The Newtown Pentacle

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Archive for the ‘NYPD’ Category

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Texting while driving?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A humble narrator is taking a break this week, and single images will be greeting you sans the verbose drivel they’re normally accompanied by. It’s a rather busy week that I have ahead of me, but look for a strange old man wandering about the concrete devastations of the Newtown Creek with a camera. That’ll likely be me.


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Dutch Kills Dérive. Free!
Saturday, September 8, 2018, 9:30 AM – 12:30 PM with Flux Factory

Drowning in our own muck and mire, modern society must transmute its existence into that of an allegorical baptism in order to emerge a society of water protectors. The historic facts of exactly how our civilization has transformed the historic Dutch Kill waterway into a sewershed will act as both a numbing analgesic and a point of illumination. Tickets here.


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Written by Mitch Waxman

September 7, 2018 at 11:00 am

astonished to

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Tell me what to do, everyone.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As is my usual habit, while the 7 line Subway was entering the Vernon Jackson Station, the camera was busily clicking away a couple three weeks ago. You’ve seen lots and lots of these shots here at your Newtown Pentacle, as every time I leave the neighborhood on whatever mission the day presents, I document my journeys photographically and that includes getting on the train. Like the Kiwi, I’m a funny and fuzzy little fruit with a lot of personality. On this particular afternoon, the gendarme who had so successfully pissed off his bosses that he was assigned to sit in the cop box at the end of a subway platform in Queens decided to punctuate his obvious boredom by confronting me about taking pictures in “the system.” How retro.

Given that I’m overly familiar with not just MTA’s policies towards photographic pursuits on their property (no commercial shoots, camera supports, lights, or flashes without a permit) but NYPD’s (standing orders from former Police Chief Kelly about not harassing photographers) as well, a brief conversation with the officer ensued. He accused me of using a flash, which he claimed “bothered” the conductors. I asked if he saw a camera flash, to which he replied he couldn’t see flashes inside his little cop box. Believe me, if I was using the flash I carry, you’d see it from up on the street. As is my habit, I offered to go with him to the nearby 108th precinct to have a conversation with his Desk Sergeant and Captain Forgione about NYPD’s rules on this subject. The officer declined the opportunity and asked me for ID and to see the pictures I had taken, to which I asked if I had committed a crime. Further, I offered that if he wanted to examine my camera card, he would need a subpoena.

He soon realized that he had stepped into a bear trap and returned to his cop box.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It’s been a while since I was last hassled by cops for brandishing the deadly weaponry known as a camera. I mean, it’s called a Canon, right? There are no laws in NYC, or in fact the United States, which preclude photographic pursuits in public spaces. There are a few exceptions, to be fair, but they mainly center around military installations. Everytime you see a sign like the one above, simply read it as an abrogation of your constitutional rights. The same legal pretense that allows NYPD and other security oriented organizations to hang surveillance and robotic red light cameras on lamp posts, private businesses and homeowners to brocade their walls with CCTV security cameras, also allows one such as myself to capture images of anything encountered whenever and wherever I want to.

A few years back, after reluctantly showing up for Jury Duty, the bailiffs of the Queens County court system went apoplectic when they saw my camera bag. They had no reaction whatsoever to the web connected video camera everybody else was carrying… you know, iPhones… but the DSLR represented some sort of existential threat to them.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There are rules governing photography regarding private property, as a note. If I wander into a shopping mall, or cemetery, and start clicking away and am then confronted by representatives of the property owner who tell me to cease and desist I am obliged to do so. Again, it’s public space versus private space. If you can see it from the sidewalk, it’s kosher. 

Photography. Not a crime. Forcing a cop to work inside a box at the Vernon Jackson station might be a human rights violation, however. This fellow should be out there on the streets doing something useful.


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Written by Mitch Waxman

July 23, 2018 at 11:00 am

visible reality

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It’s Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Day, in the Nation of Canada.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Owing to other obligations and piss poor weather conditions for the last couple of weeks, one hasn’t got anything new to show you for this week. Accordingly, it has been decided to instead present a few archive shots of the various branches of NYC government which make life liveable for us here in “Home Sweet Hell.”

Today, the focus is on the NYPD – the indomitable Police Department of New York City.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

You react one of two ways when the NYPD arrives – you either curse your fate, or you thank your lucky stars they’re there. Most of the cops I’ve known over the years are the very definition of “laconic” when describing their workday lives. World weariness is the consequence of spending your time in the company of those who are having an awful day. It might be the worst day of your life, but to the cops it’s just another day at work.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

NYPD officers notoriously dislikebeing photographed while pursuing their duties, which is fair enough. Saying that, if they’re in uniform and out in public, anything they do is inherently interesting to one such as myself. Even if it’s the mundane task of removing an inebriate from a subway car in Flushing.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There’s a lot of subdivision units in the NYPD, populated with specialists. The Emergency Services Unit has always held a certain fascination for me. If the regular patrol officer can be analogized to being a soldier, the ESU officer can also be described as being a Special Forces Green Beret or a NAVY Seal. They’re a small army of Batmen.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

NYPD also maintains a small navy, the Harbor Unit. Seldom commented upon, the harbor unit was originally formed to combat pirates on the East River back in the 19th century. They’re supposed to be outfitted with cutlasses, in addition to side arms, but the modern day crews don’t seem to carry any swords.


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Written by Mitch Waxman

February 14, 2017 at 11:00 am

Posted in NYPD, Photowalk

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ominous gossip

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It’s International Safer Internet Day.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Recently, one found himself wandering about in legend cloaked and shadows haunted Greenpoint when my footsteps carried me past the beacon like NYPD’s 94th pct. house. The bulls are penned up here, on Meserole, and they like to keep it nice and bright. There’s a real sense of solidity to this building, and it’s somewhat evocative of a fortress. One wishes that the 114th pct. here in Astoria enjoyed such lush and stolid accommodations.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One is preoccupied at the moment, given the recent release of the “Deck over the Sunnyside Yards” feasibility study by the NYC EDC at the behest of our Mayor – the Dope from Park Slope. It’s a massive document, and full of arcane detail to process and respond to.

Its arrival means that Western Queens has arrived at an existential threshold, and that my home is now threatened.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Accordingly, posts such as today’s and yesterday’s are somewhat truncated. One does not have the luxury of wandering around the Greenpoint Historic District and marveling at times gone by and the architectural monuments to earlier times.

The battle for Queens is afoot. 


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Written by Mitch Waxman

February 8, 2017 at 1:00 pm

muffled conversation

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There was quite a hullabaloo, here in Astoria.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One received a text from a neighbor on the night of October 30th that there had been a vehicle collision involving the local gendarmes here in Astoria, so I grabbed the camera and headed down to take a look at what happened.

The NYPD unit involved was from the local precinct, the 114,  and they had collided – at speed- with a civilian vehicle at the intersection of 45th street here on Broadway.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Given that I’m a “yenta” and the whole neighborhood knows it, the neighbors began relating the story to me.

Apparently, the NYPD unit was in one of those big hurries that they periodically display, the kind when they don’t have their sirens or lights on. My understanding is that this is procedure when they’re trying to catch someone surreptitiously by sneaking up on them, or they’re enroute to assist another officer who is in a dicey situation.

Observationally, when Cops blow a light just cause they want to, they perform what could be best described as a rolling stop while doing so. They can also park pretty much anywhere they want to, and I see both as perks.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One of the local Greeks informed me that he had witnessed the incident. The cops were moving through a red light at the corner of 45th street and Broadway at a considerable velocity when they contacted the front end of a sedan which was proceeding at speed through the green light. They tore the front end of the civilian car up, but neither car’s occupants were seriously hurt. That’s what the Greek guy said.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s the bumper of the sedan, which was being operated by a fairly young guy who had two passengers with him. They were instructed to park around the corner, and seemed – to me at least – as quite anxious. On Broadway itself, there were multiple NYPD people investigating the event. There were ambulances, looking loo civilians like me, and the usual emergency crew that the City’s got.

Of course the three kids were anxious, how would you feel if you had just rammed a cop car?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I ran into a couple of officers from the 114 a couple of days later (long story) and inquired as to the condition and health of their comrades. They informed that the two officers in the unit were fine, but had taken a couple of days off to recuperate nevertheless. No word on the three kids, however.

My personal belief is that all five participants in the accident probably had to go shopping for new underwear.


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Written by Mitch Waxman

November 11, 2016 at 11:00 am

hidden and unsuspected

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Are they ever called “on purposes”?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Having finally achieved landfall in… Staten Island, after a lengthy journey through the rotting tunnels of the Subway that lead from Astoria to lower Manhattan and across the harbor on the Staten Island Ferry, one was happily ensconced in an automobile when this scene was witnessed. The pair of NYPD officers seemed to be discussing a recent accident. Got me to thinking about traffic, and traffic accidents.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One remembers a few screw ups from when I was first licensed to drive, in particular there was a crunched door panel in a Ralph Avenue strip mall parking lot which was my fault ultimately (misjudged my turning radius) that cost an astronomical amount (to an 18 year old back in the 80’s ) for me to put right. Never experienced the sort of thing in the shot above, which still puzzles me from the physics point of view, as it would have taken a LOT of energy to get that wheel up off the ground. This was on Jackson Avenue in LIC, incidentally.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This NYPD patrol car had its lights on and was in the process of responding to a call with great haste when the officers lost control of the vehicle. They were speeding down 44th street in Astoria and ran afoul of uneven pavement encountered when crossing Broadway. Witnesses reported that they gained altitude after their wheels hit a rise in the intersection. The cops totaled a parked Taxi, struck several other parked cars, and came to a halt only after smashing into a tree – which they creamed. The boys in blue, I inquired with the local Precinct Commander afterwards, had a few bangs and bruises but were ultimately ok and returned to duty shortly afterwards.

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Upcoming Walking Tours-

Saturday, November 8th, Poison Cauldron
Walking Tour with Atlas Obscura, click here for tickets and more info.

Note: This is the last Newtown Creek walking tour of 2014, and probably the last time this tour will be presented in its current form due to the Kosciuszko Bridge construction project. 

Written by Mitch Waxman

November 5, 2014 at 11:00 am

shall vex

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A baited trap, in LIC.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Everyone knows about the particular predilection that the Gendarme has for those toroids of fried and sweetened dough which are commonly called Donuts, and it is simply “messed up” that someone seems to using one as bait. Should a hungry constable happen along and happily reach for this confection, what sort of snare might be triggered? Is this a cop trap of some kind? What’s hidden inside that duct or pipe?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The funny thing about the cop/donut myth is that it really isn’t true. Most of the police officers I’ve met over the years were actually in pretty good shape, and the ones who weren’t in wholesome condition owed it to a love of the brewer’s art rather than that of the baker’s. Still one wonders how many innocent but hungry servants of the realm hereabouts have been ensnared on this LIC block, adjoining Skillman Avenue?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Commonly held, the mythology about American Police and their love for donuts is reasonably predicated upon the frequent observation of unit cars and uniformed personnel, by the citizenry at large, congregating at locations commonly called “Donut Shops.” Simply answered, even if your job is to drive around a neighborhood for eight hours at a pop, you still need to pee and or buy coffee periodically – an endless cycle in itself – and sharing a common location for such activity allows units to compare notes on the days events. Donut shops are open late, as are the Police. It’s messed up that someone is setting out donut baited snares though, and provides for a worrisome development within this, our Newtown Pentacle.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

March 31, 2014 at 9:30 am

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