The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Archive for the ‘Degnon Terminal’ Category

cloudy throne

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Monday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I’m not joking when I say that I’m obsessed with that little tree which is growing out from under a factory building in Long Island City, along the banks of Newtown Creek’s Dutch Kills tributary. One feared, during a post deluge walk, that it might have become unrooted due to the heavy rain but there it was. It’s passed from being a tree to being a metaphor for me. Nature wins, ultimately, no matter how hard we try – nature wins.

Hope, basically. It represents hope to me.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It’s why we should be striving to enslave the insects to do our bidding. Imagine commanding armies of ants or termites. It’s just a matter of figuring out their pheromone language and changing their marching orders. Ants can move mountains, one particle of sand at a time. Give me enough indentured ants and I’ll change the course of the Hudson.

To get started – we’ll just need a bag of sugar, a laptop, and a couple of lengths of copper speaker wire. Yeah, eventually we’ll need an AI to act as the Queen, but one thing at a time – huh?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I don’t know why I automatically go to “mad science” as my solution for intractable problems. I have a friend who’s the kind of scientist who does horrible things to monkeys at work (for good reasons, as he’s trying to cure blindness, but it’s still a pretty grim laboratory setup). I’ve asked him if the “science industry” has any sort of safeguards against he or his colleagues going rogue. If you notice your co worker has a human hand wired to a computer, for instance, is there an 800 number to call?

The answer, after he finished laughing about the term “science industry,” was no. There are no restrictive or societal rules against mad science. Order your Tesla coils, lords and ladies, the sky’s the limit.


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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

September 13, 2021 at 11:00 am

subtler properties

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Thursday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

During a moon lit night at Dutch Kills, one found himself feeling kind of minimalist. This isn’t so easy in an environment as visually complicated as the Newtown Creek watershed. One found himself fascinated by ambient lighting, cast colors, and vibe.

The shot above is looking eastwards along the Borden Avenue Bridge, towards Review Avenue, with the eye of Hecate sitting swollen and glowing in the spring sky. This was a supermoon, by the way, one of several we will be experiencing between now and autumn.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Montauk Cutoff is pictured above, drenched in automotive brake light. One of the reasons behind my upgrade of camera equipment in the last six months revolves around being able to capture this sort of scene minus the usage of tripods or other camera support.

This shot is also from Borden Avenue in Long Island City, for the curious.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s also the Montauk Cutoff in the shot above, with the point of view changed to the “Empty Corridor” under the Long Island Expressway.

Back tomorrow with more at this – your Newtown Pentacle.


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Buy a book!

In the Shadows at Newtown Creek,” an 88 page softcover 8.5×11 magazine format photo book by Mitch Waxman, is now on sale at blurb.com for $30.

Written by Mitch Waxman

May 20, 2021 at 1:00 pm

terrestrial scenes

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Friday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Concluding a late night scuttle around Long Island City in today’s post, my aching feet were kicking the dust about in the Degnon Terminal section. Pictured above is what I’ve come to refer to as the “Empty Corridor,” a post industrial hellscape of “used to be” and “once was” which has gotten sort of “crimey” during the pandemic year.

I’ve seen young men hammering at padlocks, been circled around by other young fellows, and wandered through what I later realized to be a big money drug transaction hereabouts. Luckily, having lived in NYC all my life, and specifically having grown up during the late 1970’s and 1980’s the maxim of “keep moving” is part of my general mindset. If somebody asks you for a quarter, what they really want is for you to put your hand in your pocket so your defenses are halved. Half of these “mofo’s” would boil you down to sell the elements if they had half a chance, so don’t give them a chance. Keep moving. It’s harder to hit a mobile target than a static one. In the high crime years of my “Ute” I was stabbed, shot at, beat up, and also chased by packs of feral dogs. No, really.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Accordingly, I steered myself past the empty corridor in pursuit of heading over to Hunters Point Avenue to check in on that brave little tree growing out from under a factory found on the shoreline of Newtown Creek’s Dutch Kills tributary which I’ve become obsessed with over the last year.

Along the way, I couldn’t help but crack out a shot or two of a UPS last mile shipping center. Seriously, these folks – along with their competitors at FedEx – have become American Heroes over the last year. The economic picture would be a whole lot different, regionally and nationally, if it wasn’t for the efforts of the people who work for these companies. I’ll also mention the United States Postal Service in the same breath, and the people who work for the Amazon empire.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There’s my little baby. I’ve been paying this little cultivar a lot of attention over the last year. I’m told that it’s likely a “Tree of Heaven” or Ailanthus altissima. It’s the eponymous “a tree grows in Brooklyn” from the 1943 Betty Smith novel, if it is indeed that cultivar. An invasive species native to East Asia, Ailanthus altissima has a life span of 50-100 years and will grow back from its roots even if you cut it down.

Tenacity, bro, tenacity.

Speaking of, tomorrow is the one year anniversary of Darth Cuomo issuing the stay at home Covid order for NYC, on Friday the 13th of 2020.

Note: I’m writing this and several of the posts you’re going to see for the next week at the beginning of the week of Monday, March 8th. My plan is to continue doing my solo photo walks around LIC and the Newtown Creek in the dead of night as long as that’s feasible. If you continue to see regular updates here, that means everything is kosher as far as health and well being. If the blog stops updating, it means that things have gone badly for a humble narrator.


“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

March 12, 2021 at 11:00 am

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Thursday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The endless marching about in a limited area constrained by how far I can walk on any given day is about to come to an end, thanks to the forthcoming second shot of vaccine juice I’m set to receive at the end of this month. Holy smokes, I never thought I’d miss the Subway, but there you are.

On the particular evening these shots were gathered, a humble narrator was in Long Island City’s Degnon Terminal zone. That’s Degnon as in Michael Degnon, a late 19th and early 20th century construction czar. Degnon enjoyed several lucrative Government contracts during the 20 years surrounding the year 1900, including installing the masonry cladding of the Williamsburg Bridge towers, completing the construction of the East River IRT tunnels which the 7 line subway runs through (which had been started by William Steinway and then August Belmont), and a massive land reclamation project surrounding the Dutch Kills tributary of Newtown Creek in LIC. The Degnon Terminal, as he called the latter reclamation project, involved a concurrence of rail, road, and water freight infrastructure that was baked into a multi acre campus of gigantic factory buildings. The factories in this area were constructed using an at the time novel construction technique that used lumber “forms” and steel rebar to shape poured concrete into walls. The Loose Wiles biscuit company, Everready Battery, Chicle Gum and other mega factories in LIC were all a part of the Degnon terminal, which was built at the same time that the nearby Sunnyside Yards were being constructed by the Pennsylvania Rail Road Company. The Degnon Terminal had a rail system that interfaced with the Yards, so all of the PRR and their subsidiary Long Island Railroad tracks were de facto networked to it as well.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Every culture since the beginning of civilization has had to develop a system for organizing and concentrating its resources towards some common goal. In Southeast Asia, you’ll find religious institutions which are older than the Roman Empire who still handle the water resovoir and canal delivery systems for rice paddies, for instance. Even the Soviets had a system for concentrating and focusing resources on their projects. In the United States, financial capital is concentrated via bond offerings and stock shares on one end, or by tax receipts and a combination of private and public banking and lending institutions on the other. The Degnon Terminal became a focus point for every sort of investment scenario available at the time.

That building in the shot above, the self storage warehouse with the green accent, used to be the largest part of the nine building General Electric Vehicle Company complex in LIC. That’s where they manufactured electric cars and trucks, in 1915. Like the Degnon Terminal, it was built and funded using private capital, meaning stock or bond market and perhaps commercial bank loans.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The large steel truss in the shot above, however, which transverses the Degnon Terminal high over Borden Avenue was built with public capital and NY State “Authority” issued bonds. It’s the Queens Midtown Expressway section of the larger Long Island Expressway, which became folded into Robert Moses’s TBTA or a Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority (the LIE terminates at the Queens Midtown Tunnel). The funding for this construction was arrived at by the issuance of municipal and TBTA bonds which were offered to investors through the purview of a commercial banking entity. The banks loved Robert Moses, since he always paid his many debts on time. To be fair, Moses was backed up by the river of dimes and nickels collected at the toll plazas of the Triborough Bridge and eventually at the QM Tunnel’s toll plaza.

This pedantry is offered in response to a recent conversation a humble narrator was privy to between some of the self identifying Democratic Socialists of Queens, who seem to think that Socialism means that money – where you get it, how you manage it, who spends it and on what – doesn’t matter and will matter less in their new dialectic. Even the citizens of the Soviet Union paid income taxes, and if the Marxist Leninists in Moscow wanted to build a new tractor factory they had to figure out a way to concentrate their financial and material resources to build the thing. It wasn’t straight up analogous to the Lord of the Flies type of capitalism practiced in the USA, of course, but they had a system.

Everybody has a system, even if it involves enslaving a subject nation to build you a pyramid, or tithing people to finance a cathedral. Socialist countries have central banks, investment methodologies, and an economy.

Note: I’m writing this and several of the posts you’re going to see for the next week at the beginning of the week of Monday, March 8th. My plan is to continue doing my solo photo walks around LIC and the Newtown Creek in the dead of night as long as that’s feasible. If you continue to see regular updates here, that means everything is kosher as far as health and well being. If the blog stops updating, it means that things have gone badly for a humble narrator.


“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

March 11, 2021 at 11:00 am

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Monday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A holocaust of Zoom meetings notwithstanding, one still finds the time to wander about Queens aimlessly in the dead of night with a camera. These shots have arrived in front of you due to one of my bimonthly visits to the Dutch Kills tributary of Newtown Creek, which can be found comfortably nested in with and amongst the concrete devastations of Long Island City. There’s a lot of science hereabouts, and not enough fiction.

The fiction is found a few blocks away, in the lobby offices of those shiny new luxury apartment towers, staffed by Real Estate Industrial Complex worker drones who never mention or instead misrepresent the heavy industrial/environmental history of LIC to their tenants prior to getting the rubes to sign on the proverbial dotted line.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It shakes my basic faith in people. They’ll spend hours watching documentaries about where and how McDonalds produces and manufactures its gruel, or the mean reality of the production line for Hallmark Greeting Cards, but won’t bother trying to find out if the luxury condominium they’re entering into thirty years of debt for sits on the former site of a chemical factory. They’ll expound upon on the political issues of the day and adjure you to “do your own research” but don’t bother googling up an old map of the area where they’re investing in property to see what used to be where. Also, as a note, googling something is not research. It’s exactly the same thing as asking a librarian where to find a book. Reading the book isn’t even “research,” but it can be a part of that process.

Just last week, I attended a community board meeting in which a project was being offered to Astoria as a panacea to solve an intractable issue of affordable senior housing, by a highly politically wired developer. As soon as I saw the address, I said “Hey, that’s the Nelson Galvanizing Superfund site.” Why am I the only person in Queens who knows about and talks about these things?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

In Brooklyn or Manhattan, if you were to crumple up a gum wrapper and throw it in the gutter, before it hit the pavement somebody would have already formed a nonprofit group to combat the phenomena. In Queens, you could dissolve truck tires, with gaseous chlorine, in a hole you dug out of your yard and that’s not just peachy keen – it’s also cool. When the vapors kill your neighbor’s dog, also cool. When a kid gets killed, the Politicians will show up and christen a bike lane, and they’ll “tsk tsk” about your chlorinated tire habits but won’t actually do anything to stop you. Hell, the Queens Chamber of Commerce will probably show up and give you a trophy for being industrious and taking care of the old tire problem.

Clean your room. Do you want to get sick? Don’t buy a new construction condo without first inquiring what used to be there.

Note: I’m writing this and several of the posts you’re going to see for the next week at the beginning of the week of Monday, February 8th. My plan is to continue doing my solo photo walks around LIC and the Newtown Creek in the dead of night as long as that’s feasible. If you continue to see regular updates here, that means everything is kosher as far as health and well being. If the blog stops updating, it means that things have gone badly for a humble narrator.


“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

February 8, 2021 at 12:00 pm

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