The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

fantastic figment

with 2 comments


– photo by Mitch Waxman

Back in NYC, just as the Omicron variant Covid surge began, one put all thoughts about holiday merrymaking and socializing out of his head. You can’t argue with a logarithmic curve, so the logic of the entire Covid period – at this particular moment, it’s been 1,057 days, if my math is correct – was followed. Go out at night, by myself, and wander around the industrial zones where I’m going to encounter few if any other people. As the old Christmas cartoon would offer: put one foot in front of the other, and soon you’ll be walking out the door.

Good golly, Miss Molly, are we ever going to escape from this looping form of existence? Everyday is like the last day, same old, same old. When this is all over, I’m going to start wearing different colored clothes or something.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This particular evening in early December was quite a cold one. My simple desire was to get some exercise, but I was engaging in a “short walk.” For me, that meant heading out from Astoria, crossing the Sunnyside Yards to Skillman Avenue and following that to Queens Plaza and then back down Northern Blvd. towards HQ. Just under three miles, round trip, I guess?

Was wondering, while shooting these, if I had recently been riding on any of those trains down there. Sigh.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Sunnyside Yards is a railroad coach yard. What that means is that you can’t catch a train here, despite it being an 180 and change square acres Federal and State railroad facility. The purpose of the Sunnyside Yards is to provide holding areas and turn around trackage for commuter rail that’ve already been to Manhattan. You see New Jersey Transit, Long Island Railroad, and Amtrak units down there regularly. Every now and then you’ll see some train set branded with Pennsylvania colors. I always figure they must’ve gotten lost when I see them. “Queens, what do you mean Queens? We must’ve taken a wrong turn at Lancaster… Crap.”

The yards are divvied up between the various entities housed here. The official owner is Amtrak, but MTA has sway over significant acreages of the place. They’ve recently finished building out an enormous new holding yard on the north side of the facility, which is a part of the East Side Access project.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A humble narrator famously maintains a catalog of the holes in Amtrak’s fences which are large enough to fit a camera lens into. The best of the Federal holes were cut for surveyor usage. They’re generally the size of a deck of cards, these holes, but are far and few between. There’s also tears in the chain link fencing, which is also fairly easy to work with. Then, there’s the set of holes formed by weathering and material failure. Those are irregular and difficult to use, but I manage.

The shot above comes from one of the latter kind, where – I think – what must have been a vehicle accident caused a steel plate to bend away from the rest of the fence structure. Holes.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Back onto Skillman Avenue nearby Queens Plaza, where I spent a few minutes pondering whether or not I wanted to head down to Dutch Kills for a lookie loo. One decided not to. It was, after all, freezing out.

One pointed his toes north and east, and started shlepping back to the rolling hillocks of almond eyed Astoria.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Along the way, a discarded Book of Psalms and pile of Cheerios caught my attention. Fascinating, the way that these manufactured items end up where they do once somebody is done with them.

One thing you notice, upon returning to NYC from nearly anywhere else, is how dirty it is. Piles of crap are everywhere.

“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 2, 2022 at 11:00 am

2 Responses

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  1. you take excellent photos. often i’m not particularly interested in the content. This blog entry has a string of phenominal and interesting photo. almost llike you’ve changed technique or equipment.

    The first 4 are just extraordinary. As a photographer you know how rare it is to have 4 great shots in a row.

    Dan Scolnick

    February 2, 2022 at 3:48 pm

  2. […] February, I was scuttling around Queens and Long Island City at night again. “fantastic figment” visited Sunnyside Yards, which like the Dutch Kills tributary of Newtown Creek, was always on my […]

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