The Newtown Pentacle

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Posts Tagged ‘New York City

swelled alarmingly

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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

portentous meanings

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Wednesday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One found himself at the Maspeth Avenue Plank Road site recently, attending and photographing a Newtown Creek Alliance cleanup event that occurred on a lovely Saturday afternoon. One of the property owners nearby this site has recently been compelled to do some remodeling of their shoreline. I’ve known about this for a bit, but given that I’m usually here either at sunset or after dark, haven’t explored the new situation.

It’s not a good idea to be poking around in the bushes after dark in Industrial Maspeth, and especially so if you’re on foot and alone. Given that NCA had a fairly large group here, scooping garbage and debris off of the shoreline, I figured “why not?”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The shoreline in this spot has been fairly impassable during my years at Newtown Creek, and largely ignored by the industrial operation which worked busily on the other side of a large concrete and steel fence. An artist I know had briefly set up a small structure back here which he used as a hangout and ad hoc painting studio. That structure had been taken over by some mendicant in the last year or two. Artist, structure, and mendicant are all gone now and there’s all sorts of geographically appropriate plantings here now.

This is where I got into the fight with a raccoon back in 2020, during which I had to poke at the thing with my tripod.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s the mouth of English Kills, the Newtown Creek tributary that flows all the way back to Johnson Avenue in Bushwick. It’s also where water quality along the Creek sharply drops off. If you think Newtown Creek is bad, as everybody including the Federal Government does, you should see English Kills. Yuck.

Back tomorrow with more from my beloved Creek.


“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 15, 2021 at 11:00 am

terrific thundering

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Monday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It’s been a long time since I was inside of Grand Central Station, I tell you. After my visit to the Times Square Ferris Wheel, detailed in last week’s postings, a quick walk found a humble narrator heading towards the 7 train which allowed some quiet time for contemplation. In recent months, I’ve been avoiding listening to music or audiobooks through my headphones in the name of pure paranoia and wanting to ensure that my auditory “early warning system” was and is in no way impeded.

The streets ain’t so friendly these days, especially at night in the relatively deserted and depopulated midtown business districts of Manhattan. I mean… that photo above is Grand Central on a Monday night at about 8 o’clock. Outside, it was like a zombie movie, only with groups of teenagers riding around on bikes and texting each other after they rode past you.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My plan for getting out of dodge involved taking the 7 line subway back to Queens and then transferring over to an Astoria bound N train. What I was contemplating in this particular interval isn’t for public consumption quite yet, but there are weighty decisions being weighed behind my eyeglasses, even while you’re reading this post.

The saturated color profiles of today’s photos were intentional, incidentally. Always playing around with look and feel, me.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Descending into Manhattan’s depths, it was absolutely bizarre moving through this particular space in solo fashion. Grand Central is defined by crowds and masses, and unending hordes of the human infestation. It’s beyond odd to be solitary anywhere in this building, let alone riding an escalator designed to carry thousands every hour all by yourself.

The 7 station here is very, very deep.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My pal Hank the Elevator Guy will expound endlessly about how deadly escalators can be. He points out that the actual mechanism of an escalator is fundamentally the same as that of an industrial meat grinder. It apparently doesn’t take much in the way of mechanical malfunction for the stairs to open up and pull you inside.

Most of that electronic sign’s messaging equipment in the shot above is burnt out, but the surviving LED’s on it say “Children should.” It doesn’t say what the children should, it just says they should. It is, after all, the MTA.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The most terrifying of MTA’s escalators are on the 7, incidentally. The Grand Central ones are just claustrophobic and deep, but it’s the ones at Hudson Yards that are actually vertigo introducing. Many have been the times that I worried about falling down a set of these moving stairs to an ignominious death.

I don’t mind the thought of dying. I mind the thought of dying in a stupid or comical way. Having an air conditioner fall out of a window on me, or down a flight of steps, or in some ironic circumstance. “Yeah, you heard what happened to Waxman? He died in a vat of molten wax at a candle factory.” At the beginning of Covid, I swore that I wouldn’t get sick as I couldn’t take a chance on dying at the Javitz Center. That’s a punk place to check out, yo.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

At the 7 platform, deep under Grand Central, the IRT Flushing Line – or 7 train – arrived just as I ran into a friend from LIC whom I haven’t seen since New Years of 2020. Good times, taking the subway.

Back tomorrow with something entirely 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

September 6, 2021 at 11:00 am

persistently haunted

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Monday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As mentioned in Friday’s post, a humble narrator set out for Greenpoint’s “Penny Bridge” street end to capture a few sunset shots. What with the heat and all the rain we’ve been having, it’s been difficult to find the right time and get to the right place. Penny Bridge is at the foot of Meeker Avenue, incidentally, where there used to be a crossing to Queens. The Penny Bridge, as it was called, was demolished in 1939 when the original Kosciuszcko Bridge opened. My pals at Newtown Creek Alliance have been looking after this spot, and have even installed a bit of historic signage about Penny Bridge. If you visit, be careful with the everpresent mud found there, as it’s quite slippery.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The mud clogs up a sewer grate, meaning that there’s also always a giant puddle of super nasty water. Luckily, this allows what seems like a billion mosquitoes a place to breed. That’s the good stuff, I tell’s ya.

The night I was at Penny Bridge was about 24 hours after Tropical Storm Henri blew through the City, and my beloved Newtown Creek was particularly aromatic. The “licking a battery” smell of raw sewage was prevalent due to the Combjned Sewer Outfall system. Mixed into the aroma was a distinctly petrochemical perfume, and the nearby waste transfer stations that handle municipal refuse were introducing the scent of wet garbage into the atmospheric cocktail. Never has Anosmia sounded so good, thought I.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The weird emanate of light from the Kosciuszcko Bridge paints the landscape of the Newtown Creek with a lacquer of surreal and over saturated colors. The hues and intensity of the bridge’s lights are like no earthly color. Instead, they are not like some colour out of space or anything, instead they remind one of a certain Greek coffee shop back home in Astoria.

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

August 30, 2021 at 11:00 am

bodily visit

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Thursday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One last trio from Dutch Kills for today. What can I say, it’s either been horribly hot or raining for the last week. Gah, do I hate this time of year in NYC. If there was only mist or fog associated with NYC’s summer humidity… but it’s just a blue haze of murky ozone light in late August. If you’re curious, I was flipping through all of the lenses in my kit while at Dutch Kills this particular evening, and the one used for today’s post is the RF 24-105 f4 L.

Every lens seems to have its own color rendition, flaws and strengths, there’s even a difference in exposure in some cases. Science and optics, bro, science and optics.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Since it was a lifetime ago, and a former variant of the current “me,” I seldom mention to people that I used to draw comic books. Saying that, the training in “storytelling” that revolves around that particular discipline of cartooning continues to come in handy, and informs the way I use the camera. Most photo people come to a scene and do “one and done,” whereas I’m gazing “up, down, all around” before I even click the shutter button, trying to figure out how to tell a story with it.

You need to do “establishing shots” which place the reader in a scene, followed by close ups and other angles, and a wrap up establishing shot. It’s better to have the singular composition which will be your “wow, look at that” photo accompanied by several companion shots from a storytelling point of view. Another concern which I try to shoot for is the unfortunate fact that a lot of my shots are going to end up having type set against them for presentations. That’s something else you learn from drawing comics – leave room for the speech balloons and sound fx. I mention this because today’s images are all establishing shots.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Another incarnation of mine was the advertising industry production and photo retouching one. The comics never really paid the bills, and a boy has to eat. I’ve done Times Square billboards, specialized in publication specific print ads (there’s a 15 year period during which I had something printed in either the New York Times or Wall Street Journal every day), worked on early internet sites like Jaguar.com, and if you walked into a Footlocker to buy sneakers at the start of this century the big banners and other “POS” stuff hanging in the windows was probably something I had sent to the printer. Again – leave room to set type or a logo on the image but shoot it so that it still could stand on its own as a single image without copy. It was an incredibly dull work life, incidentally, and not remotely like Mad Men.

The current incarnation is the craziest life I’ve ever known, however.


“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

August 26, 2021 at 1:00 pm

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