The Newtown Pentacle

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Monday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

October 27th found a humble narrator driving back from an assignation in Brooklyn’s Greenpoint section. As part of the big move to Pittsburgh, one decided to inventory literally every possession and scrap of paper which has accumulated into HQ over the years and decide whether or not I wanted to move it 400 miles west with me or not. This process revealed a staggering amount of electronics waste – cables, old computers which I’d been keeping for parts, gizmos and gadgets. Lots of stuff made of metal also didn’t make the cut. Thereby, several carloads of gear were transported to one of the local scrapyards for recycling or whatever. There’s also a lot of paper which went to a different recycling company found along Newtown Creek.

On my way back to Astoria from one of these junk yards one recent afternoon, one decided to try and grab a few last shots of places familiar and loved. The first two are from “DUPBO” or “Down Under the Pulaski Bridge Onramp.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Said onramp is pictured above. I get asked all the time about the off ramp to nowhere on the Pulaski, which I’m told was originally meant to connect to the Long Island Expressway. Apparently they ran out of money to complete that, in the late 1950’s when this bridge was erected.

Wish I could have lingered, but there’s been so much to do.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On my way back to Astoria, I did find a minute or two while waiting at traffic lights to stick the camera up through the car’s moon roof.

Depicted above, the Queensboro Bridge and the nearby TerraCotta House, as seen from Vernon Boulevard.

More tomorrow.


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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

November 28, 2022 at 11:00 am

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Tuesday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Continuing with the sights witnessed along a longish scuttle on October 8th, a humble narrator found himself crossing the Greenpoint Avenue Bridge and heading towards Brooklyn’s Greenpoint section.

That’s my beloved Newtown Creek in the shot above. About 1.3 miles back from the East River.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Kingsland Avenue is in the process of being redesigned in response to the opening of Phase 3 of the Newtown Creek Nature Walk at the sewer plant, which has brought lots and lots of pedestrian and bike traffic to the former entirely industrial street. As always seems to be the case these days, NYC DOT’s traffic engineers has managed to imagine up the worst possible design, and implemented it in a piecemeal and inconsistently thought out fashion.

Somebody else’s problem now. I’m done fighting City Hall.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

At the Nature Walk, which hugs the water facing side of the Sewer Plant, the Pulaski Bridge opening for a passing tug was observed.

Somebody recognized me, and I was having a conversation with them while climbing on a fence. They were clearly afraid that I was going to fall in the water while doing so, but there you are.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The next section of my walk involved attaining the Pulaski Bridge’s pedestrian path. Which carried me back out of Brooklyn and into Queens’ Long Island City section.

One briefly considered hopping on the subway, but it was a beautiful day and I just kept on scuttling.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One headed eastwards on Jackson Avenue, heading towards Astoria.

“Every time might be the last time.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Queens Plaza has become absolutely unrecognizable at this point. The few remaining industrial buildings and warehouses which survived the reconstruction of the area have finally been consumed by the real estate frenzy.

Tomorrow – something a bit different, at this – your Newtown Pentacle.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

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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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Wednesday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

After getting dropped off in Greenpoint from a boat journey on Newtown Creek, one scuttled across the Pulaski Bridge to Long Island City and the subway towards HQ back in Astoria.

Along the way, the Long Island Railroad was performing one of its daily tasks.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Big Allis loomed over LIC, as always.

Traffic was heavy, as always.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Queens Midtown Tunnel teemed with vehicular flow.

As always.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The 7 train was delayed, as always, but it eventually appeared.

Luckily, I found a seat and was able to take a short rest.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

At Queensboro Plaza, the trains came and went, as always.

I was waiting for one traveling on the Astoria line to arrive.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Three or four 7 trains later, a W showed up.

I headed home, deep in thought, as always.

“Every time might be the last time.”


“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

November 2, 2022 at 11:00 am

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Thursday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As described in yesterday’s post, on the 27th of September one was provided with a uniquely wonderful offer by my friend, Carter Craft. Carter owns a boat, and he offered to take me out for an afternoon’s navigation upon the absolutely lugubrious Newtown Creek.

We got lucky, with perfect autumn weather. That’s what the Pulaski Bridge looks like from below. Over the years, everything that’s I’ve written about that’s in the vicinity of this bridge, on either side of the creek – Brooklyn or Queens – has been tagged with the acronym DUPBO – short for “Down Under the Pulaski Bridge Onramp.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

For the first 10 years or so of the time I’ve been hanging around Newtown Creek, boat excursions and tours were pretty frequent. With either Working Harbor Committee, or Newtown Creek Alliance or sometimes both – we’d hire out ferry boats to conduct public or private facing tours of the waterway. Working Harbor’s mission includes “educating the public about the harbor” and NCA’s is “reveal, restore, revitalize,” so bringing people here was a significant action for us. We’d also partner up with Open House NY and others to do boat tours.

When NYC Ferry came along about 8 years ago, they began hiring all the available ferry boats in NY Harbor to handle their success on the Rockaway line, and what that meant to us was that the only boats still available were luxurious party and dinner vessels, which were way out of the price range that any of the non profits could support. Ticket prices would have had to have been north of $100, just to cover costs of the boat itself.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This hasn’t really been a terrible thing, necessarily, as my pal Will Elkins from NCA is a leading member of the North Brooklyn Boat Club and has been organizing paddling trips up the Creek for years. There’s a couple of giant row boats in their inventory, and plenty of kayaks. This provided for a more relaxed form of narration, and a slower pace.

Then COVID came along, and thereby it’s been nearly three years since I’ve been out on the waters of my beloved Newtown Creek. When my pal Carter Craft contacted me, and said “I can’t let Mitch Waxman leave New York without taking him out on Newtown Creek,” one jumped at the chance to do so.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Every time might be the last time. In this case, it’s my penultimate trip on the Creek. If you’re along the waterway this Saturday afternoon and you see a historic Fireboat passing by, wave at me. I’ll be the one in the filthy black raincoat waving a camera around. That’ll be the last one.

As of Sunday, I’ll be closing the cover on this part of my life. I’ve decided to keep on publishing here for a bit, just to maintain my own sanity. Things are so hectic at the moment, as I prepare to move to another state, that I find myself having to check with my phone to see what day it is. Writing these posts is the singular “non chaotic” activity I’ve got at the moment, so…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s the Greenpoint Avenue Bridge. Every post that’s been published here since 2009 involving this bridge or the terrain surrounding it has been tagged with “DUGABO” or Down Under the Greenpoint Avenue Bridge Onramp.

The logic behind the DUPBO or DUGABO or DUKBO thing has always been to break the creek up into regions. The waterway is 3.8 miles end to end, with a large tributary called Dutch Kills branching off of it, and the surrounding territory and street grid is so byzantine and obtuse that it made sense to create “zones” just to stay organized around the “landmark” bridges.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s what it looks like under the Greenpoint Avenue Bridge. You’re looking towards the Queens side there, in LIC’s Blissville, where Railroad Avenue is found. We navigated on, which I’ll describe in subsequent postings.

More coming…


“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 27, 2022 at 11:00 am

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Wednesday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

First off – Newtown Creek Alliance will be honoring John Lipscomb of Riverkeeper, Christine Holowacz, and… your humble narrator… this coming Thursday night (the 20th) at the annual “Tidal Toast” fundraising event. Ticketing information can be found here, and the tax deductible donation of your ticket money will help to fund NCA’s ongoing mission to Reveal, Restore, and Revitalize Newtown Creek. NCA has been at the center of my public life over the last 15 years, and I hope you can make it. This is officially my finale, in terms of public facing events, and the end of this chapter of my life.

On the 17th of September, a humble narrator conducted a Newtown Creek walking tour for a group of students from New York University. Our path involved a meetup in Sunnyside along Queens Boulevard, then a walk over the Kosciuszcko Bridge and then through “oil country” in Brooklyn’s Greenpoint section. We then visited the Nature Walk at the sewer plant, and I released the students back into the wild at Manhattan Avenue.

Me? I wandered over the Pulaski Bridge and back to Queens afterwards.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

“Every time might be the last time” is my mantra at the moment, so even if I’ve got a hundred shots of the Queens Midtown Tunnel, I’m going to get in one last exposure of it.

I was heading to LIC for the subway, which is oddly enough one of the things I’m really going to miss. The MTA is shit, but it’s mostly reliable.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The most photogenic of all of NYC’s subway lines is the 7, and that’s a statement I’ll swear to in court. The shot above is from the first of its stations in Queens, the Vernon Jackson stop.

20 years ago, I’d occasionally use Vernon Jackson as an alias when somebody asked me to sign in on something but wasn’t checking ID, but these days LIC has become so populous that the nomen has lost its anonymity. Other names I’ve offered to strangers include Lex Triomani, Septa Katz, and my all time favorite – John Johnson. I used the last one once when talking to a group of Republicans, as they generally like people whose first and last name are the same – Rob Roberts, Tommy Thomson, Mike Michaels – that sort of thing.

The greatest of all Republican names remains that of the former Chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee – Dick Armey. The best way to disperse a group of Republicans – as a note – is to say “Hey, I think I just saw Karl Rove across the street.” They’ll panic, as he’s their bogeyman.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The 18th of September was a Sunday, and I decided to quaff an afternoon pint of Guinness at my local on Astoria’s Broadway in celebration. The fellow pictured above reminded me of a character from a French or Belgian comic and I couldn’t resist cracking out a shot of him passing by on that sweet bike he was riding.

Me? I was getting ready to and girding up to commit professional suicide in the next week.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I’ve been a member of, and Transportation Committee chair, Community Board 1 here in Queens for a while. While walking over to the first in person meeting since Covid, I noticed yet another century old utility pole ready to break in half under the weight of the cables which keep the neighborhood connected and electrified. I attended the meeting, and formally offered my resignation during the thing.

Seriously, some of you people are going to have to start reporting things like the utility pole pictured above to 311 or NYC is going to come to a screeching halt when I’m gone.

Anyway, I resigned, people applauded my service, and were secretly or not so secretly happy to see me go.

The next night, I resigned from Access Queens, a transit group I’ve been a member of the executive committee of which advocates for riders of the 7 train. The night after that, I resigned from the Steering Committee of the Newtown Creek CAG, and the night after that I resigned from the board of the Working Harbor Committee.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I’ve been unsubscribing from the various NYC email lists and newsletters which have kept me informed over the last decade. Also, several calls have gone out to colleagues and friends. The last thing that I’m still a part of is Newtown Creek Alliance, and I’m going to be resigning there fairly soon as well.

It’s wild to again be free of having to worry about things that I have no control over, and since all of these resignations have been received, I’ve had not one single person offer a reprimand to me that stated “you can’t say that.”

More tomorrow at this – 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

October 19, 2022 at 11:00 am

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