The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

surprising sort

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Minimalist Wednesday, it affects us all.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s me on the sign above, or at least it is in my personal construct of reality. I’m on every corner in NYC, as is my arch enemy, whom I call “the Red Hand.” It’s been an interesting week with lots and lots of meetings and things to do, but at least I’ve been amongst people. They seemed nice.

Last night’s Community Board 1 meeting was largely procedural. The NYC Conflicts of Interest guy gave us a refresher course on how not to get prosecuted for corruption. He reminded us that we can only take bribes under $50 as Community Board members. It’s the most Queens thing in the world, by the way… not “don’t take bribes,” but instead “don’t take bribes over this amount.” Wonder what the price is set at for Elected Officials or District Managers. sigh.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The protests at the EDC’s Sunnyside Yards meeting came up a couple of times, and a number of the more “institutional” players in Astoria were upset that the protestors had interfered with EDC’s narrative and presentation. I made the case to any that would listen that they were complaining about free speech and the exercise thereof. If the crowded theater you’re in is actually burning, you SHOULD shout “fire.” Also, you should do ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to discourage the younger members of our society from expressing their dissatisfaction and anger by protesting.

The people complaining about it last night are probably cashing checks for $49.99 today at lunch. The bad actors acted, the annoying people annoyed, and it was long and drawn out nearly three hour meeting dealing with protocol and procedure. My head nearly fell off the back of my neck several times out of boredom. Luckily, I sit next to a pal of mine from the neighborhood who is another old school outer boroughs guy and we whispered wisecracks to each other all night.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The procedural niceties of this CB thing are something I’m slowly learning. All these years, as an activist in Queens, my methodology has been to strike fast when opportunity presents. Grab the elected, their people, any other concerned parties and make a deal on the street to get a new green space or something rolling when the time is right. Bang, boom, bang. Advertising and comics industry new business techniques, learned at hundreds of cocktail parties over the decades. Sell, sell, sell.

This “Roberts Rules” stuff flies directly in the face of how things actually get done in Western Queens and North Brooklyn. Protocol? What?

Tonight, I’ll be at the Newtown Creek CAG meeting at PS 110 in Greenpoint on Monitor Street for an update on the Superfund situation. Afterwards, I’m going to return to the utility poles and engage in my eternal battle with the Red Hand.


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Buy a book!

In the Shadows at Newtown Creek,” an 88 page softcover 8.5×11 magazine format photo book by Mitch Waxman, is now on sale at blurb.com for $30.

Written by Mitch Waxman

September 18, 2019 at 11:00 am

reserve use

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Joy.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Last night, the NYC EDC’s dog and pony show for their Sunnyside Yards project at Aviation High School went down in flames when a large group of protestors showed up, started chanting, and took over the event. The best part? I had nothing to do with it. This was a youth oriented thing, by my observation, and I recognized people from the Democratic Socialists of America, Queens Neighbors United, the Justice 4 All coalition, and a few other leftie groups amongst the protestors. The EDC had neglected to hire any Pinkertons to crack heads or maintain order, and the only security in the room was provided by two high school security guards who frankly “dint want any of that.” The “powers that be” in LIC were clearly worried, and scampered back to their nice and safe Manhattan luxury towers in Ubers.

Me? I’m no socialist, but think that this nation of ours would benefit by moving the needle a couple of notches back and to the left towards the center of the gauge. It made me happy though, to see the generation who were young kids on 9/11 voicing up. They’re mad as hell, and won’t take it anymore. I’d advise DSA to scale back on the Trotsky stuff in their public rhetoric, however, as that doesn’t play well at all in the United States.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

“You come to my house and complain about the noise?” is what John Goodman bellowed in the explosive finale of the Cohn Brother’s “Barton Fink” movie. That was what I was thinking about while walking home last night. My part of annoying these EDC people was when I noticed that they had affixed white tape over one of the lines on the astounding 59 signboards which lined the space. It was a line discussing the astounding projected $22 billion cost of the deck project, and it’s something I pointed out to the various reporters in the room whom I know.

The EDC folks got very nervous about this, peeled off the tape, and began telling me how transparent they are. I agree, EDC is very transparent. These people could fuck up making a sandwich.

If one wishes to hire a contractor of any kind, you would review their resume. These are the people who brought you the Staten Island Ferris Wheel, the largely empty Industry City project which made EDC the 4th largest landlord in NYC, and the Amazon debacle. Do you want to give this group $22 billion to manage another boondoggle? I sure don’t.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The World’s Borough is awakened, mad as hell, and doesn’t want to take it anymore.

Chaotic and scary, ain’t it? Interesting times. Can’t wait to be branded either a counter revolutionary element of the old regime who needs to be ideologically corrected in a gulag, or as a disestablishmentarian busybody without any tangible investment in Long Island City. I give it five years before rhetoric gives way to brickbats.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle


Buy a book!

In the Shadows at Newtown Creek,” an 88 page softcover 8.5×11 magazine format photo book by Mitch Waxman, is now on sale at blurb.com for $30.

Written by Mitch Waxman

September 17, 2019 at 1:30 pm

another moment

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Lots and lots going on in Queens and Brooklyn this week.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

At Aviation High School, tonight, the NYC EDC will be presenting the latest iteration of their outlandish and quixotic plan to deck over the Sunnyside Yards. This municipal boondoggle has been going on for years now. Community opposition to this monster has grown and grown even as EDC has doubled down on it. The estimated numbers for what this project is currently projected to cost are on the order of waging a small war. I’ve got intel on what the internal estimates which are being floated at EDC for the cost of just building the deck itself. I don’t want to say them out loud since that might “out” some of the people internally at the organization who secretly oppose the Sunnyside Yards project, but let’s just say this:

If you were able to save $100,000 a year, it would take you 220,000 years to save enough for this decking project. You’d alternatively be able to purchase 733,000 cars at $30,000 a pop. If dollars were miles, you’d be able to enjoy 46,044 thousand round trips to the moon. If dollars were tax refunds, you’d be able to write a $66.77 check to every living American citizen (all 329,467,210 of us).

The Sunnyside Yards meeting will be held at Aviation High School (45-30 36th St., corner of Queens Blvd., in Long Island City, NY 11101) tonight between 5 and 8 p.m.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On a personal note, I’m a little bit behind schedule as this week starts, and am struggling to keep up with the various “have to’s” which are upcoming. A few pretty exciting, to me at least, opportunities are coming up in coming weeks. I’m going to get to ride on a freight train, and inspect Port Newark with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. There’s also a couple of swell parties coming up.

This Saturday; Newtown Creek Alliance, Broadway Stages, NOoSPHERE Arts, Greenpoint Innovations and Alive Structures will be offering the Kingsland Wildflower Festival in Greenpoint between 2 and 6 in the afternoon.

Details for the event can be found here.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

If you want to watch me pretending to be an adult, and a responsible member of society, Astoria’s Community Board 1 will be gathering tomorrow night (Tuesday the 17th) at Astoria World Manor (25-22 Astoria Boulevard) at 6:30 p.m. to discuss issues of the day and resume the monthly meeting schedule after the summer hiatus. I don’t think anything earth shattering will be happening, but you never know, and if you haven’t attended a community board meeting… well, why not? That’s how republics die – apathy.

The Newtown Creek Community Advisory Group – or CAG – will also be resuming its meeting schedule with the various powers that be on Wednesday (the 18th) night over in Brooklyn and also at 6:30 p.m. at PS 110 auditorium (124 Monitor Street).

October 3rd will see a Newtown Creek Alliance benefit event – the “Tidal Toast” – occur at 520 Kingsland Avenue in Greenpoint. Want to help us do what we do? Support the “reveal, restore, revitalize” work that NCA does? Grab a ticket. There’ll be food, and drinks too! Click here for more info.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle


Buy a book!

In the Shadows at Newtown Creek,” an 88 page softcover 8.5×11 magazine format photo book by Mitch Waxman, is now on sale at blurb.com for $30.

Written by Mitch Waxman

September 16, 2019 at 12:00 pm

shuddering violently

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Palpable, redolent, and exhausting – that’s me.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It has been one heck of a couple of weeks for a humble narrator, and boy oh boy am I beat up. There’s the proverbial “burning the candle at both ends” and then there’s just throwing the candle into a campfire. The latter is what I’ve been up to, and I’ve finally arrived at a short interval whereupon I can relax for a couple of days and “chill.” Busy is better than having nothing to do, but… I like to break words down to reveal their true meaning, and “recreation” is a literal and tangible requirement at the moment. Time to re-create.

I’ve got a book or two which I want to put together, and I’m hoping to have one or the other ready and available for Christmas. Meeting season is also upon me, and it’s time to start annoying the Government people again. Community Board, Superfund, and a new hopeless cause right here in Astoria which I’ve been laying the groundwork for are about to kick into gear. Anything y’all want me to rattle on about with officialdom? Leave me instructions and so on in the comments, and I’ll see if I can get your pet peeve considered and in front of the right people.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There’s a mean season in politics coming, what with all the three term incumbents term limited in both Brooklyn and Queens. On both sides of the Newtown Creek, the “powers that be” are all about to change seats after a long period of predictability. New factions and interest groups will be manifesting themselves and pushing their particular apple carts. As is always the case with “sharp elbows,” things are already starting to get ugly, and we’re nowhere near an election at the moment.

It’s going to be an interesting if mean interval, I think. Epic bullshitting is what I expect to hear and see, in our ongoing ideological war between the “Know nothings” and the “Whigs.” As I’m wont to remind and chide – Civilizations end, but life goes on. Also, the war between the Cowboys and the Arabs has been going on for 18 years now, and there’s no end in sight, but nobody talks about that.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s what sunrise on the new Kosciuszcko Bridge looks like, as a note. Captured this last Sunday morning, which feels like it was a month ago to me. Back Monday with something else that I can’t imagine quite yet.

Don’t know what I’m doing with my time off this weekend, but I’ll have the camera with me. Can’t wait to find out where I’m going to go and what I’m going to see, but you’ll see it here – at your Newtown Pentacle.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle


Buy a book!

In the Shadows at Newtown Creek,” an 88 page softcover 8.5×11 magazine format photo book by Mitch Waxman, is now on sale at blurb.com for $30.

Written by Mitch Waxman

September 13, 2019 at 1:00 pm

dominant concern

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Green v. Gray, in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Me and my mates at Newtown Creek Alliance, and in the larger environmentalist community, are always rattling on about Green versus Gray infrastructure. So – what does that mean? Basically, it comes down to taxes and “bang for the buck.” That magnificent new Wastewater Treatment plant in Greenpoint, pictured above, cost billions and billions of dollars. It also took literally decades to build. Technological marvel notwithstanding, the cost of that thing was borne by raising water tax and rates on property owners, who passed it on to their tenants in the form of higher rents. The plant is, after all, owned and operated by a City agency, the Department of Environmental Protection or DEP. DEP also handles delivery of drinking water, the upstate reservoirs which supply it, and a few other things (noise complaints, for instance). The agency was created in a 1983 City charter revision which combined multiple offices, including the various sewer systems of the Boroughs, into the current monolithic organization. They inherited a chaotic situation, with sewerage pipes in the ground that combine the flow of sanitary and storm water which were laid out by the independent cities of Brooklyn, Richmond, or LIC/Newtown as early as the 1860’s. During rain events, the storm water pipes introduce vast overages of water into this combined system, and outfalls – there are 400 of them in NY Harbor – act as release valves for the increased flow. That means that untreated sanitary sewerage is released into area waterways along with the storm water. It’s why you can’t go swimming at the beach in NYC after it rains, and is part of the reason why inland waterways like the Gowanus Canal and Newtown Creek are Federal Superfund sites. The Superfund situation is costing DEP money as well, which means that taxes and fees on water will continue rising, and so will the rent.

Gray infrastructure – as epitomized by the 7+ billion dollar sewer plant pictured above – is expensive to build and maintain. That plant can handle an astounding 800 million gallons of wastewater a day, but in the concretized landscape of NYC, a quarter inch of rain falling citywide translates to a billion gallons of storm water entering the system. Newtown Creek alone receives (estimates vary) between 1.4 and 1.8 billion gallons of untreated “combined sewer outfall” annually.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Green infrastructure, on the other hand, is fairly cheap to install and maintain. Green roofs, rain gardens, and open land with plantings either drink up rain or allow it to flow down into the ground and feed into the water table. Additionally, Green Infrastructure ameliorates another consequence of having paved over everything with impermeable material – the so called “Maspeth Heat Island” effect.

Heat islands occur in urban spaces devoid of trees and greenery. Masonry and concrete tend to “hold” heat and radiate it back out. Even at night, the industrial neighborhoods surrounding Newtown Creek are demonstrably 5-15 degrees warmer than the residential ones which are generally well planted. This causes area businesses to spend more on climate control for their spaces, increasing their energy usage footprints and the cost of doing business in NYC. Green roofs, like the one pictured above in Brooklyn’s Greenpoint section, change the equation. They divert storm water and keep the structure below the roof a few degrees cooler.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It can be heinously expensive to retrofit existing building stock’s rooftops to handle the loading weight of a green roof, and since there’s little to no tax incentive to do so offered by City or State, most building owners like the idea but pass on it. Given that we’re in the middle of a building boom here in NYC, and particularly so in LIC and North Brooklyn, you’d think that all of these “Green New Deal” types would be demanding that new construction incorporate “Green Infrastructure” technology into their projects. Sadly, this isn’t the case, as everything is false and a deception in the worlds of Politics and Big Real Estate.

Me? I’m realistic about life in the big City, the bottom line, and personally won’t do anything which I don’t want to do unless I know there’s a hefty fine I can avoid by doing it. The City currently meters the water going up the pipe into apartment buildings, but doesn’t meter what’s coming back out. Maybe if we did the latter, it would encourage the developers of 40, 60, or even 80 story apartment towers to embrace the Green Infrastructure concept and lessen the impact of their projects on the combined sewer system. It’s probably possible to engineer a net positive on the outflows, which might mean rebates from DEP for providing capacity. Who knows?

Or, we can just keep on building giant multi billion dollar sewer plants which cause your landlord’s water bill, and your rent, to continually rise.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle


Buy a book!

In the Shadows at Newtown Creek,” an 88 page softcover 8.5×11 magazine format photo book by Mitch Waxman, is now on sale at blurb.com for $30.

Written by Mitch Waxman

September 12, 2019 at 11:00 am

endless shelves

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Tunnel visions, in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Absent friends. That’s all I’m going to say about today’s anniversary of 9/11, other than that we have been at war for eighteen years now, in six different theaters of operation, with no end in sight, and nobody ever talks about that. We also don’t ask where all that homeland security money goes, and why – despite all that funding – you can still just wander into any number of supposedly secure locations in Brooklyn and Queens unimpeded. It’s a different story in Manhattan, of course, but there you are.

Raise a glass to those absent friends tonight, hug your kids, and continue on.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Me? I’m too busy and stressed out at the moment to indulge in anything resembling a normal thought process. I’ve got a big project which will have matured and been accomplished by tomorrow night about 9 p.m. at which point I’ll be able to relax for a minute and gather my thoughts. Today, I’m busy “herding cats” and “managing expectations.” A minefield is where I’m at right now.

Seriously, all I ever set out to do was take pictures of Newtown Creek and the document the season of change in the watershed communities surrounding it.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The big project which is stressing me out is a private event, so I can’t really talk about it. There’s been a couple of major projects in the works throughout August which are coming to fruition, but since the universe demands that when I’m focusing on something a cloud of biting insects will appear to torment and distract…

It’s so busy this week that I’m actually dreaming about tasks that I need to crush out, and upon awakening from those little snatches of death… Man, I really need a vacation from Home Sweet Hell.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle


Buy a book!

In the Shadows at Newtown Creek,” an 88 page softcover 8.5×11 magazine format photo book by Mitch Waxman, is now on sale at blurb.com for $30.

Written by Mitch Waxman

September 11, 2019 at 12:00 pm

oblong apartments

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Three Assholes, in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

An anti-vaxxer has been sticking their pseudo scientific call to arms and meme based advice on the lamp posts and mail boxes of Astoria and Sunnyside all summer long. Coincidentally, all summer long I’ve been prying stupid stickers and flyers off of lamp posts and mail boxes. Champion level dumb assery, the Anti-Vaxxers are admittedly one step closer to reality than the flat earth crowd, but there’s always the chance that some badly educated or gullible new parent will take the advice of these people and their innocent kid will die of a preventable disease or start an epidemic which will hurt me and mine. What’s next? Witch panics?

Here’s my take on things – electricity, airplanes, and nuclear bombs work, as confirmed the underlying scientific assumptions which their technologies are based on. So too do antibiotics, fungicides, and so on work and confirm their underlying theorems. Given that the viewpoint of what these dopes called the “science industry” has real world efficacy and results – Measles and Rubella or Whooping Cough or Polio, for instance, are no longer major concerns for most of the world’s population (there are 250 cases of Leprosy in the U.S. diagnosed in a average year, as a note) due to modern medicine’s embrace of the “Germ Theory of Disease,” I choose to stand alongside the pro vaccination majority. If you’re an Anti Vaxx person, cool, but go live in the woods. Also, you don’t get to pick and choose which scientific facts you like and which ones you don’t. Autism and Aspergers are nothing new, jack holes, and the reason there’s “an epidemic” is that the diagnosis has been expanded to accommodate a “spectrum” of disability rather than a narrow and severe slice of the condition. It’s not because of vaccination.

Asshole.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s not lens distortion in the shot above, rather it’s the severe overload of the electrical transmission wires which those utility poles are carrying that is causing them to bow and bend. You see this all over LIC, Astoria, and Sunnyside.

There’s a few similar looking utility poles on Broadway in Astoria, and I can predict that they will either break in half or drop their cables during a storm in the near future. When someone dies, the local government people (who are fully aware of this situation) will act shocked and call for the creation of a blue ribbon committee to study what happened. The committee’s findings will be submitted to another committee that studies the findings of committees. Ultimately, this citywide existential problem should go to City Hall and the Mayor’s office, but word has it that Bill De Blasio is going to run a campaign to be named Sultan of the Ottoman Empire after his doomed and quixotic effort at becoming President of the United States goes down in flames.

Asshole.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Queens Cobbler’s handiwork has been observed in the neighborhood again, after a summer long interval during which few or no single shoes were observed. The Queens Cobbler is a likely serial killer who leaves these single shoes as taunts for the Police in the districts surrounding the Newtown Creek in Brooklyn and Queens, and the infamous trophies are found displayed along area streets. The Cobbler has been written about in the past, here at Newtown Pentacle, and in fact I’ve been talking about this for over five years at this point.

Asshole.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle


Buy a book!

In the Shadows at Newtown Creek,” an 88 page softcover 8.5×11 magazine format photo book by Mitch Waxman, is now on sale at blurb.com for $30.

Written by Mitch Waxman

September 10, 2019 at 11:15 am

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