The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Posts Tagged ‘Long Island Railroad

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

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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

rumour ran

with 3 comments

Monday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As described in prior posts, one has been making a real effort to keep up with kicking his feet about the neighborhood, and maintain a regular schedule of long and short walks. One of the stops I always make on my way to somewhere else is at the Sunnyside Yards, here in Long Island City.

“Hey asshole, why do you call it LIC when the word “Sunnyside” is in the rail coach yard’s name? You obviously don’t know what you’re talking about thereby, and all you say is false” is the sort of thing you’ll see in the comments section here occasionally.

If it’s west of Woodside Avenue, north of Newtown Creek, and south of Bowery Bay – it’s technically Long Island City. Astoria, Long Island City Heights Sunnyside, Hunters Point, and Blissville are all LIC – as in they were part of the pre 1898 municipal entity which dubbed itself as LIC.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Sunnyside and Astoria have since become “kind of” their own thing. I refer to Northern Blvd. and the yards as “LIC” as they stand apart from the residential and mixed usage zones of Sunnyside and Astoria. Skillman Avenue west of 39th street is LIC, whereas east of 39th street it’s Sunnyside – for instance. I can say the same thing about Queens Blvd. west of about 37th street, which is where it stops being Sunnyside and starts being LIC.

The blurred lines and neighborhood borders of Queens are endlessly fascinating. Woodside and Winfield, or Astoria and East Elmhurst will yield subjective one side of the street versus the other opinions from the Queensican Commentariat. I call these gray zones “the angles between neighborhoods.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One actually sweats this assignation of nomenclature. The real estate people will claim that parts of Brooklyn which are closer to Nassau County than they are the East River are “Williamsburg” or “Bushwick” or my favorite – “Ridgewood,” which is actually found in Queens. Remember when a whole section of Manhattan went from being “midtown” to “West Chelsea” about twenty years ago?

I generally rely on what things used to be called prior to the REBNY era, which is before the real estate marketing people began assigning twee names to undesirable locations. Heck, I actually prefer the pre-1898 city consolidation names, in truth.


“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 21, 2022 at 11:00 am

strange dolphins

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Thursday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A short walk found a humble narrator at one of his many holes. That’s a fence hole at the Sunnyside Yards, you pervert. Jeez.

I got there just as a LIRR train was rattling through the Harold Interlocking on its way to Manhattan, and since I had just updated the firmware on my camera to a new version that Canon claimed to have programmed vehicle based focus tracking into, I figured that this would be an ideal opportunity to test out the improvements to my technology.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As mentioned, this was a short walk. I scuttled up 39th street, past the hole mentioned above, then hung a right on Skillman Avenue and walked past a taxi depot which uses street parking spots to store their vehicles for free. The bike people use this term all the time – free car storage – to describe street parking. It’s an effective bit of political language, since it reframes something ubiquitous into an issue oriented phrase. For me, though, I see “free car storage” with a different lens.

Private businesses parking their commercial vehicles for free, and government agencies doing the same thing, eat up hundreds of parking spots which they’re not paying for. The vast amount of space eaten up by the NYC DOT’s vehicle fleets along Queens Blvd. just pisses me off, given that they’re the ones whose policies reflect a desire to eliminate as much citizen parking as is possible. Who watches the watchmen, huh? Me, that’s who.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I swung through Queens Plaza, then started scuttling along the diagonal lots along Northern Blvd. on my way back to Astoria. Along the way, this FDNY Ambulance caught my attention with its ribald strobing.

This is just about the day in middle December when the Covid Omicron spike was really getting started and ramping up. This time around, unlike March and April of 2020, you didn’t see all that many people getting carted off to Hospital. Hmm. It’s almost like the vaccines did their job and kept people from getting dangerously sick from the virus.

That can’t be true, though, because Jewish Space Lasers.


“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 10, 2022 at 11:00 am

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