The Newtown Pentacle

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Archive for the ‘Pickman’ Category

headlong down

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Nowhere to go, no one to talk to, like a falling autumn leaf – me.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

One actually did have someplace to go last week - as a rare social occasion wherein a group of us who work for the Brownstoner Queens site commiserated over dinner and drinks in the Dutch Kills neighborhood last week. This drew me out just as the rain clouds were blowing out last Thursday night, and the sunset lighting one encountered was absolutely stellar.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

This rainbow appeared over what is today the Center Building on Northern Blvd., but what was once a Ford Service Center and later offices for a large pharmaceutical company. The song “Somewhere over the rainbow” apparently refers to Sunnyside, it would seem.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

This week I also have someplace to go to - I’ll be attending a meeting of the Newtown Creek CAG (Community Advisory Group), on October 1st. It’s going to be held over in Brooklyn, at the McCarren Play Center Community Room, 776 Lorimer Street, Brooklyn. I’m told that the EPA will be present. Come with?

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

September 29, 2014 at 11:00 am

physical resistance

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This is actually a Newtown Pentacle post, sorry for the spam this morning.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Not sure how, as my passwords etc. were still secure when I checked, but at 8:24 this morning – a spam posting propagated out from this site. First time in better than 5 years that there’s been a breech, but security protocols (changing passwords, mainly) have been invoked. Sorry for the spam, however, but… y’know, hackers and spam bots are clever.

The offending post has been removed from the Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr feeds, but there’s nothing I can do about the emailed subscriber feed so please delete it without clicking on the links. Believe me when I tell you, the last thing I wanted to deal with before finishing my coffee was this.

Your humble narrator is preparing for quite a busy weekend, after all.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

On Saturday, I’ll be leading an excursion with the Atlas Obscura folks in Long Island City. 13 Steps around Dutch Kills will explore the Queens tributary of Newtown Creek and wind up over in Brooklyn. We’re meeting at the corner of Jackson Avenue and 23rd street at 11 a.m. and the walk will be around three hours or so. There’s lots of great stuff to take pictures of, and the route will carry us along one of my favorite paths. Advance tix are recommended, click here for the link, but walkups are also very welcome if you’re a last minute sort of lord or lady.

The tour will set you back $20, and as it’s the last Dutch Kills walk of 2014, come with?

- photo by Mitch Waxman

On Sunday, the tour will be in DUKBO – Down Under the Kosciuszko Bridge Onramp - a part of brooklyn which I fondly refer to as “the Poison Cauldron.” This is likely the second to last time EVER that this tour will happen, as the coming bridge project is going to tear most of this area down. I was there last weekend and most of the businesses are gone, leaving behind a post industrial moonscape. We’ll be walking through petroleum country at the beginning, and I’ll be telling the story of Standard Oil and the Greenpoint Oil Spill along the path. Seriously, if you’ve been putting off coming on one of these, do it now. The Poison Cauldron of the Newtown Creek will soon be a construction zone, which will preclude exploration.

This tour is being produced by the good folks from Brooklyn Brainery, whose ticketing page is found here. Walkups are very welcome, we’ll be at the corner of Kingsland and Norman Avenues in Greenpoint at 10 a.m. The tour will set you back $25.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Walking Tours-

Saturday, September 27th, 13 Steps Around Dutch Kills
Walking Tour with Atlas Obscura, click here for tickets and more info.

Sunday, September 28th, The Poison Cauldron of the Newtown Creek
Walking Tour with Brooklyn Brainery, click here for tickets and more info.

offensive draft

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Caught out, as a lout and a cheat.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

My Beloved Creek has recently let a humble narrator know that she knows about several summertime visits I’ve paid to the Gowanus, and she’s pissed at me. I tell her that it’s unnatural for a man to have just one toxic waterway, and that the Gowanus means nothing to me. It’s Newtown Creek that I really love.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Newtown Creek doesn’t buy my excuses, however. She doesn’t “play,” and has no time for real or perceived infidelities. I’ve been put on notice, and should I even receive a phone call or text message from the Gowanus… well, it won’t be pretty. I’ve appealed to their common mother, hoping that the East River can talk her down, but right now I’m in the dog house. My beloved creek is pissed.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

It’s going to take a while until she trusts me again, she says, but I’m going to have to demonstrate my commitment to her. Also, I’m not allowed near the Kill Van Kull either, until she says so.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

She’s a harsh spouse, my beloved Creek. Worth it, however. Also, she’s got a hell of a set of bulkheads on her. Mmm.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Walking Tours-

Saturday, September 27th, 13 Steps Around Dutch Kills
Walking Tour with Atlas Obscura, click here for tickets and more info.

Sunday, September 28th, The Poison Cauldron of the Newtown Creek
Walking Tour with Brooklyn Brainery, click here for tickets and more info.

Written by Mitch Waxman

September 24, 2014 at 11:00 am

tangible stream

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To plunder, butcher, steal, these things they misname empire: they make a desolation and they call it peace.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

A colloquial translation from Tacitus’s Agricola, attributed to the Caledonian Chieftain Calgacus, the little ditty at the top of this post was originally written in Latin (as you’d imagine). The original goes like this – Auferre, trucidare, rapere, falsis nominibus imperium; atque, ubi solitudinem faciunt, pacem appellant.

It’s exactly what I was thinking while transiting through the Brooklyn side of DUKBO, Down Under the Kosciuszko Bridge Onramp, just the other day as one spotted this thoroughly destroyed truck.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

It’s hardly the Roman Empire affecting these parts, rather it’s the Empire State. The properties and businesses all along Cherry Street have been vacated, as have all but one of the waste transfer stations which used to underlie the Kos, all in the name of the NY State project which will be replacing the 1939 era truss bridge with a new cable stay bridge.

What you’ve got down here, in the interim between now and then (then being the beginning of construction on the new bridge) is the absolute dream of every illegal dumper and freelance mechanic in NYC.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

My understanding of the project suggests that Cherry street will cease to be, as the BQE and the new bridge will sit slightly east of the current span. Parts of Meeker Avenue will shift a bit as well. Accordingly, the Empire (state) has been acquiring properties on both sides of Newtown Creek for quite awhile and making sure that they have a clear path.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

As far as the titular subject of this post, being the skeleton of a semi truck and trailer, my understanding is that the vehicle had been brought to this spot approximately a week or so ago. It had caught fire on the BQE, and was towed off the highway by FDNY. Evidence of my eyes suggests that this is not true, as there would be visible scorch marks on the onramps, and the street that the thing sits on does not betray the presence of the foam suppressants that FDNY typically deploys during vehicle fires.

Also, FDNY usually doesn’t let things burn out this completely.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The plants and concrete traffic barriers around the vehicle do not appear to have suffered flames, nor the presence of the 10 to 20 firefighters and their equipment either. Curious, this, but one must accept things in DUKBO as they are.

The whole “towing it off the highway” thing was offered to me by a local witness, so I transmit it as such.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

A good natured Spaniard that called himself “Zumba” and who was working as a mechanic, on a somewhat less immolated truck, and it was he who transmitted the tale of the tow. Zumba inquired if I was working for the City, nervously eyeing my camera, out of probable concern that I might be some sort of taxman seeking to screw up his weekend job. Waxman, I explained.

Zumba kept on walking back and forth to this open hatch as he went about his work. The aperture sits alongside one of the emptied industrial buildings that occlude the path of the new Kosciuszko Bridge. Someone, or something, was passing him tools from down below.

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

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Walking Tours-

Saturday, September 27th, 13 Steps Around Dutch Kills
Walking Tour with Atlas Obscura, click here for tickets and more info.

Sunday, September 28th, The Poison Cauldron of the Newtown Creek
Walking Tour with Brooklyn Brainery, click here for tickets and more info.

uttermost fields

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Night shooting in DUPBO, Down under the Pulaski Bridge Onramp.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Saturday last, your humble narrator attended the first half of the North Brooklyn Boat Club’s annual “Rock the Pulaski” party. One arrived a bit early, staked out a spot of the bulkhead, and waited for it to get dark. Pictured above, obviously, is Frederick Zurmuhlen’s 1954 vintage double bascule Pulaski Bridge – owned and operated by the NYC Department of Transportation.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

While squeezing out tripod shots of the Newtown Creek scenery, this critter suddenly made an appearance. I’m told that it’s a juvenile Night Heron. It seemed to be doing some hunting, and was rather non-plussed when I attached the flash to my camera.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The bird was hunting worms, of the aquatic variety, and using a floating plank of wood as a platform from which to do so. That’s actually a peanut shell in its beak in the shot above. Apparently, Night Herons like peanuts.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

A long exposure shot of the scene, looking towards Long Island City’s Hunters Point neighborhood, and the Vernon Avenue Street end. Once upon a time, the Vernon Avenue Bridge and the Newtown Creek Towing Company (and an Ulmer Brewery saloon) would have been in the center of the shot. That’s what it looks like at night, in DUPBO.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Walking Tours-

Saturday, September 27th, 13 Steps Around Dutch Kills
Walking Tour with Atlas Obscura, click here for tickets and more info.

Sunday, September 28th, The Poison Cauldron of the Newtown Creek
Walking Tour with Brooklyn Brainery, click here for tickets and more info.

Written by Mitch Waxman

September 22, 2014 at 12:00 pm

molecular motion

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First, you make a hole, then you fill the hole. Why bother?

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Not too many days ago, a humble narrator was startled by a positive cacophony arising from without. Even by the standards of Astoria, which seems to present one with oceans of variegated and unending noise, this was an outlandish amount of sound. Sounded like someone was tearing apart the very street. Turns out, they were.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

This seemed to be a crew working for Verizon, the same ones I spotted on Queens Boulevard that were installing fiber optic lines and whose operation was examined in the post “nervous element.” They had the same saw truck thing, the CC155 Vermeer, which I feel deuty bound to point out the efficacy of – both in its intended role in sawing up the pavement, and for its potential as an anti “Horde of Zombies” weapon.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

One such as myself is endlessly fascinated by projects like this, wherein a cross section of “down there” stands revealed for a few moments. The layer cake of street, particularly over and around subways as in the case of Astoria’s Broadway, tells you a lot about how things actually work. You got sewers, pipes of all descriptions (many of which go nowhere and are connected to nothing that has existed above ground for a half century or more), that there’s all manner of buried items would suffice. There’s subway tracks below, so this actually isn’t a street at all – as in paved ground, so I suppose it’s actually a sort of roof that they’re noisily cutting into.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The operation kept on having to slow down and bring in guys with shovels, picks, and pry bars when the big zombie fighting saw machine started bringing up chunks of wood. The stuff splintered up, and seemed to be material that the crew needed to clear away manually. Some fairly large chunks of timber came out of the trench. A guess would be that’s it’s likely a layer of creosoted timber which is sitting on top of the steel and cement “cut and cover” subway tunnel that’s about 20 or so feet down. The scene also cast some doubt about the Vermeer being used against Zombies, whose splintered skulls would be similarly treated by the unit.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

I turned away from the scene for a bit, made some coffee and answered a few emails. Suddenly, the sound of a giant “not so appropriate for killing Zombies or tearing through wet lumber but amazing at trenching concrete and asphalt saw machine” stopped, and the scent of hot asphalt filled the air. The only sounds enjoyed at this time were the driving rhythm of a ground tamper and the staccato of a dump truck diesel engine. Soon, the crew’s carefully dug trench was carefully filled in.

The Vermeer was seen last night, parked over on Jackson Avenue in LIC, near 23rd street and in front of the former 5ptz. The crew was nowhere to be found, but to be fair, it was something like 9 p.m.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Walking Tours-

Saturday, September 27th, 13 Steps Around Dutch Kills
Walking Tour with Atlas Obscura, click here for tickets and more info.

Sunday, September 28th, The Poison Cauldron of the Newtown Creek
Walking Tour with Brooklyn Brainery, click here for tickets and more info.

Written by Mitch Waxman

September 19, 2014 at 11:00 am

delicate adjustments

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The night time is the right time…

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Wandering about Astoria with a little dog called Zuzu, one observes a series of interesting tableaus. Zuzu requires a certain daily amount of marching about, so as to check her “pee mail” at every tree pit – and given her legendarily thick double coat of fur, this is best accomplished long after the burning thermonuclear eye of god itself has exited the scene and the pavement has cooled. Luckily, this puts me out on the street just as the party seems to be getting started for everyone else.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The human hive is surprisingly active well into the wee hours around these parts. Parental admonishment rings forth from open windows, queer foreign voices drunkenly slur and babble in unknown tongues, automobiles operated by adolescents screech along the streets. The smell of curry and burning olive oil are everywhere, along with the occasional wisps of cannabis. Eventually, things will quiet down, usually when the saloon keepers have served their “last call.”

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Lately, one finds himself yearning for elevation over the dross theater of Astoria. Vantage over the scene calls to me, although what one might encounter up here is no different than the sidewalks, except for its lower population numbers. You’ll find drunks and inebriates up here if you look, or forget to lock the door. Once or twice a week, when the LaGuardia flight path carries aeronauts over the neighborhood on the way to their landing strip, an NYPD helicopter will appear and play a light over these tar beaches – likely searching for foreign sappers seeking to cause chaos. Not up to anything more sinister than photographing one thing or another, your humble narrator usually just waves at the aerial gendarme. Zuzu could care less, as she cannot climb ladders.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Walking Tours-

Saturday, September 27th, 13 Steps Around Dutch Kills
Walking Tour with Atlas Obscura, click here for tickets and more info.

Sunday, September 28th, The Poison Cauldron of the Newtown Creek
Walking Tour with Brooklyn Brainery, click here for tickets and more info.

Written by Mitch Waxman

September 18, 2014 at 12:44 pm

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