The Newtown Pentacle

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Archive for the ‘Hunters Point’ Category

quickened force

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Cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs, me.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Towards the end of last week, a humble narrator found himself over in the Shining City of Manhattan. I had business to discuss with somebody, mainly creating a new walking tour route, and we actually stomped out one of my proposed routes (Wall Street to 23rd street via the “East River Greenway”) after which one found himself at the NYC Ferry dock at 34th street. A quick journey across the river to Long Island City, as the burning thermonuclear eye of God itself slipped behind New Jersey, soon found me scuttling about in a Long Island City which was cloaked in preternatural darkness.

The tripod was deployed and a humble narrator got busy with the camera, which seemingly generated much interest for both private security personnel and ordinary passerby. Click, whir, click. That’s a LIRR train idling at the Hunters Point Avenue station, if you’re curious.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The crap hole security fencing around the Sunnyside Yards doesn’t do much to actually secure the railyard, but it does get in the way of your shots. In many ways it’s a metaphor for the entire MTA. Pictured above is a long exposure of the 7 line subway exiting the Hunters Point Avenue station, and climbing onto its elevated course towards the next stop – which is the Court Square station.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Another long exposure shot, this time from the 54th avenue footbridge over the tracks, looking westwards towards the Pulaski Bridge and the Queens Midtown tunnel. I would have waited for a train to roll by, but on my way to this spot, two LIRR units had just transited by (see below). Like a lot of the shots recently presented here, this is a narrow aperture and low ISO sensitivity photo with an exposure time of about thirty seconds.

That’s where all those light trails come from. 

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I was on Borden Avenue, and heading for the 54th avenue footbridge, when the signal arms came down and the parade of LIRR rolling stock began. As a note, the shots above and below are handheld exposures, unlike the ones above.

One thing about all this night shoot stuff I’ve been up to lately is the need to be able to switch back and forth between the two strategies utilized for low light shots. In the case of these passing trains, I wanted to “freeze” the moment, so they are wide aperture and high ISO shots representing about 1/200th of a second, give or take.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Proponents of the proposed “BQX” trolley line really should spend some time on Borden Avenue at rush hour to observe what an “at grade” crossing looks like on a well trafficked arterial street. Vehicle traffic backs up for blocks and blocks, and any traffic lanes which might intersect with the arterial begin to feel the effect of it within minutes.

As Robert Moses might have opined, it’s not about about the traffic, it’s about the flow.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The tracks which the LIRR units are heading onto in this series are the ones you saw in the tripod shot from the 54th avenue footbridge. They lead into the Sunnyside Yards and the trains are going to be heading eastwards, I’m told, towards first Woodside and then Jamaica and then out to Nassau and Suffolk Counties.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

After unit 414 completed its journey past Borden Avenue, number 420 began its own trip. A humble narrator was squealing with glee, as a note, because simple things make me happy. After a day spent in Manhattan, which has become the most boring place on Earth, LIC welcomed me home with this grand parade?

I missed you too, Queens.


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Written by Mitch Waxman

February 22, 2018 at 11:00 am

cannot give

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Another set of shots from the Newtown Creek frozone.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Last week I showed you what it looks like when Brooklyn’s English Kills freezes over, today it’s the polar paradise which Dutch Kills in LIC became after that recent spell of super cold weather that’s in focus. Both waterways are tributaries of the fabulous Newtown Creek, and the “kills” bit is Old Dutch for “creek.” The English and Dutch parts of the names are meant to indicate where the various ethnicities of European settlers sited themselves.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Dutch Kills, as we know it today, is a canalized post industrial waterway surrounded by stout factory and warehouse structures and crossed by multiple bridges, with the current shape of things dating back to the creation of the surrounding Degnon Terminal in the late nineteen-teens. It attained its modern characteristics by 1921, and the last big addition to Dutch Kills was the installation of the Midtown Tunnel and Long Island Expressway way back in 1940.

That’s the LIE, or at least the Queens Midtown Expressway section of the it, pictured above. Close to 90,000 vehicle trips a day pass over the water here, yet most people you meet say they have never heard of the Newtown Creek.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Like English Kills in Bushwick, Dutch Kills here in LIC was contained nearly completely by a layer of plate ice when I visited it last Wednesday. The ice was already “rotting” as the air temperatures returned to seasonal norms, and the weak tidal action witnessed in Dutch Kills was breaking it into distinct floes.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Just like English Kills, certain areas which have been observed as being highly biologically active due to the presence of sewage sediment mounds during warmer climes were fully melted and flowing. The status of those unknown things which slither and slide and slop about in the bottom sediments during these unfrozen times remains a mystery.

There are some things you really do not want to know, after all.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Over on the Borden Avenue Bridge, just to the south of the vantage point in the previous shots – which is offered by the Hunters Point Avenue Bridge – the rot of the ice was a bit more pronounced. An analogous appearance vaguely reminiscent of an otherwise wholesome slice of Swiss Cheese came to mind.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The structure pictured in the first shot of today’s post, as well as in the last one presented above, is called a “dolphin.” It’s rooted deeply in the substrata of Dutch Kills and constructed of creosoted lumber piles. The purpose of these things is to protect the movable bridges they adjoin from an allision, accidental contact with passing maritime traffic. If both the boat and bridge were moving it be a collision, allision is if a moving object strikes a stationary one. 

For me, they provide essential design elements and focal points for the framing of photos at a frozen superfund site, hidden at the very center of New York City.


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It’s National Peanut Butter Cookie Day, according to the National Peanut Council, in these United States.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

For those of you who didn’t get the notification, the City has updated the Queensboro Bridge’s firmware over the weekend. You’ll no longer find your driving directions in “citytunes,” instead they’re now in a separate app.

That’s a joke, of course, for those of you who are literally minded, but this last weekend was a commuter nightmare subway wise, which resulted in a surface transportation clusterfuck of vehicular traffic trying to exit or enter Queens. A classic example of “you can’t get there from here,” multiple subway lines were rerouted or nonexistent due to track work, and the entire experience of getting around town was framed by a couple of conversations I was a part of last week with the NYC EDC, regarding their Sunnyside Yards Feasibility study.

One had two opportunities last week to throw shade at them about the project. One was at the Queens Chamber of Commerce – while wearing my Newtown Creek Alliance Hat – which saw me asking EDC about truck routes and what exactly they think they’re going to be able to plug 28,000 units of housing into. The other was wearing my Access Queens hat (we don’t have actual AQ hats, btw) and I queried as to how half the population of Boulder Colorado would manage to get to work in the City using just three subway stations (33rd Street/Rawson and 40th street/Lowery on the 7, and 36th street on the R/M) every day. Other questions involved hospital beds, NYPD, FDNY, and we explored the chronology involved with transport to Elmhurst Hospital or Bellevue for a citizen who might be experiencing a heart attack or stroke from the ostensible center of the project at Queens Plaza.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Over in Hunters Point, the dig for Captain Praa’s Golden Horde continues. The semi legendary Dutch sea Captain who settled on the northern side of the Mispat, or Newtown Creek, is meant to have buried a blasphemous treasure he collected on a journey to and from the mysterious Micronesian island of Pohnpei (formerly known as Ponape) in the South Pacific. In the native tongue, Pohnpei translates to “upon a stone altar,” and it is where you’ll find the archaeological site of Nan Modol (which translates to “the spaces between”). Legend has it that Praa was terrified by the latent occult implications of the golden treasure he carried home, and ensured that it would be forever lost in the mud and silt. The tall tale that frog headed monstrosities, reported as periodically rising from the Newtown Creek in the historical record, followed him back to NY Harbor is completely unsubstantiated and fantastic in implication.

from wikipedia

According to Pohnpeian legend, Nan Madol was constructed by twin sorcerers Olisihpa and Olosohpa from the mythical Western Katau, or Kanamwayso. The brothers arrived in a large canoe seeking a place to build an altar so that they could worship Nahnisohn Sahpw, the god of agriculture. After several false starts, the two brothers successfully built an altar off Temwen Island, where they performed their rituals. In legend, these brothers levitated the huge stones with the aid of a flying dragon. When Olisihpa died of old age, Olosohpa became the first Saudeleur. Olosohpa married a local woman and sired twelve generations, producing sixteen other Saudeleur rulers of the Dipwilap (“Great”) clan.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Over the weekend, one encountered an online conspiracy theory describing the retail giant Wal-Mart as playing a seminal role in a secretive FEMA plot which would see a declaration of martial law enacted in pursuance of the confiscation of personal firearms. This plot, as reported, had Hillary Clinton as its fountainhead. Mrs. Clinton was just an agent, however of a shadowy cabal populated by internationalist Jewish Bankers in league with the Bilderberg group, who are upset that Donald Trump has emerged to thwart their nefarious goals. Who knew?

It made me wonder, and more than wonder, what role the Harley Davidson people might be playing in this global power grab. What other large scale American corporations might be working to subvert individual liberty and institute a new world order?

Moreover, why isn’t anyone talking or worrying about the antediluvian horrors lurking in the seas of the South Pacific just off Pohnpei, specifically located at 47°9′S 126°43′W – where the nightmare corpse city of R’lyeh lies sunken beneath the waves…  in all of its slimy green immensity – which was built in the measureless eons behind history by those vast, loathsome shapes that seeped down from the dark stars?

I think we can all guess who that flying dragon that Olisihpa and Olosohpa built Nan Modol with is, after all.


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It’s National Prime Rib Day, in these United States.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A recent afternoon found one wandering about the waterfront in LIC whereupon FDNY’s Tiller Ladder 175 truck was encountered. For those of you not in the know, Tiller Ladders are those “old school” fire trucks with a driver at both ends. This one was Ladder 175, which normally spends its time over in East New York, but based on the patches worn by the FDNY guys driving it, I’d say that Ladder 175 was in the possession of the Fleet Services unit that day.

Fleet Services have several properties in Maspeth and in Greenpoint, all within spitting distance of the fabulous Newtown Creek, and you can often spot interesting equipment awaiting mechanical or esthetic attention.

from wikipedia

In the United States, a tiller truck, also known as a tractor-drawn aerial, tiller ladder, or hook-and-ladder truck, is a specialized turntable ladder mounted on a semi-trailer truck. Unlike a commercial semi, the trailer and tractor are permanently combined and special tools are required to separate them. It has two drivers, with separate steering wheels for front and rear wheels.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As opined many times in the past, a historically minded fellow is a fool if he tries to fill in the blanks when the subject is the FDNY. Every firehouse has an active duty resident historian who can tell you EVERYTHING about the units therein and the pre consolidation history of the individual firehouse, and there are legions of retired firefighters who know literally EVERYTHING about the department in excruciating detail. When the City created itself in 1898, all fire units in Brooklyn and Queens saw their unit numbers raised by “100,” so… if there was a Brooklyn Fire Department ladder unit back then it would have been “Ladder 75.”

Saying that, I don’t know if East New York was part of the BFD, or if it was an independent operation.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The design and purpose of the tiller models is built around turning the ladder unit around narrow street corners, which is accomplished through the use of the double steering mechanisms. The trucks are also quite a bit longer than the tower ladder units, which extend and telescope their ladders from a turntable. This means that the tiller trucks can carry more equipment and muster more firefighters than more traditional units.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s the rear operators cabin, with steering wheel and other controls.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As they drove away, I yelled out “are ya lost?” and “east New York is that way” while gesturing to the southeast.

You literally never know what you’re going to encounter in LIC, so it’s best to carry a camera, just in case.


Upcoming Tours and events

First Calvary Cemetery walking tour, May 6th.

With Atlas Obscura’s Obscura Day 2017, Calvary Cemetery Walking Tour – details and tix here.

MAS Janeswalk free walking tour, May 7th.

Visit the new Newtown Creek Alliance/Broadway Stages green roof, and the NCA North Henry Street Project – details and tix here.


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Written by Mitch Waxman

April 27, 2017 at 11:00 am

violet litten

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Seriously, how much can one guy take?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Often, and in excruciating detail, have I been told how annoying my company actually is. Noticing every little detail as I move around is one reason I’m so aberrant a fellow, forcing people to listen to me rattling on about my trivial observations is another. More often than not, it’s a habit of relaying unpleasant facts about activities which my companions and myself are engaging in which pisses folks off. Talking about my mother’s cousin Melvin, whose grisly death occurred after he fell off a moving boat and was sliced up by the propellor back during the 1960’s, or the actual process of drowning, described while riding onboard a boat are two. Talking about human decay processes while in cemeteries is yet another.

You never want to hear me say anything about escalators, btw. Deadly things – my buddy Hank the elevator guy shudders whenever the subject comes up, and he’s a guy who regularly dangles from ropes in elevator shafts. Long story short – hamburger meat. Escalators are meat grinders. Brrrr. Don’t ask.

Here’s a few other things nobody asked me about…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A scene from de Blasio’s New York, specifically the foot of the Pulaski Bridge on Jackson Avenue in LIC. The guy with his hat out has turned up in recent days, and made this the spot at which he goes to every car that’s leaving Brooklyn asking for spare change.

It is only a matter of time before we click fully back into the Dinkins era and this dude finds himself a squeegee.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The neighbors hereabouts in Astoria all seem to hail from places where the accepted custom is to hurl any unwanted or used items directly into the street. When it rains…

Jesus, what the hell is wrong with you people? Give a hoot, don’t pollute. Find a god damned trash bin, they’re all over the place, even if they’re filled with household trash from illegal sublets.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This one actually blew my mind when it was explained to me. It’s the window of a fancy shmancey supermarket over in the newly built up waterfront section of Hunters Point – tower town, as I call it.

The “out of respect for our customers” prohibitions against “photography” and “organized tours” got me curious. My thoughts of “are Jack Eichenbaum or Kevin Walsh doing LIC supermarket tours now? Wow, wonder if I can get in on that?” were immediately quashed by a long time friend who lives nearby.

She explained that realtors will often bring groups of prospective condo buyers into the local supermarkets and shops to demonstrate that there are – in fact – places to shop in Long Island City. So many buyers have moved through their doors that the shops and supermarkets have had to set rules.

Sigh…

Upcoming Events and Tours

Saturday, July 16, 11:15 a.m. – 12:45 p.m. –
FREE Newtown Creek Boat Tour,
with Waterfront Alliance (note- WA usually releases tix in batches).
Click here for more details.

Saturday, July 23, 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. –
Calvary Cemetery Walking tour,
with Brooklyn Brainery. Click here for more details.

Tuesday, July 26, 6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. –
Glittering Realms Walking tour,
with NYC H2O. Click here for more details.

Wednesday, July 27, 1st trip – 4:50 p.m. 2nd trip – 6:50 p.m. –
2 Newtown Creek Boat Tours,
with Open House NY. Click here for more details.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

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The sky is stolen, so repent… or just rent…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The cabal of entrepreneurs and bankers whom one has long referred to as the “real estate industrial complex” has been quite busy in the eastern side of Long Island City for the last few years. The sky has almost been entirely blotted out, and thousands of new apartment units constructed, usually atop brown fields and former industrial sites. This shot is from the Thompson Avenue Viaduct adjoining Court Square, and as you can see – this section of Queens has been recast in Manhattan’s image.

Unlike Manhattan, of course, there are no new hospital beds or any of the other things which you’d normally expect to find in an area being built up for a large residential population. Lately, the word “Brasilia” comes to mind when I’m walking around the modern corridor of LIC.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As mentioned last week, rumors abound in LIC that the Real Estate Industrial complex is pushing for a rezoning of the industrial corridor that runs from the Pulaski Bridge to Greenpoint Avenue, between Newtown Creek and the Sunnyside Yards/Long Island Expressway. Spotted recently on the intersection of Greenpoint Avenue and the Long Island Expressway was the sign above. This signage indicates many things to me about the sort of people who are actually driving this train, who they are, and where the money behind it all is likely coming from.

Formerly, signage observed nailed to this utility pole has included the ubiquitous “Cash for Cars” and “Stop Bedbugs” illegal postings which plague western Queens.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Back in Astoria, we still haven’t been lucky enough to receive much attention from these folks, which is good news. We can still see the sky, and when a rainbow appears over Jackson Heights to the east – it’s still a source of wonder for all the neighbors to marvel over.

Incidentally, conversation over the weekend with one of my cousins indicated that you can still find housing that is quite affordable in the Mill Basin/Canarsie area, and that the sky and sun haven’t been co-opted by co-ops.

Upcoming Events and Tours

Tuesday, July 12, 7:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m. –
LICHenge, with Atlas Obscura and the
Hunters Point Park Conservancy. Click here for more details.

Saturday, July 16, 11:15 a.m. – 12:45 p.m. –
FREE Newtown Creek Boat Tour,
with Waterfront Alliance (note- WA usually releases tix in batches).
Click here for more details.

Saturday, July 23, 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. –
Calvary Cemetery Walking tour,
with Brooklyn Brainery. Click here for more details.

Tuesday, July 26, 6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. –
DUPBO Walking tour,
with NYC H2O. Click here for more details.

Wednesday, July 27, 1st trip – 4:50 p.m. 2nd trip – 6:50 p.m. –
2 Newtown Creek Boat Tours,
with Open House NY. Click here for more details.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

July 7, 2016 at 11:00 am

this splendor

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If these guys go out, what in the name of god itself will I take pictures of?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One isn’t too sure about the details of the current beef between the LIRR unions and the State of New York’s MTA – but my concerns about an impending strike have little to do with the crippling effect it will have on NYC and all of Nassau and Suffolk counties, nor the living hell which commuters will endure getting too and from their Manhattan jobs, or the financial consequences to both organized labor and state officials. Purely selfish motivations rule, as your humble narrator is overly concerned about the lack of photographic opportunity which a cessation of locomotive service in LIC will cause. Hey! This one affects me personally, what am I supposed to take pictures of without any trains?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There’s always tugboats, I guess, although I’ve been shooting less and less maritime in 2014. No particular reason, it’s just that life have led me away from the harbor in the first half of this year, and I’ve been busy upland. Nice thing about industrial Maspeth, I always say, is the random movement when a train suddenly busts through the scene. If there is a LIRR strike… let’s just say that it diminishes us all, and industrial Maspeth most of all.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One wonders if freight operations will be suspended as well? I’d imagine so, but I’m a stranger to the world of organized labor except by neighborly osmosis. The industries I’ve worked in – Advertising and Comics – eschew organized labor. The excesses of both are legendary, but you’ve probably watched “Madmen” so I don’t have to discuss Madison Avenue. As an example for the comics industry, the guy who created Superman ended up walking into DC Comics one day while working as a delivery man. The guy who created all those characters in the Marvel movies – Hulk, Captain America, etc. – was Jack Kirby, whose heirs get ugatz from Marvel. Either way, I’ve got to find something else to take pictures of, somewhere in the Newtown Pentacle.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

There are two Newtown Creek walking tours coming up.

Saturday, July 26th, The Insalubrious Valley of the Newtown Creek
With Atlas Obscura, lunch included, click here for tickets and more info.

Sunday, July 27th, Glittering Realms
With Brooklyn Brainery, lunch included, click here for tickets and more info.

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