The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Archive for the ‘East River’ Category

threat level

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Either go clean your room or go outside and play.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I’ll go gather some proper shots of it next week, but as you can see from the shot above the second phase of the new Kosciuszcko Bridge project is coming along nicely. Those two new towers are rising from industrial Maspeth, right at the border with LIC’s Blissville, and are in the footprint of the old K-Bridge which was “energetically felled” last year. I’m going to be asking the K-Bridge team about an official update on the project sometime soon, but probably won’t hear back from them until the fall. Not too much happens in officialdom during the middle and late summer, as people who work for the government usually enjoy a 1950’s style work schedule that includes summer vacations and getting out of work at four or five. This is part of the disconnect between the citizenry and their Government these days. They have no idea about how corporate America operates in modernity, and what life is like for the rest of us.

It’s why they constantly design boxes to fit us all into that seem too small and constraining, just like our friends and family do.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Hallets Cove in Astoria, pictured above.

Boxes are what others want to build around you, in my experience. Folks want to quantify their friends and family, coworkers and neighbors, defining acceptable behavioral norms and expectations for others. Speaking as somebody who avoids doing this, as it always leads to disappointment and conflict, and personally speaking it can be quite annoying when somebody gets after me about not fitting in one of their “slots.” I’m not a player on anybody’s stage other than my own.

It’s funny how often I get accused of egomaniacal braggadocio. Is it bragging if you’re just stating things that you’ve actually done, and recounting the tales of your adventures? There’s never been a box offered that can actually contain me, and at least for the last decade the life of a humble narrator has been lived in pursuit of “envelope pushing.” What that means is that when I’m asked if I want to do something that makes me uncomfortable, or nervous, I say “yes.” People close to me will often tell me “you can’t,” mainly because it threatens the envelope of expectation they have formed about you. Just do it, and screw what others say, life is short and it’s your life you’re living, not theirs.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Dutch Kills, LIC, pictured above.

What I’ve discovered is that whereas I do have physical limits, their boundaries are far beyond anything I believed they were. Board a boat at four in the morning in January? Sure. NYC Parade Marshal? Why not? Testify in Federal Court about Newtown Creek and or Western Queens? OK. Advocate and argue for esoteric points of view with Government officialdom? Sounds good. The box I used to live in a decade ago before all of this madness began?

Shattered. 


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fear distorted

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One of those days, man, one of those days.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On this day – July 18th – in 1290 A.D., Edward the 1st of England signed an Edict of Expulsion for the 16,000 or so Jews who lived in England at the time. In 1870, the Vatican Council introduced the concept of Papal Infallibility to a gullible public. In 1925, Adolph Hitler saw his “Mein Kampf” first published to a similarly gullible public. In 1937, Hunter S. Thompson was born (to tell the public how reliably gullible they actually are) and then in 1954, gangster Machine Gun Kelly died of natural causes at Leavenworth Penitentiary after 21 years in prison.

On July 18th in 1984, the so called and notable McDonalds Massacre occurred in San Ysidro, California, during which 21 people were shot and killed (mass shootings were still fairly uncommon then).

– photo by Mitch Waxman

If everything went to plan this morning, as you’re reading this I’m returning from a mid morning photo project. I’m attempting to catch a certain angle of light, at a certain place which I’m not 100% familiar with, so it might have been a frustrating morning but hopefully I made the best of it. An educated guess is being made, I’ll show y’all what I got later in the week.

Luckily, after having a killer schedule to get through last week, a bit of time to pop my headphones in and wander about seems to be coinciding with a period of tolerable temperatures and humidity this week. Looking forward to getting a bit of work done, and getting out of the Astoria/LIC/Greenpoint/Newtown Creek neighborhood for a few day trips. Hoping to be able to maintain an early schedule for this, seeking out propitious atmospheric lighting.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The most important thing at the moment, for one such as myself, is solitude. I really cannot stomach the thought of having to explain either myself or my actions to one more person than I actually have to at the moment, and have grown quite unwelcoming towards advice emanating from friend and foe alike. The idea of losing myself into the bowels of the City for a little while, looking at it through the isolated safety and emotional distance offered by a camera lens… is both nirvana and nepenthe. 

Look for me, scuttling along the side of the road on the eastern side of the Newtown Pentacle. I’ll be the weird looking guy with a camera.


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Written by Mitch Waxman

July 18, 2018 at 11:00 am

chemical odours

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Don’t miss the links for 2 free Saturday boat tours at the bottom of today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The great thing about that new lens filter I’m using, an ND filter which allows me to “stop” down light and do long exposure shots in afternoon sun, is that it renders the garbage floating around in my beloved Newtown Creek virtually invisible. The particular experiments in today’s post were gathered in LIC, earlier this week. All that white and orange stuff in the water was trash moving around in the tidal waves, and since it’s a thirty second exposure, it makes the waterborn litter seem like a landscape feature.

Turns out, all you have to do is blur your eyes and you don’t have to think about pollution.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Even this open storm sewer looks intriguing and natural using this technique. The trash and garbage that’s already lodged onto the rip rap shoreline and is static, that you can still discern, but the floating black and clear bags of trash? Not so much.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The possibilities boggle the mind!

Links to a very busy weekend’s worth of Newtown Creek tours found below, come with?


Upcoming Tours and Events

Saturday, July 14th – City of Water Day Newtown Creek Boat Tours – with Waterfront Alliance, NY Waterways, and Newtown Creek Alliance.

As part of the Waterfront Alliance’s “City of Water Day” event, I’ll be conducting two free 90 minute boat tours heading to Newtown Creek, leaving from Pier 11 in Manhattan. We won’t be visiting the entire Newtown Creek, as a note, due to time constraints and navigational issues, but we will get a good mile and a half of it in.

Tickets and more details

Ten a.m. departure here.
Twelve p.m. departure here.

Saturday, July 14th – 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.

Sunday, July 15th – Penny2Plank – with Newtown Creek Alliance.

There are eleven bridges crossing the modern day Newtown Creek and its tributaries, nine of which are moveable bridges of one kind or another. Other bridges, forgotten and demolished, used to cross the Creek. The approaches to these bridges are still present on the street grids of Brooklyn and Queens as “street ends.” Newtown Creek Alliance and a small army of volunteers have been working to transform these “street ends” from weed choked dumping grounds into inviting public spaces. This walk with NCA historian Mitch Waxman will take you there and back again, discussing the history and current status of these street ends and the territory in between.

The tour will start in Brooklyn’s Greenpoint, and end in Queens’ Maspeth nearby the Grand Street Bridge.

Tickets and more details
here.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

July 13, 2018 at 1:00 pm

pregnant pauses

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Announcing two free boat tours, in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This Saturday is the Waterfront Alliance’s “City of Water Day” event, and with NY Waterways, the folks at WA have given me the opportunity to bring two boat loads worth of people to the fabulous Newtown Creek. The tours are free (there is a $5 registration fee during ticketing) and will be 90 minutes long. There’s a ten a.m. and a twelve p.m. tour, both of which will include a fully narrated history of the East River and the Newtown Creek. Navigational issues and timing dictate that we are going to be visiting the first half of the Creek only, which is as far as the Greenpoint Avenue Bridge roughly one and a half miles from the mouth.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Ticketing links for the tours (as well as a couple of other offerings I’ve got going this weekend) are at the bottom of this post. Sights you’ll see up close from the water include the Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment plant, SimsMetal Recycling, Allocco Recycling, the Pulaski and Greenpoint Avenue Bridges, and the coastlines of Long Island City and Greenpoint. The East River section seen and discussed will be the equivalent stretch from Manhattan’s Pier 11 (Wall Street) to 23rd street. That gives you Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Williamsburg Bridges as well.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Come with? My colleague from Newtown Creek Alliance – Will Elkins – is going to be sharing the microphone duty with me on the Newtown Creek, exploring the meaning and manifestations of our “Reveal, Restore, Revitalize” motto at Newtown Creek Alliance.


Upcoming Tours and Events

Saturday, July 14th – City of Water Day Newtown Creek Boat Tours – with Waterfront Alliance, NY Waterways, and Newtown Creek Alliance.

As part of the Waterfront Alliance’s “City of Water Day” event, I’ll be conducting two free 90 minute boat tours heading to Newtown Creek, leaving from Pier 11 in Manhattan. We won’t be visiting the entire Newtown Creek, as a note, due to time constraints and navigational issues, but we will get a good mile and a half of it in.

Tickets and more details

Ten a.m. departure here.
Twelve p.m. departure here.

Saturday, July 14th – 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.

Sunday, July 15th – Penny2Plank – with Newtown Creek Alliance.

There are eleven bridges crossing the modern day Newtown Creek and its tributaries, nine of which are moveable bridges of one kind or another. Other bridges, forgotten and demolished, used to cross the Creek. The approaches to these bridges are still present on the street grids of Brooklyn and Queens as “street ends.” Newtown Creek Alliance and a small army of volunteers have been working to transform these “street ends” from weed choked dumping grounds into inviting public spaces. This walk with NCA historian Mitch Waxman will take you there and back again, discussing the history and current status of these street ends and the territory in between.

The tour will start in Brooklyn’s Greenpoint, and end in Queens’ Maspeth nearby the Grand Street Bridge.

Tickets and more details
here.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

stagger dangerously

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The Hoek is finally open, yo, a 21st century shoreline at a 21st century park.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The shot above is fairly typical of the view which the southernmost section of Hunters Point in Long Island City, where the East River and Newtown Creek collide, has offered for the last few years. Construction fence, heavy equipment, etc. This particular area was once called Dominie’s Hoek, after the first European owner of the land, a Dutch priest named Dominie Everardus Bogardus. Dominie is a title, in English we’d use “Pastor” or “Father” for the priestly honorific. Bogardus died in a ship wreck and the land ended up in the hands of another Dutchman, specifically Captain Peter Praa. Praa, who founded one of the great land holding families of both Newtown and Greenpoint, left the land behind as an inheritance, and eventually it passed into the hands of his descendant Anna Hunter. Anna Hunter held the property right about the time of the American Revolution, and it’s been Hunters Point ever since. Mrs. Hunter’s will stipulated that her three sons sell off the land (she must’ve feared a King Lear situation) and by the early 19th century, the Hunters Point waterfront had been carved into individual plots and had begun to industrialize. The Long Island Railroad came through in 1870, and for about a century afterwards, Hunters Point was the very definition of a maritime industrial working waterfront. Everything began to fall apart, industrially and economically speaking, by the 1970’s and the industrial waterfront became a semi abandoned stretch of junkyard punctuated by warehouses. In the late 1980’s, the City began to make plans for converting the land to residential usage, and loosened zoning restrictions to encourage real estate interests to invest there. This was, as it turns out, quite a successful plan and Hunters Point is the fastest growing neighborhood in the entire country.

Part of the City’s plan, which has seen dozens of residential towers rising in Hunters Point and all of Long Island City in recent years, was the creation of parklands.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On the northern side of Hunters Point, the first park to be created was a New York State institution called “Gantry Plaza State Park.” Then to the south, there’s a City park called “Hunters Point South Park,” which is anchored by the LIC Landing ferry dock and an accompanying concession stand currently operated by an outfit called “Coffeed.” For the last few years, the peninsular final section of the park – which I’m told is called “Queens Landing” – has been under construction. No more.

Wednesday last, the 21st of June in 2018, the gates were finally opened to the public and I was there.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There were meant to be ceremonial proceedings on the morning of the 21st, but the political establishment had its attentions drawn away by the ongoing immigration controversies, so the ceremony which will officially “cut the ribbon” was rescheduled for this week on Wednesday the 27th at 11 a.m. If you want to yell things at the Mayor, or pat Jimmy Van Bramer on the back, that’s probably when you’ll have a chance to do so.

I was blown away by the job which the NYC Parks department accomplished at the new Queens Landing. As mentioned above, it’s a 21st century park with a 21st century shoreline. It’s a pretty good bet that by 2118, the shoreline of most of the inner harbor of NYC is going to look a great deal like this new park.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A resilient shoreline, as those of us involved with such ideations would call it, encircles the new park. Salt marshes, hidden resiliency berms, places for water to flow through and around during storms… the new park has it all. The architecture and design of the place are decidedly “modern,” as if that 20th century term had any meaning in the current era.

The recent Newtown Creek Alliance/Riverkeeper visioning plan that we released a few months ago is rife with recommendations for the post Superfund Newtown Creek shorelines which display illustrations and architect drawings that look just like this new park, incidentally.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Back in the days of Dominie Bogardus and Capt. Peter Praa, the southern tip of Hunters Point was described as being an island of grass in the East River which would get cut off from the rest of the land by high tide. The Parks Dept. designers and horticulturalists have actually designed salt marsh and other littoral environmental features into the shoreline which would likely be familiar to Capt. Praa. I’ve only done the one walk through so far, but “wow” is this place incredible.

Luckily, my walk through was with my pal Mark Christie of the Hunters Point Parks Conservancy, who has been one of the formative voices in the creation of this new community resource. He made it a point of detailing the various plantings and why they’re where they are. If you’re visiting the new park, definitely start your trip at LIC Landing and ask if anyone from the HPPC is around to inform and instruct.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One such as myself is looking forward to the photographic vantage point possibilities offered by the new park. This shot looks eastwards along the fabled Newtown Creek towards the Pulaski Bridge. A new boat house is going to be constructed nearby, operated and managed by my pals at HarborLab, in the very near future.

Newtown Creek is changing, materially, every single month now.


Upcoming Tours and Events

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 25, 2018 at 11:00 am

merciful deletions

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War Planes in Manhattan.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One has recently learned that the mature human body’s largest organ – the skinvelope or integumentary system – weighs approximately twelve to fifteen percent of your body weight – and it also really depends whose skinvelope we’re talking about when weighing the dermis. Personally, I’m naturally pallid and spotty, and a humble narrator’s skinvelope is delicate. I’m highly vulnerable to sudden tears and punctures, blistering, abrasions of all sorts, and at any given time there’s at least a few microbiotal blooms going on somewhere in the roughly twenty two feet of skinvelope which I keep onboard. One is also given to receiving painful radiation burns, if paused too long in the emanations of the burning thermonuclear eye of God itself, so I like to keep moving and walk in the shade whenever possible.

The Marines were in town for Fleet Week, as I discovered while in pursuit of shadowed cover. They had v-22 Ospreys with them, which were pretty cool. The Marines are famously thick skinned and leather necked, skinvelope wise.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My path had an intended destination on this particular evening, an anomaly for one such as myself, which was on… Staten Island…

The big orange boat at the Lower Manhattan Whitehall Terminal was, as in most encounters with it, well – the big orange boat was absurdly on time as always (which is actually true, The Staten Island Ferry has a 96% on time rate). In an ever changing world of disturbing social trends and the constant braying of news reports describing horrible urgencies and dire portent, the very last thing which a humble narrator clings to as efficacy of some possible future in which everything isn’t horrible all the time anymore is that the Staten Island Ferry still runs on time.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It would seem that the current occupant of the White House was in town as well, a theoretical dictum advanced by the presence of a phalanx of cops, soldiers, and tough looking guys wearing ear pieces, sunglasses, and black suits guarding one of the Presidential helicopters in Lower Manhattan. Two of the V-22’s were present as well.

The big orange boat offered a nice view of the scene as we slid greasily out of dock in Lower Manhattan and began the journey to… Staten Island…


Upcoming Tours and Events

June 9th – 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.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

June 5, 2018 at 11:00 am

bursting cachinations

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Lurking in fear, for today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Onboard the NYC Ferry’s Astoria line heading for the City recently, one felt the oppressive gaze of an impossible thing that dwells within the cupola of the Sapphire Megalith of Long Island City (an inhuman intelligence which cannot possibly exist, nor stare down with avarice upon the world of men through an unblinking three lobed eye) fix upon me from up on high. Paranoid ideation and local rumor would suggest that other attentions were gathered from below the greasy waters as well. There are stories told in the Ravenswood section of Long Island City which describe frog or fish like men who sometimes emerge from the eastern channel of the estuarial East River, specifically the section of the waterway found between Roosevelt Island and Queens.

Who can guess what there may be down there, buried in the slime and post industrial sediments?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The thing in the megalith, which neither breathes nor sleeps, only knows hunger – and contempt – for the world of man. The aims and actions of the things in the river are less obvious, hidden as they are in the dark and sepulchral depths where the emanations of the burning thermonuclear eye of God itself never reach. In the aqueous silt, where the worms gnaw and wriggle and slither, there is rumored to be a complex of shadowed tunnels reaching out to all corners of the Great City above. These tunnels breach into the City’s sewers, allowing them egress to all sections and locales. Only the Mayors of NYC know the truth of the extent of these amphibian stranger’s ambitions, knowledge of which is passed from potentate to potentate across the generations in a letter originally penned by Mayor Fernando Wood in 1855.

Rumors of the contents of this letter are dearly held, but during a drunken stupor at a midtown speakeasy back in 1927, Mayor Jimmy Walker hinted not just at the confirmable presence of an amphibian race of “Deep Ones” in NY Harbor but also alluded to their monstrous desire to interbreed with terrestrial New Yorkers. Efforts by the fish/frog things in that pursuit had occurred during raids on the asylums and workhouses of Welfare (Roosevelt) Island during the late 19th century, launched from the water in the dead of night. The progeny produced by these couplings were, as the inebriated Walker indicated, a “hybrid pestilence” which demanded destruction. The victimized women who incubated them were afterwards found to be hopelessly insane, and driven towards suicide.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Mariners and Longshoremen have long hinted at the presence of things observed in the Upper Harbor of New York, but never explicitly discuss such matters with outsiders. Queer and persistent raspings at the keel in Buttermilk Channel, those bizarre underwater light sources keeping pace with your boat at Hells Gate, the basso sounds encountered at Sandy Hook… those serpentine shapes that must have just been some extraordinarily large fish… perhaps a large Sturgeon? Those weird dark lumps spotted in the water at Newtown Creek that just disappear into the depths mere seconds after they are noticed?

Who, truly, can guess… all there is that may be found down there in the drowned metropolis of the worm just off shore?


Upcoming Tours and Events

June 9th – 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.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

June 4, 2018 at 11:00 am

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