The Newtown Pentacle

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Archive for April 2015

nothing now

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Twirling, ever twirling.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The POV at the 40th Lowery Street stop on the 7 train causes my jaw to drop everytime I see it. Given what it costs for acccess to the observation deck at “Top of the Rock” or the Empire State Building, the MTA really delivers value for money – view wise – here on Queens Blvd. Turn your head to the left – you can spy the Kosciuszko Bridge, look straight ahead and its the whole soup bowl of Manhattan, and to the right there’s Hells Gate Bridge. This view is fortuitous, as at least you have some diversion while wondering when the train will arrive.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This spring, I’m trying to mix things up a bit and do some shooting in parts of Western Queens which aren’t part of my normal “thing.” There’s a bit of tumult going on between my ears at the moment, so the curative – as always – is to just get out and do some photographing in challenging places. To wit, the combination of bright and dark offered by the 7 tracks as they exit Woodside and head towards Jackson Heights along Roosevelt Avenue. Exposing for both lighting conditions is a wicked conumndrum, camera wise, but all of the shooting I’ve been experimenting with in the underground system pays a certain dividend when attempting this sort of thing.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Roosevelt Avenue is, of course, pretty much antithetical to anyone who desires solitude or quiet. The blasting sound of passing trains that cascades down form the elevated’s steel is monstrous. One thing which always staggers the European University people whom I’ll conduct tours of Newtown Creek or Long Island City for is noise. It seems that the EU is several decades ahead of us in terms of what they legally define as “pollution” and that endemic urban background noise is taken as seriously as bad water or air.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Tours –

May 3, 2015 –
DUBPO, Down Under the Pulaski Bridge Onramp
with Newtown Creek Alliance Historian Mitch Waxman, a free tour offered as part of Janeswalk 2015, click here for tickets.

May 16, 2015 –
13 Steps Around Dutch Kills with Atlas Obscura

with Newtown Creek Alliance Historian Mitch Waxman, click here for details and tickets.

May 31, 2015 –
Newtown Creek Boat Tour
with Working Harbor Committee and Newtown Creek Alliance Historian Mitch Waxman, click here for tickets.

Written by Mitch Waxman

April 30, 2015 at 11:00 am

resting and brooding

with 5 comments

Contemplative perambulations, in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Mighty Triborough, as observed from the elevated Subway station on 31st street here in Astoria. One will admit that the depression era aesthethics of Robert Moses’s empire building span over the East River has always appealed to me. Currently, anything that causes me to forget about the various pedantic existential issues regularly offered up by the human infestation – which plague my days – is nepenthe, and a welcome relief from the coarse bleating of the swine.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Regular readers of this, your Newtown Pentacle, would be stunned to hear the things a humble narrator has been accused of. I’m “some sort of shill for the real estate industrial complex,” laying the ground for them to develop condos along Newtown Creek – that’s my favorite. Recently, someone accused me of distorting facts and propagating a right wing agenda, and compared me to Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh. Others have asked if I’m seeking some sort of political appointment or secretly working for some candidate for elective office. A representative of City Planning once uttered “Who do you think you are?.” Funnily enough, most of my accusers are in fact politcal operators and members of the “establishment.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

What I can tell you is this – I’m some shmuck with a camera who wanders around and researches the history of Western Queens and North Brooklyn obsessively. Certain issues or topics force me to “get involved” such as Newtown Creek, or the disastrous plans which the Big Little Mayor have announced for the Sunnyside Yards. Unlike most of my critics, I actually live here. To them, I say go back to your apartments in Manhattan or move here and get some actual skin in the game.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Tours –

May 3, 2015 –
DUBPO, Down Under the Pulaski Bridge Onramp
with Newtown Creek Alliance Historian Mitch Waxman, a free tour offered as part of Janeswalk 2015, click here for tickets.

May 16, 2015 –
13 Steps Around Dutch Kills with Atlas Obscura

with Newtown Creek Alliance Historian Mitch Waxman, click here for details and tickets.

May 31, 2015 –
Newtown Creek Boat Tour
with Working Harbor Committee and Newtown Creek Alliance Historian Mitch Waxman, click here for tickets.

Written by Mitch Waxman

April 29, 2015 at 11:00 am

laboring vision

with one comment

Is this the Queens Cobbler at work, or a copycat.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As long time readers of this, your Newtown Pentacle, are aware – I’ve been tracking the so called “single shoe phenomena” around Western Queens and North Brooklyn and have postulated that there might be a serial killer moving amongst us whom I’ve begun to refer to as “The Queens Cobbler.” The Cobbler, if I’m correct, leaves behind these bits of footwear as a taunting message to the community that he or she is amongst us. Disturbingly, for the last couple of weeks, the Cobbler’s pattern seems to have changed. As illustrated in the shot above, it looks like an entire family was taken on Skillman Avenue nearby the Sunnyside Yards, and that all six of their shoes were left behind.

Could there be a Queens Cobbler copycat at work?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Over on Wythe Street in Williamsburg, a pair of child sized boots was observed, but this is clearly not the work of the Cobbler nor the pseudo Cobbler. Quite obviously, some hipster child found themselves lured into the baited rodent trap observed in the shot, losing their shoes as they crawled into the hole to get to the succulent offerings contained therein.

Whilst one applauds the idea for reducing the density of the human infestation in Williamsburg, this is truly “over the top.” In that tony neighborhood, the smarter move would be to set up a porta potty that promises free wifi, which would cause all the beautiful people to line up for a chance to enter the thing. Conductive plates would activate once the door was closed, parbroiling the Hipster within and leaving naught but an ash covered iphone and a bit of carbon dust.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Observed over in Glendale last weekend, something of a different character. This fence adjoins Highland Park, where the fabulous Ridgewood Reservoir is found. One can speculate about what occurred here, and as to why the iron fencing is bent out “Superman style,” but as with the various altars or the occult found in area cemeteries and the Queens Cobbler – one who inquires too deply into the mysteries of Queens might find out a bit more than they’ve bargained on.

Additionally, Working Harbor Committee officiates informed me last night that the May 31 Newtown Creek boat tour tickets are selling briskly – so if you’ve been sitting on the fence about whether or not to come along or not, now is the time to order and reserve your spot.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Tours –

May 3, 2015 –
DUBPO, Down Under the Pulaski Bridge Onramp
with Newtown Creek Alliance Historian Mitch Waxman, a free tour offered as part of Janeswalk 2015, click here for tickets.

May 16, 2015 –
13 Steps Around Dutch Kills with Atlas Obscura

with Newtown Creek Alliance Historian Mitch Waxman, click here for details and tickets.

May 31, 2015 –
Newtown Creek Boat Tour
with Working Harbor Committee and Newtown Creek Alliance Historian Mitch Waxman, click here for tickets.

Written by Mitch Waxman

April 28, 2015 at 11:00 am

mixed anger

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Detestation of convention, polity, and custom

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One has mentioned the amazing sense of finality felt when encountering the soon to be absent Kosciuscko Bridge before. This bridge is significant, and its replacement more so, as its opening in 1939 signalled the beginning of the era of Robert Moses in NYC, and the replacement of this first link in his chain of intracity highway projects that would become the Brooklyn Queens Expressway means that Moses is finally gone.

Don’t mention that to our current Mayor, of course, whose grandiose plans for “affordable housing” are essentially the “urban renewal” projects of our modern age. For those of you not in the know on that term, “Urban Renewal” was the blanket term used by Mr. Moses and his cohorts for destroying existing neighborhoods and replacing them with federally funded housing projects.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A creature such as myself loathes the souless nature of the “towers in the park” concept promulgated by the French Crypto Fascist LeCorbusier and his mid century devotees, like Robert Moses. It is my belief that many of the underlying societal forces which drove and continue to drive crime in public housing emanates from the depersonalization and alienation from the surrounding neighborhoods which is engendered by life in the “houses.” Urban Renewal era projects like Stuyvesant Town or the Ravenswood or Cooper houses destroy the street grid and eliminate the sense of ownership residents of traditional blocks feel for their corner or block. Jane Jacobs was entirely correct about this.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The bridge replacement is entirely necessary, of course, as the old gray truss bridge over my beloved Creek is in a sorry state. One wonders what unexpected consequence the new span will bring us – will the corrected patterns of “flow” for automobile traffic do to the southern extents of Sunnyside or northern edges or Greenpoint?

Only time will tell, I guess. When the Queensboro or Alfred E. Smith housing projects went up they were meant to stem a wave of crime and youth violence thought to be caused by life in dilapidated tenements. Within twenty years of their construction, both of these projects ending up becoming bigger problems than those which they sought to solve, and the slum conditions which they sought to clear had expanded and intensified around these projects to encompass entire regions of the greater City.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It is truly astounding, seeing that none of the lessons of the 20th century seem to be part of our current Mayor’s agenda. There is a dearth of affordable housing in NYC, you just cant get there and back again from Manhattan easily as this building stock is found in central areas of Brooklyn and Queens which are only accessible by the automobile – thanks to Mr. Moses.

If we have the municipal bucks to even consider decking the Sunnyside Yards, why not think in truly grand terms and extend or create new Subway lines for the first time in nearly a century. If you build it, the forces of the capitalist market will take care of all the housing you need. Building Soviet style blocks in the LeCorbusier style will only magnify the problems of NYC’s most vulnerable classes, not solve them. Then again, maybe thats what the Bureaucrats want – job security.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Tours –

May 3, 2015 –
DUBPO, Down Under the Pulaski Bridge Onramp
with Newtown Creek Alliance Historian Mitch Waxman, a free tour offered as part of Janeswalk 2015, click here for tickets.

May 16, 2015 –
13 Steps Around Dutch Kills with Atlas Obscura

with Newtown Creek Alliance Historian Mitch Waxman, click here for details and tickets.

May 31, 2015 –
Newtown Creek Boat Tour
with Working Harbor Committee and Newtown Creek Alliance Historian Mitch Waxman, click here for tickets.

all massing

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Better late than never.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There’s a community over on reddit which posts “shower thoughts.” It’s usually the deep revelation stuff: “buying a Lay Z Boy makes you a lazy boy” sort of ideas. My brain is a bit bruised today – one has been attempting to force the organ to fulfill its purpose (other than just acting as a counterweight for my butt) of late – so I won’t bore you with my little snippets of realized truth as they would all sound something like: “tired, so tired, tired, my foot hurts, tired…” and so on. That’s what my shower thoughts might sound like when I’m transversing Ravenswood.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Speaking of Ravenswood, somebody went to no small amount of effort at creating a giant hole in the ground nearby Queens Plaza. This aperture was something like 30-40 feet across and of an unknown depth. I’d like to think that NYPD has finally found that vampire nest they’ve been searching for, you know, the ones that attack the Blood Center on Vernon every night.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One is sticking close to home this weekend, as next week “it begins.” “It” is Newtown Creek tour season, and I’m likely not going to see too much of home on Saturdays and Sundays for the next several months – a welcome counterpart to the frozen season recently past.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Tours –

May 3, 2015 –
DUBPO, Down Under the Pulaski Bridge Onramp
with Newtown Creek Alliance Historian Mitch Waxman, a free tour offered as part of Janeswalk 2015, click here for tickets.

May 16, 2015 –
13 Steps Around Dutch Kills with Atlas Obscura

with Newtown Creek Alliance Historian Mitch Waxman, click here for details and tickets.

May 31, 2015 –
Newtown Creek Boat Tour
with Working Harbor Committee and Newtown Creek Alliance Historian Mitch Waxman, click here for tickets.

Written by Mitch Waxman

April 24, 2015 at 4:26 pm

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