The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Archive for the ‘Long Island City’ Category

pressure laminated

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Great lengths are needed for solitude.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The thing about NYC is that you’re never actually alone. There’s always someone else within a couple hundred of feet of you, even if you don’t know they’re there. Driving by, lurking in a drain, nesting on a sofa, or standing naked on some rooftop – this place is positively infested with humans and it’s virtually impossible to find a spot where you’re truly alone. I’ve always opined that what this City really needs is a good plague. Given recent experience with the healthcare system here in the Borough of Queens, this plague’s Ground Zero will likely be the corner of Crescent Street and 31st avenue here in Astoria.

I would flee to one of my bolt holes around Newtown Creek in the event of a pandemic breaking out, where I will wait out the first phases of you all going zombie, or road warrior, or whatever dystopian endgame you find yourself in during the “die off.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My goal will be to make it to a certain spot where water based transportation can be easily gained, and then sail westwards across the East River and Hudson and subsequently south towards the Kill Van Kull and then Arthur Kill. From there, I’ll tack my way down the coast of New Jersey. Net fishing and rainwater collection will have to be done, but my goal would be to achieve continental landfall in Southern New Jersey and then head west along the Pennsylvania Turnpike towards Pittsburgh. From there, I’ll improvise, but will be heading in a generally southwest direction seeking more temperate climes.

Wherever I end up stopping my journey, I’m going to set up an end times cult with me and Our Lady of the Pentacle as the cult leaders. That way, as I grow older, I’ll have acolytes lined up to wipe my butt and do laundry or shopping. Once the cult grows in size and strength, we will return to a depopulated NYC, and set up the faith at the now abandoned New St. Patrick’s Cathedral. I’ll move back into my old apartment in Astoria, but nobody else will be allowed to live in Queens, by my holy edict. The Bronx will be returned to farmland. The border with Brooklyn will be fortified.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I’m ready to throw down the fiery gospel anytime. I’ve spent a lot of time studying the oratory techniques of Reverend Creflo Dollar, Andrew Cuomo, and others. Devotions will involve fun stuff that we all enjoy, which will be a major lure for the small post apocalypse crowd. None of that Walking Dead stuff will happen, I promise. The Esoteric Order of Waxman will be egalitarian, welcoming to all, and won’t insist on the ritual mutilation of infant genitalia for either sex. Also, there’ll be some kind of pie.

Now, that’s what I would call a progressive end time cult, lords and ladies. Thing is, even during the apocalypse you really can’t be alone. There’ll be all sort of monsters out there roaming around, and the only one who will be able to keep you safe from the giant armored dragonflies and lion headed horses will be an old man in a filthy black raincoat, or so the legend will opine.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle


TONIGHT, come to the library!

In the Shadows at Newtown Creek – The Roosevelt Island Historic Society has invited me to present a slideshow and talk about my beloved Newtown Creek at the New York Public Library on Roosevelt Island, on November 14th, 6 p.m. Free event!

Click here for more information.!

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 14, 2019 at 11:00 am

inherent deficiency

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From the archives…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As detailed in recent posts, a humble narrator is recovering from a crush injury suffered by the big toe of my left foot, a situation which has put a serious crimp in my plans. Despite the best efforts of the loquacious Mt. Sinai Astoria hospital staff to introduce a series of corollary illnesses into my life when I had the thing “checked out” I’m doing fine and the injury is healing nicely. Saying all that, one hasn’t been out wandering the concrete devastations for the last couple of weeks, so I’m reaching into the Newtown Pentacle archives I maintain at Flickr for this week’s content.

Luckily, I’m fairly prolific so there’s lots to choose from. Today, the focus chosen is on construction equipment, a subject which I seem to return to a lot.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

All of western Queens and North Brooklyn seem to be a construction zone, and my eye is often drawn to the gear used to annihilate the glories of the past in favor of setting the stage for glass and steel monocultural residential towers to be erected. The equipment used in pursuance of this by the Real Estate Industrial Complex is invariably dressed up in bright primary colors.

We are all living in a comic book now. The President of the United States is a James Bond villain, and has surrounded himself with a cabinet populated by “The Legion of Doom.” Closer to home, the Governor of New York State can give you cancer by staring at you for too long, and the Mayor of Gotham is a farcical character straight out of a Tim Burton film. If peanut butter agreed to build “affordable housing,” our Mayor would happily make jelly illegal.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Recently, I got to take credit for coining the moniker “Dope from Park Slope” with one of the Mayor’s City Hall insiders. I instructed said insider to let the big guy know it was me. One cannot tell you the joy I feel when I see news photos of people carrying signs at protests which have “Dope from Park Slope” on them. Any joy is welcome these day, as the throbbing of the broken toe’s healing process sings opera to me at night. It’s the little things, right? Said throbbing has gotten in the way of lots and lots of stuff.

Sitting at my desk and actually getting things done has become a no more than two hours at a time thing for the last couple of weeks, which is annoying as I’m trying to accomplish one more print publication before the end of the year.

Also, check out the links below, I’ll be speaking at the Roosevelt Island New York Public Library on Thursday night, which is a free event.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle


Come to the library!

In the Shadows at Newtown Creek – The Roosevelt Island Historic Society has invited me to present a slideshow and talk about my beloved Newtown Creek at the New York Public Library on Roosevelt Island, on November 14th, 6 p.m. Free event!

Click here for more information.!

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 11, 2019 at 1:00 pm

anguished frenzy

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Cut and cover.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Let’s say that a humble narrator announces a tour of the fabulous Newtown Creek, or a boat excursion to some remote corner of the harbor, and I end up taking a bath on the endeavor and lose money. Did I take a risk that didn’t pay off? When I’m talking about my empty right hand pocket, do I pretend that the roll of hundred dollar bills and the bag of assorted gem stones maintained in my left pocket doesn’t exist? What if my left hand pocket assets included billions and billions of dollars of Manhattan real estate? Can I just confess that I didn’t market the tour properly, or manage its costs competently, or proceeded with the operation under some rose colored ideation that it would sell out and make me richer than Croesus? Did I employ the services of a bunch of incompetents who are related to or friends with various political party officials, using my project as a patronage mill?

Or do I just blame the audience, accuse them of trying to get one over on me, and then go further in debt to hire a small army of armed guards with marching orders to generate revenue via fines and tickets because I can’t be losing money unless someone is stealing from me? Of course not, I’m not the MTA.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The practice of blaming the ridership, accusing them of theft of service, pretending that your pocket is empty when in reality you are one of the biggest landlords in New York State… that’s the MTA. Need a few billion bucks? Maybe sell your office building on Jay Street in Brooklyn and move your operations to a less tony location in Nassau or Suffolk County, or maybe Westchester. I understand that Mount Vernon and Yonkers have several abandoned office parks which would be quite affordable to move your army of bureaucrats into. Still underfunded? How about selling off some of your investment properties in upper Manhattan while the real estate market is hot?

That, or you can just wait for the next video of a bunch of cops having a fist fight with teenagers over $2.75 to make the nightly news.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Me? I’d let the Wall Street guys have a go at MTA. Let the bean counters in there to look for redundancy and cost savings through consolidations. Funny thing is, this would barely be felt by the Union people who actually keep the system running. MTA loves publicizing the fact that some shlimiel on the LIRR collected an outlandish amount of overtime pay, but never discusses the number of empty suits populating the office cubicles at their Jay Street HQ. I’d like to smash the system over there, where the subways are still operated as if the IND and IRT were distinct. There’s multiple bus companies, LIRR and Metro North have virtually zero interoperability… it goes on and on. The MTA real estate and property manager folks operate in shadow, with virtually zero public awareness of their shenanigans.

If NYC is an organism, with DEP the liver and kidneys, MTA operates the venous system. Arteriosclerosis is something I’m familiar with. The best treatment, long term, for this sort of disease vector is lifestyle change.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle


Come to the library!

In the Shadows at Newtown Creek – The Roosevelt Island Historic Society has invited me to present a slideshow and talk about my beloved Newtown Creek at the New York Public Library on Roosevelt Island, on November 14th, 6 p.m. Free event!

Click here for more information.!

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 7, 2019 at 11:00 am

oaken construct

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Frustrated, bored, plagued.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

These shots were gathered last week – before, during, and after the Newtown Creek walking tour which I conducted in the dark and rain with a freshly broken toe. One of the more frustrating parts of my life since the emergence of the fractured phalange has involved that the atmosphere looked like this. Voluminous fog, wet streets, a generally distasteful and uncomfortable climate offers ideal conditions for the sort of long exposure urban nightscape photos which I crave to create.

There I was, stuck in the house watching netflix with my swollen foot elevated, and draped with an ice pack. It’s like that time I missed the Fourth of July.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I rarely take shots during tours, but for various reasons, I cracked this one out on the preternaturally dark and aptly named Railroad Avenue in Blissville.

By this stage of the recovery process, I’ve grown tired of trying to entertain myself. Haven’t read any of those books I said ai was going to, as I’m essentially crawling the walls at this point. There’s a community board meeting tonight, for a committee I’m not on, which I might attend just to have something to do. That’s how bored I am. I’ve got a college group scheduled for a Newtown Creek excursion on Thursday morning, and then a meeting for a committee I’m on the same night, so at least Thursday will offer some distractions.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Plague thing involves a horde of flies which enjoys buzzing about on my porch. A few of them have made it inside the house, and they’re all haughty because I’m unable to chase them around. Instead I’ve set traps. Another week like this one, and I’ll be in full “Jigsaw” mode (The “Saw” horror franchise) and setting ironic torture traps out for them. If I’m still hobbled two weeks from now, I’ll start working on a battalion of tiny murder drones to patrol the living room ceiling. Zuzu the dog doesn’t pay attention to anything smaller than mice, and I’ve got one of those living on my porch too.

Life is a cabaret, old friends.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle


Come to the library!

In the Shadows at Newtown Creek – The Roosevelt Island Historic Society has invited me to present a slideshow and talk about my beloved Newtown Creek at the New York Public Library on Roosevelt Island, on November 14th, 6 p.m. Free event!

Click here for more information.!

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 6, 2019 at 1:00 pm

agonizing mortality

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Three Boroughs today.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Right up there is the very first shot ever published at your Newtown Pentacle, which is an oldie but a goodie. Queensboro Bridge just before it’s centennial parade, and I was the only person on the upper level when this was captured. Archive shots will be greeting y’all for a bit while my smashed toe heals, an endeavor which is shaping up to be quite the ordeal. I’m heading over to the hospital later on to get it properly looked at, since – despite one of my hidden talents being first aid and the ability to tie off a sterile field dressing – things aren’t progressing as I’d like them to and I have to consult with somebody whose first name is Doctor.

I really cannot afford to do this, invoking the broken medical system here in NYC, but you have to do what you have to do and a possible infection related to a broken bone is not something you want to play around with.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I’m not sure what the name of that rail bridge is in the shot above, but I can tell you that it’s in the Bronx. Another archive shot, I captured it during another one of the Centennial events about ten years ago, celebrating the Madison Avenue Bridge.

Man, my foot is killing me today. The swelling has gone down, but that means that I can now fully experience and enjoy the injury.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s what it looks like when the ship or boat you’re on is entering the Gowanus Canal, and that’s the Hamilton Avenue Bridge. Got this one a while back on a Working Harbor Committee excursion to Gowanus Bay and the canal. My pal Joseph Alexiou was on the mike, who is someone you should be paying attention to on all matters involving the Gowanus and South Brooklyn in general.

Oww.


“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 1, 2019 at 1:00 pm

spiritual dread

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My beloved Newtown Creek.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

These shots were gathered while I was riding on a hybrid ferry boat, which at the time was running on its electric mode. This was a novel experience, I must say. Beyond the whole environmental thing, what was fascinating about this vessel was how quiet it was, and how the deck plates weren’t vibrating with transmitted engine oscillations. Can’t tell you much about the thing, as it wasn’t my “show.”

Saying that, my “show” will be once again opening its curtains on Wednesday October 15th, with an Atlas Obscura/Airbnb “experience” offering my “Infrastructure Creek” walk to a very limited group of 12. This will be an evening/night walk, which should be pretty exciting. Link is both above and below, so please come with if you can. The same tour will be repeated on October 29th. These tours are part of how I keep a roof over my head, so any and all tickets sold essentially feed me, and fund the various technologies which allow me to bring you Newtown Pentacle five days a week and fifty two weeks a year.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Astoria Community Board 1 will be gathering at Astoria World Manor on Astoria Blvd. tonight at 6:30. It promises to be an interesting meeting. The Transportation Alternatives organization (Bicycle people) will be offering a presentation pushing for their latest advocacy position which asks the City to create a protected bike lane on Crescent Street connecting the Triborough and Queensboro Bridges. This is sure to be the subject of much conversation and gnashing of teeth in the coming months here in the ancient village, so… Additionally, there is a proposal to develop two currently industrially zoned properties on the Ditmars side of the neighborhood on 45th and 46th street into largish apartment houses.

Discussion of the latter has obsessed the frequent commenters found at Facebook’s Astoria discussion group for the last week. That particular cadre of opinion offerers seem to be composed largely of people who moved out of Astoria in the 1980’s that offer an overly sentimental picture of the “good old days” which has little resemblance to reality. For instance, somebody who is in their mid 60’s in 2019 that says “you could leave your doors unlocked back then” is referring to the late 1970’s in NYC. That’s the midst of an era when you not only triple locked your door, you also installed iron bars on both first AND second story windows.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That aphorism about leaving your door open is something I’ve encountered my entire life. My maternal grandparents offered it when referring to living in the “Shtetl” or Lower East Side of Manhattan during the 1920’s when they first got here. My mom and dad also repeated the refrain when referring to East New York’s Brownsville or Brooklyn’s Borough Park where they respectively grew up (the Waxman family’s ancestral property holdings are now a part of the Maimonides Hospital parking garage). You heard this in the neighborhoods which I grew up in, and the saying was always tinged with a certain amount of racism, with the underlying implication that things were better during a more segregated era (red lining was a practice in the real estate world which only allowed certain ethnicities to live in certain areas. It’s part of the “how and why” which NYC’s “ethnic” enclaves were formed by – African American Bed Stuy and Bushwick, Hispanic North Brooklyn, Jewish Midwood and Crown Heights, Italian Bensonhurst and so on).

Back tomorrow with something else. See you tonight at CB1 if you want to come watch the show. Me, I wish I was going to be on a boat tonight during the storm, electric or not. I spend too much of my life in meetings.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle


Come on a tour!

With Atlas ObscuraInfrastructure Creek AT NIGHT! My favorite walking tour to conduct, and in a group limited to just twelve people! October 15th, 7-9 p.m.

Click here for more information and tickets!

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.

was invariable

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DUPBO, in LIC.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Down Under the Pulaski Bridge Onramp, or DUPBO in Long Island City, is pictured above. Recent endeavor found one wandering around this area just after sunset about a week ago, and one decided to get busy with the camera.

The Pulaski Bridge was built by the NYC DOT as a replacement to the older Vernon Avenue Bridge which was found about a block or so to the west. The old bridge connected LIC’s Vernon Blvd. with Greenpoint’s Manhattan Avenue, and there was a streetcar or trolley service which connected the two shorelines of Newtown Creek. The former Orchard Street (bet Greenpoint Avenue and the Creek) in Brooklyn was renamed “Manhattan Avenue” about 1915 (I believe, and that’s from memory so don’t trust me on that), as the LIC side offered proximity to the brand new IRT Flushing line (the 7) subway. The trolley stop in LIC, where the trolley came to rest, is the NYC Parks Dept.’s “Vernon Mall” today. Back then, you named streets for where they were going, today you give parks meaningless names which obfuscate the past, but that’s why Greenpoint’s Orchard Street is Manhattan Avenue today.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The derelict shoreline of LIC in DUPBO between the bridge and the Vernon street end is occupied and exploited by a colony of squatter boats these days. A hundred years ago, you would have been looking at a fleet of small tugs owned by the Newtown Creek Towing Company, whose HQ was found next door to an Ulmer Brewery Tap room on Vernon beneath the old bridge. Back then, modern day 54th and 53rd avenues were part of the LIRR Pigeon Street rail yard, which adjoined the Hunters Point Yard on the north and had tracks feeding into the Jack Frost sugar factory on the East River. The squatter boats are all blurry looking because they were rolling around on the wake of a tugboat and barge combo which had just navigated past.

The large structure on the Greenpoint side is the former Chelsea Fiber and Jute Mill at the end of Manhattan Avenue, which is known to modernity as the Greenpoint Manufacturing and Design Center – or GMDC.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As part of the post WW2 citywide expansion of arterial roadways, drawn up by and overseen by Robert Moses, the Pulaski Bridge was designed as a high draught drawbridge which would span the Newtown Creek and magnify the amount of traffic flow between the two boroughs. Both 11th street in LIC and what would come to be called McGuinness Blvd. in Greenpoint were widened to accommodate this extra traffic. From DUPBO, you may notice that the Pulaski sports what appears to be an unfinished traffic ramp which arcs off of the eastern or Queens bound side. I’ve never been able to confirm it definitively, but the general presumption I hold is that Moses and his crew once intended to connect the Pulaski’s “flow” with the Long Island Expressway.

A bascule drawbridge of paralell counterweight design and driven by electrical motors, construction of the Pulaski Bridge was overseen by the New York City Commissioner of Public Works – Frederick Zurmuhlen – and the general contractor employed in building it was the Horn Construction Company, with steel and expertise supplied by Bethlehem Steel. It opened in September of 1954 at a cost of $9,664,446.25 – and a reconstruction of the bridge in 1994 cost $40 million. It carries five lanes of vehicular traffic, as well as dedicated (and now separated) bicycle and pedestrian lanes, and it’s a primary crossing between north Brooklyn and western Queens.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Looking eastwards along Newtown Creek, a tug and barge passed through this thirty second exposure, causing a colorful light show to appear on my camera’s sensor. I’m fascinated by this sort of time capture, incidentally. The normal procedure for photographically capturing the passage of time is to record video, of course, or even to fire off a burst of shots. One of the things that’s emerged during all of this night photo long exposure work I’ve been doing for awhile now is that I can reveal traffic patterns, the passage of normally invisible critters in the water, even the invisible currents of air if I set the camera up correctly. You can see the pathways of fish in the water, rendered out by the reflective streaks coming off of their scales, for instance.

If I was sure that I wouldn’t blow up Brooklyn or Queens (or the Buckeye Pipeline), I’d love to throw a block of magnesium into the water and photograph it as it sank and burned – illuminating the bed of the creek. Who can guess, all there is, that might be swimming around down there? Subaqueous features, sunken boats, Jimmy Hoffa?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s the staircase leading up to the LIC side of the pedestrian walkway atop the Pulaski Bridge. One advises all not to hold onto the side rails unless they have to, as the Pulaski’s rafters are full of pigeons and the entire bridge is covered in layers of guano.

The lady on the bicycle annoyed me, incidentally. Seeing me standing there with a camera and tripod setup, she first stopped her bike literally two feet away and in front of me for an interval of playing with her phone. I gently asked “excuse me, miss, can I ask you to just move forward two feet so as you’re not in my shot?” to which she silently shot me back a look of annoyance and then rolled further into the shot and right in front of the stairs. So enthralled with her glowing piece of telecommunicative glass that bodily movements all but ceased, she appears in the shot above as a semi transparent statue. There’s a metaphor in there somewhere, but I wouldn’t want to trigger the “waiting to be offended” or “overly sensitive” millennial crowd.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Looking upwards at the control tower of the Pulaski Bridge from the waters edge, which is what you’re seeing. That’s where the various knobs, dials, buttons, and levers that open and close the thing are found.

These shots were gathered using my “minimal” carry setup (2 light lenses, cable release, air blower, couple of lens cloths, and that Ultrapod camera support gizmo), and I used the cheapo Canon “pancake” 24mm lens which I’ve mentioned in the past for all of them. For a variety of reasons, it doesn’t always work for me to grab the whole kit and kaboodle on my way out of HQ, and I’m also trying to carry a bit less around with me than I usually do at the moment in general. Also, not having zoom lenses and being “mission specific” forces me to think more about the “where” of my shots and there’s also the whole “be intentional” thing.

Also, lest I forget, “Pulaski Bridge” – Casimir Pulaski was a Polish military officer who joined General Washington’s Continental Army of the 13 colonies in order to assist in their war of rebellion against the Hanoverian Throne of England during the Revolutionary War. Google him, interesting person, and a Polish National Hero.

I have to don my monkey suit tonight and head off to the City for a party with the fancy folks on the Hudson side of things. I’ll be carrying the minimum kit again, so let’s see what I can get.


“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

October 7, 2019 at 11:00 am

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