The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Archive for August 2012

bland face

leave a comment »

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A lot of this Newtown Creek thing involves going to meetings in Greenpoint- this monitoring committee or that alliance or just some gathering at which an unelected official or designated regulator will speak at. This consumes quite a bit of time, which is amplified in my case, as I walk to the place from Astoria. Not a long walk by any stretch, roughly 3 miles, but sometimes it feels as if I spend all my time walking to and from the Greenpoint Avenue Bridge.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Long have I been intrigued by this little fix a flat building which sits at the cross roads of Greenpoint Avenue, Van Dam St., and Review avenue on the Queens side in Blissville. Run down, it seems to be held together with tape and tacks, but there has always been something about the structure which has caught my eye. “Something” seems significant about it, given its location. Despite efforts at finding that something, it has always remained an enigma. Until now, thanks to the NYC Municipal Archives LUNA website.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This shot, of the Sobol Brothers SOCONY station at the intersection of Greenpoint and Van Dam, is from August 20, 1930- roughly 82 years ago. SOCONY, of course, stands for Standard Oil Company of New York. Standard used to franchise out filling stations, in the same manner as its modern day incarnation ExxonMobil does. The name SOCONY indicates that the signage went up after 1911 when the Standard Trust was broken up, incidentally.

click here for the giant sharp version of the NYCMA image.

Also, at the ever reliable, I found this ad for the company, which seems to have had several locations in Queens.

lurking spark

leave a comment »

– photo by Mitch Waxman

…Back in session…

So, whilst kicking the dust around in DUKBO a couple of weeks back (preparing for the recent Poison Cauldron tour), your humble narrator found himself on the eastern side of the Kosciuszko Bridge. Needing to clear my head of the myriad horrors witnessed on the west side and under the bridge, and to find a pack of gum on sale somewhere, my scuttling was directed toward Beadel Street with the eventual goal of crossing under the BQE- the technical border of Greenpoint and Bushwick.

The Real Estate Industrial Complex view of this border is somewhat different, of course, and to them- Williamsburg’s eastern border is probably Lake Ronkonkoma.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Moving in my normal fashion, this scene was noticed, but I’m afraid that I startled these fellows somewhat. Can’t blame them, imagine what they saw, a shabby monster covered in Creek dust. They were building these odd bug cars which seemed to be constructed upon the chassis of a golf cart or small security vehicle.

Weird enough to notice, I waved and got some shots of them.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Of course, the second I put my camera away, that actor who plays the “Mayhem” character in the Allstate Insurance ads popped into view, but I was already moving on to other locales. A tour needed to be fleshed out!

Written by Mitch Waxman

August 30, 2012 at 10:51 pm

still quite submerged

leave a comment »

This is a reblog of “quite submerged“, originally posted just over a year ago. The whole illness thing is just about conquered, working on catching up.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Today, I’m going to be uncharacteristically quiet, it’s all about the pictures. I was dreaming about flying again, in the manner of a super hero, and pulled these shots (some of which you’ve seen in other posts) together.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Whenever I can attain some altitude, an attempt is made to record it, especially in the low lying areas of western Queens and North Brooklyn. In this shot, it was the Roosevelt Island Tram which elevated my point of view.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Attempts and entreaties have been made- but so far- nobody in Long Island City has offered me roof or high floor access to shoot from one of the tower buildings. Haven’t asked anyone on Roosevelt Island yet, but the views of Queensboro and the East River must be glorious at night from there.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I have been to the Ravell Hotel roof, which is in the lower right hand corner of the shot, which offers amazing views of the bridge and whose vantage lines up with the burning thermonuclear eye of God itself for “Manhattanhenge“.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

In Long Island City, the industrial zones are typically low lying in character, with few buildings exceeding 4 stories. Extreme reticence has been exhibited by property owners, when approached with requests of photographic access to their roofs or grounds. Insurance liability is the usual reply.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The ultimate viewing platform, of course, would be from the Citibank Megalith. Like Odin on his hildskalf, one might observe the entire world from up there, seeing the in the perspective of that thing in its summit which cannot possibly exist and does not think or breathe, yet hungers.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

From up there, the entire soup bowl of New York Harbor is available for viewing. The megalith is visible from many faraway points in the harbor, and if you can see it- it can see you. On a clear day, the thing in its summit (were it to exist) can see the Narrows and Long Island Sound and Jamaica Bay and the Hudson.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Terrestrial and aquatic vantages have been my only succor in recent months, but an urge to look down from above is upon me, and scry the ancient patterns of life which invisibly govern the present City.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Probably why I’m dreaming of flying…

old bugs

with 2 comments

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Definitely on the mend, for my mind returns to thoughts of vengeance and contemplations upon the lamentations of my enemies. Still not quite at 100 percent, but the pernicious microorganisms which have infected my flesh seem to have realized their mistake in entering me.

Why not check out some lesser known Lovecraft stories while ill, I always ask- hence- check out the ineluctable pleasures contained at

From “Old Bugs” by HP Lovecraft

Sheehan’s Pool Room, which adorns one of the lesser alleys in the heart of Chicago’s stockyard district, is not a nice place. Its air, freighted with a thousand odours such as Coleridge may have found at Cologne, too seldom knows the purifying rays of the sun; but fights for space with the acrid fumes of unnumbered cheap cigars and cigarettes which dangle from the coarse lips of unnumbered human animals that haunt the place day and night. But the popularity of Sheehan’s remains unimpaired; and for this there is a reason—a reason obvious to anyone who will take the trouble to analyse the mixed stenches prevailing there. Over and above the fumes and sickening closeness rises an aroma once familiar throughout the land, but now happily banished to the back streets of life by the edict of a benevolent government—the aroma of strong, wicked whiskey—a precious kind of forbidden fruit indeed in this year of grace 1950.

Sheehan’s is the acknowledged centre to Chicago’s subterranean traffic in liquor and narcotics, and as such has a certain dignity which extends even to the unkempt attachés of the place; but there was until lately one who lay outside the pale of that dignity—one who shared the squalor and filth, but not the importance, of Sheehan’s. He was called “Old Bugs”, and was the most disreputable object in a disreputable environment. What he had once been, many tried to guess; for his language and mode of utterance when intoxicated to a certain degree were such as to excite wonderment; but what he was, presented less difficulty—for “Old Bugs”, in superlative degree, epitomised the pathetic species known as the “bum” or the “down-and-outer”. Whence he had come, no one could tell. One night he had burst wildly into Sheehan’s, foaming at the mouth and screaming for whiskey and hasheesh; and having been supplied in exchange for a promise to perform odd jobs, had hung about ever since, mopping floors, cleaning cuspidors and glasses, and attending to an hundred similar menial duties in exchange for the drink and drugs which were necessary to keep him alive and sane.

Read the rest at

Written by Mitch Waxman

August 28, 2012 at 4:13 pm

Posted in animals, insects

Tagged with , , , ,

facing away

leave a comment »

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Apologies for the lack of update today, as a humble narrator is currently under assault from some sort of viral fever and associated malaise. On the mend, should be back up to snuff in a day or two. Count on light fare for the next couple of days at this- your Newtown… cough cough… Pentacle.

in the meantime, check out these reports on the “Poison Cauldron” tour I conducted over the weekend:


At Walking tour looks at Greenpoint’s not so wonderful industrial history

Written by Mitch Waxman

August 27, 2012 at 5:06 pm

belching aperture

with one comment

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This Maritime Sunday, a psychologically overwhelmed and physically exhausted narrator presents to you the little Miss Yvette tug, as it motors down the Kill Van Kull. That’s… Staten Island… in the background, and the red, black, and blue tarp witnessed back there is part of a road salt operation called “Atlantic Salt”.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Call sign WDE7815, Miss Yvette is not a terribly large or fast tug- with a maximum recorded speed of 7.8 knots (9mph) and a length of some 22 meters (roughly 72 feet). She is owned and operated by the Sterling Equipment company, and was built in 1975. An “inland tug”, Miss Yvette boasts a 1200 HP twin screw drive, and is 106 gross tons.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

She used to be blue and white, having spent some of her career with Hallan Marine, but is a proud scarlet these days. These shots were captured while onboard a Working Harbor Committee trip to the Port of Newark Elizabeth, just a few weeks ago.

Long Island Zen (reblog)

with 2 comments


Reblogged from June of 2009,

Know this spot?

View from behind the midtown tunnel by you.

Long Island City -photo by Mitch Waxman 

It’s a backroad, by LIC standards.

It’s 51st Avenue and what would be 21st street, and it smells heavily from the garbage bins of a commercial fish butcher just up the block on the corner of 23rd street. During the festering heat of the late summer in New York, crossing the street- if not avoiding the block all together- is advisable. Across the street are fallow lots of illegally dumped industrial garbage and the Crows picking it over.

Crows are metal collectors, usually immigrants who have a tradition of “ship-breaking” or “shanty towns” in their country of origin. They see value in what others see as trash.

Metal buyers in Long Island City and especially Greenpoint and East Williamsburg pay, by the pound, for the collected materials. If copper wire is found, the collector is expected to burn off the insulation, despite the toxicity of doing so. Its not the buyers problem, he just wants the commodity. Want to see it in action- hang out on the corner of Greenpoint avenue and Moultrie St. in Greenpoint, BrooklynThis is recycling.

Circus Train by you.

Pretty darn close to 51st Avenue and what would be 21st street- It’s the Circus Train!!! -photo by Mitch Waxman 

In 1908, a fire at the nearby Blanchard Building- which housed the works of J.F. Blanchard, makers of fireproof doors and shutters- was started by an inferno at the Pratt & Lambert varnish works next door. The fire soon began to spread and a great crowd watched as groups of firemen tried to battle the out of control blaze. The great fear was that the nearby Columbia Paper Bag company would be set alight, which would provide ample fuel for an inferno that might spread beyond Borden Avenue and to the shores of the Newtown Creek.

nytimes archive article here:

“LONG ISLAND CITY FIRE A SIGHT FOR THOUSANDS; A Varnish Plant and Door Factory Are Destroyed. MANY TRAINS ARE HELD UP Poor Water Supply Responsible for $300,000 Loss, Says Croker — Fireman Badly Hurt.

There is a Blanchard Building on the site today, and it does seem quite fireproof, although Blanchard is long gone. J.F. Blanchard eventually merged with the John W. Rapp company and became the United States Metal Products Company.

View the  Blanchard Building in a google map, clicking streetview- from the LIE- its the large structure with the two billboards.

Blanchard manufactured hollow, sheet-metal, fireproof doors. Their Type A and Type B were endorsed by the National Board of Fire Underwriters in Chicago. Installation of thee doors would reduce fire insurance costs by a significant margin. A major influence on the bottom line here in the dense agglutination of industry here on the Newtown Creek.

 from beneath the Queens Midtown Expressway by you.

Down under the Long Island Expressway- DULIE -photo by Mitch Waxman

51st avenue dead ends at the Long Island Railroad tracks, and what would be 21st street is a pedestrian rail bridge (which Forgotten-Ny once christened “the 21st street Bridge“) that goes over the train tracks and under the Highway, which channels the constant stream of vehicular traffic (some 83,900 cars and trucks a day) flowing east out of the toll plaza at the Midtown Tunnel to the highways threading out through Queens and ultimately to Long Island.

note- this bridge has a lamppost which was one of the ones tagged with “occult” grafiti, as discussed in an earlier post.

Best one of this batch by you.

LIRR crosses Borden Avenue -photo by Mitch Waxman

Nearby, the 800 pound gorilla crosses Borden Avenue at grade (street level). One of the few places in New York City that the Long Island Rail Road still does so.

These tracks lead between the Hunters Point Avenue station and the Long Island City station, and up until the 1950′s such grade crossings were a constant nuisance and mortal threat to the citizens of Long Island City- here in the Newtown Pentacle.

Written by Mitch Waxman

August 25, 2012 at 8:10 pm

%d bloggers like this: