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thrillingly suggestive

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Monday

– 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

Bah!

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 blurb.com for $30.

Written by Mitch Waxman

September 19, 2022 at 11:00 am

equally silent

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Friday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On August 19th, one endeavored to scratch another one of the items off of my list of “I really should do this thing before I move away’s.”

Accordingly, I soon found myself in Lower Manhattan and heading for the One World Trade observatory deck. Personally, I’ve been put out since they stopped calling the 1,776 foot tall monument to National Tragedy “The Freedom Tower.”

A quick review of the observatory deck would involve offers of recrimination about reflection, refraction, and the usage of blue tinted glass for a thing designed to offer panoramic views of the greatest city in the history of mankind. The Observation Deck is a fairly difficult spot to shoot from because of those factors, and in comparison – both the Empire State Building and 30 Rock observatories allow you to be outside and unoccluded rather than caged up behind blue glass, so they’re better for the photographically inclined visitor to NYC. I haven’t done Hudson Yards’ overlook thing, and don’t plan to.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I was there in the early morning, about nine or so. The light when I first arrived was fairly abysmal, but it improved as the burning thermonuclear eye of god itself wheeled about in the sky. I don’t know what the time limit is, as far as how long you can linger before getting the boot, but I guess I was up there shooting for about 90 minutes to two hours.

Naturally, the first thing I did was ascertain the location of Newtown Creek and get a wide angle shot of it.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

You’ll see that Tug pictured above and framed by the Brooklyn Bridge at water level in a post later this week. It was the Joker (flagged out of Philadelphia) and she was headed for the Brooklyn Navy Yard with a barge full of what seemed to be sand.

As mentioned, the light began to change a bit as the burning orb moved through the vault of the sky. I also decided that I needed to compensate for the cold blue tint that the windows were causing, as seen above, and jacked up the color temperature on the camera to accomplish that.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Looking northwards across Manhattan from the financial district towards midtown and the Empire State Building, I kept on laughing to myself about the “Midtown Manhattan needs to be denser” rhetorical arguments currently vomiting out of the Gubernatorial and Mayoral mansions.

We’re right on the precipice of “Blade Runner” style development these days. What was the answer to 9/11? Battery Park City and Luxury Condos. What was the answer to Sandy? Hudson Yards and Luxury Condos. Want to guess what NYC’s answer to Covid will be?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

At any rate, looking across the dystopian shithole of residential Manhattan, which a generation of city planners will tell you is the solution rather than problem, and towards the ruinations of Hunters Point and Greenpoint’s intersection with Newtown Creek. In the distance at the top of the shot is Flushing Bay and the northeastern extants of the East River. You can just make out the Whitestone Bridge.

I did a quick lens swap at this point, and whipped out a “long” telephoto one which would allow for more “reach.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The tallest building in the shot, on the LIC or Queens side and roughly at center top, is the “Sven” at Queens Plaza. At dead center of the photo, dwarfed in modernity, is the 1992 Citigroup building – aka the Sapphire Megalith of LIC. Everyone of those giant structures except for the megalith have risen over just the last fifteen years, a build out unaccompanied by a similar rise in the number of Hospital Beds, Libraries, Police Stations, Fire Houses, or any significant increase in Sanitation or Sewerage capability.

Despite the promises of the City Planners, and the Real Estate Developers, despite all of this new inventory coming on line in the last 15 years, rents are at an all time high in NYC.

It’s the problem, not the solution, and if you believe in “trickle down real estate,” I can get you a great deal on the bridge pictured in the third slot on todays post.


“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

September 16, 2022 at 11:00 am

hyperbola according

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Se llamo Monday.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As mentioned last week, a social engagement found a humble narrator wandering the streets of lower Manhattan, specifically the “East of Bowery” section of Chinatown. My luncheon companions all decided to jump on the subway to get home, but it was a beautiful Saturday afternoon and I had nothing in particular to rush back to Astoria to do, so…

A short walk found me at Corlears Hook, which is one of the locations you can catch the NYC Ferry’s South Brooklyn service. My intention was originally formed around going one stop south to transfer onto the Astoria boat, but the ferry people were running late and I missed my connection. Given the 45 minutes I’d have to wait for the next boat, one opted to instead take a different path to Queens and I transferred onto the East River line which would deposit my stinking carcass in Long Island City’s Hunters Point section nearby my beloved Newtown Creek. Since that was going to be a while as well, I opted to stay on the South Brooklyn boat instead of waiting on the pier for the East River service, which I’d be back in time for anyway.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

What seems to have caused the Ferry schedule to unravel was the presence of a large number of recreational jet skiers on the East River. There were also abundant riders on the ferries, which caused the boats to expand their “dwell time” at the docks as the ridership loaded and unloaded. “Dwell time” is an important factor which transit planners need to incorporate into their schedules, but it’s unfortunately something that’s difficult to plan for. Somebody at MTA once told me that having somebody at a busy Manhattan hub station like Herald Square randomly hold a Subway door open for even a minute can ripple out into the entire system and cause delays for hours.

This is sort of what happened on the NYC Ferry system a couple of Saturdays ago. Missing that connection with the Astoria boat ended up costing me close to two hours and ended with having to find a way home from LIC once I hit the landward side. I’m going to suggest to the Ferry people at Hornblower (the private company which NYC uses to run the service), next time I have the chance, that they incorporate a “local” into the their lines system – one which makes all stops between Astoria and DUMBO on the Long Island coast and East 90th to Pier 11 Wall Street on the City Side. If the “local” is timed to visit these stops at the half way point between “express” service scheduling, it would ameliorate quite a few issues.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Personally speaking, I actually don’t care how long it takes to get from “a” to “b” if there’s anything interesting to point the camera at. To wit, the Crystal Cutler tugboat was steaming by Governor’s Island as the South Brooklyn Line Ferry I was on was heading northwards.

As a note, since this particular excursion played out, I’ve solved my “long lens” problem. The shot above was captured with a 24-105 lens, and regular readers of this Newtown Pentacle will tell you that I’ve been gnashing my teeth and decrying the fact that 105mm is the longest lens I own that’s native for the Canon mirrorless system which was invested in at the end of last year. Luckily, a 70-300mm lens which was purchased about 15 years ago and that I had sort of forgotten about is designed for full frame cameras and I’ve been successful at adapting it to the new system. It’s not ideal, but it’s already been paid for!

Speaking of historical lensing… 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

August 2, 2021 at 11:30 am

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

exotic delicacy

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Wednesday? Now you’re talkin…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Last week, occasion found one standing atop a NYC Ferry heading towards Lower Manhattan. Along the way, two Vane tugs were noticed as they moved in opposite directions along the East River. Both were towing fuel barges, and you’ll notice that the background one is riding considerably higher in the water than the foreground one. The one in the background, heading south, had therefore already delivered its cargo, whereas the barge being towed by the Charleston Tug in the foreground is full. Whether the tug is pulling or pushing, it’s called “towing.” It was all very exciting.

I like a good tugboat shot, I do.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This senior citizen of the harbor was docked at the Brooklyn Navy Yard when the ferry made its stop at the facility.

I ended up taking the subway home from Manhattan for a variety of reasons. Partially it was due to going fairly far afield of the River in pursuit of luncheon, a journey which carried me all the way to East Broadway for some pretty Dyn-O-Mite Chinese food at a sit outside table somewhere in the surviving tenements of the lower east side. Good times, we’re lucky to have them, good times.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It was nice being in Manhattan again, for a change. That’s not something I’d normally say, given my antipathy to the place in recent years.

The extant tenements of lower Manhattan, found south east of Bowery and north of the Brooklyn Bridge, absolutely fascinate me. A general wander trough this neighborhood is definitely in the cards for me sometime in the next month. Planning stage, me. I’m going to hit the same Chinese place again for lunch, I think. Tastiest meal I’ve had in months.

Back tomorrow, with something different at this – your Newtown Pentacle.

Note: I’m writing this and several of the posts you’re going to see for the next week at the beginning of the week of Monday, September 21st. My plan is to continue doing my solo photo walks around LIC and the Newtown Creek in the dead of night as long as that’s feasible. If you continue to see regular updates here, that means everything is kosher as far as health and well being. If the blog stops updating, it means that things have gone badly for a humble narrator.


“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

September 23, 2020 at 11:00 am

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