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Wednesday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On the 6th of March, one was visiting the Montauk Cutoff in Long Island City. A student photographer had contacted me and asked for a bit of guiding around the place. This fellow was testing out a revolutionary new lens that Canon has recently released which allows for capture of the kind of imagery you need to create a “virtual reality bubble” with the Oculus headset in mind as the display portal.

He had some very expensive equipment on loan from the university he attends, and was interested in this particular location to work with and test the capabilities of the gear. While he was doing his thing, I was doing mine. My pal Val also came along, as she cannot resist the Montauk Cutoff’s charms. Pictured is an Amtrak train on its way to Manhattan via Sunnyside Yards.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

We headed over to the Dutch Kills section of the Montauk Cutoff, which is an “abandoned” set of rail tracks in LIC that used to connect LIRR’s Main Line trackage at Sunnyside Yards with its Lower Montauk tracks along the northern shore of Newtown Creek.

Abandoned doesn’t mean the same thing in “railroad” as it does in colloquial english, but suffice to say that there is zero chance of encountering a train on the cutoff these days. The shot above was captured on one of the two rail bridges at Dutch Kills – Cabin M.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s Cabin M, as seen from the shoreline of Dutch Kills. In the distance is the Queens Midtown Expressway section of the Long Island Expressway, soaring some 106 feet over the water.

As far as the “cabin” thing, that’s what the train people call it. As far as I know, when they call something “cabin” it’s about signals and geographic markers for the engineers, and there was likely some lonely soul who sat in a shack and governed operations here once upon a time. Everything is “automatic” these days.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Given that the fellow I was accompanying and guiding around had this weird lens that creates a “bubble” for VR experiences, I kept on pulling him deeper and deeper into the Newtown Creek world. These are the sort of spots I won’t normally bring anyone to, given the myriad ways to get dead encountered here.

Saying that, these are exactly the sort of spots which a 220 degree bubble capture must look great in. Funnily enough, he kept asking me if I wanted to try out the device but I refused, fearing I’d want one and go down yet another technology rabbit hole.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

While he was operating his gizmo, and my pal Val was waving her camera around, I was using my normal tripod setup. Normally, I see the perspective down here when I’m in a boat with my pals from Newtown Creek Alliance, a circumstance which negates this sort of “look.”

It was getting late, and the burning thermonuclear eye of god itself was lowering in the sky. We headed back up to Montauk Cutoff.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Never waste a sunset, I always say. That’s the LIRR platform, and the Paragon Oil/Subway/Point LIC building which was mentioned a couple of days ago. I had to get back to HQ shortly after the sunset, as I had a big day planned for the 7th which needed a bit of preparation.

Tomorrow – something completely different at this – your Newtown Pentacle.


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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.

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Wednesday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Seldom do I head down to the spot where these shots were gathered along Dutch Kills, due to the fact that I’m usually by myself when I’m out shooting. There’s a real chance of a snapped ankle on this path, or some other injury, and I honestly don’t know how I’d explain to the 911 operator where I was if I needed help (and I’ve thought this through). Thereby, since my pal Val was with me on this particular outing, caution was thrown to the wind. That’s the DB Cabin rail bridge, which – if memory serves – was built in the 1920’s, and is a still VERY active crossing for Lower Montauk line Long Island Railroad rail traffic over the mouth of the Dutch Kills tributary of Newtown Creek.

I seriously do not ever want to have to have the FDNY rescue me from some stupid injury in an out of the way place like this. It would be so embarrassing, and I’d never hear the end of it from my firefighter and or cop friends. Officer Pinky and Fireman Matt at the local bar here in Astoria – in particular – would “take the piss” as my British wife would say, since I regularly bust their balls.

Btw, he’s Officer Pinky because despite being a hulking meathead of a cop, this particular patrolman had a fractured pinky finger which put him on the disabled list for several months. The guy is built like a professional wrestler, but he had that little finger stuck out on a splint with a hand posture that reminded one of “tea time.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The bridge pictured above is part of the Montauk Cutoff, and is dubbed “Cabin M.” It’s inactive, and the tracks it’s connected to are no longer connected to Sunnyside Yards on the western side of the cutoff. It’s a single bascule rail drawbridge, and – again, of memory serves – dates back to the 1930’s. MTA was planning on demolishing it prior to COVID, but who knows what the future holds?

Eric Adams is said to be able to see through time and gaze at all of human history, in the manner of Dune’s God Emperor Leto the second, but he never had to sacrifice his humanity for this prescience like that fictional character from Frank Herbert’s sci-fi opus. Adams just had to ride a bike once and then go Vegan. The new Mayor will be an eidolon whom the children of New York will sing fluting aspirational songs about. Just ask him.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

From up on the bridge, my pal Val yelled down to me that it was time to split, and asked if I was interested in grabbing a meal. We headed over to the entirely adequate Bel Aire diner on Broadway and 21st street in Astoria and I quaffed a pizza burger deluxe. Yum.

More tomorrow, at this – your Newtown Pentacle.


“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, 2021 at 11:00 am

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Tuesday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My pal Val asked if I’d accompany her on a trip to the Montauk Cutoff in LIC recently, and I said “sure.” We timed our visit to coincide with sunset. Light is especially important to plan around during winter months in NYC, given the harsh shadows which the angle of the sun offers during mid day hours. You want to be up and out of bed before dark, or roaming around just as it turns dark, this time of year.

The Montauk Cutoff is an “abandoned” set of rail tracks owned by the Long Island Railroad/MTA that starts at Long Island City’s Skillman Avenue, crosses over several streets and an avenue as well as the Dutch Kills Tributary of Newtown Creek, and comes back to ground again at the Blissville Rail Yard along Railroad Avenue. It operationally connected the LIRR’S Lower Montauk tracks to their Main Line tracks at Sunnyside Yards.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My travels in September revealed that there’s a Railroad Avenue to be found in several cities, which is one of those intriguing “there’s a photo book in that” ideas which plague me. Sounds like a lot of expensive effort, but I might add it to my shot list for future travels.

Speaking of, I was away last week and weekend on another trip. Returned to Pittsburgh, as I was so incredibly intrigued by the place during my visit in September. Got a few nice shots, which you’ll be seeing in the new year, but which won’t be presented in the exhausting “deep dive” fashion that you saw in November.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

See what I mean about waiting for sunset during the winter? It’s the only time of day that the unremitting grayness of the dystopian shithole that is modern day NYC breaks open with a bit of colorful panache.

My pal Val’s interests in this location involved a triad of trees growing out of the abandoned rail tracks, and she was getting busy with the camera a-clicking and a-whirring while I roamed around with my rig trying to stay out of her shot. That’s the 1940 vintage Queens Midtown Expressway overflying the 1908 vintage Borden Avenue Bridge as shot from the “abandoned” 1920’s vintage Montauk Cutoff tracks.

Who says NYC’s best days are in the past?


“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 14, 2021 at 11:00 am

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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

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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

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