The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Archive for the ‘Jackson Avenue’ Category

avoided acquaintenances

with one comment

Taking chances, with the Vampires of Queens Plaza.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As mentioned in past postings, the “thing” which I’m currently into is taking photos at night. On Tuesday last, one attended a meeting of the estimable Hunters Point Civic group in LIC, and joined with some friends for a few drinks afterwards. A humble narrator had brought along a tripod and a few other pieces of required gear for low light and long exposure work, and after bidding adieu to the lords and ladies of Tower Town headed off in the general direction of Astoria.

It was well after midnight, which is the interval during which the vampires known to inhabit the overhead steel rafters of the elevated subways and bridge off ramps of the Court Square and Queens Plaza zones are off making their nightly attempt on the Blood Center over on Vernon, so I liked my odds of not being exsanguinated.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

These sort of shots sound a lot simpler to produce than they actually are. The biggest issue one encounters in this sort of pursuit has nothing to do with the photography angle, actually, it’s the management and “carry” of all the various bits and bobs. The lens I use for this sort of shot is inappropriate for general low light usage, so first there’s a changing of the glass. The tripod I have is pretty manageable, but is still a heavy and clumsy thing that needs to be unfolded and deployed. There’s also a wired cable release that needs to be attached to the camera, which can be quite “fumbly.”

You also have to factor in the fact that – for some of the people inhabiting Queens – spotting somebody carrying a camera around seems to have the same effect on them as witnessing somebody carrying an assault rifle. As a note, in at least one instance, the street pictured above is the cinematic setting in which Bruce Wayne’s parents were shot and killed, giving birth to the Batman of Gotham.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

For years, one has been working on whittling down the “night kit.” I’ve got two versions of it which I carry, one which is designed around handheld and high ISO shots. That involves so called “bright lenses” which have wide apertures. The vast majority of night shots I produce use this particular toolkit, but the image quality in those shots is degraded due to the noise and grain inherent to the approach. Saying that, if I want to “freeze” motion, that’s the way to go.

The shots in today’s post were produced using a “dark lens” (and the forementioned tripod) which was set to fairly narrow apertures and the lowest ISO settings which my device offers. The exposures are in the 20-30 second range, with field adjustments for lighting temperature and other factors dialed in on a case by case basis.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One of the things I like about the long exposure stuff is the way that it captures a longer interval of time than the traditional fractional slivers of reality afforded by daylight. When the exposure is 1/1000th of a second, you can freeze the motion of a bird’s wing or capture the dripping of water. You also run into a portraiture problem, however, and need to be concerned with the capture of “micro expressions.” Shoot at a fast shutter speed and you’ll soon learn that people don’t necessarily blink their eyes in tandem and often make odd shapes with their mouths when speaking.

Long exposure work smooths all that out, but also introduces its own set of quirks.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The red and white streaks, even the ghostly afterimage of the automobile at the right hand side of the shot above, are typical of the pursuit. For the thirty seconds or so that the cameras shutter was open, vehicles and all sorts of moving objects pass in front of the lens, leaving behind spectral trails. Those thirty seconds are also hellacious for the humble narrator standing behind the setup, as a note, as he twists his neck around constantly scanning for approaching threats.

You’ve got all of these angry drivers whizzing around, vampires stalking from above, and drunken humans stumbling about staring at their little rectangles of glowing glass.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

“Like the sea, Queens is eternal and we are just the latest people passing through it” or “all is transitory,” you can ascribe whatever high falutin artsy fartsy phraseology to the shots in today’s post that you’d like to for all I care. In a gallery space you’d need to talk “art,” which usually means the usage of that sort of language. To me, everything is just a challenge.

This section of Jackson Avenue, leading out of Queens Plaza towards the transmogrification point where it becomes Northern Blvd. is the worst part of the Vampire infestation, as a note. You want to be very careful around this darkest section of the “Carridor,” lest you be snatched up and inculcated into the pallid horde.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One thing that I’d mention are the bits of gear which haven’t been described. It was literally freezing, temperature wise, when these shots were captured, and it was well after midnight. One was insulated in the normal fashion with a hooded fleece sweatshirt, buttoned up filthy black raincoat, and gloves. Even with these precautions, it was freaking cold. Luckily, my tripod has a couple of foam grips on it, but handling it drained the blood from my fingers on every setup.

Given the vast physical repulsion people generally manifest in response to me, I wasn’t carrying a rape whistle.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Advertisements

Written by Mitch Waxman

February 9, 2018 at 1:00 pm

all opposition

with 2 comments

When you’re in a dark place, that’s what you should embrace.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Recent opportunity resulted in one needing to head over to Greenpoint for a reading by my friend Geoff Cobb from his new book about the Havemeyers of North Brooklyn – “The Rise and Fall of the Sugar King.” Owing to all of my recent sloth, when tying up all the layers of clothing to my sclerotic body, discovery of an uncomfortable level of tightness in the waistband of my pants acted as a chide and it was decided to walk rather than catch the train to Greenpoint from Astoria.

My path would take me past to that particular spot where Jackson Avenue transmogrifies into Northen Blvd. That’s one block north east of the historic pathway of the Dutch Kills tributary of Newtown Creek, which still flows below the street in masonry sewerage tunnels, and as we all know – running water acts as a barrier for vampires. That’s whey we don’t have any Nosferatu in Astoria (we are fairly lousy with a specie of hirsute Greek goblin called the Kalikantzaros around these parts, as well as the Strigoi of the South Slavs, but that’s another story). I only know one vampire in Astoria, and his name is Matty.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Pictured above is the actual corner that Dutch Kills once ran to, and as late as the American Civil War, the United States Coast Guard listed this area as being navigable. From this spot on, my eyes kept darting up into the rafters of the elevated subway tracks overhead, scanning the ebon clad steel for morbid habitations.

Legend has it that a few of these Vampires attempted to form a hip hop group back in the 90’s. “NWV” was thought to be highly derivative, however, and few people bought their debut singles “Straight outta Queens Plaza” or “Look in mah eyes.” Members of the trio are reported to be part of the nightly assaults on the fortress like NY Blood Center on Vernon Avenue in LIC. In general, the population of the vampires are said to be fairly representative of the surrounding human population, with a recent influx of Asian and Latino members, but there are a few ancients amongst them who can only speak in an archaic form of the Dutch Language. The demographics are cloudy.

Thing is, once you’re a Vampire, that’s all that you are evermore.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Losing sight of the worth inherent, or causally dismissing, the stories of addicts, inebriates, or madmen is a bad habit of our modern times. Several members of the aforementioned classes have reported to me that the vampires hidden in the steel above wrap ropes around their waists, securing one end of the line high above. They spiral down from perches above on the ad hoc cables, snatching at the unwary on the sidewalks below, and then both vampire and victim are quickly pulled up by an undead cohort of fellow sanguinarians still in the rafters. One junkie told it me it looked to him like a yo yo made out of people.

I’m not kidding, lords and ladies, stay alert along the stretch of Jackson Avenue between Queens Plaza and 31st street.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This fellow pictured above, innocently waiting for the arrival of a bus which will never arrive, something those of us who live in Queens inherently know. He’s fresh meat to those who dwell above, he’s an easy meal, a free dinner. One has always wondered about the complicity of municipal officialdom in the presence of these cullers of the human herd in this area.

Every wonder why there aren’t any street lights focused on the pedestrian lane hereabouts? Take out your rectangular glass computational device in this spot, and see if its GPS can accurately define your position. Where did all the street signs go?

Who can guess, all there is, that might be hidden up there?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Heading west/south west along Jackson Avenue, and into a dystopian vision of the Real Estate Industrial Complex’s that men once called Queens Plaza, one wonders how the new population of tower dwellers will fare against the undead. When the Vampires begin to climb and skitter along the mirror glass of the new towers like bloated ticks, seeking the finely curated blood of the affluent, will acknowledgment of the presence of these ancestral monsters finally be acknowledged?

As a side note, is it racially prejudicial to hate and loathe Vampires? Are they part of the whole “diversity thing”?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Luckily, once you pass through the crucible of Queens Plaza – having survived the predatory legion above and the vehicular traffic below – you’re pretty much ok. It’s about as safe in LIC as most places in NYC, y’know… except for the endemic environmental pollution, noise, heavy traffic, and roving bands of teenagers.

One scuttled off to Greenpoint, to the reading of Geoff Cobb’s new Sugar King book.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

January 24, 2018 at 11:00 am

heavy rumblings

with 2 comments

It’s National Panini Day, in these United States. 

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On this day, in 3,114 B.C.E., the Mayans began their “long count” calendar. Today’s also the day, in 480 B.C.E., that Leonidas and his 300 Spartans finally succumbed at Greece’s Thermopylae to the human wave attacks of the Persian armies of Xerxes. In 1929, Babe Ruth became the first baseball player to achieve 500 career home runs, and in 1972 the United States exited its last combat units from Viet Nam. Today is the day that industrialist Andrew Carnegie died in 1919, the painter Jackson Pollock also kicked the bucket in 1956, and we also lost comedian Robin Williams on this day in 2014. In 1992, the Mall of America opened for business, and in 1965 the Watts riots kicked into gear in Los Angeles.

 Me? I don’t have too much to do today, but it’s going to be a fairly busy weekend. 

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I’m planning on checking out the “Queens Anti-Gentrification” march on Saturday afternoon in LIC. What I’ve read about, and offered by, this group doesn’t exactly jibe with reality as I know it, but I figure if somebody is willing to stick their neck out and offer their views and opinions in public you owe it to them to at least listen to what they have to say. So far, I haven’t been a fan of their tactics either, but there you are. After that, I’m hopping on a ferry to Pier 11 in Manhattan, where I’ll be boarding a boat with the Working Harbor Committee. I’ll be sharing the microphone with Andrew Gustafson of Turnstile Tours and we will be talking about the Brooklyn Waterfront’s (Newtown Creek to Sunset Park) “Past, Present, and Future.”

Come with?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I’ll be up early on Sunday to conduct the “Poison Cauldron of the Newtown Creek” walking tour for Newtown Creek Alliance. This is one of my favorite excursions to conduct, and it tells the story of the oil and energy industries in North Brooklyn from the 1850’s all the way to the present. It also moves through one of the most god awful areas NYC has ever created, so how’s that for a selling point? 

See you Sunday?.


Upcoming Tours and events

Brooklyn Waterfront Boat Tour, with Working Harbor Committee – Saturday August 12th, 6 p.m. – 8 p.m.

Explore the coastline of Brooklyn from Newtown Creek to Sunset Park, with NCA Historian Mitch Waxman, Andrew Gustafson of Turnstile Tours, and Gordon Cooper of Working Harbor Committee on the narrating about Brooklyn’s industrial past and rapidly changing present. details here.

The Poison Cauldron of the Newtown Creek Walking Tour, with Newtown Creek Alliance – Sunday August 13th, 11 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.

Explore the hellish waste transfer and petroleum districts of North Brooklyn on this daring walk towards the doomed Kosciuszko Bridge, with NCA Historian Mitch Waxman details here.

Two Newtown Creek Boat Tours, with Newtown Creek Alliance and Open House NY – Wednesday August 16th, 5 p.m. and 7 p.m.

The neighborhoods surrounding Newtown Creek are home to the densest collection of these garbage facilities anywhere in the city and collectively, the waste transfer stations around and along Newtown Creek handle almost 40% of the waste that moves through New York. Join Newtown Creek Alliance’s Mitch Waxman and Willis Elkins  to learn about the ongoing efforts to address the environmental burden that this “clustering” has caused. details here.

DUPBO Newtown Creek Walking Tour, with NYCH20 – Thursday August 24th, 7 p.m. – 9 p.m.

Explore Greenpoint and Hunters Point, with NCA Historian Mitch Waxman details here.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

cylcopean mass

with one comment

It’s National Applesauce Cake Day, in these United States.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A humble narrator was out of the house early today, to attend a meeting sponsored by the Queens Chamber of Commerce which invited a team from the NYC EDC to present their feasibility study on the Sunnyside Yards at the Bulova Corporate Center found on the border of Astoria and East Elmhurst. I’m happy to say that this was a well attended meeting, and that the attendees included members of the Queens activist community as well as the usual and expected representatives from the Real Estate Industrial Complex. A breakfast meeting, bagels and coffee were offered, along with those very sweet little danishes which are typical of corporate catering.

The EDC presentation was offered by one of their many Vice Presidents, a charming fellow named Nate Bliss. I inquired after the meeting, and there was no relation to the Neziah Bliss family of Greenpoint, just as a note.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The EDC presentation was a roadshow version of the executive summary report found at their website. The presentation glossed over several seminal objections to the project which have been offered by various community organizations such as the gargantuan size of the deck itself (at 43rd street and Barnett Avenue in Sunnyside Gardens, for instance – 109-110 feet above street grade, or at Northern Blvd. and 39th/Steinway – 65-70 feet), but did acknowledge the transit and environmental issues associated with creating a new development that would require between 10 and 19 new schools to be built, and which would install a new population in LIC that would number about half that of Boulder, Colorado – on the 180 acres found between Queens Plaza and 43rd street, Northern Blvd. and Skillman Avenue.

I asked them what they’re planning on plugging the deck and city of towers built on it into, electrical wise. I threw some shade at the fact that their report says that’s it’s not feasible to bring construction materials to the job site, which is a rail yard, by rail. Pointedly asked them, as well, about how they intended to route the thousands of daily trucks which would be carrying in steel and concrete since they won’t be using the railroad to do it.

Ultimately, there’s two efficient routes, and both feed in through Manhattan from the continent – George Washington Bridge down 125th street to Triborough and then through Astoria, or Lincoln Tunnel across 42nd street to Queensboro. Guess which one they’ll pick?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

To be entirely clear, despite the fact that the Sunnyside Yards is literally “in my back yard,” my resistance to the plan has nothing to do with the dismissive term “NIMBY” thrown about by the Real Estate Industrial Complex and the bureaucrats of Lower Manhattan. Western Queens is suffocating for lack of infrastructure given the construction boom which has been underway for the last decade and a half. The MTA is overwhelmed, we’ve been closing power plants instead of building new ones, the sewer system is overburdened and outdated. Somebody in the meeting asked me “where are people going to live?” which is the sort of thing that a real estate developer always throws out as if they’re doing us some sort of favor or good deed with the condemnation of whole city blocks and the subsequent erection of mirror glass skinned towers.

Short answer is this – if we improve our transit system, people can live anywhere they want to. Before the ABC and 456 lines reached into northern Manhattan and the 123 lines went to the Bronx, those areas were typified by farmland. So was most of Queens and Eastern Brooklyn, prior to the arrival of the Subways a century ago. Transit expansion equals an opportunity for rapacious profiteering on the part of the real estate industrial complex, and since greed seems to be the only thing that motivates us these days… Imagine the possibilities of an elevated track that crossed from the 103rd Corona Avenue stop on the 7 south across the transit deserts of Queens and Brooklyn all the way to Broadway Junction.

The mind boggles. 


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

via publica

with one comment

It’s National Mint Julip Day, in these United States.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

When one was a young narrator, it was common to observe me stamping my feet while hysterically imploring my parents about why Queens Plaza was denied to us as a homestead. One fears that this is actually a common experience, after all. What native New Yorker hasn’t wished that they could live in Queens Plaza? Luckily, that cursed malignity of fate has been altered by the good graces of the Real Estate folks and you can finally acquire a luxury apartment hereabouts. You’ve got all the modern amenities (except supermarkets, laundromats, shops, local jobs, or hospitals), but I’m afraid that the porn shops and hookers are no longer anywhere to be found. You’re very close to multiple transit lines, which will be literally right outside your windows.

The Vampires are still here in Queens Plaza, however, so there’s that for historical character and local color.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As far as the Vampires go, you’ll need to meet the neighbors quickly, for the slabs of mirror glass rising all around Queens Plaza tend to throw off strobing reflections of the burning thermonuclear eye of God itself which pierce the otherwise preternatural and permanent twilight beneath the MTA trackage.

This reflected and refracted light illuminates those everpresent particulate clouds of automotive exhaust in Queens Plaza, diffusing it into the miasmic atmosphere – an effect which is beginning to scare away and displace the famously heliophobic Nosferatu. My understanding is that this vampiric legion, which has called Queens Plaza their home for decades, have begun to migrate eastwards along the 7 line – and are now beginning to homestead in Woodside, Jackson Heights, and Roosevelt – so better get down here quickly if you want to experience a slice of that famous “vibrant diversity” while you still can.

Flushing and Corona is too long of a commute for them, and the elevated subway tracks are a bit higher out east, which allows for an uncomfortable amount of sunlight to suffuse.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On a personal note, it’s been a very exciting few weeks for a humble narrator, and there’s lots to tell all of y’all about.

I have been allowed into the company of the humans on more than one occasion, and there has been diversion after diversion to amuse and occupy oneself with. Additionally, I’m finally nearly caught up with processing the thousands of photos which I’ve captured during my various travels about the megalopolis, and this – your Newtown Pentacle – is back for summer session.


Upcoming Tours and events

Newtown Creek Alliance and Riverkeeper Visioning, June 3rd, 1-4 p.m..

Imagine the future of Newtown Creek with Riverkeeper and NCA at the Kingsland Wildfowers Green Roof (520 Kingsland Avenue in Greenpoint) details here.

Newtown Creek Alliance History lecture with NCA historian Mitch Waxman, June 3rd, 5:00- 7:30 p.m.

An free hour long lecture and slideshow about Newtown Creek’s incredible history at the gorgeous Kingsland Wildfowers Green Roof (520 Kingsland Avenue in Greenpoint) followed by a walk around the roof and a Q&A – details here.

Green Drinks Queens LIC, June 5th, 6:00- 9:00 p.m.

Come celebrate UN World Environment Day with Green Drinks: Queens on the LIC Waterfront! This year’s theme is “Connecting People With Nature.”details here.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

tremulous pen

with 3 comments

It’s National Chocolate Mousse Day, in these United States.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The staccato of lonely scuttling steps are the rhythm of my life, and a humble narrator recently found himself pulsing down Jackson Avenue in Long Island City after dark. Were it just a few hours later, the subway would have been utilized to return to the rolling hills of almond eyed Astoria from the post industrial dystopia of cylcopean construction sites which typify modernity in this ancient place, but since the evening had just begun it was my bet that the legions of vampire who hide in the rafters of the elevated train tracks were off conducting their nightly siege of the NYC Blood Center over on Vernon Avenue, a few blocks to the west. Still, one had left the garlic and cruciform back home…

I’m guessing that as I age I’m starting to slip up – ten years ago I would have never left the house without the garlic…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One did encounter unholy and inhuman things along the route, of course. Bizarre statuary adorned a median divider, its misshapen countenance perhaps hinting at what those who walk amongst us unseen are working towards turning mankind into. Have no doubt that a shadowy group is at work at all times in LIC, an unseen cabal organized and controlled by that impossible thing which dwells in the cupola of the Sapphire Megalith and stares at the world through an unblinking three lobed burning eye. Also, the rats hereabouts are oddly organized and operate in a seemingly orchestrated or military manner. Do they all serve some hidden master, a monkish being who is the lord of all that is darkness in Western Queens? Only time will tell.

The organized efforts of the rats might be due to the Vampires (who are known to possess affinity with “creatures of the night”), however, as I haven’t been able to connect the shadowy cabal or any monkish master with rodent control… quite yet.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Heading eastward, towards Queen Plaza, one removed his headphones and tried to focus on separating the sounds of the eternal cacophony of the place. It is critical to listen closely for the rustle of grave soil choked clothing coming from above, and to remain vigilant for the other horrors which lurk in harsh contrast. Queens Plaza is a sensory melange of automotive headlights throwing out beams of bright bluish light, emergency vehicles strobing white and red, the thunderous crossings of the elevated N, W, and 7 Subway lines above and the E, M, and R lines below. The ground shivers with the passing of transit, quakes with the activity of heavy construction, and the very air you’re breathing is a poisonous fume. This airborne taint is painted into the breeze by the hundreds of vehicles a minute which are moving at speed through here at any given moment, and by the out gassing of buried toxics from the former industrial properties which rim Queens Plaza.

Perhaps, underway is some sort of environmental adjustment designed for the comfort of that shadowy cabal, the vampires, the army of vermin, or for the inhuman thing which dwells in the megalith. Who can say?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Historical research reveals that the Dutch Kills tributary of Newtown Creek used to run right through the section of Jackson Avenue between Queens Plaza and 31st street, in fact the clear eyed Mariners of the United States Coast Guard were able to navigate and map the waterway all the way to 29th street and what is now Jackson Avenue as late as the Civil War. In accordance with the engineering habits of earlier eras, when the Sunnyside Yards were constructed in the early 20th century, the waterway was contained underground. It’s still flowing down there, as the East Side Acces project engineers found out at the start of this century, and as we all know – Vampires are proscribed from crossing running water. That’s why you don’t have to worry too much about them once you cross Queens Plaza while heading for Astoria.

We do have an issue in Astoria with a race of Grecian Goblins called the Kalikantzaros, but that’s another story.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One is preparing a check list for my carriable prophylactic measures to ensure that age, haste, and other factors do not allow one to go out into the night without a full compliment of deterrents. A garland of fresh garlic – as well as a compliment of cruciforms, crescents, and Stars of David, amongst other wards and amulets – will now be everpresent in my camera bag.

Remember to avoid the area around the blood center on Vernon after sunset though, if you should find yourself somewhere in the northwestern section of LIC, here in the Newtown Pentacle, at night. You’ve been warned.


Upcoming Tours and events

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.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

narrow slits

leave a comment »

It’s National Black Forest Cake Day, in these United States.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Whilst shlepping about in Astoria, Queens – one often encounters cool cars. The one pictured above was a highly customized Chevy pickup which drew more than one admiring glance from both myself and some other bloke who was dressed as a butcher. I’m pretty sure he actually was a butcher, as after we compared notes on our admiration for the thing, he went into the butcher shop on the corner of 38th street. That would also explain the giant clots of blood I observed on the apron he was wearing, but you don’t ask too many questions about blood stains in Astoria.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Over by the NYCHA Astoria Houses, found to the north and west of that cool car mentioned above, one observed a group of workers building a dock to accommodate the Citywide Ferry service which is meant to be kicking into gear this summer. One advised everyone that would listen not to put it here, but nobody ever listens to little old me.

When a ferry leaves its dock in NY Harbor, regulation and custom demands that it signal its departure via the usage of a particularly loud foghorn. These horn toots are a regular complaint offered by the Manhattan people, who have docks near their homes along the Hudson, in the tony section called Battery Park City. Wonder how the Latin Kings of the Astoria Houses will react to it blowing outside their windows at seven in the morning.

It should have been placed to the south, at the Costco bulkheads where it would have become a viable transportation option for shoppers from Manhattan which would have made it an economically feasible stop and wouldn’t wake up anybody at seven in the morning, but as mentioned – nobody listens to me.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Traipsing down Jackson Avenue, one discovered that a Union protest of some sort (electricians, I think) was being aimed at the so called “5Ptz Towers” construction site. Personally, I’ve always believed there to be enough rodents of the home grown variety here in Long Island City, but there you go. One of these days, I’ve got to investigate where one would proceed to shop in pursuance of purchasing inflatable rodents. As you can see, there’s a regular and a family size model.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

%d bloggers like this: