The Newtown Pentacle

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be shunned

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Another day, another 20,000 steps.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One found himself scuttling down Skillman Avenue recently, marveling at the ludicrous size of Durst Organization’s latest project on the other side of the Sunnyside Yards in Queens Plaza. Skillman has become rather populated in recent weeks, as the residents of both Sunnyside and Hunters Point have begun exploiting it for exercise and recreational walks.

I look forward to all of you returning to swallowing your alcohol drinks, or sitting in movie theaters, or watching your sports ball again, and getting the hell out of my personal Idaho.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

At the corner of Skillman and Thomson Avenues, the photo above was observed. I have several theories about this scene – postulates, causalities, and so on.

1) Covid. The virus ate away at some unfortunate person from their feet up and all that was left behind was the scalp and hair. 2) Those ravenous rats which the CDC warned the country about the other day, entirely consumed somebody but left their hair behind. 3) Somebody actually heard back from NYS Unemployment and they flipped their wig. 4) Fake news. There is no wig, instead it’s the Democrats, specifically Nancy Pelosi and AOC planting conflict actor hairpieces around Long Island City.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My reveries about the hair piece were interrupted when one of those sterilized Long Island Railroad trains came rolling by. Oh boy! My obsessive desires to photograph LIRR rolling stock now satisfied, so one pointed his toes towards that fabulous ribbon of municipal neglect known as the Newtown Creek. Again.

It really feels like I’m walking the stations of some highly industrialized cross at this point, btw. One occasionally feels a sharp sticking pain in the back, and exclaims “Ow, my country.”

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, June 1st. 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.

coherent thought

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Combination punches are what make a great fighter, and a deadly virus.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One is forced to continue his incessant marching about, as my very existence is predicated upon regular “cardio” without which my veins and arteries will become plugged up. In accordance with quarantine rules, I’m only leaving the house when the streets will be absolutely deserted. Luckily, I favor lonely paths, enjoy the concrete devastations, and am also a bit of a night owl under best circumstance. Recent endeavor found one wandering through Long Island City on my way to Newtown Creek on a Saturday night. I know how to party.

That’s Skillman Avenue pictured above. Somehow, all the arguing and gnashing of teeth over that bike lane seems pretty silly now, doesn’t it?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

LIC is still home to several yellow cab fleets. These pictures were gathered on a Saturday night, and seemingly all of the yellow cabs operated by this particular outfit were sitting parked and empty. Already in serious trouble due to a changing economy and the rapacious greed of both medallion brokers and the City’s “TLC,” I don’t know if the yellow cab side of the “for hire vehicle” segment is going to survive this quarantine.

There’s a lot of people I know who work in the so called “gig” economy who are experiencing total unemployment and impoverishment already. Personally speaking, there is going to zero demand for any sort of walking or boat tour until at least July, and that’s presuming that things are normal again by then, so I’m actually one of the aforementioned “screwed” as well. Lots of belt tightening is underway at HQ, and my goal of buying a new camera body at the end of the year is pretty much kaput.

Saying that, I’m hoping to just not get sick and die right now, so if I manage that, it’ll soften the blow about the camera. ‘Life and death” versus “things you’d want debates”… so very American of me, huh?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I do have a bit of sympathy for the cab drivers, as a note. A humble narrator makes it a point of talking to cab drivers, whereas a lot of folks don’t bother. One is often interested in the points of view offered by the mostly immigrant drivers, some of whom are surprisingly well educated and interesting people working at their first job in the U.S. and are just making ends meet by working in this particular trade. Others are knuckleheads and bad conversationalists.

One of the things I observed while wandering around that night was that the ethnic restaurants were empty, while bars and other restaurants were packed. This was on Saturday the 14th, as a note. When I say “ethnic restaurants” I don’t mean the kind that cater to the general population, rather ones which people of that restaurants actual ethnic culture or community frequent – the Comida Typica’s or Greek Tavernas or the Colombian steak and egg joints.

Of course, on this evening restaurants and bars were still open.

Note: I’m writing this and several of the posts you’re going to see for the next couple of weeks at the start of the week of Monday, March 16th. 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.


“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, 2020 at 11:00 am

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.

horror somewhere

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Sick of it all, everyone and everything.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One of those wintry moods has struck, and a humble narrator is very much in “lone wolf” mode at the moment. I don’t want any part of anything which involves exchanges of words longer than a singular sentence. Accordingly, attempts at avoiding pedantry and excess explanatory conversation are liberally ignored by all. I’ve got too much to do and not enough time to do it. Not getting any younger, tick and tock.

Luckily, photography – especially night time photography – is a singular pursuit. I can be alone with the HP Lovecraft audiobooks, although I would mention that while shooting these photos it was an unabridged reading of Upton Sinclair’s “The Jungle” playing through my headphones. If you alter all the pronoun names of the characters in The Jungle from Lithuanian to Spanish – Jurgis to Jorge, for instance – it makes the thing even more depressing as nothing ever changes in this country – ever.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I would like to embrace the sophistry that we are living in some sort of simulation, a computer program which receives regular updates and patches to keep the players interested in us. Unfortunately, this sort of idea is the fever dream of paranoids, and like the worship of a divine sky father…

One left the house relatively early according to recent habit. It had just stopped raining, and heavy banks of clouds were positively hurtling across the dome. Perfect conditions, as far as I’m concerned. If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a hundred times – NYC never looks as good as it does when it’s wet.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My goal for the evening was ultimately going to be a visit to Dutch Kills, the Long Island City tributary of the fabulous Newtown Creek. Due to the shattered toe drama, there’s entire sections of my “beat” which haven’t been visited in months. Given that it’s relatively warm out for January, and my overwhelming desire to be completely and utterly alone, one geared up and scuttled forth.

What I really wanted to find was some eidolon of dissolution and chaos, a true monster. I did glimpse one periodically, when walking past reflective surfaces.


“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.

firmly determined

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Sunnyside Yards, in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As mentioned earlier in the week, one has been utilizing a severely limited photo bag for the last half of August, containing two small lenses and a novel form of camera support called an Ultrapod. The latter is basically an aluminum plate with machined screw holes of various sizes punched through it and there’s a tripod head screw mount welded onto it too. A bit of customization is called for, but due to the ubiquitous nature of the screw holes (.25 inch, 20 turn), I mounted latex furniture casters onto it – for friction. The whole thing weighs just a few ounces, even with the tripod head.

That’s Skillman Avenue up there in the shot above, and some monster has left a shopping cart nearby the bike lane. Surely a crime against humanity, and a terroristic act, this shopping cart abandonment must rate up there with the crimes of Mao and Stalin… just ask the bicycle people and they’ll tell you so. #carnage

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One of the fun things which I’ve been able to do with this minimal sized setup is to exploit some of the holes in the security fencing surrounding the Sunnyside Yards and get the camera lens into a steady position looking through the chain link. The smaller of the two lenses I’ve been using is a pancake lens, the Canon 24mm STM, which has a tiny little piece of glass that it peers through. That itty bitty POV is just small enough to look through these defects in the fencing, and the ultrapod gives me the stability to pull off longer exposures. Right tool for the right job, huh?

The illuminated structure in the upper right of the shot above is the Acela maintenance building, and there’s two trains inside the thing. Just to the right of that is a regular Amtrak trainset which was stopped on the tracks, and the brightly lit white building is the Standard Motor Products structure found on 39th street and Northern Blvd. The shot was gathered from the Honeywell Street truss bridge over the Sunnyside Yards.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Also gathered on the Honeywell Street truss, the shot above looks southwest across a Amtrak holding yard for what I imagine to be Northeast Corridor rolling stock, but that’s strictly an educated guess as to what they are. Sunnyside Yards is a rail coach yard – meaning that trains cross through, change crews here, stop for maintenance and cleaning – but that you can’t actually catch a train here. The irony of that never ceases to amuse one such as myself, but it is an important reminder that if you want to get technical about railroad stuff – I’m an enthusiast and know more than the average bear – but I’ve never called myself an expert on the subject.


“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

August 29, 2019 at 11:00 am

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