The Newtown Pentacle

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Archive for the ‘Jackson Avenue’ Category

daytime pilgrimmage

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Jackson Avenue, in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One has been watching the construction efforts underway at the former West Chemical site adjoining Queens Plaza for a while now. Building condominium towers in Queens Plaza is a questionable proposition, beggaring the question “who would really want to live in Queens Plaza?,” but the bigger one for me is “would you want to live on the former location of a chemical factory?.” I often remark to myself that the reason why the history of Queens is often so tough a nut to crack is the careful obfuscation of its past by the real estate industrial complex so as to preclude casual mention of the fact that so many of the new residential towers rising from Western Queens are in fact built atop such sites.

State and City officialdom call sites like these “brownfields,” which sounds a lot better than “toxic and irreversibly polluted” I guess. Just say “affordable housing” or “green infrastructure” and you’ll feel better about the whole thing.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Brownfield remediation, or “opportunity area,” sounds a heck of a lot better at cocktail parties and let’s face it – lower Manhattan and North Brooklyn cocktail parties tend to grind into uncomfortable territory when you mention the environmental consequence of a century’s worth of industrial use. One would point out that at least the “powers that are” aren’t planning on putting a school on top of the old West Chemical site, but that brings up the uncomfortable subject of the infrastructure required to support a residential population being inserted into a former industrial zone, and the lack thereof, so that’s best avoided as well so as to not make the bond brokers skittish and derail the program.

It will not be conducive, condo sales wise, to mention all of those closed FDNY units or the frankly astounding conditions encountered at the centuried Queensboro or Ravenswood NYCHA projects, nor where the nearest hospital emergency room is located.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The old “chickens coming home to roost” adage will likely be punching Western Queens in the nose some time in the late 2020’s – by my estimate. That’s when our trains will be running at (instead of near) capacity, our lack of school desks and hospital beds will be most apparent, and when the new populations installed in these former industrial corridors begin to organize – politically speaking. One wonders if these new populations will vote in as reliable and “party loyal” a fashion as the current residents do. Will the 20’s roar, or howl, for the Democrats?

The folks who can afford the so called “affordable housing,” rising from these “brownfields,” will they vote for a Democrat party candidate and continue the rule of the “Queens Machine” – or will they support somebody else who is a little more in tune with them socioeconomically? Only time, and a roll of the political dice, will tell.

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Upcoming Tours –

July 12th, 2015
Glittering Realms Walking Tour
with Newtown Creek Alliance, click here for details and tickets.

ought to be

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Photo enforced indeed.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A point is made to document the demolition/construction process at the former 5ptz/Neptune Meter site along Jackson Avenue in LIC. Whenever one is scuttling past, the camera ends up getting stuck into some gap in the construction fencing and progress on the site is recorded.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One feels a certain responsibility to do so, as everyone else stopped paying attention when the graffiti art museum was torn down, but since a buried tributary of Newtown Creek flows throughout the ground here, I consider it to be part of my turf. There’s a good amount of poison in the ground, I’m told, but don’t worry – it’s been designated a “Brownfield Reclamation Site” by the State and City so obviously the soil here will be returned to natural splendor by the cleanup process. Either that or they’ll just pile a bunch of clean dirt onto the surface to achieve the sixty inches of clean fill required by the State environmental people.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One would point out that in other Brownfield Reclamation Sites, you’d notice monitoring wells and pumping equipment at work. You might observe a temporary structure that looks like a giant tent being erected to protect the surrounding neighborhood from the process. There would be fellows wearing protective gear. At 5ptz, they seem to just be digging holes and placing steel.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Jobs, jobs, jobs, I guess. Progress on the March and all that.

On a historical note – did you know that the Title 1 slum clearance projects of the 1950’s and 60’s actually expanded the slums? That more people lost their homes than gained new ones? That the rent for the apartment complexes which would eventually become NYCHA housing were more expensive than the so called slum tenements which they replaced? That shattering the communities and neighborhoods of pre war NYC actually contributed mightily to the conditions of crime and poverty which bedeviled the City throughout the late 20th century and continue to this day?

“Progress,” and the ghost of Robert Moses, are still with us. When you hear the Mayor say “affordable housing” – think “slum clearance” instead.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Tours –

June 11th, 2015
BROOKLYN Waterfront Hidden Harbor Boat Tour
with Working Harbor Committee, click here for details and tickets.

June 13th, 2015
The Insalubrious Valley of the Newtown Creek Walking Tour
with Atlas Obscura, click here for details and tickets.

June 20th, 2015
Kill Van Kull Walking Tour
with Brooklyn Brainery, click here for details and tickets.

Written by Mitch Waxman

June 8, 2015 at 11:00 am

preserved body

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LIC, in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One always seems to be heading somewhere, but somehow I never seem to arrive. An attempt to grab as many shots of the Bank of Manhattan Building in Queens Plaza, before a 70 atory monstrosity rises next to it (literally) has been underway for several months. Got this one on Sunday morning, while walking over to Greenpoint to conduct a Newtown Creek Walking Tour for Newtown Creek Alliance and the Municpal Art Society’s Janeswalk event. I’m seldom found in Queens Plaza in the morning, so a few camera dials were adjusted and the shutter button was pressed.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Along my path, this hunk of construction equipment was encountered, which was similarly bathed in morning light. Should Western Queens ever adopt its own flag, I would suggest that both back hoe’s and construction cranes form part of the design.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Speaking of construction, over on the corner of Jackson Avenue and the former Jane Street in Queens Plaza, you’d never know that West Chemical was ever there. Thats part of the plan I suppose – who would want to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on a condominium in Queens Plaza if they knew their home was founded on the site of a chemical factory? The Real Estate Industrial Comlex has done pretty good work in obfuscating the history of Hunters Point – no one there asks about the plumes of Benzene, Oil, or solvents in the ground.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Tours –

May 16, 2015 –
13 Steps Around Dutch Kills with Atlas Obscura

with Newtown Creek Alliance Historian Mitch Waxman, click here for details and tickets.

May 31, 2015 –
Newtown Creek Boat Tour
with Working Harbor Committee and Newtown Creek Alliance Historian Mitch Waxman, click here for tickets.

Written by Mitch Waxman

May 7, 2015 at 11:00 am

cosmic vengeance

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Death, annihilation, hatred.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The shots in today’s post come from that time before Viking Hell consumed our megalopolis, and depict the modern version of Long Island City from a fairly high vantage. The glaciers have covered all of this by now, and the frost giants – or Jotun – now exercise sovereign control this territory. One begins to grasp why the suicide rate is so high in Northern Europe’s frost belt.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Enormous amounts of study have been enacted, during these cold and dark months, centering around the subject of the Sunnyside Yards. It’s odd, how you can “know” a lot about something, and then discover that your knowledge base is ephemeral at best. Then you start reading century old engineering reports and examine old maps of the area, and the depths of your ignorance become apparent. I can tell you many things now – for instance, the chief engineer who built the yards was named Albert Noble, and he oversaw the East River division of the Pennsylvania Railroad’s efforts during the “New York Tunnel Expansion” which occurred between 1904 and 1910.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

In the coming months, I will be talking a LOT about the yards, and the Big Little Mayor’s plans to deck them over and wreck at least two thriving communities in the process. What I can say at this point in time, however, is that the amount of taxpayer money which would be required to deck over the close to 200 acres of the Sunnyside Yards could easily reactivate several LIRR lines in Queens AND extend the 7 line all the way to College Point. We are talking 150-200 billion dollars for this caprice, and that’s before any structure rises from the deck.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One of the things that has also emerged, and this is fairly novel for me, is empathy for the Real Estate Industrial Complex investors who have been dutifully “developing” Long Island City for the last 25 years. Can you imagine investing millions in a piece of property, securing financing for construction and obeying the annoyances of the regulatory process, all the while greasing all the right political palms – and then having a one term Mayor come along and announce a plan that will devalue all you’ve done?

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Written by Mitch Waxman

February 27, 2015 at 11:00 am

human resemblances

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7 things that suck about Listicles. – which all suck.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

New Years Eve is an event eschewed, but one can be observed reluctantly engaging in a bit of socializing on the date at the urging and insistence of Our Lady of the Pentacle. Pleasant company notwithstanding, the holiday demands ribald acts and sophomoric reminiscing for a series of less than sublime moments which played out over the prior twelve months, and the celebratory ritual carries a certain expectation or promise of convivial warmth which it seldom delivers. Vast quantities of intoxicating liquors are usually on hand, and observation has revealed this particular holiday to noncoincidentally be a savager of personal relationships. New Years Eve often ends up being one of the saddest nights of the year, as one person or another falls into a dark psychic state as they recount victories and failures past.

For one such as myself, who enjoys the art of self recrimination, the “year in review” brings on naught but angst and existential horror – but I’m all ‘effed up, so there you go.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Perhaps it’s chronic sleep deprivation talking, but I’ve never experienced a good New Years Eve Party. One year in Connecticut, a friend and I spent the night chopping down a tree out of boredom, which was in fact the most fun I ever had on the date. I look forward to the long dark months between now and Saint Patrick’s day, an endless progression of cold and sunless days punctuated only by varying degrees of ice and storm. Can’t you see it? Stretching out before us like some vast bank of fog that obscures and occludes the horizon? A black dog that runs alongside of you, as you reach for a distant point in the gray haze – where warmth and light might be found – that always seems to be moving away from you no matter how fast you approach?

The black dog waits for January to beg for treats, and will more than bark if denied.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Worst of all… the resolutions and vows will be uttered by all – to shed body weight, break bad habits, or to start newer and uncharacteristically wholesome ones. Prayer and desperate pleas to other dimensional omnipotences will be offered, by zealots and drunkards and the mothers of sick children. Lovers and friends will swear false allegiances, idiots will pull off their shirts and drunkenly stand in the middle of the room screaming “HOOOYAAAA” when the clock strikes midnight. Enemies will embrace and kiss each other. When these petitioners and claimants find themselves awakened to the cold realities of the year 2015, as the burning thermonuclear eye of god itself rises in the sky once again on the first day of the first month… Sigh…

It’s all so depressing.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

December 31, 2014 at 11:00 am

many corridors

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Thursday? Hell yeah, Bro. THURSDAY!

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Stupidly, last night one was sharing his nascent plans and aspirations for the coming year with Our Lady of the Pentacle. Our Lady is more than supportive of me, that’s not what was stupid. Instead it the falsehood that one such as myself has any control, whatsoever, over either his near or long term future. The captain of this ship offers that the old adage “life is what happens while you’re making other plans” sort of rules the roost, and that control of the wheelhouse is up for grabs.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Once, I allowed myself to have aspirations, most of which were vainglorious. Youthful vagaries turned into middle aged regrets, and those regrets have hardened into diamonds as time has gone by. At least there is some treasure for the old dragon to hoard, although there isn’t exactly a market out there slavering for regret diamonds and every time I try to breathe fire it brings on a jag of coughing and a runny nose.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There is desire, though, so I know I’m not dead. Some sort of adventure is required, and soon, however. A humble narrator feels like a ferret in a cage, thanks to these multiple weeks of non stop rain which have forced both myself and the camera into a sort of domestic incarceration. Desperation for a stimulating or exciting experience usually forces me into some sort of extreme at this time of year. In the meantime, I’m still working my way through Robert Caro’s “Power Broker” biography of Robert Moses, which is a very, very good book.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

December 11, 2014 at 11:19 am

common attributes

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Wednesdays? I can take ’em or leave ’em.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Curmudgeon, that’s what one fears he is best described as these days. It is best to be alone, I think. At least that way the only person that can disappoint or malign, and the methods utilized thereof, is well known. Frankly, I’ve grown tired of watching others play out their passion plays and foibles, while heading toward obvious conclusions. I’m not going to be saving anyone from themselves anymore, as that circuitry has become burned out in my brain. Go ahead and grasp that wire which has fallen into a puddle, for I’m not going to caution you not to. Not anymore. Go ahead, see what happens.

from wikipedia

Misanthropy is the general hatred, distrust or disdain of the human species or human nature. A misanthrope, or misanthropist is someone who holds such views or feelings. The word’s origin is from Greek words μῖσος (misos, “hatred”) and ἄνθρωπος (anthrōpos, “man, human”). The condition is often confused with asociality.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Logical progressions, falling dominoes… I can see these things clearly. Incompetence is rewarded in modern discourse, where “trying” is a worthy alternative to succeeding. Everybody is a winner and there is no qualitative scale by which to judge the efficacy of action. The human hive has driven me to the edge of wit, and everywhere I look – what drives our society is the notion of what should be rather than what is. A humble narrator wishes nothing more than to emulate Ezekiel and retreat to the hermitage of wild mountain tops to enjoy some alone time.

from wikipedia

A loner is a person who avoids or does not actively seek human interaction. There are many reasons for solitude, intentional or otherwise. Intentional reasons include spiritual, mystic and religious considerations or personal philosophies. Unintentional reasons involve being introverted, highly sensitive, extremely shy, or having various mental disorders.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Vain glory and hubris rule. False faith and political equivalency rule over the hive, with carefully selected cautionary tales presented by self elected elites as exemplars of the “way things should be.” All these ideations drive one towards isolation, the status of a curmudgeon, and are exactly the sort of emotionally callous states that the forces shaping our society hope we will all embrace.

note: Today’s “depressive” post will likely be followed by a “manic” one tomorrow, btw.

from wikipedia

Bipolar disorder, also known as bipolar affective disorder (and originally called manic-depressive illness), is a mental disorder characterized by periods of elevated mood and periods of depression. The elevated mood is significant and is known as mania or hypomania depending on the severity or whether there is psychosis. During mania an individual feels or acts abnormally happy, energetic, or irritable. They often make poorly thought out decisions with little regard to the consequences. The need for sleep is usually reduced. During periods of depression there may be crying, poor eye contact with others, and a negative outlook on life.

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