The Newtown Pentacle

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nitrous stone

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Someday, I’ll have an army of atomic supermen.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Mad scientist, that’s what I aspired to become when I grew up. What kind of dweeb roots for the hero when someone as cool as Doctor Doom is doing his thing. Imagine my disappointment upon discovering, at the age of 9, that any kind of scientist needs to be fairly adept at mathematics – a subject which I have little more capacity with than a particularly slow witted goat does. Oh, the horrors and monstrosities which I could populate our world with if only I wasn’t arithmetically challenged. I’d have the whole chemical rack setup, with machines that spewed bolts of electricity and made humming sounds. One thing I am really good at is megalomaniacal laughing, it should be mentioned.

One has realized that he will need a staff of mathematically competent scientists, outfitted with heart plugs or neck bombs to ensure their absolute loyalty and obedience (of course), if my dream of creating my own race of Atomic Supermen is ever to be realized. Funding remains an issue, as I’d first need to purchase a lair of some kind, and neither minion controlling heart plugs nor neck bombs are cheap to buy or install. Then you have to light and heat the lair, worry about OSHA regulations… nothing’s easy.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

If you really want to hide a less than legal operation, like a Mad Scientist’s lair or a meth lab or something, I’ve always believed you should keep it moving. Sure, hollowing out a chamber in the heart of a volcano or establishing an underwater base sounds cool, but now there’s a static target for the legions of do gooders to target. Just a matter of time before some lantern jawed hero shows up and foils your plans.

Hide in plain sight, I always say. Disguise your mobile laboratory as a City bus or a panel truck and hire some clueless schmuck to drive you around day and night. The citizenry is too busy staring into those little glass rectangles all the time to notice anything that doesn’t have a thousand “likes.” The mutant army I’m planning on producing – I call this “Plan Nine,” incidentally – will take advantage of the abundance of cemeteries along the Brooklyn/Queens border for biological components. Amazon has a sale right now on mind control chips, so that’s a saving. They won’t sell me the radioactive isotopes I need, so thanks Chuck Schumer, for making me download TOR and get supplied via the highly unreliable “dark web.” So frustrating when you order Cesium and get Palladium instead.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One of the big traps that most mad scientists find themselves in is that inevitable moment when your creation turns on you. To avert this, I’m going to install a video board into each member of my army, which will manufacturing bitcoin. This will fund a nice retirement pension for them, after the new order has been established, and I alone will hold the cypher password. You want loyalty from your thralls? Pensions, that’s how you get and demand loyalty from your minions.

I’m stuck at the moment whether or not my army of Atomic Supermen will have a gun hand or a crab claw hand, or both. Either option has benefits. I’ve settled on triocular vision for them, just like the engineers at Apple have with the latest iPhone.

I’ll be in one of my lairs this weekend, working on generalized revenge against a world which does not appreciate me, and has forced me to live the life of an outcast. Home? I have no home, the jungle is my home. If some bus or a large truck passes you by, and you hear maniacal laughing emanating from within, that’s me, but don’t put it on Instagram or anything. Last thing I need is to have to deal with some secret agent or something. Remember whose side you want to be on after the Plan Nine plays out to the end and the new order is instituted.


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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.

Written by Mitch Waxman

September 20, 2019 at 1:00 pm

imperfect salts

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Getting my groove on in Astoria.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Pictured today are the POV’s from 31st street and Astoria Blvd., which is one of the worst street crossings for pedestrians and bicycles in all of Queens. The construction materials are related to the “enhanced station initiative” that Governor Cuomo introduced a few years back, which has been playing out in incremental stages all up and down the 31st street corridor between Northern Blvd./Jackson Avenue and the terminal stop of the N and W Astoria lines at Ditmars Blvd. One was admittedly skeptical about this when it was described, but – in my opinion, at least – the newly redesigned stations are pretty good. They supply an abundance of light to what has historically been a dark and somewhat menacing streetscape, and the “upstairs” component is pretty clean visually.

Saying that, the corner pictured above which… y’know… has a train station over it and thusly a lot of pedestrians, is terrifying to navigate on foot and particularly so at night.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Ultimately, the high volume traffic problem is due to the Triborough Bridge, which spits thousands of cars a day out onto a two block long stretch of local streets which lead to the entrance ramps for the Grand Central Parkway. Why there aren’t express lanes leading directly to the parkway from the bridge is yet another one of those Queens mysteries nobody can answer. The Grand Central Parkway runs through a trench sunk into Astoria Blvd. which stretches from roughly 33rd street to 47th street, where it eventually joins the same altitude as the surrounding local streets. The trench is due to topography, of course, and both sides of Astoria Blvd. for the more or less 3/4 of a mile between 33rd and 47th are heavily trafficked one lane service roads with a parking lane along a fairly narrow sidewalk.

Why not deck the highway and create a green space/park over it? It would save the State a bunch of money in terms of snow removal, create a planted area in place of highway, contain the particulates of auto exhaust wafting off the Grand Central and into the residential streets surrounding the thing, and would likely eliminate the de facto “us and them” factor between the bifurcated neighborhoods of Astoria (one centering around the commercial strip of Ditmars to north and the southern 30th ave./Broadway zones). We’d drink up a lot of storm water with a green space, and break up the heat island effect – and as I’m often wont to point out – there is no greater magnifier for real estate valuations than the presence of a nearby park. Everybody wins – contractors, labor, drivers, pedestrians, politicians, real estate people, even the actual community itself.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Over in Brooklyn’s South Williamsburg, where the BQE runs through a similar trench, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams has been talking about something similar for quite a while. They’ve done a bunch of the math for this sort of thing, and it’s not outlandishly expensive as long as conversation about the subject stays away from creating a deck structure that needs to support buildings, only parkland. You’d be able to prefabricate the sections, install them one by one during (relatively) low traffic intervals, and give a section of NYC remarkable for its lack of parklands a new reason for the citizenry to move in and join the party. Also, this would likely end up being a fully union laborer operation, so all the Politicians could wet their beaks at the trough of a happy Building Trade Council. Again – win, win, win.

Why not here in Western Queens? Tell me why this wouldn’t improve things for the people of Astoria?


“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

September 19, 2019 at 11:00 am

surprising sort

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Minimalist Wednesday, it affects us all.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s me on the sign above, or at least it is in my personal construct of reality. I’m on every corner in NYC, as is my arch enemy, whom I call “the Red Hand.” It’s been an interesting week with lots and lots of meetings and things to do, but at least I’ve been amongst people. They seemed nice.

Last night’s Community Board 1 meeting was largely procedural. The NYC Conflicts of Interest guy gave us a refresher course on how not to get prosecuted for corruption. He reminded us that we can only take bribes under $50 as Community Board members. It’s the most Queens thing in the world, by the way… not “don’t take bribes,” but instead “don’t take bribes over this amount.” Wonder what the price is set at for Elected Officials or District Managers. sigh.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The protests at the EDC’s Sunnyside Yards meeting came up a couple of times, and a number of the more “institutional” players in Astoria were upset that the protestors had interfered with EDC’s narrative and presentation. I made the case to any that would listen that they were complaining about free speech and the exercise thereof. If the crowded theater you’re in is actually burning, you SHOULD shout “fire.” Also, you should do ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to discourage the younger members of our society from expressing their dissatisfaction and anger by protesting.

The people complaining about it last night are probably cashing checks for $49.99 today at lunch. The bad actors acted, the annoying people annoyed, and it was long and drawn out nearly three hour meeting dealing with protocol and procedure. My head nearly fell off the back of my neck several times out of boredom. Luckily, I sit next to a pal of mine from the neighborhood who is another old school outer boroughs guy and we whispered wisecracks to each other all night.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The procedural niceties of this CB thing are something I’m slowly learning. All these years, as an activist in Queens, my methodology has been to strike fast when opportunity presents. Grab the elected, their people, any other concerned parties and make a deal on the street to get a new green space or something rolling when the time is right. Bang, boom, bang. Advertising and comics industry new business techniques, learned at hundreds of cocktail parties over the decades. Sell, sell, sell.

This “Roberts Rules” stuff flies directly in the face of how things actually get done in Western Queens and North Brooklyn. Protocol? What?

Tonight, I’ll be at the Newtown Creek CAG meeting at PS 110 in Greenpoint on Monitor Street for an update on the Superfund situation. Afterwards, I’m going to return to the utility poles and engage in my eternal battle with the Red Hand.


“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

September 18, 2019 at 11:00 am

another moment

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Lots and lots going on in Queens and Brooklyn this week.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

At Aviation High School, tonight, the NYC EDC will be presenting the latest iteration of their outlandish and quixotic plan to deck over the Sunnyside Yards. This municipal boondoggle has been going on for years now. Community opposition to this monster has grown and grown even as EDC has doubled down on it. The estimated numbers for what this project is currently projected to cost are on the order of waging a small war. I’ve got intel on what the internal estimates which are being floated at EDC for the cost of just building the deck itself. I don’t want to say them out loud since that might “out” some of the people internally at the organization who secretly oppose the Sunnyside Yards project, but let’s just say this:

If you were able to save $100,000 a year, it would take you 220,000 years to save enough for this decking project. You’d alternatively be able to purchase 733,000 cars at $30,000 a pop. If dollars were miles, you’d be able to enjoy 46,044 thousand round trips to the moon. If dollars were tax refunds, you’d be able to write a $66.77 check to every living American citizen (all 329,467,210 of us).

The Sunnyside Yards meeting will be held at Aviation High School (45-30 36th St., corner of Queens Blvd., in Long Island City, NY 11101) tonight between 5 and 8 p.m.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On a personal note, I’m a little bit behind schedule as this week starts, and am struggling to keep up with the various “have to’s” which are upcoming. A few pretty exciting, to me at least, opportunities are coming up in coming weeks. I’m going to get to ride on a freight train, and inspect Port Newark with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. There’s also a couple of swell parties coming up.

This Saturday; Newtown Creek Alliance, Broadway Stages, NOoSPHERE Arts, Greenpoint Innovations and Alive Structures will be offering the Kingsland Wildflower Festival in Greenpoint between 2 and 6 in the afternoon.

Details for the event can be found here.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

If you want to watch me pretending to be an adult, and a responsible member of society, Astoria’s Community Board 1 will be gathering tomorrow night (Tuesday the 17th) at Astoria World Manor (25-22 Astoria Boulevard) at 6:30 p.m. to discuss issues of the day and resume the monthly meeting schedule after the summer hiatus. I don’t think anything earth shattering will be happening, but you never know, and if you haven’t attended a community board meeting… well, why not? That’s how republics die – apathy.

The Newtown Creek Community Advisory Group – or CAG – will also be resuming its meeting schedule with the various powers that be on Wednesday (the 18th) night over in Brooklyn and also at 6:30 p.m. at PS 110 auditorium (124 Monitor Street).

October 3rd will see a Newtown Creek Alliance benefit event – the “Tidal Toast” – occur at 520 Kingsland Avenue in Greenpoint. Want to help us do what we do? Support the “reveal, restore, revitalize” work that NCA does? Grab a ticket. There’ll be food, and drinks too! Click here for more info.


“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

September 16, 2019 at 12:00 pm

shuddering violently

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Palpable, redolent, and exhausting – that’s me.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It has been one heck of a couple of weeks for a humble narrator, and boy oh boy am I beat up. There’s the proverbial “burning the candle at both ends” and then there’s just throwing the candle into a campfire. The latter is what I’ve been up to, and I’ve finally arrived at a short interval whereupon I can relax for a couple of days and “chill.” Busy is better than having nothing to do, but… I like to break words down to reveal their true meaning, and “recreation” is a literal and tangible requirement at the moment. Time to re-create.

I’ve got a book or two which I want to put together, and I’m hoping to have one or the other ready and available for Christmas. Meeting season is also upon me, and it’s time to start annoying the Government people again. Community Board, Superfund, and a new hopeless cause right here in Astoria which I’ve been laying the groundwork for are about to kick into gear. Anything y’all want me to rattle on about with officialdom? Leave me instructions and so on in the comments, and I’ll see if I can get your pet peeve considered and in front of the right people.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There’s a mean season in politics coming, what with all the three term incumbents term limited in both Brooklyn and Queens. On both sides of the Newtown Creek, the “powers that be” are all about to change seats after a long period of predictability. New factions and interest groups will be manifesting themselves and pushing their particular apple carts. As is always the case with “sharp elbows,” things are already starting to get ugly, and we’re nowhere near an election at the moment.

It’s going to be an interesting if mean interval, I think. Epic bullshitting is what I expect to hear and see, in our ongoing ideological war between the “Know nothings” and the “Whigs.” As I’m wont to remind and chide – Civilizations end, but life goes on. Also, the war between the Cowboys and the Arabs has been going on for 18 years now, and there’s no end in sight, but nobody talks about that.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s what sunrise on the new Kosciuszcko Bridge looks like, as a note. Captured this last Sunday morning, which feels like it was a month ago to me. Back Monday with something else that I can’t imagine quite yet.

Don’t know what I’m doing with my time off this weekend, but I’ll have the camera with me. Can’t wait to find out where I’m going to go and what I’m going to see, but you’ll see it here – at your Newtown Pentacle.


“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

September 13, 2019 at 1:00 pm

dominant concern

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Green v. Gray, in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Me and my mates at Newtown Creek Alliance, and in the larger environmentalist community, are always rattling on about Green versus Gray infrastructure. So – what does that mean? Basically, it comes down to taxes and “bang for the buck.” That magnificent new Wastewater Treatment plant in Greenpoint, pictured above, cost billions and billions of dollars. It also took literally decades to build. Technological marvel notwithstanding, the cost of that thing was borne by raising water tax and rates on property owners, who passed it on to their tenants in the form of higher rents. The plant is, after all, owned and operated by a City agency, the Department of Environmental Protection or DEP. DEP also handles delivery of drinking water, the upstate reservoirs which supply it, and a few other things (noise complaints, for instance). The agency was created in a 1983 City charter revision which combined multiple offices, including the various sewer systems of the Boroughs, into the current monolithic organization. They inherited a chaotic situation, with sewerage pipes in the ground that combine the flow of sanitary and storm water which were laid out by the independent cities of Brooklyn, Richmond, or LIC/Newtown as early as the 1860’s. During rain events, the storm water pipes introduce vast overages of water into this combined system, and outfalls – there are 400 of them in NY Harbor – act as release valves for the increased flow. That means that untreated sanitary sewerage is released into area waterways along with the storm water. It’s why you can’t go swimming at the beach in NYC after it rains, and is part of the reason why inland waterways like the Gowanus Canal and Newtown Creek are Federal Superfund sites. The Superfund situation is costing DEP money as well, which means that taxes and fees on water will continue rising, and so will the rent.

Gray infrastructure – as epitomized by the 7+ billion dollar sewer plant pictured above – is expensive to build and maintain. That plant can handle an astounding 800 million gallons of wastewater a day, but in the concretized landscape of NYC, a quarter inch of rain falling citywide translates to a billion gallons of storm water entering the system. Newtown Creek alone receives (estimates vary) between 1.4 and 1.8 billion gallons of untreated “combined sewer outfall” annually.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Green infrastructure, on the other hand, is fairly cheap to install and maintain. Green roofs, rain gardens, and open land with plantings either drink up rain or allow it to flow down into the ground and feed into the water table. Additionally, Green Infrastructure ameliorates another consequence of having paved over everything with impermeable material – the so called “Maspeth Heat Island” effect.

Heat islands occur in urban spaces devoid of trees and greenery. Masonry and concrete tend to “hold” heat and radiate it back out. Even at night, the industrial neighborhoods surrounding Newtown Creek are demonstrably 5-15 degrees warmer than the residential ones which are generally well planted. This causes area businesses to spend more on climate control for their spaces, increasing their energy usage footprints and the cost of doing business in NYC. Green roofs, like the one pictured above in Brooklyn’s Greenpoint section, change the equation. They divert storm water and keep the structure below the roof a few degrees cooler.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It can be heinously expensive to retrofit existing building stock’s rooftops to handle the loading weight of a green roof, and since there’s little to no tax incentive to do so offered by City or State, most building owners like the idea but pass on it. Given that we’re in the middle of a building boom here in NYC, and particularly so in LIC and North Brooklyn, you’d think that all of these “Green New Deal” types would be demanding that new construction incorporate “Green Infrastructure” technology into their projects. Sadly, this isn’t the case, as everything is false and a deception in the worlds of Politics and Big Real Estate.

Me? I’m realistic about life in the big City, the bottom line, and personally won’t do anything which I don’t want to do unless I know there’s a hefty fine I can avoid by doing it. The City currently meters the water going up the pipe into apartment buildings, but doesn’t meter what’s coming back out. Maybe if we did the latter, it would encourage the developers of 40, 60, or even 80 story apartment towers to embrace the Green Infrastructure concept and lessen the impact of their projects on the combined sewer system. It’s probably possible to engineer a net positive on the outflows, which might mean rebates from DEP for providing capacity. Who knows?

Or, we can just keep on building giant multi billion dollar sewer plants which cause your landlord’s water bill, and your rent, to continually rise.


“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

September 12, 2019 at 11:00 am

oblong apartments

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Three Assholes, in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

An anti-vaxxer has been sticking their pseudo scientific call to arms and meme based advice on the lamp posts and mail boxes of Astoria and Sunnyside all summer long. Coincidentally, all summer long I’ve been prying stupid stickers and flyers off of lamp posts and mail boxes. Champion level dumb assery, the Anti-Vaxxers are admittedly one step closer to reality than the flat earth crowd, but there’s always the chance that some badly educated or gullible new parent will take the advice of these people and their innocent kid will die of a preventable disease or start an epidemic which will hurt me and mine. What’s next? Witch panics?

Here’s my take on things – electricity, airplanes, and nuclear bombs work, as confirmed the underlying scientific assumptions which their technologies are based on. So too do antibiotics, fungicides, and so on work and confirm their underlying theorems. Given that the viewpoint of what these dopes called the “science industry” has real world efficacy and results – Measles and Rubella or Whooping Cough or Polio, for instance, are no longer major concerns for most of the world’s population (there are 250 cases of Leprosy in the U.S. diagnosed in a average year, as a note) due to modern medicine’s embrace of the “Germ Theory of Disease,” I choose to stand alongside the pro vaccination majority. If you’re an Anti Vaxx person, cool, but go live in the woods. Also, you don’t get to pick and choose which scientific facts you like and which ones you don’t. Autism and Aspergers are nothing new, jack holes, and the reason there’s “an epidemic” is that the diagnosis has been expanded to accommodate a “spectrum” of disability rather than a narrow and severe slice of the condition. It’s not because of vaccination.

Asshole.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s not lens distortion in the shot above, rather it’s the severe overload of the electrical transmission wires which those utility poles are carrying that is causing them to bow and bend. You see this all over LIC, Astoria, and Sunnyside.

There’s a few similar looking utility poles on Broadway in Astoria, and I can predict that they will either break in half or drop their cables during a storm in the near future. When someone dies, the local government people (who are fully aware of this situation) will act shocked and call for the creation of a blue ribbon committee to study what happened. The committee’s findings will be submitted to another committee that studies the findings of committees. Ultimately, this citywide existential problem should go to City Hall and the Mayor’s office, but word has it that Bill De Blasio is going to run a campaign to be named Sultan of the Ottoman Empire after his doomed and quixotic effort at becoming President of the United States goes down in flames.

Asshole.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Queens Cobbler’s handiwork has been observed in the neighborhood again, after a summer long interval during which few or no single shoes were observed. The Queens Cobbler is a likely serial killer who leaves these single shoes as taunts for the Police in the districts surrounding the Newtown Creek in Brooklyn and Queens, and the infamous trophies are found displayed along area streets. The Cobbler has been written about in the past, here at Newtown Pentacle, and in fact I’ve been talking about this for over five years at this point.

Asshole.


“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

September 10, 2019 at 11:15 am

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