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Archive for the ‘Photowalks’ Category

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Cool Cars of Astoria, in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Wandering around the forbidden northern coast of Queens one day, a humble narrator happened across another one of those historic vehicles which are referred to at this – your Newtown Pentacle – as “Cool Cars” in Astoria.

As far as I’ve been able to discern – and as always – if I’m wrong, please correct my assertion – this is El Producto de Ford – a 1954 Mercury Monterey.

from wikipedia

The Mercury Monterey is a full-size car model that was introduced by Mercury in 1952. It would later share the same body style with the slightly more upscale Marquis, and the Park Lane and Montclair until the latter two were extinguished after the 1968 model year.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It’s obviously well weathered, that’s for sure. This auto was parked alongside a series of one car garages and spotted around a block from Astoria Blvd. There’s a lot of similarity in body type and flashing to the Mercury Monterey Sun Valley, but this coupe has a hard top metal roof rather than the translucent plastic which the Sun Valley was offered with.

from kennagelclassiccars.com

The Monterey model was a full-size near-luxury car introduced in 1950 and was the most expensive and luxurious vehicle in Mercury’s lineup.  At the time General Motors and the Chrysler Corporation were producing a number of ‘hardtop convertibles’ and Ford was determined not to stand idly by as GM and Chrysler dominated the market with its attractive new pillarless coupes.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Check out that space age design on the grill. Back then, gasoline was cheap, and tacking half a ton of extra weight onto the front of a car for the sake of ornamentation was no big deal. If you’ve never driven a car from this era, I can tell you that they are beasts.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Cars like this 1954 Mercury Monterey lay heavily into turns, squeal their wheels, and when you step on the gas – it’s no modern differential gear smoothly driving the train – you get pressed back into your seat by zero to thirty in 3.4 seconds type acceleration. There are no lap and shoulder belts to hold you snugly in place while it’s happening, either. This model was built with a Y block V8 engine, which offered the coupe some 161 HP worth of juice.

Vroooooom!

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Tours –

September 3rd, 2015
Newtown Creek Boat Tour
with Open House NY, click here for details and tickets.

September 20th, 2015
Glittering Realms Walking Tour
with Brooklyn Brainery, click here for details and tickets

Written by Mitch Waxman

August 28, 2015 at 11:00 am

parched and terrible

with 5 comments

Hello 114th precinct, it’s me again.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Since my last post on this subject, concerning “Los Borrachos” on Astoria’s Broadway, the 114th precinct has definitely been doing “something.” Can’t say exactly what, but the population of these alcoholic mendicants has been visibly reduced from the mid July high of 20-25 down to a late August bakers dozen. The shot above, and several of the ones following it, were gathered at the Times Square of Astoria – 42nd and Broadway – which is the central muster point that these fellows use, just last weekend.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

NYPD continues to inexplicably roll right past these guys, however. What sets me off, incidentally, and what has made these inebriates rise to the top of the list of “things I have to deal with” are reports from the ladies of Astoria as to the comments they are offered while passing by this crowd.

Even passing familiarity with the old “espanol” is enough to piece together sentences and phrases from the lingo which include “chupa” and “mi penga.” Sexual harassment of women walking down the streets by a drunken crowd of vagrants… is that OK?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A Sunday afternoon, and public drinking is not challenged nor noticed by the cops. Everyone else in the neighborhood notices it, as people move to and fro with their children. If you’re curious, that’s Vodka that fellow is drinking.

Gordon’s Vodka to be precise, an assertion of brand loyalty which is based on the empty bottles littering the curbs along Broadway. The Times Square of Astoria indeed, only it seems to the Times Square of the 1980’s around these parts.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The effects of the alcohol reduces these fellows to an insensate condition, regularly. For all of you “City Club head up your ass liberal” types who seldom walk the streets of New York – preferring your Uber or Limo for getting around – Progressivism isn’t about permissiveness. This is not something which Eleanor Roosevelt would have reacted to with any sort of empathy. John Lindsay or David Dinkins, on the other hand…

Don’t get me wrong here, I like a good tipple as much as the next guy – more so in fact. It’s the fact that this situation has gotten completely out of hand this summer, and whatever your intellectual notion is of who these guys are is completely fabricated from your own politics. These are bums, drunks, and hobos. We have a decent number of Homeless people here, who are referred to as “The Harmless.” Mostly down on their luck or mentally ill folks, Astoria takes care of its own – whether it’s just a slice of pizza or a bottle of water or a buck slipped into their palm.

The fellows showcased in these posts get off the R train, drink in the neighborhood all day, and then commute back to somewhere else if they can still keep it together enough to do so. If not, they just pass out on the sidewalk.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Often, Astoria’s Broadway looks like a WW1 battlefield, with bodies arrayed haphazardly on the street. The shot above was from a Friday afternoon around 2. All that’s missing is a dead horse in the tree.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A smoke condition down in the Subway drew the FDNY to the Times Square of Astoria last Sunday, whose actions and blaring sirens served to awaken the sleepers from their distillery dreams. Other units of FDNY would undoubtedly be back on the corner later, to scoop up the insensates. NYPD?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Three in the afternoon on a Sunday. 

The funny thing about this shot is that a friend of mine who works for the City spent years working on installing these Subway grate covers (intended to keep snow melt and storm water from infiltrating down to the tracks), which were specifically designed with the idea that they would be fairly impossible to sleep on.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Notice that white car with the blue stripe just at the edge of the shot above? 

Guess which uniformed and highly trained branch of City Government drives white cars with blue stripes. Why, 114th precinct, is this being allowed to continue? Do you really want the civilians in this neighborhood to be the ones to deal with this, as we currently are forced to? A day doesn’t go by when one of us is forced to shoo “Los Borrachos” off their stoop or out of a driveway. Often the only thing which will get them to move on is the threat of calling “La Policia.” The Police, however, seem reluctant to lance this boil.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Tours –

September 3rd, 2015
Newtown Creek Boat Tour
with Open House NY, click here for details and tickets.

September 20th, 2015
Glittering Realms Walking Tour
with Brooklyn Brainery, click here for details and tickets

Written by Mitch Waxman

August 27, 2015 at 11:15 am

gleam and grin

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Checking in on that little bit of construction occurring down in DUKBO.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Kosciuszko Bridge replacement project is in full swing these days, and there’s a small army of optic orange clad construction workers at work in that shallow valley between Laurel and Berlin Hills which has always provided a border betwixt LIC’s Blissville and West Maspeth’s Berlin neighborhoods. The old blue gray mare was built by the “House of Moses” back in 1939 as the “New Meeker Avenue Bridge,” carries the Brooklyn Queens Expressway over Newtown Creek, and is considered as being dangerously deficient from the structural integrity and the traffic engineering points of view – so the NYS DOT is overseeing the implementation of its replacement.

Nobody else seems to be paying any mind to this mega project, but a humble narrator is not at all like anybody else.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

These shots are all from the Queens side of the project, which will see the new bridge rise nearly one city block to the east of the 1939 model’s footprint. One has begun to refer to the street it will adjoin as “used to be 43rd street.” The shot above was captured on Laurel Hill Blvd., and depicts one of the many elevated piers which will carry the BQE towards its intersection with the Long Island Expressway.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Closer to “used to be 43rd street” you’ll notice that the NYS DOT engineers have had the orange clad fellows jamming big bits of steel deep into Queens. The substrate which the bridge(s) sit upon is the elluvial flood plain of Newtown Creek – which is basically a giant agglutination of mud and aggregate. The piles need to be sunk down around one hundred and eight feet to meet bedrock, with the anchoring mechanisms for the piers going far deeper – from 160-180 feet depending on location.

Who can guess all there is, that might be buried down there?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

An unoccluded view of the metal bits, which are marked off with gauge measurement indications. This is the corner of “used to be 43rd street” and 54th avenue, for the curious.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Same corner, but looking to the south rather than the antipode displayed in the former shot.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Skanska crews working on the site, who are the aforementioned “fellows dressed in orange,” have a disturbing habit of leaving their fences open – given the fact that the BQE continues to run along the span offered by the 1939 model Kosciuszko Bridge.

No big “whup” of course, as this section of the highway has never really been “secure” in any real manner and has been a target for graffiti and illegal dumping enthusiasts for multiple generations.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The project continues along Laurel Hill Blvd. and includes the Kosciuszko Bridge approaches. The Meeker Avenue side of the approaches, which roll through Greenpoint and Williamsburg, have been receiving quite a bit of attention from the fellows in orange in recent months. The work on the Queens side is just getting started, in comparison.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Phase One of the project will see the eastern half of the new bridge erected, followed by the dismantling of the 1939 era Kosciuszko Bridge. Traffic on the BQE will be rerouted onto the new span, and the construction on Phase Two will see the western section of the new bridge erected – whereupon traffic patterns on the BQE will be given their new and permanent form – with the eastern “Phase One” section carrying the South to North (Brooklyn to Queens) flow and the western “Phase Two” section allowing North to South (Queens to Brooklyn) traffic.

The good news is that Phase Two will include a pedestrian and bicycle path, which will overlook my beloved Newtown Creek.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Tours –

September 3rd, 2015
Newtown Creek Boat Tour
with Open House NY, click here for details and tickets.

September 20th, 2015
Glittering Realms Walking Tour
with Brooklyn Brainery, click here for details and tickets

Written by Mitch Waxman

August 26, 2015 at 1:33 pm

victoriously swept

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If the bridge wasn’t there, it would be impossible to recognize Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Mephitic vapors, the effluent of furnaces and forges, a vague scent of molasses, and the smell of freshly smoked crack cocaine used to be all you needed to recognize where you were when visiting Williamsburg. These days, all you’ve got is the visual cue offered by its eponymous bridge and the vague scent of high end Marijuana.

Occasion found me in the ancient village, and as I was headed for Manhattan to meet up with a boat later in the day, a scuttle across the bridge was called for.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A lot of people think this span is an architectural travesty, but I’ve never thought it was bad enough to to create a Municipal Arts Society over. There are “separate” pedestrian and bicycle paths, which aren’t really segregated from each other in any cohesive manner, but as one such as myself enjoys playing things “by the rules” – I found myself climbing the surprisingly steep ramp leading up from Brooklyn to the bridge itself. At least it provides for some fairly good “cardio.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Back in art school, the conventional wisdom imparted to me by a generation of instructors was that you can’t go wrong when there’s an umbrella in your shot. The reasoning is that the umbrella is an inherently interesting shape, and it breaks up the otherwise pedestrian points of view one normally encounters. It wasn’t raining, of course, and the umbrella was simply there to shield its wielder from the particularly powerful emanations of the burning thermonuclear eye of God itself whose gaze seemed fixed upon the bridge.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

All the tourists seem to flock to the Brooklyn Bridge, and its pedestrian path offers one a frustrating and crowded experience. It’s a bit like a lunch line at a buffet, that walk, a slow shuffle while trapped in a queue. Vast preference for the less popular bridges like Queensboro, Williamsburg, and Manhattan is offered by your humble narrator. Crowds suck.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

For this walk, I used my “crappy lens” – a 70-300 consumer level zoom. After the great camera disaster of July, wherein both camera body and my “best lens” were destroyed, I’ve been making it a point of mixing things up a bit. Thanks to many of you who donated money for replacement equipment to this blog, and both body and “best lens” have been replaced. Regardless, one tries to keep things fresh and the extra reach which the imperfect but serviceable “long lens” provides for slightly different perspectives and color rendition.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It would be utterly pedantic to go into the technical details on this subject, so suffice to say that each and every lens interprets the light moving through it in different ways. Certain lenses are great for portraits, others for landscapes. Camera settings can also affect color rendition as well – for instance, narrow apertures render the color blue in a certain way due to the clipping of upper and lower limits found in the blue light wave.

As I said, technical and pedantic.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Manhattan side of the Williamsburg Bridge, at Delancey Street, and looking back towards the infinity of Brooklyn.

The Williamsburg Bridge is 7,308 feet long (measuring between the cable anchor terminals) and the deck is some 118 feet wide. The height at the center of the bridge is 135 feet and each tower is 310 feet in height as measured from the East River’s high-water mark. It was originally called East River Bridge #3 when opened in 1903. Its architect was Henry Hornbostel, and the chief engineer who oversaw its construction was Leffert L. Buck.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Tours –

September 3rd, 2015
Newtown Creek Boat Tour
with Open House NY, click here for details and tickets.

Written by Mitch Waxman

August 25, 2015 at 11:00 am

twining tightly

with 2 comments

Tugboats, tugboats, tugboats – in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A recent Working Harbor Committee excursion to Port Elizabeth Newark was particularly photogenic. We’ve entered into “that time of the year,” wherein the angle of the light emanating from the burning thermonuclear eye of God itself is propitious to photographic pursuit. From now until mid November, and again in the March to June period, the light is just right.

Pictured above are the Liberty Service and Marion Moran tugs at full steam on the Kill Van Kull.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Kirby Moran, which is a new boat for me, with the Bayonne Bridge as back drop, was observed over in Newark Bay.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

DonJon Towing’s Emily Ann was headed north in Newark Bay, with the titanic Global Marine Terminal behind her.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Not sure which tug this was, as I couldn’t spot a name or IMO number on her, but she was docked at Governor’s Island – on the south or Buttemilk Channel side, with some old French chick standing behind the barge she was tending.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Speaking of Buttermilk Channel, Mary H. was towing a fuel barge past Atlantic Basin when I spotted her. I know where Mary H. was likely headed for – East Williamsburg’s Metropolitan Avenue – and the Bayside fuel depot found 3.1 miles from the East River on the English Kills tributary of my beloved Newtown Creek.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Tours –

September 3rd, 2015
Newtown Creek Boat Tour
with Open House NY, click here for details and tickets.

Written by Mitch Waxman

August 24, 2015 at 11:00 am

obvious empiricism

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Tomorrow – Calvary Cemetery awaits.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

At 11 a.m. tomorrow, I’ll be narrating (humbly) a walking tour of First Calvary Cemetery here in LIC’s Blissville neighborhood. I will be at the northeast corner of Greenpoint and Review Avenues at 10:30 a.m. As long time readers of this, your Newtown Pentacle, will tell you – I have a special love for Calvary.

It’s the largest chunk of “green infrastructure” found along the Newtown Creek as well as serving as the final resting place of literally millions of Roman Catholic New Yorkers. It’s part of the firmament of LIC, and a significant touchstone for the history of 19th century NYC.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Expect to encounter unexpected life forms in Calvary. The cemetery lies along the migration routes of several bird species, and I’ve spotted everything from Canada Geese to Great Blue Herons and Red Tail Hawks there. On, and in, the ground there’s a plethora of critters – such as the small rabbits which the Irish of the 19th century would have referred to as “Coney’s.” No guarantee on what we will spot, but there’ll be something interesting.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Sculptural monuments are found everywhere in First Calvary, from thirty foot high obelisks to enormous mausolea. We will be visiting the final resting place of Governors, Senators, even the tomb of the original gangster himself – Joseph Masseria. The rightful King of Ireland is buried in Calvary, along with members of Corcoran’s Legion – the Fighting 69th. For NYC history fans, and tapophiles – this place is a smorgasbord of interest.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The walking tour will be roughly two hours long, and will range over several shallow hills which host a natural grass surface. A hat or parasol is highly recommended to shield yourself from the sun. The walk is not difficult, but if you suffer from mobility issues – this likely is not the tour for you. Surrounding Calvary Cemetery are the concrete devastations of Western Queens – and the heavy industrial zone which forms the northern shoreline of the Newtown Creek. We will have a unrivalled view of the ongoing Kosciuszko Bridge construction project, btw.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Bring your camera along, as Calvary Cemetery is a jewel. The Manhattan skyline is omnipresent, providing for impossibly candid views of an area stretching from the Williamsburg Bridge to the Queensboro. During the era of the so called “Gangs of New York” there was a saying which went “All roads lead to Calvary” and the cemetery was once a major destination for the Catholic masses of tenement Manhattan. Surrounding the great burying ground were saloons and road houses that serviced mourners. After the tour concludes, we will be visiting the last of these road houses (bar and food not included in ticket price, btw, just a post tour hang out). 

One other thing to mention, obviously, is that if there’s a funeral underway we are going to steer clear of it out of respect and deference for the mourners.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Walk ups are always welcome, for those of you uncomfortable with online ticketing, and the cost of the tour is $25 per head. For those of you who are comfortable with such online things, the link found below will take you to a credit card processing page. As a note, I couldn’t make the “ships within two weeks” line go away on the cc processing page, which a couple of people mentioned as being confusing. Nothing will be shipped to you, but you will receive an email receipt and your name will appear on the check in list I’ll be using “day of.”

Hope to see you tomorrow morning, at the corner of Greenpoint and Review Avenue, at 11 a.m.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Tours –

August 22nd, 2015
First Calvary Cemetery – LIC, Queens Walking Tour
click here for details and tickets.

September 3rd, 2015
Newtown Creek Boat Tour
with Open House NY, click here for details and tickets.

staves and axes

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Walking down Meeker Avenue, in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

First – a confession – I had something else planned for today’s post, as it was a rather exciting (and highly combustible) weekend in Astoria, but the photos aren’t ready for public consumption quite yet. As a result, what was going to be tomorrow’s installment of your Newtown Pentacle is offered in its stead.

Last week, occasion found me in Greenpoint to photograph a Newtown Creek related event in the afternoon. Having a few hours to kill, since my next engagement was in lower Manhattan in the early evening, a humble narrator decided to walk into the City via the Williamsburg Bridge. A medium sized scuttle ensued, and one found himself walking through and beneath one of the “House of Moses’s” more onerous creations – an elevated section of the Brooklyn Queens Expressway which over flies Meeker Avenue.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Whilst my walk played out, several photos were captured, including shots of this charming bedroom set. One would guess that the Mayor can scratch one unit of affordable housing off of his “to do” list.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Signs of morbid habitation like this one drive me crazy of some reason. To begin with, it’s likely the unhealthiest environment upon the earth for a human being to exist in, here in the traffic choked House of Moses beneath the BQE. Secondly, it exposes the farcical realities of “homeland security” and the so called “security state” in the era of the Terror Wars. If you can set up housekeeping alongside the steel pillars supporting a roadway that carries nearly 200,000 automobiles a day… well… let’s just say you wouldn’t be able to get away with basing yourself in similar circumstance in Riyadh or Tel Aviv.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My path continued along Meeker Avenue, towards the home of the Artisinal Pickle in Williamsburg, which has become one of the most pedantically boring neighborhoods in all of New York City in recent years. Dispassionate and jaded esthetes were observed as they moved aimlessly about the place, searching for some sort of “authenticity” or diversion from the tyranny of the now, which seemed to be in short supply hereabouts.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Shimmering memories of the old Williamsburg, with its DMZ’s and danger, are hinted at here and there. The whores and the bangers are relegated to history, however, and after having walked from McGuinness to Metropolitan along Meeker Avenue, it occurred to me that not once did I feel danger. There were no hookers blowing truckers, no collections of scabby kids selling vials of death candy… just a rather well appointed homeless camp or two and construction workers eating lunch.

There were also grown men riding skateboards in the middle of a Thursday afternoon, incredibly thin women covered in tattoos that were ignoring them, and both sexes seemed to be staring into their smart phones while Brooklyn writhed incessantly around them unnoticed.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Tours –

August 22nd, 2015
First Calvary Cemetery – LIC, Queens Walking Tour
click here for details and tickets.

September 3rd, 2015
Newtown Creek Boat Tour
with Open House NY, click here for details and tickets.

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