The Newtown Pentacle

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Archive for August 8th, 2022

nervous overstrain

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Monday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On July 5th, I had rented a car from the Avis outfit for a couple of days in pursuance of visiting people and places well outside of the normal study area. During the daylight hours, I was driving around the neighborhoods that made me in Brooklyn, with Our Lady of the Pentacle and my pal Armstrong along. When the sun began to set, a brief interval of rain began, but I wasn’t willing to just let a rental car sit in front of HQ. I packed up the camera and drove over to the fabulous Newtown Creek.

My plan for the night involved visiting a few of the less pedestrian friendly areas which I normally skip when on foot for various reasons. Distance, cul de sacs, danger… lots of reasons. All of that is negated by having a set of wheels to scoot about with.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There’s a long dead end street on the Brooklyn side of Newtown Creek called Maspeth Avenue. Industrial in nature, it’s found directly opposite the Maspeth Plank Road site on the Queens side. Maspeth Avenue follows the course of the English Kills tributary of Newtown Creek along the hazy border between Greenpoint, Bushwick, and East Williamsburgh.

For many years, the spot I had driven over to and was shooting in was known as “Gaseteria,” which was a fuel depot hosting gasoline tanks. Secretly owned by mobsters and operated at the behest of a Capo Regime named Michael Franzese, Gaseteria went out of business when the FBI found out about their diversion of millions or possibly billions of dollars of NYS taxes into the pockets of the Colombo Family. Franzese has given up “the life” and now works the evangelical circuit as a speaker and author. He’s got a YouTube channel where he discusses his misadventures and eventual (self claimed) redemption.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Gaseteria site became the address of the NYS Marshall’s Office for a while, and this is where they would tow your car to if NYS was the entity impounding it. One of the most absolutely hilarious things NYS and NYC do is siting and or establishing tow yards or impound lots in remote places that you can’t get to without a car. To wit – here’s where this spot is on a Google map.

The car I was in – with its roof – came in handy, as it had started to rain. I set up my tripod on the passenger seat and rolled down the window on that side. Cannot tell you how suspicious I must have looked.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I never cross a fenceline while on foot if I can help it. If you get into trouble while on foot, you’re just plain screwed. Given that I was behind the wheel of a rental car for a change… also, it was raining, and NYC never looks as good as it does when it’s raining. Thereby, forward!

That large tank in the background is one of the two Liquefied Natural Gas holders which the National Grid people maintain on their enormous properties in Brooklyn. This site in Greenpoint used to belong to the Brooklyn Union Gas Company, which manufactured gas there for nearly a century (creating an environmental nightmare in the process which poisoned both land and water), and is the former home of the “Maspeth Holders” which were imploded in 2001. The LNG contained within the modern system is held at cryogenic temperatures. I should mention that whereas the other energy companies along the Newtown Creek are generally pretty open about what they do and make regular attempts at “public relations” with the surrounding communities, National Grid is a “black box” and they don’t want you to even notice them.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I had been driving more or less constantly since about 8:30 in the morning. I was in parts of Brooklyn and Queens which I haven’t visited since the Reagan Administration, and my energy was waning. I made one last stop on my way back to Astoria, at Apollo Street in Greenpoint.

Apollo Street used to be part of the Standard Oil/Mobil operation in Greenpoint. It was the dividing line between two operational petroleum refining units – Locust Hill and Sone & Fleming. These days, it’s an abandoned street end where a lot of illegal dumping takes place. After grabbing the shot above, I rigged the camera back over to “hand held” mode and packed up my gear. The camera was sitting on the passenger seat.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On my way home, while waiting for traffic lights to change, I couldn’t help but pop out one or two more.

Luckily, just as I arrived back at HQ, a spot opened up directly in front of the place. I headed up stairs, set the camera battery to charge, and got ready for my 6-7 hours of unconscious hallucinations. The 6th was going to be another fun day, during which I’d be driving a lot and visiting places normally inaccessible to the dedicated pedestrian.


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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 blurb.com for $30.

Written by Mitch Waxman

August 8, 2022 at 11:00 am

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