The Newtown Pentacle

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Posts Tagged ‘Brooklyn

unwonted ripples

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Ahh, my beloved Creek… she never disappoints.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Last week, one found himself visiting the Vernon Avenue Street End in the company of a couple of friends who were busy talking shop. I was idle, and interfering with their conversations, and so went to the water’s edge. A fine view of DUPBO was being enjoyed when the NYC DEP’s Port Richmond Sludge Boat appeared.

“Oh happy day” thought I.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

I’m fairly obsessed with the DEP’s Navy, and my interests in the fleet of sludge boats is well known to regular readers of this, your Newtown Pentacle. This is one of three brand new vessels, recently brought online, the Port Richmond. In the shot above, its doing what its designed to do, which is pass under the Pulaski Bridge without necessitating the draw bridge to open.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Port Richmond was coming from the Newtown Creek Waste Water Treatment Plant’s new dock facility along Newtown Creek’s Whale Creek tributary. It was likely headed for Wards Island, where the “honey” would be pumped out. Said “honey” will be centrifuged to remove as much water as possible, leaving behind sewage solids which have been described to me as having the consistency of wet polenta.

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glaze fishily

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Working in the dark, in today’s post.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The problem and challenge with photography is actually light, usually there’s either entirely too much or not nearly enough.The reason you’ve all been subjected to so many shots of Subways entering and leaving stations in the last year has been that I’ve been experimenting with different techniques and camera settings down there, trying to find some sort of predictable formula which might govern my actions when shooting in the dark. The Subway system provides for a difficult to photograph set of conditions – it’s both dark and bright, full of reflective things zipping around, humans, and there’s LED signs which break up at anything slower than 160th of a second… Add to that the MTA prohibition against camera support – tripods and the like – and you’ve got yourself a real pickle. I’ve developed a few formulas for hand held low light photography down there.

When you get above ground, the formulaic triad of iso/aperture/shutter offers some real potential.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

This is what it looks like deep under East New York, over in Brooklyn. This was also a serious “get the shot” challenge as the window of the C train I was on was caked with briny crap. The C is cool, because you can still look out the front window and see what the conductor sees as the subway shoots through the kingdoms of the rat.

This shot, and the one below, were part of long chain of failed shots. A high failure rate is assured, as the subway car is jiggling about and you are being jolted about in random directions. The camera is held against the window, with one hand used as a gasket between it and the actual lens. The difficulty, and high failure rate, are due to the great care exercised in not being bodily thrust forward which would either drive the camera through the window or render the lens inoperable.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The shot above actually had what I call the “entire bag of photoshop hammers” thrown at it. Again, combatting the filthy train window, I pulled and pushed the pixels of the original digital negative file until I got some semblance of balance between dark and light. There’s something I like about the deep focus and the leading lines. Sort of like entering warp speed, which is something that the MTA isn’t exactly known for.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Another leading line “infinity” shot from the other night, captured in the preternatural darkness of Astoria’s 31st street. To make things even more complicated, it was raining, which meant that in addition to operating the camera I had to manage an umbrella as well. New York City never looks as good as it does when it’s raining, at night.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

March 12, 2015 at 11:30 am

crawl proudly

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Coney Island?

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Yesterday found me on the Subway, traipsing all over Brooklyn and Queens. For the full story of the extensive trip undertaken, check out my Brownstoner Queens accounting of it here. One of the destinations was actually Coney Island, where the fellow in the Bobcat pictured above was plowing snow off of the Boardwalk. Dichotomous, I tell you, dichotomous.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

By the end of the day, one had begun to feel fatigue. Not the good sort, mind you. The good kind of fatigue comes from an abundance of exercise, what I refer to as “muscle tired.” Instead, one found himself dizzied by the sensory overload which occurs after a long winter hermitage.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The group which I was traveling with came to an agreement that a stop at Nathan’s Famous was required. Surprisingly, Nathan’s charges $4.34 for a hot dog in the year 2015. I paid it, but felt like a real schmuck afterwards. $4.34 for a hot dog? What am I, Bloomberg?

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Written by Mitch Waxman

March 9, 2015 at 11:37 am

not permitted

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A line in the sand, at the Sunnyside Yards, in today’s post.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Examinations of the plans elicited by the Mayor of New York City, a self professed “progressive” who has puzzlingly embraced the dream of Michael Bloomberg’s right hand man Dan Doctoroff to deck over the Sunnyside Yards, are disturbing. The scale of the project is frankly Federal in size, and the amount of debt which would be absorbed by the municipality in pursuit of it… conservative estimates would place the cost of the deck – just the deck – at around 200 billion dollars. That’s based on the $20 billion it’s costing to deck the relatively tiny 26.17 Hudson Yards. According to documents obtained from official sources, the Sunnyside Yards project would encompass some 200 acres. Do the math.

Remember, that number you just calculated is only for the deck.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The Sunnyside Yards are not connected to the City’s sewer grid. The Sunnyside Yards are not connected to the electrical, gas, or water delivery systems. The 11.2 thousand “affordable” apartments which the Mayor is using to sell this project are part of an 80/20 project. As City Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer recently stated, and as reported at sunnysidepost.com,

Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer told members of the Hunters Point Civic Association on Tuesday that 70,000 to 80,000 units might need to be built in order to attract developers to construct the affordable units.

“To get to the 11,200-odd…the number of units could be as high as 70,000 to 80,000 on Sunnyside Yards,” Van Bramer said, since developers typically require market rate apartments to offset the cost of constructing affordable units.

This would result in “a massive, massive development on the scale we have never seen before in western Queens that will affect Long Island City, Astoria, Sunnyside and Woodside,” he said.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The thing that no one seems to be discussing, however, is infrastructure. $200 billion would build you around 175 Kosciuszko Bridges. It could also build you around 20 sewer plants. What we’re not talking about are hospital beds, nor Police, Fire, Sanitation, School desks, and all the other municipal services that would accompany a build out of this scale. City Planning works off of a formula which speculates that the lifetime of any new residential building is 35 years. Does NYC have the budget to support the municipal services for this new population over the next 35 years, and shouldn’t we be calculating that as part of the cost of this project?

80,000 apartments would bring 150-200,000 new people into our community. The population of Albany, for instance is 98,424 (as of 2013).

Governor Andrew Cuomo has stated that he’s against the Mayor’s plan. That’s because Andrew Cuomo is from Queens. Talk to anyone in Queens, and they’ll agree with him. This plan is entirely about Manhattan, and the singular question which I’m continually asking is:

How, in any way, would this be good for Queens?

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very confines

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Over in DUGABO…

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Last Saturday, whilst wandering about in between snow storms, this outfall was spotted pouring into Newtown Creek. This is the terminus of Greenpoint Avenue alongside the Bridge, a lane which was coincidentally the path of an earlier Greenpoint Avenue Bridge – one that allowed rail to cross over from the LIRR tracks in Queens – which is today a fairly abandoned spot. The water is snow melt, incidentally.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

There’s street drains all over the place which bear the screed “drains directly into waterways” and this is what it looks like when they do. The drain in question is actually visible, as is the melting snow pack which is feeding it. Along with the melt water, it’s carrying road salt and as well as all the litter and junk which line the curbs. The frustrating part of this scene is that the brand spanking new Newtown Creek Waste Water Treatment plant is just a block away and that this drain isn’t connected to it.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Amongst the many interesting people I’ve met along the Newtown Creek, some of them work for the so called “potentially responsible parties” named as being responsible for the cleanup in the Superfund agreement. Over and over, these folks have pointed out that the ongoing “point source” situation that these outfalls maintained by the City DEP present makes their court mandated mission a fools errand. You can remove the Black Mayonnaise, which is the colloquial term for the historic pollution that forms the sediment bed of the Creek, but without addressing the antiquated sewer system it won’t be twenty years before the Newtown Creek is again lined with toxic junk.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

March 3, 2015 at 11:00 am

afterward gave

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More photos from an ice choked Newtown Creek.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The scene, as witnessed in DUGABO – Down Under the Greenpoint Avenue Bridge Onramp, along Newtown Creek’s so called Marion Reach. Vast sheets of ice, carried by the languid tidal action of the Creek, headed towards the East River. These shots were captured during the brief warmup on Sunday last, and let me tell something that photos cannot convey – the smell was… even by Newtown Creek standards… incredible.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

There’s a combined sewer outfall on the Queens side, right where those ripples you see in the shot above are emanating from. With melt water feeding the system, it was releasing a month’s worth of frozen stink. The smell of raw sewage is unique, and has no odiferous analogue. Like the smell of death, you instantly recoil from it, and the best way to describe it is to compare it to the taste sensation enjoyed when licking a 9 volt battery’s contact leads.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

These piles are on the Brooklyn side, nearby the Metro bio fuel plant on Kingsland Avenue. Speaking of oil, I heard back from the NYS DEC about the flowing oil I reported and described in yesterday’s post nearby the Pulaski Bridge. They believe the material observed was actually creosote oil being released from the wooden “Dolphins” which protect the bridge from allision with maritime traffic.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Tugboat Ireland seems to have taken up a somewhat permanent residence on Newtown Creek, and was tied up at the Tidewater building. My understanding is that the former petroleum facility is now owned by the Broadway Stages company, and is being used for theatrical productions as an industrial set. Perhaps the Broadway Stages people bought Ireland as well? If so, that’s some expensive window dressing.

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perhaps pining

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Wandering, always wandering with no particular place to go.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Sadly, licpost.com reports that the Waterfront Crab House in LICs’s Hunters Point neighborhood will be closing. Although I just found out about it yesterday, owner Tony Mazzarella died a few weeks ago, and his family is reportedly selling the former Miller Hotel. Condolences are offered.

The notorious Patrick “Battle-Ax” Gleason, who served as the last Mayor of Long Island City, used to sit in a barber chair outside the Miller Hotel – which is today the Crab House – and hold court with constituent and passerby alike. This was a favorite spot, directly across the street from the LIRR train and ferry terminal. He told those he met to avoid addressing him as “Mayor”, instructing them instead to “Just call me Paddy.”

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Normally, one would be complaining about the cold and snow, but after having seen some photos of the conditions in Boston – it comparatively looks like springtime here in the Newtown Pentacle.

Recently, I attended a meeting in Greenpoint that discussed the DEP/National Grid partnership which will purpose waste gas generated by sewage processing into a commercial product. At the end of the meeting, I found myself reminding a high ranking City official that DEP is a tax payer funded utility and that National Grid is an extra national publicly traded energy corporation. The two entities have developed a rather chummy relationship which is a real cause for concern, in my opinion. Wait till the DEP’s solid waste to energy partnership with Waste Management kicks in – that’s going to be quite a show.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The whole “deck over the Sunnyside Yard” business proposed by the Big Little Mayor recently has been occupying a significant amount of time. To say that this idea is less than popular with anyone who lives here would be an understatement. Activism wise, Queens seldom gets past a simmer whereas Greenpoint is at full steam all the time. The Sunnyside Yard deck, however, has ignited something out here that is reminiscent of the sort of situation John Lindsay found himself in. Queens is boiling.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

February 18, 2015 at 11:40 am

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