The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Posts Tagged ‘Midtown

labyrinths impelled

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Heading home.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I won’t lie, my broken toe was really starting to smart when walking down the marble staircases at Grand Central Terminal. I’d been on my feet shooting for around 4 hours at this point, and whereas flat ground and standing still has become normal again, stairs and in particular walking down stairs seems to aggravate the still inflamed nest of rubber bands (tendons and ligaments) and the busted piece of chalk (the broken bone) in my left foot and big toe.

Interestingly, when I had it x-rayed, the medical folks referred to it as “the great toe” but there really isn’t anything that great about it. It’s funny, we have special names for all the fingers, but toes are just toes in the common tongue.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I made a special effort to find and use escalators on my journey into the deep. It seems that most people don’t understand the purpose of these devices and insist on running or walking down the moving steps. Seriously, I’m never in that much of a hurry given my nearly pathological need to show up early or on time with 15 minutes to spare for an appointment or obligation. Said pathology tends to negate and defeat the vagaries of mass transit.

In this case, however, I really couldn’t care less how long it would take to get back to Queens, as I was one stop away and would need to transfer anyway on the better side of the river anyway.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A quick transfer to the N at Queensboro Plaza and soon I was back in Astoria.

A ten minute walk from 31st street, with a stop at the Pizza guy, and a humble narrator was limping in the front door with a full camera card worth of new images to noodle around with. Dare I say it, Lords and Ladies?

Back in session.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle


Come on a tour!

With Atlas ObscuraInfrastructure Creek! My favorite walking tour to conduct, and in a group limited to just twelve people! December 14th, 1:30-3:30 p.m.

Click here for more information and tickets!

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 29, 2019 at 11:00 am

diminished perceptibly

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Happy Thanksgiving.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

After a couple of hours spent along the urban corridors surrounding Grand Central Terminal, one acceded to the ideation of “not overdoing it” regarding my broken toe, and began making my way towards the entrances at the western side of Grand Central Terminal in pursuance of boarding a subway which would carry me back to the rolling hills of raven tressed Astoria back in Queens. Along the way, I couldn’t resist cracking out a few more shots.

The one above involved a bit of cheating. It’s actually two exposures blended together, with one set for the Chrysler building and surrounding background and the other for the brightly lit entrance to Grand Central Terminal.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There’s a fancy pants skyscraper going up on the corner of Vanderbilt Place and 42nd street, the same one which I’ve been complaining about as ruining the fine silhouette of the Chrysler Building on the Manhattan skyline. As is the case with any construction job, even at night there’s a ton of activity going on.

Since I was about to enter the MTA properties again, and they have fairly iron clad rules about cameras, tripods, and so on… I broke down the kit I’d been using out on the streets and stored it away in my camera bag. The camera was then adorned with the sort of gear which isn’t forbidden by the MTA rules and I headed inside Grand Central Terminal.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Couldn’t resist capturing the cliche phot above, a time exposure which renders anybody not standing perfectly still as a shadowy phantom moving through the frame.

Often will I ponder about this sort of thing. Yes, it’s been done before, and thousands of times at that. Thing is, I haven’t done it before, so should I not do it? Is there nothing to be learned by capturing a familiar and quite “tourist” shot?


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle


Come on a tour!

With Atlas ObscuraInfrastructure Creek! My favorite walking tour to conduct, and in a group limited to just twelve people! December 14th, 1:30-3:30 p.m.

Click here for more information and tickets!

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 28, 2019 at 11:00 am

relief party

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Grand Central Terminal at night.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As detailed in prior posts, a fairly serious crush injury and subsequent broken bone within the big toe of my left foot has been getting in the way of my normal activities, and a humble narrator has had to think strategically about how to continue working behind the camera while conserving my steps. Given that I normally ignore anything “The City” except the shorelines of Manhattan, and that the entire transit system is “Manhattancentric,” it seems that I’m going to be visiting the Shining City a bit more than normal in the coming weeks. Hell.

The particular outing detailed in this week’s Newtown Pentacle involves a ride on the 7 train through LIC and into Manhattan while recording some of those landmark structures overlooked in favor of the outlier areas that are normally inhabited by one such as myself. That’s Grand Central Terminal, quite obviously, in the shot above.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Now – during my art school days in Manhattan, at the School of Visual Arts, my focus wasn’t on photography. I was an illustration and cartooning major, and if you saw a young but already humble narrator in these parts pursuing his craft it would have involved a sketchbook. I’d always have one with me, and would often find a place to sit down and start drawing. I had friends who were majors in the photo and fine arts programs, and would sometimes run into them wandering around with film camera setups or behind an easel with a canvas on it “working from life.” In the 1980’s, it was a fairly common sight to see artists at work all over NYC.

Based on the looks and stares I was receiving from the modern populace, it is apparent that seeing artsy fartsy folk doing their thing is no longer a common sight in the Shining City. Seemingly, the only people who live in Manhattan these days are either millionaires or homeless. As a note, the crazy pants and or clown shoes crowd seem to like hanging about the Grand Central area as well. Guess they’ve been booted out of their traditional hunting grounds in the Union Square and Penn Station zones.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Speaking of art school, one drawing class which I remember fondly was one where we’d disperse into Grand Central and do quick three minute drawings of people. Now, 1980’s Grand Central wasn’t what it is today. Back then, it was hive of scum and villainy, and was colloquially known as the world’s largest homeless shelter. If you liked the crack, or the needle, it was likely that you were sleeping in, on, or around Grand Central Terminal. The structure itself was in a horrible state of repair. Squalid, dirty, nasty. Back then, you could still smoke inside of public buildings in NYC, and a pall of tobacco smoke hung about. The lower levels were the worst, and quite dangerous to hang around.

A buddy of mine claims to have visited the so called “condos” which the MTA swears up and down as having never existed. These were makeshift residences in side tunnels and accessways created by “morlocks” or “mole people” who never saw the burning thermonuclear eye of god itself wheeling about in the sky.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle


Come on a tour!

With Atlas ObscuraInfrastructure Creek! My favorite walking tour to conduct, and in a group limited to just twelve people! December 14th, 1:30-3:30 p.m.

Click here for more information and tickets!

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 27, 2019 at 11:00 am

lamenting bitterly

with one comment

More 7 train shenanigans.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

For the shot above, it took three attempts to get what I was looking for. I had to time the exposure so that I clicked the shutter roughly ten seconds before the 7 left the station, which gave me the open doors and some detail on the exterior of the train set. The twenty seconds that followed saw the doors close and the 7 leaving the station, hence the streaks of light from its running lights.

This shot was of the sort I had in mind when I set out from HQ in Astoria, on my “not too much walking” photo walk. That busted toe is still a factor.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I rode the 7 into the City, and debarked at the Grand Central stop. This platform can be referred to as “Grand Central Station” as it’s not the final stop for the subways rolling through it. The grand old building it sits under is Grand Central Terminal, indicating it as the destination for the rolling stock used by Metro North. The 7 has two terminal stops, one in Flushing out in Queens, and the other at Hudson Yards on Manhattan’s west side. I’m not nerdy about trains, but specificity is important when discussing any subject in an intelligent manner.

“Revenue service,” as in carrying paying customers, began in this station on the 22nd of June in 1915. Back then, the 7 was a short run, transiting between LIC’s Vernon Jackson and Grand Central. It wasn’t until November of 1916 that the trains began going to Queensboro Plaza, and the Flushing Line extension (to Alburtis Avenue) didn’t open until April of 1917. Times Square was reached in 1927, and 1928 is when the 7 reached Flushing. 2015 is when the Hudson Yards stop opened.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Upon arriving on the streets of Manhattan, a humble narrator hit the streets and changed the camera’s setup over to a proper tripod and a better lens configuration. My plan for the night was to try and keep both the Chrysler Building and Grand Central Terminal in frame and never stray too far from “Da Deuce,” or 42nd street for those of you not from “here.”

The broken toe thing, and I’ve got at least another month of healing ahead of me, means that one has to keep the scuttling to a minimum and really work the hell out of a spot when I’ve arrived at it. I can hear industrial Maspeth calling, but I dare not answer for a few weeks. In the meantime, the Shining City is sitting there like some kind of cheap whore, just waiting to be exploited.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle


Come on a tour!

With Atlas ObscuraInfrastructure Creek! My favorite walking tour to conduct, and in a group limited to just twelve people! December 14th, 1:30-3:30 p.m.

Click here for more information and tickets!

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 26, 2019 at 11:00 am

crunching teeth

with one comment

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

grim purpose

with one comment

Getting out of dodge, in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As detailed yesterday, one is not exactly in love with Manhatan these days. What can I tell you, having grown up in a Jewish family whose roots are in the “pale,” bitching and moaning comes naturally to me; and having grown up in Brooklyn – I’m fairly well convinced that my opinion actually matters for something. I was in town for a social engagement, and above is another shot from that rooftop I ended yesterday’s post on. This one is looking south towards the battery, from the Tenderloin district along Manhattan’s Broadway at 27th street.

The social engagement was fun, and we ate a form of food which I actually had to joke about with one of my doctors whom I had a scheduled checkup with a couple of days later. The place we went to, called “Hog Pit,” served “chicken fried bacon,” and I backed that up with a chicken fried steak that came with mashed potatoes which had been drowned in biscuit gravy.

Yep. That’s Bacon that gets fried, then dipped in fried chicken batter, and then refried. One was actually quite ill after arriving back home, and I ended up regurgitating gallons of what seemed like cooking oil.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Overstuffed with fatty southern fare, with what seemed like a two gallon can of lard coursing through my gut, it was a stroke of luck that my pal Hank the elevator guy had actually driven to the gathering at the chicken fried bacon place. We jumped in his pickup and despite the bloating and nausea I was beginning to experience, the camera was kept busy as he drove us back to Queens.

As a note, there was absolutely nothing wrong with the meal, it’s just that since I adhere to a fairly low fat diet due to my various maladies and physical weaknesses I don’t have the stomach biota on staff which would be necessary for the processing of this sort of meal. Normally the furthest off the rails I go – saturated fat wise – is a once a month cheeseburger, the rest of the time I’m working off of the sort of diet which a sheep or rabbit would enjoy.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It wasn’t the “new lens,” which I’ve been rattling on about, affixed to the camera for these shots.

It was a Sigma lens, but not the new 50-100 one, rather it was my 18-35 f1.8 wide angle one. One continues to be impressed with the engineering of these new Sigma optics, but the choice to use the 18-35 revolved around it being a bit “smarter” than the 50-100 in terms of mechanically acquiring focus. It’s daunting and a bit of a “worst case scenario” photo situation – serious darkness, contrasting light sources, and in a vehicle moving at a fairly high rate of speed – trying to capture a shot worth presenting.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There’s just something that happens, however, whenever I pass over the legal border between the two boroughs. Suddenly, my spine seems to relax, and the knots in my gut begin to loosen.

That’s worrying, however, when you’ve got a belly full of chicken fried bacon.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Luckily, Hank the elevator guy was able to return us quickly to Queens and before I knew it I was back in the bosom of raven haired Astoria and at home. After depositing my gear, it was time for the dog – who smelled bacon on me and was suspicious as to where I was. A tasty dog treat was offered.

Zuzu the dog was suddenly ecstatic, and we decided to celebrate our reunion by going out on the porch to relax a bit before retiring to the bedchamber – for what would prove to be a fitful and non relaxing session of sleep due to indigestion.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As soon as the door to the porch opened, however, Zuzu the dog lost her mind in a fit of pique.

It seems that some sort of friggin thing had taken my absence, and that of Zuzu’s, as an opportunity and was exploring the various flower pots and plantings which are maintained by Our Lady of the Pentacle.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Astoria, Queens seems to be infested by Opossums. Friggin things.

Upcoming tours and events:


“First Calvary Cemetery” walking tour
with Brooklyn Brainery, Saturday, October 8th from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
Click here for tickets.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

October 5, 2016 at 11:00 am

golden valley

with 3 comments

Free is free, McGee.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One of my photographer buddies, the notorious John Skelson, emailed me to inform that Chrysler Camera would be performing free camera maintenance and checkups over at BH Photo (I’ve always thought that the BH stands for Beards and Hats, it doesn’t) on 34th street last week. As my rig spends most of its time swinging about in a superfund situation, or out on the brackish waters of NY Harbor, this sounded pretty good to me. Negotiations resulted in a plan for us to meet up over in the shining city from our respective corners of the world at the camera shop.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As is my habit and curse, one arrived a bit too early and I decided to saunter around the hellish neighborhood surrounding Penn Station and Madison Square Garden for a bit. Hellish? Why, yes it is. This neighborhood has to host one of the largest accumulations of scabby, boil you down to sell you for elements, old school junkies left in in Manhattan. My footsteps carried me, however, over to a largish construction site. While there, I observed an enormous piece of construction equipment at work – which I understand as being called a “beam launcher.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The purpose and operation of this device is explained succinctly in this constructionspecifier.com post, which also offers the story of the various challenges faced by the Real Estate Industrial Complex regarding the exploitation of this parcel of midtown Manhattan at 33rd and 9th. Happily, the endemic junkies and scalliwags who populate the streets here will soon have a brand new and baked in population of office workers and condominium dwellers to prey upon when the project is completed.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My viewpoint on the neighborhood surrounding “Beards and Hats” is based on personal experience, incidentally, not out of some dilettante distaste or opinion and it sure as hell ain’t “politically correct.” There are two areas in Midtown where I’m actively looking over my shoulder for fear of getting jumped. The 34th street zone around 9th and 10th, and the 40’s around 11th avenue are well populated with a criminal underclass of indigents, addicts, and good old fashioned criminals. The residential populations of affluent New Yorkers who have been moving into this former industrial zone along the Hudson look upon this group with pitying and sympathetic eyes, and will tell me to “lighten up, they’re just homeless and down on their luck. They just need a helping hand.” If you believe that, then this malign grouping has already made a mark out of you.

In the end, however, my camera came out of its maintenance session clean and shiny and I headed back to the rolling hills of almond eyed Astoria, where I belong. Christ almighty, do I hate Manhattan or what?

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

December 23, 2014 at 10:55 am

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