The Newtown Pentacle

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Archive for the ‘Bronx’ Category

absolute possession

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I’d love to fly somewhere, but I got nowhere to go.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A last few shots from my ferry trip last week are on offer today. One of the interesting things about the Soundview Ferry route is that it crosses right under the LaGuardia Airport approaches for jets. That means you get to see passenger planes descending towards you with their wheels deployed, which is something that you don’t get to see very often without getting to meet the folks at Homeland Security.

As a note, I’ve never liked the moniker “Homeland Security” as it stinks of authoritarian and fascist terminology. Fatherland, Motherland, Homeland… language which propagates an “us and them” mentality, which is the sort of mentality that resulted in this whole “permanent terrorism” threat and “forever war” dealie in the first place. It’s also a lot harder to talk rationally about “abolishing ICE” if you present it as the abolishment of Immigration and Customs Enforcement norms. I advocate for changing the operational orders of these two monolithic organizations, modernizing our immigration system, and spending giant buckets of cash on customs, which are all necessary and wise investments in the future.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I’ve had a weird experience during this very busy first week of April, which is that I’ve been around a lot of people who actually like me. This blows the whole self perceived “hated and shunned outsider” thing. It is necessary for my personal immigration and customs enforcement, as well as my self perception that my psychological “ID” continually reminds my “EGO” that everybody actually hates me and that parties will be thrown when I’m no longer walking the planet.

To that end, I’ve been a wise cracking asshole every chance I get, hoping to make people hate me again. It doesn’t seem to be working. I just got the letter Monday from the Borough President’s office that I’ve been appointed to the local Community Board here in Astoria. No, really.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s the dock at Rikers Island in the shot above. Just beyond is the former Politti Power Plant, and the Hell Gate Bridge, and the Manhattan skyline. Seriously, I’d recommend taking a ride on the Soundview route of the NYC Ferry, it’s super interesting and takes you to a seldom travelled part of NY Harbor. On June 15th, you’ll be able to ride this ferry route with me, but I’ll tell you about that outing at a later date.

Scroll down for a couple of announcements for public stuff I’ve got going at the end of April. “It doth begin again,” tour season does.


“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.


Events!

Slideshow and book signing, April 23rd, 6-8 p.m.

Join Newtown Creek Alliance at 520 Kingsland Avenue in Greenpoint, Brooklyn for a slideshow, talk, and book signing and see what the incredible landscape of Newtown Creek looks like when the sun goes down with Mitch Waxman. The event is free, but space is limited. Please RSVP here. Light refreshments served.

Click here to attend.

The Third Annual, All Day, 100% Toxic, Newtown Creekathon. April 28th.

The Creekathon will start at Hunter’s Point South in LIC, and end at the Kingsland Wildflowers rooftop in Greenpoint. It will swing through the neighborhoods of LIC, Blissville, Maspeth, Ridgewood, East Williamsburg, Bushwick, and Greenpoint, visiting the numerous bridges that traverse the Creek. While we encourage folks to join us for the full adventure, attendees are welcome to join and depart as they wish. A full route map and logistics are forthcoming.This is an all day event. Your guides on this 12+ mile trek will be Mitch Waxman and Will Elkins of the Newtown Creek Alliance, and some of their amazing friends will likely show up along the way.

Click here to attend.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

April 4, 2019 at 1:00 pm

terrible movement

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A bit more on the tugboat scene.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Boy oh boy, it’s like the old days at Newtown Pentacle lately, huh? Tugboats, tugboats, tugboats… That’s a Bouchard articulated tug and barge combo motoring along under the Bronx Whitestone Bridge. This tug is heading out of the Westchester Creek inlet section of the East River and heading towards Manhattan. That’s the Throgs Neck Bridge behind the tug and Bronx Whitestone in the lower third of the shot. Both bridges were designed by the great Othmar Amman.

This is the view from the NYC Ferry’s Soundview landing, in the Bronx, btw.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A few years ago, I was seemingly obsessed with photographing tugs. Whereas I’m still drawn to the subject, and remain utterly fascinated by all things maritime industrial, there’s really only so many ways to shoot and frame a tug shot. Additionally, a few of my friends with whom I shared this fascination for towing vessels have passed away in recent years, and it feels sort of weird and not as much fun to be the “last man standing.” Used to be that shots like these would get sent around in late night emails to my little cadre of fellow enthusiasts, who would in turn send what they got that particular day to me.

Such is life, and death, in the big city – I suppose.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A humble narrator is having a furiously busy week roll through the calendar as you’re reading this. Yesterday, I got to interact with some highly placed people at NYC DOT regarding the new pathways which will be introduced into Maspeth and Sunnyside by the soon to be finished Kosciuszcko Bridge bike and pedestrian path. One offered them the experiential thing, taking them for a walk around the place. Officialdom knows far more about the streets of NY than any regular person can, but generally they know these things from paper maps, politics, and spreadsheets. “Being there” in the flesh, seeing trucks parked on the broken sidewalks and crossing hazardous intersections, is a whole different thing. Last night, a friend of mine – Pat Dorfman – received the “Sunnysider of the Year” award from the Sunnyside Chamber of Commerce, so I had to show up and take a pic or two of the awards ceremony. My dogs were barking by the time I got home and settled in on the couch.

As you’re reading this, I’m probably at a polyandrion in Blissville, walking an ornithological enthusiast around. Then, I’ve got a call in meeting at 4… it never ends.

Tomorrow, I’ll tell you about two events I’m doing with Newtown Creek Alliance at the end of the month – but hold the dates of April 23 and 28th for now.


“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

April 3, 2019 at 11:30 am

outside world

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This light of day thing is a real drag.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

About a week ago, I spent the afternoon with one of my professional tour guide chums, specifically Corey from NY Adventure Club. We were scouting out a boat tour that we’re planning for June, one which will take advantage of the new NYC Ferry Soundview route. Soundview starts at Pier 11/Wall Street in Manhattan, visits the 34th street ferry dock, and then heads north along the East River towards its ultimate destination in the Bronx. It was late afternoon when Corey and I boarded the boat, and the back and forth of the trip ate up a couple of hours on a February afternoon. Today’s post shows a few highlight shots of what was observed, and later this week we’ll take a closer look at what you can see while onboard.

The shot above is actually from Astoria’s Ferry dock, which was from the very end of the excursion, when I was on my way back home to HQ.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As you may have discerned from recent posts, a humble narrator has been experiencing a bit of wanderlust this winter. Desire to see places and things less familiar has been bubbling up, and steps have been taken to accommodate this. One is nothing if not systematic, and long time readers will be able to tell you that the southern sections of NY Harbor – Port Elizabeth Newark, the Kill Van Kull, Gowanus Bay and Canal, the “Great Bridges” zone, Wallabout Bay and the Brooklyn Navy Yard, Bushwick Inlet, Hells Gate, and especially Newtown Creek have received a tremendous amount of attention over the last decade. Simply put, I’ve either had or found the means and ability to get to these places.

Recently, a fascination with the northern expanses has emerged – Flushing Bay and Creek, and the “unknown country” of the Bronx’s southern shorelines. The Soundview Ferry puts some of these places within reach of my lens.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This week, I’m taking you with for the first ride I’ve taken on the Soundview route NYC Ferry. The wonders you can see…

Additionally, there’s going to be a couple of extra postings coming your way, if you’re subscribed for the email delivery of the Newtown Pentacle. The big project which I’d been working on and referring to throughout the last half of 2018 is finally ready for public consumption, and I’m going to be doing a few extra posts to announce it.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

February 25, 2019 at 1:00 pm

Posted in Astoria, Bronx

Tagged with , ,

quiet denizens

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How I’m voting today, and why.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Andrew Cuomo, the Dark Prince of Albany, is terrifying in many ways. His management of the MTA is the biggest mark against him in my book, but in terms of the issue central to my life – Newtown Creek – he’s been perhaps the greatest champion that the waterway has ever had in high state office. As Attorney General, he forced ExxonMobil into court and beat them around the head and neck over the Greenpoint Oil Spill, and was a major player in terms of the waterway being named a Federal Superfund site back in 2010. His Kosciuszcko Bridge replacement project has been absolutely on schedule and budget. For no other reason than Newtown Creek, the big guy gets my vote. I hope he legalizes recreational Marijuana in his third term, as he hinted at when Cynthia Nixon pulled him to the left during the primaries, which will be a first step towards ending the mass incarceration of victimless criminals. Additionally, NYS really needs the revenue to first shore up the MTA, and then to pay the Medicare and Medicaid costs of the baby boomer generation.

Did you see the video of our Governor visiting Cynthia Nixon’s campaign HQ and congratulating her campaign volunteers on the night of his primary win? Click here for it. (note: the Governor appears 42 seconds in).

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Tish James gets my vote for NYS Attorney General. She’s got a proven record of standing up for the little people, and I’m a fan. One hundred and one years ago today, women finally had their legal right to vote in NYS acknowledged – after a long and often bloody struggle by the Suffragist movement – and I will take particular joy in voting for a lady to hold the second most powerful position in the state today. The NYS Attorney General’s office is considered to be the second most powerful prosecutor’s office in the country, after the Federal AG seat currently held by Jeff Sessions. That’s because the NYS AG has de facto regulatory authority over Wall Street. Given that Tish James is African American, that makes for a pretty interesting moment, historically. Normally, identity politics are something I abhor, but… Tish is sort of the person whom Dr. King was talking about back during the Civil Rights era.

Brian Barnwell is my NYS Assemblyman, and he’s done a great job in his first term for Woodside/Astoria, earning my vote for a second. I expect great things from Brian down the road, as he’s a young guy and just getting going in his career.

Alexandria Ocasio Cortez will get my vote as well, since I think it’s time to let somebody new take the wheel in Congress, and start shifting power to a different generation of people who couldn’t care less about Viet Nam or Freedom Fries. She’s electorally electrified my younger friends, waking them up out of a haze, and I’m interested in seeing what happens next with her.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The three charter revisions all come out of a lame duck City Hall, and are a wish list offered by the Mayor intended to eliminate criticism of his sophist policies. Can you trust anything that the Dope from Park Slope wants to happen? Three “no’s” and here’s why;

  • The Community Board term limits thing is meant to clear away “dead wood” from the CB’s. Community Board members are currently proposed by the local Council member and then nominated to the Borough President’s office. Should the BP decide to place a candidate on the board, they can serve as long as they wish to – officially. In the unofficial but true reality, the Council person or BP can bounce you out whenever they decide to. Every political action committee allied with the Mayor, from the “Bicycle Fanatics” to the “No Bail” and “Build Tall Buildings Everywhere” crowds, support this resolution. Ask yourself why? Can it have anything to do with the current CB’s regularly opposing the edicts of City Hall?
  • The Community Engagement Committee thing is another patronage mill for the Manhattan elites, which would take the form of a blue ribbon panel for political insiders and the children of the well off (or well connected) appointed by the Mayor’s office which which choose “friendlies” to staff the community boards. In addition to being yet another one of the Mayor’s spending sprees, it would cut the actual community off from decisions regarding their neighborhoods and replace them with recent transplants. Additionally, it would continue the emasculation of the Borough President’s already largely ceremonial offices and weaken the City Council’s options when the Executive Branch in City Hall makes a bad decision.
  • As far as the Campaign Funding item, do we really want to reinforce the franchise to elected office exclusively enjoyed by members of either of the Democratic or Republican parties, which is the only thing that the two organizations can actually agree on? That’s what this would do, by lowering the financial threshold at which they can fundraise before receiving your TAX MONEY to buy political advertising. The wording of this thing does nothing to close the LLC loopholes, PAC funding, or advocacy ads paid for by “concerned citizens.” All it does is lower the contributions which individual citizens can offer to a campaign, which diminishes the importance of individual citizens to the Political Industrial Complex. It also will tend to keep people from the Green Party, Libertarians, and other groups from ever managing to get their foot in the door.

A vote against all three is a rebuke of our vainglorious Mayor, who is likely to announce he’s running for President of the United States at some point in the near future.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

November 6, 2018 at 11:00 am

ceremonial mimicry

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Exquisite funerary monuments encountered at Woodlawn Cemetery.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Long Monument at Woodlawn Cemetery is pictured above, a white bronze and black marble masterpiece. The oldest inscription on the stone is accredited to “Samuel Long, July 28, 1915.” There’s also “William G. Reynolds, July 30, 1950,” and “Alice Reynolds, December 17th, 1957.”

A bit of quick research on Samuel Long (of 137 Riverside Drive in Manhattan) reveals that he died without having left behind a proper will, and that his estate ended up being adjudicated in a court battle between his widow Alice (I have no idea did this is the aforementioned Alice who died in 1957), a business partner, and two unnamed brothers.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Samuel Long was a multi millionaire, in 1915 (the equivalent valuation of one million 1915 dollars is 24.4 million dollars in 2018, so…), who had made his fortune in the silent era movie business. He was only forty one years old when he died, after an illustrious career. He lived in the Clarendon Aprtments on 86th street and Riverside Drive, and had only arrived in NYC from Baltimore in 1897. He worked for the American Mutoscope and Biograph Company (later just Biograph) in a variety of executive roles until 1907, when he organized and became President of the Kalem Company, another film production outfit.

“White Bronze” is the trade term for a copper/zinc alloy that statuary such as the one seen adorning the Long memorial above is cast into. The ornamentation of mortuary stones and monuments with this material was fashionable for about a century from 1850-1950. Funeral Directors and “Stone” salesmen had catalogs of available castings available for plot owners to choose from. There are certain monuments which are entirely composed of this material, which – as mentioned innumerable times before – is worth a LOT of money in our copper hungry modern world.

Sneak thief and tomb robber alike would put some effort into dismantling and carrying off anything made of white bronze.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Another plot at Woodlawn which dates to a similar era as the Long Monument is the Miller Monument. The sculptural quality of the white bronze angel was spectacular and quite exquisite. This one used white granite instead of black marble for the base, and wasn’t too far from either Judge Schmuck (see yesterday’s post) or Samuel Long.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Dedicated to a fellow named David Miller (1839 to 1910), who didn’t leave many footprints behind that I could find, this monument was absolutely best of breed as far as representing figurative sculptural style from the “fin de siècle” pre WW1 era. Obviously cast in a mold, this white bronze angel was incredibly well executed.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Man, just look at that.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Nearby the grave of intrepid girl reporter Nellie Bly, the white bronze Caputo monument was centered around a cruciform of white bronze and was quite captivating. All the bas tableaus on its face depict “stations of the cross” scenes. It was surrounded by foot stones which carried individual interment information for the various members of the family.


Upcoming Tours and Events

June 22nd – The Birthplace of Mobil Oil: A Walking Tour
– with Newtown Creek Alliance.

Join NCA historian Mitch Waxman and NCA’s project manager Willis Elkins for walk through the birthplace of Mobil Oil, past the DEP’s largest Wastewater Treatment Plant and to the Kingsland Wildflowers green roof. The tour will also visit NCA’s Living Dock on the way; showcasing restoration efforts adjacent to major industrial operations and in the wake of legacies of pollution and neglect.
The tour will end at the 22,000 square foot Kingsland Wildflowers project, with panoramic views of the Newtown Creek and Manhattan skyline at sunset.

Tickets and more details
here.

June 30th – The Skillman Avenue Corridor
– with Access Queens.

Starting at the 7 train on Roosevelt Avenue, we will explore this thriving residential and busy commercial thoroughfare, discussing the issues affecting its present and future. Access Queens, 7 Train Blues, Sunnyside Chamber of Commerce, and Newtown Creek Alliance members will be your guides for this roughly two mile walk.
Skillman Avenue begins at the border of residential Sunnyside and Woodside, and ends in Long Island City at 49th avenue, following the southern border of the Sunnyside Yards for much of its path. Once known as Meadow Street, this colonial era thoroughfare transitions from the community of Sunnyside to the post industrial devastations of LIC and the Dutch Kills tributary of Newtown Creek.

Tickets and more details
here.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

June 19, 2018 at 11:00 am

Posted in Bronx

Tagged with ,

bewildered opening

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The Bronx, Woodlawn Cemtery, and Mr. Schmuck.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As is often the case, while researching a completely unrelated topic, I will happen across some important personage or event which will cause me to drop everything I’m doing and instead go down a historical rabbit hole. This time, the hole led one to the Bronx, and Woodlawn Cemetery. That’s where New York State Supreme Court Justice Peter Schmuck is buried,

Yes, Schmuck.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

NYS Governor Al Smith elevated Peter Schmuck from his role as Chief Justice of NYC Court to the NYS Supreme Court in April of 1928. A Manhattan born attorney, Schmuck replaced Charles D. Donohoue on the NYS Supreme Court and served that institution as a Justice until 1943. Afterwards he acted as “referree” and advisor to the next generation until his death in Ontario at age 80 in 1954.

1928-1943 are pretty much the years during which the “New Deal” reshaped the United States, with New York State having served as the laboratory for government programs that became Social Security, the Work Projects Administration, the Federal Highway Administration, and so on. That means the entire New Deal was decided on as being legally Kosher by a guy named Schmuck.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

After his appointment to the bench in 1928, Justice Schmuck successfully ran for two fourteen years terms of office on the Supreme Court. In his second term, his law secretary was future NYC Mayor Vincent Impelliteri. I’ve checked with a friend who is German, and he assures me that the Judge’s name wouldn’t be pronounced in the Yiddish manner – Shmuk – but would instead be read by a German speaker as “Shmook.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Schmuck monument is a Mausoleum, one graced by an ornate sculptural bronze door. There’s some inexpert application of gold leaf paint on it here and there, but overall the thing was in excellent condition. One thing which struck me at Woodlawn Cemetery, in the Bronx, was how immaculate it was. The grounds and even the monuments were in fantastic condition. You didn’t see the accidental desecrations caused by inattentive groundskeepers that you do at the Calvary’s here in Queens, nor the sort of wholesale tomb raiding for white bronze and other semi precious metals by the recycling scavengers whom I call the crows at all of the “Cemetery Belt” institutions along the Brooklyn/Queens border.

Additionally, the staff and security personnel at Woodlawn were quite accomodating to my little triad of tapophiles when we arrived at their institution. I was asked to fill out a form, regarding permissions to photograph their grounds, which was straightforward and liberal. At no point did anyone randomly appear and forbid camera usage on spurious grounds.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

While there, the monuments and mortal remains of a few other NYC notables were visited. The minimalist Art Deco headstone indicating the final resting place of the restless Fiorello LaGuardia is pictured above.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The final address of Robert Moses is found at Woodlawn Cemetery as well. His tomb is a simple one, which is fitting somehow, as the grandiose monument he actually left behind is 20th century New York City. I’d imagine that if you had asked Robert Moses how he’d like to be remembered by modernity thirty seven years after his death, I imagine he’d ask you to visit the Triborough Bridge or Jones Beach instead of Woodlawn.


Upcoming Tours and Events

June 22nd – The Birthplace of Mobil Oil: A Walking Tour
– with Newtown Creek Alliance.

Join NCA historian Mitch Waxman and NCA’s project manager Willis Elkins for walk through the birthplace of Mobil Oil, past the DEP’s largest Wastewater Treatment Plant and to the Kingsland Wildflowers green roof. The tour will also visit NCA’s Living Dock on the way; showcasing restoration efforts adjacent to major industrial operations and in the wake of legacies of pollution and neglect.
The tour will end at the 22,000 square foot Kingsland Wildflowers project, with panoramic views of the Newtown Creek and Manhattan skyline at sunset.

Tickets and more details
here.

June 30th – The Skillman Avenue Corridor
– with Access Queens.

Starting at the 7 train on Roosevelt Avenue, we will explore this thriving residential and busy commercial thoroughfare, discussing the issues affecting its present and future. Access Queens, 7 Train Blues, Sunnyside Chamber of Commerce, and Newtown Creek Alliance members will be your guides for this roughly two mile walk.
Skillman Avenue begins at the border of residential Sunnyside and Woodside, and ends in Long Island City at 49th avenue, following the southern border of the Sunnyside Yards for much of its path. Once known as Meadow Street, this colonial era thoroughfare transitions from the community of Sunnyside to the post industrial devastations of LIC and the Dutch Kills tributary of Newtown Creek.

Tickets and more details
here.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

June 18, 2018 at 12:00 pm

half full

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An optimistic iguana.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As is occasionally the case, a humble narrator needs to take a short break. This week, single images will greet you, as is the case with the one of an Iguana above – which was observed in the Bronx.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

April 1, 2016 at 12:24 pm

Posted in animals, Bronx, reptile

Tagged with , ,

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