The Newtown Pentacle

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Archive for the ‘Construction’ Category

stalking shadows

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Doom… doom… doom…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

So last week, I attended the NYC EDC’s soirée at LaGuardia Community College regarding their Sunnyside Yards Project. It was your standard “visioning” operation with poster board setup stations. You were supposed to progress from one to the next, deliver input, and then receive what turned out to be a really tasty plate of food. Pretty standard stuff for the non profit/public benefit organization industrial complex. The EDC were thrilled with the turnout, with their social media trumpeting vast support for the project and a turnout in the hundreds. They had to set up a line for entry. All the usual faces from LIC and Astoria were present, including a humble narrator. At every visioning station, the first question I asked the facilitator was “Where do you live”? The answer was never “Queens.”

In reality, the Building Trades Council organized a huge turnout by organized labor groups, which is how the EDC achieved that boast of “hundreds turned out for.” The place actually looked like a cast reunion for the Sopranos.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The EDC folks focused conversation on the imagined benefits to the communities surrounding the Sunnsyide Yards which their project would bring. They never mention the noise, tumult, and vastly increased flow of heavy truck traffic that a 24/7 multiple decade long project like this would bring along with it.

Don’t forget, the whole point of decking the 183 square acre property is that of a “land grab” with the intention of making it available for politically connected real estate developers to exploit.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Decking the Sunnyside Yards is a centuried goal of the Manhattan people. It defeated Robert Moses, Nelson Rockefeller, and Michael Bloomberg. The vain glory of the our current Mayor states that his administration can do this. Notably, the EDC and City Hall neglect to mention how we’d pay for this, although I’m sure terms like “value capture” will be bandied about.

The cost of the deck alone, if they put shovels in the ground today, would likely be $18-20 Billion. That’s money which the City would borrow. If the City was actually in the position to borrow that sort of debt, don’t you think fixing NYCHA would be a slightly higher priority for the self proclaimed “Progressive Mayor”? Funding the Subways? Hospitals? Cops? Bah.


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terror withheld

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PSA: August 23 is the “Night of the Living Dead.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On 45th street, here in Astoria, a water main replacement project has been playing out. That’s the Tully company at work above, contractors for the NYC DEP, doing the work of trenching and replacing old pipe. There’s been a LOT of roadwork and utility construction work happening in the neighborhood for the last couple of years – replacing gas mains leading to either LaGuardia Airport or Astoria Energy on the forbidden northern shore, Vision Zero oriented work on street corners along 31st street, sewer line repairs along several of the avenues.

It’s never quiet for long around these parts, I tell’s ya.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There’s been an unusual amount of Police activity as well, here in the 114 pct. Just a couple of weeks ago, the neighborhood along Broadway in the 40’s and 30’s was all abuzz about the Machete Man Bandit, for instance. There there was the Peeping Tomás near by 36th street, and that crazy murder suicide near Hallets Cove which was all over the news.

Even Los Burrachos, the railroad bums that gather nearby the paint shop on 42nd street, have been startled by the sudden appearance of dozens of new homeless inebriates – whom even they look down on. Many have been given nicknames like “Shit his Pants, and American Flag shirt, guy” (which distinguishes this particular fellow from “shit his pants guy”) or “Krustie McGee” and “Surprisingly fat for a homeless guy Guy.” We’ve also suddenly amassed a group of retirement age junkies who have decided to base themselves around the Broadway Branch of the Queens Library and are charismatic but ultimately tragic characters.

Before you ask, these folks are generally what the pros would call “services resistant,” and I reached out to Jimmy Van Bramer about them, and the councilman sent out a DHS counseling crew whom they pretty much ignored. They’re not homeless because of a run of bad luck. Drunks, junkies, bums, street urchins – this is their life and they’re the ones living it, not you. Best you can do by them is to call 911 when you find them passed out on the sidewalk, so they can go sleep it off in a supervised bed, get a shower, and eat a meal on the City at Elmhurst Hospital.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Omnipresent is the thing in the sapphire megalith of Long Island City, gazing down upon the world of men through its unblinking and three lobed burning eye. This thing, which cannot possibly exist, covets. Through its global armies of often unsuspecting acolytes, this thing which does not nor cannot breathe or feel gnaws into the flesh of the world and feeds passively. From the cupola of that sapphire dagger, dug deeply into the heart of Queens, the thing watches men and their folly. It enjoys itself, and plans to someday reveal to mankind new ways for us to revel, and feed, and enjoy ourselves in its manner. 

That last paragraph was just for me, as a note. It’s my birthday, and I’ll cry if I want to.


Tours and Events


Canal to Coast: Reuniting the Waters Boat Tour. Only $5!
Thurs, August 30, 2018, 6:30 PM – 8:30 PM with Waterfront Alliance

Learn about the origins of Brooklyn’s Erie Basin as the Erie Canal’s ultimate destination, and its current role as a vital resource for maritime industry on this guided tour of Red Hook’s Erie Basin and the Brooklyn working waterfront, departing from and returning to New York Water Taxi’s Red Hook Dock. Tickets here.


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no prophet

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Back in the dark, in Blissville.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Last week, Newtown Creek Alliance organized an event in Ridgewood at a local pub which was both a “meet and greet” and an informational event. After it ended, my pal Hank the Elevator Guy offered me a ride towards Astoria in his automobile, but I asked for and instead received a quick lift over to DUKBO.

Hank the Elevator Guy was concerned for my safety, and asked if I was armed. I was, with a camera and tripod. What are you kidding, it’s Newtown Creek – that’s my house. The Kosciuszcko Bridge beckoned, so I headed over to Laurel Hill Blvd. alongside First Calvary Cemetery and got busy with the clicking and the whirring.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The NYS DOT and their contractors are using a pretty good chunk of Laurel Hill Blvd. to store or park construction equipment, and the spot you’re looking at above used to be pretty much where the 1939 K-Bridge stood until it was demolished last year. One attended a meeting with officials from the agency not too long ago, and they indicated that the second phase of the project was on schedule and we’d be seeing both steel and concrete starting to rise out of the site this summer.

They say that everything should be wrapping up in the next 24 months or so.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One sort of lingered about in the area, as I wasn’t being molested or eyeballed by private security. My plan, as you’ll discern from the shots in today’s post, was to accomplish the latest in a series of long exposure shots I’ve been creating all winter. Also, the climate was comfortable, atmospherically speaking.

Also, in that meeting with the NYS DOT, the head of the project indicated that the footbridge connecting 43rd street on Sunnyside’s southern extant with Blissville’s Laurel Hill Blvd. was not only completely rebuilt but was open for business. Additionally, a style of fencing inspired by the wrought iron of the cemetery fence had been installed on the structure, ideal for sticking a camera lens through, unlike the original model which was clad in chain link.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The things I was told turned out to be true, and one enjoyed not just the opportunity to gain a bit of elevation over the deck but to also see the new bridge from a different set of angles than have been available for the last couple of years. This shot looks south over the redesigned approach ramp – connecting the Long Island Expressway off ramp to the Brooklyn Queens Expressway onramp, the latter being the road that the K-Bridge carries across Newtown Creek.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Speaking of the LIE, that’s what it looks like from the pedestrian ramp/overpass that they’ve just built. The old structure was clad in chain link fencing, and despite there being a couple of “Bernie Holes,” here and there – POV options were always limited up here.

For those not in the know, a “Bernie Hole” is a gap in chain link fencing which was opened sometime in the 1980’s or 90’s by my departed pal Bernie Ente. There’s still a few of them around the Creek, and I’m pretty much the only one he ever entrusted the location of most of them to. “Gotta get your shot,” he would opine.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Crossing under the LIE overpass from Blissville into Sunnyside, a humble narrator did one last setup with the tripod and associated gear. I call areas like this “The House of Moses” after Robert Moses, who slammed his roads through neighborhoods and cemeteries all over New York City and in particular Western Queens.


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cupboard linings

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

– photo by Mitch Waxman

File this one under “Old Man shakes fist at passing cloud.” We really have to do something about these utility wires here in Western Queens. You’re looking at an amalgamated twenty five to thirty years of wire in the shots today. Somebody moves in to an apartment, they order cable or internet service, and next thing you know – there’s a new lead coming off of the utility pole that gets tacked loosely onto their wall.

Thing is, the cable people never seem to remove the old wire, and just leave it in place.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It’s when it snows that you can really discern the clot of coaxial cabling which owns the sky here in Astoria. The scene hereabouts is reminiscent of those old photos of Manhattan, the ones from the late 19th century when the telegraph and telephones had just come to town.

There has to be close to a ton of cable criss crossing back and forth on every single block in Western Queens.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

When I say Western Queens, I really mean the totality of it, incidentally. I see this mess everywhere that the local community board didn’t force the cable people to put their wires underground, as they are in Sunnyside Gardens and other parts of Community Board 2.

It’s not just the cable folks either, Verizon and Con Ed can boast rather impressive bundles of electronic spaghetti mingling with the street trees.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I’ve witnessed a couple of disasters, and a few near disasters associated with this utility wire situation. Thanks to the intervention of Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer, the NYS Utility Commission compelled Cond Ed to replace a bowing utility pole on Astoria’s Broadway last year. Saying that, neither RCN nor Spectrum have bothered to move their wire hookups to the new pole yet, and their conductive tonnages are still being supported by the ancient wooden one.

Additionally, as a note, the Spectrum Installers Union strike is still going on.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A summer ago, the entire RCN grid began to simmer and smoke on the poles. To their credit, the company brought in extra crews and got their customers back online in a day or two. To their detriment, they left all the damaged cables in place. One hopes that at some point in the future, a cohesive plan to rationalize this situation will be undertaken wherein Government officialdom will compel the utilities…

Aww. Crap. Forgot the Borough motto. “Welcome to Queens. Now go fuck yourself.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Nothing will be done, and everything will get worse. Storm clouds will gather, rain will fall, and the puppies will be unhappy all about the neighborhood. The cables will fall and randomly kill us all, falling like asps from the sky. Ruination and death will be answered by calls for a rezoning by City Planning, with increased height and residential density in mind.

That’s when the wires will disappear into the ground.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

All is ruination and death. Everywhere you look.


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Written by Mitch Waxman

December 20, 2017 at 11:00 am

decadent locale

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Another void in the National Food Holiday Calendar, with a single nonofficial source reporting today as National Tic Tac Day.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Our Lady of the Pentacle recently informed me of her opinion that Vegan Zombies would be groaning “grains…” instead of “brains…”. That’s the funniest thing I’ve heard so far this week, but it’s only Tuesday, to be fair. The shots in today’s post were captured whilst returning from a “happy hour” promotion offered by the “Friends of The BQX” group wherein they were laying out the case for the creation of a trolley service along the East River Coastline. My official statement on this project, the latest quixotic offering from Mayor “Dope from Park Slope” De Blasio, is one of agnosticism towards the project. It would certainly simplify my life, and would be a boon for several waterfront bloggers and photographers I know, but the logistical hurdles and compliance with – a) The Americans with Disabilities Act and b) The Federal laws governing the operation of rail at street grade – make the project seem like it’s going to cost a LOT more than the Mayor claims it will. The BQX people are now talking about dual tracks for the thing, btw, which would negate 18 miles of parking spots, as a note. Saying that, I remain agnostic on this vanity project of the Mayor’s paymasters.

Our Mayor is, after all, a feckless quisling who has been bought and sold by Real Estate interests while pretending to be a “progressive.” I don’t think he’s ever looked up the meaning of the word “progressive” in a dictionary, it just sounds good to him. If he really wanted to help the people he claims to want to help, he’d set up a low or no fee credit union on the City’s dime instead of vanity projects. As Eleanor Roosevelt used to say – “We all do better when we’re all doing better.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Our fragile electrical infrastructure here in Astoria was receiving a bit of tender loving care one recent evening, as evinced in the shot above. I believe that the specific contractor you see above works for the NYC DOT, so whatever they were doing down in that access shaft (manhole) likely involved either traffic signals or street lights somewhere along Broadway here on the south side of the ancient village. It’s been a few months since our last transformer explosion, after all.

I’d like to see signs hung on the lamp posts detailing how long it’s been since our last transformer explosion, the same kind they put up at job sites that proclaim how many days it’s been since the last “on the job” injury.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One last shot from my walk home the other night, this one on the far and kind of wild western side of Astoria. There’s a LOT of real estate activity going on in this zone. Observation reveals multiple one and two story homes being razed in pursuance of medium sized apartment buildings. Can’t blame the owners of those homes for getting a good price and selling their equity, and it’s none of our business that they did. This is America, after all.

The infrastructure crisis, however, continues to loom. Instead of addressing that, of course, outside agitators and groups of straw men are busy distracting us with promises of shiny baubles of proclaiming vast conspiratorial plots. Bread and circuses, my friends.


Upcoming Tours and events

The Hidden Harbors Of  Staten Island Boat Tour,
with Working Harbor Committee – Sunday, October 15th, 2 p.m. – 4 p.m.

A very cool boat tour that visits two of the maritime industrial waterways of New York Harbor which adjoin Staten Island and Bayonne in New Jersey – The Kill Van Kull and the Arthur Kill. There will be lots of tugboats, cargo docks, and you’ll get to see multiple bridges from the water – including the brand new Goethals Bridge. I’ll be on the mike, narrating with WHC board member Gordon Cooper details here.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

October 10, 2017 at 1:00 pm

meager funds

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There does not seem to be a verifiable national food holiday for Oct. 9th, although one checked source suggests that it’s National Moldy Cheese Day.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A humble narrator, for one, is sick of this summer stuff at this point. One realizes, as my pal Chrissy Remein from Riverkeeper pointed out to me recently, that this global warming thing is getting pretty apparent by this point and that this is the “new normal,” but regardless – I’m tired of the shvitz. I shouldn’t have to leave the house in October dressed as I would be for a July afternoon, and as another friend of mine would opine – “get home with total swamp ass.”

Pictured above is the scene as observed just west of Queens Plaza late on last Saturday afternoon.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I conducted an LIC tour on Saturday, during which the weather was – as mentioned, “shvitzy and swamp ass” – but as is my habit I arrived at the meetup spot a bit early. Vast clouds of haze were rising from the vicinity of the Queens Midtown Tunnel and so a humble narrator investigated. It would seem that road work crews were installing a new coat of asphalt to east bound toll plaza, which accounted for the misty haze as VOC (volatile organic compound) tainted steam rose from trucks of a superheated industrial waste product (produced by the petroleum industry) which we as a culture mix with concrete and liberally spread about on vehicular roadways.

Those are the work crews pictured above, in DUPBO – Down Under the Pulaski Bridge Onramp.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The preceding Friday was equally as uncomfortable to be moving through the Newtown Creek industrial zone, with its affection of the so called “Maspeth Heat Island” effect. This environmental condition, named for the area of industrial Maspeth just east of LIC but is similarly experienced along the banks of the entire Newtown Creek, sees ambient temperatures rise 5-15 degrees higher than in surrounding neighborhoods due to the complete absence of vegetation and abundance of concrete. The concrete and masonry walls of factory buildings, sidewalks, and roads all bake in the radiation of the burning thermonuclear eye of God itself and store up energy, becoming radiant sources of heat. It feels a bit like walking about in a kiln, or oven, even on days when the Mercury never rises out of the 70’s. Forget about the sensation encountered when the atmosphere is already in the 90’s early in the morning.

That’s the Hunters Point Yard of the Long Island Railroad pictured above, which is similarly in DUPBO.


Upcoming Tours and events

The Hidden Harbors Of  Staten Island Boat Tour,
with Working Harbor Committee – Sunday, October 15th, 2 p.m. – 4 p.m.

A very cool boat tour that visits two of the maritime industrial waterways of New York Harbor which adjoin Staten Island and Bayonne in New Jersey – The Kill Van Kull and the Arthur Kill. There will be lots of tugboats, cargo docks, and you’ll get to see multiple bridges from the water – including the brand new Goethals Bridge. I’ll be on the mike, narrating with WHC board member Gordon Cooper details here.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

deliberate effacement

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It’s National Double Cheeseburger Day, in these United States.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Often, it seems as if all of Western Queens is a “work zone,” and it’s impossible to go more than a few blocks without seeing the telltale “high visibility” orange vests and barriers of one work crew or another. The folks in the shot above work for a company called “Hecla,” and they were doing some sort of street work that involved setting down a large concrete pad into 48th avenue, adjoining a bus stop.

As a side note, I associate the word “Hecla” with a very active Icelandic stratovolcano (a volcanic ridge, actually, which rises nearly 5,000 feet high) which medieval Europeans believed to be the entrance to hell. The Icelandic spelling is actually “Hekla,” but both spellings are apparently used for this subarctic fire mountain. The most active part of the Hecla stratovolcano is a fiery fissure called “Heklugjá.” “Hekla Fell” is where witches are still meant to gather at Easter.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Given that Queens sits nestled in a combination of elluvial deposits and post glacial rubble piled up around a “Y” shaped ridge of Manhattan schist and other hard rocks that form a very long island, we don’t have to worry too much about magma exploding out of the manhole covers anytime soon, but one thing I’ve learned over the nearly two decades I’ve lived hereabouts is to not take much for granted. You never know what’s going to happen next.

Would not be surprised one little bit – for instance – if a group of witches gathered at the corner of Greenpoint Avenue and 43rd street, pictured above, on Easter. Occult tradition states that between Good Friday and Easter Sunday, the throne of Heaven is empty and that the elder devil Satan is free to do his thing. People confuse Satan and Lucifer all the time, by the way, which annoys me.

As above, so below. Satan is the “adversary” to Yahweh the father (Old Testament), as Lucifer is to Jesus the son. The whole Holy Ghost trinity thing is what gives heaven’s armies their edge, and why Christians fear the coming of the antichrist, which will even the odds between the two sides.

But I digress. 

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Personally, I think all of the construction Orange is pretty cool, visually. I wish that instead of the sapphire glass which will inevitably be clad around the tragically named – and branded – 5ptz residential luxury tower in LIC, they’d design in some nice orange motifs.

Orange reminds one of hell, and fire, and the consequence of embracing one or more of the seven deadly sins – greed, avarice, and so on. Christian scholar Jeffrey Burton Russell posits that the devil’s incarnation in the modern age isn’t the Bronze Age Satan, nor the medieval Lucifer – rather it’s either the lord of lust called Asmodeus or the demon God of greed called Mammon.


Upcoming Tours and events

The Insalubrious Valley of the Newtown Creek Walking Tour,
with Atlas Obscura – Saturday, September 23rd, 11 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.

Join us on the wrong side of the tracks for an exploration of the hidden industrial heartlands of Brooklyn and Queens, with Newtown Creek Alliance Historian Mitch Waxman details here.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

September 15, 2017 at 11:00 am

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