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whirling fancy

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Thursday has stumbled in again.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One found himself in the “happy place,” as I refer to industrial Maspeth, during an extremely low tide. Pictured above is Maspeth Creek, with its exposed mounds of Black Mayonnaise. Maspeth Creek is one of the sections of the larger Newtown Creek which I’d like to see “delisted” as a navigable waterway (according to Coast Guard) and reclassified as an “environmental benefit” area. All of us at Newtown Creek Alliance can talk endlessly about the benefits that such a conversion would bring not just to the entire Newtown Creek waterway but also the industrial business zone surrounding it. Essentially, creating a tidal salt marsh environment here would be so beneficial that it could help offset the impact that the many, many truck based heavy industries of Maspeth create. A guy can dream, huh?

It was aromatic, to say the least, when this shot was gathered.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A few blocks away, at the Maspeth Plank Road site, you can actually see how low this tide was. It looks like you could just walk out and touch the wooden artifacts of the bridge which once crossed the Newtown Creek between Furman Island and Greenpoint’s Maspeth Avenue, but I would have sunk to mid thigh into the mire. Normally, all of that pebbly sediment is sitting under a few feet of water.

Wish I could say that I planned on hitting this low tide, but it was pure luck and coincidence – I was just out taking a long walk in a place with a virtually zero night time population.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

For the photography curious, these are all handheld shots. The newish camera I’m sporting these days, the Canon R6, coupled with a couple of fairly “bright” lenses is allowing me to leave the tripod at home when I don’t intend on doing either long exposures or any of the fancy pants focus stacking stuff. I’m not leaving all that behind, of course, but it’s been great fun to leave HQ with just two prime lenses and a camera in tow.

That, lords and ladies, is your Newtown Pentacle Thursday installment.


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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.

ominous things

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Tuesday’s are the most malign days of the week.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That puddle there is permanent. I’ve walked through this section of Maspeth during summertime drought conditions when it was hot enough to bake bread on the sidewalk and that puddle permanently persists. I’m told this is one of the lowest spots in NYC, as far as it’s relationship to sea level, which I’ve been known to describe this spot as being “the bottom of a soup bowl” that’s formed by the high grounds surrounding the alluvial flood plane of the legendary Newtown Creek.

There’s a sewer grate under the puddle somewhere, one which is choked by concrete and street garbage, which is meant to drain directly into the Maspeth Creek tributary of the larger Newtown Creek waterway without ever visiting a sewer plant. This is puddle is more or less on the spot where the town docks of Maspeth would have once been found, where DeWitt Clinton dreamt up the Erie Canal. I can see through time, but time is only a construct, as everything is actually happening all at once. We live in an explosion, and there are puddles.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Puzzling statement, no? Well – ponder it, bro. I don’t want to get into chemical decay and quantum states in today’s post. Puddles, that’s my bag, bro.

The big plumbing warehouse whose property sits behind both the eternal puddle, and a fence, used to be the United Enameling and Stamping Company. They made bathtubs and sinks and toilets and the sort of stuff that connected such items to water supply systems as well as enameled cooking equipment. Their huge parking lot used to be filled with dipping tanks, which were filled with esoteric compounds and cancer juices used in their manufacturing processes.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Next door to the plumbing warehouse is a concrete company – Ferrara Bros. You see their characteristic orange trucks making deliveries all over the City. This isn’t Ferrara’s only corporate footprint, here in industrial Maspeth. I think they’ve got a couple more giant factories in other boroughs, possibly another one in eastern Queens but I’m guessing there and can’t be bothered to find out more.

By my count, there are three big concrete processors around Newtown Creek. Ferrara Bros. here in Maspeth, NYCON at Dutch Kills in LIC, and Tec-Crete Transit mix over in Ridgewood. There’s others, of course, but that’s the three who more or less touch the shoreline of the lugubrious Newtown Creek.

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, January 18th. 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

January 19, 2021 at 1:00 pm

seething around

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Maspeth Monday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One recently found himself scuttling about in industrial Maspeth, and waiting for the burning thermonuclear eye of god itself to dip behind Manhattan. Having a bit of time to kill, a fairly generalized “wander” was instituted, and I soon found myself hanging around a certain railroad intersection hoping to catch a shot or two of a passing freight train. Whereas I’m often quite lucky when it comes to maritime transport, I seem to be possessed of zero ability to predict when a train might be coming. C’est la vie, ay?

At any rate, Rust Street is still there, although it might be called 56 drive at the location where this photo was captured.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The wandering on this particular outing was intentionally wide ranging. One tends to get hooked into walking certain routes due to their efficiencies. That causes me to see and photograph the same things, over and over. Now… part of the “Mitch Method” does involve finding a composition and then visiting it repeatedly during different climatological conditions, times of the day, and seasons of the year seeking an iconic variation of the shot. That’s where the photographic “intentionality” I talk about comes into the equation, but I’ll also rattle on and on about “serendipity” as well. You want the latter, go wandering without a plan whereas for the former – plan. Let Queens show you what she wants you to see if serendipity is on the menu.

I did have a plan on this outing, incidentally, but I also had a couple of hours to kill before sunset. This is one of the best times of the year in NYC for morning and afternoon light, given the relative angle of God’s burning thermonuclear eye to the Metropolis. Take advantage, I say.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Industrial Maspeth hugs the northern shore of Newtown Creek, and is punctured through in several places by freight train tracks. It’s a central node on the distribution network for foodstuffs, construction equipment and supplies, and there’s a lot of light industrial activity as well. There’s a substantial footprint hereabouts enjoyed by the waste handling industry – both private carters and municipal DSNY operations are extant. Overall, the neighborhoods surrounding both sides of Newtown Creek host businesses that represent about 17,000 blue collar jobs. I’d be guessing if I tried to break that down into Brooklyn versus Queens, as if that actually mattered.

More tomorrow at this – your Newtown Pentacle.

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, October 12th. 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

October 12, 2020 at 11:00 am

taking form

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Industrial Maspeth, how I’ve missed you…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Recent adventure found a humble narrator stumbling and scuttling along the broken sidewalks of industrial Maspeth one recent evening. One gathered much in the way of chagrin and suspicion from the various wage slave security guards who sit within heated boxes while watching television, but a wave or a smile sufficed to scare them back into their labor cubes. As a rule, I do not trespass, instead I need to be invited in like a vampire. Saying that, the security services of Newtown Creek’s industrial hinterlands are slipshod and the only thing preventing my egress through the properties these box dwellers vouchsafe is the vampire rule stated above.

I’ve got a lot of personal rules which govern my behavior. If my natural inclination was that of a good man, I wouldn’t need so many rules. Concurrently, Government officials and employees – who are historically given to corruption and epic levels of indifferent and institutional incompetence – operate under an even more extensive set of rules for the same reason, and must legally stand exposed when queried about policies and budgets. Except when it comes to “security,” which exists in a black box which neither the public nor the press is ever allowed to peer into or critique. I refer to the Homeland Security budget as “Schrödinger’s Billions.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Time and opportunity is what the shot above represents, and I’d ask you where the Homeland Security money supplied to the MTA by the National Security establishment have ended up, accordingly. You’ve all likely seen the video of graffiti covered subway trains in recent weeks. Time and opportunity are well represented there as well. Remember, when the Government tells you that they cannot discuss how they are spending your tax dollars because of security concerns, they are pissing it away on speculative technologies and militaristic toys. NYPD – for example – has a couple of tanks, one of which lives in a garage on 22nd street in Manhattan. I’ve seen the cops washing it with a garden hose and soapy mops. Try and get a picture of them washing the thing, which occurs on the sidewalk, and you’ll get to meet a lot of cops. Tanks for the memories, huh?

Mobile oppression platforms like the cop tanks, or the fleet of airborne drones they also possess, are overkill for the specific mission of the department. Some chief or other brass wanted them, found some budgetary angle to buy and maintain them, and furthered the paramilitarization of the gendarme accordingly. No money for a motion detector triggered camera at grade level rail track ways in Queens? Ran out of budget for hiring some schmuck to lock the gates at Sunnyside Yards? Can’t keep a group of hooligans from painting an entire Subway train in the dead of night in supposedly secure tunnels under Manhattan?

If you see something, say something, right? Not if it involves black budget expressions of the Homeland Security budget.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Bah.

Industrial Maspeth, particularly at night, is my happy place. It represents truth and a lack of varnish to me. Pictured above is one of the theoretically lowest spots in the entire City, in terms of relationship to sea level. A concrete plant just up the block has a steady stream of water charged up with dissolved cement flowing out of it, which gravity carries to the sewer grate at the bottom of that puddle you see. The sewer is caked with concrete, and plugged up most of the time. The sewer discharges directly into Maspeth Creek, when it’s flowing. That’s why I don’t do anything about the concrete people’s effluent and flow. Someday, all the poisons in that mud will hatch out, but not on my watch.

Today I’m just here to capture photos of the wonder of it all.


“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

February 3, 2020 at 11:00 am

immediately arranged

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Maspeth Creek, in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There was an unusually low tide last Sunday night, discovered upon my arrival at the Maspeth Creek tributary of the larger Newtown Creek, and if one were to describe the exposed mud flats as being aromatic… that would be a bit of an understatement. Luckily, a humble narrator was alone in the concrete devastations, which provided for an opportunity for derring do and risky behavior. Soon, I found myself perched on a crumbling concrete ledge with a tripod and camera and a two story drop into the stinking mud just one stumble away, with a chain link fence directly behind that my free hand was clutched to. You want to be, always, on the other side of that fence.

This is exactly the sort of thing which I advise others not to do, as it’s stupid and foolhardy, but… I got my shots.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Once upon a time and just a few blocks away from this spot, DeWitt Clinton sat on his porch and watched a meandering Maspeth Creek flow past his house, when the waterway was navigible half of the way to Elmhurst, and dreamt up the Erie Canal. In the late 19th and early 20th century, Maspeth Creek was described by contemporaries as a “stinking swamp, surrounded by pestilential industries and ugly to the ultimate degree.” By the time WW2 came along, this was where you’d access the bulkheads of the United Enameling and Stamping Co.

In the first quarter of the 20th century, Maspeth Creek was canalized and truncated, with its eastward or landward side being entirely taken over by a large combined sewer outfall concrete vault, and its once upon a time course towards Elmhurst buried into a sewer. In fact, the concrete ledge from which these shots were gathered is the roof of that sewer vault, known to Newtown Creek enthusiasts and Government regulators alike as “NC-077.” This drain reportedly allows about 289 million gallons of untreated wastewater a year to saturate into the tributary and deposit filth into it.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There were all sorts of critters moving around in the darkness; Geese, Rats, and Raccoons were all personally spotted, but there were other unseen but hinted at forms of life in both the water column and crawling about and along the shorelines. Something fairly large was crashing around in the bush found on the southern bulkheads, but that could have just been some of the Raccoons, or maybe some Opossums. I did not observe anything with tentacles, but I’ve always had certain suspicions about Maspeth Creek, revolving around old Lenape tales suggesting this area as “not being right.”

As far as what might be tunneling, wriggling, or sliding about in the exposed Black Mayonnaise sediment beds… who can guess, all there is, that might be buried down there?


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Written by Mitch Waxman

November 13, 2018 at 11:00 am

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