The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Archive for the ‘Long Island Expressway’ Category

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”.

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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

not voluntary

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The banal joy of it all is what today’s post explores.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Have to admit that despite my confession to suffering from a bit of a rut, which is a seasonal complaint often offered at this time of year, the places which I continually find myself seldom disappoint. Case in point today are shots collected from the Queens side of the fabled Newtown Creek, amongst the concretized wasteland of DUPBO (Down Under the Pulaski Bridge Onramp). Pictured is a view of my beloved Creek looking towards Greenpoint and the GMDC (Greenpoint Manufacturing and Design Center) found at the Manhattan Avenue Street End in Brooklyn from DUPBO, which is ultimately kind of a depressing image for me. Your humble narrator has been spending far too much time in Brooklyn lately, and not enough in Queens.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Brooklyn is lost in soliloquy again, currently obsessing over ways to spend its ExxonMobil settlement money. There’s all sorts of stuff going on over there, with everyone in 11122 cooking up an idea to mulch this or compost that and applying for funding. It’s all good stuff, but gardening isn’t going to do much against the torrents of waste and sewage which flow out of Manhattan everyday. Greenpoint is the Mississippi delta of municipal waste, and Manhattan is an upstream pig farm whose shit pipes flow directly into the river. Western Queens, on the other hand, knows exactly what role it is expected to play in Manhattan’s gang of subordinates and doesn’t pretend not to know.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Carpet baggers from all over the City and State, sometimes from other states even, can smell the cash over in Brooklyn and want to take a bite. Foundations and think tanks roam about over there, pronouncing the need for “green infrastructure” (gardening) and other buzzy concepts which the masters over on Manhattan (and their Brooklyn representatives) have decided on as the fix for all things related to sewage runoff. I’m not against it, of course, how can you stand up against gardening? It’s just that over in Queens, We’ve got a highway which feeds a couple of hundred thousand auto trips a day into a tunnel that is just a couple of blocks from the Creek. Said highway runs alongside the concentrating point of all rail on Long Island, which is neighbored by two major automobile bridges (Queensboro and Triborough).

How can you garden your way out of that?

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no dream

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Another archive shot, today from Queens.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The Long Island Expressway squats and sags over Borden Avenue as it returns to ground nearby Greenpoint Avenue at the border of Blissville and Long Island City. My little break is turning out to be kind of productive, so look forward to some cool stuff in the near future. Also, I’ve got a couple of shots in an article at today’s NY Daily News- check it out.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

November 12, 2013 at 9:53 am

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.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

shadowy colloquy

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Sometimes I fear that I will fail to feel Atychiphobic.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Failure is indeed something to fear, despite the platitudes offered by scout masters, clerics, and well meaning friends. There is nothing an American hates more than not succeeding. Winning is the name of our game, with contest winners and touchdown champions awarded the greatest of mass accolades. Think of poor old Mitt Romney, and I’ll bet it’s the first time you’ve thought of that loser since November of 2012. The only thing I’m more afraid of than failing, I think, is the idea of actually succeeding at something.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Should signs of success appear on the horizon, it is part of my nature to undermine and thwart its happy arrival. Perhaps it’s actually a fear of success which holds me back from living a life of deep meaning leading to a realization of some mythical “potential” that some have prophesied for me. It isn’t heredity, genetics, brain chemistry, or life experience that cordoned off the winners circle for me, though- instead it’s fate. Losing is a comfortable and well known experience, and I’m all about embracing the “known” rather than the undiscovered. Show me my foot, and I shall shoot it.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Amongst the multitudinous things I fail to fear while submerged in my fits of Atychiphobia are a failure to anticipate, the failure to perceive, and inability to carry out a task properly and within specifications. I’m terrified of being considered generally undesirable or professionally unsuccessful, even though Murphy’s Law is the only jurisprudence which one such as myself can acknowledge or reminisce about. Cursed, I tell you, this humble narrator was born under the influence of a ill omen, which is probably all I deserve anyway, for if tales of reincarnation are true – one shudders to think what this soul did in its last mortal guise. Into the darkness, like a leaf blown upon indifferent winds, and always an Outsider – go I.

Upcoming Tours

Saturday – October 19, 2013
The Insalubrious Valley of the Newtown Creek with Atlas Obscura- tickets on sale now.

Sunday- October 20th, 2013
The Poison Cauldron of the Newtown Creek with Brooklyn Brainery- tickets on sale now.

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