The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

aortic convulsions

with 2 comments

Stop fixing what ain’t broken.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It seems that of late, I spend a lot of time developing workarounds for “improvements” offered by software and website providers. Famously, I don’t see the need to constantly oblige the software development teams at Adobe or Apple every time they release new feature sets that will not benefit me – I don’t have one of those stupid watches, for instance. Saying that, there comes a point when you’re essentially forced into doing an upgrade, which is usually accompanied by a drop in your productivity as you are forced into discovering how to accomplish a formerly familiar task that is now either forbidden or obfuscated behind a wall of floating menus.

I hate everyone.

Single shot today, LIC, at night.


“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.


Events!

Slideshow and book signing, April 23rd, 6-8 p.m.

Join Newtown Creek Alliance at 520 Kingsland Avenue in Greenpoint, Brooklyn for a slideshow, talk, and book signing and see what the incredible landscape of Newtown Creek looks like when the sun goes down with Mitch Waxman. The event is free, but space is limited. Please RSVP here. Light refreshments served.

Click here to attend.

The Third Annual, All Day, 100% Toxic, Newtown Creekathon. April 28th.

The Creekathon will start at Hunter’s Point South in LIC, and end at the Kingsland Wildflowers rooftop in Greenpoint. It will swing through the neighborhoods of LIC, Blissville, Maspeth, Ridgewood, East Williamsburg, Bushwick, and Greenpoint, visiting the numerous bridges that traverse the Creek. While we encourage folks to join us for the full adventure, attendees are welcome to join and depart as they wish. A full route map and logistics are forthcoming.This is an all day event. Your guides on this 12+ mile trek will be Mitch Waxman and Will Elkins of the Newtown Creek Alliance, and some of their amazing friends will likely show up along the way.

Click here to attend.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

April 19, 2019 at 1:30 pm

likewise almost

with 5 comments

A quick stroll through Astoria, Queens.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A statement offered by older New Yorkers which has always driven a humble narrator absolutely nuts is “It was different back then, you could leave your door unlocked and not have to worry.” Beyond the logical fallacy of having a door that locks and not securing it, I always inquire to the utterer what their calendrical age is and what – precisely – era they’re referring to as “back then.” When my parents used to say it, they were talking about the Great Depression and WW2 era. Somebody who’s about 70 said it to me the other night, and the era they were referring to was the 1970’s and 80’s.

Bull hockey. Nobody in 1970’s or 80’s New York City left their door unlocked. That’s when people were installing iron bars over their windows, entry doors gained steel plating, and junkies owned the streets. That’s when parked cars had signs in them saying “no radio” in an attempt to forestall windows getting smashed, and you were constantly looking over your shoulder. There were also vicious packs of roving feral dogs, which sounds like something I’m making up, but there were.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My particular style of accoutrement evolved during this time. “Look like you haven’t got two pennies to rub together,” “keep your wallet and money in separate pockets,” “keep moving.” The whole punk rock esthetic which a lot of shops will sell you this days at a significant markup evolved out of simple economics and practicality. “Army and Navy” stores were everywhere and you could get a flannel shirt for pennies as they were stylistically out of step with the polyester and shoulder pads crowd. Combat boots were a logical prophylactic, given that the entire city was covered in shattered bottle glass prior to the days of deposit and return recycling. Home sweet hell, that’s what I used to call it. Everybody carried a blade, but the City offered so many opportunities for ad hoc improvisation when it came to self defense they were seldom brandished. Metal garbage can lids were really, really versatile.

It bugs me, when I’m talking to people who weren’t there, that pine for those days. The reason that the rent was low was that no one wanted to live on the lower east side or Soho unless they had to. Also, rent as a percentage of income is critical. You may have been able to find a huge flat in some tenement for “only” $500 a month, but in the 1980’s minimum wage was $3.35 an hour.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The aphorism of “you could leave your doors unlocked” was always sort of tinged with racism, as well, at least to my ears. As offered, it pined for an early age when “the neighborhood” was composed of monolithic ethnic blocs – Greek, Italian, Jewish – whatever. The presumption of the statement was that since “redlining” had been abolished, which was a real estate industrial complex/government segregationist policy that resulted in those ethnic blocs by saying that “blacks live here” and “jews live there,” you knew and would interact with neighbors whom you could trust. High levels of street crime and the culture of that era which saw families curl up in front of the television put an end to that.

Bah. I hate false mythologies. I also hate it when somebody just twenty years older than me begins referring to the absolute low point of 20th century NYC as something wonderful. It sucked back then. NYC sucks now, but for different reasons. Read Jakob Riis and you’ll learn how it sucked in the 19th century.

Lock your doors.


“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.


Events!

Slideshow and book signing, April 23rd, 6-8 p.m.

Join Newtown Creek Alliance at 520 Kingsland Avenue in Greenpoint, Brooklyn for a slideshow, talk, and book signing and see what the incredible landscape of Newtown Creek looks like when the sun goes down with Mitch Waxman. The event is free, but space is limited. Please RSVP here. Light refreshments served.

Click here to attend.

The Third Annual, All Day, 100% Toxic, Newtown Creekathon. April 28th.

The Creekathon will start at Hunter’s Point South in LIC, and end at the Kingsland Wildflowers rooftop in Greenpoint. It will swing through the neighborhoods of LIC, Blissville, Maspeth, Ridgewood, East Williamsburg, Bushwick, and Greenpoint, visiting the numerous bridges that traverse the Creek. While we encourage folks to join us for the full adventure, attendees are welcome to join and depart as they wish. A full route map and logistics are forthcoming.This is an all day event. Your guides on this 12+ mile trek will be Mitch Waxman and Will Elkins of the Newtown Creek Alliance, and some of their amazing friends will likely show up along the way.

Click here to attend.

Written by Mitch Waxman

April 18, 2019 at 12:31 pm

disordered condition

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Don’t like it, but I have to leave Queens occasionally.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One had to go into the City to visit the accountant the other day, one of the few ties I still have to my old neighborhood in Manhattan. For over a decade a humble narrator was centered in a small apartment with very cheap rent on the corner of West 100th street and Broadway, a white walled box which served my needs when I was working as a corporate drone in the advertising salt mines. NYC was just getting started on its current vector back then, when a series of NBC sitcoms presented Manhattan as a viable or desirable option for midwesterners to consider. Come to the City, where you’ll have “Friends” and meet quirky characters like “Kramer” or get lucky and have some “Sex in the City.” I blame “Seinfeld” for kicking off this whole gentrification business.

I’ve always been fascinated by media portrayals of New York City, and the pop cultural interpretations thereof. Beginning in the 1960’s, Hollywood began telling you that this was a place you didn’t want to be. Fun City indeed.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A mostly forgotten but well done Police procedural series offered in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s was called “Naked City.” It’s tag line was “There are eight million stories in the naked city. This has been one of them.” Heavy handed on the social justice storylines, Naked City nevertheless is the prototype for later procedurals like “Law and Order” and like that long running production, was shot on location all over NYC. If you can find it, check out a few episodes and pay attention to the background landscape details. Shot during the era of urban renewal and slum clearance, Robert Moses’s various initiatives can be seen in the backgrounds, with the foreground filled by soon to famous actors playing their first major roles. There’s one with Al Pacino in it, who’s climax occurs with the raw steel of the United Nations building visible in Manhattan’s former “Blood Alley” section.

Fascinating window into the past, televised fiction can be. At the rate which NYC constantly demolishes and rebuilds itself, you have to take anything you can get in terms of what once was, I guess.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My beloved Creek is picture above, from the pigeon poop encrusted stairways of the Pulaski Bridge in LIC. Speaking of “demolishing and rebuilding itself,” let’s just say that I have seen the plans for what’s coming next, and that the area between LIC’s 2nd Street and the Pulaski/Borden Avenue and Newtown Creek (including the LIRR station) is – indeed – next. You’ll hear about it soon, I believe.

Get your pics now, lords and ladies. Tick tock.


“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.


Events!

Slideshow and book signing, April 23rd, 6-8 p.m.

Join Newtown Creek Alliance at 520 Kingsland Avenue in Greenpoint, Brooklyn for a slideshow, talk, and book signing and see what the incredible landscape of Newtown Creek looks like when the sun goes down with Mitch Waxman. The event is free, but space is limited. Please RSVP here. Light refreshments served.

Click here to attend.

The Third Annual, All Day, 100% Toxic, Newtown Creekathon. April 28th.

The Creekathon will start at Hunter’s Point South in LIC, and end at the Kingsland Wildflowers rooftop in Greenpoint. It will swing through the neighborhoods of LIC, Blissville, Maspeth, Ridgewood, East Williamsburg, Bushwick, and Greenpoint, visiting the numerous bridges that traverse the Creek. While we encourage folks to join us for the full adventure, attendees are welcome to join and depart as they wish. A full route map and logistics are forthcoming.This is an all day event. Your guides on this 12+ mile trek will be Mitch Waxman and Will Elkins of the Newtown Creek Alliance, and some of their amazing friends will likely show up along the way.

Click here to attend.

Written by Mitch Waxman

April 17, 2019 at 1:30 pm

dawned clear

with one comment

Vampyres!

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Over the weekend, one found himself down in Long Island City, and I noticed that the New York Blood Center had added another layer of protection to its facility, no doubt to vouchsafe themselves from the nightly assaults of vampires they suffer. Occupational hazard, I guess. You hoard and “bank” enough human blood, you’re going to have to take steps and create precautions for what’s coming when the sun goes down. Given the large population of the nosferatu living in the steel rafters of the elevated tracks in nearby Queens Plaza…

On a side note, I often ponder the use of “up, and down” when referring to various sections of New York City. LIC, or Hunters Point more accurately, is at a somewhat lower altitude and declination than Astoria so I guess “down” is appropriate, but where does that stuff come from? Some sort of linguistic holdover from maps? I dunno, but… back to vampires.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This layer of armor around the blood center, which is found in a section of LIC notorious for flooding just three or so blocks from the East River, was labeled “Aqua Fence.” I’m sure that was just part of a marketing campaign for a recent superhero movie though, as the positioning of the armoring indicates that the Blood Center people have been experiencing issues with what they call “crawlers” – mobility challenged vampires.

What? You think Vampires are all undead European aristocrats possessed of athletic prowess like wall crawling? Get woke, kid. Challenges suffered in life continue in undeath, and there are plenty of former wheelchair bound vampires out there. The Vampire population of Western Queens is actually quite representative, demographically speaking, of our community’s legendary diversity.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As mentioned in prior postings, the actual role of the Sicilian Mafia was to hunt and eradicate vampires, a service to the community so important that Governmental officialdom looked the other way regarding their other hobbies and lines of business. Since that organization has declined in power and influence here in Queens, the Vampires have been multiplying and growing bolder. The only thing we, those of us who can tolerate exposure to the burning thermonuclear eye of god itself that is, have going for us is that that the Vampires aren’t registered to vote so no opportunist politician has tried to build a constituency out of them.

Meanwhile, the nightly sieges on Vernon Blvd. at the New York Blood Center continue.


“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.


Events!

Slideshow and book signing, April 23rd, 6-8 p.m.

Join Newtown Creek Alliance at 520 Kingsland Avenue in Greenpoint, Brooklyn for a slideshow, talk, and book signing and see what the incredible landscape of Newtown Creek looks like when the sun goes down with Mitch Waxman. The event is free, but space is limited. Please RSVP here. Light refreshments served.

Click here to attend.

The Third Annual, All Day, 100% Toxic, Newtown Creekathon. April 28th.

The Creekathon will start at Hunter’s Point South in LIC, and end at the Kingsland Wildflowers rooftop in Greenpoint. It will swing through the neighborhoods of LIC, Blissville, Maspeth, Ridgewood, East Williamsburg, Bushwick, and Greenpoint, visiting the numerous bridges that traverse the Creek. While we encourage folks to join us for the full adventure, attendees are welcome to join and depart as they wish. A full route map and logistics are forthcoming.This is an all day event. Your guides on this 12+ mile trek will be Mitch Waxman and Will Elkins of the Newtown Creek Alliance, and some of their amazing friends will likely show up along the way.

Click here to attend.

Written by Mitch Waxman

April 16, 2019 at 1:00 pm

in argument

with one comment

It’s not luck or preparation, just good timing with me.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Returning to Astoria after a recent sojourn to the fabulous Newtown Creek, one elected to cross the waterway at a point some 1.3 miles from its intersection with the East River. Luckily, that’s where the City of Greater New York maintains that chunk of our collective property which they call the “John J. Byrne memorial bridge” or as it’s known more simply to everybody else – the Greenpoint Avenue Bridge.

As I was nearing the apogee of the span, descending traffic barrier signal arms accompanied by bells and flashing lights provided indication that this double bascule draw bridge was about to open up and allow a maritime passage. What fun!

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Gazing through the security fencing, a humble narrator did spy a barge and tug plying the contaminant rich waters of the Newtown Creek. The barge was set up to act as a platform for a crane, by all appearances. Perhaps it was coming from the nearby Kosciuszcko Bridge project, but that’s just idle speculation.

It’s a big old creek, Newtown is, with lots and lots going on all the time.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

With the bridge open and the always heavy flow of automotive and truck traffic halted, one took the opportunity to run around on the roadway without the fear of getting squished. You can just see the top of that crane moving alongside the Brooklyn side roadway bascule, above.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The NYC DOT bridge tender was definitely keeping an eye on me, to which I say “fair enough.” Imagine the sight of one such as myself, darting to and fro across the concrete roadway, hooting and hollering in my revel, camera waving about and filthy black raincoat whipping in the breeze.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Then the joy came to an end, as all joy must. A return to the ultra mundane occurred as the bridge returned to its resting state. One set his feet solidly to work and strode defiantly into Blissville, eyes fixed on the north, where Astoria eternally awaits.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

March!

That’s the Long island Expressway there, incidentally, at Borden Avenue and Van Dam. I love this point of view on it.


“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.


Events!

Slideshow and book signing, April 23rd, 6-8 p.m.

Join Newtown Creek Alliance at 520 Kingsland Avenue in Greenpoint, Brooklyn for a slideshow, talk, and book signing and see what the incredible landscape of Newtown Creek looks like when the sun goes down with Mitch Waxman. The event is free, but space is limited. Please RSVP here. Light refreshments served.

Click here to attend.

The Third Annual, All Day, 100% Toxic, Newtown Creekathon. April 28th.

The Creekathon will start at Hunter’s Point South in LIC, and end at the Kingsland Wildflowers rooftop in Greenpoint. It will swing through the neighborhoods of LIC, Blissville, Maspeth, Ridgewood, East Williamsburg, Bushwick, and Greenpoint, visiting the numerous bridges that traverse the Creek. While we encourage folks to join us for the full adventure, attendees are welcome to join and depart as they wish. A full route map and logistics are forthcoming.This is an all day event. Your guides on this 12+ mile trek will be Mitch Waxman and Will Elkins of the Newtown Creek Alliance, and some of their amazing friends will likely show up along the way.

Click here to attend.

virtually beyond

leave a comment »

My beloved Creek.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One has always indulged in the habit of taking periodic breaks from visiting that flooded valley of wonder called the Newtown Creek, in pursuance of occasionally allowing my immune system to scale back a bit to normal NYC levels. Now, New York is a pig sty, and often these days it feels like it’s dirtier than it’s been in decades. As a culture, we’ve done a great job of using “Public Service Announcements” to convince the citizenry of the the efficacy of condom usage, smoking cessation, and to get teenagers in the habit of not getting pregnant as often as in generations formerly. What we’ve stopped doing, however, is convincing people that littering is bad.

Street litter ends up in the sewer grates, and then into the water. It causes the NYC DEP, who operate that science fiction like sewer plant in Greenpoint – pictured above – no end of problems. They have to strain the solids from the otherwise liquidic flow which they refer to as “honey.” These solids become landfill, ultimately, which they would have anyway if just placed in those garbage baskets on nearly every street corner – they just wouldn’t be biohazardous waste as well, having been mingled with poop and sewage in the pipes.

That’s a lot of “funk.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That is what’s referred to as the “BP Amoco” tanks in Greenpoint, pictured above, although the facility has recently changed ownership. For the life of me, while I’m writing this I can’t remember the name of the new corporate entity who bought it. That’s a distribution yard. Petroleum products are barged in by a tugboat, off loaded into those tanks you see, and then pumped into delivery trucks for the proverbial “last mile.”

That’s also just about the dead bang center of the Greenpoint Oil Spill, in relation to the bulkheads of Newtown Creek that you’re looking at, at Greenpoint’s Apollo Street. Just east of here is the spot where the US Coast Guard spotted oil oozing from the bulkheads in the 1970’s, kicking off a decades long process which would eventually result in the entirety of Newtown Creek being named as a Federal Superfund site.

There’s a sediment bed down there under the water which contains a lot of gunk.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This one is looking across the Newtown Creek at Long Island City from the bulkheads at 520 Kingsland Avenue in Brooklyn, where Newtown Creek Alliance is now headquartered. That’s Sims Metal Recycling on the Queens side. From a maritime point of view, this is still an acutely active and well navigated section of the Newtown Creek. There’s multiple daily visits to the nearby Whale Creek tributary by NYC DEP sludge boats, tug and barge activity due to the presence of Sims in Queens, and Allocco Recycling in Greenpoint.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – a single barge carries the equivalent cargo of up to thirty eight semi trucks. That’s a lot of junk!

As you may have guessed by now, break time is over, and I’m once again communing with my beloved Newtown Creek.


“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.


Events!

Slideshow and book signing, April 23rd, 6-8 p.m.

Join Newtown Creek Alliance at 520 Kingsland Avenue in Greenpoint, Brooklyn for a slideshow, talk, and book signing and see what the incredible landscape of Newtown Creek looks like when the sun goes down with Mitch Waxman. The event is free, but space is limited. Please RSVP here. Light refreshments served.

Click here to attend.

The Third Annual, All Day, 100% Toxic, Newtown Creekathon. April 28th.

The Creekathon will start at Hunter’s Point South in LIC, and end at the Kingsland Wildflowers rooftop in Greenpoint. It will swing through the neighborhoods of LIC, Blissville, Maspeth, Ridgewood, East Williamsburg, Bushwick, and Greenpoint, visiting the numerous bridges that traverse the Creek. While we encourage folks to join us for the full adventure, attendees are welcome to join and depart as they wish. A full route map and logistics are forthcoming.This is an all day event. Your guides on this 12+ mile trek will be Mitch Waxman and Will Elkins of the Newtown Creek Alliance, and some of their amazing friends will likely show up along the way.

Click here to attend.

Written by Mitch Waxman

April 12, 2019 at 1:30 pm

ancient morbidities

with one comment

Scuttling, always scuttling…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It’s been so weird being out and about during the daylight hours, I tell ya. After several months of being absolutely nocturnal, my recent switchover to a diurnal existence has really been messing with my head. People? Freaking people? Gah.

What can I tell you, a humble narrator has always “done what you’ve got to do” and right now that involves early to bed and early to rise. I have no illusions about healthy, wealthy, and I’ve long ago stopped kidding myself about wise. Unfortunately, most of the stuff I’ve had to do in the last couple of weeks hasn’t been particularly interesting from a visual perspective, unless you’d find groups of people in a room talking about ultra mundane existential issues affecting Western Queens and Newtown Creek interesting. Luckily, a break from that sort of activity is upon me, and next week looks like it might end up being a good one for some adventure and what I would consider excitement.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There’s a used car lot of couple of blocks from my house whose fencelines are suffused with street facing banners and flags. The fence is also topped off with rolls of razor wire, which is how the flag above, like all of its fellows, has ended up in the condition they’re in. There’s a visual metaphor at work here, something about how paranoia about security tends to literally shred the American flag, but I’m not smart enough to phrase it properly. Also, the fetishization of the flag by corporate America should be commented upon as well, but there you are.

Shame, that, but it makes for a nice photo.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One has been experiencing something not unlike jet lag during this transition from nocturnal to diurnal living, which renders my experiences in a dream like manner. It’s also been difficult to form “granular” memories for the last week or so. I can tell you where I was and who I talked to, but what was said and done is more of a general impression than the highly specific dramaturge I can usually offer.

Long story short – dedicated bus lanes shared by bikes, vocational scholarships, green and solar roof tax incentives for industrial businesses, gray water harvesting in parks, commercial storefront composting programs, etc.


“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.


Events!

Slideshow and book signing, April 23rd, 6-8 p.m.

Join Newtown Creek Alliance at 520 Kingsland Avenue in Greenpoint, Brooklyn for a slideshow, talk, and book signing and see what the incredible landscape of Newtown Creek looks like when the sun goes down with Mitch Waxman. The event is free, but space is limited. Please RSVP here. Light refreshments served.

Click here to attend.

The Third Annual, All Day, 100% Toxic, Newtown Creekathon. April 28th.

The Creekathon will start at Hunter’s Point South in LIC, and end at the Kingsland Wildflowers rooftop in Greenpoint. It will swing through the neighborhoods of LIC, Blissville, Maspeth, Ridgewood, East Williamsburg, Bushwick, and Greenpoint, visiting the numerous bridges that traverse the Creek. While we encourage folks to join us for the full adventure, attendees are welcome to join and depart as they wish. A full route map and logistics are forthcoming.This is an all day event. Your guides on this 12+ mile trek will be Mitch Waxman and Will Elkins of the Newtown Creek Alliance, and some of their amazing friends will likely show up along the way.

Click here to attend.

Written by Mitch Waxman

April 11, 2019 at 1:00 pm

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