The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Archive for November 2019

diagonal fracturing

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You just have to love the Chrysler Building.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One of the more annoying things about the appearance of the so called “super talls” and the Hudson Yards “Dubai on the Hudson” nightmare has been the pollution and obliteration of sight lines and the sky silhouettes of the Empire State and Chrysler Buildings. The prominent position of the Chrysler Building in particular – skyline wise – has been diminished by this spate of construction, but there you are. NYC’s history is one of wrenching and often jarring change, take a picture right now, since whatever caught your eye might not be there next month.

The shot above was captured during a rare atmospheric phenomena (for NYC, at any rate) called “mammacular clouds,” which manifest after a strong thunderstorm cell has just passed through the area.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Another day, another thunderstorm, different camera, same midtown Manhattan art deco skyscraper. Y’know, I’ve never been inside the Chrysler Building. I’m told it’s almost universally populated by Dentist and Doctor’s offices, but that might be just a rumor. There’s lots of rumors about NYC, and I prefer the “as above, so below” variants. I’ve been in the weird complex of tunnels and rooms under Rockefeller Center, and can confirm that you can move between Broadway and Fifth in the lower east 50’s without ever having to emerge from the underground. There’s golf cart style vehicles driving around down there, lots of pipes and conduits, all sorts of banal stuff. I was never able to locate the Rockefeller’s cloning lab though.

I’d like to believe that there’s a mirror image of the Chrysler Building that penetrates down into the schist bedrock nearly 1,000 feet. The deep earth midtown underground is really something I imagine, but I’d not want to enter the “lower” lower east side without a military escort. I’m told that there used to be a dwarvish mine below the Alfred E. Smith houses, but that it was abandoned because of some dark and fiery entity called “Imperiale’s Bain” which invaded the space from below, driving out the dwarves. “You shall not pass,” as Daniel Moynihan used to say.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It took a little bit of hunting through the archives to find the shot above, but there you go. You can just see my house over in Astoria, as a note, if you zoom in.

Every now and then, I like to think about the number of hours of labor that the landscape of NYC represents. Not just the construction of the towers, mind you, goes into the contemplation. All that steel and concrete and window glass and electrical wiring – everything – that is arranged just so in the shot above. The mind boggles.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle


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 12, 2019 at 11:00 am

Posted in Manhattan, Midtown

Tagged with ,

inherent deficiency

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From the archives…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As detailed in recent posts, a humble narrator is recovering from a crush injury suffered by the big toe of my left foot, a situation which has put a serious crimp in my plans. Despite the best efforts of the loquacious Mt. Sinai Astoria hospital staff to introduce a series of corollary illnesses into my life when I had the thing “checked out” I’m doing fine and the injury is healing nicely. Saying all that, one hasn’t been out wandering the concrete devastations for the last couple of weeks, so I’m reaching into the Newtown Pentacle archives I maintain at Flickr for this week’s content.

Luckily, I’m fairly prolific so there’s lots to choose from. Today, the focus chosen is on construction equipment, a subject which I seem to return to a lot.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

All of western Queens and North Brooklyn seem to be a construction zone, and my eye is often drawn to the gear used to annihilate the glories of the past in favor of setting the stage for glass and steel monocultural residential towers to be erected. The equipment used in pursuance of this by the Real Estate Industrial Complex is invariably dressed up in bright primary colors.

We are all living in a comic book now. The President of the United States is a James Bond villain, and has surrounded himself with a cabinet populated by “The Legion of Doom.” Closer to home, the Governor of New York State can give you cancer by staring at you for too long, and the Mayor of Gotham is a farcical character straight out of a Tim Burton film. If peanut butter agreed to build “affordable housing,” our Mayor would happily make jelly illegal.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Recently, I got to take credit for coining the moniker “Dope from Park Slope” with one of the Mayor’s City Hall insiders. I instructed said insider to let the big guy know it was me. One cannot tell you the joy I feel when I see news photos of people carrying signs at protests which have “Dope from Park Slope” on them. Any joy is welcome these day, as the throbbing of the broken toe’s healing process sings opera to me at night. It’s the little things, right? Said throbbing has gotten in the way of lots and lots of stuff.

Sitting at my desk and actually getting things done has become a no more than two hours at a time thing for the last couple of weeks, which is annoying as I’m trying to accomplish one more print publication before the end of the year.

Also, check out the links below, I’ll be speaking at the Roosevelt Island New York Public Library on Thursday night, which is a free event.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle


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 11, 2019 at 1:00 pm

lacquered patinas

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Signs and portents.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Everybody wants to tell you what to do, all the time. Signage adjures, cautions, forbids, and demands attention wherever you look. If you’re literate, your brain instantly begins putting together the messaging on signs and you have no choice but to receive the intended messaging. For years, I’ve wondered about whether or not there’s some combination of words which could render you instantly insane upon receiving them, in the manner of a magick spell. Could a campaign of signage designed to transmit a “very bad idea” or incantation end civilization itself, and reduce mankind to atavistic savages in the process? We can only hope so.

Personally, I’m reduced to reaching into the archives today, as the whole busted toe drama has reduced my productivity to nearly zero.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I won’t fill you in on how to interpret the sign above, in the language of NYC’s street culture, but if you are literate in slang it’s quite a funny message.

One did manage to attend two CB1 community board functions this week, both of which saw me using a taxi to get to the meetings. The first was held by the “land use” committee, which I’m not a member of but we are encouraged to attend all committee meetings whether or not we are officially a member thereof. I’m trying to visit with each one of the groupings at least once, in pursuit of meeting all the other CB1 members and also learning the operational side of things. Personally, I’m on the “transportation” and “environmental” committee groups.

“Land use,” which was on Wednesday night, seems to focus in on zoning and other niceties of the City Planning process. Discussed was the status of Rikers Island. It seems that despite Rikers being officially and politically part of the Bronx, Queens CB1 has regency over the island and facility. The Dept. of City Planning was seeking board consensus for two items – redefining the island as a “public place,” and secondly the effort to create a locked down deadline of December of 2026 for when detention would no longer be allowed on Rikers Island. Discussion of what comes after occurred, but that was shelved as it’s functionally impossible to predict what the next Mayor and the next City Council coalition would want to do with it.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Last night, the “transportation” committee met. We received a presentation from Revel, a private company offering “last mile” electric moped services. With an app and smartphone based business model which feeds customers to their moped fleet of 1,000 units (currently), the Revel people were quite nice and prepared for questions and answers. In general, I’m liking their service (which I don’t use, but several of my friends do), and the conversation with their reps centered around safety and operational issues. My questions for them centered around privacy issues, how long trip data persists on their servers, and so on.

It was nice to be amongst people, for a sheltered invalid such as myself.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle


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 8, 2019 at 11:45 am

anguished frenzy

with one comment

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.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle


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

oaken construct

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Frustrated, bored, plagued.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

These shots were gathered last week – before, during, and after the Newtown Creek walking tour which I conducted in the dark and rain with a freshly broken toe. One of the more frustrating parts of my life since the emergence of the fractured phalange has involved that the atmosphere looked like this. Voluminous fog, wet streets, a generally distasteful and uncomfortable climate offers ideal conditions for the sort of long exposure urban nightscape photos which I crave to create.

There I was, stuck in the house watching netflix with my swollen foot elevated, and draped with an ice pack. It’s like that time I missed the Fourth of July.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I rarely take shots during tours, but for various reasons, I cracked this one out on the preternaturally dark and aptly named Railroad Avenue in Blissville.

By this stage of the recovery process, I’ve grown tired of trying to entertain myself. Haven’t read any of those books I said ai was going to, as I’m essentially crawling the walls at this point. There’s a community board meeting tonight, for a committee I’m not on, which I might attend just to have something to do. That’s how bored I am. I’ve got a college group scheduled for a Newtown Creek excursion on Thursday morning, and then a meeting for a committee I’m on the same night, so at least Thursday will offer some distractions.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Plague thing involves a horde of flies which enjoys buzzing about on my porch. A few of them have made it inside the house, and they’re all haughty because I’m unable to chase them around. Instead I’ve set traps. Another week like this one, and I’ll be in full “Jigsaw” mode (The “Saw” horror franchise) and setting ironic torture traps out for them. If I’m still hobbled two weeks from now, I’ll start working on a battalion of tiny murder drones to patrol the living room ceiling. Zuzu the dog doesn’t pay attention to anything smaller than mice, and I’ve got one of those living on my porch too.

Life is a cabaret, old friends.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle


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 6, 2019 at 1:00 pm

debased attainments

with 2 comments

The ole 11103.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Given my current limitations, let’s just say that one of my normal pedestrian based travelogues through industrial Maspeth isn’t going to be on offer for a bit. One is more or less confined to a very narrow slice of almond eyed Astoria, and unless it’s directly related to a “have to” or work I’m not going to mess around with the healing process for the broken big toe. Luckily, Astoria is seldom boring.

Yesterday, my “have to” related to limping over to my optician to get the lenses in my spectacles updated with a new prescription. While waiting for the process to finish, I noticed this artifact of the recent holiday displayed vulgarly atop a fire hydrant.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Returning towards my side of Steinway Street along Broadway, laborers were busy clearing out the remains of the Duane Reade which has occupied the corner of Broadway and Steinway for the entire time I’ve lived here. Duane recently announced that their landlord had raised the rent for this cavernous space to usurious levels and the corporation decided to shutter this location.

Man, if Duane Reade can’t pay the rent…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I don’t title photos, since I’ve always hated the ego which such a practice displays. Back when I was a retoucher working on Madison Avenue, a standard refrain one might hear being shouted from my cubicle was “I HATE PHOTOGRAPHERS.” The level of preciousness attached to imagery by some of us just drives me crazy. It’s not an oil painting, despite the amount of skill and practice it takes to produce quality shots. Studio or big outdoor shots with props and lighting equipment do not change the equation all that much, in my mind. I know comic artists and fine art painters who don’t treat their works as preciously as some photographers do. The only members of the discipline whom I’ll grant the preciousness thing to are the photo journalists who work in war zones, capturing scenes of combat from “within the trenches.” That shot up there is a “snapshot” of a garbage can on 43rd street in Queens, and it doesn’t deserve much in the way of preciousness.

So, as mentioned, I don’t title photos. If I did, the one above would be called either “Childhood’s End,” or “Mommy and Daddy don’t live together anymore.”


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle


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 5, 2019 at 11:03 am

Posted in Astoria, Broadway, NY 11103

Tagged with ,

miasmic entree

with 2 comments

DUKBO will always be the Poison Cauldron to me.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

In those halcyon days when a humble narrator’s roadway interface was still functioning within normal parameters – or simply before a week ago Sunday when my big toe got smashed – one was wandering through the hoary streets of Greenpoint, specifically the area which I’ve long referred to as the Poison Cauldron of the Newtown Creek. That’s the Brooklyn side of DUKBO, Down Under the Kosciuszcko Bridge Onramp, if you’re curious. Broken toe or not, I’m still an idiot.

That’s when I spotted this pack of black cats with pale yellow eyes glaring at me from behind an industrial fenceline. I did not see any clipped ears, so these little predators aren’t being looked after by the TNR (Trap Neuter Release) folks, but they were hanging out at an industrial site, so they are likely being offered some sort of shelter, water, and food. The “Blue Collar” crowd are secretly softies when it comes to critters, in my experience. There’s likely lots and lots of Costco brand pet food somewhere back there behind the fence.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Luckily for the cats, this open hydrant and the small pond it maintains attracts birds. The birds do bird things, and based on the scattered piles of feather you see stuck into the sticky mud which the water creates, the cats then do cat things to them. The Audubon people I’ve met over the years are horrified by this sort of thing, reacting in much the same way that the bicycle people do when somebody throws a candy wrapper into one of the bike lanes.

Me? I see something eminently hopeful, as even here – in the darkest of the hillside thickets – you give the natural world an inch and it will take a mile. Awesome sauce.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Last week, on Friday afternoon specifically, I finally sought out medical attention from the Mt. Sinai operation here in Astoria for the smashed up toe. X-Ray confirmation of a fracture was attained, and they gave me a prescription for an anti biotic which was so completely off the charts strong that I spent Friday night and much of Saturday cowering here in HQ. I stopped taking the pill, but it took about 24 hours for me to piss the poison out. At no point did anyone in the hospital mention side effects, drug interactions, or mention that Tylenol (which I told them I was taking for pain control) mixed with this mega dose of anti biotic would BBQ my liver. Also not mentioned was the long list of potential side effects, including one which would have wiped out my gut flora and likely caused a C Diff infection in my intestines.

All of you reading this who are running for Borough President or considering a bid for Costa’s council seat here in Astoria are going to receive an earful when I see you, so be warned. I strongly suggest that any of you regular people reading this requiring emergency care bite the bullet and head into the City rather than rolling the dice with the second rate jobs program that is health care in Queens.


“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

November 4, 2019 at 1:15 pm

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