The Newtown Pentacle

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Posts Tagged ‘Manhattan

serious bubbles

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It’s all so depressing.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A somewhat random series of images greets you today. As endlessly mentioned in recent posts, I’m bored boredity bored bored, tired of winter already, and literally dying for something interesting that isn’t horrible to happen. This horsey ride over in Sunnyside… I wish they made adult versions of these things so I could at least have something to look forward to after the goal of achieving fifty cents was accomplished.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Spotted this arrangement over in LIC, on Jackson Avenue. I don’t think that the Union guys consciously create compositions when they’re doing their thing, but they are often responsible for moments of true rapture.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The literal dust bin of history was stumbled across at the Vernon Blvd. street end in LIC’s DUPBO, where some thoughtful soul had disposed of a series of history textbooks and what seemed like an entire library of Time Life WW2 hard cover photo books.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

While I was there, in LIC I mean, exploitation of one of the many holes in the fencing of the LIRR Hunters Point yard was undertaken. I’ve got a catalog of these holes and POV’s, incidentally, which includes the entire Sunnyside Yards and follows the Montauk line all the way back to Ridgewood. For those of you who live in Bushwick, Ridgewood, or East Williamsburg – two words – Scott Avenue (bet Randolph and Meserole).

Trust me, but be there early or late.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

For some reason, I’m fascinated by laundromats at the moment, a subject which I’m planning on discussing with my team of physicians. This one is in Park Slope, where I somehow ended up one day.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Over at Central Park Zoo, there are Grizzly Bears. Their names are Betty and Veronica, and I have no idea which one this is. Where’s Archie, ask I?

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Written by Mitch Waxman

February 4, 2016 at 11:00 am

weak and tender

with one comment

One last effort at combatting Cabin Fever, Dry Rot, and your SAD.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This post will be your last dose of seasonal affective disorder medication, so drink in the color. Next week – it’s back to concrete devastations, chemical factories, superfund sites, cemeteries – you know, the usual.

Funny thing about the shot above is that I used to know a girl called Mary Gold. What was funny was that she was named Mary and was from a  Jewish family, but then again Christian Mary was from a Jewish family too, so maybe Mary is as Jewish a name as Abraham, Esther, or Sarah. In my family, there were two Aunt Rose’s, and my mother would call one of them “Rose Waxman” as she had married into the clan, and the other was Aunt Rosie as she had been born into it. There was only one Ida, but if memory serves she never grew any apples but made one heck of an apple cake.

Anyway, that’s my marigold rap.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I’ve never met, nor am I knowingly related to anyone named Albizia Julibrissin. Commonly referred to as the Mimosa, the Persian Silk Tree is actually an invasive species here in North America. It’s native to Japan and Korea, apparently, and was a prized landscaping specie in the recent past. Persian Silk Trees, aka “the bastard tamarind” and or “Pink Siris,” is an allelopathic organism. Allelopathy is a ten dollar word for “secretes chemicals into its environment whose function is to inhibit or eliminate competitors.”

It’s pretty though. I’ve heard many members of the gentry hereabouts in Astoria complain about the so called Mimosa, as when its flowers drop, they create a sticky mess on their sidewalks.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I’m pretty sure that the flower above is an Iris, but what I know about flowers is less than what I know about brands of luggage. I’ve known several Iris’s in my days, including one whose last name was Gold, but was not related to the aforementioned Mary G (who was the “OG” as I had met her first). This was all back in an earlier era, of course, when Brooklyn was a place people didn’t want to live in, Mtv played music, a young Joe Piscopo taught us all how to laugh, and Huey Lewis was the Hootie of his time.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Over in Brooklyn’s Greenwood Cemetery, one moist afternoon. It was Autumn, raining, and the light was great. Turning leaves, of course, which violates today’s flowery thema but follows along with the palette of reds and pinks nicely. Red light is carried on a longer wavelength than blue, and is of a higher frequency. The human eye – according to a couple of sources – perceives about 390 to 700 nm wavelengths and frequencies which are (in a banded gradation) in the vicinity of 430–770 THz. There’s all sorts of light invisible to human eyes, but certain critters abandon one end of the spectrum for the other, like the honey bee and the gold fish who can discern the ultra violet but lose the infrared. In return for seeing deep blues and violets, they lose the ability to see any wavelength longer than orange, which is kind of a neat trade off.

Makes me think about the things which might be flopping all around me that I can’t see. Wonder what sort of critters there might be might who have evolved an effective invisibility to Homo Homicidis?  This would be the ultimate defense mechanism against us. Might answer the question about “what is that smell, and where is it coming from”?

The reason why the sky is blue? It boils down to the shorter wavelengths and lower frequencies of the violet and blue range being scattering by the atmosphere, which is also why sunny days on Earth’s surface “look” warmer as the red light with its longer wavelength is able to penetrate down to the ground and is prevalent on deck.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The most amazing skies I’ve ever witnessed were in Crete, over in the Peloponnesus of Greece.

Some awesome flower action is going on over there as well. Given the weather forecast, I sort of wish that that’s where I was right now. This is a back garden at a house which my In-Laws lived in for a number of years in a village called Tsiverus, a settlement which had the most treacherous road system I’ve ever experienced. Considering that this place has been settled by modern humans since the time of the pyramids, however, I’m willing to cut them some slack on the bad layout and placement of roads. I’m sure these paths were a lot easier to navigate with donkeys and slaves and stuff, but why there’s a highway with no guard rail placed on the ridge of a thousand foot gorge… it boggles.

Of course, the same day this was taken, I saw a work crew cutting a trench through the ruins of a Roman settlement to lay a sewage pipe into. Did you know that Greeks don’t call themselves that? They’re Hellenes, Athens and Kriti are in a country which is called the Ellīnikī́ Dīmokratía, and the word Greek comes from “Grik” which is a Roman slur that means “short legged.” Travel broadens you, I’m told, for me – it’s just another set of things to do research on.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It is hoped that this week of bright colors has helped alleviate the seasonal affective disorder symptomology which we are all feeling. People always refer to “cabin fever” during this time of the year.

Cabin fever is no joke, it’s an actual “thing.” “Piblokto” or Arctic Hysteria, is a condition that appears in Inughuit (which is how you spell “Inuit” now) societies up in the Arctic Circle, but it’s certainly not confined to the natives as both sailors and soldiers posted to the Arctic experience it as well.

Symptoms of Arctic Hysteria include: social withdrawal, excitement, convulsions with stupor, and recovery – which kind of describes my life in high school, except for the recovery part. The excitement part involves stripping naked and running around in the snow. You might survive Arctic Hysteria, but high school?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

OK, back to January.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

January 22, 2016 at 11:00 am

grisly forever

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A continuing series of colorful images, combatting the SAD reality of January.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There’s a reason that your summer clothes are always tight when you put them on in June, and it has nothing to do with them getting shrunk by careless laundromat employees. During the cold months, there’s few options open for Queensicans other than to hunker down in their domiciles and blankly stare at a television screen while stuffing food into their mastication orifice. Personally, I’m a big fan of Citrus during the interminable winter months – high in fiber, hydrating, and it delivers a much needed blast of vitamin C.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Thing is, living in Queens, one has a lot of options which – while not the smartest choice from a dietary point of view – taste real good. A humble narrator is prejudiced towards the selection of an oatmeal raisin cookie while browsing the bakery case, using the rationalization that since its oatmeal – it’s a better choice to make. One entirely omits the fact that these things are full of the “devil’s grease,” which is better known as butter.

Either way, I’m not even thinking about the sugar.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Speaking of sugar, the shop keeps here in Astoria constantly up their cake game. Often, I wonder if they have struck some sort of deal with Satan itself, committing to slowly murdering as many of us as is possible with baked goods such as the chocolate heart cakes seen above. A true devil’s bargain, and shaped like that which they’re aimed at, these are.

Short term gain indeed, in return for an artery choking case of sclerosis which would send one plummeting to the fiery pit and into the company of the beast.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There are those who work for us, instead, it should be mentioned. Agricultural bounty is available wherever you choose to seek it out. My team of doctors have passed on a simple coda for interpreting foodstuffs of the vegetative variety – bright greens and dark greens are packed with iron and simple sugars, and red things are anti inflammatory powerhouses. Yellow things are also a good choice, but one should generally avoid white and brown things like potatoes due to the carbohydrate load indicated by their coloration.

They are ambivalent about orange things, my docs, which is good as I’m a carrot guy.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The coda falls apart when witnessing so called “heirloom” cultivars, of course. There’s a lot of these sorts of vegetable and fruit on the market these days, which are sold with the legend “organic.” Of course, being “Captain Vocabulary” and all – the term has always bothered me as it betrays a lack of knowledge about what words actually mean. My response to the word “organic” is always “oh good, there’s no silicon in this tomato.”

I avoid the purchase of said heirlooms, or hipster fruit as I sometimes call it. If a “regular” tomato was good enough for Harry Truman, it’s good enough for me.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Wildly verdant, despite the environmental horror of it all, these “sewer berries” can be observed growing in Greenpoint. I would recommend against their consumption, of course.

Legend has it that quaffing a handful of Greenpoint’s sewer berries will lead to bodily transformations and psychological changes. Vampirism might be rampant on the Queens side of Newtown Creek, but apocryphal tales from hoary Greenpoint involving lycanthropy all seem to tie back to some punter tossing back a few feral berries. At least that’s what’s supposed to have happened to McGuniness.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

January 21, 2016 at 11:00 am

with dreams

with 2 comments

Constrained and contained.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The winter blues are upon us all, one fears. Dark skies and so on, combined with recurrent viral infections polluting the local outlook. Not so at this, your Newtown Pentacle. This week it’s not about the blues, rather it’s the purples, and reds, bright green, and lemon yellows. Every image that will greet you this week is chosen not for some narrative purpose, rather it’s a public service whose purpose is to help combat your SAD (seasonal affective disorder) and virus addled days.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This week you’ll be greeted by a series of shots culled from the archives, accompanied by a bit of text discussing that which is pictured, when warranted. Above, a barbed wire fence line in Blissville, Queens. Behind it rises the former headquarters of the General Electric Vehicle Company, which manufactured electric automobiles and trucks in LIC back at the start of the 20th century. I described the saga of GEVC in this post, which is actually a few years old at this point.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Williamsburg Bridge is actually the reason that there’s a Municipal Art Society, as the span was considered to be such an abomination when constructed that the gentry of the early 20th century wished to ensure that nothing like it ever occurred again. Personally, I don’t consider it that bad, although I prefer the venerable Manhattan and spectacular Queensboro bridges – speaking from a strictly esthetic point of view.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It’s at the bottom of the barrel, January, in terms of the wheel of the year. What one such as myself craves is color, saturated and bright. If all I can get is artificiality, I’ll take it.

If this Astoria vending machine, which is the sort designed to tempt a passerby to drop a few coins in pursuance of a stuffed animal which might be obtained via the use of a metallic claw, is all I can get – I’ll take it.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The former Williamsburgh Savings Bank, over in North Brooklyn, has been laboriously restored to the glories typical of the era of France’s Second Empire. Luxurious detail and slavishly applied color is found on the domed ceilings of the place, both of which are sure to brighten up your wintry malaise.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Back to LIC’s Blissville, in the shot above, and a religious parade committed by a small army of Bolivians at St. Raphael’s on Greenpoint Avenue. If this quartet of dancers cannot brighten a January day, I don’t know what can.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Yuyzel on da cruss, as my Grandmother would have described the statuary above, is found at Old St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Lower Manhattan. The cruciform is backed up by stained glass which provides for a bit of color at one of my favorite and most cinematic spots in NYC.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

You can’t go wrong with Times Square if you’re looking to brighten up and color up your mid January. Of course, since it’s actually everything that’s wrong with modern NYC made manifest, a trip there might just backfire. Come to think of it, Times Square has always represented everything that was wrong with NYC, at least in the 20th and 21st centuries.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

FDNY always lights things up when they’re working, come to think of it.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

January 19, 2016 at 11:00 am

refuge open

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Street photography, literally, in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A humble narrator has been on a bit of a “notice everything” kick of late, which I imagine would translate into “normal person” as “by Jove, one is surrounded by things which have always been accepted but unquestioned.” Well, I guess that’s how normal people think, I wouldn’t know. One of the things I’ve gotten curious about lately are streets, and more specifically – the roadway itself. This has led me down a bit of a merry path, which has led to the realization that just about every road in NYC, the United States, and in fact the world is paved with industrial waste.

Elucidation follows, but first we need to discuss the development of the thoroughfare.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Roads were originally created from the compaction of soil along trade routes in prehistoric times, and there were fairly common paths developed in Eurasia and Africa by around 10,000 BCE. The oldest stone paved road known to archaeology was built by the Egyptians, in roughly 2,300 BCE, although there are older “courdoroy” or log roads known (There’s a few in the UK which date back to around 4,000 BCE). Over on the Indian Subcontinent, streets were paved with brick as early as 3,000 BCE.

Famously, the Romans were bloody brilliant at building roads, many of which have lasted into modern times. Their system involved the excavation of a fairly deep trench, followed by the laying and tamping down of several feet of differing grades of stone into it, with the top layer formed from a series of carefully cut paving stones which were quite heavy. The bottom layers allowed for drainage, the top layer armored the structure while using the force of gravity to keep it in place. For about a thousand years, the Roman system (similar technologies were used in China, and amongst the Inca in South America) was the best you could really hope for.

The Europeans who colonized North America used crushed oyster shells and stones to form a road surface, and they mitigated the dust generated by horse and cart by using various forms of oil to hold the stuff in place. It wasn’t until the middle 18th century that roads became “modern” when a Frenchman named Pierre-Marie-Jérôme Trésaguet began working on carefully graded roads around Paris. Trésaguet was followed at the beginning of the 19th century by a Scot named Telford who created what modernity would refer to as “a cobblestone road” wherein the pavers were mortared in place using stone dust and gravel. Unfortunately, these methodologies used a tremendous amount of material, and required an enormous investment to lay the several feet of stone that was required for proper drainage and surface stability.

It was another Scot – John McAdam – who invented the precursor of the modern roadway, and his pavement came to be known as “Macadam.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Macadam roads wore tougher under carriage wheels, and were cheaper to build than “Telford’s”. Trial and error taught McAdam that a course of stones, broken up small enough and compacted by a heavy iron roller, would act as a solid mass if given proper drainage. It was perfect for horse and carriage, albeit a bit dusty. The roads of the industrial revolution era were generally paved in Macadam.

In 1902, a Swiss doctor named Ernest Guglielminetti hit upon the novel idea of using tar to coat the roads in Monaco. About twenty years later, an Englishman named Edgar Purnell Hooley patented a formula (in the UK and USA) which combined coal tar and blast furnace slag mixed into gravel and called his new product Tarmac, or Tarred Macadam. Tarmac became quite wide spread by the early days of the automobile, but by the late 1920’s the literal king of the road appeared and Tarmac went out of style.

Also, even by the beginning of the 20th century, physician and politicians alike began to realize that Coal Tar was a particularly unhealthy thing to loose upon the environment. Luckily, nothing bad had ever come out of the nascent petroleum industry.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There are 42 gallons of crude oil in one of those shipping barrels which you always hear business people referring to. When the distillation process is complete, multitudes of chemicals are wrung out of it. 1.7% of every barrel ends up as a fairly inert form of tar which is referred to as “Asphalt or Road Oil.” Asphalt actually occurs naturally, and when it bubbled up out of the ground in historical settings, it was referred to as “pitch.”

Pitch was used for waterproofing the wooden joins on ships, inside buildings – anywhere you’d need a waterproof seal. It was also used as an incendiary for flaming arrows, and for boiling people you’d want to teach a lesson to. The British, and geologists, refer to naturally occurring Asphalt as “bitumen.” There’s natural lakes of the stuff to be found, notably in Trindidad/Tobago and it’s the tar you’ll find in the LaBrea Tar pits over on the left coast in Los Angeles.

The English were paving with Asphalt as early as the 1830’s, and in 1837 a fellow named Richard Tappin Claridge was granted a patent on a formulation for asphalt paving. Claridge’s company survived until the First World War, when it had just entered into a new venture to manufacture “Asphalted Macadam.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

In New York City, modern day roads (with the exceptions of historic “Belgian Block” pavement, or the rare brick surface like Stockholm Street in Ridgewood) are paved with asphalted concrete. It’s a layer cake, according to the NYC DOT. There’s a base layer of gravel, which is covered by cement or concrete (which is sometimes reinforced with structural steel, depends of where it is and what the substrate is) which is armored by a top layer of asphalted concrete. Luckily, the roads in Queens are crappy, and on a recently replaced section of Northern Blvd. in Long Island City – you can see two of the layers surrounding a collapsing sewer drain.

It’s actually quite a thin crust, when you get down to it. This PDF at NYC.gov offers the “Materials” chapter of the DOT’s street design manual, and it covers the various approved road surfaces (sidewalks too) which you are encouraged to use in the City of Greater New York. It will tell you that, amongst other things, asphalted concrete is the most highly recycled substance in our municipality.

There is a “Green Asphalt” plant found in Blissville, at my beloved Newtown Creek, which is one of many facilities around the City which perform this sort of service. It seems that there is an economic, and practical, reason for placing these facilities within the City itself. Your “mix” needs to be within a certain distance of where you’re going to be laying it down, otherwise it begins to solidify and degrade in transit.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Closer to home – my home at least – on Broadway in Astoria, a “trencher” was observed cutting its way through the street. You can see the layer cake of concrete and asphalt, and in the post which originally described the device – this one – your humble narrator reported that several largish chunks of timber were being brought to the surface along with the concrete and asphalt.

Broadway, in this section, is quite a complicated structure. The IND tracks of the R train are found at what’s probably 20-30 feet under the surface, which were constructing using the “cut and cover” method. There’s all kind of other stuff snaking around – sewers, utility tunnels, rat middens, etc. That means that the street is actually the uppermost section of a larger structure, meaning that if you fell down in the crosswalk – you’ve actually just landed on the roof of a building. As I mentioned above, how normal people think is a bit of a mystery to me.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

According to officialdom, 99% of Asphalt is recycled, and that 95% of the roads in the United States are paved with it. Asphalt pavement is rated according to the weather extremes it can withstand, and there are certain formulations designed for different climates. A different mix of tar and concrete is used for roads in Buffalo than those in NYC, for instance, due to climatological factors.

Engineers I’ve checked in with like the stuff – describing it as “easy to work with, and easy to repair.” It seems that a fresh laid bed of asphalted concrete is structurally a single unit – until something goes wrong under the surface or utility access requirements and repairs forces laborers to start cutting holes in it. That’s when the surface starts to flow, and pull, and crack. NYC is basically always working on one street or another – grinding, paving, laying new foundations. Given that a lot of the City sits on former wetlands, it’s a task best described as Sisyphean.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

So – back to the industrial waste part of things – according to a buddy who works as an Enviro-Cop, asphalt is actually a fairly benign substance as far as petroleum goes. Unlike other derivates, it’s environmentally stable once it has set. The recycling industry uses high levels of heat to release the bitumen from the concrete matrix, which allows it to be mixed in with a fresh batch of concrete and applied to a street. There’s all sorts of things which have, and still, get mixed into asphalted concrete. Although NYC claims its has never used the stuff on its roads, some have experimented with mixing in asbestos fibers, and or coal tar. Plastics collected by the recycling industry are often shredded and mixed in with the tar and concrete, as is glass. For a while, automotive tires were considered a good candidate for inclusion in the mix, but the cost of shredding steel belted rubber was too high. Routinely, fly ash from industrial furnaces is mixed in, along with all sorts of other stuff which would otherwise just fill up an ever shrinking square footage of municipal landfills and dumps. By the ton, the singularly largest part of the flow of NYC’s garbage involves the disposition of road construction waste. The fumes emitting from hot and freshly laid asphalt carry some risk, cancer wise, but the injuries most often associated with the material in its malleable form are laborers getting burned while working with it.

Regardless, it’s another one of the many byproducts produced by the petroleum industry. Remember, asphalt – which is found on nearly all of NYC’s 6,074 miles of roads and on 95% of the roads in the United States represents 1.7% of every barrel of crude oil sent to the refinery.

About half of that barrel will become gasoline. 

According to the U.S. Energy Information: “In 2014, the United States consumed a total of 6.97 billion barrels of petroleum products, an average of about 19.11 million barrels per day. This total includes about 0.34 billion barrels of biofuels”.

Of course this beggars the question, a paradox actually, which asks: if 99% of asphalt is recycled, where’s all the freshly manufactured stuff going? 1.7% of 6.97 billion barrels of oil would suggest that the U.S.A. produces 118,490,000 barrels of fresh Asphalt (or road oil) per year.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

January 15, 2016 at 11:00 am

unsupervised circuit

with 3 comments

Life long relationships, ending, in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Back in the late 1980’s, my first job in advertising involved making photostat enlargements and reductions for the senior designers, art directors, and production artists at an agency which specialized in “B2B” marketing involving food service. My job title was “stat boy” and my function, beyond shooting “stats” in a darkroom, was to support whatever the more senior people needed. I worked directly for the “Studio Manager,” who was a friend from College that had graduated a couple of years ahead of me and offered me my first “leg up” into the business. He would often remind me that “shit rolls down hill” and accordingly I would end up performing menial tasks that he was too busy for – ensuring that our supply closet was stocked with pads of paper or paste up supplies, running job bags around the agency for sign off’s and approvals from the various powers that be, that sort of stuff. Think Jimmy Olsen at the Daily Planet, that was me back then. Overall, the job was worth doing, and it taught me a lot about how to survive as an artist in NYC.

One day, the Studio Manager sat me down in front of a brand new Macintosh computer, handed off a pile of floppy disks, and the task was to install a suite of software on the new Mac – which was the very first one that the agency had purchased. That was the first time that I ever opened a new program called “Photoshop” and it was also the first step towards what I ended up doing for a living as a digital production artist and photo retoucher. I’ve seen the entire conversion of the industry from “paste up and mechanicals” to full digital and web production over the intervening decades.

I’ve spent most of my professional life in front of an Apple computer – this post is being written on an iPad, for instance, and every photo you’ve ever seen from me was edited and processed on a desktop Mac tower.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

For a while there, things weren’t going so good for Apple. A lot of bad decisions, coupled with horrendous customer relations, had almost put the computer manufacturer out of business.

Steve Jobs returned to the company, and brought it back from the brink. The phones came along, and Apple suddenly became a mainstream company, and flush with cash. Jobs died, and a new management team took over at Apple, who have unfortunately returned the company to the bad old days. Form has taken primacy over function with this new team, and the entire concept of producing something which could be termed a “professional workstation” began to suffer. Every refinement of the core operating system released over the last decade has been crafted with the idea that its only function is to “monetize” the device, as related to selling me commercial entertainment media, and they have specifically removed capabilities from the device which were and are “mission critical” to my professional life.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Recent encounters with the company – one where they informed me that a three year old workstation was “obsolete” and that even a simple component replacement would be impossible by the end of this year, another where a two and half year old iPhone with a defective battery (factory issues at the time of manufacture) was also obsolete – have soured me on the whole idea of Apple. The applications which I use in my daily round, the so called “Adobe Suite,” have become platform independent in the decades since a humble narrator was commanded to install them at that B2B agency off of floppy disks, and I’m not at all sure that I want to continue paying premium prices for a device which is considered obsolete by its manufacturer less than 36 months after opening the box.

Why buy a Ducati when a Buick will do?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

These shots, of midtown Manhattan, were gathered while killing time and ruminating on my relationship with Apple at the end of December.

I was waiting out a battery replacement for the aforementioned iPhone, which – it should be mentioned – was performed flawlessly and took exactly one hour, but cost approximately one seventh of what I originally paid for the device. I pushed the folks at the Apple Store for a replacement device, but was told that this would be impossible, but that I could trade my old phone in for a couple of hundred bucks which could be applied towards the purchase of a new one (which would leave a $500 differential). Alternatively, they offered me entry into a contractual program, which would entail me giving the company $30 a month forever afterwards, that would ensure that whenever they released a new model I would receive one. That would mean a $360 per annum payment to Apple, forever and ever.

That’s a corporate tax, and the last straw, frankly.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One is less than sanguine about being overly exploited by a corporation, but if the service is desirable or needed… I have no problem paying my accountant, nor doctors, nor my local bartender, baker, or butcher what they’re due. Should my bakery suddenly announce that they will require me to pay them a monthly stipend for the privilege of returning moldy bread, however, I will find a new place to shop for my cookies and pie.

Sometimes, one must address the costs of things costing too much, and remember that the costs of customer retention are not too much for a large company. There are other options, always. I’ll miss Apple.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

January 12, 2016 at 11:00 am

squamous aspiration

with 2 comments

Constantly disappointing, and complaining, that’s me.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Winter boredom is anathema to one such as myself. The cold and dark, the thirty five pounds of insulation, the constant flux between the dry and cold air of the out of doors contrasted with the high temperature and humidity found within. The constancy of a drippy nose. Bah.

It’s always been a bit of a mystery to me why some feel the need to jack the heat up to the mid 80’s inside of structures, knowing full well that inhabitants and visitors will be wearing clothing appropriate for the out of doors. The worst culprit on this front seems to be the subway system, where you’ll step off of a station platform whose atmospheric temperature is commensurate with the freezing of water and suddenly find yourself in a hurtling metal box whose ambient air mass is heated to something approaching that of an afternoon in July. Add in the sniffling, coughing, and dripping orifices of the mob…

Well, I’ve often opined that what this City needs is a good plague – and I’m fairly certain that one will eventually start on a Subway in Queens during middle January. Don’t touch that subway pole, if you can help it.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Ultimately, one is awaiting a particularly personal moment which occurs every year, when a humble narrator’s boredom grows so intense that he has little choice but to brave the cold and head back outside. At this juncture, however, the moment hasn’t arrived, and one has been spending his time reading about the Second Empire period of French history, Otto Von Bismarck, and researching the chemicals which the seething cauldrons of industry produce that are classified as petroleum or coal distillates. One does a lot of reading during this time of the year.

I’ve also read up a bit on Kazakhstan, the Crimean Tartars, and the Deccan Plain on the Indian subcontinent. Briefly, I also looked into the Chicago stock yards and the post civil war meat packing industry as well as the suffragettes of 19th century Brooklyn Heights. I continue to study the rise and fall of the Roman Catholic empire in New York City, which is fascinating. Also reiterated will be the fact that if you enjoy gelatin based desserts – never, ever, inquire too deeply as to what gelatin actually is nor how it is produced for you will never, ever, eat it afterwards. Jello brand gelatin was invented by Peter Cooper in a glue factory on Newtown Creek in the 19th century, which is all you really need to know about it. Isenglass is also soul chilling.

Sexy stuff, I know, but the so called “fin de siècle” of the late 19th and early 20th centuries are when the foundations of our modern civilization were laid down and it remains a certain benchmark from a cultural point of view. Labor unions, representative government (both socialist and capitalist), industrial warfare – all of it was imagined up back then. It’s also when the environment surrounding us began to die off due to anthropogenic reasons. The dominoes were lined up, quite unconsciously, back then for the end of our world.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

“Fin de siècle” is a French expression which gained popularity in the first decade of the 20th century, a part of the run up to the Great War, which indicated that the “end of the cycle” or “end of an age” was apparent. It’s part of a phenomena known as millennial fatalism, wherein a culture believes that the “end of the world” nears. It’s difficult to not think that our culture may have reached its breaking point, given what we see on the nightly news. The fatalism and general horror which the various news organizations pump into our heads is, of course, not accidental. Don’t forget that most of the news gathering and dissemination companies are owned and operated by defense contractors.

I’ve always been an optimist, however. What other choice have you got, ultimately? Winter will come and go, and then… flowers and puppies. That’s the way that the wheel of the year spins, after all.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

January 11, 2016 at 11:00 am

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