The Newtown Pentacle

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Archive for the ‘Construction’ Category

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It’s National Bomb Pop Day, in these United States.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As described in yesterday’s post, a hurried flight from “Point A” in Astoria to “Point B” in Brooklyn’s Greenpoint section was enacted last Saturday, in order to arrive on time for a walk through and discussion of the NYC DOT’s Kosciuszcko Bridge project’s commitment to create new parkland in the post facto footprint of their construction zone. Invitees were community members, folks from Open Space Alliance, NYC Parks Department, and a few local busybodies such as myself.

That’s Robert Adams, of the New York State Department of Transportation, chief engineer and showrunner for the K Bridge replacement project.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I’ve stated many times that the community communications side of this project has been extraordinary. I’ve also reported to a number of people that Mr. Adams, in particular, has been remarkably transparent and amiable to receiving input from those who surround the perimeter of his project. Gold standard, in my experience, as far as handling the impact of a large scale public works projects in the crowded urban industrial setting of Newtown Creek in North Brooklyn and Western Queens. Kudos.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As has become familiar – when visiting the K Bridge job site – our little group donned “Personal Protective Equipment,” which included safety glasses, gloves, orange vests, and hard hats. That paved sidewalk, on the left of the shot above adjoining the retaining wall for the Brooklyn Queens Expressway’s Meeker Avenue onramp, is “used to be Cherry Street.” The street we were walking down, in a northerly direction heading towards Scott Avenue, is nouveau Cherry Street.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s the new overpass at Varick Avenue, looking westwards towards the East River.

Documenting this project has been a long standing project of mine – this 2012 post tells you everything you could want to know about Robert Moses, Fiorella LaGuardia, and the origins of the 1939 model Kosciuszko Bridge. Just before construction started, I swept through both the Brooklyn and Queens sides of Newtown Creek in the area I call “DUKBO” – Down Under the Kosciuszko Bridge Onramp. Here’s a 2014 post, and another, showing what things used to look like on the Brooklyn side, and one dating back to 2010, and from 2012 discussing the Queens side – this. Construction started, and this 2014 post offers a look at things. There’s shots from the water of Newtown Creek, in this June 2015 post, and in this September 2015 post, which shows the bridge support towers rising. Additionally, this post from March of 2016 detailed the action on the Queens side. Most recently, here’s one from May of 2016, and one from June of the same year. Here’s one from August of 2016the December 2016 one, one from March of 2017 which discusses the demolition of the 1939 bridge.

Most recently – a post showing what I saw during a pre opening walk through in early April of 2017, and the fanfare surrounding the opening of half of the new bridge in April of 2017.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Just shy of Gardner Avenue, currently a closed off section of the construction site, Mr. Adams began to discuss the perimeter of the new park. It will quite literally be in DUKBO, Down Under the Kosciuszcko Bridge Onramp. The site will occupy a mostly paved area largely shadowed by the two new bridges. Our group discussed the possibility of shade tolerant plants, and or harvesting “gray water” from the highways to feed into planting beds.

The problem with that, as stated by somebody from Parks Dept. was this – shade tolerant plants are seldom salt resistant and that even without harvesting runoff from the BQE’s drains, there’s going to be a considerable amount of road salting during the winter months both above and below the parcel.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The demolition of the old bridge is going to be occurring shortly, which will play out in two stages. First is the removal of the central truss section, then the “energetic demolition” of the approaches. If the schedule holds true, the second half of the new K Bridge will open in 2020 standing in the footprint of the old one.

That’s when the parks business will begin in earnest. There’s a section on the Maspeth side, on 43rd street, in Queens. Another section is this parcel in Brooklyn, and the old Sgt. Dougherty park on Meeker avenue at Chery Street is going to be redesigned and rebuilt.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One of the interjections a humble narrator offered, as one who knows this zone intimately enough to refer to it affectionately as the “Poison Cauldron of the Newtown Creek,” involved the intended pathways which people from the surrounding neighborhoods would use to get here. The surrounding areas to the east and south are insanely dangerous, traffic wise, with gargantuan trucks whizzing about and all sorts of blue collar people doing blue collar things. Warehouses, waste transfer stations, truck and bus mechanics… not to mention all of the autos at Meeker Avenue angrily straining to get into the approach lanes for the BQE.

In short, way finding and traffic control.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

About those waste transfer stations… one of the things that makes this particular “cauldron” so “poison” is the tonnage of putrescent – or black bag – garbage transported here daily. This section of DUKBO is covered in quite toxic dust. Harvesting a booger from your nasal cavity after a walk through this section will reveal many things to you about the quality of air and suspended particulates. There’s also the smell.

DUKBO stinks of decay, rot, and hot garbage. On humid days, you will notice swirls of diesel exhaust along with shiny specks of dust hanging in the ether, as illuminated by an odd shaft of light. In short – dust and odor control are essential.

The choice of this area is an extremely challenging one for a park, but given the paucity of parkland in North Brooklyn – beggars can’t be choosers and you have to work with what you’ve been given.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As far as the construction progress side of things, as mentioned, DOT and their contractor’s efforts are now being focused on the removal of the 1939 era Kosciuszcko Bridge. Up top, traffic has long been rerouted onto the easterly half of the new span, and torch bearing demolitionists have been cutting up small sections of the old bridge. The former walkway and the side railing has been cut up and will be sent off for recycling.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Above Newtown Creek, but below the BQE, crews are assembling the “strand jacks” which will lower the central truss down to a waiting barge. The steel of the central truss is also meant to be recycled, and will be making a final journey to New Jersey escorted by tugs sometime during the coming month.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This is the view from Scott Avenue, and the new park will continue down to the bulkheads and will overlook the water, I’m told. There has been some discussion of waterfront access here, as in a place where you’d be able to put a boat in the water, but one hasn’t been a part of that conversation.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Walking back, as we crossed Gardiner Avenue, I handed off my “PPE” to Mr. Adams and bid the group adieux rather than go all the way back to Meeker and Varick Avenues where we had met up.

I headed down instead to the site of the first Meeker Avenue, or Penny Bridge. Once upon a time there was a swing bridge on Newtown Creek which connected Brooklyn’s Meeker Avenue with Queens’ Review Avenue (and the Penny Bridge LIRR stop). Penny Bridge was demolished in 1939 when the new Meeker Avenue Bridge opened (renamed as Kosciuszcko in 1940) but the masonry on both sides of Newtown Creek are still present.

It was a neat idea, I thought, visiting all three Meeker Avenue Bridges in the same day.

History nerd here, what can I tell ‘ya?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

While I was at Penny Bridge, my zoom lens was dialed to its extant focal length and I zeroed in on the Queens side’s strand jacks being erected. Hey, I may be a history nerd, but I know for a fact that several of you out there are engineering nerds.


Upcoming Tours and events

Newtown Creek, Greenpoint to Hunters Point, walking tour with NYCH2O – June 29th, 7-9 p.m..

Experience and learn the history of the western side of Newtown Creek, as well as the East River Parks Hunters Point with NCA Historian Mitch Waxman details here.


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

– photo by Mitch Waxman

“I’m late, I’m late, For a very important date. No time to say “Hello, Goodbye”. I’m late, I’m late, I’m late” is what was going through a humble narrator’s brain box last Saturday morning. Often is Lewis Carroll psychically conjured on my way to Newtown Creek, a place which is the very definition of “through the looking glass” for one such as myself.

Accordingly, a vehicular coach was summoned via the LYFT application found on my pocket telecommunications device, which automotively conveyed one to the poison cauldron of the Newtown Creek in Greenpoint. The driver, following the directions offered by a computer program on his own pocket telecommunications terminal, used the Brooklyn Queens Expressway for the trip. For once, rolling the dice on the BQE paid off and it was a quick journey between “Point A” in Astoria and “Point B” in Brooklyn.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

We crossed the lugubrious Newtown Creek on the sparkling new 2017 model Kosciuszcko Bridge, with the 1939 version just to the west. As one such as myself cannot turn down an opportunity to record and catalog any and all visual experiences encountered in the City of Greater New York, the camera was being waved around in the back seat as the driver performed his particular function in the front.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The NYS DOT is currently working on the dismantling of the 1939 version, which is at an early stage. Newtown Creek Alliance has recently prepared and propagated a post describing what we know about the various stages, scheduling, and status of the demolition project for the so called “K Bridge,” and it can be accessed here.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

You may recall that I was up here for opening day of the new bridge back in April, but that was on foot. Dedicated pedestrian that I am, it’s an odd thing to actually be riding in an “auto-mobile,” but since I had experienced a fairly late night the evening before – one had risen later than planned and there was no way that I was going to get to Brooklyn from Astoria on time via perambulatory means.

I’m actually obsessed with being “on time” and am particularly keen on “being early” for events and meetings. It’s kind of a “thing” with me. My parents always insisted that you arrive early to appointments, as that’s at least one thing that the people you’re going to see can’t hold against you. Mom always said “you can’t do anything about being ugly, stupid, ungrateful, and unlikeable but at least you can be early.” I’m all ‘effed up.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This wasn’t a tour, per se, as in one I was conducting of the area which I’ve long referred to as “DUKBO” or Down Under the Kosciuszcko Bridge Onramp.” Instead, the NYS DOT is in the early stages of planning two parks – one in Queens and one here in Brooklyn. They called together members of the K Bridge Stakeholders Advisory Committee (I’m on that one) and the Brooklyn Parks group “Open Space Alliance,” or OSA, to discuss the space and begin the process of planning.

I showed up wearing my Newtown Creek Alliance hat, but since we were going to enter the job site, it was soon replaced by a hard hat that said “Skanska.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My LYFT driver was instructed by both myself and the computer program on his pocket computer terminal to exit the BQE at the Meeker avenue stop, which was terribly exciting for one such as myself as I’m a “creek geek.”

Kept on thinking about that white rabbit, me. It was nearly the time for the meetup with DOT and OSA, and I’d still have to walk a block or two to the location.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s the east side of Meeker Avenue pictured above, with its newly constructed on-ramps and approach roadways feeding traffic from Brooklyn into Queens. It’s been so chaotic in this area for the last few years, what with the construction and all, that it was quite a relief to see a bit of calm inserted back into DUKBO.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Saying that, there was still quite a hullabaloo going on in DUKBO.

The demolition of the 1939 bridge will be the supreme focus of all the concerned parties for the next several months, but for right now the teams of contractors and union hard hats are making busy with repaving local roads and improving the subterranean infrastructure (sewers, drains etc.) that serve the new bridge. I know the folks who live in the house that that backhoe is working in front of, who are… shall we just say… anxious for the project to conclude.

Tomorrow, I’ll show you what I saw whilst wearing the hard hat in DUKBO.


Upcoming Tours and events

Newtown Creek, Greenpoint to Hunters Point, walking tour with NYCH2O – June 29th, 7-9 p.m..

Experience and learn the history of the western side of Newtown Creek, as well as the East River Parks Hunters Point with NCA Historian Mitch Waxman details here.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

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It’s National Peanut Butter Cookie Day, according to the National Peanut Council, in these United States.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

For those of you who didn’t get the notification, the City has updated the Queensboro Bridge’s firmware over the weekend. You’ll no longer find your driving directions in “citytunes,” instead they’re now in a separate app.

That’s a joke, of course, for those of you who are literally minded, but this last weekend was a commuter nightmare subway wise, which resulted in a surface transportation clusterfuck of vehicular traffic trying to exit or enter Queens. A classic example of “you can’t get there from here,” multiple subway lines were rerouted or nonexistent due to track work, and the entire experience of getting around town was framed by a couple of conversations I was a part of last week with the NYC EDC, regarding their Sunnyside Yards Feasibility study.

One had two opportunities last week to throw shade at them about the project. One was at the Queens Chamber of Commerce – while wearing my Newtown Creek Alliance Hat – which saw me asking EDC about truck routes and what exactly they think they’re going to be able to plug 28,000 units of housing into. The other was wearing my Access Queens hat (we don’t have actual AQ hats, btw) and I queried as to how half the population of Boulder Colorado would manage to get to work in the City using just three subway stations (33rd Street/Rawson and 40th street/Lowery on the 7, and 36th street on the R/M) every day. Other questions involved hospital beds, NYPD, FDNY, and we explored the chronology involved with transport to Elmhurst Hospital or Bellevue for a citizen who might be experiencing a heart attack or stroke from the ostensible center of the project at Queens Plaza.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Over in Hunters Point, the dig for Captain Praa’s Golden Horde continues. The semi legendary Dutch sea Captain who settled on the northern side of the Mispat, or Newtown Creek, is meant to have buried a blasphemous treasure he collected on a journey to and from the mysterious Micronesian island of Pohnpei (formerly known as Ponape) in the South Pacific. In the native tongue, Pohnpei translates to “upon a stone altar,” and it is where you’ll find the archaeological site of Nan Modol (which translates to “the spaces between”). Legend has it that Praa was terrified by the latent occult implications of the golden treasure he carried home, and ensured that it would be forever lost in the mud and silt. The tall tale that frog headed monstrosities, reported as periodically rising from the Newtown Creek in the historical record, followed him back to NY Harbor is completely unsubstantiated and fantastic in implication.

from wikipedia

According to Pohnpeian legend, Nan Madol was constructed by twin sorcerers Olisihpa and Olosohpa from the mythical Western Katau, or Kanamwayso. The brothers arrived in a large canoe seeking a place to build an altar so that they could worship Nahnisohn Sahpw, the god of agriculture. After several false starts, the two brothers successfully built an altar off Temwen Island, where they performed their rituals. In legend, these brothers levitated the huge stones with the aid of a flying dragon. When Olisihpa died of old age, Olosohpa became the first Saudeleur. Olosohpa married a local woman and sired twelve generations, producing sixteen other Saudeleur rulers of the Dipwilap (“Great”) clan.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Over the weekend, one encountered an online conspiracy theory describing the retail giant Wal-Mart as playing a seminal role in a secretive FEMA plot which would see a declaration of martial law enacted in pursuance of the confiscation of personal firearms. This plot, as reported, had Hillary Clinton as its fountainhead. Mrs. Clinton was just an agent, however of a shadowy cabal populated by internationalist Jewish Bankers in league with the Bilderberg group, who are upset that Donald Trump has emerged to thwart their nefarious goals. Who knew?

It made me wonder, and more than wonder, what role the Harley Davidson people might be playing in this global power grab. What other large scale American corporations might be working to subvert individual liberty and institute a new world order?

Moreover, why isn’t anyone talking or worrying about the antediluvian horrors lurking in the seas of the South Pacific just off Pohnpei, specifically located at 47°9′S 126°43′W – where the nightmare corpse city of R’lyeh lies sunken beneath the waves…  in all of its slimy green immensity – which was built in the measureless eons behind history by those vast, loathsome shapes that seeped down from the dark stars?

I think we can all guess who that flying dragon that Olisihpa and Olosohpa built Nan Modol with is, after all.


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It’s National Chocolate Ice Cream Day, in these United States.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The humans are quarrelsome and troubling creatures in my opinion, given to irrational ideas. Worship of imaginary sky fathers is just one of these ideations which annoy me, and if you follow current events, the practice causes no small amount of trouble. If there is a “god,” my perception and description of it would be that of an extra dimensional and utterly alien being who deigns to sit in judgement over the natives of this planet which is given to random fits of pique that are expressed as extreme weather events. Personally, a humble narrator doesn’t cling to the idea that some “thing” in the sky is watching over me, other than the omnipresent mechanisms launched by certain global military super powers. To each his own, I guess, but I for one am fairly tired of having my lack of neolithic era superstitions seen as some sort of moral turpitude. One goes out of his way to not impose my beliefs upon others in violent or aggressive ways, which seems to be at odds with those who “believe.” If “faith” is so fragile that you need to murder others to prove it, or shun those who follow a different path – exactly what kind of God are you worshipping? Best to get yourself a better God then the one you’ve got, one who will give you what you want or need – I’d suggest Dagon, Cthulhu, or Lucifer in that case. You’d probably have the best run with Lucifer, if the lifestyle of the Rolling Stones or Jimmy Page are any sort of indication. At any rate, I don’t care what you think or believe, unless it affects me or you start trying to proselytize about it. I never inject my personal opinions about this sort of thing on the true believers, but they are always trying to do the opposite and evangelize me. That’s rude, in my version of morality.

Somehow, this little polemic was conjured up in my mind by the image of that horned pickup in the shot above, a cool car spotted on the streets of Astoria, Queens recently while a humble narrator was enjoying a pint of beer with friends at the local pub. The horned God, in the belief systems of Eurasia, is traditionally the foeman of the sky father. Jung and others described this imagery in terms of the “denied herd leader or gelded bull,” and it emerged during the early days of farming – as did Beer, oddly enough.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

While my fellow Astorians and I spent a couple of enjoyable Sunday afternoon hours quaffing beer and discussing the events of the day, another Astoria Hullabaloo sprung up when a Consolidated Edison crew arrived and began to cordon off the corner of 42nd street at Broadway. They were installing electrical equipment into a street vault. The Con Ed guys were busy, but quite an affable group and they bemoaned the fact that they had to work and couldn’t join in with our festivities. I wonder which God they’d worship if we lived in pagan times?

The Saint of Electrical Workers (text lifted from Wikipedia) is probably “Saint Eligius (also Eloy or Loye) (French: Éloi) (c. 588 – 1 December 660) is the patron saint of goldsmiths, other metalworkers, and coin collectors. He is also the patron saint of veterinarians, the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME), a corps of the British Army, but he is best known for being the patron saint of horses and those who work with them.” There’s also a traditional Catholic association of electrical workers with Santa Lucia, but she’s more generally connected to artillery men as the lightning bolt in her story actually killed someone. Additionally, St. Elmo is often associated with electrical workers, and there’s a whole contingent of saints competing for the affections of those who work up on utility poles.

Santa Veronica is the patron saint of Photographers, incidentally. Also, from Wikipedia – “According to Church tradition, Veronica was moved with pity when she saw Jesus carrying his cross to Golgotha and gave him her veil that he might wipe his forehead. Jesus accepted the offering, held it to his face, and then handed it back to her—the image of his face miraculously impressed upon it. This piece of cloth became known as the Veil of Veronica.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Rabbit holes are an existential hazard for me, so…

The Patron Saint of the United States in the Roman Catholic tradition is Mary, in her guise as “Our Lady of the immaculate conception.” Saint Patrick is in charge of the Archdiocese of New York, in case you were wondering. The diocese of Brooklyn (and Queens, thank you), is part of the ecclesial parish of the larger Archdiocese, so presumptively they’ve got St. Pat too. Helps to explain why you see so few “actual” snakes slithering around, but puzzles as to why there are so many of the two legged variety hereabouts.

Not too sure about the other big churches and faiths, and I don’t want to start a research paper on this, so we’ll just end that thought.

Wonder what the patron deity of NYC would be, if we followed the model of the old Greek city states. Mammon, probably. Thoughts? Post ’em in the comments section.


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Written by Mitch Waxman

June 7, 2017 at 11:00 am

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It’s National Mint Julip Day, in these United States.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

When one was a young narrator, it was common to observe me stamping my feet while hysterically imploring my parents about why Queens Plaza was denied to us as a homestead. One fears that this is actually a common experience, after all. What native New Yorker hasn’t wished that they could live in Queens Plaza? Luckily, that cursed malignity of fate has been altered by the good graces of the Real Estate folks and you can finally acquire a luxury apartment hereabouts. You’ve got all the modern amenities (except supermarkets, laundromats, shops, local jobs, or hospitals), but I’m afraid that the porn shops and hookers are no longer anywhere to be found. You’re very close to multiple transit lines, which will be literally right outside your windows.

The Vampires are still here in Queens Plaza, however, so there’s that for historical character and local color.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As far as the Vampires go, you’ll need to meet the neighbors quickly, for the slabs of mirror glass rising all around Queens Plaza tend to throw off strobing reflections of the burning thermonuclear eye of God itself which pierce the otherwise preternatural and permanent twilight beneath the MTA trackage.

This reflected and refracted light illuminates those everpresent particulate clouds of automotive exhaust in Queens Plaza, diffusing it into the miasmic atmosphere – an effect which is beginning to scare away and displace the famously heliophobic Nosferatu. My understanding is that this vampiric legion, which has called Queens Plaza their home for decades, have begun to migrate eastwards along the 7 line – and are now beginning to homestead in Woodside, Jackson Heights, and Roosevelt – so better get down here quickly if you want to experience a slice of that famous “vibrant diversity” while you still can.

Flushing and Corona is too long of a commute for them, and the elevated subway tracks are a bit higher out east, which allows for an uncomfortable amount of sunlight to suffuse.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On a personal note, it’s been a very exciting few weeks for a humble narrator, and there’s lots to tell all of y’all about.

I have been allowed into the company of the humans on more than one occasion, and there has been diversion after diversion to amuse and occupy oneself with. Additionally, I’m finally nearly caught up with processing the thousands of photos which I’ve captured during my various travels about the megalopolis, and this – your Newtown Pentacle – is back for summer session.


Upcoming Tours and events

Newtown Creek Alliance and Riverkeeper Visioning, June 3rd, 1-4 p.m..

Imagine the future of Newtown Creek with Riverkeeper and NCA at the Kingsland Wildfowers Green Roof (520 Kingsland Avenue in Greenpoint) details here.

Newtown Creek Alliance History lecture with NCA historian Mitch Waxman, June 3rd, 5:00- 7:30 p.m.

An free hour long lecture and slideshow about Newtown Creek’s incredible history at the gorgeous Kingsland Wildfowers Green Roof (520 Kingsland Avenue in Greenpoint) followed by a walk around the roof and a Q&A – details here.

Green Drinks Queens LIC, June 5th, 6:00- 9:00 p.m.

Come celebrate UN World Environment Day with Green Drinks: Queens on the LIC Waterfront! This year’s theme is “Connecting People With Nature.”details here.


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

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Lots of odds and ends today. A supposition which opines that I live on the most exciting corner in Astoria continues to play out, as evinced by a deployment of the ever reliable FDNY the other night. It seems that one of the neighbors discerned the olfactory evidence of combustion emerging from a storefront occupied by the local bagel shepherds, which was a report which the FDNY responded to with a fairly large deployment. The fellows on the big red trucks soon determined that this was a false alarm, and it all ended up being just another Astoria hullabaloo. 

My suspicions that I live on the most interesting corner in Astoria will soon bear a different kind of fruit, however, as the trickle of water which I reported to 311 as bubbling out of a manhole cover on the next block – about two weeks ago – has now grown into a small flowing stream. Never quiet – here in Astoria, Queens.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Hypothetically – due to having had to sign a non disclosure agreement with the State of New York today, one cannot tell you where I am this morning or what I am doing. I am precluded from sharing photographs or discussing my visit to some mysterious location where my camera has been brought to today until some indeterminate time in the future when the embargo on such collected material has been rescinded by NYS officials. There are no specific penalties described for violating this embargo (which is odd), nor was it originally offered with an “expiry” date, which is fairly standard for such situations (an open ended NDA contract for such matters isn’t strictly “kosher” legally, anyway, and there’s also that whole first amendment thing which NYS doesn’t get to suspend). Saying that, a humble narrator made a big stink about the imposition of an open ended image embargo with certain hypothetical people whose offices would be found in some theoretical minor City – which would be found around two hundred miles to the north of the de facto Capitol of New York State at the other end of the Hudson River – and eventually I will be able to describe in some excruciating detail where I went this morning and what I saw at some later date whenever they decide it’s no longer a state secret. 

The photo of the two Kosciuszcko Bridges seen above is merely a decorative addition to this post – filler, if you will – and does not in any way indicate where I am, or what I may be walking upon or over as you’re reading this. The shot was gathered a week ago in Greenpoint, on April 9th, for the legally minded and prosecutorially inclined amongst you. 

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Speaking of the bagel shop which drew the attentions of the FDNY to Astoria one recent night, while waiting for the bagel shepherds to construct a sandwich for me one recent afternoon, one was standing outside in the rain and glowering at passerby when I noticed these two pigeons working a flooded tree pit for bits of food and drinking from the puddles. Our normal flock of pigeons, who live in Astoria in fairly considerable numbers, have lately been harassed by a sudden explosion of super aggressive sparrows. This flock of avian bullies has been chasing the pigeons about, and driving them from their ledges. The Sparrows, on the other hand, have recently begun to be harassed by a bunch of Ravens. The multitudinous Sparrows will be loudly chirping when a single “caw” is sounded, which shuts them all up. Down below, the street cats watch, and wait. Luckily, after the bagel shepherds completed the construction of my sandwich, I was able to remove myself from this internecine urban warfare and return to the tranquil safety of HQ where my little dog Zuzu polices the behavior and habits of all the lower life forms. 

Gang warfare, of the feathered variety, affects us all. It’s best to have an elderly dog around to keep things straight.


Upcoming Tours and events

First Calvary Cemetery walking tour, May 6th.

With Atlas Obscura’s Obscura Day 2017, Calvary Cemetery Walking Tour – details and tix here.

MAS Janeswalk free walking tour, May 7th.

Visit the new Newtown Creek Alliance/Broadway Stages green roof, and the NCA North Henry Street Project – details and tix here.


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

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The staccato of lonely scuttling steps are the rhythm of my life, and a humble narrator recently found himself pulsing down Jackson Avenue in Long Island City after dark. Were it just a few hours later, the subway would have been utilized to return to the rolling hills of almond eyed Astoria from the post industrial dystopia of cylcopean construction sites which typify modernity in this ancient place, but since the evening had just begun it was my bet that the legions of vampire who hide in the rafters of the elevated train tracks were off conducting their nightly siege of the NYC Blood Center over on Vernon Avenue, a few blocks to the west. Still, one had left the garlic and cruciform back home…

I’m guessing that as I age I’m starting to slip up – ten years ago I would have never left the house without the garlic…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One did encounter unholy and inhuman things along the route, of course. Bizarre statuary adorned a median divider, its misshapen countenance perhaps hinting at what those who walk amongst us unseen are working towards turning mankind into. Have no doubt that a shadowy group is at work at all times in LIC, an unseen cabal organized and controlled by that impossible thing which dwells in the cupola of the Sapphire Megalith and stares at the world through an unblinking three lobed burning eye. Also, the rats hereabouts are oddly organized and operate in a seemingly orchestrated or military manner. Do they all serve some hidden master, a monkish being who is the lord of all that is darkness in Western Queens? Only time will tell.

The organized efforts of the rats might be due to the Vampires (who are known to possess affinity with “creatures of the night”), however, as I haven’t been able to connect the shadowy cabal or any monkish master with rodent control… quite yet.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Heading eastward, towards Queen Plaza, one removed his headphones and tried to focus on separating the sounds of the eternal cacophony of the place. It is critical to listen closely for the rustle of grave soil choked clothing coming from above, and to remain vigilant for the other horrors which lurk in harsh contrast. Queens Plaza is a sensory melange of automotive headlights throwing out beams of bright bluish light, emergency vehicles strobing white and red, the thunderous crossings of the elevated N, W, and 7 Subway lines above and the E, M, and R lines below. The ground shivers with the passing of transit, quakes with the activity of heavy construction, and the very air you’re breathing is a poisonous fume. This airborne taint is painted into the breeze by the hundreds of vehicles a minute which are moving at speed through here at any given moment, and by the out gassing of buried toxics from the former industrial properties which rim Queens Plaza.

Perhaps, underway is some sort of environmental adjustment designed for the comfort of that shadowy cabal, the vampires, the army of vermin, or for the inhuman thing which dwells in the megalith. Who can say?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Historical research reveals that the Dutch Kills tributary of Newtown Creek used to run right through the section of Jackson Avenue between Queens Plaza and 31st street, in fact the clear eyed Mariners of the United States Coast Guard were able to navigate and map the waterway all the way to 29th street and what is now Jackson Avenue as late as the Civil War. In accordance with the engineering habits of earlier eras, when the Sunnyside Yards were constructed in the early 20th century, the waterway was contained underground. It’s still flowing down there, as the East Side Acces project engineers found out at the start of this century, and as we all know – Vampires are proscribed from crossing running water. That’s why you don’t have to worry too much about them once you cross Queens Plaza while heading for Astoria.

We do have an issue in Astoria with a race of Grecian Goblins called the Kalikantzaros, but that’s another story.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One is preparing a check list for my carriable prophylactic measures to ensure that age, haste, and other factors do not allow one to go out into the night without a full compliment of deterrents. A garland of fresh garlic – as well as a compliment of cruciforms, crescents, and Stars of David, amongst other wards and amulets – will now be everpresent in my camera bag.

Remember to avoid the area around the blood center on Vernon after sunset though, if you should find yourself somewhere in the northwestern section of LIC, here in the Newtown Pentacle, at night. You’ve been warned.


Upcoming Tours and events

MAS Janeswalk free walking tour, May 7th.

Visit the new Newtown Creek Alliance/Broadway Stages green roof, and the NCA North Henry Street Project – details and tix here.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

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