The Newtown Pentacle

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Archive for April 13th, 2021

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Tuesday, it’s a fizzle.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A bunch of years ago, a humble narrator was employed by an ad agency called Ogilvy & Mather, specifically their Ogilvy Interactive division. The founder of the company was a guy named David Ogilvy, and one of his maxims was that you should use the products you’re advertising. Selling IBM Typewriters? Buy and use one. Buicks? Guess what you should be driving? It’s actually a fairly good thing to do, getting to know the particular frammistat or whatsis or widget you’re working with or for. Over the years I’ve found myself carrying a FirstUSA credit card, wearing shoes from Nike, or Timberlands, and so on. In my life these days, this takes the form of consuming municipal services.

I’m heavily involved with the whole Newtown Creek thing, therefore I interact with the waterway and the people who work and live along it all the time, as well as the regulators of officialdom. A couple of years ago, my pals at Access Queens and I decided to get smarter about the bus system of Queens so I started riding the bus everywhere I went, often eschewing the much faster mode of transit offered by the subway. If you want to truly understand a product or service, you have to be a customer and a consumer of it first.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

For the last year, I’ve been co-chair of the Queens Community Board 1 Transportation Committee. Recently, I noticed a lot of online chatter about the Triborough Bridge’s bike and pedestrian path, and decided to go investigate the situation for myself. If it comes up, I’d like to have, at least, an informed opinion on the matter. Besides, I’d literally never – ever – walked over Triborough. Kind of crazy when you think about it, given how many other bridges I’ve walked over the last decade, but there you go.

After crossing west of 31st street, Astoria Blvd. becomes Hoyt Avenue. At Hoyt Ave. North and 27th street, there’s a stairway which leads up to the aforementioned path. You’ll encounter a neat metallic bas relief map there, describing the Triborough bridge complex and it’s relationship to Queens, Bronx, Manhattan, and Randalls/Wards Islands. Hidden behind a fence was another sign, one which adjures against the usage of camera equipment on the pathway and threatens strict enforcement, but I’ll swear on a stack of bibles that I didn’t see it until I was exiting the path on my way back to rolling hills of almond eyed Astoria.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There’s a rail for bicyclists to roll their ride down on the stairs, which is in tune with the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority’s rules stating that cyclists need to dismount and walk their bikes over the span. Yes, stairs, on a bike path. Yes, pedestrian and bikes coexisting within a very narrow space…

You want to understand something, use it, Ogilvy indicated.

TBTA, once the crown jewel and center of the “House of Moses,” is now a division of the larger MTA Bridges and Tunnels operation. That’s Moses as in Robert Moses. As much as MTA would enjoy being able to do so, the suspension of First Amendment rights and the specific suppression of photography isn’t something they can do. What they can do is invoke a rule that says “must follow instructions on posted signs.” By their logic, if you encounter a sign that says “jump” and you don’t leap to your death, you’re fair game for prosecution, fines and or tickets. Grrr.

Of course, as mentioned, I didn’t see any posted signs when entering the path since it was hidden and obscured. Ignorance of the law is no defense, they’ll tell you. Thereby – I’m now a villain, a rebel, a pentagenarian delinquent…

Tomorrow – photos from the forbidden zone and my daring foray into the criminal scene of the overworld of the Triborough Bridge, high above Astoria.

“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 for $30.

Written by Mitch Waxman

April 13, 2021 at 11:00 am

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