The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Archive for the ‘newtown creek’ Category

starfish arms

leave a comment »

Monday’s old familiar places, like DUKBO

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Recent exertions carried a humble narrator to the poison cauldron of the Newtown Creek, a hopelessly corrupted section of Brooklyn’s Greenpoint shorelines. Petroleum refining, industrial dry cleaning, the manufacture of so called “natural gas,” metals finishing… all have left behind a devil’s brew of exotic cocktails in the soil and ground water hereabout. Modern usage like petroleum and liquor distribution, garbage sorting and handling, warehousing of construction industry supplies are slightly less inimical to environmental harmonies than their forebears. There’s a reason I call this area the Poison Cauldron, after all.

I also refer to it as the Brooklyn side of DUKBO – Down Under the Kosciuszcko Bridge Onramp – where the omnipresent humming of the Brooklyn Queens Expressway carried along the bridge high overhead is inescapable. Nothing like a high volume roadway set into a crowded urban setting, huh?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

At some indeterminate time in the near future, a newly constructed park will open beneath the new bridge(s) which promises some fairly interesting photographic opportunity for one such as myself. I’ve been documenting the replacement and transition of the old Kosciuszcko Bridge to the new one since 2010. The minute that the park opens is officially when I’m going to close the cover on that particular file and publish some sort of book on the subject.

It’s been nice to have something to do.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Luckily, they’re still finishing things up down here, so there’s a lot of interesting things to point the lens at still. I give it about a month after the NYS DOT returns to Albany before the illegal dumping starts up in earnest around here again. I’m told that the hordes of very noisy automobiles which everybody is complaining about have been gathering down here on weekend nights to race and do “fast and furious” sort of things.

One hasn’t scuttled through this particular area in months due to pandemic factors, so when recent opportunity to do so presented itself off I went. I’ve been trying to catch a bit more sunlight these days, as all of my nocturnal activity has resulted in a desultory balance of Vitamin D and I’m as pale as the belly of a dead herring.

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, September 28th. 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 here, 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.

Written by Mitch Waxman

September 28, 2020 at 1:00 pm

triangularly tapering

leave a comment »

Friday is urban bucolia day.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Marching, endlessly marching, one noticed that a bit of excavation has been performed on the former Mobil oil properties alongside the Greenpoint Avenue Bridge on the Brooklyn side of the fabulous Newtown Creek. This particular piece of American soil has long been owned by some third party, and it’s not a part of the modern properties which ExxonMobil’s tenancy is still extant upon.

Not sure what’s going on here, but I like a good hole, and the construction guys seem to have dug a truly ribald one. Huzzah!

– photo by Mitch Waxman

ExxonMobil is still working on the remediation of the semi legendary Greenpoint Oil Spill, along with their contractors – called Roux – for this particular situation. They maintain a large property at 400 Kingsland Avenue, which used to be the entrance to the Mobil refinery that operated here until 1966.

Just last year, the team at ExxonMobil invited a group of interested neighborhood people and activists to one of their offices to give us an update on the cleanup efforts, which are coming along nicely according to the their data. There’s a couple of recovery wells which are now bringing up ground water rather than petroleum, but they are still working with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation on cleaning up the historic mess left behind by their forebears.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One hasn’t spent too much time on the Brooklyn side of Newtown Creek during the pandemic, given that my walks would have carried me through some rather populated areas that I wanted to avoid.

There’s a window of cautious safety right now, according to my perceptions, that I’m trying to exploit before things get weird again. Things are going to get weird again, and I’m saying by middle to late October probably, by Thanksgiving definitely. Enjoy yourselves while you can.

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, September 21st. 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 here, 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.

radiating spokelike

with 2 comments

Thursday lurking, in fear.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Last week, while scuttling about in Long Island City, a group of adolescents were spotted riding around on skateboards and that induced a humble narrator into one of his states. Terror bubbled up the esophagus, poured down the alimentary track, and a sheen of cold hormonal perspiration began to express from the skinvelope. A feckless quisling and vast physical coward, your humble narrator found himself obeying a genetic level set of programming instructions to hide and flee from potential danger. Adolescents… brrr… no impulse control. What if they were members of those squad of ubiquitous rascals called Antifa, or a Trumpist neoliberal cadre? If captured, I’d be forced into doctrinal solidarity in one of their re-education camps, and might then be forced to carry signage indicating my role as a counter revolutionary element from the old regime. Flight was my only hope, and boy oh boy did I flee.

Antifa ride skateboards and bicycles, Trumpists drive SUV’s or electric assist mobility chairs. Either way, one wants nothing to do with either horde of idolators.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Lurking solitarily in fear, as I do, offers a lot of time to think. One prefers this.

Extreme elements of our society will insist that every act and action be viewed through a prism of their choosing. You’re not eating a hot dog, instead you’re part of the problem and here’s why… this, this is why I insist on lonely walks through deserted industrial zones at the omphalos of New York City. I swear, it’s enough to make a libertarian out of me, but I’m married and also can’t afford a sixty inch tv so that leaves me out of the incel world of the libertarians. They all have huge tv’s.

As I’ve been telling my friends on the left for years now, identity politics is dehumanizing and dangerous, as you run the risk of the other side playing the same game. The most successful identity politician in history was Hitler, for instance. I’m a “rugged individualist” type, and can argue cogently that there is virtually no one person whom I’m similar to.

There is a mid point found somewhere between Mao’s Cultural Revolution and Lord of the Flies style unregulated capitalism, I believe, a median position which 90% of the population would be quite comfortable with. We should strive for that. We should also heavily oppress the prerogatives of both adolescents and senior citizens, given the latent dangers and lack of impulse control they represent.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

What do I know? I have no desire to hurt anyone, nor to tell them how to live. I’m some schmuck with a camera, wandering around Brooklyn and Queens during both day and night with no destination in mind. As my mom would often remind me – what, you think you’re normal? You’re an asshole, so show up early to appointments so at least they can’t use that against you. She’d then continue on with a travelogue of the many times that I’d disappointed or embarrassed her, just in case I’d forgotten it from the last time. If my Mom was still around, given her peculiar points of view and prejudices, I’m absolutely certain she’d be attending MAGA rallies.

As a kid, I learned that when the grown ups were fighting over nothing at all but going for the throat, it was best to retreat to the back yard or a side room and read comic books until it was all over. Pictured above, my current back yard.

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, September 21st. 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 here, 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.

Written by Mitch Waxman

September 24, 2020 at 2:00 pm

mixed effulgences

with 2 comments

Tuesdays are inevitable

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Over in Blissville, along Railroad Avenue, there’s quite a situation. It seems that there’s a plugged up street drain or two which has resulted in the DSNY crews who handle the recycling pickups here in Queens having to drive through a couple/three feet of standing water. This water is carrying a lot of fairly poisonous soil suspended in it, given that it’s the southern most street in Western Queens and the last block before Newtown Creek. A lot of the mud and soil is also migrating out of the Blissville Rail Yard (where the garbage train is found), which means it’s just chock full of garbage juice and insulating oils.

Somehow, the fellows driving this particular truck knew who I was and then petitioned “Hey Mitch, can you help us out with this?” Who am I to say no to New York’s strongest? I’m on it fellas. Phone calls have been made, and DM’s to the well connected and politically important have been sent, there’s also an email chain working its way through the hallways of the Newtown Creek Alliance and the local Community Board has been made aware of the problem.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That same night, on my way back to Astoria, I set up my tripod in hopes of capturing the tribute in lights with the Freedom Tower framed in by them, but this year there was no display on September 12. Luckily, the Greenpoint Avenue Bridge opened up so it was worth standing there alongside the fenceline of Calvary Cemetery for about a half hour waiting for it to get dark.

As I was standing by the cemetery in Blissville, a voice from inside the gates let me know someone would be climbing over the fence and they didn’t want to startle me. I let them know that whatever their intention, the startling mission had already been accomplished. A small film crew had been trespassing within, and were vaulting the fence. I broke down my rig and moved on, not wanting to get clipped as a part of their party in case the bulls showed up.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

By the time I walked almost all the way home to Astoria it was quite dark out, and a stop was made at one of the new holes in the fence at the Sunnyside Yards to see what was doing down there in Amtrak land. Luckily, for me, a train set was moving around and I cracked out a few exposures.

That building? My understanding of certain old maps suggests that this is the facility where the Pullman Red Hats were trained for duty “back in the day.”

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, September 21st. 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 here, 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.

balustraded terrace

leave a comment »

It’s always Monday somewhere

– photo by Mitch Waxman

These images have nothing to do with the route, but I conducted a short walking tour on Saturday. First one of the year. Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney attended. That’s me, Mr. Big Pants.

One of the Newtown Creek Alliance “revitalize” projects – we have a “reveal, restore, revitalize” mission statement – is playing out in the Hunters Point section of Long Island City. The plan involves the replanting of a median strip nearby Gantry Plaza State Park so that cultivars chosen to attract the attentions of insectivorous pollinator species can be installed. A fairly large group of volunteers showed up to pull weeds and turn over the soil, and on Wednesday of this week another crew will show up to plant said cultivars. Next Saturday, I’ll be leading another short walk if you’re interested in coming along. Masks and distancing required, obviously.

It was nice to feel useful again.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Tonight, one of the Queens Community Board 1 committees I’m a member of – Environmental – will be hosting a zoom meeting discussing various issues here in Astoria. Contact the CB office if you’d like to virtually attend. It should be a fairly uneventful conversation, as we have to procedurally focus in on budgetary recommendations for most of it. If you’ve got anything environmental in nature you’d like to bring to the groups attention, please do so.

Again, it’s nice to feel like I’m actually earning my dinner again.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Next Sunday, the 27th, marks the ten years in point since the declaration of Newtown Creek as a Superfund site by the Federal EPA. This has put me into a reflective mood, which never works out well for a humble narrator.

Before any of you ask “how the hell did you narrate a walking tour while wearing a mask,” I used a small amplification gizmo which has a microphone headset and a belt worn speaker to compensate for the muffling effect.

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, September 21st. 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 here, 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.

Written by Mitch Waxman

September 21, 2020 at 11:00 am

%d bloggers like this: