The Newtown Pentacle

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Posts Tagged ‘Taxi

naturally prompted

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Everybody has somewhere they need to go, except me.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Traveling back and forth, forth and back, to Greenpoint for meetings regarding my beloved Creek occupies a lot of my time. Along the pathway which leads from blessed Astoria to the “garden spot of the universe” one encounters a whole lot of taxi cabs along the way. Their presence causes shame to blossom within my breast, as the urgency which would justify the usage of such conveyance is not something which currently drives my days. I’ll get there when I arrive, as no matter where you go, there you are.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Complaining about my near daily pilgrimage to Brooklyn is usually greeted with “you should buy a bicycle” by the drinkers of expensive coffee who dwell there. Simply put, I have nothing against cycling. In fact, I used to be a avid bicycle enthusiast, when I lived in my native south east Brooklyn. Problem is that you are moving too fast to actually notice anything, as you are effectively a vehicle. Want to see something cool? You need to walk, not ride. Also, cameras and bicycling do not exactly get along.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I’ve noticed increasing numbers of these new lime green “Boro Cabs” turning up of late around the neighborhoods in Western Queens, by the way. Another change in the landscape, and alteration of the firmament, here in the Newtown Pentacle. Hopefully, this metered fare will alleviate the whole scale rape which local car services perpetrate upon the populace currently. Recently, a private car service driver quoted me a $30 fare to go from Astoria to Meeker Avenue in Greenpoint- a roughly 15 minute trip.

Upcoming Tours

Saturday- September 21, 2013
13 Steps Around Dutch Kills Walking Tour with Atlas Obscura- tickets on sale now.

Saturday- September 28, 2013
Newtown Creek Boat Tour with the Working Harbor Committee- tickets on sale now.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

September 19, 2013 at 10:51 am

tightly packed

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Just a short one today, got to catch a cab.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

An uncanny valley of off duty cabs, called Skillman Avenue in Queens.

Written by Mitch Waxman

September 5, 2013 at 7:30 am

writhing mass

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In today’s post- a vehicle accident in DUPBO, LIC.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Happily perambulating upon Jackson Avenue in venerable Hunter Point recently, a cacophony of automotive horns heralded my arrival in DUPBO- Down Under the Pulaski Bridge Onramp- at the corner of Vernon and Jackson. I have actually used Vernon Jackson as an alias, in the past, it should be noted. To my ears, Vernon Jackson is an extremely credible sounding name, the sort of handle which a bounty hunter or hard hitting journalist might be blessed with.

At any rate, there was an awful traffic tie up, and even the legendary patience of the Queens driver was wearing thin.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Motorists in Queens, it should be pointed out, drive angry. The slightest transgression- not immediately hitting the gas at the precise second which a red light turns green, slowing down for any reason, allowing a passenger to debark the automobile- is greeted by an enthusiastic usage of the horn. There is also a societal taboo against going around an obstacle, and one is obliged to sit and honk at an obstruction until it is cleared away. In the case of this particular tie up, it seemed that an “accidental” had occurred.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Such “accidentals” are common, here in this place where highways and rail systems converge upon and feed into those narrow corridors which allow egress to the Shining City. Literally hundreds of thousands of vehicles cross western Queens on any given day, the odds that collisions wouldn’t proliferate would be astronomical. When I say “collision,” it is because I presume that both of the unfortunate conveyances found at the center of this scene were in motion.

Were one of them static, it would instead be an “allision.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The honking continued as I wove my way though tangle, on my way to Greenpoint. During my walk from Astoria, a roughly one and one half mile saunter accomplished in roughly forty minutes, I observed two vehicle accident scenes like this. One wonders if there is some database out there which describes the quantity of vehicular incidents in any given neighborhood?

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Want to see something cool? June 2013 Walking Tours-

The Poison Cauldron Saturday, June 15, 2013
Newtown Creek walking tour with Mitch Waxman and Atlas Obscura, tickets now on sale.

Kill Van Kull– Saturday, June 22, 2013
Staten Island walking tour with Mitch Waxman and Working Harbor Committee, tickets now on sale.

The Insalubrious Valley Saturday, June 29, 2013
Newtown Creek walking tour with Mitch Waxman and Newtown Creek Alliance, tickets now on sale.

Written by Mitch Waxman

May 29, 2013 at 12:15 am

sufficient accuracy

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“follow” me on Twitter at @newtownpentacle

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A week of darkness was promised you, lords and ladies, and this Friday posting provides a neat bookend.

Long Island City is one of the most difficult spots in New York City to hail a cab, precisely because so many Cab companies are based here. Drivers don’t want to pick you up if they’re in the neighborhood, as Cab Drivers are generally heading here to drop off the car and end a shift before they get hit with a penalty for being late.

The reverse of “bringing coal to Newcastle”, it would seem, is in effect.


Many taxicabs are used by two drivers a day, each working a 12-hour shift. To ensure that each leg is equally attractive, taxi owners schedule the shift change in the middle of the afternoon, so each shift gets a rush hour.

But the switch cannot happen too early, either: a 2 p.m. changeover, for instance, would require a day driver to start his 12-hour shifts in the wee hours of the morning. And cabbies say the midafternoon offers brisk business not evident 12 hours later, when fares mainly consist of late-night revelers.

Hence the 5 p.m. compromise. When the changeover became standard, its timing did not pose a big problem for passengers. Many taxi garages were situated on the Far West Side of Manhattan, requiring cabs to make only a short trip to 11th Avenue before heading back to Midtown with a fresh driver.

But in the 1980s, as commercial rents rose, taxi fleets began migrating across the East River, particularly to Long Island City, Queens. The 5 p.m. shift change now included a journey over the often-packed Queensboro Bridge, not to mention the return slog to the city. Drivers started going off duty between 4 and 4:30 p.m., to ensure that they had enough time to make it to the garage; even today, tardy cabbies can be hit with a $30 fine.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It is an interesting sight, seeing hundreds of Taxis arrayed about their dispatch and maintenance yards in the wee hours of the morning. Taxi’s are not unlike Police cars in this manner, inasmuch as they seem to be in perpetual motion and always in gear.

Drivers have described the system to me, shift work accomplished in long stretches behind the wheel during which they struggle to first pay the day’s lease on the car and then the fuel bill. Once this sum has been reached, whatever is left over is theirs to keep. They are functionally without a union, and vulnerable to the whims of politician and businessman alike. The overnight drivers also describe having to deal with cleaning up a lot of bodily fluids, the product of nightlife and its revelry.

from wikipedia

The New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) was established in 1971 with jurisdiction over the city’s medallion (yellow) taxicabs, livery cabs, “black cars”, commuter vans, paratransit vehicles (ambulettes) and some luxury limousines. The TLC was founded to deal with the growing number of drivers and to address issues important to both the taxi and livery industries. Its predecessor was the New York City Hack Bureau, operated under the aegis of the New York City Police Department. TLC Inspectors are New York State peace officers who carry batons, pepper spray, and handcuffs.

In the 1970s and 1980s both the unofficial livery services and the medallion taxicab companies began finding more and more of their drivers in the growing populations of black, Latino, and middle eastern immigrants to the city as the previous generation of cabbies retired and moved out of the city. Crime in New York City had become severe at this point, and cabbies were often the victims of robberies and street crime.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On a different note, a distinct point of interest is the Court Square Diner, which is a completely different structure at night than during the day. On this particular morning, despite my screaming desire for a cup of joe, the place was passed by and merely photographed. The whole “shooting at night” thing was produced by a bout of insomnia, after all, and the last thing that the sleepless needs is the sort of hot brown jet fuel sold at Court Square.


Court Square Diner was built in 1946. Since then it has only had three ownerships.

The current owners, Steve and Nick have been in operation since 1991. When they had first purchased the diner, it was mainly a small diner for breakfast and lunch. In 2009, the Court Square Diner was renovated with an all new retro look. Now it is a full service 24 hour seven day a week successful diner complete with breakfast, lunch, brunch and dinner. The delivery service is 24 hours a day seven days a week. All the baking for the diner is done on the premises.

Written by Mitch Waxman

February 15, 2013 at 12:15 am

strange region

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

Nearly have I sorted out the various electronic issues caused by the lightning strike which sundered my links with the far flung interwebs, however, the last and greatest hurdle is before me.

The thundering incompetency and bureaucratic nonsense of the Time Warner cable empire awaits. Long has it been since I severed my relationship with them regarding the delivery of televisual and telephonic service, a second rate and badly delivered suite of offerings at best, but they remain the only game in town as far as high speed Internet (at least in my zip code).

Yes, smaller operations exist, but they largely piggy back onto the Time Warner system in Astoria.

Today, I must hie to Manhattan and company headquarters in order to exchange a lightning damaged cable modem. The customer service operator offered me an in home appointment on August 8th, some 14 days from now, so the only way to get this dying elephant to perform its most basic function in a timely fashion is to visit its house and kick it in the trunk.

I would point out that DirecTV was here within 24 hours to assess the situation, and had their replacement equipment up and running within 48 hours of the lightning event.

Hopefully, by tomorrow, the entire system back at Newtown Pentacle HQ will be functionable again- but this is probably vainglorious hope speaking. With luck, I will be able to start doing “my thing” again within a day or two.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Tonight, however, diversion can be obtained at the Flux Factory in LIC. Kate Zidar of Newtown Creek Alliance will be joining Dr. Eric Sanderson for an interesting presentation.


Flux Factory presents…Newtown Creek: Past, Present, Future – JUL 26

Flux Factory is pleased to present the third workshop in a yearlong initiative, The Future of Your Neighborhood: Who Decides?

Newtown Creek: Past, Present, Future

July 26th, 7 pm – 9 pm

Flux Factory

39-31 29th Street, Long Island City, NY 11101

The July workshop will focus on Newtown Creek: one of the most polluted industrial sites in America, bordering Flux Factory’s Long Island City neighborhood. Eric Sanderson of the Mannahatta Project will share historical research he’s collected on the Superfund site, with the aim of making information available to artists, designers, city planners, and other interested parties for widespread use in restoring its original splendor. Kate Zidar, Executive Director of Newtown Creek Alliance, will present information on the current state of the creek, including how community members can participate in materializing visions for its future.


Upcoming Walking Tours:

July 28th, 2012- Working Harbor Committee Kill Van Kull walk- This Saturday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Kill Van Kull, or tugboat alley as its known to we harbor rats, is a tidal strait that defines the border of Staten Island and New Jersey. A busy and highly industrialized waterfront, Working Harbor’s popular “Hidden Harbor – Newark Bay” boat tours provide water access to the Kill, but what is it like on the landward side?

Starting at the St. George Staten Island Ferry terminal, join WHC Steering Committee member Mitch Waxman for a walk up the Kill Van Kull via Staten Islands Richmond Terrace. You’ll encounter unrivaled views of the maritime traffic on the Kill itself, as well as the hidden past of the maritime communities which line it’s shores. Surprising and historic neighborhoods, an abandoned railway, and tales of prohibition era bootleggers await.

The tour will start at 11, sharp, and you must be on (at least) the 10:30 AM Staten Island Ferry to meet the group at St. George. Again, plan for transportation changes and unexpected weirdness to be revealed to you at

for July 28th tickets, click here for the Working Harbor Committee ticketing page

August 5th, 2012- Newtown Creek Alliance Walking Tour- The Insalubrious Valley

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Newtown Creek Alliance historian Mitch Waxman will be leading a walk through the industrial heartlands of New York City, exploring the insalubrious valley of the Newtown Creek.

The currently undefended border of Brooklyn and Queens, and the place where the Industrial Revolution actually happened, provides a dramatic and picturesque setting for this exploration. We’ll be visiting two movable bridges, the still standing remains of an early 19th century highway, and a forgotten tributary of the larger waterway. As we walk along the Newtown Creek and explore the “wrong side of the tracks” – you’ll hear tales of the early chemical industry, “Dead Animal and Night Soil Wharfs”, colonial era heretics and witches and the coming of the railroad. The tour concludes at the famed Clinton Diner in Maspeth- where scenes from the Martin Scorcese movie “Goodfellas” were shot.

Lunch at Clinton Diner is included with the ticket.

Details/special instructions.

Meetup at the corner of Grand Street and Morgan Avenue in Brooklyn at 11 a.m. on August 5, 2012. The L train serves a station at Bushwick Avenue and Grand Street, and the Q54 and Q59 bus lines stop nearby as well. Check as ongoing weekend construction often causes delays and interruptions. Drivers, it would be wise to leave your vehicle in the vicinity of the Clinton Diner in Maspeth, Queens or near the start of the walk at Grand St. and Morgan Avenue (you can pick up the bus to Brooklyn nearby the Clinton Diner).

Be prepared: We’ll be encountering broken pavement, sometimes heavy truck traffic as we move through a virtual urban desert. Dress and pack appropriately for hiking, closed-toe shoes are highly recommended.

Clinton Diner Menu:

  • Cheese burger deluxe
  • Grilled chicken over garden salad
  • Turkey BLT triple decker sandwich with fries
  • Spaghetti with tomato sauce or butter
  • Greek salad medium
  • Greek Salad wrap with French fries
  • Can of soda or 16oz bottle of Poland Spring

for August 5th tickets, click here for the Newtown Creek Alliance ticketing page

Written by Mitch Waxman

July 26, 2012 at 10:52 am


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