The Newtown Pentacle

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Happy Monday!

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Recently, a few of my friends have received a request to “be a guinea pig” for a new walking tour I’m planning on conducting this year. Accordingly, I recently dragged one of them up onto the Kosciuszcko Bridge, which will be a part of the experience. That’s one of the literally hundred shots I gathered in under twenty minutes up there, a frequency that was indicated by something like every five to ten steps. Lots to see up on the Kos. We didn’t hang around for sunset, as my friend on this particular day was desirous of heading over to Queens Blvd. and the 7 line tracks, so that she could wave her camera at the oncoming trains.

So far, one hasn’t been hassled by any of the new Subway cops when sitting in the system, and in fact, haven’t perceived their presence whatsoever in Western Queens. I’m looking forward to the hassle, as “Giuliani Time” is so long ago at this stage that I’m actually nostalgic for the over reaching and invasive enforcement of no actual law. It’s one hundred percent kosher to photograph non commercial work in the MTA system, barring the use of tripods, lights, and flashes. If you wanted to use any of that equipment down below or up above, you need to contact the MTA and get a permit.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One has always been enamored with the design of the 7 line concrete aqueduct on Queens Blvd. Concrete and steel go so well together, especially when they were combined in the era of the First World War. So utilitarian! So retro!

My favorite thing, though, about the stretch of Queens Blvd. between 33rd and 48th streets is the way that the vaulted concrete arches form a “whisper gallery.” Don’t ask me to explain the physics of it, but if you’re so happy (and you know it) that you clap your hands, the percussive sound waves will travel for blocks and blocks under this structure. If you speak loudly, your voice will echo and boom. I’d like to stage a concert down here someday, one with somebody playing drums. Actually, drums and bagpipes.

File that one under “how to annoy all of Sunnyside.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Upstairs, of course, you’ve got the IRT Flushing or 7 line. I’ve got to admit, since they finished the signals upgrade – and in my experience – the 7 is arriving far more frequently than it used to. It’s also a lot more crowded than it used to be, particularly at either end of its course in Queens. I’ve also observed the train completely emptying out at its Manhattan “Grand Central” stop and have ridden in a totally empty car to the end of the line at Hudson Yards more than once. A private ride to the camera store, for a humble narrator, essentially.

I’ll let y’all know about the new walking tour when I’ve got it all set up. Going to be a good one, that. Bring a camera.


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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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…a good night…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Just imagine trying to find a spot to park a sleigh with a full team of magick reindeers in Western Queens… you’d take the train too if you were Santa. Giving presents out to nice kids in celebration of his boy’s birthday is what God forces Satan to do, after anagrammatically mixing up the devil’s name, on Christmas Eve. If you can’t enjoy the little things as a supreme being, what’s the point? That’s why the antichrist is forced to play Santa Claus every year.

It’s not an accident that Santa Claus can walk through millions of fireplaces without getting burned, knows everything about naughty and nice (which will come in handy when the kid eventually dies and gets judged), and can accurately discern that which we desire most for gifts. The only indication of who Santa actually is gets revealed when you discover that some Christmas present requires a certain kind of battery which you don’t possess and have to special order from a shady dealer on EBay.

That’s how he gets ya, that wiley Satan. Ho, Ho, bwahhh ha ha, Ho.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One has always suspected, and sought knowledge in pursuance thereof, that Christmas lights are part of some evil conspiracy. Unlike aglets (the plastic or metal tips on the ends of shoelaces), proof of their sinister nature has never emerged. Electric Christmas lights were invented by a guy who worked for Con Ed, as a note, but those strings of blinking bulbs aren’t exactly a washer/drier or air conditioner in terms of energy usage. Maybe they are blinking out some sort of subliminal code?

Satan is probably involved in the holiday lights business somehow. He usually gets his claws into whatever pie is available for flicking, so…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Having grown up Jewish, I would often react in credulity when my Mom would begin to decorate for the December holidays. She’d buy blue and white lights, tape together two xmas star ornaments to make a six pointed Star of David out of two fivers, and set up a blue and white plastic Christmas Tree. She called it a “Channukah Bush.” I call the thing in the shot above an inflatable antichrist, just to illustrate that you can call a thing whatever you want to but it doesn’t mean other people will adopt your terminologies. Channukah Bush, sheesh.

Being the asshole kid I was, which foreshadowed the professional asshole I became, I’d make it a point of reminding Mumsies that amongst the very few plantings mentioned in the Torah, there was prominently a burning bush. Suggestions that we drag it outside and douse the thing in lighter fluid were seldom greeted affectionately. My Uncle Marty said it might be borderline heresy to do so, and Marty knew a good heresy when he encountered it.

Merry Christmas, lords and ladies, and to all…


“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

December 24, 2019 at 11:00 am

correlated little

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Rounding the week out with the trains

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One is just about done with 2019 here, as I imagine most of you are. It hasn’t been a great year, but there you are. As my old man used to say, if you’re able to complain about it you’re still alive so there isn’t that much to complain about. He’d then indicate that I was probably bored if I had time to complain and offered to fill my time with some chore. Nobody has wished me a Fun Festivus (which is Monday the 23rd, btw) at any of the holiday parties I attended, which I’m upset about. It’s good though, as I’m a little “partied out” at this point in time, and don’t have the bandwidth to gather around the aluminum pole and air my grievances this year.

What can I say, I’ve always been a grumpy loner, now I’m a grumpy old man.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Where am I going next? It’s an existential question I keep asking myself, and the answer is ultimately “where the world takes me.” One of the bits of sage wisdom this grumpy old man can offer is to not try to force things into happening. Paradoxically, I’ll also offer that the world only makes sense when you force it to do so.

To put it into mundane analogical terminology – it makes no sense to lean over the platform edge looking for the subway, as it won’t force the subway to appear. The train is going to get there when it gets there. Making good use of your “dwell time” in the station (as MTA refers to it) is forcing the world to make sense somehow. In my case, that means taking a lot of photos.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A recent encounter, which wasn’t the particular moment I was shooting this set of photos, involved the “what and why are you taking pictures of” trope down in one of the sweating concrete bunkers under Manhattan. This encounter wasn’t with law enforcement, members of which I had a couple of notable “in the field” conversations with in 2019, it was just some fellow commuter. I explained my activities to this particular petitioner by asking if she ever saw any of those cool old photos of NYC depicting subways or trolleys in BW photos from the 1930’s or 40’s on her Facebook feed. When she responded yes, I said “I’m the one whose photos your grandkids will be looking at.” She chuckled.

On that note, the 2020’s are coming and I plan on doing a lot of roaring in the next decade.


“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

December 20, 2019 at 2:30 pm

efflorescent powder

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Thursday, it affects us all.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One encountered this beauty over in LIC last week, a burned out vehicle which the coppers had parked nearby the Queens Midtown Tunnel. Some other bloke was examining the wreck at the same time I was, but we didn’t talk. I prefer it that way. Without loneliness and isolation, I just can’t be happy.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A singular Christmas party is all that remains on my calendar for 2019, and then I’m free of having to pretend any sort of civility for a couple of weeks. This is awesome sauce, and what with the broken toe no longer broken (mostly healed, but still hurts) I can finally get back to wandering the concrete devastations of Newtown Creek like some mendicant in the new year.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On my way home from LIC, I found myself at the Queensboro Plaza 7/N/W platform. The fog which had defined that particular day had broken and transitioned to a light rain. As is my habit, as the trains were coming and going – I was waiting for an N – the camera got waved around. I’m fond of this shot of the 7.


“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

December 19, 2019 at 1:00 pm

wholly allied

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A Jedi craves not these things…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My hermitage and recovery period for the broken toe has been, frankly, driving me nuts with boredom. Given the diminished capacity one is experiencing on the walking around front, a humble narrator evolved a plan which would involve a fairly minor amount of scuttling about while also putting the camera in front of picturesque locales. A quick limp over to my local subway stop ensued, whereupon a transfer to the IRT Flushing or 7 Line subway line was accomplished in Jackson Heights – pictured above.

A long standing assertion of mine is that the 7, of all NYC’s subway lines, offers the most interesting and picturesque set of views to be found in the entire system (Ok, I’ll admit that Broadway Junction over in Brooklyn is pretty amazing as well).

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Given that I have been a caged animal and literal cripple of late, I haven’t been able to shoot anything intentional in awhile. What I’ve been offering for the last few weeks here at Newtown Pentacle has either been shots from the archives or “catch as catch can” snapshots gathered when I absolutely positively had no choice about being “out there” despite the broken toe and badly swollen left foot. Last week, I finally got to think out a route – and plan in advance – a few shots I was desirous of capturing.

The one above represents around a thirty second exposure from the 40th/Lowery stop, looking down on the northern side of Queens Blvd. from the elevated station. I was using that ultrapod gizmo I’ve been rattling on about, which is small enough to allow me to skate around MTA’s rules about using a tripod on their properties without a permit. Saying that, I did have the photo bag kit and kaboodle with me, gear which was used at other locations with less restrictive rules.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The shot directly above is from the 33rd/Rawson stop on the 7, looking again towards the northern side of Queens Blvd., and that factory building with the inflatable tennis dome on it is the former Swingline Staplers factory. One of the things I find interesting about the long exposure stuff is the way that traffic patterns get visualized by the long streaks of brake light as automobiles shoot through the frame. When you talk to transportation advocates or the city planner types, they always spout about “should be’s” and “design intents.” I usually offer them unwanted feedback about “desire paths” and “the best laid plans of mice and men.”

Whatever these characters want people to do on these roads, pictured above is a graphic representation of what actually happens.


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Come on a tour!

With Atlas ObscuraInfrastructure Creek! My favorite walking tour to conduct, and in a group limited to just twelve people! December 14th, 1:30-3:30 p.m.

Click here for more information and tickets!

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 25, 2019 at 11:00 am

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