The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Archive for July 6th, 2022

unfrequented moor

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

My plan for avoiding a series of thunderstorms on June 1st involved placing myself in areas which host some sort of structure above. The Pulaski Bridge just happens to be one of those structures. While waiting for a Long Island Railroad train to pass by, some bloke struck up a conversation with me. Turns out he was a homeless veteran who is residing at the Borden Avenue Men’s Shelter a few blocks away, and he described conditions there as being fairly grim. He was the kind of Vet who still dresses in his army uniform – khaki BDU’s and a boonie hat, long hair and a beard. Nice enough guy.

We seriously have to do better by our veterans.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Vet guy offered aid to a different homeless fellow that suddenly appeared, and agreed to walk him to another homeless shelter which is found in Greenpoint at Clay Street on the other side of the bridge, and they set off for Brooklyn together. I bid them good luck, and continued to use the Pulaski Bridge as a grandiose umbrella while photographing LIRR trains transiting to and from along the siding found under the bridge.

This is an “at street grade crossing,” which is fairly rare in NYC. Robert Moses spent a lot of time and treasure reducing the number of these during his decades in power.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The rain began to intensify, and a humble narrator deployed his actual umbrella while beginning to head back towards “civilization.” Once again, I took up station on a foot bridge over the tracks, and this time around it was the Long Island Expressway which offered me a “rain shadow” to shoot from. Rain shadows are caused by structures. If you know your zone well enough, you know exactly where to walk to stay mostly dry. There’s also wind shadows. Dry patch of pavement during a thunderstorm? Rain Shadow.

One of the problems with “modern design” construction, the sort that sends mirror box rhombuses thrusting rudely at the sky, is that they create strong wind currents at sidewalk level and they rob pedestrians of comfort. I’m of the belief that this is part of their design – to make the urban environment around them hostile so as to discourage loitering, and to encourage you to buy a luxury condo just to get out of the turbulence.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The rain I was experiencing was just the leading edge of a stronger system of storms heading into the area, so after a few more shots of passing LIRR trains, I shot back under the LIE and started heading back towards the subway in case I need to duck and cover.

As it turned out, just as I got back to Hunters Point Avenue and the 7 stop found there, it stopped raining. Hooray.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As long as I was there, and it was now right about the height of what used to be called rush hour, it would have been silly not to get some shots of the trains heading out of Sunnyside Yards and towards the City.

That’s a New Jersey Transit train, for the curious. They spend their days in Queens at Sunnyside Yards, in between rush hours.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

An Amtrak unit or two came rolling by as well, and I decided that I was pushing my luck – weather wise. The scuttling continued, and rather than getting on the 7 (which I would have taken to Jackson Heights and then transferred onto an R or M) I’d instead take the chance and walk over towards Queens Plaza for a connection to the R at the downstairs IND station.

More on that tomorrow.

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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

July 6, 2022 at 11:00 am

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