The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Archive for the ‘Manhattan’ Category

fled into

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Break time.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

A single image greets you this morning, as will be the case through the Thanksgiving holiday.

A humble narrator requires a break periodically, to recharge and reinvent. Worry not, however, for pithy commentary and puckish intent returns on the Monday following Thanksgiving – the first of December.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

November 17, 2014 at 11:00 am

central and supreme

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I been everywhere, man.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Actually, despite the bold statement above, I’ve hardly been anywhere at all. There are spots which one is overly familiar with, of course, but the daily grind does tend to oppress. Just the other day, one had to undertake one of those ludicrous commutes which have been enjoyed throughout the last year, crossing from Astoria out to the New Jersey side of… Staten Island… via mass transit.

What I was doing on Staten Island will be the subject of a post later this week, but today I’m just complaining about how long it all took. Rapid transit indeed.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The 59th and Lex Subway Station is surely meant to serve as a vast sculptural interpretation and exemplar of the spiritual concept known as “oppression.” Kafkaesque in layout, it always seems claustrophobic when I visit. The ceilings are lower, platforms narrower, stairs steeper… Last week, at least, I got to add a shot or two to my collection of “photographs of photographers photographing.”

- photo by Mitch Waxman

An somewhat accidental detour into Brooklyn occurred on the return trip, which I found rather ironic. It was nice to visit the Borough Hall station, but I needed to get back home before the indomitable bladder of Zuzu the Dog exploded. Has it ever been mentioned that my own personal version of hell is an eternity spent on a long commute through an endless labyrinth of tunnels?

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Walking Tours-

Saturday, November 8th, Poison Cauldron
Walking Tour with Atlas Obscura, click here for tickets and more info.

Note: This is the last Newtown Creek walking tour of 2014, and probably the last time this tour will be presented in its current form due to the Kosciuszko Bridge construction project. 

Written by Mitch Waxman

November 3, 2014 at 11:00 am

must each dwarf

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“They rob, kill and plunder all under the deceiving name of Roman Rule. They make a desert and call it peace” – Tacitus

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Moving through lower Manhattan, the long time New Yorker cannot help but notice the changes to the area beneath the FDR drive. One remembers a day when this area was used for parking, and also served as a camp for homeless folks. My mental picture of this spot – a dank, dark, dripping waterfront mess infested with dangerous, and often addled or demented, primates – was forged in the 1980’s, so admittedly – it’s thirty years out of date. I also remember a day when Carvel Ice Cream shops were ubiquitous.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

What you’ve got down here in modernity is a very well used “sort of” park or public space. There’s “model chicks” jogging around in yoga pants, “stock broker” guys leading tiny dogs around on leads, and lots of people lounging about. Pier 11 has become a sort of commuter hub these days, and there are hot dog carts and other vendors set up under the highway who charge $4 or more for a bottle of Snapple Iced Tea. CitiBike has one of its bike share racks in the area, and South Street has accordingly had bike lanes deducted from it. Al Smith would hardly recognize the street he grew up on.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

In contrast, there’s Queens. This is the 7 elevated subway pictured above, as it leaves Court Square toward Hunters Point in LIC. Now, this is the same block which 5ptz once occupied, and one wonders if – when the luxury condos which will replace the art institution open – some future version of myself will say that they remember an earlier iteration of reality. Of course, many have told me that I watch too many movies, but I’d really love to be able to see the future as well as the past.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Walking Tours-

Saturday, October 25th, Glittering Realms
Walking Tour with Atlas Obscura, click here for tickets and more info.

Written by Mitch Waxman

October 24, 2014 at 11:00 am

tripping on

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Glamour, intrigue, concerns about Popeye’s health – that’s what I’m about.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Raconteur is not how you’d describe a humble narrator, but I am a man about town. So much so that I find myself positively dizzied from exposure to those malfeasant atmospherics typically found within that nightmare of the claustrophobe which is particularly known as the NYC Subway system. Often, it feels as if one has become detached from reality when below, and has been reduced down to a statistical average. Limbo, indeed.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Perhaps it is the unwillingness of Station Managers to activate the exhaust fans at certain stops along the line? The unwelcome dustings of rodent feces and other foul exhalations which signal the arrival of a train? Mayhaps, it is the dripping concrete and smell of rotting masonry? On long trips which require many connections, one such as myself experiences a disordering of thought. If there is a hell, my specific punishment will be an infinite commute.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Often, one experiences his most intriguing thoughts while attempting to ignore the quite possibly dangerous humans who infest the system. All social interaction is fraught with risk, so the humans are best avoided. Instead, one ponders deep thoughts while lost in the labyrinth.

Recently, while considering the appearance of the cartoon sailor Popeye, it occurred to me that the characters peculiar physiognomy might indicate that he is a stroke victim. Frozen expression, swollen extremities, speech impairment – think about it, he’s also a smoker. The spinach might be on advice of medical professionals. Also, Poop Deck Pappy presents the same disabilities, so it might be some form of hereditary arteriosclerosis which affects the mariners.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Time lost, time gained. Down here, where I am useless and bored, is the platform for deciding the right course of action on a series of meaningless points. Often, I find myself just clicking the camera off randomly, turning it at funny angles to the scene. That’s kind of how the shots in today’s post came together. While developing them, I realized that my brain was working really hard working out the angles and perspectives.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Unconsiously, my head kept on turning, craning over to one side, as the visual information processing section of my head took over. When I caught myself doing this over and over, autonomiclly, a point was made to pass some of my time in subterranea waving the camera around randomly.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

There’s something so odd about this image, and it’s just that it was shot upside down. It’s interesting, neurologically speaking, this “perception thing,” isn’t it? Ever notice that when you see a photo or video of yourself, it doesn’t seem to look right? That’s not the face you see in the mirror every day, is it? Thing is, what we think of as “our face” is actually a flopped mirror image, which indicates… what do I know, I’m on the friggin subway all the time.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

October 2, 2014 at 12:23 pm

mad and fantastic

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Busy bees, and misanthropy, in today’s post.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The insect above was busily raiding Our Lady of the Pentacle’s herb garden one recent afternoon. Accordingly, I chased it around from blossom to blossom with a camera and flash. Soon, it was chasing me around. Such is my lot. The bee was merely attempting to shoo a representative of NYC’s human infestation away, something for which I can hardly blame it. There’s too many of us.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

One shouldn’t be surprised at the various indignities and inequities commonly experienced along the daily round, I suppose, given that many of the places I find myself have the word “hell” in their place names. Over in Manhattan’s Hells Kitchen, for instance, this taxi garage was queerly devoid of human habitation. A good start, I guess, but there’s still too many of us.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Down on the Lower East Side, in an area once known as “Jew town,” this laundromat scene reminded me of certain Edward Hopper paintings. The facility was offering the humans housed therein a chance to remove the soils and bodily excreta which had accreted into their textile garb – using a variety of semi caustic chemicals, detergents, and mechanically agitated hot water. There’s way too many of us, and I fear that what this city could really use is a good plague.

Someday a real rain will come and wash these streets clean…

Sorry for the misanthropy, I get a bit “Travis Bickle” when my back hurts…

“You talkin’ to me? You talkin’ to me? You talkin’ to me? Then who the hell else are you talkin’ to? You talkin’ to me? Well I’m the only one here. Who the fuck do you think you’re talking to?”

photo courtesy wikipedia

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Walking Tours-

Saturday, September 27th, 13 Steps Around Dutch Kills
Walking Tour with Atlas Obscura, click here for tickets and more info.

Sunday, September 28th, The Poison Cauldron of the Newtown Creek
Walking Tour with Brooklyn Brainery, click here for tickets and more info.

Written by Mitch Waxman

September 16, 2014 at 12:18 pm

cold and humorless

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Well, here we are again.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

September 11th is the only thing that can make a New Yorker flinch, a subject which causes all of our carefully cultivated callouses to fall away. City people have thick skins, but the subject is still raw around these parts.

A world ended thirteen years ago.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

War came to New York City that day, and we weren’t ready for it. There were no air defenses at the ready in the defacto capital city of the United States that morning, when the Twin Towers fell. This is something one still finds stunning.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Here’s to absent friends.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

September 11, 2014 at 9:56 am

impelled to

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As promised, shots from the Tug race in today’s post.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Last Sunday, the Working Harbor Committee organized this years iteration of the Great North River Tug Race and Competition. A multi pronged assault on the brain’s fun center, it starts with a race that begins at the 79th creek boat basin on the Hudson River. The finish line is at 42nd street, and this year the Robert McAllister tug won. Someday, I’d like to win something, but the only thing I’ve ever been good at winning is being a good loser.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The fun center of the brain is something which I’m fairly sure has withered away within my own skull, likely due to some unheralded ischemic event. Suspecting that my fun center has been “stroked out” of operation, it’s no surprise that the dull and quite existential horrors which typify my days were only briefly punctured by the “tug of war” nose to nose pushing competition segment of the event. It’s all so depressing.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Once, this sort of thing would have caused my mouth to form into a horrible gap toothed shape which could be roughly interpreted by others as being a smile. Now, there is only a flat affect and an abundance of dull eyed staring, I’m afraid. At least I can still work the camera, but can’t seem to distinguish the difference between sweet and sour tastes anymore. It takes sewerage or burning plastic for me to take notice of smell or taste these days.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The part of the Tug Race which I’ve always loved photographing, if that’s an emotion I can still experience, is the line toss. The various tugs form a queue and then hurtle at the pier, whereupon they hurl a rope at a bollard. The goal is to loop the rope onto the bollard and the throwers are rated for time and accuracy. I wish I could tell you who won, but a group of teenagers scared me so I headed home and locked my doors securely, back in Astoria where I belong.

The entire race set can be viewed at this flickr page.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

This weekend-

Saturday, September 6th, The Insalubrious Valley of the the Newtown Creek
Walking Tour with Atlas Obscura, click here for tickets and more info.

Written by Mitch Waxman

September 5, 2014 at 12:29 pm

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