The Newtown Pentacle

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Archive for the ‘Maspeth Creek’ Category

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

suggesting question

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Canada Goslings in industrial Maspeth.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Marching about recently, my path carried the camera past Maspeth Creek, which – as the name would imply – is in industrial Maspeth and is in fact a tributary of that lugubrious cataract of cautionary tales known to all simply as the “Newtown Creek.” Whilst scuttling past the Maspeth Creek waterway’s head waters, which flow out a sewer, these Canadian invaders were shifting from foot to foot in a manner which I did not like.

Geese, in general, are dicks. Canada Geese, in particular, are jerks as well as dicks.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The good news, for this dick specie, is that there’s now more of them. “Goslings” are what you call baby geese. While I was shooting this, one of the adults – I’m presuming it was the papa – was ambling towards me while sticking his tongue out. I once had to punch a goose in the face at one of the area cemeteries to ward off an attack. This particular paragon of poultry  was intent on killing me for wandering too close to a nest, I guess. For you PETA types out there, one tried every other recourse first including “flight” before “fight” became my only option. That “sumbitch” chased me half way across Calvary Cemetery before I had to vigorously assert my right to be unmolested with a closed fist.

Seriously, Geese are mean dicks, but they’re real cute when they’re babies.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The one who was messing with me the other day is the big one, at the back of the group in the shot above. I’m not sure if Maspeth Creek is in the 108th or the 104th precinct, but if anyone recognizes that goose I’d appreciate it if you called the NYPD tips line and let them know. I bet that its name is Claude or Jean or something… pfft… Canada.

Back in conventional reality, rather than within my inner dialogue about rude avian biota, the Canada Goose is one of the many, many birds that arrive at Newtown Creek each and year.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Newtown Creek, and all of NY Harbor, sits in the migratory Atlantic Flyover zone. Every year you get to see nestlings putting on weight and size all summer long around the creek. Towards mid August and late September, they’ll begin vacating the area for parts unknown, returning in late March and April.

There’s a bunch of them wallowing around in the toxic sediments of Maspeth Creek, in the shot above.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Most of what I look out for as a hazard around the Newtown Creek are trucks rather than birds, and while making my way home, one marveled at all the different kinds. Semis, packers, roll on and roll offs, panel, box, wreckers, concrete… I even saw a couple of crane trucks. Industrial Maspeth is lousy with that sort of thing. There’s trains, too.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Leaving the Maspeth area via 48th street, you cross under and over the Long Island Expressway while heading north into Sunnyside. I like to use this steel and concrete landmark, a corridor of the House of Moses, to mentally signal that I’ve left the Creeklands and reentered the world as it’s meant to be.

As in, if an aggressive goose showed his face around south Sunnyside, he’d soon find himself cooked.


Upcoming Tours and Events

June 22nd – The Birthplace of Mobil Oil: A Walking Tour
– with Newtown Creek Alliance.

Join NCA historian Mitch Waxman and NCA’s project manager Willis Elkins for walk through the birthplace of Mobil Oil, past the DEP’s largest Wastewater Treatment Plant and to the Kingsland Wildflowers green roof. The tour will also visit NCA’s Living Dock on the way; showcasing restoration efforts adjacent to major industrial operations and in the wake of legacies of pollution and neglect.
The tour will end at the 22,000 square foot Kingsland Wildflowers project, with panoramic views of the Newtown Creek and Manhattan skyline at sunset.

Tickets and more details
here.

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.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

June 20, 2018 at 11:00 am

border of

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Devastations, concrete and plastic.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Broken, abused, cast aside. That’s me. Like every other bit of wind blown trash in NYC, I find myself staring into the abyssal darkness which is the Newtown Creek. Poisoned, polluted, and abandoned. That’s me too.

Here in the wasteland, where dissolution and disease can be found, this is where I belong.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Shouting at bureaucrats, angrily decrying the injustices of municipal apportionment, demonstrating that the sky is indeed falling to those who can stop it. Demanding not justice, but a simple admission of culpability for the collapsing heavens. That’s me too. Doesn’t make me popular with officialdom, but there you are. Somebody has to do it, and as with a lot of other sections of my life – you gotta do whatcha gotta do.

Assailed from all sides, by do gooders who would rather complain than actually do anything to change this catastrophe we live in, by cocktail party scholastics, by the politically correct. That’s me too.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Periodically, the bile rises in my throat, and rage clouds my eyes. Rhetorical flourish and clever retort gives way to a growling and wild eyed sermon which demands acknowledgment that a dangerous storm is forming in front of the lucky recipient.  It is in these moments that I remind people, and myself, that I am – in fact – not a nice guy by nature and especially by nurture.

What would Superman do? That’s what pulls me back from the edge, when I remember what I aspire to, rather than what I am.

In fact, I can be quite an asshole when I don’t hold myself in check, and remind myself about Superman.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It’s at these times that a humble narrator picks his way over to his beloved Creek, musing on his private fantasies of visiting exquisite vengeance upon those who have angered him. It’s also when he finds himself thinking of himself in the “third person” and decides that it’s time to get a grip. Superman always keeps his grip, lest all those things which he gazes upon, and through (x-ray vision, which would be handy), burst into flame. He lives in a world made of paper, of course, but hey – you can have your Jesus, my ideal being and eidolon has heat vision and can fly. He’s also highly resistant to bullets and temperature extremes, but has an aversion to shiny green rocks.

It’s not so easy, living between my ears, but shiny green rocks bring me back to Newtown Creek.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

What this city needs is a good plague, I’ve always thought. That’s the sort of thing Superman never thinks. Newtown Creek, what it really needs are the direct attentions of Superman, but he’d probably avoid the place because it’s covered in shiny green rocks. Superman could probably solve every little Newtown Creek problem in an afternoon, mainly because there would be no one who could say “no” to him.

All Newtown Creek’s really got is me and a few of my friends, I’m afraid. It’s also likely where that plague mentioned above might come from.

We will have to do, until someone better comes along.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

December 4, 2015 at 11:00 am

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