The Newtown Pentacle

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Archive for the ‘Subway’ Category

square toed

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Thurday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My short(ish) wintertime walks around Western Queens often include walking the corridor along 31st street, under the elevated tracks of the N & W Subway lines. As I’ve mentioned a few times, when I’m wandering around the industrial zones of Newtown Creek – the “happy place” of industrial Maspeth or the “concrete devastations” of Long Island City – it’s an entirely solitary experience and I eschew wearing the mask since I’m literally the only person there and you can see anyone else coming from blocks away on the super wide industrial zone sidewalks. 31st street, with its crowded and narrow sidewalks and commercial strip intersections? Hell, yeah, I’ve got the thing strapped to my face. I don’t like the odds.

Leaving the house is a gambling kind of thing these days, and one thing my dad and his brothers taught me as a kid (they would bet on what color car was going to roll through the traffic light next) is that calculating whether your chances are favorable or not is a life skill. Probability of getting a parking ticket, or mugged, or having to wait overly long for a table at the local diner positively ruled my Dad’s decision making processes. I’ve got a little of that in me, but unlike one of my uncles, I’d never bet the family business in a poker game with 1970’s Williamsburg mafiosos.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The odds of some random virus particle suspended in the air flow in deserted areas like nocturnal Industrial Maspeth versus along a transit hub in a residential neighborhood? Do the math, Bud. What are the odds?

This method of thought has been working out for me for the last year, but as I often opine – you do you. I’ll say this, though, wearing one of these masks while also wearing spectacles is a world of no fun during the winter months. You clear the fog from your glasses with a lens cloth, and before you’ve even got them back in position they’re fogging up again. Respiratory plague versus crossing streets half blind…

Odds of getting Covid while crossing a street versus getting hit by some 18 year old driving a $75,000 fart car at 90 mph whom I couldn’t see because of fogged glasses… calculating… calculating…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The funny thing about 31st street, which I find visually exciting as a note, is that it’s deserted of population for most of its run. The section between Northern Blvd. and Broadway is fairly inert at night, except right around the odd corners where the stops are found. Most of the pedestrian and human (non automotive) activity you’ll observe occurs between the Broadway and Ditmars stops. Even in that stretch, though, there’s long blocks where you encounter nobody else on the sidewalk. Lots of drivers, a few bikes, the odd Cop car screaming past with lights and sirens.

Also, it’s really dark for some reason between Broadway and Northern. I passed that one onto the Government guys at a recent meeting. They filed a complaint,

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, January 25th. 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 here, 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

January 28, 2021 at 2:05 pm

amorphous liquid

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Tuesday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Another day night, and another walk around Western Queens with the camera. As mentioned yesterday, one is unnaturally vulnerable to cold weather. Partially, this is due to the side effects several of the medications my team of Doctors insist upon, and to the underlying medical conditions which their prescriptions are designed to remedy. My genetic flaws affect the circulatory system, heart, and the liver’s regulation of blood chemistry which – in simple terms – means that when it’s cold out my hands and feet go all bloodless and numb. This results in me having a fairly uneven and sometimes painful gait, and the loss of physical acuity and haptic feedback in the fingers. If you notice a pile of black rags with a camera lurching and weaving along Northern Blvd. some evening, that’ll be me.

Don’t worry, my fettle is fine, just trying to be quite transparent these days about my various maladies and weird moods. Hoping that you might cut me a break for my many malapropisms, micro aggressions, and madness in the future.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Somebody I used to hang out with at the neighborhood bar, in the before times, spent some effort describing my “micro aggressions” to me one night. I explained them away saying that I was quite unaware of any projected enmity, and reminded my companion that I’m the kind of person who doesn’t consciously project “micro” anything. If I’m mad at you, it’s “macro aggression” time, and the last time you experienced anything like what it’s like when I’m angry was at the end of the Jimmy Cagney movie “White Light, White Heat.” There’s an overlay of the climax of “Barton Fink” as well, specifically evoking the finale denouement of John Goodman’s role (without the hitler part, though). Ain’t pretty.

I do like that the particular set of things I will call someone out on are specific to their circumstance, as I try to avoid broad stroke denunciation based on creed or orientation. I once called some fellow a “shoe wearing, ginger ale drinking, motherflower.” When the asshole you’re yelling at falls to the floor laughing, you win.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There are two things one is continually struck by on my night time wanderings – particularly in the last couple of months – first is that I’m somehow able to pick a pathway through one of the most densely populated sections of North America wherein the only other humans are safely sealed up inside of automobiles and trucks rather than on the sidewalk where they can blow their cootie laden breath at me, the second is that the City that never sleeps now goes to bed about ten p.m.

The latter factoid is bizarre, walking through Sunnyside or Astoria and seeing that every restaurant and bar is shuttered. The odd pizza joint will be open, but the “24 hour City” is a thing of the past.

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, January 25th. 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 here, 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

January 26, 2021 at 1:45 pm

darkly probable

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Wednesday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One last shot of that Eagle Electric building in Queens Plaza which was described in yesterday’s post, with an IRT Flushing line 7 train navigating the trackways of the elevated steel high above the street behind it. As a note, if you want to receive a series of puzzled or worried looks from passerby, set up a tripod in Queens Plaza at night.

It really grabs people’s attention, the camera and tripod. Passing citizenry didn’t seem to focus on the guy taking a poop in the plantings alongside the bridge just down the block, but me they notice. “What are you taking pictures of” I get asked regularly. I point in the direction of whatever the camera is pointed at and say “that.” “Why” is usually the next question. I ask myself this all the time.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Cannot explain the process, even to myself. Sometimes there’s a plan – get a shot of this or that from here or from there. Try to tell the story with a single static image. Try to get that image “accurate” to what it looked like with the naked eye, or just outside of naked eye range with entering the “uncanny valley.”

There’s so many things to worry about, beyond the dozen or so intricate camera settings and using the right gear. Look over your shoulder constantly, keep an eye out for fast moving cars, trucks, bicycles. Watch out for the focused attentions of malign members of the street community as well. Get your shot, move out. It’s not just point and shoot at night, there’s a whole deal you have to sweat and worry about.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s the landmarked Bank of Manhattan building, at Queens Plaza, in the foreground of the shot above. Formerly the tallest building in Queens, these days it’s a dwarf compared to its neighbors. Directly behind it is the still under construction Durst Organization’s new residential tower, a 755 foot tall building they call Queens Plaza Park or “SVEN,” which is a product of the 2001 rezoning of LIC. Gargantuan, I’m told the new building will have an infinity pool on its roof. “I would love to be able to swim in Queens Plaza,” nobody has ever said.

The Bank of Manhattan building, alternatively, is a 1927 11 story building with a 3 story clock tower at its apex. The Bank of Manhattan later rebranded itself as Chase, and the building was occupied by that company until 1984 when the building was sold.

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, November 9th. 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 here, 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

November 11, 2020 at 11:00 am

drowsily discussed

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Tuesday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Another night, another walk around Western Queens, in this case – the western side of Queens Plaza. Recently announced, a new real estate development project will see the old Eagle Electric factory on 23rd street demolished and replaced by what promises to be another uninspiring glass rhombus. The plan is for this to be office space. Read the room, guys. Pandemic, much?

Regardless of the avarice and intent of the carpetbaggers, one nevertheless decided to visit the spot and record the scene for posterity or whatever.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I got lucky, inasmuch as having just set up the tripod for a longish exposure, the journey of two 7 line IRT Flushing subway trains coincided on the elevated steel which carries them to and from Queens Plaza. I wonder what kind of sound proofing that new office building they’re going to replace the Eagle Electric factory with is going to require. This passage was and is LOUD. Like hear it through your headphones while you’re listening to the Ramones LOUD. Like completely drowning out the Ramones kind of loud. Loud.

Eagle Electric, btw, was founded in 1920 by two brothers from the Ludwig family (Louis and Phillip) and their kids inherited and held the business for much of the 20th century. Eagle manufactured switches, sockets, and other electrical ephemera in Long Island City until the 1980’s. Eagle began vacating and selling off its LIC premises in 1980, and in the year 2000 the company was sold off to a conglomerate called Cooper Wiring Devices. In 2012, Cooper Wiring was purchased by another outfit called the Eaton Corporation and the Eagle line of products and patents is now marketed under their branding. Eagle Electric was famous for a huge neon sign adorning the roof of this building, which is also found right alongside the Queensboro Bridge.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A crew of street artist/graffiti writers penetrated into the building in the last year or two, and adorned nearly every window pane with colorful tags. Directly across the street is the former Silvercup bakery, whose own neon signage still persists. The old bakery is now a movie studio and production offices complex.

I’ve long been fascinated with the garish illumination of this corner, with colorful light scattering about from a thousand different sources.

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, November 9th. 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 here, 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

November 10, 2020 at 11:00 am

leer evilly

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Monday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Prior to writing this post, a humble narrator trimmed his fingernails. It made me curious, so after a bit of investigation it turns out that your fingernails (which grow at a far more rapid rate than toe nails, according to medical science) advance from the cuticle at an average rate of some 0.14 inches a month. A quick bit of calculation thereby reveals that I’ve likely grown and discarded just under seven and half feet of fingernail over the five and change decades I’ve been alive. It also seems that nail clippings can serve as important biometric markers and a laboratory analysis of them can help to determine several things about your diet, current homeostasis, overall metabolism, and identifying any particular poison which you might be environmentally accumulating.

What can I tell you, I’m the curious type. Ever wonder about how many yards of hair you’ve chopped off over the years? Gallons of piss, pounds of poop, dollops of snot? I have. These are the sort of subjects I’ll often explore when walking the camera around in the dead of night.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Biologic metrics are fascinating. Of late, I’ve been obsessed with the step counter app on my phone, which has supplied me with a series of benchmarks for how far and fast I’m moving about. On the particular night which these shots were gathered, for instance, in a roughly three hour interval, some 10,000 individual steps were recorded. That equates to about 4.7 miles, meaning I was scuttling along at roughly 1.5 miles per hour. That’s half of what’s considered to be average human walking speed, but don’t forget that I had to keep on stopping to obsessively capture pictures of the visual splendors presented by Western Queens.

This was one of my “short walks” incidentally, which I commit to at least twice a week. Long walks are 10-15 miles and take all damn night, also twice a week. I’ve got a very tidy “every other day kind of thing” going on these days.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Biometrics actually underlie a lot of the world, if you notice the details. There’s a universe of calculation that goes into the rise and run of staircases, for instance. Average servings in a restaurant, the size and shape of drinking glasses, even the amount of space allotted to an individual rider on the subway is calculated (MTA has told me that it’s one square horizontal meter, which is projected upwards as a two cubic meter box). All of these calculations are regionally specific, incidentally. European and American designers of public space have historically had to compensate for higher average body weights and size than their counterparts in South and East Asia. If you wear jeans with a waist size over 34 inches, I’m told you’re going to have a hard time buying clothes in Japan or Viet Nam.

I wish I had been saving all of those nail clippings over the years, just to be prepared for any possibility of a Ragnarok situation involving flooding, as I’d have a personal Naglfar to float away from trouble.

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, November 9th. 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 here, 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

November 9, 2020 at 11:00 am

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