The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Archive for the ‘Blissville’ Category

wide remark

with 2 comments

It’s National Cheese Souflee Day, in these United States.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

So far, I’ve never tired of seeing the old Koscisuzcko Bridge from the roadway of the new one, but then again its only been around three weeks that the thing has been open. One is curious as to the reactions all of y’all have had at the sight of the new span, how it’s been working out for you so far, all that sort of thing. I’m on the Stakeholders Advisory Committee, so if there’s something specific or pithy you’d want me to bring to officialdom, let me know and I’ll pass it on to the powers that be.

Today’s first two shots were captured from behind the windshield of a car, in case you’re wondering. What I was doing in an automobile, of all things, is something which I’ll tell you about in a future post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The driver of the car I was in is one of my neighbors from back here in Astoria, if you’re curious, but I had engaged his services in the context of his being a professional and TLC licensed driver. Again, I’ll tell you why I needed a ride at a later date. Our path didn’t just include a crossing of the Koscisuzcko Bridge, but also involved a trip into the City as well. That’s the Roosevelt Island Tram hurtling over the Queensboro Bridge, pictured above. Very exciting.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A couple of weeks ago, I conducted a Newtown Creek tour for a group of European college students, and my pals at Sims Metal Management were gracious enough to allow the group to visit the Newtown Creek Pier facility maintained by the recycling company. Sims has a contract with DSNY to handle the “MGP” or “metal, plastic, glass” recyclable trash we put out on the curb, and they were engaged in the process of collecting it from the white packer trucks maintained by the agency for the task. The stuff ultimately gets barged out to another Sims facility, where it’s sorted.


Upcoming Tours and events

Newtown Creek Alliance Boat tour, May 21st.

Visit the Newtown Creek on a two hour boat tour with NCA historian Mitch Waxman and NCA Project Manager Will Elkins, made possible with a grant from the Hudson River Foundation – details and tix here.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

ordinary courtship

with 2 comments

It’s National Chocolate Covered Cashews Day, in these United States.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Gaze in awe upon the magnificent spectacle of the incredible Newtown Creek, that lugubrious cataract of urban neglect which doth form the currently undefended border of Brooklyn and Queens. Not saying how I got this shot, but perhaps in a great and atypical feat of athleticism a humble narrator leaped from one borough to the next. It’s possible.


Upcoming Tours and events

7 Line Centennial Ride, April 21st – TODAY.

With Access Queens and NYC Transit Museum, Free event, except for subway fare – details here.

First Calvary Cemetery walking tour, May 6th.

With Atlas Obscura’s Obscura Day 2017, Calvary Cemetery Walking Tour – details and tix here.

MAS Janeswalk free walking tour, May 7th.

Visit the new Newtown Creek Alliance/Broadway Stages green roof, and the NCA North Henry Street Project – details and tix here.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

April 21, 2017 at 11:00 am

minor detail

leave a comment »

It’s National Cordon Bleu day, in these United States.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Totemic exemplars of existential horror are everywhere you look in the Newtown Pentacle. To wit, at the border of Sunnyside and Blissville, you’ll find the Long Island Expressway, which was sited along it back in the 1930’s. Pictured above is the overpass which carries Greenpoint Avenue across the expressway, where a “ghost bike” has been encountered for several years. Ghost Bikes, for those of you not in the know, signify the spot where a bicyclist died after being struck by a motor vehicle. Post facto the installation of this Ghost Bike, the NYC DOT has since installed a bicycle lane, which is a badly placed one given that heavy trucks and thousands of automobiles routinely execute turns on this traffic choked overpass.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The ghost bike, as originally encountered a few years ago, and before the bike lane was striped in.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Walking over to Greenpoint from Astoria the other night, for a meeting between the DEP and the Newtown Creek Monitoring Committee, the scenario above was witnessed. It appeared that a vehicle of some sort had taken out not just the ghost bike, but had also snapped the steel signpost it was affixed to. The thing I’d like to point out is that the driver of this vehicle had to have been “busting a move” through the bike lane, which proves a point I’ve been talking about for awhile.

You’re not even safe on the freaking sidewalk.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Bike lanes area a fairly decisive issue amongst some Queensicans. More often than not, the argument against these things involves people protecting their street parking or something. I see bicyclists completely ignoring the street markings for these bike lanes and doing whatever the hell they want to – sidewalks, wrong way, running lights, all kinds of stuff. Everybody has probably ridden a bike at one time or another, everyone has also done something stupid on their bikes – that’s not the point.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I see some truly tragic implementations of this bike lane thing, which were clearly drawn out in an ideological fashion by people who are staring at maps of remote places they’ve never visited. The bike lanes on, and leading to, the Greenpoint Avenue Bridge are ludicrous and actually cause a constant traffic jam mid bridge – it was and is far safer for the bikes to ride on the sidewalk of the bridge than to try and navigate the gravel and debris which litters the GP Ave. Bridge lanes. The ones here at Greenpoint Avenue and the LIE are also a disaster. Again, it’s better for – and is the observed custom of – bicyclists to use the sidewalk to cross the overpass.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s what 5:41 p.m. looks like on a weekday at this intersection. That white SUV in the foreground is the head of a vehicular snake of east bound stop and go traffic which coils all the way back to Midtown Manhattan. It’s so busy that NYPD has permanently stationed traffic control officers here during the rush hours. If there has to be a bike lane on Greenpoint Avenue, lets widen the sidewalk and line it with those concrete jersey barriers to protect both scuttling narrator and the riders of those mechanical contraptions called bicycles. That would be smart.

If this spot can kill a ghost bike… the mind boggles over the implications for one such as myself.


Upcoming Tours and events

First Calvary Cemetery walking tour, May 6th.

With Atlas Obscura’s Obscura Day 2017, Calvary Cemetery Walking Tour – details and tix here.

MAS Janeswalk free walking tour, May 7th.

Visit the new Newtown Creek Alliance/Broadway Stages green roof, and the NCA North Henry Street Project – details and tix here.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

April 4, 2017 at 1:05 pm

utterly devoid

with 5 comments

It’s National Potato Salad Day, National Peanut Cluster Day, and National Pancake Day, in these United States.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Where to go, what to see, and why bother? Such are the thoughts which intrude and occlude whenever one such as myself leaves the house. Someone else has always gotten there first, and there are certain scenes which – while they never disappoint – I’ve visited literally thousands of times. I’d like to travel abroad, photographing exotic animals and esoteric people, but that would likely involve a good deal of finance, and planning, and I hate to fly. Also, it may be too hot, or cold, and I’ll likely get sunburned. Physical discomfort will likely result, my cherished preconceptions would likely be challenged, or I could end up being killed and eaten by a pack of monkeys.

Ultimately, everyone and everything will eventually make it to Queens anyway so why leave? As the band TLC advised – stick to the hills and waterfalls you’re used to. We’ve got the monkey situation sorted out around here already, there are no uncaged hippos or other large mammalian killers (other than mankind), and I know every possible private spot there is to urinate around these parts. As a note: There are two public bathrooms in Calvary Cemetery, but the one at the Review Avenue gates is often locked. You really, really shouldn’t let loose elsewhere in the cemetery. That’s just disrespectful.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On a recent wander through Calvary, wherein I was exploring the eastern side of the polyandrion, a humble narrator became the focus of attention for a group of Crows. Possibly Ravens, but I don’t know what the difference between the two are. My belief is that they saw my filthy black raincoat flapping about and figured that one of their own had taken to the ground, but I’m an idiot. As is usually the case, for some reason birds aren’t afraid of me. I can walk through a flock of pigeons or sparrows pecking at the ground and they neither scatter into the air nor otherwise acknowledge my presence.

For some reason this is equal parts disconcerting and deeply satisfying.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As mentioned above, Long Island City is famously home neither to packs of carnivorous monkeys, nor lurking hippopotamus, or even large feline predators. There are absolutely no giant fire breathing lizards or irradiated turtles lurking in Newtown Creek, which categorically never attacked Maspeth in June or September of 1958.

Our big problem are the vampires, of course, who lurk in the shadowed rafters of the Long Island Expressway during the day, as well as the elevated subway tracks around Queens Plaza and Roosevelt Avenue. There are reportedly “things” down in the sewers which the NYC DEP refuses to acknowledge, bizarre abominations and parodies of the primatological branch which IND platform based commuters sometimes spot moving about in the fuligin shadows of the subway tunnels. The MTA denies their existence too, calling them “urban legends.”

There are the rat kings, the cockroach collective consiousness, and the aboriginal horrors which lurk at Hallets Cove – but that’s another story. If you ask the U.S. Coast Guard, they’ll deny those reports offered by professional sailors of a sea monster dwelling in the turbidity of Hells Gate, one which only emerges during powerful thunder storms.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

mouldering bulk

with 7 comments

It’s National Canadian Bacon Day, in these United States.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

“Blowing it to bits” is a bit of an exaggeration, as offered by NYC’s tabloid headline writers (and the Governor of New York State), referring to a recently offered plan by the NYS DOT regarding the controlled demolition of the Kosciuszko bridge. Really… this isn’t going to be like the end of the movie Diehard, if anything it’s going to be a bit more like the end of Fight Club.

Documenting this project has been a long standing project of mine – this 2012 post tells you everything you could want to know about Robert Moses, Fiorella LaGuardia, and the origins of the 1939 model Kosciuszko Bridge. Just before construction started, I swept through both the Brooklyn and Queens sides of Newtown Creek in the area I call “DUKBO” – Down Under the Kosciuszko Bridge Onramp. Here’s a 2014 post, and another, showing what things used to look like on the Brooklyn side, and one dating back to 2010, and from 2012 discussing the Queens side – this. Construction started, and this 2014 post offers a look at things. There’s shots from the water of Newtown Creek, in this June 2015 post, and in this September 2015 post, which shows the bridge support towers rising. Additionally, this post from March of 2016 detailed the action on the Queens side. Most recently, here’s one from May of 2016, and one from June of the same year. Here’s one from August of 2016, and finally the December 2016 one.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The NYS DOT held two meetings this week, one of which I attended, in which they described their plans. First – the central truss removal plan no longer involves the usage of maritime cranes. What their engineers described instead was the construction of four temporary towers which would support machinery which they described as “strand jacks,” which would lower the central truss down to couple of waiting flat top barges. Welding torches would be used to sever the truss’s links to the bridge superstructure, after the strand jacks are attached to support its weight. The truss will be lowered and secured to the barges, whereupon tugboats would guide it westward out of Newtown Creek, and across the harbor to New Jersey where its steel will be recycled.

They indicated this process would play out sometime around the end of April or the beginning of May. The DOT folks were quite vague about specific dates, saying that these were probable time frames but that they couldn’t commit to specifics at this point in time. This is problematic for me, personally, as I’m in the process of negotiating for boats to do Newtown Creek tours this summer, and the procedure described above includes the closure of the creek to all traffic for a couple of days. Worry, worry.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There are two steel towers on either side of the Newtown Creek, which the engineering people indicated would be removed using conventional means (torches and cranes). Beyond the two steel towers, there are 21 spans supported by concrete piers – 10 in Brooklyn and 11 in Queens – which support roadway sections that range between large 230 foot long and 800 ton units and smaller ones that are 120 feet long which weigh in at 2-300 tons. These sections are the ones that DOT and the contractor partnership working for them are proposing to use the explosives on.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The explosives used, and it should be mentioned that the very conservative FDNY Explosives Unit was present and participating in the discussion, would be shaped charges. What that means is that these things are essentially copper bars with high explosive material attached. The charges are placed at critical structural points on the bridge sections, and when their detonation is triggered, the copper chops right through the steel like a knife through butter. The sections which the explosives will be attached to will be “wrapped in filter fabric and conveyor belting equipment,” as they told us. It’s all very complicated.

The detonation will introduce structural deficits into the bridge sections, which will cause them to collapse in a controlled manner, effectively dropping straight down with little or no flyaway debris. There will be dust on impact with the ground, of course, which is a bit of a concern but the engineers say they have techniques to control that too.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Vibration from the dropping sections – which again, weigh anywhere between 200 and 800 tons – is a concern, and the engineering folks described a series of dampening and avoidance technologies and techniques to handle that. These involved building engineered soil berms with internal steel structures, digging trenches, and so on. To be honest, I’m a bit concerned about what will amount to a seismic event, given the proximity of Calvary Cemetery and the somewhat ancient building industrial stock of West Maspeth and Eastern Greenpoint, but the FDNY guys seemed cool with it all.

As I said during the meeting – “If an FDNY Deputy Chief told me to go jump off the bridge, I’d probably listen to him or her,” but I have a more than normal level of respect for the FDNY’s opinions. One of the guys speaking at the meeting was a deputy chief, as a note.

As you may notice from the shot above, and the reason this whole demolition story is flying around, is that the DOT and their contractors are nearly done with constructing the eastern half of the new bridge.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The 200,000 units a day of vehicle traffic carried by the Brooklyn Queens Expressway will soon be rerouted onto the new bridge, at which point the old bridge is irrelevant and in the way. A twin of the new bridge will then be erected on its footprints. As often mentioned in the past – this western side of the new span will include a pedestrian and bicycle path.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

In West Maspeth, once called Berlinville, you’ll find the sections of the roadway sitting on truck trailers and awaiting insertion into the span. Based on what I’m seeing, they should be installed shortly, and my guess would be that sometime in March the new span over Newtown Creek will be complete.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One thing which I’m looking forward to in 2017 is a promised walk with the DOT over the new bridge shortly before traffic is rerouted. They’ve been a little vague as to when this will happen, but they have said repeatedly that it will occur. As a note, those are the tracks of the Lower Montauk branch of the LIRR, and a section of them known historically as “Deadman’s Curve.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Anywho, that’s your Kosciuszko Bridge replacement project update for the first quarter of 2017, see you on Monday at this – your Newtown Pentacle – with something completely different.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

March 3, 2017 at 11:00 am

double steps

with 4 comments

It’s both National Pig Day, AND it’s concurrently National Peanut Butter Lover’s Day, in these United States.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

To start, one is not entirely sure why it is that our culture ever abandoned the paper grocery bag in favor of the plastic ones, but I have my suspicions that something inhuman was involved with the decision.

I remember the transition… when the paper grocery bag was used as the core and a plastic bag as the outer shell… sometime during the late 1980’s. Paper bags, which made for a fine series of secondary uses such as school book covers and drawing paper, were phased out entirely by the 1990’s. Today, we can’t get rid of the things. Given the nature of the recycling industry, which is always desperately seeking new customers for paper pulp and the like, wouldn’t it make a bit of sense for our elected officials to embrace the return of biodegradable paper bags made from recycled cardboard and paper? Wouldn’t that enrich their constituents and donors in the waste handling industry, nourish the recycling economy, and help end the plague of flyaway plastic carrier bags? This used to be an industry absolutely owned top to bottom by the Orthodox Jews of Brooklyn, incidentally, rather than foreign plastics factories. The old brown paper bags would just melt away in the rain, you may recall, whereas the somewhat immortal plastic ones have become wind blown nuisances.

I’m talking to you Simcha Felder, or @NYSenatorFelder, if you like. I’m watching you, since you were opposed to doing away with the plastic ones, as to what your solution is to this problem.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Speaking of watching – that all knowing thing which cannot possibly exist in the cupola of LIC’s Sapphire Megalith, which stares down upon the world of men through its three lobed burning eye, has been on my mind of late. It does not breathe, nor sleep. “Too big to fail” is how occultists might refer to it, but all that one can say confidentially about it cannot be repeated in open parlance for fear of angering its global army of mortal acolytes. Anarchists and regulators have attempted to control or destroy it over the two and change centuries after the thing first revealed itself in 1812, but it is beyond the power of mortal man to do anything but annoy the thing in the megalith.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There are occult constructs which might attempt to explain it. Its material origins lie with the Astor family, but the modern incarnation is strictly the work of the Rockefellers. There comes a moment in an Oligarch’s life when they ask “is this all there is?” and the path to perfidy opens before them. Just as Dr. Dee found his place beside the throne of England, and Cagliostro found himself in elevated positions in both Papal Rome and Versailles, the idyll of the wealthy often leads to occultism and the harnessing of “things” better left unknown.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Famously, the Sapphire Megalith of Long Island City encompasses 54 stories. Four of those floors are below the ground, 50 above. Rumor has it that there are unacknowleged levels which extend below the ground, so is it “as above, so below”? The Jewish Pentateuch (or Torah) is divided into 54 weekly sections. There are 54 volumes in the the Buddhist Tripitaka, and the word wisdom appears some 54 times in the New Testament of the Christians. In the I Ching, the number 54 is indicated via the Kwei Mei hexagram, indicating that (under the conditions which it denotes) any action undertaken will be evil, and in no way advantageous.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The inhuman thing which lurks within the cupola of the Sapphire Megalith of Long Island City would have no time for any of this mortal occultist claptrap, of course, if it actually existed.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

future freedom

with 2 comments

It’s Revolution and Youth Day, in the nation of Tunisia. 

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Another day in Calvary, another dead New York City Irishman who changed the world.

During the period between the Civil and First World Wars, the well fed Upper Classes began to comment on the physical degeneracy of the Working Class. Back then, it was expected for an employee to labor 16 hours a day for six days a week. Sunday morning was for Church, but Sunday afternoons saw huge numbers filing into saloons and bars and getting hammered on Liquor. Government wise, it’s the reason why the so called “blue laws” were passed – banning the sale of alcohol on Sundays, but there’s always a way to find a drink (or Heroin, in the modern sense). The working class exhibited horrible levels of physical fitness back then – I guess something about having been a starving peasant who survived a transatlantic journey in steerage and now working sixteen hour shifts in some hellish fertilizer mill or sugar plant, being exposed to every conceivable industrial poison and darting amongst dangerous machines with zero safeguard… it wears you down. The tenement life, with its disease, crowding, poor quality food and water probably didn’t help either.

Across the industrial world, team sports and “physical culture” were created and encouraged, and modern day sports like Baseball and “track and field” promulgated to the unwashed. All roads lead to Calvary, of course, but the general idea was that by getting a bit of exercise – the road to the grave could be lengthened. The creation of the modern Olympic Games were a part of this physical culture movement. You couldn’t work in a factory if you could barely stand up, after all, so the famously sober Captains of Industry supported this burgeoning movement. After all – a well muscled employee can probably do the work of two and spare you a payroll expense.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Amateur Athletic Associations were formed, with the goal of toughening up the working class and getting them to lower the shot glass in the name of hurling a javelin, or sprinting a hundred yards, or tossing a ball around. Knowing that the fathers of America’s working class were already ruined, the organizers of this new physical culture movement decided to focus in on the sons. The fathers mainly became interested in “athletics” when they realized a new excuse to bet and gamble had appeared that wasn’t as “fixable” or rigged by the Upper Classes (like betting on the horses), but there you go.

In New York City, the Public Schools Athletic Committee was formed, and was headed by a fellow named James E. Sullivan.

Native to New York City, James E. Sullivan lived his entire life in what would be considered southern Harlem today, and his last address was found on 114th street. He was the assistant director of the American team sent to the 1900 Olympic Games in Paris, and Secretary for the American team at the 1904-1912 games in St. Louis, London, and Stockholm. Sullivan was everywhere in the 19th century United States that an athletics competition was underway, and served NYC’s “Metropolitan Association of the Amateur Athletic Union” in various functions on its board of directors for thirty four years. Sullivan’s professional life was in the publishing field, and he was the founder and publisher of “The Athletic News.”

James E. Sullivan wasn’t just successful in life, he was adored by all the right people. He was honored by and appointed to various National roles by Presidents McKinley, Teddy Roosevelt, and Taft. The Kings of Greece and Sweden both decorated him, and honored him with feudal associations in Europe (specifically the Golden Cross of the Knights of the Saviour).

That’s his grave in LIC’s Calvary Cemetery above, and when his funeral cortège was moving from there (Roman Catholic Church of St. Aloyslus, at 132d Street and Seventh Avenue) to here at Calvary, the road was lined with 60,000 schoolboys mourning his passing – according to the NY Times.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

James E. Sullivan died on a surgeons table in Manhattan’s Mt. Sinai Hospital at 11 a.m., on the 16th of September in 1914. He was being treated for an intestinal condition. Sullivan had been ill since surviving a train wreck in 1911, over in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Inscribed with a white bronze plaque, the monument is dedicated to “James Edward Sullivan, born Nov. 18, 1862 and passed on Sept. 16, 1914. A second carving lists Margaret Eugenia Sullivan, born July 26, 1856 and died July 16, 1923.”

The plaque’s inscription reads “A tribute from the Metropolitan Association of the Amateur Athletic Union.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

– photo via Wikipedia, click it for their page on James E. Sullivan. 

You never know who, or what you’re going to find at Calvary Cemetery in LIC’s Blissville neighborhood. It’s a history book written in marble and bronze, found along the banks of the lamentable Newtown Creek in the borough of Queens.

Tomorrow, something completely different – at this, your Newtown Pentacle.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

January 18, 2017 at 11:00 am

%d bloggers like this: