The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Archive for the ‘DUKBO’ Category

miasmic entree

with 2 comments

DUKBO will always be the Poison Cauldron to me.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

In those halcyon days when a humble narrator’s roadway interface was still functioning within normal parameters – or simply before a week ago Sunday when my big toe got smashed – one was wandering through the hoary streets of Greenpoint, specifically the area which I’ve long referred to as the Poison Cauldron of the Newtown Creek. That’s the Brooklyn side of DUKBO, Down Under the Kosciuszcko Bridge Onramp, if you’re curious. Broken toe or not, I’m still an idiot.

That’s when I spotted this pack of black cats with pale yellow eyes glaring at me from behind an industrial fenceline. I did not see any clipped ears, so these little predators aren’t being looked after by the TNR (Trap Neuter Release) folks, but they were hanging out at an industrial site, so they are likely being offered some sort of shelter, water, and food. The “Blue Collar” crowd are secretly softies when it comes to critters, in my experience. There’s likely lots and lots of Costco brand pet food somewhere back there behind the fence.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Luckily for the cats, this open hydrant and the small pond it maintains attracts birds. The birds do bird things, and based on the scattered piles of feather you see stuck into the sticky mud which the water creates, the cats then do cat things to them. The Audubon people I’ve met over the years are horrified by this sort of thing, reacting in much the same way that the bicycle people do when somebody throws a candy wrapper into one of the bike lanes.

Me? I see something eminently hopeful, as even here – in the darkest of the hillside thickets – you give the natural world an inch and it will take a mile. Awesome sauce.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Last week, on Friday afternoon specifically, I finally sought out medical attention from the Mt. Sinai operation here in Astoria for the smashed up toe. X-Ray confirmation of a fracture was attained, and they gave me a prescription for an anti biotic which was so completely off the charts strong that I spent Friday night and much of Saturday cowering here in HQ. I stopped taking the pill, but it took about 24 hours for me to piss the poison out. At no point did anyone in the hospital mention side effects, drug interactions, or mention that Tylenol (which I told them I was taking for pain control) mixed with this mega dose of anti biotic would BBQ my liver. Also not mentioned was the long list of potential side effects, including one which would have wiped out my gut flora and likely caused a C Diff infection in my intestines.

All of you reading this who are running for Borough President or considering a bid for Costa’s council seat here in Astoria are going to receive an earful when I see you, so be warned. I strongly suggest that any of you regular people reading this requiring emergency care bite the bullet and head into the City rather than rolling the dice with the second rate jobs program that is health care in Queens.


“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

November 4, 2019 at 1:15 pm

done among

with 4 comments

Whom will stop the rain? Still, I wonder.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Last week, one had to attend a Superfund meeting at Greenpoint’s PS 110, and since the presentation being offered by officialdom was something I was seeing for the third time, I got bored. Accordingly, I wandered around the public school floor I was on for a few minutes, wondering what grade school class rooms looked like these days. In the case of PS 110, which is a centuried building found across the street from McGolrick Park in Greenpoint, the answer is found in the shot above.

I don’t know, wasn’t expecting holograms or something, but that’s pretty much what school looked like 45 years ago when I could still fit in one of those chairs.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Additionally, last weekend, I had to attend an event at Newtown Creek Alliance HQ – the Kingsland Wildflower Festival – and I also got bored. I’m easily bored, as a note. I went wandering for a bit and disappeared from the event, and noticed this crew digging and scraping into the pavement. They must have heard the old legend about the pirate Blackbeard burying chests of loot here in Greenpoint back in the colonial era and were trying their luck. Didn’t see any 18th century Spanish Doubloons, Dutch Gilders, or gold of any kind in their truck, so I figure that they came up empty.

Ever hear the one about the guy in Greenpoint who set up an improvised oil derrick in his back yard about twenty years ago, seeking to tap into the underground oil spill?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

After a fairly adventure free and somewhat frustrating summer, the Fall has been absolutely and stunningly fun for me. This week alone, I’ve managed to spend a day on a boat with the US Army Corps of Engineers, and yesterday I got to ride in a locomotive engine on the former Evergreen (modern day Bushwick Branch) tracks found on the eastern side of Newtown Creek.

The camera has had a real workout recording all sorts of cool stuff, as you’ll see next week at this – your Newtown Pentacle.


“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 27, 2019 at 11:00 am

endless shelves

leave a comment »

Tunnel visions, in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Absent friends. That’s all I’m going to say about today’s anniversary of 9/11, other than that we have been at war for eighteen years now, in six different theaters of operation, with no end in sight, and nobody ever talks about that. We also don’t ask where all that homeland security money goes, and why – despite all that funding – you can still just wander into any number of supposedly secure locations in Brooklyn and Queens unimpeded. It’s a different story in Manhattan, of course, but there you are.

Raise a glass to those absent friends tonight, hug your kids, and continue on.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Me? I’m too busy and stressed out at the moment to indulge in anything resembling a normal thought process. I’ve got a big project which will have matured and been accomplished by tomorrow night about 9 p.m. at which point I’ll be able to relax for a minute and gather my thoughts. Today, I’m busy “herding cats” and “managing expectations.” A minefield is where I’m at right now.

Seriously, all I ever set out to do was take pictures of Newtown Creek and the document the season of change in the watershed communities surrounding it.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The big project which is stressing me out is a private event, so I can’t really talk about it. There’s been a couple of major projects in the works throughout August which are coming to fruition, but since the universe demands that when I’m focusing on something a cloud of biting insects will appear to torment and distract…

It’s so busy this week that I’m actually dreaming about tasks that I need to crush out, and upon awakening from those little snatches of death… Man, I really need a vacation from Home Sweet Hell.


“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 11, 2019 at 12:00 pm

ruins retained

with one comment

Just another day in paradise.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One forced himself to sleep early on Saturday last several hours earlier than is customary, given that a humble narrator is legendarily a night owl, and I set my phone’s alarm sound to Curtis Mayfield’s “Pusherman.” If you want to ensure that you don’t sleep through an early alarm, Curtis is your boy, and Pusherman starting playing at 4 a.m. Having prepared my gear bag and laid out clothing the night before, all I had to do was take a quick shower, dress, and drink a cup of coffee. I hit the street at 4:30 a.m. A cab was called, and I was up on the middle of the Kosciuszko Bridge bike and pedestrian pathway by about 5:10 a.m. with a deployed tripod and camera.

A few things got in the way of all this ambition and “chasing the sunrise shot.” The most notable thing was that despite the theatrics surrounding the opening of the span, the NYS DOT is nowhere near done with the construction of the thing and temporary wooden breastworks and walkways with orange construction netting has returned. Said works obscure a significant part of the incredible views up there. Mustn’t grumble, though, still plenty to see and photograph.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Initial forays up on the bridge have revealed a few spots where natural compositions are available for recording, and a bit of early trial and error has indicated what one should watch out for as far as setup of equipment goes. A big issue to conquer involves light pollution coming from below, as the big field lights used by industrial property owners to illuminate their properties cause a lot of scatter which in turn lights up the omnipresent dust and vehicle exhaust hanging about in the atmosphere.

This contrast of bright and dark has been a constant bother throughout the night shooting process at Newtown Creek which I’ve been working on for a while now. It’s also a bit of a chore managing and being conscious of lens flare, but that’s quite normal for me these days. Focusing the lens in pitch darkness is also challenging.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

When the burning thermonuclear eye of god itself finally popped out from behind Ridgewood and Maspeth to the east, it looked like things were finally going my way. Unfortunately, as it was a cloudy morning, the directional light was soon obscured behind an enormous flat cloud which stretched from the horizon to mid sky just as the illumination became sculptural. The shot directly following the one above was flat, and bluish in cast, due to that giant cloud bank.

There’s three anticipated shots from up here that I’m chasing. As soon as they remove the temporary construction works and the sky is right, I’ll have them. It just might take a while though. Luckily, I’ve got Cutis Mayfield to wake me up at all hours of the night, and when I’ve got my triptych of shots completed, I’ll feel like Superfly.


“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 9, 2019 at 1:00 pm

uncovered pit

with 5 comments

Getting high over Newtown Creek.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Saturday last, a humble narrator scuttled southwards towards that lugubrious ribbon of urban neglect which the children of Brooklyn and Queens call the Newtown Creek. My destination was the Kosciuszcko Bridge, with its new pedestrian and bicycle lane offering spectacular and formerly impossible to capture views of the waterway and the industrial zone surrounding it, framed up by the heroic skyline of the Shining City of Manhattan. One will be spending quite a bit of time up there in the coming months, and at different times of day. In the case of the shots in today’s post, they’re from the last two hours or so prior to sunset, with the burning thermonuclear eye of god itself transiting to the southwest – late summer and early fall skies.

It was an unimpressive sunset on Saturday, and I plan on handling that set of shots when the weather and sky is right. My next outing will be early in the morning, for sunrise with the light coming from the east behind me, and the bridge casting shadows on the water.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Other people go to the beach on Labor Day weekend, or BBQ. Me? I walk back and forth over bridges for a few hours with a tripod and a camera. Literally, there were hundreds of photos on the camera’s memory card when I came home from this exploratory outing. Exploratory? Why, yes.

One thing I’ve learned over the years is that you have to chase after photos, and that preparation and expectation are critical. You have to be “prepared” in terms of your gear being ready for duty, and “expectation” is all about having some sort of pre scouted plan in place as far as time of day, point of view, and conditions you need to work around. The new K Bridge does have a bit of vibration transmission from the BQE traffic, for instance, so… steps are taken.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The vantage point of these shots is roughly two miles from the Newtown Creek’s intersection with the East River. The original Penny Bridge landings at the end of Greenpoint’s Meeker Avenue and Blissville’s intersection of Laurel Hill Blvd. and Review Avenue are more or less at the center of the shot. The white tanks on the left hand, or Brooklyn side, are at Apollo Street. The green space on the right side of the shot is First Calvary Cemetery in LIC’s Blissville section. Manhattan is on the horizon, with the Empire State building prominently at center top.

Whew, this is probably the happiest I’ve been in a year or two. Thanks NYS DOT.


“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.

numerous odds

leave a comment »

Which side are you on, boy, which side are you on?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Happy Labor Day, although if you’re historically minded, you know that Labor Day isn’t really about celebration it’s about remembering blood spilt. Say “Sit down strike” or mention Frick, Carnegie, Rockefeller, the Pinkertons, or J.P. Morgan to a modern union worker and see if they spit at the ground and curse. They probably won’t.


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 2, 2019 at 12:00 pm

mysterious archways

with one comment

Kosciuszcko Bridge opening ceremony, in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

All the fancy people showed up along my beloved Newtown Creek on Wednesday. Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office had sent out the invitations, and I was lucky enough to receive one. Our Governor really knows how to put on a show, it should be mentioned, and what a show it was. The invitation discussed him “cutting the ribbon” on the deck of the brand new Kosciuszcko Bridge, and along with a few hundred onlookers and a gaggle of media people, that’s just what he did.

For a whole lot of Brooklyn and Queens people, this event signaled the end of a long process, including myself. I’ve been taking pictures of this operation for nearly a decade.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Documenting this project has been a long standing project of mine – this 2012 post tells you everything you could want to know about Robert Moses, Fiorella LaGuardia, and the origins of the 1939 model Kosciuszcko Bridge.

Just before construction started, I swept through both the Brooklyn and Queens sides of Newtown Creek in the area I call “DUKBO” – Down Under the Kosciuszcko Bridge Onramp. Here’s a 2014 post, and another, showing what things used to look like on the Brooklyn side, and one dating back to 2010, and from 2012 discussing the Queens side – this. Construction started, and this 2014 post offers a look at things.

There’s shots from the water of Newtown Creek, in this June 2015 post, and in this September 2015 post, which shows the bridge support towers rising. Additionally, this post from March of 2016 detailed the action on the Queens side. Most recently, here’s one from May of 2016, and one from June of the same year. Here’s one from August of 2016the December 2016 one, one from March of 2017 which discusses the demolition of the 1939 bridge.

Here’s a post showing what I saw during a pre opening walk through in early April of 2017, and the fanfare surrounding the opening of half of the new bridge in April of 2017, a walk through of the Brooklyn side job site in June of 2017. Here’ssome night shots from early July of 2017. A series of posts focused in on the removal of the central truss of the 1939 bridge from the summer of 2017 – a timelapse, some stills, and the barging out of the truss.

More recently, in late September of 2017, a final series of shots of the old bridge were captured in this post. Acquisition of a souvenir chunk of steel from the 1939 bridge was described in this post, and a video of the “energetic felling” of the approaches on October 1st was offered in this one. Still shots and views of the aftermath from the waters of Newtown Creek from later in the day on Oct. 1 are found in this posting, and the aftermath of the demolition as seen from Calvary Cemetery in LIC’s Blissville section in this post from October 5th. This post from December of 2017 closed out an event filled year in DUKBO, and a visit to the site at night is described in this March of 2018 post. Another progress report was offered in June of 2018. A nocturnal visit occurred in December of 2018, a short post from January of 2019, and also one from February of 2019. Most recently, in August of 2019, I made another night time visit.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There were speeches from familiar faces – NYS Assemblymembers Cathy Nolan and Joe Lentol spoke. The audience included a series of political “powers that be,” including political bosses like Frank Seddio and Congressman Greg Meeks. Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney was there, as were Council Members Steve Levin and Bob Holden. There were a bunch of politicians there whom I’ve never associated with Newtown Creek in the past, but there you are.

Andrew Cuomo draws a crowd, and he brought his Mom along as well.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Rain threatened, but the skies held out during the speech making section of the event. Experience has taught me not to sit down during these sort of things, as you get stuck in the chair and all of your photos will end up being from the same point of view. My constant milling about earned some “hairy eyeball” action from the dozens of NYS Troopers and Gubernatorial Security people, but they must’ve figured that a humble narrator was harmless.

Truth be told, I kept on thinking about how I was just standing there on the Brooklyn Queens Expressway.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

If you include planning and funding this project – decades in the making – the various elected officials finally gathered to cut the ceremonial ribbon on the final stage of the K Bridge project. The ceremony ended, although there would be a celebratory cocktail hour later that night, and the crowd began to disperse.

I didn’t take a single picture at the afterparty, btw., having decided that I just wanted to enjoy the moment for once. There was a light show highlighting the new bridge, and Billy Joel was simulcast from a live concert at Madison Square Garden. Mr. Joel mentioned the bridge, his affection for the Governor, and then played his anthemic “New York State of Mind” while the light show was presented.

Luckily, a friend gave me a ride home from Maspeth afterwards, and I didn’t have to walk or spend money on a cab.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The pedestrian and bicycle section of the Kosciuszcko Bridge is everything which I’ve been hoping it would be, visually speaking. One will be spending a LOT of time up there in the coming weeks as I’ve been hungering for unhurried access to this vantage point for literally years.

One made his way back to Laurel Hill Blvd. and eventually Astoria by walking northwards along it.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Unfortunately, I did have to hurry, as shortly after the ceremony ended, the clouds did indeed burst and rain began falling.

In actuality, it was more of precipitating mist when the photos above and below were captured. That’s when the clouds are scraping along the roof and tree tops and there aren’t raindrops – per se – but the air is full of droplets.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Yessiree, I’m going to be inhabiting this walkway for most of September. Can’t wait to do a walk through at night as well.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Frankly, it’s been a lucky stroke for me that this project has occurred practically in my back yard. Even more so that it crosses my beloved Newtown Creek.

Now… what’s next?


“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

August 30, 2019 at 11:05 am

%d bloggers like this: