The Newtown Pentacle

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Archive for the ‘Greenpoint’ Category

actual anatomy

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Tuesday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

So, after taking the train to Long Island City and then walking across the Pulaski Bridge to Brooklyn’s Greenpoint on a misty and foggy day, the atmosphere broke and it was suddenly clear and sunny. I had reconfigured the camera to handheld mode and began scuttling back to Queens.

“Photowalk” is pretty much what it sounds like, as a pursuit. You walk along, head pivoting around. You look up, down, and all around. If something catches your eye, you grab a shot.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One of the casualties of the real estate frenzy are large footprint businesses like supermarkets and gas stations. The speculators buy up these properties and will sit on them for years, hidden away behind green plywood fences. It’s easy to get a permit to demolish something, harder to get one to build. Thereby, properties like this gas station on the corner of McGuinness Blvd. at Greenpoint Avenue can sit empty and unused for years.

The signage on a new development building next door includes the motto “where you are is who you are.” Thereby, residents of this building are a high volume traffic corridor three blocks from a sewer plant and five to six blocks in either direction from a federal superfund site or the Brooklyn Queens Expressway – that’s who they are.

A 2 bedroom in that building is going for $5,900 a month, so also wealthy and dumb. Yes, you read that correctly, the annual rent for a 2 bedroom in Greenpoint on McGuinness Blvd. at Greenpoint Avenue is nearly $71,000.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This is when you exhale loudly, making some sort of “wow” sound.

You ask why I’m moving out of NYC at the end of this year? The Real Estate people are just getting warmed up. Give it five years and some enterprising politician will begin to suggest having the City or State subsidize the north of $10,000 a month rents that are coming.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There was a Law and Order TV shoot getting ready for an evening’s effort, and I walked through the setting up area. There were a few interesting vehicles that seemed to part of the production, but this pink Jeep limousine was so outré that I couldn’t resist.

As Gene Hackman’s Lex Luthor proclaimed in the classic “Superman 2” movie, however, a humble narrator kept on reminding himself “North, Ms. Tessmacher, north!” A scuttling did I go.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Along my path, I encountered this trio of black cats with yellow eyes. Normally, this is my omen that it’s going to be a good deal for photos, but since I’d been actively shooting for a few hours, I thought my day was pretty much over.

Wrong again, Mr. Waxman.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I never miss a chance to crack out a few shots of the sewer plant in Greenpoint, especially when the light is nice.

Honestly, I thought this was pretty much going to be my last few shots of the day, but that all changed when I was crossing the Greenpoint Avenue Bridge into Queens.

More on that tomorrow.


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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

August 30, 2022 at 11:00 am

never swerved

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Monday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A few more shots from the Greenpoint section of Brooklyn in today’s post. As described, this is one of the areas I’ve been avoiding throughout the pandemic months due to population density. During this interval, an enormous real estate feeding frenzy has taken place and the north western section of the ancient neighborhood has been rendered utterly unrecognizable as compared to its former state.

For context, this shot looks across Newtown Creek at the Hunters Point section of Long Island City where a similar frenzy has occurred.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

While shooting these, the tug Sea Fox thrust rudely into my point of view, and I just cannot help myself from cracking put a few shots in such circumstance.

I was mainly using two zoom lenses for capturing these images, both of which were outfitted with ND or Neutral Density filters. This sort of filter acts as a sunglass for the lens and offers a great deal of creative control over the final appearance of the photo. This sort of device is critical for challenging environments like the foggy and misty afternoon of August 1st.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The filters also allow me to “slow down” the exposure settings, which is how you get the smoothed out water with a somewhat misty character along its tide line. Surreal, I say, surreal.

There’s a new public space along this waterfront, dubbed the Greenpoint Landing Esplanade, which offers commanding views of the Manhattan skyline and Long Island City.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Of all the new construction, the one project I find architectural interest in is this pair of cantilevered buildings. The development is called 227 West Street, and those are 30 and 40 story towers. My usual critique of the banal luxury towers in this “zone” sounds like this: glass rhombuses thrust rudely at the sky. This cantilever deal is visually interesting.

Given all of the recent construction in the area, and the huge investments involved from both private and governmental entities, it’s a shame that there’s only one project hereabouts where you say “hey, look at that.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Just before the burning thermonuclear eye of god itself descended behind New Jersey, the fog and mist suddenly began to break up and rise into the clouds.

I cracked out a few more exposures with the camera set up for the prior foggy atmospherics and then prepared to move on with the gear set up for handheld “photo walk” mode.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

You could actually see the humidity rising up out of Manhattan’s canyons and forming into low clouds.

More tomorrow.


“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

August 29, 2022 at 11:00 am

silly reasons

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Friday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A low lying deck of clouds and fog had accompanied the arrival of a cold front in the superheated atmosphere of August 1st. NYC had been in the grip of a heat wave for the week prior, and a second interval of high temperature and humidity was forecast to begin within 24 hours.

I cannot resist a foggy or misty day, as it makes for interesting photography weather.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My strategy for the last few years has been to avoid crowded places where the human infestation is impossible to avoid. Accordingly, while I’ve been avoiding crowds, Greenpoint’s Western shoreline has been transformed by the real estate people.

Honestly, it’s shocking how much has changed here. That’s Commercial Street pictured above, looking west towards Franklin Avenue and the East River. There’s even a new series of waterfront paths and esplanades that have accompanied this new construction. The development scheme is called “Greenpoint Landing.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Looking across Newtown Creek at Long Island City from one of these new paths, that construction site will be a new hospital. Just kidding, it’s going to be more luxury apartment buildings.

That construction area used to be a thriving Asian supermarket warehousing business, the home of “God’s Love We Deliver” which collected unused restaurant food and redistributed it to the needy, and the garages for NBC Television News’ broadcast vehicle fleet. We need more luxury housing, they say, which will cause the wealthy to move out of tenement buildings and thereby free up those spaces for the less wealthy.

Trickle down real estate.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Did you know that the United States destroys millions of gallons of dairy milk annually in order to keep the dairy industry and milk prices from collapsing under their own industriousness and over supply? In light of that, has the price of milk ever gone down in your lifetime, despite the abundance of supply? Just saying.

That’s a new luxury tower rising on the former site of the Jack Frost sugar factory in Queens, right at the intersection of current superfund site Newtown Creek and future superfund site East River.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It’s all so depressing.

I should mention that it’s a real pickle capturing this sort of misty and foggy atmosphere, photography wise.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Every few minutes, a bank of fog would crack open and piss down a few rain drips. Drips, not drops.

Saying that, as I was shooting, it was growing brighter and brighter and a mild bit of breeze began to pop up. More next week, at this – your Newtown Pentacle.


“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

August 26, 2022 at 11:00 am

nervous overstrain

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Monday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On July 5th, I had rented a car from the Avis outfit for a couple of days in pursuance of visiting people and places well outside of the normal study area. During the daylight hours, I was driving around the neighborhoods that made me in Brooklyn, with Our Lady of the Pentacle and my pal Armstrong along. When the sun began to set, a brief interval of rain began, but I wasn’t willing to just let a rental car sit in front of HQ. I packed up the camera and drove over to the fabulous Newtown Creek.

My plan for the night involved visiting a few of the less pedestrian friendly areas which I normally skip when on foot for various reasons. Distance, cul de sacs, danger… lots of reasons. All of that is negated by having a set of wheels to scoot about with.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There’s a long dead end street on the Brooklyn side of Newtown Creek called Maspeth Avenue. Industrial in nature, it’s found directly opposite the Maspeth Plank Road site on the Queens side. Maspeth Avenue follows the course of the English Kills tributary of Newtown Creek along the hazy border between Greenpoint, Bushwick, and East Williamsburgh.

For many years, the spot I had driven over to and was shooting in was known as “Gaseteria,” which was a fuel depot hosting gasoline tanks. Secretly owned by mobsters and operated at the behest of a Capo Regime named Michael Franzese, Gaseteria went out of business when the FBI found out about their diversion of millions or possibly billions of dollars of NYS taxes into the pockets of the Colombo Family. Franzese has given up “the life” and now works the evangelical circuit as a speaker and author. He’s got a YouTube channel where he discusses his misadventures and eventual (self claimed) redemption.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Gaseteria site became the address of the NYS Marshall’s Office for a while, and this is where they would tow your car to if NYS was the entity impounding it. One of the most absolutely hilarious things NYS and NYC do is siting and or establishing tow yards or impound lots in remote places that you can’t get to without a car. To wit – here’s where this spot is on a Google map.

The car I was in – with its roof – came in handy, as it had started to rain. I set up my tripod on the passenger seat and rolled down the window on that side. Cannot tell you how suspicious I must have looked.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I never cross a fenceline while on foot if I can help it. If you get into trouble while on foot, you’re just plain screwed. Given that I was behind the wheel of a rental car for a change… also, it was raining, and NYC never looks as good as it does when it’s raining. Thereby, forward!

That large tank in the background is one of the two Liquefied Natural Gas holders which the National Grid people maintain on their enormous properties in Brooklyn. This site in Greenpoint used to belong to the Brooklyn Union Gas Company, which manufactured gas there for nearly a century (creating an environmental nightmare in the process which poisoned both land and water), and is the former home of the “Maspeth Holders” which were imploded in 2001. The LNG contained within the modern system is held at cryogenic temperatures. I should mention that whereas the other energy companies along the Newtown Creek are generally pretty open about what they do and make regular attempts at “public relations” with the surrounding communities, National Grid is a “black box” and they don’t want you to even notice them.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I had been driving more or less constantly since about 8:30 in the morning. I was in parts of Brooklyn and Queens which I haven’t visited since the Reagan Administration, and my energy was waning. I made one last stop on my way back to Astoria, at Apollo Street in Greenpoint.

Apollo Street used to be part of the Standard Oil/Mobil operation in Greenpoint. It was the dividing line between two operational petroleum refining units – Locust Hill and Sone & Fleming. These days, it’s an abandoned street end where a lot of illegal dumping takes place. After grabbing the shot above, I rigged the camera back over to “hand held” mode and packed up my gear. The camera was sitting on the passenger seat.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On my way home, while waiting for traffic lights to change, I couldn’t help but pop out one or two more.

Luckily, just as I arrived back at HQ, a spot opened up directly in front of the place. I headed up stairs, set the camera battery to charge, and got ready for my 6-7 hours of unconscious hallucinations. The 6th was going to be another fun day, during which I’d be driving a lot and visiting places normally inaccessible to the dedicated pedestrian.


“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

August 8, 2022 at 11:00 am

nebulous shadow

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Monday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

June 14th found a humble narrator in Brooklyn’s Greenpoint section for a Newtown Creek Alliance board meeting. What happens at this sort of meeting is that the group’s Executive Director discusses their ongoing management of the organization’s various projects, the financial state of the entity, and then makes the board members aware of any issues they’ve encountered. The board members then weigh in on whatever the issue is, offer guidance or material help, and we vote on “this” or discuss “that.” The meeting took place in the evening, and we were at HQ at 520 Kingsland Avenue in Brooklyn for sunset and moonrise.

I snuck away a couple of times to wave the camera around.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This was coincidentally one of the nights where a so called “supermoon” was meant to occur, which is an astronomical anomaly wherein the position of the moon relative to the horizon creates an optical lensing effect that makes the moon seem larger and brighter than it typically is. Next one is in July, I think.

There’s the so called “Strawberry Supermoon” rising over the fabulous Newtown Creek, from the Kingsland Wildflower Roof at 520 Kingsland Avenue.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Once the meeting ended, and since I was already in the neighborhood, a humble narrator got busy down on the industrial streets surrounding Newtown Creek. The guy who couldn’t help but stand in the middle of my shot was Donnie, a security guard for a recycling company owned by a guy named Mike, and Donnie was desperately waiting for his “Doordash” dinner delivery.

What can I tell you, I talk to strangers.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

At the end of what would be North Henry Street is a small barge slip, called “Unnamed Canal” by the Coast Guard, and I was lucky enough to be there when the Crystal Cutler tug was towing a fuel barge eastwards on Newtown Creek. If you click through to the high res version of the shot at Flickr, you’ll see the silhouette of the Captain in the wheelhouse, who may or may not have been named Bruce Cutler.

I’m very pleased with myself, regarding the shot above.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On my way back to Queens, I decided to get a bit “artsy fartsy” with the sewer plant views. This is one of the shots where I captured three distinct images with different focus points – at distinct moments in the rotating “red, white, blue” colors that the DEP projects onto the stainless steel digester eggs. I’m pleased with myself about this shot too.

After this one, I switched the rig back into handheld mode and started scuttling back towards Queens.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

While crossing Newtown Creek via the Greenpoint Avenue Bridge, I noticed the MTA’s “Bus of the Dead” rolling up on me, no doubt heading to Calvary Cemetery with its spectral riders. Wonder if they’ve got a fare evasion problem on this line? Wonder if the Mayor can send out a group of ghost cops if they do.

Back tomorrow with more…


“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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