The Newtown Pentacle

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Ughhh… Manhattan.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One has experienced a trying few days. To start, I had to go to Manhattan over the weekend to attend a lecture involving maps and Newtown Creek, so… had to go into the City. For those of you reading this new to the area, most of us who grew up in NYC will refer to Manhattan as “The City.” Secondly, I made my way over to Sunnyside on Sunday to photograph the St. Pat’s Day for All parade, since I had many acquaintances and friends who march in it. Lastly, while developing Sunday’s parade shots, and Saturday’s City photos, my computer up and died on me mid edit.

Not sure yet if the device is recoverable, as it’s about ten years out of manufacture date. This began a significantly annoying process for me.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Freelancing out of the office here at HQ, one has seldom encountered problems with the Mac, but they have happened on occasion. Accordingly, a humble narrator is fairly adept at solving and fixing both the bugbears and the kernel panics when they appear. Unfortunately, what’s going on at the moment seems to be a hardware issue, and as mentioned, this is a fairly old computer. It’s in tip top shape, otherwise, and has been working like a champ for years and years.

Luckily, a fairly modern laptop is available to me most of the day, and a quickly arrived at install of the Adobe Creative Cloud software is now on it. I’m trying to recreate the highly specific photo developing environment found on my Mac tower, but this hasn’t been the easiest task so far. My old tower ran a comparatively archaic form of Photoshop, so the new app offers a bit of a learning curve, and the work flow can resume albeit a bit slower. The only good news in all this is I’ve finally got an updated series of lens correction profiles in photoshop.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

If things look a bit odd for the next couple of days, it’s because I’m moving these images through unfamiliar digital terrain. This entire situation is categorically one I did not need, and is akin to an auto accident. Ideally, I’d love to get the old machine up and running again, and I’m going to try a few other fairly esoteric methods to access and repair it. Thing is, if it’s hardware – as in a failed component…

I’d have to bring the damn thing into the City to get it fixed, which is a “maybe.”


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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

March 4, 2020 at 11:00 am

sequestered cabin

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What’s expected?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s the first phase of the Hudson Yards project pictured above. What’s expected of one such as myself would be to condemn, criticize, or condemn the place. Yes? Ok then.

Here’s my three “C’s.” I personally find the design of Hudson Yards to be quite off, given its total embrace of 75 years old urban planning chestnuts like “superblocks” and “towers in a park.” Hudson Yards ignores its surrounding neighborhoods contextually, offers a harsh and unfriendly pedestrian space, and is guilty of architectural banality. No thought seems to have been given on the subject of its relationship to the position of the burning thermonuclear eye of god itself’s journey through the sky, as the reflective tower facades cause harsh light to broadcast and strobe about from on high. Even sunglasses won’t help when walking westwards on 32nd or 33rd streets in the morning, or eastwards from the Hudson coast of Manhattan in the afternoon/evening.

Walking through the “zone,” I was keenly aware of how unwelcoming the place seemed, displaying emotional sterility while trying too hard to be “artsy.” Every design attempt at being “playful or whimsical” reminded me of a crass and cheaply rendered version of Disneyworld. Rust, peeling paint, and cracked cement is already visible on and around the “Bloomberg Building” for instance.

Homogeneity is what the City Planners like, and in Hudson Yards their vision is writ large. These folks hate the heterogenous chaos of cities, preferring the neat appearance of shopping mall gallerias. Long story short, I’m not a fan.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On the other hand, gazing upon these shots, which were gathered up on the High Line, I have to remind myself what used to be here – which was a whole lot of stuff nobody wants. Long corridors of graffiti covered concrete walls vouchsafing the rail yards below, open air drug dealing, and more prostitutes than you could shake a stick at (pun intended). This was a “dead” section in busy midtown Manhattan, incongruously sandwiched in by neighborhoods that didn’t end two to three blocks short of the Hudson. The long eastward trek from the Javitz Center for convention goers back to the subways and Penn Station, the automobile commuter focused street design… the west side in the 30’s was never a destination you’d want to tell your mom you were heading towards.

Is this incarnation better? Worse? Only time will tell.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

What I can tell you, after walking the camera through and reviewing the photos gathered, is that every single minute I’ve spent opposing the Sunnyside Yards proposals here in Queens has been time well spent. The fancy pants crowd which is in favor of the gargantuan endeavor of decking the Sunnyside Yards doesn’t really understand what it would entail. They haven’t fully digested the reality of the construction or come to the understanding that to justify the colossal $22 billion estimated cost of the deck, you cannot build small or even medium – you have to build big. That’s an economic reality.

Look at that shot above, and imagine you’re standing in Queens Plaza. Now you’re starting to realize what’s what and why we have to keep this from happening 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

January 2, 2020 at 1:00 pm

boldly determined

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Happy New Year, ya filthy animals.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Well, here we are again at a New Year’s day, and I’m sure everybody is making resolutions which expediency and habit will negate the pursuance of before too long. A humble narrator doesn’t make promises he doesn’t know he can keep, and avoids the temptations of vowing to break a bad habit or start a new one. Instead, my aspiration is to try to be nicer to people, less selfish in my points of view, and generally more charitable in my actions. I’ve got a couple of projects which I’ve been working on which will mature and be made public in the next couple of months, have nothing in the way of specific plans for the first quarter of the year, and Zuzu the dog is holding up pretty good despite her advanced age.

I do worry about the Zuzu the dog a lot, however. She’s 13, and a “big” dog. She has hip and leg trouble, spinal stenosis, and sleeps about 22 hours a day. In human terms, Zuzu is about 80 years old, and she acts like it. One promise and resolution I can make is that she is going to be comfortable, happy, and can have as many treats as she wants whenever she wants them.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The shots in today’s post were gathered on a late night/early morning photowalk in Manhattan recently accomplished. I have to be the only photographer in NYC who remarks to himself with regret that the “golden hour” around sunrise has arrived, given my particular love of low light shooting. On the day these images were recorded, sunrise was at 7:19 a.m., and it was coincidentally the winter solstice.

The ongoing construction and build out for the Hudson Yards project is just visually fascinating to me. I just wish the end product of all this toil weren’t the sort of dystopian and banal glass superblock towers which the completed parts of the megaproject have proven to be. Some architectural critic offered the term “Dubai on the Hudson” for Hudson Yards, which I think is fairly apt.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

At the moment that the shot above was recorded, I had been awake about 22 hours, and required both a meal and couple of cups of coffee. Midtown, and in particular the west side thereof, has been ravaged by the real estate people and one of the big casualties of their attentions have been coffee shops and diners. Luckily, the Skylight Diner, which is incongruously housed in a single story building, survives. I generally avoid spending any sort of restaurant money in Manhattan, since the entire island is a rip off, but I can recommend Skylight Diner for a quick greek omelet or a burger.

Somehow, when 2030 rolls into town, I don’t think a one story building housing a diner and a cell phone shop will be all that occupies the southwest corner of 34th street and Ninth avenue.


“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

January 1, 2020 at 11:00 am

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?


“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 31, 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

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