The Newtown Pentacle

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Archive for the ‘Queens Plaza’ Category

sunniest room

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Queens Plaza.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The CoronAmerican shut down has gone on for so long now that the graffiti crowd have been able to throw themselves a real party here in Long Island City. Even the construction equipment of LIC, idled, is getting scribbled and tagged on.

That’s a CASE 590 Super N Backhoe Loader, by the way. According to the manufacturer’s product description: “Want an 8-ton excavator that can go 25 mph? Try out the Tier 4 Final 590 Super N backhoe loader. The backhoe delivers breakout of nearly 16,000 lb. as well as a digging depth of up to 20 feet and a lifting capacity of more than 4,100 lb. The heavy-duty loader gets it done with breakout forces of nearly 13,700 lb. and with the responsive PowerDrive transmission, you have more speed and performance at your control.” Personally, I want and need all of these options.

Not sure what a new one costs, but google informs that you can pick up a used CASE model 590 Super N for about $25,000. That’s actually a lot less than I’d have imagined. If you have the cheddar just laying around, why not pick one up and get to work?

Oh… right. Remain indoors.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I do enjoy a good hole.

The new discovered aperture in the fenceline of the Sunnyside Yards has become a regular stop for a humble narrator on his nocturnal scuttles. That’s some Amtrak rolling stock, idling and waiting for some theoretical rush hour which recedes further into the future every day. Remain indoors.

Before any of you Libertarians, Bible Thumpers, LaRouchites, supply siders, Tea Partiers, or bleach drinkers accuse me of changing my tune on the Corona crisis… I’m as frustrated as everyone else is right now, but reality is unfortunately not magical. This isn’t a conspiracy, it’s a public health emergency. The kind which has historically scythed through the human population about once every hundred years or so. If we don’t joke about it, we will all go crazy.

Joke wise – did you hear about the guy who got hurt playing peek a boo with his kid? He ended up in the ICU. Get it? ICU!

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One continues to walk the deserted streets of Queens in the middle of the night, a wandering mendicant in a filthy black raincoat. One will continue to scuttle along the concrete devastations, peering through fences with wild staring eyes while attempting to understand the world. Somewhere in the darkness, there must be some sort of Rosetta Stone.

Back tomorrow with something else, at this, your Newtown Pentacle.

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, May 11th. 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 as we move into April and beyond, 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.


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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.

vague presentiment

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Mighty, Queensboro… and I guess I’m a troll now.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One of my recent jaunts, carrying the camera about, found me wandering around the footings of the Queensboro Bridge in LIC. The amount of wasted space under here, which is frankly squandered by the NYC DOT, is colossal. DOT has the whole area gated off, with utilitarian fencelines of the chain link type bearing signage warning passerby of non existent security, and the city block sized lots under the bridge are used as parking lots for DOT’s municipal vehicle fleets, storage areas for various sorts of equipment like bike racks and tables, or they just sit empty.

For an area that’s so visually interesting, and so close to the largest of the NYCHA campuses, not having some combination of playgrounds and sitting areas… or even a single sign talking about Lindenthal and 1909… bah.

Trolls hang out under bridges, right?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I’ve got a special place in my three sizes too small heart for Queensboro, as the centennial for her was the first time that I participated in a public event. A humble narrator was a Parade Marshal for that event, and in fact, the very first post at this – your Newtown Pentacle – carried a shot from the upper roadway shot on that day. That’s the first and only time I got to meet Mayor Bloomberg, the first time I interacted with Congresswoman Caroline Maloney, Borough President Helen Marshall, or then DOT Commissioner Jeanette Sadik Khan.

In many ways, it was my coming out party.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Now, I’ve been bringing the thunder to Western Queens ever since, of course, but yeah Queensboro’s Centennial was the first time I stood up out of the shadows and said “Hi.”

Pictured above is one of those monumental wastes of space discussed above, a mostly empty parking lot for some of DOT’s fleet of passenger cars. Ever wonder why the DOT doesn’t require its people to ride bikes? I mean, institutionally speaking, they are the ones pushing the whole “bike lane agenda” in cooperation with the almighty TA Bicycle Lobby. You’d think they’d be providing some sort of moral example by abandoning their cars and riding bikes. The bike lobby is pushing the slogan that “street parking is theft,” right? So… what would you call that parking lot pictured above? Wouldn’t something else be a better use of the public land?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There’s an intricate web of ramps leading onto and off of Queensboro Bridge at the western side of Queens Plaza. You’ve also got structural steel aqueducts that carry subway lines to and from the area. The streets are pretty high volume as far as private vehicle traffic goes as well. It’s not terribly pedestrian friendly down here.

Ever notice how the pedestrians always get left out of the argument? Most people walk to and from either their cars or their bikes, as a note, and there’s some like myself for which walking is their primary manner of getting around. Saying that, it’s all about parking versus bike lanes.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On the bike lane front, a significant amount of conversation in the coming months is going to involve Crescent Street. The bike people, and the elected officialdom crowd, have started a process which is calling on the NYC DOT to study creating a “bridge to bridge” bike lane on Crescent Street which will negate a lot of parking, reduce the number of vehicle lanes on the southern side of the street down to one, and create a protected bike lane. It’s not necessarily the end of the world, as some would offer, and not necessarily the solution to all things as others would say. What it is, however, is problematic in terms of engineering the street’s ultimate flow of both motor vehicles and bikes onto Queensboro.

Pity me, I’m going to be right in the middle of this on Community Board 1’s Transportation Committee.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s the 7 line subway tracks pictured above, and the streak of light exiting stage left is the line itself. Cannot tell you how long I stood on this corner waiting to get this shot, but I can tell you it was pretty chilly out and that shortly after the capture above, rain started to drizzle down. One headed over towards the north side of Queens Plaza, whereupon I discovered that the R line had been shut down for the night due to repairs and that MTA was running a shuttle bus instead. Luckily for me, that shuttle wasn’t asking for a swipe of the old Metro Card, so I got a free ride home.

Tomorrow, back to the fabulous Newtown Creek, 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.

Written by Mitch Waxman

February 17, 2020 at 11:00 am

nameless hybrids

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In the end, there is only one question.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I’ve asked it time and againwho can guess, all there is, that might be buried down there? A recent scuttle found one headed towards Queens Plaza and discovering that a subterranean parking garage had been recently constructed that offered one a partial answer to that question. Cars. There’s cars down there.

Y’know, if you’re moving to a high rise building located at the destination point of nearly every bus and subway line in the Borough of Queens, and a couple of blocks from the Queensboro Bridge, a question to ask yourself is “do I really need to have a car, instead of renting one when I need one, since I live one subway stop from Manhattan”? Pfagh!

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One remains endlessly fascinated by the visual splendors of Queens Plaza. Long exposure shots such as the one above, which captured the quick passage of a bus past the camera, are the sort of thing I’m after these days. When I see a bus coming, an attempt is made to get the shot set up and framed before it passes me by, as a matter of fact. That streak of light in the middle of the shot above is actually an N train entering the Queensboro Plaza station on the elevated track, so for once my timing worked out perfectly, MTA wise. I always say “the A in MTA is for adventure.”

This was a particularly cold night, but the recent desire for a return to physical and photographic discipline after the long convalescence related to that broken toe at the end of 2019 is something which I cannot deny myself. Also, by staying busy in the slack time of my year, I’ve avoided the depressed mood and doldrums which normally afflict me during the winter months.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Since the air temperatures were in the high twenties, and it was quite breezy, the only logical choice I could make was to visit the Queensboro Bridge bike and pedestrian path, since a cold January night is exactly when you want to find yourself about ten stories over the East River – right?

Used to be that I’d find myself walking over Queensboro a couple of times a week, but for the last few years not so much. I also never used to drink tea, but these days I look forward to a good “cuppa” now and again.


“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.

acrid scent

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I’m the thing on your doorstep at night.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Want to have people notice you? Stand on the corner of Skillman Avenue behind a tripod, while photographing scenes like the one above. People will literally walk directly in front of the camera lens and good naturedly ask you what you’re recording. “Right now, madam, your midsection” is something you can say. That’s why I had to stand there for about twenty minutes the other night, waiting for another 7 train to transit above. Shot needed the 7, after all, not some random woman’s abdomen. If you happen across a photographer who is set up with a tripod and all the other junk, and you’re feeling conversational, maybe it would make sense for you not to stand directly in front of their camera? As mentioned, hate for everyone and everything at the moment.

My goal, as mentioned in yesterday’s post, was to get down to Dutch Kills in LIC, which is one of my happy places. I need happy places at the moment.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

“Hell is other people” as the saying goes. Of course, without the other people, these shots would have been gathered in a primeval and legendarily mosquito rich swamp that was supposedly avoided by the native americans. This section of LIC was historically undeveloped until the early 20th century, when the fields of both construction technology and financial capital management had finally attained levels sufficient to not just conquer but totally annihilate the natural environment. You can destroy an ecosystem the old fashioned way (Rome was great at this task), but to totally erase any trace of flowing or flooding water, you need modern tools and lots of money. The Pennsylvania Railroad, Michael Degnon, and the City of Greater New York itself had both requirements sorted out back “in the day.”

This corner is where, instead of some nosey lady, I got to smile and wave at a couple of cops who were mildly curious about my activities. Not curious enough to roll down the window, or get out of the car, just curious enough to stare at me for a few minutes. I waved, smiled, and flipped the tail of my filthy black raincoat at them. Shaking their heads, they drove off.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Finally. When I say that I can only be happy when I’m in places like 29th street in LIC, a blasted railroad access route that masquerades as a proper city street. The bulkheads along the water side of the street have been collapsing for a couple of years now, but no one cares. The waters of the industrialized canal called Dutch Kills, which have tested positive for both Gonorrhea and Typhus, are poison but no one cares. Sick little trees line the banks, wicking up the heavy metals and other pollutants from the landfill used to conquer the swamp. I care.

Nepenthe.


“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.

hardly fitting

Cacophonies of tumult.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Having staggered and stumbled down Northern Blvd.’s Carridor, and then down the vampire infested expanse of Jackson Avenue, one made the turn away from Queens Plaza, towards Skillman Avenue and onto one of the truss bridges carrying pedestrian, bicycle, and vehicle traffic over the narrow part of the Sunnyside Yard while wearing a too tight hat.

This is a pretty busy byway, as a note, with thousands of vehicle trips an hour passing through, and since LaGuardia Community College is just a few blocks away there’s also a considerable amount of pedestrian and bike movement. This is another one of those spots where utilitarian concerns trumped all other considerations, including esthetics, when it was created. Unfriendly is the word.

Far and away this is one of the most unwelcoming, ugly, and down right hostile passages in all of NYC for perambulatory pursuits, in my experience. It’s also badly lit, and there’s a hundred places for a bad actor to lie in wait for passerby. Luckily, since there’s running water in the ground below, no vampires are found above.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Just as the truss bridge ends at Skillman Avenue, the street officially gets listed as Queens Blvd., but “technically speaking” the actual Boulevard of Death begins at the corner of Van Dam Street and Thomson Avenue. There’s spots like this all over Queens where an overpass above (the one pictured today carries the IRT Flushing or 7 Line Subway) obscures the actual street name below and cartography gets vague. One interesting thing about the design of Queens Plaza is that if makes you want to get out of Queens Plaza just as quickly as possible. It’s not the sort of place where you look around for a cafe with out door seating, where you’d want to sit down to enjoy an espresso.

This was the “turn around” point in my scuttle, where I orient my steps back towards HQ in Astoria. An eastwards turn onto Skillman Avenue was executed.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I had to “Frankenstein” the shot above, or I should say “shots.” One of the problems often encountered while gathering these night photos is the uneven illumination. The exposure for the gas station was literally half of what was required for the rest of the shot. Accordingly, it’s actually two shots welded together, which you can get away with doing if you’re using a tripod and the camera is in a fixed position. Luckily, the 7 was delayed during the longer exposure so it renders as something other than a streak of lights.

Formerly common commercial establishments seen in NYC were gas stations. When the fires of gentrification begin to be stoked in any neighborhood, large footprint businesses like gas stations are usually amongst the first to go. Supermarkets too. A point has been made in recent years to record their location and appearance.


“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

January 22, 2020 at 1:00 pm

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