The Newtown Pentacle

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Posts Tagged ‘Pickman

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Artsy fartsy on Roosevelt Avenue.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Funnily enough, I was actually talking on a conference call about MTA with a couple of colleagues while shooting the shots in today’s post. Additionally, I was freezing my yum yums off, but what does a little existential discomfort matter when one is pursuing the muse? I had scuttled along this pathway on Roosevelt Avenue sometime in the last couple of weeks and decided there and then that I needed to come back with the intention of capturing the artificial light playing along the steel of the IRT Flushing or 7 Line elevated subway tracks above. These shots are from where and when I did so.

Last Monday and Woodside, which sounds sort of anticlimactic, I guess.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As mentioned yesterday, during the day, the steel structure casts harsh shadows that are framed by extremely bright shafts of sunlight which reduces photo exposure options significantly. At night, however, traffic and street lights – even light spilling out of apartment windows – creates a random and often quite colorful luminance. Throw in passing auto traffic and illuminated shop signs? Yup, interesting place to do some long exposures.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Roosevelt Avenue, however, isn’t exactly a backwater. It’s densely travelled by vehicles of all kinds and there’s lots of pedestrians as well. Luckily, the steel girders supporting the overhead trackage provide lots of places for you to set up and compose a tripod shot. Unfortunately, these girders seem to be favorite spots for illegal dumping or vomiting and are very popular with the canine population of Woodside. C’est La Vie, ay?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The path I decided on walking was, by necessity of climatological conditions, short by my standard. A quick subway ride on the M train from Astoria to the Roosevelt Avenue stop carried me to Jackson Heights, whereupon a southeasterly posture was assumed by turning onto Roosevelt and walking up the hill towards Queens Blvd. After finishing up my self appointed task, one walked down the hill at 48th street and back to HQ in Astoria.

Yes, I was tempted to cut things short and hail that cab in pursuance of warming up my yum yums.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The conference call I was on, as mentioned, revolved around the MTA and various issues surrounding it in Queens. Given the dearth of subway lines serving 75% of the Borough, and the fact that most Queensican commuters have to rely on Buses, I volunteered to begin using the bus system more and more to “get smart” about it. Back when I was full time advertising guy Mitch, one of the agencies I worked for was Ogilvy & Mather, founded in part by a fellow named David Ogilvy. Ogilvy was one of the first scientific marketers back in the “mad men” era, and wrote several books about his experiences and realizations. One of his bits of advice involved signing up for or using your customer’s products, to learn what the experience is of the said customer you’re trying to sell something to.

I’m not trying to sell you bus rides, of course, but within a year I’ll be able to speak a lot more intelligently than I can now (I literally live over a Subway line, so I’m going to have to go far afield of “my way” on this one) about what’s good or bad about Bus service in – at least – Western and Northern Queens.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Baby, it was cold outside. Luckily, I arrived at my turnaround point at Queens Blvd., packed up the tripod and wide angle lens, refitted the camera to handheld settings and affixed a “bright” night lens. As it turns out, my yum yums survived the cold and are in fine fettle.

Next week – something completely different at this, your Newtown Pentacle.


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Written by Mitch Waxman

January 18, 2019 at 11:00 am

much attention

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Woodside area, Roosevelt Avenue.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Throughout 2018, particularly from the end of the summer through the autumn and all the way into December, a nighttime photographic survey of Newtown Creek and its surrounding neighborhoods was undertaken. As regular readers of this – your Newtown Pentacle – will tell you, every nook and cranny around the waterway saw me show up in the dead of night and set up the tripod. Because of this effort, I’m trying to take a Newtown Creek break and shoot other things for a bit. Sometime in the next couple of weeks I need to go shoot another progress report on the K Bridge project, but I’ll do that when I feel like it and have some time to kill. Right now, I’m really interested in the 7 train corridor.

Coincidentally, since the aforementioned corridor has a de facto roof on it provided by the elevated tracks of the IRT Flushing Line, it’s a bit less “chilly” than it is hanging around the waterfront in January.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I’ve always wondered about what it’s like living near the Woodside stop on the 7, where there’s both an elevated 7 line stop and a Long Island Rail Road station. Noisy, I’d imagine. Luckily for the folks that live here, it’s also on a primary approach to LaGuardia Airport which is found to the north. The folks that live on the block pictured above actually have an awesome Irish Bar on their corner, Saints and Sinners, so they can at least find solace or succor deep in their cups if the noise is keeping them awake at night. HQ back in Astoria sits atop a subway tunnel, the IND Broadway Local or R line. I barely even notice the vibrations anymore. You don’t hear anything, other than minor rattling emanating from the cupboards.

It’s best to just ignore the rattling, or any of the sounds which come from deep inside the walls, at Casa Mitch.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

58th street, which at Roosevelt Avenue is just a few blocks from the dead bang geographic center of NYC at Queens Blvd. and 58th, is where I decided to start deploying the tripod and other long exposure gear to try and capture the amazing amount of light kicking around in the steel rafters after dark. During the day, it’s just a mass of hard shadows up there, and a fairly difficult place to get the right exposure due to the bright shafts of sunlight peeking through the steel. There aren’t a lot of middle tones, essentially, to meter against in such a contrasty environment.

More tomorrow. 


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Written by Mitch Waxman

January 17, 2019 at 11:00 am

astute pupils

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into the cold waste…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Multiple layers of insulating clothing were draped off of the slowly rotting corpse which houses a humble narrator, just the other night, and out into the freezing temperatures did I go. As mentioned countless times in the past, one has a particular vulnerability to cold weather, which is at odds with and forms a comorbidity revolving about my aversion to boredom. Accordingly, my plan was to avoid the waterfront this particular evening and spend my time inhabiting the steel shadowed corridor of Roosevelt Avenue and limit my evening constitutional to just over two hours spent in the cold.

Strategically speaking, one needed to acquire imagery for this and other posts, and my tactics involved the usage of the NYCTA system to put myself in a fairly interesting place and then walk back to HQ the “long way round.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Ever a stickler for grammatically annoying others, the different meanings of a strategy versus a tactic is something which drives me mad. While browsing a military surplus website, one came upon an offering for two items – a tactical briefcase and a tactical pen. The briefcase was merely a fairly ugly bag constructed from the sort of fabrics commonly found in military items like rucksacks, and the pen was designed and constructed in a manner where it could double as a stabbing weapon. What sort of tactic either of these items represented is beyond me.

A strategy is an overarching plan formulated to achieve a goal – “I shall conquer France, using my portfolio of mad scientist inventions, along multiple fronts in pursuance of causing their Government to collapse while stretching the capabilities of their military out.” A tactic is – “The race of Atomic Supermen I’ve been breeding in the jungles of the Amazon will invade from the Atlantic seaboard,” or “while my volcano cannons bombard their Mediterranean coast, freezes rays will shine on Paris and bury it in ice.” Actions committed are tactical, the overall plan is the strategy, and neither briefcases nor pens could be considered as being strategic nor tactical. Your goal in a game of Chess is to capture the opponent’s King, the strategy involves how you plan to do it, and each piece you move is tactic.

As a note, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about conquering France using science fiction weapons.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I’m also obsessed with the word “Carpenter” at the moment. A carpenter doesn’t “carpent” at work, yet the job indicates that they do. The word entered the English language via Old French (which in turn got it from Roman Latin) around the time that the Normans took over in England. It replaced the Germanic sounding “wright” for the trade, although there are a bunch of distinctions in the carpentry world describing what you would do at work (joiner, cooper, finisher etc.) that also indicate skill levels. An interesting bit of linguistics that I recently got turned on to involves the Normans, actually, and how when they set themselves up as the Old French speaking Lords of the Manor in England the English language began to change. Common people ate mutton (Germanic English) whereas the Normans ate lamb (Old French) for example. In essence, if you’re saying a word in English and the tongue is lifting and hitting the frontal roof of the mouth (lightning, for example) it comes from Old French, and if the tongue is on the bottom of the mouth and bunched up at the back (woodworker) its from the Germanic influenced pre conquest language. I can’t speak too intelligently about this subject, as I’ve just encountered the topic, but it’s a pretty interesting one.

These are the sort of things one ponders (tactic) as I’m trying to stay warm (strategy) whilst wandering the streets of Queens in the January dark.


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Written by Mitch Waxman

January 16, 2019 at 2:30 pm

common tongues

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The angle between…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

For a long time, I’ve been using the term “angle” to describe those spots which form the borders of neighborhoods in Western Queens, which are actually historic remnants of the pre consolidated City of Greater New York. One of them is found where the steel of the elevated IRT Flushing line sweeps off of Queens Blvd. and instead overflies Roosevelt Avenue. This is the former border of Long Island City’ Middleburgh (alternatively LIC Heights) and the town of Woodside, and is today the border of the neighborhoods of Sunnyside and Woodside. Recent endeavor found a humble narrator negotiating his way home well after midnight, and just as it was starting to rain.

What sucked was that I didn’t have an umbrella.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I posted the shot above to a couple of my social media accounts, so sorry if you’re seeing it twice, but I stand by the text that accompanied it declaring that NYC looks best when it’s wet. Given my lack of an umbrella, and the startling amount of electronic devices affixed to my person, some care was exercised in my path down Queens Blvd. in the pursuit of not becoming soaked by the sudden downpour. There’s two ways to do this – one is to walk so fast that you’re actually dodging raindrops (which is illogical and doesn’t actually work), and the other is to utilize the “rain shadow” offered by the built environment. It had been around eight hours since my last meal at this particular moment, and given that I wasn’t going to be hitting the sack until the wee hours of the morning, the only option available at the particular time involved a fast food chain. Lemmee tell ya, Lords and Ladies, the denizens of the City who inhabit fast food restaurants after midnight in Sunnyside are an interesting demographic.

My high fat and calorie hamburger consumed (have you noticed what the fast food people consider a “small” coke is these days?), and with the rain actually having intensified, I decided to hire a taxi for the short jaunt across the Sunnsyide Yards and back to HQ in Astoria.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Having grown up in a solidly blue collar section of Brooklyn, my first instinct is always to support the working people rather than big corporations. That’s how I found myself standing in a bus shelter and trying to hail a cab. For the last couple of years, I’ve had a taxi app – Lyft – on my phone which I’ve been using for the occasional cab ride. I like it because the cab comes to me, and given the weird places and transit deserts like industrial Maspeth that I spend my time you’re not going to have many opportunities for street hails so Lyft is my go to for those sorts of spots. Queens Blvd. and 40th street, however? Use a yellow or green cab, one will be by in a minute or two. That’s what I thought, and when a yellow cab pulled up and rejected any other destination but Manhattan, I was reminded why I don’t care about the dying medallion cab industry nor its asshole drivers. Yellow cab drivers in particular would seem to prefer it if they just rolled down the window for you to throw money into the front seat before they spit at you and drive away.

I fired up the Lyft app and was home in about ten minutes.


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Written by Mitch Waxman

January 15, 2019 at 1:30 pm

present bungalow

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Flushing Bay, in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Last week I attended a meeting thrown by the NYC Parks Dept. detailing their $35 million dollar upgrades to the World Fair Marina in Flushing Bay. The plans involved relocating and rebuilding one of the docks, installing a new facility house and refueling dock, and installing a bunch of new street furniture on the public sections of the marina (benches, lamp posts etc.) It was my kind of meeting, truth be told, where the government people deliver their information in a punchy and well organized fashion, and public commentary is offered in a businesslike and terse fashion. My main interest in attending revolves around a long term bit of advocacy for Newtown Creek’s Queens shoreline which I’ve been working on, namely the creation of a similar marina on the Newtown Creek coastline Long Island City, and I wanted to take a look at “how it’s done” in the modern era.

Afterwards, a bit of time was spent outside with the camera and tripod, shooting into foggy darkness.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Just like the Dutch Kills tributary of Newtown Creek, the NYC DEP has been experimenting with the installation and planting of greenery, specifically Saw Grasses, in the littoral zones at Flushing Bay. Littoral means the intertidal area of the shoreline, and they’re engaged in the project for the same reasons that they are at Newtown Creek – mitigating the long term environmental consequences of an abundance of their Combined Sewer Outfalls on the waterway. DEP, or the New York City Department of Environmental Protection if you must, inherited a messy combination of underground pipes from precursor agencies when their organization was created during a 1983 City charter revision, many of which were installed in a hodge podge manner and prior to the Federal Clean Water act.

Due to the outfalls, a lot of raw sewage has historically found its way into area waterways, and the section of Flushing Bay nearby LaGuardia Airport and the World Fair Marina is notoriously and reliably smelly. The creation of these engineered wetlands is an attempt to harness the curative powers and mechanisms of nature in pursuance of fixing a manmade problem.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This is the section of the north shore of Queens which isn’t forbidden, as a note. There’s a NYC Parks property which sits between the water and the Grand Central Parkway called the Flushing Bay Promenade. It’s 1.4 miles long, starts at the equivalent of 27th avenue, and is a modern addition to the Flushing Meadows Corona Park facility whose creation was funded by the NYC DEP in return for Parks allowing them to build a sewer retention tank in the main park.

When it warms up a bit, I plan on bringing the camera back out here to the promenade and do some exploring.


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Written by Mitch Waxman

January 14, 2019 at 11:00 am

dark speculation

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Ghosts, wolf ghosts, ghost teenagers, bears, witches, black mold, paranoia, vampires…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The shots in today’s post are from a different night than the one I felt threatened by teenagers passing by, but still did a humble narrator lurk in fear. This time around, I found myself a couple of blocks from the future Amazon campus, an area which I’m trying to form a photographic record of before the furnaces of the real estate industry are fully stoked in response to the so called HQ2. Luckily for me, there was virtually no one about in this area after dark, but I can report that nearly every one of the squat industrial buildings found hereabouts bore a vinyl sign that read “available” followed by specific information leading one to a realtor’s name and phone number.

These vinyl signs are generally the “buboes” of a forthcoming plague of construction activity in Western Queens and North Brooklyn. It has begun, again.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This is one of those areas where you can go knock on a door looking for work, rather than submitting a resume to some automated system. HR is usually a mid 40’s woman named Esther or Shirly, and you get to work before the sun comes up most days, but get out at four in the afternoon. The job don’t pay well, but if you’re new to speaking English or just knocked your girlfriend up, this is the sort of thing you have to do to pay the bills. These are the jobs which will be extinguished by the coming of Amazon and the white collar economy of Manhattan.

If you’re one of the people who counted on finding a job, any job, and you don’t “know someone” you can just go to New Jersey or something. Neither the “Dark Prince of Albany” nor the “Dope from Park Slope” give two shits about you.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Adolescents are real, and scary. So are political hacks. Saying that, I prefer my little world of eldritch horror and ghostly influences to the real world in Queens these days. At least monsters like vampires can be done away with by jamming a stake in their hearts and they don’t keep on getting reelected, or climbing the career ladder to new and higher positions. Ever feel like a rat trapped in a maze? I often do.

Pfah.


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Written by Mitch Waxman

January 10, 2019 at 11:00 am

inordinate amounts

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Souring the milk, one day at a time.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

While hiding amongst the barren streetscape of industrial LIC from cadres of both ghostly and living adolescents, as well as a cohort of spectral forest animals, one found the time to crack out a few shots. When my nervous state emerges, solace is often found operating the camera. The technical aspect of it all pulls me back from the edge of madness, calms my frayed and often unctuous nerves, and allows me to lurk about in a normal rather than heightened level of fear. There’s a societal impulse to be afraid all the time these days, despite the fact that NYC is probably the “safest” it’s been in centuries.

Ask anyone. There’s pederasts hiding behind every tree waiting for an unwary parent to turn their back. Terrorists are everywhere, as are foreign born cartels of murder happy characters. Every employee of every corporation is working on new ways to give you cancer, defraud you, or conspiring to “sell your information.” Knife wielding pistoleros will addict you to amphetamines if you leave the house unarmed, and pistol wielding knifers will road rage you. Even University campuses aren’t safe anymore, with frequent bloody brawls occurring between pro and anti fascist, or so the Internet tells me. Your only hope seems to be in the embrace of the badged reverend in blue, who are the priestly class of an elected officialdom that are your only hope for succor before the descending curtain of a new dark age. They’ll protect you from all of these existential threats, the politicians will, unless they’ve been paid not to by a shadowy cabal of landlords who want you to move away. Your home isn’t safe either, as there’s black mold. Black mold is scarier than regular mold, because you know… black… which reveals that racism underlies everything. All is false, nothing is true, and there’s just no point so you might as well just accept it all and bunker down.

Ghosts. 

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Cognitive dissonance sells laundry detergent. Paranoid wonderings are fantastic fodder for people who sell security cameras and padlocks. Distraction and distrust of “the other,” who is everybody not as smart as you (who is everyone but you), are the best marketing gimmick of all time. Can you trust yourself? Our societal theater is crowded, and all are shouting fire, but nothing is actually burning. A humble narrator, however, who spends as much time as possible alone, asks this:

Are you so hungry you’d eat dirt, or haven’t had access to clean water for a long time? Have you ever experienced famine? Have you experienced drumfire artillery fired at your city? Are the teenaged packs of foreign born nationals in your nightmares just walking around and acting like dumbasses, or are they child soldiers riding around on a pickup truck that was modified to carry automatic weaponry on a mount? Are outbreaks of hemorrhagic fever common in your neighborhood?

Alternatively, do your biggest problems involve being overweight or spending too much money? Are you experiencing boredom since you’ve watched everything on Netflix already? That you’re worried about a nagging bit of nerve pain in your ass, caused by sitting around watching TV? How many violent attacks have you had to defend yourself from lately?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The ghost teenagers stayed with me, but luckily I was able to lose the living ones in a maze of streets called Long Island City. On this particular evening, I had finally finished the audiobook I was listening to, which was “The Great Bridge” by David McCollough. Starting with the shot above, I started “I am Legend” by Richard Matheson, who is one of my all time favorite authors. That’s the one where the world is overrun by a plague of vampires and is told from the perspective of a “LMOE” or Last Man on Earth. It’s been adapted to film three times, with the first one (Last Man on Earth) starring Vincent Price being the best version in my opinion. I have some fondness for the Charlton Heston version (Omega Man), and the less said about the Will Smith version the better. If you want to know about Vampires, however, hang out under either the Gowanus Expressway in Brooklyn, or the elevated tracks along Jackson Avenue nearby Queens Plaza, and you’ll get to meet some. It’s a fantastic exploration – ultimately – of loneliness and isolation, that book.

Ghosts, wolf ghosts, ghost teenagers, bears, witches, black mold, paranoia, vampires.


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Written by Mitch Waxman

January 9, 2019 at 2:05 pm

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