The Newtown Pentacle

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Archive for the ‘DUPBO’ Category

bright stone

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Tugboat action on part of America’s Maritime Superhighway, Newtown Creek, in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Chickity check yo ass, if you think that new school Newtown Creek is a punk in New York Harbor. Obama and his crew down in D.C. call the Creek a “SMIA” or “Significant Maritime Infrastructure Area.” Dope tugboats can be seen rolling through here all the time.

That’s the Dann Towing company’s Ruby M slipping by and flying its colors.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Awesome, Ruby M is a 48 year old crusher, bro. She’s a hundred feet long with a beam of 28 feet, and Dann’s Ruby M only needs 12 feet of draft to fire up those 1,750 HP twin steel screws. She was crunching a fuel barge down the Creek, but needed the bitchin’ Pulaski Bridge to pop open before she could thrash through to the east.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Woe to you, oh earth and sea, if you don’t acknowledge the inherent wonders of Newtown Creek. Above, the latest entrant in the Creek’s pageant of wonders enters the frame as the tug Helen Laraway plies its gelatinous waters. A twin screw, steel hulled push boat, Helen Laraway was built in 1957 and can muster up 2,000 HP to power its twin screws.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Newtown Creek once hosted the most valuable maritime industrial bulkheads on the entire Earth. The unfortunate truth of the modern age is that only a small percentage of the owners of the waterfront properties hereabouts use their bulkheads. A single barge carries the equivalent cargo of 38 heavy trucks.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

July 28, 2016 at 11:00 am

tropical marks

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A quick look inside the Circus Warehouse in LIC.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

At the Newtown Creek side of LIC’s Vernon Blvd., you’ll find the Circus Warehouse. I’ve been desirous of doing a long post on them for a while, but this ain’t that. The organization instructs and trains for the athletic side of the circus world, teaching acrobatics and rope training. Occasion found me sheltering from the cold in there recently, for reasons which I’ll describe in a post next week.

Suffice to say that for the 15 minutes or so that I was in the space, I cracked out a few shots of interesting people doing cool things – what more could the wandering photographer ask for?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There’s a level of physical strength on display in the shot above which astounds. We’re I to attempt something like this, I’d experience a body wide cramp which would collapse into a singularity and a black hole would form.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Circus Warehouse offers all sorts of programs and classes, which the athletic and physically sound types amongst you might consider. They are based in a 1960’s era warehouse that sits on the former Pigeon Street Yard of the LIRR in LIC, at the Vernon Blvd. street end where the Vernon Avenue Bridge once stood.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

February 17, 2016 at 11:00 am

occasional indifference

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It’s all so depressing.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Not too much to report to you today, Lords and Ladies. The hermitage season has certainly seen me shooting a whole lot of macro shots of foodstuffs, but otherwise a humble narrator has been stuck in the house nursing a wounded shoulder and disabled right arm. Wish I could describe some outré tale about the infirmity, but just chalk it up to age, and the “pain squirrel.” One has hit that section of life wherein something hurts every day, and whichever branch of the bodily tree that the pain squirrel has decided to inhabit that morning is where you’ll find the offending sensation.

Aches and pains are just a part of life, like taxes and a lonely death, after all.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The shoulder thing has been a “mofo” however. I’m right hand dominant, and unfortunately the limb that hand dangles off of is the affected one. My left arm is used as little more than a paper weight, and the right one has been nigh useless for about a week. If this sort of thing was occurring in my left arm, of course, I’d be in a hospital and under the care of a cardiologist. Saying that, this has little to do with the heart and circulatory system, instead it’s a pinched nerve which is slowly unpinching. Opiate pain medications were required just to accomplish a few hours of sleep when the condition first manifested, and one was forced to fashion himself a sling. Shoulder and tricep were dancing around unbidden within the skinvelope, my bicep muscle felt as if it was being eaten by a horde of beetles, and my elbow was reporting back to the brain that it had become hollow. Additionally, my wrist was of the belief that it had become packed in ice.

The dog was quite concerned, but she made a play to assume the alpha/dominar position in our household pack.  What can I say, she’s a dog, that’s what they do when they sense weakness. In the case of my dog, of course, rebellion took the form of her staring at me while she “woofed.” Her play ended when Our Lady of the Pentacle got home, since we all know who’s really in charge around here.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Accordingly, I’ve got zilch as far as new stuff to show you this week. Today, and for the next couple of days, it’s going to be shots from the archives – such as the twilight shot of the Sunnyside Yards above. Pain Squirrel and canid rebellion notwithstanding, the show must go on.

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serious bubbles

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It’s all so depressing.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A somewhat random series of images greets you today. As endlessly mentioned in recent posts, I’m bored boredity bored bored, tired of winter already, and literally dying for something interesting that isn’t horrible to happen. This horsey ride over in Sunnyside… I wish they made adult versions of these things so I could at least have something to look forward to after the goal of achieving fifty cents was accomplished.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Spotted this arrangement over in LIC, on Jackson Avenue. I don’t think that the Union guys consciously create compositions when they’re doing their thing, but they are often responsible for moments of true rapture.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The literal dust bin of history was stumbled across at the Vernon Blvd. street end in LIC’s DUPBO, where some thoughtful soul had disposed of a series of history textbooks and what seemed like an entire library of Time Life WW2 hard cover photo books.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

While I was there, in LIC I mean, exploitation of one of the many holes in the fencing of the LIRR Hunters Point yard was undertaken. I’ve got a catalog of these holes and POV’s, incidentally, which includes the entire Sunnyside Yards and follows the Montauk line all the way back to Ridgewood. For those of you who live in Bushwick, Ridgewood, or East Williamsburg – two words – Scott Avenue (bet Randolph and Meserole).

Trust me, but be there early or late.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

For some reason, I’m fascinated by laundromats at the moment, a subject which I’m planning on discussing with my team of physicians. This one is in Park Slope, where I somehow ended up one day.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Over at Central Park Zoo, there are Grizzly Bears. Their names are Betty and Veronica, and I have no idea which one this is. Where’s Archie, ask I?

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Written by Mitch Waxman

February 4, 2016 at 11:00 am

anonymous visitor

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Bulkheads of the Newtown Creek, in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Last week, you saw a post about a Hindu statue found in a fairly obscure spot in Maspeth along the Newtown Creek at this, your Newtown Pentacle. Mentioned in that post, a couple of my Newtown Creek chums and I were out in a small boat and performing a bulkhead survey. What that means, and it’s something we Newtown Creek Alliance types do periodically, is that we do a close up observation of the armored shoreline. Armored is apt, as the Newtown Creek’s littoral zone is almost entirely covered in a variety of maritime structures which are referred to as “bulkheads.”

Some are designed for docking ships and boats, or tying up barges, others simply as barriers.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Most of the shoreline along the Creek has lost its occupation over the last century, as business adopted a truck and automobile based model for shipping cargo. Lack of maintenance and the corrosive forces of nature have caused the bulkhead structures all over the Newtown Creek to decay. Some have collapsed. When a bulkhead has actually fallen apart, as seen above and below, it is considered to have become “habitat” by environmental officialdom.

Close inspection reveals what sort of life forms have taken up habitation in the cracks and fissures of what were once amongst the most valuable maritime bulkheads on Earth.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

All sorts of colony critters – lichens, molds, algae – are seen, for instance. They infest the flood zone, which is exposed and hidden by the tidal cycle. Wooden bulkheads along the Creek generally date back to the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries. This wood would have been treated with something like Creosote Oil to guard against infiltration by insects and smaller parasites. Creosote Oil was a by product of the gasification of Coal, one of the many, many commercial products which emanated from the pursuit of so called “Natural Gas.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A bit higher up in the tide line, and a rip rap shoreline. Rip Rap is basically a series of small boulders and large rocks which are dumped along shorelines. The good news about this sort of tidal liner is that it offers a tremendous amount of surface area for the aforementioned colony creatures to attach to, as well as macro organisms like barnacles, clams, and oysters to grab onto. The bad news is that there’s a lot of concrete included amongs the rocks and boulders, and as concrete decays the lime in it causes the water’s ph to rise and become acidic.

There’s also lots of “mystery pipes” that emerge from the shoreline hereabouts, as depicted above.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The National Grid company, which operates an LNG distribution and storage operation at the former Brooklyn Union Gas Manufactured Gas Plant site in Greenpoint, doesn’t allow docking at its bulkheads. Accordingly, they erected a wooden shield all along the edge of their property. This sort of thing is actually a gigantic box driven into the mud that is filled with rip rap. The wooden planks provide ample attachment sites for colony critters and filter feeders.

This is a part of the Newtown Creek which is referred to as “The Turning Basin” and it is an engineered wide spot designed to allow a tug and articulated barge enough room and depth to be able to safely reverse course on the otherwise narrow waterway.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A close up of a colony of Mussels attached to the National Grid bulkhead. One of NCA’s science people, a certain radical biologist, coined the term “Kidneys of the Creek” for filter feeders like this. Each mussel is able to process “x” number of gallons of water, and remove “y” amount of solute from it. Of course, this means that the Mussel itself becomes a concentrated blob of toxicity, but the sort of Mussels you commonly encounter on Newtown Creek aren’t the species which are part of the human food chain.

On the Creek, it’s the fish and crabs. The fish and crabs which people catch, and then eat, that they gather from Newtown Creek. Yes, you did just read that. The Federal EPA has confirmed this fact.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

You encounter masonry rising out of the water, which is capped by concrete, in many spots. This particular spot is about three miles from the East River. There are lots and lots of apertures in the shoreline here, and lightless chambers and flooded voids which recede beneath the “land’s” surface. The word “land” is in quotation as the area which touches the water, with just a few exceptions, was primevally a swamp or at best a flooded marsh. There is no true land, certainly on the Queens side, for a good half mile back from the present day shoreline. It’s all landfill, of the 18th and 19th century variety mainly – rubble, domestic and agricultural waste, ashes and cinders from furnaces and residential hearths. The areas around Grand Avenue, Maspeth Creek, and Dutch Kills, were largely reclaimed in the early 20th century and the ground is filled with more modern crap.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Nearby the Maspeth Avenue Plank Road, Brooklyn side, a bulkhead of the same variety enjoyed by National Grid is in the process of collapsing and you can discern the internal structure of the thing. A creosote oil treated wooden box filled with rip rap. Self seeded, the plants you see are thorned and I can attest that those spikes will easily find your tender skin if you venture close enough.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A little further to the west, on the Brooklyn side foundations of what was once called Penny Bridge, nearby the pipe which ExxonMobil returns water to the Creek which was extracted from their Greenpoint Oil Spill remediation efforts. I cannot tell you why anybody decided to hang razor barbed wires from bits of cord, but this improvised filtering technology does seem to be removing “floatable” pollution from the water in an admirable fashion.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A Bulkhead Survey is something we Newtown Creek Alliance folks do from time to time, in pursuance of our mission to “reveal, restore, revitalize” the waterway. It’s a lot more fun than sitting in a bunch of meetings and arguing with regulators and corporate types, I can tell you. We don’t do the former it all that often, whereas the latter seems to be at least once every couple of weeks, but there you go.

My job in this sort of endeavor is to sit sideways in the boat and take a series of pictures, one shot is popped off every time I count to five mississippi, depending on how fast the boat is moving.

Ideally, we go out at low tide, when all the poisons hidden in the mud hatch out and stand revealed beneath the burning thermonuclear eye of God itself – along the lugubrious Newtown Creek.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

December 28, 2015 at 11:00 am

continuous system

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Holiday pretty pictures, in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s the Long Island Railroad crossing Borden Avenue in LIC in the shot above, which was captured around ten years ago. I take a lot of pictures of trains, mind you, but the one above remains one of my favorites. It’s number 401, btw.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Number 420 was observed at the Sunnyside Yards’s Harold Interlocking not too long ago, and funnily enough it was smoking up. If you don’t get the joke, just google 420 for what it means to our inebriated friends.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

411 doesn’t just provide directory assistance, it also transits from the Hunters Point yard in LIC to the Hunters Point stop at the southern end of the Sunnsyide Yards – the only place in the entire 183 square acre rail yard where you can actually board a train.

Back Monday with some slightly more substantive content, and may all your Friday’s be black.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

November 27, 2015 at 11:00 am

mountain folk

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The whole horde of loathsome sentience came to Greenpoint recently.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One received an email recently, from the “powers that be” in lower Manhattan, which announced the most super duper secret in the whole wide world. The Mayor himself would be coming to Greenpoint, to make a major announcement about a very, very important thing. “Ok”, says a humble narrator. I mean… it’s Newtown Creek he’s coming to… I had to go.

Now, before I continue, allow me to lay down a few ground rules for this post.

a) I’ve never been a sports guy. While the other kids were trading baseball cards, I was collecting politician cards. “I’ll trade you two near mint 1985 Donald Manes’s for that 1993 rookie year Chuck Schumer” – that’s my sort of thing. I know a bunch of the people in these shots from Newtown Creek “stuff” – like Diana Reyna, who is pictured in the shot above. All the politics and policy stuff notwithstanding, there’s a lot of genuinely nice people involved in public life – and Diana Reyna is one of them.

There’s also certain elected officials who can best be described as being a “bag of dicks that talks.”

b) the press conference was announcing a policy intended to protect the M1 and IBZ zones from being overrun by hotels and storage facilities. As policy goes, it doesn’t entirely suck. The idea is that any new hotel or storage facility will now have to approved by some city council led process which hands off even more power to the individual council members, and the speaker, than they already possess. There’s also some “yada yada” about money for training industrial workers of the future – that sort of thing.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

c) I’ve been following the Mayor’s career since shortly after he stopped aiding, abetting, and providing comfort to America’s enemies in Nicuaragua back in the 1980’s. I watched him during his years on the council, noted his turn at public advocate, and thoroughly enjoyed the campaign he ran in 2013 in which 73.15% of the 1,087,710 eligible voters who cast a ballot gave him what he calls his mandate.

d) There are 4.3 million eligible voters in New York City, so remember that the Mayor’s “mandate” represents, in actuality, 73% of roughly 24% of the electorate. Suffice to say, and for those of you who follow my Twitter stream this will not be a surprise, I’m not a fan of this adminstration and I don’t have any Bill de Blasio cards in my collection. He’s kind of the Pete Rose of politics – you can’t deny his record, but…

e) Everything that follows is heavily inflected with sarcasm, written in a mocking tone, and designed to make the Mayor seem churlish, dishonest, and strange. I really don’t like this Mayorality, and the creeping entropy which is nibbling its way back into the very fiber of our municipality which the adminstration coddles. If you want a straight “journalistic” kind of thing on this topic, google it and you’ll find Marcia Kramer from CBS throwing him shade, or any of the other press people’s straight up reportage of what was in the press release that was handed out. I have to say that, because the de Blasio people are notoriously lacking in the sense of humor category, and this post is going all tangential on me as I’m writing it.

f) I’m actually registered as a Democrat, something I felt forced to do as my former status as an “independent” kept me from voting in primaries. If NYC had open primaries, I’d likely be independent again. My politics are odd, can be somewhat severe, and hard to fit into any box manufactured much later than the late 60’s – when I was manufactured, coincidentally. I mention this only so you don’t think this post is some sort of partisan “party thing.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One found it funny, actually, that the spot chosen to make this announcement about saving industrial zones from development and the pressures of the real estate market occurred in North Brooklyn, with Newtown Creek and Tower Town in Long Island City as backdrop. I found it humorous when passing tugs, and locomotives moving along the Queens side, interrupted the Mayor’s speech with industrial noise and distracted him.

Amusing as well, the fact that we were at the Newtown Creek superfund site, which is on the same Federal list that the Mayor fought to keep the Gowanus Canal from being named to several years ago.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One found it bizarre to hear the Mayor decry the power and reach of the Real Estate Industrial Complex, the very “powers that be” whom he has enjoyed a long relationship with that have reduced the amount of market rate housing in Brooklyn, and New York City as a whole, creating the so called “crisis” he has to solve. As responsible as any in the government for the destruction, dismantling, and gentrification of the industrial zones in South Brooklyn during his time in the City Council, the Mayor has long been allied with real estate interests like Bruce Ratner and the Toll Brothers.

He pushed through the decking of the Atlantic Yards for one, a project which still has not yielded “affordable housing” or “community amenities” or anything other than a basketball stadium and a couple of luxury towers which rise above it. For the other, he fought tooth and nail against the Gowanus Canal being named to the Superfund list.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Feckless, the Mayor has announced his intentions to deck over the Sunnyside Yards here in Queens in his mad quest to build 200,000 units of “affordable housing” before he leaves office – which God willing will happen during the next election cycle with the job unfinished. What he doesn’t mention is that much of that “affordable housing” will be incorporated into a far larger build out, using ratios like 60/40 or 70/30 for representing the number of luxury/affordable units found therein. Also, “affordable” means a one bedroom at north of $2,500 a month.

Cynically, his plan involves no new infrastructure – subways, fire, police, or sewer. Ten pounds of people in a five pound bag, indeed. The developments themselves will enjoy long periods of tax free existence, subsidies, and no interest municpal loans which will rob the “city of the future” of any chance to actually pay for the municipal services required to sustain itself. At Atlantic Yards, there is a 99 year tax forebearance on the part of the City which is enjoyed by the Stadium and luxury towers.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A “PINO” or Progressive in Name Only, the Mayor likens himself to LaGuardia and the Roosevelts.

He seeks to stride the national stage, and would do so – he claims – if only the world would listen to him without interrupting. LaGuardia, with Robert Moses, built the highways, tunnels, parks, firehouses, hospitals, libraries, schools, and police stations first. Exurb neighborhoods like Flatbush and Sunnyside bulked up from sleepy hamlets to bustling urban centers when mass transportation became available, not before. You don’t build the housing first, and then hope for the next guy to connect all the dots.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I’m sure the Mayor is a very nice fellow, and honestly believes he is doing something grand and noble.

I’ve been asking this about him for years though – does he seem like the kind of guy whom you’d trust with something in your personal life that was important? Your wife is pregnant and just about due and you have to leave town on a business trip – is Bill the guy you ask to take her to the hospital? If Rahm Emmanuel of Chicago was lonely, and called Bill in the middle of the night, would he just let it go to voicemail?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Blogging is a lot more fun than journalism, incidentally, as modern journalists aren’t allowed to have opinions. They have to strike a line defined by lawyers and corporatists. The elected officials can, and will, turn access on and off to entire media organizations if they feel that they were treated badly. Accordingly, modern day journalists can’t report the “inside baseball” on these characters, as their entire operation will suffer the payback. They don’t have the budget, frankly, and modern news isn’t about in depth institutional memory anymore. It about forcing some good looking girl to stand out in the middle of a hurricane at Rockaway Beach.

I have no budget, actually, and it pisses me off that the mainstream guys and gals (with a few exceptions, like Marcia Kramer) who do don’t poke at the electeds with a stick often enough.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There were a whole crew of camera people and reporters, an entourage that follows the big fellow around the City as he makes his rounds. The elected officials all came to the mike, one by one, to say how great the “Save Industry” plan is and how needed it was. The big crew who were at the podium at the beginning of the event began to peter out, and after Assemblyman Lentol of Greenpoint said his peace, the Mayor announced to the third estate that Hizzonner would be willing to answer questions which were “on topic.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This tactic is often employed by the de Blasio adminstration, incidentally. “On topic” indicates that the Mayor isn’t interested in discussing the issues or problems which bedevil him, rather it’s meant to be a continuation of the “speechifying” portion of the event during which he can amplify his “message.” This is something which the third estate actually does protest in vociferous tone. Recently, to counter the charges of evasiveness which members of the press have accused him of, the Mayor has instituted “town hall” meetings. A recent one held in Queens saw an audience which was composed only of his supporters, all of whom had been vetted by a local councilman.

Needless to say, the Town Hall was a ribald success, according to City Hall.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

So, that’s the post about the time that the Mayor came to Newtown Creek in Greenpoint to announce a very, very important thing. This post is emblematic of the Mayor’s problem, by the way. No matter how good or bad the policy is, he’s always in the way of it. The guy could have improved sliced bread, but you’d be suspicious of “why” he was tinkering with baked goods and discover that he’s had a life long relationship with a bagel consortium or something who were early contributors to his campaign.

I wonder what this industrial zone protection thing is actually about – as in who it is really designed for rather than who it’s said to benefit. Were there that many hotels opening in industrial neighborhoods that it required the “full court press” from City Hall? Define what you mean by “hotel”? Who benefits from this? Who loses? Can the City still continue to place homeless shelters in industrial zones? What about “single room occupancy” and other “short stay” apartments?

Also, if industrial zones are going to be protected, what about the one adjoining the Sunnyside Yards?

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

November 17, 2015 at 11:00 am

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