The Newtown Pentacle

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diagonal fracturing

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You just have to love the Chrysler Building.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One of the more annoying things about the appearance of the so called “super talls” and the Hudson Yards “Dubai on the Hudson” nightmare has been the pollution and obliteration of sight lines and the sky silhouettes of the Empire State and Chrysler Buildings. The prominent position of the Chrysler Building in particular – skyline wise – has been diminished by this spate of construction, but there you are. NYC’s history is one of wrenching and often jarring change, take a picture right now, since whatever caught your eye might not be there next month.

The shot above was captured during a rare atmospheric phenomena (for NYC, at any rate) called “mammacular clouds,” which manifest after a strong thunderstorm cell has just passed through the area.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Another day, another thunderstorm, different camera, same midtown Manhattan art deco skyscraper. Y’know, I’ve never been inside the Chrysler Building. I’m told it’s almost universally populated by Dentist and Doctor’s offices, but that might be just a rumor. There’s lots of rumors about NYC, and I prefer the “as above, so below” variants. I’ve been in the weird complex of tunnels and rooms under Rockefeller Center, and can confirm that you can move between Broadway and Fifth in the lower east 50’s without ever having to emerge from the underground. There’s golf cart style vehicles driving around down there, lots of pipes and conduits, all sorts of banal stuff. I was never able to locate the Rockefeller’s cloning lab though.

I’d like to believe that there’s a mirror image of the Chrysler Building that penetrates down into the schist bedrock nearly 1,000 feet. The deep earth midtown underground is really something I imagine, but I’d not want to enter the “lower” lower east side without a military escort. I’m told that there used to be a dwarvish mine below the Alfred E. Smith houses, but that it was abandoned because of some dark and fiery entity called “Imperiale’s Bain” which invaded the space from below, driving out the dwarves. “You shall not pass,” as Daniel Moynihan used to say.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It took a little bit of hunting through the archives to find the shot above, but there you go. You can just see my house over in Astoria, as a note, if you zoom in.

Every now and then, I like to think about the number of hours of labor that the landscape of NYC represents. Not just the construction of the towers, mind you, goes into the contemplation. All that steel and concrete and window glass and electrical wiring – everything – that is arranged just so in the shot above. The mind boggles.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle


Come to the library!

In the Shadows at Newtown Creek – The Roosevelt Island Historic Society has invited me to present a slideshow and talk about my beloved Newtown Creek at the New York Public Library on Roosevelt Island, on November 14th, 6 p.m. Free event!

Click here for more information.!

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

November 12, 2019 at 11:00 am

Posted in Manhattan, Midtown

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stark mad

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I know why it’s so hot, always, at the Times Square station.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There’s nothing quite as enjoyable as arriving on a Subway Platform in Manhattan and then finding out that there’s signal problems at Queens Plaza. The marketplace of aerosol pathogens carried by the human infestation into this subterranean structure is far better than getting a flu shot in terms of bolstering one’s immunological system, and the sheer unpleasantness of the ambient temperature is always a treat. Learning that you’re going to be spending a substantial bit of time waiting for your ride home – now that’s priceless. The “A” in MTA is for “adventure,” after all, and on Sunday nights the “M” stands for “Magnifique.”

The high temperature at the Times Square stop cannot solely be attributed to an annoying bureaucratic tendency amongst MTA station managers to not actuate their ventilation systems. Surely, it’s because the subway station was built atop the cavern carved out by Lucifer and the other rebel angels when they were swallowed into the ground during an argument they had with the Creator entity over Adam and Eve’s place in the celestial pecking order.

Said discourse occurred where Dave and Busters sits atop 42nd street, a location which was part of the Garden of Eden “back in the day.” Somewhere beneath the subway station itself is a lava tube that leads directly to hell. “Da Deuce” thereby, is a hellmouth.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A succession of Subway trains which do not go anywhere close to where I needed to go arrived and departed the station, during an interminable interval. As is my habit, I passed the time photographing the trains entering the facility, which raised the suspicions of several dead eyed MTA employees. Of course, being employees of MTA, they barely gave a crap despite being suspicious. As any member of the International Brotherhood of Screw Turners Local 6 will tell you, that’s somebody else’s job.

My retirement plans involve capturing a photo of a suicidal human jumping off the platform in front of an arriving train. Sales and licensing of said shot will make me rich beyond the dreams of avarice. My wealth will allow me to exact Dante style revenge on those who have offended… sorry, that was the influence of the Times Square Hellmouth that I was standing on which was talking there.

It affects us all, in different ways, the hellmouth.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

While waiting, and boy oh boy I was waiting a good half hour at this point, I noticed that something had imparted a good amount of kinetic force onto one of the steel structural columns and blasted a hole in the paint covering it.

The modern day dark green paint MTA uses sat over a duller green which I seem to remember them using about 15 years ago. The white and the red layers seem familiar to me, from earlier eras in NYC. Might just be primer, but I seem to recall red being used in the early 1990’s for column paint. Again, might just be the hellmouth talking.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Another pneumatic piston arrived, driving the usual cloud of sewer smell, rat shit, and powdered cockroach onto the platform. Normally, one would happily take the N just to get out of Manhattan and away from the hellmouth at 42nd street, but maintenance work was causing the N to go no further into Queens than Queensborough. Really, there is no better time to experience the joys of the MTA than a Sunday night.

Ultimately, I needed to wait for an R to get anywhere close to home.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

While I was studying the layers of paint on that column, a pigmentary coating which had to be layered on 3/8 to 1/2 inch thick mind you, an R finally arrived. Luckily it was quite crowded and the MTA had made the logical decision that since it was October you didn’t need to run any sort of ventilation or air conditioning onboard. This was especially well received by a humble narrator given that atmospheric humidity was close to 90% and also since it was raining all day, everybody onboard was soaking wet and their clothing was evaporating additional humidity into the subway car atmosphere.

It really is a pleasure to be in NYC these days, ain’t it? The fairness, the equity, the affordability of housing… truly has our Mayor improved things.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There has to be a word – if we were a German speaking culture there would be – for the sense of relief you experience upon finally boarding a subway train that’s heading back towards your home after passing through the gauntlet of MTA’s expert patience testers. Luckily, the folks already onboard the train were as well mannered as usual. You had the people playing games on their phones with the speaker turned on, the lady screaming into her phone in an unknown guttural at some remote husband, and there was a fellow eating a fried and quite aromatic fish dinner with his fingers.

If I could, I’d have held my breath the entire ride. Who eats on the Subway? Ugh.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle


Come on a tour!

With Atlas ObscuraInfrastructure Creek AT NIGHT! My favorite walking tour to conduct, and in a group limited to just twelve people! October 29th, 7-9 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

October 24, 2019 at 11:30 am

thinkers perspective

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NYC looks best when it’s wet.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Biblical scholars believe that the Garden of Eden is metaphorical, but theorize that its supposed location would be where the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers run into the Persian Gulf. Others postulate that Eden was on the Iranian Plateau, or on the Armenian plain. Hacks.

Eden, which is the metaphysical center and starting point of the entire universe as far as three of the major religions go, was in Manhattan. Specifically Times Square. Seriously, what would the rest of you do without me to set things straight?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It was 42nd street between 7th and 8th avenues where the Adamic pair were presented to the angels by Yahweh, and this is the block where the great schism occurred amongst the sons of fire. That’s where Sammael became Lucifer, right where Dave and Busters is, along with a third of the angelic host who then fell into the ground with it and became demons. As a note, using “him” or “her” for god and the angels is incorrect both grammatically and factually. They are definitively “it’s.” Extradimensional and non material undying intelligences with seemingly limitless power are “it’s.”

The part of the Adam and Eve (or Adam and Hawwa for our Muslim friends) story everybody passes over, for some reason, is that the expulsion from Eden happened not just to punish the pair for eating the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, it was to ensure that they didn’t also eat fruit from the Tree of Life. The latter’s ovum would impart immortality to the primeval gourmand, and was protected from consumption or approach by a cadre of fierce Cherubim (which are “lower” and automaton like Angels that have little room for interpreting their orders) and a free floating flaming sword which was set on smite.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The actual location of the Tree of Good and Evil is pictured above, and was more or less where the Times Square Subway station entrance is found (accounting for continental drift, of course). The Land of Nod where the whole Cain and Abel thing happened is obviously Staten Island, but back then there were land bridges between Manhattan and Richmond County. Humanity, therefore, populated the planet starting from Times Square out.

The crossing of a lot of geography and vast oceans, and the epic tale of how the bloodline of Adam made it to the modern day Middle East and then incestuously populated Eurasia, must have been lost during Noah’s flood. Suffice to say, Times Square is the literal and metaphorical actual center of the Universe.

It also looks great when it’s raining.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle


Come on a tour!

With Atlas ObscuraInfrastructure Creek AT NIGHT! My favorite walking tour to conduct, and in a group limited to just twelve people! October 29th, 7-9 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

October 23, 2019 at 2:30 pm

mustered up

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A series of dull events, that’s my life.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Not enough butter spread over too much bread. Desperately thirsty, but somebody has just shaken up the can of soda. Hungry and nauseous at the same time. Insomniac ponderings during the late night hours of the wolf. That’s me at the moment. The next person that says “you have to” or “you can’t” or tries to correct me based on something political which they literally just made up on the spot is going to reap the ‘effin whirlwind. “Who do you think you are” is going to get an answer, and the petitioner will not like the answer.

Go ahead, try me. I’ll burn your house down. I’m looking for a volunteer today, somebody whom I can unleash all of my sublimated rage, fears, and self pity upon. Try me. You’ll be doing me a favor, as it’s unhealthy to hold it in.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It has been quite a frustrating interval for me, with all sorts of existential problems that can’t be solved easily or simply by working through them popping up. Disconcerting, one feels as if he’s walking on the blade of a knife recently, and digging my fingernails as deeply into my palms as I can only results in wounding the skinvelope. There’s only so much one can eat before something vomits back out.

Volunteers?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Wit’s end. I need, really ‘effin need, a vacation. Thinking about it, I haven’t left the confines of NYC’s five boroughs in so long that I don’t remember the last time I did.

Home sweet hell, huh?


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle


Come on a tour!

With Atlas ObscuraInfrastructure Creek AT NIGHT! My favorite walking tour to conduct, and in a group limited to just twelve people! October 29th, 7-9 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

October 18, 2019 at 1:00 pm

crunching teeth

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Getting high in Manhattan, in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Occasion saw me and mine traveling into the City the other day to attend yet another Newtown Creek Superfund meeting, this time with the Feds (EPA) and the folks who represent the energy companies identified as “PRP’s” or Potentially Responsible Parties in the Newtown Creek Superfund situation. Newtown Creek Group, as the energy companies have styled themselves, were presenting an idea they’ve come up with to the CAG (Community Advisory Group) which I’m a steering committee member of. This plan of theirs will be discussed more fully, and publicly, at a future CAG meeting after we’ve had a chance to discuss and process it.

The meeting was in a law office at Jared Kushner’s 666 Fifth Avenue, on the 26th floor, so I took the opportunity to wave the camera at the windows after the meeting had ended. Check out those supertall’s going up. People somehow believe this to be a good thing… what do I know, though, Manhattan has been lost for twenty years at this point. It’s become a hell for the oligarchs, and the rich always like building castles for themselves. Trump Tower is just down the block, so you get what I’m saying.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

What I can tell you is this – it was fiendishly hot the day I went there. My pal Will bought a milkshake from an Ice Cream truck on the corner. The air conditioning at 666 Fifth was fantastically strong, and that the last time I was in this building was when DC Comics still maintained offices there. In the meeting room upstairs, there were snacks and soft drinks. I had a packet of Doritos, and drank a Dr. Pepper with a ton of ice in the glass.

I don’t drink soda pop too often, so that was a nice sugary treat on a hot day. It was no milkshake, however. Saying that, I’m a huge fan of the Daniel Day Lewis movie “There will be Blood,” so if I’m meeting with people who work for oil companies I avoid bringing up milk shakes.

If you haven’t seen the flick, or don’t get the reference – here you go. (spoilers)

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It’s all so banal in Manhattan these days, antiseptic, and cruelly edged. That current of energy which used to run through the place is just gone. All flash, zero substance, no creative inspirado or “juice.” If Jakob Riis was alive today, his book about the City would be titled “How the Other 1% live.”

Bah. It’s always a pleasure to come home to the last remaining part of the real NYC, which is found out here in Queens.


“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 1, 2019 at 1:00 pm

dismal moaning

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I’m not a “morning person.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Saturday last, I was obliged to leave the house quite early by my standards, and head over to Lower Manhattan to conduct a tour on the Soundview line NYC Ferry. What that meant was standing on a dock on the Astoria line ferry at 8 in the morning, which isn’t tragic but I did need to grab an egg sandwich and a coffee first. After quaffing breakfast, one waved the camera around a bit on my way to Lower Manhattan’s Pier 11 where I was meant to meet the group.

I’ve been trying to frame up the shot above for the last month or so, glad that I finally pulled it off. That’s the Empire State Building framed by the Copper Building, if you’re curious or new to all this.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Most of my endeavors on the water occur at times preferential to my habits and obligations, which means late afternoon or evenings. There’s merit to late morning light, but I find it a bit harsh. Not as harsh as “solar maximum,” where the burning thermonuclear eye of god itself seems to be about ten stories over the ground and its emanations produce a supernal amount of hard contrast, but harsh.

That’s a close in shot of one of the smokestacks of the Big Allis power plant in the Ravenswood section of Long island City, if you’re curious.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Pictured above is the view along the Lower Manhattan waterfront at the foot of Wall Street, gathered while I was was waiting for the group to arrive.

Due to the line of heavy thunderstorms moving through the neighborhood last Thursday, we decided to reschedule the Newtown Creek Alliance “Infrastructure Creek” walking tour to this Thursday out of an abundance of caution. You don’t mess around with lightning, kid. This is the lowest price on this particular route and tour which you’re going to find all summer from me – $12.

Come with? Links below.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle


Upcoming Tours and Events


RESCHEDULED FROM LAST WEEK DUE TO WEATHER

Wednesday, July 17, 7 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.

“Infrastructure Creek” Walking Tour w Newtown Creek Alliance

If you want infrastructure, then meet NCA historian Mitch Waxman at the corner of Greenpoint Avenue and Kingsland Avenue in Brooklyn, and in just one a half miles he’ll show you the largest and newest of NYC’s 14 sewer plants, six bridges, a Superfund site, three rail yards with trains moving at street grade (which we will probably encounter at a crossing), a highway that carries 32 million vehicle trips a year 106 feet over water. The highway feeds into the Queens Midtown Tunnel, and we’ll end it all at the LIC ferry landing where folks are welcome to grab a drink and enjoy watching the sunset at the East River, as it lowers behind the midtown Manhattan skyline.

Click here for ticketing and more information.


Thursday, July 25, 6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.

Greenpoint Walking Tour w NYCH20

Explore Greenpoint’s post industrial landscape and waterfront with Newtown Creek Alliance historian Mitch Waxman.

Click here for ticketing and more information.


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 15, 2019 at 1:00 pm

indubitably evoked

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On this day in 1931, the Empire State Building opened for business.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Happy 88th Birthday, old friend.

For a bunch of the particulars regarding the Empire State Building – builders, timeline, how much it’s thought to weigh – check out this 2018 Newtown Pentacle post. My favorite of NYC’s great buildings from the twentieth century, the Empire State Building is literally one of the two or three pole stars by which I navigate my way through the City of Greater New York, and when I see it poking up from behind a tree line on a New Jersey highway or appearing from behind canyons of lesser structures when I’m on a ship or boat, I know for a fact that I’m coming home.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

From a photography point of view, there’s no other structure in our megalopolis that says “New York City” as loudly as the Empire State Building does. If you’ve got it in frame, you’ve got a shot that just shouts “I’m walkin here.” Even abominations like Hudson Yards, or the actually interesting Copper Building, which interfere with the sight lines of the ESB cannot diminish the prominence of the structure in my eyes.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My favorite time to capture images which the Empire State Building is found somewhere in the background of are at night, and in particular foggy ones. That’s when it’s literally scraping the sky, and its theater lit spire is glowing.

The Progressive era of the American Story didn’t build cathedrals… instead they built skyscrapers. The Empire State Building is ours.


“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

May 1, 2019 at 11:00 am

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