The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

most unplaceable

leave a comment »

Odds and ends, needles and thread.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On this day in 404 B.C., the Peloponnesian War ended when the Spartans crushed the Athenians with a naval blockade. Sometime later, in 1792 A.D. the French rolled out the guillotine for the first time, ending the life of a highwayman named Nicolas J. Pelletier. In 1859, ground was broken for the Suez Canal by French and English engineers. The Spanish American War officially began with a declaration by the United States Government on April 25 in 1898. In 1945, American and Soviet troops joined up at the River Elbe in Germany. In 1953, Crick and Watson publish their paper describing DNA, and in 1960 the US Navy Submarine Triton competes the first submerged circumnavigation of the earth. In 1983, Pioneer 10 travelled beyond the orbit of Pluto. In 1940, Al Pacino was born. So was Edward R. Murrow, but that was in 1908.

Today is also World Malaria Day.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On this day in 1901, New York became the first state to require automobiles to carry license plates. During the First World War, the disastrous Gallipoli Campaign was launched in 1915. In 1945, what would become the United Nations sat down to chat, plan, and organize in San Francisco. Polaroid introduced the instant camera to customers in 1972, and the Hubble Space Telescope was deployed from the Space Shuttle Discovery in 1990.

Personally, I’m stuck in front of the computer at HQ all day today and have an abundance of tasks to accomplish.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One will be writing tour descriptions for upcoming excursions around the fabled Newtown Creek and larger harbor, developing the shots I managed to squeak out last night before it started raining again, and generally servicing the needs of an increasingly elderly dog named Zuzu today. A busy few days are in front of me, which will be carrying the camera across the concretized realities of the great human hive, with everything culminating in a tour I’m conducting with my pal Kevin Walsh from Forgotten-NY for the Newtown Historical Society on Sunday. Link for tix is below, which are only $5.

Come with?


Upcoming Tours and Events

April 29 – Bushwick-Ridgewood borderline Walking Tour – with Newtown Historical Society.

Join Kevin Walsh and Mitch Waxman as they take us along the border of Brooklyn and Queens, Bushwick and Ridgewood, with stops at English Kills, an historic colonial Dutch home, and all kinds of fun and quirky locations. End with an optional dinner on Myrtle Avenue before heading back to the Myrtle-Wyckoff subway station. Tix are only $5 so reserve your space today!
Tickets and more details here.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Advertisements

sleeping quarters

leave a comment »

Hitting the shutter button in Blissville.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

After having attended a community meeting at Point B (Blissville) the other night, regarding the homeless shelter situation, one decided to scuttle back to Point A (Astoria) and take advantage of the warming climatological conditions photographically. Pictured above is a line in the sand known as the Fairfield Inn, whose owners decided to answer an RFP – Request for Proposal – from the City’s Department of Homeless Services and convert their hotel to a 154 room homeless shelter. The shot is from Van Dam Street.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Pictured above is the inviting street scene here along Van Dam, with its ever present traffic.

Were the City actually serious about its responsibility towards helping the unhoused, officialdom might be looking into finding ways to create, sustain, and expand blue collar employment but that’s not how our Mayor thinks. His current plan is to expand and extend the usage of Homeless Hotels in pursuance of ending their use, which is the same logic that addicts offer when going on a binge the night before entering rehab.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Just two blocks away is where Van Dam feeds into the Long Island Expressway. Three blocks in the other direction is the Newtown Creek.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Blissville is largely an M1, or heavy manufacturing area, according to City Planning. The shot above was captured directly across the street from the Fairfield Inn.

Inviting, ain’t it?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s the enigmatic “Blissville Flatiron” pictured above, an apartment house on Van Dam Street.

One has looked into the history of the flatiron in the past, but never too deeply. I like not knowing something about the Creeklands, and would prefer to preserve the mystery. The only clue to its past is on a concrete panel which reads “S.M. 1916.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My path home to Point A carried me, as always, to Newtown Creek. The shot above looks northwards along the Dutch Kills tributary towards the Hunetrs Point Avenue Bridge.


Upcoming Tours and Events

April 29 – Bushwick-Ridgewood borderline Walking Tour – with Newtown Historical Society.

Join Kevin Walsh and Mitch Waxman as they take us along the border of Brooklyn and Queens, Bushwick and Ridgewood, with stops at English Kills, an historic colonial Dutch home, and all kinds of fun and quirky locations. End with an optional dinner on Myrtle Avenue before heading back to the Myrtle-Wyckoff subway station. Tix are only $5 so reserve your space today!
Tickets and more details here.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

April 24, 2018 at 1:00 pm

rather gruesomely

with one comment

Like every other bit of wind blown trash in NYC, this is where I belong.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Despite being a shambling and sclerotic mess, nevertheless does a humble narrator scuttle on about and around the Newtown Creek in the middle of the night. Recent endeavor found one in Blissville to attend a meeting of the newly created Blissville Civic Association, which the community has formed in response to the Mayor dropping multiple homeless shelters into their midst, and afterwards one set out to a nearby tributary of that legendary cataract of urban malfeasance known as the Newtown Creek – specifically Long Island City’s Dutch Kills.

That’s the Borden Avenue Bridge in the shot above, but don’t ask me where the shot was captured from as I’d have to confess to a misdemeanor. Suffice to say that every nook and cranny is known to me. It’s all I’ve got, ultimately.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Either the world happens to you, or you happen to the world.

That’s the Long Island Expressway above, riding on a truss bridge that carries it some one hundred and six feet over the waters of Dutch Kills. The height was determined by the demands of the War Department of the Federal Government, who had laid down the law to State of New York that the LIE would need to allow egress for maritime vessels on Dutch Kills, and specifically vessels of the Naval surface warfare type.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One has read some of the planning documents for this section of the LIE, which is officially the Queens Midtown Expressway, and sections of said plans discussed the need to defend Newtown Creek and the larger harbor of New York against a potential maritime invasion by German naval forces in the run up to WW2. One of the guiding principles was the defense of the industrial zones, and the East River corridor specifically. The Navy’s theory was that the Kriegsmarine would enter New York Harbor via the Narrows between Brooklyn and Staten Island (there was no bridge there in the 1930’s) and that would be the most strategic and effective spot to interdict the German Navy. Accordingly, in the case of such an invasion they would have stationed Destroyer class vessels in Newtown Creek and the Gowanus (as well as other places) to act as protective bulwarks for the industrial operations.

The Navy plan also intended for the Destroyers to fire artillery southwards over Brooklyn to shell the Narrows on vast parabolas. The people in Bay Ridge would have loved that one, I tell you, had it been commonly known. Fuhgeddaboutit. 

Upcoming Tours and Events

April 29 – Bushwick-Ridgewood borderline Walking Tour – with Newtown Historical Society.

Join Kevin Walsh and Mitch Waxman as they take us along the border of Brooklyn and Queens, Bushwick and Ridgewood, with stops at English Kills, an historic colonial Dutch home, and all kinds of fun and quirky locations. End with an optional dinner on Myrtle Avenue before heading back to the Myrtle-Wyckoff subway station. Tix are only $5 so reserve your space today!
Tickets and more details here.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

any interment

leave a comment »

The pockets of my filthy black raincoat were filled with garlic bulbs, as a note.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As mentioned in yesterday’s post, one has found his urges constantly frustrated of late by inclement clime, and when a brief window of atmospheric opportunity opened the other night I grabbed the “night kit” and ran towards the East River coastline of Queens. One spent a couple of hours haunting the area directly surrounding the Queensboro Bridge in Long Island City, plucking photons out of the air as it were, in pursuit of several long exposure images.

Pictured above, looking west from the staircase that once led up, through a now permanently locked steel door, to the trolley station which found on the southern side of the Queensboro Bridge. On the northerly side, there used to be a vehicle elevator which allowed egress to Welfare or Roosevelt Island.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

These shots were from the end of the endeavor, and a humble narrator was scuttling inexorably towards the IND Queens Plaza subway station a few blocks eastwards. It was beginning to rain, after all, but at the time of these captures it was still more of a precipitating mist than it was rain. Accordingly, a point was made to setup the camera in spots where either overhead infrastructure provided cover, or in the case of the shot above – in the “rain shadow” of a large building.

While the shutter is open, one makes it a point of scanning his vicinity for potential threats. In the case of Queens Plaza and the stretches of arterial streets overflown by the elevated subway tracks, that includes looking up.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

At the time of night which these shots were captured, the legions of vampires which dwell in the overhead steel are likely blocks and blocks away on Vernon Avenue. They siege the NY Blood Center on a nightly basis, it is said. Go ahead, ask the NYPD or the Blood Center people about the Queens Plaza vampires… they’ll probably tell you there’s no such thing.

I’d offer that if you’re visiting the area nocturnally, you might want to wear a turtleneck sweater, or, be like me and fill your coat pockets with garlic bulbs. As a note, I cooked the garlic off the next day on a low flame with some olive oil and onions, using them as a base for a very tasty pot of spaghetti sauce. The trick with garlic is to cook it at a low heat setting to keep it sweet, high heat makes it turn bitter. A pinch of salt, a few chopped up tomatoes, and some pepper flakes and you’re good to go.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Back to the existential terror, though, back in Queens Plaza. That’s the 7 train up there, exiting Queensboro Plaza’s IRT station tracks and heading towards Court Square and eventually Manhattan. This is one of the spots, by the way, where the screeching of the tracks is impossible to escape, and even with headphones in my ears playing music I was painfully aware of its passing. The heavy traffic… the sound of Subway wheels screaming… why anyone would want to live in Queens Plaza is just something I’ve never been able to fathom. To each his own, I guess you can learn to ignore everything if your try…

Except Vampires, you can’t ignore Vampires.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One ascribes, or at least aspires, to the philosophical ground espoused by the late Dr. King to judge people by the content of their minds rather than the color of their skin. This point of view collapses, however, when the skin is bluish gray and mottled with black and green splotches. Clothing and hair covered in congealed scabs? Glowing red eyes? Translucent teeth and long broken fingernails? I hate you on sight and will use every power at my command to destroy you, which includes nailing you to a nighted wall which will be shortly be lit by the burning thermonuclear eye of God itself as it rises in the eastern sky. Of course, from my perspective, the eastern sky is over Jackson Heights, but there you are.

Brrr… Vampires.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My reveries came to an end as the precipitating mist began to become actual droplets of water hurtling down from on high, as evinced by the shot above. One packed things up, as it were, and made my way to the underground Subway system which hosts the line which travels towards Newtown Pentacle HQ here in Astoria.

Don’t get me started about what lives in the sweating concrete bunkers found below.

After all… who can guess, all there is, that might be buried down there?


Upcoming Tours and Events

April 29 – Bushwick-Ridgewood borderline Walking Tour – with Newtown Historical Society.

Join Kevin Walsh and Mitch Waxman as they take us along the border of Brooklyn and Queens, Bushwick and Ridgewood, with stops at English Kills, an historic colonial Dutch home, and all kinds of fun and quirky locations. End with an optional dinner on Myrtle Avenue before heading back to the Myrtle-Wyckoff subway station. Tix are only $5 so reserve your space today!
Tickets and more details here.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

April 20, 2018 at 11:00 am

aspirant traits

leave a comment »

Where it all started, and fear of Vampires, in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Newtown Pentacle’s first posting was back in 2009. One had been obsessively photographing Western Queens and the Newtown Creek waterfront for a couple of years at that point, but as I had somehow blundered into becoming a Parade Marshall for the Queensboro Bridge’s Centennial back in 2009, I figured it would be a good idea to have something to “show” if the occasion popped up. A lot has happened since then, of course, but one does like to return to where this weird journey of mine started periodically. Saying that, I didn’t know about the vampires back in 2009.

Given that the intervals between periods of windy rain and precipitating mist for the last few weeks have been few and far between, when the weather forecast has indicated that I’d be able to pry the lens cap off without fear of the glass becoming instantly spotted with rain drops for a couple of hours, I’ve taken it. The other night, I walked down the East River coast from Astoria, through Ravenswood, and then back upland to Queens Plaza following the great bridge.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It’s a lonely spot for a pedestrian here under the Queensboro. The Queensbridge houses are on the north side of the bridge, on the south there’s a couple of boutique hotels and a rapidly shrinking industrial zone. To the ultimate south is Tower Town at Hunters Point with its logarithmically expanding population. Other than a few cars passing through, however, a humble narrator was all by himself, just the way he likes it.

It was windier than I’d have liked it to be, which caused me no end of tripod trouble at the water’s edge, but once I started moving eastwards towards Queens Plaza, the wind factor dropped off a bit and I was able to do my thing without the camera shuddering when a gust blew through. The price I’m paying for the dramatic lessening of weight in my fancy new carbon fiber tripod is one involving stability, since it only weighs about two pounds. The three and change extra pounds associated with my aluminum tripod compensated for windy atmospheres, but I’d often have an aching back afterwards from shlepping the thing around for miles.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

While I was shooting the photo above, and looking out for the Vampires who dwell in the steel of the bridge and that of the subway elevated tracks feeding into Queens Plaza, I was basically standing in one of the angled box girders which meet the ground. As I had a good thirty seconds to wait while the shutter was open, I put my ear to the girder and spent a few seconds listening to the harmonics of the Queensboro Bridge.

Each one of the great bridges of New York City generates its own unique sound or harmonic, which is generally beyond the range of human hearing unless you press your head against the steel and allow the vibratory frequency to transfer to the skull and thereby the inner ear.

The chorus of the great bridges, I am certain, can only be described as being the music of the spheres.


Upcoming Tours and Events

April 29 – Bushwick-Ridgewood borderline Walking Tour – with Newtown Historical Society.

Join Kevin Walsh and Mitch Waxman as they take us along the border of Brooklyn and Queens, Bushwick and Ridgewood, with stops at English Kills, an historic colonial Dutch home, and all kinds of fun and quirky locations. End with an optional dinner on Myrtle Avenue before heading back to the Myrtle-Wyckoff subway station. Tix are only $5 so reserve your space today!
Tickets and more details here.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

April 19, 2018 at 1:30 pm

frightened them

leave a comment »

The Queens Cobbler survived the cold, and Liberty walks the streets of Astoria.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I’ve been spotting evidence, once again, that the Queens Cobbler is active and amongst us. A likely serial killer who leaves behind a single shoe as a taunt to both community and law enforcement, the Cobbler has been a subject mentioned so many times at this – your Newtown Pentacle – that the monster has actually tracked me down and left one of his ghoulish trophies on the ornamental fence surrounding Newtown Pentacle HQ last Christmas. One refuses to be cowed.

The boot above was spotted recently on Northern Blvd. nearby 39th avenue.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Over in the still industrial section of Long Island City, not too far from Van Dam Street, the shoe above was noticed while a humble narrator was scuttling past. It is my belief that someday will a commercial self storage room, or an untenanted storeroom in some old factory, be opened and within will be hundreds and hundreds of single shoes – the mates to the ones which have been documented at this publication over the years. I believe the Cobbler keeps on of their victim’s shoes as a trophy, and discards the other as a taunt.

One would be hard pressed to describe the particular footwear of a missing loved one to the Police, I admit.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On a completely different note, this fellow has been wandering up and down Broadway here in Astoria throughout tax preparation season. He’s apparently employed by a local shop, whose corporate branding revolves around the Statue of Liberty, that handles financial matters to act as a living signboard and busker to drive potential customers to their door.

I’ve enjoyed a brief conversation with the gentleman, who attests that the costume is actually quite warm and comfortable, which he’s been glad of given the recent cold snap. Everybody has to make a living, I guess.


Upcoming Tours and Events

April 29 – Bushwick-Ridgewood borderline Walking Tour – with Newtown Historical Society.

Join Kevin Walsh and Mitch Waxman as they take us along the border of Brooklyn and Queens, Bushwick and Ridgewood, with stops at English Kills, an historic colonial Dutch home, and all kinds of fun and quirky locations. End with an optional dinner on Myrtle Avenue before heading back to the Myrtle-Wyckoff subway station. Tix are only $5 so reserve your space today!
Tickets and more details here.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

April 18, 2018 at 1:00 pm

haggard aspect

with 7 comments

I’m an idiot, but it’s kind of fun inside my head.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

So, last week I was going to some “thing” in Greenpoint, and found myself walking along Meserole Avenue. At 128 Meserole, you’ll notice the 1880’s era church building which was once occupied by the Faith Gospel Church but which, since the 1950’s, has been the HQ of the Pentecostal congregation of the “Church of God.” (as a note, thanks to my pal and Greenpoint historian Geoff Cobb, who filled me in on the identity of the original tenants of 128 Meserole) What caught my eye, in truth, was the lettering on the side of the church van, which I initially read not as “Church of God of Greenpoint” but instead as “Church of, God of Greenpoint.”

This filled me with a sarcastic glee, as I began to contemplate what worship of the God of Greenpoint – or GOG – might entail. I’m sure yoga would be a part of the ceremonial liturgy, and that the priestesses would be devastatingly beautiful hipster women with full sleeve tattoos.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Mr. Cobb informed me that the original 19th century congregation housed here were evangelicals who pursued missionary activities. As mentioned above, the current occupants are Pentecostals. The building sits just outside the Greenpoint Historic District, and the reason that I had to ask Mr. Cobb for his help was that any attempt at discovering the story of the structure quickly resulted in hundreds and hundreds of Real Estate Industrial Complex web pages which reduced 128 Meserole down to mere equity valuations. From the REIC’s POV, the actual worth of any historic cultural institution’s domicile is reduced to mere money, and everything is just a commodity to be bought or sold.

The God of Greenpoint might just be Mammon. Maybe Asmodeus.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There very well might be some pagan deity who could claim the title of “God of Greenpoint,” an elder devil reviled by the Keskachauge who wanders the subterrene caverns beneath the neighborhood seeking a pathway to the surface. The ancestral Lenape culture, which the Keskachauge were a part of, acknowledged spirits both dark and light. The God of Greenpoint… could it be slithering around in deep set tidal and hydrological voids, where centuried petroleum products sit atop the water table, beneath the thick crystalline crust and elluvial underpinnings which support our concretized modernity? If GOG dwells below North Brooklyn, then where is MAGOG?

Who can guess, all there is, that could be buried down there?


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

April 17, 2018 at 11:00 am

%d bloggers like this: