The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

thrillingly suggestive

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

After exiting the One World Trade Center Observation deck, and having scratched a “I want to do this before I move away” item off of my list, the so called Oculus was also found on that list, so I got it in as well.

Regarding the “congestion pricing” toll that the Governor is about to allow, remember the Oculus when you’re talking about giving the MTA more money to spend, beyond the billions they already consume annually. They are like a raging Californian fire when it comes to spending other people’s money in vainglory – indiscriminate, unaccountable, unpredictable, and irreducible.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I’m not sure what they were thinking here… this structure does nothing to improve the experience of – y’know – taking the train. It does offer a shopping mall for the Wall Street guys to buy fancy watches and $11 cups of coffee, so maybe that’s what it’s always all been about.

Silly me, talking about function over form when it involves tax dollars. I should mention that whereas the MTA is an absolute gas, they’re only a side player in the Oculus’s story, as this boondoggle $4 Billion project was handled, designed, and built under the auspices of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and its contractor Skanska. Here’s the whole story on the Oculus at Wikipedia.

– photo by Mitch Waxman


My plan for getting back to Astoria involved a preferred route – using the NYC Ferry – so one scuttled eastwards through the financial district towards Pier 11 at the foot of Wall Street.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Given that this area is pretty much the HQ of global capitalism as well as the seat of Government for NYC, you’d kind of expect the streets to not be as scummy as they are in Lower Manhattan. I don’t mean that from a moral relativism point of view, by the way. I mean that my shoes were literally sliding around in a black and khaki mix of liquifying trash, weird jellies, and greasy crap as I walked along. Rats were scurrying around during the daylight hours as well, which is really over the top, and signals “peak shithole” – if you ask me.

It’s all rotten. “Someday, a real rain will”… actually, nothing will clean these streets. Sandy didn’t. “What this City needs is a good plague”… ok, that didn’t do it either. Tornado, maybe?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My apologies, lords and ladies… I’m so thoroughly “checked out” at this point that I just can’t care about it anymore. The City is doomed.

We had a window, over the last twenty to thirty years, during which times were good and the City’s coffers were full. It was squandered on handouts to big real estate and political vanity projects. All that’s left for NYC now is a return to the Cinema Verite world of the 1970’s.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Unfortunately, just as I arrived at Pier 11, the Astoria Boat was leaving the pier. That meant I had as long as possible to wait for the next one, so I made a couple of business calls that were on my “to do” list and waited out the interval.

It was a nice day anyway, and it’s never a terrible thing spending time at the East River when you’ve got a camera hanging off of your shoulder.

“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 for $30.

Written by Mitch Waxman

September 19, 2022 at 11:00 am

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