The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Archive for December 2019

whatever remained

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Manhattan, in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As mentioned in yesterday’s post at this – your Newtown Pentacle – a humble narrator found himself out of schedule with the rest of the world and wholly awake while everybody else was asleep. This is one of the quirks which Our Lady of the Pentacle endures periodically, watching me go to bed later and later every day until finally my circadian rhythms are in tune only with certain Asia Pacific time zones. I find myself in this situation periodically, and in particular around this time of the year. My remedy for has always been the same, stay up and then go to bed “early” the next night, same as you do when traveling to or from the Eurasian continent. I’m an odd duck, what can I tell you.

To pass the hours of the wolf, I packed up my old kit bag – and smiled – while heading into Manhattan via the 7 line subway, which was subsequently debarked at Grand Central Terminal. From there, I headed in a diagonal direction towards my eventual rendezvous with a package that was waiting for me at the camera shop. In the meantime, I got busy with the clicking and the whirring.

That’s the main NYPL library building on 5th Avenue pictured above, quite obviously, at about 4:30 in the morning.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The garment district seems to be the spot in Midtown where the gendarmes are tolerating homeless encampments, curbside buggerers, madmen, junk fiends, and a generally lawless state of affairs to exist during the overnight hours. It looks a great deal like the 1980’s around these parts at 4:30 in the morning. Good times, the De Blasio era, good times.

If you’re interested in becoming the Mayor of New York City in the next cycle, my advice to you is to run as a Republican espousing a harsh return to law and order policies, and an unleashing of the NYPD. Say “see what happens when these people are in charge?” Announce your candidacy in eastern Brooklyn, not on Staten Island, and mention the endemic smell of weed a few times. Throw in bike lane abolition, too and you’re gold. Present your self as the “Antidote to De Blasio and his crew of clueless limousine liberals,” talk about his reckless spending, his coddling of criminals, and the sort of endemic corruption you get when a single political party controls both the legislative and executive branches of a municipal (or any) government.

Here’s my prediction for who our next Mayor will be – Unnamed Republican. Also, the above does not represent my personal belief system for how NYC should operate, it instead points out the simplest possible strategy for becoming the Mayor after Bill De Blasio heads off to run for either Emperor of China or Sultan of the Ottomans.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My scuttle carried me from the Garment District ever westward and slightly south, whereupon I discovered that a particular corner in midtown Manhattan had been anointed with a couple of those solar powered garbage cans.

Unlike the coal and petroleum powered garbage cans of prior years, these solar powered ones only pollute during their manufacturing process. As you might discern from the shot above, however, the failings of the solar powered garbage can are excaberated at night, because solar.

Without either an internal combustion engine or the burning thermonuclear eye of god itself powering the thing, how can a garbage can hope to can garbage?


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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

December 31, 2019 at 11:00 am

torturing appliances

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Why are you people always sleeping.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Sometimes, a humble narrator suffers from insomnia, so what’s a man to do but pack up the camera and wander around the streets in the middle of the night until he’s tired enough to fall asleep? Recently, one left the house at 4 a.m. on a Monday morning. It was the first time in a couple of months that I was carrying the “whole magilla” with me, as in the largish knapsack filled with camera lenses and all the other junk which one likes to have available when out and about. For the last couple of months, due to the broken toe you’re all so sick of hearing about, I’ve been traveling as light as possible. Now that the medically advised “take it easy” period is over, one is rattling the bars of his cage and is ready to go.

Funny thing is that I barely used all the crap I had with me, but I knew that when leaving the house. Wanted to see how my foot reacted to carrying the extra load on my back, and also start the process of getting back some muscle tone.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My eventual destination was the BH camera shop on 34th street, so by leaving five hours earlier than they open, even the MTA wouldn’t be able to hamper my progress. One shlepped down Broadway through the urine and vomit puddles (the bars had just closed) towards the Astoria line tracks in expectation of riding an N or W into Manhattan, but while waiting for my chariot to arrive, I was puzzled at the presence of a J train sitting – seemingly abandoned – on the center track. I know, the J line icon in the shot above is all glowed out and unreadable. It was a J, here’s another shot of it which I executed in a different fashion.

Most of the people I saw waiting at the station seemed to be construction workers and people wearing security guard uniforms, which answers the question about who is taking the Subway from Astoria into the city in the wee hours. Them, and a wandering mendicant with a camera.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I transferred at Queensboro Plaza to the 7, which was just entering the station as I debarked the N. That’s the first missed shot of the night, and there were a few. One can not explain the logic behind a certain thought process, but sometimes a “little bird” starts singing to me about either not lingering someplace or just coming back another time. Call it “Spidey Sense” but… something was just telling me to go and not wait for the next 7. Over the years I’ve learned to listen to that voice in my head, and ignore the other ones. I actually didn’t have my headphones stuck in my ears all night, due to my desire to maintain “situational awareness” while shooting. Also, I had Rush’s “Tom Sawyer” playing in my head. A little paranoia is a good thing, in the dark of night. So’s a little Rush “ear worm,” every now and then.

New York City, folks, New York City. Pay attention to what’s going on around you.


“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

December 30, 2019 at 11:00 am

mortal relics

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One does like to see people looking busy.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Friday odds and ends, as usual, at your Newtown Pentacle. The shots in today’s post are from the end of a recent scuttle in Manhattan, the details of which I’ll describe next week, and were captured just after sunrise in the nascent “Hudson Yards” area. There’s still quite a bit of construction going on, with hundreds of trade union laborers milling about in orange and yellow vests, involved in all sorts of tumult.

Red light district? Well, yes, Hudson Yards used to be. Back in the 80’s, this part of Manhattan was notorious for the legions of prostitutes clustered about, offering last minute stress relief and carnal succor to suburban bound commuters and business traveler alike. That was before “Giuliani Time.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Luckily, a completely different and arguably more wholesome profession – Iron Working – was on display while I walked around the Hudson Yards build out. This is one of the jobs I stare at with awe and trepidation, as I would be grasped by terror and shaking with acrophobic tremors were I to find myself in the spot that fellow with the wrench is in. Yeah, he’s got a harness on, but sheesh.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Hudson Yards dealie isn’t the only thing going on in the west 30’s of Manhattan, as the Governor also has the Penn Station/Farley Post Office project going as well. One hopes that the final throes of this construction spasm sees the Javitz Center demolished and replaced. I’ve always thought Javitz to be a waste of space, it’s a “sick” building, and its lack of direct proximity to hotels negates it’s role as a convention destination.

Scratch it from the soil, then replace it with another glass tower hotel who’s first ten floors are dedicated to “functions.” The current structure isn’t “the best use of the land” is what they’d tell us in LIC or Astoria if they powers that be wanted to replace a warehouse or factory with condos.


“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

December 27, 2019 at 1:00 pm

sifted dust

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Mind numbingly bored yet?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Just a short one today, with a few more shots of Astoria Queens from a recent and quite rainy night. Believe it or not, one of my goals for 2019 was to figure out a decent system for bad weather shooting. By “system,” a general approach to the problem is indicated, not a specific mechanical or device based solution. There’s a lot of technical “making the camera work” stuff involved in photography which becomes second nature, but there’s also a whole series of body postures and other physical matters which figure into it that one develops over time.

That is, of course, the reliable Q18 bus plying its way down 30th Avenue here in Astoria, on one of those gentle rolling hills which I often mention.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One of the things which I’ve adopted, physical habits while shooting wise, is a technique used by snipers. Frame up the shot, get your exposure figured out, and then depress the shutter button while breathing out rather than in. You’d be surprised at how much bodily movement there is associated just with respiration.

The thundering pulsations of ones circulatory system also come into play, and whereas I’ve managed to pull off handheld shots as slow as 1/60th of a second – that’s a fluke. Your heart beats, while resting mind you, between 60 and 100 times a minute. That means a hydraulic tremor which you are not cognizant of ripples through your arms and into the camera you’re nestling in your hands. My “go to” for low light is about 1/160th of a second, and I can reliably get a non blurred exposure at 1/100th. Anything slower than that, it’s a 50/50 chance that I managed to get the shutter actuated in between heart beats.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Parking is something I hear Astorians complain about constantly. I’ve always opined that it depends on your ride, parking does. Let’s say you drive an excavator… you could theoretically park anywhere you want to. If you can’t find a spot, it’s not a stretch to imagine that you could just dig a hole and leave your wheels in it. If street parking is your bag, it wouldn’t be too hard to just move other parked vehicles out of the way.

The very first time I saw my name in print was in Grade School. The printed quotation from P.S. 208’s Annual gazette involved my six year old desire to drive a bulldozer professionally. This, like many other goals of my younger incarnations, never happened. I can take photos in the dark, and in the rain, so at least there’s that.


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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

December 26, 2019 at 2:00 pm

thought them

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…a good night…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Just imagine trying to find a spot to park a sleigh with a full team of magick reindeers in Western Queens… you’d take the train too if you were Santa. Giving presents out to nice kids in celebration of his boy’s birthday is what God forces Satan to do, after anagrammatically mixing up the devil’s name, on Christmas Eve. If you can’t enjoy the little things as a supreme being, what’s the point? That’s why the antichrist is forced to play Santa Claus every year.

It’s not an accident that Santa Claus can walk through millions of fireplaces without getting burned, knows everything about naughty and nice (which will come in handy when the kid eventually dies and gets judged), and can accurately discern that which we desire most for gifts. The only indication of who Santa actually is gets revealed when you discover that some Christmas present requires a certain kind of battery which you don’t possess and have to special order from a shady dealer on EBay.

That’s how he gets ya, that wiley Satan. Ho, Ho, bwahhh ha ha, Ho.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One has always suspected, and sought knowledge in pursuance thereof, that Christmas lights are part of some evil conspiracy. Unlike aglets (the plastic or metal tips on the ends of shoelaces), proof of their sinister nature has never emerged. Electric Christmas lights were invented by a guy who worked for Con Ed, as a note, but those strings of blinking bulbs aren’t exactly a washer/drier or air conditioner in terms of energy usage. Maybe they are blinking out some sort of subliminal code?

Satan is probably involved in the holiday lights business somehow. He usually gets his claws into whatever pie is available for flicking, so…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Having grown up Jewish, I would often react in credulity when my Mom would begin to decorate for the December holidays. She’d buy blue and white lights, tape together two xmas star ornaments to make a six pointed Star of David out of two fivers, and set up a blue and white plastic Christmas Tree. She called it a “Channukah Bush.” I call the thing in the shot above an inflatable antichrist, just to illustrate that you can call a thing whatever you want to but it doesn’t mean other people will adopt your terminologies. Channukah Bush, sheesh.

Being the asshole kid I was, which foreshadowed the professional asshole I became, I’d make it a point of reminding Mumsies that amongst the very few plantings mentioned in the Torah, there was prominently a burning bush. Suggestions that we drag it outside and douse the thing in lighter fluid were seldom greeted affectionately. My Uncle Marty said it might be borderline heresy to do so, and Marty knew a good heresy when he encountered it.

Merry Christmas, lords and ladies, and to all…


“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

December 24, 2019 at 11:00 am

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