The Newtown Pentacle

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Archive for the ‘Pickman’ Category

moldering structure

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Wednesday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Let me tell ya, I really seem to freak out the security guards when I whip out the tripod and set up the camera. It’s always surprised me how people react when they see a camera. I once got chased by a group of old ladies here in Astoria, who saw me taking a picture of St. Irene’s church and then logically concluded that I was a terrorist. Luckily they were pretty old, so I lost them after a few blocks. Homeland Security indeed.

In the case of the rather innocent shot above, depicting the former offices of Irving Subway Grate, I got to say “Hi” to somebody providing security services for the UPS shipping center across the street. At this particular time of night, UPS parks a good amount of its truck fleet in the street and on the sidewalk, and he must’ve figured I was screwing around with their illegally parked trucks. My retribution for this interruption of my photography “flow” involved a full 25 minute history of Irving Subway Grate and a more generalized 10 minute lecture about Newtown Creek. I could have hit him with a 25 minute history of the United Parcel Service company and the Teamsters, but decided to be merciful.

Mess with the bull, you get the horns. Mess with Mitch, you get a long ass historical lecture about something you never wanted to know anything about.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Empty Corridor is the name I’ve given to the lonely streets you encounter under the 106 foot high steel truss bridge that carries the Long Island Expressway over LIC and Dutch Kills. There’s actually a lot going on down here, but the street scape is bare and unforgiving, hence the cognomen. Any vegetation you might encounter here is self seeded, “weed trees” as we would call it back in the old neighborhood. The street is pockmarked and broken, the sidewalks are shattered, and many times are impassable as businesses just take them over to store equipment or park trucks.

There’s also a smell, best described as “hot food garbage,” that permeates. High above, a constant mechanical tumult rings out, broadcasting vibrations down through the steel and singing a cacophonous din into the auditory realm. What can I tell you, it’s an expressway up there carrying millions of vehicle trips a year to and from Manhattan.

You think that’s going to be quiet?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s the Montauk Cutoff at the top of the shot above, an abandoned set of Long Island Railroad tracks which connect across Dutch Kills to the Lower Montauk tracks along Newtown Creek on one side, and the Sunnyside Yards on the other. At least, they used to do so, but the connection to Sunnyside Yards has been demolished and the bridge over Dutch Kills is now fenced off and is scheduled for demolition itself.

Several of us at Newtown Creek Alliance have been working on turning the Montauk Cutoff into public space for a while now, but… y’know… MTA.

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, August 10th. 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

August 12, 2020 at 11:00 am

sharp toothed

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Tuesday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My weekly visit to the Dutch Kills tributary of the fabulous Newtown Creek, found in the Degnon Terminal section of the Long Island City industrial zone here in Queens, was perpetrated recently. My pandemic long investigations into the presence of “it” continue, here in the former “Workshop of America.”

What is “it”? It is likely people having some cruel fun with my credulous nature, and taking advantage of the boredom and anxiety which the pandemic has induced in a humble narrator. Regardless, most of the stories I’ve received about “it” revolve around the Hunters Point Avenue Bridge section of the waterway so I keep on finding myself here. I’m also kind of obsessed with the indomitable nature of that tree in the shot above, and have been making it the focal point of various photos all year.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One has been forced into using certain esoteric practices behind the camera to properly record the darkness down on the water. Next up in my bag of tricks will be the use of polarizing filters to reduce the reflectivity of the water and allow the device to peer down into the gelatinous fathoms. It’s actually only about a single fathom, maybe a fathom and a half, here at Dutch Kills. It is fairly gelatinous, however.

One way or another, what I can say is that I didn’t see “it” but had the definite impression that there was something odd going on in the water. There were all sorts of splashes and ripples being caused by one critter or another down there.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The streaks in the water are the reflections of fish scales moving around during what ended up being a thirty second exposure. I’ve actually become quite fascinated by the artifacts of movement which turn up in these shots. Can’t tell you what sort of fishies were swimming around down there, but it’s likely these were Mummichogs.

Mummichogs (Fundulus heteroclitus) are essentially the bottom of the vertebrate food chain at Newtown Creek, but in a larger sense that’s the niche they occupy in the brackish and environmentally compromised waterways of the northeastern United States. They are omnivorous, and can thrive in fairly awful conditions. A bit of pescatarian trivia is that a Mummichog was the first fish to go to Space, having been studied on NASA’s Skylab back in 1973. Environmental scientists use these fishies as an indicator specie, meaning that you catch a bunch of Mummichogs and then grind them into a goo. The goo is then analyzed for the presence and concentration of certain chemical compounds like pcb’s or heavy metals.

The search for “it” continues.

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, August 10th. 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.

persistent presence

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Monday.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Anxious, that’s the way a humble narrator recently described his state of mind to a medical professional who was catechizing him. Anxious is how one has felt for quite a while now. The pressure valve one regularly turns to relieve a few atmospheres of this background anxiety involves exercise and solitude, but that isn’t some new survival strategy one has evolved during this interminable pandemic period, it’s rather my “go-to.” Were this a normal summer, things I’d be complaining right now about; A) I want a weekend off from doing tours, B) how hot it is, C) my desires to just “get out there” by myself with the camera.

This isn’t a normal summer, but I’ll still complain about “B” and “C.” One fo my “go-to’s” throughout the pandemic has been to follow a pathway out of Astoria and into the industrial zones of Long Island City. Unfortunately, a lot of other people have discovered the areas surrounding Newtown Creek in recent months. This too makes me anxious.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I’ve done a lot of cool stuff over the years, all of which caused me endless amounts of anxiety while in pursuit thereof. I’ve ghost hunted in Crete, for instance, which involved my father in law and I avoiding the attentions of shot gun toting bandits on a country road in Greece at 4 in the morning. I’ve worked on neat projects in the advertising world – a Times Square bill board, marquee ads placed in The NY Times magazine section, and for about 5 years everytime you walked into a Footlocker store to buy sneakers all that stuff on the walls and in the windows you saw promoting new shoes was probably something I had a hand in. There are comic books out there which I wrote and drew, and I was responsible for an entire comic company’s studio production schedule for a while. I’ve worked for major ad agencies, huge Wall Street companies, you name it. I’ve been happily married for decades, have friends whom I’ve been hanging out with since I was a teenager, and have multiple rings of friends and acquaintances that sound like a who’s who list of NYC. When I say it all out loud, it sounds like I’m bragging, but these are all things I’ve done. Saying that, every day when I wake up, it’s a “reset” and I have to find some way to justify my existence.

Right now, caught up in this wave of never ending tumult, it’s difficult to say that any of that stuff matters. Hence, anxiety.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One practices a thought modality which I call “branch logic.” It’s game theory, ultimately. Every action I take has two possible outcomes, which in turn offer further binary choices that branch off of whatever decision was undertaken. “If I cross Van Dam Street, when I get to the jail, I can either head north (Queens Plaza) or south (Greenpoint Avenue Bridge) – which is decision 1 – or just continue West towards decision 2. If I head west, I can go to Dutch Kills or follow it to Skillman Avenue. At Dutch Kills I can, or at Skillman I can… you get the idea. Interpersonally – I can punch this guy at the bar in the mouth, or I can just humor him. If I punch him, these two possibilities happen or if I humor him, another set of binaries occurs. This make the world somewhat predictable, which allows one to plan. If I save $20 a week, I’ll have a thousand bucks at the end of the year. If I have a thousand bucks in January, I can…

Thing is, and this is where all that anxiety is coming from, the world has become utterly and incomprehensibly unpredictable. I can’t predict anything more than two moves out right now, which is something that makes me anxious.

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, August 10th. 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

August 10, 2020 at 1:00 pm

strident pandemonium

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It’s Friday, a word that comes from the Old English “Frīgedæg” – the day of Frigga.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Wee ooh did Astoria ever get hit hard by that storm the other day. For some reason or another, the corridor surrounding Newtown Road in the 40’s got pummeled by the heavy winds and the neighborhood lost a bunch of trees. Unfortunately a couple of the neighbors ended up losing their vehicles as well when the trees came down.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Astoria is a mess, as far as utility cables go. After the Great Astoria Blackout of 2006 saw their cables and underground network burn away, Con Ed did a jury rig job getting the neighborhood energized again. Fourteen years later, they haven’t come back and improved on that, so there’s layer upon layer of cables hanging from the utility poles. Said utility poles are decades old, lean at precipitous angles, and are a subject which I often bring up when talking about the neighborhood with elected officialdom.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

To complicate the matter, these often 80-100 year old utility poles are also carrying hundreds of tons of telephonic and cable/data cables. The lowest level on the pole are generally cable data/tv wires, with phone above that, and electrical at the top.

There’s an absolute web of these wires overhead.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The street trees basically live in a concrete box of sandy soil, which truncates their root systems. Frankly, it’s a small miracle that we don’t lose more of them every time the wind blows, but there you go. As you can see in the shot above, the concrete sidewalk slabs got picked up by the lever action of the tree going down.

Skateboard kids were standing around, waiting for their chance.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This is the corner of Newtown Road and 46th street, where the ancient utility poles were snapped into sections by the weight of an ancient tree suddenly landing on the abundant wires they carry.

As mentioned, this is something I’ve been raising the alarum about for a while now.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Pictured above is Broadway in Astoria, which should give you an idea of how big the issue is. Looks like those pics of Lower Manhattan from back in the 19th century, doesn’t it? Sad thing is that most of these wires are dead and connected to nothing.

You’d think that when the politicians gave the exclusive franchises for data and phone, or cable, or power to the various utility companies that there would have been some discussion of maintenance and of removing dead wires. You’ve forgotten the Borough Motto, haven’t you?

Welcome to Queens, now go fuck yourself.

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, August 3rd. 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

August 7, 2020 at 1:00 pm

dismal eyrie

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It’s Wednesday, the day of Woden (Odin), from the Old English word “Wōdnesdæg.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Street furniture. That’s the term coined by my old friend Ms. Heather at NY-Shitty for the abandoned or dumped furnishings or accoutrements you encounter while walking around the city. I always get a giggle out of that one, but in the case of this love seat encountered on the Pedestrian/Bike path of the Kosciuszcko Bridge, I have to respect the amount of physical labor it must have taken moving this fairly massive hunk of furniture to a prime viewing location fairly close to the center of the bridge.

A lot of muscle, time, and energy goes into illegal dumping. It’s so much simpler to throw things out in a legal fashion. The number of tires you see submerged in Newtown Creek is absolutely staggering, for instance.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This shot looks down from the bridge on the truck yard of a company which calls itself Empire Merchants. They do the holy work of god, which is delivering liquor and beer to bars and retail shops. This company has a fairly large footprint in Greenpoint, with both enclosed warehouse spaces and large vehicle storage yards like the one pictured above. They’re officially a “distributor” as a note. “Last mile delivery” is the current buzz phrase for this sort of business.

I’d love to see them replace the surface of their parking lot with something a bit more environmentally friendly in order to drink up rain water, but this isn’t necessarily the place where you’d want a lot of water entering the underground. The Greenpoint Oil Spill is centered a few blocks away, and this particular spot sits on top of a different environmental nightmare – the Meeker Avenue Plumes. Said plumes are composed of dry cleaning chemicals spilled by a now out of business factory. The hard cap of asphalt and concrete insulating the ground water from surface flow actually helps keep those chemicals in a static position.

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

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Part of a largish waste transfer station, one which handles all of the good stuff – paper, metals, and putrescents – but specializes in construction debris, is pictured above. One of the interesting things, for me, about the new Kosciuszcko Bridge walkway is the window it gives you onto this sort of scene.

For years, when walking by on the street, you’d be able to see peeks of this scene. The fellows who work here… well… let’s just say that they’ve never been friendly to the odd itinerant photographer and environmental activist who was just passing by.

Back tomorrow with something else, 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, August 3rd. 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

August 5, 2020 at 11:00 am

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