The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Archive for June 2016

upon twilight

with 3 comments

uggggh, anywhere but here…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

In the infinite wisdom, and macabre sense of humor, which the employees of the City of New York are known for – a recent pass by an inspector from the Department of Buildings here in Astoria resulted in several square blocks of building owners being cited to replace their sidewalks. It is an election year, of course, but this edict has resulted in a non stop cacophony of masonry saws and jack hammers pounding the pavement for the last several months.

Even the sidewalks in front of HQ, which I will point out were in fine fettle, needed to be replaced.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Scalar waves of noise, which my little dog Zuzu has found most off putting, have been bouncing around between the brick walls of the ancient village. Clouds of concrete dust, a small army of day laborers stretching out the jobs, and a general disruption of the day to day has created a decided edge to things hereabouts.

I’m willing to go anywhere that’s even marginally quiet at the moment. Industrial Maspeth is actually more pleasant from a sonic POV than the old 11103 at the moment.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Noise is the one pollution vector which we all seem to just accept here in NYC. Car alarms and elevated subways are one thing, but the fact that some random inspector can just decide to order three square blocks of building owners to replace their sidewalks – at no small expense, incidentally – seems crazy to me. It’s also goofy that DEP noise cops keep showing up in the hood to write tickets for excess noise due to the demolition of the old pavement, which was ordered by DOB.

The funny part about the endeavor is that the City owned sidewalk sections found on the corners have received no such work orders, and you see brand new walks abutting the craphole Municpal section. The sewer catch basins and curb cuts are found there, as well as the traffic lights. This section of pavement is at least 30-40 years old, cracked, filthy, pockmarked. The curbs are broken, and let’s just say that the City does not feel the same need to ensure that the crosswalks in Queens are ADA compliant that they do in Manhattan.

Upcoming Events and Tours

TONIGHT! Thursday, June 30, 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. –
Port Elizabeth Newark Boat Tour,
with Working Harbor Committee. Click here for more details.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

June 30, 2016 at 11:00 am

presiding demon

leave a comment »

Bringing the thunder…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As mentioned, tomorrow night I’m going to be co-narrating the Working Harbor Committee Newark Bay tour with my pal Gordon Cooper. Now, Newark Bay is WHC’s signature tour, and the people who have handled the narration in the past – WHC’s Capt. John Doswell, Ed Kelly of the Maritime Association, Lucy Ambrosino of Port Authority – lets just say that they’ve set a pretty high standard for this narration on this particular caper.

Tugboat Alley and the 3rd largest Port in the United States is quite a subject to write a tour of.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Saying that, I’ve been on this particular tour literally dozens of times and have always paid close attention. I’ve also got a whole bunch of historical information which hasn’t been offered in the past, and I’m hoping to add something to the narrative if such a thing is possible. The good news is that the weather promises to be on my side tomorrow, and a beautiful NYC summer day and evening is forecast.

This should be glorious, and for my part – I’m planning on being in rare form tomorrow night.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Port Elizabeth Newark is gob smacking in its scale, history, importance to our regional economy, and in its ongoing maritime operations. Our boat will be leaving from Pier 11 in Lower Manahattan, crossing the anchorage channel, transversing the Kill Van Kull, and then visiting the literal prototype for all modern container terminals. We will be proceeding north into Newark Bay – the confluence of the Hackensack and Passaic rivers – and then exiting back through the Kill Van Kull and heading over to the Statue of Liberty for sunset.

Hey, what better place are you going to get your selfie than at the Statue of Liberty?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The trip will be two hours long, and I’m truly excited to invite you lords and ladies to come along. Ticketing link is below – come with? If you do, bring your cameras, as the Workign Harbor Committe’s Port Elizabeth Newark tour is a not to be missed and quite spectacular experience.

Upcoming Events and Tours

Thursday, June 30, 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. –
Port Elizabeth Newark Boat Tour,
with Working Harbor Committee. Click here for more details.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

June 29, 2016 at 12:00 pm

swoopingly through

with one comment

Cool cars, Astoria/Woodside edition.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Gangster! Spotted this late model parked along Newtown Road near its intersection with Northern Blvd. recently. It’s registration sticker says it’s a 1960 Buick Four Door Sedan, and I do believe that it’s actually a 1960 LeSabre.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I dig the way the body styling above the head lamps makes it look angry. When you’re talking about a 1960 Buick, you should be using slang like “dig,” by the way.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The car wasn’t exactly “cherry,” as it had some body issues and was missing its proper wheel covers and more than a little bit of its chrome, but there’s a body shop on the corner of Northern which often has “cool cars” flowing through its lot so I suspect that this was one of theirs and that it was going to be receiving some love and attention.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There’s a giant 8 cylinder engine under the hood of this auto, incidentally. If you’ve never driven a 1960’s Buick, I feel sorry for you, as you have no idea what real acceleration feels like.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This “cool car,” lords and ladies, caused a humble narrator to say out loud “me want.”

Of course, you’d be dropping half a tank of gas to get from one corner to the next, due to that giant 8 cylinder engine. It’s also from the “unsafe at any speed” era, so it’s likely that bumping into another car while parking might decapitate you, but…

Upcoming Events and Tours

Thursday, June 30, 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. –
Port Elizabeth Newark Boat Tour,
with Working Harbor Committee. Click here for more details.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

June 28, 2016 at 1:00 pm

accordingly determined

with 4 comments

Queens Plaza, in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Wowzers. It’s no secret that I’m concerned about the “population loading” of Western Queens which has been and is currently underway. From an urbanist point of view, there’s really no reason “why” you shouldn’t cram as many people onto every square inch of city center as you can, and Queens Plaza is – in fact – pretty close to the center of all things. Just ask the powers that be, they’ll rattle off how many subway and bus lines there are, and throw in the East River Ferry as well. They won’t mention hospitals, or the fact that LIC can’t seem to build enough schools to meet its current demands, nor the costs of expanded Police, Fire, and Sanitation units.

What are you gonna do, fight City Hall?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There seems to be a burst of construction activity going on at the moment over on Jackson Avenue between Court Square and Queens Plaza – these shots are from late on a Saturday morning about a week ago, incidentally. The construction guys had closed down Jackson to one lane, as they were moving in a tower crane and other equipment. To say that traffic was snarled…

Actually, automotive traffic is another thing that the powers that be generally neglect to mention when discussing this very modern corridor of some brave new world which is being built down here.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The buildings at the far end of the shot above are closer to Court Square and the Citigroup Megalith, which has suddenly begun to seem a lot less out of place or wildly out of scale with the surrounding neighborhood. My guess is that all of the people who will be moving in here soon are meant to take the 7 train to work.

The 7 express is, of course and by the MTA’s own admission, at capacity as of right now. The riders of the 7 routinely describe overcrowded conditions, and complaints about having to allow several Manhattan bound trains to pass before they can even find a spot to squeeze into have been heard from as far away as Sunnyside and Jackson Heights.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

To me, it stands to reason that the next waves of development should consider the creation of exurb commercial centers, outside of Manhattan. That would allow for job locations to radiate away from the titular center of the City, to the east and north. An office complex in Jamaica, or maybe Forest Hills? They’re served by several train lines as well. This Manhattancentric development model is really going to end up hurting us, but what do I know? I just live here.

Pretty soon, there’s going to be a gigantic number of people in Long Island City, all flushing their toilets at the same time every morning. Guess where all that sewage is going to end up? The 1939 vintage Bowery Bay sewage treatment plant in Astoria, that’s where. If there’s too much of the smelly stuff in the pipes under the street, like when it’s raining, it’ll go into Newtown Creek.

Upcoming Events and Tours

Thursday, June 30, 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. –
Port Elizabeth Newark Boat Tour,
with Working Harbor Committee. Click here for more details.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

June 27, 2016 at 11:30 am

vacant box

leave a comment »

Back to Hells Gate, where I belong.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As mentioned in Moday’s post, a humble narrator found himself lurking in fear along the Western Queens waterfront recently, specifically the legend choked narrows of the East River which nearly four centuries of European mariners have called the “Hellegaat” or “Hells Gate.” It was late in the day, and the flood tide was heading out towards Bowery Bay and Long Island Sound.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A succession of tug and barge combinations were taking advantage of the titanic flow, heading north and then perhaps east. I had a meeting to attend, so I only stuck around for two of the vessel transits.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The first was Sea Lion, towing a seemingly empty barge meant for the transport of recyclable materials. Notice the mesh fencing on the lip of the thing, a device contrived to avoid having materials within the barge swept up on the wind and into the water.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Sea Lion, famously, found itself in a bit of trouble off a different coast of Long Island back in January of 2014, when it sunk off of Atlantic Beach. There were injuries, but as far as I know, no fatalities – thank goodness.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Bouchard transport is a historical star in the NY Harbor family, with the company having been founded nearly a century ago by Capt. Fred Bouchard in 1918. That’s a fuel barge being towed in the shot above, incidentally.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The tug is the Ellen S. Bouchard, a 3,900 HP boat. You can read about her history at this page found at the ever reliable tugboatinformation.com.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s it for a somewhat maritime focused week at this, your Newtown Pentacle, see you Monday with something completely different. There’s still a few spots left for the Insalubrious Valley tour with Brooklyn Brainery, btw, come with? The Calvary walk is sold out, but it looks like we’ll be doing it again sometime soon.

Upcoming Events and Tours

Saturday, June 25, 10:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. –
The Insalubrious Valley of the Newtown Creek,
with Brooklyn Brainery. Click here for more details.

Sunday, June 26, 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. –
Calvary Cemetery Walking Tour,
with Atlas Obscura. Click here for more details.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

June 24, 2016 at 12:00 pm

reptilian devils

with 2 comments

I want to believe…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The world would be so much more interesting if all the nutty and paranoid stuff was true. How I do wish that the Queen of England was actually a human alien hybrid, that Kennedy was killed by the CIA and a cabal of militarists, that Area 51 was anything except for a place where exotic fighter jets and stealth aircraft are tested. “Chem trails,” “banksters,” and the rest of the fantasy scenarios are all built around an elaborate mythology that paints the government of the United States as some great machine which operates with impunity and precision.

Have you actually interacted with the government? Try it out, and that should sunder all notions of the “hidden hand.” These people can barely tie their shoes, cannot keep a secret, and are more concerned with getting approval for overtime than they would be in conspiring with alien overlords (unless they were hiring). If anything, officialdom would start applying for grant monies to form committees to study the alien overlords.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

For the last week or so, I’ve been telling people I meet that “Holy Crap, just the other night, Obama himself kicked in my door looking for guns to take.” The general reaction has been either “well, at least he did something” or “it took him long enough.” I don’t have any guns – I’m more of a blunt force trauma guy – but the point I’m trying to make is that the whole notion of this sort of conspiracy is sophomoric.

Try arranging a lunch date for five people to meet up at the same time and place, purposely excluding someone inside your social circle. The excluded person WILL find out about it, and loudly proclaim their resentment. Magnify that out to any topic associated with conspiratorial secrecy and do the math.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I’ve always believed that the reason people cling to conspiratorial fantasy is the utter banality of real life. Perhaps it’s the nihilist philosophy that I cling to, which renders everything I experience as shades of cold gray. If you were a member of some cabal, there would have to be some sort of bank account associated with it to cover costs and handle payroll. There would be paperwork which someone would have to administer, and an excel spreadsheet generated to track the project.

Even Mafiosos and ISIS keep paper records. Nixon did, and that’s what did him in. Ollie North did. Bill de Blasio does. There’s no such thing as a secret if somebody other than you knows about it.

Upcoming Events and Tours

Saturday, June 25, 10:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. –
The Insalubrious Valley of the Newtown Creek,
with Brooklyn Brainery. Click here for more details.

Sunday, June 26, 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. –
Calvary Cemetery Walking Tour,
with Atlas Obscura. Click here for more details.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

June 23, 2016 at 12:00 pm

what would

with one comment

You wanus, I wanus, so let’s Gowanus…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Last week, one was onboard for the Working Harbor Committee’s tour of Gowanus Bay and part of the Gowanus Canal. My pals Joseph Alexiou and Capt. Maggie Flanagan were handling the narration, and I spent most of the trip down on the bow of the NY Waterways Ferry boat shooting. One of the many interesting tableaux encountered included the sudden appearance of DonJon Marine’s Caitlin Ann tug.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Caitlin Ann was towing a barge of recyclables, specifically metals. A 1961 vintage, 2,400 HP tug, Caitlin Ann’s story can be best explained by visiting this page at the ever reliable tugboatinformation.com.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

DonJon is a New Jersey based company, founded in 1964 by a fellow named J. Arnold Witte. In concurrence with the traditions of the towing industry, their tugs are named after family members. It isn’t limited to just the tug business either, and the company handles all sorts of hauling – including terrestrial tasks like trucking, as well as heavy maritime industrial tasks like dredging and even diving.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On our way out of Gowanus Bay, I couldn’t help but get a shot of the Abu Loujaine at the Quadrozzi Grain Terminal docks. I wrote about the Loujaine a while back, in this post from January of 2012.

Upcoming Events and Tours

Saturday, June 25, 10:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. –
The Insalubrious Valley of the Newtown Creek,
with Brooklyn Brainery. Click here for more details.

Sunday, June 26, 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. –
Calvary Cemetery Walking Tour,
with Atlas Obscura. Click here for more details.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

June 22, 2016 at 11:00 am

%d bloggers like this: