:30 – was to walk the National Mall in the direction of the Potomac River. Unfortunately for a sleep deprived but quite humble narrator, I was shlepping a week’s worth of clothing and a full camera bag. Having learned my lesson on the Burlington leg of my travels, a laptop computer had been added into the mix, which unfortunately also added about ten pounds of weight to my pack.

It was characteristically hot and humid in Washington, and the burning thermonuclear eye of God itself was staring directly at my back.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My plan for the excursion didn’t involve trying to find some unique view or anything. This is probably one of the most photographed places in human history, after all. Back in NYC, I generally don’t take the lens cap off when I’m anywhere near my alma mater, the School of Visual Arts on 23rd and 3rd. SVA has a world class photography program, and a saturation of street and architectural photos radiate out from their buildings.

Mainly what I was going for were the “stock” shots.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I made it a point of getting fancy pants with the tripod and filters at the reflecting pool leading towards the major Presidential monuments, but right about the moment I was taking this photo is when I started to physically crash. Having left Astoria at 2:30 in the morning, and boarded an Amtrak at 3:30 which I managed to nap for about 90 minutes on, then walked out into the bright and hot environs of Washington with all of the gear I was carrying… that’s where Covid ended up biting me in the butt.

Nothing was open. There were no food trucks or hot dog guys to buy a bottle of water or Gatorade from, no coffee to bolster my fading energy, nada. Nowhere to take a piss, either. Bleh. Regardless, I soldiered on, and thought about the people living in the tents back at Union Station.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian opened in 2004, and the fountain at its entrance is pictured above. The shot above ended being my “shot of the day” in Washington. For some reason, I was really into shooting fountains on this particular morning. I happened across it by accident, as I was mainly looking for a planted area with shady trees where I could divest myself of “my carry” for a few minutes and sit down. “Hot” in D.C. ain’t no joke, yo.

When I do my next bit of traveling, I’m going to be trying to find access to waterfalls in a natural setting. Something is calling me towards photographing flowing water these days.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One of the weird things about the National Mall on this particular morning was a nearly complete lack of people there. No doubt due to Covid, but this is normally a very crowded area, even at 7-8 in the morning, with tour buses disgorging thousands of eighth graders from all around the country onto the Mall. There’s also usually a great tumult of other tourists and lookie loos. There were people there, yes, but you could describe them as being in the “dozens,” rather than “hundreds” or “thousands.” That’s why, ultimately, I was “plotzing” for a bottle of water. Why show up to vend, when there’s no one to vend to?

More tomorrow – at this – your traveling Pentacle.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

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 for $30.

Written by Mitch Waxman

October 14, 2021 at 11:00 am

Posted in Photowalks

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2 Responses

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  1. You want waterfalls? Ricketts Glen State Park near Scranton, PA.

    georgetheatheist . . . trust me

    October 14, 2021 at 11:53 am

  2. […] heading to the Capitol in swelled alarmingly, arrived at the National Mall and explored a bit in slackened speed, hovered about, whereupon a look at Union Station was offered in rolling […]

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