The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

fled into

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Break time.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

A single image greets you this morning, as will be the case through the Thanksgiving holiday.

A humble narrator requires a break periodically, to recharge and reinvent. Worry not, however, for pithy commentary and puckish intent returns on the Monday following Thanksgiving – the first of December.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

November 17, 2014 at 11:00 am

not so small

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Enough is enough.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

One’s path led to Blissville recently, as it often does. Perambulating down Greenpoint Avenue in the direction of the Long Island Expressway on a singularly lovely afternoon. the abundances of illegally placed advertising signs adorning lamp post and utility poles finally forced me to start taking notice of and commenting on it. This is flat out illegal, and DSNY (Sanitation) is responsible for the prosecution and policing of such matters. If this was a graffiti tagged sticker on a Manhattan phone booth, they would have long ago ended the perpetrator, but this is Queens… so you know… go fuck yourself. That’s our Borough Motto, you know – “Welcome to Queens, now go fuck yourself.”

Cash for any car indeed.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The Cash for Any Cars signs are everywhere. I’ve torn down a few dozen personally, mainly on the block where HQ is located. Luckily, I spotted this secondary advertisement for a company that actually prints the god damned things on a utility pole. One has no evidence to back this up, but the proximity and arrangement of the Cash for Any Car sign alongside the Caristo Printing one suggests to me that they were likely placed together and in conjunction.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

If you are as sick of seeing “signs just like this one” as I am, mayhap you’d want to contact Caristo Printing and let them know how you feel about their illegal advertising on the streets of Queens and or their complicity in the “Cash for Any Cars” signs. If you’re truly beside yourself about these abrogations of the public space, perhaps you’d like to complain about them to your elected officials and the various powers and potentates of the City of Greater New York. If you are an elected official or a regulatory officer, perhaps you’d like to address a letter or two to this printing company about “signs just like this one.”

Alternatively, there’s always “welcome to Queens, now go fuck yourself”.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

November 14, 2014 at 11:00 am

rather small

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Creekerie, in today’s post.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

From Greenpoint’s Apollo Street, which is the dead bang omphalos of the Greenpoint Oil Spill, this construction barge was spotted operating on the Queens side. It seemed to be involved in a bulkhead replacement or repair operation at what would likely be the Waste Management facility in Blissville that sits astride the western fringe of a property once known as the Queens County Oil works of Charles Pratt. A humble narrator is not “in the know” on the project, and mainly stopped off at Apollo Street for the most urgent and personal of reasons (the overgrown street end with it’s attendant vegetation is a wonderful spot for urinating).

Interestingly, after zipping up my own tackle and heading back up the sloped dead end street, I passed a fellow who was heading for the street end with a fishing pole and a tackle box.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

It’s hard to for most listeners to believe me when mention is made of the quite active fishing community in Greenpoint (and LIC/Blissville for that matter) that exploits the biota of Newtown Creek. In the environmental community, much mention is made of this pursuit, and the problematic concept of cautionary signage often comes up. Officialdom, when confronted with the idea that people fish here, will tell you that licensed fishermen are instructed against such practices and offered guide lines about the consumption of creatures caught in places like Newtown Creek.

When the idea that zero percent of the people who fish here are licensed, NYS officialdom returns with “it’s illegal to fish without a license.” One understands that it is also illegal to double park, smoke marijuana, or to illegally dump garbage in the street.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The reason that placing any sort of signage along the Newtown Creek is a difficult topic can be best defined by the polyglot nature of the neighborhoods surrounding it. Obivously, the signs would need to be in English and Spanish – the two predominant tongues. You’d also need to do French, Polish, Chinese, Korean, Arabic, and some combination of the several Indian languages as well. Couldn’t hurt to throw in Phillipino, and whatever the hell it is they speak in Africa.

Signs would need to compensate for translation errors, to avoid linguistic traps and transliterations that would render “do not fish here” as a “devil fish kill children quick with oil and fire poisons” sort of thing.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

November 13, 2014 at 11:00 am

equal and largest

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More scenery from DUKBO, in today’s post.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Brooklyn’s DUKBO, or Down Under the Kosciuszko Bridge Onramp, is an agglutination of waste transfer stations, trucking companies, and the heaviest of industries. It sits beyond the Meeker Avenue Plumes, just east of the Newtown Creek Petroleum district and the Greenpoint Oil Spill. It is bisected and defined by the Brooklyn Queens Expressway. The very air you breathe is a poisonous fume, and the dust carried upon the breeze is rife with volatile organic compounds and asbestos.

Other than that, it’s very nice, and totally “metal.”

- photo by Mitch Waxman

As mentioned yesterday, DUKBO is the site of a huge infrastructure project which is just beginning – the replacement of the 1939 vintage Kosciuszko Bridge. The path of the new bridge will carry it through what used to be Cherry Street. The factories and industrial buildings which line Cherry Street are in the process of being demolished, and the rubble carted away. Who will miss the live poultry warehouse that once stood here, and the streams of chicken feces which once pooled laconically in the street, other than me?

One decided to have one last look at the place, in anticipation of last week’s “Poison Cauldron with Atlas Obscura” walk, before the Skanska Kiewit team kick into high gear in the coming months and this part of Brooklyn becomes a no-go zone due to the construction.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

One will miss these concrete devastations, along with that old blue beast of a bridge. As I understand the plan, the new bridge will stand on Cherry Street itself, span Newtown Creek albeit at a far lower altitude than the current structure, and enter Queens at about 43rd street. On the Maspeth side, no where near this level of activity has started yet, by the way. There’s a bunch of what seem to be union carpenters at work in the former NYPD tow yard, but I haven’t seen any demolition work going on.

Yet.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

November 12, 2014 at 11:00 am

good sized

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DUKBO, Down Under the Kosciuszko Bridge Onramp.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

I can tell you many things about DUKBO in Greenpoint without ever mentioning an acid factory or a night soil dock. Just last week, one was compelled for professional reasons to enter the area during business hours. For those of you not in the know, the New York State Department of Transportation has engaged the Skanska Kiewit company to demolish an existing 1939 model Kosciuszko Bridge shortly after building the first half of a replacement span.

A massive undertaking, the DOT has bought up the easements and buildings that stand in the path of the project on both sides of the Newtown Creek. Cherry Street in Greenpoint no longer functionally exists, accordingly.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Demolition projects generate a lot of dust, which is kept under control via the usage of water. Unfortunately, an enormous pile of water has accumulated at Gardner Avenue and used to be Cherry Street. It makes for a nice photo, if I say so myself, but winter is coming and this is a neighborhood of trucks which are doing truckish things.

One would offer and infer that this pond in DUKBO might become known to the children of North Brooklyn as Lake Skanska.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

One also envisions certain nightmarish winter scenarios wherein a speeding packer truck might suddenly encounter a frozen Lake Skanska, the water caught in the grip of some sort of environmental vortex. Whether polar, equatorial, antipodal, paranormal, or temporal – a vortex of any kind is never a good thing when heavy machinery is involved. The truck loses traction on the icy surface of Lake Skanska and careens through the nearby fence line of National Grid, impacting one of the LNG tanks, and… well, we’d see the flash, but the blast wave would certainly remove Western Queens and North Brooklyn from all but the most cautionary of conversations.

Down Under the Kosciuszko Bridge Onramp, lords and ladies, DUKBO.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

very small

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Fall Foliage, in today’s post.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

First off, a brief grammatical note: the word “foliage” is pronounced thusly – foal-e-ajj or “foalyaj”- not “foylyaj.” This is something that drives one such as myself crazy, much like the common mispronunciation (favored by a certain recent President) of the word nuclear which renders it as “nookular.”

At any rate, as it is fall foliage season, when autumnal sprites splash the crimson and oranges about – your humble narrator delivers with a seasonal scene. Of course… it’s me, so I went to the overgrown Meeker Avenue Street end at the Newtown Creek for my foliage.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Not living cheek by jowl with the waterway as so many do is certainly a luxury to be enjoyed, just ask anyone in Manhattan.

This pleasure isn’t experienced by the folks who live over in Greenpoint, of course, but there you go. One has been taking a bit of a break from hanging around the Newtown Creek for the last month or so, allowing a bit of detoxification to take place. An interesting anecdote, which several of us that spend a lot of time around the place have commented to each other about, is that we tend not to get sick as often as other people during cold and flu season. Spouses might be on Day 3 of a flu, but we’re fine.

Is Newtown Creek a cure all, or is it merely an antibiotic?

- photo by Mitch Waxman

By antibiotic, I mean anti life in the same sense that the DC Comics villain Darkseid would infer, of course. Best guess would be “environmental adaptation,” presuming that constant exposure to those sewage borne pathogens which find themselves in the Newtown Creek have jacked up our collective immune systems. Whenever I submit blood tests to a Doctor, I always ask if my white cell count seems unusually high.

The answer has been categorically “no,” but I keep on hoping.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

November 10, 2014 at 11:00 am

pause and peer

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Sunset at Freshkill, in today’s post.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

As mentioned yesterday, there were four shots a humble narrator was slavering over capturing during a recent evening visit to Freshkills – two involved a chancy encounter with wild fauna and did not happen, the shots in today’s post – however – were all ones that I desired. Sunset on… Staten Island…

- photo by Mitch Waxman

As I understand it, this is the actual Fresh Kill for which the former DSNY facility and the modern Parks project takes its name. As the sun was going down, there were a bunch of ducks on the water who were doing duckish things. The piles and structure pictured above reminded me of the sort of thing you’d tow a barge into, but I might just be seeing what I want to see.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Here and there, flotsam reminds one of what this place once was used for, but this is material that likely floated in on the tide. Trust in me, of course, to waste time taking monochrome pictures of a cast off tire in the mud while a spectacular sunset is underway.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

For you photo geeks out there, the formula for this one was to reduce my aperture down to f22, and expose for around 2.5 seconds. That’s how you produce the frozen glassiness of the water and capture a wide range of color from the sky without causing the wind driven clouds to “drag” or the constantly moving ducks to motion blur. It’s a tripod shot, which was triggered by a remote release. If you click the image and head over to my Flickr account, there’s a few permutations on the formula which go darker and or lighter on this scene surrounding it in the album. I like this one best.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The scenics which made me long for a tripod and my sharpest lens when I visited Freshkill in August follow after this one. The equipment in the shot above is a methane monitoring well, I’m told. This is all natural light, by the way, although I was standing in absolute darkness. A long exposure, thirty seconds long, the light pollution erupting from New York City is remarkable.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

This is looking westwards at New Jersey, across the Arthur Kill, and the vast complex of oil refinery and distribution businesses which give the area its nickname – the “chemical coast.” It’s striking, actually, how less “lit up” this area is despite the proximity of Newark Airport and the various highways leading to and from it and the crossings into and out of Manhattan.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Pictured above is the Arthur Kill Power Plant, a 1950’s era beast of an electricity generating station. My pals at habitatmap did a work up on the place a while back, check it out here. When I was reviewing the shots back at HQ, it occurred that I seemed to have shot a Pink Floyd album cover here.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

After dusk settled into darkness, I realized that a repeat of the long journey was about to ensue and it was nearly 7:30 p.m. One last shot of the Manhattan skyline jutting out of the Freshkills mounds was required, however, as pictured above.

also – I’m required to state the following, regarding the access which allowed me to capture these photos – “Courtesy of the City of New York. NYC Parks and the Freshkills Park Alliance have made access available for the production of this artwork.” I’m also required to offer this link to freshkillspark.org and inform that inquiries regarding the park are best sent to freshkillspark@parks.nyc.gov

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Walking Tours-

Saturday, November 8th, Poison Cauldron
Walking Tour with Atlas Obscura, click here for tickets and more info.

Note: This is the last Newtown Creek walking tour of 2014, and probably the last time this tour will be presented in its current form due to the Kosciuszko Bridge construction project. 

Written by Mitch Waxman

November 7, 2014 at 11:00 am

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