The Newtown Pentacle

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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

dazzling violet

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Thursday, they’s.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

After the whole Staten Island Ferry leg of a recent day was over (described earlier this week), getting back home to the rolling hills of almond eyed Astoria involved using the NYC Ferry Astoria line. Even pre pandemic, one preferred this mode of transit to the hurtling metal boxes moving through the rotting concrete of buried tunnels variety, and prefer it even more so after the emergence of the virus. One of the stops offered by the ferry service is at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, which is where I cracked out the shot above.

Yeah, I was intentionally trying to get a bit minimalist with these three. Artsy fartsy.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One wishes that East River water was as clear as glass, and that we would be able to peer downwards and see all the wonders down there. Just in the shot above, you’d see gas pipelines and electrical conduits, an enormous pipe carrying Manhattan’s sewage to Greenpoint, and theoretically a long rock mound or berm which the Subway and Long Island Railroad tunnels are armored against the tide and other elemental forces with. There would be hundreds of conduit pipes carrying electrical and communications wires as well, and there’s likely a few unplanned features down there involving vehicles and household appliances which found their way into the water somehow. I’m told by professional divers, however, that the East River has so much solute suspended in the water column that you literally cannot see your hand in front of your face once you are a meter or two below the surface. They work by touch and feel, in absolute darkness, these divers.

Who can guess, though, all there is that might be buried down there?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Another stop on the Astoria line is found at Roosevelt Island, right under mighty Queensboro. Luckily, just as the boat arrived in the shadow of the great bridge, the Roosevelt Island Tram was seen dangling from its harness of transport wires.

What fun.

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 5th. 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 8, 2020 at 11:00 am

gray veined

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Friday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One last shot of the NYC DEP’s aeration system at Newtown Creek’s East Branch in operation, with the MTA’s fortress like counting house in the background.

That’s one of the facilities which the transit agency uses to count the money from bus boxes and subway token booth collections. I’ve been told that workers who do this within the fortress are compelled to wear jumpsuits with padlocks on the zipper to discourage theft. The only theft allowed at MTA is at Jay Street in Brooklyn, or in Albany’s corridors of power.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Leaving Brooklyn, reentering Queens, one last look at the venerable Grand Street Bridge was enacted. This span is going to be replaced in the next few years, and there’s a considerable amount of work that the NYC DOT needs to do before that process can fully begin. There’s a long list of weekends and evenings during which the bridge will be closed to both vehicular traffic and to pedestrian or bicycle access this autumn and winter, so if you cross it on the regular like I do – plan alternate routes.

Industrial Maspeth, which I’ve long described as my happy place, was echoing with Mexican music on this particular night. One found himself pursuing the sound, which led me towards the Haberman section of the Lower Montauk tracks maintained by the Long Island Railroad.

It sounded great.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I won’t snitch on the various illegal parties, raves, concerts, and gatherings I’ve witnessed in the industrial zone during the pandemic months. As an old fart, I’ve actually been enjoying the opportunity to spend a lot of quality time at home with Our Lady of the Pentacle. We’ve been cooking at home, spending leisurely and sometimes boozy nights talking about things which concern and inform our days, and in general making the best of it all. My sympathies during this interval have been applied to those who are going it alone, and to the young.

I cannot imagine what it’s been like to be in your late teens or early twenties and endlessly trapped in the house with your parents. Somewhere out there – hidden in the preternatural darkness of the happy place, young people were finding ways to enjoy themselves.

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.

was whining

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Thursday’s sextuplet.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Have you ever encountered a standing wall of sound so intense that your visual field begins to narrow? One which causes your teeth to hurt? How about one which is actually painful to be in the way of? Well, if you desire this sort of novel experiential stimulus, I’d suggest paying a visit to the Grand Street Bridge on a warmish evening when the NYC Department of Environmental Protection has its aeration systems for the Newtown Creek operating.

The pump house for this ill conceived system is nearly a half mile away, across the water in Maspeth, and is the latest shape which environmental pollution has taken here at the fabulous Newtown Creek.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Looking westwards from the Grand Street Bridge, you’ll notice schools of predatory fish splashing about in the lit up area of the shot above. The aeration system is theoretically operated for the benefit of benthic organisms like these. In actuality, it’s to comply with a court order that the DEP is forced to oblige due to their releases of billions of gallons of untreated sewage into the waterway, which carry a bacterial charge so intense that the microorganisms contained therein consume all the oxygen from the water column which in turn suffocates the fish.

Not dumping raw sewage into the water? That’s crazy. Build a multi million dollar aeration system that generates jet engine levels of noise to overcome your inability to fulfill the mission laid out for you in the NYC charter? Check!

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One has been working around several different photographic approaches to capturing the aeration system, with its churning tumult and maelstrom of surface whipped mucosa meringue for a while. I finally hit upon the right exposure triangle and settings, one which illustrates what’s happening here. These shots are from the Grand Street Bridge, looking more or less along the Brooklyn/Queens border towards Ridgewood, Bushwick, and Maspeth.

Notice that frothy meringue? Sewerage, whipped.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The particular section of Newtown Creek you’re looking at here is called “The East Branch” and one arm of it used to flow east all the way to Onderdonk Avenue. Today, it’s truncated by a gigantic seven vaulted sewer that drains neighborhoods as far away as Canarsie into the canalized waterway.

Look at all the energy being pumped into the water here. That’s the Department of Environmental Protection at work, burning fossil fuels to power electrical generators to overcome the effect of the 2.1 billion gallons of raw sewage they release into these waters annually, while producing a standing wall of noise louder than that of an approaching subway train. Dichotomy much?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Makes for interesting pictures though, huh?

Here’s one of my urban parables – I used to have neighbors that were Police Cadets. Like all young cops, they liked swinging their dicks around when I or any of the other neighbors were doing something they didn’t like. When they would have a party however, it was mainly other cops who showed up. When the party went on too long, or got too loud, they’d tell you to go ‘eff yourself if you complained that it was four in the morning. If you called the cops to complain, then you’d just have more cops showing up to join their party.

In the case of the DEP, guess who hands out tickets for noise complaints? Guess who polices the dumping of hazardous material into area waterways? Watchmen? who watches them?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It’s really quite a shit show.

See what I did there? Shit show?

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.

northward pull

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Wednesday, the dusk of the week.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One can affirm that the Metropolitan Avenue Bridge is still there, as of last week. A small but double basculed draw bridge which spans the English Kills tributary of the fabled Newtown Creek, Metropolitan Avenue Bridge is 3.1 miles from the East River. You don’t see much in the way of maritime traffic back here, but there’s usually a tug and fuel barge found at the Bayside fuel depot’s bulkheads.

One would advise the curious that the shoreline is crumbling, and you want to be REALLY careful anywhere near the ragged edge of the land if you don’t want to end up immersed in Newtown Creek’s most polluted section. If you’re not being careful, the dice will roll and it’s either going to be X-Man or Liver Cancer for you.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A couple of old fuel trucks are permanently stationed hereabouts, which endlessly fascinate me with their late 20th century design cues and onboard signage.

The burning thermonuclear eye of god itself was dipping behind Manhattan just as I arrived at the bridge, which served as my turnaround point on this particular walk. One does not decide in advance on where the pivot takes place, but it is often considered. That’s the thing about the street grid surrounding Newtown Creek – there’s so many dead ends and cul de sacs, which aren’t a big deal when you’re in a vehicle, but if on foot you need to factor them into your route.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It was when I pivoted that the roar of powerful engines was heard. Frankly, I thought that a massive nocturnal bit of construction might be afoot due to the noise which was clearly audible even with my headphones in and Black Sabbath playing. It was approaching the sound levels encountered nearby the helicopter landing pads you encounter on the east side of Manhattan.

More on the tumult tomorrow.

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.

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