The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Posts Tagged ‘Amtrak

swelled alarmingly

with 2 comments

Wednesday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Three in the morning is exactly when Penn Station is at its best, I believe. The adjoining streets are populated by background extras from the movie “Taxi Driver,” and the cops randomly close several of the entrances to the train station because “because.” After stomping around with about 25-30 pounds of gear, and a week’s worth of clothing, one finally found an entrance which I could enter through after stepping over a few unconscious lunatics and an inebriate or two. I had a date with Amtrak, one which would culminate at 3:30 a.m.

The phrase “dystopian shithole” kept on going through my mind, as well as an accounting of the roughly thirty eight cents of every dollar I earn, disappearing into the black hole of New York City and State’s municipal coffers. Tax breaks for Billionaire Real Estate developers are clearly the logical thing to spend my tax money on, rather than a functioning transit system or a functioning social welfare network or a functioning Police force or a functioning anything. If you solve the problems, what are you going to run on in the next election cycle? Priorities.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Late night, they don’t use the sparkly new Moynihan Station for Amtrak, instead they use crappy old Penn Station. The first leg of my travels rendered a humble narrator sleep deprived, but the world doesn’t run on my scheduled comforts. The electronic boards didn’t tell me that the train was boarding, in fact, they didn’t tell me much of anything. An Amtrak employee suddenly materialized and began shouting out the number of the train and its destination. Indications were offered as to which staircase to descend, which led to the tracks below.

Shit. It’s all shit. We pay forty cents on the dollar for shit, and are told we should be lucky we got that. I’m so tired of fighting it at this stage of the game. Why, oh why does everything in NYC just suck?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Descent into the stygian depth of Penn Station found me boarding my appointed train. Settling into the seat was easily accomplished and the train was about half full (see, I’m an optimist). Fatigue would be my traveling companion for much of the next four days, but nevertheless I was quite excited to be finally embarking on this long planned trip around the northeastern United States.

At the beginning of the summer of 2021, an Amtrak rail pass had been purchased, which allowed me thirty travel segments. All told, I ended up using 22 of them over the next week (two of the segments were used on the Burlington trip). I was also traveling solo this time around.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The train began rolling, and I cracked out one shot of the part of Penn Station you don’t get to see. I tried a few shots from the moving train on the other side, but it was just too dark to get anything worth talking about. For the first, and not the last time, on this odyssey – I nodded out and fell asleep.

For those of you who know me, the idea that I fell asleep in public is surprising. It’s surprising for me as well.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The train arrived at its destination at 7 in the morning, where I had planned about a seven hour layover into my schedule. I had lunch plans with an old friend at 12:30, and the interval would be filled with photographic pursuits.

One had roughly planned out an intended path, and given the amount of time allotted to this leg of the journey – needed to work quickly and efficiently to capture some images.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Day one – and Washington D.C., beckoned.

More tomorrow.


“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

October 13, 2021 at 11:00 am

white fungi

with 3 comments

Monday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

All pleasant things must end, and at the end of all things is New York City. Exit 1 on most highways is NYC, and nearly every set of train tracks in the country ultimately resolves either in NYC or Chicago. After a greedily consumed 72 hours in the Socialist Paradise of Burlington, Vermont – Our Lady of the Pentacle and myself made our way to the neighboring community of Essex Junction to meet up with Amtrak’s “Vermonter” line, which we would spend the next seven and change hours riding on back to Moynihan/Penn Station in Manhattan.

Sounds onerous, doesn’t it? Seven and change hours. Why not fly?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

To start, flying blows. You need to be there two hours in advance for security theater, then you’re stuffed into a tiny claustrophobic seat which you’re encouraged not to get out of during the flight since you might be a terrorist, treated like a disobedient child by the sky waitresses… and all for top dollar. On the other side, there’s no way you’re getting out of the airport in less than 45 minutes – and that’s just with carry-on luggage. In the end; you saved yourself around two hours on a trip like this, were presumed to be and treated like an international criminal, sat in an extremely uncomfortable and tight chair for the trip, and then…

Amtrak on the other hand… their website and ticket booking apparatus is horrendous – closest analogy I can offer is trying to get something done at the Brooklyn Department of Motor Vehicles. Once you’re ticketed, however, Amtrak is silk. The seats are gigantic, comfortable, and there’s an incredible amount of leg room. Unlike flying, if the guy in front of you reclines his seat, you don’t spend the entire trip staring at his bald spot. You can get up and walk around the train as well. There’s also the scenery rolling past.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I had put a bit of thought into the scenery thing before leaving for this trip. I created a foam collar for one of my lenses made of the insulation strips you can get at Home Depot for when you install an air conditioner. That cancelled out reflection issues, as the foam was charcoal gray and I dusted it with some Krylon Matte Black spray paint. I set the camera to (autofocus) f1.8, shutter speed at 1/8000th of a second, and had the ISO to “auto.” Even though the Amtrak train was hurtling along at 50-75 mph (occasionally) the fast shutter speed froze the scene. I thought that these images would have an 80-90% failure rate, which backfired on me when I began processing them as the failure rate was more like 10-15%.

I suddenly had to contend with something like 6,000 shots just from the ride home. Uggh. What a road block this became.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Amtrak route goes through Holyoke, Massachusetts – a town which I was completely ignorant of before passing through it and one which I intend to visit in the near future. Holyoke is one of those early 19th century second Industrial Revolution New England towns you read about in 2nd grade history class. That enormous building pictured above, which caught my eye, is the 1869 vintage Albion Paper Mill, designed by the “Paper King” – architect David Horatio Tower.

Holyoke is also “Lovecraft Country” as well, so spooky too.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As they did on the way north, the Amtrak people switched out the locomotive engine on our train at New Haven in Connecticut. This is about a 15 minute layover, during which they also change out the crews. Observationally speaking, this must be a union thing, as more or less every time Amtrak crossed state lines (this was only the first of several excursions on the service which I enjoyed in the month of September) a new staff would appear. The “tell” was when they closed the Cafe Car.

That’s a Connecticut Rail train pictured above. Can’t tell you much about it. It was well lit… that’s all I got.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Our Amtrak journey to and from Burlington was coming to an end as we were crossed the Hell Gate Bridge into Queens. Switching issues and heavy traffic on the NY Connecting Railway tracks leading into Sunnyside Yards and ultimately into the East River tunnels leading to Moynihan/Penn Station delayed us slightly, but we arrived within ten minutes of the published schedule. Why there isn’t a stop in Queens…

Of course, once we were back on the streets of the dystopian shithole that is NYC, we were accosted by the madmen and drug addicts which the NYPD herds towards Penn Station to keep them away from Times Square and its absent tourists. It seemed that our plan to complete the journey back to Astoria by Subway was an impossible “ask,” as the trash fire that is the MTA was in full melt down. As the task of operating mass transit into Queens was beyond that political patronage mill’s ability, we attempted to get a cab. Since the trains weren’t running, ride share services had instituted their sliding fare scale, and LYFT was telling us it would cost more than $80 to go four miles into Queens. After about an hour of useless anger, we finally got into a cab and returned home. Everywhere I looked, the streets were covered in garbage and filth, and lunatics owned the night.

Someday, a real rain is going to fall…


“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

October 11, 2021 at 11:00 am

Posted in AMTRAK, railroad

Tagged with , , ,

mendicant wanderings

with 2 comments

Friday, but published a day late

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As mentioned yesterday, one has been out of town for most of the month of September. Amtrak has been my chariot, although for one weekend in there my pal Hank the Elevator Guy drove his car. The shot above was captured on the first leg of my journeys, depicting the scene from the trackage of the Hell Gate Bridge with Astoria Park in the foreground and mighty Triborough featured prominently. More 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

September 25, 2021 at 11:00 am

feeble spirit

leave a comment »

Wednesday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Umbrella? Yeah, better bring one. As mentioned in previous posts, one has been experiencing several annoying and somewhat painful conditions which have been getting in my way. One of them is a pulled muscle in the spinal region. This condition is certainly temporary, which is how my experience with similar injuries in the past have played out, but it’s made me question every single item in camera bag from the point of view of weight. Sticking the umbrella in there is a drag, even though it’s only a pound or two. Seriously, when you’re marching along with the gear, even a few ounces of weight make a real difference in how happy you might be.

That’s the view of Astoria’s Broadway from HQ, gathered as one of these recent crazy storms was just blowing in. I was hoping to catch some lightning, but no luck.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Somebody on Newtown Avenue, in another section of Astoria, purpled their firebox. I know for a fact that the guys and gals who ride on the noisy red trucks don’t like when the citizenry do this, but in recent years I’ve noticed that people are taking the painting of fireboxes into their own hands.

This one isn’t too far from The Saw Lady’s house. Maybe she knows who and why. Is there a massive Prince fan living nearby?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Another walk, another Tylenol for my aching back. As mentioned in the past, Sunnyside Yards is always in focus around these parts. That’s an Amtrak maintenance facility, as you may have guessed.

Lots of intentional stretching and not repeating the physical behavior which resulted in my back hurting is underway, so everything seems to be on the mend. I still need to sit down more often than normal, and I’ve figured out the exact spot between the shoulder blades to press my thumb into. That causes an audible “click” and allows the trapped muscle to degauss or disengage or whatever it is that’s going on in there.


“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

July 21, 2021 at 11:00 am

small lands

with one comment

Friday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Given my new proclivity towards antiviral immunity, recent scuttles have been routed with a formerly insane ideation in mind – taking the subway home. I’m sorry to say that more often than not in the last couple of months, either weather condition or the annoying problems I’m experiencing with this malfunctioning body of mine have actually necessitated transportation be used. The sort of summer heat we’ve been experiencing – the high temperature plus high dew point and then thunderstorm kind – shuts me right down. One refers to this interval as a “reverse blizzard.” The malfunction that’s mostly getting in my way involves the left foot, which seems to have been the favored location for several injuries I’ve suffered over the decades. That crushed big toe dealie from a couple of years back seems to have set off a whole Megillah of stuff down there. Either I’m going to fire the foot and hire a new one or finally be forced into mentioning the issue to a Doctor.

The left foot does, after all, represent 50% of my roadway interface.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Whilst limping about and preparing to board a 7 train back to Jackson Heights in pursuit of transferring to an R or M line subway which stops close to HQ in Astoria, however, an Amtrak train was witnessed as it approached the tunnels leading into Manhattan. Simultaneously, a 7 Line subway train was climbing out of the Hunters Point Avenue stop on its way to the Court Square station. Now you’re talking!

One limped down the stairs and slumped into the hard plastic seat of one of those 7 line trains. Uneventfully, a humble narrator proceeded with the plan and made it home. Our Lady of the Pentacle described me as looking like a sweaty mess and pointed at the shower.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

While you’ve been reading these posts for the last week, I’ve been kind of busy with a series of meetings and planning calls related to my beloved Newtown Creek. Had a bit of Astoria business to handle as well. Believe it or not, next week I’m going to be encouraging you to purchase tickets for a walking tour of LIC which I’m going to be co-conducting with my pal Geoff Cobb in early August.

Imagine – seeing me limp around in person and hearing the dulcet tones of my doomsaying live!


“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

July 16, 2021 at 2:30 pm

%d bloggers like this: