The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

all pantheons

with 4 comments

Hey, youse, whatcha taking pixchas of? Comere, ahlls gis yes someting to take pixchas of right heres…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The first time that a camera was used as a weapon of war, not for propaganda or image capture but as a bludgeon, was during the First World War. A century ago, a British infantryman who was completely out of ammunition on the Western Front swung his Kodak Brownie stoutly around for 17 straight hours, holding off a German division singlehandedly before succumbing to his injuries.

I’m making that up of course, to illustrate the ridiculous nature of people’s reactions when they see a camera being used these days. Folks don’t react in the same manner to cell phone cameras, mind you, dslr’s must awaken some ancestral memory of one eyed predators stalking our primate predecessors. At any rate, here we go again with the Subway pics.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Compared to the shooting protocol I’ve been perfecting for the underground system, down in the tubes, the 7 line is a piece of cake. Above ground through most of Queens, every one of its platforms (except Hunters Point, which has its own virtues) offer fantastic points of view. The shot above is the Corona Yard, nearby Flushing Meadow Corona Park and Citifield, on the pedestrian bridge between the LIRR station and the 7 line’s stadium stop.

Whilst shooting this one, some faceless security guard asked me “what are you taking pictures of?”. Gesturing to the yard, I said “the trains.” He offered that it was disallowed, noticing such things and capturing the reflected light streaming off of them. Not desiring to discuss constitutional law with a fellow in a rented cop suit, I instructed him to summon the police. He declined and began to harass a teenaged skateboarder instead.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

While on Skillman Avenue near Queens Plaza recently, the 7 came sliding in over the intersection and the deployed camera was called to action. An older woman, whose logical decision making process is clearly flawed – she made the decision to drive into Manhattan at rush hour – called out to me from her idling automobile, offering a question.

Her query was “are you a terrorist?”. I affirmed the negative on that one, and asked if she had remembered to turn the oven off before she left the house. I’m a real stinker like that, she was probably worried about it for the rest of the day. Seriously though Queensicans, leave me the hell alone when I’m working, because that’s what photographers are doing when we have those one eyed predator weapons systems pressed to our faces.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

October 10, 2014 at 12:44 pm

4 Responses

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  1. Your comments about people asking what you’re doing taking pictures of whatever reminded me of a similar incident. I was with a buddy visiting a very posh neighborhood in Brooklyn with lots of McMansions in sight. I took a series of photos of one house and then began a nice conversation with a young guy fixing his car in the street. I’m then tapped on the shoulder by the guy who happens to own the house that I had photographed. He says: “Why are you taking photos of my house?” I replied: “Well, my buddy and I regularly visit NY neighborhoods and we always take photos of what we see. Since your house is really nice, I thought it would be great to have some photos of it.” He retorts: “But it’s a private house and you have no right to take photos of it without my permission.” Since I could tell that the the guy was from another country and I hesitated for a moment about giving a lecture in democracy and freedom. To keep it simple I said that “we happen to be on a public street and your house is plainly in view. There are no laws that prevent me from taking photos of your house or the street. If you were in the yard, then it may be nice of me to ask if I could take a photo of the house with you in it. But, since there was no one in sight, I don’t need to get your permission.” I then went back to my conversation with the car repair guy. Believe it or not, the house owner then got out his cell phone and called his lawyer for advice. I did not hear the conversation but when he hung up he turned around and went into his house. I kept the photos.

    George Laszlo

    October 10, 2014 at 2:37 pm

  2. Anarcho-tyranny: The terminal disease of the modern nanny-state.

    The inevitable result of a society’s rulers that has increasingly been instilling fear of everything around us to control its population. The precautionary principle, an irrational concept to begin with, is taken to absurd extremes with the results you’ve outlined above. Unfortunately, our child-like population is more concerned with seeking out an “adult” to protect them from the latest, in some cases manufactured, and in all cases greatly exaggerated Boogeyman than the individual freedoms that are taken away. Nor do they notice or care that the purveyors of fear grow in power and wealth that brings no benefit to society.

    I note with irony that virtually all will rail against the so called Robber Barons of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries but are completely obsequious to and mindlessly obedient to the real Robber Barons of today.

    If only John D. had thought of this, eh?

    Cav

    October 10, 2014 at 3:07 pm

  3. Interestingly (at least to me), this photo was taken about a block from my workplace around the corner on Thomson Ave and I pass across Skillman there the three days a week I am required to show up for my gig. I am also addicted to recording sights and sounds that accost me as I move about and carry a digital recorder to catch the Norteno conjunto music on the A train as I head down from upper Manhattan and a camera for whatever. The area in your shot must be particularly on alert for potential malevolent photographers, since I was accosted at the other end of the viaduct over the train yards a couple of weeks ago.

    There is an old warehouse, probably once the property of the CN train lines on Jackson & Queens Blvd. that has some very interesting graffitti that has drawn my attention. I had taken pictures from time to time, but I recently noticed that this building and the one story one right next to it were in the first stages of demolition. Sorry as I was to think of what might be replacing them (another boutique hotel, I assume), the gradual deconstruction did open up some new views which I wanted to document. As soon as I started shooting, someone appeared and said “you can’t take pictures”. No explanation why. Remembering something you said on a Poison Cauldron walk some months ago, I said I didn’t see any reason I couldn’t and walked a few feet away so that he could possibly think he had scared me off and took some more pictures.

    I did notice afterwards that there was a crew there with what looked like drill rigs, which are not the usual equipment seen on demo jobs. Probably there are issues with what might be released by any digging or demolition on the site and that may be something that would make a contractor or owner a might touchy.

    Peter Hirsch

    October 10, 2014 at 3:26 pm

  4. “Robber Barons”? I prefer “Captains of Industry”.

    georgetheatheist . . . Hail Columbus!

    October 10, 2014 at 11:31 pm


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