The Newtown Pentacle

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Archive for the ‘Subway’ Category

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!


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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 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

Tagged with ,

resonant tones

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Merry merry.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A humble narrator is taking this week and the first half of next off, so singular images will be greeting you through the week. Have a joylessly laconic Festivus, a Merry Christmas, and a Kwazy Kwanzaa.

Be back on the 27th to finish up the year at this. your Newtown Pentacle.


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Written by Mitch Waxman

December 20, 2018 at 11:00 am

Posted in Manhattan, Subway

Tagged with , ,

exceedingly gruesome

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I still need a vacation.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One spent an interval arguing with a proverbial “angry old white man keyboard warrior” type yesterday afternoon, who accused me of being a “hystrionic hipster clown.” I’ll accept clown, but hipster? I encounter this sort of fellow occasionally in real life, sometimes when I’m conducting a tour. You can always spot them; head cocked back, one eye slightly winced, sour look on the face. They showed up to see me screw up so they can then call me out on something. Usually, they will interject with some obvious thing – “you gonna mention the Long Island Railroad?” or something.

Yes, I will, when we get to that section of the tour. If they continue with the derision, I tend to bury them with a depth of knowledge that they aren’t prepared for, or introduce them to the group and hand them the microphone. Screw with the bull, you get the horns. Given my love of conflict and argument, if you come at me all aggressive like, I’m going to freaking bury you with a smile on my face as I do it. Brooklyn, that’s where I’m from.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Getting all granular about every little thing is something that I prefer not to do. I’ve never claimed to be an expert on all things – however – I do possess an enormous knowledge base which covers a lot of subjects. Subway and train people are the worst about this sort of thing, writing you off if you don’t know the model number of some twenty turn screw that the Dual Contracts era engineers had problems with. I know a lot about a lot of things, and know everything about one or two things. Given my particular interests, which generally revolve around Newtown Creek, anything that’s tangentially related to the waterway’s history is something I’ve read up on and at least tried to talk to an actual expert on the subject. That means I know far more than most “civilians” about wastewater management, trash hauling, maritime shipping, and the sociopolitical history of Brooklyn and Queens. It’s a pleasure to meet somebody who wants to share what they know about trolleys or some other esoteric subject, but the vast majority of these armchair scholars just want to hoard their knowledge.

The fellow who was being aggressive and nasty to me yesterday didn’t get the “full treatment,” which is what I call the vulgar display of my well honed internet research powers. Suffice to say that within fifteen minutes of his ugly attentions and nasty commentary, I knew his home address and had a photo of him sitting on his porch in Smithtown out on Long Island. As expected, he was a retired city employee pining for the “good old days.” Seriously, folks, there is no such thing as online anonymity unless you are very, very skilled in hiding your tracks. All I need is your email address and I can follow the wires back to, at least, the corner you live on. Imagine what the cops can do. Don’t make threatening statements online, with the ideation that you won’t get kicked in the skedooch.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I’m not offended by the “hipster” or “clown” accusations, incidentally, although “hipster” is a bit of stretch. What pissed me off was the accusation that I’m some sort of transplanted Midwest suburbanite who recently arrived in NYC to disaffectedly enjoy soy mocha lattes at some upscale Williamsburg cafe. I’ve encountered this sort of thing before, and it just ticks me off. Other than something like six to eight composite weeks when I was off galavanting in New England or Europe on vacations, I’ve woken up in New York City every single day for the last fifty one years. I didn’t pick up and move to Long Island or Westchester or …Staten Island… like some goddamned little kid afraid of what he’s seen in the big bad City. That would be giving up, and admitting that the malefic intelligence of the City had beaten you.

It’s standard “keyboard warrior” technique, calling somebody names. Let’s talk face to face, on the street where things are tangible and real. Say it to my face, if you want to deploy your MAGA code words and veiled threats.

Feh. 

Upcoming events


Saturday, November 3rdTidal Toast, a fundraiser party to support Newtown Creek Alliance in our mission to “Reveal, Restore, Revitalize” the Newtown Creek. Since 2002 the Newtown Creek Alliance (NCA) has been the voice of Newtown Creek; working with industry, agencies, and residents alike to promote awareness, remediation, access, resilient businesses and ecological restoration. This celebration will champion the Vision for the future of the waterway and those that have contributed their time, energy and effort to it.
More information and tickets here. 


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Written by Mitch Waxman

November 2, 2018 at 11:15 am

unforeseen hitch

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One of those days…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

October 29th is one of those days on the calendar when things just seem to happen. In 539 BC, Persian King Cyrus the Great conquered Babylon and sent the Jews back to their homelands, whereupon they came up with an official version of what we call “The Old Testament.” In 312 AD, fresh off his victory at the Milvian Bridge where he claimed to have seen visions in the sky and swore to make Christianity the official religion of the Empire if he was victorious, Constantine the Great entered Rome as the Emperor of the Roman Empire. In 1390, Paris began holding witch trials, signaling the beginning of a European Witch Panic which would ebb and flow for centuries. Over in Geneva, in 1863, the International Red Cross was formed. In 1914, October 29th is the entry date for the Ottoman Empire into the First World War, and since things went very badly for the Ottomans in that conflict it also happens to be the day that the Republic of Turkey was established in 1923.

Closer to home – in 1929, October 29th was a Tuesday, and is known to history as “Black Tuesday” as it’s the start date for the Great Depression. In 2012, October 29th is the day that Hurricane Sandy blew through NYC.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I was out and about shortly after the flood waters receded in 2012 (on the 30th), accompanying a pair of scientific researchers who were collecting samples of the muck and mire deposited around the neighborhoods surrounding Newtown Creek. The LIRR tracks in LIC, pictured above, were littered with all sorts of junk – including a sizable portion of FreshDirect’s truck fleet. The nearby Queens Midtown Tunnel was literally flooded with water from the Dutch Kills tributary of the Creek, which rose over its banks. Friends who were shepherding maritime vessels in the harbor described the swell from Sandy as being less of a tide and more of sudden rising of sea level. The waters rose vertically, and one of them said that his biggest challenge that night was maintaining a position on the Hudson River which wouldn’t find his vessel grounded on the West Side highway the next morning.

This sort of thing did happen on Staten Island, as a note, and a ship was found sitting somewhere along Richmond Terrace which should have been in the Kill Van Kull.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The MTA proved itself criminally unprepared for an event like Sandy, and the Subway system suffered massive amounts of damage from flooding in the deep.

Personally speaking, Sandy didn’t affect me terribly much, but I’ve always looked at old maps when choosing a place to live and make it a point of living where the Dutch did. The Dutch were, and are, brilliant when it comes to this sort of thing whereas the English speaking world isn’t. I had power and water here in Astoria, but not too far from HQ the Bowery Bay Wastewater Treatment Plant and LaGuardia Airport were pretty much put out of business by the coastal flooding for about a week. Our Lady of the Pentacle was away on a trip, which became extended by about three to four days due to not being able to fly home, which made my little dog Zuzu quite pensive.


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Written by Mitch Waxman

October 29, 2018 at 1:00 pm

more affable

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Heading somewhere, with nowhere to go, while having to “go.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A humble narrator’s experience can be described, ultimately, as a series of denied ambitions coupled with frustratingly implacable obstacles. Too often are my carefully laid plans upset by an externally generated mid course correction, or by having the bar raised as I’m reaching for it. My life often seems to be gummed up while trying to get from anywhere else in NYC to “Point A” in Astoria, Queens while using the subway. Additionally, enough people have told me that “I’m full of shit” over the years that I’ve started to believe it.

Last week, I found myself going everywhere all the time and wandering about the City in pursuance of a series of mundane tasks. At the end of each of them, whilst trying to return home, creativity and adaptability were required.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On one particular day, and I should mention that I had eaten oatmeal for breakfast the day before, there was some urgency in finding my way back home, so the observation about “being full of shit” offered by many was demonstrably true. Certain biological functions, as centered in the alimentary system, had created a bit of a ticking clock which needed to be acknowledged and dealt with in a somewhat expeditious fashion. Renal function is easily accommodated, in my experience, but blowing other forms of ballast are something which I have a certain situational preference for handling back at HQ. Somehow the MTA realized this, and conspired with that malign sentience which NYC is possessed by to have some fun with me. I saw many, many subway stations and instituted several increasingly urgent transfers. Having what one would colloquially refer to as “one in the chamber” while negotiating the transit system is not pleasant.

Before you ask, I did make it home in time, but just barely.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One is blessed by predictable function regarding such matters. Regrettably, life in the Big City and its various exigencies don’t always jibe with or conform to the clockworks found within. Accordingly, while double timing it back from the N – as MTA had decided it would be crazy for me to have actually used the R line which stops two blocks from my house – one pondered that age old question…

Why is it that in the greatest city in all of human history there no acknowledgement of human biology, and no public “pissoirs?” The Romans and Babylonians managed to create facilitations for this unavoidable existential fact, so why not NYC?


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Written by Mitch Waxman

October 8, 2018 at 1:00 pm

Posted in Subway

Tagged with , ,

every evidence

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Children don’t seem to sing rhyming songs about lethal infectious diseases anymore.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Colloquially speaking, the whole “Ring-a-round the rosies, a pocket full of posies” rhyming nursery school standard is commonly thought to refer to the onset of Bubonic Plague, but scholarly experts in the field of folklore deny such interpretation claiming that such ideations first appeared in the post modernist plagued 20th century. There’s evidentiary usage of the rhyming song from early in the 19th century, with regional and linguistic variations, contained in journalism and travelogue writings. The Brooklyn Daily Eagle documented Brooklyn street urchins singing a version of “Ring A Rosie” in 1846, for instance, and there’s written accounts of variants from Britain and Germany in about the same period. The German version sounds terrifying of course, which confirms something I’ve been chatting about with one of my Astoria buddies who originally hails from Cologne about.

“Nice” things, when spoken in German, sound terrifying whereas terrifying things sound like desserts. As an example – “newborn baby” is “Neugeborenes,” which sounds like some sort of a bone cancer. “Death by fire” is “Tod durch Feuer,” which my first instinct would presume is a fried fruit and chocolate cake concoction served on a wad of whipped cream.

It’s odd that, almost as odd as the design of that Amtrak engine unit 651 pictured above. This model of train engine seems to have an angry face, complete with glowing red eyes.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There was quite a hubbub here in the neighborhood last weekend, as the MTA was busy working in Queens Plaza on the N/W elevated tracks and had closed several arterial streets leading to and from the Queensboro Bridge. There were all sorts of diversions and reroutings, with all sorts of lovely gasoline powered signs flashing important messages at passerby. This was actually a difficult shot to acquire, as the “Expect Delays” sign was of the LED type.

The reason that LED lights use so much less energy than incandescent or flourescent ones revolves around the fact that they’re actually flashing on and off rather staying steadily on. To the human eye, something that’s flashing on and off a hundred times in a second appears steadily illuminated, in the same way that we perceive the 30 frames per second of cinema or tv images as moving images. One wonders about the subliminal effects of LED lighting, and whether or not they could be used to alter human perception via changes in frequency, perhaps inducing mood changes in a madding crowd environmentally. Visual morse code? Maybe. Try going out with and without the tinfoil hat and see if you think different things between the two experiences. Be empirical, I say.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A significant percentage of MTA’s rolling stock down in the sweating concrete bunkers has seen their “badge” indications converted over to LED lighting, which causes me no end of trouble when engaging in my habit of photographing trains entering and leaving the station. I’ve settled on a minimum shutter speed of 1/160th of a second for such matters, although 1/100th seems to be the actual frequency of the badge’s lighting cycle. The latter speed is too slow for the approaching locomotive, as the image of the thing gets “smeared” with motion blur. Even at 1/160th, however, as in the shot seen above, there is a discernibly lit and unlit portion of both the badge circle and the line designator.

Also, before anyone becomes fixated on the purplish lens flare visible, I cannot tell you why it’s purple. There’s a lot of light kicking around when a train enters a station, dust and crap in the air, and the headlights are pointing right into the lens which has an anti glare coating on it as well. It’s all part of the environmental effect.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

August 16, 2018 at 11:15 am

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