The Newtown Pentacle

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unnamable now

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From Hells Gate, I stab at thee.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Wow, did we ever get caught in the rain last night on the Infrastructure Creek walking tour. Managed to not destroy my camera and gear, but holy moley. Sheets of rain, lightning, and I had to stick around until all the guests were on their way in ride shares or subway. Drenched. Single shot today, from Astoria, of the Triborough and Hell Gate Bridges. Back tomorrow with some more substance.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle


Upcoming Tours and Events


Thursday, July 25, 6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.

Greenpoint Walking Tour w NYCH20

Explore Greenpoint’s post industrial landscape and waterfront with Newtown Creek Alliance historian Mitch Waxman.

Click here for ticketing and more information.


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

July 18, 2019 at 2:00 pm

dismal moaning

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I’m not a “morning person.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Saturday last, I was obliged to leave the house quite early by my standards, and head over to Lower Manhattan to conduct a tour on the Soundview line NYC Ferry. What that meant was standing on a dock on the Astoria line ferry at 8 in the morning, which isn’t tragic but I did need to grab an egg sandwich and a coffee first. After quaffing breakfast, one waved the camera around a bit on my way to Lower Manhattan’s Pier 11 where I was meant to meet the group.

I’ve been trying to frame up the shot above for the last month or so, glad that I finally pulled it off. That’s the Empire State Building framed by the Copper Building, if you’re curious or new to all this.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Most of my endeavors on the water occur at times preferential to my habits and obligations, which means late afternoon or evenings. There’s merit to late morning light, but I find it a bit harsh. Not as harsh as “solar maximum,” where the burning thermonuclear eye of god itself seems to be about ten stories over the ground and its emanations produce a supernal amount of hard contrast, but harsh.

That’s a close in shot of one of the smokestacks of the Big Allis power plant in the Ravenswood section of Long island City, if you’re curious.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Pictured above is the view along the Lower Manhattan waterfront at the foot of Wall Street, gathered while I was was waiting for the group to arrive.

Due to the line of heavy thunderstorms moving through the neighborhood last Thursday, we decided to reschedule the Newtown Creek Alliance “Infrastructure Creek” walking tour to this Thursday out of an abundance of caution. You don’t mess around with lightning, kid. This is the lowest price on this particular route and tour which you’re going to find all summer from me – $12.

Come with? Links below.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle


Upcoming Tours and Events


RESCHEDULED FROM LAST WEEK DUE TO WEATHER

Wednesday, July 17, 7 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.

“Infrastructure Creek” Walking Tour w Newtown Creek Alliance

If you want infrastructure, then meet NCA historian Mitch Waxman at the corner of Greenpoint Avenue and Kingsland Avenue in Brooklyn, and in just one a half miles he’ll show you the largest and newest of NYC’s 14 sewer plants, six bridges, a Superfund site, three rail yards with trains moving at street grade (which we will probably encounter at a crossing), a highway that carries 32 million vehicle trips a year 106 feet over water. The highway feeds into the Queens Midtown Tunnel, and we’ll end it all at the LIC ferry landing where folks are welcome to grab a drink and enjoy watching the sunset at the East River, as it lowers behind the midtown Manhattan skyline.

Click here for ticketing and more information.


Thursday, July 25, 6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.

Greenpoint Walking Tour w NYCH20

Explore Greenpoint’s post industrial landscape and waterfront with Newtown Creek Alliance historian Mitch Waxman.

Click here for ticketing and more information.


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

July 15, 2019 at 1:00 pm

final monosyllables

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Hangin at Hells Gate, on a hot night.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

First, there’s a couple of tour announcements at the bottom of the post, both of which are this week – Thursday and Saturday.

It’s been a good few weeks since the last time I was able to get down to the waterfront at night, due to a concurrence of event, weather, and unpleasant circumstance which has plagued one’s efforts in June of this year, but as always a humble narrator perseveres. Last week, a short hop over to Hells Gate here in Astoria gave me a few opportunities to wave the camera around and even set up the tripod for some long exposure shots. That fellow on the phone just kind of wandered into my frame, and then stood as motionless as a statue except for a few wiggles of his arm, for something like a minute or two.

Something which drives me nuts is the way that people will see me there with a tripod and camera, and without even shrugging their shoulders, just go and stand in front of the lens. In the case of the photo above, it actually “made the shot,” but jeez… I stop walking when I see people are about to shoot one of those stupid selfies… common courtesy, like shame, seem to be something people have forgotten about.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I had arrived at the Astoria Shoreline (the Hells Gate section of the East River, found between Queens and Randalls/Wards Island and defined by the Triborough and Hell Gate Bridges above and Astoria Park and the R/W island shoreline below), shortly before sunset. Despite the light being good and strong, I used an ND filter to allow for a long exposure of the shoreline, as in the shot above. I’m actually a bit disappointed in this one, and wish I used a polarizer as well as the ND filter here. I wanted that water to be more translucent, but that could also be a time of day and oblique angle of light issue. Probably want to use a polarizer at solar maximum, when the angle of the burning thermonuclear eye of god itself is acute rather than oblique.

Luckily, this spot is only about a half hour walk from HQ, so I’ll be back.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I find the shot of mighty Triborough, above, fairly fetching so the disappointment over that shoreline shot is abated somewhat. Interesting lighting to consider in this one as well, as the MTA Bridges unit (TBTA) still uses old school sodium lights on the bridge roadway which cast off a familiar soft orange glow. NYC, on the other hand, is using LED heads for their street lights which offer a radius of illumination that is both cold and bright.

Back tomorrow.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle


Upcoming Tours and Events


Thursday, July 11, 7 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.

“Infrastructure Creek” Walking Tour w Newtown Creek Alliance

If you want infrastructure, then meet NCA historian Mitch Waxman at the corner of Greenpoint Avenue and Kingsland Avenue in Brooklyn, and in just one a half miles he’ll show you the largest and newest of NYC’s 14 sewer plants, six bridges, a Superfund site, three rail yards with trains moving at street grade (which we will probably encounter at a crossing), a highway that carries 32 million vehicle trips a year 106 feet over water. The highway feeds into the Queens Midtown Tunnel, and we’ll end it all at the LIC ferry landing where folks are welcome to grab a drink and enjoy watching the sunset at the East River, as it lowers behind the midtown Manhattan skyline.

Click here for ticketing and more information.


Saturday, July 13, 10 a.m. – 12 p.m.

“Exploring the East River, From General Slocum Disaster
to Abandoned Islands” Boat Tour w NY Adventure Club

Onboard a Soundview route NYC Ferry – Join New York Adventure Club for a two-part aquatic adventure as we explore the General Slocum disaster, and historic sights and stories along the East River, all by NYC Ferry.

Click here for ticketing and more information.


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

July 8, 2019 at 1:00 pm

shallow cells

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And a Good Shabbos to you, sir.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Single shots will greet you this week, as a humble narrator plays catch-up and also spends his time exploring and shooting rather than worrying about the weather and delivering posts. Regular posts will resume next week.

Pictured above is the Triborough Bridge, as seen from Astoria, at night.


“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 blurb.com for $30.

Written by Mitch Waxman

July 5, 2019 at 11:00 am

corner pivot

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How much wood could a woodchuck chuck, anyway?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

You may think the delivery truck pictured above represents some sort of madness. This is not madness, this is Sparta…

I’ve been waiting about two years to make that joke, so thanks for indulging a humble narrator in his puerile goals. I notice this particular truck all the time in Astoria, making deliveries of flour and other whatnots to the local bakeries and bagel shops. They’re a local business, Sparta is, operating out of a building opposite Rainey Park on Vernon Blvd. One is resisting the further urge to make a thousand jokes revolving around the movie “300,” write a detailed history of the Laconian Peninsula over in Greece, or describe the many attempts to penetrate the Astoria markets which the Persian Bakery Supply people have been denied over the years by these Spartans.

The Persian Bakery Supply people have said that “if we can get a single bagel shop to use our services, we could take over the entire neighborhood and expand our empire.”

Spartan Bakery Supply always replies to the Persians, laconically, with “if.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One of the quirky things about Astoria is the habit that early 20th century real estate developers had in creating “courts.” A court, in this context, is an open space designed either for the entryway of a large building or one that exists between two distinct structures, and it provides for light and air circulation in residential units that would otherwise have none. The one pictured above is on Steinway Street between 34th Avenue and Broadway, and the shot was captured during a doctors visit for Zuzu the dog. Just a checkup for my increasingly elderly pup, whereupon she got a fairly clean bill of health. Zuzu is getting old, is a bit plump, and seems to have some sort of issue going on with her back – according to the doc. Since dogs are “all back” that’s a worry, but both the ravages of advancing age and the conqueror worm are inevitable, so there you are.

Personally speaking, I’m feeling the decades more than ever these days. Luckily, Zuzu and I have gone gray at the same time so we match. She looks like a giant possum, though, whereas I’m starting to look like Dr. Zaius from “Planet of the Apes.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Over in Long Island City, where new construction driven by the fiendish avarice of the Real Estate Industrial Complex has finally burst through the barriers long provided by the Pulaski Bridge on one side and the LIRR tracks on the other, this trio of feral predators was observed the other day. I’ve mentioned a few times the novel approach to controlling vermin on industrial properties which I’ve observed in LIC, wherein one omits the expense and consequence of employing an exterminator – with their noxious chemicals – and instead embracing the presence of the omnipresent feral cat. Most of these wild kitties have been sterilized by “TNR” (trap, neuter, release) services. You can tell that because they have had the tip of one their ears clipped.

The “bird people” hate this concept, since the particular speciation which they advocate for are predated by these cats. Personally, I’m willing to take a few dead pigeons in return for not having watered down chemical weaponry like Malathion spritzed all over the place. Using cats to control rats and mice is part of what I mean when opining that smartly using natural mechanisms to control the urban environment is the way forward. There’s unintended consequence, of course.

Remember that Daffy Duck cartoon where Daffy has a mouse in his hotel room? The one where Porky Pig is the manager? Porky first sends a cat up to the room to get rid of the mouse. Then a dog to get rid of the cat, a lion to get rid of the dog, and an elephant to get rid of the lion. How to get rid of the elephant? Send the mouse back in. Someday, before Zuzu and I age off of this planet, I’d like to see herds of wild elephants roaming around LIC. Word has it that Persian Bakery Supply once deployed delivery elephants in their never ending quest to cross the Spartan Bakery Supply lines but it didn’t go well for them.


Upcoming Tours and Events

June 15th – Exploring the East River,

From General Slocum Disaster to Abandoned Islands – with NY Adventure Club.

June 15th is one of those days in NYC history. In 1904, more than a thousand people boarded a boat in lower Manhattan, heading for a church picnic on Long Island — only 321 of them would return. This is the story of the General Slocum disaster, and how New York Harbor, the ferry industry, and a community were forever altered.

Join New York Adventure Club for a two-part aquatic adventure as we explore the General Slocum disaster, and historic sights and stories along the East River, all by NYC Ferry.

Tickets and more details
here.


“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 blurb.com for $30.

Written by Mitch Waxman

June 11, 2019 at 1:00 pm

certain tools

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Rounding out the week, me.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A couple of times this week, I mentioned a looming thunderstorm nearing my position when I was out and about around Newtown Creek last weekend. After fulfilling a couple of promises – one to a film crew for a couple of hour long on camera interview about the history of Newtown Creek, and then to a photographer/activist buddy of mine who asked for me to talk about the Dutch Kills tributary into a microphone – I was heading home along Skillman Avenue when I began to feel cold raindrops colliding with my skin. Rather than walk and risk a soaking, one scuttled over to Queens Plaza and was happily surprised to find that the R train was indeed operating. Even more surprising was that it was making all stops.

This isn’t always a given, these days. One didst swipe, whereupon one rode, and then did arriveth at a street called Steinway. I was just in time, and luckily – for once – the subway moved faster than something else. Specifically, the storm front.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I didn’t make it all the way home, however, and ducked into the local bar for a pint to wait out the deluge. Nice thing about my “local,” btw, is that it’s got outside tables that are protected by awnings from precipitants.

It wasn’t icy cold for long, but there’s something nice about enjoying a pint of beer in dry comfort while watching people dart around in the rain. I think you’d call it a “sense of false superiority.” Whatever, I was dry, they were wet. I got to take pictures of a driving rainstorm without having to constantly wipe my lens. Win.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Just as the storm had begun to vacate the skies over Astoria, here in Queens, the fellow pictured above appeared. Now, I’m generally a supporter of making it safer and better for people riding bikes to share the streets with other vehicles, but I’ve gotten into my fair share of arguments with “the bicycle people” over the years. Too many of that crowd are humorless tightasses and ideologues, and are promulgating a not so carefully disguised political and corporate agenda, and automatically treat people outside their cultic circle as vehement enemies. I don’t like absolutists of any stripe. The world is made of shades of gray, and not black and white contrast.

Now… what drew my attention to this guy on the CitiBike was multifold in nature. I can get past the not “wearing head protection” thing, and that he’s not wearing discernible socks. It’s the “texting while driving” thing that got me to hit the shutter button. Imagine what the bicycle people would say if they saw a truck driver doing this? Gosh. #carnage #murderhappycharacter


Upcoming Tours and Events

June 15th – Exploring the East River,

From General Slocum Disaster to Abandoned Islands – with NY Adventure Club.

June 15th is one of those days in NYC history. In 1904, more than a thousand people boarded a boat in lower Manhattan, heading for a church picnic on Long Island — only 321 of them would return. This is the story of the General Slocum disaster, and how New York Harbor, the ferry industry, and a community were forever altered.

Join New York Adventure Club for a two-part aquatic adventure as we explore the General Slocum disaster, and historic sights and stories along the East River, all by NYC Ferry.

Tickets and more details
here.


“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 blurb.com for $30.

Written by Mitch Waxman

June 7, 2019 at 11:00 am

what matter

with one comment

Megalomaniacal ambition, it affects us all.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

If you saw an older fellow lying prone on the turf at Astoria Park recently, with a laptop that had two speaker wires leading from its usb port down into an ant hill, yeah that was me. I’m trying to hack into both ant and termite mounds, in pursuance of recruiting some of the most numerous and industrious species to be found upon the land to do my bidding. My disastrous 2008 experiments with primates, which were first called “Operation Tarzan” and then later “Operation Damn Dirty Ape,” taught me many lessons. That’s why, while performing field work on “Operation Formicidae” (as I’ve styled it) I leave the bag of sugar cubes at home rather than having them on site. That shipping container from Chiquita was just too much temptation for my nascent ape army to resist. I know better now.

Someday, instead of a Queen, the ants will have a King. He will be as terrible as the oncoming storm, and in his name will vast armies skitter forth from their holes. Together, we will form a construction company, and grow rich in both fungus garden and bank account. My company will be called Myrmidon, LLC., and despite having billions of employees, I won’t have to pay them in anything but empty beer bottles and leaf cuttings. This is Capitalism at its purest, lords and ladies.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Another one of my projects involves an adaptation of the biological sixth sense enjoyed by sharks, made possible by the “ampullae of Lorenzini,” which allows these cosmopolitan predators the ability to detect the electromagnetic fields produced by the movement of muscle tissue in living organisms. The Great White Shark, for instance, can detect field variances of half a billionth of a volt, allowing it to home in on a beating heart at close range. I’m not sure what my “shark skin suit” will be used for, but it will likely come in handy for a variety of tasks.

I mean, look at all those wires here in Astoria… can you imagine?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My landlord, and Municipal regulators, insist on a strict “Mad Science” policy of “zero tolerance” here in Astoria. That “Astoria Borealis” thing… it wasn’t me, I swear. The official story explaining it away sounds reasonable… no? It’s not like someone was working on reanimating a corpse and accidentally opened a dimensional portal, that’s crazy. The fact that the corpse disappeared during the light show… what does that mean? Nothing, I tell you, nothing. Also, that “Beast of Berrian Bay” thing that the construction guys go on about at the bar is just a story.

Also, as a note, the teams of scientists studying the Great White Shark population around South Africa’s Seal Island have observed Great White’s operating cooperatively in a clan system not unlike that of a wolf pack. There’s a social hierarchy, and an “alpha,” and there seems to be some kind of behavioral custom they follow when encountering other “clans.” Sharks that cooperate with each other… Maybe I should be trying to hack the sharks, instead of the ants.

That’s some mad science, kid. It’s also kind of the scariest thing I’ve ever heard.


“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 blurb.com for $30.

Written by Mitch Waxman

May 28, 2019 at 11:00 am

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