The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

general noisomeness

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Getting low in Manhattan, in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A recent social engagement drew me out from amongst the rolling hills of raven tressed Astoria, caused one to cross the cataract of the East River using that subterranean electrified railway that is operated by the MTA, and to walk through the cylcopean canyons and crowded pavement of the Shining City of Manhattan.

New York, New York it’s a hell.

One realizes that the official phraseology includes “…of a town” but to me, modern Manhattan is just hell. It’s always been somewhat hellish of course, but in the last twenty years or so it’s become so god damned pedantic and boring… people walk around these days like they’re safe or something…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Compulsively “on time,” one found himself on the island quite a bit earlier than was required for the assignation, but a desire to execute some photography – no matter how god damned boring and visually uninspiring the former “fun city” has become in modernity – was paramount. Funnily enough, when I typed in “fun city” just now, the spell check on my device changed it to “fund city” which indicates that my device has begun to develop a certain sense of artificial intelligence and concurrent sense of sarcasm regarding the existential realities of modern NYC – and a particularly wry one at that.

The M Line carried me from Astoria to 53rd and Third, a location memorialized by a certain Ramones song, so I keyed a playlist of the band’s better works up on my phone, and fired up “the boys.” I started my walk, with its destination in the Tenderloin district, where my eventual social assignation would play out after I had navigated through the tourist choked maze of midtown.

I should mention that since having become involved with the whole Newtown Creek thing, and the realization that most of the environmental issues in the outer boroughs are entirely due to Manhattan’s waste products, going to “The City” just pisses me off.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Subsumed by a certain amount of contemptuous horror and ennui, my pathway carried me first up to Lexington, then Park, Madison, and 5th avenues. I had decided before exiting the subway that “today was going to be a wide angle day” and set about trying to find some way to capture an interesting shot of the banal internationalist style office blocks and chain store frontages encountered along the way. Remember when there were interesting shops and other street level businesses down here? Book stores, thrift shops, deli’s? When the street level shops were something else than high volume buffets targeted at office workers, or ATM locations?

I was constantly annoyed by crowds of slow moving people who formed “skirmish lines” across the sidewalks, walking shoulder to shoulder. Walking as much as I do, my natural pace seems to be “double time” compared to most.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Heading west, as I prefer to zig zag through the canyons, and encountered naught but more of the sort of office towers that you’ll likely not stop and appreciate for their architectural detail nor esthetic charm. Glass boxes, essentially.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Have no doubt – Queensicans – that this is the future which the “powers that be” have in store for us. Long Island City is going to look quite similar to this within the next decade. The wide open vistas and low lying industrial landscape of our little communities have been traded away in the name of “progress” and there is virtually zero investment for the infrastructure which will be needed to support the increased population loading being planned or budgeted away.

As far as our “Dope from Park Slope,” do you suppose he’s playing his fiddle at Gracie Mansion as the fires of gentrification sear away the past and create an unsustainable future?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My friends who live in Manhattan, long indifferent to the general dissatisfaction and sentiment that I and others in Western Queens and North Brooklyn feel towards the Real Estate Industrial Complex, are beginning to “get it.” They’re seeing it happen to Manhattan now, with the midtown rezonings and the construction of the massive Hudson Yards complex and the fact that there are sidewalk cafes on the Bowery and that the East Village now looks like a Midwestern shopping mall.

I would remind you all that the epitome of a NYC real estate developer is the current Republican nominee for President, and that if you want to understand the REBNY outlook on “the great unwashed” and the disconnect between their world and ours – Donald J. Trump is your exemplar.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

What does all of my complaining and chiding accomplish, however? What non obvious point is a humble narrator trying to make that’s not apparent to anyone with eyes? This is NYC, and it’s always been this way here. We live in an oligarchy, and the government is populated with self serving patricians like the “Dope from Park Slope” who pretend to be the “consul of the plebs” while advancing the agenda of those who are his true masters.

I would remind, and advise, that the way things used to work in NYC was that the real estate guys didn’t get “tax breaks” and so on to build, and that in a real estate market as hot and overvalued as the one we exist in – REBNY members should be held to a rule that they have to invest in our commonly held and already strained municipal infrastructure if they want our government to “buy in” and support their dreams of avarice.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

If I was able to snap my fingers and make wishes come true, I’d bring actual progressive democrats like Al Smith and LaGuardia back to life so that they could wipe the floors with our current crop of Electeds who are self described “progressives.”

The Little Flower would, I have no doubt, take issue with the idea of converting playgrounds in Public Housing projects over to building sites for luxury towers. Of course, reviving the Happy Warrior and Little Flower into our world of the living might have the unintended consequence of bringing Robert Moses back to life as well, and that’s the revenant who would shake the pillars of Municipal heaven itself.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

At the end of my little sojourn, and approaching the appointed time for that aforementioned social engagement which brought me to this despoiled and overbuilt island of Manhattan, my journey across the low ended with getting high. This shot is from a roof in the Tenderloin section along Broadway in the 20’s.

This neighborhood along Broadway in the 20’s used to be a nest of high end hotels and theaters back in the 19th century. 28th street was known as “Tin Pan Alley” back then, and it’s where Gershwin and others had their offices. Before Times Square was the theater district, it was Broadway in the 20’s.  It’s known as the “Tenderloin” due to the number of whore houses and speakeasy locations that used to be here, and the easy graft which the local precinct commander received to look the other way.

The fellow who is attributed as having christened it as the “Tenderloin,” as it was the best and most tender cut of meat a cop could expect to receive during his careers, was a legendary Tammany favorite – Inspector Alexander “Clubber” Williams. 

Upcoming tours and events:


“First Calvary Cemetery” walking tour
with
Brooklyn Brainery, Saturday, October 8th from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
Click here for tickets.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

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Written by Mitch Waxman

October 4, 2016 at 11:30 am

2 Responses

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  1. Outstanding. Better than yr average moanfest. Interesting facts about the Tenderloin. I only knew of the Tenderloin in San Francisco till today. They’ve got a Hunter’s Point there, too.

    Eric

    October 4, 2016 at 1:30 pm

  2. When I was 12 and first heard that song, “then I took a razor blade / then I did what God forbade” was the most transgressive lyric I’d ever heard. But still to this day I’ve never been 100% sure what it means – did he kill someone or was it something weirder than that?

    SP

    October 6, 2016 at 8:00 pm


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