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Monday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Back home in Queens, after my day trip to Philadelphia, and I’m sorry to report two things. First, a combination of obligation and precipitation conspired against me taking a single picture for a week after the 7th. The second is that the obligations took the form of an endless series of Zoom meetings which just happened to occur on the few days when it wasn’t raining in the second week of March.

The only good news about this series of Newtown Creek related, or non profit advocacy group focused, or Community Board meetings I participated in is that while the “blah blah blah” and virtue signaling was happening, I was developing all the shots from Philadelphia that you’ve seen over the last couple of weeks on a different screen.

Multi tasking!

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On the 14th of March, a Monday, a very long walk was undertaken. My pathway involved first crossing the Sunnyside Yards, and then scuttling along the Skillman Avenue corridor which follows the southern side of the vast Federally owned railroad coach yard.

Famously, a humble narrator has a catalogue of every hole in the fences which is large enough to allow a lens sized point of view. After a spate of outings during the winter months, ones which saw me going out in the early hours of the morning in pursuit of the rising of the burning thermonuclear eye of god itself, this was the first of several spring outings timed for the recession of the fiery orb to its receptacle somewhere behind New Jersey.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

“Hole reliable” is actually two holes. They appear to be surveyor’s points, and they are cleanly cut apertures punched out of the steel plate fences. There’s four kinds of fencing around the yards, with three of them being absolutely disastrous in terms of photos – save for these rare surveyor points.

The funny thing about the so called “security” situation here are the rail cops sleeping in their cars alongside wide open gates, contrasted with an abundance of “block the view” or “unclimbable” fences.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This shot was gathered while lingering, unchallenged, at one of those open gates. There was a cop sleeping in his car directly behind me, with a tablet playing a TV program in his passenger seat.

I literally could have done anything I wanted here – walked right down to the tracks and waved at passing trains. Anything. It’s all theater – security kabuki.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s the 7 line subway heading eastwards out of Queens Plaza towards Sunnyside pictured above. The tracks it travels on are suspended high above the ground level tracks used by Long Island Railroad and Amtrak. In between, there’s a truss bridge which carries vehicle traffic into and out of Queens Plaza, where the travel lane approaches to the Queensboro Bridge are found.

I moved on, the cop never woke up. Maybe he was dead.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Luckily, just as I arrived at my first actual destination, the sky lit up with oranges and yellows. I miss the old days in Long Island City, before big real estate crossed the river from Manhattan and stole the sky.

More tomorrow, from Long Island City, 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.

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Thursday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On the iron road again! Amtrak isn’t cheap if you’re buying your tickets the day of travel, but when buying tickets well in advance – it’s super affordable. One randomly purchased a round trip ticket in February for the 7th of March. I had to get to Moynihan/Penn Station before sunrise, and left Astoria at something like 4:45 in the morning.

While waiting for a cab, I had an ugly encounter with a drunken asshole here in Astoria, which was a lovely start to my day. Seriously- when you see a dude wearing his Riker’s slippers on the street so as to display his cred, you’ve crossed into the danger zone of stupid.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Of course, I could have taken the subway here, but I had the entire kit with me and didn’t want to chance of having the MTA “MTA” me. Clown shoes, they are, and especially so in the wee hours of the morning when they know they can get away with it.

The good news is that I was happily standing by the departures board at Moynihan in Manhattan in under 30 minutes, waiting for my train’s track to be announced. Amtrak ain’t clown shoes.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The blessed moment came, and soon I was pulsing down into the train. This was a day trip, as mentioned above, and my return to the City would be some 16 hours away.

As is the custom, a conductor checks your ticket and inquires as to your destination. You are then directed to this train car or that one where passengers with a destination common to yours are also seated. I settled in, and set my camera up for shooting out the window.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I’ve fashioned a foam collar for my lens, which negates window reflections. ISO is set to “auto” and the aperture opened as wide as it can go. The shutter time was very fast, measured in the thousandths of a second. As is my habit with such shots, I cropped them differently than normal to distinguish them.

These aren’t “composed” shots, rather it’s a random form of shooting out the window as the Amtrak rolls along. In this case, we were heading first west and then south.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I won’t bore you with all that I captured along the way. The one above was from somewhere around Newark.

The train was surprisingly crowded.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My destination for the day is 90 minutes from NYC by train, and it’s America’s consolation prize.

Philadelphia, there I went. More tomorrow.


“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 21, 2022 at 11:00 am

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Friday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Whilst scuttling about on a recent evening, one met an Opossum. I have no idea if the critter was a he or a she or a they, but it seemed nice. Are there trans or non gender conforming opossums, and do we have to worry about their feelings? The thing was vamping for me, and since I had just updated the firmware on my camera with what Canon promised as being “improvements to the eye tracking autofocus for animals and people” this situation presented an excellent opportunity for me to test the improved feature out.

Apparently, a big part of this face and eye tracking update involved adapting to the presence of Covid masks. The Opossum wasn’t wearing one, and neither was I for that matter, but there you are. Speaking as someone who has treated Covid with a great deal of respect over the last two years, it absolutely flummoxes me when I see people who are entirely alone – and outside – wearing masks. Same thing with people who are driving solo and wearing one. Why?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Now, when I was riding around on various Amtrak’s in the September and December, and on Subways here in the City, you’d have had to pry the mask off my cold dead face before I’d remove it willingly in an unventilated congregate setting. Outside, though? Unless it’s a truly crowded sidewalk – a protest or maybe a press event – I’m bare faced. Ventilation, people, ventilation. Also, distancing, people, distancing. This isn’t advice, you do you.

Recent occasion found me at the Jackson Heights intermodal subway and bus station at Broadway and Roosevelt Avenue here in Queens, where a masked up crowd formed into tight rows less than a foot away from each other when either boarding the escalator or awaiting the train’s arrival. Me? I was masked up, but stood well away from everybody else and their clouds of cooties. Why crowd in? What advantage is there? Who are you trying to beat out for pole position in terms of boarding the R? I guarantee you’re going to get onto the train, why do you need to be first?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My evening’s destination, which the pursuance thereof had precipitated meeting the nice Opossum, was the Newtown Creek waterfront in Maspeth. The former bulkheads of a long gone copper refinery and chemical factory called Phelps Dodge offer a commanding set of views of the Kosciuszko Bridge as well as a few other interesting things to point a camera at.

As far as Newtown Creek goes, the waters which greasily lap at the Phelps Dodge shoreline are generally considered to be the most deeply compromised – environmentally speaking – on the entire waterway.

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.

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Thursday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Scuttling, always scuttling, that’s me. Filthy black raincoat fluttering in the wind, camera in hand, shoes scraping along the sidewalk. It’s horrible to behold, my countenance, I’ve been told. I dread passing before a piece of silvered glass.

The good news is that a humble narrator was recently engaging in a bit of calisthenic stretching and one of the tendons in my trick left foot shifted and made a sound not unlike a cello’s base string being struck with a hammer. Ever since, the pain and tenderness in the left foot and ankle has ameliorated a bit, which has just been awesome. Of course, I’m in my 50’s, so my right hip immediately began to hurt instead.

I like to refer to this phenomena as my pain squirrel, which finds a different branch of the body’s tree to sit upon every day. My physical form is like a meaty Yggdrasil, with the Pain Squirrel Ratatoskr found above, and the Death Serpent Níðhöggr chewing his way up through my roots from below.

I have an entirely pedantic inner life.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This time around, I was out for a short walk, which these days sees this shattered husk walking the equivalent of four to five subway stops in one direction and then looping back towards HQ. It’s malevolent, winter weather, and my particular “kryptonite” revolves around cold.

Partially, this is due to the medications prescribed by the team of doctors who labor to maintain my homeostasis. The ichor flowing though my circulatory system tends to run away from cold, rendering the extremities cold and pale. If I’m out for a long walk on a very cold night, it looks a great deal like this when I return home.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Nearing HQ, this scene greeted me nearby a construction site. Obviously, somebody does not grasp the concept nor practice of municipal recycling, on a fundamental level.

More tomorrow.


“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 24, 2022 at 11:00 am

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Wednesday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Back in NYC, just as the Omicron variant Covid surge began, one put all thoughts about holiday merrymaking and socializing out of his head. You can’t argue with a logarithmic curve, so the logic of the entire Covid period – at this particular moment, it’s been 1,057 days, if my math is correct – was followed. Go out at night, by myself, and wander around the industrial zones where I’m going to encounter few if any other people. As the old Christmas cartoon would offer: put one foot in front of the other, and soon you’ll be walking out the door.

Good golly, Miss Molly, are we ever going to escape from this looping form of existence? Everyday is like the last day, same old, same old. When this is all over, I’m going to start wearing different colored clothes or something.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This particular evening in early December was quite a cold one. My simple desire was to get some exercise, but I was engaging in a “short walk.” For me, that meant heading out from Astoria, crossing the Sunnyside Yards to Skillman Avenue and following that to Queens Plaza and then back down Northern Blvd. towards HQ. Just under three miles, round trip, I guess?

Was wondering, while shooting these, if I had recently been riding on any of those trains down there. Sigh.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Sunnyside Yards is a railroad coach yard. What that means is that you can’t catch a train here, despite it being an 180 and change square acres Federal and State railroad facility. The purpose of the Sunnyside Yards is to provide holding areas and turn around trackage for commuter rail that’ve already been to Manhattan. You see New Jersey Transit, Long Island Railroad, and Amtrak units down there regularly. Every now and then you’ll see some train set branded with Pennsylvania colors. I always figure they must’ve gotten lost when I see them. “Queens, what do you mean Queens? We must’ve taken a wrong turn at Lancaster… Crap.”

The yards are divvied up between the various entities housed here. The official owner is Amtrak, but MTA has sway over significant acreages of the place. They’ve recently finished building out an enormous new holding yard on the north side of the facility, which is a part of the East Side Access project.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A humble narrator famously maintains a catalog of the holes in Amtrak’s fences which are large enough to fit a camera lens into. The best of the Federal holes were cut for surveyor usage. They’re generally the size of a deck of cards, these holes, but are far and few between. There’s also tears in the chain link fencing, which is also fairly easy to work with. Then, there’s the set of holes formed by weathering and material failure. Those are irregular and difficult to use, but I manage.

The shot above comes from one of the latter kind, where – I think – what must have been a vehicle accident caused a steel plate to bend away from the rest of the fence structure. Holes.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Back onto Skillman Avenue nearby Queens Plaza, where I spent a few minutes pondering whether or not I wanted to head down to Dutch Kills for a lookie loo. One decided not to. It was, after all, freezing out.

One pointed his toes north and east, and started shlepping back to the rolling hillocks of almond eyed Astoria.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Along the way, a discarded Book of Psalms and pile of Cheerios caught my attention. Fascinating, the way that these manufactured items end up where they do once somebody is done with them.

One thing you notice, upon returning to NYC from nearly anywhere else, is how dirty it is. Piles of crap are everywhere.


“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 2, 2022 at 11:00 am

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