The Newtown Pentacle

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Archive for the ‘Long Island Expressway’ Category

utter extirpation

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I had to make pee pee.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

While wandering around Dutch Kills, Long Island City’s (surviving) tributary of the fabulous Newtown Creek, one suddenly felt the call of nature. It was about six a.m. as I recall, when tolled the telltale alarum that it was time for a tinkle. Luckily, one had already secluded himself in a hidey hole along the banks of the waterway, one which offered both privacy and open unpaved soil. Why do I mention this, you ask? Because the City of New York completely and utterly disregards human biology in its various machinations and zoning decisions and has for better than fifty years. Why there isn’t a public pissoir found every mile or so is something that just escapes me. Luckily, as a bloke with an “outie,” the world offers lots of shadowed corners, spaces in between trucks, abandoned industrial canal bulkheads, and so on. I imagine the problems which proper renal function causes are more difficult for those of you with “innies.”

Anyway, as the sign in the shot would adjure – there’s meant to be “No Swimming’ here in Dutch Kills. Probably because of the millions of gallons of untreated sewage which the City dumps into every year.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Of all the sections of Newtown Creek which one visits regularly, Dutch Kills is most frequently seen. It’s not too far from Astoria by foot. Most of the time I come here, however, is definitively later in the day than the one these shots were gathered – which was just as the burning thermonuclear eye of god itself was rising in the east. I kept on debating whether or not to use a lens filter to “slow down” the rising light levels a bit, but the actual scene was just so beautifully lit that I didn’t want to screw around with it too much. I did have the camera up on the tripod though. The settings for this one were f18, iso 100, and .6 of a second.

Why am I telling you that, just like why talk about having to take a piss? I’ll let you know pretty soon. That’s coy of me, ain’t it?

Also, ever think about that phrase “taking a piss”? If anything, you’re “giving” rather than taking one. British English uses “having” for the act, as a note. Doesn’t make sense to me, just like the flammable/inflammable conundrum.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My eventual destination was going to be over on Skillman Avenue, where I was supposed to meet up with the Newtown Creek Alliance crew at nine. I still had plenty of time before that, so it was decided to shlep over to another hidey hole spot along Dutch Kills, one which is decidedly less private than the one so recently moistened by a humble narrator.

More tomorrow at this – your Newtown Pentacle.


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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.

uncouth time

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Death. Annihilation. Hatred.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

All night long, on my trek to the Dutch Kills tributary of Newtown Creek, I was noticing and recording the unnatural colour offered to the sky vault by the Kosciuszcko Bridge’s bizarre lighting system. It’s like no earthly colour, rather it’s like something out of space, in my opinion. Darth Cuomo, in his infinite wisdom and bowel quaking power, has decreed that this prismatic display must occur.

Soon, we shall all know the colour, and it will be a part of us.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A rare vertical or portrait format shot, the photo above was devilishly difficult to capture. There’s the super bright campus of the Federal Express shipping depot, which was absolutely and positively not part of a quid pro quo for their lost facility at what’s now Hudson Yards. You’ve also got the out of gamut color spectrum offered by the aforementioned lighting system installed at the order of the Governor by the New York State Department of Transportation. Everything else in the shot was cast into fuligin shadow, and what I wanted was to find a middle point between the extremes.

I guess “middle point between extremes” describes the general desire one has for his life, but has always been denied.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Borden Avenue Bridge was the midpoint in my mission for the night, where a humble narrator reoriented himself back towards Astoria, Our Lady of the Pentacle, and my little dog Zuzu. Checking my phone, it was realized that I had again lost track of time, and it was quite a bit later than my perception would have indicated. One or two last shots of the Long Island Expressway’s “Queens Midtown Expressway” truss were executed before I made my way back to civilization in Blissville.

Well after midnight, one summoned a ride share cab home. NYC’s sardonic sense of humor manifested then, as two yellow cabs and a bus appeared while I was waiting for a fellow named Singh to arrive in his minivan.


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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.

correlated causeways

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Eleven bridges, one creek.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Pulaski Bridge is the first span you encounter, when you’ve left the East River and embarked on a journey down the fabulous Newtown Creek. A double bascule drawbridge, and electrically powered, the Pulaski Bridge connects 11th street in Long Island City with McGuinness Blvd. to the south in Brooklyn’s Greenpoint. Built in 1954, the Pulaski Bridge is owned and operated by the New York City Department of Transportation or “NYC DOT.” The Pulaski Bridge carries five lanes of traffic, plus a dedicated bicycle lane and a separate pedestrian pathway. It overflies the Queens Midtown Tunnel and Long Island Expressway, as well as active railroad tracks found on Borden Avenue.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

DB Cabin acts as a gatekeeper to the Dutch Kills tributary of Newtown Creek. It’s a railroad swing bridge owned by the Long Island Railroad, and connects two rail yards – the Wheelspur Yard (to the west, or left in the shot above) and the Blissville Yard – across the water. Both rail yards and the bridge itself are part of the LIRR’s Lower Montauk tracks. DB Cabin dates back to the 1890’s and is in a terrible state of repair. The swing bridge’s motors are nonfunctional, which isolates the Dutch Kills tributary from maritime traffic, and from the rest of the Newtown Creek.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Cabin M is just to the north of DB Cabin on Dutch Kills, and the single bascule drawbridge connects the Montauk Cutoff with the Blissville Yard mentioned above. The Montauk Cutoff is an elevated track which used to provide a connection between the LIRR’s Main Line tracks at the nearby Sunnyside Yards with the Lower Montauk tracks along the north (or Queens side) shoreline of Newtown Creek. The 2020 Capital Plan just released by the Long Island Railroad’s owner – The MTA – includes funding to demolish Cabin M.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Borden Avenue Bridge is owned by the NYC DOT, and is one of just two retractile bridges in NYC (the other being the Carroll Street Bridge over the Gowanus Canal). Built in 1908 to replace an earlier wooden drawbridge (1868) at the intersection of Borden Avenue and Dutch Kills, Borden Avenue Bridge received extensive upgrades and structural repairs in 2010 and 2011, and had its electronic components destroyed by flooding during Hurricane Sandy. Another round of repairs and upgrades began in 2019, which included asbestos abatement work.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Long Island Expressway is 71 miles long, and is operationally managed in three sections. The Queens Midtown Expressway is how it’s owners, the New York State Department of Transportation, refer to the section found between the Queens Midtown Tunnel and Greenpoint Avenue in Long Island City. This section is elevated, rising to 106 feet above the waters of Dutch Kills. The LIE truss pictured above handles some 87.7 thousand daily vehicle trips, or 32 million annually, to and from Manhattan,

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Hunters Point Avenue Bridge is due north west of Borden Avenue Bridge and the LIE truss. It’s a single bascule drawbridge, owned by the NYC DOT. Replacing an earlier wooden draw bridge that was opened and closed by a donkey walking on a wheel, the Hunters Point Avenue Bridge was built in 1910. Back then, it was a double bascule bridge, but a rebuild in the 1980’s simplified the mechanism to a single bascule. The masonry of the bridge is original to the 1910 design.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Greenpoint Avenue Bridge is found some 1.37 miles from Newtown Creek’s intersection with the East River, and roughly a half mile from the mouth of Dutch Kills. It’s a double bascule bridge, built in 1987, and owned and operated by the NYC DOT. There have been many Greenpoint Avenue Bridges, dating back to the first one built by Greenpoint’s town father Neziah Bliss back in 1850, but that one was called the “Blissville Bridge.” The Greenpoint Avenue Bridge is a traffic machine, carrying 28.3 thousand vehicle trips a day, or about ten million a year. Most of that traffic takes the form of heavy trucking.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The brand new Kosciuszko Bridge(s) replaced a 1939 vintage truss bridge that carried the Brooklyn Queens Expressway over Newtown Creek and are found some 2.1 miles from the East River. The NYS DOT is busy putting the finishing touches on the new cable stay bridge’s construction. In addition to the… ahem… high speed traffic lanes of the BQE, there is also a pedestrian and bicycle pathway found on the new Kosciuszko Bridge which connects 43rd street in Queens’s Sunnyside section with Meeker Avenue in Brooklyn’s Greenpoint.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Grand Street Bridge is a swing bridge connecting Maspeth’s Grand Avenue in Queens with East Williamsburg/Bushwick’s Grand Street in Brooklyn. 3.1 miles back from the East River, in a section of Newtown Creek once called “White’s Dock,” the NYC DOT have recently announced plans to replace this 1909 beauty – which is actually the third bridge to occupy this spot. Damage from Hurricane Sandy, and the narrow roadways with height restrictions that the bridge offers, have pretty much sealed its fate. It will be missed.

This is where the main spur of Newtown Creek ends, as a note. Directly east is a truncated tributary called the East Branch, and another tributary called English Kills makes a hard turn to the south just before you encounter Grand Street Bridge.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Metropolitan Avenue Bridge is a double bascule drawbridge that crosses the English Kills tributary of Newtown Creek, and is owned by the NYC DOT. Metropolitan Avenue was originally built as a private toll road in 1813, and the first bridge here was a part of the “Williamsburg and Jamaica Turnpike.” The current Metropolitan Avenue Bridge was built in 1931, although it has received significant alterations in 1976, 1992, 2006, and again in 2015. The 2015 alterations?

You guessed it, Hurricane Sandy strikes again.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Montrose Avenue Rail Bridge is the final crossing found over the waters of Newtown Creek and its tributaries. Some 3.7 miles back from the East River, it’s the property of the Long Island Railroad and used for freight service on their Bushwick Branch tracks. A truss bridge, or trestle if you must, my understanding of things are that whereas the trackway and parts of the rail bridge date back to approximately 1924… there has been quite a lot of work done on the thing which I have not been able to fully document so rather than fill in blanks with assumptions – I’m just going to say that I don’t know everything… yet.

It’s an active track, it should be mentioned.


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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.

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.


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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

clutching inkiness

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Simple things, in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Amongst the first things that one of my neighbors in Astoria wants to know is what zodiac sign you were born under. When you indicate where your birthday lands on the wheel of the year, she shoots a knowing look at you and acts like you just revealed the code you use for the ATM terminals at the bank. It’s made up, astrology is. Bunk.

Another neighbor loudly pronounces that “he doesn’t give a ‘eff” before doing something stupid or self destructive. He’s part of a whole crew I know that doesn’t give an ‘eff about this or that. At my age, the single thing that I’ve gleaned about life is to give lots and lots of ‘effs. Not giving an ‘eff can get expensive, consequence wise. I’ve gotten to the point these days to proactively give ‘effs, just to save some dough.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Something I use as a gauge of intellect in the people I meet and encounter is whether or not a stressor will cause the phrase “I don’t care, call the Cops, I don’t care” to emerge from their face hole. The statement is meant to elicit fear in the listener, and indicate how “thug,” “street,” or just plain “bad ass” the petitioner is. Usually, the statement is offered as part of a series of aggressive primate display behaviors, with a lot of hand waving and other declarative statements (see paragraph above) wound in.

Nobody, and I mean nobody, doesn’t care when the Cops arrive. If you don’t care when they get there, NYPD will ensure that you do. Me? I do not wish for encounters with people who believe in the efficacious nature of dime store astrological advice and who do not “give an ‘eff” to escalate into requiring the mediating presence of the gendarmes. Seriously… what is wrong with our culture these days?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Everybody you see is under constant pressure… the rent is due next week, tick tock. This thing is wrong, and that thing hurts for no reason, and the subways, and now that his Presidential Campaign is done the Mayor is going to get back to doing stupid things again… Washington, and the Executive Branch in particular, is currently being staffed by comic book villains. Everybody is under constant existential pressure, and the ropes tighten up a bit every single day. I can see the appeal of embracing the pseudo scientific, supernatural, and behaving as if you were a mafioso when you are… in fact… a dry wall installer or drive a truck or something.

The question I always ask is “what do you want to achieve,” or “what result do I think this particular set of things I’m doing and saying will cause to happen”? Was it my status as a Virgo that caused me to break a car window while screaming “Call the Cops, I don’t care, I don’t give an ‘eff” and did it cause me to act like an asshole when I got my wish and get all aggressive towards them when they show up? Smart move is to give up. A cop on the street has the legal right to kill you, they are god on the street. Starting from the minute that the cuffs go on, and progressing through the arrest process, the street cop becomes less and less godlike. Be smart.

I just don’t understand people. Really don’t. Better to spend my time alone, wandering through the concrete devastations. There are no fortune tellers there, nor vainglorious fools shouting “worldstar.”


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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.

stout pillars

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DUPBO, Down Under the Pulaski Bridge Onramp.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

To begin with, when I was on site in Long Island City’s DUPBO section shooting these photos the other night, something so unique and novel occurred that I’m doubting the experience, so I’m going to be heading back sometime over the next few days when it’s light out to “get scientific” about the matter, and I’ll report it to you after a second observation and proper photo cataloguing but for now let’s just leave it hanging.

Mundane and material, that’s a late model Long Island Railroad engine sitting on a siding of the Lower Montauk tracks, awaiting orders.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This is the spot I was in when the weird thing happened, a location I found myself in due to the attentions of an over zealous and probably bored security guard who decided that my activities were impeding on the grounds she protects. I wish she’d spend some time on the illegal dumping, homeless camps, or the flotilla of RV’s serving as domiciles here in DUPBO, but focusing in on middle aged men with cameras and tripods standing in a parking lot is clearly at the top of her threat chart.

This shot is looking northwards, towards the LIE and Queens Midtown Tunnel.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Shlepping towards HQ, and exiting the industrial area in pursuit of getting to the train station, the 19th avenue footbridge carried me over the LIRR tracks leading from Hunters Point into the Sunnyside Yards and then under the Long Island Expressway. This is quite a well used footpath, as a note, which connects Borden Avenue with 49th or Hunters Point Avenue where a stop on the #7 train can be accessed.


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Upcoming Tours and Events


Thursday, July 11, 7 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.

“Infrastructure Creek” Walking Tour w Newtown Creek Alliance

If you want infrastructure, then meet NCA historian Mitch Waxman at the corner of Greenpoint Avenue and Kingsland Avenue in Brooklyn, and in just one a half miles he’ll show you the largest and newest of NYC’s 14 sewer plants, six bridges, a Superfund site, three rail yards with trains moving at street grade (which we will probably encounter at a crossing), a highway that carries 32 million vehicle trips a year 106 feet over water. The highway feeds into the Queens Midtown Tunnel, and we’ll end it all at the LIC ferry landing where folks are welcome to grab a drink and enjoy watching the sunset at the East River, as it lowers behind the midtown Manhattan skyline.

Click here for ticketing and more information.


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.

why tryeth

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As stated, God hates me.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One mentioned this on Monday – the last two to three weeks of my life, during which the weather was conducive to photographic pursuit, my attention and time were consumed by “have to” meetings or events which saw me sitting inside of buildings rather than roaming about outside of them – would be followed by this, a fairly light week wherein I’d get to do whatever the hell I want to, would be an interval of bad weather and storms. God hates me, but I really can’t blame it. That’s right, “it.”

If there is a God, it ain’t a “him” or a “her.” I stand on this statement, as an all powerful extra dimensional and omniscient intelligence with an army of fire sword carrying winged avengers can only be described as being an “it.” Often, I wonder if “it” is just the “lord of the local vicinity” or if there’s a race of these all powerful things experimenting on different solar systems all over this universe of ours. If “it” is the sole autarch of our particular universe, what about all the other universes? There’s got to be a bigger story at work. Presuming each universe has its own “it,” do you suppose they’d compare notes occasionally?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Imagine the various “its” communicating with each other, their divine voices a combination of thunder and volcano sounds, chatting about their individual projects in the white hot particle foam and void soup which the different universes are thought to float about in? “Check this out,” our “it” might say – “My apes just figured out how to split the atom,” with some pride. Another “it” would chime in with “big whup, my lizards have just learned to harvest water from asteroids.” A third comes in with “yeah, my bugs did both of those things but then I threw an asteroid at them, just to see how they react” “can’t wait to see how they react to having to start over from scratch.”

Of course, the basic rules and physics of our world would likely be different in the various bubble universes, as any “universal constant” would be strictly contained to its own realm. Anything is possible, really, when we’re discussing magick and god kings, who live in the sky, and sit on thrones. What if it’s all true, and after death you make it to some heavenly choir where you’re going to sing to “it” for all eternity. What if you don’t like the music? Do you ever get a year end review where you get to say “So, what’s the point of giving kids cancer, oh “it”? Also, “as a disembodied extradimensional intelligence, why do you have so many hang ups about monkey sex” and “seriously, why do you hit us with a Ghengis Khan or Hitler every now and then?”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Long ago, and that’s where this entire narrative offered today drops from, I had a conversation with somebody of formidable intelligence who was a member of what I refer to as the “god squad.” By that, I mean, he was a church guy that saw everything through a literalist New Testament filter. When chatting about Science Fiction, he rejected the idea of life on other worlds since it’s not mentioned by a group of peasants and tradesmen who died two thousand years ago, and left behind detailed notes about their experiences with spiritual matters in Roman occupied Judea in the only book you’re supposed to take seriously. My buddy said that if there was life on other worlds, it would be a mirror of our own, and since mankind was made in “its'” image, so too would any intelligent species look just like us when encountered. “Just like us,” of course, meant people of European and North African descent.

Just saying – terrestrial body plans, with four limbs and a head held aloft on a muscular stalk… that’s just a quirky form of inheritance that sort of jibes with the local environment. A rock falls to the left instead of the right a few hundred million years and we could all be cyclopses or octoclopses instead of biclopses.

As a note, these are the exact kind of questions, musings, and observations which got me kicked out of Hebrew School when I was a kid.


“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

May 30, 2019 at 1:00 pm

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