The Newtown Pentacle

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Archive for the ‘Greenpoint’ Category

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.


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Written by Mitch Waxman

April 12, 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.


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Written by Mitch Waxman

March 27, 2018 at 11:00 am

present quarters

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No dumping allowed.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Back in 1919, Brooklyn Union Gas moved from the Gowanus Canal to Newtown Creek, creating a 115 square acre Manufactured Gas Plant called the Vandervoort Street Facility, with a farm of cylindrical gas holders. BUG would eventually be purchased by Keyspan Energy, which would itself later be acquired by National Grid. This is where the so called “Maspeth Holders” were imploded in 2001, and the property is generally referred to – in modernity – as the “National Grid Site.” They don’t manufacture gas here anymore, instead they store and process “LNG” or Liquified Natural Gas, which is brought out of its cryogenic status through some arcane technological wizardry for pipeline delivery to the ovens and furnaces of Brooklyn.

At least a third of their property is relict, and seemingly abandoned. Along the chain link fences of Vandervoort Street, you’ll notice that they’ve allowed a small lake to form in the footprint of some long ago industrial structure.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

While out the other night on my “night shot” walk, mounds of dumped garbage were noticed around the edges of the small lake on the southern or Vandervoort Street side of the National Grid Site. I guess it’s their property, they can do what they want with it, but personally speaking I try not to poop on my living room carpet.

I also try not to poop where a passing photography enthusiast might notice it.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There were a couple of these mounds, which looked to be commensurate with what you expect to be able to pack into a medium sized truck. Not sure how long this has been here, as I haven’t wandered past this particular spot in a couple of months.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I’ll be sending this post over to the National Grid people and asking what’s going on here. If I get an answer from them which I can share, then you Lords and Ladies will certainly be the first to know it.

As a note, the preceding shots were handheld, breaking with the tripod ones for a hot minute,

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Once I turned onto Metropolitan Avenue, however, I got busy with the cable release and tripod action again.


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Written by Mitch Waxman

February 16, 2018 at 11:00 am

last message

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Night shots from the Penny Bridge.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s the brand new Kosciuszcko Bridge in the shot above, which has recently replaced a 1939 model that was originally christened as the “New Penny Bridge.” The shot was gathered at the surviving masonry of the 1894 model Penny Bridge, aka the Meeker Avenue Street End. I’m increasingly concerned, incidentally, at how bright the decorative lighting of the new bridge is. Light pollution is a “thing,” after all.

On cloudy nights, you can spot the column of light rising from it miles away, back in Astoria.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The LED lighting the NYS DOT installed for the new bridge is weird and unnatural, which spews out artificial looking wavelengths of unbelievably saturated purples and blues bouncing all over the place. The good news about this odd ambience is that I’m able to focus in on that unmarked sewer which drains Calvary Cemetery over on the Queens side, but I wonder what the long term effects will be on critters living in the water column and on migratory birds.

When the second bridge opens and doubles the illumination, it’s going to look like a comic book around here at night.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A longer shot, both in terms of exposure and camera sensitivity, again looking towards the Queens side of the former Penny Bridge. The mirror like quality of the water isn’t due solely to the long exposure, it was positively still out. Unseasonably warm, there was virtually zero wind or breeze.

You could actually discern changes in air pressure just by paying attention to the behavior of your ear drums.


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Written by Mitch Waxman

February 15, 2018 at 11:00 am

living possessor

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The nighted Newtown Creek.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As mentioned yesterday, wanderlust invited one out into the foggy night along Newtown Creek, once it stopped raining on Sunday last. I packed up my tripod and other night kit gear, starting at the DUGABO area in Greenpoint. My walk carried me up the Brooklyn side of the middle Creek. I hit all of my “spots” along the way, in pursuit of some long exposure night photography. Along the way, I hit what seems like an occasional light drizzle, but it was just precipitation from the mist rather than actual rain.

The shot above looks west, roughly across the route.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It’s lonely along the Newtown Creek at night, but luckily my buddy Will from Newtown Creek Alliance was similarly bored after enduring the rain soaked weekend, and he came along for part of the walk. It’s nice having somebody around to watch your back when you’re literally focused in on the camera tasks at hand. My habit, when doing tripod shots, is to use narrow apertures. That’s why you’re seeing that starburst pattern around the bright lights, which is literally formed by the shadow of the aperture blades within the particular lens I was using.

If the lens was “wide open” you’d see more of a ball shape.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I wasn’t just shooting the water, as a note.

One is possessed of a firm conviction that NYC is never as beautiful as it is when it’s just stopped raining and everything is covered in a sheen of moisture. Of course, it takes a particularly perverted sense of esthetics to describe these industrial zones found in North Brooklyn as “beautiful” but that’s just me.


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Written by Mitch Waxman

February 14, 2018 at 12:00 pm

brief note

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Fog? Rain? Newtown Creek at night? Yep, that’s me.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Sunday last, one was just itching to get out of HQ and go shoot some pix. Unfortunately, the soaking rain that permeated the daylight hours precluded this sort of pursuit, so around eight o’clock when the storm had transitioned from precipitation to a precipitating mist – one headed out for Greenpoint with the night kit and got busy.

My first stop was at the hidden cul de sac formed by the terminus of Kingsland Avenue and North Henry street.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There’s a minor tributary of Newtown Creek found here, which is called “unnamed canal” on navigational maps. My colleague Will Elkins (project manager at Newtown Creek Alliance) prefers the friendlier sounding “no-name canal.” There’s a defunct DSNY marine transfer station here, and the point of view it offers looks across the main body of Newtown Creek towards Long Island City and the Sapphire Megalith.

The rain had decayed into what my Grandmother would have described as a “shpickle” by this point, with occasional droplets forming out of the fog and hitting the water. The air temperature was quite warm, atypical for this time of year in fact, and since the waters of the Newtown Creek are still at near freezing – there was quite a bit of mist in the air.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My decided upon path would carry me eastwards along the Newtown Creek, from the area I call DUGABO (Down Under the Greenpoint Avenue Bridge Onramp) which is where you’ll find the Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant pictured above, to the one which I have assigned the name DUMABO (Down Under the Metropolitan Avenue Bridge Onramp). It was serendipity that the cool atmospherics coincided with a Sunday – the one night of the week when the 24/7 industrial and trucking activity along the Creek is at low ebb.

Nevertheless – I had one of those reflective “construction guy” safety vests on, worn over the filthy black raincoat, as I headed towards into darkness towards DUMABO.


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