The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

relief party

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Grand Central Terminal at night.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As detailed in prior posts, a fairly serious crush injury and subsequent broken bone within the big toe of my left foot has been getting in the way of my normal activities, and a humble narrator has had to think strategically about how to continue working behind the camera while conserving my steps. Given that I normally ignore anything “The City” except the shorelines of Manhattan, and that the entire transit system is “Manhattancentric,” it seems that I’m going to be visiting the Shining City a bit more than normal in the coming weeks. Hell.

The particular outing detailed in this week’s Newtown Pentacle involves a ride on the 7 train through LIC and into Manhattan while recording some of those landmark structures overlooked in favor of the outlier areas that are normally inhabited by one such as myself. That’s Grand Central Terminal, quite obviously, in the shot above.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Now – during my art school days in Manhattan, at the School of Visual Arts, my focus wasn’t on photography. I was an illustration and cartooning major, and if you saw a young but already humble narrator in these parts pursuing his craft it would have involved a sketchbook. I’d always have one with me, and would often find a place to sit down and start drawing. I had friends who were majors in the photo and fine arts programs, and would sometimes run into them wandering around with film camera setups or behind an easel with a canvas on it “working from life.” In the 1980’s, it was a fairly common sight to see artists at work all over NYC.

Based on the looks and stares I was receiving from the modern populace, it is apparent that seeing artsy fartsy folk doing their thing is no longer a common sight in the Shining City. Seemingly, the only people who live in Manhattan these days are either millionaires or homeless. As a note, the crazy pants and or clown shoes crowd seem to like hanging about the Grand Central area as well. Guess they’ve been booted out of their traditional hunting grounds in the Union Square and Penn Station zones.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Speaking of art school, one drawing class which I remember fondly was one where we’d disperse into Grand Central and do quick three minute drawings of people. Now, 1980’s Grand Central wasn’t what it is today. Back then, it was hive of scum and villainy, and was colloquially known as the world’s largest homeless shelter. If you liked the crack, or the needle, it was likely that you were sleeping in, on, or around Grand Central Terminal. The structure itself was in a horrible state of repair. Squalid, dirty, nasty. Back then, you could still smoke inside of public buildings in NYC, and a pall of tobacco smoke hung about. The lower levels were the worst, and quite dangerous to hang around.

A buddy of mine claims to have visited the so called “condos” which the MTA swears up and down as having never existed. These were makeshift residences in side tunnels and accessways created by “morlocks” or “mole people” who never saw the burning thermonuclear eye of god itself wheeling about in the sky.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle


Come on a tour!

With Atlas ObscuraInfrastructure Creek! My favorite walking tour to conduct, and in a group limited to just twelve people! December 14th, 1:30-3:30 p.m.

Click here for more information and tickets!

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 27, 2019 at 11:00 am

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