The Newtown Pentacle

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Archive for the ‘Manhattan’ Category

understand dimly

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Shabbos… a haaa… shabbos

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Last Saturday, one had a lunch date with a few friends on Manhattan’s Lower East Side… well, actually the extremely Lower East Side. The only part of residential Manhattan that’s still remotely interesting is found between the Williamsburg and Manhattan Bridges, East of Bowery. That’s where you find architectural variation in the building stock, weird counterpoints, and an actual working class neighborhood. Don’t worry, the City and the EDC will likely declare the entire area a slum soon and knock it down in favor of glassine towers. They’re in the early stages of doing to Manhattan what they did to Brooklyn and Queens over the last few decades. Ugh.

What’s so interesting, you ask?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Going back to the Civil War, when this section of Lower Manhattan was the center of NYC and Manhattan was still quite industrial, groups of do-gooders and reformers have shown up in every generation who had the answer to “how you help the poor.” You had Jakob Riis and his reformers – and there’s still “Old Law” and “New Law” tenement buildings extant from their solution. A generation later, the Settlement House people showed up, then came the (actual) Progressives like FDR with an enhanced education system, then Robert Moses with his urban renewal money brought highways and Section 8 housing, and then Moses and the NYCHA people built the Rutgers and Al Smith Houses and the rest. These days the do-gooder’s hustle involves “affordable housing” for the well off and screw the poor. The fossil skeletons of these behemoth movements and trends litter the streets here. A history book in brick and mortar and steel.

All of these brilliant and connected people who have tried to solve the intractable problem of urban poverty over the centuries, here in Lower Manhattan, and never did it occur any of them to just give some of the cash they were spending to the actual poor people. The core issue of poverty is that you don’t have any money, which means your babies are hungry. When you have hungry babies, you do desperate and often violent things as that makes sense in the circumstance. America’s overlords have always felt threatened by poor people, and worry that actual cash in their pockets will be drank, smoked, or gambled away. There’s a puritanical side to charitable impulses in our country. God forbid somebody on Welfare might use the money to buy their kids an ice cream cone.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I wish that you could see through time like I can. A fire escape bolted to the front of a New Law Tenement on East Broadway? Well, that’s symptomatic of Jakob Riis and Teddy Roosevelt, as well as the formation of the FDNY after NYC consolidation in 1898 and the creation of a uniform fire code. The East Side of Manhattan’s “Chinatown” occupies a space that has long housed ethnic populations who regularly spoke languages other than English at home. German, Gaelic, Yiddish, Italian, Spanish. I wonder who made that fire escape, where was the foundry, and who got handed the license by the Tammany appointed Fire Inspectors to design and install it. Love it down here, I do, as it’s thought provoking in a way that a glass walled condo tower ain’t.

Speaking of seeing through time… what are you doing on August 7th? I’ll be conducting a WALKING TOUR OF LONG ISLAND CITY with my pal Geoff Cobb. Details and ticketing available here. Come with?


“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

July 30, 2021 at 11:00 am

effigies sculptured

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Friday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A recent visit to the Empire State Building observation deck cost me $41, plus subway fares. That’s the price you pay to see things. We all have a price, and problems we can’t solve. Luckily, there’s often someone willing to sell you what you want. I’ve been wanting perspective, and to “get high.”

Superman has super problems, I’ve always thought. The big guy has to spend a lot of time restraining himself. He can burn somebody by looking at them too hard, and probably cause cancer if he stares at you with those X-Ray eyes of his. When Superman is stopping a bank robbery, it must be excruciating to exercise the care involved in not killing everything he touches while moving at super speed. Superman punching someone in the nose, and not having that someone’s head explode into a cloud of red mist, represents a significant amount of martial restraint.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As the burning thermonuclear eye of god itself slid down behind New Jersey (I’m told there’s a cavern in Pennsylvania it slots into), a humble narrator got busy with the camera and the clicking and the whirring. What stirred me into dropping the cash on this visit was the recent revelation that all of the “master shots” of Newtown Creek from this perspective in my image library depicted the old Kosciuszcko Bridge.

Superman can famously walk about on the plasma shell of the sun, burrow through Earth’s mantle and visit the molten core of the planet, divert the course of mighty rivers, and withstand all sorts of hellacious situations. I’ve often wondered if he’s just numb. If you’re Superman, how far do you need to go to just feel something? Imagine if he’s disguised himself as one of us and attends a concert, gets overwhelmed by an emotional response to the performance and absentmindedly begins to loudly applaud. Superman clapping his hands loudly would likely result in a mass casualty event.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This is one of the classic Empire State Building shots, depicting the Flatiron – or Fuller Brush – Building at the intersection of 23rd street and Fifth Avenue/Broadway. The other nearby landmark is Madison Square Park, which used to be a Potters Field cemetery for the poor.

Something which I’ve never been able to reconcile regarding the Man of Steel is the amount of time he spends pretending to be human. You have to figure that every minute of every day, he should be out there saving lives. This guy could handle large scale desert irrigation projects, literally moving mountains, and he’s spending his days 9-5 working at a newspaper? Sure, the pen is mightier than the sword, but… Superman.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A very similar shot, compositionally, was in yesterday’s post – depicting the angle of view towards the Queensboro Bridge with Astoria in the distance. That’s the Chrysler Building in the foreground.

If you were actually able to leap over tall buildings in a single bound, you’d likely be leaving craters in the sidewalk when jumping. The physics of Superman are daunting. As mentioned above, he’d have to take exquisite care not to atomize people while crime fighting. Presuming Superman is about 200 pounds of pure muscle, that means his foot would need to exert enough force on the ground to propel 200 pounds a thousand or more feet in the air. Superman is never portrayed as having freakishly large feet, so let’s presume it’s a normal size 11 or 12 shoe that he would wear. That means he’s focusing multiple tons worth of force into a 4-5 inch patch of sidewalk, and that the cement paving would essentially turn into a powder of particles. These particles dispersing into the atmosphere would appear to us, to be an explosion.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Looking westwards towards the hideous Hudson Yards complex, with the burning thermonuclear eye of god itself nearly occluded behind New Jersey.

“Faster than a speeding bullet” also points out another angle which this Kryptonian Weapon of Mass Destruction would have to be extremely careful about. The fastest of our modern bullets moves at about 2,600 feet a second, which is just about Mach 2. Comic writers have established that our boy can move far faster than that, and within the atmosphere at that. Imagine the firestorm of friction heated air Superman has to be pulling behind him when he’s in a hurry. He’d be leaving horizontal fire tornados all over the sky everytime there was an emergency in China.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One last shot just as proper night was setting in, looking southwards towards the Freedom Tower over Lower Manhattan, from the Empire State Building Observation Deck.

Up, up, and away.


“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

June 25, 2021 at 11:05 am

utter nullity

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Thursday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The least developed and most interesting character in the Star Wars fictional universe – to me, at least – is Emperor Shiv Palpatine. I consider him a role model, actually. Found a way to breathe life into a moribund federal state, where no societal advancement had taken place in literally centuries, created several sleek and deadly military branches, and rid his society of a conservative group of superstitious religious zealots – who armed themselves with laser swords and meddled in politics. Sure, he had to build a couple of moon sized space stations armed with planet popping cannons, but think about all the jobs that represented. In all fairness, he did nothing to confront the glaringly obvious role of the Droids as slave labor. Why do you think they used restraining bolts and wiped droid’s memory frequently? I think the reason that we don’t know much about the Emperor is because R2D2 never spent much time with him. The entire Star Wars deal is actually about the adventures of R2D2, who hung around with several generations of a single family.

Finally got to the Empire State Building observation deck last week, so lots of eye candy is coming your way, true believers. Pictured above, my beloved Creek in a wide shot with a whole lot of vignette. I was using one of my crop sensor lenses at this stage of my visit, and you can see the image circle when it’s wide. That vignette is actually the inside of the lens.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Let’s say that a humble narrator takes a few years off and goes walkabout. While traveling with Pirates and Smugglers in the South Pacific, he encounters an ancient temple nearby the island of Pohnpei. Therein, he learns of and begins to gather knowledge of the Dark Side of the Living Force. What emerges from the temple is no longer a man, he has become a Sith Lord just like Andrew Cuomo. A beeline is made for the mainland, and an overly complicated plan goes into effect which results in the overthrow of Democracy and the creation of the “American Empire of Freedom” is announced on the world stage. Ok, I’d be full Sith Lord evil – like Andrew Cuomo – so instead of a couple of Death Stars, I’d build the “Giant American Army Boot in Space.” That would look like exactly what it sounds like, by the way. A giant metal army boot that descends from the sky and grinds cities down under its heel as if they were giant cigarette butts. All the nations will tremble before the power of the American Empire of Freedom’s Giant Army Boot in Space, and thereby before that of the Emperor – Darth Mitch, Lord of the Sith.

Just realized that since the “rule of two” applies to Sith Lords, at some point I’d end up having to laser sword fight with Cuomo… I’m going to have to learn that “shoot lightning from my fingertips” deal. Scary man, him.

Same lens, same Creek, just a bit tighter in. As the thing zooms into about half of its intended range, the vignette disappears. This lens zooms out to 300mm, a focal length which I haven’t yet filled in with the lens kit for the new camera. Honestly don’t know if I will, though. If I have or want to, that’s the answer on that one.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Sith Apprentice position would be hard to fill. Palpatine saw his guy get burned up in a volcano, and had no idea that the kid had knocked up a Princess. What was left of the kid, he stuck in robot suit and told it to kick ass. I’ve got a couple of friends with young kids who might fit the bill for robot suit assassins someday, but I have no idea where the nearest volcano might be. I dunno… Connecticut? The Princess’s kids screwed the whole Empire thing up, of course. Poor Shiv Palpatine, he did his best.

I’m sure there would be some Rebel scum who would futilely try to take me down, but what… they’re going to blow up the American Empire of Freedom’s Giant Army Boot in Space or something? Pfah.

This is looking over Alphabet City on the Lower East Side of Manhattan towards the coastline of Williamsburg in Brooklyn, along the East River. I’d switched to a different lens here, a 24-105 zoom. I was carrying an uncommonly large kit with me this evening, and made it a point of rotating them through the course of time that I spent at Empire State Building.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Actually, if I did acquire the power of a Sith Lord, I’d keep the whole “Darth” thing quiet and just be a master criminal. Just imagine waving your hand at NYPD and saying “I am not the old man in a black bathrobe you’re looking for” and having the Cops agree with you. You could also use the Force to float up stairs instead of getting all sweaty, get coffee, and you’re always carrying a super bright flashlight that can also cut steel. You could also probably use your magicks to try and figure out what this whole bitcoin thing is about.

This one is looking at the Freedom Tower, and the Statue of Liberty, and basically Manhattan from 34th street to the Battery. That green lumpy thing in the distance is Staten Island. Best baseball seats in NYC out there, at the Staten Island Yankees stadium.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As you may have guessed by now, my goal of watching all of Star Wars, in the story’s chronological order, is moving along. This is in story timeline order, btw, not by theatrical release date. That means “Phantom Menace” followed by “Attack of the Clones” and then the “Clone Wars” series and then “Revenge of the Sith.” Now, I’m trying to get through awful “Solo” whereupon the very good “Rebels” cartoon will slot in. Then I’ve got “Rogue One” followed by the original three Star Wars flicks from the 70’s, and then Mandalorian. I’m going to completely ignore the three Rey movies as they suck and shouldn’t be considered part of the continuity.

Whew. What did you do during the Pandemic?

This one is looking towards Queensboro Bridge, Astoria, and Ravenswood over the shoulder of the Chrysler Building on Manhattan’s 42nd street. Still using the 24-105 zoom for this one.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Looking back at where all things start and end, the fabulous Newtown Creek. Every time I’ve been up on the Empire State Building’s Observation Deck, it’s been a fairly short and well timed interval which ends too quickly. Maybe this is just because of the Pandemic and the lessened crush of tourists moving through, but I ended up hanging around up there for more than two hours – which was awesomesauce!

The second half of my excursion occurred at and shortly after sunset, and you’ll be seeing shots from that interval tomorrow.

In the meantime… execute Order 66.


“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

June 24, 2021 at 11:00 am

no anguish

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Wednesday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s the Whale Creek tributary of the larger Newtown Creek pictured above. The nomenclature of “Whale Creek” harkens back to a fairly forgotten era in NYC, when illuminating fuels were derived from the distillation of cetacean fats rather than petroleum. Before Kerosene, which was more or less invented by a fellow named Abraham Gesner in 1854 and manufactured on the Queens side of the Newtown Creek, the way you conquered darkness in NYC was either by buying whale oil from a fellow in Brooklyn named Ambrose Kingsland (as in Kingsland Avenue) or manufactured gas from a variety of industrial outfits which were based on the east side of Manhattan. Manhattan’s “Gas Light District” was the zone currently occupied by Stuyvesant Town in the East River facing “teens and twenties.” A complex of gas manufacturing and storage was evident all the way up to “blood alley” in the high 30’s and low 40’s. Blood Alley was where you’d encounter abattoirs and slaughterhouses, and the United Nations complex is more or less sited in that zone.

Modern day Whale Creek is nestled entirely within the properties of the NYC DEP in Greenpoint, and it’s surrounded by the gargantuan sewer plant they’ve constructed, which handles about 900 million gallons of our corruption daily. Well, it’s Manhattan below 96th St.’s corruption, mainly.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Court Square station in Long Island City is considered to be a “historic place” given that it’s one of the original elevated IRT Flushing Line subway stations that were erected in LIC, and it opened in 1916.

The modern day “Court Square Station” is actually a portmanteau of three different stations which were connected together back in 1990. The connections were part of a rezoning effort by NYC which began the build out of large scale buildings in LIC, notably the Citigroup tower which kicked off the building frenzy that continues to this day.

One yearns for perspective.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Looking eastwards towards Newtown Creek from the Empire State Building offers one such perspective, and allows you to view the region in the way that governmental entities do. There are not individual lives playing out in this area, rather there are trends and large infrastructure resources found therein.

Tomorrow and Friday, I’ll be showing you shots from this perspective, as I finally dropped the hammer on heading up to the 86th floor observation deck last week. The weather was right!

Back tomorrow, at this – your Newtown Pentacle.


“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

June 23, 2021 at 1:45 pm

denizens thereof

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Monday is arisen, and risible.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The first two shots in today’s post were gathered during a quick visit to Astoria’s Luyster Creek, found on the forbidden northern shore of Queens. I’m told that the rotting wooden structure in the one above used to be a dock. Personally, I don’t have any reason to argue with that. As you can tell, it was low tide when I was waving the camera about and all of the exquisite petrochemical and human excrement smells normally subsumed by the waters of the East River and Bowery Bay were available for easy sniffing.

Y’know, when you’ve taken the deep dive into all of the Newtown Creek “superfun” that I have, your head gets filled up with all sorts of regulatory terms. “NAPL” is non aqueous phase liquid, for instance. “VOC’s” are volatile organic chemicals. What those five dollar terms indicate is that VOC’s – or petroleum derived products – mixing with VOC’s – basically raw sewage – is pretty bad. All this yuck settles down out of the water column and builds up a bed of sediments – called “Black Mayonnaise.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The flowing water found at the head of the canal, here at Luyster Creek, is a bit of mystery. I’ve asked my pals at the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation if they have any clue as to where this water is coming from. The theory is that it’s a natural spring being fed by “pore” or ground water, but that’s their best guess. The 20th century did a real job to the forbidden northern shore of Queens.

I’ve added Luyster Creek to my list of waterways, by the way. A group of us are going to head out here this weekend to do a shoreline cleanup, hopefully the first of many such endeavors. The good news is that some of my friends who work for the City are going to help out by letting us dispose of the collected trash in their bins.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Seriously, I haven’t been in Manhattan more than once or twice in the last year. This shot was collected when I was walking home from getting my first vaccination shot at a hospital on the Upper East Side. What a pleasure it was, I tell you, to walk home on a pleasantly warm day and catch that unoccluded East River afternoon sunshine. Sure, you have to dodge out of the way of people riding motorcycles in the bike lanes, which the bicycle people will tell me I’m imagining.

I’m a fan of the bike people’s push to turn the north side of Queensboro’s lower level current ped/bike lane into purely bike, while dedicating the south path for purely pedestrian access. Did you know that the south side lower level roadway used to be a trolley route? The streetcars would exit from the bridge and proceed up Northern Blvd. all the way to Woodside 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

April 5, 2021 at 11:00 am

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