The Newtown Pentacle

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Archive for the ‘NY 11101’ Category

choking gasp

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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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complete vacation

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Happy Tuesday, Lords and Ladies.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A couple of friends answered my request to get “high in LIC” in the last week. Last week, on Thanksgiving and the Black Friday following it, views from my pal’s roof deck high above the Queens Plaza/Court Square area were on offer. On Sunday last, another friend allowed me onto his roof deck over in Hunters Point. The birds eye shots from Sunday will be presented in tomorrow’s post, for the most part.

While I was in the neighborhood, I did a little bit of wandering about, and had a very odd experience.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This is one of the birds eye shots, from about twelve stories over Long Island City, looking towards East River past the Queens Landing section of Hunters Point Park South.

Shortly after recording this shot, I bid my host “adieu” and made my way down towards the street. Heading off towards Newtown Creek to the south was my goal. Upon reaching the corner, a sudden panicked call of “please help me, sir, please help me” rang out. An unusually tall blonde woman, my impression was that she was Russian (or some similar flavor of “Slavic”), approached and beseeched me to escort her back to her apartment house as she was terrified of a “driver” who “said all these things, horrible things, things…” She was brandishing her phone, which was on speaker with a man she said was her father. Fully aware that I might have wandered into the jaws of an old street grift called “cat fishing,” one nevertheless guided the lady back towards her building whereupon she disappeared within. Strange encounter with a quite hysterical person, but I got to feel like I helped some stranger out of a jam she was in, so “win.”

Life on the streets of NYC for an itinerant photographer.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I wasn’t at all nervous about having to possibly “handle” a Russian hooligan if indeed I was being catfished (modern context notwithstanding, this is the one where a lady gains the attention of a man, whereupon she appeals to him to help her in a variety of circumstantial but always urgent situations, counting on his gallantry, who then leads him to usually male confederates who beat the tar out of the fellow whereupon the gang splits whatever loot he’s carrying) I was apoplectic about the masses of unsupervised teenagers gathered about the well lit East River waterfront.

Brrr, teenagers.


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Written by Mitch Waxman

November 27, 2018 at 11:00 am

intervening hours

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Friday has come at last, whew.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As I mentioned yesterday, my stated desire to get high in LIC received a few answers, and one of them presented an opportunity to access the roof decks at one of the titanic new residential towers in the Queens Plaza area. One was offered a fairly limited period of time in which to get busy with the clicking and whirring, as my friend’s generosity was limited by him having preexisting plans for later in the evening.

Pictured above is the zone found around and about the Court Square section, with the Sapphire Megalith at center.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Looking southeast towards Brooklyn, that’s the Kosciuszcko Bridge and the Brooklyn Queens Expressway at the top of the shot, and the dark mound just in front of it is Calvary Cemetery in the Blissville section. The bright line is the Long Island Expressway, and in the foreground is the Degnon Terminal nearby the Dutch Kills tributary of Newtown Creek.

This is how City Planners see things, I suspect. Neat little blocks and distanced “zones” devoid of the complications or existential realities of humanity. Personally, I spend so much time scratching around in the filthy substrate and granular truths of these places, this point of view is like an alien reality to me. Saying that, even all the way up here, there are construction cranes visible.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Looking west and slightly northwards towards Manhattan and the Queensboro Bridge, the Queensbridge NYCHA houses are filling the right hand side of the image and looking for all the world like charcoal briquettes on a BBQ.

Have a nice holiday weekend, lords and ladies, and I’ll be back Monday with something completely different at this – your Newtown Pentacle.


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apropo shunning

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Scuttling, always scuttling.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

In many ways, one misses the old days when Long Island City was a deserted wasteland on the weekends. There’s so many people here now, and so damn many of these folks are “consumers.” I’ve always broken the human herd into two groups – producers and consumers. It’s not capitalism that these terms emanate from, as my definitions have little to do with economics. Instead, what I mean is that there are two distinct kinds of people in society – those who take what they’re offered and those who offer. Consumers readily form audiences and crowds eager to be entertained or fed. Producers entertain and feed. I’ve always fancied myself a member of the latter grouping, most artist and musician types are. It’s not a judgement, or statement of one grouping’s superiority over the other, rather it’s one of those “ground rules” observations which I tend to abide by. You can’t have one without the other.

Last weekend in LIC, while getting some exercise and waving the camera about, vast flocks of consumers were wandering about seeking diversion and entertainment, or just trying to find a meal.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One actually finds it a bit difficult these days to find a spot, in what used to be referred to as “Lonely Island City,” to commune with the concrete devastations and meditate on his inadequacies and failings. I really used to enjoy working myself over psychologically while navigating the broken pavement and endless avenues, ruminating on “why did I say that” or wondering if some untoward act or casually cruel comment from my High School years might be retroactively considered a hate crime. I’d warn the “youngins” who so laboriously chronicle their lives on social media that, just in my half century walking the planet, the script of acceptable speech and behavior has flipped about quite a few times.

Consumer or producer, be wary of changing mores and remember that there’s a generation coming just after yours that will be absolutely disgusted by the behavior of your own. As a “Generation X” member, my distaste for the selfish baby boomer generation is at an absolute apex right now. The boomers will talk about their Civil Rights era efforts and an all encompassing liberalization of American culture during their watch, but they’re ultimately the ones who put Trump and his Legion of Doom cabinet into office.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The kids who are not kids anymore that follow my generational cohort are just as screwed as my peers were and are because of this generation of Baby Boomers. I made the case to one of these youngins the other day that we have to legalize weed in New York State just to pay for the heroic level end of life medical care that this generation of characters are going to demand. They will consume, and we will produce. Luckily, after they all die off, it’s going to be like the years after the Black Plague in Europe and vast sums of money are going to escape the lock boxes of IRA’s and retirement pension accounts.

That’s unless the Baby Boomers can figure out a way to take it with them, which I wouldn’t put past the most self centered generation in American History to do. Somebody else is always handed that generation’s bill.


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Written by Mitch Waxman

October 17, 2018 at 3:00 pm

disproportionate orders

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What if peace broke out? 

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Given my love of hatred and conflict, it’s an odd thing that I found myself at the East River last weekend to attend a solemnified ceremony led by an international team of Spitiual Industrial Complex employees and sky father worshippers devoted to “peace.” Additionally, since my entire spiritual path and moral compass is built around the “Adventures of Superman,” the only way to achieve a lasting peace on this planet might just be the presence of an extraterrestrial savior possessed of powers and abilities greater than those of any ordinary man. Disguised as one of us, and working at a great metropolitan newspaper… well, you know the rest – leaping tall buildings, mighty rivers, locomotives. Truth, Justice, and the “American Way.”

The American Way ain’t peace. 

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Saying that, there are others out there who live in a more hopeful stat of awareness, and work towards achieving a goal which I’m convinced you’d need laser vision and the ability to walk across the surface of the sun unscathed to do. They gathered last weekend in Gantry Plaza State Park to meditate, and speak in public, sharing their points of view and offering curative advice to halt the epic suffering of their fellow humans by causing a cessation of armed conflict and violence. 

To this end, they inscribed prayers and other missives on a series of floatable lanterns. Some of my friends were driving the kayaks which hauled the things into position. 

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Apparently, this is an annual event, one which my friend Erik Baard is centrally involved with. Erik is a deeply annoying friend, I would mention, as he sets forward examples in his lifestyle, politics, and behavior that few can actually measure up to. Many people in the environmental community “talk the talk,” but few “walk the walk.” They’ll yell and scream about oil and the modern world in a meeting, then get into an SUV and drive into Manhattan. Not this bloke.

I know three, maybe four, of the “real things” and it’s important to acknowledge them when they’re around. 

– photo by Mitch Waxman

So, Erik and his group of paddlers hauled the lanterns out and affixed them to a wire of something anchored on the bottom of the East River. I started getting bored at this point, and decided to play around with the camera a little bit.

Me? I ain’t the real thing, I’m just some schmuck with a camera. 

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I set the thing up for some longish exposures, about thirty seconds each. Luckily, the displacement waves from passing NYC Ferries were splashing in and around the rip rap shoreline.

Technically speaking, this isn’t Gantry Plaza State Park’s shoreline, it’s NYC’s Hunters Point South Park. 

– photo by Mitch Waxman

So, that’s what I did on Sunday night. 

TLDR; Peace lanterns, musing about Superman, pictures. 


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Written by Mitch Waxman

September 20, 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.


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Written by Mitch Waxman

June 25, 2018 at 11:00 am

pandemoniac howling

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A few more shots from high over LIC.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As mentioned yesterday, an event found me in Hunters Point, and a friend invited me to get some shots from the roof deck of the tower building he lives in. Normally, I’m wallowing in the filth of the gutter and Newtown Creek, so whenever I have an opportunity to change the perspective, I take it.

The shot above looks down at the East River shoreline along the Hunters Point Park waterfront, and depicts the littoral gradation from dry land to river mud.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There’s a new section of the park opening fairly soon, and construction on it has been briskly occurring for a while now. That green fenceline in the middle of the shot depicts the currently public area (bottom) and the new section which will soon be available for recreation enthusiasts (top).

That curvy shape at the bottom right forms a roof for the home of a local restaurant called Coffeed, and the LIC Landing NYC Ferry stop.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s the mouth of Newtown Creek in the center of the shot above, which looks south along the Queens and Brooklyn waterfront towards the Williamsburg Bridge. The prominence on the Manhattan side is Corelars Hook, roughly the Lower East Side’s Cherry Street. Within the next decade, the entire left side of the view above will be filled in with residential tower development projects.


Upcoming Tours and Events

May 12th – Exploring Long Island City – with NY Adventure Club.

Long Island City is a tale of two cities; one filled with glittering water-front skyscrapers and manicured parks, and the other, a highly active ground transportation & distribution zone vital to the New York economy — which will prevail?

Tickets and more details
here.

May 17th – Port Newark Boat Tour – with Working Harbor Committee.

For an exciting adventure, go behind the scenes of the bustling Port of NY & NJ on our Hidden Harbor Tour® of Port Newark! Get an insider’s view of the 3rd largest port in the nation, where container ships dock and unload their goods from around the world. See how the working harbor really works and learn about what all those ships and tugs do. See giant container terminals, oil docks, dry dock repair, and more! Tickets and more details here.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

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