The Newtown Pentacle

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Archive for the ‘Astoria’ Category

streaming out

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The law is an ass.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Frustrating, calling 311 is.

Having just spent thirty minutes attempting to report a violation of NYC’s anti idling law – there’s a large RV with a diesel engine parked in front of HQ, which also destroyed a series of branches of my street tree when pulling into its parking spot, and whose engine has been running for better than an hour – the 311 operator informed me that DEP would be out in ten days to investigate the report.

When one opined that the offending vehicle would likely not be there in ten days, and that this might be something properly assigned to the NYPD traffic unit for enforcement, the operator reluctantly agreed to inform the 114th pct. She suggested that I call 911 instead, but this sort of thing hardly qualifies as a Police emergency.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The process of calling 311 has gotten more and more painful over the years, and what was once a smooth point of contact between community and government has turned into a bureaucratic shit show. I had to make two separate reports with two different operators, and give them the same information twice. The street tree part of it went to Parks, and the idling complaint to DEP, when both are street enforcement actions best handled by NYPD ticket books. 311 now also insists on acquiring all the identifying information about the caller as possible, which is no doubt a) data mining and b) will cause me to think twice before calling 311 again. Meanwhile, an hour and a half after this vehicle parked in front of HQ – the engine is still idling.

I didn’t mention “who I am” on the call (because that’s kind of dickish), but next time I run into the Commissioner of the DEP, she’s going to get an earful about this.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

People get after me for acting like an accusatory asshole towards our employees, but that’s the way that I perceive anybody from the Mayor on down who collects a check from the City. Speaking truth to power is my creed, and when these employees of ours screw the pooch, the boss has something to say about it. Their boss isn’t the Mayor, it’s you and me, and our employees are doing a shit job of late.

Citizen Mitch has seen something, said something, and the City damned well better do something.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

March 30, 2015 at 11:11 am

biased witness

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Captain America?

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Spotted this wonderful example of a three wheeled Motorcycle nearby the Harley Davidson dealership on Northern Blvd.’s “Carridor.”

The paint job on this trike was extraordinary, and as you can discern, was rather patriotic. It was exceptionally well executed and rendered, I would add. A lot of skilled draftsmanship, composition, and artistry went into this air brushed painting. It looked like the sort of thing that a super hero might ride around on, actually, except for it being a trike.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

On the bow of the unit is an icon and screed that reads “Nam Knights MC, America,” which is a nationwide Motorcycle Club whose members are military and law enforcement veterans.

On the stern of the thing, there are icons painted. A 4th Division Shield, and another depicting an Air Calvary unit alongside a Bronze star. One is embarrassed to admit that the numismatics of the Military are not familiar to me, so I can’t tell you more about the left side iconography. If one of you out there can, please use the comments section below to educate the rest of us.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The striking paint job on this patriotic vehicle drew me like a magnet.

What a fantastic bit of work, and wonderfully realistic rendering of the drapery. This was one sharp piece of work, wish that I knew the name of the artist.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

March 25, 2015 at 11:00 am

no end

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Queens Cobbler, have you no shame? A child?

- photo by Mitch Waxman

For quite a while now, one has been noticing the abundances of single shoes arrayed on the sidewalks of Western Queens, and offered that there might be a serial killer walking amongst us whom I’ve christened as “The Queens Cobbler.” Should my supposition be correct, and that the singular shoes which litter our streets are in fact some sort of grisly trophy or taunt to the gendarmé left behind by a sociopath, then this person has finally crossed the line.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

This infantile example was found on a lonely stretch of Newtown Road that spans the distance between Northern Blvd. and Broadway at the angle between Woodside and Astoria, and is the sort of shoe that an infant child would wear. It’s one thing for the Cobbler to be picking off adults, one would offer, but an innocent child?

For shame, Cobbler, for shame.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

This more recent shot from Sunnyside is so much more your style, Cobbler, so why not just leave the kids out of this?

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Written by Mitch Waxman

March 20, 2015 at 11:20 am

eon hence

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Sweet Pete’s, in today’s post.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

When I was growing up, one of my best friends was a guy named Ronnie. There’s were always sleep overs at Ronnie’s house, which were great as his mom loved doling out the Entenmann’s donuts, and she also let her boy hang whatever posters he fancied on the walls of his room. Ronnie’s choices always included ladies like Farrah Fawcet or an extremely young Heather Locklear, along with a bunch of trucks and muscle cars. A friend of my youth, Ronnie is long gone and dearly departed, but whenever I spot Peterbilt Semi’s parked alongside the road in my beloved Astoria, I always think of the big doofus.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The trailers of these trucks tell me exactly where they’re going to be headed to. “Municipal Solid Waste” is the generally used term for the solid material which is filtered out of the sewage flow. There could be soil in there as well, but given this spot’s proximity to the Bowery Bay Sewage treatment plant (less than a mile away), it’s a safe bet to say that these trucks are working for the DEP.

Incidentally - I’ve had DEP engineers tell me that one of the items which causes them the most trouble are actually coffee grinds. It seems that the grinds pick up so much speed in the flowing currents of sewage that they can etch the pipes they’re moving through – a process that’s not unlike sandblasting.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

I thought the green truck was pretty cool looking, but that’s when I walked under the highway overpass and found this model on the grade crossing. The orange parts of the truck were in that optic orange color you see on construction vests and safety cones, which is used for such applications because of the incredibly broad spectrum of light it reflects. It’s something impossible to replicate without specialized inks in the print world, and neither computer monitors nor digital cameras can render it accurately.

Saying that, the orange looks a bit redder in the shot below because of this very quality.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

One is thankful that the weather seems to have turned, even if it’s only been a few days since the ice cracked. There’s so many places to visit, and things to see, and little time in which to do so. It’s good to walk in the rays of the burning thermonuclear eye of god itself once more, to see those things Queens wants me to see, and resume the battle for truth, justice, and the American way.

It’s all so depressing.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

March 13, 2015 at 11:00 am

glaze fishily

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Working in the dark, in today’s post.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The problem and challenge with photography is actually light, usually there’s either entirely too much or not nearly enough.The reason you’ve all been subjected to so many shots of Subways entering and leaving stations in the last year has been that I’ve been experimenting with different techniques and camera settings down there, trying to find some sort of predictable formula which might govern my actions when shooting in the dark. The Subway system provides for a difficult to photograph set of conditions – it’s both dark and bright, full of reflective things zipping around, humans, and there’s LED signs which break up at anything slower than 160th of a second… Add to that the MTA prohibition against camera support – tripods and the like – and you’ve got yourself a real pickle. I’ve developed a few formulas for hand held low light photography down there.

When you get above ground, the formulaic triad of iso/aperture/shutter offers some real potential.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

This is what it looks like deep under East New York, over in Brooklyn. This was also a serious “get the shot” challenge as the window of the C train I was on was caked with briny crap. The C is cool, because you can still look out the front window and see what the conductor sees as the subway shoots through the kingdoms of the rat.

This shot, and the one below, were part of long chain of failed shots. A high failure rate is assured, as the subway car is jiggling about and you are being jolted about in random directions. The camera is held against the window, with one hand used as a gasket between it and the actual lens. The difficulty, and high failure rate, are due to the great care exercised in not being bodily thrust forward which would either drive the camera through the window or render the lens inoperable.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The shot above actually had what I call the “entire bag of photoshop hammers” thrown at it. Again, combatting the filthy train window, I pulled and pushed the pixels of the original digital negative file until I got some semblance of balance between dark and light. There’s something I like about the deep focus and the leading lines. Sort of like entering warp speed, which is something that the MTA isn’t exactly known for.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Another leading line “infinity” shot from the other night, captured in the preternatural darkness of Astoria’s 31st street. To make things even more complicated, it was raining, which meant that in addition to operating the camera I had to manage an umbrella as well. New York City never looks as good as it does when it’s raining, at night.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

March 12, 2015 at 11:30 am

shining mists

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Signs and portents, in today’s post

- photo by Mitch Waxman

As promised, while you were gazing at the photo of that cute kitten I posted yesterday, a minor scuttle of the immediate environs was enacted. Where I’m going on my walks around Queens is seldom guided by a conscious decision, other than avoiding all possible contact or interaction with the human infestation, instead it’s more of a wandering sort of thing. Yesterday, I was looking specifically for the little things. For instance the Mexican Deli’s sidewalk signage offering a matrix of name translations between Spanish and English for various comestibles.

I always wondered how to say “Green Beas” in Spanish, now I know it’s “ejotes.” I think that “ejotes” must be a fun word to pronounce.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Lost Kittens, that’s what the headline on this lamp post flyer says.

Can there be a headline which is sadder in tone than “Lost Kittens?”

- photo by Mitch Waxman

There seems to be a lot of this sort of thing around the neighborhoods. Everywhere I go, even down at Newtown Creek, these sort of lost pet flyers are found. “Lost Kittens,” jeez.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

On the same lamp post, another faded ad, this one searching for a little black dog.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

A few blocks south, on Broadway -somebody had posted queries about the status of a lost, child sized, winter boot.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

March 11, 2015 at 1:00 pm

not permitted

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A line in the sand, at the Sunnyside Yards, in today’s post.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Examinations of the plans elicited by the Mayor of New York City, a self professed “progressive” who has puzzlingly embraced the dream of Michael Bloomberg’s right hand man Dan Doctoroff to deck over the Sunnyside Yards, are disturbing. The scale of the project is frankly Federal in size, and the amount of debt which would be absorbed by the municipality in pursuit of it… conservative estimates would place the cost of the deck – just the deck – at around 200 billion dollars. That’s based on the $20 billion it’s costing to deck the relatively tiny 26.17 Hudson Yards. According to documents obtained from official sources, the Sunnyside Yards project would encompass some 200 acres. Do the math.

Remember, that number you just calculated is only for the deck.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The Sunnyside Yards are not connected to the City’s sewer grid. The Sunnyside Yards are not connected to the electrical, gas, or water delivery systems. The 11.2 thousand “affordable” apartments which the Mayor is using to sell this project are part of an 80/20 project. As City Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer recently stated, and as reported at sunnysidepost.com,

Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer told members of the Hunters Point Civic Association on Tuesday that 70,000 to 80,000 units might need to be built in order to attract developers to construct the affordable units.

“To get to the 11,200-odd…the number of units could be as high as 70,000 to 80,000 on Sunnyside Yards,” Van Bramer said, since developers typically require market rate apartments to offset the cost of constructing affordable units.

This would result in “a massive, massive development on the scale we have never seen before in western Queens that will affect Long Island City, Astoria, Sunnyside and Woodside,” he said.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The thing that no one seems to be discussing, however, is infrastructure. $200 billion would build you around 175 Kosciuszko Bridges. It could also build you around 20 sewer plants. What we’re not talking about are hospital beds, nor Police, Fire, Sanitation, School desks, and all the other municipal services that would accompany a build out of this scale. City Planning works off of a formula which speculates that the lifetime of any new residential building is 35 years. Does NYC have the budget to support the municipal services for this new population over the next 35 years, and shouldn’t we be calculating that as part of the cost of this project?

80,000 apartments would bring 150-200,000 new people into our community. The population of Albany, for instance is 98,424 (as of 2013).

Governor Andrew Cuomo has stated that he’s against the Mayor’s plan. That’s because Andrew Cuomo is from Queens. Talk to anyone in Queens, and they’ll agree with him. This plan is entirely about Manhattan, and the singular question which I’m continually asking is:

How, in any way, would this be good for Queens?

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