The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Posts Tagged ‘photowalk

historical realities

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From the Magic Lantern show…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Welcome to DUPBO, Down Under the Pulaski Bridge Onramp.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Tours –

May 3, 2015 –
DUBPO, Down Under the Pulaski Bridge Onramp
with Newtown Creek Alliance Historian Mitch Waxman, a free tour offered as part of Janeswalk 2015, click here for tickets.

May 16, 2015 –
13 Steps Around Dutch Kills with Atlas Obscura

with Newtown Creek Alliance Historian Mitch Waxman, click here for details and tickets.

May 31, 2015 –
Newtown Creek Boat Tour
with Working Harbor Committee and Newtown Creek Alliance Historian Mitch Waxman, click here for tickets.

nothing now

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Twirling, ever twirling.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The POV at the 40th Lowery Street stop on the 7 train causes my jaw to drop everytime I see it. Given what it costs for acccess to the observation deck at “Top of the Rock” or the Empire State Building, the MTA really delivers value for money – view wise – here on Queens Blvd. Turn your head to the left – you can spy the Kosciuszko Bridge, look straight ahead and its the whole soup bowl of Manhattan, and to the right there’s Hells Gate Bridge. This view is fortuitous, as at least you have some diversion while wondering when the train will arrive.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This spring, I’m trying to mix things up a bit and do some shooting in parts of Western Queens which aren’t part of my normal “thing.” There’s a bit of tumult going on between my ears at the moment, so the curative – as always – is to just get out and do some photographing in challenging places. To wit, the combination of bright and dark offered by the 7 tracks as they exit Woodside and head towards Jackson Heights along Roosevelt Avenue. Exposing for both lighting conditions is a wicked conumndrum, camera wise, but all of the shooting I’ve been experimenting with in the underground system pays a certain dividend when attempting this sort of thing.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Roosevelt Avenue is, of course, pretty much antithetical to anyone who desires solitude or quiet. The blasting sound of passing trains that cascades down form the elevated’s steel is monstrous. One thing which always staggers the European University people whom I’ll conduct tours of Newtown Creek or Long Island City for is noise. It seems that the EU is several decades ahead of us in terms of what they legally define as “pollution” and that endemic urban background noise is taken as seriously as bad water or air.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Tours –

May 3, 2015 –
DUBPO, Down Under the Pulaski Bridge Onramp
with Newtown Creek Alliance Historian Mitch Waxman, a free tour offered as part of Janeswalk 2015, click here for tickets.

May 16, 2015 –
13 Steps Around Dutch Kills with Atlas Obscura

with Newtown Creek Alliance Historian Mitch Waxman, click here for details and tickets.

May 31, 2015 –
Newtown Creek Boat Tour
with Working Harbor Committee and Newtown Creek Alliance Historian Mitch Waxman, click here for tickets.

Written by Mitch Waxman

April 30, 2015 at 11:00 am

resting and brooding

with 3 comments

Contemplative perambulations, in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Mighty Triborough, as observed from the elevated Subway station on 31st street here in Astoria. One will admit that the depression era aesthethics of Robert Moses’s empire building span over the East River has always appealed to me. Currently, anything that causes me to forget about the various pedantic existential issues regularly offered up by the human infestation – which plague my days – is nepenthe, and a welcome relief from the coarse bleating of the swine.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Regular readers of this, your Newtown Pentacle, would be stunned to hear the things a humble narrator has been accused of. I’m “some sort of shill for the real estate industrial complex,” laying the ground for them to develop condos along Newtown Creek – that’s my favorite. Recently, someone accused me of distorting facts and propagating a right wing agenda, and compared me to Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh. Others have asked if I’m seeking some sort of political appointment or secretly working for some candidate for elective office. A representative of City Planning once uttered “Who do you think you are?.” Funnily enough, most of my accusers are in fact politcal operators and members of the “establishment.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

What I can tell you is this – I’m some shmuck with a camera who wanders around and researches the history of Western Queens and North Brooklyn obsessively. Certain issues or topics force me to “get involved” such as Newtown Creek, or the disastrous plans which the Big Little Mayor have announced for the Sunnyside Yards. Unlike most of my critics, I actually live here. To them, I say go back to your apartments in Manhattan or move here and get some actual skin in the game.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Tours –

May 3, 2015 –
DUBPO, Down Under the Pulaski Bridge Onramp
with Newtown Creek Alliance Historian Mitch Waxman, a free tour offered as part of Janeswalk 2015, click here for tickets.

May 16, 2015 –
13 Steps Around Dutch Kills with Atlas Obscura

with Newtown Creek Alliance Historian Mitch Waxman, click here for details and tickets.

May 31, 2015 –
Newtown Creek Boat Tour
with Working Harbor Committee and Newtown Creek Alliance Historian Mitch Waxman, click here for tickets.

Written by Mitch Waxman

April 29, 2015 at 11:00 am

laboring vision

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Is this the Queens Cobbler at work, or a copycat.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As long time readers of this, your Newtown Pentacle, are aware – I’ve been tracking the so called “single shoe phenomena” around Western Queens and North Brooklyn and have postulated that there might be a serial killer moving amongst us whom I’ve begun to refer to as “The Queens Cobbler.” The Cobbler, if I’m correct, leaves behind these bits of footwear as a taunting message to the community that he or she is amongst us. Disturbingly, for the last couple of weeks, the Cobbler’s pattern seems to have changed. As illustrated in the shot above, it looks like an entire family was taken on Skillman Avenue nearby the Sunnyside Yards, and that all six of their shoes were left behind.

Could there be a Queens Cobbler copycat at work?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Over on Wythe Street in Williamsburg, a pair of child sized boots was observed, but this is clearly not the work of the Cobbler nor the pseudo Cobbler. Quite obviously, some hipster child found themselves lured into the baited rodent trap observed in the shot, losing their shoes as they crawled into the hole to get to the succulent offerings contained therein.

Whilst one applauds the idea for reducing the density of the human infestation in Williamsburg, this is truly “over the top.” In that tony neighborhood, the smarter move would be to set up a porta potty that promises free wifi, which would cause all the beautiful people to line up for a chance to enter the thing. Conductive plates would activate once the door was closed, parbroiling the Hipster within and leaving naught but an ash covered iphone and a bit of carbon dust.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Observed over in Glendale last weekend, something of a different character. This fence adjoins Highland Park, where the fabulous Ridgewood Reservoir is found. One can speculate about what occurred here, and as to why the iron fencing is bent out “Superman style,” but as with the various altars or the occult found in area cemeteries and the Queens Cobbler – one who inquires too deply into the mysteries of Queens might find out a bit more than they’ve bargained on.

Additionally, Working Harbor Committee officiates informed me last night that the May 31 Newtown Creek boat tour tickets are selling briskly – so if you’ve been sitting on the fence about whether or not to come along or not, now is the time to order and reserve your spot.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Tours –

May 3, 2015 –
DUBPO, Down Under the Pulaski Bridge Onramp
with Newtown Creek Alliance Historian Mitch Waxman, a free tour offered as part of Janeswalk 2015, click here for tickets.

May 16, 2015 –
13 Steps Around Dutch Kills with Atlas Obscura

with Newtown Creek Alliance Historian Mitch Waxman, click here for details and tickets.

May 31, 2015 –
Newtown Creek Boat Tour
with Working Harbor Committee and Newtown Creek Alliance Historian Mitch Waxman, click here for tickets.

Written by Mitch Waxman

April 28, 2015 at 11:00 am

mixed anger

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Detestation of convention, polity, and custom

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One has mentioned the amazing sense of finality felt when encountering the soon to be absent Kosciuscko Bridge before. This bridge is significant, and its replacement more so, as its opening in 1939 signalled the beginning of the era of Robert Moses in NYC, and the replacement of this first link in his chain of intracity highway projects that would become the Brooklyn Queens Expressway means that Moses is finally gone.

Don’t mention that to our current Mayor, of course, whose grandiose plans for “affordable housing” are essentially the “urban renewal” projects of our modern age. For those of you not in the know on that term, “Urban Renewal” was the blanket term used by Mr. Moses and his cohorts for destroying existing neighborhoods and replacing them with federally funded housing projects.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A creature such as myself loathes the souless nature of the “towers in the park” concept promulgated by the French Crypto Fascist LeCorbusier and his mid century devotees, like Robert Moses. It is my belief that many of the underlying societal forces which drove and continue to drive crime in public housing emanates from the depersonalization and alienation from the surrounding neighborhoods which is engendered by life in the “houses.” Urban Renewal era projects like Stuyvesant Town or the Ravenswood or Cooper houses destroy the street grid and eliminate the sense of ownership residents of traditional blocks feel for their corner or block. Jane Jacobs was entirely correct about this.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The bridge replacement is entirely necessary, of course, as the old gray truss bridge over my beloved Creek is in a sorry state. One wonders what unexpected consequence the new span will bring us – will the corrected patterns of “flow” for automobile traffic do to the southern extents of Sunnyside or northern edges or Greenpoint?

Only time will tell, I guess. When the Queensboro or Alfred E. Smith housing projects went up they were meant to stem a wave of crime and youth violence thought to be caused by life in dilapidated tenements. Within twenty years of their construction, both of these projects ending up becoming bigger problems than those which they sought to solve, and the slum conditions which they sought to clear had expanded and intensified around these projects to encompass entire regions of the greater City.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It is truly astounding, seeing that none of the lessons of the 20th century seem to be part of our current Mayor’s agenda. There is a dearth of affordable housing in NYC, you just cant get there and back again from Manhattan easily as this building stock is found in central areas of Brooklyn and Queens which are only accessible by the automobile – thanks to Mr. Moses.

If we have the municipal bucks to even consider decking the Sunnyside Yards, why not think in truly grand terms and extend or create new Subway lines for the first time in nearly a century. If you build it, the forces of the capitalist market will take care of all the housing you need. Building Soviet style blocks in the LeCorbusier style will only magnify the problems of NYC’s most vulnerable classes, not solve them. Then again, maybe thats what the Bureaucrats want – job security.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Tours –

May 3, 2015 –
DUBPO, Down Under the Pulaski Bridge Onramp
with Newtown Creek Alliance Historian Mitch Waxman, a free tour offered as part of Janeswalk 2015, click here for tickets.

May 16, 2015 –
13 Steps Around Dutch Kills with Atlas Obscura

with Newtown Creek Alliance Historian Mitch Waxman, click here for details and tickets.

May 31, 2015 –
Newtown Creek Boat Tour
with Working Harbor Committee and Newtown Creek Alliance Historian Mitch Waxman, click here for tickets.

grown stern

with one comment

Getting meaner and meaner.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Yesterday’s little post about Earth Day seems to have struck a sour note with some. Apparently your humble narrator was a bit too much of curmudgeon on this topic for some. Well, there you go. One has run into this sort of thing over and over during the last few years, folks who cry “Heresy” if everything they believe in isn’t part of your personal credo. Personally, I’m not the sort who buys the entire restaurant’s menu when sitting down to dinner. I say it all the time to the Newtown Creek people, whenever a disagreement erupts amongst us – There’s more that we agree on than what we disagree on, so let’s focus on that.

Unfortunately, academics and activists are often rather “catholic” in their viewpoints and want you to just sign on to anything they tell you with little critical analysis. You can’t “pick and choose” they’ll tell you. If you persist in pursuing or debating with them, you’re branded with analogies or aspersions of your resemblance to unloved or reviled historical characters that range from Adolph Eichmann to Dick Cheney or Sean Hannity (or other members of the Fox News staff) – a juvenile response which is akin to a drunken adolescent calling a uniformed Police Officer a fascist.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Orthodoxy has never sat well with me, whether it be in politics or religion. A closed mind is a closed mind, after all. If you think you’ve got the world all figured out, you’re wrong. Nothing is simple, every action and stance has a consequence and an unimagined result. Robert Moses once suggested that Lucifer himself would be lauded by the Press if he was advocating for Parks. Question everything, I say. Take nothing at face value. Everybody does this thing or that for a reason, nothing is random, and there is not one person in public life who isn’t beating some sort of drum. Unfortunately, we are trapped in a paradigm of political life which has been frozen since the 1960’s. There are no liberals, or conservatives, or progressives, anymore. Those labels no longer apply, and haven’t since the 1990’s. “Conservative George W. Bush” was actually a radical, and “Liberal” Barack Obama is actually a conservative – using the actual meaning of what those terms once meant 50 years ago.

Can’t tell you how many of the urbanists and City Planning types that I’ve met over the years only live in NYC part time, and who actually hate the City lifestyle, btw.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

So, what sort of drum am I beating?

Famously, I have no agenda. My role in all of this nonsense that I’m involved in is simply to record the tumultuous era we are experiencing – the Superfund period on Newtown Creek, the vast redevelopment of the two East River communities surrounding it in Hunters Point and Greenpoint. I strive to leave behind a photographic record of what was here when I arrived, documenting the last traces of what was, and showing the origins of what will be. The last time that these sort of paradigm shifts happened in Queens, there were a few photographers working on it, but they were in the employ of government or corporate interests. My archive isn’t.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Tours –

May 3, 2015 –
DUBPO, Down Under the Pulaski Bridge Onramp
with Newtown Creek Alliance Historian Mitch Waxman, a free tour offered as part of Janeswalk 2015, click here for tickets.

May 16, 2015 –
13 Steps Around Dutch Kills with Atlas Obscura

with Newtown Creek Alliance Historian Mitch Waxman, click here for details and tickets.

May 31, 2015 –
Newtown Creek Boat Tour
with Working Harbor Committee and Newtown Creek Alliance Historian Mitch Waxman, click here for tickets.

Written by Mitch Waxman

April 23, 2015 at 11:00 am

heavy boots

with 2 comments

Yeah, Happy Earth Day.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Another Earth Day rolls around, wherein large numbers of happy little sophists will gather together in Manhattan Parks and congratulate themselves for separating their trash into “recycling” and “garbage” parcels. They will pat each other on the back, and claim that NYC is the “greenest” and most “resilient” of American cities. You won’t see any of them visiting LIC, or Greenpoint, Maspeth, or Bushwick, or Ridgewood. They won’t think about what happens after they flush their toilets, either.

Few, if any, will find themselves having arrived at the Newtown Creek.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

They won’t see the black waters of Newtown Creek’s tributary Maspeth Creek, or smell the battery acid odor of raw sewage as it is entering the waterway. They won’t comment on the illegal dumping, or the true nature and environmental impact of the recycling industry. Greater good, they would say, were they to leave Manhattan.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Few will visit Dutch Kills at low tide, over in LIC. If they did, they would be forced to rationalize the rotten egg smell as being produced by anaerobic microbes. They wouldn’t puzzle over the neon colors of this tributary of Newtown Creek, whose mouth is .75 of a mile from the East River.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

They won’t wander through the borderlands of Brooklyn and Queens to Ridgewood, and witness what the recycling process actually looks and smells like. They won’t worry about what they are breathing either.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Manhattan people like to feel as if they’re doing something to help the environment, and will do so in front of television cameras. They will make a show of discussing the banning of plastic grocery bags, or demand that NYC begins to compost its organics. They won’t realize that this composting has to be done somewhere within throwing distance of their Borough, and that it will carried by truck to some central receiving facility where it will be collected and stored whilst awaiting processing. They don’t know that this area will be somewhere along the Newtown Creek.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

They certainly won’t visit the tracks of the LIRR’s Bushwick Branch line, and see the hundreds of filled cargo boxes that compose the “garbage train.” They won’t care that the concentrating point of roughly 30-40% of NYC’s garbage is found on the corner of Varick Street and Johnson Avenue, nor about the thousands of trucks which descend upon it daily.

So – Happy Earth Day, from Newtown Creek.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Tours –

May 3, 2015 –
DUBPO, Down Under the Pulaski Bridge Onramp
with Newtown Creek Alliance Historian Mitch Waxman, a free tour offered as part of Janeswalk 2015, click here for tickets.

May 31, 2015 –
Newtown Creek Boat Tour
with Working Harbor Committee and Newtown Creek Alliance Historian Mitch Waxman, click here for tickets.

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