The Newtown Pentacle

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mystery attacks

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Just a short one today.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Recently, an excursion upon the fabled Newtwon Creek with the Anchor QEA folks (they’re the scientists studying the Creek for the Superfund process) and the Newtown Creek CAG Steering Committee (which I’m a member of) was cut short by threatening weather. Anchor has all sorts of frammistats onboard which warn them of the approach of lightning, and all the gizmos began to go off as a powerful thunderstorm was approaching. The shot above is from roughly 2.5 miles back from the East River, and depicts the DUGABO side of Brooklyn as the storm blew in. We made it back to dock, but not before the first curtain of rain and hail began to pummel the Creek.

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Upcoming Tours –

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

quaint fusion

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Shots from a recent boat trip to the Gowanus.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A few weeks back, I conducted the Working Harbor Committee Newtown Creek boat tour, which was followed by an excursion to the Gowanus Canal. Both boats were solidly packed with harbor enthusiasts, curious explorers who welcomed the opportunity to visit some of NY Harbor’s less well known spots. Obviously, I didn’t get any shots on the Newtown Creek tour (my curse) but since my pals Joseph Alexiou and Eymund Diegel were handling the narration on the Gowanus trip, I was able to have some #superfun for once.

Pictured above, the push boat Emerald Coast in Gowanus Bay.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

John Quadrozzi Jr. was also onboard, and he jumped onto the microphone once or twice during the voyage. Seeing as how JQJr. actually owns big giant chunks of Gowanus Bay, he had a few things to say about this and that – offering the Working Harbor audience insider insights from his unique point of view.

One of the “this’s” Mr. Quadrozzi discussed was his Grain Terminal building, and one of the “that’s” was the ship Loujaine – both pictured above.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I do like the point of view one is offered by the entrance to the Gowanus Canal, don’t forget that Gowanus Bay is kind of a separate banana from the Gowanus Canal, whose navigable entry point is found at the Hamilton Avenue Bridge.

That hulking monstrosity you’ll notice lurking above the bridge, in all its neighborhood blighting glory, is the Gowanus Expressway.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Our vessel’s passage required the Hamilton Avenue Bridge to open, and while we waited for the redoubtable employees of the NYC DOT to actuate its mechanisms, I noticed this bit of former maritime industrial glory sitting on the poison shoreline. First thought that entered my head when I saw it was “this is the dreidel of the gods.” For those of you reading this who are “goyem,” a dreidel is that little Jewish spinning top thing with the Hebrew lettering on it.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The HMS Liberty, observed as it passes by the SimsMetal facility and a windmill on the southern shore of Gowanus Bay. Liberty is a tugboat, as opposed to the Emerald Coast found in the first shot of today’s post – which is a push boat. Both are towing vessels, of course, and tug versus push is pretty descriptive of the different approaches to the mission which they’re engineered for.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Tours –

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

green banks

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Checking on the scene in DUKBO, in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Recently, one attended an excursion with the NYC DEP, the EPA CSTAG committee, and whole lot of other alphabetical agency types. This was a part of the Superfund process, and I was along in my capacity with Newtown Creek Alliance and the Newtown Creek Community Advisory Group. This post won’t discuss the various bits of pedantry and maneuvering between the various entities onboard, and is instead a progress report centered the Kosciuszko Bridge construction and replacement project underway at my beloved Newtown Creek.

From the landward side, it’s difficult to see what progress has been made here, but as with all points of view around the Newtown Creek – all is revealed.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Skanska is the principal on the project, and they are drumming right along.

As you can see, on “used to be Cherry Street” over in Greenpoint, steel frames for the concrete legs of the new bridge have risen. My understanding is that the foundations for the bridge footings were laid back during the winter, and that despite the freezing conditions, work was well underway by the time things began to warm up in April.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The new Kosciuszko Bridge is going to be significantly lower in height than the current span, but will incorporate several design features to alleviate the congestion which has been found at the intersection of Long Island Expressway and Brooklyn Queens Expressway for generations. The project is playing out in several phases, with the first one being the construction of the new bridge and rerouting of its 2.1 miles of approach roads and the demolition of the 1939 era bridge.

When all that’s done, they start on the easterly half of the new Kosciuszko Bridge.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The new Kosciuszko Bridge is going to be of the “cable stay” type, which will make it a novelty in NYC. Most exciting for me is the promise of a pedestrian walkway on the western side of the span, which should make for some interesting visuals – “I should only live so long enough to see it finished” is what my Gradmother would have said.

Personally, I’m going to refer to it as “climbing K2.”

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Tours –

June 7th, 2015
13 Steps Around Dutch Kills Walking Tour
with Newtown Creek Alliance, click here for details and tickets.

June 11th, 2015
MADE IN BROOKLYN 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.

powdered exquisites

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The state of the Newtown Pentacle.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Whenever I’m not pouring coffee or whiskey down my throat hole, I seem to be fretting. I’m not playing guitar (fret… get it? Ha!), instead one is usually sweating what the next post is going to be either here at Newtown Pentacle or for Brownstoner. There’s also freelance projects – I’m still sort of engaged with the Red Hook people, for instance, and there’s the whole NY Harbor thing as well.

2014 wasn’t exactly a banner year, financially speaking, but I’ve been keeping pretty busy.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A bunch of cool posts have been produced over the last year for the O’Connell Organization’s Red Hook Waterfront site which I’d encourage you to check out. I’m the photographer for nearly everything at that website, and act as primary writer on most of the posts, although they are often heavily edited (which is a part of the process on freelance jobs). 

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Over at Brownstoner Queens, I’ve got two posts a week to fill. Of particular note in the last quarter of 2014 was when I scooped the NY Times and every news source in the City, this post about getting high in LIC, this one about finding where you used to be able to find a pint of Guinness, Halloween in Astoria, and my reactions to the latest attempts at decking over the Sunnyside Yards. More recently, a walk led by Queens Borough Historian Dr. Jack Eichenbaum was attended out in Willets Point.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I tweet the Brownstoner and Red Hook postings out whenever they appear, so if you use Twitter and care about staying in touch with my various offerings, click through to the link below and subscribe to my feed. You can also follow Newtown Pentacle in a reader like Feedly or whatever via the handy RSS Feed link at top right of this page. Additionally, there’s an email signup box at top right which will deliver these posts to you whenever one is published. An appeal is offered to you to please share these posts of mine, if at all possible, on your Facebook wall or on twitter.

There’s a bunch of buttons at the bottom of every post which makes it easy.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A few people have asked me when the Newtown Creek tours will start up again, and my answer is purposely vague. It’s likely that we’ll get going again in April or thereabouts, but right now… brrr. The weather is too unpredictable and the possibility of ice and snow causing slip hazards along the way is too great. There’s a couple of interesting things cooking, but nothing definite enough to mention yet.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

January 23, 2015 at 11:00 am

delighted astonishment

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A short trip off of a Long Island to… Staten Island.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Over at the St. George Ferry terminal, on the… Staten Island… side of the harbor, one is treated to magnificent views of Lower Manhattan and it’s a pretty sure bet that you’ll see some maritime traffic. Pictured above is the Vane Brothers Sassafras towing a fuel barge, for instance.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One such as myself is always eager to witness a DEP Sludge Boat splashing by. That’s the MV North River heading towards the Port Richmond sewer plant found a mile or so up the Kill Van Kull.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Marjorie B. McAllister also happened by, and the bright red tug was towing a fuel barge. Even when it seems that a tug is pushing a barge, it’s still called “towing.”

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rattling and beating

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Meshuggenehs, all of us.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

An interesting exercise was undertaken recently, which involved the peeling back of hardened scabs and callouses. Whilst browsing the vast interwebs recently, a link carried me over to YouTube. A recording of “The Howard Stern show,” which was broadcasting live during the September 11th attacks, was perused. The reactions of Howard and his crew to the attacks as they happened put me in touch with my own experiences that day, and opened up an old wound. This touched off a spate of reviewing broadcasts, both news and scripted drama, produced in the aftermath of the attacks. One remembers the emotional numbness of the time, when it seemed that nothing would ever be funny again, and the paramount question of that moment in time – raised over and over – was “why do they hate us.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

All these years later, the answers offered by the entertainment industry – whether asked by the hosts of what passes for news in our nation or as interpreted by dramaturges – boiled down to “freedom.” Aside from a childish lack of knowledge about the actual foreign policy of, and an unvarnished look at the actions of the United States in the second half of the 20th century, what struck me was the notion we held about ourselves back then. The general gist of what folks wanted in the months following the attacks was to “unleash” the CIA, and to teach the rest of the world “who’s the boss.” I guess we’ve got that now – with our fleets of flying robot assassins, institutional torture, and a gulag in Cuba. If you’ve got the time, I suggest you scan the web in a similar fashion, as it’s an interesting thing to see what our world was once like and how far we’ve travelled in a very short time. Remember “freedom fries”?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

An urban myth is put to rest, incidentally, in the shot above. “Ever notice how you never see a dead pidgeon” is the particular yarn, something I’ve heard repeated over and over. I see a LOT of dead pidgeons, and have photos to prove it. An urban myth which the September 11th attacks actually put to bed was the efficacy of the so called “Emergency Alert System,” whose tests interrupted television and radio broadcast throughout my childhood. It was nowhere to be found on 911, despite there being an actual emergency in my area. Additionally, the Emergency Alert System didn’t seem to activate during Hurricane Sandy either.

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southern satellites

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Roosevelt Island and the Megalith, in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As described yesterday, one found himself scuttling across the pavement of Roosevelt Island recently. Purpose had carried me to this spit of land which exists as a sort of existential buffer between Manhattan and Queens, and the desire to see what had become of the Queensboro Lamp Post base under the stewardship of the Roosevelt Island Historical Society. After visiting the group’s HQ, one elected to move across the island in a southerly direction, whereupon the Vane Brothers “Red Hook” tug was observed towing a fuel barge in a northernly direction.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Famously, the previous administration of the Big Little Mayor signed a deal with Cornell University to create a new campus here on the island. As far as I know the current administration of the Little Big Mayor hasn’t found a way to bollock that up yet by inserting “affordable housing” into the mix yet, and there is an awfully large demolition project underway at the former Goldwater Hospital campus. As always, the thing which cannot possibly exist that dwells in the cupola of LIC’s sapphire megalith has its unblinking eye fixed upon the world of men and is omniscient.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The impossible ideation found at the apex of the megalith, and its global army of acolytes in the Real Estate Industrial Complex, will see all around it transformed. In the end there will be naught be mirrored towers for miles in any direction, daggers aimed at the heavens, shadowing the earth from the radiant gaze of the burning thermonuclear eye of god itself. How many vantage points have I presented to you, over the years, which depict a scene such as the one above? How many more will we see before the world is remade in its image?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One cannot relate too much about the hospital itself. The Goldwater Hospital was established in 1939, and was named for a former NYC Hospitals official. Goldwater had been merged with another hospital on Roosevelt Island, Coler, and served the community as a more than 2,000 bed chronic care facility. Dilapidated and decrepit, the hospital complex was condemned in order to make way for the coming university campus. The acknowledged expert on this subject is Judith Berdy from the Roosevelt Island Historical Society, so why not come out to the island and allow her to share her wisdom?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Neither Goldwater Coler nor the Tug Red Hook was the focal I had in mind when beginning the short walk from the Roosevelt Island Historic Society’s HQ to the southern tip of the island, however. One’s desire was to visit the brand new “FDR Four Freedoms Park” which was opened somewhat recently. Observations of the space from Long Island City and multiple boat trips over the last summer have intrigued me, and a closer inspection seemed warranted.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On Monday, a short photographic presentation of my observations will be made manifest at this, your Newtown Pentacle – but here’s a teaser image of the sights encountered when I first entered the monument. It seemed quite appropriate, somehow – that as I walked into a park celebrating the first of the imperial Presidents of the United States – a military helicopter was flying overhead, and that the United Nations building was framed by the park’s masonry.

There was a sign, one which admonished visitors “do not climb on the walls.” Don’t believe me? See for yourself, if you dare.

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