The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Archive for the ‘Degnon Terminal’ Category

marvels unspeakable

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A possessed train?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Famously, your humble narrator has a somewhat encyclopedic knowledge of the location of every single hole in the fencing surrounding the Sunnyside Yards which is large enough to stick a camera lens through. The Amtrak people patch these lapses all the time, but others will just spontaneously appear. It’s kind of a cat and mouse situation, but given that the Yards sit between HQ and My Beloved Creek, one spends a lot of time walking back and forth past the titan facility and I do so enjoy taking pictures of rolling stock.

One particular chunk of our national railroad infrastructure caught my eye the other day – specifically Amtrak engine 631, which seemed to be possessed or something. It’s actually a bit of newish kit for them, btw. God help me for the fact that I know this.

from wikipedia

The Siemens ACS-64, or Amtrak Cities Sprinter, is an electric locomotive designed by Siemens Mobility for use in the northeastern United States. The first 70 locomotives built are to operate on the Northeast Corridor (NEC) and the Keystone Corridor, replacing the railroad’s existing fleet of AEM-7 and HHP-8locomotives. The first Amtrak ACS-64 entered service in February 2014; deliveries will last until 2015. SEPTA Regional Rail will receive an additional 13 locomotives for commuter service in 2018.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Notice how its “eyes” seem to glow red with fiendish intent? How the engineering of the thing’s leading edge seems to suggest angry eyes? Imagine having this thing bearing down on you while it was thundering down some lonely trackway in the woods of upstate NY. Something wicked this way comes, indeed.

It would be chilling, I would imagine, having those red demon eyes fix their gaze upon you as it races through the North East Corridor at 125 mph.

from wikipedia

The Northeast Corridor (NEC) is an electrified railway line in the Northeast megalopolis of the United States. Owned primarily by Amtrak, it runs from Boston through New York City, Philadelphia, and Baltimore to Washington, D.C.

The corridor is used by many Amtrak trains, including the high-speed Acela Express, intercity trains, and several long-distance trains. Most of the corridor also has frequent commuter rail service, operated by the MBTA, Shore Line East, Metro-North Railroad, New Jersey Transit, SEPTA, and MARC. Several companies run freight trains over sections of the NEC.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Amtrak’s Acela Express engine 2000, in comparison, seems like it would be quite a friendly locomotive, although it’s general outline is somewhat reminiscent of the Toho studios “Kaiju” monster and frequent Godzilla sparring partner that is called Mothra (while still in its larval phase, of course).

from wikipedia

The Acela is certified with a top speed of 165 mph (266 km/h) and reaches a maximum of 150 mph (241 km/h) in regular service. The Acela Express is the only service in North America that exceeds the U.S. Department of Transportation’s 125 mph (201 km/h) definition of high speed rail. The Acela achieves an average speed (including stops) of 81.7 mph (131 km/h) between Washington and New York, and an average speed of 66.9 mph (108 km/h) from Washington to Boston.[68] The average speed from New York to Boston is a slightly faster 69.8 mph (112 km/h). The average speed for the entire length excluding stops is 84 mph (135 km/h). Its maximum speed limit is 150 mph (241 km/h) on three sections of track totaling 33.9 mi (55 km) in Rhode Island and Massachusetts.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Lamentably, there is a lack of folkloric tale telling about the various light and heavy rail lines that transit through Western Queens. Other parts of the country tell richly ornamented tales about ghost trains and haunted rail cars. Along the Metro North tracks that feed into Manhattan via the Spuyten Duyvel bridge, there are stories of a ghostly steam locomotive, for instance.

You seldom hear tell of a haunted Subway or station, although some describe the appearance of the 7 along the elevated tracks in Sunnyside with hushed voices and describe it with an air of dread expectation.

from wikipedia

On June 13, 1915, the first test train on the IRT Flushing Line ran between Grand Central and Vernon Boulevard – Jackson Avenue, followed by the start of revenue service on June 22. Over the next thirteen years, the line was extended piece by piece to its current form between Times Square and Flushing – Main Street, after the former opened on March 14, 1927. Express service started in 1917. The service on the Flushing Line east of Queensboro Plaza was shared by the Interborough Rapid Transit Company and the Brooklyn–Manhattan Transit Corporation from 1912 to 1949; BMT trains were designated 9, while IRT services were designated 7 on maps only. The 7 designation was assigned to trains since the introduction of the front rollsigns on the R12 in 1948.

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shore road

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As detailed in this recent post, my camera was destroyed in an accident.

For those of you who have offered donations to pay for its replacement, the “Donate” button below will take you to paypal. Any contributions to the camera fund will be greatly appreciated, and rewarded when money isn’t quite as tight as it is at the moment.

Donate Button with Credit Cards

– photo by Mitch Waxman

In addition to every thing else going on in a humble narrator’s life, a full on kitchen renovation project is playing out in Newtown Pentacle HQ. Our landlord graciously decided to upgrade the physical environs hereabouts, and budgeted for new cabinetry and the services of my upstairs neighbors – who are construction guys. They are actually doing a fantastic job, but since our little dog Zuzu is the curious type, one has been stuck indoors for the better part of the last week in pursuance of her not getting built into a cabinet or something.

Last weekend, Our Lady of the Pentacle assumed the duty, and one was free to wander about in the concrete devastations for a short interval. Of course, my feet carried me to my absolute favorite of Newtown Creek’s tributaries – Dutch Kills in LIC. That’s where I observed a family of Snowy Egrets working the waterway.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There were a couple of juvenile egrets there, so one presumes that this was a family. Shortly after the shot above was acquired, a Red Tail Hawk appeared. Startled, the Egrets scattered, and I decided to head over to Hunters Point Avenue to see if they were still hanging around Dutch Kills.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The adult Egret had relocated to the west side of the waterway, and was hunting from atop a sediment mound. Believe it or not, there’s a ton of fish and other critters in the water here, all of which would make a nice snack for one of these latter day archosaurs. One such as myself is easily bored, however, so I moved on.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Crossing the Hunters Point Avenue bridge, and looking south towards the Long Island Expressway and infinite Brooklyn, I noticed that there was a bit of a hub bub down in the water.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Like a pack of tiny sharks, a school of fishes were ripping bits off of some dead thing floating in the water.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Probably, this critter was once a bird. Possibly a rat, but it kind of looks “birdy” to me.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A near “100%” crop of the shot doesn’t reveal too much about the dead thing, I’m afraid, other than that it had become fish food. Nature is lovely to behold and all, but don’t forget that the singular goal of every thing that lives is ultimately to digest every other thing that lives. A waterway is in many ways a giant open stomach, or in the case of Dutch Kills – a giant open lower intestine.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Tours –

July 18th, 2015
Newtown Creek City of Water Day Boat Tour 
with Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance, click here for details and tickets.

July 26th, 2015
Modern Corridor – LIC, Queens Walking Tour
with Brooklyn Brainery, click here for details and tickets.

titanic gateway

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3 top reasons that Listicles blow chunks, in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

You many have noticed a certain invective this week, aimed specifically at the so called “Listicles.” The phylum of Internet posts propagated by buzzfeed and other high volume sites which promise “5 things we love about” or “3 things we hate about” or “7 best moments in…” annoy me as they tend to dumb down the discourse and feed off of content created by others. One does not offer promises which will not be kept, but one oath which a humble narrator will swear to is that Newtown Pentacle will not be offering posts of that ilk to you in 2015. My plan for the year is to continue the current publishing schedule – 5 days a week, Monday to Friday, with posts arriving sometime between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Add in my two posts a week at Brownstoner Queens, as well as my other obligations, and I think you’ll agree that my plate is rather full. Pictured above: one of the best lit USPS trucks on Northern Blvd in Queens, which is parked by a Best Buy.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Goals for the new year are non existent. I have an odd desire to photograph Rockaway Beach during a blizzard, for some reason, but plans for the year are still forming up. When Spring comes, I’ll likely resume my walking tours of the Newtown Creek watershed and other area waterways, but nothing is definite or scheduled yet. I do have a certain something that I’m trying to cook up on Staten Island, but it’s too early to mention specifics on that one. One desire which I will admit to is to spend some time exploring the more easterly parishes of Queens a bit, scuttling past Maspeth and Jackson Heights and into the central districts of the Borough.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There’s plenty going on right here in LIC to keep an eye on, of course. The Degnon Terminal will be receiving a major facelift this year when LaGuardia Community College implements its capital program in January to reconstruct the facade of its “Building C” – the former “Thousand Windows Bakery” of the Loose Wiles company. Additionally, Tower Town has now extended itself all the way to Queens Plaza and there’s lots of new construction going on to keep an eye on. As always, however, My Beloved Creek will retain center stage in 2015.

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everywhere present

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I also hate Tuesdays.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Recently one visited the Hunters Point Avenue Bridge, which spans the Dutch Kills tributary of Newtown Creek in Long Island City’s Degnon Terminal. It was low tide. The smell was abominable.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The tidal evacuation of the liquid during an unusually low winter tide – and we will just refer to that hellish chemical compound which sloshes about and between the shattered bulkheads of Dutch Kills as “water” – had revealed the hateful ooze and depraved sediments which underlie and poison the canal.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Gaze into the Black Mayonnaise, lords and ladies of Newtown. An amalgamation of centuries of sewage and oil and industrial pollution, as concentrated into a hard jelly that extends from twenty to thirty feet down from the surface. The wind was rather still, this day that the sediment mounds rose, and Dutch Kills exuded its peculiar flavor profile.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The smell back here isn’t necessarily that of sewage, which has a distinctive and quite unique odor,  this scent is also biological. The ambient aroma is that of sewage that’s been allowed to simmer, that is. These sediment mounds are teeming with armies of mephitic entities – most of whom could be politely described as “pathogens” – and when the “water” pulls out, they all fart at once and it smells not unlike rotting egg salad sandwiches.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The odor is best described as a flavor, as it activates a region far back on the tongue in addition to the nasal passage, which autonomically causes the abdomen to tighten up as well as causing vocalizations of some sort. The vocalizations are either profane or invoke the name of a god. To one such as myself, it is nepenthe, of course.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This century old point of view, of the former Loose Wiles Bakery at the Degnon Terminal in Long Island City, is about to be inextricably altered. A multi million dollar upgrade to the building, which serves as the modern day “Building C” of LaGuardia Community College, will be wiping away the intricate but crumbling plaster facade which has been so long familiar.

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physical resistance

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This is actually a Newtown Pentacle post, sorry for the spam this morning.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Not sure how, as my passwords etc. were still secure when I checked, but at 8:24 this morning – a spam posting propagated out from this site. First time in better than 5 years that there’s been a breech, but security protocols (changing passwords, mainly) have been invoked. Sorry for the spam, however, but… y’know, hackers and spam bots are clever.

The offending post has been removed from the Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr feeds, but there’s nothing I can do about the emailed subscriber feed so please delete it without clicking on the links. Believe me when I tell you, the last thing I wanted to deal with before finishing my coffee was this.

Your humble narrator is preparing for quite a busy weekend, after all.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On Saturday, I’ll be leading an excursion with the Atlas Obscura folks in Long Island City. 13 Steps around Dutch Kills will explore the Queens tributary of Newtown Creek and wind up over in Brooklyn. We’re meeting at the corner of Jackson Avenue and 23rd street at 11 a.m. and the walk will be around three hours or so. There’s lots of great stuff to take pictures of, and the route will carry us along one of my favorite paths. Advance tix are recommended, click here for the link, but walkups are also very welcome if you’re a last minute sort of lord or lady.

The tour will set you back $20, and as it’s the last Dutch Kills walk of 2014, come with?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On Sunday, the tour will be in DUKBO – Down Under the Kosciuszko Bridge Onramp – a part of brooklyn which I fondly refer to as “the Poison Cauldron.” This is likely the second to last time EVER that this tour will happen, as the coming bridge project is going to tear most of this area down. I was there last weekend and most of the businesses are gone, leaving behind a post industrial moonscape. We’ll be walking through petroleum country at the beginning, and I’ll be telling the story of Standard Oil and the Greenpoint Oil Spill along the path. Seriously, if you’ve been putting off coming on one of these, do it now. The Poison Cauldron of the Newtown Creek will soon be a construction zone, which will preclude exploration.

This tour is being produced by the good folks from Brooklyn Brainery, whose ticketing page is found here. Walkups are very welcome, we’ll be at the corner of Kingsland and Norman Avenues in Greenpoint at 10 a.m. The tour will set you back $25.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Walking Tours-

Saturday, September 27th, 13 Steps Around Dutch Kills
Walking Tour with Atlas Obscura, click here for tickets and more info.

Sunday, September 28th, The Poison Cauldron of the Newtown Creek
Walking Tour with Brooklyn Brainery, click here for tickets and more info.

spectral summer

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Damnation, hell, and other allegories plague my days.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s a gull catching the free ride on the Staten Island Ferry, a critter smarter than me who says “why walk (or fly) when you can ride?” Severe fatigue marks this day for a humble narrator. A freelance assignment carried one out to storied Red Hook yesterday, a trip made remarkable by the atypically wonderful weather. Having clicked the shutter while pointing the camera at my intended targets, and not having much else to do for the afternoon, one decided to walk home to Astoria.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The shot above depicts what the City looks like from the water, at night. Walking from Red Hook to Astoria sounds insane, I know, but it’s only about 10 miles from A to B. Along the way, one gets to witness the majesty of the East River while moving out of Red Hook, into Brooklyn Bridge Park, through Vinegar Hill, past the Navy Yard, into Williamsburg and Greenpoint, over the Pulaski into Hunters Point, and then the Queensbridge, Ravenswood, and finally Astoria neighborhoods are encountered in Queens. It takes around four to five hours to do this section of the western coast of Long Island.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My beloved Dutch Kills, above. When you return home, a little puff of steam is released as you doff your shoes. You really do feel it the next day, mainly in the lateral part of the hips, which is where my feeling of fatigue comes in.

It’s actually so silly cool a walk that I’m considering organizing a free event on the Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend, the 29th of November, and calling it the “Red Hook to Astoria Challenge.” This won’t be a tour, per se, it’ll be more of a hang out. More to come on this.

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This weekend-

Saturday, August 16th, LIC’s Modern Corridor
With Atlas Obscura, click here for tickets and more info.

combats betwixt

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Just like the good old days.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Lugging a dslr and its associated kit around can be quite a drag.

Camera body and lenses, and all the other crap I use, weigh something like ten pounds. Doesn’t sound like much, but that’s all on one shoulder and after awhile, it feels like you’ve got an anchor suspended across your back. I used to exclusively carry a Canon G10 with a specialized sort of mini tripod that involves rare earth magnets, and just to mix things up, for the last couple of days I’ve left the dslr and camera bag at home and taken the G10 and its mount with me instead.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The G10 is a grand little camera, notable mainly for its lens. The tiny sensor captures a quite noisy image – these shots were captured at ISO 200’s digital equivalent. My 7D dslr would render ISO 1000 in a similar fashion, something you can chalk up to sensor size and processor chip power. Still, it’s quite liberating to be carrying something that isn’t much heavier than a book for a change, and the bulk of multiple lenses was not missed on recent walks.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The singular virtue enjoyed when carrying this particular camera emanates from the fancy magnet tripod I’ve attached to it, which was originally designed to work as a mount for the sort of laser leveler which a carpenter or drywall installer might employ.

Multiple rare earth magnets provide a steady grip on any ferrous surface, allowing for a steady and unyielding mount for the image capture. At night, I’ll attach a wire release trigger to the device, which further minimizes camera shake and allows long exposure shots at ISO 100, the lowest and least noisy setting the thing is capable of.

Have a cool holiday weekend, lords and ladies, and take lots of pictures. I know I will.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

May 23, 2014 at 11:00 am

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