The Newtown Pentacle

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Thursday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One can never resist grabbing shots of the high steel of the Long Island Expressway when I’m moving through the “empty corridor.”

“Blighting Long Island City since 1939” – they should put that on a sign.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There’s a reason I call this area the “empty corridor.”

Who cares anymore? I keep on saying that to myself these days. I’m in the process of “checking out” right now. Severing ties seems to be the order of the day, as I prepare to separate from NYC. I see fire shooting out of a manhole cover, I do nothing and…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Well, unfortunately, I’m still me and I’m still here.

On the day that this post was written in mid August, for instance, a downed signal light on Northern Blvd. and a looming sewer backup issue were reported to relevant local authorities. I have a sense, however, that beginning in 2023 – Western Queens is going to be consumed by a series of easily fixable problems without me being able to reach out into agency land to get them to notice things spotted “in the field.” If Astoria ends up falling into the river, you’ll say “man, wish Mitch was still here.”

Saying that, I really don’t care anymore. Somebody else’s problem.

Hey, look at that – an Amtrak train set heading into Manhattan from LIC’s Sunnyside Yards! Neato.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

During the entire walk on August 10th, which started out quite comfortable, the atmospheric humidity was rising at a precipitous rate. Having arrived at the Hunters Point Avenue station, one nevertheless masked up and headed down into the sweating concrete bunker below.

My habit in recent months has been to use the 7 Line to go from subterranean to elevated and land on high at Queensboro Plaza. A transfer over to the N or W Astoria Line keeps me elevated and up high all the way to Astoria’s Broadway, and then I scuttle about ten blocks back to HQ. Yeah, I could transfer at Court Square for the M…

Part of my “Doctor Nerdlington” persona is extremely satisfied by executing a series of transfers when using the subways.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The 7 service is pretty good these days, in my experience. Every ten minutes or so, you’ve got one arriving.

I was planning on hanging around Queensboro Plaza for a spell, given the relative infrequency of the Astoria line trains, but the MTA’s ways are wild, and many,

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Arriving at the platform, an Astoria bound train was sitting there, so that funny train rapid dash that we New Yorkers execute occurred, the one followed by the realization that the train would going nowhere for a few minutes and you standing there feeling foolish for having rushed.

Off to Broadway went I, heading eastwards back to HQ and the sweet embrace of Our Lady of the Pentacle.


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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.

Written by Mitch Waxman

September 8, 2022 at 11:00 am

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Friday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

After an interminable number of days wherein a late July into early August heat wave saw me sheltering in place at HQ, August 10th saw atmospheric temperatures and humidity drop to comfortable levels. Thereby, off I went on a walk. After all the sitting around at HQ, my joints were creaking from a lack of exercise, and the camera was anxious to capture images of the wonders of Western Queens once again.

Alright, the Q66 bus ain’t exactly a “wonder,” but it’s still pretty cool. There’s a real disconnect in Queens regarding the bus system for a lot of people, and it’s one of those places where you encounter the “economic and cultural privilege divide” thing that the kids talk about. Neighborhoods where the primary form of transit service takes the from of Subway Train Lines are generally richer and more gentrified than those that are served primarily by buses. Buses, therefore, are fascinating to me as they represent a clear borderline between the social and economic classes. Personally, I make it a point of using all forms of available public transit, which – as my mother would have pointed out – “you’ve already paid for it with tax, don’t be an asshole.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I’ve famously been riding around the northeastern United States on Amtrak, since getting vaccinated for Covid, but I haven’t ridden on their “high speed” Acela service. I’m not in that big of a hurry to get somewhere to justify their premium pricing and ride the slower and cheaper service, and am entirely satisfied to just grab shots of their Acela trains at the Sunnyside Yards.

As stated hundreds of times, the 183 square Sunnyside Yards coach yard and rail complex is a few blocks from HQ, and sits squarely betwixt a humble narrator and his beloved Newtown Creek. I cannot resist utilizing the multitude of federal fence holes to record the elaborate heavy industrial ballet that is observable below.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Long Island Railroad was rather busy on this particular evening, but then again I was passing by “hole reliable” about 6:30-7:00 p.m., and that’s literally LIRR’s busy time – so…

This was going to be a relatively short walk for me as I had an early morning assignation the next day, and the plan was to wander towards the Dutch Kills tributary of Newtown Creek and eventually end up at the 7 train at Hunters Point Avenue. My habit these days is to use the 7 to get back to Queensboro Plaza, and then transfer to an Astoria bound N or W. It’s more efficient for me to take the 7 to 74th street in Jackson Heights and then transfer to the downstairs R or M lines which offer a stop just two blocks from HQ. Saying that, I really don’t mind the ten blocks or so that I have to walk from 31st street after riding on that line.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I’ve always wondered about “hiding” something by attaching it to a train. You build a train car that’s securely lockable, paint it up to look like any other bit of rolling stock on whatever line you’re going to use, and the thing just travels from place to place and never stops moving. You want to fully fund rail travel in the United States, you say?

Here’s what you do – prison cars. You lock your felons up in locomotive passenger cars that are set up internally with jail cages, and then they spend their sentence traveling the country in a windowless steel box. How’s that for an abrogation of civil rights? Got to be cheaper than the current prison system we already have. I have several other suggestions for the sort of authoritarian dystopia that seems to be just over the horizon, many of which involve reclassifying “child labor” as “mandatory national service.” How’s that for cruel and unusual?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

For the authoritarian future, I favor Dante’s Inferno style punishments that are designed to be cruel, ones which are also inherently ironic in nature. You’re a drug dealer? Then your sentence involves Pfizer and Eli Lilly testing out new drugs on you without repercussions to their stockholders. Home invader? Well, my dear fiend, your mailing address is now a Rotary Jail. Capital crimes would be punished in a specifically cruel and unusual fashion – mobs of crazed Chimpanzees come to mind for pederasts. Americans would happily tune into to watch the Chimps dismember thought criminals and child diddlers, so there’s profit to be had in selling ad space on the broadcast to Taco Bell or Coca Cola. The ancient Persians reached great heights in this sort of arena – “The boats” torture comes to mind. Come on, America, we can do worse if we try.

In this near future of unfettered and profitable cruelty, men will become wild and free, and unattached to any previous morality. Society will learn new ways to enjoy itself.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Sigh…

One continued his scuttle, and since the burning thermonuclear eye of God itself was hanging pregnantly in the western sky, headed over to Queens Boulevard where shelter from the emanations of the vast radioactive fireball would be shielded by the aqueduct veranda of the 7 line subway tracks.

More next week, 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

August 3rd marked the beginning of a protracted heat wave here, in a City that never sleeps but certainly appreciates the value of a quick nap. Having seen the dire predictions of a week long spell of heat coupled with sky high levels of atmospheric humidity, one desired to get one walk in before things got truly life threatening. I also wanted “something to do” while waiting out the weather, and since I enjoy developing photos…

Saying all that, the dew point when I was shooting these photos was up in the high 60’s and it was truly a shvitzy night. The “urban heat island effect” coupled with high humidity levels – even at night – is an absolute killer and super difficult to do anything during. Accordingly, I opted for a short walk, one which carried me past “hole reliable” at Sunnyside Yards.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I got fairly lucky. They’re doing all sorts of track maintenance further east of Sunnyside Yards, the Long Island Railroad people are. That means that the train dispatchers are grouping east and west bound traffic much closer together than normal, in order to maximize the length of the intervals between, when the track workers can do their thing.

Normally, it’s one train every twenty minutes or so. On August 3rd, there was a gaggle of traffic flowing through the Harold Interlocking.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Difficult and technical, that’s how I describe my methodology for getting shots at “hole reliable” at night. The train is cooking along at a good clip, it’s dark, and where the scene is bright – it’s super bright.

F2, ISO 256,000 (!), and 1/125th of a second is the formula I used for these. As usual, you shoot for the edit, and I noodled these a bit during the developing process for contrast and managed to gain back about a stop of light by being careful with how the contrast ended up in the final render of the camera’s RAW file.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I’m quite happy with the way that the light from the train showed up in the gravel surrounding the tracks. I’m also pleased as punch that you can see the engineer driving the train behind the windshield.

The shot above was composed with the idea that “you need to do a few that leaves room for setting type into, for presentations and videos.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The heavy industrial ballet just kept on coming, and as LIRR 421 was leaving the frame, another train appeared and was making its way east.

Sometimes you get lucky, even when it’s a steamy August night.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The rest of my walk was pretty uneventful. I scuttled up the hill to Queens Boulevard, hung a left, and then walked back to HQ in Astoria along 43rd street. These were the last shots I accomplished before the heatwave set in and the 85 degree temperatures at midnight began for a week. I hate “reverse blizzards,” so I hung around the air conditioner for several days.

Something different tomorrow – 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

July 9th saw me briefly escaping the hell of zoom meetings and other obligations which had consumed a couple of my days after the the whole rented car adventure described earlier this week.

I took a “stretch my legs” walk around the neighborhood. As always, Sunnyside Yards never disappoints.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Part of my path carried me through the devastated industrial zone found along Northern Blvd. and 35th and 36th avenues.

What devastated it, you ask? Innovation Queens did. The proposed “Big Real Estate” mega project’s owners have been buying up the properties here and not renewing the leases of the businesses housed therein for about ten years. This allows them to claim that it’s a blighted area, without mentioning that they’re the ones who created the blight.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Headed up by a three headed serpent, Innovation Queens would demolish a triangular section at the southern edge of Astoria which currently provides employment to hundreds, who work at jobs that pay taxes. The replacement is a series of 20 plus story luxury apartment towers, hosting about 3,000 units, which would be tax free to their owners for about 20 years due to having the bare minimum of “affordable” units within them.

The three headed serpent is: Larry Silverstein – self described best friend of Donald Trump and Governor of the Real Estate Board of New York, Bedrock Properties – an entity, whom one of the principals of recently bragged to me, wrote the affordable housing laws in the State of Connecticut (in other news, a fox recently wrote the Connecticut rules governing hen houses), and the Kaufman Astoria Group – who used to be in the movie and TV production business. Grrr.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

They’ve been allowing the properties they’ve acquired to decline, putting out tenants, and looking the other way at illegal dumping in the area. They also have neglected to clean their streets, remove graffiti, or do any of the other things property owners normally do.

The Three Headed Serpent claims that the area is “dark, dangerous, and forbidding.” This section didn’t used to be any of those things, before the three headed serpent slithered into the neighborhood.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

These shots were the last ones captured before I fell into the grip of a three day long adventure involving gastro intestinal distress, and a concurrent pinched nerve in my neck which that was the result of too much bad sleep. What made it bad was the GI issues. I had one of those weird 72 hours when you’re sleeping a lot, but never more than two hours at a time.

As always is the case with such matters, you just need to wait it out.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Luckily, by mid week, I was back in fine fettle and moving around the world again. Cannot tell you how many people’s days I’ve ruined since with my presence.

Back tomorrow, with something that matters and proof that somebody cares.


“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 11, 2022 at 11:00 am

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Friday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On the 4th of July, I planned to get shots of the Macy’s Fireworks show on the East River, but didn’t want to go anywhere near the water. I had two spots in mind, and was debating which one to gravitate towards. Luckily, both spots had a common corner where my paths diverged, so I chewed on the decision while walking towards it.

The shot above and the one directly below are actually from July 3rd, when I took a short walk around the neighborhood just to stretch my legs.

Along my way, nearby Sunnyside Yards, I spotted this van. A Holy Roller, indeed.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

When walking past Sunnyside Yards, it’s impossible for me not to crack out a few shots of the trains they have on display.

Amtrak does a whole lot of maintenance work here. Cleaning, stocking, mechanical stuff.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On the 4th of July, I finally had to make a decision about where I was going to shoot the fireworks from. I initially considered the area around Dutch Kills.

As mentioned previously, the trick with fireworks is to create a “sense of place” in the shot. Given that the 4th of July fireworks will always have the Empire State Building in the center of the display…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I set out from HQ a couple of hours in advance of the scheduled show, and actually changed my mind while en route.

Greenpoint Avenue at the Long Island Expressway would be my spot!

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Along the way, I passed by an FDNY maintenance facility and they had just opened the roll up door as I was walking down the street…

Firemen! Firemen! Firemen!

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Fireworks, as described at the beginning of this week regarding another display at Astoria Park, require a simple exposure formula. F8/ISO 200/4-8 second exposures. I claimed a spot, and believe it or not, I was soon surrounded by Blissvillians and Sunnysiders here on the onramp for the Long Island Expressway at Greenpoint Avenue.

I intended, therefore, to include the crowd and the traffic in my shots. It was a part of the show, after all.

– photos by Mitch Waxman

The YouTube video above is what I got. No sound on this one, so no point in headphones. It’s a series of still images strung together in a slide show.

Back next week.


“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 5, 2022 at 11:00 am

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