The Newtown Pentacle

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Everything backfires, all the time.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

After crossing over that primal mystery through which even thought cannot penetrate which are the waters of New York Harbor, and arriving on… Staten Island… one got busy with the tripod and camera. I was in pursuit of some iteration of the shot above, which I would mention I’m not 100% satisfied by, depicting the whole shebang visible from St. George. Jersey City in the left of the shot, Manhattan in the middle, and the East River on the right. This is just about twenty minutes after sunset, incidentally. I plan on heading back out there when the skies, and the stars, are right.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The shot I was most happy with, and which sort of made the entire journey to… Staten Island… worth it was the one above, which is a long exposure looking westwards towards the Kill Van Kull. That concrete thingamabob is the 2004 “Postcards” 911 memorial, if your curious, commemorating the memories of the 274 Staten Islanders who lost their lives in the 1993 and 2001 World Trade Center attacks. The Postcards monument is shaped like a combination of two wings and a pair of hands praying, and there are profile sculptures of the victims inside it with their names, birth dates, and where they worked.

I, for one, don’t want to be remembered for where I worked but rather for where I lived.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Arriving back in Manhattan, my pathway home involved the MTA, and wouldn’t you know it… It took close to forty minutes for this work train to clear itself out of the South Ferry station, which in turn allowed the “R” line to transit through from Brooklyn and get me back to Astoria. Life is a joy, in a city which never sleeps.

As I’ve said many times, the “A” in “MTA” is for “Adventure.”


Upcoming Tours and Events

June 9th – Exploring Long Island City – with NY Adventure Club.

Long Island City is a tale of two cities; one filled with glittering water-front skyscrapers and manicured parks, and the other, a highly active ground transportation & distribution zone vital to the New York economy — which will prevail?

Tickets and more details
here.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

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War Planes in Manhattan.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One has recently learned that the mature human body’s largest organ – the skinvelope or integumentary system – weighs approximately twelve to fifteen percent of your body weight – and it also really depends whose skinvelope we’re talking about when weighing the dermis. Personally, I’m naturally pallid and spotty, and a humble narrator’s skinvelope is delicate. I’m highly vulnerable to sudden tears and punctures, blistering, abrasions of all sorts, and at any given time there’s at least a few microbiotal blooms going on somewhere in the roughly twenty two feet of skinvelope which I keep onboard. One is also given to receiving painful radiation burns, if paused too long in the emanations of the burning thermonuclear eye of God itself, so I like to keep moving and walk in the shade whenever possible.

The Marines were in town for Fleet Week, as I discovered while in pursuit of shadowed cover. They had v-22 Ospreys with them, which were pretty cool. The Marines are famously thick skinned and leather necked, skinvelope wise.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My path had an intended destination on this particular evening, an anomaly for one such as myself, which was on… Staten Island…

The big orange boat at the Lower Manhattan Whitehall Terminal was, as in most encounters with it, well – the big orange boat was absurdly on time as always (which is actually true, The Staten Island Ferry has a 96% on time rate). In an ever changing world of disturbing social trends and the constant braying of news reports describing horrible urgencies and dire portent, the very last thing which a humble narrator clings to as efficacy of some possible future in which everything isn’t horrible all the time anymore is that the Staten Island Ferry still runs on time.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It would seem that the current occupant of the White House was in town as well, a theoretical dictum advanced by the presence of a phalanx of cops, soldiers, and tough looking guys wearing ear pieces, sunglasses, and black suits guarding one of the Presidential helicopters in Lower Manhattan. Two of the V-22’s were present as well.

The big orange boat offered a nice view of the scene as we slid greasily out of dock in Lower Manhattan and began the journey to… Staten Island…


Upcoming Tours and Events

June 9th – Exploring Long Island City – with NY Adventure Club.

Long Island City is a tale of two cities; one filled with glittering water-front skyscrapers and manicured parks, and the other, a highly active ground transportation & distribution zone vital to the New York economy — which will prevail?

Tickets and more details
here.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

June 5, 2018 at 11:00 am

frenetic explosiveness

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What ever happened to the anal probes?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Every chance I’ve had to get out on the water has been eagerly seized at in the last couple of weeks, despite the tepid nature of the springtime warmup. The weather was a lot better when Bloomberg and Obama were in office, so I blame DeBlasio and Trump for the unseasonable atmospherics.

One wonders if during the BloomBama years there was some sort of super scientific weather control technology at work, and that the DeTrumpio era of ascendant flat earthers and fake news decriers has ushered in a new dark age of ignorant speculation which has rendered formerly functioning technologies moot. Rhetoric over data, belief over baselines, and the truth is what they say it is because you can trust them not to lie like everybody else. Hell in a handbasket, us, with the Dope From Park Slope locally and a guy who actually went bankrupt in the Casino business nationally.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Recent conversations found me assuring a Republican friend that the Democrats did not, in fact, invite MS-13 into the country, and a liberal Democrat audience received a rousing lecture about first firearms and then political economies (the currency in that particular economy is called patronage, the discussion was about its value, who has it and who doesn’t). I also explained that we have the worst possible situation right now, where the children of politicians go to politician school where they get law degrees with a masters in politics, and then go to work for other politicians and amass fortunes of patronage until their respective parties decide it’s “their turn” to run. In Rome, these people would have been called patricians.

Has everyone lost their damned minds of late? Doesn’t anyone read a newspaper occasionally, or is it just posts titled “top 5 reasons why Republics fail” at buzzfeed?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Commonly held issues, like garbage and raw sewage in the river? Nope. Crumbling bridges and tunnels, a national locomotive freight system worth hanging your hat on, hospitals? Are we talking about the near future crisis in elder care when the baby boomers are fully immersed in senility and old age? A plan for national flood walls and levies… How about…

…Hey, I think I just saw Elvis Presley installing Hillary Clinton’s email server on Bigfoot’s UFO, which is staffed with Vladimir Putin’s spies and also Facebook transexuals. What about Veterans… and the illegal aliens… and who invited MS – 13 to my black panther party, those guys are high on goofballs. What ever happened to all those alien abductions anyway, isn’t that a thing anymore? Are the space aliens illegals, and if they are should we build a roof instead of a wall? You know who likes roofs? The Clintons and… Here’s the top ten reasons why Hillary Clinton is the worst and best thing since…

sheesh.


Upcoming Tours and Events

June 9th – Exploring Long Island City – with NY Adventure Club.

Long Island City is a tale of two cities; one filled with glittering water-front skyscrapers and manicured parks, and the other, a highly active ground transportation & distribution zone vital to the New York economy — which will prevail?

Tickets and more details
here.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

May 29, 2018 at 11:00 am

splitting crescendo

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I get around.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Ye olde Newtown Pentacle is back in session, I tell ‘ye. The weather has been bizarre and unpredictable, with the storm tossed wrath of jehovie breaking out randomly, but a humble narrator has nevertheless been scratching his way around and through the mortal coils of the great Metropolis. Pictured above is the Shining City itself, the eidolon of the system, according to those who rule over it. It’s where all the gears and works resolve back to, and where they get all gummed up in political patronage and intrigue. Imagine it as an outer borough, rather than as the center. That’s how an ‘effed up humble narrator thinks.

Manhattan is the problem, not the solution. Remember that.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A big orange boat is pictured above, which one hadn’t been on in several months when this particular shot was captured. That situation has since been rectified, but such matters will be discussed in a future post. The big orange boat was originally privately owned, by Commodore Vanderbilt himself. Recent conversation with one of the bicycle fanatics forced one to describe the ludicrous state of affairs back in the days when the big orange boat charged a fee for riding it, and that the costs of employing the ticket sellers and takers and money counters was nearly that of operating the boat itself. It turned out that running it without a fare was cheaper than it was with one, given the size of the per passenger subsidy paid out by taxpayers. You listening NYC Ferry?

That’s why it’s free to ride the Staten Island Ferry, and one continually wonders why no thought is given to creating a third terminal for the service in Red Hook or Bay Ridge.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One has also found himself on the subway several times in the last weeks, and I will reiterate my slogan that “The “A” in “MTA” is for adventure.” Several times over the last few weeks has one simply taken the first Queens bound train that comes, rather than the one that goes anywhere near my actual destination, under governance of the notion that getting out of the Shining City and back to Queens as expeditiously as possible is what matters. Once I’m back in Queens, I have options – walk, crawl, etc.

Unfortunately, there really isn’t a publicly section of the Queens shoreline left (which isn’t a park) that’s deep enough or expansive enough to dream of there being a terminal built for the big orange boat.


Upcoming Tours and Events

June 9th – Exploring Long Island City – with NY Adventure Club.

Long Island City is a tale of two cities; one filled with glittering water-front skyscrapers and manicured parks, and the other, a highly active ground transportation & distribution zone vital to the New York economy — which will prevail?

Tickets and more details
here.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

May 28, 2018 at 11:00 am

saturated fat

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Manhattan, in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Last week, a humble narrator found himself in Lower Manhattan, moving on foot betwixt the rivers. Having debarked a boat nearby Houston Street on the Hudson which I’d been on since the morning, my next obligation involved Long Island City and one decided upon involved walking crosstown to connect up with the NYC Ferry’s East River route via Pier 11 at the foot of Wall Street. Along the way, my camera was clicking away at whatever happened to catch my eye. The scene above, a well preserved example of the former mercantile empire which NYC was once at the center of, exhibited the tepid level of what passes for street life and activity in the sections of NYC which are the Crown Jewels of gentrification. Urban planners hate the chaos and tumult of actual street life, and would offer this section – defined by the Holland Tunnel – up as a success story.

It’s Laight Street, if you’re morbidly curious.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Over on Worth Street, a rather large “works” project is underway involving the rebuilding of the road itself. Luckily, this has scratched away the occluding asphalt which disguises the “works” of the City, exposing the veins and arteries of the metropolis for inspection by one such as myself. The area surrounding this trench is the heart of the Legal Industrial Complex in Lower Manhattan. Shadowing of the public way was provided in this particular spot by a fortress like Federal building. It should be pointed out that they don’t seem overly concerned with creating protected bike lanes in this part of the City.

I was following a path that inevitably led to the East River, and as mentioned, moving diagonally across Lower Manhattan.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Manhattan Municipal Building at 1 Centre Street was renamed in 2015 for former Mayor David M. Dinkins by our current Mayor, who was his protege. Given how startlingly awful the administration of the former executive was, it’s stunning that anything at all is named after him in NYC. There’s a been an attempt at rehabilitating his image in recent years, stealthily led by the current Mayor and his acolytes. Plastering names of former politicians on public buildings is red meat for those currently in office, it should be mentioned. I refuse to call Triborough or Queensboro anything other than their proper names until the Brooklyn Bridge is renamed for Michael Bloomberg or David Patterson. Accordingly, it’s the Manhattan Municipal Building, not the David M. Dinkins municipal building.

Luckily, my steady scuttling got me to the ferry on time, and I arrived in LIC at the appointed hour. Unfortunately, one developed a blister on the second little piggy (or index toe) of my left foot during the walk.


Upcoming Tours and Events

June 9th – Exploring Long Island City – with NY Adventure Club.

Long Island City is a tale of two cities; one filled with glittering water-front skyscrapers and manicured parks, and the other, a highly active ground transportation & distribution zone vital to the New York economy — which will prevail?

Tickets and more details
here.

May 17th – Port Newark Boat Tour – with Working Harbor Committee.

For an exciting adventure, go behind the scenes of the bustling Port of NY & NJ on our Hidden Harbor Tour® of Port Newark! Get an insider’s view of the 3rd largest port in the nation, where container ships dock and unload their goods from around the world. See how the working harbor really works and learn about what all those ships and tugs do. See giant container terminals, oil docks, dry dock repair, and more! Tickets and more details here.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

May 14, 2018 at 11:00 am

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Don’t go to Manhattan unless you have to, that’s what I say.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Last week, one used his free time to visit a few spots in Lower Manhattan which offer a certain resonance to the historically minded traveler. A quick ferry trip from Greenpoint found me in the financial district, whereupon a looping path carried the camera through first Chatham Square and then over to Paradise Square – aka the former Five Points. It wasn’t a formal “lookee look” as I’ve done and written about that in the past, instead I just wanted to refresh the muscle memory of where a number of Jakob Riis’s photos were captured, and take a walk through one of the few sections of Manhattan that are still interesting.

Also, I was craving Chinese Roast Pork Buns (Bao) and I know a great bakery in the shadow of the Manhattan Bridge near Eldridge Street. My old “go to” on Walker Street has changed management and no longer regularly produces the savory variant of Bao, and instead they focus on the manufacture of sickly sweet ones filled with custard – blech.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There’s a pretty neat roughly two hour route around Lower Manhattan which I feel like I can hang my hat on, starting at the Pier 11 ferry stop at Wall Street. You walk north past Peck Slip and the Brooklyn Bridge, hanging a left a couple of blocks south of the Manhattan Bridge. That carries you through a set of new law tenements to the east side of Chinatown, where you can pick up Canal and make a left on Bowery towards modern day Confucius Plaza (Chatham Square) and then up Mott to the actual Five Points. From there, head west to Broadway and then South through Printers Square where all the courthouses are, then head to the Battery where you’ll find Castle Clinton and Pier A and then loop back again to the Ferry at Pier 11.

It’s a nice walk, lotsa history.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One has been supernally busy for the last couple of weeks, which is not a complaint, and when a rare opportunity for some “me” time came up – I grabbed it by both horns. One has quite a few irons in the fire at the moment, planning events and tours for the summer months, and there’s also been a sudden deluge of meetings to attend regarding that fabulous cataract of urban malfeasance known as the Newtown Creek. It was nice to have an afternoon off which I could fill with some meandering.

NYC History notes for today include the anniversary of the 1936 opening of the Bronx Whitestone Bridge, which was actually yesterday, and today is the anniversary of the creation of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey in 1921.


Upcoming Tours and Events

May 17th – Port Newark Boat Tour – with Working Harbor Committee.

For an exciting adventure, go behind the scenes of the bustling Port of NY & NJ on our Hidden Harbor Tour® of Port Newark! Get an insider’s view of the 3rd largest port in the nation, where container ships dock and unload their goods from around the world. See how the working harbor really works and learn about what all those ships and tugs do. See giant container terminals, oil docks, dry dock repair, and more!


Tickets and more details
here.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

April 30, 2018 at 11:00 am

flashed farther

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Lower Manhattan is just freaky, yo.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Once, I found a hole in the wall sandwich shop set up in some alley in Lower Manhattan, and that’s where I purchased a delicious milk shake. When I returned to the spot just a week later, not only was the shop gone, but so too was the alley. A few weeks later, I spotted the alley a few blocks distant from its original location, and I was soon drinking another delicious milk shake, pondering how my spatial memory could be so “off.” As you may have guessed where I’m heading at this point, the alley and the shop has disappeared just a day later when I went looking for them.

I’ve been looking for the alley ever since, as that was one hell of a milk shake.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

After visiting the Standard Oil building, as detailed in yesterday’s post, one needed to get back to Queens and my little dog Zuzu. On my way home, however, I decided to walk to Fulton Street rather than just catch the 5 line at Bowling Green. The tripod was deployed several times along the way, and I decided to spend a few minutes at the beating heart of global capitalism. Also, I was hoping to run into the alley again, as I really want another one of those milk shakes.

Pictured above is arguably one of the most important places, historically speaking, on the entire planet.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This is where George Washington was sworn in as the first President of the United States, after all.

Is it really possible that there’s an alley in the financial district which transposes itself from place to place? Is anything really impossible? The sandwich shop, as I’m describing it, is one of those old school NYC locations which is little more than a counter set in an open doorway. They had their offerings wrapped in wax paper, not plastic. In addition to little bags of potato chips, also offered in wax paper, they sold simple sandwiches of ham, turkey, or roast beef. A large coffee urn was extant, as well as two mixers used to produce the milk shakes. They also offered pastries – bear claws, the square variant of cheese danish, and cinnamon buns. The proprietors were named Chaim and Jose.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Just down the block at the corner of Broad Street is a building which the global economy is operated out of, I’m told.

The milk shake was a bizarre concoction – chocolate ice cream, syrup, whole milk, half a banana, and a shot of strong black coffee. It should have been cloying. Chaim made the first milk shake I had, Jose the second, but they were both on point and identical in flavor and consistency. I don’t get down to the financial district often, but everytime I am here, I search for that alley and the sandwich shop. Have you seen it? Where might that alley be today?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The sandwich shop with the delicious milk shakes found in that alley was called “J.C.’s,” which probably stood for Jose and Chaim. Next door was one of those old school Chinese laundry shops, the sort where you get your clean garments handed back all wrapped up in brown paper and tied off with string. Directly across the narrow pavement of the alley, which was asphalt with Belgian blocks peeking through it, was a shop that sold fishing equipment. Next door to that was a shoemaker whose window signage promised one hour service on reheelings. That’s a real need in the financial district, given the amount of time which people who work hereabouts spend grinding other people and things under their heels, a practice which causes real “wear and tear” on footwear.

The beating and fortified heart of American Capitalism’s grand facade is pictured above, as seen on the corner of Wall St. at Broad Street, which is a filled in canal that originally connected to the East River during the days of the decadent Dutch. The canal, which was known as “The Common Ditch,” was filled in by 1676.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One continues to search for the alley where that delicious milk shake was on offer. The last time it was encountered was at the start of Michael Bloomberg’s second term as Mayor. Ponderings and wonderings abound about this alley, the manner it which it seems to transpose its location from place to place, and ultimately about the mystery of the delicious milk shakes. In this neighborhood, it should be mentioned, you need to watch out as there’s always somebody who will grab at and drink your milk shake if you give them half a chance.

A humble narrator makes it a point to wander along the lesser byways and permanently shadowed warrens of lower Manhattan in search of it, while also wondering what else might be hidden away down here.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Largely forgotten in historical circles are the great fires of 1835 and 1845, which burned away much of what was left from colonial times in Lower Manhattan. Massive building projects during the Tammany Hall era eliminated the rest. Hushed bar room conversations with municipal workers hint at there being a world of secrets in Lower Manhattan’s underground. Sewer workers tell of masonry tunnels found during the pursuit of their duties whose floors are littered with clay pipes, and deeply seated caverns with rough hewn walls of dripping timber and nitre crusted stone which appear on no map. The only story I can offer them in response revolves around an alley which seems to change locations and where one can purchase a world class milk shake.

Who can guess, all there is, that might be buried down there?


Upcoming Tours and Events

April 14 – Exploring Long Island City – with NY Adventure Club.

Long Island City is a tale of two cities; one filled with glittering water-front skyscrapers and manicured parks, and the other, a highly active ground transportation & distribution zone vital to the New York economy — which will prevail?
Tickets and more details here.

April 15- Newtown Creekathon – with Newtown Creek Alliance.

That grueling 13 and change mile death march through the bowels of New York City known as the “Newtown Creekathon” will be held on that day, and I’ll be leading the charge as we hit every little corner and section of the waterway. This will be quite an undertaking, last year half the crowd tagged out before we hit the half way point. Have you got what it takes the walk the enitre Newtown Creek?
Click here to reserve a spot on the Creekathon.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

April 10, 2018 at 11:00 am

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