The Newtown Pentacle

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uncounted billions

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Friday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Back in the saddle again, as it were.

It seems, after returning from my various journeys, that a humble narrator has had a bit of a fire lit in the seat of his pants. Within three days of returning to NYC, circumstance demanded that I needed to travel all over the place, and that’s when the malevolent sentience of NYC penalized me for leaving her behind for the interval.

A City based memorial get together in honor of a recently departed friend saw me standing on the subway platforms at Queens Plaza afterwards, which is when the 7 train shot above was captured. I got to talk to the cops about this one, while some asshole was smoking a joint about twenty feet away from us. I don’t care that he was smoking weed, mind you, it’s that he was smoking anything at all on the freaking platform at Queens Plaza and the cops decided to hassle me for taking a photo – which is 100% legal – instead of the other guy who was doing something 100% illegal.

“Why are you taking pictures of the subway”? I dunno officer, maybe it’s cause I’m the Chair of the Community Board’s Transportation Committee, or that I’m part of a transit advocacy group called Access Queens which focuses on problems that happen on this line? Maybe it’s because I can do whatever the hell I want to, and I wouldn’t have to explain myself to you even if I am in the middle of committing a crime let alone not committing one? If it was the former situation, you’d have already added a pair of steel bracelets to my accoutrements prior to getting me to say something stupid enough for you to take me back to the Station House. Grrrr.

“Dystopian shithole,” that’s what I kept on repeating to myself after the N line arrived across the platform and carried me into Astoria. Covid seems to have applied the icing to De Blasio’s seven year long layer cake of municipal despair, indifference, and “less than.” Pfah.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Another occasion found me walking through the blight and wasteland blocks surrounding Manhattan’s horrific Hudson Yards development. The section of midtown nearby Hudson Yards, and the similarly ill conceived Javitz Convention Center, has long been a dangerous and lonely section of the city inhabited by scalliwags, truants, muggers, drug enthusiasts, and whatever the hell “woke” people call street prostitutes these days. Hudson Yards has somehow made this worse by luring future victims to the area. Luckily for them, the wealthy can afford private security. Cops ain’t doing shit for shinola until De Blasio is out of office, so if you’re not rich enough to afford a body man, keep your guard up lords and ladies. Turbulence is ahead.

Luckily, the traffic gendarmes were there to ensure the smooth flow of New Jersey bound automobile traffic through the zone. Wonder how long it’s going to be before somebody comes up with the bright idea to knock down that church (Sts. Cyril & Methodius & St. Raphael’s Catholic Church Croatian Parish) and replace it with a 30 story Walgreens because a) progress, b) affordable housing, c) ride a bike asshole, d) you’re a racist if you disagree with anything that might have just popped into my head right now.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Finally, seeking some sort of quiet time and communion with my arrival “back home,” I rode the ferry out to Staten Island hoping for some tugboat time. I got some of that, but was again thwarted by NYC teaching me a lesson for leaving her behind for a few weeks.

It seems that on my way back to the City, I had to stop off to get sniffed by the security theater labradors stationed therein while rushing through the terminal to catch the Staten Island Ferry. A momentary delay, the sniffing nevertheless caused me to miss the boat, since the ferry guy had already partially closed the sliding glass door he spends his life sliding open and closed, and he would have had to reopen it, and since he’s a city employee who’s already dead inside… there went a half hour of my life, which I spent being cased by a rip off crew that hangs around the SI Ferry terminals.

I’ve seen and noticed this particular pack of “clown shoes” before, a group of scaly looking early to mid 20’s guys who work as a unit. One guy spots the “vic,” and then texts his buddies. They move in through the crowd from different angles, and before you know it you’re standing in the middle of a huddle of dim witted muggers who work you over – picking your pockets and grabbing whatever they can before scattering. I noticed them noticing me (and especially the camera) immediately, and began a fun game of moving about the terminal to give them some exercise while playing dumb about the situation. They would text each other when I stopped moving, and then begin collecting nearby me again. Then I’d move again, and then there they were. So bad at crime, the millennials are. So incredibly bad.

To the cops at Queens Plaza – there’s a heroin operation which uses the Staten Island Ferry to move product between New Jersey and Manhattan. Has been going on for years. Look for what you boys in blue refer to as “skels” when on the big orange boat. Noticing things like this is quite literally your job. Stop hassling photographers.

Bah. Back next week.


“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

November 19, 2021 at 11:00 am

swelled alarmingly

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Wednesday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Three in the morning is exactly when Penn Station is at its best, I believe. The adjoining streets are populated by background extras from the movie “Taxi Driver,” and the cops randomly close several of the entrances to the train station because “because.” After stomping around with about 25-30 pounds of gear, and a week’s worth of clothing, one finally found an entrance which I could enter through after stepping over a few unconscious lunatics and an inebriate or two. I had a date with Amtrak, one which would culminate at 3:30 a.m.

The phrase “dystopian shithole” kept on going through my mind, as well as an accounting of the roughly thirty eight cents of every dollar I earn, disappearing into the black hole of New York City and State’s municipal coffers. Tax breaks for Billionaire Real Estate developers are clearly the logical thing to spend my tax money on, rather than a functioning transit system or a functioning social welfare network or a functioning Police force or a functioning anything. If you solve the problems, what are you going to run on in the next election cycle? Priorities.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Late night, they don’t use the sparkly new Moynihan Station for Amtrak, instead they use crappy old Penn Station. The first leg of my travels rendered a humble narrator sleep deprived, but the world doesn’t run on my scheduled comforts. The electronic boards didn’t tell me that the train was boarding, in fact, they didn’t tell me much of anything. An Amtrak employee suddenly materialized and began shouting out the number of the train and its destination. Indications were offered as to which staircase to descend, which led to the tracks below.

Shit. It’s all shit. We pay forty cents on the dollar for shit, and are told we should be lucky we got that. I’m so tired of fighting it at this stage of the game. Why, oh why does everything in NYC just suck?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Descent into the stygian depth of Penn Station found me boarding my appointed train. Settling into the seat was easily accomplished and the train was about half full (see, I’m an optimist). Fatigue would be my traveling companion for much of the next four days, but nevertheless I was quite excited to be finally embarking on this long planned trip around the northeastern United States.

At the beginning of the summer of 2021, an Amtrak rail pass had been purchased, which allowed me thirty travel segments. All told, I ended up using 22 of them over the next week (two of the segments were used on the Burlington trip). I was also traveling solo this time around.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The train began rolling, and I cracked out one shot of the part of Penn Station you don’t get to see. I tried a few shots from the moving train on the other side, but it was just too dark to get anything worth talking about. For the first, and not the last time, on this odyssey – I nodded out and fell asleep.

For those of you who know me, the idea that I fell asleep in public is surprising. It’s surprising for me as well.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The train arrived at its destination at 7 in the morning, where I had planned about a seven hour layover into my schedule. I had lunch plans with an old friend at 12:30, and the interval would be filled with photographic pursuits.

One had roughly planned out an intended path, and given the amount of time allotted to this leg of the journey – needed to work quickly and efficiently to capture some images.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Day one – and Washington D.C., beckoned.

More tomorrow.


“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

October 13, 2021 at 11:00 am

terrific thundering

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Monday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It’s been a long time since I was inside of Grand Central Station, I tell you. After my visit to the Times Square Ferris Wheel, detailed in last week’s postings, a quick walk found a humble narrator heading towards the 7 train which allowed some quiet time for contemplation. In recent months, I’ve been avoiding listening to music or audiobooks through my headphones in the name of pure paranoia and wanting to ensure that my auditory “early warning system” was and is in no way impeded.

The streets ain’t so friendly these days, especially at night in the relatively deserted and depopulated midtown business districts of Manhattan. I mean… that photo above is Grand Central on a Monday night at about 8 o’clock. Outside, it was like a zombie movie, only with groups of teenagers riding around on bikes and texting each other after they rode past you.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My plan for getting out of dodge involved taking the 7 line subway back to Queens and then transferring over to an Astoria bound N train. What I was contemplating in this particular interval isn’t for public consumption quite yet, but there are weighty decisions being weighed behind my eyeglasses, even while you’re reading this post.

The saturated color profiles of today’s photos were intentional, incidentally. Always playing around with look and feel, me.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Descending into Manhattan’s depths, it was absolutely bizarre moving through this particular space in solo fashion. Grand Central is defined by crowds and masses, and unending hordes of the human infestation. It’s beyond odd to be solitary anywhere in this building, let alone riding an escalator designed to carry thousands every hour all by yourself.

The 7 station here is very, very deep.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My pal Hank the Elevator Guy will expound endlessly about how deadly escalators can be. He points out that the actual mechanism of an escalator is fundamentally the same as that of an industrial meat grinder. It apparently doesn’t take much in the way of mechanical malfunction for the stairs to open up and pull you inside.

Most of that electronic sign’s messaging equipment in the shot above is burnt out, but the surviving LED’s on it say “Children should.” It doesn’t say what the children should, it just says they should. It is, after all, the MTA.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The most terrifying of MTA’s escalators are on the 7, incidentally. The Grand Central ones are just claustrophobic and deep, but it’s the ones at Hudson Yards that are actually vertigo introducing. Many have been the times that I worried about falling down a set of these moving stairs to an ignominious death.

I don’t mind the thought of dying. I mind the thought of dying in a stupid or comical way. Having an air conditioner fall out of a window on me, or down a flight of steps, or in some ironic circumstance. “Yeah, you heard what happened to Waxman? He died in a vat of molten wax at a candle factory.” At the beginning of Covid, I swore that I wouldn’t get sick as I couldn’t take a chance on dying at the Javitz Center. That’s a punk place to check out, yo.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

At the 7 platform, deep under Grand Central, the IRT Flushing Line – or 7 train – arrived just as I ran into a friend from LIC whom I haven’t seen since New Years of 2020. Good times, taking the subway.

Back tomorrow with something entirely different 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

September 6, 2021 at 11:00 am

tilted both

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Friday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

After riding the Times Square Ferris Wheel, a humble narrator headed indirectly back to Queens. Along the way, I passed by a construction project occurring on West 47th street that involved using a crane to transport concrete to some unknown prominence high above.

Seriously, it never ends. Have you heard about the push by the Real Estate people to rezone midtown Manhattan because it’s not dense enough?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Union Guys generally hate it when I’m taking pictures of them working. They don’t like it in Queens and Brooklyn and all around Newtown Creek, where these trucks get loaded up, and they don’t like it in the City where the trucks get unloaded at the job site.

I don’t care what other people like or dislike anymore.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

About a block away, I was finally able to gain perspective on the scene, and see the crane. Manhattan always looks best from outside of Manhattan. The narrow streets and looming architecture lends itself to inky shadow and obscured views. Luckily, the construction guys had blocked off the street so I got to stand in the gutter – where I belong – and crack out a shot or two.

Enjoy your holiday weekend, lords and ladies, back next week with more wonders from the megalopolis.


“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 3, 2021 at 11:00 am

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Thursday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

So, on the negative front – the Ferris Wheel in Times Square’s gondolas are lined with a kind of flexible plastic that isn’t exactly optically ideal. Additionally, the plastic was quite filthy and covered with greasy fingerprints and “yuck.” Given that a humble narrator was shooting from within this hazed plastic enclosure (it’s also rather snug in there) at a brightly lit scene, photo quality suffered. Luckily, I’m used to brandishing the camera about in less than ideal circumstances.

For twenty bucks, you basically get three revolutions of the wheel to take your photos during. I anticipated the plastic problem, and made a homemade light baffle for the lens out of the sort of foam sealant strips you would use when installing an air conditioner. Didn’t fix the problem, but definitely helped ameliorate some of it.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I’ve got a collection of homemade camera equipment, I should mention. All the electronic stuff is store bought, obviously, but there’s all kinds of environmental adaptations which would cost a fortune if I bought it from the camera people. A year or two ago, a screw that attached the tripod mounting plate to my camera got stripped, and the camera store offered a replacement which retailed for $10. For a screw, $10. I got a box of 20 of them from Amazon for $6. I seem to spend more time scrutinizing Home Depot’s offerings than I do B&H’s these days.

A camera’s tripod mount screw is a quarter inch 20 turn screw. A tripod’s head mount is a three eighth’s inch 20 turn screw. Go to a hardware store, and use your imagination. One of my camera support mechanisms has furniture casters for feet. I had a carpenter body of mine cut an ARCA Swiss Mount into a block of hard rubber that another friend – Hank the Elevator Guy – suggested I use for a squared off vibration damper which I like to mount on my camera’s L Bracket. Ever try a string tripod? Cut a rain shield out of a soda bottle? Countersink a screw into a chunk of wood? It’s glorious, I tell you, DIY is, and kind of fun.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The one above is the shot I was hoping to get from up on the wheel. I had to play around with all the settings on my camera, while chatting with the other photographer who was randomly sharing the gondola with me, who coincidentally was using the exact same camera and lens model as I. Wonder how his shots came out.

So, that’s how I spent last Monday night. Minor adventures continued while walking to the train station through the weirdly deserted midtown Manhattan streets. There were plenty of people there, but given what the “normal” density encountered would be on a Monday night on the streets neighboring the 42nd street corridor, it felt like I was either in a zombie movie or it was Labor Day. Not done shooting, by a long shot, one walked away from the subway station which offered the most direct connections back to my section of Astoria. Instead, I headed towards Grand Central Station, where my intention was to board a 7 train. More tomorrow.


“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 2, 2021 at 11:30 am

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