The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Archive for the ‘South Street Seaport’ Category

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

hopelessly alien

with one comment

Merry merry.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A humble narrator is taking this week and the first half of next off, so singular images will be greeting you through the week. Have a joylessly laconic Festivus, a Merry Christmas, and a Kwazy Kwanzaa.

Be back on the 27th to finish up the year at this. your Newtown Pentacle.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

December 24, 2018 at 11:00 am

sickly complected

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It’s National Bouillabaisse Day, in these United States.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Cliché, a “New Yorkers walking through steam boiling out of a lower Manhattan street grate” shot is presented above. Often, whilst moving around the City, one is confronted with imagery like this. It’s a shot which people far more talented and technically adept than I have taken a thousand thousand times before, and there’s little point to adding another specimen of it to the visual lexicon but there you are. Same thing with seeing a squirrel eating an acorn while perched on a fence or something. You just have to click the shutter.

This time of year, I don’t have much going on anyway, might as well take what the City offers you when it comes along.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Often has a humble narrator asserted that NYC is embedded with psychic firmament, and that the city itself is somewhat sentient – a “being” possessed of a seething cauldron of emotions and a radiant intellect. I believe the City to be female in gender and temperament – a mother goddess like the Hellenic “Hera.” She likes to mess with you, throwing pedantic and existential obstacles or tests your way, the city does.

“Oh great” usually precedes many of my observations concerning the MTA, or the sudden appearance of any number of City agency or utility employees on my block. “Oh great, Verizon is setting up on my corner at midnight. And, they’ve got a backhoe with them…” is the last one I can recall uttering. Occasionally it will be stated as “Wow, there’s a lot of Cops here all of a sudden.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Thing is, the City is eternal. Long after the American experiment has faded away, New York City will still live on in some sort of decedent form. Cities almost always seem to live on in one form or another long after the Empire has fallen; Rome, Memphis, London, Istanbul, Beijing, Persepolis, Tokyo, Damascus… Babylon the great always falls. A certain point of view often comes up in modern conversations which looks back to a period just one century ago in NYC as some sort of heroic age. Giants existed, who built subways and great bridges and highways and tunnels. These giants are long gone, and we marvel at their works, which we lesser beings are barely able to maintain.

What do I know? I’m just some wandering mendicant in a filthy black raincoat, scuttling along the streets of an eternal elder goddess/City which is possessed of a malefic sense of humor, carrying a camera.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

 

Written by Mitch Waxman

December 14, 2017 at 1:30 pm

furtive fragments

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It’s National Greasy Foods Day, in these United States.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Working Harbor Committee, a non profit whose mission is “to educate the public about the Harbor and New York and New Jersey” and which a humble narrator is both the official photographer for and a member of the organization’s steering committee, called a meeting recently. We had some organizational business to conduct, voting on Board members and other nitty gritty at an annual meeting.

Instead of some banal office, however, this time our annual gathering occurred at the South Street Seaport Museum’s Wavertree. a historic sailing vessel which dates back to 1885 and which is the flagship for the museum.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It should be mentioned that a humble narrator isn’t possessed of the same sense of wonder and excitement that some of my cohorts at WHC are when the subject of sailing vessels comes up, but it was pretty cool to be able to visit an artifact of the “forest of masts” era on NY Harbor.

The Wavertree recently spent some time at Cadell’s shipyard on Staten Island, wherein the old girl received expert attention and refitting. The renovations and so on are still ongoing.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There are just a few historic ships in NY Harbor, with the South Street Seaport museum hosting the majority. Given NYC’s predilection towards annihilating anything older than a few decades old whether terrestrial or maritime, the presence of Wavertree in Lower Manhattan is a not insignificant thing.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This shot, and the following, are tripod shots captured from onboard the ship itself. The far background in them will appear a bit blurry, as Wavertree was bobbing about a bit in the tide. It was interesting, from a behind the camera POV, to have the fixed point in my focal zone set for the ship I’m on rather then some thing which is off in the distance – the opposite of what I normally do when onboard a vessel.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s some complicated rigging up there, and I joked around with one of my WHC pals about him going all “Burt Lancaster” and swinging around on the ropes. My pal assured me that he was not going to go all “Burt Lancaster.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

From the quarterdeck looking across the East River towards Brooklyn.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Also from the quarterdeck, and looking west towards Manhattan.


Upcoming Tours and events

Exploring Long Island City, from Luxury Waterfront to Abandoned Factories Walking Tour,
with NY Adventure Club – Sunday, November 12th, 2:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.

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? With Newtown Creek Alliance Historian Mitch Waxman details here.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

October 25, 2017 at 11:00 am

to listen

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The changing face of NY Harbor, in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As Johnny Cash used to say – “I been everywhere, man, I been everywhere.” The bizarre ideation which one such as myself call “life” carries me back and forth, forth and back, across this human infested megalopolis continually. Always an outsider, always an observer. Spectating the vast changes in the East River corridor which have been underway for the last decade or so has largely involved watching the coast of Long Island being weighted down with residential towers, a process that the folks in Manhattan have been largely indifferent about.

Now, the wave of urban rebuilding and wholesale loss of neighborhood character is starting to happen to them, and the city people are all in a panic.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The shot above is from February of 2013. It depicts the Pier 17 building of the South Street Seaport complex. Surely the worst shopping mall in the local vicinity, it nevertheless hosted several small businesses and employed many people. The decision, pre Sandy, was made to eliminate this structure and replace it with a shiny mirror box of a hotel. Post Sandy, it became a paramount of municipal importance to replace the building, because… Hurricane Sandy and Terrorism… or whatever they use to scare us into doing things we don’t want to do these days.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As this 2014 shot depicts, the demolition process of Pier 17 is quite far along at this point. The Howard Hughes corporation owns the spot, it’s private property and they can do whatever they want with it. Also, Lower Manhattan is somewhat under utilized. The hotel which will be built here will provide jobs to first construction workers and then to hotel employees. It will buoy up the local economy and act as an anchor for other businesses.

This is exactly the sort of sophistry that the powers which be have been selling us in Brooklyn and Queens over the last 20 years, while the residents of the Shining City sat on their hands watching the condos rise to the east. It’s happening to them now, and they are pissed off.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The question is not whether or not the Pier 17 structure deserved preservation or not (it didn’t). There is no room for debate regarding “growth” or “development” in the City of Greater New York (it is inevitable and unending). The question is one of empathy, and whether or not we should feel sorry for an entitled group who have finally felt a well used hammer smashing their particular nail?

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

There’s a Newtown Creek walking tour, and a Magic Lantern show, coming up.

Wednesday, June 11th, Newtown Creek Magic Lantern Show with Brooklyn Brainery.
Click here for tickets and more info.

Sunday, June 15th, DUPBO – Down Under the Pulaski Bridge Onramp
A FREE tour, courtesy of Green Shores NYC, click here for rsvp info

Written by Mitch Waxman

June 11, 2014 at 12:04 pm

dusk comes

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The Union guys hate it when I start shooting.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Apologies offered to all the hapless workers I’ve photographed over the years, but damn it all, they do cool things. To wit, I spotted this crew over at South Street Seaport attacking the street with esoteric machinery the other day and one could just not resist the temptation. I mean… a giant saw? Yes, please.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The saw operator noticed me, but didn’t really give a crap about being photographed as he went around his business. His colleagues on the other hand, were staring me down as if I was pointing a rifle at him. I guess that they’re hassled by cameras as they move about the city. Fair enough, who likes having a stranger show up at your job and start waving a camera about?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The sound that this machinery created was tooth shatteringly loud, a screaming and high pitched tone which sounded somewhat demonic. In the war of spinning steel versus masonry, the Belgian blocks which composed the so called “cobble stone” pavement were no match for the spinning blades.

There are three public Newtown Creek walking tours coming up, one in Queens and one in Brooklyn and two that walk the currently undefended border of the two boroughs.

Poison Cauldron, with Atlas Obscura, on April 26th.
Click here for more info and ticketing.

DUPBO, with Newtown Creek Alliance and MAS Janeswalk, on May 3rd.
Click here for more info and ticketing.

Modern Corridor, with Brooklyn Brainery, on May 18th.
Click here for more info and ticketing.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

April 23, 2014 at 11:00 am

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