The Newtown Pentacle

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watching eye

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Big rigs of Queens in today’s post.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

As mentioned earlier in the week, the Newtown Creek Alliance’s Plank Road project has drawn me over to Maspeth few times in recent weeks, which is always fun for me as your humble narrator is an infrastructure geek who loves taking photos of enormous machines. Luckily, for me, Maspeth’s cup doth runneth over in this department.

This ain’t so lucky for the folks who live in Maspeth, of course, but that’s another story.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

There’s some sort of truck mechanic nearby the Plank Road, or 54th road if you insist on using modern terminology, and one routinely sights the sort of heavily armored and freshly washed rigs like the ones in today’s post parked about. Don’t know much about this business, but these are some of the many, many trucks plying area streets that have caused groups like C.O.M.E.T. (in Queens) and OUTRAGE (in Brooklyn) to organize and demand relief.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The folks at OUTRAGE have clocked as many as 300 trucks of this size moving down nearby Metropolitan Avenue during the morning rush, and the toll they take on area streets is well known. Additionally, the MTA’s Grand Avenue facility a block away is an eventual destination for the entire bus fleet of Brooklyn. Add in the nearby LIE and BQE highways… well you get the idea.

There’s a series of studies out there which attempt to tie this truck traffic to higher rates of asthma in the corridors they travel, but the statistical information could (and has been) just as easily interpreted to damn City operated bus lines as well.

Either way, there’s a lot of traffic moving about, and all the while – the possibilities of rail and barge transport are being ignored.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Some of my friends in Queens get after me about supporting the enhanced usage of the rail system, and they make a good point that I don’t live in Ridgewood/Maspeth/Middle Village where all these trains transit through on their way to the rail depot at Fresh Pond. I do live two blocks away from the Sunnyside Yard, which is the busiest rail interchange in New York City, but I’m told that I apparently don’t know what I’m talking about – which seems to be a recurring theme in my life.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

This packer truck is over in Long Island City, and was posed so provocatively while illegally parked on the median, that I couldn’t resist adding it in to this post.

There are three public Newtown Creek walking tours coming up, one in Queens and one in Brooklyn and two that walk the currently undefended border of the two boroughs.

Poison Cauldron, with Atlas Obscura, on April 26th.
Click here for more info and ticketing.

DUPBO, with Newtown Creek Alliance and MAS Janeswalk, on May 3rd.
Click here for more info and ticketing.

Modern Corridor, with Brooklyn Brainery, on May 18th.
Click here for more info and ticketing.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

repellant yard

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Down by ye olde Maspeth Plank Road.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The folks at Newtown Creek Alliance have a project underway, one which will rehabilitate the street end adjoining the Maspeth Plank Road and provide the first intentional point of public access to the waterfront in Queens. My role in the project is to do a couple of walking tours and raise awareness of the effort, so I swung down on one of the work days to grab some shots. Pictured is the National Grid site in Brooklyn with the Manhattan skyline behind.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The fellows who were doing the actual work should receive some sort of medal for working in the muck and yuck found hereabouts. 58th road ends at Newtown Creek after a sharp fall off in elevation, and all the industrial debris and trash which rolls downhill ends up here. Normally, the plank road site is inaccessible due to muddy and or weed choked conditions. The NCA crew has already done a tremendous amount of cleanup and groundskeeping here, and they got the NYC DEP to come in and clear out a mud choked drainage sewer just last week.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Of course, the story with Newtown Creek always carries one back to sewage. Most of the industrial pollution in the Creek is historic in nature, and other than a few bad actors, most of the modern day businesses found along its banks at least try to follow the rules and be responsible to the environment. That is, of course, except for the City of Greater New York – which allows billions of gallons of untreated sewage to flow into it every year.

Today is Earth Day, by the way.

There are three public Newtown Creek walking tours coming up, one in Queens and one in Brooklyn and two that walk the currently undefended border of the two boroughs.

Poison Cauldron, with Atlas Obscura, on April 26th.
Click here for more info and ticketing.

DUPBO, with Newtown Creek Alliance and MAS Janeswalk, on May 3rd.
Click here for more info and ticketing.

Modern Corridor, with Brooklyn Brainery, on May 18th.
Click here for more info and ticketing.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

only memories

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“Remember me when I’m gone” is what everyone is really asking the rest of us to do.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Mt. Zion Cemetery over in ancient Maspeth has been discussed at some length at this blog, nearly 5 years ago – and yes, Newtown Pentacle has been in existence for nearly 5 years now.

Check out Mt. Zion 1 – imps of the perverse“, “Mt Zion 2- Palaces of Light“, “Mt Zion 3- threading precipitous lanes“, “Mt Zion 4- A Lurid Shimmering of Pale Light“, “Mt Zion 5- Sunken Houses of Sleep“, and “Mt Zion 6- Crystal Oblivion” for nearly everything I’d been able to scry about the place back in 2009. 2012’s “traitorous somnolence” explores the evidence left behind by certain peasant magicians at the polyandrion’s fence lines, which is worth a look.

Further research on the place - and the enigmatic Rudari tribe that once occupied the land here – however, has birthed a postulate in my mind that the so called Maspeth Gypsies are a lost civilization.

from wikipedia

Tambora is a lost village and culture on Sumbawa Island buried by ash and pyroclastic flows from the massive 1815 eruption of Mount Tambora. The village had about 10,000 residents. Scientists unearthing the site have discovered ceramic pots, bronze bowls, glass bottles, and homes and villagers buried by ash in a manner similar to that of Pompeii. Scientists believe the customs and language of the culture were wiped out. The culture was visited by western explorers shortly before its demise. They are believed to have traded with Indochina, as their pottery resembles that found in Vietnam.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

There are several small communities with decidedly non mainstream cultures, ones which set out into the wooded interior of North America in the decades prior to the Civil War, that have either disappeared from the map or been absorbed into the national culture. Appalachian Hillbillies, the Shakers, the Maspeth Gypsies – all have become “civilized” and subsumed into the larger body politic. Rumor and half truths abound – suggesting that there were many, many more lost tribes of man on this continent than are commonly accepted, when the European Rationalists began to colonize the place.

from csicop.org

In one subset of the lost-civilization genre of pseudohistory, the lost civilization is not a previously unknown group of people residing in the clichéd “dim mists of time” but instead an otherwise well-known ancient society that is remarkable primarily as a result of its geography, not for its precocious level of technological sophistication. Even restricting ourselves to just North America, the list of such claims is long—though evidence is short—and includes: Celtic kingdoms in the northeastern United States thousands of years ago (Fell 1976); Coptic Christian settlements in ancient Michigan (based on the so-called Michigan Relics) (Halsey 2009); Roman Jews in Arizona (the Tucson Artifacts) (Burgess 2009); the Lost Tribes of Israel in Ohio (the Newark Holy Stones) (Lepper and Gill 2000); and strange mixtures of various ancient Old World peoples secreted in hideouts in the Grand Canyon in Arizona (“Explorations in Grand Canyon” 1909) and in a cave in southeastern Illinois (Burrows Cave) (Joltes 2003). These claims are predicated essentially on the same notion: ancient Europeans, Africans, or Asians came to the Americas long before Columbus and long—perhaps thousands of years—before the Norse; they settled here and had a huge impact on the native people but then somehow became lost, both to history and to historians.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Permanence is something which nearly every band of humans strives to achieve, and even those who are philosophically opposed to the concept – like Buddhists – nevertheless built colossal statuary and temples of stone to mark their tenancy in Asia and around the Pacific rim. The New York City way of commemorating a location is to stick a highly impermanent signboard at a noteworthy spot, but that’s mainly for Manhattan and areas which suffer a lot of pedestrian traffic. Since Mt. Zion is theoretically going to be here as long as NYC exists, how about we stick up a sign of some kind acknowledging the former presence of this tribe of wandering coppersmiths and circus animal trainers who were called the Rudari?

from wikipedia

The Boyash are a branch/caste of the Romani people who were held as slaves in Wallachia and Moldavia together with other Romani castes, up until the latter half of the 19th century; such slavery was abolished in Romanian states in 1864.

In particular, the Boyash were forced to settle in the 14th century and work in mining (a regionalism for mine in Romanian: “baie,” from Middle Age Slavonic.). Due to their close proximity with Romanian-speaking people, they lost the use of the Romani language. Some groups relearned Romani when they came in contact with other Romani-speaking Romanis, after they emigrated from Romania (for example, in Ecuador).

Another name for the Boyash, Rudari, comes from the Slavic ruda (“metal”, “ore”). However, a few centuries later, the mines became inefficient and the Boyash people were forced to readjust by earning their living making wood utensils (Lingurari means “spoon-makers” in Romanian; also cf. Serbian ruda, Hungarian rúd, Romanian rudă meaning “staff, rod, pole, stick”). The nickname Kashtale (“wood-workers”) was also given to them by the Romani-speaking Romanis and it has remained in Romani as a more general word for a Romani person who does not speak Romani.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

January 29, 2014 at 11:09 am

Project Firebox 97

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An ongoing catalog of New York’s endangered Fireboxes.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

This bad boy hangs out on a corner in Maspeth, Queens. Should have stayed in school, but you can’t complain about the road you’re on when you get started. Kay sera sera. Props to the scarlet.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

November 23, 2013 at 7:30 am

too acute

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The concrete devastations are nepenthe to me.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

This past weekend was a rather busy one, with a trifecta of tours completed. On Friday, a short walk around Dutch Kills with a group from LaGuardia Community College, a Saturday tour with the Obscura Society explored the Insalubrious Valley, and Sunday found me leading a group from the Brooklyn Brainery through the Poison Cauldron. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again- to be seen by so many diminishes me.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The shots in today’s post were gathered while I was headed for last weekend’s excursion- a Newtown Creek Alliance sponsored event which was conducted as part of the Open House NY weekend event on October 12. This was a novel concept, a “surf and turf” wherein my walking tour met up with a party of rowers from the North Brooklyn Boat Club at the Maspeth Avenue Plank Road. Along the way, I noticed this Yeshiva bus parked in a bus stop. The driver must have literally interpreted what “bus stop” means. This was a Saturday morning, so the chances that this vehicle was still in place on Sunday morning are pretty high, but I wasn’t there to see it moved so I can’t comment authoritatively. As the saying in my old neighborhood used to go- now Hasidim, now ya don’t.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

All over the upper Creek, there seems to have been some sort of bloom going on for the last couple of weeks, as the water had assumed a chalky green coloration. Last year, while onboard the Riverkeeper boat, just such a happenstance was witnessed. Captain Lipscomb, who operates the boat and scientific equipment onboard, investigated the phenomena and offered the theory that this was a bacterial bloom rather than the effects of an industrial spill or leak. It seems that there are lakes in upstate New York which also suffer from low oxygen levels in the water, and that they exhibit a similar coloration and turbidity as witnessed at the Maspeth Creek tributary in the shot above.

Written by Mitch Waxman

October 21, 2013 at 8:02 am

Project Firebox 81

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An ongoing catalog of New York’s endangered Fireboxes.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

This bad boy is on Grand Avenue in Maspeth, and seems to be one of the few fully functioning Fireboxes in the area. It’s stationed in front of what used to be a cardboard box factory, which is a tremulous duty.

Shine on sweet Firebox, shine on.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Want to see something cool? Summer 2013 Walking Tours-

Glittering Realms- Saturday, August 3rd, 2013
Newtown Creek walking tour with Mitch Waxman and Atlas Obscura, tickets now on sale.

Kill Van Kull- Saturday, August 10, 2013
Staten Island walking tour with Mitch Waxman and Working Harbor Committee, tickets now on sale.

13 Steps around Dutch Kills- Saturday, August 17, 2013
Newtown Creek walking tour with Mitch Waxman and Newtown Creek Alliance, tickets now on sale.

Written by Mitch Waxman

July 27, 2013 at 7:30 am

Project Firebox 80

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An ongoing catalog of New York’s endangered Fireboxes.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Like so many other Fireboxes in Queens, this sentry is emasculated by shrinking maintenance budgets and an odd notion which has caught on in Manhattan that everybody carries a cell phone whose easy access to calling 911 makes its kind redundant. Maspeth shudders in the manner of Troy, gazing down as its guardian lies helpless before Achilles.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Want to see something cool? Summer 2013 Walking Tours-

Kill Van Kull- Saturday, August 10, 2013
Staten Island walking tour with Mitch Waxman and Working Harbor Committee, tickets now on sale.

13 Steps around Dutch Kills- Saturday, August 17, 2013
Newtown Creek walking tour with Mitch Waxman and Newtown Creek Alliance, tickets now on sale.

Written by Mitch Waxman

July 20, 2013 at 7:30 am

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