The Newtown Pentacle

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forgotten sculptor

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Friday, again.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A recent daylight perambulation found a humble narrator in DUGABO, Down Under the Greenpoint Avenue Bridge Onramp, in the Blissville section of Long Island City. The bridge crosses the fabulous Newtown Creek, and provides a concrete manifestation of the currently undefended border of Brooklyn and Queens. Famously, the so called “garbage train” is assembled at the LIRR’s Blissville rail yard, and is normally hauled about by locomotive engines painted with the brand colors of the New York & Atlantic outfit. This bluebird GATX unit was a surprise, but my beloved Creek is never entirely predictable. The street down here is dubbed “Railroad Avenue” aptly.

GATX, as it turns out, is an 1898 vintage corporate entity based in Chicago that leases rail equipment on several continents and also has a sideline in aviation heavy equipment. If you want to take a deep dive, here’s their site.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The signal bells began clanging and the train started moving eastwards along the Lower Montauk tracks. As you can see in the shot above, somebody has set up housekeeping under the bridge, having constructed a shelter/shanty out of shipping palettes and other industrial leave behinds. As of yet, I haven’t talked to this fellow, but I already like him since he’s got quite a collection of cats living with him.

Thrilling is how I describe the sensation of seeing freight rail moving around at street grade in NYC. Once common, there are so few places where you see this these days… this train and it’s box cars of garbage remove hundreds of long distance truck trips every day from our roads.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Blissville’s Railroad Avenue offers quite a gallery of street art/graffiti- if you’re into that sort of thing. The building just behind the locomotive used to be a lead factory, although in recent years it’s also been home to a company that worked with plastics. These days it’s a warehouse, with a tire shop on the Review Avenue facing side.

There’s quite a bit of industrial/commercial activity going on down here in DUGABO. The N.Y. Paving Company has an enormous property where they manage a fleet of hundreds of heavy construction vehicles and store sand, gravel, and other tools of their trade. Across the street at the former HQ of the Tidewater Pipeline Company, later called the Lukoil Getty terminal, the busy Broadway Stages outfit handles movie and tv productions for Hollywood. There’s also a self storage company housed in a factory building that used to be the home of BG Pickles.

Back next week with more, 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.

last void

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Monday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Pictured above is one of Amtrak’s Acela trains in its maintenance facility at the gargantuan Sunnyside Yards, which a humble narrator was crossing on a north to south vector not too many weeks ago. As a note, while I was taking my sanity break last week, WordPress (the platform which Newtown Pentacle operates through) decided to do the most annoying thing that tech companies do – i.e. fix things which weren’t broken – and have thereby introduced a lot of “random” and “hope this still works” into my work flow with a new upgrade to their software. What I always hope for during a system upgrade is to have the system demand my attention and take me away from writing or whatever I’m doing regularly. If the operating system or software environment doesn’t pop up with a chorus of dancers and announce itself every five minutes, it just ain’t modern design. Hopefully they’ve inserted a really proactive but fairly illiterate version of spellcheck, the sort of thing that Facebook currently uses, which alters entire sentences into gibberish after you type a period.

Invasive update cues annoy me, especially when they’re covert marketing ploys from hardware manufacturers letting you know it’s been a while since you gave them your money. Looking directly at you, Apple. In WordPress’s case, they’ve just introduced a learning curve into something I’ve been “workflowing” for more than a decade, so thanks for the extra work.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I’m a “production guy” in the advertising world, meaning that I polish and deliver final product to publications and clients. You can measure how productive your production is by counting “clicks.” True productivity comes from knowing the key combo commands rather than hunting through tool palettes and menus. Software design in the last five years or so has retarded productivity through its inefficient habit of adding “clicks.” The Adobe Creative suite, in particular, no longer uses common key commands internally – Photoshop and Adobe Camera Raw and Lightroom, which are all essentially the same thing, use different key combos to do identical tasks. I don’t refer to anything complicated, either. Adding a 1 Star or 2 star rating to an in progress image is accomplished 3 different ways just within photoshop. That’s stupid, wasteful, and bad user interface design.

When you spend all day working in a software environment, this sort of thing just eats away at your time, and patience. Good software is invisible, you focus on the creative product which you’re working on, rather than the tool you’re using. Bad software takes you out of the creative flow, in the manner which this new WordPress “upgrade” does. While writing this, I’ve had to stop and fix something stupid it’s done on its default settings about twenty times. Imagine a screwdriver suggesting you try the new Phillips Head tooling, then suddenly retiring flat head screw functionality. Surprise!

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Until I get a handle on what’s going on with this new software I’m apparently stuck with using, it would be appreciated if y’all cut me a break. Should some weird turn of phrase or out of context word seem to signal offensive intent or mental incapacity, realize it’s likely a software rule inserting itself which I missed fixing. The fragility of opinion and unyielding moral high ground in our modern times is terrifying. Say the wrong thing, they’ll shut your ass up quick. Imagine if a badly functioning spellcheck suite effectively cancels you?

This is literally possible.


“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

May 3, 2021 at 11:00 am

secrets stood

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Friday, brü.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

So, by the time you’ve received this latest installment, a humble narrator has had to endure about 20-25 hours of Zoom meetings in just the last week. Monday was a swearing in ceremony for Community Board Members, Tuesday was the actual Community Board, Wednesday was the Newtown Creek Community Advisory Group public meeting with EPA, Thursday the Steering Committee for the same organization. Unsurprisingly, the totality of this experience is somewhat Kafkaesque. I feel hollowed out by all of this, for some reason.

Luckily, I had a live and in person “thing” this week, along the fabulous Newtown Creek, in Long Island City’s Blissville section. The Green Asphalt company invited a few of us to attend a meet and greet at their site. Nice folks, good meet up, interesting conversations were engaged in. Real life. Not Zoom. Got caught out in the rain, perfect.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Any photo now, you are going to cross the vaccination threshold with me. It’s been a year of darkness here at Newtown Pentacle, a cavalcade of night time photos gathered in the most socially isolated places that I could describe as being “walking distance” from HQ here in Astoria. Then I got vaccinated, and the camera began turning up in the daylight again. There will still be a lot of night shots in the future, lords and ladies, but for right now…

Let there be light.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s the Sunnyside Yards, nearby Queens Plaza, with a 7 line subway up top on the elevated track and a Long Island Rail Road work train on the tracks below. While I was shooting this, a fellow sucking down a paper bag clad can of beer approached me. His name was Renny, and he described himself as a Physicist originally from Poland. His conversation began with “Einstein was an idiot.”

Back in session.


“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.

blasphemous daring

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Friday is back.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

When I’m heading out in the direction of Newtown Creek or industrial LIC, the only way to “there from here” involves me crossing the truss bridges carrying local street traffic over the Sunnyside Yards. Hence, I’ve developed an appreciation and fascination for the place over the years. You commonly see the rolling stock of three different rail companies here – Amtrak (pictured above and below), New Jersey Transit, and Long Island Rail Road. The northern side of Sunnyside Yards is filled almost entirely with Amtrak related trains and maintenance buildings, whereas the southern boundary sees a lot of LIRR activity.

During the last year, a multitude of East Side Access construction related holes have appeared in the fencing of the yards, which has been awesome.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I have friends who describe their favorite hobby as “railfanning,” meaning that they are fans of rail. I’d describe myself as a fan, but I’m nowhere near as serious as railfans are. A railfan will tell you that the train is using the wrong screw to hold its headlight on, and is possessed of a deep and insightful narrative regarding the various modern rail operations and the historical forebears which laid down the systems that today’s outfits use. Pennsylvania Railroad, NY Central, etc. I can talk history on this topic, but it’s broad stroke. A railfan gets granular.

As a note, the truss bridge you see in the background of the shot above is 39th street, which is where the first shot was gathered from. I was clicking the shutter on the Honeywell Street Truss Bridge for this and the one below.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I’m actually pretty happy with this one, depicting a LIRR train moving through the Harold Interlocking, right in front of the Harold tower. I’ve taken a million shots of this action from the 39th street truss at a fence hole which I call the “old reliable,” but a brand new fence hole which appeared in just the last few months has materialized at Honeywell. The tracks in the trench at center left are part of the massive East Side Access project, I’m told.

Back Monday with more wonders, 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

April 9, 2021 at 11:00 am

last void

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A nightmare to some, Shabbos to others, Friday has come.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Yup, fence holes day! As mentioned last week, several new apertures in the fence lines around Sunnyside Yards have appeared during the Annum Pandemicum and a humble narrator has been assiduously cataloguing and exploiting them. Pictured above is a Long Island Railroad trainset heading towards Manhattan.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Another Long Island Railroad train, this one heading away from an accursed island called Manhattan, and photographed from a fence hole I call “the old reliable.” Truth be told, the old reliable almost caused a case of frostbite for me when shooting this. There was a steady 10-15 mph wind, and given that the old reliable is a 3 inch square hole found in the middle of a large steel plate, all that wind pressure was focusing through it like a laser.

Good news is that all that air pressure really cleaned up the lens, blowing any and all dust off the glass. Multi task, motherflowers, multi task.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

At Sunnyside Yards; you will commonly see Long Island Railroad, New Jersey Transit, and as pictured above – Amtrak rolling stock. Amtrak has their Acela high speed service here too, but the fence holes surrounding that service’s facilities are difficult to work with. One can hope that somewhere down the line they’ll need to pop a hole in one of the fences and… what dreams may come, huh?

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, March 15th. 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

March 19, 2021 at 11:00 am

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