The Newtown Pentacle

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Posts Tagged ‘Pickman

perpendicular height

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All around the town, in Today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

To start, a somewhat long standing freelance job writing a bi weekly column about Western Queens at Brownstoner Queens has ended. The parting is amicable, and it was a great experience working with the talented group that produce that website. One has felt a bit overwhelmed producing seven posts a week (5 pentacle + 2 BsQ), and I’m feeling a bit “written out” accordingly. There is some VERY cool stuff in the pipe which I’m working on and a bit of breathing room is required to adequately prepare and present it, which includes quite a bit of “boots on the ground” time out in the field. The 7 posts a week thing has kept me spinning my wheels to service deadlines rather than discovery for a while now, and a desire to return to “long form” and “deep research” posts has been burning in me.

My focus will remain fixed upon Western Queens, and a certain body of water that forms its currently undefended border with Brooklyn, but it’s time for me to take a short break. Next week will be one of those “single shot” series of posts, which are designed to give me a bit of breathing room so as to actually get out there and experience the world rather than just writing about it. I’ve got a few irons in the fire as far as future opportunities, which will be described in the future as they develop.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Newtown Creek, obviously, will continue to be my titular focus. A largish project I’m working on, under my official nom de plume as Newtown Creek Alliance historian, will be unveiled in July and August. A full schedule of summer Newtown Creek walking and boat tours is already underway (if you want to get on that boat tour on May 31, buy your tix right now – we are practically full and nearly sold out). There will also be a new industrial East River boat tour which I’ll be one of the narrators for with Working Harbor Committee, and a summer walking tour along the Kill Van Kull on… Staten Island… is also in the works. Just last weekend, I walked members of the Sunnyside Chamber of Commerce around Calvary Cemetery, and we visited with everyone from Governor Al Smith to Joe Masseria and Esther Ennis.

This weekend, on Saturday, we will be examining Dutch Kills in LIC with Atlas Obscura. Links to ticketing are found below.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The big project next week, which necessitates the need for a bit of breathing room, is compliling and condensing all of the information into my notebooks needed for “The Skillman Corridor” walk. This is a brand new walking tour, which will explore the southern boundary of the Sunnyside Yards as it descends from the heights of Sunnyside to the flood plains of Newtown Creek’s Dutch Kills tributary. Long time readers know that this area is “one of my spots” and is particularly dear.

Come with? 

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Tours –

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 30, 2015 –
The Skillman Corridor 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

May 15, 2015 at 11:00 am

slumber, watcher

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What would Superman do?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As mentioned in the past, the supernatural ideation at whose altar one such as myself leaves the burnt offerings is Superman. No offense meant to those of you who worship more traditional deities, but my god has heat vision and the Romans would have had a darned difficult time driving nails through his hands (except under a Red Sun, of course). My particular exemplar of morality, of course, routinely puts me in particularly thorny ethical territory. When I see the strong preying upon the weak, I am compelled to interfere – despite the fact that no matter how practiced my accusing stare may be, nothing seems to be bursting into flame. Additionally, the whole invulnerability thing would be nice, but your humble narrator is unfortunately on the other side of the scale when it comes to that. Sometimes it seems that a mild breeze is all that it takes to overcome my defenses.

Still, when confronted with moral quanries, I always ask myself “What would Superman do?“.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One discussed a recent event with friends on Facebook just the other day, wherein having accomplished that set of tasks normally set aside for the early morning, I was sitting on the porch here in Astoria with my little dog Zuzu and finishing a second cup of coffee. Suddenly, a tumult arose from the sidewalk. An older couple was arguing, and the male – an excitable Spaniard – was swinging his arms and legs around at the female. From the way that she flinched and assumed defensive postures, it was obvious that the fellow’s pantomine blows often connected, and I began to yell and scream at him to let her be. My tactic was successful, as he turned his rage towards me – inviting me down to join him in the gutter. Since they were seperated, I then instructed the woman to call the Police. She instead started waving her arms around while saying “let it go, let it go.”

What would Superman do?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One strives to be the best version of myself that is possible, which was not always the case. Lazy and selfish pretty much typifies the manner in which I operated until falling ill roughly ten years ago. Lying in a hospital bed for nearly a week, I promised myself, and that fictional deity of mine, that were I to survive the experience that I would be a different man than I was formerly. Every action since has been in pursuance of some sort of redemption. This often forces me to confront the forces of chaos here in Astoria, and in the Metropolis which cradles the ancient village. Where one runs into moral shades of gray, however, is in the reaction of that woman saying “let it go, let it go.” Could I have beaten the tar out of her abusive mate? Yes. Would that have accomplished anything at all? Would it have just made things worse for her? People ask why I refer to the population hereabouts as “the human infestation,” and why I seem so puzzled about their actions. Why not try to rise above, and be the best possible version of yourself? Why give in to your base instincts towards violence and selfishness? I don’t understand.

What would Superman do?

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Tours –

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 30, 2015 –
The Skillman Corridor 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

May 13, 2015 at 11:00 am

staggered dizzily

with 2 comments

Sights from a recent East River excursion, in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One does not get to view Mighty Triborough from the water that often, although the Astoria Park perspective on Robert Moses’ great bridge is familiar and loved, so while onboard a boat carrying the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance’s annual conference, one ensured that a few shots were captured of its majesty. Moses was a gigantic jerk and a bit of a tyrant, of course, but on more than one occasion I have remarked on the particular esthetic charms his teams incorporated into their projects. The bath houses at Riis Park, and Jones Beach, the bridge pictured above – modern day planners are driven by economy and “design standards” which strip their civil works of the sort of visual panache that the depression era build outs offered. Far better than the brutalist crap of the 1960’s and 70’s which were inflicted on the public, of course, but modernity is not even close to being in the same artistic league with the earlier stuff.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Speaking of earlier stuff, the annihilation of the Domino Sugar site in Williansburg continues. Recently, Our Lady of the Pentacle and myself were obliged to make an appearance at a 20 something year old’s birthday bacchanal at a bar in the former “Bushwick Strand,” and coversation with a member of the “Millennial” generation ended up being revelatory. This particular kid realized fully that the lifestyle and “scene” in Williamsburg was not just threatened but doomed by the large scale construction underway in the area, and she was wondering what life would be like in my beloved Astoria. One intoned that Astoria would make a great home for an older iteration of herself, when “going out” would indicate that you were going to have dinner at a restaurant rather than spending the night at a fashionable bar. Her section of North Brooklyn is for the young and unsettled transients struggling to define themselves, whereas Astoria is for families and is still very much a community of long term neighbors.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Speaking of communities, the staggering growth of Hunters Point over the last five years is best realized from the East River. A humble narrator has been shooting the growing skyline here from the water for several years now, but with the Hunters Point South development finally becoming a reality, the “Modern Corridor” of Long Island City is beginning to reach critical mass. Any doubt as to why I refer to the East River frontage of LIC as “Tower Town” should be eradicated by the shot above.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Tours –

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 30, 2015 –
The Skillman Corridor 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.

derided by

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Darkness, it’s all darkness.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Friends and acquaintances mock me for always having a camera at the ready. When I walk my little dog Zuzu about for her daily inspections of the neighborhood here in Astoria, I’m carrying a camera. When Our Lady of the Pentacle and I go out for dinner, I’m “armed” with a dslr. It is virtually impossible for me to leave the house without the thing. Why? Your very best bet that nothing “interesting” is going to happen to you when out and about is to be prepared to record it, whether it be trouble or one of the wonders which Queens randomly sends your way. Accordingly, I’m always popping off exposures of “slice of life” stuff – such as the lineup of Boro Cabs moving down Astoria’s Broadway in the shot above. It’s exactly this sort of mundane stuff which I think will be important in the long term. Queens, as we know it, is probably not going to look much like this in twenty years.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The shot above was captured while weaving home from a local bar, recently, after a “few drinks” ended up becoming a bit of a bacchnal that stretched well past its scheduled interval. One of those fiendishly loud private carting company packer trucks was following its route down Broadway, collecting commercial trash. Modern versions of this sort of truck are festooned with lights, creating an island of illumination around them. Unfortunately, the nocturnal necessities of the business it is engaged in also forces their crews to work as quickly as possible, which results in a terrific amount of noise and an outright disobeyance of traffic law and custom.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The shot above was captured in Astoria as well, at the extreme southern definition of the neighborhood at 34th avenue. A particularly dark spot, favored by Zuzu the dog for close inspection, made for a challenging capture. All of that experimentation in the fuligin depths of the Subway system which I’ve been engaged in has been in pursuit of this sort of photo, btw.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Tours –

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 30, 2015 –
The Skillman Corridor 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

May 11, 2015 at 11:00 am

preserved body

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LIC, in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One always seems to be heading somewhere, but somehow I never seem to arrive. An attempt to grab as many shots of the Bank of Manhattan Building in Queens Plaza, before a 70 atory monstrosity rises next to it (literally) has been underway for several months. Got this one on Sunday morning, while walking over to Greenpoint to conduct a Newtown Creek Walking Tour for Newtown Creek Alliance and the Municpal Art Society’s Janeswalk event. I’m seldom found in Queens Plaza in the morning, so a few camera dials were adjusted and the shutter button was pressed.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Along my path, this hunk of construction equipment was encountered, which was similarly bathed in morning light. Should Western Queens ever adopt its own flag, I would suggest that both back hoe’s and construction cranes form part of the design.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Speaking of construction, over on the corner of Jackson Avenue and the former Jane Street in Queens Plaza, you’d never know that West Chemical was ever there. Thats part of the plan I suppose – who would want to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on a condominium in Queens Plaza if they knew their home was founded on the site of a chemical factory? The Real Estate Industrial Comlex has done pretty good work in obfuscating the history of Hunters Point – no one there asks about the plumes of Benzene, Oil, or solvents in the ground.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Tours –

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

May 7, 2015 at 11:00 am

richly draped

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A few random shots from around Queens, in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Over on Steinway Street, here in almond eyed Astoria, these iconic representations of the Disney corporation seemed to just be chilling out in front of the Salvation Army thrift store the other day. Not sure what the story is with the ghostly one on the right, maybe it’s the “Mickey of Christmas Past” or some other Dickensian (Mickensian, perhaps) meme.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I was heading into the City one day last week, performing my usual exercises with exposure and camera settings while waiting on the Subway platform when I got this shot. Don’t know why, by I just kind of like it. I do wonder what the fellow on the left was listening to on those headphones.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The angle between Woodside and Sunnyside, as well as the convergence of Greenpoint and Roosevelt Avenues with Queens Blvd., there’s something about this paritcular intersection that one such as myself finds visually interesting. A point is made to pop off a few exposures whenever I’m passing by, which in this case was on my way to visit Second Calvary over in Woodside.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Tours –

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

May 6, 2015 at 11:00 am

flashed before

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New York Harbor, in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Last week, my chums at the Working Harbor Committee conducted one of the group’s Education Tours for students. We had a gaggle of ninth graders onboard, as well as some rather top shelf speakers from the NYC EDC, Maritime Association, and Port Authority. The goal of the trip is to encourage the kids to consider a career in the Maritime industry, and teach them a little bit about the harbor. Most of the kids onboard were from inland neighborhoods in Manhattan and the Bronx, so visiting the sixth borough was a real treat for them. Me? I was there to take pictures, and frankly, I was just happy to be out on a boat again after the insane winter we’ve all just suffered through.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The trip was conducted on a NY Waterways Ferry, and proceeded from Pier 11 in Lower Manhattan first to Erie Basin in Red Hook and then up the Kill Van Kull (a tidal strait found betwixt Staten Island and Bayonne, New Jersey) to Port Elizabeth Newark in Newark Bay. Pretty familiar turf to me, as long time readers of this, your Newtown Pentacle, will attest – but it was fantastic watching the faces of the kids who were seeing it for the first time. Education about the harbor of New York and New Jersey, after all, is ultimately what Working Harbor Committee’s mission is.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

In between getting shots of the kids and dignitaries on the mike, one managed to crack out a few shots of passing maritime traffic, as evinced by the shots in today’s post. I’m going to be on the mike for a trip down Newtown Creek on the 31st of May (leaving at 11 a.m. from Pier 11), which will be directly followed by a second journey down the Gowanus Canal. My pals and I at WHC are currently forming up a summer tour schedule which will visit locations both familiar and novel, btw, and will shortly be announcing our 2015 schedule.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Tours –

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.

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