The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Archive for the ‘MTA’ Category

…all that there is…

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Second Avenue Subway, continues in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As mentioned yesterday, one managed to attach himself to the press tour offered by the estimable MTA Press Office of its under construction facilities of the Second Avenue Subway project.

Part of largish band of reporters and photographers, one grew increasingly annoyed at the inability to capture a shot of the tunnels sans evidence of humans.

Bother.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The atmosphere in this newly carven intestine of the Megalopolis was actually a bit on the warm side, but not uncomfortably so, and no unpleasant nor mephitic odors were encountered in any abundance. Curing concrete coupled with a somewhat static and dusty air mass contributed to bodily perspiration, however, a process exacerbated by the requirements for wearing “PPE” or “Personal Protective Equipment” insisted on by the work site management.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Vests and construction hats, as well as safety glasses, were gladly offered by our hosts on this trip to the underground world. Required dress code also included long pants, and sleeves, as well as heavy boots.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Such precautions are standard going when visiting active industrial sites, in ones’ own experience, and a sturdy pair of steel toe boots are part of my personal arsenal of equipment. These are not the most comfortable shoes in the world, but the so called “steel toes” did provide me with a bit of prevaricating logic that explained to the MTA handlers why I seemed to be lagging along at the rear end of the group.

“Still breaking them in” uttered a humble narrator.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A fascinating ideation was rattling about in my thoughts, namely that after a lifetime of avoiding a situation wherein I would find myself standing on the tracks of some Subway, here I was.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One other fellow seemed to be thinking like me, hanging a little further back than me. He didn’t seem to be feigning a slight limp as I was, but there you go. The head of this press snake was pretty far ahead of us by this point, and we were asked to “catch up.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

For my part at least, the request was answered, and soon I was back in a crowd of reflective vests, hard hats, and flashing cameras.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One bent over to retie the laces of the “steel toe” boots, which allowed a plausible reason for dallying. I found myself at the end of the line, walking along with the tour’s “sweeper.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One decided to retie the other boot as well, out of an abundance of caution.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It’s the little things which make me happy. 

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Tours –

May 30, 2015 –
The Skillman Corridor with Atlas Obscura

with Newtown Creek Alliance Historian Mitch Waxman, click here for details and tickets.

May 31, 2015 –  SOLD OUT
Newtown Creek Boat Tour
with Working Harbor Committee and Newtown Creek Alliance Historian Mitch Waxman, click here for tickets.

June 7th, 2015
13 Steps Around Dutch Kills Walking Tour
with Newtown Creek Alliance, click here for details and tickets.

June 11th, 2015
MADE IN BROOKLYN Hidden Harbor Boat Tour
with Working Harbor Committee, click here for details and tickets.

June 13th, 2015
The Insalubrious Valley of the Newtown Creek Walking Tour
with Atlas Obscura, click here for details and tickets.

June 20th, 2015
Kill Van Kull Walking Tour
with Brooklyn Brainery, click here for details and tickets.

Written by Mitch Waxman

May 27, 2015 at 11:00 am

Who can guess…

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Lords and Ladies, the Second Avenue Subway project…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Lucky, that’s me.

Persistent, that’s me as well, and I’ve been bugging/begging the MTA to allow me to wave the camera around at the Second Avenue Subway project for quite a little while now. Graciously, they invited me along for a press excursion that occurred on May 21 of this year. The fellow pictured above is Michael Horodniceanu, and he’s the President of Capital Construction for the MTA – the boss.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There were a sizable number of sharp elbowed reporters in the group, including the former First Lady of NYC, Donna Hanover. She seemed nice.

One made an early decision, based on a hunch that since the presence of my fellow photographers was going to be an integral part of this experience, that I’d make sure to photograph the photographers while they photographed.

from wikipedia

The Second Avenue Subway (officially the IND Second Avenue Line; abbreviated to SAS) is a long-envisioned rapid transit subway line, part of the New York City Subway system. As of 2014, Phase I, a new line between the existing BMT 63rd Street Line and 96th Street and Second Avenue, is under construction beneath Second Avenue in the borough of Manhattan.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The whole mob of us followed Michael Horodniceanu deep into the F station at 63rd street, and proceeded down to the lowest of platforms. The MTA folks opened the gates for us, so there was no need to swipe my Metrocard. Score!

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Second Avenue Subway project entrance was along the F platform, where commuters encounter a plywood partition separating them from the show. A door was opened, and the gaggle of reporters followed Michael Horodniceanu and his cohort of contractors (and assorted MTA folks) through it.

from wikipedia

Lexington Avenue – 63rd Street is a two-level station shared by the IND and BMT 63rd Street Lines of the New York City Subway. Located at the intersection of Lexington Avenue and 63rd Street, it is served by the F train at all times. Downtown and Brooklyn-bound trains use the upper level, and Queens-bound trains use the lower level. The original wall tiles installed in this station were red-orange; currently, there are beige-white wall tiles, which replaced the orange wall tiles because of the construction for the Second Avenue Subway. There are a total of ten escalators, six staircases and two elevators. Two additional staircases between the platform levels are at the eastern end of platforms, past the elevator.

The station’s upper level is 140 feet (43 m) deep, making the station among the system’s deepest. This depth is because it has to go under the IRT Lexington Avenue Line and other existing infrastructure.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This is the actual 63rd street station, which is quite far along. There’s track, for instance, and the far wall is sporting some actual finishes. The MTA didn’t use tile, to avoid the maintenance costs experienced whenever water infiltrates behind it. Instead, the wall has a sort of rack on it, and the “tiles” clip on to it leaving a bit of leeway for flowing liquids to find their way to drains.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It seemed like electrical and HVAC work was still underway, and there was a staircase under construction on the platform as well.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It wasn’t the thrill of photographing a subway station platform that lured me down here, however titillating that prospect might be…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This MTA tour allowed us to walk the actual tunnel, from 63rd to 86th streets. That’s what brought me here, and over the next several days, Lords and Ladies, you’ll see what I saw. Like today’s rather photo heavy post, the next few days will bring you sights and scenes from the darkness below.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It seems that the “old school” staircase found at the end of the platforms has been done away with in these Second Avenue Subway stations, and we were shuffled into a line that entered a small antechamber at the edge of the public arena.

Soon, we found ourselves “behind the curtain.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A small flight of stairs, somewhat crowded, and all the latest offerings from Nikon and Canon were brandished about. iPhone and GoPro alike were deployed, and the flashes began to pop.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Down on the actual tracks, and looking back towards the 63rd street station, the point of no return on this journey into an oneirontic darkness carven from the belly of Manhattan.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Tomorrow, and for the rest of the week, you’ll be seeing Second Avenue Subway images, at this – your Newtown Pentacle. Remember, I go to these places so that you don’t have to.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Tours –

May 30, 2015 –
The Skillman Corridor with Atlas Obscura

with Newtown Creek Alliance Historian Mitch Waxman, click here for details and tickets.

May 31, 2015 –  SOLD OUT
Newtown Creek Boat Tour
with Working Harbor Committee and Newtown Creek Alliance Historian Mitch Waxman, click here for tickets.

June 7th, 2015
13 Steps Around Dutch Kills Walking Tour
with Newtown Creek Alliance, click here for details and tickets.

June 11th, 2015
MADE IN BROOKLYN Hidden Harbor Boat Tour
with Working Harbor Committee, click here for details and tickets.

June 13th, 2015
The Insalubrious Valley of the Newtown Creek Walking Tour
with Atlas Obscura, click here for details and tickets.

June 20th, 2015
Kill Van Kull Walking Tour
with Brooklyn Brainery, click here for details and tickets.

Written by Mitch Waxman

May 26, 2015 at 11:00 am

culminating horror

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The bus… I took… The bus

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Dedicated pedestrian that I am, utilizing any sort of mass transit is an admission of defeat. Bus travel, in particular, is something I’m fairly phobic about. Part of this comes from an experience mentioned in yesterday’s post, wherein a young narrator found himself caught up in a 1980’s race riot on the B78 back in Junior High School, which left an indelible psychological scar upon me. A significant part of my distaste for Bus travel also emanates from the fact that for many years, I lived in a exurb section of Brooklyn that had no train service and that I had to commute to the City using so called express buses. One cannot describe the wasted hours spent writhing at the back of the bus, riding to practically the last stop, nor the distaste that persists in me to this day regarding the usage of said conveyance.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Saying all that, living in and traveling around Queens often involves the usage of motor vehicles rather than Subways to get around. The train is fantastic for getting into Manhattan, but unless I’m headed for Flushing or other eastern locations, there’s a vast swath of Brooklyn and Queens which is strictly “car country.” For instance, getting from Astoria to Ridgewood (roughly a 4 mile distance) by Subway involves an hour plus trip which loops through Manhattan, while taking a bus there takes around 30 minutes. Yes, I could purchase an automobile, but HQ is three stops from the City here in Astoria and I cannot justify having a car so close to the center of the entire universe.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Pictured above is the sort of thing I associate with “the bus.” An example of the retired model which once populated the MTA Bus Company’s fleet when a humble narrator was but a lad. As to why I found myself on the bus… Let’s just say that after two weeks of rain and sitting on my derrière – the walk from Astoria to, and around, Roosevelt Island took a bit longer than expected and it was growing dark. One does want to find himself out after dark in the Ravenswood neighborhood because… y’know… vampires.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

December 17, 2014 at 12:24 pm

problematical attempt

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Alright already, jeez.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As previously mentioned, Our Lady of the Pentacle and myself enjoyed a short vacation at the end of the last month, and for part of that duration we were at sea. Hence, your humble narrator is a bit short on content as I’ve been off my beaten path. Therefore, a couple of shots of the oceanic sky greet you today. This was about 15 minutes or so after the burning thermonuclear eye of god itself opened.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Sunset, on the same day as the one above. We hit weather for most of the “away game,” it was 42 degrees in Florida for instance, so seeing the ole burning thermonuclear eye of god itself open and close at all was a treat.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

December 4, 2014 at 11:00 am

was indubitably

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Samhain has nearly arrived, are you prepared?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A humble narrator is prepared for a siege originating in the occult world, and has gathered bags of salt, bees wax candles, and vast amounts of blessed holy water unto himself in preparation for Samhain. One shall avoid descending into the sweating cement bunkers of the Subways after this morning, for who knows how deep some of those tunnels might go?

Perhaps – some connect to the upper reaches of Tartarus (this would explain the smell at the Queens Plaza R/E/M station, incidentally). Mephitic miasmas, carried along by the piston action of the train carriages, might mutate, metastasize, or metamorphosize men into malign or malfeasant monsters. Normally, this would be paranoid fantasy, and a mad ideation. Not so on the holy day of the Witches, when the psychospheric climate is appropriate for the fantastic and impossible to randomly occur.

The Horned God will have his annual dance.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Beginning at midnight tonight, salt will be laid across every entrance to HQ, and “Mezuzah’s” will be affixed to each door and window post. Mirrors will be affixed to the doors themselves, and garlic hung from the lintels. I have a couple of those “super soaker” water gun rifles which I’ll be filling with the holy water. Also, a local butcher has agreed to supply me with a few gallons of lamb’s blood today, with which I intend to paint the sigil of the archangel Michael upon my doors, in the style of the Jews of ancient Egypt. Just for good measure, and to hedge my bets, I’m going to render the sigil representing the archangel Lucifer in butcher’s blood as well.

Just in case.

One feels that it’s best to try not to offend anyone, after all, and keep your options open. Samhain, or Halloween, is not a time you want to take chances, or choose the wrong side.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Concerns about certain steel and concrete gateways to the underworld, found here and there in LIC, form the primary firmament of my concerns. As is the case in the shot above, some of these portals are rather large. Gigantic daemon things could easily find their way to the surface on the annual sabbat of the old gods, walk upon the surface of the earth, and unleash the chaos of the pit itself upon the concrete devastations of Queens. Titanic in scale, there would likely be very little that the average citizen could do to combat the influence of these elder things and their minions. When confronted with such entities, most will simply abandon sanity – retreating into the blanketing comfort of gibbering madness, after all.

Luckily – and not many people know this – NYPD issues silver bullets to its patrol units on Halloween and their ESU teams (Emergency Services Unit) atypically bring a third man along on its calls – a Police Exorcist.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Walking Tours-

Saturday, November 8th, Poison Cauldron
Walking Tour with Atlas Obscura, click here for tickets and more info.

Note: This is the last Newtown Creek walking tour of 2014, and probably the last time this tour will be presented in its current form due to the Kosciuszko Bridge construction project. 

Written by Mitch Waxman

October 30, 2014 at 11:00 am

tripping on

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Glamour, intrigue, concerns about Popeye’s health – that’s what I’m about.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Raconteur is not how you’d describe a humble narrator, but I am a man about town. So much so that I find myself positively dizzied from exposure to those malfeasant atmospherics typically found within that nightmare of the claustrophobe which is particularly known as the NYC Subway system. Often, it feels as if one has become detached from reality when below, and has been reduced down to a statistical average. Limbo, indeed.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Perhaps it is the unwillingness of Station Managers to activate the exhaust fans at certain stops along the line? The unwelcome dustings of rodent feces and other foul exhalations which signal the arrival of a train? Mayhaps, it is the dripping concrete and smell of rotting masonry? On long trips which require many connections, one such as myself experiences a disordering of thought. If there is a hell, my specific punishment will be an infinite commute.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Often, one experiences his most intriguing thoughts while attempting to ignore the quite possibly dangerous humans who infest the system. All social interaction is fraught with risk, so the humans are best avoided. Instead, one ponders deep thoughts while lost in the labyrinth.

Recently, while considering the appearance of the cartoon sailor Popeye, it occurred to me that the characters peculiar physiognomy might indicate that he is a stroke victim. Frozen expression, swollen extremities, speech impairment – think about it, he’s also a smoker. The spinach might be on advice of medical professionals. Also, Poop Deck Pappy presents the same disabilities, so it might be some form of hereditary arteriosclerosis which affects the mariners.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Time lost, time gained. Down here, where I am useless and bored, is the platform for deciding the right course of action on a series of meaningless points. Often, I find myself just clicking the camera off randomly, turning it at funny angles to the scene. That’s kind of how the shots in today’s post came together. While developing them, I realized that my brain was working really hard working out the angles and perspectives.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Unconsiously, my head kept on turning, craning over to one side, as the visual information processing section of my head took over. When I caught myself doing this over and over, autonomiclly, a point was made to pass some of my time in subterranea waving the camera around randomly.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There’s something so odd about this image, and it’s just that it was shot upside down. It’s interesting, neurologically speaking, this “perception thing,” isn’t it? Ever notice that when you see a photo or video of yourself, it doesn’t seem to look right? That’s not the face you see in the mirror every day, is it? Thing is, what we think of as “our face” is actually a flopped mirror image, which indicates… what do I know, I’m on the friggin subway all the time.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

October 2, 2014 at 12:23 pm

valley and grove

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Why do they only turn the air conditioners on when the trains reach Manhattan?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

If you live in the 80% of New York City that is not Manhattan, there is little doubt about the inequality exhibited by those who rule over the shining city when it comes to cutting up the municipal pie. The rest of us get to deal with Manhattan’s garbage, traffic, sewage, and everything else that they want to pretend isn’t a problem. Unfortunately, we need to go to work, and the vast majority of jobs are “over there.” What I can’t understand is why the air conditioning on the trains only seems to get switched on when the subways hit the East River Tunnels.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The ridiculous life I live routinely carries me all around the City, just last week I was in every borough but the Bronx, and found myself on something like 8 different train lines. Without exception, the AC was cut off when leaving Manhattan or turned on when entering it. I could accept this practice if it was close to the end of the line, like the Astoria elevated station pictured above, but an E train entering Queens Plaza has already travelled a considerable distance when it arrives at the station.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There’s likely a technical reason, or some union exemption, which necessitates that passengers sweat it out on the way to work. Perhaps it’s Sandy, or concerns about terrorism, which demand that the climate controls on the Subway remain off when the train is outside Manhattan. Either way, always remember that the Borough motto of Queens is “Welcome to Queens, now go fuck yourself.”

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

There are two Newtown Creek walking tours coming up.

Saturday, June 28th, The Poison Cauldron
With Atlas Obscura, click here for tickets and more info.

Sunday, June 29th, The Insalubrious Valley
With Brooklyn Brainery, lunch included, click here for tickets and more info.

Written by Mitch Waxman

June 24, 2014 at 11:00 am

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