The Newtown Pentacle

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sufficient accuracy

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DUE TO AN ILLNESS, THE FRIDAY NIGHT MAGIC LANTERN SHOW WILL BE POSTPONED!!!

“follow” me on Twitter at @newtownpentacle

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A week of darkness was promised you, lords and ladies, and this Friday posting provides a neat bookend.

Long Island City is one of the most difficult spots in New York City to hail a cab, precisely because so many Cab companies are based here. Drivers don’t want to pick you up if they’re in the neighborhood, as Cab Drivers are generally heading here to drop off the car and end a shift before they get hit with a penalty for being late.

The reverse of “bringing coal to Newcastle”, it would seem, is in effect.

from nytimes.com

Many taxicabs are used by two drivers a day, each working a 12-hour shift. To ensure that each leg is equally attractive, taxi owners schedule the shift change in the middle of the afternoon, so each shift gets a rush hour.

But the switch cannot happen too early, either: a 2 p.m. changeover, for instance, would require a day driver to start his 12-hour shifts in the wee hours of the morning. And cabbies say the midafternoon offers brisk business not evident 12 hours later, when fares mainly consist of late-night revelers.

Hence the 5 p.m. compromise. When the changeover became standard, its timing did not pose a big problem for passengers. Many taxi garages were situated on the Far West Side of Manhattan, requiring cabs to make only a short trip to 11th Avenue before heading back to Midtown with a fresh driver.

But in the 1980s, as commercial rents rose, taxi fleets began migrating across the East River, particularly to Long Island City, Queens. The 5 p.m. shift change now included a journey over the often-packed Queensboro Bridge, not to mention the return slog to the city. Drivers started going off duty between 4 and 4:30 p.m., to ensure that they had enough time to make it to the garage; even today, tardy cabbies can be hit with a $30 fine.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It is an interesting sight, seeing hundreds of Taxis arrayed about their dispatch and maintenance yards in the wee hours of the morning. Taxi’s are not unlike Police cars in this manner, inasmuch as they seem to be in perpetual motion and always in gear.

Drivers have described the system to me, shift work accomplished in long stretches behind the wheel during which they struggle to first pay the day’s lease on the car and then the fuel bill. Once this sum has been reached, whatever is left over is theirs to keep. They are functionally without a union, and vulnerable to the whims of politician and businessman alike. The overnight drivers also describe having to deal with cleaning up a lot of bodily fluids, the product of nightlife and its revelry.

from wikipedia

The New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) was established in 1971 with jurisdiction over the city’s medallion (yellow) taxicabs, livery cabs, “black cars”, commuter vans, paratransit vehicles (ambulettes) and some luxury limousines. The TLC was founded to deal with the growing number of drivers and to address issues important to both the taxi and livery industries. Its predecessor was the New York City Hack Bureau, operated under the aegis of the New York City Police Department. TLC Inspectors are New York State peace officers who carry batons, pepper spray, and handcuffs.

In the 1970s and 1980s both the unofficial livery services and the medallion taxicab companies began finding more and more of their drivers in the growing populations of black, Latino, and middle eastern immigrants to the city as the previous generation of cabbies retired and moved out of the city. Crime in New York City had become severe at this point, and cabbies were often the victims of robberies and street crime.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On a different note, a distinct point of interest is the Court Square Diner, which is a completely different structure at night than during the day. On this particular morning, despite my screaming desire for a cup of joe, the place was passed by and merely photographed. The whole “shooting at night” thing was produced by a bout of insomnia, after all, and the last thing that the sleepless needs is the sort of hot brown jet fuel sold at Court Square.

from courtsquarediner.com

Court Square Diner was built in 1946. Since then it has only had three ownerships.

The current owners, Steve and Nick have been in operation since 1991. When they had first purchased the diner, it was mainly a small diner for breakfast and lunch. In 2009, the Court Square Diner was renovated with an all new retro look. Now it is a full service 24 hour seven day a week successful diner complete with breakfast, lunch, brunch and dinner. The delivery service is 24 hours a day seven days a week. All the baking for the diner is done on the premises.

Written by Mitch Waxman

February 15, 2013 at 12:15 am

dream swamp

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“follow” me on Twitter at @newtownpentacle

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Progeny of an aforementioned early morning trek recently enacted across Long Island City from Astoria, these shots depict a February sunrise at certain points of land which adjoin the notorious Newtown Creek.

Driven by a period of certain insomniac ideations, a seasonal affliction whose annual appointment and arrival is scheduled between the months of December and March, the effects of this inability to sleep are are felt on both financial and interpersonal fronts. The good news is that I get a LOT of work done.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Possessing me for much of this year has been the job of updating and retooling of my “Magic Lantern” show, a slideshow presentation which describes and details the various noteworthy features and remarkable history of this loquacious cataract forming the currently undefended border of Brooklyn and Queens, a 3.8 mile long industrial canal known as the Newtown Creek.

The modern version is designed with HD television and computer screens in mind (prior versions were designed for projection), and has been complied at a ridiculous resolution (suitable for Blu-Ray, actually). The master file is a tad under two hours long, and includes literally every tributary, inlet, cove, rivet, and screw found along the banks of Newtown Creek.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The “production model” comes in at just over 45 minutes, and will be the version presented this Friday at Observatory. It is still a ludicrously detailed accounting of the place, which is limited to a short geospatial distance from the Creek’s bulkheads. The long version examines a much larger area, but that’s something I’m not able to speak freely about yet.

I’d love it if you can join us at Observatory this Friday.

The “Up the Creek” Magic Lantern Show- presented by the Obscura Society NYC- at Observatory, on February the 15th- ThisFriday.

Click here or the image below for more information and tickets.

lantern_bucket

passages beneath

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“follow” me on Twitter at @newtownpentacle

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Confession is offered, lords and ladies, that your humble narrator has been experimenting all over the neighborhood. Trick shooting, long exposure times, specialized equipment- the whole shameful arrangement has been employed in a vainglorious attempt to alleviate tedium. It has literally been months since I’ve had anything but ground under my feet, and I can’t even remember the last time I was on a boat by gum.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A desire to just go and ride the Staten Island Ferry, braving the cold and weather, forms in me. Too timid to actuate even such a mundane plan as this, instead retreat is made to the usual and familiar, so a scuttling across the frozen concrete and urban desolations go I. An attempt has been underway to utilize some of the older cameras which have accumulated on the shelf, as well as to grow practiced with some newer gear. I’ve also been try and “slow it down” a bit, process wise.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

During the summer, at whatever adventure I happen to be participating in, things pop up fast and furious- photo wise- and speed is essential for the successful capture of a quality image. A dolphin or giant snapping turtle isn’t going to just hold a pose while you fumble around with settings on your dslr after all. Problem is that the speed you develop becomes a habit, a shortcut to the shot. At the moment, I’ve actually got some time to experiment, and I plan on using it.

Also:

Remember that event in the fall which got cancelled due to Hurricane Sandy?

The “Up the Creek” Magic Lantern Show presented by the Obscura Society NYC is back on at Observatory.

Click here or the image below for more information and tickets.

lantern_bucket

phantom processions

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“follow” me on Twitter at @newtownpentacle

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It’s funny how you can walk by things just about every day and not take notice of them. Case in point are the stubby streets which intersect with Jackson Avenue when turning west out of Queensboro bridge plaza. A couple of them have been mentioned in recent weeks- Dutch Kills and Queens Streets come to mind, but the ones closer to Queens Blvd. haven’t.

Pictured above is the fore mentioned Queens street, for instance.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

What drew me down Orchard Street wasn’t affected by the inquisitive NYPD patrol car which slowly followed this odd looking fellow in a dirty black raincoat who was taking photographs of warehouses, for I was following the amazing pattern of reflected light emanating from the blue glass of the newly constructed Gotham Center. The cops were intensely curious as to my purpose, but not so much that they rolled down a window or got out of the car.

Lucky day, thought I, to have a personal bodyguard watching my back while I captured a few shots of the Rosenwasser Bros. facade.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Confession that I had indeed noticed the signage of this facade before must be offered, but for some reason, a conviction that the company had something to do with water tanks had always possessed me. Couldn’t be further from that, it turns out, as the Rosenwassers were magnates in the rag trade. They started out, like many Jewish garment tycoons, in the shirtwaist business in lower Manhattan. Running what 21st century eyes would process as a sweatshop, they accumulated enough money to set up a large industrial combine in Queens shortly after the opening of the bridge in 1909, and won several military as well as civilian contracts.

By 1913, they were an established and well known Queensican company run by its President- Morris Rosenwasser.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

They manufactured baseball cleats sold under Babe Ruth branding in peacetime, and manufactured military footwear and gas masks during war. Also, they supplied the Boy Scouts, and manufactured all sorts of specialty shoes. The large building with the red awning just to the east of the offices isn’t their facility, instead, that was a Steinway Piano plant.

It is presumed that the large parking lot which currently enjoys tenancy on the corner of Jackson between Orchard and Queens Streets was the location of the factory they maintained, which at its height in 1918, employed some 2,500 people.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Rosenwasser factory, during the first World War, was in possession of several valuable contracts with the Federal Government. The mill turned out an average of 6,000 pairs of shoes a day, 15,000 pairs of leggings, and an undetermined number of canvas gas masks, rucksacks, and other commodities for the war department.

A so called “open shop,” the Rosenwassers were prime movers in a case (Rosenwasser Bros. Inc. v. Pepper et al, NYS Supreme Court October 1918) which defined the rights and limitations of organized labor during wartime for a generation.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It seems that the United Shoe Workers of America, a Boston based trade union, sent an organizer to the Rosenwasser factory to create a new local. Aggressive tactics and a general unwillingness to compromise brought production to a halt, threatening the company with default and failure to deliver on its Federal contracts. After wrangling with the organizer and his masters in New England, Morris Rosenwasser decided to sue.

The resulting case declared that whereas labor has the right to organize and negotiate for better conditions of employment, the essential nature of war production trumped their rights to “go out”, and binding Federal arbitration would be labors only recourse.

It should be mentioned, Lords and Ladies, what the name of that labor organizer from New England was…

Sources list no first name for him, only a surname… which was Gilman.

from 1919’s THE MISCELLANEOUS REPORTS OASES DECIDED IN THE COURTS OF RECORD OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK OTHER THAN THE Court of Appeals and the Appellate Division 01 the Supreme Court, courtesy google books

Also:

Remember that event in the fall which got cancelled due to Hurricane Sandy?

The “Up the Creek” Magic Lantern Show presented by the Obscura Society NYC is back on at Observatory.

Click here or the image below for more information and tickets.

lantern_bucket

Written by Mitch Waxman

February 5, 2013 at 12:15 am

colossal portrait

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“follow” me on Twitter at @newtownpentacle

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A constant desire for your narrator is the betterment of his palette wherein the esthetic appreciation of high culture is concerned. Accordingly, a recent perambulation brought me to the galleria of the native art form of the Borough of Queens, which is illegal dumping.

This salon is found on 29th street, adjoining that loquacious tributary of the Newtown Creek which men have referred to as Dutch Kills for better than three centuries.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The rotating displays offered here are many, and varied. Currently installed is an anonymous work comprised of empty vessels which formerly held liquor. Wry, such commentary on the human condition does not escape one as highly cultured and trained in the arts as myself.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Neither is the sly repetition and utilization of manufactured items, nor their seemingly random pattern, unnoticed. Random takes a lot of effort to get right. So does the solemnity of a suggested narrative.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The entire piece speaks to one on a visceral level, intoning mental images of some lonely bacchanal besottingly acted out- over and over during the course of weeks- happening in the same spot. Kudos are awarded the designer, for the subject matter and overall composition.

Well done, sir or madam, lord or lady.

Also:

Remember that event in the fall which got cancelled due to Hurricane Sandy?

The “Up the Creek” Magic Lantern Show presented by the Obscura Society NYC is back on at Observatory.

Click here or the image below for more information and tickets.

lantern_bucket

Written by Mitch Waxman

February 1, 2013 at 12:15 am

inspiring and stupefying

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“follow” me on Twitter at @newtownpentacle

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Longtime readers will no doubt recount stories of my endless complaining about the harsh climes of winter, its effulgent and preternatural darkness, and the limiting of photographic opportunities created during the 15-20 minutes of daylight we get during December and January here in a City which doth not sleep, but may forever lie dreaming. Saying that, when the light is good at this time of year, it is very good.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A recent trek across Western Queens, following the littoral edge of the borough, was cut short at the realization that sunset was approaching.

Your humble narrator is fully aware, more so than most, of what comes out only at night in Western Queens and made haste for Astoria so as to affix fresh wreaths of garlic, polished mirrors, and crucifixes to my doors and windows. Along the way, such sights presented themselves, that I grew distracted and began to lose track of the time.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I am legend, at least in my own mind, and there was little chance that one such as myself could endure long in the presence of that which sleeps by day and prefers instead the sodium lamp lit landscape. Better to batten down the hatches at base, lock down all port holes, and run silent during these long January nights of pregnant malignancy.

Also:

Remember that event in the fall which got cancelled due to Hurricane Sandy?

The “Up the Creek” Magic Lantern Show presented by the Obscura Society NYC is back on at Observatory.

Click here or the image below for more information and tickets.

lantern_bucket

Written by Mitch Waxman

January 31, 2013 at 12:15 am

ghastly stillness

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“follow” me on Twitter at @newtownpentacle

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Whilst scuttling across Jackson Avenue in the venerable section of Long Island City recently, the ebb tide of traffic emerging from infinite Brooklyn carried a small vehicle which caught my eye. It was an Italian motor scooter, the perennially in fashion Vespa, but this one had a sidecar.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Your humble narrator has a soft spot in both heart and head concerning the subject of attaching sidecars to any sort of two wheeled transportation devices, as well as an acquired appreciation for the finer points of Italian vehicle design. I’ve never owned one, but were I to purchase such a conveyance, a sidecar for my little dog Zuzu would be part of the deal. I suppose Our Lady of the Pentacle could ride around in it too, but this desire is really built around seeing the dog in a leather aviators cap and goggles.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Practical transportation like this is commonplace in Europe and Asia, where streets are Medieval in size and scope, and the price of Petrol makes even the outrageous modern rate of $3-4 a gallon seem cheap. One of the things which future generations of Americans will never experience, and this may or may not be a bad thing, is cheap gasoline.

Also:

Remember that event in the fall which got cancelled due to Hurricane Sandy?

The “Up the Creek” Magic Lantern Show presented by the Obscura Society NYC is back on at Observatory.

Click here or the image below for more information and tickets.

lantern_bucket

Written by Mitch Waxman

January 30, 2013 at 12:15 am

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