The Newtown Pentacle

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Posts Tagged ‘NYPD

astonished to

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Tell me what to do, everyone.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As is my usual habit, while the 7 line Subway was entering the Vernon Jackson Station, the camera was busily clicking away a couple three weeks ago. You’ve seen lots and lots of these shots here at your Newtown Pentacle, as every time I leave the neighborhood on whatever mission the day presents, I document my journeys photographically and that includes getting on the train. Like the Kiwi, I’m a funny and fuzzy little fruit with a lot of personality. On this particular afternoon, the gendarme who had so successfully pissed off his bosses that he was assigned to sit in the cop box at the end of a subway platform in Queens decided to punctuate his obvious boredom by confronting me about taking pictures in “the system.” How retro.

Given that I’m overly familiar with not just MTA’s policies towards photographic pursuits on their property (no commercial shoots, camera supports, lights, or flashes without a permit) but NYPD’s (standing orders from former Police Chief Kelly about not harassing photographers) as well, a brief conversation with the officer ensued. He accused me of using a flash, which he claimed “bothered” the conductors. I asked if he saw a camera flash, to which he replied he couldn’t see flashes inside his little cop box. Believe me, if I was using the flash I carry, you’d see it from up on the street. As is my habit, I offered to go with him to the nearby 108th precinct to have a conversation with his Desk Sergeant and Captain Forgione about NYPD’s rules on this subject. The officer declined the opportunity and asked me for ID and to see the pictures I had taken, to which I asked if I had committed a crime. Further, I offered that if he wanted to examine my camera card, he would need a subpoena.

He soon realized that he had stepped into a bear trap and returned to his cop box.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It’s been a while since I was last hassled by cops for brandishing the deadly weaponry known as a camera. I mean, it’s called a Canon, right? There are no laws in NYC, or in fact the United States, which preclude photographic pursuits in public spaces. There are a few exceptions, to be fair, but they mainly center around military installations. Everytime you see a sign like the one above, simply read it as an abrogation of your constitutional rights. The same legal pretense that allows NYPD and other security oriented organizations to hang surveillance and robotic red light cameras on lamp posts, private businesses and homeowners to brocade their walls with CCTV security cameras, also allows one such as myself to capture images of anything encountered whenever and wherever I want to.

A few years back, after reluctantly showing up for Jury Duty, the bailiffs of the Queens County court system went apoplectic when they saw my camera bag. They had no reaction whatsoever to the web connected video camera everybody else was carrying… you know, iPhones… but the DSLR represented some sort of existential threat to them.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There are rules governing photography regarding private property, as a note. If I wander into a shopping mall, or cemetery, and start clicking away and am then confronted by representatives of the property owner who tell me to cease and desist I am obliged to do so. Again, it’s public space versus private space. If you can see it from the sidewalk, it’s kosher. 

Photography. Not a crime. Forcing a cop to work inside a box at the Vernon Jackson station might be a human rights violation, however. This fellow should be out there on the streets doing something useful.


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Written by Mitch Waxman

July 23, 2018 at 11:00 am

intense interest

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It’s National Ice Cream Cone Day, in these United States.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A few odds and ends, in today’s post at this – your Newtown Pentacle.

There’s nothing that somebody who works for the City hates more than being photographed while pursuing their occupation, and none moreso than the NYPD. Saying that, if you’re doing a traffic stop right in front of me while I’m hanging out with my pals at the neighborhood saloon… what’s a humble narrator to do? Constitutionally speaking y’all have less of a right to privacy in the public sphere than the rest of us do because you’re wearing that blue suit and sporting the badge, and the inherent lack of privacy that all of us suffer when out in public is the constitutionally justified reason y’all can get away with hanging surveillance cameras and speed trap gizmos on lamp posts.

Big brother? Little Brother? All part of one big happy, and quite paranoid, family.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Same corner in Astoria, different day, and a DSNY garbage truck was experiencing mechanical problems. You don’t see tow trucks of the type pictured above too often… well… I do, but most don’t. I didn’t stick around too long to watch them towing the truck back to 58th street and the garage found at the angle between Woodside and Maspeth.

I had somewhere to be, people to see, politicians and officials to annoy.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Down in Hunters Point one night, as I was passing by the LIRR yard, I noticed this cool bit of kit. My surmise, based on the sort of tools that the gizmo sported in its front end, was that this was a track maintenance mechanism. It had what looked like two claws that stuck out of the front which were positioned pretty close to where the steel tracks are found.


Upcoming Tours and events

The Insalubrious Valley of the Newtown Creek Walking Tour,
with Atlas Obscura – Saturday, September 23rd, 11 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.

Join us on the wrong side of the tracks for an exploration of the hidden industrial heartlands of Brooklyn and Queens, with Newtown Creek Alliance Historian Mitch Waxman details here.

Exploring Long Island City, from Luxury Waterfront to Abandoned Factories Walking Tour,
with NY Adventure Club – Saturday, October 7th, 1 p.m. – 3 p.m.

Long Island City is a tale of two cities; one filled with glittering water-front skyscrapers and manicured parks, and the other, a highly active ground transportation & distribution zone vital to the New York economy — which will prevail? With Newtown Creek Alliance Historian Mitch Waxman details here.


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Written by Mitch Waxman

September 22, 2017 at 12:00 pm

visible reality

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It’s Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Day, in the Nation of Canada.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Owing to other obligations and piss poor weather conditions for the last couple of weeks, one hasn’t got anything new to show you for this week. Accordingly, it has been decided to instead present a few archive shots of the various branches of NYC government which make life liveable for us here in “Home Sweet Hell.”

Today, the focus is on the NYPD – the indomitable Police Department of New York City.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

You react one of two ways when the NYPD arrives – you either curse your fate, or you thank your lucky stars they’re there. Most of the cops I’ve known over the years are the very definition of “laconic” when describing their workday lives. World weariness is the consequence of spending your time in the company of those who are having an awful day. It might be the worst day of your life, but to the cops it’s just another day at work.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

NYPD officers notoriously dislikebeing photographed while pursuing their duties, which is fair enough. Saying that, if they’re in uniform and out in public, anything they do is inherently interesting to one such as myself. Even if it’s the mundane task of removing an inebriate from a subway car in Flushing.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There’s a lot of subdivision units in the NYPD, populated with specialists. The Emergency Services Unit has always held a certain fascination for me. If the regular patrol officer can be analogized to being a soldier, the ESU officer can also be described as being a Special Forces Green Beret or a NAVY Seal. They’re a small army of Batmen.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

NYPD also maintains a small navy, the Harbor Unit. Seldom commented upon, the harbor unit was originally formed to combat pirates on the East River back in the 19th century. They’re supposed to be outfitted with cutlasses, in addition to side arms, but the modern day crews don’t seem to carry any swords.


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Written by Mitch Waxman

February 14, 2017 at 11:00 am

Posted in NYPD, Photowalk

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EXCLUSIVE – Man Shot in Astoria, Queens

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Reporting from Astoria, Queens.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Shortly before Midnight on August 21st, at the corner of 34th Avenue and 44th street, a man was shot in the leg. Witnesses described three men as approaching an SUV which was stopped for a red light at said intersection, and opening the drivers side door. The driver struggled with the three.

A member of the trio then produced and fired a gun at the driver.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The driver, according to Police sources, was hit in the leg and has been transported to a hospital for emergency treatment. Eyewitnesses said that the three men drove off in the SUV (which was unconfirmed by the Police, who said they couldn’t comment on an ongoing investigation – fair enough), while the victim staggered around on 34th avenue, eventually coming to rest on a curb on the north side of the street, where he began bleeding profusely.

That’s some of the victims clothes, and his blood.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

According to the eyewitnesses, the victim was a light skinned man with a shaved head who was recognized as being from the neighborhood. The three assailants were described as dark skinned. No word on color or make of the SUV.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

August 22, 2015 at 1:30 am

Posted in Astoria, NY 11103, Queens

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rhythmical promises

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Thinking it through, in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The way that the human infestation hereabouts behaves and operates can be described, and made somewhat predictable, via the usage of branch logic. When presented with a decision, you can choose option A or option B – a binary decision. Both have logical next steps. These steps flow out of the original decision, form a branching tree of binary choices – a logical progression of decisions. “If” and “then” and “next” and so on are encountered.

A random factor – X – begins to creep into this process around five or six branches down from the original decision. As an example – I decide to punch a guy in the nose, or not. If I hit him, does he a) hit me back, or b) runs away. A, or B form logical progressions that branch out from their individual decision points. Let’s say that the guy hits me back, do I a) punch him again or b) run away crying? If I choose “B,” how far do I run and where do I go? What happens next? You can postulate a few likely, or highly probable steps, but “X” always rears its ugly head eventually.

“X” is also known as “unintended consequences,” which is the one predictable constant of every human decision.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As I’ve mentioned in the past, I’m absolutely fascinated by the Carriage Horse story going on here in the City, wherein our current Mayor has vowed to eliminate the industry from area streets. Animal welfare activists have long opposed the continuing presence of horse drawn carriages on New York streets, citing that the animals are found commingling with automotive and truck traffic. Often, I have pointed out that human children mingle with the self same traffic which is meant to pose this existential threat, but no one seems to care about that. The Carriage industry has accused the Mayor of crass politicking on behalf of a campaign donor, and offers that theirs is a generational craft with long traditions and that their animals are in superb condition. Additionally, they attest that their animals are working creatures who essentially provide for their own needs by pulling these carriages. The NY Daily News is all over this story, and I’d suggest swinging over to their site to check their take out. I’ve no skin in this game, but for some reason I remain enthusiastically attentive to it.

Anyway, that’s the decision which faces the Big Little Mayor – eliminate the Carriage Horse industry or keep it around. A binary decision, ultimately, which will become diluted and colored Legislative Gray somewhere down the tree of “If’s” and “And’s.” As always, one such as myself has nothing but free time to worry about things that really don’t concern me, and a certain driving thought manifested while I was working down the logical tree.

It was a simple question that emerged behind my fevered brow.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

What about the Police Horses?

It occurs that I have never, not once, heard anyone complain or protest about the use of horses on NYC streets by NYPD. These are critically well trained animals, of course, conditioned to be non reactive to everything from parades and protesting crowds to gunfire and active duty situations. Arguably, these animals are subjected to greater stressors than their livery brethren working the relatively quiet streets around Central Park. Additionally, these critters are under the direct supervision of the Police departmental structure and by extension City Hall, which brings us back to the Mayor. The logical extension of banning the carriage horses from NYC streets, on the grounds of animal cruelty, would demand that all horses would need to be spared these conditions, no?

This is where the “X” factor mentioned above comes into play, when you’re thinking through the logic of eliminating an entire industry or just punching a guy in the nose it is wise to think about how your choice might play out.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

January 8, 2015 at 11:00 am

Posted in animals

Tagged with , , ,

not so small

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Enough is enough.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One’s path led to Blissville recently, as it often does. Perambulating down Greenpoint Avenue in the direction of the Long Island Expressway on a singularly lovely afternoon. the abundances of illegally placed advertising signs adorning lamp post and utility poles finally forced me to start taking notice of and commenting on it. This is flat out illegal, and DSNY (Sanitation) is responsible for the prosecution and policing of such matters. If this was a graffiti tagged sticker on a Manhattan phone booth, they would have long ago ended the perpetrator, but this is Queens… so you know… go fuck yourself. That’s our Borough Motto, you know – “Welcome to Queens, now go fuck yourself.”

Cash for any car indeed.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Cash for Any Cars signs are everywhere. I’ve torn down a few dozen personally, mainly on the block where HQ is located. Luckily, I spotted this secondary advertisement for a company that actually prints the god damned things on a utility pole. One has no evidence to back this up, but the proximity and arrangement of the Cash for Any Car sign alongside the Caristo Printing one suggests to me that they were likely placed together and in conjunction.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

If you are as sick of seeing “signs just like this one” as I am, mayhap you’d want to contact Caristo Printing and let them know how you feel about their illegal advertising on the streets of Queens and or their complicity in the “Cash for Any Cars” signs. If you’re truly beside yourself about these abrogations of the public space, perhaps you’d like to complain about them to your elected officials and the various powers and potentates of the City of Greater New York. If you are an elected official or a regulatory officer, perhaps you’d like to address a letter or two to this printing company about “signs just like this one.”

Alternatively, there’s always “welcome to Queens, now go fuck yourself”.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

November 14, 2014 at 11:00 am

hidden and unsuspected

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Are they ever called “on purposes”?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Having finally achieved landfall in… Staten Island, after a lengthy journey through the rotting tunnels of the Subway that lead from Astoria to lower Manhattan and across the harbor on the Staten Island Ferry, one was happily ensconced in an automobile when this scene was witnessed. The pair of NYPD officers seemed to be discussing a recent accident. Got me to thinking about traffic, and traffic accidents.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One remembers a few screw ups from when I was first licensed to drive, in particular there was a crunched door panel in a Ralph Avenue strip mall parking lot which was my fault ultimately (misjudged my turning radius) that cost an astronomical amount (to an 18 year old back in the 80’s ) for me to put right. Never experienced the sort of thing in the shot above, which still puzzles me from the physics point of view, as it would have taken a LOT of energy to get that wheel up off the ground. This was on Jackson Avenue in LIC, incidentally.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This NYPD patrol car had its lights on and was in the process of responding to a call with great haste when the officers lost control of the vehicle. They were speeding down 44th street in Astoria and ran afoul of uneven pavement encountered when crossing Broadway. Witnesses reported that they gained altitude after their wheels hit a rise in the intersection. The cops totaled a parked Taxi, struck several other parked cars, and came to a halt only after smashing into a tree – which they creamed. The boys in blue, I inquired with the local Precinct Commander afterwards, had a few bangs and bruises but were ultimately ok and returned to duty shortly afterwards.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Walking Tours-

Saturday, November 8th, Poison Cauldron
Walking Tour with Atlas Obscura, click here for tickets and more info.

Note: This is the last Newtown Creek walking tour of 2014, and probably the last time this tour will be presented in its current form due to the Kosciuszko Bridge construction project. 

Written by Mitch Waxman

November 5, 2014 at 11:00 am

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