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greater wildness

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Vertigo, in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As mentioned a couple of weeks ago, one had attended a photo industry trade show at the Javitz Center. As this was the first time that circumstance had carried me to the newish Hudson Yards stop on the IRT Flushing line – conventionally referred to as the “7” – I decided to take a few minutes and record a few images.

There you go. Back to Manhattan. Sigh…

from wikipedia

The name “Manhattan” derives from the word Manna-hata, as written in the 1609 logbook of Robert Juet, an officer on Henry Hudson’s yacht Halve Maen (Half Moon). A 1610 map depicts the name as Manna-hata, twice, on both the west and east sides of the Mauritius River (later named the Hudson River). The word “Manhattan” has been translated as “island of many hills” from the Lenape language. The United States Postal Service prefers that mail addressed to Manhattan use “New York, NY” rather than “Manhattan, NY”.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The thing that kept on striking me about visiting the new station was a sensation of vertigo. Normally, one is possessed of a sound and reliable bit of plumbing in the inner ear, but there was just something about the setup of the incredibly steep escalators which distinguish the new station that induced me to feel as if I was about to fall and tumble.

Given the sort of things I know about escalators, which are – functionally speaking – indistinguishable from industrial meat grinders, this was a real concern for one such as myself.

from wikipedia

Escalators, like moving walkways, are often powered by constant-speed alternating current motors[citation needed] and move at approximately 0.3–0.6 metres (1–2 ft) per second. The typical angle of inclination of an escalator to the horizontal floor level is 30 degrees with a standard rise up to about 18 metres (60 ft). Modern escalators have single-piece aluminum or stainless steel steps that move on a system of tracks in a continuous loop.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Perhaps it’s the angle at which they’ve been set at. The Hudson Yards station platforms are found fairly deep in the ground, by NYC Subway standards. Comparable but still examples of the depth would be the 7’s Grand Central platform, or the 59th street and 3rd exit on the IND lines. Looking up rather than down, it felt a bit like the Smith/9th street stop on the F and G lines. Mr. Walsh from Forgotten-NY assures me that the deepest station in the system is in upper Manhattan, and I have few occasions to oppose his opinions so I’ll take his word on it, but Hudson Yards is deep.

from wikipedia

In January 2005, the New York City Council approved the rezoning of about 60 blocks from 28th to 43rd Streets, including the eastern portion of the West Side Yard. This did not include the western portion. In June 2005, the proposed West Side Stadium, to be built over the western portion for the New York City bid for the 2012 Summer Olympics, was defeated. Soon after, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) thought of ways to redevelop the 26 acres (11 ha) yards. In conjunction with the government of New York City, the MTA issued a Request for Proposal (RFP) for 12,000,000 square feet (1,100,000 m2) of mixed-use space. The space was to be built on platforms over the rail yards, which would still be in use.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There’s a mezzanine level where you’ll find the turnstiles, which is where the set of escalators in the shots above bring you. The mezzanine is fairly pleasing, design wise. There’s a whole bunch of arcing shapes moving against each other, tiled floors, and other “architect” looking features that are pretty pleasing to the eye. Or, to mine at least.

from wikipedia

The new construction, part of the city’s and the MTA’s master plan for the Far West Side, extended the IRT Flushing Line west from Times Square to Eleventh Avenue, then south to 34th Street. Although the West Side Stadium plan was rejected by city and state planning agencies, the 7 Subway Extension plan received approval to move ahead, as New York political leaders wanted to see the warehouse district west of Eighth Avenue and north of 34th Street redeveloped as part of the Hudson Yards Redevelopment Project, and subway service was to be an essential part of that effort. The extension also serves the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, which was expanded in 2008–2014 and is located a block away from the station entrances.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The big kahuna of the escalators, and the ones which caused me to begin to experience vertigo, are the ones which carry you down to the platforms themselves.

from wikipedia

Vertigo is when a person feels as if they or the objects around them are moving when they are not. Often it feels like a spinning or swaying movement. This may be associated with nausea, vomiting, sweating, or difficulties walking. It is typically worsened when the head is moved. Vertigo is the most common type of dizziness.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The shot above is looking back up at where the previous photo was captured, and just the act of turning myself around forced my non camera arm to reflexively reach for some kind of support.

from wikipedia

The MTA completed excavation of a 150-foot (46 m) long cavern in June 2009. The cavern was dug below the bus entrance ramp to the lower level of the Port Authority Bus Terminal and formed part of the eastern end of the new extension and connected it to the Times Square station. At the same time, tunnels were being dug northward from the machine shaft at 26th Street; soft ground at 27th and 28th Street required 300 feet (91 m) of ground to be frozen so that the tunnel-boring machines could easily dig through the soil. On December 21, 2009, it was announced that a tunnel-boring machine broke through the 34th Street station cavern wall. Both tunnel-boring machines were scheduled to finish the required tunneling in the spring of 2010.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I think it’s the “leading lines” which did it. There’s a real “THX 1138” vibe to this station, which seems to be part of a modern design aesthetic MTA is following. I’ve been to the Second Avenue Subway construction site and the new stations about to come on line are visually quite similar to the Hudson Yards stop.

from wikipedia

THX 1138 (pronounced “T-H-X Eleven Thirty-Eight”) is a 1971 science fiction film directed by George Lucas in his feature film directorial debut. The film was produced by Francis Ford Coppola and written by Lucas and Walter Murch. It stars Donald Pleasence and Robert Duvall and depicts a dystopian future in which the populace is controlled through android police officers and mandatory use of drugs that suppress emotion, including outlawed sexual desire.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Down at the bottom, there’s another vaulted tunnel which terminates at yet another barrel vault, which is where the two tracks for the 7 train are found. This is a terminal stop, of course, so there must a turnaround track somewhere down there but I’ll be godamned if I knew where it was. Felt like like I was halfway to hell if truth be told. Dizzy, I got nervous, my chest grew tight, and it was oddly warm on the platform itself – given its depth.

Then again, Manhattan generally makes me experience both agita and angina, and often reminds me of hell.

from wikipedia

The main entrance, located at the southeast corner of the intersection of 34th Street and Hudson Boulevard, has a turtle shell-shaped glass canopy above it that allows light to shine on the upper mezzanine. The elevator is located south of 34th Street in Hudson Park, while the escalator entrance is located further east, closer to the boulevard. The ventilation building will be built over by developers at a future date. The second entrance, which will contain escalator entrances is at the southwest corner of 35th Street and Hudson Boulevard East. At both of the exits, the staircases and four escalators each go down 40 feet (12 m) to a fare control area, then another 80 feet (24 m) to the common lower mezzanine; the main entrance was completed by summer 2014, while the secondary entrance is still under construction and will be completed by 2016.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

November 14, 2016 at 11:00 am

lustrous balustrade

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A few odds and ends, in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

An ex-Cat, this skeleton was observed in Long Island City up on the Montauk Cutoff tracks about a week ago. There were raccoon tracks surrounding it, which probably explains a lot about where the rest of the cat is. Pretty gross shot, I guess, but there’s a whole lot of existential reality all over LIC when you peek into its shadowed places.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A renewal of my previously stated opinion that the 7 line is far and away the most photogenic of NYC’s subways is offered. A comparison to Michelle Pfeifer in the movie “Scarface” would be made, but it’s inappropriate.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Finally, did you know that the “King of Shwarma and Falafel” food truck people have opened a brick and mortar storefront on Astoria’s Broadway at 31st street? Practically under the El? I do, which is why I was waiting for Our Lady of the Pentacle on that instersection recently, and I cracked out this noirish shot of the N/Q stairs to pass the time.

Mmm… Shwarma.


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Written by Mitch Waxman

November 8, 2016 at 11:00 am

wholly beneath

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Detestation of the water lizard, in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

“There’s so many of us” is a choral from a song by the LA Punk band Fear, specifically their “Lets Have a War” anthem.

One is reminded of this ditty continually, and as I often find myself chiding narrowly focused members of the municipal governing class during meetings concerning the Newtown Creek situation – and effect upon the waterway of ongoing population loading of North Brooklyn and Western Queens – you have to think holistically about the “system.” The old adage about a Butterfly fluttering its wings in Borneo triggering a series of random atmospheric reactions which eventually result in an Atlantic hurricane often seems to apply. What’s one more truck? C’mon, it’s one truck…

What apocalyptic effect is just one more apartment house going up in Hunters Point, or Flushing for that matter, going to have? Who cares? That’s Corona, don’t you live in Astoria? Worry about yourself. Mind your own business.

That’s what people say, and I respond “think holistically.” That truck has to cross a bridge and drive down local streets, then it has to reverse out. Every truck trip is two truck trips, and it doesn’t just go through Greenpoint – but Bushwick and or Maspeth too. Maybe even Astoria, if it’s headed for the bridge.

The political districts of Western Queens and North Brooklyn serve to carve up the real estate development scenario and make things seem like the rising residential towers are individual examples of a series of an isolated and unconnected series of projects – not some vast littoral construction site that stretches out for a few miles – along the east river and between the Queensboro and Williamsburg bridges. It’s exciting to see the future taking shape, I guess, in the same way that a kitchen fire is exciting.

There is meant to be no cumulative relationship whatsoever between the Greenpoint Landing and Hunters Point South developments, which are separated by the Newtown Creek and connected via the G line subway. The 7 line crowding in Queens is (politically speaking) a Jimmy Van Bramer issue, the impending L line shutdown in Brooklyn a Steve Levin problem. When the L shuts down, MTA will be adding an additional car to the G and they plan on directing the L passengers to Court Square – where they’ll transfer to the 7.

Then they’re both going to have the same problem, the first of many such issues which the interconnected mega development of the east river coastline of Long Island is going to present.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The reason I haunt the transit corridors is precisely because that’s where you can discern the size and scope of the enormous build out that’s occurring across the boroughs and Queens in particular.

If you ride the 7, you are well aware that the entire transit corridor is booming with new construction, from its eastern terminus in Flushing right through Roosevelt, Corona, Jackson Heights, Woodside, Sunnsyide, and LIC, to its western terminus in Manhattan at the “Hudson Yards” megaproject. The so called “international express” is packed to the gills with commuters the whole way, even late at night. The City’s answer to mass transit congestion has been the creation of bike lanes. Bike lanes aren’t a bad idea by any means, but they don’t address the issues of how people will “get there from here,” and they leave an awful lot of older and disabled people behind.

You have to think holistically about the route of the 7, and the municipal needs of the people who are intended to inhabit all of these newly minted “deluxe apartments in the sky.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Holistic, as in totality, informs and instructs. Despite the tens of thousands of new neighbors – and to my knowledge – there are no new fire houses, hospitals, or police stations being planned or built along the corridor and route of the 7. We’re getting every last dollar out of the Bowery Bay sewer plant in Astoria, going strong since 1939, but there isn’t a new one in the works to handle the tens of thousands of new toilets being installed in Queens. Neither the Cops, nor DSNY, seem to be staffing up either.

In many ways, we could really benefit from the advice and talents of the late Robert Moses at this stage of the game. Moses thought holistically, and no matter what he built – there was a park attached to it. Did you know that the difference between expressways and parkways is that the latter has wooded shoulders that count as “parks”? That’s one of Moses’s, who was some kind of evil genius. If Superman was real and lived in NYC instead of Metropolis, Moses would have likely been his Lex Luthor.

Or we can extend the bike lanes into the subway stations, as “There’s so many of us.”


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Written by Mitch Waxman

November 1, 2016 at 11:00 am

stench and anguish

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Queens Plaza, in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Terrifying is how I usually describe the rate of real estate development around Queens Plaza, but I do have to admit that all the high visibility construction materials, which are orange, that currently surround the transit hub really do add a bit of color to an otherwise dour locale. Ten years ago, the only colors you associated with Queens Plaza were soot green, soot gray, and just plain soot. There were also little piles of blood here and there, but… y’know.

I’m sure the residential towers in the shot above, rising on the site of a former chemical factory, will end up being encased in the same sort of pale blue glass that all the other recent arrivals sport, but it would be great if we could permanently adopt some colors from the other side of the color spectrum around these parts – just to liven things up and provide some contrast with the increasingly occluded sky.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As part of the “affordable housing” bonanza being led by the Big Little Mayor these days, I’ve been brainstorming for ways that I can get in on the feeding frenzy. Having no desire to alienate parkland or build a luxury tower on a former playground in a NYCHA housing project, this has forced me to get creative.

Sleeper cars on the subways! That’s my idea. Imagine tooling around the City in your own personal car, like some sort of modern day Artemis Gordon and James West. Sleeper cars on the Subway would defeat “NIMBY” sentiments for homeless shelters as well, as the shelter wouldn’t reside in any one neighborhood for long (except in the case of the Franklin Avenue Shuttle).

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The NIMBY thing, as thrown around by the Real Estate shit flies and their acolytes, bugs me.

The way it’s used by these oligarchs is contextually meant to throw a recidivist cast on local activists who oppose the wholesale destruction of their communities by external forces seeking to squeeze every bit of bank they can from functioning neighborhoods. The subtext is that the people who presently reside in Queens are atavist or racist, or anti “progress,” and must be done away with.

Since this “progress” is the seeming goal of real estate oligarchs like Donald J. Trump – replacing working class residents with higher end tenants while claiming their developments will address historical wrongs – as the new populations can be exploited in deeper ways than the old ones due to the size of their wallets – the NIMBY accusation against opponents plays quite well in the press who want to please their principal advertising customers. If “NIMBY” doesn’t work, however, then the real estate lobby moves on to “racist.” Tell me, are rich people now an ethnic bloc? If race figures into luxury real estate development, what are the demographics of the moneyed class who are the anticipated tenants of these towers, and that of those who are displaced by them? I also point out to our overwhelmingly single party political system that these new residents won’t necessarily be members of the Democratic Party, which will kind of mess up your franchise and that iron grip on political power you currently enjoy.

The higher end tenants moving into these towers will not have a back yard to complain about anyway, as they’ll be living on top of a former chemical factory in Queens Plaza. Does Janovic or Home Depot offer interior design supplies in shades of “soot”?

Upcoming tours and events:


“First Calvary Cemetery” walking tour
with Brooklyn Brainery, Saturday, October 8th from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
Click here for tickets.


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Written by Mitch Waxman

October 7, 2016 at 11:00 am

rational position

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I really need a vacation.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Part of the fun involved with buying a new lens is testing it out. Doesn’t matter how good or bad the device is, there’s “sweet spots” and contradictory failings which the itinerant wanderer needs to be familiar with if the thing is part of the daily carry. The B&H folks have a fairly generous return and exchange policy, and in my experience, the window in which you can hand them back the lens is a crucial interval for the investment. Accordingly, one has been shooting everything, and everywhere.

I can tell you this, the sigma 50-100 is one hell of a portrait lens, but I’ve had unequal results in certain circumstances. My effort at the moment is to discover where and when those failings occur, rendering them predictable.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One of the places this lens absolutely sings is in the dark. The shot above is “wide open” and was captured while I was waiting for the train at 59th street recently. I’ve been saying it for a while, but the subway system is an absolutely fantastic photography workshop. Worst case scenario lighting, with a reflective subject moving at speed through darkness.

I don’t often “open the hood” on the process I use to produce shots for Newtown Pentacle, but since a bunch of you asked after yesterday’s post…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The shots above were captured at f2.2, with the lens dialed out to 94mm at ISO 5000. I’ve got a few other “bright lenses” but the sigma 50-100 really does a beautiful job drinking in the lurid shimmerings of pale light, and it literally outshines the other specimens in my “dark” kit. You can discern the lens’s aperture blades in the hot spots surrounding the R train’s headlights, incidentally.

Shots like these subway images are dependent, in my experience on shooting posture. There are US Army sniper rifle manuals out there which discuss shooting postures, and the body posture process which riflemen use to steady and focus their fire on targets is quite appropriate for the capture of light through a lens, IMHO.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

From a different commute, the shot above was captured at Queens Plaza, and also depicts an R line train entering the station. There’s a bright, almost cartoony quality to the way that sigma’s “art” series lenses renders primary colors which required some adjusting on the saturation slider when I was working on the shot in Photoshop’s “camera raw” window.

For those not in the know, RAW format is essentially an uncompressed digital negative which allows a great deal of fine tuning to the captured shot as the file contains ALL of the information which the sensor saw, whereas JPEG is an image which is compressed and all the decisions have been made for you by the camera. Those decisions include color temperature, depth of shadows/highlights and so on. Every RAW shot can therefore receive a bit of a tweak, and I always shoot in that format.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One of the things I engage in when testing a lens is trying to push it to fail. Architectural detail does not work well with a wide open lens, due to the shallow depth of field. Even an infinity focus will produce unacceptable “bokeh” in this context, or at least it’s unacceptable to my eye. I want to see every rivet.

Saying that, the two shots of the Manhattan Bridge in today’s post were shot at f2.2 on a sunny afternoon.

I think I’m going to keep this lens. 

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Written by Mitch Waxman

September 1, 2016 at 2:00 pm

clean shaven

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Getting around town, in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The wheel of the year is about to turn again, and the particular station we are in – what the Pagan crowd would call “Lughnasadh” – is about to give way to the pleasant temperatures and beneficial quality of light which will begin to lessen when Samhain rolls around at the end of October. The whole pagan wheel of the year thing is directly tied to harvesting various sorts of agricultural crops, of course, but a humble narrator is no farmer. Rather, for me the harvest is about photos.

Pictured above is mighty Triborough, as seen through the windshield of an “automobile” owned by a friend who allowed me to enter her moving mechanical contrivance for an afternoon. These “automobiles” are bothersome contrivances given to toxic exhalations and the consumption of a troublesome form of fuel, but quite handy when one’s desire is to photograph the “House of Moses.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The twisting complications leading away from the Queensboro Bridge in Long Island City, are pictured above. These ramps were erected to serve the needs of the automobile, and given that unlike Mighty Triborough – the Queensboro was not erected upon a fairly blank slate – they wind and snake through a shadowy and confusing warren of buildings. The ramps emerge and then disappear behind buildings, seeking out connections to the high speed roads built long after the Queensboro itself was built.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My preferred method for getting around the City is found in the shot above. Given that I live three stops out from the titular center of the megalopolis, it is madness to consider owning one of these “automobiles” for one such as myself. One does miss the freedom offered by these devices, of course, as your humble narrator used to be an enthusiastic motorist in his younger days. Saying that, one does enjoy the challenges offered by mass transit, and the puzzle of getting from A to B when unfamiliar destinations are scheduled to be focused in upon.

Saying that, I cannot fathom why Manhattan’s 34th street Herald Square station is so damned hot.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

August 25, 2016 at 1:05 pm

frightened messengers

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Massing, massing, massive – in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Just a few days ago, one found himself walking towards Hunters Point via the Northern Blvd./Jackson Avenue route which I refer to as “the Carridor.” I was heading for a public safety meeting, regarding the East River parks in Hunters Point, and as is my habit – the opportunity to stretch my legs and get a bit of exercise was seized.

Whenever I’ve taken this walk over the last couple of years, one thought seems to predominate as I cast my gaze around – “they’ve stolen the sky.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The sky has been stolen, or horse traded away, by the Real Estate people in collusion with the short term thinkers who populate City Hall – of course – but ultimately, who did they steal it from? Did anyone used to own the sky in Western Queens?

Definitively, somebody does own the sky now.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The area around Queens Plaza and Court Square, in particular, has become a shadowed warren of glassy towers.

At the public safety meeting in Hunters Point, which was called due to a disturbing allegation of a rape occurring in Gantry Plaza State Park, the residents of the new buildings surrounding the waterfront had a chance to speak and offer their complaints about this and that.

Most of their comments boiled down to “I’ve lived here for twenty minutes, and this isn’t what the realtor told me it would be like.” Nobody told them that the Borough Motto was “Welcome to Queens, now go fuck yourself” it seems.

The tower people mainly offered quality of life complaints to the panel at the front of the room which included Jimmy Van Bramer and representatives of the Hunters Point Parks Conservancy as well as the various branches of law enforcement who have jurisdiction over the parks.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

You can barely spot the Citi Megalith anymore, which once stood as a lone sentinel.

The impossible thing which cannot possibly exist that lurks in its cupola… with its unblinking three lobed burning eye… no longer has an unoccluded view of the world below.

Upcoming Events and Tours

Wednesday, August 24, 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. –
Port Newark Boat Tour,
with Working Harbor Committee. Click here for more details.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

August 24, 2016 at 12:00 pm

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