The Newtown Pentacle

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utter nullity

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

The least developed and most interesting character in the Star Wars fictional universe – to me, at least – is Emperor Shiv Palpatine. I consider him a role model, actually. Found a way to breathe life into a moribund federal state, where no societal advancement had taken place in literally centuries, created several sleek and deadly military branches, and rid his society of a conservative group of superstitious religious zealots – who armed themselves with laser swords and meddled in politics. Sure, he had to build a couple of moon sized space stations armed with planet popping cannons, but think about all the jobs that represented. In all fairness, he did nothing to confront the glaringly obvious role of the Droids as slave labor. Why do you think they used restraining bolts and wiped droid’s memory frequently? I think the reason that we don’t know much about the Emperor is because R2D2 never spent much time with him. The entire Star Wars deal is actually about the adventures of R2D2, who hung around with several generations of a single family.

Finally got to the Empire State Building observation deck last week, so lots of eye candy is coming your way, true believers. Pictured above, my beloved Creek in a wide shot with a whole lot of vignette. I was using one of my crop sensor lenses at this stage of my visit, and you can see the image circle when it’s wide. That vignette is actually the inside of the lens.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Let’s say that a humble narrator takes a few years off and goes walkabout. While traveling with Pirates and Smugglers in the South Pacific, he encounters an ancient temple nearby the island of Pohnpei. Therein, he learns of and begins to gather knowledge of the Dark Side of the Living Force. What emerges from the temple is no longer a man, he has become a Sith Lord just like Andrew Cuomo. A beeline is made for the mainland, and an overly complicated plan goes into effect which results in the overthrow of Democracy and the creation of the “American Empire of Freedom” is announced on the world stage. Ok, I’d be full Sith Lord evil – like Andrew Cuomo – so instead of a couple of Death Stars, I’d build the “Giant American Army Boot in Space.” That would look like exactly what it sounds like, by the way. A giant metal army boot that descends from the sky and grinds cities down under its heel as if they were giant cigarette butts. All the nations will tremble before the power of the American Empire of Freedom’s Giant Army Boot in Space, and thereby before that of the Emperor – Darth Mitch, Lord of the Sith.

Just realized that since the “rule of two” applies to Sith Lords, at some point I’d end up having to laser sword fight with Cuomo… I’m going to have to learn that “shoot lightning from my fingertips” deal. Scary man, him.

Same lens, same Creek, just a bit tighter in. As the thing zooms into about half of its intended range, the vignette disappears. This lens zooms out to 300mm, a focal length which I haven’t yet filled in with the lens kit for the new camera. Honestly don’t know if I will, though. If I have or want to, that’s the answer on that one.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Sith Apprentice position would be hard to fill. Palpatine saw his guy get burned up in a volcano, and had no idea that the kid had knocked up a Princess. What was left of the kid, he stuck in robot suit and told it to kick ass. I’ve got a couple of friends with young kids who might fit the bill for robot suit assassins someday, but I have no idea where the nearest volcano might be. I dunno… Connecticut? The Princess’s kids screwed the whole Empire thing up, of course. Poor Shiv Palpatine, he did his best.

I’m sure there would be some Rebel scum who would futilely try to take me down, but what… they’re going to blow up the American Empire of Freedom’s Giant Army Boot in Space or something? Pfah.

This is looking over Alphabet City on the Lower East Side of Manhattan towards the coastline of Williamsburg in Brooklyn, along the East River. I’d switched to a different lens here, a 24-105 zoom. I was carrying an uncommonly large kit with me this evening, and made it a point of rotating them through the course of time that I spent at Empire State Building.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Actually, if I did acquire the power of a Sith Lord, I’d keep the whole “Darth” thing quiet and just be a master criminal. Just imagine waving your hand at NYPD and saying “I am not the old man in a black bathrobe you’re looking for” and having the Cops agree with you. You could also use the Force to float up stairs instead of getting all sweaty, get coffee, and you’re always carrying a super bright flashlight that can also cut steel. You could also probably use your magicks to try and figure out what this whole bitcoin thing is about.

This one is looking at the Freedom Tower, and the Statue of Liberty, and basically Manhattan from 34th street to the Battery. That green lumpy thing in the distance is Staten Island. Best baseball seats in NYC out there, at the Staten Island Yankees stadium.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As you may have guessed by now, my goal of watching all of Star Wars, in the story’s chronological order, is moving along. This is in story timeline order, btw, not by theatrical release date. That means “Phantom Menace” followed by “Attack of the Clones” and then the “Clone Wars” series and then “Revenge of the Sith.” Now, I’m trying to get through awful “Solo” whereupon the very good “Rebels” cartoon will slot in. Then I’ve got “Rogue One” followed by the original three Star Wars flicks from the 70’s, and then Mandalorian. I’m going to completely ignore the three Rey movies as they suck and shouldn’t be considered part of the continuity.

Whew. What did you do during the Pandemic?

This one is looking towards Queensboro Bridge, Astoria, and Ravenswood over the shoulder of the Chrysler Building on Manhattan’s 42nd street. Still using the 24-105 zoom for this one.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Looking back at where all things start and end, the fabulous Newtown Creek. Every time I’ve been up on the Empire State Building’s Observation Deck, it’s been a fairly short and well timed interval which ends too quickly. Maybe this is just because of the Pandemic and the lessened crush of tourists moving through, but I ended up hanging around up there for more than two hours – which was awesomesauce!

The second half of my excursion occurred at and shortly after sunset, and you’ll be seeing shots from that interval tomorrow.

In the meantime… execute Order 66.

“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 for $30.

Written by Mitch Waxman

June 24, 2021 at 11:00 am

to assent

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Take a breath every now and then. Shhh.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My beloved Astoria can kick up quite a racket, which is my primary complaint at the moment. The not so accurate decibel meter on my phone tells me that the zone around my house is subsumed by a constant din of 60-70 decibels, which can amp up to as high as 80-95 on a regular basis. That’s just ambient noise, I’m not including the passing ambulance, fire engine, or police car in those calculations.

It’s enough to cause one to lose his last nerve, I tell you.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Sonic pollution is something that doesn’t seem to register with New Yorkers, and most folks try to “tune it out.” What can you do about it? “That business with the bank of refrigeration units in its yard was here before you were” was what one of my neighbors opined when we were having a “kvetch.” There’s actually a LOT that I can do about it, but I try not to use the relationships with environmental officialdom that I’ve got lightly.

Luckily, there’s always Astoria Park to escape to, but it’s actually pretty noisy there too.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Seeking quiet, I walked over to Luyster Creek with a couple of friends recently and found this impromptu memorial. Set up to commemorate the death of those poor kids who drove into it a couple of months back, I see too much of this sort of thing all over the neighborhood. You’ll recall that a group of high schoolers met their end back here, when their vehicle left the road and the car landed in the drink.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

There’s two FREE Newtown Creek walking tours coming up.

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

Sunday, June 21st, America’s Workshop
A FREE tour, courtesy of Green Shores NYC, click here for rsvp info

Written by Mitch Waxman

June 13, 2014 at 11:21 am

purpose firm

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Recently sighted on the Kill Van Kull.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

With all the crap weather experienced in New York City during the first quarter of 2014, your humble narrator has spent nary a minute upon the undulating harbor. Luckily, a Working Harbor Committee trip, a private one produced by the WHC Education Committee that took a bunch of school kids out to Port Elizabeth Newark on a NY Water Taxi, appeared on my schedule.

The scene depicted is found at Cadell Dry Dock, on… Staten Island.

from wikipedia

USS Slater (DE-766) is a Cannon-class destroyer escort that served in the United States Navy and later in the Hellenic (Greek) Navy. The ship was named for Frank O. Slater of Alabama, a sailor killed on the USS San Francisco (CA-38) during the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal. He was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross for gallantry in action. The USS Slater is now a museum ship on the Hudson River in Albany, New York, the only one of its kind afloat in the United States. 

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Legend haunted, the North Shore of Staten Island borders the busy Kill Van Kull waterway, connecting Port Newark to NY Harbor. When the Slater left Albany, all of my “usual suspects” began to buzz about it. Facebook and the like were discussing its position, and where and when to get shots of it. Personally, I was busy with other stuff and the ship wasn’t even a blip on my radar.

Happily, though, serendipity brought me past its bow at a somewhat opportune moment – lighting wise.


The destroyer escorts were a vital component of the Allied strategy for victory in the Atlantic. They escorted the convoys of supply ships that carried the forces needed to win the war in Europe. Destroyer escorts also served in some of the most dangerous areas of the Pacific Theater. They escorted convoys, conducted shore bombardments, and served as radar picket ships towards the end of the war. The USS SLATER served in both the Atlantic and Pacific Theaters during and immediately after the war. Following its World War II service, the ship was deactivated until 1951, when it was transferred to the Hellenic Navy. The SLATER, renamed AETOS, remained in Greek service until 1991, when it was transferred back to the United States under the care of the Destroyer Escort Historical Foundation, which began a painstaking restoration of the ship. Today the SLATER is one of less than a dozen surviving destroyer escorts, and it is the only ship that is still in its World War II configuration.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My pals over at the Working Harbor Committee blog got into quite a lather about the Slater coming down, check out their coverage here. Mr. Will Van Dorp over at Tugster has been following the ship since it left Albany, check their coverage here. Apparently, the Slater is in dire need of repair, which is how it ended up in… Staten Island.

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 24, 2014 at 11:00 am

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