The Newtown Pentacle

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Archive for the ‘Degnon Terminal’ Category

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.

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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.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

May 23, 2014 at 11:00 am

brief space

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An interesting effect observed.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

By this stage of the game, lords and ladies, the shot above must depict a scene quite familiar to your eyes. The waterway is the Dutch Kills tributary of the fabled Newtown Creek, and the industrial buildings framing it part of the Degnon Terminal here in Long Island City, Queens. The water is frozen, as would be expected in this frigid month.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Hanging around with the Newtown Creek Alliance folks, one of the terms I’ve learned which cannot be expunged from active memory is “sediment mound.” That’s when an open sewer deposits layer after layer of its cargo, over the course of decades, and piles up a mound. These mounds are normally indistinct to the eye, sitting hidden in the turbid water.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

What’s interesting in these shots, to me at least, is that the sediment mounds and other features of the bed which Dutch Kills flows through, are visible in the melting edges of the ice. It appeared that the ice didn’t form as solidly at the shorelines as it did in the center of the water. The center was, in fact, a solid plate of ice which had garbage rolling around on it.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

These were captured on January the 11th, a very foggy day. The shot above is a stitched panorama, which depicts the entire water way while facing roughly southwards.

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sent forth

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Lonely, ever so lonely.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Transversing the concrete devastations of Western Queens is best performed by ones own self, I belief, with my only company taking the form of an audiobook or podcast. Saying that, it can get pretty old pretty fast being by myself all the time, as I’m a horrible human being and this solitude offers me the opportunity for nothing but soliloquy and self critique. You can keep your professional therapist, I’d rather just wander around and beat myself up for habitually not rising to to the occasion.

I find that it’s the early hours on the weekends, those intervals marked by crowds of inebriates returning to Queens from a Saturday night bacchanalia in Manhattan, which are the loneliest. Even the Long Island Expressway seems to be a seldom traveled country road at this time of day, instead of the motorized river of steel and glass it normally presents itself as.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

It’s in the early part of the day that puzzles such as this safety taped wall present their questions most clearly to me. Is there a lurking fear that some wandering stranger will not notice a scarlet brick wall rising before them? The logic of Queens demands that there is, in fact, some wickedly good reason for the caution tape to be displayed. Perhaps a runaway nuclear reactor or a hidden cache of toxic waste, but the aforementioned logic of Queens also states that once the tape is up, the problem is solved.

The tape itself will persist until nature takes it, whereupon the wind will sweep it into an area waterway.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

One always finds it striking, on these long explorations of both internal and external landscapes, how badly maintained the roads are here in the very navel of New York City. Concrete company trucks routinely slough off the extra or unused product contained in their trucks, creating a lahar of irregular pavement. Cannot describe how many times I or some other pedestrian have tripped over these little mounds of poured stone, or how numerous and abundant they are. Probably all we deserve, anyway, as Skillman Avenue in LIC does not connect to anywhere in Manhattan.

Its ultimately our own fault for being in Queens, I guess.

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hollow betwixt

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Another day in the life of Mitch.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Last week, your humble narrator was engaged three days in a row doing the “Newtown Creek Tour” thing. The Saturday and Sunday ones were for Atlas Obscura and Brooklyn Brainery, and followed two of the routes which I have established that tell certain parts of the tale of Newtown Creek and its surrounding communities. The Friday one was a little less conventional, and played out around the Dutch Kills tributary of the larger watershed.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

A small group this time, I had a crew from LaGuardia Community College out for a general meander around their home waterway. It seems that CUNY doesn’t spend much time letting their students or faculty know exactly where it is that LaGuardia is located, or the historic significance of its location in the Degnon Terminal in Long Island City. Accordingly, one of their instructors who is deeply involved with the Creek and with Newtown Creek Alliance asked if I could inform and instruct on the subject from a historical and wayfinding POV.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

This instructor, Sarah Durand (long referred to at this blog as “the radical biologist Sarah Durand” and pictured in the forefront of the image above) has an interesting study under way on the waterway. This isn’t the one where she stitches together corpses and exposes them to electrical stimulation in order to revivify and restore them to some semblance of life, rather this is the one which involves the suspension of buckets filled with various biota at different tidal levels to gauge and measure the sort of critters which might exist in the water column. She labors to answer the question of “who can guess, all there is, which might flop and flap in the waters of the infamous Newtown Creek?”.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

October 23, 2013 at 11:48 am

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