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Thursday, and hindsight is 2020.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Survivors, rejoice. You made it. New Year’s Eve. It’s been 293 days since the New York State lockdown orders of Friday the 13th of March were announced. That’s 7,032 hours if you’re the curious type. There’s a few things I’d like you to think about as we move forward into the future, here in these United States…

The photo above depicts the Sunnyside Yards, which is rumored to have been the actual target used by the Soviets for their thermonuclear bomb tipped missiles. The United States has ostensibly been preparing and spending an astronomical amount of money for more than 70 years preparing for the various shapes which the apocalypse might take. That includes, as George W. Bush reminded us when updating the spending program twenty years ago, preparing and updating responses to attack vectors for “nuclear,” “chemical,” and “biological” weapons.

Where has all that money gone, and why were was the greatest military power in history caught so flat footed by a predictable respiratory pandemic whose scope doesn’t begin to touch what an engineered bioweapon would do to us?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Governor Nelson Rockefeller and President Richard Nixon oversaw the nationalization of local and inter city transit systems in the early 1970’s. Bankrupt private capital railroad firms were turned into publicly owned and operated “authorities” and “corporations.” Nixon created Amtrak for passenger service, and Conrail for freight. Rockefeller combined the subways, buses, and commuter trains in New York State into the Metropolitan Transit Authority. The MTA’s annual budget is 17 billion dollars. If you were to stack individual dollar bills until arriving at the amount of 17 billion, you’d have a stack of money which is 1,154.3 miles high.

Fifty years later the MTA still operates its systems as if it was day one after the nationalization of the Subways, Buses, and Penn Central commuter services, with little or no interoperability having been achieved between its various divisions in the interim, and they operate in a state of perennial near bankruptcy. Conrail is largely irrelevant these days due to the private capital underlying modern rail shipping companies like CSX, whereas Amtrak has become a political football bandied about and abused by Congressional game players. Where does all that money go, and why hasn’t NYC’s regional transit system been modernized with interoperability and shared resources in mind?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

You can vow to wean your culture off of petroleum all you want, but without massive capital expenditures and tax breaks for those having to junk and replace their “installed base” of equipment you’re just blowing hot air. You can’t just quit heroin without withdrawal symptoms, can’t stop drinking without the “DT’s,” or just quit smoking the Crack without some sort of psychotic reaction. Petroleum is a drug, which you pour over your economy to make it go “vrooooom.”

Historically, any new or novel technology – let’s say that Star Trek style unlimited and non-polluting energy reactors appear tomorrow, for instance – it would be a good 50 years before they became commonplace. New fuel sources have historically had a long adoption period where the installed base of the last energy source is phased out and the new one is deployed. In the case of wood to coal in industry, it was about 150 years. Coal to Petroleum took around 75 years, and there are still several major industries (notably manufactured gas) which consume a magnificent amount of coal. Look to the United States Navy as the bel weather on this subject.

Happy New Year, ya filthy animals!

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 28th. 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 31, 2020 at 2:00 pm

scuttled across

with one comment

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

twisted about

with one comment

Wednesday, it just kind of lies there, like some sort of thing.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Continuing the inaugural run with my new camera rig, a visit to the Dutch Kills tributary of the fabulous Newtown Creek found in the heart of Long Island City, was a bit of a no brainer. Of course I’m going to go to one of the spots I know best to test the new gizmo out. Duh. For those of you who missed out on me rattling on about this subject on Monday and Tuesday, it’s a Canon R6, a full frame mirrorless and modern DSLR camera. 90% of the shots offered here at Newtown Pentacle over the last 8 or 9 years were captured using an older model camera – the Canon 7D – which uses a mirror system and a “crop” sensor. I won’t bore you with the technical stuff, if you’re interested in the differences between the two, there’s literally hundreds of sites which delve into the details about sensor size, mirrorless vs. mirror systems, and the benefits or negatives associated with each.

In my case, I simply outgrew the 7D. Pushed the thing to its limits, did everything with it I could, and was nearly always happy with the results. The R6 offers a different set of limits, albeit ones that are far distant from those of the 7D. I’m holding on to the older camera, for which a couple of people have asked me “why”? Answer: two is better than one.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s the Montauk Cutoff, specifically the section found on Hunters Point/49th Avenue in LIC. I’m going to be talking a lot about this set of abandoned railroad tracks in the next few months, and I’m making a serious commitment – photographically speaking – to recording its splendors in the coming months. At the same time, all of us at Newtown Creek Alliance are working on the Montauk Cutoff project at the moment, which is a major anchor property in what we call the Dutch Kills Loop. Check out this site which my pals at NCA have set up discussing the DKL concept and vision.

Saying all that, this is the sort of thing I’m doing on Friday nights these days, as the brief summer interval during which pandemic concerns were lowered is over, and you’re not going to see me inhabiting an outdoor table at a bar anytime soon. I seriously miss seeing my gang of Astorian idiots and drinking the Guinness right about now, but what are you going to do? Can’t argue with a logarithmic curve on the infection numbers. When you see a hockey stick shape on a graph that doesn’t show your bank account balance, you should run away from it.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One spent a bit of that particular Friday night in direct proximity to the Montauk Cutoff. I’ve written about this elevated trackage before, as a note, notably in this 2015 post. I’m planning on heading back up there in the dark sometime this week, so stay tuned for some new views captured with my new camera rig.

Also, these are some seriously lonely streets with an odd and increasing number of street denizens roaming around. I recently had a weird encounter with a couple of young fellows down here in what I call the “Empty Corridor.” Stay frosty, my friends.

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, November 30th. 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 2, 2020 at 1:00 pm

altogether superhuman

with one comment

Tuesday, here again.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Recent endeavor found me marching the new camera around to all the old familiar places in Long Island City. It was a comfortable night in industrial LIC, with temperatures in the high 50’s and clear skies.

Y’know, when I was composing this particular image, I was thinking “man, this is going to piss off George the Atheist.” George doesn’t like me messing around with angles like this, and I’ve received a few other “meh” statements on doing this sort of thing, but what the hell. I really wanted to get most of that tree in frame, and didn’t want to walk a block away to do so. Sorry, George.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Dynamic range is a term describing the width and depth of contrast and color which a camera sensor is capable of recording, and one of several factors that governed my choice in purchasing the Canon R6 as the new “master cylinder” which would accompany me wherever I go. Pandemic spawned supply chain issues have created a situation in which even the staggeringly efficient operation that is BH Photo couldn’t fill my entire order in one go, and even at this writing I’m still waiting on various essential add-on’s and gear to arrive at HQ. Batteries, L-Bracket, an adapter which will allow my collection of older lenses to work with the new camera (there’s a new lens mount on the R series) – all have been arriving piecemeal at HQ.

One of the things I consider when buying on with a computer or camera system is the ecosystem surrounding it. Consider the iPhone, which is nearly always the category leader in the smartphone category, but only proprietary Apple branded peripherals can plug into the thing. When Apple bangs you out for $50 on a USB cable, the only USB cable you can charge the gizmo with – that’s ecosystem. On a grander scale, Volkswagen and Porsche use specialized screws in their cars, and you have to buy the screwdrivers and ratchet heads from them – expensively – if you want to repair the things yourself. Ecosystem. It’s the part of the price of things which doesn’t turn up on the sticker, and is one of the ways which modern day corporatists feed upon their customers long after the initial purchase has cleared.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Testing the capabilities of the new camera has been all consuming, so I haven’t had much time to worry about when the rest of my gear will turn up. Luckily, when my new toy was ordered, a native RF mount lens was part of the package. These shots were captured with a 24-105mm f4 L series zoom lens, for the edification of you curious pixel peepers out there.

Initial reaction? So far, I’m amazed by what the combination of lens and in body image stabilization offers me as far as hand held and low light shots – as much as 8 stops of stabilization. I’m also loving what tripod shots like the one above are rendering as, and that flip out screen is an early game changer. More to come…

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, November 30th. 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 1, 2020 at 1:00 pm

stagger back

with 2 comments

Friday odds and ends.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One finds himself constantly exhausted by and annoyed by all of these online Zoom meetings, as opposed to the sort of in person meeting fatigue that was experienced in the “before times.” On the plus side, I don’t find myself traveling around to some dusty school cafeteria or office building annex to be told by Governmental employees that something is impossible due to some arcane regulatory prohibition. Conversely, I don’t like being told no when I’m sitting in my own kitchen back at HQ. There’s also a whole lot of non verbal communication which gets lost – I’ve taken to describing my various postures, laser like stares, and other physical “tells” to whomsoever it is I’m talking to, as there’s a whole lot of communicative indication which don’t translate on video conferencing.

Y’know, it didn’t have to be like this, and if everybody had taken this plague seriously back in spring and summer we’d likely be half way back to normal by now instead of negotiating “new normal.” Idolators, that’s what you anti maskers are.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The shots in today’s post didn’t fit into the other offerings this week, so they’re lumped together in an odd fashion today. The sheer scale of Long Island City’s Degnon Terminal Industrial Business Zone (IBZ) is staggering, and you never quite get past that when wandering the seemingly narrow sidewalks lining the massive factory buildings in this area. These are old school double wide factory sidewalks, btw, notice how that garbage truck in the lower right corner of the shot above only takes up half of the pavement?

Luckily, these old dinosaur factories have found new utility and life in recent years. Light industrial usages – commercial printing, garment assembly, etc. have recently found their way here. You want to talk about blue collar employment, you have to talk Newtown Creek or you’re just virtue signaling.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Speaking of my beloved Creek, here’s a shot of the Dutch Kills tributary in LIC, part of the series I’ve been presenting all week here at Newtown Pentacle.

If you haven’t added your email to the subscription function here at WordPress, or followed me on Twitter ( @newtownpentacle ), you’re missing out on free daily updates full of photos from places most seldom see. I go to these places so you don’t have to.

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, November 16th. 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

November 20, 2020 at 1:00 pm

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