The Newtown Pentacle

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strange oceans

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Over on Davis Street in LIC.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Early for an appointment, one recently had some time to kill around the Court Square section of LIC, and I decided to visit “used to be 5Ptz” to see what was doing there. Funnily enough, the site is now referred to as the Brownfield Cleanup Program’s “Former Neptune Meter (NYS DEC # C25=41138)” site now, which hearkens one back to the industrial days of yesteryear.

“Transform the Past… Build for the Future.” It says that on the sign.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

As you’ll recall, for many years this site was the home of 5ptz, NYC’s premier gallery for street art. The owners of the structure decided not too long ago that it was time to evict the institution and replace it with luxury apartments. Not to worry though, there will be an “affordable” component to the builds, so if you want to live alongside the 7 train’s elevated track and the Sunnyside Yard – it’ll be in reach starting at $2,200 – 2,500 a month for a one bedroom before too long.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

As I’ve stated in the past, one does not condemn the owners of the land for seeking the greatest value out of it. It’s their property, and in many ways they should be lauded for maintaining the Neptune Meter building for as long as they did and allowing 5Ptz its long residency. The thing that just smacks one in the face, however, is the fact that their residential development is going to be called 5Pointz Towers.

That just stinks, its bad branding, and rubs the community’s face in the mud for no reason.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Not sure what’s going on in this shot. My first instinct is that there is some sort of prehistoric beast that has been trapped beneath the Neptune Building all of these years, and that a substantial weight must be used in the name of keeping it imprisoned until the new towers rise and permanently cage it once again. I am, of course, an idiot.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Unfortunately, my upstairs neighbor who works in the construction field and would be able to instantly recognize this technique and tell me all about it isn’t at home as this post is being prepared. He’s taking his niece to see Cinderella, I’m told.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

March 26, 2015 at 11:00 am

sinister resignation

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Gotham City.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

One has been getting a big kick out of the “Gotham” television series. For those unfamiliar, it’s a prequel to the Batman storyline, focusing in on its early days when Bruce Wayne was but a child. The titular focus of the series is on the future Police Commissioner of Gotham City, James Gordon, and viewers get to meet early versions of the rogue’s gallery. Fun show.

What I’ve been particularly entertained by, of course, are the abundance of set pieces in Western Queens. The Waynes die on Davis Street between the Sunnyside Yard and Jackson Avenue, for instance.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Most of Gotham’s shots are digitally altered in some way, adding in skyscrapers or changing the shapes of instantly recognizable “NYC” landmarks, but just about everywhere they go on that show is quite familiar to me. Our Lady of the Pentacle has had to endure me pointing at the television screen whilst shouting out “hey, that’s John Quadrozzi’s pier in Red Hook” more than once.

When I’ve been out and about in recent weeks, on more than one occasion the thought that “LIC really is Gotham City, isn’t it?” has formed up some three inches behind my eyes. That led me to start casting the show with people I know, of course.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The question is, of course, which one of our local billionaires is going to start dressing up in black leather and emerging from his manse to beat the tar out of poor people in the dead of night, with the defacto endorsement of the Commissioner of Police. If any of you spot an elaborately outfitted automobile speeding along Jackson Avenue, particularly one with some sort of design motif related to bats – well…

If you see something, say something.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

March 24, 2015 at 11:00 am

swirling away

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The whole 7 train thing.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

I don’t live along this particular subway line, the 7, but many of my friends in Sunnyside and Jackson Heights are finding themselves driven to a state absolute despair by its recent troubles. Over at my Brownstoner column, a report on the subway situation was offered, and a description of a recent rally held by NYC Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer protesting the increasingly unreliable service was described here. On Facebook, a group page called #7trainblues has sprung up, where affected riders can express their ennui.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Long time Sunnyside residents tell me that they used to enjoy a 20 minute commute into Manhattan, a journey which can now take up to 45 minutes on a good day. In all fairness, the MTA’s outdoor lines were all hit rather hard by the recent spate of arctic weather in February, but the 7 train’s average “on time” rate is a few percentage points below that of the rest of the system – according to experts with whom I’ve consulted. Factor in an astounding 22 weeks of weekend track work and signal system upgrades – which turns service off completely, and you can understand the amount of pique which is growing in the neighborhood towards the MTA.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

There are certain things which Government employees do not understand about the private sector, as it is outside of their personal experience. Nobody gets out of work at five p.m. anymore in corporate America, as municipal employees still do. Nobody in the private sector can say “I don’t work weekends” or “sorry that’s a holiday” or “that’s not my job” anymore, and we haven’t been able to do so since the late 90’s. Recently, I found myself on the R at 9 p.m. on a Sunday, and it was standing room only. Similarly crowded conditions are observed at all hours of the day, and rush hour has become something of a cautionary tale told by Queensicans to their children.

The proletariat has responded to the municipal call to abandon the automobile and use mass transit instead, it would be nice if the MTA wasn’t making us regret that decision on a regular basis.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

March 23, 2015 at 11:00 am

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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eon hence

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Sweet Pete’s, in today’s post.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

When I was growing up, one of my best friends was a guy named Ronnie. There’s were always sleep overs at Ronnie’s house, which were great as his mom loved doling out the Entenmann’s donuts, and she also let her boy hang whatever posters he fancied on the walls of his room. Ronnie’s choices always included ladies like Farrah Fawcet or an extremely young Heather Locklear, along with a bunch of trucks and muscle cars. A friend of my youth, Ronnie is long gone and dearly departed, but whenever I spot Peterbilt Semi’s parked alongside the road in my beloved Astoria, I always think of the big doofus.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The trailers of these trucks tell me exactly where they’re going to be headed to. “Municipal Solid Waste” is the generally used term for the solid material which is filtered out of the sewage flow. There could be soil in there as well, but given this spot’s proximity to the Bowery Bay Sewage treatment plant (less than a mile away), it’s a safe bet to say that these trucks are working for the DEP.

Incidentally - I’ve had DEP engineers tell me that one of the items which causes them the most trouble are actually coffee grinds. It seems that the grinds pick up so much speed in the flowing currents of sewage that they can etch the pipes they’re moving through – a process that’s not unlike sandblasting.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

I thought the green truck was pretty cool looking, but that’s when I walked under the highway overpass and found this model on the grade crossing. The orange parts of the truck were in that optic orange color you see on construction vests and safety cones, which is used for such applications because of the incredibly broad spectrum of light it reflects. It’s something impossible to replicate without specialized inks in the print world, and neither computer monitors nor digital cameras can render it accurately.

Saying that, the orange looks a bit redder in the shot below because of this very quality.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

One is thankful that the weather seems to have turned, even if it’s only been a few days since the ice cracked. There’s so many places to visit, and things to see, and little time in which to do so. It’s good to walk in the rays of the burning thermonuclear eye of god itself once more, to see those things Queens wants me to see, and resume the battle for truth, justice, and the American way.

It’s all so depressing.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

March 13, 2015 at 11:00 am

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

shining mists

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Signs and portents, in today’s post

- photo by Mitch Waxman

As promised, while you were gazing at the photo of that cute kitten I posted yesterday, a minor scuttle of the immediate environs was enacted. Where I’m going on my walks around Queens is seldom guided by a conscious decision, other than avoiding all possible contact or interaction with the human infestation, instead it’s more of a wandering sort of thing. Yesterday, I was looking specifically for the little things. For instance the Mexican Deli’s sidewalk signage offering a matrix of name translations between Spanish and English for various comestibles.

I always wondered how to say “Green Beas” in Spanish, now I know it’s “ejotes.” I think that “ejotes” must be a fun word to pronounce.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Lost Kittens, that’s what the headline on this lamp post flyer says.

Can there be a headline which is sadder in tone than “Lost Kittens?”

- photo by Mitch Waxman

There seems to be a lot of this sort of thing around the neighborhoods. Everywhere I go, even down at Newtown Creek, these sort of lost pet flyers are found. “Lost Kittens,” jeez.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

On the same lamp post, another faded ad, this one searching for a little black dog.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

A few blocks south, on Broadway -somebody had posted queries about the status of a lost, child sized, winter boot.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

March 11, 2015 at 1:00 pm

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