The Newtown Pentacle

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Posts Tagged ‘Midtown

uncounted billions

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Friday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Back in the saddle again, as it were.

It seems, after returning from my various journeys, that a humble narrator has had a bit of a fire lit in the seat of his pants. Within three days of returning to NYC, circumstance demanded that I needed to travel all over the place, and that’s when the malevolent sentience of NYC penalized me for leaving her behind for the interval.

A City based memorial get together in honor of a recently departed friend saw me standing on the subway platforms at Queens Plaza afterwards, which is when the 7 train shot above was captured. I got to talk to the cops about this one, while some asshole was smoking a joint about twenty feet away from us. I don’t care that he was smoking weed, mind you, it’s that he was smoking anything at all on the freaking platform at Queens Plaza and the cops decided to hassle me for taking a photo – which is 100% legal – instead of the other guy who was doing something 100% illegal.

“Why are you taking pictures of the subway”? I dunno officer, maybe it’s cause I’m the Chair of the Community Board’s Transportation Committee, or that I’m part of a transit advocacy group called Access Queens which focuses on problems that happen on this line? Maybe it’s because I can do whatever the hell I want to, and I wouldn’t have to explain myself to you even if I am in the middle of committing a crime let alone not committing one? If it was the former situation, you’d have already added a pair of steel bracelets to my accoutrements prior to getting me to say something stupid enough for you to take me back to the Station House. Grrrr.

“Dystopian shithole,” that’s what I kept on repeating to myself after the N line arrived across the platform and carried me into Astoria. Covid seems to have applied the icing to De Blasio’s seven year long layer cake of municipal despair, indifference, and “less than.” Pfah.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Another occasion found me walking through the blight and wasteland blocks surrounding Manhattan’s horrific Hudson Yards development. The section of midtown nearby Hudson Yards, and the similarly ill conceived Javitz Convention Center, has long been a dangerous and lonely section of the city inhabited by scalliwags, truants, muggers, drug enthusiasts, and whatever the hell “woke” people call street prostitutes these days. Hudson Yards has somehow made this worse by luring future victims to the area. Luckily for them, the wealthy can afford private security. Cops ain’t doing shit for shinola until De Blasio is out of office, so if you’re not rich enough to afford a body man, keep your guard up lords and ladies. Turbulence is ahead.

Luckily, the traffic gendarmes were there to ensure the smooth flow of New Jersey bound automobile traffic through the zone. Wonder how long it’s going to be before somebody comes up with the bright idea to knock down that church (Sts. Cyril & Methodius & St. Raphael’s Catholic Church Croatian Parish) and replace it with a 30 story Walgreens because a) progress, b) affordable housing, c) ride a bike asshole, d) you’re a racist if you disagree with anything that might have just popped into my head right now.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Finally, seeking some sort of quiet time and communion with my arrival “back home,” I rode the ferry out to Staten Island hoping for some tugboat time. I got some of that, but was again thwarted by NYC teaching me a lesson for leaving her behind for a few weeks.

It seems that on my way back to the City, I had to stop off to get sniffed by the security theater labradors stationed therein while rushing through the terminal to catch the Staten Island Ferry. A momentary delay, the sniffing nevertheless caused me to miss the boat, since the ferry guy had already partially closed the sliding glass door he spends his life sliding open and closed, and he would have had to reopen it, and since he’s a city employee who’s already dead inside… there went a half hour of my life, which I spent being cased by a rip off crew that hangs around the SI Ferry terminals.

I’ve seen and noticed this particular pack of “clown shoes” before, a group of scaly looking early to mid 20’s guys who work as a unit. One guy spots the “vic,” and then texts his buddies. They move in through the crowd from different angles, and before you know it you’re standing in the middle of a huddle of dim witted muggers who work you over – picking your pockets and grabbing whatever they can before scattering. I noticed them noticing me (and especially the camera) immediately, and began a fun game of moving about the terminal to give them some exercise while playing dumb about the situation. They would text each other when I stopped moving, and then begin collecting nearby me again. Then I’d move again, and then there they were. So bad at crime, the millennials are. So incredibly bad.

To the cops at Queens Plaza – there’s a heroin operation which uses the Staten Island Ferry to move product between New Jersey and Manhattan. Has been going on for years. Look for what you boys in blue refer to as “skels” when on the big orange boat. Noticing things like this is quite literally your job. Stop hassling photographers.

Bah. Back next week.


“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

November 19, 2021 at 11:00 am

tilted both

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Friday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

After riding the Times Square Ferris Wheel, a humble narrator headed indirectly back to Queens. Along the way, I passed by a construction project occurring on West 47th street that involved using a crane to transport concrete to some unknown prominence high above.

Seriously, it never ends. Have you heard about the push by the Real Estate people to rezone midtown Manhattan because it’s not dense enough?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Union Guys generally hate it when I’m taking pictures of them working. They don’t like it in Queens and Brooklyn and all around Newtown Creek, where these trucks get loaded up, and they don’t like it in the City where the trucks get unloaded at the job site.

I don’t care what other people like or dislike anymore.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

About a block away, I was finally able to gain perspective on the scene, and see the crane. Manhattan always looks best from outside of Manhattan. The narrow streets and looming architecture lends itself to inky shadow and obscured views. Luckily, the construction guys had blocked off the street so I got to stand in the gutter – where I belong – and crack out a shot or two.

Enjoy your holiday weekend, lords and ladies, back next week with more wonders from the megalopolis.


“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

September 3, 2021 at 11:00 am

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Thursday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

So, on the negative front – the Ferris Wheel in Times Square’s gondolas are lined with a kind of flexible plastic that isn’t exactly optically ideal. Additionally, the plastic was quite filthy and covered with greasy fingerprints and “yuck.” Given that a humble narrator was shooting from within this hazed plastic enclosure (it’s also rather snug in there) at a brightly lit scene, photo quality suffered. Luckily, I’m used to brandishing the camera about in less than ideal circumstances.

For twenty bucks, you basically get three revolutions of the wheel to take your photos during. I anticipated the plastic problem, and made a homemade light baffle for the lens out of the sort of foam sealant strips you would use when installing an air conditioner. Didn’t fix the problem, but definitely helped ameliorate some of it.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I’ve got a collection of homemade camera equipment, I should mention. All the electronic stuff is store bought, obviously, but there’s all kinds of environmental adaptations which would cost a fortune if I bought it from the camera people. A year or two ago, a screw that attached the tripod mounting plate to my camera got stripped, and the camera store offered a replacement which retailed for $10. For a screw, $10. I got a box of 20 of them from Amazon for $6. I seem to spend more time scrutinizing Home Depot’s offerings than I do B&H’s these days.

A camera’s tripod mount screw is a quarter inch 20 turn screw. A tripod’s head mount is a three eighth’s inch 20 turn screw. Go to a hardware store, and use your imagination. One of my camera support mechanisms has furniture casters for feet. I had a carpenter body of mine cut an ARCA Swiss Mount into a block of hard rubber that another friend – Hank the Elevator Guy – suggested I use for a squared off vibration damper which I like to mount on my camera’s L Bracket. Ever try a string tripod? Cut a rain shield out of a soda bottle? Countersink a screw into a chunk of wood? It’s glorious, I tell you, DIY is, and kind of fun.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The one above is the shot I was hoping to get from up on the wheel. I had to play around with all the settings on my camera, while chatting with the other photographer who was randomly sharing the gondola with me, who coincidentally was using the exact same camera and lens model as I. Wonder how his shots came out.

So, that’s how I spent last Monday night. Minor adventures continued while walking to the train station through the weirdly deserted midtown Manhattan streets. There were plenty of people there, but given what the “normal” density encountered would be on a Monday night on the streets neighboring the 42nd street corridor, it felt like I was either in a zombie movie or it was Labor Day. Not done shooting, by a long shot, one walked away from the subway station which offered the most direct connections back to my section of Astoria. Instead, I headed towards Grand Central Station, where my intention was to board a 7 train. More 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

September 2, 2021 at 11:30 am

unsuspected galaxy

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Wednesday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

So… there was basically no chance that I wasn’t going to be attracted to Times Square to ride the Mayor’s Ferris Wheel – was there? Having a obligation along Newtown Creek on Tuesday evening, and the forecast of torrential rains occurring later in the week, the only night I could fit this in was Monday and that’s why and when a humble narrator found himself standing in Times Square on the 30th of August with a $20 Ferris Wheel ticket in his hand.

Times Square, the “crossroads of the world,” is also the exact spot where the biblical garden of Eden was located. The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil was more or less where the entrance to the IND Broadway subway station is at 42nd and Broadway. It’s an easy commute from Astoria, Eden.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

After having to explain to a couple of con men that I in fact lived here and was thereby a bad mark – I did wish them luck, and instructed one of them that when he figured out “where da rich peoples at,” that he should find me and we’d team up to defraud them – one scuttled over to the 46th street side of Times Square and assessed the standing in line situation.

I could not help but think that the process which began here in Times Square some thirty years ago – the so called “Disneyfication” of “Da Deuce” – was now complete. There’s a ride here now. It won’t be long before there’s a permanent Roller Coaster installed. Manhattan’s Times Square is no longer a “central business district,” rather it’s a NYC themed amusement park laid out like a garish whore for tourists to admire.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I had purchased my ticket through the interwebs, which allows for scheduling your ride. My ticket engaged at 7:30 p.m. For your $20, you essentially get three revolutions in one of those goofy gondolas. For my $20, I’m getting at least two posts out of the excursion, this being the first.

It’s not easy being as cynical as this, but I put some effort into it. Tomorrow, I’ll show you what the view was like from onboard. Hey – how many times do you think it’s going to be possible to be 110 feet over Times Square? Can’t speak for the future, but in the last fifty and change years this is the first time I’ve been able to swing it. More 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

September 1, 2021 at 1:00 pm

sequestered cabin

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What’s expected?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s the first phase of the Hudson Yards project pictured above. What’s expected of one such as myself would be to condemn, criticize, or condemn the place. Yes? Ok then.

Here’s my three “C’s.” I personally find the design of Hudson Yards to be quite off, given its total embrace of 75 years old urban planning chestnuts like “superblocks” and “towers in a park.” Hudson Yards ignores its surrounding neighborhoods contextually, offers a harsh and unfriendly pedestrian space, and is guilty of architectural banality. No thought seems to have been given on the subject of its relationship to the position of the burning thermonuclear eye of god itself’s journey through the sky, as the reflective tower facades cause harsh light to broadcast and strobe about from on high. Even sunglasses won’t help when walking westwards on 32nd or 33rd streets in the morning, or eastwards from the Hudson coast of Manhattan in the afternoon/evening.

Walking through the “zone,” I was keenly aware of how unwelcoming the place seemed, displaying emotional sterility while trying too hard to be “artsy.” Every design attempt at being “playful or whimsical” reminded me of a crass and cheaply rendered version of Disneyworld. Rust, peeling paint, and cracked cement is already visible on and around the “Bloomberg Building” for instance.

Homogeneity is what the City Planners like, and in Hudson Yards their vision is writ large. These folks hate the heterogenous chaos of cities, preferring the neat appearance of shopping mall gallerias. Long story short, I’m not a fan.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On the other hand, gazing upon these shots, which were gathered up on the High Line, I have to remind myself what used to be here – which was a whole lot of stuff nobody wants. Long corridors of graffiti covered concrete walls vouchsafing the rail yards below, open air drug dealing, and more prostitutes than you could shake a stick at (pun intended). This was a “dead” section in busy midtown Manhattan, incongruously sandwiched in by neighborhoods that didn’t end two to three blocks short of the Hudson. The long eastward trek from the Javitz Center for convention goers back to the subways and Penn Station, the automobile commuter focused street design… the west side in the 30’s was never a destination you’d want to tell your mom you were heading towards.

Is this incarnation better? Worse? Only time will tell.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

What I can tell you, after walking the camera through and reviewing the photos gathered, is that every single minute I’ve spent opposing the Sunnyside Yards proposals here in Queens has been time well spent. The fancy pants crowd which is in favor of the gargantuan endeavor of decking the Sunnyside Yards doesn’t really understand what it would entail. They haven’t fully digested the reality of the construction or come to the understanding that to justify the colossal $22 billion estimated cost of the deck, you cannot build small or even medium – you have to build big. That’s an economic reality.

Look at that shot above, and imagine you’re standing in Queens Plaza. Now you’re starting to realize what’s what and why we have to keep this from happening 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

January 2, 2020 at 1:00 pm

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