The Newtown Pentacle

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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.


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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

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

disjointed fragments

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Hells Kitchen in the rain.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One of my destinations last week was a Christmas Party get together with my pals from the Working Harbor Committee at a bar in the City, specifically in the Hells Kitchen section. Well, I guess it’s Hells Kitchen as it was on 9th and 50th, which sure ain’t what you’d call the theater district. One used to be employed nearby, when the Ogilvy and Mather ad agency was based in the Worldwide Plaza building. The building owners used to save money when stocking the toilets with “consumables,” and the 1 ply stuff they’d fill the men’s room toilet paper dispensers with just didn’t sit right with me. I’d keep a couple of rolls of Charmin in my desk for when nature called. It’s the small comforts which make life worth living, I always say. I’d always make a show of taking a crap at work, since I loved, and still do, the idea of getting paid to defecate.

Pictured above is a lineup of those pedal cabs on 9th Avenue which the tourists love so much. I’ve heard them referred to as “tuk tuks” but that’s a term normally used for a sort of motorized for hire vehicle common in south east Asia. A friend of mine held a part time gig once as a repairman for these things, but then he decided to devote himself entirely to his other and more lucrative career as a Union Glazier.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A core belief of mine, mentioned many times, is that NYC never looks better than it does when it’s raining. Sure, it’s often uncomfortable and inconvenient, but our town is usually in need of a nice bath and all the reflected and refracted lights rippling around in the puddles are just magic.

Frequent commenter George the Atheist asked recently why I eschew zoom lenses in such circumstance in favor a single prime lens (in the case of these shots, 24mm). Short answer is that when the zoom lens telescopes in and out of its barrel, it tends to pull dust and moisture into the mechanism, so… rain. Additionally, I’m digging on the challenge of the limitations offered by a single focal length lens.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Tonight, there will be a Queens Community Board 1 meeting at Astoria World Manner at 6:30 which I’ll be attending. It doesn’t seem that there’s anything earth shattering on the agenda, but the good news is that as of right now it’s the last “have to” I’ve got for this decade. There’s a bunch of “I want to’s” between now and New Year’s Eve, which is good news, but they mostly revolve around libation oriented social events.

The wheel of the year turns and turns.


“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 17, 2019 at 1:10 pm

individual feature

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Billious is what it’s called when you’re full of bile.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Looking northwards along the FDR Drive in Lower Manhattan towards the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridge with the first of 5 skyline destroying residential buildings dominating the horizon, my point of view in this shot was from the very foot of Wall Street in Lower Manhattan. The financial capital of the planet, this part of NYC is where people give their money to rich folks who then gamble with it. The South Street Seaport complex, and the museum ships it maintains, are on view in the Central right section of the shot. Did you know that the reason that the Seaport exists at all is because it’s the site originally chosen by Port Authority’s Austin Tobin and the Rockefeller brothers for the World Trade Center?

The highway is the work of everybody’s favorite NYC historical bogeyman, Robert Moses. The only good thing I can say about it is that when it’s raining outside, the FDR Drive acts as a megalithic umbrella. I often wonder what will become of it in the near future when privately owned automobiles are banned from Manhattan Island below 125th street. If you think that’s hyperbole, it’s ok. Goofy sophistry rules the roost these days.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This one is looking southwards towards the Staten Island Ferry, and at the upper left hand side of the shot you can just make out the Verrazzano Narrows Bridge, another product of that rascally Robert Moses. Speaking of sophistry, I’ve been greatly enjoying the conversations offered by some of the bicycle people regarding that span recently. The usual umbrage they offer has been focusing on the lack of a bike lane up there. What doesn’t seem to strike them are the physics of the gargantuan bridge, and the fact that vehicular traffic crossing it experience wind speeds – with some regularity – that negate the passage of trucks or buses over the thing due to concerns of them tipping over. What could go wrong with a bike lane twenty two stories over the open waters, anyway?

Man, I just hate everybody and everything at the moment.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Having accomplished my pedantic goals in Manhattan, one descended back into the slime caked cement tunnels of the MTA and returned to the World’s Borough. On my way, as the train entered into Queens Plaza, I noticed the shop keep at the platform news stand eyeing me all suspicious like through the open door of an R line train.

I’ve often thought that anyone who spends their entire working life underground in the Subway system is actually a damned soul consigned to burn off a lifetime of sin in purgatory. That’s the way I feel for the brief intervals when I’m onboard the train. Imagine waking up early on a Monday morning and heading out for work with the expectation of spending the next 9-10 hours in a subway station. If that’s not some sort of punishment for your sins…


“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

December 11, 2019 at 11:00 am

rough generalization

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Into the Shining City.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The particular circle of hell which one had to navigate into recently involved heading down to Lower Manhattan in pursuance of particular shot for a client/friend of mine. Luckily, Our Lady of the Pentacle’s offices overlook the subject which needed to be recorded, so at least I didn’t have to sneak into an office building in the Wall Street area to get it, instead I was invited in. Like a vampire, that gave one leave to work freely. Saying that, one still had to negotiate the stinking concrete bunkers of the subway system, during the height of cold and flu season. All is darkness.

As you may have gleaned by now, lords and ladies, a humble narrator is in a bit of a mood at the moment. Frustration, Cronenbergian body horror, frustration.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Lower Manhattan, as in the Financial District, is inhuman. Every architectural detail and street facing bit is designed to remind you of institutional permanence and the futility of individualism before the fiery event horizon of corporate collectivism. It’s not about “you,” and in fact, you don’t matter. Even the glowing emanations of the burning thermonuclear eye of god itself cannot permeate down to the pavement here. The sidewalk isn’t even the ground in the financial district, rather it’s just another level of a vast complex of concrete and steel. As above, so below. At the top are the titans of industry and the Chief Executive Officers. Down here am I, an ant who is the Least Executive Officer. If I actually had two pennies to rub together, they would be used to start a trash fire in pursuance of creating warmth and illumination.

What this City needs, really needs, is a good plague – followed by a torrential rain which would carry away our filth and wash it out into the sea.

Did you know that it once rained every single day for 5.5 million years? That’s part of the process by which the Atlantic Ocean was formed. At the bottom of the Atlantic is the Marianas Trench, where untold monsters are thought to dwell. There are also gigantic and fairly primitive invertebrates down there in the pressurized deep, which consume all the dead flesh raining down from above. If any of these chitinous ghouls are dragged up to the surface, where the atmospheric pressure is comparatively slim to that of the deep, they swell up and pop in the manner of meat balloons. That’s your trivia fact of the day. Lords and Ladies.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Luckily, for a bottom feeder such as myself, the POV offered by the offices of Our Lady aren’t differentially high enough from my normal elevations to cause any physical symptoms other than nose bleeds. The shot above isn’t the one I went to the City to get, but since the East River was just sitting there like a revealed whore – I couldn’t resist.

Back tomorrow with another “ring ting tingling” dirge. Bah. Humbug, all that.


“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

December 10, 2019 at 11:00 am

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