The Newtown Pentacle

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Archive for the ‘Broadway’ Category

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puzzling things, general weirdness, and an update on that transformer fire in Astoria.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Out on the water in NY Harbor recently, the scene above was observed.

Famously, one of those “harbor advocacy” statements which one is oft heard announcing on my walking and boat tours is that “maritime is the greenest way to transport cargo, with a single barge carrying the equivalent of thirty eight trucks worth of stuff,” but you seldom see it literally expressed by a barge carrying an actual truck. My rhetorical statement is actually built around a full sized flat top barge carrying cargo containers and guided by harbor sized tugboat type of scenario, rather than a smallish work barge that’s carrying a dump truck and being towed by a little push boat.

The push boat is the TJ Miller, btw, which operates of Staten Island’s Millers Landing.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Passing by the Fuller Brush, or Flatiron building if you must, recently – I couldn’t get the whole 23 Skidoo stuff to exit my brain. I went to college a few blocks away at the School of Visual Arts, and Manhattan’s 23rd street was – and remains – one of the main thoroughfares of my life. Post college, most of the advertising agencies which I worked for were located somewhere within a few blocks of the Flatiron for some reason. I seldom photograph along its route, however, as the School of Visual Arts is – as mentioned – just down the block. They have a world class photography program there, and the 23rd street corridor is probably one of the most “captured” spots on the planet. While I was at SVA, I was in the illustration program, so unfortunately I haven’t got much in the way of documentation of the 1980’s version of it as I was drawing comics and painting and stuff back then.

It makes me wonder, however. Taking the Flatiron as an example, which is one of the most photographed buildings in NYC, and has been for a century… one ponders what information about our environment could be gleaned from assembling the decades long recordings of its appearance. Weather patterns, erosion, particulate levels in the air?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Back in Astoria, after that transformer explosion I described to you a couple of weeks ago, it took the Con Ed guys about three days – working 24 hours, mind you – to put things back in order. There’s still crews working around two to three blocks north and to south, as presumptively wherever the wires connected to that failed equipment led to must have been also been damaged or affected by the event. That’s my guess anyway.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It took the Con Ed crews just under a day to get the blacked out block of 44th street between 34 avenue and Broadway back on the grid, but that’s when their real job began. I don’t know too much about their operation, but I can describe how it played out. First there were emergency crews who arrived in red trucks who “put out the fire.” They were followed by a far larger contingent of blue truck crews who arrived with a variety of equipment and what seemed like a third party contractor. As the project went on, the cable trucks arrived, one of which is in the shots above.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The (seemingly) third party contractor got busy digging up a pretty sizable trench leading from the transformer and following the curbline. The blue truck guys were moving in and out the manholes and had a substantial amount of equipment deployed. They were all working during the sweltering July heat, incidentally.

About three days after the transformer fire, they all suddenly left.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Just another blackout in Astoria, Queens, I guess.

Upcoming Events and Tours

Tuesday, July 26, 6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. –
Glittering Realms Walking tour,
with NYC H2O. Click here for more details.

Wednesday, July 27, 1st trip – 4:50 p.m. 2nd trip – 6:50 p.m. –
2 Newtown Creek Boat Tours,
with Open House NY. Click here for more details.

Saturday, July 30, 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. –
DUPBO Walking Tour,
with Atlas Obscura. Click here for more details.

Sunday, August 21, 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. –
Poison Cauldron Walking Tour,
with Atlas Obscura. Click here for more details.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

July 25, 2016 at 11:00 am

small item

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Thunderstorm action, and the Boss of The Tacos, in Astoria, Queens.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

You might recall that on the afternoon of Thursday, the 14th of July, a crazy powerful thunderstorm washed through the City. It happened that one was out and about, running errands, and as always I had my camera with me when the skies grew dark. What was weird about this storm was that it presented a nearly vertical line, and that to the east – skies were blue and the sun shining.

This created some VERY interesting lighting effects. 

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The whole neighborhood here in Astoria knew that there was a deluge coming, and everybody was scurrying around trying to accomplish one last thing before sheltering from the coming storm. Personally, knowing that I’d never get back to HQ before the rain hit, a quick visit to my local bar allowed me a bit of cover and had the corollary benefit of allowing a pint of beer to be poured in.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The rain blew in along a wall shaped vector, and the air was suddenly filled with what had to be hundreds of thousands of gallons of water in a few seconds. As is typical of thunderstorms, however, the event only lasted for around twenty minutes or so. That’s about how long it took me to quaff my pint of beer.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As there is no better moment, air quality wise, in NYC than the half hour or so following a storm like this, I decided to order a second pint and settle alongside a familiar table outside. That’s when this enigmatic food truck rolled by, which was emblazoned with a screed reading “The Boss of The Tacos.”

There is a reason, after all, that I carry a camera with me everywhere I go. Astoria Queens rules.

Upcoming Events and Tours

Saturday, July 23, 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. –
Calvary Cemetery Walking tour,
with Brooklyn Brainery. Click here for more details

Cancelled due to extreme weather, will be rescheduled.

Tuesday, July 26, 6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. –
Glittering Realms Walking tour,
with NYC H2O. Click here for more details.

Wednesday, July 27, 1st trip – 4:50 p.m. 2nd trip – 6:50 p.m. –
2 Newtown Creek Boat Tours,
with Open House NY. Click here for more details.

Saturday, July 30, 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. –
DUPBO Walking Tour,
with Atlas Obscura. Click here for more details.

Sunday, August 21, 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. –
Poison Cauldron Walking Tour,
with Atlas Obscura. Click here for more details.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

July 22, 2016 at 11:00 am

violet litten

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Seriously, how much can one guy take?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Often, and in excruciating detail, have I been told how annoying my company actually is. Noticing every little detail as I move around is one reason I’m so aberrant a fellow, forcing people to listen to me rattling on about my trivial observations is another. More often than not, it’s a habit of relaying unpleasant facts about activities which my companions and myself are engaging in which pisses folks off. Talking about my mother’s cousin Melvin, whose grisly death occurred after he fell off a moving boat and was sliced up by the propellor back during the 1960’s, or the actual process of drowning, described while riding onboard a boat are two. Talking about human decay processes while in cemeteries is yet another.

You never want to hear me say anything about escalators, btw. Deadly things – my buddy Hank the elevator guy shudders whenever the subject comes up, and he’s a guy who regularly dangles from ropes in elevator shafts. Long story short – hamburger meat. Escalators are meat grinders. Brrrr. Don’t ask.

Here’s a few other things nobody asked me about…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A scene from de Blasio’s New York, specifically the foot of the Pulaski Bridge on Jackson Avenue in LIC. The guy with his hat out has turned up in recent days, and made this the spot at which he goes to every car that’s leaving Brooklyn asking for spare change.

It is only a matter of time before we click fully back into the Dinkins era and this dude finds himself a squeegee.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The neighbors hereabouts in Astoria all seem to hail from places where the accepted custom is to hurl any unwanted or used items directly into the street. When it rains…

Jesus, what the hell is wrong with you people? Give a hoot, don’t pollute. Find a god damned trash bin, they’re all over the place, even if they’re filled with household trash from illegal sublets.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This one actually blew my mind when it was explained to me. It’s the window of a fancy shmancey supermarket over in the newly built up waterfront section of Hunters Point – tower town, as I call it.

The “out of respect for our customers” prohibitions against “photography” and “organized tours” got me curious. My thoughts of “are Jack Eichenbaum or Kevin Walsh doing LIC supermarket tours now? Wow, wonder if I can get in on that?” were immediately quashed by a long time friend who lives nearby.

She explained that realtors will often bring groups of prospective condo buyers into the local supermarkets and shops to demonstrate that there are – in fact – places to shop in Long Island City. So many buyers have moved through their doors that the shops and supermarkets have had to set rules.

Sigh…

Upcoming Events and Tours

Saturday, July 16, 11:15 a.m. – 12:45 p.m. –
FREE Newtown Creek Boat Tour,
with Waterfront Alliance (note- WA usually releases tix in batches).
Click here for more details.

Saturday, July 23, 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. –
Calvary Cemetery Walking tour,
with Brooklyn Brainery. Click here for more details.

Tuesday, July 26, 6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. –
Glittering Realms Walking tour,
with NYC H2O. Click here for more details.

Wednesday, July 27, 1st trip – 4:50 p.m. 2nd trip – 6:50 p.m. –
2 Newtown Creek Boat Tours,
with Open House NY. Click here for more details.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

explosive circumstance

with 3 comments

Who can guess, all there is… BOOOOOMF… Holy Crap!

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My plan for today’s post was originally going to involve fireworks, of the 4th of July variety. Wednesday night at about Midnight, however, my corner suddenly exploded. It seems that the patch job Consoldiated Edison performed in Astoria after the Great Astoria Blackout of 2006 is beginning to get a bit long in the tooth.

After a blast of bluish flame, yellow brown smoke and orange fire began to shoot out of the manhole.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As mentioned in another post earlier this week, I’m the one who – when he “sees something,” then “says something” so I called 911 with one hand while reaching for my DSLR camera with the other.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This all happened right around midnight, and at about five minutes past, the next block – specifically 44th street between Broadway and 34th avenue – went dark. Even the street lights went out.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

In NYC, when an emergency strikes, you want God on your side. When the FDNY gets there, God can move on to other things – as they can handle most things. Several FDNY units arrived, and set up a cordon around the burning transformer.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The fire guys began knocking on doors and inspecting basements for carbon dioxide build ups, and there were a bunch of them sticking probes into the sewers and unaffected manholes.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Safety tape went up just as NYPD arrived, who took charge of redirecting traffic from FDNY and began answering questions from the residents of the affected block. Before you ask, I wasn’t affected, which was very lucky.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

After about an hour and a half, a Con Ed Emergency truck arrived with two guys in it. They began to assess things and the fire guys started getting ready to leave the scene. The manhole was still smoldering, but it was only emanating a trickle of white vapor by now.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Con Ed guys opened the street, and then more of them began to arrive.

When I woke up Thursday morning, there was an army of them at work down there, rewiring and rekajiggering. There was also a giant pile of media trucks. WABC was here, so was NY1, and Channel 11 too.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The shot above is actually the sort of thing which was intended for today, but… as I often say…

Who can guess, all there is, that might be buried down there?

Upcoming Events and Tours

Tuesday, July 12, 7:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m. –
LICHenge, with Atlas Obscura and the
Hunters Point Park Conservancy. Click here for more details.

Saturday, July 16, 11:15 a.m. – 12:45 p.m. –
FREE Newtown Creek Boat Tour,
with Waterfront Alliance (note- WA usually releases tix in batches).
Click here for more details.

Saturday, July 23, 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. –
Calvary Cemetery Walking tour,
with Brooklyn Brainery. Click here for more details.

Tuesday, July 26, 6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. –
DUPBO Walking tour,
with NYC H2O. Click here for more details.

Wednesday, July 27, 1st trip – 4:50 p.m. 2nd trip – 6:50 p.m. –
2 Newtown Creek Boat Tours,
with Open House NY. Click here for more details.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

July 8, 2016 at 11:00 am

afar off

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The sky is stolen, so repent… or just rent…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The cabal of entrepreneurs and bankers whom one has long referred to as the “real estate industrial complex” has been quite busy in the eastern side of Long Island City for the last few years. The sky has almost been entirely blotted out, and thousands of new apartment units constructed, usually atop brown fields and former industrial sites. This shot is from the Thompson Avenue Viaduct adjoining Court Square, and as you can see – this section of Queens has been recast in Manhattan’s image.

Unlike Manhattan, of course, there are no new hospital beds or any of the other things which you’d normally expect to find in an area being built up for a large residential population. Lately, the word “Brasilia” comes to mind when I’m walking around the modern corridor of LIC.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As mentioned last week, rumors abound in LIC that the Real Estate Industrial complex is pushing for a rezoning of the industrial corridor that runs from the Pulaski Bridge to Greenpoint Avenue, between Newtown Creek and the Sunnyside Yards/Long Island Expressway. Spotted recently on the intersection of Greenpoint Avenue and the Long Island Expressway was the sign above. This signage indicates many things to me about the sort of people who are actually driving this train, who they are, and where the money behind it all is likely coming from.

Formerly, signage observed nailed to this utility pole has included the ubiquitous “Cash for Cars” and “Stop Bedbugs” illegal postings which plague western Queens.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Back in Astoria, we still haven’t been lucky enough to receive much attention from these folks, which is good news. We can still see the sky, and when a rainbow appears over Jackson Heights to the east – it’s still a source of wonder for all the neighbors to marvel over.

Incidentally, conversation over the weekend with one of my cousins indicated that you can still find housing that is quite affordable in the Mill Basin/Canarsie area, and that the sky and sun haven’t been co-opted by co-ops.

Upcoming Events and Tours

Tuesday, July 12, 7:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m. –
LICHenge, with Atlas Obscura and the
Hunters Point Park Conservancy. Click here for more details.

Saturday, July 16, 11:15 a.m. – 12:45 p.m. –
FREE Newtown Creek Boat Tour,
with Waterfront Alliance (note- WA usually releases tix in batches).
Click here for more details.

Saturday, July 23, 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. –
Calvary Cemetery Walking tour,
with Brooklyn Brainery. Click here for more details.

Tuesday, July 26, 6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. –
DUPBO Walking tour,
with NYC H2O. Click here for more details.

Wednesday, July 27, 1st trip – 4:50 p.m. 2nd trip – 6:50 p.m. –
2 Newtown Creek Boat Tours,
with Open House NY. Click here for more details.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

July 7, 2016 at 11:00 am

tried every

with one comment

I mentioned this over the weekend to my Facebook peeps, now it’s your turn…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

An old friend of mine recently hit a bit of a health crisis. Surgery ensued, and she’s having a bit of trouble with the purely existential part of her life during recovery – food shopping, laundry, the lifting and carrying sort of stuff. Our Lady of the Pentacle and I volunteered to help her out, and last Saturday our plan involved an afternoon trip to Hunters Point to help out with “whatever.” Before you ask: a) my old friend doesn’t live in one of the new buildings (it’s one of those century old and quite rickety walk up jobs on Jackson where she has lived for literally decades), and b) there was no connection between Court Square and the IND station at Queens Plaza due to maintenance work so we took the R from Astoria and hoofed it the rest of the way.

That’s not the story, though, that’s just the setup.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Now, this was Fourth of July weekend, of course. The news was abuzz with the news that NYPD was operating a full scale and City wide security operation, and that Hunters Point in particular was going to be focused on due to the gathering at the waterfront to watch the fireworks. I call it the Homeland Security Kabuki show, for various reasons. Pretty standard stuff, in the age of the Terror Wars.

What wasn’t standard was the steel cylinder, which appeared to be some sort of garbage can, sitting on the 46th street subway platform. Having “seen something” a humble narrator thereupon went over to the MTA Station Agent housed in the booth and let her know that the incongruous item was there. She indicated that the authorities would be alerted, and I boarded the incoming R train having “said something.”

As a note, when I arrived at Queens Plaza, I walked over to the NYPD office at the end of the platform and informed the on duty officer of the situation – and also showed him the picture positioned above. He seemed concerned about it.

I was thanked and told that it would be investigated.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Of course, the 114th precinct being what it is, when Our Lady of the Pentacle and I returned to the 46th street station some three and change hours later… the curious cylinder was still there and clearly unmolested or investigated. That’s when I posted about my experience, and made sure that our local Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer was tagged in my missive. He let me know that he had contacted the precinct and that it would be dealt with. In my neighborhood, JVB is the motive force of all things, and as I’ve mentioned in the past, the council member has a unique ability to twist the dials and move the levers of the municipal machinery.

The thing about Queens which drives me absolutely mad is why it is that when someone “sees something” and “says something,” you still need a high government official to cajole the freaking cops into doing their damn jobs. As far as the MTA station agent goes, she probably didn’t have the union certifications for dialing the phone.

I think it’s the International Brotherhood of Button Pushers, Local 5, who does that. You also need three Union carpenters on duty, but you always need three carpenters for some reason.

Upcoming Events and Tours

Tuesday, July 12, 7:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m. –
LICHenge, with Atlas Obscura and the
Hunters Point Park Conservancy. Click here for more details.

Saturday, July 16, 11:15 a.m. – 12:45 p.m. –
FREE Newtown Creek Boat Tour,
with Waterfront Alliance (note- WA usually releases tix in batches).
Click here for more details.

Wednesday, July 27, 1st trip – 4:50 p.m. 2nd trip – 6:50 p.m. –
2 Newtown Creek Boat Tours,
with Open House NY. Click here for more details.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

July 6, 2016 at 11:00 am

accident or evil

leave a comment »

Things I’ve seen, in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One decided to take a walk through Hallets Point, or Astoria Point as the Real Estate Industrial Complex has christened it, recently. The fires of gentrification have been stoked on the forbidden northern coast of Queens, as you may have heard. My purpose behind this walk revolved around path finding the probable right of way for the proposed BQX street car system, which I find an interesting intellectual challenge – an Einsteinian “thought experiment” if you will.

As a note, I have nothing to do with the project – instead I’m just curious about how they’re going to “thread the needle” through parks and housing projects to make this particular dream of NYC’s oligarchs come true.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Upon arriving back in my neighborhood on the southern border of Astoria, one encountered another member of the growing population of “not homeless” types who enjoy an afternoon tipple and then a short nap on the public way. Nostradamus like, your humble narrator is, and my predictions that the toleration of a population of drunken bums by the 114th precinct along Broadway would begin to draw in others is playing out. At least one bank has had to hire a night time security guard to vouchsafe its ATM laden lobby against them, and the steps of the Broadway/Steinway library have become an open air camp site. I look forward to seeing these folks riding and urinating on the BQX.

This fellow is a regular, and commonly observed sleeping and or manipulating some body part found deep in his the pantaloons. This shot was captured on the corner of Steinway Street and Broadway, which can hardly be considered an out of the way location.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Me? I’ve been a bit too busy to care about the “bum” situation in Astoria for the last few weeks. Boat excursions, walking tours, a never ending series of meetings – all have been consuming my time.

Speaking of, I’ll be speaking early tomorrow at the Greater Astoria Historic Society for “Queens Waterfront” symposium they’re conducting with the Waterfront Alliance. This will be an all day affair, but I’ll only be there in the morning as I’ve got to conduct a tour of the Poison Cauldron of the Newtown Creek in the afternoon.

Come with? Ticketing link below.

Upcoming Events and Tours

Saturday, May 21st at 3:30 p.m. –
A Return to The Poison Cauldron of the Newtown Creek,
with Atlas Obscura, in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Click here for more details.

Thursday, May 26th at 6 p.m. –
Brooklyn Waterfront: Past & Present Boat Tour,
with Working Harbor Committee. Click here for more details.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

May 20, 2016 at 11:30 am

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