The Newtown Pentacle

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stirred stealthily

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Borden Avenue.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I got scared the other night, thinking I had spotted a pride of teenagers roaming about LIC, so I hid behind one of the structural legs of the Long Island Expressway and pondered a few things. Yes, teenagers travel in a “pride.” Busy body white ladies, the “Karen’s” you see all over the internet trying to boss people around, form up a “privilege” when they gather, as in a “Privilege of Karen’s.” A band of teenagers is less than five individuals, whereas a pride is a large group comprised of a lead Alpha team commanding several Master Betas who in turn lead individual bands. Dominance behaviors familiar to any primatologist are displayed. Deep and turbulent currents occur when a Pride encounters a Privilege, with both sides threatening to summon a Cadre of Cops while recording each other with cell phones. Invariably, someone shouts “world star” or “welcome to YouTube.”

As a note, Cops usually come in pairs. Six or more Cops form a Cadre, whereas a full precinct wide deployment is a “fuck ton” as in “Holy Shit, there’s a Fuck Ton of Cops out there.” Any wonder why I choose to just hide behind and beside the structural elements of the built environment?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

“Mitch, there’s no such thing as salt and shade resistant plant species which could survive around the outfall pipes of NYC’s elevated highways,” I’ve been told that by botanist, parks personnel, and everybody else in positions of City or State authority over NYC’s elevated highways. As you can see from the self seeded vegetation in the shot above, whose speciation is cosmopolitan, they are right and I am as always wrong.

Looking out of your narrow windows at a world which you despise, and comparing your world view to mine, it is quite easy to describe me as naive, badly informed, or as some sort of agenda pushing hack. Call me names, abuse my statements, say whatever you wish as it is your absolute right. The fact is… life finds a way. Abandon orthodoxy, see what is and what grows, be organic in your logic. You’ll be happier working towards creating the world you wish we lived in than the dross corner which pain and shattered hope has painted you into. Go take a walk, and watch the world. It can be beautiful. You don’t have to pronounce everything as false and perverse to protect your heart. You just have to embrace the fact that green things can and do crack through the concrete.

Watch out for Prides of Teenagers though, they have zero impulse control.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It’s funny, actually, that I never seem to grow tired of shooting around this outlandish steel traffic viaduct in LIC. The thing arches over Newtown Creek’s Dutch Kills tributary, where it rises 108 feet up, with the Queens Midtown Tunnel and Greenpoint Avenue at either end. The utilitarian esthetics embraced by the engineers of the House of Robert Moses have always spoken to me, design wise, but I like a good onramp.

Note: I’m writing this and several of the posts you’re going to see for the next week at the beginning of the week of Monday, May 18th. My plan is to continue doing my solo photo walks around LIC and the Newtown Creek in the dead of night as long as that’s feasible. If you continue to see regular updates as we move into April and beyond, that means everything is kosher as far as health and well being. If the blog stops updating, it means that things have gone badly for a humble narrator.


“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.

roughly be

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LIC.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

More time has been spent in the last two months around the Dutch Kills tributary of Newtown Creek than anywhere else in walking distance, barring my fortress confine back in Astoria, by a humble narrator. It’s deserted here, but for the small armadas of very fast and very loud cars being driven about the empty streets by area youth. They’re blasting around, playing truly awful music (that auto tune crap has to go), but what do I care? Can’t imagine how awful it must be to be young, dumb, and full of quarantine during this interval. I’ve been noticing one of my teenage neighbors straining against her inclination to be vivacious and out in the world. Not my problem, ultimately.

As far as the shot above, there’s a reason I call this particular stretch of LIC “The Empty Corridor.” My big problem at the moment revolves around empty pockets, as in the absence of cash money. Tick tock, tick tock. Ringle tinkle, coins when they mingle…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I won’t bore you with another posts about the particular peregrinations of photographic settings and techniques utilized in the production of these shots, but suffice to say that you’re looking at a lot of button pushing and parameter dialing embedded into those pixels. Hey… when you’ve got the time to rethink how you do things, come up with new methods and experiment, it would be foolish not to take advantage of opportunity,

Pictured are the ruins of the Irving Subway Grate Iron Foundry, overflown by the Queens Midtown Expressway section of the larger Long Island Expressway.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s the Borden Avenue retractile Bridge pictured above, looking westwards across Dutch Kills towards midtown Manhattan.

As stated in the past, one continues to eschew areas which can be constituted as being heavily populated, given that we are all living in what’s essentially a random number generator as far as getting sick with Covid 19 goes. Precautions, when moving around in my well populated neighborhood, are routinely taken. Sensible usage of a face mask and the regular washing of hands are religiously observed. When I leave the area, and enter these unpopulated industrial zones, the mask comes off and one can breathe free.

Well, as free as you can breathe at a Federal Superfund site, at any rate.

Note: I’m writing this and several of the posts you’re going to see for the next week at the beginning of the week of Monday, May 18th. My plan is to continue doing my solo photo walks around LIC and the Newtown Creek in the dead of night as long as that’s feasible. If you continue to see regular updates as we move into April and beyond, that means everything is kosher as far as health and well being. If the blog stops updating, it means that things have gone badly for a humble narrator.


“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.

sullen mood

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Dutch Kills.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s the Hunters Point Avenue Bridge pictured up there, which has been described in excruciating historical detail in many, many past posts. Saying that, I think this is the first time that this particular view of it has been offered. One of the virtues of a certain lens which I’ve mentioned in the past, the Canon 24mm pancake lens, is that it’s tiny size allows me to exploit otherwise unusable gaps in fencing or other visual obstacles. In the case of the shot above, my tripod was set up to lean in towards a chain link fence, holding the lens maybe an eighth of an inch away from it. It took a bit of wiggling to get the lens’s focal to sit right in the center of one of those diamond shaped openings in a standard chain link or “hurricane fence.”

It’s also three different photos combined into one, using a sort of exposure stacking process which Photoshop allows. This is one of the things I’m playing around with in my quarantine dotage. Also doing a bit of focus stacking work, which is interesting to play around with.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s just a normal long exposure shot, above, captured on Borden Avenue near the intersection with Review Avenue. Anybody who knows me will tell you that an oft repeated opine is “NYC never looks as good as it does when it’s wet.” In other words, you have a puddle? I’m shooting it. I also like when it’s just finished raining.

For the last few weeks, the Empire State Building has been flashing fire engine red to honor the medical people and the ambulance corps dealing with the virus. Accordingly, I’ve been trying to get some shots of it all framed up with Long Island City’s various wonders. That’s how I found myself back on Borden Avenue, after all.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I shot this one twice, from two different locations. For the alternate view, I used a different lens – the Canon “Nifty” 50mm. Check that out here, if you want.

For some reason, I was having a devil of a time getting the 50mm, which is of significantly older age than the 24mm – design wise – to lock focus on the Empire State. I got it, eventually, but wow did it hunt around a lot. The red lights didn’t register as contrast heavy enough, I’d speculate, or perhaps the IR filter glass inside the sensor was blocking this particular wavelength.

The 24mm found focus almost instantly, in contradiction.

I’m still using the “minimum kit” which I started carrying last year during the broken toe drama – a Canon 7D with an arca rail, a couple of extra batteries and memory cards, a 24mm and a 50mm lens, a cable release, some lens cloths, a safety vest, a rocket blower, a flash light, an ultrapod with a small ball head, and a carbon fiber travel tripod with a ball head. The only other things found in my camera bag at the moment are business cards and a few pieces of chewing gum.

Note: I’m writing this and several of the posts you’re going to see for the next week at the beginning of the week of Monday, April 20th. My plan is to continue doing my solo photo walks around LIC and the Newtown Creek in the dead of night as long as that’s feasible. If you continue to see regular updates as we move into April and beyond, that means everything is kosher as far as health and well being. If the blog stops updating, it means that things have gone badly for a humble narrator.


“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.

common case

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Echo… cho… o… o…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The show often comes to me, as was the case the other night when an industrial wrecker appeared and towed away a broken down DHL delivery truck here in Astoria. Speaking of Astoria, I’m happy to report that a few of the local shops have reopened, which has eased a few of the supply issues experienced here at HQ. A cache of milk bone cookies can only last so long, and Zuzu the dog doesn’t want to hear about plague, pale horses, or other excuses when she wants a snack. The dog is demanding. She does a lot for morale, and expects her tithe.

The operation to get the DHL van hooked up to the wrecker was surprisingly complex, as a note. The wrecker’s crew had to raise and chock the front tires of the van in stages until its nose was high enough relative to the street to slip the tow bar under it. Luckily, this operation was undertaken while I was pay per viewing “The Rise of Skywalker,” which is officially the worst Star Wars product ever made in my opinion – and that includes an infamous 1978 TV “special’ called the “Star Wars Holiday Special.” Watching a tow truck crew at work was preferable.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A recent walk through the concrete devastations found me on Borden Avenue, staring down the Empire State Building and the Queens Midtown Expressway section of the larger Long Island Expressway. Just on the other side of the fence with all the barbed wire on it, as seen in the left side of the shot above, were dozens of FDNY ambulances awaiting their turn on the lifts at a mechanic and maintenance facility operated by the fire service. There was a fair amount of civilian traffic moving around, which I wasn’t really surprised by. I’ve noticed automotive traffic is inching back up, everywhere.

I call this area DULIE – Down Under the Long Island Expressway. As I often opine, you need to get ahead of the real estate crowd on this sort of thing, lest they rename your neighborhood “Karen,” or “Todd.” It’s where I like to go to be by myself, just like industrial Maspeth. The latter is next on my list, and I plan on heading over there sometime around when you’re reading this.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Blissville is where this photo was gathered, along Review Avenue. One positive thing that’s come out of all this free time I suddenly have has been the gradual conquering of the LED light dilemma. The unnatural frequencies offered by LED lights have been bedeviling me, exposure wise, for a while. Still haven’t quite got them locked down or licked yet, but as the shot above suggests I’m starting to get there.

One thing I really miss on my long walks involves not having my headphones jammed into the ear holes and listening to my “theme music” playlists. As mentioned a few times, I’m trying to be more fully aware of my surroundings right now, as the deserted streets offer up all sorts of uncertainties. There’s the possibility of finding myself the center of attention for adolescent rowdies or gutter toughs or even street muggers, there are hot rod clubs burning rubber all around the Creek, and if you had noticed the bands of Raccoons and Canada Geese prowling about like they own the place as I have – you’d desire “total situational awareness” too.

Still – It’s just not the same without “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath” grinding out.

Note: I’m writing this and several of the posts you’re going to see for the next week at the beginning of the week of Monday, April 20th. My plan is to continue doing my solo photo walks around LIC and the Newtown Creek in the dead of night as long as that’s feasible. If you continue to see regular updates as we move into April and beyond, that means everything is kosher as far as health and well being. If the blog stops updating, it means that things have gone badly for a humble narrator.


“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.

phenomenal softness

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Back in Queens.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A longish night time walk from Astoria to the Pulaski Bridge spanning Newtown Creek, and then over the Greenpoint Avenue Bridge and back into Queens, was punctuated by FDNY activity at nearly every step of the way. A deployment at one of the homeless shelters in Blissville actuated not only the fire house on nearby Greenpoint Avenue, it also pulled in units from Brooklyn’s Greenpoint as well. Engine 238 (pictured) and Tiller Truck 106, if you’re curious about Brooklyn fire units. I can’t help but take photos when FDNY is doing their thing. Firemen, firemen!

This shot is from the corner of Greenpoint and Review Avenues, looking towards Brooklyn across the Greenpoint Avenue Bridge.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My pathway home took the shape of walking along Greenpoint Avenue, where the startling view of a Long Island Expressway with no traffic whatsoever greeted me. Earlier in the evening, one observed something similar at the Queens Midtown Tunnel.

Last time I saw anything like this was in the week or two following Hurricane Sandy. Should one be lucky enough to survive this pandemic business, I hope to be awarded a three disaster ribbon by the City. It’s been one heck of a couple of decades here in the megalopolis, hasn’t it?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Of course, just as I arrived back in the zone of HQ, an ambulance went screaming past. I’m not going to launch into some speech here, rather…

You want to underexpose for a passing ambulance, due to the strobing light. I already had the color temperature of the camera set to 3750K, my standard “go to” for modern day NYC street lighting at night. It’s f2.8, 1/200th of a second, and at ISO 6400. The shot did get noodled around with a bit in the developing process, but most of that involved dealing with sensor noise.

Note: I’m writing this and several of the posts you’re going to see for the next week at the end of the week of Monday, April 6th. My plan is to continue doing my solo photo walks around LIC and the Newtown Creek in the dead of night as long as that’s feasible. If you continue to see regular updates as we move into April and beyond, that means everything is kosher as far as health and well being. If the blog stops updating, it means that things have gone badly for a humble narrator.


“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.

horror forcing

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The empty corridor.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Borden Avenue, or at least the section of it pictured in today’s post, was officially designated as such in 1868, after an engineered “plank road” was erected through the swampy low lands surrounding the Dutch Kills tributary of Newtown Creek. It was primarily designed as a commercial corridor, connecting the upland farms and dairies of Maspeth and Woodside with the docks in Hunters Point at the East River. Borden… Borden Milk… Roads were named for where they went back then.

The wetlands of Dutch Kills were filled in at the start of the 20th century, and the railroad took advantage of all the new dry land to hurl spurs out to the various industrial buildings which were erected on the reclaimed flatlands. LIRR still crosses Borden Avenue several times a day at street grade, about a mile west of where these shots were gathered.

The Long Island Expressway truss defines the section of Borden between Greenpoint Avenue and Review Avenue, and the blighted area beneath it is something I refer to as the “Empty Corridor.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Dutch Kills itself was rendered into its current form and course at the start of the 20th century, shortly after NYC consolidation in 1898. A huge land reclamation project was being conducted by the Pennsylvania Railroad Company – the creation of the Sunnyside Yards – was occurring about a half mile to the north and west and a construction magnate named Michael Degnon began buying up the wetlands surrounding Dutch Kills from the estate of a former Governor of New York State. Degnon used excavated fill from another one of his projects – the East River subway tunnel which carries the modern day 7 line train – to create dry land around Dutch Kills. Concurrently, the United States Army Corps of Engineers was busy creating industrial bulk heads and “canalizing” the entire Newtown Creek and its tributaries.

That’s the Borden Avenue Bridge pictured, the existing version of which was erected in 1908. It’s not the first Borden Avenue Bridge, but it’s the one that’s stood the test of time.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

While all this tumult and “terraforming” was going on, the Long Island Railroad was investing in the LIC area as well. The Lower Montauk trackage, as it’s known today, connects the Fresh Pond Yard with the East River along the northern shore of Newtown Creek. There are two railroad bridges spanning Dutch Kills. One is DB Cabin, a turnstile bridge which is still quite active but cannot turn or open, and it provides a direct track link between the Blissville and Wheelspur Yards on the lower montauk right of way. The other is Cabin M, which leads to the Montauk Cutoff elevated tracks that formerly connected to the LIRR Main Line tracks at the Sunnyside Yards. Before all this end of the world stuff started, MTA indicated it was going to demolish Cabin M. Somehow, I don’t think that’s happening anytime soon.

As I always say, despite the fact that I call it the “empty corridor” there’s quite a lot going on down here and lots of interesting things to see on a walk in LIC.

Also, on this day in NYC history: The Triangle Shirtwaist Fire occurred in 1911.

Note: I’m writing this and several of the posts you’re going to see for the next couple of weeks at the start of the week of Monday, March 16th. My plan is to continue doing my solo photo walks around LIC and the Newtown Creek in the dead of night as long as that’s feasible. If you continue to see regular updates as we move into April and beyond, that means everything is kosher as far as health and well being. If the blog stops updating, it means that things have gone badly for a humble narrator.


“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.

alien shadow

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Seeing the big rigs in Long Island City.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One encountered a lonely semi truck on my recent scuttle across a still quite industrial section of LIC. It’s a “class 8” heavy truck, and manufactured by the Kenworth company. “Class 8” are vehicles which serve vocational applications – heavy dump trucks, concrete pump trucks, and refuse hauling – as well as including long-haul 4×2 and 6×4 tractor units such as the one pictured above. Washington state based, Kenworth has been in the truck business since 1912. Don’t ask me to identify what model of truck this is, as I’m sure there’s a gear head reading this who can help with the ID (share in the comments section) and will know far more than I about it. Like taxis and tugboats – when you see a vehicle like this just sitting there parked on the street, the owner is losing money.

I have always been fascinated with this idea of perpetually moving vehicles. Certain vehicles are meant to be operated continuously by multiple crews of drivers, and meant to never stop moving. Police cars and ambulances, subways and trains of all types… cargo ships… all are meant to rest only when undergoing maintenance or changing work crews and operators. That’s interesting, no?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A graffiti crew had obviously taken fairly recent advantage of the expansive warehouse walls (a “building trade” lumber operation) on this particular block in LIC, but I was more interested in the sickly trees lining the sidewalk than the fairly inexpert tags. In these industrial zones, trees are scarce, and often fall victim to the hustle and bustle of getting things done. In this sort of area, the DEP and FDNY have to erect bollards around their fire hydrants to vouchsafe them from getting knocked over or down, and you’ll often notice utility poles which have had huge swaths carved out of them by careless truckers moving multi ton loads about. Stop signs and lamp posts are regularly snapped off their stanchions as well.

As I tell the people who have just discovered Newtown Creek – all the time – be careful, it’s easy to get dead around here if you don’t know the lay of the land. Luckily, I’ve been obliged to sit through literally days of the safety training which the “union guys” get in order to legally enter job sites and facilities with the camera, and I “sprech the deutch” of their acculturations.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s the Queens Midtown Expressway section of the Long Island Expressway in the upper left, and it’s been towering over Borden Avenue in LIC since 1939. The LIE rises from ground level at Greenpoint Avenue all the way to 106 feet over the waters of Newtown Creek’s nearby Dutch Kills tributary before beginning its descent into the Queens Midtown Tunnel in Hunters Point. I refer to the zone underneath the LIE as “the empty corridor,” but there’s actually quite a lot going on down here.

More from the empty corridor tomorrow, at this, your Newtown Pentacle.

Note: I’m writing this and several of the posts you’re going to see for the next couple of weeks at the start of the week of Monday, March 16th. My plan is to continue doing my solo photo walks around LIC and the Newtown Creek in the dead of night as long as that’s feasible. If you continue to see regular updates as we move into April and beyond, that means everything is kosher as far as health and well being. If the blog stops updating, it means that things have gone badly for a humble narrator.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle


Buy a book!

In the Shadows at Newtown Creek,” an 88 page softcover 8.5×11 magazine format photo book by Mitch Waxman, is now on sale at blurb.com for $30.

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