The Newtown Pentacle

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Friday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Some of you have inquired as to where my recent dark point of view is coming from. Headlines, mainly. Every one of my little parables this week relates to late 19th and early 20th century existentialist writing. Camus, Kafka, Nietzsche. I always say, when you’re in a mood, wallow in it.

As you may have guessed, a humble narrator is in a bit of mood this week. One requires a short break, so single images of various scenes will be greeting you, along with rather depressing anecdotes. Happy Summer.

Back to normal next week, I think, at this – your Newtown Pentacle.


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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.

Written by Mitch Waxman

July 2, 2021 at 11:00 am

effigies sculptured

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Friday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A recent visit to the Empire State Building observation deck cost me $41, plus subway fares. That’s the price you pay to see things. We all have a price, and problems we can’t solve. Luckily, there’s often someone willing to sell you what you want. I’ve been wanting perspective, and to “get high.”

Superman has super problems, I’ve always thought. The big guy has to spend a lot of time restraining himself. He can burn somebody by looking at them too hard, and probably cause cancer if he stares at you with those X-Ray eyes of his. When Superman is stopping a bank robbery, it must be excruciating to exercise the care involved in not killing everything he touches while moving at super speed. Superman punching someone in the nose, and not having that someone’s head explode into a cloud of red mist, represents a significant amount of martial restraint.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As the burning thermonuclear eye of god itself slid down behind New Jersey (I’m told there’s a cavern in Pennsylvania it slots into), a humble narrator got busy with the camera and the clicking and the whirring. What stirred me into dropping the cash on this visit was the recent revelation that all of the “master shots” of Newtown Creek from this perspective in my image library depicted the old Kosciuszcko Bridge.

Superman can famously walk about on the plasma shell of the sun, burrow through Earth’s mantle and visit the molten core of the planet, divert the course of mighty rivers, and withstand all sorts of hellacious situations. I’ve often wondered if he’s just numb. If you’re Superman, how far do you need to go to just feel something? Imagine if he’s disguised himself as one of us and attends a concert, gets overwhelmed by an emotional response to the performance and absentmindedly begins to loudly applaud. Superman clapping his hands loudly would likely result in a mass casualty event.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This is one of the classic Empire State Building shots, depicting the Flatiron – or Fuller Brush – Building at the intersection of 23rd street and Fifth Avenue/Broadway. The other nearby landmark is Madison Square Park, which used to be a Potters Field cemetery for the poor.

Something which I’ve never been able to reconcile regarding the Man of Steel is the amount of time he spends pretending to be human. You have to figure that every minute of every day, he should be out there saving lives. This guy could handle large scale desert irrigation projects, literally moving mountains, and he’s spending his days 9-5 working at a newspaper? Sure, the pen is mightier than the sword, but… Superman.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A very similar shot, compositionally, was in yesterday’s post – depicting the angle of view towards the Queensboro Bridge with Astoria in the distance. That’s the Chrysler Building in the foreground.

If you were actually able to leap over tall buildings in a single bound, you’d likely be leaving craters in the sidewalk when jumping. The physics of Superman are daunting. As mentioned above, he’d have to take exquisite care not to atomize people while crime fighting. Presuming Superman is about 200 pounds of pure muscle, that means his foot would need to exert enough force on the ground to propel 200 pounds a thousand or more feet in the air. Superman is never portrayed as having freakishly large feet, so let’s presume it’s a normal size 11 or 12 shoe that he would wear. That means he’s focusing multiple tons worth of force into a 4-5 inch patch of sidewalk, and that the cement paving would essentially turn into a powder of particles. These particles dispersing into the atmosphere would appear to us, to be an explosion.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Looking westwards towards the hideous Hudson Yards complex, with the burning thermonuclear eye of god itself nearly occluded behind New Jersey.

“Faster than a speeding bullet” also points out another angle which this Kryptonian Weapon of Mass Destruction would have to be extremely careful about. The fastest of our modern bullets moves at about 2,600 feet a second, which is just about Mach 2. Comic writers have established that our boy can move far faster than that, and within the atmosphere at that. Imagine the firestorm of friction heated air Superman has to be pulling behind him when he’s in a hurry. He’d be leaving horizontal fire tornados all over the sky everytime there was an emergency in China.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One last shot just as proper night was setting in, looking southwards towards the Freedom Tower over Lower Manhattan, from the Empire State Building Observation Deck.

Up, up, and away.


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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

June 25, 2021 at 11:05 am

utter nullity

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Thursday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The least developed and most interesting character in the Star Wars fictional universe – to me, at least – is Emperor Shiv Palpatine. I consider him a role model, actually. Found a way to breathe life into a moribund federal state, where no societal advancement had taken place in literally centuries, created several sleek and deadly military branches, and rid his society of a conservative group of superstitious religious zealots – who armed themselves with laser swords and meddled in politics. Sure, he had to build a couple of moon sized space stations armed with planet popping cannons, but think about all the jobs that represented. In all fairness, he did nothing to confront the glaringly obvious role of the Droids as slave labor. Why do you think they used restraining bolts and wiped droid’s memory frequently? I think the reason that we don’t know much about the Emperor is because R2D2 never spent much time with him. The entire Star Wars deal is actually about the adventures of R2D2, who hung around with several generations of a single family.

Finally got to the Empire State Building observation deck last week, so lots of eye candy is coming your way, true believers. Pictured above, my beloved Creek in a wide shot with a whole lot of vignette. I was using one of my crop sensor lenses at this stage of my visit, and you can see the image circle when it’s wide. That vignette is actually the inside of the lens.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Let’s say that a humble narrator takes a few years off and goes walkabout. While traveling with Pirates and Smugglers in the South Pacific, he encounters an ancient temple nearby the island of Pohnpei. Therein, he learns of and begins to gather knowledge of the Dark Side of the Living Force. What emerges from the temple is no longer a man, he has become a Sith Lord just like Andrew Cuomo. A beeline is made for the mainland, and an overly complicated plan goes into effect which results in the overthrow of Democracy and the creation of the “American Empire of Freedom” is announced on the world stage. Ok, I’d be full Sith Lord evil – like Andrew Cuomo – so instead of a couple of Death Stars, I’d build the “Giant American Army Boot in Space.” That would look like exactly what it sounds like, by the way. A giant metal army boot that descends from the sky and grinds cities down under its heel as if they were giant cigarette butts. All the nations will tremble before the power of the American Empire of Freedom’s Giant Army Boot in Space, and thereby before that of the Emperor – Darth Mitch, Lord of the Sith.

Just realized that since the “rule of two” applies to Sith Lords, at some point I’d end up having to laser sword fight with Cuomo… I’m going to have to learn that “shoot lightning from my fingertips” deal. Scary man, him.

Same lens, same Creek, just a bit tighter in. As the thing zooms into about half of its intended range, the vignette disappears. This lens zooms out to 300mm, a focal length which I haven’t yet filled in with the lens kit for the new camera. Honestly don’t know if I will, though. If I have or want to, that’s the answer on that one.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Sith Apprentice position would be hard to fill. Palpatine saw his guy get burned up in a volcano, and had no idea that the kid had knocked up a Princess. What was left of the kid, he stuck in robot suit and told it to kick ass. I’ve got a couple of friends with young kids who might fit the bill for robot suit assassins someday, but I have no idea where the nearest volcano might be. I dunno… Connecticut? The Princess’s kids screwed the whole Empire thing up, of course. Poor Shiv Palpatine, he did his best.

I’m sure there would be some Rebel scum who would futilely try to take me down, but what… they’re going to blow up the American Empire of Freedom’s Giant Army Boot in Space or something? Pfah.

This is looking over Alphabet City on the Lower East Side of Manhattan towards the coastline of Williamsburg in Brooklyn, along the East River. I’d switched to a different lens here, a 24-105 zoom. I was carrying an uncommonly large kit with me this evening, and made it a point of rotating them through the course of time that I spent at Empire State Building.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Actually, if I did acquire the power of a Sith Lord, I’d keep the whole “Darth” thing quiet and just be a master criminal. Just imagine waving your hand at NYPD and saying “I am not the old man in a black bathrobe you’re looking for” and having the Cops agree with you. You could also use the Force to float up stairs instead of getting all sweaty, get coffee, and you’re always carrying a super bright flashlight that can also cut steel. You could also probably use your magicks to try and figure out what this whole bitcoin thing is about.

This one is looking at the Freedom Tower, and the Statue of Liberty, and basically Manhattan from 34th street to the Battery. That green lumpy thing in the distance is Staten Island. Best baseball seats in NYC out there, at the Staten Island Yankees stadium.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As you may have guessed by now, my goal of watching all of Star Wars, in the story’s chronological order, is moving along. This is in story timeline order, btw, not by theatrical release date. That means “Phantom Menace” followed by “Attack of the Clones” and then the “Clone Wars” series and then “Revenge of the Sith.” Now, I’m trying to get through awful “Solo” whereupon the very good “Rebels” cartoon will slot in. Then I’ve got “Rogue One” followed by the original three Star Wars flicks from the 70’s, and then Mandalorian. I’m going to completely ignore the three Rey movies as they suck and shouldn’t be considered part of the continuity.

Whew. What did you do during the Pandemic?

This one is looking towards Queensboro Bridge, Astoria, and Ravenswood over the shoulder of the Chrysler Building on Manhattan’s 42nd street. Still using the 24-105 zoom for this one.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Looking back at where all things start and end, the fabulous Newtown Creek. Every time I’ve been up on the Empire State Building’s Observation Deck, it’s been a fairly short and well timed interval which ends too quickly. Maybe this is just because of the Pandemic and the lessened crush of tourists moving through, but I ended up hanging around up there for more than two hours – which was awesomesauce!

The second half of my excursion occurred at and shortly after sunset, and you’ll be seeing shots from that interval tomorrow.

In the meantime… execute Order 66.


“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

June 24, 2021 at 11:00 am

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Wednesday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s the Whale Creek tributary of the larger Newtown Creek pictured above. The nomenclature of “Whale Creek” harkens back to a fairly forgotten era in NYC, when illuminating fuels were derived from the distillation of cetacean fats rather than petroleum. Before Kerosene, which was more or less invented by a fellow named Abraham Gesner in 1854 and manufactured on the Queens side of the Newtown Creek, the way you conquered darkness in NYC was either by buying whale oil from a fellow in Brooklyn named Ambrose Kingsland (as in Kingsland Avenue) or manufactured gas from a variety of industrial outfits which were based on the east side of Manhattan. Manhattan’s “Gas Light District” was the zone currently occupied by Stuyvesant Town in the East River facing “teens and twenties.” A complex of gas manufacturing and storage was evident all the way up to “blood alley” in the high 30’s and low 40’s. Blood Alley was where you’d encounter abattoirs and slaughterhouses, and the United Nations complex is more or less sited in that zone.

Modern day Whale Creek is nestled entirely within the properties of the NYC DEP in Greenpoint, and it’s surrounded by the gargantuan sewer plant they’ve constructed, which handles about 900 million gallons of our corruption daily. Well, it’s Manhattan below 96th St.’s corruption, mainly.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Court Square station in Long Island City is considered to be a “historic place” given that it’s one of the original elevated IRT Flushing Line subway stations that were erected in LIC, and it opened in 1916.

The modern day “Court Square Station” is actually a portmanteau of three different stations which were connected together back in 1990. The connections were part of a rezoning effort by NYC which began the build out of large scale buildings in LIC, notably the Citigroup tower which kicked off the building frenzy that continues to this day.

One yearns for perspective.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Looking eastwards towards Newtown Creek from the Empire State Building offers one such perspective, and allows you to view the region in the way that governmental entities do. There are not individual lives playing out in this area, rather there are trends and large infrastructure resources found therein.

Tomorrow and Friday, I’ll be showing you shots from this perspective, as I finally dropped the hammer on heading up to the 86th floor observation deck last week. The weather was right!

Back tomorrow, 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

June 23, 2021 at 1:45 pm

crunching teeth

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Getting high in Manhattan, in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Occasion saw me and mine traveling into the City the other day to attend yet another Newtown Creek Superfund meeting, this time with the Feds (EPA) and the folks who represent the energy companies identified as “PRP’s” or Potentially Responsible Parties in the Newtown Creek Superfund situation. Newtown Creek Group, as the energy companies have styled themselves, were presenting an idea they’ve come up with to the CAG (Community Advisory Group) which I’m a steering committee member of. This plan of theirs will be discussed more fully, and publicly, at a future CAG meeting after we’ve had a chance to discuss and process it.

The meeting was in a law office at Jared Kushner’s 666 Fifth Avenue, on the 26th floor, so I took the opportunity to wave the camera at the windows after the meeting had ended. Check out those supertall’s going up. People somehow believe this to be a good thing… what do I know, though, Manhattan has been lost for twenty years at this point. It’s become a hell for the oligarchs, and the rich always like building castles for themselves. Trump Tower is just down the block, so you get what I’m saying.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

What I can tell you is this – it was fiendishly hot the day I went there. My pal Will bought a milkshake from an Ice Cream truck on the corner. The air conditioning at 666 Fifth was fantastically strong, and that the last time I was in this building was when DC Comics still maintained offices there. In the meeting room upstairs, there were snacks and soft drinks. I had a packet of Doritos, and drank a Dr. Pepper with a ton of ice in the glass.

I don’t drink soda pop too often, so that was a nice sugary treat on a hot day. It was no milkshake, however. Saying that, I’m a huge fan of the Daniel Day Lewis movie “There will be Blood,” so if I’m meeting with people who work for oil companies I avoid bringing up milk shakes.

If you haven’t seen the flick, or don’t get the reference – here you go. (spoilers)

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It’s all so banal in Manhattan these days, antiseptic, and cruelly edged. That current of energy which used to run through the place is just gone. All flash, zero substance, no creative inspirado or “juice.” If Jakob Riis was alive today, his book about the City would be titled “How the Other 1% live.”

Bah. It’s always a pleasure to come home to the last remaining part of the real NYC, which is found out here in Queens.


“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 1, 2019 at 1:00 pm

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