The Newtown Pentacle

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Archive for the ‘Hunters Point’ Category

loosely paved

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Tower Town, and wandering through it.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A visceral need to “do my thing” will sometimes drive one out in search of interesting things to point the camera at. More often than not, I’ll find myself in Long Island City. Given the less than enjoyable climate offered in the last month or two, this activity has been curtailed, so whenever the universe is cooperative I’m out for a scuttle. After a rather busy recent day, I hopped on the train and took it to the Court Square stop to save myself some sweaty walking, emerging from the underground at the foot of the Sapphire Megalith. A short scuttle was engaged upon, and soon I was down at the East River waterfront.

Have to say, I’m really missing the old days when LIC was a desolate and unpopulated wasteland at night.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

At Hunters Point South Park, these two old utility poles are embedded in the shoreline. Decorative, they have the look and feel of former railroad signal poles, but I can’t say for certain if that’s what they actually are or not.

I got “fancy” with this one, setting up the tripod and using an ND filter in pursuance of a long exposure. That’s why the water has that weird misty look. The lavender cast isn’t from the filter, instead this shot was actually from the end of my walk in LIC, about an hour after the first and second were shot. Sunset does lovely things, colorimetric wise, to the East River.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Not sure where I’m going next, but LIC is always my “go to” when I’m looking for someplace that offers long horizons and interesting views. The H shaped thing blocking the Empire State Building is called the Copper Building, and you can see one of the hideous Hudson Yards buildings ruining ESB’s silhouette just behind it.

Doesn’t Hudson Yards look just like space borne debris that rained down and embedded itself on the west side of 34th street?


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Upcoming Tours and Events


Saturday, July 13, 10 a.m. – 12 p.m.

“Exploring the East River, From General Slocum Disaster
to Abandoned Islands” Boat Tour w NY Adventure Club

Onboard a Soundview route NYC Ferry – Join New York Adventure Club for a two-part aquatic adventure as we explore the General Slocum disaster, and historic sights and stories along the East River, all by NYC Ferry.

Click here for ticketing and 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

July 12, 2019 at 11:00 am

dawned clear

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Vampyres!

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Over the weekend, one found himself down in Long Island City, and I noticed that the New York Blood Center had added another layer of protection to its facility, no doubt to vouchsafe themselves from the nightly assaults of vampires they suffer. Occupational hazard, I guess. You hoard and “bank” enough human blood, you’re going to have to take steps and create precautions for what’s coming when the sun goes down. Given the large population of the nosferatu living in the steel rafters of the elevated tracks in nearby Queens Plaza…

On a side note, I often ponder the use of “up, and down” when referring to various sections of New York City. LIC, or Hunters Point more accurately, is at a somewhat lower altitude and declination than Astoria so I guess “down” is appropriate, but where does that stuff come from? Some sort of linguistic holdover from maps? I dunno, but… back to vampires.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This layer of armor around the blood center, which is found in a section of LIC notorious for flooding just three or so blocks from the East River, was labeled “Aqua Fence.” I’m sure that was just part of a marketing campaign for a recent superhero movie though, as the positioning of the armoring indicates that the Blood Center people have been experiencing issues with what they call “crawlers” – mobility challenged vampires.

What? You think Vampires are all undead European aristocrats possessed of athletic prowess like wall crawling? Get woke, kid. Challenges suffered in life continue in undeath, and there are plenty of former wheelchair bound vampires out there. The Vampire population of Western Queens is actually quite representative, demographically speaking, of our community’s legendary diversity.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As mentioned in prior postings, the actual role of the Sicilian Mafia was to hunt and eradicate vampires, a service to the community so important that Governmental officialdom looked the other way regarding their other hobbies and lines of business. Since that organization has declined in power and influence here in Queens, the Vampires have been multiplying and growing bolder. The only thing we, those of us who can tolerate exposure to the burning thermonuclear eye of god itself that is, have going for us is that that the Vampires aren’t registered to vote so no opportunist politician has tried to build a constituency out of them.

Meanwhile, the nightly sieges on Vernon Blvd. at the New York Blood Center continue.


“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.


Events!

Slideshow and book signing, April 23rd, 6-8 p.m.

Join Newtown Creek Alliance at 520 Kingsland Avenue in Greenpoint, Brooklyn for a slideshow, talk, and book signing and see what the incredible landscape of Newtown Creek looks like when the sun goes down with Mitch Waxman. The event is free, but space is limited. Please RSVP here. Light refreshments served.

Click here to attend.

The Third Annual, All Day, 100% Toxic, Newtown Creekathon. April 28th.

The Creekathon will start at Hunter’s Point South in LIC, and end at the Kingsland Wildflowers rooftop in Greenpoint. It will swing through the neighborhoods of LIC, Blissville, Maspeth, Ridgewood, East Williamsburg, Bushwick, and Greenpoint, visiting the numerous bridges that traverse the Creek. While we encourage folks to join us for the full adventure, attendees are welcome to join and depart as they wish. A full route map and logistics are forthcoming.This is an all day event. Your guides on this 12+ mile trek will be Mitch Waxman and Will Elkins of the Newtown Creek Alliance, and some of their amazing friends will likely show up along the way.

Click here to attend.

Written by Mitch Waxman

April 16, 2019 at 1:00 pm

circumstance alone

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A Jedi craves not these things.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Noticed on a fairly recent walk down to Hunters Point from Astoria, a neat and somewhat older car. Not sure what make or model it is, but it reminded me of the 1980’s, when a young Joe Piscopo taught us all how to laugh again. Back then, early pontifications from a humble narrator stated that “the future” would offer three likely paths which I summarized using popular science fiction movie tropes. First was the dystopian “Road Warrior” future, which can still happen but doesn’t seem to be the likely path upon which the world walks. Second was the utopian “Star Trek” future, which also seems increasingly unlikely to occur. Unfortunately, it seems the world has seemingly embraced a “Robocop” pathway instead.

I’d buy that for a dollar, I guess.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The shot above, and a couple of others which you’ve already seen, were my goal for the evening in LIC’s Hunters Point section. This was the night when something went “sproing” in my left foot (the pain squirrel strikes again) which has been bedeviling me for the last couple of weeks, and while shooting it a weird sort of chill sapped away any and all of my strength. For some reason, standing at the East River waterfront at night in February caused a physical effect in me. Weird, huh? Must be supercancer.

For those of you who don’t understand the term, supercancer is what Google tells you that you have if you search for an explanation of any number of ordinary or mundane aches and pains. As my team of doctors often tell me: Don’t google, make an appointment with us instead.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Uncharacteristically, my little photo expedition to the next neighborhood over was cut short, and I bowed to my physical weaknesses by taking the train home. Of course, I had to go the long way around, and caught the 7 for a transfer to the N and then a walk down Broadway in Astoria back to HQ. What was weird about that was that it was only about 11 p.m. as I was scuttling up the avenue, and literally every shop other than the ubiquitous bodegas were closed. Even bars. Alright, it was a Tuesday, but… sheesh.

Adventure, excitement… I crave these things, which indicates that I am no Jedi.


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Written by Mitch Waxman

February 13, 2019 at 1:00 pm

nothing unprecedented

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Just another day in paradise, yo.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The sculptor who designed the plastic pink lawn flamingo was Donald Featherstone, a task he accomplished in 1957 for a company he ended up running until his retirement in 2000 A.D., called Union Products Inc. I had a dream once where Featherstone’s Flamingoes were chasing me and fell out of bed. Sleepwalking, or somnambulism, is quite rare and only regularly affects about 4% of adult humans. Sleepwalking episodes typically last anywhere from thirty seconds to thirty minutes, and there are sleepwalkers who have actually left their homes for a sleep drive in their cars while dreaming. There are sleep eaters, and sleep “shtuppers” who engage in sexual coitus (sexsomnia) while totally asleep. There are several legal proceedings in which a sleepwalker has actually murdered someone, wherein the somnambulist was pronounced not guilty. That’s a slippery slope.

As a child, I became convinced that quicksand, which is a fascinating soil condition caused by a particular ratio of sand and water that forms a “shear thinning non Newtownian fluid” was something you needed to be prepared for as an adult. Stress the sand/water mix – say by stepping on it – and the sand and liquid will seperate and you’ll sink right in. The physics of it all are fascinating, and removing yourself from the quicksand is difficult and complicated. Trying to just pull yourself straight out would require titanic amounts of force. Your best bet, I’m told, is to slowly work your self into a position where you’re facing the sky and your limbs are spread out as far as you can manage (which is the same advice offered for those caught in avalanches of snow). Then you sort of wiggle and wriggle your body towards the solid ground direction that you came from. Contrary to popular belief, due to the relative material density of the quicksand and of your body, you likely won’t sink in past your waste even if you do panic and struggle. Those who die in quicksand do so due to hypothermia and or the arrival of carnivores. I don’t know if Flamingoes qualify as carnivores, and don’t want to find out.

As a note, quicksand has not turned out to be the ubiquitous problem when “adulting” that I thought it would be.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It’s likely that you’ve experienced, when laying down to sleep, feeling your arms or legs suddenly twitch or jerk for no reason. That’s called a hypnic or “myoclonic jerk” by sleep specialists. It’s pretty normal, but the league of doctors aren’t of a single mind as to causation for the phenomena. On the other side of things, that period of 15-30 minutes when you first wake up and are experiencing both cognitive difficulty and motor skill impairment is called “Sleep Inertia.” Part of ir is caused by the presence of a certain chemical, and you’ve got a series of receptor cells in your brain for this chemical  called “Adenosine,” which is abundant in the noodle when you’re sleep deprived – which most of us are. Caffeine is a blocker for these Adenosine receptors, and that’s why if you haven’t had enough sleep a “cuppa Joe” will help snap you out of the sleep inertia. Saying that, it’s still pretty normal to be a bit groggy when you wake up, since your body has been in an anabolic state and busy cleaning up the mess you made of it the day before. The natural process of waking up involves a spike in cortisol levels in your blood, wherein the adrenal glands can manufacture an average of more than fifty percent more cortisol than when asleep. Ultimately, Cortisol levels are the difference between “morning people” and “evening people,” which is thought to be related to individual “cortisol awakening response.”

A humble narrator has always been the latter, a “night owl” as it’s called. I’ve never been a Flamingo.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The section of the East River pictured above varies in depth from about twenty five to fifty one feet, which you can visualize by thinking about submerging a series of buildings which range from two to five stories. If the Empire State Building ever found itself sitting in the middle of the East River, and hey… climate change, amiright?… it would still rise some ninety seven to one hundred stories into the sky. A couple of years ago, somebody asked me to do a boat tour of shipwrecks in New York Harbor, but it seems that wrecks are cleared out in an expeditious fashion as they’d otherwise be a hazard to navigation and commerce. So, I believe, are flamingoes.

Hope you enjoyed today’s completely random trivia, back on Monday with something completely different, at this – your Newtown Pentacle.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

February 8, 2019 at 11:00 am

choking gasp

with 4 comments

Great Gallopping Golly Gosh Gee, it’s Wednesday again.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

High over Hunters Point in Long Island City, the POV looks southwards across the Long Island Railroad’s terminal passenger stop on the Lower Montauk line, various incarnations of which have been found here since 1870. In place even longer than the LIRR station, is the intersection of Newtown Creek with its parent waterway East River. Beyond is Greenpoint, which has been there for a good stretch, and that’s Manhattan on the right side of the shot which has also enjoyed a long occupancy hereabouts.

That’s the Williamsburg Bridge at center distant, which has been hanging out over the river since 1903. It’s an immigrant superhighway!

– photo by Mitch Waxman

September of 1954 is when the children of Brooklyn and Queens exploded into revelry over the opening of the Pulaski Bridge. One always refers to the area seen above as “DUPBO” or Down Under the Pulaski Bridge Onramp, opining that “you need to get ahead of the Real Estate guys on this sort of thing or you’ll wind up living in “Westoria” or something.

The Pulaski Bridge is also an immigrant superhighway of sorts, connecting Queens’ Long Island City to Greenpoint in Brooklyn.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This shot looks northwards, where you can still spot the three major bridges of Western Queens all in one go by peeking over and around the residential towers of LIC. The Queensboro (1909), Hells Gate (1918), and Triborough Bridges (1936).

Tower Town, indeed.


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unforeseen hitch

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One of those days…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

October 29th is one of those days on the calendar when things just seem to happen. In 539 BC, Persian King Cyrus the Great conquered Babylon and sent the Jews back to their homelands, whereupon they came up with an official version of what we call “The Old Testament.” In 312 AD, fresh off his victory at the Milvian Bridge where he claimed to have seen visions in the sky and swore to make Christianity the official religion of the Empire if he was victorious, Constantine the Great entered Rome as the Emperor of the Roman Empire. In 1390, Paris began holding witch trials, signaling the beginning of a European Witch Panic which would ebb and flow for centuries. Over in Geneva, in 1863, the International Red Cross was formed. In 1914, October 29th is the entry date for the Ottoman Empire into the First World War, and since things went very badly for the Ottomans in that conflict it also happens to be the day that the Republic of Turkey was established in 1923.

Closer to home – in 1929, October 29th was a Tuesday, and is known to history as “Black Tuesday” as it’s the start date for the Great Depression. In 2012, October 29th is the day that Hurricane Sandy blew through NYC.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I was out and about shortly after the flood waters receded in 2012 (on the 30th), accompanying a pair of scientific researchers who were collecting samples of the muck and mire deposited around the neighborhoods surrounding Newtown Creek. The LIRR tracks in LIC, pictured above, were littered with all sorts of junk – including a sizable portion of FreshDirect’s truck fleet. The nearby Queens Midtown Tunnel was literally flooded with water from the Dutch Kills tributary of the Creek, which rose over its banks. Friends who were shepherding maritime vessels in the harbor described the swell from Sandy as being less of a tide and more of sudden rising of sea level. The waters rose vertically, and one of them said that his biggest challenge that night was maintaining a position on the Hudson River which wouldn’t find his vessel grounded on the West Side highway the next morning.

This sort of thing did happen on Staten Island, as a note, and a ship was found sitting somewhere along Richmond Terrace which should have been in the Kill Van Kull.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The MTA proved itself criminally unprepared for an event like Sandy, and the Subway system suffered massive amounts of damage from flooding in the deep.

Personally speaking, Sandy didn’t affect me terribly much, but I’ve always looked at old maps when choosing a place to live and make it a point of living where the Dutch did. The Dutch were, and are, brilliant when it comes to this sort of thing whereas the English speaking world isn’t. I had power and water here in Astoria, but not too far from HQ the Bowery Bay Wastewater Treatment Plant and LaGuardia Airport were pretty much put out of business by the coastal flooding for about a week. Our Lady of the Pentacle was away on a trip, which became extended by about three to four days due to not being able to fly home, which made my little dog Zuzu quite pensive.


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Written by Mitch Waxman

October 29, 2018 at 1:00 pm

stagger dangerously

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The Hoek is finally open, yo, a 21st century shoreline at a 21st century park.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The shot above is fairly typical of the view which the southernmost section of Hunters Point in Long Island City, where the East River and Newtown Creek collide, has offered for the last few years. Construction fence, heavy equipment, etc. This particular area was once called Dominie’s Hoek, after the first European owner of the land, a Dutch priest named Dominie Everardus Bogardus. Dominie is a title, in English we’d use “Pastor” or “Father” for the priestly honorific. Bogardus died in a ship wreck and the land ended up in the hands of another Dutchman, specifically Captain Peter Praa. Praa, who founded one of the great land holding families of both Newtown and Greenpoint, left the land behind as an inheritance, and eventually it passed into the hands of his descendant Anna Hunter. Anna Hunter held the property right about the time of the American Revolution, and it’s been Hunters Point ever since. Mrs. Hunter’s will stipulated that her three sons sell off the land (she must’ve feared a King Lear situation) and by the early 19th century, the Hunters Point waterfront had been carved into individual plots and had begun to industrialize. The Long Island Railroad came through in 1870, and for about a century afterwards, Hunters Point was the very definition of a maritime industrial working waterfront. Everything began to fall apart, industrially and economically speaking, by the 1970’s and the industrial waterfront became a semi abandoned stretch of junkyard punctuated by warehouses. In the late 1980’s, the City began to make plans for converting the land to residential usage, and loosened zoning restrictions to encourage real estate interests to invest there. This was, as it turns out, quite a successful plan and Hunters Point is the fastest growing neighborhood in the entire country.

Part of the City’s plan, which has seen dozens of residential towers rising in Hunters Point and all of Long Island City in recent years, was the creation of parklands.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On the northern side of Hunters Point, the first park to be created was a New York State institution called “Gantry Plaza State Park.” Then to the south, there’s a City park called “Hunters Point South Park,” which is anchored by the LIC Landing ferry dock and an accompanying concession stand currently operated by an outfit called “Coffeed.” For the last few years, the peninsular final section of the park – which I’m told is called “Queens Landing” – has been under construction. No more.

Wednesday last, the 21st of June in 2018, the gates were finally opened to the public and I was there.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There were meant to be ceremonial proceedings on the morning of the 21st, but the political establishment had its attentions drawn away by the ongoing immigration controversies, so the ceremony which will officially “cut the ribbon” was rescheduled for this week on Wednesday the 27th at 11 a.m. If you want to yell things at the Mayor, or pat Jimmy Van Bramer on the back, that’s probably when you’ll have a chance to do so.

I was blown away by the job which the NYC Parks department accomplished at the new Queens Landing. As mentioned above, it’s a 21st century park with a 21st century shoreline. It’s a pretty good bet that by 2118, the shoreline of most of the inner harbor of NYC is going to look a great deal like this new park.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A resilient shoreline, as those of us involved with such ideations would call it, encircles the new park. Salt marshes, hidden resiliency berms, places for water to flow through and around during storms… the new park has it all. The architecture and design of the place are decidedly “modern,” as if that 20th century term had any meaning in the current era.

The recent Newtown Creek Alliance/Riverkeeper visioning plan that we released a few months ago is rife with recommendations for the post Superfund Newtown Creek shorelines which display illustrations and architect drawings that look just like this new park, incidentally.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Back in the days of Dominie Bogardus and Capt. Peter Praa, the southern tip of Hunters Point was described as being an island of grass in the East River which would get cut off from the rest of the land by high tide. The Parks Dept. designers and horticulturalists have actually designed salt marsh and other littoral environmental features into the shoreline which would likely be familiar to Capt. Praa. I’ve only done the one walk through so far, but “wow” is this place incredible.

Luckily, my walk through was with my pal Mark Christie of the Hunters Point Parks Conservancy, who has been one of the formative voices in the creation of this new community resource. He made it a point of detailing the various plantings and why they’re where they are. If you’re visiting the new park, definitely start your trip at LIC Landing and ask if anyone from the HPPC is around to inform and instruct.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One such as myself is looking forward to the photographic vantage point possibilities offered by the new park. This shot looks eastwards along the fabled Newtown Creek towards the Pulaski Bridge. A new boat house is going to be constructed nearby, operated and managed by my pals at HarborLab, in the very near future.

Newtown Creek is changing, materially, every single month now.


Upcoming Tours and Events

June 30th – The Skillman Avenue Corridor
– with Access Queens.

Starting at the 7 train on Roosevelt Avenue, we will explore this thriving residential and busy commercial thoroughfare, discussing the issues affecting its present and future. Access Queens, 7 Train Blues, Sunnyside Chamber of Commerce, and Newtown Creek Alliance members will be your guides for this roughly two mile walk.
Skillman Avenue begins at the border of residential Sunnyside and Woodside, and ends in Long Island City at 49th avenue, following the southern border of the Sunnyside Yards for much of its path. Once known as Meadow Street, this colonial era thoroughfare transitions from the community of Sunnyside to the post industrial devastations of LIC and the Dutch Kills tributary of Newtown Creek.

Tickets and more details
here.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

June 25, 2018 at 11:00 am

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