The Newtown Pentacle

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crawl proudly

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Coney Island?

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Yesterday found me on the Subway, traipsing all over Brooklyn and Queens. For the full story of the extensive trip undertaken, check out my Brownstoner Queens accounting of it here. One of the destinations was actually Coney Island, where the fellow in the Bobcat pictured above was plowing snow off of the Boardwalk. Dichotomous, I tell you, dichotomous.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

By the end of the day, one had begun to feel fatigue. Not the good sort, mind you. The good kind of fatigue comes from an abundance of exercise, what I refer to as “muscle tired.” Instead, one found himself dizzied by the sensory overload which occurs after a long winter hermitage.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The group which I was traveling with came to an agreement that a stop at Nathan’s Famous was required. Surprisingly, Nathan’s charges $4.34 for a hot dog in the year 2015. I paid it, but felt like a real schmuck afterwards. $4.34 for a hot dog? What am I, Bloomberg?

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Written by Mitch Waxman

March 9, 2015 at 11:37 am

afterward gave

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More photos from an ice choked Newtown Creek.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The scene, as witnessed in DUGABO – Down Under the Greenpoint Avenue Bridge Onramp, along Newtown Creek’s so called Marion Reach. Vast sheets of ice, carried by the languid tidal action of the Creek, headed towards the East River. These shots were captured during the brief warmup on Sunday last, and let me tell something that photos cannot convey – the smell was… even by Newtown Creek standards… incredible.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

There’s a combined sewer outfall on the Queens side, right where those ripples you see in the shot above are emanating from. With melt water feeding the system, it was releasing a month’s worth of frozen stink. The smell of raw sewage is unique, and has no odiferous analogue. Like the smell of death, you instantly recoil from it, and the best way to describe it is to compare it to the taste sensation enjoyed when licking a 9 volt battery’s contact leads.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

These piles are on the Brooklyn side, nearby the Metro bio fuel plant on Kingsland Avenue. Speaking of oil, I heard back from the NYS DEC about the flowing oil I reported and described in yesterday’s post nearby the Pulaski Bridge. They believe the material observed was actually creosote oil being released from the wooden “Dolphins” which protect the bridge from allision with maritime traffic.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Tugboat Ireland seems to have taken up a somewhat permanent residence on Newtown Creek, and was tied up at the Tidewater building. My understanding is that the former petroleum facility is now owned by the Broadway Stages company, and is being used for theatrical productions as an industrial set. Perhaps the Broadway Stages people bought Ireland as well? If so, that’s some expensive window dressing.

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intelligent response

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My beloved Creek, in today’s post.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Taking advantage of the positively balmy weather on Sunday, one soon found himself at the loquacious Newtown Creek. My beloved Creek was choked with ice floe, and the atmosphere was misty. All that ice in the ground was releasing moisture into the considerably warmer air, after all.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Icy times like this are excellent for being able to visualize the currents, and the underwater features that shape them, along my beloved Newtown Creek. One was content in his communion, happily snapping away at the feature rich environment, when something was noticed.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

A fairly substantial load of oil was moving along the water, heading towards the East River with what passes for the tide on my beloved Creek. These shots were captured from the Pulaski Bridge, btw, and the oil was traveling along the Brooklyn coastline. This was about 3:45 p.m.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The oil was fairly fresh stuff, with its vintage betrayed by the rainbow sheen that it was displaying. I’ve been lucky enough to receive a bit of training on discerning the different types and nature of petroleum spills over the years, and in accordance with that training – made a call to NYS DEC Spill response hotline at 1 (800) 457-7362 to report it.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

While clicking the shutter, a second phone call was made to my pal Laura Hoffman over in Greenpoint, a local activist and a Newtown Creek Alliance board member that lives nearby the Manhattan Avenue Street end. Laura captured a series of shots from that perspective and location, and called the DEC as well.

If you see something, say something.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

February 23, 2015 at 11:00 am

perhaps pining

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Wandering, always wandering with no particular place to go.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Sadly, licpost.com reports that the Waterfront Crab House in LICs’s Hunters Point neighborhood will be closing. Although I just found out about it yesterday, owner Tony Mazzarella died a few weeks ago, and his family is reportedly selling the former Miller Hotel. Condolences are offered.

The notorious Patrick “Battle-Ax” Gleason, who served as the last Mayor of Long Island City, used to sit in a barber chair outside the Miller Hotel – which is today the Crab House – and hold court with constituent and passerby alike. This was a favorite spot, directly across the street from the LIRR train and ferry terminal. He told those he met to avoid addressing him as “Mayor”, instructing them instead to “Just call me Paddy.”

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Normally, one would be complaining about the cold and snow, but after having seen some photos of the conditions in Boston – it comparatively looks like springtime here in the Newtown Pentacle.

Recently, I attended a meeting in Greenpoint that discussed the DEP/National Grid partnership which will purpose waste gas generated by sewage processing into a commercial product. At the end of the meeting, I found myself reminding a high ranking City official that DEP is a tax payer funded utility and that National Grid is an extra national publicly traded energy corporation. The two entities have developed a rather chummy relationship which is a real cause for concern, in my opinion. Wait till the DEP’s solid waste to energy partnership with Waste Management kicks in – that’s going to be quite a show.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The whole “deck over the Sunnyside Yard” business proposed by the Big Little Mayor recently has been occupying a significant amount of time. To say that this idea is less than popular with anyone who lives here would be an understatement. Activism wise, Queens seldom gets past a simmer whereas Greenpoint is at full steam all the time. The Sunnyside Yard deck, however, has ignited something out here that is reminiscent of the sort of situation John Lindsay found himself in. Queens is boiling.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

February 18, 2015 at 11:40 am

swept aside

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Conspiracy in North Brooklyn?

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Pictured above is the FDNY’s Firefighter 2 Fireboat dousing the remains of a document storage warehouse at North 11th street right at the border of Greenpoint and Williamsburg. The building is likely a total loss and will be probably be demolished, as this was a seven alarm “all hands fire” which required the attentions of more than 200 Firefighters to control. It’s eerily similar to the Greenpoint Terminal Market fire, which “Grenperntners” will eagerly describe as an arson job designed to clear the way for real estate development. FDNY investigators described the Greenpoint Terminal Market event as an accident brought on by a homeless man’s campfire.

There’s a few conspiracy theories already forming around CitiStorage, which I’ll pass on with the caveat that these are “conspiracy theories” and nothing resembling the final analysis of what happened will be available for months until after the FDNY investigators pronounce judgement.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The first conspiracy theory is alluded to above, and declares that the Real Estate Industrial Complex was hungry for this valuable piece of land on Brooklyn’s Gold Coast. Arsonists were sent in to get rid of the structure, which is why the fire had two distinct ignition events. To me, this one doesn’t hold water, as it’s far simpler for the REIC to legally gain possession of anything they want simply by pushing the right political buttons. Look at Willets Point, or Atlantic Yards, or Hudson Yards for examples of the vulgar display of their power. This “burn out” concept used to be a thing, during the 1970’s, 80’s, and 90’s, incidentally.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The second theory requires a bit of context to fully appreciate. The documents storage facility which went up in flames housed, amongst other things, court and hospital records for the City. The Albany scandal revolving around Assembly Speaker Shelly Silver accuses him of various improprieties regarding referrals to a personal injury law firms, from which he personally profited. The conspiracy theory is that somebody torched this place to protect the former “most powerful man in New York” from some revelation or “smoking gun” which Federal investigators might have found there. Again, a conspiracy theory, not a conclusion.

from nytimes.com

Those that said they had records stored in the warehouse, which occupies nearly half a square block, included the state court system, the city Administration for Children’s Services, the city Health and Hospitals Corporation, and members of the Greater New York Hospital Association.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Whatever happened, the toxic plume of smoke from the fire has been painting the neighborhoods surrounding this spot at Bushwick Inlet for a couple of days. I was able to smell it in Astoria just last night, and as one approached the spot in Greenpoint where the shots above were captured, it was inescapable and somewhat nauseating. Pictured above is what the scene looked like in 2013, incidentally, sans conflagration.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

February 2, 2015 at 12:30 pm

plateau betwixt

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Back to the cemetery, in today’s post.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Over at the venerable Cemetery of the Evergreens in Bushwick, the W. H. Guild mausoleum is found. It’s a cast iron and cylindrical structure which is a fairly unique and unusual thing. The W.H. Guild in question is one William H. Guild of Brooklyn, who died in 1878. A rumor I’ve heard from several people is is that this is some sort of naval gun turret or something.

It’s not, it’s a boiler tank. Here’s the scoop –

Guild was a Williamsburg based manufacturer of steam pumps, boiler tanks, and all the bits that you’d fit on to them. His goods found their most useful employment in the sugar industry, but you’d also find the products offered by Messrs. Guild and Garrison of Brooklyn handy to have if you ran a steam ferry or a civil war era factory. It seems that the old man wanted to be buried in something he made, which was (and is) a boiler tank.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

You have to learn to trust Kevin Walsh at Forgotten-NY on the subject of what things used to be called, and the hidden hierophant of history proclaims that Kent Avenue in Williamsburg was once called “First Street.(Incidentally, before it was First Street it was Charles Street, so take that Kevin!)

According to Armbruster’s “Eastern District of Brooklyn, K Streets you’d have found the factory of Guild and Garrison on First Street between South 8th and South 9th streets. Armbruster actually uses the factory as a “modern” landmark to place where Kings Distillery’s “Williamsburgh Garden” beer garden was located. A somewhat more modern reference for the location of Guild and Garrison would be that it was a few blocks south of the former Domino Sugar plant. The company also maintained an office at 74 Beekman Street, in Manhattan.

from bklyn-genealogy-info.stevemorse.org

The office of Kings Distillery was in HANSFIELD Tavern. Later he opened a 3rd place along
the shore, between South 8th & South 9th Streets, calling it, Williamsburgh Garden and
many balls and festivities were held there.

GUILD & GARRISON’S Machine shop was later established there.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

It seems that Mr. Guild was involved in a bit of drama during his sunset years, having eloped at the age of 70 with an 18 year old named Rosella Stillman in 1864. The details of the affair were preserved by the Brooklyn Daily Eagle in its Wednesday, April 6, 1864 edition, the text of which is found below.

from newspapers.com

EASTERN DISTRICT

ELOPEMENT OF A MAN OF SEVENTY AND A GIRL OF EIGHTEEN

A Prominent Business Man and the Daughter of a New York Editor Disappear–What was Revealed by Inquiries–A Marriage Notice which Settled all Doubt–Off for Europe

Social circles in the Nineteenth Ward are in a state of ferment over the elopement of an eighteen-year old daughter of a well known citizen of that locality, who is one of the editors of a New York daily papers, and one of the most prominent business men in the Eastern District, who is said to be over seventy years of age.

On Monday last Mr. Amos B. STILLMAN, who resides at No. 75 Ross street, went to Coney Island, taking with him his daughter, Rosella, aged eighteen. Upon returning, Mr. STILLMAN proposed to go at once to his business in New York, and his daughter, as was her usual practice, accompanies him on his way to the ferry. At South Eighth and Second streets they parted, Mr. STILLMAN continuing on his journey to the ferry and his daughter, as he supposed, to return home. When Mr. STILLMAN reached his home after having performed his duties in New York, he was greatly surprised at being told by his wife that their daughter had not been home at all that night. The father at once proceeded to make  inquiries, but all he succeeded in ascertaining was that his daughter had visited Theodore DOW’S shoe store, No. 85 Fourth street, soon after he had left her and purchased a pair of gaiters, leaving the ones which she had been wearing, and stating that she would call for them.

Mr. STILLMAN then remembered that on parting with his daughter he had inquired of her if she had need of any money, and received a negative reply. While pondering as to where his daughter had received the money, it suddenly occurred to him that Mr. William H. GUILD, of the firm of GUILD &  GARRISON, well-known manufacturers doing business in First street, who at late was a frequent visitor at his home, had on several occasions made his daughter presents, some of which consisted of money. Mrs. STILLMAN then (yesterday) repaired to the residence of Mr. GUILD, and was told that that gentleman was not at home, and that he had not been on the previous night. Mr. STILLMAN then made up his mind that the couple had eloped. Though filled with grief at what he considered the unwise action of his daughter, the father then let the matter rest. The following notice, which appeared in a New York paper this morning, settles the question beyond all doubt:

GUILD-STILLMAN–In St. Barnaby’s Church, Williamsburgh, on Monday, July 28,

Wm. H. GUILD, of Williamsburgh, to Rosella M., eldest daughter of Amos B. STILLMAN, also of Williamsburgh. After the marriage, Mr. and Ms. GUILD sailed for Europe.

It is said that directly after being made the purchase of shoes, Miss STILLMAN entered a coach which was in waiting on Broadway, and with Mr. GUILD was driven to the church at which the wedding ceremony was performed. They were then driven to New York where they put up at a hotel. The bridegroom is a widower whose wife has been dead about a year and is a man of wealth. He has a family of grown up children.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

January 28, 2015 at 11:00 am

damnable chance

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From the very edge of the Newtown Pentacle.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The Cemetery of the Evergreens is found near the border of East New York and Bushwick, is some 225 acres in size, and is home to around a half million corpses. For a short time, during the 1920’s, it was the busiest burying ground in the entire city. Unfortunately, during my visit, the fact that Anthony Comstock is buried here was unknown to me, for I am possessed of a strong desire to first spread out a few issues of Hustler and thereupon urinate upon his grave. If that sounds shocking, you don’t know who that “assassin of joy” called Comstock was. If I’d known he was here, I’d have brought him some porn.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Evergreens was my second destination on a recent trip to the south eastern interval of the Pentacle, after having visited Machpela Cemetery. When entering the place, a humble narrator was in a state of willful ignorance. My friend Kevin Walsh over at Forgotten-NY has written extensively (and offered a walking tour) about the non sectarian Cemetery of the Evergreens, btw., but this was my first visit. Personally, I was blown away by the view, as the altitude of the hill that the cemetery is built into offers panoramic views of the entire geologic “soup bowl” that NYC is nestled into. The only competition for these tapophile views from Bushwick, in my experience, are those encountered at the Mt. Olivet Cemetery found a few miles to the north over in Maspeth.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

It must be mentioned, as always, that the Manhattan people look to Brooklyn and Queens to dispose of things they don’t want – which includes their dead. Back in 1847, the Rural Cemeteries Act was passed as a sanitary law. The RCA of 1847, a reaction to a recent Cholera outbreak in Manhattan’s Bloody Sixth Ward, decreed that no new burials were to take place on Manhattan Island and that the various sects and houses of worship housed thereupon must acquire properties in “the country.” Back then, “the country” meant the vastness of greater Newtown or the infinity of the City of Brooklyn (independent municipalities, I would mention, who permanently lost a significant acreage of otherwise profitable land to these cemeteries).

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Observed were a wealth of monuments representing several recent eras in the field of graphic design. Particularly well represented were early 20th century deco and nouveau motifs, and typography such as that used on the carvings above was of high quality and tasteful execution. Having spent as much time studying First Calvary as I have, which hosts monuments that are the epitome of an interval starting during the Civil War of the 1860’s right through 1900 or so (thoroughly Irish and German Catholic in type and marker styling), this sort of “moderne” approach to funereal typography caught my eye. Several examples of this sort of marker were noticed, with the one above recorded simply because the light was good.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

For as long as this – your Newtown Pentacle – has been focusing on the various cemeteries which comprise the so called “Cemetery Belt” there have been references offered for “disturbing subsidences.” Presumption is made that you have a life and don’t spend your time hunting around cemeteries, unlike me, and that a little bit of explanation as to what you’re looking at should be attempted for the non ghoul.

This is a washout, not a fresh interment. If it was a new burial, there would be a temporary marker of some kind and the soil would form a slight mound – there would also be tire marks from earth moving equipment and footprints. Additionally, notice the edges of the bald soil! which bear the shape of flowing water. No, what you’re seeing here is a disturbing subsidence, wherein either the entire casket has been shifted or damaged by hydrologic action – or the lid of the casket has simply collapsed – allowing soil to infiltrate, creating a void which caused column of loam to drop down.

As mentioned - a “disturbing subsidence.”

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Written by Mitch Waxman

January 20, 2015 at 11:00 am

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