The Newtown Pentacle

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Archive for the ‘East Williamsburg’ Category

idiomatic voice

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Friday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

You don’t need to resort to filters or camera tricks to create a perfect mirror out of the waters of Newtown Creek, about three miles back from the East River. One of the core environmental problems back here is “flow.” Historically, there were dozens of small creeks and streams that flowed down out of the hills in Bushwick and Ridgewood and fed fresh water into the English Kills tributary of Newtown Creek, but colonization/industrialization/gentrification has turned them all into underground sewers. Natural springs were either capped or exploited. The water here rises and falls with the East River tide, but there’s virtually zero “laminar” or horizontal flow.

Anything that ends up in the water precipitates vertically down, building a sediment bed which is currently 15-20 feet thick that is referred to as “Black Mayonnaise.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

To combat this lack of current, and the low oxygen levels inherent in still or standing water, the State commanded the City to build an aeration system which seems to be fairly useless. Expensively useless would also be a phrase that applies. I keep on bringing up the creation of small waterfalls, the engineered kind where water flows and splashes down concrete steps. Hydrological engineering for the bulkheads to accommodate the water’s flow via the introduction of compression and expansion zones is something else I ponder.

The concept underlying the latter is that since water has an absolute limit on its top – atmospheric pressure – and another absolute limit at the hard bottom of the waterway, if you compress the water column horizontally the water will flow faster to its only egress. Same principle as holding a thumb over a garden hose’s outlet increases the pressure of the water. If the bulkheads included some sort of repeating scallop shape, it could theoretically create “flow” without having to power up pumps or impellers. That’s the theory, anyway.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

If improving Newtown Creek requires the use of a mechanism that needs to be fueled or powered, the improvement has already failed before it left the design phase. The physics of how water moves over, past, and through certain shapes embedded in its columnar body is what really matters to my eyes. Irrigation and petroleum pipeline professional engineers handle this sort of thing all the time, moving pressurized liquids around to where they’re needed. Pumping is largely accomplished with gravity and pipes that narrow and then widen.

Ehh. What do I know, I’m just some wandering mendicant with a camera.


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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 17, 2021 at 11:00 am

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.

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