The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Posts Tagged ‘Brooklyn

evil design

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Getting around town, in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A humble narrator’s antipathy towards entering the rat infested bunkers of sweating concrete that underlie the megalopolis has been fully explored in prior posts at this, your Newtown Pentacle. What are you going to do, though? There’s really only one truly economical way to get around in our city, and the subway is it.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

You could drive, I suppose, but one such as myself lives a mere three stops out from the City center, and cannot imagine bearing the costs and pain in the neck that maintaining an automobile would entail. My solution has always been to rent a car when I need one, which is not that often. It’s an expensive caprice, but no where even close to paying annual insurance, gas, and paying for the inevitable parking tickets.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One has been making a dedicated effort to use the MTA bus system in the last year, as many of the places which I’m headed for in Queens are not served by the Subway system (or if they are, I have to loop through all of Manhattan to get there from Astoria). For instance, getting to Ridgewood, a distance of less than 6 miles from Astoria, would necessitate a 50 minute ride on the M which would visit most of Manhattan and a significant chunk of North Brooklyn.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Far and away, my favorite form of transit are the ferries, and in particular the giant orange ones. East River Ferry has ironed out a lot of the kinks in their service in the last year, btw, and there’s now a smart phone app which publishes a schedule and anticipated times of arrival at the various landings. You can also purchase tix via the app. The big orange boat is free, incidentally, and is amongst other things – the most popular tourist destination in NYC.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One would enjoy using the rich man’s preferred mode of transit, if only as a diversion, but this mode of transportation is ridiculously expensive – something like $2,000 per hour.

The best way to see NYC is on foot, of course.

This Sunday, I’ll be leading a walking tour of the eastern side of Newtown Creek for Newtown Creek Alliance, btw. Tix are still available, see the links below for more info.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Tours –

August 2nd, 2015
The Insalubrious Valley of the Newtown Creek – Bushwick & Mapeth Walking Tour
with Newtown Creek Alliance, click here for details and tickets.

August 8th, 2015
13 Steps Around Dutch Kills – LIC Walking Tour
with Atlas Obscura, click here for details and tickets

Written by Mitch Waxman

July 31, 2015 at 12:29 pm

four winds

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New York Harbor, in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Sunday last was the Waterfront Alliance’s “City of Water Day” and your humble narrator conducted a free Newtown Creek boat tour for the festival. My tour was one of several that emanated from Governors Island, but “City of Water Day” is a citywide event and there were all kinds of interesting diversions happening in every Borough. Governors Island is a bit of a pain to get to, but luckily, after concluding my duties – an East River Ferry was just about to exit the island and then follow it’s normally scheduled itinerary, which includes a stop in LIC at Hunters Point. Deciding to “get out of dodge” and head home, and possessed of a serious desire to not get on the Subway, the ferry seemed like an ideal option.

One purchased a ticket and hopped onboard, brandished the camera, and waved it about as the boat headed North along the East River.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Along the way, a United States Coast Guard Cutter was spotted. It’s decidedly irregular to see a white hulled Coast Guard vessel in this part of NY Harbor (white hulls are generally assigned to ocean going vessels in the Coast Guard). You’ll regularly see black hulls during winter months (ice breakers) and orange hulls do harbor security work all year long so they’re commonly observed.

One suspects that the Cutter was in the inner harbor because the President happened to be in NYC on “City of Water Day,” and they were performing some sort of security job but that’s a guess.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s the CGC Ridley (WPB 87328), an 87-foot Coastal Patrol Boat Marine Protector Class vessel. She’s based in Long Island Sound, and everything you could possibly want to know about her can be found at this page at uscg.mil.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The East River Ferry continued along its normal route, offering the usual fantastic views which have gained it a dedicated clientele amongst the hordes of tourists which populate it on weekends. Offered above is a shot of the Freedom Tower rising behind Moisef’s Manhattan Bridge, as observed from onboard.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Tours –

July 26th, 2015
Modern Corridor – LIC, Queens Walking Tour
with Brooklyn Brainery, click here for details and tickets.

As detailed in this recent post, my camera was destroyed in an accident.

For those of you who have offered donations to pay for its replacement, the “Donate” button below will take you to paypal. Any contributions to the camera fund will be greatly appreciated, and rewarded when money isn’t quite as tight as it is at the moment.

Donate Button with Credit Cards

horror

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Into every life, a little rain must fall. My life seems to be Hurricance Sandy, every day.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The shot above is the very last one which will ever be captured by the camera which has been utilized to record the startling truth of our times, as presented in graphic narrative at this – your Newtown Pentacle – for the last 4 years. The device has been, as those of you who know me, omnipresent. Normally, the thing is strapped to me and never leaves my hand. If it was to be put down, extreme care and attention to its resting place has always been exercised. Friends often chide a humble narrator as to why the camera got its own chair.

All that is over now, due to a single careless moment on the 4th of July.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The other day, shots captured from Williamsburg depicted the 4th of July fireworks. After the rooftop gathering attended to view the show, which a friend had graciously invited Our Lady of the Pentacle and myself to join in on, Our Lady insisted that we hire a taxi to cross the short distance from Williamsburg back to Astoria. While exiting the vehicle, the camera tumbled out of my hand and struck the street.

The lens, my “good lens,” shattered into multiple pieces.

The camera body seemed fine at first, but soon revealed itself as non functional after just two mirror flips. Massive self recrimination ensued, as one might imagine, but just as in the case with any kind of accident – what are you going to do? “Command Z, undo, undo” cried I.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Unfortunately, given my tremulous financial equilibrium, (hey, you think environmental activist – historian – blogger – photographer – tour guide – actually pays well?) a trip to BH Photo was demanded. One such as myself cannot be without a capture device, and replacement equipment was expensively acquired. The horror.

The good news is that I’m back in business. The bad news is that I’m out a big chunk of change. For those of you that feel my pain, I beg you to buy some tickets to one of the walking tours I’m doing this summer.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Tours –

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

July 26th, 2015
Modern Corridor – LIC, Queens Walking Tour
with Brooklyn Brainery, click here for details and tickets.

Written by Mitch Waxman

July 10, 2015 at 11:25 am

amidst glare

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A few 4th of July shots, in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There are so many balls in the air at the moment, and so many more which one must work into the juggling act… best to focus in on the fireworks from July 4th in today’s post. Distraction abounds.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On the 4th itself, a friend with a river view invited Our Lady of the Pentacle and myself to his house. Obligatory for shots of this kind, a tripod came along with me. When the Macy’s show got started, one was ready.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Originally, one planned to be in LIC, the titular focus of the fireworks show… but the security theatrics which NYPD got up to scared me away. I tend to avoid areas in which snipers have been deployed.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My friend’s place is in the crowded and tony section of Williamsburg, and when the show was over – Our Lady and myself managed to fight off a horde of hipsters in pursuance of a taxi to get back to Astoria. When we arrived there, however… in tomorrow’s post, I will describe to you horror incarnate.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Tours –

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

July 26th, 2015
Modern Corridor – LIC, Queens Walking Tour
with Brooklyn Brainery, click here for details and tickets.

Written by Mitch Waxman

July 9, 2015 at 10:33 am

in connection with

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Subway fever dreams, in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One such as myself generally doesn’t recall the hallucinations which occur during those dark hours when biological imperatives overcome and consciousness is lost. At least once per day, but more often than not – at night – a sudden wave of fatigue drowns out all other motivations and I find myself lapsing into a death like state which is accompanied by wild visions. I cannot tell you what happens during these intervals, which can sometimes consume a third of any day. Perhaps this is why I maintain the presence of an ever present and watchful dog, who on more than one occasion has pulled me out of this state when danger approaches with her ululating vocalizations. This daily failing is excaberated when my biological functions are impeded or hampered by injury, or some bacterial or viral infection.

A wild gyre occurs during these spells, with thoughts unrestrained by physics and possibility. My conscious mind rejects all remembrance of these visions upon reawakening. This is certainly true of any hallucination which might be deemed “pleasant.” It is only the terrors of the night which persist into the sunlit hours. A recent injury to the fleshy stalk upon which my head is mounted resulted in a series of Subway oriented visions.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One recurring hallucination took the form of an endless Subway trip. Transfers and long distances occur, but one never seems to get to a destination. When the trains pull into unknown stations, the exits and stairs are always boarded up. Usually these barriers were adorned by signage warning about the presence of some sort of airborn toxin, as indicated by the skull and crossbones iconography which one does not immediately associate with a MTA logo, and were one to walk up the steps to the surface a dire fate awaited.

One is always given the impression that something terrible has happened to the world above, and the Subway is improbably the only safe place remaining.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One of my nocturnal phantasmagories featured entire Subway trains traveling on the R line – the R stood for “Refugee” – which had been converted over to shelter dwellings. The trains were kept moving so as to avoid undue exposure to whatever might be mingling with the dust of desiccated rat droppings and fungal spores in the station atmosphere.

At certain stations, this Refugee train did not stop, as the platforms were crowded with ragged caricatures of the human form – desperately clawing at the moving metal and glass surfaces, and seeking entry into the traveling refugee village. Making matters worse, the car which this scenario played out in was populated by at least three Korean street ministers, who my fellow travelers and I would have gladly fed to any cannibal mob.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Another hallucinatory vision saw a Q train which never exited the subterranean tunnels nor encountered any station, crawling along in an obsequious and onbnoxiously slow fashion. This train provided no shelter from the infestation of human survivors however. Instead, the Q stood for “Quarantine” and all of my fellow riders were suffering from some sort of hemorrhagic fever.

The image which quietly withstood the regaining of consciousness early the next morning was that of a Subway train filled, ankle deep, with blood and gore.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Another horrible imagining occurred just as the healing process within the ruggose tube that supports my head began, one wherein a long Subway ride was experienced in a car in which your humble narrator was the only occupant that wasn’t a busker or street performer.

One was surrounded by Mariachi’s and those teams of acrobatic dancing youths, and along with them were accordionists and the “if anyone is hungry, I’ve got sandwiches” people. One sat at the center of a pulsing crowd of perfomers and prosletizers, as the street ministers and clipboard volunteers were along as well. Several members of lesser cults, seperatists, and joiners were also present. All thrust dirty plastic cups at me, asking for a dollar or two.

In one corner of the train, a hipster girl filmed the scene on an iPhone, in a somewhat disaffected manner. She’d seen it all before.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Always, the rays of the burning thermonuclear eye of God itself interrupts these bizarre hallucinations, rousing me from the comatose and back to a world of harsh reality. At the end of my recent infirmity, one hallucination was running full bore when I awoke in a cold sweat with a rapidly beating heart.

I travelled through the City’s intestinal crevasses, and encountered another dreamer who informed me that my whole life had, in fact, been what they had been having nightmares of since childhood. This person had been suppressing me with psychiatric care, and a schedule of narcotic drugs. After having directly encountered my personage, this person – an amiable Spaniard – decided to kill himself forthwith. Sometimes I have that effect on people, I guess.

I wondered – and more than wondered – can all of this reality of ours simply be someone’s, or some thing’s, dream? Is there something out there, which lies not dead but dreaming?

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Tours –

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

July 26th, 2015
Modern Corridor – LIC, Queens Walking Tour
with Brooklyn Brainery, click here for details and tickets.

Written by Mitch Waxman

July 8, 2015 at 11:00 am

hath looked

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The Tug Sea Lion, at Newtown Creek, in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

When one was onboard that Anchor QEA excursion mentioned last week (the post with the shot of those cool storm clouds blowing in), the Sea Lion tug appeared. She was towing an empty garbage barge, and navigating down the East River. Whenever one of these towing vessels nears my vantage in this part of the harbor, even one as loathsome as myself can grow excited.

The backgrounds which they move against are… iconic… to say the least.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Freedom Tower, or One World Trade if you must, has assumed this sort of iconic “gravitas” despite its relatively short period of tenancy in the skyline of the Shining City. Thing is, if you are after instant recognition, nothing beats either the Empire State or Chrysler buildings for saying “New York City.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Sea Lion entered Reach A of the Newtown Creek, heading eastwards. I’ve asked around a bit about the whole “Marion or Reach A,” “Reach B,” thing, btw. My maritime chums, and in this case an actual Ships Captain, have all related that the “reach” thing is how far you can navigate based on a single compass heading.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Sea Lion was witnessed delivering it’s empty barge to SimsMetal, and exchanging the thing for a filled up one. The cargo onboard the barge is full of recyclable materials which the company will process at one of its other facilities.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Tours –

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

July 26th, 2015
Modern Corridor – LIC, Queens Walking Tour
with Brooklyn Brainery, click here for details and tickets.

racing ahead

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Happy Birthday, Marine Parkway Bridge.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I first mentioned the Marine Parkway Gil Hodges Bridge a few years ago, on its 75th birthday, in this post (I also lifted the shot above from that 2012 post). The post discusses the creation and opening of the vertical lift span (it was the largest specimen of this particular form of movable span in the world in 1937) and a bit of my personal history as well.

The Marine Parkway Bridge was one of Robert Moses’s early projects, and when it was built, it was constructed by the Marine Parkway Bridge Authority. An “Authority” was and is an unholy combination of private corporation and government which is allowed to issue bonds and keep its records away from private or press scrutiny (like a corporation) and also possesses the power of eminent domain and all the other stuff you’d associate with governmental agencies. The Authority was meant to be dissolved once it paid back its bonds, which were guaranteed by toll revenues, and the contractual relationship between lender and Authority was guaranteed by the State constitution as inviolable. This vouchsafed the “Authority” from circumspection by the public and press, and insulated it from the interference of Elected officialdom.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Marine Parkway Bridge Authority, like the Triborough Bridge Authority, was ruled over by Robert Moses. Moses ensured that whenever his various Authority bonds were about to come due a new round of financial offers would be tendered, and these bonds would be readily bought up by financial institutions which knew a “sure thing” when they saw it. Moses offered his bonds at a couple of interest points higher than Municipal bonds, and since the instruments were backed up by ever growing toll revenues and the Master Builder’s reputation, they were highly desirable. If Moses picked your bank as a lender, he also expected you to play ball with him on future projects. For more than forty years in NYC, Moses used this technique to control the building of highways, bridges, tunnels, and eventually housing in NYC. It took Nelson Rockefeller to break Moses’s grip on the system, and shatter the power of the “Authorities” by bringing them under the control of Elected officialdom.

Robert A. Caro called Moses “the Power Broker.” We all live in the aftermath of Moses.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Marine Parkway Bridge is owned and operated today by an Authority set up by Governor Rockefeller back in the 1960’s – called the MTA. The Metropolitan Transit Authority, like the Port Authority, has the special government/corporate status that the Triborough Bridge (later the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority) and Marine Parkway Bridge Authorities enjoyed, but have little or no control over their own financing.

As Moses opined often, once the callow forces of the political parties and electoral politics got control over the Authorities, they’d reduce them down into patronage machines which would practice what was and is known as “good honest graft.” Of course, this is exactly what Moses did, and he never had to face the wrath of voters (except for a disastrous campaign for Governor, his one foray into “politics”). 

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Moses had a system. When he was issuing a bond offer, or doling out insurance contracts, the sealed documents would go to favored financial institutions. These favored institutions often had silent partners who happened to be Borough Presidents, Aldermen, or later in the game – City Council members. When he received his bonds, whose terms extended the life of his Authorities decades beyond their anticipated longevity, he’d dole out contracts to “connected” companies who would then hire workers based solely on political patronage. Ever notice that highway and big infrastructure projects always seem to start during election years? That’s Moses’s legacy at work. The Marine Parkway Bridge Authority, like the TBTA, was folded into the black box that is the MTA Bridge and Tunnels division decades ago by John D. Rockefeller’s grandson Nelson, and the Authority bonds were handed off to and underwritten by his brother – who was the CEO of Chase Manhattan.

It’s not good, it’s not bad, it’s just the way that it is. 

Welcome to New York City, here’s our shit sandwich, so take a bite – and happy birthday, Marine Parkway Gil Hodges Bridge.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Tours –

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

Written by Mitch Waxman

July 3, 2015 at 11:00 am

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