The Newtown Pentacle

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Posts Tagged ‘Amtrak

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Friday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One arrived back at where my day had truly begun – Philadelphia’s 30th street Station, with a good 40-50 minutes to spare before my trip on Amtrak back to NYC was scheduled to occur.

I set myself up for a few long exposure shots while I was waiting, using the “Ultrapod” camera support system which is little bit less conspicuous than the tripod is.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The junkies of Philadelphia seem to gather here at night, which is something I observed the last time I was passing through. These are “professional junkies,” sly and scheming creatures of the street who see everyone – including their own – through a lens of exploitation. If they thought they could get away with killing you and then boiling the body down to sell off the elements you’re composed of, they would.

While marinating in a paranoid 360 degree hyper awareness of my surroundings, and tracking every living human within ten steps of my immediate location, I got busy.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

You can say what you want, and be as free thinking and liberal as you desire to be, but where that shit all falls apart is on the street. If you don’t spend time on the streets alone at night, just shut up, you don’t understand what you’re talking about.

There were a lot of eyes watching me. Two or three different people approached, asking for change or whatever. They weren’t interested in coinage, rather they were sizing me up to see what they could get away with. Of course, these junkies are from Philadelphia. I, on the other hand, am from Brooklyn. For one such as myself, all I have to do is stare deeply into their eyes and repeat whatever they say to me back at them in a loud monotone, and they soon realize that there is easier prey which will be found elsewhere.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I’m not saying that I’m some sort of tough guy, incidentally. I’m not. However, the Brooklyn way is the Brooklyn way, and this is freaking Philadelphia – America’s consolation prize. The city you remember to mention after you’ve rolled through San Diego, Minneapolis, and Denver. Christ, I think Toronto is a tougher town than Phillie is.

Freaking junkies…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Finally, it was time to head down to the tracks, and Amtrak arrived only about five minutes late. I was tired, having woken up at 4:45 a.m. and spent the day marching about while operating the camera.

Other than the thunderstorms which had arrived in Philadelphia about 5:30 p.m. following me home, the trip was uneventful.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

We got to NYC more or less on time, and a quick breath of maskless air was gulped on 8th Avenue before I boarded a Queens bound E train. A quick transfer at Queens Plaza soon saw me scuttling about in Astoria.

Our Lady of the Pentacle had made a lasagna, and a hearty meal greeted me back at HQ. Next week – something different, 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

May 6, 2022 at 11:00 am

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Thursday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On the iron road again! Amtrak isn’t cheap if you’re buying your tickets the day of travel, but when buying tickets well in advance – it’s super affordable. One randomly purchased a round trip ticket in February for the 7th of March. I had to get to Moynihan/Penn Station before sunrise, and left Astoria at something like 4:45 in the morning.

While waiting for a cab, I had an ugly encounter with a drunken asshole here in Astoria, which was a lovely start to my day. Seriously- when you see a dude wearing his Riker’s slippers on the street so as to display his cred, you’ve crossed into the danger zone of stupid.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Of course, I could have taken the subway here, but I had the entire kit with me and didn’t want to chance of having the MTA “MTA” me. Clown shoes, they are, and especially so in the wee hours of the morning when they know they can get away with it.

The good news is that I was happily standing by the departures board at Moynihan in Manhattan in under 30 minutes, waiting for my train’s track to be announced. Amtrak ain’t clown shoes.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The blessed moment came, and soon I was pulsing down into the train. This was a day trip, as mentioned above, and my return to the City would be some 16 hours away.

As is the custom, a conductor checks your ticket and inquires as to your destination. You are then directed to this train car or that one where passengers with a destination common to yours are also seated. I settled in, and set my camera up for shooting out the window.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I’ve fashioned a foam collar for my lens, which negates window reflections. ISO is set to “auto” and the aperture opened as wide as it can go. The shutter time was very fast, measured in the thousandths of a second. As is my habit with such shots, I cropped them differently than normal to distinguish them.

These aren’t “composed” shots, rather it’s a random form of shooting out the window as the Amtrak rolls along. In this case, we were heading first west and then south.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I won’t bore you with all that I captured along the way. The one above was from somewhere around Newark.

The train was surprisingly crowded.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My destination for the day is 90 minutes from NYC by train, and it’s America’s consolation prize.

Philadelphia, there I went. 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

April 21, 2022 at 11:00 am

unsatisfying uluations

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Thursday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Scuttling, always scuttling, that’s me. Filthy black raincoat fluttering in the wind, camera in hand, shoes scraping along the sidewalk. It’s horrible to behold, my countenance, I’ve been told. I dread passing before a piece of silvered glass.

The good news is that a humble narrator was recently engaging in a bit of calisthenic stretching and one of the tendons in my trick left foot shifted and made a sound not unlike a cello’s base string being struck with a hammer. Ever since, the pain and tenderness in the left foot and ankle has ameliorated a bit, which has just been awesome. Of course, I’m in my 50’s, so my right hip immediately began to hurt instead.

I like to refer to this phenomena as my pain squirrel, which finds a different branch of the body’s tree to sit upon every day. My physical form is like a meaty Yggdrasil, with the Pain Squirrel Ratatoskr found above, and the Death Serpent Níðhöggr chewing his way up through my roots from below.

I have an entirely pedantic inner life.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This time around, I was out for a short walk, which these days sees this shattered husk walking the equivalent of four to five subway stops in one direction and then looping back towards HQ. It’s malevolent, winter weather, and my particular “kryptonite” revolves around cold.

Partially, this is due to the medications prescribed by the team of doctors who labor to maintain my homeostasis. The ichor flowing though my circulatory system tends to run away from cold, rendering the extremities cold and pale. If I’m out for a long walk on a very cold night, it looks a great deal like this when I return home.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Nearing HQ, this scene greeted me nearby a construction site. Obviously, somebody does not grasp the concept nor practice of municipal recycling, on a fundamental level.

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

February 24, 2022 at 11:00 am

fantastic figment

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Wednesday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Back in NYC, just as the Omicron variant Covid surge began, one put all thoughts about holiday merrymaking and socializing out of his head. You can’t argue with a logarithmic curve, so the logic of the entire Covid period – at this particular moment, it’s been 1,057 days, if my math is correct – was followed. Go out at night, by myself, and wander around the industrial zones where I’m going to encounter few if any other people. As the old Christmas cartoon would offer: put one foot in front of the other, and soon you’ll be walking out the door.

Good golly, Miss Molly, are we ever going to escape from this looping form of existence? Everyday is like the last day, same old, same old. When this is all over, I’m going to start wearing different colored clothes or something.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This particular evening in early December was quite a cold one. My simple desire was to get some exercise, but I was engaging in a “short walk.” For me, that meant heading out from Astoria, crossing the Sunnyside Yards to Skillman Avenue and following that to Queens Plaza and then back down Northern Blvd. towards HQ. Just under three miles, round trip, I guess?

Was wondering, while shooting these, if I had recently been riding on any of those trains down there. Sigh.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Sunnyside Yards is a railroad coach yard. What that means is that you can’t catch a train here, despite it being an 180 and change square acres Federal and State railroad facility. The purpose of the Sunnyside Yards is to provide holding areas and turn around trackage for commuter rail that’ve already been to Manhattan. You see New Jersey Transit, Long Island Railroad, and Amtrak units down there regularly. Every now and then you’ll see some train set branded with Pennsylvania colors. I always figure they must’ve gotten lost when I see them. “Queens, what do you mean Queens? We must’ve taken a wrong turn at Lancaster… Crap.”

The yards are divvied up between the various entities housed here. The official owner is Amtrak, but MTA has sway over significant acreages of the place. They’ve recently finished building out an enormous new holding yard on the north side of the facility, which is a part of the East Side Access project.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A humble narrator famously maintains a catalog of the holes in Amtrak’s fences which are large enough to fit a camera lens into. The best of the Federal holes were cut for surveyor usage. They’re generally the size of a deck of cards, these holes, but are far and few between. There’s also tears in the chain link fencing, which is also fairly easy to work with. Then, there’s the set of holes formed by weathering and material failure. Those are irregular and difficult to use, but I manage.

The shot above comes from one of the latter kind, where – I think – what must have been a vehicle accident caused a steel plate to bend away from the rest of the fence structure. Holes.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Back onto Skillman Avenue nearby Queens Plaza, where I spent a few minutes pondering whether or not I wanted to head down to Dutch Kills for a lookie loo. One decided not to. It was, after all, freezing out.

One pointed his toes north and east, and started shlepping back to the rolling hillocks of almond eyed Astoria.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Along the way, a discarded Book of Psalms and pile of Cheerios caught my attention. Fascinating, the way that these manufactured items end up where they do once somebody is done with them.

One thing you notice, upon returning to NYC from nearly anywhere else, is how dirty it is. Piles of crap are everywhere.


“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

February 2, 2022 at 11:00 am

simpering inanities

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Tuesday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A brief stop over in Pennsylvania’s Harrisburg saw Amtrak change out the crew on my Pittsburgh to NYC journey. Pennsylvania’s Capitol, Harrisburg, offered a 15 minute or so “leg stretch” and “smoke ‘em if you’ve got ‘em” interval, and half the train staggered out into the daylight to do one thing or the other and sometimes both. We had collectively boarded the train at 7:15 in the morning, after all.

After the bells rang and we all filed back onboard, an announcement that the cafe car was reopened occurred, and a humble narrator purchased a range of comestibles for luncheon and settled back into the seat I had been assigned. After quaffing some coffee and eating an Amtrak Hot Dog, I got back to pondering my fate and staring out the window while watching America roll past. The camera was gathered out of its sack, and I got back to looking for interesting sights.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The landscape in Pennsylvania fascinates me. The Appalachian Mountain range and plateau is incredibly ancient, is a geologic feature which Pennsylvania is situated on the northern reaches of, and it dates back some 480 million years to the Ordovician Period – which is when ocean critters first started exploring dry land. Formed by the action of tectonic plate compression when the super continent Pangaea begin to split up, the Appalachia once rose as high as the Alps or Rockies do today. They’re referred to as “folded mountains” and the reason that all that coal is buried in them is due to their presence during the highly forested Carboniferous era (that’s when the giant dragonflies were around, and you had centipedes the size of school buses sliding around in the swamps). An absolutely staggering amount of effort and expenditure in the 19th and 20th century saw Americans burrowing and mining into, blasting rights of way through, and building upon and around the Appalachia Range.

Fascinating. Really. Mountains older than the dinosaurs.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

At 30th street Station in Philadelphia the now familiar dance of changing out the locomotive engine from the diesel powered model to the electrified “coGen” unit used for the Northeast Corridor was enacted by the Amtrak people. They did their thing, and waved lanterns at each other, and then it was time to get back onboard again and head back to “home sweet hell.” This was another “stretch your legs” break and a good number of people onboard took advantage of it.

A humble narrator settled back into the assigned seat, and picked up the camera. I affixed the foam collar to my lens and began passing the time by shooting through the windows again.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s Philadelphia, America’s consolation prize, pictured above.

After spending an entire day on the train, and eating two Amtrak meals along the way, I was quite ready to return to the grinding existential nightmare of a dystopian shithole which I call “home.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Upon my return to Penn Station, I ducked outside onto 8th avenue to breathe a bit of what passes for fresh air in Midtown before heading back to Astoria on the subway. It was rush hour, and despite Covid, the subways were quite busy. Unlike the last time I exited from that door pictured above, this time I didn’t see anyone masturbating into a street grate. There was a guy who offered to sell me something, but I’m not sure what he was offering. Could have been a gold chain, or crack, or sex. Wasn’t interested, me.

A quick ride on the E line got me out of Dodge, and soon I was at Queens Plaza. As is usually the case with me, as soon as the train entered Queens, I felt a rush of energy.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The final leg of my long journey arrived at Queens Plaza just as I did, a local R line which would carry me to Astoria.

Our Lady of the Pentacle had arrived home the night before, and had graciously obtained food stuffs which were waiting for me back at HQ. I tore into a bagel like it had done something to my mom, and began downloading all of the photos you’ve been looking at for the last two weeks onto the computer for processing.

I felt a need, and a desire, to listen to this song while setting myself up for the labor of developing them.


“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

February 1, 2022 at 11:00 am

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