The Newtown Pentacle

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haggard aspect

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I’m an idiot, but it’s kind of fun inside my head.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

So, last week I was going to some “thing” in Greenpoint, and found myself walking along Meserole Avenue. At 128 Meserole, you’ll notice the 1880’s era church building which was once occupied by the Faith Gospel Church but which, since the 1950’s, has been the HQ of the Pentecostal congregation of the “Church of God.” (as a note, thanks to my pal and Greenpoint historian Geoff Cobb, who filled me in on the identity of the original tenants of 128 Meserole) What caught my eye, in truth, was the lettering on the side of the church van, which I initially read not as “Church of God of Greenpoint” but instead as “Church of, God of Greenpoint.”

This filled me with a sarcastic glee, as I began to contemplate what worship of the God of Greenpoint – or GOG – might entail. I’m sure yoga would be a part of the ceremonial liturgy, and that the priestesses would be devastatingly beautiful hipster women with full sleeve tattoos.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Mr. Cobb informed me that the original 19th century congregation housed here were evangelicals who pursued missionary activities. As mentioned above, the current occupants are Pentecostals. The building sits just outside the Greenpoint Historic District, and the reason that I had to ask Mr. Cobb for his help was that any attempt at discovering the story of the structure quickly resulted in hundreds and hundreds of Real Estate Industrial Complex web pages which reduced 128 Meserole down to mere equity valuations. From the REIC’s POV, the actual worth of any historic cultural institution’s domicile is reduced to mere money, and everything is just a commodity to be bought or sold.

The God of Greenpoint might just be Mammon. Maybe Asmodeus.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There very well might be some pagan deity who could claim the title of “God of Greenpoint,” an elder devil reviled by the Keskachauge who wanders the subterrene caverns beneath the neighborhood seeking a pathway to the surface. The ancestral Lenape culture, which the Keskachauge were a part of, acknowledged spirits both dark and light. The God of Greenpoint… could it be slithering around in deep set tidal and hydrological voids, where centuried petroleum products sit atop the water table, beneath the thick crystalline crust and elluvial underpinnings which support our concretized modernity? If GOG dwells below North Brooklyn, then where is MAGOG?

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


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Written by Mitch Waxman

April 17, 2018 at 11:00 am

village elders

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It’s hard to wake up sometimes.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One had a bizarre dream last night, wherein a sentence of death by poisoning was handed out to me by a tribunal of masked judges who were wearing powdered wigs. The specific toxin was Belladonna, which was administered via a wound opened up in my right thumb. I have no idea if this is how Belladonna would be administered, but dream logic is what it is. In the dream, after having the poison introduced by a Rastafarian wearing a Corrections Dept. uniform, I was told that I had three hours to live and I was released “back into the wild” as it were to die on the streets of the City. I spent my time visiting old friends and haunts, eventually making it to a bridge over Newtown Creek, where everything began to grow dim and a humble narrator exited the narrative.

In this somnambulist fantasy, a wild hallucination which occurred after finding myself suddenly unconscious last night, my travels in the city were accompanied by a growing numbness in the right arm, whose thumb was the point of inoculation. Waking this morning, which temporally concurred with that moment in the dream when death was arriving, I discovered that I had my arm wrapped around my head in a quite uncomfortable position which impeded the normal circulation of the vital fluids and that the limb was quite numb.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Sleep is an odd thing, I’ve always thought. Medical professionals assure me that it’s entirely normal, but ever since I’ve been a child, one has been suspicious of the entire phenomena. Sudden fatigue, a clouding over of the mental faculty, a loss of consiousness followed by intervals of nearly a third of a day spent wildly hallucinating? It just ain’t right. There has to be a cure.

Often, I’ve wondered which world is true – the waking one or the hallucinatory one. Given the nature of my dreams, with their wild implications and Freudian suggestions, I’d rather take the horrible reality of the two thirds of the day when I’m “woke” to the phantasmagoric and demon filled interval experienced during the other portion. One has never dreamt of puppies and green fields, nor playing the role of some sexual or heroic eidolon, rather it’s about stumbling into some colossal bit of industrial machinery and being passively filleted by wires and gears, or experiencing an even greater level of personal or professional humiliation than I normally have to endure.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One is not sure about the “why and what” which the tribunal of masked judges condemned me for, due to the way that my dreams fade away soon after waking. One has friends who can relate their dreams as if they were describing a movie they had recently seen, whereas for me it’s a series of pressurized blasts of imagery and experience exploding forward in the manner of ocean waves. It’s not unknown for me to rise up from sleep screaming in terror at the horrors conjured, nor for Our Lady of the Pentacle to report that I had been mumbling in my sleep. One usually doesn’t talk about such things, but for some reason the one last night was both disturbing and persistent into the wakeful daylight. It’s probably because the physical effects of “sleeping funny” had left me with a numb arm, which needed a good “shaking out” to accommodate the return of normal blood flow and normal nervous function, but still. Last night I died alone in the cold on the Pulaski Bridge, after being sentenced by an anonymous tribunal for an unknown heresy.

What can I tell you, I’m all ‘effed up.


Upcoming Tours and Events

April 14 – Exploring Long Island City – with NY Adventure Club.

Long Island City is a tale of two cities; one filled with glittering water-front skyscrapers and manicured parks, and the other, a highly active ground transportation & distribution zone vital to the New York economy — which will prevail?
Tickets and more details here.

April 15- Newtown Creekathon – with Newtown Creek Alliance.

That grueling 13 and change mile death march through the bowels of New York City known as the “Newtown Creekathon” will be held on that day, and I’ll be leading the charge as we hit every little corner and section of the waterway. This will be quite an undertaking, last year half the crowd tagged out before we hit the half way point. Have you got what it takes the walk the enitre Newtown Creek?
Click here to reserve a spot on the Creekathon.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

April 12, 2018 at 11:00 am

muffled oaths

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More Astoria night time action, in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

An expressway “cloverleaf exchange” between the Brooklyn Queens Expressway, the Grand Central Parkway, and the local street grid is found on Astoria Blvd. in the high 40’s and 50’s blocks A small industrial zone exists thereabouts, which is quite a busy place during working hours. At night, it’s a ghost town inhabited by rats, cats, and me.

Also, the one guy on a delivery bike who rode through the shot while the shutter was open.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I find these kinds of structures fascinating, there’s something about the curving steel and concrete which are lit by harsh sodium fixtures which I just can’t get enough of. The cool coloration of the City’s new LED street lamps provide for a very interesting color contrast, to my eye.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A point of pride for me is knowing where to find hidden byways like the stairs pictured above, which carry you over and through the tangle of high speed roads from one sidewalk plateau to another.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Said plateau is pictured in full above, roughly a full story of elevation from one level to the next.

As a kid growing up in south east Brooklyn, it was critical to know about places like this when fleeing random dangers or avoiding the attentions of law enforcement. My little group of idiots favored the usage of back yards and the jumping of divider fences, or just running across the roofs of connected homes and garages.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As an addendum to a recent conversation I had on social media with a bicycle enthusiast, who was aghast at my assertion that bike lanes in Astoria are superfluous as bike riders use every paved surface available to them, the red light trail over the sidewalk comes from the tail light of an electric bike which zipped past me at speed on the sidewalk.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This shot looks down on the street where the first shot was captured. That’s the Brooklyn Queens Expressway running in the trench.

Robert Moses was entirely specific when assigning nomenclature to his roads, and it all depended on where he was getting to the money from to build them. Parkways have planted dividers and shoulders – built with “parks” money. Expressways have more exits feeding into local streets than Highways – or High Speed Ways – do. Thruways have even fewer exits, which can be 5-10 miles away from each other. The latter three were generally built with slum clearance or urban renewal funds. There was a method to that man’s madness, I tell you.


Upcoming Tours and Events

April 14 – Exploring Long Island City – with NY Adventure Club.

Long Island City is a tale of two cities; one filled with glittering water-front skyscrapers and manicured parks, and the other, a highly active ground transportation & distribution zone vital to the New York economy — which will prevail?
Tickets and more details here.

April 15- Newtown Creekathon – with Newtown Creek Alliance.

That grueling 13 and change mile death march through the bowels of New York City known as the “Newtown Creekathon” will be held on that day, and I’ll be leading the charge as we hit every little corner and section of the waterway. This will be quite an undertaking, last year half the crowd tagged out before we hit the half way point. Have you got what it takes the walk the enitre Newtown Creek?
Click here to reserve a spot on the Creekathon.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

April 6, 2018 at 11:00 am

weird cadence

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The night time is the Creek time.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As mentioned in yesterday’s post, one had a City based event to photograph last week and an event in Greenpoint the same evening. At the start of the Greenpoint leg of my day, I apologized to the filmmaker whose work Newtown Creek Alliance was screening that night (as well as my colleagues) as I’d be disappearing for a few minutes while the projector was running.

I’d already seen the film, at a screening held at the Greater Astoria Historic Society last year, and I had permission from the owner of the property where we were doing the event to get down to his bulkheads – which face out on the fabulous Newtown Creek – and crack out a few shots.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A former petrochemical based lubricant mill, found next door to a modern day biofuel depot, the site I was at is in the section of the Newtown Creek which one refers to as “DUGABO” or Down Under the Greenpoint Avenue Bridge Onramp. That crazy nor’easter had blown through the day before, leaving behind a layer of now rotting snow and slush.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Next door at the biofuel company, specifically Metro Oil, an articulated tug and fuel barge were tied up and pumping material from the on shore storage tanks into the barge. On the horizon, in the shot above, is Calvary Cemetery in Blissville on the Queens side of Newtown Creek.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Looking roughly northwards, that’s the Long Island Expressway behind Railroad Avenue, with the Sapphire megalith of Long Island City and all the new residential towers surrounding it.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Northwest, and the Sims Metal Management facility.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

West towards the Shining City of Manhattan, past the Allocco Recycling company bulkheads.


Upcoming Tours and Events

Newtown Creekathon – hold the date for me on April 15th.

That grueling 13 and change mile death march through the bowels of New York City known as the “Newtown Creekathon” will be held on that day, and I’ll be leading the charge as we hit every little corner and section of the waterway. This will be quite an undertaking, last year half the crowd tagged out before we hit the half way point. Have you got what it takes the walk the enitre Newtown Creek?
Keep an eye on the NCA events page for more information.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

March 27, 2018 at 11:00 am

strange hills

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Shots from high over Greenpoint today, and a few things to do!

– photo by Mitch Waxman

At the end of last week, which was a doozy incidentally (I actually had to wear a suit and tie one night), one had a chance to head over to Greenpoint and get high. High above the ground, that is. The shot above looks east over some oil industry infrastructure towards the new Kosciuszcko Bridge from the rooftop at 520 Kingsland Avenue. Newtown Creek Alliance, the Audubon Society, and Broadway Stages have created a green roof there that these shots were captured from.

We need a lot of green roofs around the Newtown Creek, lords and ladies. That’s one of the points made over and over in the recently released visioning plan which NCA and Riverkeeper have just released.

Check out the Riverkeeper/Newtown Creek Alliance Visioning Plan,
which can be accessed at this link.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Last week, your Newtown Pentacle focused in on the Blissville section of LIC, but I’m hardly the only person to have fallen in love with the people and place. A fellow named a Hank Linhart has been bitten by the Blissville bug too, and produced a fantastic short film documentary about the place. I met Hank at a screening he did for the movie at the Greater Astoria Historic Society last autumn, and promised him that I’d find a spot to showcase it along the Creek.

So, what are you doing this Thursday on the 22nd of March? Want to come see a movie for free?

Film Screening: Blissville Stories

Thursday, March 22nd, 7:30pm – 520 Kingsland Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11222

Please join NCA as we host a screening of “Blissville Stories,” a documentary film about the Queens neighborhood bounded by the Newtown Creek, the Long Island Expressway, and Calvary Cemetery. We will be joined by filmmaker Hank Linhart. More info about the Blissville Stories can be found here.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This shot looks southwest, over the sewer plant towards Manhattan. The middle section of the shot isn’t out of focus, rather you’re looking through jets of methane which are produced by the plant which the NYC DEP burns off. I’ve called it Brooklyn’s invisible flame in the past.

Finally – hold the date for me on April 15th.

That grueling 13 and change mile death march through the bowels of New York City known as the “Newtown Creekathon” will be underway on that day, and I’ll be leading the charge as we hit every little corner and section of the waterway. Keep an eye on the NCA events page for more information.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

no prophet

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Back in the dark, in Blissville.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Last week, Newtown Creek Alliance organized an event in Ridgewood at a local pub which was both a “meet and greet” and an informational event. After it ended, my pal Hank the Elevator Guy offered me a ride towards Astoria in his automobile, but I asked for and instead received a quick lift over to DUKBO.

Hank the Elevator Guy was concerned for my safety, and asked if I was armed. I was, with a camera and tripod. What are you kidding, it’s Newtown Creek – that’s my house. The Kosciuszcko Bridge beckoned, so I headed over to Laurel Hill Blvd. alongside First Calvary Cemetery and got busy with the clicking and the whirring.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The NYS DOT and their contractors are using a pretty good chunk of Laurel Hill Blvd. to store or park construction equipment, and the spot you’re looking at above used to be pretty much where the 1939 K-Bridge stood until it was demolished last year. One attended a meeting with officials from the agency not too long ago, and they indicated that the second phase of the project was on schedule and we’d be seeing both steel and concrete starting to rise out of the site this summer.

They say that everything should be wrapping up in the next 24 months or so.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One sort of lingered about in the area, as I wasn’t being molested or eyeballed by private security. My plan, as you’ll discern from the shots in today’s post, was to accomplish the latest in a series of long exposure shots I’ve been creating all winter. Also, the climate was comfortable, atmospherically speaking.

Also, in that meeting with the NYS DOT, the head of the project indicated that the footbridge connecting 43rd street on Sunnyside’s southern extant with Blissville’s Laurel Hill Blvd. was not only completely rebuilt but was open for business. Additionally, a style of fencing inspired by the wrought iron of the cemetery fence had been installed on the structure, ideal for sticking a camera lens through, unlike the original model which was clad in chain link.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The things I was told turned out to be true, and one enjoyed not just the opportunity to gain a bit of elevation over the deck but to also see the new bridge from a different set of angles than have been available for the last couple of years. This shot looks south over the redesigned approach ramp – connecting the Long Island Expressway off ramp to the Brooklyn Queens Expressway onramp, the latter being the road that the K-Bridge carries across Newtown Creek.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Speaking of the LIE, that’s what it looks like from the pedestrian ramp/overpass that they’ve just built. The old structure was clad in chain link fencing, and despite there being a couple of “Bernie Holes,” here and there – POV options were always limited up here.

For those not in the know, a “Bernie Hole” is a gap in chain link fencing which was opened sometime in the 1980’s or 90’s by my departed pal Bernie Ente. There’s still a few of them around the Creek, and I’m pretty much the only one he ever entrusted the location of most of them to. “Gotta get your shot,” he would opine.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Crossing under the LIE overpass from Blissville into Sunnyside, a humble narrator did one last setup with the tripod and associated gear. I call areas like this “The House of Moses” after Robert Moses, who slammed his roads through neighborhoods and cemeteries all over New York City and in particular Western Queens.


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scarcely be

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The world is an increasingly scary place, stay home.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Sunday nights, and in particular the hours directly before the midnight boundary with Monday is breached, are the only time that the Newtown Creek industrial zone slows down and takes a breath. For a few hours the constant river of vehicular traffic, industrial activity, and omnipresent noise ebb. Any other day or time, and you literally would not have the thirty seconds required for some of these night shots at the Grand Street Bridge to be recorded, due to the vibrations of passing traffic shaking and cavitating the 115 old swing bridge.

The shot above looks southwards towards Brooklyn.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Looking roughly westward, you can see the glowing eidolon known as the new Kosciuszcko Bridge about a mile away, the crane district of Maspeth on the right, and the English Kills tributary of Newtown Creek’s intersection with the main waterway and the East Branch tributary at center and left. At the bottom of the shot, in the unnaturally green waters of the East Branch, a tepid current was pulsing out from under the bridge which was – from an olfactory point of view – obviously carrying sewage towards the main stem of the Creek.

As a note, the water is lit up at the bottom of the shot by the street lamps of the Grand Street Bridge.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As intoned in a previous posting, concern about just how bright the light from the new Kosciuszcko Bridge is has been a subject of conversation of late – and more than once – amongst the Newtown Creek crowd. Light pollution, as it’s known, is meant to confuse the heck out of migratory birds. There’s actually initiatives at the “big” environmental groups to get Manhattan office buildings to dim their lights during certain times of the year in response. Given that Newtown Creek is part of the Atlantic flyover migratory route… well… who the hell cares – it’s Queens.

I guess we’re just going to wait and see what sort of evidentiary observations emerge regarding its effect.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Newtown Pentacle HQ is about two miles away from where the new K bridge crosses the water, and I can see this pillar of purple light punching into the clouds from there. I’ve seen reports on social media outlets proclaiming “lights in the sky” from Bushwick and Vinegar Hill and even Manhattan. Nobody in Queens can be bothered to pick up the phone and call either 311 or 911, as somebody else will do it or they just don’t want to get involved. Admittedly, these reports were offered by people who thought they were seeing UFO’s, but…

Just saying… if I don’t know what something is and it’s flying, it’s a UFO. I’d suggest an Internet rabbit hole term for you to follow, by the way, which are “USO” or “unknown submersible objects.” Seriously, google that. Hours of fun.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Personally, I’ve always gravitated towards more home grown and provable horror. Like the mugger gang that used to operate at the Brooklyn side of the bridge back in the 1910’s, using black jacks and billy clubs to induce unconsciousness in their victims. After emptying the stricken of the contents of their pockets, the gang would toss them into the creek. This is the 1903 version of the Grand Street Bridge pictured above, which the gang is associated with. This bridge replaced earlier models, as discussed in this post.

In 1896, the cops found a Catholic priest name Leonard Syczek floating in the water alongside the 1890 version of the bridge, and wearing the sort of full ceremonial vestments required for conducting a Mass. There’s a story there which has never been fully revealed to me, but I suspect some sort of exorcism related tale will emerge eventually. Or, at least I hope one will. 

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Due to my weird imaginings and remembered tales, a growing state of panic set in and I realized that one of my spells was coming on. Drops and spikes in cerebral dopamine levels began to occur, and suddenly I had to pee really bad. My feet grew cold, my nose flushed full with snot, and a single tear formed in my left eye bitterly.

While composure was still mine, a phone app was engaged, and a driver was dispatched to shepherd me back to a place where doors can be firmly locked and vouchsafed against the outside world. I left my shoes in the hallway that night, lest I track something in which I had picked up along the banks of the Newtown Creek on a foggy and unusually warm night in February.


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Written by Mitch Waxman

February 20, 2018 at 11:00 am

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