The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Posts Tagged ‘Central Park

urge primal

with 4 comments

Trigger warnings abound in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

So, last week there’s a day I have off. My mac is back from the shop and working again – and that’s a good thing. It’s also unseasonably warm out, so a humble narrator starts cooking his noodle about finding some cheap diversion to spend the afternoon in pursuit of, which – as any New Yorker will tell you – ain’t that easy.

It occurs to me that I haven’t been to the Central Park Zoo in a few years, and since the price of admission is just twelve samolians, a visit is within my means. Alternatively, I’d go take a walk around the Newtown Creek, but I just wasn’t in the mood for pollution and devastation this particular day, so off to the City I went in pursuance of getting some charming shots of the critters which the Manhattan people hold captive for their amusement.

The trip also fit into the whole “House of Moses” thing I’ve been doing all year, wherein I’m trying to visit as many of the Robert Moses built projects scattered around the City as I can. Central Park Zoo, the original I mean, not the modern version which was rebuilt in the 1980’s, was one of Moses’s flagships.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I enjoy shooting critters, even if they are the captives of the Manhattan types.

The Japanese Snow Monkeys… is it still ok to refer to the national origins of a monkey… I don’t know. Does it make one a specist, referring to the particular clade of primate which a creature is? How about the snow part? The world has changed, and so has language, in the last few years. Is this creature a “cisprimate?” I don’t know. Is it ok to use “critter” anymore? Is there an approved thesaurus which vouchsafes the linguistic sensitivities of every possible iterate? I’m old now, and hail from a violent and ignorant era where half of the nicknames from my old neighborhood in Brooklyn would now be prosecutable as hate crimes.

I’d like to reach out to the college campus types to advise. 

– photo by Mitch Waxman

While pondering the incomprehensible mine field offered by the overly sensitive and “waiting to be offended” types, the… beings(?)… were engaged in that most primatological of behaviors – grooming each other.

Ahh… that’s nice, said I, and focused the lens in on this pair.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Suddenly, this happened.

My triggers all began to pull without warning, and a humble narrator was reduced to a shivering wreck. Didn’t these “beings” realize that there were children about at the zoo? There were no consent forms exchanged between them, nor “safe words” negotiated in the presence of a third and impartial party. The Zoo displayed no signage warning me about what might be encountered on their grounds, and at no point was I offered a safe space in which to recover from the bestial display which the organization just allowed to happen. I had to make due with the Penguin house.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Unbridled, and with zero concern for the casual observer, these creatures continued their lewd act. One wishes that he could have stopped photographing it, but every muscle in my body had involuntarily spasmed into the position it was in when this display started, and my camera shutter just kept on flipping. Oh, unhappy act.

I intend on instituting a law suit against the Central Park Zoo shortly after this post is published, as I have been materially damaged and will never be able to photograph a primate again without revisiting this scene. In effect, I have been raped by my willful observance of this act of sexual violence, and my delicate eyes will never be able to look upon a Curious George book again without micro aggressions rocking the mirrored surface of my mind.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

After this occurrence, which was as serious an offense as the Nazi extermination of the Jews to one as correct, and politically sensitive as myself, a humble narrator returned to his darkened rooms to sit and shake while whimpering. How dare these primates parade themselves thusly, knowing that others might be offended by their public actions?

This never happened while Bloomberg was Mayor, and therefore it must be de Blasio’s fault. These apes need to be sent to a sensitivity training camp, and educated in proper societal etiquette. Accordingly, an announcement is offered that I’ve founded a new non profit which offers this service to zoo animals, for which I’m applying to both City Hall and the Federal Government for funding.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

December 17, 2015 at 11:00 am

tourist routes

with 4 comments

A query, in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The “Big Little Mayor,” as opposed to that former elected official whom I often referred to as the “Little Big Mayor,” has announced intentions to put the Horse and Carriage businesses found along Central Park on 59th street out of business.

For generations of tourists, these carriage rides have long been a feature of a trip to New York City, and remain a romanticized experience dreamt of by many. Most New Yorkers, myself included, haven’t partaken in a ride – with expense often cited as the reason why. Many will include that they do not wish to ride one because “it’s cruel to the horses.”

Do these animals suffer for the fey attentions of the idle rich and the amusement of vagabond tourists, or are they working animals pursuing an occupation?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The animal rights people, many of whom act like wild eyed sociopaths and privileged ideologues when you actually meet them in person, claim that this business exhibits a particularly wicked form of cruelty in subjecting the horses to the pressures of the urban setting. They do make a salient and thought provoking point about the welfare and quality of husbandry of these beasts, points which are worthy of both discussion and debate. Of course, trying to have a conversation with an activist of any persuasion is akin to fostering a meaningful dialogue about the efficacy of multiculturalism with a klansman – their mind is made up.

Also, if New York City is too harsh an environment for horses, then what about humans?

Personally, I’d be kind of interested in what the condition of these horses looked like from a farmer’s POV.

Preferably an Amish farmer.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Liam Neeson and the NY Daily News support continuance of the Horse and Carriage trade in busy midtown traffic, Big Little Mayor and others wish to see the atavist conveyances replaced by a Disneyesque automobile propulsed by electrical batteries. Personally, I see efficacy on both sides, and would like to add my own rather Malthusian bit of reasoning about the subject –

The only reason that horses continue to exist is because human beings see value in them and have ordained it so. The horses were smart enough to play ball with the Human Race, early on, just like the dogs did – so we didn’t kill all of them back in the Ice Age like the Giant Sloth and those giant Flightless Birds. Take away the occupation or value of a critter, and human beings will extinct the shit out of it right quick. My favorite animal right is the right to live, but that’s a whole other conversation, and the one thing I’d like to see less than a horse get hit by a truck is a horse going to the glue factory.

And so, as to my query – what’s your opinion on this one, Lords and Ladies? Tempest in a teapot, or something that needs fixing?

There are three public Newtown Creek walking tours coming up, one in Queens and one in Brooklyn and two that walk the currently undefended border of the two boroughs.

Poison Cauldron, with Atlas Obscura, on April 26th.
Click here for more info and ticketing.

DUPBO, with Newtown Creek Alliance and MAS Janeswalk, on May 3rd.
Click here for more info and ticketing.

Modern Corridor, with Brooklyn Brainery, on May 18th.
Click here for more info and ticketing.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

April 21, 2014 at 11:00 am

great suddenness

with 3 comments

“follow” me on Twitter at @newtownpentacle

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The spectacle of the FDNY deployment on 59th behind me (as detailed in yesterday’s posting), while descending into the underground bunkers of concrete and steel which house the subway platforms, a commonly photographed view of Central Park was laid out before me.

It was decided, as part of my “doing a Costanza” experiment, to break one of my primal rules and go for the “easy meat.” This is where all of the night shooting that I’ve been engaging in all winter , accomplished in the preternatural darkness of Queens, begins to pay off.

from wikipedia

 George returns from the beach and decides that every decision that he has ever made has been wrong, and that his life is the exact opposite of what it should be. George tells this to Jerry in Monk’s Cafe, who convinces him that “if every instinct you have is wrong, then the opposite would have to be right”. George then resolves to start doing the complete opposite of what he would do normally. He orders the opposite of his normal lunch, and he introduces himself to a beautiful woman (played by Dedee Pfeiffer) who happens to order exactly the same lunch, saying, “My name is George. I’m unemployed and I live with my parents.” To his surprise, she is impressed and agrees to date him.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It sounds simple, really.

Open your aperture and increase the iso speed, drop the exposure time.

Hand held shots in the dark, however, are not just how the camera is set. There’s a whole series of things to remember, such as breathing out while depressing the shutter, and shooting in short bursts- which are actually military sniper techniques. I’ve even found that a different hand posture is required to hold the camera as well. The great thing about photography is that there is always some new mountain to climb.

Mine happens to be in NYC, and it is badly lit.


The first thing pros will suggest is to ratchet up your camera’s ISO or “light sensitivity” setting. Traditionally, high speed film (ISO 800 and higher) was better suited for low light photography. Unfortunately, where high speed film produced enlarged grain, which could often be used for artist effect, higher ISOs on digital cameras tend to just produce color noise — little specks of red green and blue scattered across your image.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Were I to have the opportunity to do this shot “right,” a tripod would certainly be employed. There would also be around 10-15 flashes on radio triggers at various points around the scene- especially a few up in the trees. I’d have my lens set to a small aperture to control the flares around the street lights, and my iso speed would be at 100. This would be a fifteen to 20 second exposure under such conditions. Unfortunately, all I own are two flashes and no radio trigger, so this is a purely intellectual exercise.

I keep wondering about that guy in the shot above, what’s he doing in Central Park all by himself in the dark?

People walk around like they’re safe or something these days…


An assistant-manager at a certain hotel that overlooks the park, Barry told me that on the day in question – which was a sunny weekday in either June or July 1997 – he was strolling through the park, while on his lunch-break from his then-job as a store-worker.

All was utterly normal until, as he approached one particularly tree- and bush-shrouded area, he was shocked to the core when, out of nowhere, an unknown animal burst wildly through the foliage.

Barry claimed to me that the creature was man-like in shape and covered in hair of a distinctly rusty color – but, unlike the towering Bigfoot of the west-coast, was little more than three-feet in height. Little-Foot might have been a far better term to use, I mused, as I listened to the very odd tale.

Barry could only watch with a mixture of shock and awe as the diminutive man-beast charged across the path in front of him at a distance of no more than about twenty feet, came to a screeching halt for a couple of seconds to stare intently into his eyes, and then headed off at high speed again, before finally vanishing: beneath a small bridge inside the perimeter of the park, no less.

Written by Mitch Waxman

April 4, 2013 at 12:15 am

%d bloggers like this: