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day programme

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Unpleasantries abound.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

While wandering home from Greenpoint on Sunday, a day wherein the climate suddenly flipped from rainy spring to high summer, a humble narrator was enjoying the existential hell of living in NYC. There are many days when, upon waking up in the great human hive, one can’t believe how amazing the place is. Last Sunday wasn’t one of them. Instead, it was one of those days where the antics of the assembly of humans just grated upon the nervous system. The douchebags doing wheelies on dirt bikes, the assholes throwing fast food garbage out of their car windows, the cock barons who think that the proper way to use an automotive horn is to hold it down steadily for several minutes at a pop while stuck in traffic.

I really need to get out of here for a couple of weeks, go somewhere nice and take a vacation in a place that I know nothing about and where I don’t know anyone.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One has grown weary of constant existential crisis, the “eye of sauron” outrage machine casting its gaze about, and the daily grind of “have to.” This is life, of course, but it often seems as if I get a lot more “life” than most. I desperately need to take some pics of something different, as well. Some “walden pond” kind of crapola, I guess. Of course, I’ll hate that too. Mosquitoes, gnats, mud. Everything sucks.

For the sake of all that’s holy, please don’t hit me up today for something I have that you want but don’t want to pay for. It’s a bad day, generosity wise.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Have I become the “prisoner of Skillman Avenue,” or consigned to just aimlessly wander the streets forever? Am I some sort of flying dutchman with a camera?

Apologies for the inner narrative being offered today, but it’s been a lousy last couple of weeks. One is unhappy, which is predicate to one getting angry. Once anger has set in, so too does motivation manifest. Right now, everything is gray and hopeless. Once I return to being furious and rebellious, which will likely be by Thursday or Friday, this glum mood will pass. Once more, unto the breech, huh? Home sweet hell, indeed.


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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.

cyclopean vaulting

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Another, in a seemingly infinite number of, Tuesday has arrived.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Yesterday I mentioned my distaste for Western style men’s Formal Wear, i.e. a suit and tie. One refers to this setup as “Ritual Garb,” and my problem with it is one of practicality and comfort versus the dubious esthetic appeal it offers for some. One normally favors utilitarian clothing, and I have a stated preference for military surplus items as they offer both a plethora of pockets which have button or velcro closures, and are constructed of fabrics chosen for their rugged and tear resistant nature. Given the life I lead, and the places which I constantly find myself carrying the camera to, it’s a considered decision and I frankly don’t care about “how it looks.” That filthy black raincoat of mine has gotten me through several scraps due to its ruggose construction.

Pants or shorts wise, I’ve generally got six pockets to work with. Cash, a couple of sheets of paper kitchen towels (which come in handy as both snot rags and as absorbent wipes), a lens cloth singularly used for my spectacles, and a leather man pocket tool. Six.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The sweatshirt is where I really pack in the pockets, with a whopping 28 of them. I’ve long favored the Scott E Vest sweatshirt when I’m on camera duty. It’s got an internal zippered pocket for my phone that leads to sewn in wire traps for the headphones, secure pockets for metrocard and wallet, a springy stretch thingamabob for my keys that’s anchored into another pocket. You wouldn’t believe the amount of crap I can carry in this thing. When you’re a photographer, there’s all sorts of little bits and bobs you find yourself shlepping around. Knowing they’re secure and won’t fall – say, into Newtown Creek – when I’m dancing about is a real time saver and one less thing that gets in the way while out shooting. During hot weather, one favors a guayabera, or cuban style, shirt. The Cubans seem to have an understanding of both the need for pockets and the atmospherics in hot and humid climes.

So, what, I’m giving fashion advice now? Not at all.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Over the last decade, one of the questions people have asked me over and over is how I do what I do. Camera equipment, lens kit, and operational technique has been offered over the years in a somewhat staccato fashion. The same care which goes into the curation of the photographic tool box is also applied to everything touching me. My “every day carry” or EDC involves nearly fifty individual items (inside camera bag, on my person, etc.) which all have the potential of failing on me or getting lost when I’m in the middle or nowhere or on a boat or something. If the camera itself gets screwed up, well… there you are. The only thing you can really prepare for is staying organized.

Saying that; I’ve got an extra set of shoelaces with me at all times, a plastic garbage bag or two for waterproofing my bag in case it starts raining, a flashlight, a set of allen keys, etc. All told, it’s about ten and half pounds of crap I have on me when I leave the house fully kitted up. This really isn’t that much, photography wise, and it’s taken me a while (and a bunch of cash) to whittle it down to that number. My current tripod alone took two entire pounds off my back, which is what has made it possible for me to do all the night stuff in the last year and change.

The shots in today’s post weren’t tripod shots, as you probably surmised by how grainy they are. Instead, they were handheld shots with the lens wide open at f1.8.


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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 21, 2019 at 11:00 am

chorused anguish

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All the familiar places…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It’s really best for me to be by myself as much of the time as I can manage it, these days. I like to swipe the “do not disturb” or sometimes even the “airplane mode” button on my phone and drop off the digital planet for awhile. It gives me private time to ponder about what really might be running around in the woods surrounding the Chernobyl plant over in Ukraine, worry about Fukushima’s radiotropic fungi, and think about whether or not we’re accidentally terraforming the planet into the ideal environment for some race of sleeping elder gods who last saw the sun before the oceans had formed. Along my notifications free path, I take photos.

That’s the Sunnyside Yards in Queens pictured above, specifically a section of the facility which the Long Island Railroad is currently rebuilding. I think it’s connected to “East Side Access,” this construction, and they’re building a series of tracks for rolling stock to “dwell” in between rush hours.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Quixotic, that’s how I describe the current obsession which the City and its Economic Development Corporation has with building a deck over the yards to house a multitude. According to officialdom, their negotiations with Trump’s AMTRAK are continuing apace. They’ve hired an architect to oversee the planning over this largely Federally owned railyard, one who has worked with the Kushner Companies on several projects so he’s got a relationship, and besides he’s got this whole Ayn Rand mentality so he’s fits right in with EDC. They haven’t talked about who the money to build the thing will be borrowed from yet. The Hudson Yards project was supposedly financed via the Israeli Bond Market, which is a great place for shady international financiers to cleanse their money and hide it from the prying eyes of both the global public and their own respective governments. If you’re a Chinese Army General shaving a few bucks off the budget, or involved with risky trade in South American powders, and you need a place to hide the cash…

But I digress. What do I know about such matters, I’m just some schmuck with a camera.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On the particular afternoon these shots were gathered, one of the few in recent weeks where drenching rain hasn’t been falling from the sky, a humble narrator’s phone was in “do not disturb” mode and absolutely zero “LOL’s” or notifications of unimportant facts were coming my way. I did have my headphones in, and was re listening to Mike Duncan’s “History of Rome” podcast. Duncan offers an overview of Roman History, and resists the urge to get overly granular about this and that, which is a feather in his cap. For granularity, I prefer Dan Carlin’s massive “Hardcore History” undertakings.


“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 14, 2019 at 1:00 pm

recalcitrant subject

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Just like a venereal disease, the Sunnyside Yards deck keeps on coming back.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Have to hand it to the NYC EDC. Like a career boxer, despite taking a whupping in their last trip to the ring (Amazon), they have laced the gloves back up and they’re back with another project that nobody in Western Queens wants to see happen – decking over the Sunnyside Yards to facilitate the dreams of avarice enjoyed by their sponsors in the Real Estate Industrial Complex. As you may have noticed, Long Island City doesn’t exactly need “fuel” to spur economic development hereabouts, as “growth” is occurring so rapidly and uncontrollably at the moment that one might describe it as a rapidly mestastasizing cancer instead.

To this end, which would be the construction of a residential Death Star on Northern Blvd., the EDC has announced that the second of their Potemkin Village Dog and Pony Shows will occur on the 26th of March. It’s a public meeting, so come with?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This is the second soirée for EDC. The first one was last year at LaGuardia Comunity College. They arranged for a significant number of the trade union members to show up, which created an intimidating environment for the actual community to voice up against the idea. Also, they seemingly invited the cast of extras who have been out of work since the Sopranos went off the air. Who wasn’t in the room? The bankers and insurance brokers who will leverage the City’s debt associated with this project, which will be tens (if not hundreds) of billions of your tax dollars, nor the Real Estate Titans, or the construction mega companies who will construct the deck like AECOM, Granite, or Skanska (who will carry their profits out of state and off of American soil).

The people working for EDC aren’t bad people by any means, incidentally. I would just point out that their track record sucks. Do you see a Ferris Wheel rising over Staten Island? Spend much time at the Brookyn Army Terminal, do you? Do you think Battery Park City just rocks? If you were for Amazon or against it, you can blame EDC for that one too.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Remember, this deck of theirs will rise a minimum of five stories from the current street elevations surrounding it. The top of the deck will become “ground zero” for dozens of luxury residential towers that will host about fifty thousand apartments. No new hospitals, police, or FDNY facilities are part of this plan. Will they dangle a new park in front of you like some cheap trollop as an enticement? Will they promise you local jobs (how many people in Western Queens are qualified to build a deck over a rail yard)? Will you fall for the bait and switch? EDC anticipates that rent in the neighborhoods surrounding the project would go up, rather than down, as they bring the new inventory on board. How does that work? Economic development doesn’t obey the law of supply and demand?

Ask EDC how they plan on getting the construction materials to the job site. Ask them if they will force MTA to upgrade its transit lines. Ask them where these fifty thousand toilets will flush to. Ask them where they live, and where they’re from.

Send them back to Manhattan, and back to their drawing boards.


“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 8, 2019 at 2:40 pm

cyclopean portent

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Single shot today, from LIC.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Running a bit behind schedule today, and you lords and ladies suffer for it as a single shot from the Thomson Avenue Viaduct greets you today. This cold snap has absolutely shut my operation down in the last week, I tell you, and I’m hurting for new shots to show you. The good news is that next week promises to be more climatologically agreeable, and my schedule is packed with things to do that take place in interesting places, so…

Back 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

March 7, 2019 at 2:30 pm

nothing unprecedented

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Just another day in paradise, yo.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The sculptor who designed the plastic pink lawn flamingo was Donald Featherstone, a task he accomplished in 1957 for a company he ended up running until his retirement in 2000 A.D., called Union Products Inc. I had a dream once where Featherstone’s Flamingoes were chasing me and fell out of bed. Sleepwalking, or somnambulism, is quite rare and only regularly affects about 4% of adult humans. Sleepwalking episodes typically last anywhere from thirty seconds to thirty minutes, and there are sleepwalkers who have actually left their homes for a sleep drive in their cars while dreaming. There are sleep eaters, and sleep “shtuppers” who engage in sexual coitus (sexsomnia) while totally asleep. There are several legal proceedings in which a sleepwalker has actually murdered someone, wherein the somnambulist was pronounced not guilty. That’s a slippery slope.

As a child, I became convinced that quicksand, which is a fascinating soil condition caused by a particular ratio of sand and water that forms a “shear thinning non Newtownian fluid” was something you needed to be prepared for as an adult. Stress the sand/water mix – say by stepping on it – and the sand and liquid will seperate and you’ll sink right in. The physics of it all are fascinating, and removing yourself from the quicksand is difficult and complicated. Trying to just pull yourself straight out would require titanic amounts of force. Your best bet, I’m told, is to slowly work your self into a position where you’re facing the sky and your limbs are spread out as far as you can manage (which is the same advice offered for those caught in avalanches of snow). Then you sort of wiggle and wriggle your body towards the solid ground direction that you came from. Contrary to popular belief, due to the relative material density of the quicksand and of your body, you likely won’t sink in past your waste even if you do panic and struggle. Those who die in quicksand do so due to hypothermia and or the arrival of carnivores. I don’t know if Flamingoes qualify as carnivores, and don’t want to find out.

As a note, quicksand has not turned out to be the ubiquitous problem when “adulting” that I thought it would be.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It’s likely that you’ve experienced, when laying down to sleep, feeling your arms or legs suddenly twitch or jerk for no reason. That’s called a hypnic or “myoclonic jerk” by sleep specialists. It’s pretty normal, but the league of doctors aren’t of a single mind as to causation for the phenomena. On the other side of things, that period of 15-30 minutes when you first wake up and are experiencing both cognitive difficulty and motor skill impairment is called “Sleep Inertia.” Part of ir is caused by the presence of a certain chemical, and you’ve got a series of receptor cells in your brain for this chemical  called “Adenosine,” which is abundant in the noodle when you’re sleep deprived – which most of us are. Caffeine is a blocker for these Adenosine receptors, and that’s why if you haven’t had enough sleep a “cuppa Joe” will help snap you out of the sleep inertia. Saying that, it’s still pretty normal to be a bit groggy when you wake up, since your body has been in an anabolic state and busy cleaning up the mess you made of it the day before. The natural process of waking up involves a spike in cortisol levels in your blood, wherein the adrenal glands can manufacture an average of more than fifty percent more cortisol than when asleep. Ultimately, Cortisol levels are the difference between “morning people” and “evening people,” which is thought to be related to individual “cortisol awakening response.”

A humble narrator has always been the latter, a “night owl” as it’s called. I’ve never been a Flamingo.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The section of the East River pictured above varies in depth from about twenty five to fifty one feet, which you can visualize by thinking about submerging a series of buildings which range from two to five stories. If the Empire State Building ever found itself sitting in the middle of the East River, and hey… climate change, amiright?… it would still rise some ninety seven to one hundred stories into the sky. A couple of years ago, somebody asked me to do a boat tour of shipwrecks in New York Harbor, but it seems that wrecks are cleared out in an expeditious fashion as they’d otherwise be a hazard to navigation and commerce. So, I believe, are flamingoes.

Hope you enjoyed today’s completely random trivia, back on Monday with something completely different, at this – your Newtown Pentacle.


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Written by Mitch Waxman

February 8, 2019 at 11:00 am

averring that

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Lurking, in fear.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The other night, I was a bit restless and in need of some exercise, so a short scuttle ensued. As I was making my way, a group of adolescents was noticed walking on the other side of the street which induced a state of panic in me. Was this a wolf pack? Juvenile delinquents? An amoral band of street gypsies, or urban privateers? Junior stick up men? Cowering behind a cast off cardboard box, I noticed that a few new holes had appeared in the fencelines at the Sunnyside Yards and one decided to pass the behind the box time spent hiding from the teenagers by sticking my lens through these new chain link apertures.

Teenagers are scary. I was cold, and I think there might have been wolves – or ghost wolves – following me. Ghost wolves are scarier than either teenagers or regular wolves because… y’know… ghosts.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Looking eastwards from the 39th street or Harold Avenue viaduct, towards the balloon track at Sunnyside Yards. No ghosts are apparent in this shot, but that’s no guarantee that there wasn’t some spectral tomb legion staring back up at me from the oily mud below. I’ve repeatedly asked my landlord if anybody has ever died in my apartment, but he’s always pretended that he didn’t hear the query. It would explain some of the hot water issues enjoyed at HQ in Astoria, were there a few extra invisible people showering at inconvenient times in the other units, but I really have no way of knowing.

Supposedly, there’s about seven million people in NYC these days. Historically speaking, there’s got to be at least a quarter billion ghosts roaming around the five boroughs, maybe even half a billion. That’s a lot of ghosts. I wonder how many of the living seven million are teenagers, though, as that’s the population I really worry about. Ghosts have impulse control, teenagers don’t. Teenagers are the absolute worst.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Ghost wolves are scary to contemplate, but what about ghost teenagers? I knew a few people who died in High School and college through a variety of mishaps – mainly car accidents or drug overdoses, or some combination thereof. How many people have checked out at the corner of Northern Blvd. and Steinway over the centuries? Ok, it’s only been Northern Blvd. for about eighty years and Steinway for just over a hundred and change, yes, so let’s just call it the intersection of Jackson and Harold Avenues? Ok?

Ghosts.


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Written by Mitch Waxman

January 7, 2019 at 1:00 pm

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