The Newtown Pentacle

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Archive for January 3rd, 2022

he shuns

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Monday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As described, last year, a humble narrator’s perambulatory pursuits found him shambling eastwards on Brooklyn’s Meeker Avenue from the Brooklyn Navy Yard towards Astoria in Queens. My route was entirely encapsulated by the miles long steel and concrete pergola formed by the elevated roadway of the Brooklyn Queens Expressway. There has always been a population that dwells in this corridor – unfortunates and inebriates who set up camp sites constructed from tarps, cardboard, and shipping palettes – but during the pandemic months their numbers have exploded.

Empathy for their plight and situation would be expressed if I was still capable of experiencing emotions. Instead, one has become not unlike a stick of wood – dry, unyielding, uncaring, ready to burst into flame at the first hint of a spark. I’m intolerant of nonsense now, and it’s nonsensical that the greatest City in history cannot do anything about this situation other than build luxury condominiums in Manhattan’s Soho… but, alas, my new motto still applies – “Nothing matters and nobody cares.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This section of Brooklyn was once where the political boundary between Bushwick and Greenpoint was drawn, back when your electeds were called “Alderman” or “Ward Boss.” That’s before Robert Moses arrived on the scene in the late 1920’s. Moses was quite keen on something he referred to as “The Brooklyn Queens Connecting Highway” and after his ribald success in building both Mighty Triborough and the Grand Central Parkway, the Federal Government agreed to fund his ideation. Moses made the case that the multitudes of Brooklyn would choke local street traffic as they made their way to his 1939 World’s Fair in Flushing, and that a high volume/speed road was required.

Moses showed a certain predilection for building his projects right on the border between two political districts. The highway above required the whole scale demolition of a city block wide corridor, and thousands of homes and businesses were eradicated to clear the space. I’d imagine having two politicians feeding at his trough rather than one made the disruption to the locals easier to handle.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The modern day Brooklyn Queens Expressway was christened in the post WW2 Urban Renewal era. The original road was a highway, which means a high speed road with frequent exit and entrance ramps and in places – bike and pedestrian paths – but when it became an expressway it lost several of those ramps and any thought of pedestrian access was removed. Parkway (planted shoulders), highway (high speed), throughway (no exits except at start and end), expressway (limited exits). These are all self explanatory terms, Moses would tell you, before offering analogies about breaking eggs and omelettes. The usage for the space below the elevated truss road was meant to saturate parking availability, but as you can see – “world longest homeless camp” is largely how it’s being used today.

The Brooklyn Queens Connecting highway, or at least the sections of it north of the Williamsburg Bridge leading into Queens, opened for business during the month of August in 1939. August 23rd, to be exact.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One is supposed to be empathic towards those who dwell below. That’s virtue signaling horse shit, however. Nobody cares, nothing matters, and these people will be taken care of when the politicians and the crooks who buzz around them like shit flies figure out a way to make political capital and money off of the situation. Personally, everytime I buy a new bag of socks, the older ones get washed and thrown in a shopping bag which I leave nearby similar campsites, or are handed off to one of the many people I encounter in Queens who are living rough. I’m one bad month away from being in this situation myself, and my resources are best analogized as “not enough butter spread over too much bread.”

Life is cheap in the big city, but living costs a fortune.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

By this stage of the walk back to HQ in Astoria, one was beginning to experience fatigue. The trick left foot was singing an opera, and since my left leg was dragging a bit due to the foot, that caused a cramp to set up in my back. NYC doesn’t acknowledge human biology and thereby a series of urine splotches marked my northward progress. I also had to poop, but I’m not that far gone yet. I’ll gladly slip between two parked cars and piss into a sewer grate, but dropping a deuce in the open air isn’t a line I cross.

Also, what if somebody saw it? That’s how you end up on Instagram. “Hey, check out Mitch from Newtown Creek Alliance, he’s shitting in the street now.” Clearly, this signals that their entire thing is a corrupt eidolon offered up by real estate interests and morally bankrupt politicians. Told you he’s no good. I have a friend who advocates for bike lanes and safer streets, and he got photographed jaywalking and that spawned several days of commentary, for instance.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My destination in this section of Brooklyn was ultimately the Kosciuszcko Bridge, which would carry me into Queens. There’s a neat bit of public space under the new bridge, where – coincidentally – I know there would a “Porta Potty” where I could solve my alimentary issues in private. Along the way, a park bench of two offered some relief for the operatic conditions being offered by the left foot.

More pedantic adventures tomorrow, at this, your Newtown Pentacle.


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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 blurb.com for $30.

Written by Mitch Waxman

January 3, 2022 at 11:00 am

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