The Newtown Pentacle

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outside absolute

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Tuesday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Staggering in fear amongst the darkened streets of Long Island City, with its peculiarly utilitarian angularities of cyclopean masonry thrusting rudely at the sky, a humble narrator was experiencing quite a bit of pain at this stage in his evening. The left ankle is currently malfunctioning, which is a bodily component just uphill from that big toe which one discovered to be broken – due to the action of gravity and a planting trough – at the end of 2019. Instinct would suggest one first punches the painful ankle a few times, then use an ace bandage on the hinge, and eventually make a decision between lopping it off with a cleaver or making a Doctor’s appointment. One normally waits until it is absolutely necessary to engage Medical Professionals, Legal Professionals, or really any of the Professions, unless you have to. Gets expensive. Painful ankle after walking five miles? Find a spot to sit down for a few minutes. Good god, I’ve gotten to the age where you have to sit down for a few minutes every now and then…

“Bah! One such as myself can bear all, pain is neurological like the brain is and the brain is you so if you have control over your self you control the brain and the nervous system and you don’t feel pain… there is no spoon, nothing is real!”

That’s what I was thinking when I stood up after sitting down for a few minutes. My ankle felt better after a quick rest period, and I stopped mentally picturing the bruised and swollen toe, and resumed pointing the camera at stuff.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

You can’t know “everything” about something, quite obviously, unless you were there before it and will be there after it. Saying that, I can do an improv lecture about this corner that would easily fill an hour’s worth of your time – Montauk Cutoff, Long Island Railroad, Long Island City, NYC Consolidation, Bob Moses, Long Island Expressway, New Real Estate Development – those are the bullet points just off the top of my head. There’s a whole story just with those empty sign boards that involves Organized Crime, the Feds, Court Cases.

I’d offer a second hour on the Graffiti culture of LIC, but I have to get a third or fourth party to do the actual lecture. I’m a casual fan, but not part of the street art scene and am not that knowledgable.

I’ll tell you what, though. There’s a LOT more graffiti flying all over the place than I’ve seen in 30 years. A lot of it is also, coincidentally, pretty good. There’s kind of a postmodernist vibe going on, even with just tags.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Obviously, I’ve seen panel trucks graffiti’d on all over NYC my entire life. Saying that, this sort of vehicular graffiti pictured above seems to be on an uptick. Of course, my geographic “range” has been limited and the sample area largely heavy industrial, but the scene is similar to dozens of others I’ve photographed in the last year. Maybe I wasn’t “seeing it” in the past, but the frequency of panel truck graffiti definitely seems tuned up. Truth be told, I like the “custom wrap” look of this particular vandal’s artwork.

It’s not good, it’s not bad, it just is. Neither hot nor cold. Nothing is real.

Note: I’m writing this and several of the posts you’re going to see for the next week at the beginning of the week of Monday, February 22nd. My plan is to continue doing my solo photo walks around LIC and the Newtown Creek in the dead of night as long as that’s feasible. If you continue to see regular updates here, that means everything is kosher as far as health and well being. If the blog stops updating, it means that things have gone badly for a humble narrator.


“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 blurb.com for $30.

Written by Mitch Waxman

February 23, 2021 at 11:00 am

abnormal ticking

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Tuesday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Empty Corridor is what I call those streets of Long Island City which are particularly shadowed by the ferrous gargantua that is the Long Island Expressway’s “Queens Midtown Expressway” elevated truss section. The blighting effect of this 160 feet at its apex, 1940 vintage, span is all encompassing – both because of its inescapable presence and for the supernal amount of automotive related pollution which it represents. 32 million vehicle trips a year, lords and ladies, push along this truss bridge on their way to and from Manhattan via the Queens Midtown Tunnel. Were these vehicle trips moving along the ground, at least Queensicans could benefit from it by selling bottles of water or bags of oranges to the drivers. Instead, we get all the bad and nothing good from its presence.

Pictured is a section of the centuried Montauk Cutoff elevated railroad tracks, mentioned many times here at Newtown Pentacle.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One has experienced a few close calls, human interaction wise, in the Empty Corridor in recent months, and this “zone” as a whole has impressed one as having become somewhat “crimey.” This is partially the paranoia of a middle aged fellow marching around in the dark by himself, of course, but it’s also the prosaic observation of a life long New Yorker who knows what trouble looks like when it’s walking your way. Be careful out there, keep an eye on others, and ask yourself why somebody might be making a beeline towards you despite there being a respiratory plague spreading. Nobody is that friendly.

Many of my younger friends believe that the stories we tell about “the bad old days” in NYC are reflections of systemic racism, outright fiction, or overblown reportage. What I can tell you is that what my younger friends think is uninformed and wishful thinking, romantic aspiration for who they wish sympathetic characters were, and that getting “jumped” is something that’s never happened to them – apparently. The late 1970’s and the entire 1980’s were no joke. Back then, you had to learn how to improvise weapons on the fly. Metal garbage can lids are no longer available for ready hands to use, and there’s fewer glass bottles lying around to break and use as a slashing weapon due to the return deposit cash in. Plastic bottles, as a note, make for shit shivs. When you hit a guy with a plastic bottle it makes a comical and hollow “blonk” sound.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One time in the mid 80’s, I was crossing the street at 21st street and Third in the City. Some guy had his back to traffic on 21st and got hit by a car. He hit the crosswalk with his forehead, which pretty much “asphalt erased” his face, and his corpse was set up in a tripod formation with his knees flat on the street along with what remained of his head, the arms were arranged straight back and it looked a lot like he was praying. The cops were so busy with handling corpses back then that they just threw a blanket over the body and set out a traffic cone while waiting for the Coroner to scoop up the mess, and the whole tableau was still in place about three hours later while I was walking the other way. His blood was running into the sewer. There’s a metaphor there, I thought.

Early 90’s, a guy got shot on the corner of 99th and Broadway while he was talking on the phone in one of those half size phone booths. An ice storm blew in, and the poor SOB’s body and in particular his hand froze up while he was still grasping the phone receiver. When I passed by on my way to work the next morning, his body was swaying in the wind and the phone cord was the fulcrum supporting him. The Cops smoked cigarettes and drank coffee while similarly waiting for the morgue’s meat wagon to appear.

I’m not arguing for any sort of Police state Götterdämmerung moment, by the way, I’m just saying that there’s always been a different set of rules on the street. A lot for these rules aren’t what you’d like them to be, aren’t fair, and have nothing to do with justice.

It’s all true. The Force, Luke Skywalker, the Death Star, all of it.

Note: I’m writing this and several of the posts you’re going to see for the next week at the beginning of the week of Monday, February 8th. My plan is to continue doing my solo photo walks around LIC and the Newtown Creek in the dead of night as long as that’s feasible. If you continue to see regular updates here, that means everything is kosher as far as health and well being. If the blog stops updating, it means that things have gone badly for a humble narrator.


“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 blurb.com for $30.

Written by Mitch Waxman

February 9, 2021 at 11:00 am

poisoning efforts

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Thursday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Continuing the night time exploration of the Montauk Cutoff abandoned rail road tracks in Long Island City, this shot focuses in on the Borden Avenue “retractile” bridge. A common sight in Chicago and Pittsburgh, there are only two retractile type bridges in NYC, the other one is found at the Gowanus Canal at Carroll Street. “Retractile” means that the entire roadway is on tracks, and retreats away from its piers to allow maritime traffic to pass through. This is in opposition to the more common form of movable bridge, commonly called a drawbridge, wherein single or double bascules are opened or closed on hinges.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It was getting late when my little party and I decided to start making our way back to the Skillman Avenue side of the Montauk Cutoff. Along the way, I was clicking the shutter every few steps, trying to record some of the amazing urban landscape I was seeing. This was hardly the first time I’ve been up on the cutoff, of course, but I rarely go up here at night without company.

In recent months, the streets surrounding the Montauk Cutoff have become somewhat “crimey,” so discretion being the better part of valor I decided to ask a couple of pals to come along and provide me with “back.” Better safe than sorry.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There’s quite an effort underway at the moment to organize this abandoned series of tracks into a public space. I, for one, can’t wait to be able to bring people up here legally. As far as who owns the place, it’s the MTA.

The MTA is… well, it’s the MTA.

Note: I’m writing this and several of the posts you’re going to see for the next week at the beginning of the week of Monday, December 14th. My plan is to continue doing my solo photo walks around LIC and the Newtown Creek in the dead of night as long as that’s feasible. If you continue to see regular updates here, that means everything is kosher as far as health and well being. If the blog stops updating, it means that things have gone badly for a humble narrator.


“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 blurb.com for $30.

Written by Mitch Waxman

December 17, 2020 at 11:00 am

scuttled across

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Wednesday, Montauk Cutoff.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As mentioned yesterday, recent adventure found me on the Montauk Cutoff tracks in Long Island City well after sunset. What drew me up there is the renewed effort on behalf of Newtown Creek Alliance to activate these abandoned rail road tracks as public green space. Imagine it, if we could add the roughly four acres of space up here to your portfolio of “places to go” in LIC?

Currently, visiting this spot is considered illegal trespass by the Governmental entity which owns it, specifically the MTA. Consider these photos my confession.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Montauk Cutoff leads to an inactive railroad bridge called Cabin M, which crosses the Dutch Kills tributary of Newtown Creek near its intersection with the main stem of the waterway. Just to the south, and pictured above, is a very active rail road bridge called DB Cabin, which connects the Wheelspur and Blissville Yards of the Long Island Railroad’s Lower Montauk tracks over the water.

As I tell everyone, there’s stupid – risking arrest for trespass on inactive tracks – and then there’s stupid – risking getting squished by a freight train by walking on active tracks. The former falls under the “ya plays ya cards, ya takes ya chances” whereas the latter is just dumb.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Looking roughly northwards towards the Borden Avenue Bridge and the Long Island Expressway at Dutch Kills, that’s how I would describe this shot to an editor.

I ran a daylight version of this a couple of weeks ago, and made a point of mentioning the huge number of inactive yellow cabs being stored here. The pathway along the Borden Avenue Bridge is one I’ve been positively haunting throughout the pandemic. It feels like I’ve been in this area at least once a week since March.

Note: I’m writing this and several of the posts you’re going to see for the next week at the beginning of the week of Monday, December 14th. My plan is to continue doing my solo photo walks around LIC and the Newtown Creek in the dead of night as long as that’s feasible. If you continue to see regular updates here, that means everything is kosher as far as health and well being. If the blog stops updating, it means that things have gone badly for a humble narrator.


“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 blurb.com for $30.

Written by Mitch Waxman

December 16, 2020 at 11:00 am

writhing subsided

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Tuesday in Long Island City’s concrete devastations.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Recent endeavor found one up on the abandoned tracks of the Montauk Cutoff in Long Island City after dark. Given the isolation and a series of recent encounters with potential hooligans and a few wackadoodles in this area, I decided it was an atypically good idea to have some company with me for once, so my pals Gil Lopez and Don Cavaioli came along. The Montauk Cutoff has been described several times here at Newtown Pentacle – notably in this 2015 post, and more recently the streets surrounding it were detailed in a series of posts starting here.

Long story short, an abandoned set of elevated railroad tracks in LIC that stretch from Skillman Avenue at Sunnyside Yards all the way to the Dutch Kills tributary of the fabled Newtown Creek.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It’s actually quite beautiful up on the tracks, with lots of self seeded vegetation and all sorts of feral critters roaming about. I brought along my tripod and the new camera, and got busy up there. There’s a terrific amount of light to record, but that’s where the challenge comes in, from a photographer POV. It’s very bright, and very dark, all in the same frame.

My pal Gil was listening in to a Zoom meeting about some sort of extinction event, and Don C. seemed blown away by what he was looking at. Once your eyes adjust to the lighting, there’s all sorts of splendor to observe.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

We spent an hour, maybe two, up there. I was busy the whole time, doing whatever the hell it is I do when I’m shooting.

More shots from the Montauk Cutoff tomorrow.

Note: I’m writing this and several of the posts you’re going to see for the next week at the beginning of the week of Monday, December 14th. My plan is to continue doing my solo photo walks around LIC and the Newtown Creek in the dead of night as long as that’s feasible. If you continue to see regular updates here, that means everything is kosher as far as health and well being. If the blog stops updating, it means that things have gone badly for a humble narrator.


“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 blurb.com for $30.

Written by Mitch Waxman

December 15, 2020 at 11:00 am

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