The Newtown Pentacle

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Archive for the ‘Queens Boulevard’ Category

swirling away

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The whole 7 train thing.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I don’t live along this particular subway line, the 7, but many of my friends in Sunnyside and Jackson Heights are finding themselves driven to a state absolute despair by its recent troubles. Over at my Brownstoner column, a report on the subway situation was offered, and a description of a recent rally held by NYC Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer protesting the increasingly unreliable service was described here. On Facebook, a group page called #7trainblues has sprung up, where affected riders can express their ennui.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Long time Sunnyside residents tell me that they used to enjoy a 20 minute commute into Manhattan, a journey which can now take up to 45 minutes on a good day. In all fairness, the MTA’s outdoor lines were all hit rather hard by the recent spate of arctic weather in February, but the 7 train’s average “on time” rate is a few percentage points below that of the rest of the system – according to experts with whom I’ve consulted. Factor in an astounding 22 weeks of weekend track work and signal system upgrades – which turns service off completely, and you can understand the amount of pique which is growing in the neighborhood towards the MTA.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There are certain things which Government employees do not understand about the private sector, as it is outside of their personal experience. Nobody gets out of work at five p.m. anymore in corporate America, as municipal employees still do. Nobody in the private sector can say “I don’t work weekends” or “sorry that’s a holiday” or “that’s not my job” anymore, and we haven’t been able to do so since the late 90’s. Recently, I found myself on the R at 9 p.m. on a Sunday, and it was standing room only. Similarly crowded conditions are observed at all hours of the day, and rush hour has become something of a cautionary tale told by Queensicans to their children.

The proletariat has responded to the municipal call to abandon the automobile and use mass transit instead, it would be nice if the MTA wasn’t making us regret that decision on a regular basis.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

March 23, 2015 at 11:00 am

bleak plateau

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In the Cold Wastes.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The sporadic intervals during which one has been “out and about” in February have been infrequent, but somewhat entertaining. Just last weekend, when a short period of warmth occurred, the ice pack retreated and released several examples of Queens’s native art form – illegal dumping – for inspection. Above, a series of flash frozen berries and a small bottle of perhaps wine was observed in Sunnyside reemerging into the open air.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The streets have been noticeably quiet around Astoria’s Steinway Street, which is normally a tumult of the old vibrant diversity and the caterwaul of honking automotive horns. It’s an “Astoria thing” incidentally, honking your car’s horn. Should another driver dare to slow down to let a passenger exit the vehicle, the custom hereabouts is to activate the horn and keep it operating until the offending vehicle clears a path for you. “How dare you slow me down, incrementally” seems to be the thought process at work.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Another unusually inactive point of view at Queens Blvd., nearby Aviation High School. The Boulevard of Death normally teems with traffic heading east and west, and it is somewhat disconcerting to see it abandoned by all but a few autos and the Q32 bus. Did everyone else get invited to a party that I wasn’t invited to? Such is the lot of a humble narrator, always a bride’s main, never the bride.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

March 5, 2015 at 12:04 pm

all pantheons

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Hey, youse, whatcha taking pixchas of? Comere, ahlls gis yes someting to take pixchas of right heres…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The first time that a camera was used as a weapon of war, not for propaganda or image capture but as a bludgeon, was during the First World War. A century ago, a British infantryman who was completely out of ammunition on the Western Front swung his Kodak Brownie stoutly around for 17 straight hours, holding off a German division singlehandedly before succumbing to his injuries.

I’m making that up of course, to illustrate the ridiculous nature of people’s reactions when they see a camera being used these days. Folks don’t react in the same manner to cell phone cameras, mind you, dslr’s must awaken some ancestral memory of one eyed predators stalking our primate predecessors. At any rate, here we go again with the Subway pics.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Compared to the shooting protocol I’ve been perfecting for the underground system, down in the tubes, the 7 line is a piece of cake. Above ground through most of Queens, every one of its platforms (except Hunters Point, which has its own virtues) offer fantastic points of view. The shot above is the Corona Yard, nearby Flushing Meadow Corona Park and Citifield, on the pedestrian bridge between the LIRR station and the 7 line’s stadium stop.

Whilst shooting this one, some faceless security guard asked me “what are you taking pictures of?”. Gesturing to the yard, I said “the trains.” He offered that it was disallowed, noticing such things and capturing the reflected light streaming off of them. Not desiring to discuss constitutional law with a fellow in a rented cop suit, I instructed him to summon the police. He declined and began to harass a teenaged skateboarder instead.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

While on Skillman Avenue near Queens Plaza recently, the 7 came sliding in over the intersection and the deployed camera was called to action. An older woman, whose logical decision making process is clearly flawed – she made the decision to drive into Manhattan at rush hour – called out to me from her idling automobile, offering a question.

Her query was “are you a terrorist?”. I affirmed the negative on that one, and asked if she had remembered to turn the oven off before she left the house. I’m a real stinker like that, she was probably worried about it for the rest of the day. Seriously though Queensicans, leave me the hell alone when I’m working, because that’s what photographers are doing when we have those one eyed predator weapons systems pressed to our faces.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

October 10, 2014 at 12:44 pm

elder worlds

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From Woodside

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A hand painted seal, signifying the “Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States” organization, as observed in the Woodside section of Queens, NYC.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

There are two Newtown Creek walking tours, and a Magic Lantern show, coming up.

Saturday, May 31st, Plank Road with Newtown Creek Alliance.
Click here for tickets and more info.

Saturday, June 7th, 13 Steps around Dutch Kills with Atlas Obscura.
Click here for tickets and more info.

Wednesday, June 11th, Newtown Creek Magic Lantern Show with Brooklyn Brainery.
Click here for tickets and more info.

Written by Mitch Waxman

May 26, 2014 at 1:32 pm

saucily cocked

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The boulevard of death.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Queens Boulevard has the single greatest appellation of any street in New York City – the “Boulevard of Death.” The thoroughfare has earned its nom de plume via the ridiculous number of people who have been smashed to death by automotive traffic along its length over the years, and as is the case with most things municipal, the elected guardians of the citizenry have enacted various programs and campaigns to safeguard against future tragedy. None of these well meaning efforts have been terribly successful.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The failure of “traffic slowing” or whatever they call it this week or year is generally not being caused by inherent flaws in municipal design or logic, instead, it boils down to the same thing that a corporate IT officer will blame 90% of their computer problems on – user error. As a dedicated pedestrian, I see this happening all the time, and I’m not really sure how much “cherishing of life” nor “sense of self preservation” is possessed by someone who tries to cross Queens Blvd. diagonally and from the middle of the block has, nor how you can codify or legislate that sort of stupidity away. In many ways, its Darwinism at work.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Remember “public service announcements”? PSA’s used to admonish against littering, or starting fires, and instructed on proper etiquette when onboard bus or subway. The PSA’s also used to inform newcomers on how to safely cross the streets and follow the rules. If you follow the street rules, odds are that you won’t end up as a greasy smear on the streets on Queens. Cross at corners, wait for the walk/don’t walk sign to flash white, look both ways before entering the vehicle lane. A humble narrator advises standing behind something like a street lamp when waiting to cross a high speed eight lane street, out of an abundance of informed caution.

This sort of conventional wisdom seems out of style at the moment, and Queens Blvd. remains the “boulevard of death.”

There are two public Newtown Creek walking tours coming up, one in LIC, Queens and one in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.

Glittering Realms, with Atlas Obscura, on Saturday May 17th.
Click here for more info and ticketing.

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

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

May 9, 2014 at 1:08 pm

nervous element

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Cutting up Queens Blvd. in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Bigger and quite a bit badder than the masonry saw witnessed in last week’s posting “dusk comes,” your humble narrator recently spotted a crew on Queens Blvd. creating a street trench using a 155 HP Vermeer CC155 Concrete Cutter. The gizmo uses a giant (84 inches in diameter) wheel, one that sports carbide tipped teeth, to chew into the asphalt and underlying cement of the so called “Boulevard of Death.”

from vermeer.com

Cutting streets for utility installation or pothole repair is no problem for the Vermeer CC155. With the sustained torque output of its Tier II 155 hp/115.6 kW Cummins engine and a microprocessor to manage load control, the CC155 is a smart choice for interstate and highway repair, airport lighting projects, and demolition work.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Quoting my union laborer buddy who lives upstairs, whom I casually mentioned encountering this device to – “Bro, y’know how much time ya save with a trencher? Pssshhhht. (he demonstratively lit a Marlboro Red at this point) Bro, I friggin hate jackhammers, screws up my back every time I use one bro, gotta have a trencher Bro, ya gotta.” One couldn’t help but notice that the signage adorning the traffic bollard which the crew had set about indicated that they were working on a Verizon project, which is presumptively the roll out of FIOS in Queens.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Let’s face it, everything sucks, but nothing outside of government sucks more than Time Warner Cable. That organization represents such a high level of suck that they should be sent to Albany and turned into a branch of State government whose singular mission is “to suck,” and become the official state agency in charge of obfuscation and incompetent management – the OIM. Your humble narrator welcomes anyone who will provide competition to those clowns, even if its “Ma Bell,” and if it means attacking the boulevard of death with a giant saw then so be it.

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

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

Written by Mitch Waxman

April 30, 2014 at 11:48 am

by surprise

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Cool atmospherics in Sunnyside.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One of those periodic blasts of duty has been upon me for the last week or so, a lot to do with little time to do it, and the rain last week didn’t help. Got in the way of one project, delayed two others, and obliterated any semblance of free time when precipitants fell not. Accordingly, rather than walking everywhere, as I just did not have the time, mass transit was utilized.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Unlike several of my friends, especially that walking encyclopedia of regional transport options – Kevin Walsh of Forgotten-NY, I generally don’t familiarize myself with transit lines that I don’t frequent. Limited space available on my internal hard drives, and the needs of the now often crowd out things I don’t need to use often. However, I was quite proud of myself while improvising a bus and train path on the fly, just the other day, which is how I ended up on the 7 train.

Normally, I’d just walk from Greenpoint to Flushing, as it’s only a few miles and carries one across a staggeringly interesting cross section of Brooklyn and Queens.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The good news is that the first walking tour of 2014 is now accomplished, on Saturday I did the “13 Steps around Dutch Kills” tour with Atlas Obscura, which was one of the many things I had to do last week. Next tour with the Obscura Society will be “The Poison Cauldron of the Newtown Creek” on April 26, tickets are available here.

The reason I was heading to Flushing, and lucky enough to catch these cool atmospherics and lighting in Sunnyside, was to get some shots of the Unisphere for my Brownstoner column – check them out here.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

April 7, 2014 at 11:00 am

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