The Newtown Pentacle

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Posts Tagged ‘Manhattan

to listen

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The changing face of NY Harbor, in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As Johnny Cash used to say – “I been everywhere, man, I been everywhere.” The bizarre ideation which one such as myself call “life” carries me back and forth, forth and back, across this human infested megalopolis continually. Always an outsider, always an observer. Spectating the vast changes in the East River corridor which have been underway for the last decade or so has largely involved watching the coast of Long Island being weighted down with residential towers, a process that the folks in Manhattan have been largely indifferent about.

Now, the wave of urban rebuilding and wholesale loss of neighborhood character is starting to happen to them, and the city people are all in a panic.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The shot above is from February of 2013. It depicts the Pier 17 building of the South Street Seaport complex. Surely the worst shopping mall in the local vicinity, it nevertheless hosted several small businesses and employed many people. The decision, pre Sandy, was made to eliminate this structure and replace it with a shiny mirror box of a hotel. Post Sandy, it became a paramount of municipal importance to replace the building, because… Hurricane Sandy and Terrorism… or whatever they use to scare us into doing things we don’t want to do these days.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As this 2014 shot depicts, the demolition process of Pier 17 is quite far along at this point. The Howard Hughes corporation owns the spot, it’s private property and they can do whatever they want with it. Also, Lower Manhattan is somewhat under utilized. The hotel which will be built here will provide jobs to first construction workers and then to hotel employees. It will buoy up the local economy and act as an anchor for other businesses.

This is exactly the sort of sophistry that the powers which be have been selling us in Brooklyn and Queens over the last 20 years, while the residents of the Shining City sat on their hands watching the condos rise to the east. It’s happening to them now, and they are pissed off.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The question is not whether or not the Pier 17 structure deserved preservation or not (it didn’t). There is no room for debate regarding “growth” or “development” in the City of Greater New York (it is inevitable and unending). The question is one of empathy, and whether or not we should feel sorry for an entitled group who have finally felt a well used hammer smashing their particular nail?

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

There’s a Newtown Creek walking tour, and a Magic Lantern show, coming up.

Wednesday, June 11th, Newtown Creek Magic Lantern Show with Brooklyn Brainery.
Click here for tickets and more info.

Sunday, June 15th, DUPBO – Down Under the Pulaski Bridge Onramp
A FREE tour, courtesy of Green Shores NYC, click here for rsvp info

Written by Mitch Waxman

June 11, 2014 at 12:04 pm

to see

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If I were taller, I could have been a baller.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Recently, one was contemplating perspective, and I wondered what the City of Greater New York must look like to our current mayor. Striding around in cyclopean fashion, able to cross the East River in two great steps, it must be fantastic to be that tall. Your humble narrator is “low average” in height, so I’ve always wondered what perspectives are enjoyed by a true giant. Don’t get me wrong, I’m only talking about height, not gravitas or other intangible efficacies.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I always notice the giants while onboard the subway, not just because they have to stoop when entering the car. They’re the ones who appear to be standing up while actually sitting down, and these are folks who can’t help but look down their nose at everyone else. The only thing people of enormous stature need to fear, other than low ceilings, are the sudden appearance of Jewish pre-teens named “Dov” or “David” who are carrying slings – but that’s kind of a cat and dog natural enemy thing.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It’s always been my understanding that driving the massive mountain of flesh and bone along through the world exacts a cost, cardiovascular wise (there are miles of veins and arteries within them), and that the very tall are at a significantly higher risk for certain ailments (like bird and lightning strikes) – so there’s that. Still, it would be great to see things from an Olympian perspective, wouldn’t it?

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

There’s a Newtown Creek walking tour, and a Magic Lantern show, coming up.

Wednesday, June 11th, Newtown Creek Magic Lantern Show with Brooklyn Brainery.
Click here for tickets and more info.

Sunday, June 15th, DUPBO – Down Under the Pulaski Bridge Onramp
A FREE tour, courtesy of Green Shores NYC, click here for rsvp info

Written by Mitch Waxman

June 10, 2014 at 10:25 am

dusk comes

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The Union guys hate it when I start shooting.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Apologies offered to all the hapless workers I’ve photographed over the years, but damn it all, they do cool things. To wit, I spotted this crew over at South Street Seaport attacking the street with esoteric machinery the other day and one could just not resist the temptation. I mean… a giant saw? Yes, please.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The saw operator noticed me, but didn’t really give a crap about being photographed as he went around his business. His colleagues on the other hand, were staring me down as if I was pointing a rifle at him. I guess that they’re hassled by cameras as they move about the city. Fair enough, who likes having a stranger show up at your job and start waving a camera about?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The sound that this machinery created was tooth shatteringly loud, a screaming and high pitched tone which sounded somewhat demonic. In the war of spinning steel versus masonry, the Belgian blocks which composed the so called “cobble stone” pavement were no match for the spinning blades.

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 23, 2014 at 11:00 am

tourist routes

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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

worried faces

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Would it kill you to smile?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

While riding the Subway in New York City, observation of the interesting social behaviors exhibited by the citizenry entertains. There are those who present the “pfft, ain’t no thing” and those who present the “what the hell are you looking at” and also present are the “please, for gods sake, do not notice me” lean. Others pretend to sleep, or stare blankly at the floor (that’s the one which I favor), while a small group of extroverts feel the need to shout and otherwise draw attention unto themselves. Then there’s the buskers.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There are Mariachi’s, young couples who perpetrate the “gypsy baby” scam, those three kids who dance and perform acrobatics. Worst of all are the religious zealots, whose clumsy attempts at evangelism are enough to drive one into the arms of Satan itself. Skillfully ignoring these buskers and con artists, or not, is what separates the true New Yorker from the tourist. The tourists are the worst, of course, breaking all of the unspoken rules of subway etiquette which “regular” riders subconsciously obey and enforce. Nobody smiles, the MTA has a rule against that.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My camera is always at the ready whenever entering these concrete bunkers with their pungent atmospheres, and one of the odd things I’ve noticed in recent years is the reaction some have upon seeing the device. Lens cap on and power switch off, they will stare at the camera in the manner one would watch the countdown clock on a bomb. I don’t understand this. Humans, they’re weird, and need to smile more often.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

April 2, 2014 at 10:54 am

soared lonely

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Deep thought in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This is being written while waiting for representatives of America’s very worst corporation, Time Warner Cable, to show up. This particular drama, one which has been intermittently causing late or missed postings at this and other blogs throughout 2014 and part of 2013, crystallizes the horrors of allowing a services company de facto monopoly status with zero municipal oversight. If ever there was a company’s which needed “looking into” by regulatory agencies, Time Warner Cable is it.

from wikipedia

Self-ownership (or sovereignty of the individual, individual sovereignty or individual autonomy) is the concept of property in one’s own person, expressed as the moral or natural right of a person to have bodily integrity, and be the exclusive controller of his own body and life. According to G. A. Cohen, the concept of self-ownership is that “each person enjoys, over himself and his powers, full and exclusive rights of control and use, and therefore owes no service or product to anyone else that he has not contracted to supply.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Under the rule of the Little Big Mayor, companies such as this were allowed a somewhat free hand in their operations with little municipal oversight. Remember the Astoria black out of 2006, when ConEd was allowed a pass for not getting the lights back on for an entire week by the former Mayor? That was standard operating procedure for better than a decade, hopefully under the new Big Little Mayor, things will be different – but I’m not that hopeful about it. This is about Internet service, by the way, not TV.

from wikipedia

Existentialism is a term applied to the work of certain late 19th- and 20th-century philosophers who, despite profound doctrinal differences, shared the belief that philosophical thinking begins with the human subject—not merely the thinking subject, but the acting, feeling, living human individual. In existentialism, the individual’s starting point is characterized by what has been called “the existential attitude”, or a sense of disorientation and confusion in the face of an apparently meaningless or absurd world. Many existentialists have also regarded traditional systematic or academic philosophies, in both style and content, as too abstract and remote from concrete human experience.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Intermittent is how you’d describe the problems affecting my service. It’s what I told them on the phone. They sent a guy out to replace the cable modem. Problem continues. They send out a higher level tech, who says that the problem isn’t with the box. They send out a line guy. The line guy tells me that the problem isn’t on the pole, rather its the wires itself that are faulty. Today, as this is being written, I’m waiting for the wire guy.

Comcast, do you understand what kind of a turd you’ve bought?

from wikipedia

In philosophy, “the Absurd” refers to the conflict between (a) the human tendency to seek inherent value and meaning in life and (b) the human inability to find any. In this context absurd does not mean “logically impossible”, but rather “humanly impossible”. The universe and the human mind do not each separately cause the Absurd, but rather, the Absurd arises by the contradictory nature of the two existing simultaneously. Absurdism, therefore, is a philosophical school of thought stating that the efforts of humanity to find inherent meaning will ultimately fail (and hence are absurd) because the sheer amount of information as well as the vast realm of the unknown make certainty impossible. And yet, some absurdists state that one should embrace the absurd condition of humankind while conversely continuing to explore and search for meaning.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

March 20, 2014 at 12:44 pm

wildest speculations

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In today’s post – it’s the Goyem.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Last year, I got to photograph the Irish Language Mass at St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral on Mulberry street in Manhattan, as described in this post from march of 2013.

Opportunity to capture this year’s event presented itself, so I got on the train from raven tressed Astoria to the Shining City and headed over to the House of Dagger John.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This time around, your humble narrator decided to move the camera about a bit more, while still attempting to document the mass itself. As mentioned in the past, one is captivated by the pageantry of the Roman Catholic practice, despite having been raised in the Jewish tradition.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A bit of attention was paid to swapping around my lenses this time around, which runs counter to my normal practice of choosing an “omnivore” lens with which I handle an entire event. Normally, these days, I’m using my Sigma 18-35 or Canon 24-105 for most everything. I’ve got a Canon 70-300 which is somewhat unreliable, but it found its way onto the camera as well during this event.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The issue with the 70-300, a “consumer” level zoom lens, is that I find it to be a bit soft and prone to “back focusing” in the focus department. Its an intermittent thing, mind you. I’ll pop out three exposures and the one in the middle is sharp while the two surrounding it are soft. This sort of unreliability causes me to use it less and less, as photography is all about freezing a moment and there are no “do overs.” I’ve got my eye on a lens I want, but it’s going to take a LOT of summer walking tour revenue to pay for it.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

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