The Newtown Pentacle

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mighty venture

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Tuesday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

In yesterday’s post, a humble narrator asserted that the so called “Generation Y” or “Millennials” are godawful at crime. This isn’t some “boomer” statement against this cohort, rather it’s built around something a young narrator was taught in Southeast Brooklyn back in the late 1970’s and all of the 1980’s. Simply put – when you commit a crime, don’t tell anyone about it, and should somebody someday invent a global cellular computer network called the Internet don’t confess to or brag about your crime on it.

When “criming” a suggested rubric would inform that if only you know what the sin is that has occurred, don’t tell anyone. The only secrets you’ve got are ones that no one else knows about. If you “crimed” with a friend, it’s no longer a secret and you want to preemptively figure out a straight story in case you get clipped and your friend likes talking to Cops. If you like “criming” as part of a large group, you’re pretty much screwed and it’s only a matter of time before you’ll get to meet the Cops.

I used to know a guy in Brooklyn who swore that by wearing jackets with brand colors and marks from cigarette companies (Marlboro, Kool, etc.) on them, the only thing a witness to his illicit multitudinousness would remember when describing him to the Cops would be the jacket or hat or mirror sunglasses he wore and ditched somewhere. Guess it worked, he’s a shipping executive nowadays.

Keep your mouth shut, essentially, when “criming.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

In other news, as you may have guessed by now, these photos were captured in the Grand Street Bridge section of Newtown Creek. About three miles back from the East River, the center of the bridge offers the currently undefended border of Brooklyn and Queens no true demarcation. I propose that NYC should paint a six inch wide yellow line from here to the Nassau County border because people should implicitly know what borough they’re in. How many times have I stood on Scott Avenue in Ridgewood, undecided about which side of the street – or which Borough – I should be in. Pfah.

This is, by the way, a particularly long walk from HQ in Astoria. When I set out, weather forecasts had been foreshadowing a dew point conducive to fog and mist. There was a bit, and although I was disappointed that a “London style fog” wasn’t setting up the gloomy twilight caused by overcast conditions was quite accordant to my mood.

I considered doing some private criming, but hung around and took a bunch of shots instead. I did pee on a truck tire around the corner, which used to be a crime. Since it’s decriminalized it’s ok, but still distasteful, to talk about. See the way that works? Don’t talk about crime on the internet.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As mentioned above, this was kind of a long walk, something I’ve been needing to do. Exhausted from sitting around at home for a year is a bit of an oxymoron, but it’s where I am and why I’m going lots of places. All of my internally lubricated parts need actuation, the skinvelope is saggy and bleached out, the bones and rubber bands creak and crack, there’s an inch too much of sub cutaneous fat everywhere – especially between my ears. I no longer believe in anything or anyone, it’s all deception. All presumptions that people are smarter than they appear have evaporated. If you die in front of me, I’m going to immediately try and sell your body to an organ broker. I don’t care anymore. The only thing I want to do is wander around with a camera and take photos. Every minute I’m not doing that is a waste of time. Wasting time is a crime, and when I’m not out shooting it’s criminal.

It’s actually quite liberating, this confessing to crime on the internet. Maybe the Millennials have something here?


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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 11, 2021 at 11:00 am

hellish sabbat

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Wednesday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Happy Thanksgiving week, which I’m taking off. Single image posts will greet you between now and Monday the 30th of November. I’ll be out taking pictures, in between dodging microbiotal clouds of expirant and looking over my shoulders for other sources of existential danger.

Today’s photo depicts an imaginary municipal waste truck nearby Newtown Creek over in Brooklyn’s East Williamsburgh section. Why is it imaginary? Long story, ask me when and why if you ever see me again.

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, November 23rd. 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

November 25, 2020 at 11:00 am

was whining

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Thursday’s sextuplet.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Have you ever encountered a standing wall of sound so intense that your visual field begins to narrow? One which causes your teeth to hurt? How about one which is actually painful to be in the way of? Well, if you desire this sort of novel experiential stimulus, I’d suggest paying a visit to the Grand Street Bridge on a warmish evening when the NYC Department of Environmental Protection has its aeration systems for the Newtown Creek operating.

The pump house for this ill conceived system is nearly a half mile away, across the water in Maspeth, and is the latest shape which environmental pollution has taken here at the fabulous Newtown Creek.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Looking westwards from the Grand Street Bridge, you’ll notice schools of predatory fish splashing about in the lit up area of the shot above. The aeration system is theoretically operated for the benefit of benthic organisms like these. In actuality, it’s to comply with a court order that the DEP is forced to oblige due to their releases of billions of gallons of untreated sewage into the waterway, which carry a bacterial charge so intense that the microorganisms contained therein consume all the oxygen from the water column which in turn suffocates the fish.

Not dumping raw sewage into the water? That’s crazy. Build a multi million dollar aeration system that generates jet engine levels of noise to overcome your inability to fulfill the mission laid out for you in the NYC charter? Check!

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One has been working around several different photographic approaches to capturing the aeration system, with its churning tumult and maelstrom of surface whipped mucosa meringue for a while. I finally hit upon the right exposure triangle and settings, one which illustrates what’s happening here. These shots are from the Grand Street Bridge, looking more or less along the Brooklyn/Queens border towards Ridgewood, Bushwick, and Maspeth.

Notice that frothy meringue? Sewerage, whipped.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The particular section of Newtown Creek you’re looking at here is called “The East Branch” and one arm of it used to flow east all the way to Onderdonk Avenue. Today, it’s truncated by a gigantic seven vaulted sewer that drains neighborhoods as far away as Canarsie into the canalized waterway.

Look at all the energy being pumped into the water here. That’s the Department of Environmental Protection at work, burning fossil fuels to power electrical generators to overcome the effect of the 2.1 billion gallons of raw sewage they release into these waters annually, while producing a standing wall of noise louder than that of an approaching subway train. Dichotomy much?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Makes for interesting pictures though, huh?

Here’s one of my urban parables – I used to have neighbors that were Police Cadets. Like all young cops, they liked swinging their dicks around when I or any of the other neighbors were doing something they didn’t like. When they would have a party however, it was mainly other cops who showed up. When the party went on too long, or got too loud, they’d tell you to go ‘eff yourself if you complained that it was four in the morning. If you called the cops to complain, then you’d just have more cops showing up to join their party.

In the case of the DEP, guess who hands out tickets for noise complaints? Guess who polices the dumping of hazardous material into area waterways? Watchmen? who watches them?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It’s really quite a shit show.

See what I did there? Shit show?

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, September 28th. 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.

northward pull

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Wednesday, the dusk of the week.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One can affirm that the Metropolitan Avenue Bridge is still there, as of last week. A small but double basculed draw bridge which spans the English Kills tributary of the fabled Newtown Creek, Metropolitan Avenue Bridge is 3.1 miles from the East River. You don’t see much in the way of maritime traffic back here, but there’s usually a tug and fuel barge found at the Bayside fuel depot’s bulkheads.

One would advise the curious that the shoreline is crumbling, and you want to be REALLY careful anywhere near the ragged edge of the land if you don’t want to end up immersed in Newtown Creek’s most polluted section. If you’re not being careful, the dice will roll and it’s either going to be X-Man or Liver Cancer for you.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A couple of old fuel trucks are permanently stationed hereabouts, which endlessly fascinate me with their late 20th century design cues and onboard signage.

The burning thermonuclear eye of god itself was dipping behind Manhattan just as I arrived at the bridge, which served as my turnaround point on this particular walk. One does not decide in advance on where the pivot takes place, but it is often considered. That’s the thing about the street grid surrounding Newtown Creek – there’s so many dead ends and cul de sacs, which aren’t a big deal when you’re in a vehicle, but if on foot you need to factor them into your route.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It was when I pivoted that the roar of powerful engines was heard. Frankly, I thought that a massive nocturnal bit of construction might be afoot due to the noise which was clearly audible even with my headphones in and Black Sabbath playing. It was approaching the sound levels encountered nearby the helicopter landing pads you encounter on the east side of Manhattan.

More on the tumult tomorrow.

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, September 28th. 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.

uncanny noise

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I got to ride on a New York and Atlantic Freight Train!

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Pictured above is the New York and Atlantic’s newest ride – Engine 400. Before I say anything else, I want to acknowledge my pal David Silver and his encyclopedic knowledge of all things rail for pointing me in the right direction on the original make and model of this particular locomotive engine. Originally built in 1966 for the B&O railroad, this model GP40 locomotive’s original configuration offered some 3,000 HP.

NY&A has recently (2018) had the thing rebuilt at Knoxville Locomotive Works to bring it in line with modern day Tier 4 emissions standards. It lost 700 HP in the conversion, it seems, but NY&A operates on fairly level terrain (by rail standards) in NYC and Nassau and Suffolk Counties. NY&A are a private company contracted by the Long Island Railroad to handle their freight duties, as a note.

Also as a note, I’ve actually photographed this unit before, at night in Maspeth at the Haberman tracks in March of 2019. Check that out here.

from wikipedia

The GP40 is a 4-axle diesel-electric road-switcher locomotive built by General Motors, Electro-Motive Division between November 1965 and December 1971. It has an EMD 645E3 16-cylinder engine generating 3,000 hp (2,240 kW).

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The ride itself was offered by NY&A, the Waste Management Company, and the North Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce. A small group of invitees assembled at Waste Management’s Brooklyn waste transfer station on Varick Street, and there were three opportunities to ride on the thing along the Bushwick Branch tracks leading through East Williamsburg into Ridgewood and then Maspeth. I rode it twice, sitting out the middle trip so I could get shots of the thing coming and going.

This was actually pretty exciting for me, since my oft repeated “I don’t trespass” stance has often found a humble narrator staring wistfully at some trackway which I was dying to explore. Today’s post is proof of my pudding that eventually I will get to go where I want, in the company of the people who own the thing, and that I will be able to publish the photos publicly. A number of the officers of NY&A were onboard, notably the NY&A’s president James Bonner.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Hampering the efficiency of the line are the multiple “at grade” street crossings which the route follows. There are no signal arms or even flashing lights and bells to warn motorists or pedestrians or even – god forbid… bicyclists – that the train is about to cross the street along this section of the route. Procedure dictates that the conductor (apparently that’s what you call the guy, even though there’s usually no passengers) gets off the train and walks ahead of the engine, stopping approaching traffic the NYC way – standing in the middle of the street and waving his arms around.

James Bonner told me that this situation is something that the company is trying to fix with some haste, but for now the train moves through this section of the Creeklands at the limited speed which a conductor can walk.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The train carried us roughly a mile into Queens and then reversed back towards the Varick Street location. A humble narrator got quite busy with the camera on this trip. Most of what I shot were pretty boring photos, which were recorded in a simple documentarian manner depicting and detailing the otherwise forbidden rail tracks. During the excursion, I was allowed to walk around on the engine’s catwalks. There were a couple of other photographers along for the trip, as a note. Assemblyman Joe Lentol of Greenpoint was onboard as well, along with other notables from Brooklyn. At one point, the Commissioner of the NYC Dept. of Sanitation showed up and she made a speech.

The notables were riding in a little caboose at the back of the train set. I rode in the caboose on the last ride of the day, but during the first trip I was on the locomotive section. In between the two, there was a “slug,” which I’m told acts as a purely mechanical augment to the locomotive engine providing additional tractive effort assistance and extra braking capability.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The engineer driving the train was a pretty good humored fellow, but I never did catch his name. He was seated at a console offering multiple digital indicators and gauges. I don’t have room for what the console looked like in this post, but if you want to get an idea of it – check out this photo of the setup over at flickr.

Of course I had to be a jackass at least once during the trip, and while standing on the engine’s catwalk at a street grade crossing in Maspeth, I spotted an attractive woman waiting for the train to pass. I shouted out “hey, what do you think of my ride?” to her, and she smiled and then winked her eye at me. It was probably just the sun, or dust, or a seizure, but I’m holding on to it being a wink – thank you very much. I’ve still got it.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The train returned to the Waste Management facility at Varick Street, where bags of NY&A shwag were waiting for us. I got a neat baseball hat with a NY&A logo on it, and a pen with a logo too. Just behind the train, you’ll notice a fence line with some green material affixed to it. Right on the other side of that bridge is the loathsome terminus of the Newtown Creek’s English Kills tributary, some 3.8 miles from the East River. The water is crossed by, and the Bushwick Branch tracks are mounted upon, the Montrose Avenue Rail Bridge, which is roughly 3.7 miles from the East River.

I don’t come back here very often – remember that “I don’t trespass” thing? Also, this is a pretty far walk from Astoria. Saying that, check English Kills and the Montrose Avenue Bridge out at night in this 2019 post, during the day in this 2017 one, and for more on the LIRR’s Bushwick Branch tracks click through and all the way back to a simpler time in this 2012 post.

What a week I had!


“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.

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