The Newtown Pentacle

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Archive for the ‘Pickman’ Category

cyclopean portent

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Single shot today, from LIC.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Running a bit behind schedule today, and you lords and ladies suffer for it as a single shot from the Thomson Avenue Viaduct greets you today. This cold snap has absolutely shut my operation down in the last week, I tell you, and I’m hurting for new shots to show you. The good news is that next week promises to be more climatologically agreeable, and my schedule is packed with things to do that take place in interesting places, so…

Back tomorrow…


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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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Written by Mitch Waxman

March 7, 2019 at 2:30 pm

such odours

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Hiding in the dark, me.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The sort of places I inhabit, and any physical description of me, are best analogized by early European folkloric accounts of a wild man living in the wasteland and hiding in the shadows. That’s where I like to menace passerby and scare children from, the scrabbly edges of civilization. Sometimes I like to howl, which booms alongst the bulkheads. Hurling rocks at isolated dwellings, allowing photographers to get blurry shots of me moving through the brush, tearing up vegetable gardens in the dead of night… Maybe it’s more of a Native American legendarium that I belong to.

I’ve become a Creeksquatch. 

– photo by Mitch Waxman

These are all handheld shots in today’s post, not the long exposure type which I’ve been displaying for awhile. The cold patch of the last month or so has really gotten in my way, and the only reason I was on scene to capture these was because I was helping someone out. This fellow I met on one of my tours last year was desirous of doing audio recordings around the Creek using a super sensitive microphone and recording device, and he asked if I’d take him around the creek at night to do his thing. We donned our reflective vests and went for a short walk after one of the many Newtown Creek Alliance oriented community meetings which I religiously attend.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The path I chose to take this fellow on was a fairly safe one, centered in on Long Island City and Blissville.

Above is the garbage train, moving around under the Greenpoint Avenue Bridge in Blissville.


“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 6, 2019 at 2:30 pm

unmistakable replacement

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Truth tellers of the Subway!

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Occasion found me riding on the redoubtable IRT Flushing line recently, whereupon an older fellow noticed my camera and commented that I was an intelligence agent. I held my fingers up to my lips and made a shush sound, saying that the Russians were watching and asked him not to blow my cover. Once the train got under way, he took up position mid car and began a staggeringly well rehearsed speech about the Peoples Republic of China’s domestic security operations. What made this fellow stand out in my mind was – and I should mention that I’ve read a bit about how they handle dissent over there in the Middle Kingdom – was that he got a lot of it right. Names of the various agencies, location of reeducation centers and prisons… it’s scary when the paranoids are actually right about something.

He then began to opine that babies are traps set by female intelligence agents designed to snare unsuspecting males into child support servitude… but his info on the Chinese internal security system actually sounded fairly solid – and jibed with my admittedly limited knowledge of the subject. Maybe I’m destined to become one of those guys in my old age, the ones who carry a bunch of shopping bags and proclaim the truth of our times loudly to strangers on the 7 train.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Given the headlines in recent years, it’s hard not to believe any claim – no matter how wild it is. We seem to have abandoned evidence and data based thinking as a culture these days. Not too long ago, I called up my buddy Kevin from Forgotten-NY to discuss a couple of things and during our chat I opined that if he told that “a flying jelly candy horse” was spotted over Bayside I’d have to believe it since anything seems possible at the moment. I suggest you hit YouTube at some point and search for “Flat Earth” if you want to see what I mean, as far as the abandonment of evidence and data based decision making.

Back in high school and college, as my friends and I would engage in long conversations trying to figure the world out, we’d always apply Occam’s Razor (the simplest explanation is usually true) to any crazy story we came across. My answer to 911 conspiracy theorists has always been to remind them of every other thing which the George W. Bush White House tried to pull off, and ask if there was any indication that the same people who brought you the Federal response to Hurricane Katrina and the 2003 invasion of Iraq had it in them to pull off an absolutely perfect “false flag” operation. I then remind them of the complexities involved in arranging for six people to meet up for lunch at a diner on a Saturday afternoon (there’s always a Vegan to account for, and someone named Sharon who’s always late).

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I don’t encounter the same sort of crazy on the IND lines, downstairs as it were, in the subways. The E/R/M lines are plagued by women doing the “Gypsy baby” routine, those acrobatic dancer kids, and the freaking mariachis. They’re all just grifting or busking though, and trying to earn a living. The Chinese conspiracy guy on the 7 line was highly entertaining, to me at least, and made my $2.75 fare a gladly spent trifle.

Here are three of my paranoid wonderings; 

The woman who calls herself Britney Spears currently performing in Las Vegas is a lookalike double. The real Britney Spears is being held prisoner by her managers in a Nevada mental asylum. #freebritney.

The plastic or metal tips on your shoelaces are called aglets. Their purpose is sinister. #thetruthwillcomeout

Given the relative scale of the Gummi Bear to the Gummi Worm, it’s obvious that the Gummi universe is actually based on the Dune universe, with the Bears being the Freemen and the Gummi Worm representing the sandworm Shai Halud. #thesleeperwillawaken

Repent!


“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 4, 2019 at 1:00 pm

recent letters

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A day late, and a dollar short.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Sorry for the single image today, a humble narrator’s scheduling got the best of him and that’s why you’ve got a shot of the 4 entering 59th/Lex instead of a proper post today. Back Monday with some of the interesting stuff I saw while riding the new Soundview Line of the NYC Ferry last week.


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Written by Mitch Waxman

February 22, 2019 at 1:30 pm

Posted in Manhattan, Photowalks, Pickman, Subway

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awkward signatures

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On the sand at Flushing Creek.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

After having successfully navigated my way to the water’s edge at Flushing Creek through an open gate, a humble narrator (and my pal Val, who was game for this particular caper) proceeded off the concrete and down onto the sand. As mentioned previously, I’m intentionally staying dumb about the Flushing Creek waterway – for now – as it’s entirely novel to me to “know” nothing about something and I want to preserve that as long as possible. It’s philosophic with me, ignorance, and it’s difficult to preserve. Every year, I play my “Super Bowl Challenge,” which is prophylactic in terms of information regarding the big game. I don’t want to know when, where, who… anything. It’s more difficult to know nothing than everything about something these days.

A challenge I’m several years into, as a note, is the Lady Gaga challenge. I know nothing about Lady Gaga other than her name. Never looked at a photo, listened to a song, wouldn’t recognize her if she was sitting next to me. No animosity against the house of Gaga is offered, of course, it’s just extremely challenging to remain completely ignorant of somebody is who apparently a huge pop star – and it’s a challenge I accept. I guess I know she’s a pop star.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

By my standards, which are set to a high bar by that legendary exemplar of urban neglect which is the Newtown Creek, things didn’t look too bad around here. There were all sorts of garbage, dumping, broken pipes like the one above encountered… but… I mean… Maspeth Creek… y’know?

Part of the reason I wanted to come here during the brown and brittle months of the winter, incidentally, involved the lessened chances of encountering biting insects and ticks in particular. Got to imagine that there are clouds of mosquitos and black flies around this spot during the summer months.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There was some sort of ruggose canvas placed on the shoreline, no doubt an attempt at fighting erosion of the sandy beach. The good news is that said canvas created a hard pack surface which was easy to walk on. We were visiting Flushing Creek at the low tide interval of the daily cycle, so lots and lots of shoreline was revealed.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Modern day Flushing, with its massive “Hong Kong” style real estate developments, provided a backdrop for the scene. Like LIC, this “other” end of the 7 line in Queens has been growing exponentially in recent years. Manhattan’s Chinatown has been relegated to history’s dustbin, a relic of a forgotten age in NYC. Flushing is where it’s at these days, as far as where Chinese people live and work, and the place is being remodeled according to their tastes and preferences.

The “American Way” at work.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

We proceeded back along Flushing Creek for a bit, and the further that we went in the direction of Roosevelt Avenue, the more marshy the ground became. Brush and grasses became thicker, and salt water streams punctuated the foliage with increasing frequency. The sound of traffic on the nearby highways and area streets were the only non naturally generated sounds, other than the occasional passage of a 7 Line train set on the overhead trackage which carries the subway to and from Flushing’s Main Street.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There were oodles and oodles of birds flapping around, and I’m sure that at night this part of Flushing Creek would be crawling with Raccons and Rats and all sorts of nocturnal critters doing their thing.

More tomorrow, at this – your Newtown Pentacle.


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Written by Mitch Waxman

February 20, 2019 at 12:30 pm

fundamentally suspicious

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Thought experiment day…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Suppose that the subways ran at street level, in lanes shared with motor vehicles. Said motor vehicles behave in familiar fashion, pulling over to deliver parcels and people, breaking down, getting into “accidentals” and acting in the sort of erratic fashion that non tracked vehicles do. You’ve also got human powered vehicles scooting all over the place, bicycles and skateboards and so on. Then there’s pedestrians, people walking dogs, all of the things you see on a daily basis in New York City and “tune out.” The subway would have to constantly stop short and “dwell” in between stops and there would be a ton of vehicular accidents, including the trains themselves getting struck by cars and trucks and also smashing into errant pedestrians. That would necessitate NYPD activity, which would further increase “dwell” or delay time for the train. The designers of the system, a century ago, foresaw all of this and went to the expense of creating both “cut and cover” tunnels and “elevated” trackways. This gives the subway a “dedicated lane” wherein a lot of the random things that used to happen to the streetcar or trolley lines would be avoided.

This is why the BQX is a stupid idea, incidentally, since the folks pushing for it aren’t planning on dedicated lanes. The bicycle fanatics demand dedicated lanes, as a note, with “protected” border indicators made of concrete. Now, the Subway is the primary form of conveyance for the vast majority of working New Yorkers, but for most it’s only a part of their daily grind. Something like 75% of all Subway riders have a bus figure into their commute, and particularly so in Queens, the Bronx, Staten Island, and Brooklyn.

Ok, now transpose the word “subway” with “bus” and reread the first paragraph.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As mentioned in recent posts, I’ve been “getting smart” about the MTA’s NYCTA Bus system. One of the most common complaints which bus riders will offer, after crowding, is that the published bus schedules are theoretical at best. You actually can’t blame MTA for this one, as their “on time” surface transportation statistics are vulnerable to weather and traffic conditions. There’s all sorts of pundits out there – including the Union Representatives of the Bus Drivers – who have offered ways to reduce trip time, including novel ideas like two door fare control entrances. I’ve come to believe that what we really need to be discussing are dedicated bus lanes.

The Mayor is willing to commit a significant amount of our black top street pavement to the Bicycle Fanatics, but in terms of numbers… there’s a fairly limited number of people whom these bike lanes actually serve in terms of the traveling and commuting masses. MTA’s buses serve so many more people than the bike lanes do that the comparison wouldn’t even qualify as a rounding error. So, here’s my thought experiment:

Why not create dedicated bus and bike shared lanes, which the bike riders can use in the twenty minute or so intervals in between bus passages? Obviously, you couldn’t do this on every bus line since many of them wind through narrow one way streets, but for the “big boulevard and avenue street lines” – like the Q53 from Rockaway via Cross Bay Blvd. (ridership of about 21,000 per week or 1,092,000 annually) or the Q19 on Astoria Blvd. (ridership of about 4,000 per week or 208,000 annually) or the Q60 on Queens Blvd. (ridership of about 14,000 per week or 728,000 annually) for example?

I know, I’m using logic in DeBlasio’s NYC… In comparison, btw, the entire NYC Ferry system carried about 2.1 million people in 2017. The fare is the same as riding the bus ($2.75), but the City underwrites each fare to the tune of about $6.60 (combined $8.96 according to official sources), which means that the tax payer is kicking close to $14 million bucks into that particular mode of getting around per annum. I’m certainly not suggesting we get rid of the service, as I’m a big fan of it, but I think it’s important to know what things actually cost when talking about transit matters. I wonder what a mile of bike lanes costs, versus what a mile of dedicated bus lane would cost.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There’s actually quite a bit of room available for novel forms of transit like street car trolleys through the densest sections of the City, believe it or not, as evinced by the shot above which was gathered a block or two west of Queens Plaza. The NYC DOT uses this space to store their trucks and other equipment, which they also do under the 7 line viaduct on Queens Blvd. and in lots of other spots around the City. Eliminate a lot of this municipal storage, and it frees up a lot of land. Why do you think they want to close Rikers? What, mercy? Kindness? You need to put these facilities somewhere.

I know there’s nothing more fun than a wonky post about transit infrastructure to warm the cockles, but again – numbers matter when it comes to City Planning and spending. I understand and know that under our current Mayor, it’s about “feeling groovy” and “sounding good” but it seems to me that if a bus line – such as the Q53 with its roughly one million annual riders – carries the equivalent of one eighth of the entire population of NYC, we should be talking about creating dedicated bus lanes which can also serve bicyclists. This dedicated lane would also fit nicely into the “Vision Zero” traffic calming policies currently in vogue better than the “single task” bike lanes serving a statistically irrelevant number of commuters.


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Written by Mitch Waxman

February 14, 2019 at 11:00 am

circumstance alone

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A Jedi craves not these things.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Noticed on a fairly recent walk down to Hunters Point from Astoria, a neat and somewhat older car. Not sure what make or model it is, but it reminded me of the 1980’s, when a young Joe Piscopo taught us all how to laugh again. Back then, early pontifications from a humble narrator stated that “the future” would offer three likely paths which I summarized using popular science fiction movie tropes. First was the dystopian “Road Warrior” future, which can still happen but doesn’t seem to be the likely path upon which the world walks. Second was the utopian “Star Trek” future, which also seems increasingly unlikely to occur. Unfortunately, it seems the world has seemingly embraced a “Robocop” pathway instead.

I’d buy that for a dollar, I guess.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The shot above, and a couple of others which you’ve already seen, were my goal for the evening in LIC’s Hunters Point section. This was the night when something went “sproing” in my left foot (the pain squirrel strikes again) which has been bedeviling me for the last couple of weeks, and while shooting it a weird sort of chill sapped away any and all of my strength. For some reason, standing at the East River waterfront at night in February caused a physical effect in me. Weird, huh? Must be supercancer.

For those of you who don’t understand the term, supercancer is what Google tells you that you have if you search for an explanation of any number of ordinary or mundane aches and pains. As my team of doctors often tell me: Don’t google, make an appointment with us instead.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Uncharacteristically, my little photo expedition to the next neighborhood over was cut short, and I bowed to my physical weaknesses by taking the train home. Of course, I had to go the long way around, and caught the 7 for a transfer to the N and then a walk down Broadway in Astoria back to HQ. What was weird about that was that it was only about 11 p.m. as I was scuttling up the avenue, and literally every shop other than the ubiquitous bodegas were closed. Even bars. Alright, it was a Tuesday, but… sheesh.

Adventure, excitement… I crave these things, which indicates that I am no Jedi.


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Written by Mitch Waxman

February 13, 2019 at 1:00 pm

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