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It’s National Almond Day, in these United States.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Owing to other obligations and piss poor weather conditions for the last couple of weeks, one hasn’t got anything new to show you for this week. Accordingly, it has been decided to instead present a few archive shots of the various branches of NYC government which make life liveable for us here in “Home Sweet Hell.”

Today, the focus is on the NYC DEP – the astounding New York City Department of Environmental Protection.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I’m a frequent critic of this agency, due to my knowing WAY too much about their operations because of the whole Newtown Creek thing. Saying that, they are a pretty amazing group. They deliver clean water to our faucets and remove dirty water from our toilets. They’re in charge of policing noise, and chemical spills, and cleaner air. DEP owns a navy, which they humorously refer to as “honey boats.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Deep below the Lower East Side, within a sequestered building that plunges deeply into the ground, there’s a giant pipe into which all the sewage of Manhattan (below 79th street) pours. The other end of this “surge tower” is at the sewer plant in Greenpoint where all of this “yuck” is headed for treatment. The shot above is staring directly down and into the DEP’s maelstrom.


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Written by Mitch Waxman

February 16, 2017 at 11:00 am

Posted in NYC DEP, Photowalks

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most conclusive

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It’s National “I Want Butterscotch Day,” in these United States.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Owing to other obligations and piss poor weather conditions for the last couple of weeks, one hasn’t got anything new to show you for this week. Accordingly, it has been decided to instead present a few archive shots of the various branches of NYC government which make life liveable for us here in “Home Sweet Hell.”

Today, the focus is on DSNY – the stolid Sanitation Department of New York City.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Spending as much time as I do in meetings with government employees, the habit of pronouncing abbreviations phonetically has crawled into my speech pattern and I’ve found myself calling Sanitation “DSNY” with a spoken pronunciation of “DISNEY.” This confuses the heck out of normal people, as I’ll often refer to “DISNEY” performing street cleaning tasks or picking up garbage or their recycling and mulching programs. They picture Mickey and Goofy.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As essential as police and fire, DSNY is the only reason that NYC doesn’t suffocate under a mountain of trash and garbage everyday. We are a sloppy group, we New Yorkers. My recollection is that these cats collect up something like eleven and change tons of trash a day, which is translocated out of the City in short order.

I’ve asked where all the trash goes, and I’ve been told that they can’t tell me because of “homeland security” reasons.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Of particular interest, given the recent spate of wintry weather, is the DSNY’s snow removal and roadway winter maintenance programs. They salt, and scrape, and plow away the ice so that the rest of us can make it to work. If you want more days off from work, convince the Mayor to reduce DSNY’s funding. Of course, you might die from a preventable disease due to the piles of garbage if you do.


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Written by Mitch Waxman

February 15, 2017 at 11:00 am

Posted in Photowalks

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ominous gossip

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It’s International Safer Internet Day.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Recently, one found himself wandering about in legend cloaked and shadows haunted Greenpoint when my footsteps carried me past the beacon like NYPD’s 94th pct. house. The bulls are penned up here, on Meserole, and they like to keep it nice and bright. There’s a real sense of solidity to this building, and it’s somewhat evocative of a fortress. One wishes that the 114th pct. here in Astoria enjoyed such lush and stolid accommodations.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One is preoccupied at the moment, given the recent release of the “Deck over the Sunnyside Yards” feasibility study by the NYC EDC at the behest of our Mayor – the Dope from Park Slope. It’s a massive document, and full of arcane detail to process and respond to.

Its arrival means that Western Queens has arrived at an existential threshold, and that my home is now threatened.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Accordingly, posts such as today’s and yesterday’s are somewhat truncated. One does not have the luxury of wandering around the Greenpoint Historic District and marveling at times gone by and the architectural monuments to earlier times.

The battle for Queens is afoot. 


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Written by Mitch Waxman

February 8, 2017 at 1:00 pm

general credence

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It’s National Frozen Yogurt Day, in these United States.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Not too much to tell you today, lords and ladies, other than to describe and share photos from a recent excursion which took me to Flushing for a social event. It’s on evenings like this, when I’m not consciously “working” that my pathologies are most fully on display. One just cannot stop taking pictures, as Queens is just too marvelous for words and nobody believes it until you show them. My journey from “Point A” in Astoria led me to Jackson Heights, where one secured a transfer from the sepulchral depths of the IND lines to the elevated IRT Flushing Line which carried me eastwards.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My arrival in ancient Flushing, at the so called “Main Street” stop, coincided with the local gendarmes performing their duties. My assumption, based on observable behaviors, is that the small statured fellow in the shot above had overly indulged himself with intoxicating beverages. NYPD didn’t seem overly concerned about the situation, treating it with a characteristic world weariness and the laconic mannerisms one normally sees the City’s uniformed security forces display.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

At my destination, which was at a fairly new hotel that sits alongside the local precinct house which the fellows in the second shot would call “the office,” there was a rooftop deck – which despite frigidity – was available to visit and explore. The shot above was captured some nine stories up from Northern Blvd. in Flushing, and looks westwards across Queens towards the Shining City of Manhattan. That’s the Queensboro Bridge you see just to the right of center.


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Written by Mitch Waxman

February 6, 2017 at 1:00 pm

Posted in Flushing, Photowalks, Pickman, Queens, Subway

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It’s National Tater Tot Day, in these United States.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

For a maritime city, New York doesn’t actually seem to get foggy all that much. Sure there’s mist and murk occasionally, but it’s actually pretty seldom that we get a full on “inversion” and the sky fills with straight up pea soup. Whenever fog conditions do occur, however, one makes sure that the camera is out and about.

Nothing I like more than some atmospheric diffusion.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

These shots were gathered on the 21st of January, when just such an atmosphere permeated and propagated across the neighborhood. As I’m wont to remind everyone around Newtown Creek – constantly – if you can smell it, you’re breathing it. On this foggy Saturday in January, we were all breathing New York Harbor for a day.

Speaking of Newtown Creek, check out how the new Kosciuszcko Bridge’s cable stay towers are visible from the corner of 39th street and Skillman Avenue in Sunnyside.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One left HQ relatively late in the day, hoping to catch that particular moment when the burning thermonuclear eye of God itself would angle itself properly to create sculptural lighting for the industrial landscape of LIC. Win!

The shot above looks down 47th avenue, as you travel down off the shallow ridge that Sunnyside and Woodside straddle towards the alluvial flatlands surrounding the Dutch Kills tributary of Newtown Creek, just for the curious.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As part of my “winter strategy,” which allows for taking some sort of transport in one direction to or from “Point A” in Astoria, a short ride on the “7 line” carried me to Queensboro Plaza where I transferred over to the Astoria bound “N line.” Glad that I did so, as the photo above was my “shot of the day” for the fog occluded 21st of January.


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Written by Mitch Waxman

February 2, 2017 at 2:00 pm

awestruck party

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It’s Fred Korematsu Day of Civil Liberties and the Constitution, in the states of California and Virginia.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Throw your hands in the air, like you just don’t care.

That’s what most of the residents of Queens do when the subject of Newtown Creek comes up. That’s Brooklyn’s problem, not ours. Then I tell them about how the decisions affecting Queens are being made by the “transplant hipsters of Brooklyn” whom they revile, and that whereas Brooklyn is going to be getting new parks and other municipal goodies out of this Superfund thing… Queens is largely being left out of the equation. That riles the north shore peeps up a bit, but they still don’t get involved. Since the people of Queens are disinterested, so is elected officialdom.

Fish, or cut bait. If neither, then get out of the way.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I’ve always chalked it up to topography. If you’re in East Williamsburg, or Greenpoint, Newtown Creek is part of your life whenever you open your window. The Brooklyn, or south side, of the Newtown Creek hosts residential properties which are literally across the street from the bulkheads. The Queens, or north side, communities generally have a buffer zone of industrial buildings and highways separating them from the water. Newtown Creek is a half mile from residential Sunnyside.

In Queens, they complain about truck traffic, hipsters, and gentrification.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

We are at a critical juncture, Newtown Creek wise. The science from all parties involved in the cleanup is beginning to be compiled. The DEP, in particular, is about to lock itself into a quarter century long program of construction and strategic maneuvering. Around a year or so from now, the oil and gas people will be doing the same and committing to a strategic course.

Ultimately, EPA will be doing the same thing and deciding on their course of action, but given the current political crisis in the Federal Government there is no real day to day guarantee that there will be an Environmental Protection Agency which resembles the current one.

What do clean and accessible waterways mean to President Trump and Steve Bannon?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There is going to be a meeting, the latest of many, of the Newtown Creek Community Advisory Group (CAG) on the first of February. If the shot above looks good to you, and you’d like to see more of the same – don’t come. If you care about not having a billion and a half gallons of raw sewage a year spilling onto mounds of poisonous and century old industrial waste, do come. Pipe up, we need voices and perspectives from outside the echo chamber.

Details on the meeting – time, place, etc. – can be accessed at this link. We could use some Queensican bodies in the room.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The shots in today’s post were gathered on the eastern side of the Newtown Creek, in Ridgewood and Maspeth. The environmental conditions in these industrial buffer zones are off the charts bad. You don’t have to look far to find dead birds, rats, all sorts of unlucky critters who innocently wandered in here. It wasn’t the Creek that killed them, it was the hundreds of heavy trucks.

As a note to Maspeth and Ridgewood residents – this is where the trucking you complain about comes from.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There’s a vision of what the future can hold for generations unborn that we have all been working for and towards. An industrial canal which also welcomes recreational boaters. An industrial canal which was the most significant job creation engine NYC has ever seen and which can be so again. A mixed use waterway in which business and the ecology operate hand in hand.

Ever heard of the “Maspeth heat island effect”? It’s the reason why your energy bills are so high during the summer, and it’s caused by the complete lack of green space in these industrial neighborhoods, which causes temperatures hereabouts to be ten or more degrees warmer during the summer than in surrounding communities. Is that Brooklyn’s problem? What about the trucks, or the garbage trains?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This post is meant to scold, and compel. Get involved, whatever your point of view is. The political elites of our City will not care unless you care.


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odd debris

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It’s National Chocolate Cake Day, here in these United States.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Progress. That’s what they used to call it. The reclamation of wetlands for profitable municipal or private use, and the installation of some sort of useful industry upon the new land. Here in Queens – Northern Blvd., or Jackson Avenue depending on where you are standing, used to be a raised road that rolled through a swampy lowland. Queens, and LIC in particular, were remarkable in the post Civil War era for the prevalence of water borne diseases suffered by occupants of the various towns and villages found along its route. Typhus, malaria, cholera – all of the mosquito vector illnesses were quite common.

It’s the reason that Queens was so open to large scale development in the early 20th century when technologies emerged that allowed for the draining of swamplands and marshes. In a sudden burst of activity at the start of the last century – you see the emergence of the Queensboro Bridge, the Sunnyside Yards, and the appearance of the subway system.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As far as the critters go, they’re still following their old patterns even though the ancestral waters are buried tens of feet below the surface. It’s why you’ll still see clouds of gulls flying around at Sunnyside’s northern border or over in Woodside, miles from the East River or Newtown Creek.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The automobile represented “progress” to the generations who fought the World Wars. The City was remade and rebuilt by Robert Moses and the armies he led in pursuance of progress. The highways and local streets which divide us also provided the opportunity to raise the level of land over the water table and install sewerage systems. These sewers quicken the flow of water, which in turn did away with the languid puddles and marshes in which the disease spreading clouds of mosquitos could breed.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There was no more potent symbol of “progress” in the late 19th century however, than the railroad. Unfortunately, it was ruled by opportunist financiers like JP Morgan and predatory capitalists like John D. Rockefeller, both of whom contributed to the industry becoming less and less profitable to operate. Robert Moses was no friend to the railroads either. Ultimately, by the late 1960’s, all of the private rail companies that handled passenger and freight were bankrupt and brought under government control.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Progress seems to be a forgotten concept in the modern day. It’s about maintaining what we’ve inherited, rather than dreaming big, of what we could have. We no longer reach for the stars, even on National Chocolate Cake Day.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

January 27, 2017 at 1:00 pm

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