The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Archive for the ‘Long Island Expressway’ Category

debased patois

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America’s Workshop, in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Marching involuntarily down Borden Avenue in LIC recently, one decided to head east on Review Avenue towards Calvary Cemetery. Along the way, the striking architecture of the Queens Midtown Expressway section of the larger Long Island Expressway caught my attention. This section of Borden Avenue rose out of a swamp shortly after the Civil War, originally manifesting as a courdoroy or plank toll road for horse and ox carts. Its purpose was to connect Hunters Point with upland farms in Maspeth (Borden… as in dairy) “back in the day.” This is the sort of thing you’ll hear about if you come on tomorrow’s “13 Steps around Dutch Kills” tour, btw, with ticketing links found at the bottom of the post.

At any rate, one elected to head in a generally easterly direction, leaving the great steel expressway which was installed over Borden Avenue in 1939 by the House of Moses behind.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Part of the old General Electric Vehicle complex was demolished a couple of years back, and as is the case with many of the “development” properties in this section of LIC, the lot sat dormant for a while. Construction has started up on the property, which I believe is going to host yet another self storage facility.

One could not help notice the hookup to a fire hydrant which the construction guys on the lot had set up, as it was geysering a spray of water into the afternoon sun.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The good news is that this is a part of town which could really use a good wash, or at least a nice rinse. The bad news is that the water in this hose was under serious pressure – fire fighting pressure, as it were – and an uncountable amount of water was escaping from the hydrant system. This, no doubt, reduced the amount of water available for… y’know… fire fighting.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The hydrant itself was burbling and gushing as it fed the construction hookup, feeding a small but growing pond on Review Avenue.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The water was ultimately being fed into this unknown device, which seemed to be some sort of hydraulically driven piston. Can’t tell you what it’s purpose was, but it made a sound which I can try to describe as “shish clack whirrsh clang shish.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Sensing the presence of humans moving around behind me, one noticed that the geyser of water was serving another purpose on this warm afternoon in LIC. The pause that refreshes, indeed.

So, whatcha doing tomorrow morning? Want to come along on the walking tour I’m conducting with Atlas Obscura of the Dutch Kills tributary of the fabled Newtown Creek? The weather should be perfect, btw, and quite similar to today. Ticketing link is just below.

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Upcoming Tours –

August 8th, 2015
13 Steps Around Dutch Kills – LIC Walking Tour
with Atlas Obscura, click here for details and tickets

recalled bondage

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The Empty Corridor, in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

DULIE, or Down Under the Long Island Expressway in Long Island City, is actually quite a busy place during the work week. On the weekends, however, the nickname I’ve assigned the area is “The Empty Corridor.” Last Saturday I found myself wandering about LIC, which was on my way to Greenpoint via the Pulaski Bridge. The light was pretty good on Saturday, and the weather tolerable to one such as myself.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I’ve been stuck in the house for so long that I recently found myself chiding Our Lady of the Pentacle for her arrangement of cutlery in the drying rack found alongside the sink (forks down, spoons up), and realized that hell or high water – I had to get out and take a long walk to regain some perspective. Viking Hell be damned. I’m happy to report that the cat colony alongside the UPS facility on 51st avenue seems to be in fine fettle despite the vagaries of winter.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

In actuality, I’ve been making good use of any interval wherein polar temperatures and ice falling from the sky were not experienced. The shot above is actually from Sunnyside, sometime last week. As mentioned in prior posts, I’ve been studying up on both Sunnyside and the rail yards which figure massively in the current Mayor’s plans for so called “affordable housing.” More on that later in the week.

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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

ineffable malignity

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Holy Cow!

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Saturday last, one found himself aimlessly wandering down Skillman Avenue in Long Island City’s Degnon Terminal and towards the Smiling Hogshead Ranch. The community garden was deserted, of course, and offered one such as myself little succor. My uncharacteristic desire for the company of others thwarted, my languid steps began to scuttle towards the Waldes Koh I Noor complex, whereupon I discovered a herd of cattle. A single one of them was scarlet in coloration, which might have some significance to certain shunned societies which live amongst the Uigar of North Western China’s cold waste.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As has often been posited at this, your Newtown Pentacle, the native art form of the Borough of Queens is surely illegal dumping. Nowhere else do you see the sort of attention to detail, the little splashes of color, the artful composition and theatrical presentation that is commonly witnessed here. Accordingly, presented for consideration… a herd of unwanted cows, shattered and slaughtered in the former “Workshop of America” here in LIC.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Presumptively, these were meant for some sort of Christmas nativity scene and didn’t make the cut. Polychrome, the cattle were all in a decidedly ruined state, and one or two of them were painted in a manner which suggested a metallic patina. One wondered if smallish ceramic Neanderthals might have driven the herd over some tiny cliff during a hunt? The stylings of the sculpt suggest a nativity scene to me, but I’m pretty sure there’s supposed to be donkeys and camels in one of those (as well as a few folks in robes, a kid playing a drum, and a glowing baby). One is certain that he has never witnessed the depiction of the Christian nativity scene as having a brazen bull present.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Perhaps these are representations of the Golden Cow, from that whole Moses and the Exodus story arc (published in “The Bible” issues 1-5), which have been cast down symbolically? I can’t imagine the late night scenario wherein this bovine statuary was dumped, right across the street from a largish NYPD location which serves the gendarmes as an evidence warehouse. Perhaps the cattle statues were an offering left nearby some totemic item of a malignant occult significance which the Police have kept locked away from the public since the spring of 1923, out of an abundance of caution and concern for the collective sanity of mankind? I mean, it sort of logically follows, right?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The burning thermonuclear eye of god itself was beginning to stare towards someplace else which wasn’t Queens, so a humble narrator began to trudge back towards HQ in far off Astoria, all the while contemplating the cows. Why a single red one? Why the brazens? Why not pitch them into any one of the hundreds of open containers and garbage bins which line the streets in front of every business? Did the Dumper say “hey, community garden and farm! Here’s the spot, crash the cows over by that police car over there”? Conundrum notwithstanding, one had to quicken his pace as darkness fell because of… well, y’know… Vampires.

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not so small

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Enough is enough.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One’s path led to Blissville recently, as it often does. Perambulating down Greenpoint Avenue in the direction of the Long Island Expressway on a singularly lovely afternoon. the abundances of illegally placed advertising signs adorning lamp post and utility poles finally forced me to start taking notice of and commenting on it. This is flat out illegal, and DSNY (Sanitation) is responsible for the prosecution and policing of such matters. If this was a graffiti tagged sticker on a Manhattan phone booth, they would have long ago ended the perpetrator, but this is Queens… so you know… go fuck yourself. That’s our Borough Motto, you know – “Welcome to Queens, now go fuck yourself.”

Cash for any car indeed.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Cash for Any Cars signs are everywhere. I’ve torn down a few dozen personally, mainly on the block where HQ is located. Luckily, I spotted this secondary advertisement for a company that actually prints the god damned things on a utility pole. One has no evidence to back this up, but the proximity and arrangement of the Cash for Any Car sign alongside the Caristo Printing one suggests to me that they were likely placed together and in conjunction.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

If you are as sick of seeing “signs just like this one” as I am, mayhap you’d want to contact Caristo Printing and let them know how you feel about their illegal advertising on the streets of Queens and or their complicity in the “Cash for Any Cars” signs. If you’re truly beside yourself about these abrogations of the public space, perhaps you’d like to complain about them to your elected officials and the various powers and potentates of the City of Greater New York. If you are an elected official or a regulatory officer, perhaps you’d like to address a letter or two to this printing company about “signs just like this one.”

Alternatively, there’s always “welcome to Queens, now go fuck yourself”.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

November 14, 2014 at 11:00 am

messages from

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Somehow, everyone gets to where they deserve to be, it’s all very Faustian.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

When one was still considered to have some sort of potential future, in those days of a long ago and wastrel youth, I had a girlfriend who lived in College Point. Problem is that I lived at the border, or angle, between Canarsie, Midwood, Georgetown, and Mill Basin – think exit 11n on the Belt Pkwy. Getting from my place to hers was a drag, but engendered a series of urban driving adventures which one fears to recount – lest the statute of limitations has not expired.

from wikipedia

The Grand Central Parkway (GCP) is a parkway that stretches from the Triborough Bridge in New York City to Nassau County on Long Island. At the Queens–Nassau border, it becomes the Northern State Parkway, which runs across the northern part of Long Island through Nassau County and into Suffolk County, where it ends in Hauppauge. The westernmost stretch (from the Triborough Bridge to exit 4) also carries a short stretch of Interstate 278 (I-278). The parkway runs through Queens and passes the Cross Island Parkway, Long Island Expressway, LaGuardia Airport and Citi Field, home of the New York Mets. The North Shore Towers is situated on the parkway on the Queens-side along the Nassau County border. The parkway is designated New York State Route 907M (NY 907M), an unsigned reference route. Despite its name, the Grand Central Parkway was not named after Grand Central Terminal.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Foolhardy, a few years later I was dating a girl from Short Hills in New Jersey, and the epic drive between two wildly displaced spots (including the first time I drove over Bayonne Bridge on my way home) are fondly held. Both relationships ended badly, and not because of the commute. Rather it was manifestations of my inner corruption, the very worm that gnaws as it were, and I hope they have both expunged me from their official record. I’m all ‘effed up, and Our Lady of the Pentacle is more of a saint than any of you can ever know. Luckily, I’m married to her, so – no commute.

from wikipedia

Interstate 495 (I-495, also known as the LIE or simply the Expressway by locals) is an auxiliary Interstate Highway on Long Island in New York in the United States. The route extends for 71 miles (114 km) from the western portal of the Queens–Midtown Tunnel in the New York City borough of Manhattan to County Route 58 (CR 58) in Riverhead, Suffolk County. I-495 does not intersect its parent route, I-95. However, it does connect to I-95 through I-295, which it meets in Queens. The portion of I-495 in Nassau and Suffolk counties is known as the Long Island Expressway (LIE), a name commonly applied to the entirety of I-495. The section of the route west of the Nassau–Queens county line is also named the Queens–Midtown Expressway west of Queens Boulevard and the Horace Harding Expressway east of Queens Boulevard, though both names are not often used in common parlance and most signage refers only to the Long Island Expressway.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

What I never realized, in those halcyon days of misspent youth when driving through the megalopolis with the windows down and a mix tape from Dave the Skinhead playing loudly, was that the automobile itself will be the death of us all. Just like the central failing of “Obamacare” is the retention of the metaphor of “insurance” in national policy, the central failing of our time is rethinking the idea of engineering environmental and transportation policy around the auto itself. It’s like trying to make a safer gun, and I’m wondering if there really isn’t a better option for personal transportation?

Ahh, what do I know, anyway? I do wonder whether that deli in Short Hills is still there, the one with the “Jersey version” sloppy joes…

from wikipedia

Of all people who commute to work in New York City, 41% use the subway, 24% drive alone, 12% take the bus, 10% walk to work, 2% travel by commuter rail, 5% carpool, 1% use a taxi, 0.6% ride their bicycle to work, and 0.2% travel by ferry. 54% of households in New York City do not own a car, and rely on public transportation.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

February 7, 2014 at 1:42 pm

tossed and tattered

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A cool vantage at the foot of the Maspeth Plateau.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One of the neat things about Western Queens is all about its declination and altitude. The terminal moraine of Long Island sets itself up starting over in Maspeth near Mt. Olivette cemetery, and a surprising rise in the level of the land becomes apparent. I’m particularly sensitive to such phenomena having grown up in a section of Brooklyn called “Flatlands” which is right next door to “Flatbush” and several communities whose names end in basin, island, or beach. That’s the south eastern flood plain, Astoria and Hunters Point are the north western- its Maspeth and Middle Village which are the start of the high ground. That’s why the Dutch came here first.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

These hillocks are bordered in modernity, unfortunately, by highways such as the Long Island Expressway – which swallowed up the otherwise wholesome Borden Avenue’s historic right of way. There is a pedestrian bridge which will carry one over the highway, which is where today’s shots were captured. When I was up there, I found a Bernie hole.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Bernie Ente was, amongst other things, a photographer who lived pretty close to this spot in Maspeth. Bernie was always annoyed by fences that obscured his shots, and would sometimes open a hole just big enough to stick a lens through. There’s still a few of his holes found in the industrial fencelines around Newtown Creek, some of which I’ve shared with others, and some I keep to myself.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This is the view from the Bernie Hole over the Long Island Expressway. I think I might come back here with a tripod sometime, when a dramatic sky presents itself. Of course, if you want some strange looks and accusing stares thrown your way, walk around Maspeth at night with a dslr. I swear, a cadre of old ladies followed me from Maurice all the way to Middle Village the other night, convinced that I held some instrument of gleaming death within my camera bag.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

January 3, 2014 at 7:30 am

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