The Newtown Pentacle

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Posts Tagged ‘Subway

current crimes

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There’s always the 7 train.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Owing to the sudden departure of my mac, and the associated digital tumult, these shots are a few weeks old, so apologies. This seems to be the way my life operates – just when I managed to get a healthy rhythm going after the smashed toe drama ended, another disaster occurs. One should be out and about this evening, recording the sort of amazing landscape which Western Queens offers, but as far as right now and today goes – it’s a few archive shots of the 7 train coming and going in LIC.

Above, a Manhattan bound train is descending into the Hunters Point Avenue station off of the steel causeway that carries it over the Sunnyside Yards and the MTA’s Arch Street train maintenance facility.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Also at the Hunters Point 7 station, this IRT Flushing line train is Queens bound, and was the one which a humble narrator boarded on his way to Queensboro Plaza. Let’s face it, there’s a lot of “math” we New Yorkers do when using the MTA system. The particular equation one such as myself often calculates, which should simply be about the fastest way home, factors in “pain in the ass” variables. I will avoid a transfer at Herald Square at all costs, for instance, as the station sits on a hellmount. That’s why it’s always so hot there.

On this particular afternoon, sometime last month as I recall, I had just conducted a walking tour of Skillman Avenue for a group of Sunnyside Yards Deck opponents. It was fairly chilly out, and the 7 would carry me to Queensboro Plaza where I could transfer to an N line train which would turn up 31st street and deposit me on Broadway. A short walk would then find me walking in the door to HQ. I could have ridden the 7 out to Jackson Heights, and transferred at Roosevelt Avenue to an R train which would stop a few blocks closer to HQ, but that could have ended up being a “pain in the ass.” Especially so on the weekends.

Remember, the “A” in MTA is for “adventure.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Beside the “pain” factor, one of my absolute favorite shots in the entire subway system is that of the 7 pulling into Queensboro Plaza with the Silvercup Bakeries sign behind it. What’s a ten block walk as compared to a two block walk when there’s a photo worth taking involved with the former?

Pfagh.


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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 5, 2020 at 1:30 pm

some curse

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Twirling, ever twirling.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

From HQ in Astoria, I’ve got several approach vectors to the various sections surrounding the Newtown Creek. Walking south on 39th street and making a right on Skillman Avenue takes me to Dutch Kills in LIC, for instance. 43rd street carries me across Sunnyside and towards the Kosciuszcko Bridge. South on 48th street will point my toes at Maspeth Creek and or the Grand Street Bridge. In all the cases above, one walks downhill out of Astoria to cross a low point at Northern Blvd. and then up a shallow hill and the ridge which Sunnyside sits on. After crossing a certain point, the declination of the land begins to slope back down towards the flood plains surrounding Newtown Creek.

Then there’s the Woodside Avenue/58th street path, which is what I call “good cardio.” What makes it good is that you are pretty much pulling up hill towards the Maspeth Plateau the entire way. On this path, you get to stop and consider the place marker on 58th street and Queens Blvd. installed by the Dept. of City Planning denoting the geographic center of NYC, walk along the walls of Calvary Cemetery’s second and third divisions, and dodge a lot of traffic. Fun.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Theoretically, the street pictured above is Laurel Hill Blvd., which is overflown by the Brooklyn Queens Expressway on an elevated ramp. Calvary 2 is on the north side of the street, Calvary 3 on the south. Both sections of the funerary complex sport high masonry walls which are somewhat oppressive, and are oddly free of graffiti. My understanding is that there is a street racing scene hereabouts on Laurel Hill Blvd., but I’ve never observed it. Recent experience has revealed that the fast and furious crowd currently prefers Review Avenue in Blissville, nearby Calvary 1, for their antics. To the North and East is the Woodside section, West and North is Sunnyside, and heading South brings you to Maspeth.

Oddly enough, this section of road is terrifically well travelled, even at night. It seems to be a bit of a shortcut for drivers, and the Q39 bus enjoys a couple of stops down here. As mentioned from a post a couple of weeks back, the State controlled highway which the street lamps are mounted on has not switched over to LED luminaires as the City has and old school sodium lights offer a now nostalgic orange glow.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

58th street itself, between the BQE and the Long Island Expressway, is essentially a trench running between two cemeteries – the aforementioned Calvary properties to the west and Mt. Zion to the East. Truly terrifying for a pedestrian, what passes for sidewalks are essentially earthen berms piles up against the cemetery walls.

Not everybody walks past a cemetery fence at night wishing that the property was open 24 hours, and regretful that the photographic splendors therein are out of reach, but I do. One couldn’t resist getting a few shots through the fence of Mt. Zion while picking my way along the rough hewn berm. Oh, to gain purchase within and spend time with the night gaunts and tomb legions.


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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 25, 2020 at 1:00 pm

virtuous bluster

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Happy Monday!

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Recently, a few of my friends have received a request to “be a guinea pig” for a new walking tour I’m planning on conducting this year. Accordingly, I recently dragged one of them up onto the Kosciuszcko Bridge, which will be a part of the experience. That’s one of the literally hundred shots I gathered in under twenty minutes up there, a frequency that was indicated by something like every five to ten steps. Lots to see up on the Kos. We didn’t hang around for sunset, as my friend on this particular day was desirous of heading over to Queens Blvd. and the 7 line tracks, so that she could wave her camera at the oncoming trains.

So far, one hasn’t been hassled by any of the new Subway cops when sitting in the system, and in fact, haven’t perceived their presence whatsoever in Western Queens. I’m looking forward to the hassle, as “Giuliani Time” is so long ago at this stage that I’m actually nostalgic for the over reaching and invasive enforcement of no actual law. It’s one hundred percent kosher to photograph non commercial work in the MTA system, barring the use of tripods, lights, and flashes. If you wanted to use any of that equipment down below or up above, you need to contact the MTA and get a permit.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One has always been enamored with the design of the 7 line concrete aqueduct on Queens Blvd. Concrete and steel go so well together, especially when they were combined in the era of the First World War. So utilitarian! So retro!

My favorite thing, though, about the stretch of Queens Blvd. between 33rd and 48th streets is the way that the vaulted concrete arches form a “whisper gallery.” Don’t ask me to explain the physics of it, but if you’re so happy (and you know it) that you clap your hands, the percussive sound waves will travel for blocks and blocks under this structure. If you speak loudly, your voice will echo and boom. I’d like to stage a concert down here someday, one with somebody playing drums. Actually, drums and bagpipes.

File that one under “how to annoy all of Sunnyside.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Upstairs, of course, you’ve got the IRT Flushing or 7 line. I’ve got to admit, since they finished the signals upgrade – and in my experience – the 7 is arriving far more frequently than it used to. It’s also a lot more crowded than it used to be, particularly at either end of its course in Queens. I’ve also observed the train completely emptying out at its Manhattan “Grand Central” stop and have ridden in a totally empty car to the end of the line at Hudson Yards more than once. A private ride to the camera store, for a humble narrator, essentially.

I’ll let y’all know about the new walking tour when I’ve got it all set up. Going to be a good one, that. Bring a camera.


“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.

torturing appliances

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Why are you people always sleeping.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Sometimes, a humble narrator suffers from insomnia, so what’s a man to do but pack up the camera and wander around the streets in the middle of the night until he’s tired enough to fall asleep? Recently, one left the house at 4 a.m. on a Monday morning. It was the first time in a couple of months that I was carrying the “whole magilla” with me, as in the largish knapsack filled with camera lenses and all the other junk which one likes to have available when out and about. For the last couple of months, due to the broken toe you’re all so sick of hearing about, I’ve been traveling as light as possible. Now that the medically advised “take it easy” period is over, one is rattling the bars of his cage and is ready to go.

Funny thing is that I barely used all the crap I had with me, but I knew that when leaving the house. Wanted to see how my foot reacted to carrying the extra load on my back, and also start the process of getting back some muscle tone.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My eventual destination was the BH camera shop on 34th street, so by leaving five hours earlier than they open, even the MTA wouldn’t be able to hamper my progress. One shlepped down Broadway through the urine and vomit puddles (the bars had just closed) towards the Astoria line tracks in expectation of riding an N or W into Manhattan, but while waiting for my chariot to arrive, I was puzzled at the presence of a J train sitting – seemingly abandoned – on the center track. I know, the J line icon in the shot above is all glowed out and unreadable. It was a J, here’s another shot of it which I executed in a different fashion.

Most of the people I saw waiting at the station seemed to be construction workers and people wearing security guard uniforms, which answers the question about who is taking the Subway from Astoria into the city in the wee hours. Them, and a wandering mendicant with a camera.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I transferred at Queensboro Plaza to the 7, which was just entering the station as I debarked the N. That’s the first missed shot of the night, and there were a few. One can not explain the logic behind a certain thought process, but sometimes a “little bird” starts singing to me about either not lingering someplace or just coming back another time. Call it “Spidey Sense” but… something was just telling me to go and not wait for the next 7. Over the years I’ve learned to listen to that voice in my head, and ignore the other ones. I actually didn’t have my headphones stuck in my ears all night, due to my desire to maintain “situational awareness” while shooting. Also, I had Rush’s “Tom Sawyer” playing in my head. A little paranoia is a good thing, in the dark of night. So’s a little Rush “ear worm,” every now and then.

New York City, folks, New York City. Pay attention to what’s going on around you.


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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

December 30, 2019 at 11:00 am

correlated little

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Rounding the week out with the trains

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One is just about done with 2019 here, as I imagine most of you are. It hasn’t been a great year, but there you are. As my old man used to say, if you’re able to complain about it you’re still alive so there isn’t that much to complain about. He’d then indicate that I was probably bored if I had time to complain and offered to fill my time with some chore. Nobody has wished me a Fun Festivus (which is Monday the 23rd, btw) at any of the holiday parties I attended, which I’m upset about. It’s good though, as I’m a little “partied out” at this point in time, and don’t have the bandwidth to gather around the aluminum pole and air my grievances this year.

What can I say, I’ve always been a grumpy loner, now I’m a grumpy old man.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Where am I going next? It’s an existential question I keep asking myself, and the answer is ultimately “where the world takes me.” One of the bits of sage wisdom this grumpy old man can offer is to not try to force things into happening. Paradoxically, I’ll also offer that the world only makes sense when you force it to do so.

To put it into mundane analogical terminology – it makes no sense to lean over the platform edge looking for the subway, as it won’t force the subway to appear. The train is going to get there when it gets there. Making good use of your “dwell time” in the station (as MTA refers to it) is forcing the world to make sense somehow. In my case, that means taking a lot of photos.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A recent encounter, which wasn’t the particular moment I was shooting this set of photos, involved the “what and why are you taking pictures of” trope down in one of the sweating concrete bunkers under Manhattan. This encounter wasn’t with law enforcement, members of which I had a couple of notable “in the field” conversations with in 2019, it was just some fellow commuter. I explained my activities to this particular petitioner by asking if she ever saw any of those cool old photos of NYC depicting subways or trolleys in BW photos from the 1930’s or 40’s on her Facebook feed. When she responded yes, I said “I’m the one whose photos your grandkids will be looking at.” She chuckled.

On that note, the 2020’s are coming and I plan on doing a lot of roaring in the next decade.


“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

December 20, 2019 at 2:30 pm

anguished frenzy

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Cut and cover.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Let’s say that a humble narrator announces a tour of the fabulous Newtown Creek, or a boat excursion to some remote corner of the harbor, and I end up taking a bath on the endeavor and lose money. Did I take a risk that didn’t pay off? When I’m talking about my empty right hand pocket, do I pretend that the roll of hundred dollar bills and the bag of assorted gem stones maintained in my left pocket doesn’t exist? What if my left hand pocket assets included billions and billions of dollars of Manhattan real estate? Can I just confess that I didn’t market the tour properly, or manage its costs competently, or proceeded with the operation under some rose colored ideation that it would sell out and make me richer than Croesus? Did I employ the services of a bunch of incompetents who are related to or friends with various political party officials, using my project as a patronage mill?

Or do I just blame the audience, accuse them of trying to get one over on me, and then go further in debt to hire a small army of armed guards with marching orders to generate revenue via fines and tickets because I can’t be losing money unless someone is stealing from me? Of course not, I’m not the MTA.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The practice of blaming the ridership, accusing them of theft of service, pretending that your pocket is empty when in reality you are one of the biggest landlords in New York State… that’s the MTA. Need a few billion bucks? Maybe sell your office building on Jay Street in Brooklyn and move your operations to a less tony location in Nassau or Suffolk County, or maybe Westchester. I understand that Mount Vernon and Yonkers have several abandoned office parks which would be quite affordable to move your army of bureaucrats into. Still underfunded? How about selling off some of your investment properties in upper Manhattan while the real estate market is hot?

That, or you can just wait for the next video of a bunch of cops having a fist fight with teenagers over $2.75 to make the nightly news.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Me? I’d let the Wall Street guys have a go at MTA. Let the bean counters in there to look for redundancy and cost savings through consolidations. Funny thing is, this would barely be felt by the Union people who actually keep the system running. MTA loves publicizing the fact that some shlimiel on the LIRR collected an outlandish amount of overtime pay, but never discusses the number of empty suits populating the office cubicles at their Jay Street HQ. I’d like to smash the system over there, where the subways are still operated as if the IND and IRT were distinct. There’s multiple bus companies, LIRR and Metro North have virtually zero interoperability… it goes on and on. The MTA real estate and property manager folks operate in shadow, with virtually zero public awareness of their shenanigans.

If NYC is an organism, with DEP the liver and kidneys, MTA operates the venous system. Arteriosclerosis is something I’m familiar with. The best treatment, long term, for this sort of disease vector is lifestyle change.


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Come to the library!

In the Shadows at Newtown Creek – The Roosevelt Island Historic Society has invited me to present a slideshow and talk about my beloved Newtown Creek at the New York Public Library on Roosevelt Island, on November 14th, 6 p.m. Free event!

Click here for more information.!

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

November 7, 2019 at 11:00 am

stark mad

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I know why it’s so hot, always, at the Times Square station.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There’s nothing quite as enjoyable as arriving on a Subway Platform in Manhattan and then finding out that there’s signal problems at Queens Plaza. The marketplace of aerosol pathogens carried by the human infestation into this subterranean structure is far better than getting a flu shot in terms of bolstering one’s immunological system, and the sheer unpleasantness of the ambient temperature is always a treat. Learning that you’re going to be spending a substantial bit of time waiting for your ride home – now that’s priceless. The “A” in MTA is for “adventure,” after all, and on Sunday nights the “M” stands for “Magnifique.”

The high temperature at the Times Square stop cannot solely be attributed to an annoying bureaucratic tendency amongst MTA station managers to not actuate their ventilation systems. Surely, it’s because the subway station was built atop the cavern carved out by Lucifer and the other rebel angels when they were swallowed into the ground during an argument they had with the Creator entity over Adam and Eve’s place in the celestial pecking order.

Said discourse occurred where Dave and Busters sits atop 42nd street, a location which was part of the Garden of Eden “back in the day.” Somewhere beneath the subway station itself is a lava tube that leads directly to hell. “Da Deuce” thereby, is a hellmouth.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A succession of Subway trains which do not go anywhere close to where I needed to go arrived and departed the station, during an interminable interval. As is my habit, I passed the time photographing the trains entering the facility, which raised the suspicions of several dead eyed MTA employees. Of course, being employees of MTA, they barely gave a crap despite being suspicious. As any member of the International Brotherhood of Screw Turners Local 6 will tell you, that’s somebody else’s job.

My retirement plans involve capturing a photo of a suicidal human jumping off the platform in front of an arriving train. Sales and licensing of said shot will make me rich beyond the dreams of avarice. My wealth will allow me to exact Dante style revenge on those who have offended… sorry, that was the influence of the Times Square Hellmouth that I was standing on which was talking there.

It affects us all, in different ways, the hellmouth.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

While waiting, and boy oh boy I was waiting a good half hour at this point, I noticed that something had imparted a good amount of kinetic force onto one of the steel structural columns and blasted a hole in the paint covering it.

The modern day dark green paint MTA uses sat over a duller green which I seem to remember them using about 15 years ago. The white and the red layers seem familiar to me, from earlier eras in NYC. Might just be primer, but I seem to recall red being used in the early 1990’s for column paint. Again, might just be the hellmouth talking.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Another pneumatic piston arrived, driving the usual cloud of sewer smell, rat shit, and powdered cockroach onto the platform. Normally, one would happily take the N just to get out of Manhattan and away from the hellmouth at 42nd street, but maintenance work was causing the N to go no further into Queens than Queensborough. Really, there is no better time to experience the joys of the MTA than a Sunday night.

Ultimately, I needed to wait for an R to get anywhere close to home.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

While I was studying the layers of paint on that column, a pigmentary coating which had to be layered on 3/8 to 1/2 inch thick mind you, an R finally arrived. Luckily it was quite crowded and the MTA had made the logical decision that since it was October you didn’t need to run any sort of ventilation or air conditioning onboard. This was especially well received by a humble narrator given that atmospheric humidity was close to 90% and also since it was raining all day, everybody onboard was soaking wet and their clothing was evaporating additional humidity into the subway car atmosphere.

It really is a pleasure to be in NYC these days, ain’t it? The fairness, the equity, the affordability of housing… truly has our Mayor improved things.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There has to be a word – if we were a German speaking culture there would be – for the sense of relief you experience upon finally boarding a subway train that’s heading back towards your home after passing through the gauntlet of MTA’s expert patience testers. Luckily, the folks already onboard the train were as well mannered as usual. You had the people playing games on their phones with the speaker turned on, the lady screaming into her phone in an unknown guttural at some remote husband, and there was a fellow eating a fried and quite aromatic fish dinner with his fingers.

If I could, I’d have held my breath the entire ride. Who eats on the Subway? Ugh.


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Come on a tour!

With Atlas ObscuraInfrastructure Creek AT NIGHT! My favorite walking tour to conduct, and in a group limited to just twelve people! October 29th, 7-9 p.m.

Click here for more information and tickets!

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 24, 2019 at 11:30 am

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