The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Archive for the ‘Sunnyside Yards’ Category

last void

leave a comment »

Monday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Pictured above is one of Amtrak’s Acela trains in its maintenance facility at the gargantuan Sunnyside Yards, which a humble narrator was crossing on a north to south vector not too many weeks ago. As a note, while I was taking my sanity break last week, WordPress (the platform which Newtown Pentacle operates through) decided to do the most annoying thing that tech companies do – i.e. fix things which weren’t broken – and have thereby introduced a lot of “random” and “hope this still works” into my work flow with a new upgrade to their software. What I always hope for during a system upgrade is to have the system demand my attention and take me away from writing or whatever I’m doing regularly. If the operating system or software environment doesn’t pop up with a chorus of dancers and announce itself every five minutes, it just ain’t modern design. Hopefully they’ve inserted a really proactive but fairly illiterate version of spellcheck, the sort of thing that Facebook currently uses, which alters entire sentences into gibberish after you type a period.

Invasive update cues annoy me, especially when they’re covert marketing ploys from hardware manufacturers letting you know it’s been a while since you gave them your money. Looking directly at you, Apple. In WordPress’s case, they’ve just introduced a learning curve into something I’ve been “workflowing” for more than a decade, so thanks for the extra work.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I’m a “production guy” in the advertising world, meaning that I polish and deliver final product to publications and clients. You can measure how productive your production is by counting “clicks.” True productivity comes from knowing the key combo commands rather than hunting through tool palettes and menus. Software design in the last five years or so has retarded productivity through its inefficient habit of adding “clicks.” The Adobe Creative suite, in particular, no longer uses common key commands internally – Photoshop and Adobe Camera Raw and Lightroom, which are all essentially the same thing, use different key combos to do identical tasks. I don’t refer to anything complicated, either. Adding a 1 Star or 2 star rating to an in progress image is accomplished 3 different ways just within photoshop. That’s stupid, wasteful, and bad user interface design.

When you spend all day working in a software environment, this sort of thing just eats away at your time, and patience. Good software is invisible, you focus on the creative product which you’re working on, rather than the tool you’re using. Bad software takes you out of the creative flow, in the manner which this new WordPress “upgrade” does. While writing this, I’ve had to stop and fix something stupid it’s done on its default settings about twenty times. Imagine a screwdriver suggesting you try the new Phillips Head tooling, then suddenly retiring flat head screw functionality. Surprise!

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Until I get a handle on what’s going on with this new software I’m apparently stuck with using, it would be appreciated if y’all cut me a break. Should some weird turn of phrase or out of context word seem to signal offensive intent or mental incapacity, realize it’s likely a software rule inserting itself which I missed fixing. The fragility of opinion and unyielding moral high ground in our modern times is terrifying. Say the wrong thing, they’ll shut your ass up quick. Imagine if a badly functioning spellcheck suite effectively cancels you?

This is literally possible.


“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

May 3, 2021 at 11:00 am

secrets stood

leave a comment »

Friday, brü.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

So, by the time you’ve received this latest installment, a humble narrator has had to endure about 20-25 hours of Zoom meetings in just the last week. Monday was a swearing in ceremony for Community Board Members, Tuesday was the actual Community Board, Wednesday was the Newtown Creek Community Advisory Group public meeting with EPA, Thursday the Steering Committee for the same organization. Unsurprisingly, the totality of this experience is somewhat Kafkaesque. I feel hollowed out by all of this, for some reason.

Luckily, I had a live and in person “thing” this week, along the fabulous Newtown Creek, in Long Island City’s Blissville section. The Green Asphalt company invited a few of us to attend a meet and greet at their site. Nice folks, good meet up, interesting conversations were engaged in. Real life. Not Zoom. Got caught out in the rain, perfect.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Any photo now, you are going to cross the vaccination threshold with me. It’s been a year of darkness here at Newtown Pentacle, a cavalcade of night time photos gathered in the most socially isolated places that I could describe as being “walking distance” from HQ here in Astoria. Then I got vaccinated, and the camera began turning up in the daylight again. There will still be a lot of night shots in the future, lords and ladies, but for right now…

Let there be light.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s the Sunnyside Yards, nearby Queens Plaza, with a 7 line subway up top on the elevated track and a Long Island Rail Road work train on the tracks below. While I was shooting this, a fellow sucking down a paper bag clad can of beer approached me. His name was Renny, and he described himself as a Physicist originally from Poland. His conversation began with “Einstein was an idiot.”

Back in session.


“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.

held transient

leave a comment »

Friday is frizzled, yo.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Another set of Sunnyside Yards shots are on offer today, with the one above depicting the Acela maintenance operation on the north side of the gargantuan rail coach yard here in Long Island City. It’s also right about at this point in time, roughly a month ago on March 15th, that I was able to begin saying that I knew how to handle the new camera and lenses properly and predictably. What I mean by that, is that I was able to spot a scene and say “hey, switch to the 85mm for this one, using x aperture and y iso” without a trial and error phase baked into the process. Funnily enough, since I’ve been moving around in daylight again, it’s been something of a challenge to shoot when the “lights” are on, burning thermonuclear eye of god wise.

Hey, I carried the old camera (technically there were two, since one got smashed, but same model) for around ten years and it had become an extension of my arm in many ways. Didn’t even have to think about the technical side of things, since while shooting all those dials and buttons were being whirred and clicked on muscle memory. One fo the challenges of the new device has actually been teaching my fingers where the buttons and dials are.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One has not had a terrific amount of fun this last week due to inclement clime, personal obligation, and official business. I found out several disconcerting things this past week that revolve around Newtown Creek, but the good news is that I was able to help organize a cleanup effort at the 19th Avenue street end in Astoria, at Luyster Creek. Great bunch of neighbors showed up, and got sweaty. The NYC DEP sent us a dumpster to collect up the garbage peeled off the shoreline, which was awesome.

This is the way.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Despite my obstacles and obligations, I still found myself standing in three of the five boroughs, which is more travel than I can describe for the last year. Looks like next week is going to involve an apocalypse of Zoom meetings. I just got renewed for another two years on the Community Board here in Astoria so there’s a long swearing in ceremony I need to virtually attend, followed by an actual CB1 meeting on Tuesday, followed by a Newtown Creek CAG meeting on… it really doesn’t ever seem to end.

Three Zoom meetings in a row are a holocaust, 4 or more are an apocalypse. A few weeks ago, I had to be in two Zoom meetings simultaneously. Whiskey was required afterwards.

Every single one of these Zoom’s feels like my soul is being run through a delicatessen meat slicer and a centimeter of my identity is being removed. Get vaxxed, lords and ladies, so we can annoy each other in person again.


“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 16, 2021 at 2:00 pm

blasphemous daring

leave a comment »

Friday is back.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

When I’m heading out in the direction of Newtown Creek or industrial LIC, the only way to “there from here” involves me crossing the truss bridges carrying local street traffic over the Sunnyside Yards. Hence, I’ve developed an appreciation and fascination for the place over the years. You commonly see the rolling stock of three different rail companies here – Amtrak (pictured above and below), New Jersey Transit, and Long Island Rail Road. The northern side of Sunnyside Yards is filled almost entirely with Amtrak related trains and maintenance buildings, whereas the southern boundary sees a lot of LIRR activity.

During the last year, a multitude of East Side Access construction related holes have appeared in the fencing of the yards, which has been awesome.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I have friends who describe their favorite hobby as “railfanning,” meaning that they are fans of rail. I’d describe myself as a fan, but I’m nowhere near as serious as railfans are. A railfan will tell you that the train is using the wrong screw to hold its headlight on, and is possessed of a deep and insightful narrative regarding the various modern rail operations and the historical forebears which laid down the systems that today’s outfits use. Pennsylvania Railroad, NY Central, etc. I can talk history on this topic, but it’s broad stroke. A railfan gets granular.

As a note, the truss bridge you see in the background of the shot above is 39th street, which is where the first shot was gathered from. I was clicking the shutter on the Honeywell Street Truss Bridge for this and the one below.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I’m actually pretty happy with this one, depicting a LIRR train moving through the Harold Interlocking, right in front of the Harold tower. I’ve taken a million shots of this action from the 39th street truss at a fence hole which I call the “old reliable,” but a brand new fence hole which appeared in just the last few months has materialized at Honeywell. The tracks in the trench at center left are part of the massive East Side Access project, I’m told.

Back Monday with more wonders, 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.

Written by Mitch Waxman

April 9, 2021 at 11:00 am

perfumed jungles

with one comment

Awww, it’s only Tuesday.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

To start – it was just weird to be out during the daylight and taking pictures while walking back from Manhattan via the Queensboro Bridge about a month ago. It’s been so long that I had to constantly remind myself to check my exposure settings. The night time stuff which has been on offer for the last year, the solitude thereof having been necessitated by obvious concerns, is comparatively “one and done” in terms of exposure and ISO sensitivity due to the somewhat predictable levels of nocturnal street lighting. Sure, I have to dial the shutter speed around here and there or up the ISO sensitivity, but… it’s been a long time since I had to worry about the deep shadows and blown out highlights encountered due to the burning thermonuclear eye of god itself bobbing about in the afternoon sky.

Luckily, the Roosevelt Island Tram was still there. I plan on riding on this thing sometime this week, actually. Hope I get a chance to wipe a clean spot on its window before boarding. If you haven’t been, there’s commanding views of the Queensboro Bridge to be experienced from up there, and it’s “one of those NYC things to check off your list.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Other goals and destinations abound. I’m also planning on visiting the Empire State Building’s observation deck soon. I’m hoping they’re still offering discounts. Getting high in Manhattan is often a problem, since a) you either have to know somebody who can let you in and get you to a window, b) there’s an in person meeting happening in a cool place, or c) you have an opportunity to trespass without being jailed. Getting high refers to altitude, of course, since the other meaning of it is no longer illegal.

My goodness, I’ve actually lived long enough to see the most onerous of the Rockefeller drug laws in New York State done away with.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Back at home, a couple of days later, I was lucky enough to catch the Amtrak people leaving the door to the Acela maintenance building open. As I’ve mentioned more times than I can remember, the Sunnyside Yards people have been poking new holes in their fences at a rapid pace. It seems like every day I find a new surveyor’s hole or some the after effect of some construction worker’s need to push a hose or a cable down to the rail yard.

Back 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.

Written by Mitch Waxman

April 6, 2021 at 1:00 pm

%d bloggers like this: