The Newtown Pentacle

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black plastic

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Mi chiamo Wednesday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Last Friday, a humble narrator decided to spend the afternoon on the water, so yet another ticket for the NYC Ferry was purchased. This particular trip paid off for me in terms of seeing maritime industrial activity, but truth be told – once a boy has visited the Kill Van Kull on a busy night, he’s jaded. The central section of the East River isn’t exactly super interesting in terms of variety and quantity of shipping activity, but it’s definitely got the best backgrounds.

That’s the Paula Atwell tug, towing a barge of what is likely either sewer solids or garbage, rounding the bend nearby Corelars Hook under the Williamsburg Bridge.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The NYC Ferry swings over to Manhattan’s 34th street street for one of its stops, and our Captain navigated that by moving past the north side of U Thant Island. Formerly Belmont Island, this little pile of rocks sits in front of the United Nations Building, and it’s manmade. Literally, these stones were the mining spoils for what we call the 7 train’s tunneling operation. U Thant was a United Nations Secretary General for whom the little island was renamed for when it was converted to a bird sanctuary and taken over by the NYC Parks Dept.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My ride continued south, and two more tugs – a large Reinauer one (gold and red) towing a fuel barge and a smaller DonJon one (blue) towing two empty bucket barges – rounded the bend in the river at Corlears Hook, opposite the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

Did you know that the Williamsburg Bridge was considered to be so hideous in the years after it was built that the Municipal Arts Society was formed to ensure that nothing like it ever got built again?

Speaking of ugly… 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 4, 2021 at 12:00 pm

Posted in East River, Tugboat

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inconceivable tensions

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Thursday, Brü, Thursday.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Priorities are a big deal for a humble narrator. First thing’s first, and there’s other less time sensitive stuff you leave on the back burner while dealing with exigent reality. If something suddenly bursts into flame, you drop everything and deal with that. The people in charge of our common enterprise – the Government, as it were – don’t seem to think like this. This isn’t about political party or philosophy, it should be mentioned. At the moment, there’s a fairly large bundle of “have to’s” which seem to have been overlooked, while the stuff that really isn’t urgent – for whatever reason – is being treated as number one with a bullet.

If you’re fighting to rezone a Manhattan neighborhood in this part of 2021, and acting like it’s a 4 alarm fire to get it done “right now,” you’ve mixed up your priorities. NYC’s existential crisis isn’t “big business” related, rather it’s small business. We need to marshal the forces of our society right now in the name of entrepreneurs and shop owners, and for small landlords who own residential buildings with less than eight units. The latter entities are the most commonly held form of small business citywide, and the ones who are really in trouble at the moment, but the Governmental types and their masters in the Real Estate Industrial Complex seem hell bent on demonizing and destroying them in favor of mega corporations.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Establishing Municipality based Credit Unions and low fee Financial Institutions designed to serve and service the sort of people and businesses written off by commercial banks like Chase or Citigroup would be a great start for the so called “Progressives” and “Socialists.” So would creating a mechanism by which NYC and NYS could resell the same insurance plans offered to their own employees with a small markup margin. That margin assures the Unions that they still enjoy an edge and advantage over the private sector, and would provide the funding required to extend health and pension benefits to the destitute or needy. The business of New York City is business, but the people who run NYC don’t seem to have ever thought about owning or operating their own business. It certainly doesn’t occur to them that few of us started out rich. Policy these days favors Alexander the Great situations. It’s easy to be remembered as “great” when your Dad built the world’s greatest army and died when you were still a teenager. We need more Phillips, and fewer Alexanders, right now.

John Lindsay went out of his way to make the poorest New Yorkers dependent on the City in the 1960’s. Michael Bloomberg went out of his way to insinuate a social Darwinism aspect into that dependency in the early 2000’s. Bill De Blasio and his ilk are a nightmare combination of the two.

Why isn’t encouraging and laying the groundwork for good old fashioned American Entrepreneurship not a part of the equation when the redistributing of common treasure occurs via taxation? Ecosystems work best when they’re varied and broad. You need a top predator – a wolf or tiger like Chase – but you also need mice and shellfish and shoreline vegetation for the baby fishes to hide in. In a properly functioning ecosystem, food falls off of the trees and everybody gets fat.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Next – Imagine if we created a single semester class for High School Seniors that taught the stuff you actually have to know as an adult. The significance of April 15th, how to claim legitimate deductions on your 1040, and how to approach starting a generic business in New York City. Jury duty, how to vote, the basic rules which adults have to follow in pursuance of avoiding fines and or jail time. What to do and who to call if you do get into trouble with the cops. I’d even plan in a remote visit or two with the “Scared Straight” crew at the local Penitentiary. How do I get health insurance, and what’s involved in signing a lease. What’s a household budget, and how much of your income should you save for a rainy day? Basically… Life 101.

When I was in High School, back in the early 1980’s when a young Joe Piscopo taught us all how to laugh again, there were mandatory classes called “Home Economics” and “Shop,” and whereas “Civics” had already been combined with “History” as “Social Studies,” they still talked about all this stuff. Saying that, I’m a grown ass man and that list in the former paragraph intimidates. Imagine being a kid trying to figure out the playing field and its rules?

Speaking of fixing the world… 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 29, 2021 at 11:00 am

outflung folds

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Thursday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

So, what happens when you use a lens designed for “crop sensors” on a “full frame” mirrorless camera? As I discovered, vignetting! Also, I can set my camera to think it’s a crop sensor, which produces a RAW format file that is cropped accordingly. What photoshop shows me however, is a full frame image with a vector crop mask applied to it. The rest of the image is still captured even if I tell the camera to do a square format, so, thought I – why throw away all those pixels?

You’re actually seeing the inside of the lens in the shots above and below, and that’s what’s causing the black circular edges to manifest. I’m thinking that if I made these high contrast and grain black and white, it would create something that looks like it came from an old timey box film camera.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Now that I’ve returned to the daylight, which has had the unfortunate consequence of shocking the general public due to my countenance, I’ve finally been able to start “straight up playing” with the new camera. Finally got to test out and figure the nuances of its sophisticated face and eye tracking autofocus system, screw around with shots like the one above just to see what would happen, and have gotten to know the thing in other capacities than the extremely capable low light shooter that it is.

Saying that, the small collection of lenses which are “native” to this particular camera mount (RF) which I’ve got in my bag are amazingly capable devices. Get a cheap camera and an expensive lens is the logic many will offer you. I say get the lens you need, not the one you want. There’s definitely a lens I want, but it’s price tag is equivalent to that of a decent used car. I’m buying the car first, if I’ve got any cash left over I’ll think about the lens. Besides, with a car I don’t need that long a telephoto option, since I I can get closer to things quicker.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The shot above is from one of the native lens, an f 1.8 35mm prime lens. Prime means it doesn’t zoom. It’s actually shot wide open, as in at f 1.8 which is a wide aperture for this sort of shot. Another experiment.

I’ve actually come round the bend on this camera, and am rereading the instruction manual in order not to miss out on some of the deeper nuances of the device. I still haven’t shot a single frame of video with it. Imagine that.


“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 13, 2021 at 11:00 am

more hexagonal

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Thursday is gristle.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As described previously, a humble narrator decided to inspect the Triborough Bridge’s rather well used bike and pedestrian path recently. It’s illegal to take photos up there, as I discovered post facto. When an Government Agency doesn’t want you taking photos somewhere, there’s usually a reason. The reason they give will involve the words “security” and or “terrorism,” whereas the words I’d offer include “corruption, incompetence, or malfeasance.”

So, who uses this pathway? Observationally, a lot of bike riders and pedestrians. What they encounter is an (incredibly) unlit and narrow space with stair cases that just sort of appear in front of you without warning.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The bike rider approaching my position above is also breaking the law, since the MTA Bridges and Tunnels operation instructs that riders on the bike path MUST dismount and walk their bikes. Quite obviously, this isn’t something that happens too often. I saw people riding on electric skateboards and scooters as well.

I’m actually planning on how and with whom I’m going to deal with on this subject. It makes me angry, especially so because Triborough is a toll bridge and fairly flush with maintenance budget cash, unlike the NYC DOT bridges like Queensboro or Brooklyn.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Luckily, just as I git to one of the fairly steep stairs, a couple of riders with profoundly bright LED bike lights appeared. Their colorful light helped paint the picture, as it were, of what’s happening up here. Literally the only light other than automotive headlights was being pumped out by these two bikes. Luckily, I always carry a pocket flashlight, but sheesh.

Something different tomorrow, and this won’t be the last time you hear about this particular situation.


“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

April 15, 2021 at 1:00 pm

sentiently over

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Wednesdays just drizzle.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As mentioned yesterday, these photos are criminal in nature. Post 911, a lot of NYC became “no photo” zones. The press photographer’s association actually sued the MTA to guarantee the right to take photos in the subways, and as far as the East River and Hudson bridges go – they’re largely owned by three entities – Port Authority, NYC DOT, and MTA Bridges and Tunnels. PA and DOT were out of the banning photography business by 2008 or so, although you still encounter the odd Cop or Security Guard who’d aggressively inquire “why are you taking pictures”?

MTA, on the other hand never explicitly banned photography, instead they invoke some obscure “NY State Authorities” rule which offers the opinion that facilities like the Triborough Bridge are a) private property, b) that whether you’re on the thing or even around them you must follow all instructions on posted signs – even if the sign is missing or you’re not on “their” property. Technically speaking, everybody who’s taken a photo in Astoria Park of a kid’s birthday party which the Triborough is in the background of is a potential member of Al Quaeda to MTA. Remember them? Haven’t thought about Al Quaeda in years. Who’s the enemy nowadays?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Now, to my point of view, if the Government – and specifically the political patronage mill section of it called the MTA – doesn’t want you to take pictures of something, that’s precisely what you should be taking pictures of. To wit, you’re looking at the unlit and unmarked pedestrian/bike path of the Triborough above.

In some ways I was kind of hoping a cop would show up and ticket me for this, as I’d make a whole megillah out of it. Glad one didn’t, but if photography is such a burning security issue here where were the MTA cops? One way or another, I’m going to start talking about this with the people who sign MTA’s checks soon.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There isn’t a splash of glitter paint anywhere near the unlit stairwells which just appear in front of you in the dark. The path is set in such a manner that the headlights of oncoming bridge traffic are at eye level while you’re walking in deep shadow. There’s zero path lighting – a string of xmas LED lights secured to the deck would vastly improve things. Then there’s the section over the East River where the “Suicide Fencing” stops and you’re suddenly experiencing a waist high rail as the only thing standing between you and a 105 foot drop to the waters of Hells Gate…

Yeah, I bet there’s a bunch of reason they don’t want cameras up here.


“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

April 14, 2021 at 1:30 pm

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