The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

simpering inanities

with 3 comments


– photo by Mitch Waxman

A brief stop over in Pennsylvania’s Harrisburg saw Amtrak change out the crew on my Pittsburgh to NYC journey. Pennsylvania’s Capitol, Harrisburg, offered a 15 minute or so “leg stretch” and “smoke ‘em if you’ve got ‘em” interval, and half the train staggered out into the daylight to do one thing or the other and sometimes both. We had collectively boarded the train at 7:15 in the morning, after all.

After the bells rang and we all filed back onboard, an announcement that the cafe car was reopened occurred, and a humble narrator purchased a range of comestibles for luncheon and settled back into the seat I had been assigned. After quaffing some coffee and eating an Amtrak Hot Dog, I got back to pondering my fate and staring out the window while watching America roll past. The camera was gathered out of its sack, and I got back to looking for interesting sights.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The landscape in Pennsylvania fascinates me. The Appalachian Mountain range and plateau is incredibly ancient, is a geologic feature which Pennsylvania is situated on the northern reaches of, and it dates back some 480 million years to the Ordovician Period – which is when ocean critters first started exploring dry land. Formed by the action of tectonic plate compression when the super continent Pangaea begin to split up, the Appalachia once rose as high as the Alps or Rockies do today. They’re referred to as “folded mountains” and the reason that all that coal is buried in them is due to their presence during the highly forested Carboniferous era (that’s when the giant dragonflies were around, and you had centipedes the size of school buses sliding around in the swamps). An absolutely staggering amount of effort and expenditure in the 19th and 20th century saw Americans burrowing and mining into, blasting rights of way through, and building upon and around the Appalachia Range.

Fascinating. Really. Mountains older than the dinosaurs.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

At 30th street Station in Philadelphia the now familiar dance of changing out the locomotive engine from the diesel powered model to the electrified “coGen” unit used for the Northeast Corridor was enacted by the Amtrak people. They did their thing, and waved lanterns at each other, and then it was time to get back onboard again and head back to “home sweet hell.” This was another “stretch your legs” break and a good number of people onboard took advantage of it.

A humble narrator settled back into the assigned seat, and picked up the camera. I affixed the foam collar to my lens and began passing the time by shooting through the windows again.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s Philadelphia, America’s consolation prize, pictured above.

After spending an entire day on the train, and eating two Amtrak meals along the way, I was quite ready to return to the grinding existential nightmare of a dystopian shithole which I call “home.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Upon my return to Penn Station, I ducked outside onto 8th avenue to breathe a bit of what passes for fresh air in Midtown before heading back to Astoria on the subway. It was rush hour, and despite Covid, the subways were quite busy. Unlike the last time I exited from that door pictured above, this time I didn’t see anyone masturbating into a street grate. There was a guy who offered to sell me something, but I’m not sure what he was offering. Could have been a gold chain, or crack, or sex. Wasn’t interested, me.

A quick ride on the E line got me out of Dodge, and soon I was at Queens Plaza. As is usually the case with me, as soon as the train entered Queens, I felt a rush of energy.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The final leg of my long journey arrived at Queens Plaza just as I did, a local R line which would carry me to Astoria.

Our Lady of the Pentacle had arrived home the night before, and had graciously obtained food stuffs which were waiting for me back at HQ. I tore into a bagel like it had done something to my mom, and began downloading all of the photos you’ve been looking at for the last two weeks onto the computer for processing.

I felt a need, and a desire, to listen to this song while setting myself up for the labor of developing them.

“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

February 1, 2022 at 11:00 am

3 Responses

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  1. You’re quite right to point out the importance of the Appalachians. Even today much of the settlement patterns in this country are a function of geology not geography: the East Coast’s fall line is quite striking once it’s seen.


    February 1, 2022 at 11:18 am

  2. Train songs. My favorite version of “The City of New Orleans” . . .

    georgetheatheist . . . polka beat

    February 1, 2022 at 12:56 pm

  3. Jello Biafra – love it.


    May 11, 2023 at 9:28 pm

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