The Newtown Pentacle

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Monday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On March 30th, a Wednesday which also happened to be the anniversary of the Queensboro Bridge opening in 1909, a humble narrator scuttled over to the Koscisuzcko Bridge from Astoria hoping to encounter a nice sunset over the fabulous Newtown Creek.

High clouds equal a fifty/fifty chance of a light show at sunset, so I decided to throw the dice.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One had planned in a bit of buffer time for this effort, and I had a couple of hours to wander around and see what I could see.

Looking down from on high at the ragged coastline of the Borough of Queens, in the shot above.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

More of that ragged coastline, pictured is the Queens landing of the former Penny Bridge. There also used to be a Long Island Railroad stop down there.

Heading south on the K-bridge, one crossed the line into Brooklyn.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There’s a couple of large waste transfer stations down there, and the managers of the one pictured above never fail to hassle me when I’m taking pictures of them on the street. Ever since the walkway on the bridge has been open, I now make it a point of cracking put a few exposures.

Humps.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Down under the Kosciuszko Bridge Onramp in Brooklyn’s Greenpoint section, this burned out semi truck was noticed.

I thrive on other people’s misfortunes.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

At the newish “Under the K bridge park” in Greenpoint, and looking towards Queens at the site of the first large scale petroleum refinery in the entire country over in Queens’ Blissville section, and across the fabulous Newtown Creek.

When the sky started getting colorful, I got ready to head back to a point of elevation on the walkway above.


“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

May 23, 2022 at 11:00 am

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Wednesday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The 25th of February found a humble narrator at Newtown Creek Alliance HQ in Brooklyn’s Greenpoint section. We had guests coming.

Holy smokes, that’s Senator Chuck Schumer and he’s wearing our hat. Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney as well, but she was wearing her own hat.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This was a press event, which the Senator organized, centered around demanding that the EPA quicken the process of the Newtown Creek Superfund. Senator Schumer brought out a gaggle of his political allies to this one. Congresswoman Maloney was there, as were representatives from Nydia Velazquez’s office. Assembly Member Emily Gallagher participated, as did local level “elected’s” like City Council Member Lincoln Restler, pictured above.

Hey – Chuck Schumer wore my hat! Not my own personal hat, but one of the NCA hats which I designed close to ten years ago.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso spoke as well. I first met the “beep” about 15 years ago, when he was working for Diana Reyna as an aide. I don’t always agree with him, but it’s been a real pleasure watching this very talented guy rise through the ranks of Brooklyn politics – first as City Council and now as Borough President. Keep an eye on this guy, he’s the real deal.

As is the case with these sort of events, after the lens caps went onto the end of the cameras, all of the electeds travelled off to their next engagement. A buddy of mine who lives in LIC offered a ride back to Queens, which I happily accepted.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The previous night, a freezing rain storm had blown through the city, and every exposed surface was coated in an eighth of an inch of clear ice. While walking from my drop off in LIC to the train, I couldn’t help but record what I was seeing.

Frosted.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Everything was dripping, as the freezing temperatures of the night before had given way to a low 50’s environment.

Beautiful, thought a humble narrator.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Arriving at the Court Square station, one negotiated his way past a madman shouting racist things at passerby on the platform, and an M train arrived which carried my bloated carcass back to Astoria.

Tomorrow – something different 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.

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Wednesday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As part of the recent sunken barge raising operation on Newtown Creek, crews working on the project had brought in several equipment barges which operated as platforms for them to work from. The Tug CMT Pike was there to keep everything placed correctly and provide motive power to combat the effect of tide and current. Pike seems to be hanging around the creek. I recently observed the tugboat from the Greenpoint Avenue Bridge in the dark of night.

The location where the barge went down was actually quite fortuitous for both myself and the environment. In my case, it was the rare occasion when something had happened and I could easily get three different points of view of the situation without having to climb on or trespass through something, and in the case of the barge – it didn’t settle down on any petroleum pipelines or conduits of criticality, or anything other than mud and yuck.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

After getting my shot of the Pike at the gloriously named “Unnamed Canal,” I headed over to the Newtown Creek Nature Walk on the DEP’s property, along the Whale Creek tributary, and got in a few long shots of the action.

One maintained the tripod and filter setup for the camera, which I’d established at the start of the excursion. I also decided that I’ve got to buy myself an infrared filter. I’ve since ordered one, but it’s on back order, so hang in there lords and ladies – Martian landscapes will be coming this spring.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Looking westwards towards Manhattan along the main spine of Newtown Creek, this was one of the last shots I captured with the tripod and filter setup before reconfiguring the gear back towards hand held mode. Reconfiguring takes the form of changing a few menu settings, detaching the filter and tripod and cable release, and closing all of the hatches on the camera body which allow for “hands off” operation. The entire operation takes less than five minutes. I can do it faster, but what’s the rush and when you’re dealing with camera gear – it always pays to be methodical – in terms of storing the gear away and ensuring that all the switches and settings are circumstantially correct.

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

March 9, 2022 at 11:00 am

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Tuesday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

So, a few weeks back, a barge sunk into the gelatinous waters of the gregarious Newtown Creek. This isn’t the first time, won’t be the last, this sort of thing happens. Nothing nasty got released into the water, the barge was filled with rock and sand. Saying all that, it’s quite the pickle raising a barge sitting under 20-30 feet of water, and it requires specialized gear and a crew of experts. Luckily, NY Harbor being NY Harbor, there are a couple of outfits which will rent you the equipment and help you hire the experts needed to operate their stuff.

That’s capitalism for ya, huh? There’s a solution to every problem, if the price is right. Given the times we live in – that’s not a critique of our grandiose economic system, rather it’s an appreciative comment on a part of its feature set.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Lucky for a humble narrator, this particular barge went down in a spot nearby a location which I’ve got access to over in the Greenpoint section of Brooklyn. After attending a Newtown Creek Alliance press event in Maspeth earlier in the day, which involved a couple of Congress members and a gaggle of local “electeds,” I hitched a ride back to Greenpoint and got busy.

It was the worst time of day for light during the winter – right around noon o’clock – but I was prepared for that, and the tripod was deployed with an ND Filter affixed to the lens to slow things down and control the amount of light a bit. I got “a-clicking.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It seems that there was a diver in the water, who was attaching ropes and airbags and all sorts of arcane hoses to the sunken barge. That hit of motion blur on the crane’s arm betrays the process – with the diver and laborers moving ropes and chains around and under the sunken barge. Every now and then, you’d see the diver’s helmet pop up out of the drink.

How exciting.


“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

March 8, 2022 at 11:00 am

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Wednesday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The last stop on my early morning walk from the Brooklyn Navy Yard to Astoria… well, I didn’t make it to Astoria on foot since my left one was screaming with arthritic pain by this point… was the Meeker Avenue Street End site in Greenpoint. This used to be the Brooklyn side mooring of the Penny Bridge, replaced in 1939 by the “New Penny Bridge” which was renamed as the Kosciuszcko Bridge in 1940 and has since been replaced by the modern day Kosciuszcko Bridge seen above. I cannot count how many times I’ve had to make all of those connections to explain Penny Bridge over the years.

In every post describing every step of the way, I’ve mentioned the constancy of needing to find a place to pee or poop. Why? Well, in the midst of all the high fallutin political movements here in the City that never sleeps, one of the things that we continually ignore is basic human biology. You can decarcerate, you can include, you can… but you can’t work out how to create public bathrooms. The City has a hundred billion dollar budget and there’s no way to solve this.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

During non pandemic times, the “NYC system” revolved around walking into a diner or fast food joint and ordering something cheap off the menu – like a coffee – and then asking if the facilities are available. That’s what’s known as “passing a problem off to the private sector.” We do a lot of that here in NYC. The political estate mandates stuff all the time, and then hopes that the private sector can work out the details. It’s a big part of the pandemic issue right now. Vaccine requirements are meant to be enforced by bars and restaurants, but there’s no clear set of regulations for them to follow, nor is there a clear set of instructions for what to do if somebody refuses to cooperate other than summoning the cops to come and do their usual wrecking ball “overt display of authority” thing. It’s dopey.

My understanding is that NYPD’s morale is at the lowest it’s been since the late 1980’s. Telling people what to do is different than convincing them to do what’s best for everyone. It’s not a Cop’s job to do the latter, it’s a politician’s. Our Politicians all want to be superstars, and spend most of their time coming up with new laws rather than finding ways to make the old ones work better, and expect the cops to enforce whatever the hell it is they just came up with. Also, our laws never get retired, despite irrelevancy or ineffectiveness. You still can’t keep a goat, ferret, or chicken in your apartment for instance, and the NYC Anti Mask mandate of 1845 is still on the books. It’s illegal to wear a mask in public in several regions of the United States, which was a 1960’s statutory response to the Ku Klux Klan. The NYC version was installed to keep landlords from sending masked gangs into tenement buildings to keep their tenants in line.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Politicians rattle on about climate issues, but the vast majority of the so called affordable housing built under the recent regime, in the last decade, is rated “D” or worse by the City’s Department of Buildings on energy efficiency. Fossil fuel companies are the culprits, they say, and not the political campaigns which take election year contributions from National Grid and a host of other “energy and job providers.” What is the “super power” of a City Council member? It’s called ULURP, for NYC’S “Uniform Land Use Review Procedure,” which effectively gives an office holder the power to shape development in their district. ULURP power is also held by the Borough Presidents, and City Hall. You need Council, BP, and Mayor’s offices to sign off on this process. The latter can overwrite what the former opposes, but that’s a whole other story which involves pecking order and rank.

Let’s say that you’re a City Council Member – would you demand that new construction in your district include real estate investment that has environmental benefit and green space? Playgrounds? Transit contributions? Or – would you just let the same players who have been raping the urban environment and exploiting the political system’s vanity your whole life sidle up to the trough for another rich meal? Tenants don’t write checks during election campaign season, after all, landlords do.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The mantra… Nothing matters and nobody cares…

There’s a situation at another section of the fabulous Newtown Creek, one in Long Island City, which grows increasingly perilous. A collapsing shoreline and tidal action which is clearly undermining a well travelled street that’s within a stone’s throw of LaGuardia Community College and several charter schools. Reporting the situation to the relevant agency was the most depressing experience I had in 2021, and given what the rest of that cursed year was like… The agency essentially said that they wouldn’t even inspect the situation since they looked at it three years ago when a different section of the shoreline collapsed.

Now, if a thumb tack was found in a bike lane – they’d call the FBI – but… Bah.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A few people on the Twitter have asked me why I keep on rattling on about bike lanes, which is a program and network expansion thereof that I’m generally very much in support of. Here’s the thing – bike lane support doesn’t make you an environmental crusader – and support for a network of protected pathways for non automotive traffic to flow through isn’t a substitute for talking about the frankly existential storm water issue, and about legitimate and actual open soil green space. The actual implementation of most of these bike lanes has been piss poor – painting the gutter green, and surrounding it with plastic sticks about 30% of the way isn’t sufficient. You need actual physical separation, as in concrete barriers, not paint and plastic sticks. You also need to install a fourth lens on traffic signals, which will allow bikes an extra thirty to forty five seconds to cross and clear intersections before vehicular traffic gets the go ahead. Other cities with fewer resources have managed this.

If I’m wrong, then why did the Vision Zero years see traffic related fatalities go up instead of down? I swear, if anyone brings up Amsterdam to me again… Amsterdam has a population of just under 900,000 living in the central city, and about 2.5 million in its “greater metropolitan” area. The latter number is about how many people live just in the Borough of Queens. When a City agency tells you why they can’t do something it’s “because of scale,” but then they bring up freaking Amsterdam as an example of what’s possible. This is New York City, we don’t follow trends, we set them.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

See that leaking fire hydrant? I’ve watched it leak for about 15 years. It’s been reported to the City hundreds of times. The water it oozes carries street garbage to a nearby sewer grate which empties directly into Newtown Creek. The garbage causes the grate to become clogged, which creates a garbage pond. The pond, in turn, slowly empties into Newtown Creek carrying trash along with the flow. The last time that I managed to get the drain cleared, you want to know who I called to bring in a work crew? ExxonMobil. They operate some of their pumping equipment nearby, for the oil spill cleanup operation, and when I mentioned the “optics” of this to one of their principals, it was handled quickly and they used heavy equipment to scoop away the garbage pond’s embankments. Saying that, it was about four or five years ago. The hydrant continues to leak, and the pond grows. Someday, there’s going to be a waterbody called “Lake Meeker” here. Will that qualify as green space, or parkland?

Nothing matters, and nobody cares.


“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

January 5, 2022 at 1:00 pm

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