The Newtown Pentacle

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Night shooting in DUPBO, Down under the Pulaski Bridge Onramp.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Saturday last, your humble narrator attended the first half of the North Brooklyn Boat Club’s annual “Rock the Pulaski” party. One arrived a bit early, staked out a spot of the bulkhead, and waited for it to get dark. Pictured above, obviously, is Frederick Zurmuhlen’s 1954 vintage double bascule Pulaski Bridge – owned and operated by the NYC Department of Transportation.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

While squeezing out tripod shots of the Newtown Creek scenery, this critter suddenly made an appearance. I’m told that it’s a juvenile Night Heron. It seemed to be doing some hunting, and was rather non-plussed when I attached the flash to my camera.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The bird was hunting worms, of the aquatic variety, and using a floating plank of wood as a platform from which to do so. That’s actually a peanut shell in its beak in the shot above. Apparently, Night Herons like peanuts.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

A long exposure shot of the scene, looking towards Long Island City’s Hunters Point neighborhood, and the Vernon Avenue Street end. Once upon a time, the Vernon Avenue Bridge and the Newtown Creek Towing Company (and an Ulmer Brewery saloon) would have been in the center of the shot. That’s what it looks like at night, in DUPBO.

“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.

Written by Mitch Waxman

September 22, 2014 at 12:00 pm

mournful planets

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Caedite eos. Novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Many times have I commented on the odd causality surrounding certain dates in the historical record. Obviously – September 11 has become the center of attention for NY historians since 2001, but this is a week wherein propitious events seem to have happened over the centuries. To begin with, the European discovery and description of our little town seems to have begun some four hundred and five years ago today.

In 1609, September 12th was the day that a fellow named Henry Hudson sailed up a certain river after having noticed two or three large islands in a natural harbor, onboard a Dutch East India Company ship called the Halve Maen.

Oddly enough, September 12th is considered to be the anniversary of the Battle of Marathon by scholarly sources.

Then there’s the First World War, and September 12th is the day that Gerry decided to dig in – which began three and a half years of trench warfare.

from greatwar.co.uk

From 12th September 1914 the German Army began to “dig in” on the high ground of the Chemin des Dames ridge on the north bank of the river Aisne. The Germans dug defensive trenches with the intention of securing the position and preventing any further possibility of withdrawal. This battlefield area witnessed the beginnings of entrenched positions and the change from a mobile war to a static deadlock between the opposing forces. From this date the entrenchments would gradually spread along the whole length of the Western Front, would become deeper and more impregnable and would characterize the siege warfare fighting of the Western Front for the following three and a half years.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

As mentioned in the past, your humble narrator has been writing a bi-weekly column over at Brownstoner Queens.

There’s a few of these posts which I’d direct you to check out, including:

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Oddly enough, I’ve got this weekend off from tours and obligations.

I plan on attending Kevin Walsh’s Forgotten Tour #83, which will explore Little Neck and Douglaston, in an effort to ameliorate my utter ignorance about eastern Queens. Also, I just received my paper back copy of Robert Caro’s “The Power Broker” from Amazon, so there’s  a bit of reading I’m anxious to get into.

“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.

Written by Mitch Waxman

September 12, 2014 at 11:16 am

ragged and dusty

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A few views of “Our Town” in today’s post.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Your humble narrator has finally attained a few hours of sleep, and plans on spending a rare day off dealing with the abundances of laundry which have collected around HQ, then doing some banking, and attending a Newtown Creek Monitoring Committee meeting over in Greenpoint. If it doesn’t rain tonight, one plans on capturing some tripod shots of Newtown Creek on the way back home to Astoria. Things seem to come at me in bunches these days, with back to back events that are followed by long intervals in front of the computer developing shots.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Once upon a time, one was known for his ability to “multi task,” accomplishing several things simultaneously. This is what always made me a valuable hire in the advertising world, but the ravages of advancing age have reduced this quality. These days, one is happy if he can chew gum and walk at the same time, what with the calcification of the jellies in my head and all. Soon, I will be reduced to only being allowed to use spoons, in the name of safety. The sharp tines of a fork will be naught but the stuff of cherished memory.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

All ‘effed up, this sort of whining about infirmity and the advance of personal entropy is the product of too much solitary time. For some reason, one is surprised when somebody recognizes me, or offers a compliment about one of my little histories and accompanying pictures. It is easy to brush aside what you have done, in the name of what you haven’t. Why is it that the “big” good stuff you’ve accomplished is so easy to forget, why the “small” bad stuff can easily keep you awake at night? Others seem to remember the former, while I’m obsessed with the latter. Odd.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

September 9, 2014 at 11:50 am

ethereal harmoniousness

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Mystery is such a bother.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

In another one of the dynamic and action packed moments which populate my days, your humble narrator was leaving LIC’s Sweetleaf coffee shop in LIC on Saturday when a cool car suddenly manifested itself within Jackson Avenue’s left turn lane for the Pulaski Bridge. The pillars of heaven began to shake, and the camera found itself deployed.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Now, here’s the thing… one prides himself on the ability to focus in on any random thing found in the street and then finding out everything that can be reasonably discovered about it. This automobile has me stumped. Zooming in at a billion percent in photoshop shows the “lazy s” logo of the Studebaker company emblazoned on the red disks at the center of the wheel covers, but…

- photo by Mitch Waxman

This car also resembles a 1939 Pontiac Deluxe 2 Door Coach in many ways, but there’s no “silver streak” running down the middle of the hood and the grill is all wrong for that model and then there’s those Studebaker logos on the wheels. Grrr. A four door version of the Pontiac model reveals a very similar silhouette to that exhibited by this car, however.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Nothing I’ve seen from South Bend, Indiana’s own Studebaker during the late 1930’s or early 40’s looks remotely like this. If there’s anyone out there with a specialized knowledge of the subject, please add a comment to this post and educate not just me but your fellow lords and ladies.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The thing was heading to Brooklyn, which is always kind of a mistake. Who would want to leave Queens?

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

September 8, 2014 at 11:00 am

fancying that

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The new normal, the way we live now, and so on.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The recent imbroglios surrounding breaches of security in and around the fabled Brooklyn Bridge does not surprise one at all. For several years, your humble narrator has been pointing out that there is no security whatsoever – outside of highly visible areas within Manhattan – being provided to NYC’s infrastructure other than “security theater” which is a sort of kabuki. Billions have disappeared into the black hole that is “homeland security” over the last decade, and when officialdom is asked where it has gone the response is often a play on “if I told you, I’d have to kill you to maintain the secret.” Meanwhile, within a period of just a few weeks over the summer, foreign nationals have managed to penetrate the so called “ring of steel” at the Brooklyn Bridge twice.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

One cannot count the number of times that this blog has discussed this “apeshit security situation” – whether it be fences left unlocked and unguarded at the Sunnyside Yard on holiday weekends (or any of the hundreds of unmonitored infrastructure sites in LIC which are left to fend for themselves) or the abrogation of any semblance of sense that allows anonymous cars and trucks to be parked directly under the structural elements of area bridges. If a group of German hipsters can swap out the flag on the Brooklyn Bridge, they had time… and opportunity. Should a bad actor have gotten up there, and not some Russian tourist hoping to take a selfie just a few weeks after the flag incident, we’d be having a very different conversation than whether or not the Mayor’s family danced well at the Caribbean Day Parade or not.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

I’m reminded of a presentation and speech offered by a certain Lieutenant in the NYPD Counter Terrorism Unit who showed up in Astoria at a community meeting around a year and a half ago. The officer instructed the citizenry that should they witness anyone taking pictures of the various area bridges, a call to the Police should be made, intoning that photographers are probably working with foreign Terrorist organizations as scouts. This fellow turned up in combat gear, wearing an aviation jumpsuit and sporting a speed holstered automatic weapon rather than a standard NYPD duty or even dress uniform. It should be pointed out that despite his rhetoric, and the billions that have been poured into securing the vital infrastructure of NYC, I still could have done whatever I wanted under the Queensboro bridge when shooting these pictures of its underpinnings just last week (and on the very same day the NYPD Commish announced a tightening of the reigns around such structures). There are no cameras, drones, sensors, or even some schmuck cop who has been consigned to walking a beat keeping an eye on things down here. Where has all that Homeland Security money gone? Are we allowed to know, or is that a state secret?

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

This weekend-

Saturday, September 6th, The Insalubrious Valley of the the Newtown Creek
Walking Tour with Atlas Obscura, click here for tickets and more info.

Written by Mitch Waxman

September 3, 2014 at 12:36 pm

singular division

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Everywhere I go, there I am.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

A busy holiday weekend for a humble narrator, and for you, ended with a humid exhalation of heat it would seem. Ribald barbecue notwithstanding (one grills a mean pork chop), the holiday interval has been personally marked with a stunning amount of photos which were captured during it. There was a Tugboat race on Sunday, y’know.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Additionally, I attended a “Newark Bay” tour with my pals from the Working Harbor Committee on Saturday, so an abundance of new maritime shots are currently being processed here at HQ. Intervals like this one are great, as I capture a lot of images, but also stink as I need to process and “develop” them afterwards – trapping one in front of the computer for days. Still, no reason to complain, as I have a system for turning these shots around quickly, and sticking to it means everything.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Interestingly, I might have discovered a spot where other dimensions rub up against our dross material world, over in Queens Plaza. Not sure if we live in the evil mirror universe, where Spock has a beard, or if our reverse counterparts do. I can tell you that the humble narrator staring back at me from the other side was clean shaven, so perhaps I’m the evil version, as I sport whiskers just like evil Spock.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

This weekend-

Saturday, September 6th, The Insalubrious Valley of the the Newtown Creek
Walking Tour with Atlas Obscura, click here for tickets and more info.

Written by Mitch Waxman

September 2, 2014 at 12:04 pm

defined apprehensions

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Twirling, ever twirling.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The affability of recent climate has seen me visiting old haunts and novel locale alike in recent weeks, which might be described as having been a somewhat pleasurable set of experiences. That would mean, of course, that your humble narrator was actually capable of experiencing a sensation called “pleasure.” A series of dull events punctuated by occasional gastro-intestinal distress, all sorts of bacterial and viral infections, and the oft bizarre actions of others is the way one such as myself describes “Life.”

One bright spark in the otherwise gathering clouds of existential horror which plague me are unexpected moments of serendipity.

A train passing by can excite one endlessly, and reminds that “you have to appreciate the little things.”

In my case, it’s big things that go “thruuummmm thruuuuuuummmm thruuummmm” or “claaacckkclaaacckkclaaacckk” as they pass by, but I’m all ‘effed up.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Good days are ones where I’m not walking to go anyplace in particular. Days when I leave the house and decide only which compass point to walk toward. For some reason, its not east that often, as that’s usually looking into the light. Instinct always points my path towards water, no matter where I am. It was kind of interesting finding myself in Queens Plaza, which I used to inhabit back in 2009 and 2010 during the Queensboro Bridge Centennial period but which I mainly cross through these days on my way to someplace in Brooklyn or Hunters Point.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Luckily, Our Lady of the Pentacle had agreed to visit the Brooklyn Grange roof top farm here in Astoria with a friend of ours who subscribes to their CSA program and I tagged along. While they picked up some quality produce, I got busy with the camera. Serendipity at work, when I woke up that morning, seeing this vista overlooking the Sunnyside Yards and the Shining City of Manhattan was not on the menu.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

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