The Newtown Pentacle

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Archive for the ‘Construction’ Category

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.


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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

increasingly rigid

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It’s National Date-Nut Bread Day, in these United States.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Hunters Point is a section of Long Island City. Most modern people refer to it “as” Long Island City, but LIC – as in the “independent municipality of” – includes the neighborhoods of Astoria, Sunnyside, Blissville, Ravenswood, Dutch Kills, and Hunters Point as well. Hunters Point is pretty much defined as the zone sitting between Skillman Avenue to the east, the East River to the west, Queens Plaza to the north, and Newtown Creek to the south. The independent municipality of  LIC’s old borders ran eastwards to what’s now the Kosciuszcko Bridge and Woodside Avenue to the east, Bowery Bay on the north, Newtown Creek on the south, and by the East River to the west.

The Dutch arrived in this peninsular area, sparsely populated by bands of the Lenape, back in the 1640’s. The first European land holder was a Dutch Priest named Dominie Everardus Bogardus, and back then LIC was referred to as “Dominie’s Hoek.” Bogardus, whom the historical record is not kind to, died in a shipwreck in 1647. Hunters Point, as defined above, came into the possession of a Dutch Sea Captain named Peter Praa, and the land stayed in his family until just before the American Revolution. At that time, the deed was in the hands of a Praa descendent named Anna Hunter. That’s why it’s called Hunters Point.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Anna Hunter had three sons, and in the name of family unity and amity, her will stipulated that the land be sold off to avoid them fighting over the inheritance. By the time of the Civil War, the land had been divided into lots and sold off to a number of different concerns. The village, or town, of Hunters Point was a part of a county municipal organization called “Newtown” whose borders stretched all the way into modern day Nassau County. Newtown was a relict of the Dutch civilization’s “Nieuwtown,” whose function and borders were continued by the British and later the American governments long after the Dutch. The British first called it “Nieuwe Stad,” and at the time of the Revolution it was “Newtown.”

In the early 19th century, NYC was a ship building colossus. Manhattan shoreline properties along the East River were dearly held, and massively expensive to acquire. Ship yards, carpentry shops, iron foundries, coal yards, and rope factories were moving their operations over to Williamsburg and Greenpoint in Brooklyn and moving steadily north.

Industrial piers began to appear along the busy East River in Hunters Point, and along Newtown Creek. In 1848, the Roman Catholic Church bought the Alsop farm in Blissville in pursuance of creating Calvary Cemetery. Vernon Avenue was created and paved, and a plank road was built connecting to agricultural Blissville. The plank road was named for its destination, at the Borden Dairy Farms in Maspeth, and it was erected out of the swampy lowlands adjoining the Newtown Creek in 1868.

In the 1860’s, railroad tracks were connected to the east river by a company that would soon call itself the Long Island Railroad. Industrialization got its footing in LIC, due to easy access to the railroad AND to the water. Speculators began buying up dismal tidal swamps, filling them in with garbage, dead animals, human waste, and other fill materials. The Borden Plank road was paved and became Borden Avenue.

In 1870, a group of ambitious and notorious politicians, railroad operatives, and robber barons were successful in their bid to secede from agricultural Newtown and the independent municipality of Long Island City was formed.

The first land grab in what we call Queens got underway.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Over twenty nine years of glorious misrule and an infamously corrupt political environment, LIC grew into the workshop of America. Enormous factories opened, and the waterfront in Hunters Point became a maritime industrial center, with nearly all of the freight traffic carried by the Long Island Railroad moving through it. Sugar factories, steel mills, oil refineries, chemical plants, fat renderers, pickle factories, fertilizer mills, manure yards, dead animal wharves – you name it – it was here. The City of Greater New York consolidated itself in 1898, incorporating LIC into its now familiar five boroughs, all under the guidance of the notorious Tammany Hall leader Richard Croker. Manhattan began to convert its industrial shorelines over to residential districts, and started to export all of its dirty industries to its new holdings in Brooklyn, and to the newly named Queens.

Manhattan began a process which modernity would describe as gentrification, displacing the working class poor and encouraging them to move to newly constructed row housing in the “outer boroughs.” The row housing was constructed by political insiders like Cord Meyer. Mr. Meyer and his fellow real estate speculators like Michael Degnon had inside information from the politicians of Tammany Hall about where the roads and subways would be created and they began to buy up agricultural properties all over the former Newtown. Entire neighborhoods were created, seemingly overnight. Call it Elmhurst? That’s Cord Meyer Sr. you’re echoing.

In 1909, the Queensboro Bridge was opened for business. Hell Gate Bridge opened in 1917. The Sunnyside Yards opened in 1919, made possible by the Pennsylvania Railroad company, which also created the East River tunnels that LIRR and Amtrak use to this day. The subways made gradual appearances in the first, second, and third decades of the twentieth century. Notably, what we call the 7 line – which already had three stops connecting Hunters Point to Manhattan as of 1915 – opened the Corona extension in April of 1917.

The second land grab in Queens got underway.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Manhattan’s infamous tenement slums began to empty, and the working class hordes of immigrants began to populate into the new residential neighborhoods in Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx. Hunters Point had a relatively small residential population, which was centered not in the industrial zone but rather in the neighborhoods surrounding it. Sunnyside Gardens was created as an early example of “affordable housing” and as a planned community in the late 1920’s, in response to the multi story apartment houses which began to rise in Dutch Kills and Astoria along the new subway lines. At the same time, Robert Moses had appeared on the scene, along with his Triborough Bridge project.

Mighty Triborough opened in 1936, and the highways that feed into it like the Grand Central Parkway soon followed. The age of the automobile arrived in Queens, which allowed for heavy residential construction in previously rural areas. Forest Hills and Rego Park, Bayside and Douglaston, even Jamaica were now connected to Manhattan. For those who supported Mr. Moses, the routes and off ramps of the new high speed roads were revealed. In 1940, the Long Island Expressway and Queens Midtown Tunnel appeared in Hunters Point, which effectively blighted and cut the ancient community in half.

The third land grab in Queens got underway.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

After the Second World War, things began to change in Hunters Point. New York City began a process of de industrialization that wouldn’t become truly apparent until the middle 1960’s. Heavy industry began migrating to the American south and west, where industrial campuses of collossal size could be constructed. The political establishment of NYC, still married to the industrial labor unions, realized that they had to do something to try and protect their base. In 1961, The Department of City planning (which was controlled by Robert Moses) issued a decree that Hunters Point was now an “M1” zone – the land was reserved exclusively for heavy manufacturing use only.

For the homeowners and residential community in Hunters Point (and in Dutch Kills as well), what that meant was that no bank would advance them credit for a mortgage, or loan them money for renovation projects on existing residential properties. The fly in the ointment this time around, however, was that because of a general decline of manufacturing activity in the entire Northeastern United States the industrial base was seeking to vacate New York City. By the 1970’s, you couldn’t give the land away in Hunters Point. The residential community dwindled, but narrow strips of habitation persisted. The political establishment was heavily involved in “urban renewal” projects, and floods of federal money enabled developers like the Tishmans, Trumps, and Lefraks to build massive commercial and housing projects in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens. This is when the big landlords and the politicians first really got to know each other, and the current alliance between big real estate and the political establishment of Manhattan was cemented.

It’s also when, in an attempt to revive a moribund local economy, the City began giving away land to developers. This process really kicked into gear in the 1980’s, under Mayor Koch.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

In 1981, NYC City Planning rechristened Hunters Point as a “mixed use district.” The first large scale development that occurred after this was the Citigroup tower, which opened in 1993, a 53 story structure which was built on land formerly occupied by a hospital. In 1995, 2001, and again in 2004, City Planning opened up zoning restrictions on height in LIC – particularly along the Hunters Point waterfront. As restrictions were loosened, and residential corridors were created, there was some construction activity but it was a lot of smoke with very little flame. The New York Times and other cheerleaders for the real estate interests began to refer to Hunters Point as “LIC” and started calling it “the next big thing.” (City planning is currently working on further loosenings of zoning in Hunters Point, and preparing the “LIC Core” rezoning which will make it possible to build high density residential towers as far east as Steinway Street, along Northern Blvd.) The currently underway Hunters Point South development is billed as the largest “affordable” housing project in the United States, but it’s not affordable by many of the current residents of LIC.

The so called “Brooklyn miracle” happened instead. From the post industrial waterfront of Williamsburg all the way south to what is now referred to as “DUMBO,” high density towers rose and created the new “Gold Coast” of Long Island. In the last decade, financial speculators and globalist investors have driven the price of Brooklyn real estate so high that financiers have begun to focus in on Hunters Point and Astoria instead, looking for a “good buy.”

The fourth land grab in Queens is underway, as you read this.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

All of this development has avoided upgrading the municipal infrastructure which the new population would require – cops, fire department, sewerage, hospitals, schools. If you’re walking through one of the glorious new waterfront parks in Hunters Point, and you suddenly grab at your chest, where the FDNY ambulance will take you is either Bellevue Hospital in Manhattan, the Mount Sinai hospital on Crescent street in Astoria, or out to Elmhurst hospital. FDNY’s fire fighting apparatus in western Queens was designed for industrial fires, and the 108th precinct is housed in a tiny 19th century building which still has horse stables. The sewer plant servicing this gargantuan residential population was opened by Fiorella LaGuardia in 1936. Our transit needs far outweigh current capability. There are not enough school desks. Don’t get me started on the environmental legacy of all that industry which used to be here. The buildings being erected in the photos in today’s posts are on the site of a former chemical factory in Queens Plaza, for instance.

Simply put, “gentrification” is nothing new in Western Queens and it’s been going on since at least the Civil War. The “G bomb” has already been dropped, and it has gone off. A looming infrastructure crisis is just beginning.


Upcoming Tours and events

Calvary Cemetery Walking Tour, with Atlas Obscura – Saturday, September 9th, 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Explore NYC history, hidden inside sculptural monuments and mafioso grave sites, as you take in iconic city views on this walking tour, with Newtown Creek Alliance Historian Mitch Waxman details here.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

September 8, 2017 at 11:30 am

buzzing polyhedron

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It’s National Vanilla Custard Day, in these United States. 

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One insists on a couple of cups of coffee in the morning, accompanied by a bit of quiet time to read the papers. I’m not one of the artisanal coffee people, as a note, as I favor the supermarket brand Folgers. I’ll actually sacrifice an hour of sleep and wake up at 4:30 in the morning to get my morning coffee time in on days when I have to leave the house early to catch a boat or something. Once upon a time, when I was a full time advertising fellow, you’d see me riding the train in the morning with one of those travel mug things, but in recent years I’ve realized that doing that sort of thing is just servicing the need for morning caffeine rather than servicing the need for some “me” and composing my thoughts time. 

This whole morning coffee ritual is critical to my day long happiness, and something I enjoy. Now, it’s up to the Internet commentariat to tell me that I’m deluding myself, and being some kind of asshole, because that’s the world in which we now live. Mind your own business, and don’t tell me what to think or do. Look in a mirror instead, and work yourself over instead. I don’t have time, nor do I want, to argue semantics. My day is busy enough by the time I finish that coffee. 

– photo by Mitch Waxman

When I’ve finished my coffee, I usually get down to business. There’s always shots to develop, calls to make, posts to write, schedules to keep, checks and payments from clients I need to chase down. There’s “deliverables” which I need to get out to those clients, attention to pay to the dog, trouble I need to start involving the Newtown Creek or any of the hundreds of little existential things I care about here in Queens. I’m also sort of obligated to do the social media thing a few times a day, promoting this or that event or trying to call attention to some of those aforementioned “Queens things” I care about. 

Occasionally, over the course of the day, I’ll check in on the various video games I have in my iPad and play a round or two for diversion (at the moment, that means “Boom Beach” and “Star Wars Commander”)

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Sometimes I’ll knock off in the late afternoon and head over to the local pub for a pint or two of beer and chat with the neighbors to find out what they’re thinking and what they care about, and then head home to get dinner ready. Post meal, I’ll hang out with Our Lady of the Pentacle for a bit, and then I try to stick to a schedule of reading some dry text related to the history of NYC for a couple of hours. By this point, I’m dying for another cup of coffee, but resist the urge since it means that I’ll be up all night while buzzing on caffeine. I’ll usually hit the work again before drifting off to bed since – as mentioned – there’s always more of it to do. 

That’s a day in the life, for a humble narrator. What’s your life like? What do you do? Who do you spend your time with? Where do you go? Why do you go there? 


Upcoming Tours and events

DUPBO Newtown Creek Walking Tour, with NYCH20 – Thursday August 24th, 7 p.m. – 9 p.m.
Explore Greenpoint and Hunters Point, with NCA Historian Mitch Waxman details here.

America’s Workshop Newtown Creek Walking Tour, with Atlas Obscura – Saturday August 26th, 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Explore the Dutch Kills tributary of Newtown Creek in Long Island City, with NCA Historian Mitch Waxman details here.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

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