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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

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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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Wednesday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

So… there was basically no chance that I wasn’t going to be attracted to Times Square to ride the Mayor’s Ferris Wheel – was there? Having a obligation along Newtown Creek on Tuesday evening, and the forecast of torrential rains occurring later in the week, the only night I could fit this in was Monday and that’s why and when a humble narrator found himself standing in Times Square on the 30th of August with a $20 Ferris Wheel ticket in his hand.

Times Square, the “crossroads of the world,” is also the exact spot where the biblical garden of Eden was located. The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil was more or less where the entrance to the IND Broadway subway station is at 42nd and Broadway. It’s an easy commute from Astoria, Eden.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

After having to explain to a couple of con men that I in fact lived here and was thereby a bad mark – I did wish them luck, and instructed one of them that when he figured out “where da rich peoples at,” that he should find me and we’d team up to defraud them – one scuttled over to the 46th street side of Times Square and assessed the standing in line situation.

I could not help but think that the process which began here in Times Square some thirty years ago – the so called “Disneyfication” of “Da Deuce” – was now complete. There’s a ride here now. It won’t be long before there’s a permanent Roller Coaster installed. Manhattan’s Times Square is no longer a “central business district,” rather it’s a NYC themed amusement park laid out like a garish whore for tourists to admire.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I had purchased my ticket through the interwebs, which allows for scheduling your ride. My ticket engaged at 7:30 p.m. For your $20, you essentially get three revolutions in one of those goofy gondolas. For my $20, I’m getting at least two posts out of the excursion, this being the first.

It’s not easy being as cynical as this, but I put some effort into it. Tomorrow, I’ll show you what the view was like from onboard. Hey – how many times do you think it’s going to be possible to be 110 feet over Times Square? Can’t speak for the future, but in the last fifty and change years this is the first time I’ve been able to swing it. 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 1, 2021 at 1:00 pm

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Ughhh… Manhattan.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One has experienced a trying few days. To start, I had to go to Manhattan over the weekend to attend a lecture involving maps and Newtown Creek, so… had to go into the City. For those of you reading this new to the area, most of us who grew up in NYC will refer to Manhattan as “The City.” Secondly, I made my way over to Sunnyside on Sunday to photograph the St. Pat’s Day for All parade, since I had many acquaintances and friends who march in it. Lastly, while developing Sunday’s parade shots, and Saturday’s City photos, my computer up and died on me mid edit.

Not sure yet if the device is recoverable, as it’s about ten years out of manufacture date. This began a significantly annoying process for me.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Freelancing out of the office here at HQ, one has seldom encountered problems with the Mac, but they have happened on occasion. Accordingly, a humble narrator is fairly adept at solving and fixing both the bugbears and the kernel panics when they appear. Unfortunately, what’s going on at the moment seems to be a hardware issue, and as mentioned, this is a fairly old computer. It’s in tip top shape, otherwise, and has been working like a champ for years and years.

Luckily, a fairly modern laptop is available to me most of the day, and a quickly arrived at install of the Adobe Creative Cloud software is now on it. I’m trying to recreate the highly specific photo developing environment found on my Mac tower, but this hasn’t been the easiest task so far. My old tower ran a comparatively archaic form of Photoshop, so the new app offers a bit of a learning curve, and the work flow can resume albeit a bit slower. The only good news in all this is I’ve finally got an updated series of lens correction profiles in photoshop.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

If things look a bit odd for the next couple of days, it’s because I’m moving these images through unfamiliar digital terrain. This entire situation is categorically one I did not need, and is akin to an auto accident. Ideally, I’d love to get the old machine up and running again, and I’m going to try a few other fairly esoteric methods to access and repair it. Thing is, if it’s hardware – as in a failed component…

I’d have to bring the damn thing into the City to get it fixed, which is a “maybe.”


“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

March 4, 2020 at 11:00 am

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