The Newtown Pentacle

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Posts Tagged ‘photowalk

grassy banks

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More from Fresh Kills Park.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

As mentioned last week, an opportunity to visit Staten Island’s Fresh Kills popped up, and your humble narrator eagerly hurtled across land and water to get there. The Parks Dept. of our great city was conducting what they described as a “VIP photographers tour” and I was lucky enough to be included. For those of you unfamiliar with the place, the park is being constructed atop the 2,200 acre garbage dump and landfill which NYC operated between 1947 and 2001. The Fresh Kills landfill is the largest man made object upon the earth, with hills (or mounds) that rise from 90 to 225 feet above surrounding terrain.

Basically, it’s Fresh Kills and the Great Wall of China in the top spot of “big,” with the Pyramids of Egypt and the Hoover Dam barely making the list.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The views from atop one of the great berms are incredible, with the flood plains of New Jersey and their petroleum industries found just beyond the Arthur Kill ringing the horizon. I think that everyone knows, at this point in time, that “kill” is Dutch for creek, but I’ll throw that out for the uninformed. The way that the decadent Dutch used the word indicates a slow moving or shallow tidal water body.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The West Shore Expressway rolling out towards the Outerbridge Crossing is pictured above, which gives you some idea of the actual elevation which Fresh Kills offers to visitors. The neighborhood of Travis is nearby, but this used to be Linoleumville, once upon a time before Robert Moses.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

As mentioned, New Jersey’s industrial sections are nicely revealed from up here. That looks like the complex of petroleum refining and distributing facilities along the New Jersey Turnpike to me, the ones whose many smokestacks cause most passing drivers to roll up their car windows – even on very warm days.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Pictured above is a Flare Station, with Port Elizabeth Newark’s cargo cranes rising behind it. The operation at this building is all about the Methane produced by the buried landfill, and controlling it. The Flare Stations occasionally burn off the volatile gas when its too abundant. After last week’s post, I was asked about the disposition of the methane, and my understanding is that the DSNY and NYC Parks dept. have a relationship with an energy company which harvests the so called “natural gas” for resale to the public.

Tomorrow – sunset at Fresh Kills.

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

This weekend-

Saturday, August 16th, LIC’s Modern Corridor
With Atlas Obscura, click here for tickets and more info.

Sunday, August 17th, 13 Steps Around Dutch Kills
With Brooklyn Brainery, click here for tickets and more info.

Written by Mitch Waxman

August 11, 2014 at 1:00 pm

greatest suddenness

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Vas doin on English Kills, boychik, mit the bubbles?

- photo by Mitch Waxman

DUMABO. Down Under the Metropolitan Bridge Onramp, is a spot that bisects the pathway of the so called “industrial Canals of Brooklyn” or English Kills. The darkest thicket of the troubled Newtown Creek, English Kills is largely isolated from casual perusal by the electorate by a continuous shield wall of industrial buildings, which means that what happens on the water is usually commented on by an unlucky few such as myself. The engineered path that the water flows through follows the Brooklyn street grid, which creates a series of right angle turns that impede the tidal actions of the East River which is some 3 miles from here.

This adherence to the street grid, and the hydrological issues it introduces, has caused huge accretions of the so called “Black Mayonnaise” sediments to agglutinate. This sedimentation, along with the summer heat, causes the water to be “anoxic,” meaning that it often carries little or no dissolved oxygen. This kills off any aquatic life that may have wandered back here, and promulgates the colonies of sewage bacteria in the water whose aromatic exhalations remind one of rotting chicken eggs.

The sewage bacteria is provided by the many CSO’s (Combined Sewer Outfalls) found along the waterway.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

To combat these anoxic conditions, the ever reliable NYC DEP (in concert with the state DEC) have installed an aeration system. Basically a giant pipe through which pressurized air is pumped, the thing operates in the same manner as a bubble wand on your aquarium fish tank. Disturbing the surface allows atmospheric gases like oxygen to become dissolved in the water. The DEP building you’ll notice on Metropolitan Avenue in East Williamsburg that adjoins the Metropolitan Avenue Bridge contains the air compressors.

It all sounds rather logical, as the efforts of engineers often do. Problem is that the sewage bacteria conditions are being caused by the Combined Sewer Outfalls on English Kills, which the DEP engineers are not focusing on. It’s sort of like shitting in a fish tank every day, and attaching more and more aerating bubble wands to combat the conditions being caused, without doing anything about… y’know, not shitting in your aquarium.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Here’s the problem - my pals over at Riverkeeper have voiced MAJOR concerns about this system, and cite a study by M. Elias Dueker which shows that bacterial fauna from English Kills are provided with an opportunity to enter the air via this system. A “Culturable Bacterial Aerosol” as they describe it, is allowed purchase into the atmosphere.

Said organisms can then find a home on any friendly terrestrial surface.

In effect, these bubbles provide a ladder for the worst pathogens in the Newtown creek watershed an opportunity to get up and out of the water. Keeping this sort of bacteria away from the general populace is sort of the mission of the DEP, btw.

from riverkeeper.org

Riverkeeper raised concerns when the city proposed aerating the rest of the creek last spring and asked the DEP to test for pathogens and sewage associated bacteria in the air, which they did not agree to do. Aeration creates bubbles on the water’s surface and is a Band Aid solution to the underlying serious problem of combined sewage overflows. Low oxygen conditions in the creek occur due to sewage contamination and although aeration increases the oxygen level in the water, it does not reduce the amount of sewage or sewage associated bacteria that are dumped into the creek. Riverkeeper has argued that aeration is an ineffective way of addressing the pollution problem and the recent study suggests that it may also negatively impact local air-quality.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Worse still, the aeration system performs its job quite well. Dissolved oxygen levels in English Kills are higher than they used to be. Accordingly, the DEP is planning on expanding the system from English Kills all the way to the Greenpoint Avenue Bridge, more than a mile away.

The pipes are planned to follow the contour of the Queens coastline, of course, because you wouldn’t be able to get away with doing it on the Brooklyn side. This puts Maspeth, and parts of Sunnyside and Blissville, in the path of the pestilent wind which would rise from the loathsome Newtown Creek.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

August 5, 2014 at 12:25 pm

henceforward have

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Anniversaries, antichrists, and apocalypse.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Something about the centennial mark of the “fin de siécle” made one think about Mt. Zion cemetery, which is pictured in today’s post. The term refers to the end of the 19th century in its literal interpretation, but broader usage of “fin de siécle” is meant to imply the sense of doom which the late 19th century’s artists and academics expressed. They knew it was coming, the end of the age, an apocalypse.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

There’s interpretation and intuition being offered everywhere online today about the century marker for the First World War’s official start. There’s the version of the story which talks about all the war dead, the one where the United States became “America!!!” because of the conflict, and the chestnut about the decline of the European peninsula from its former status as the center of colonial supremacy. The antichrist appeared in Russia, and he raised a godless rogue state from the ashes of the Tsarist form of government.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Personally, I’ve always ascribed to the concept of the “Second Thirty Years War” when describing the state of world affairs between 1914 and 1945, but that period is less “fin de siécle” and more “birth pangs of the modern era,” from our perspective. We know how the story comes out.

The First World War was actually a war of industrial bases when you think about it. Vast international death machines require long logistical supply lines, or so I am told, many of which stretched all the back to my beloved Newtown Creek oddly enough. Given my particular love of the industrial sectors of LIC and Greenpoint surrounding the waterway, which were at their height during WW1, I try to only think of cemeteries when considering the conflict. Keeps me even, and helps hint at why Granpa Alex didn’t ever want to talk about the war.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

August 4, 2014 at 12:42 pm

record scroll

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One does not complain, it is “Kvetching,” which is a whole other thing.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Several comments received both here, at your Newtown Pentacle, and in the real world “meatspace” have opined that your humble narrator spends too much time complaining about this or that. My obviate ranting about the singularly horrible Time Warner Cable, the inebriate legions who pollute the sidewalks of Astoria with their besotted carcasses, or the ludicrous amount of environmental noise offered freely by the neighbors – it would seem – have struck an odd chord and lent an incorrect impression to my narrative.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

First off – I grew up Jewish, and “kvetching” is as much a part of my culture as is coffee and cake – so respect the hell out of my vibrant diversity or I’ll slap a hate crime sticker on you. Secondly, one of the things that I’ve observed about the Borough of Queens over the years is the stoicism which the citizenry hereabouts displays in the face of the daily avalanches of those improprieties which they suffer. Nothing changes unless you speak about it aloud, and “just get used to it” is the precursor to a commonly quoted parable about a frog in a pot of water on a stove who doesn’t realize he’s being boiled alive because the temperature of the water is being raised in a slow and subtle fashion.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Kvetching is a running sarcastic commentary on existential woes, a general call out to others commenting on the sisyphean suffering which existentialist goyem like Albert Camus or Franz Kafka made their careers out of. Kvetching is an attempt at voicing an unease with the status quo, in the hopes of discovering other unfortunates who share in the misery. Kvetching is an attempt to stimulate a conversation about that which is wrong, one which the powers and potentates of this world might take notice of and attempt to ameliorate. Kvetching is your right, as an American, it’s called “speech.” Complaining is something else entirely.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

This weekend-

Sunday, August 3rd, Kill Van Kull Walking Tour
With Brooklyn Brainery, click here for tickets and more info.

Written by Mitch Waxman

July 29, 2014 at 12:49 pm

dwell along

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Ah, to retreat into the comforting ignorance of a new Dark Age…

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The human infestation has got me down today, lords and ladies. Foibles, faults, and the mysteries of the utterly ‘effed up cloud my perceptions, and a humble narrator is ready to wash his hands of this fetid excuse for a life. Unfortunately, existence is a giant shit sandwich from which we all must, in fact, take a bite. It’s probably all my fault anyway, it usually is, so perhaps it would be best if I just avoid any further interaction.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

A prevailing and ongoing critique of my personality and habits as offered by loved ones and strangers alike is why I am largely nocturnal, existing in twilit grottos and forgotten places, and why I frequent the abandoned and irredeemable edges of civilization. If it wasn’t for Our Lady of the Pentacle and my little dog Zuzu, I’d likely become an urban legend that grade school children mention in hushed whispers around camp fires. “Did you know that there’s a hermit with a camera living in that abandoned coal mine?” would be what summer campers asked each other. My golden arm, indeed.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Human interaction is something which I’ve never seemed to master, despite my studied and best efforts. Perhaps I should seek out the services of mental health professionals and secure a supply of some numbing agent, retreat into an Aldous Huxley-esque SOMA haze, and just enjoy my days lost in a narcotic bliss. This is what most do, why not me too? Perhaps I should just retreat into the ignominious shadows, a penniless mendicant doomed to wander the concrete devastations of the Megalopolis. Bah. If you see me today, it would be wise to avoid all contact.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

There are two Newtown Creek walking tours coming up.

Saturday, July 26th, The Insalubrious Valley of the Newtown Creek
With Atlas Obscura, lunch included, click here for tickets and more info.

Sunday, July 27th, Glittering Realms
With Brooklyn Brainery, lunch included, click here for tickets and more info.

Written by Mitch Waxman

July 24, 2014 at 10:45 am

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