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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.

blazed effulgently

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Tuesday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Shlepping along the increasingly mean streets of Queens, one found himself opposite St. Raphael’s Roman Catholic Church on Greenpoint Avenue, at a spot where a concrete retaining wall of about 36 inches in height can be found. Given that there is a dearth of actual street seating – no benches, for instance – hereabouts, one decided to take a load off for a few minutes and watch the Fords go by. There’s a lot of Fords, and Chevy’s, and everything else since the Long Island Expressway entrance and exit ramps are on this corner.

St. Raphael’s and its congregants provided me with one of the best “just stumbled upon it” photo days I’ve ever experienced here in Western Queens. Check out this Flickr album from 2010.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

90% of the time, I’m literally just wandering around. The other 10% is “I’m going to go to” with a plan, but you can’t force light and atmosphere to do your bidding. Over the last decade, one has learned that there are certain parts of “the study area” which are highly dynamic and regularly offer a cornucopia of random photographic subjects.

Nearby an FDNY facility in the LIC IBZ (industrial business zone) this ambulance/truck was encountered. Its insignia identifies it as belonging to New Jersey’s Ringwood Underwater Search and Recovery – which seems to be a non profit team of divers. What it was doing in Queens? Who knows? A lot of Jersey people will drive into Queens to find a place to park their vehicle, then take the 7 into Manhattan.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

In terms of fertile areas for photographic exploitation, especially ones which are a short walk from HQ, Sunnyside Yards almost never fails me. There’s a shot just waiting for you at almost anyone of the many fence holes that I catalog.

Given that heading south out of Astoria towards Newtown Creek or Brooklyn’s Greenpoint means an inevitable crossing of the gargantua rail yard… I get a lot of shots of trains.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The construction projects related to “East Side Access” have been going on for a generation at this point. It’s fairly routine for a road and or sidewalk around the yards to be blocked and or fenced off for some sort of construction project.

Luckily for me, on the particular night this shot was captured (which was the 18th of February, by the way) the construction guys left the fence open and I was able to crack out a couple of shots of their gear.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Sunnyside Yards allows few junctures that you can make north/south crossings via. Queens Plaza, Honeywell Street, 39th/Harold, 43rd street, and 48th street. The latter is where an employee’s entrance to the yards can be found. Recent construction efforts at that location have seen the local street drains become clogged.

The flooding at this spot has allowed big piles of slippery mud to accrete. It’s been reported and the local authorities notified, but nobody cares and nothing matters.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Sigh… keeping an eye on it.

When the Governor is trying to sell you on giving $850 million of tax money to an NFL team in her home district for a new stadium, remember this picture. Also – the collapsing bulkhead along Newtown Creek, and the general shit level of infrastructure maintenance you see everywhere in NYC.


The Newtown Creekathon returns!

On April 10th, the all day death march around Newtown Creek awakens from its pandemic slumber.

DOOM! DOOM! Fully narrated by Mitch Waxman and Will Elkins of Newtown Creek Alliance, this one starts in LIC at the East River, heads through Blissville, the happy place of Industrial Maspeth, dips a toe in Ridgewood and then plunges desperately into Brooklyn. East Williamsburgh and then Greenpoint are visited and a desperate trek to the East River in Brooklyn commences. DOOM! Click here for more information and to reserve a spot – but seriously – what’s wrong with you that you’re actually considering doing this? DOOM!


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle


Buy a book!


The Newtown Creekathon returns!

On April 10th, the all day death march around Newtown Creek awakens from its pandemic slumber.

DOOM! DOOM! Fully narrated by Mitch Waxman and Will Elkins of Newtown Creek Alliance, this one starts in LIC at the East River, heads through Blissville, the happy place of Industrial Maspeth, dips a toe in Ridgewood and then plunges desperately into Brooklyn. East Williamsburgh and then Greenpoint are visited and a desperate trek to the East River in Brooklyn commences. DOOM! Click here for more information and to reserve a spot – but seriously – what’s wrong with you that you’re actually considering doing this? DOOM!


“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 5, 2022 at 11:00 am

hollow betwixt

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Tuesday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Another brutally cold night, another short walk. This one was routed from HQ, along Astoria’s Broadway in the 40’s, to 31st street and then to Astoria Boulevard, and since my feet were still in a kicking mood, all the way to Skillman Avenue in Long Island City. About three to four miles, all told, I’d guess. I really don’t keep track as I trek.

Occasionally I’ll check the “health” app on my phone. It has a wildly inaccurate step counter, but often offers interesting observations about your movements. Apparently, I’ve got a 6.2% limp related to my left leg, which jibes with all the bitching and moaning about “my trick left foot” that I’ve subjected you all to since 2019, when a falling planter shattered the big toe of my left foot.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Incidentally – I’m still marinating about the NYC DOT representatives who told me, in response to a service request offered through the local Community Board’s Transportation Committee – which I’m the chair of – that 31st street has perfectly adequate street lighting. Sigh. Nothing matters, and nobody cares.

The next corner north currently hosts the Neptune Diner and a Staples store. Both will be demolished this year to make room for a luxury condo tower or two which will climb dozens of stories into the sky. Now – I too have always been desirous of living along the Grand Central Parkway at its junction with the Triborough Bridge, and a particularly noisy elevated subway track would be a bonus, but my bet is that when the rich people show up it’s going to become a priority to do something about the dark and dangerous 31st street corridor lighting situation.

Fuck you, very much.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Another prognosis I will offer is that once the Neptune project gets going, the smell of blood in the water will draw out all of the smaller Real Estate sharks and shit flies. They will hunt along Astoria Blvd., I imagine. Gas Stations and supermarkets, due to the size of the property lots they inhabit, are prime targets for these sort of creatures.

Astoria is beginning a process, once that’s just finishing up in Hunters Point, Court Square, and Queens Plaza, and Williamsburg, and Greenpoint. The only thing saving us right now are high interest rates and other inflationary factors. As soon as there’s cheap credit again, the bulldozers will begin to arrive, and the sky will be privatized.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One turned his heels at 46th street, where realization that I hadn’t taken any photos of a recently renovated playground set in. Before this renovation took place, this playground – and especially its grassy edges – were beloved by my sorely missed and dearly departed doggie Zuzu. The joke was “Zuzu’s checking her pee mail,” when we would slowly walk around the edges of the place, with her sniffing and inspecting every tree and blade of grass for neighborhood’s dog to dog news.

As mentioned, it was quite cold but being well wrapped, I kept on scuttling. Why not?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One marched across Northern Blvd. and soon found myself at one of my “go-to” fence holes nearby the Harold Interlocking. Lucky timing saw me arriving just as a Long Island Railroad train was passing through.

It was right about here that I decided on my “turn around” point. I was beginning to feel a bit of fatigue, which – like all french words – I intentionally mispronounce as “Fatygway.” If you’re from the part of Brooklyn that I am, mispronunciation of France Talk is a form of sport. “Hors d’oeuvres” is meant to pronounced as “whores da overs,” ain’t it? C’mon, Bro.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My turnaround point was for a spot where it’s entirely kosher for a privately owned taxi company to gobble up every available parking spot to store their fleet. Ever notice you don’t hear the safe streets crowd complaining about this form of “free car storage”? Wonder why that is?

More tomorrow at this – your Newtown Pentacle.


The Newtown Creekathon returns!

On April 10th, the all day death march around Newtown Creek awakens from its pandemic slumber.

DOOM! DOOM! Fully narrated by Mitch Waxman and Will Elkins of Newtown Creek Alliance, this one starts in LIC at the East River, heads through Blissville, the happy place of Industrial Maspeth, dips a toe in Ridgewood and then plunges desperately into Brooklyn. East Williamsburgh and then Greenpoint are visited and a desperate trek to the East River in Brooklyn commences. DOOM! Click here for more information and to reserve a spot – but seriously – what’s wrong with you that you’re actually considering doing this? DOOM!


“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 22, 2022 at 11:00 am

shimmers afar

with 4 comments

Monday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Scuttling always scuttling, camera in hand, filthy black raincoat flapping wildly about in the wind. Sometimes it’s really, really cold.

A bit of housekeeping, firstly. For the next few weeks you’re going to be seeing six image posts. One has been unusually motivated and somewhat prolific in recent months, and there are an abundance of images which I’m anxious to share. Problem is that I’m quite out of step with the calendar and if I was to continue doing the traditional three image posts, you’d still be seeing snow on the ground as late as June. Accordingly, six image posts are on the menu for an interval.

That’s the Long Island Railroad passing through the Harold Interlocking at Sunnyside Yards, in Long Island City, pictured above in a photo captured on the 5th of February of 2022.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This was one of my short walks, a constitutional, if you will. One left HQ in Astoria, scuttled south over the Honeywell Street Truss Bridge that crosses over the rail yard, and then over to Queens Boulevard. The shot above was captured nearby Queens Boulevard’s very busy intersection with Van Dam Street.

One was quite distracted while gathering this one, as some bloke decided that I was very interesting and he had maintained a constant position roughly 20 feet away from me and parallel to my back for a few blocks. One was sort of waiting for him to come rushing at me, but when I turned around and gave him the patented “Mitch Waxman laser eyes” look, he lost interest and shuffled off to find an easier victim.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One was specifically trying to avoid visiting Newtown Creek or any of its tributaries for a change, so after having executed a confusion of evasion maneuvers to obfuscate any attempt that this fellow might enact to reacquire me as a target, I decided to stick to a few more commonly travelled places. A solid bit of 1980’s NYC advice I would offer – signal them so that they know that you know, keep moving, and don’t act like you wouldn’t be into fucking them up if they tried.

In future posts, we’ll explore – for those of you under the age of 40 – how to live with the existential dread of the Cold War and the threat of looming nuclear annihilation. If any of you have ever wondered the what’s and why’s of the paranoid psychology underlying the Baby Boomer and Generation X mentality, then welcome to the party kids. I’d suggest hitting the YouTube and watching “Threads” and then “The Day After” and then reconsidering the hardened black and white absolutism of your politics while embracing the singular fact that our world is painted in shades of gray. “Special Bulletin” also comes to mind… what?… how many episodes of “The Walking Dead” have you sat through? What do you think all those Zombie and Alien Invasion movies are really about?

The Cold War generations didn’t receive grief counseling or consolation, we got shelter drills and invented Punk Rock and Hip Hop. Go make some art, you’ll feel better.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The good news is that you’re looking at, in the shot above, what would probably be ground zero for a nuclear strike if the Russians actually decided to commit suicide and launch. I’ve heard from multiple sources that Sunnyside Yards is what that particular group of militarist apocalypse engineers use to target NYC. Russians don’t go for precision, they go for “Grozny,” a term which translates as terrible or horrible. The good news is that I live a few blocks from here and thereby it would all be over pretty quickly for me. Nanoseconds, in fact.

It wasn’t Ivan the Terrible, it was Ivan Grozny. “Russians don’t even trust themselves, so it’s folly to trust Russia as a country.” Bismarck said that. “Never trust a Russian, the only people they love – in their dog hearts – are the last ones who fed them.” My Ukrainian Jewish Grandmother said that one, and she once got to see a Cossack behead one of her brothers.

“You lost that Cold War feelin’
Whoa, that Cold War feelin’
You lost that Cold War feelin’
Now it’s gone, gone, gone, whoa-oh

Now there’s no welcome look in your eyes when I reach for you
And now you’re starting to criticize little things I do
It makes me just feel like crying
‘Cause baby, something beautiful’s dyin”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On a lighter note, I’ve been encountering all sorts of street furniture of late, here in Queens. I don’t mean street benches, utility poles, or fire hydrants by “street furniture,” I mean actual feral decor which has been released into the wild.

Pictured above is what I’d describe as a work desk, of the kind once used by mechanical engineers. What makes it cool is that little knobby thing on the side, which would allow you to adjust the angle of the work surface. I’ve still got my old drafting table folded up in a corner here at HQ.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Just up the block from the drafting desk, these seats were encountered. These look like the sort of seating you encounter in an airport bus, or one of those passenger vans that work as “dollar cars” along Flatbush Avenue. Or sitting out on a street in Astoria, I guess.

More tomorrow.


The Newtown Creekathon returns!

On April 10th, the all day death march around Newtown Creek awakens from its pandemic slumber.

DOOM! DOOM! Fully narrated by Mitch Waxman and Will Elkins of Newtown Creek Alliance, this one starts in LIC at the East River, heads through Blissville, the happy place of Industrial Maspeth, dips a toe in Ridgewood and then plunges desperately into Brooklyn. East Williamsburgh and then Greenpoint are visited and a desperate trek to the East River in Brooklyn commences. DOOM! Click here for more information and to reserve a spot – but seriously – what’s wrong with you that you’re actually considering doing this? DOOM!


“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.

hellish hours

with 2 comments

Monday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Scuttling, forever scuttling, in the dark and cold of the Queensican night, camera in hand. Shoes scraping along the frozen concrete, friendless, filthy black raincoat flapping about in the stiff wind. Nothing matters, nobody cares. Sometimes it snows.

This time around, one was heading off in the direction of the Dutch Kills tributary of Newtown Creek here in Long Island City. As is my habit, a visit was paid to some of the better holes found in the fence lines of the cyclopean Sunnyside Yards. Fortuitous timing was achieved, since I got there just as a Long Island Railroad train set rolled past, navigating its way through the Harold Interlocking. Harold is the busiest passenger train junction in the United States.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There’s quite a bit of work underway down “on the deck” at Sunnyside Yards, as the latest phase of the MTA’s “East Side Access” project plays out. What that means to the passing photography enthusiast is that they’ve increased the intervals of time between trains to allow for longer periods of uninterrupted construction work, and they also seem to be timing things so that when they need to have the laborers step back to allow a train to pass safely, generally more than one train set is doing so during that interval.

“They” are the people in the control rooms at Grand Central and Pennsylvania Station who sit in front of large electronic screens detailing where, when, and how fast locomotives are moving about in the NYC system. I’ve seen the one at Grand Central, but I wasn’t allowed to photograph it due to “Homeland Security concerns.” “They” use homeland security whenever they don’t want you to report that they’re still using Windows 95 or something, as a note. The photo above depicts what is arguably the most strategic non military or political “spot” in the northeastern United States.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Given the spate of rail activity observed, a humble narrator decided to just hang around the holes. I was particularly enjoying the snow on the ground, since it allowed a lot of the ambient light down on the tracks to bounce about and paint the scene in primaries and pastels.

Recently, one encountered a great YouTube channel for some rail museum, one which I’ve misplaced the specific links to, which explained – as if you were talking to a first grader – how to interpret the signals on the “traffic lights” found above rail tracks. This has been immensely helpful to me. Blinking yellow versus green? It also informed me about what the motions that train people make with their lanterns means. Now I know. If I hadn’t lost the link, you would too.

Scuttling, always scuttling…


“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 14, 2022 at 11:00 am

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