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Archive for the ‘Queens Plaza’ Category

aged man

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A few more late night shots from Western Queens.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

In all actuality, these shots aren’t from all that late at night, instead they’re from the latter half of the rush hour period. One was meant to be attending an “after work” meeting which was subsequently cancelled. It was – nevertheless – satisfyingly dark out, and since I had my “kit” with me I started shooting. Pictured above, the 7 and the N elevated subway lines are moving across the shot and leaving behind naught but illuminated streaks. In the background of the shot are some of the new towers which have been built to answer that clarion call which all native New Yorkers have been making for a century, which is the desire to live in Queens Plaza. I can’t recall how many times I begged my parents for us to move to Queens Plaza as a child.

Can you believe that we’ve been denied the right to live in Queens Plaza all this time? Thank god for DeBlasio, huh?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Given that my scheduled meeting was cancelled, which was meant to include a friend and colleague who lives in Sunnyside, an impromptu social engagement manifested itself and I jumped onto the 7 line to the former Middleburgh and met her at one of the many fine eating and drinking establishments found in that neighborhood. On my way, I decided to dare fate and the MTA’s rules concerning the usage of camera support equipment on their property to capture the shot above, which looks westwards along Queens Boulevard. The long exposure shot rendered both Subway and vehicular traffic as rivers of energetic light pulsing out of the shining city.

I can recommend the fish tacos at the Sidetracks bar and restaurant, as it turns out.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

After escorting my friend back to her domicile, a humble narrator hoofed it back to Astoria via 43rd street alongside the fence lines of the titanic Sunnnyside Yards. I snapped the kit into action a couple of times along the way, wherever a fence was open and a salubrious point of view was available.

The shot above depicts the new construction around Queens Plaza – some of which are the same structures seen in the first shot of today’s post – as seen from a distance of one hundred and eighty three acres away.


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Written by Mitch Waxman

February 12, 2018 at 11:00 am

avoided acquaintenances

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Taking chances, with the Vampires of Queens Plaza.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As mentioned in past postings, the “thing” which I’m currently into is taking photos at night. On Tuesday last, one attended a meeting of the estimable Hunters Point Civic group in LIC, and joined with some friends for a few drinks afterwards. A humble narrator had brought along a tripod and a few other pieces of required gear for low light and long exposure work, and after bidding adieu to the lords and ladies of Tower Town headed off in the general direction of Astoria.

It was well after midnight, which is the interval during which the vampires known to inhabit the overhead steel rafters of the elevated subways and bridge off ramps of the Court Square and Queens Plaza zones are off making their nightly attempt on the Blood Center over on Vernon, so I liked my odds of not being exsanguinated.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

These sort of shots sound a lot simpler to produce than they actually are. The biggest issue one encounters in this sort of pursuit has nothing to do with the photography angle, actually, it’s the management and “carry” of all the various bits and bobs. The lens I use for this sort of shot is inappropriate for general low light usage, so first there’s a changing of the glass. The tripod I have is pretty manageable, but is still a heavy and clumsy thing that needs to be unfolded and deployed. There’s also a wired cable release that needs to be attached to the camera, which can be quite “fumbly.”

You also have to factor in the fact that – for some of the people inhabiting Queens – spotting somebody carrying a camera around seems to have the same effect on them as witnessing somebody carrying an assault rifle. As a note, in at least one instance, the street pictured above is the cinematic setting in which Bruce Wayne’s parents were shot and killed, giving birth to the Batman of Gotham.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

For years, one has been working on whittling down the “night kit.” I’ve got two versions of it which I carry, one which is designed around handheld and high ISO shots. That involves so called “bright lenses” which have wide apertures. The vast majority of night shots I produce use this particular toolkit, but the image quality in those shots is degraded due to the noise and grain inherent to the approach. Saying that, if I want to “freeze” motion, that’s the way to go.

The shots in today’s post were produced using a “dark lens” (and the forementioned tripod) which was set to fairly narrow apertures and the lowest ISO settings which my device offers. The exposures are in the 20-30 second range, with field adjustments for lighting temperature and other factors dialed in on a case by case basis.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One of the things I like about the long exposure stuff is the way that it captures a longer interval of time than the traditional fractional slivers of reality afforded by daylight. When the exposure is 1/1000th of a second, you can freeze the motion of a bird’s wing or capture the dripping of water. You also run into a portraiture problem, however, and need to be concerned with the capture of “micro expressions.” Shoot at a fast shutter speed and you’ll soon learn that people don’t necessarily blink their eyes in tandem and often make odd shapes with their mouths when speaking.

Long exposure work smooths all that out, but also introduces its own set of quirks.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The red and white streaks, even the ghostly afterimage of the automobile at the right hand side of the shot above, are typical of the pursuit. For the thirty seconds or so that the cameras shutter was open, vehicles and all sorts of moving objects pass in front of the lens, leaving behind spectral trails. Those thirty seconds are also hellacious for the humble narrator standing behind the setup, as a note, as he twists his neck around constantly scanning for approaching threats.

You’ve got all of these angry drivers whizzing around, vampires stalking from above, and drunken humans stumbling about staring at their little rectangles of glowing glass.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

“Like the sea, Queens is eternal and we are just the latest people passing through it” or “all is transitory,” you can ascribe whatever high falutin artsy fartsy phraseology to the shots in today’s post that you’d like to for all I care. In a gallery space you’d need to talk “art,” which usually means the usage of that sort of language. To me, everything is just a challenge.

This section of Jackson Avenue, leading out of Queens Plaza towards the transmogrification point where it becomes Northern Blvd. is the worst part of the Vampire infestation, as a note. You want to be very careful around this darkest section of the “Carridor,” lest you be snatched up and inculcated into the pallid horde.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One thing that I’d mention are the bits of gear which haven’t been described. It was literally freezing, temperature wise, when these shots were captured, and it was well after midnight. One was insulated in the normal fashion with a hooded fleece sweatshirt, buttoned up filthy black raincoat, and gloves. Even with these precautions, it was freaking cold. Luckily, my tripod has a couple of foam grips on it, but handling it drained the blood from my fingers on every setup.

Given the vast physical repulsion people generally manifest in response to me, I wasn’t carrying a rape whistle.


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Written by Mitch Waxman

February 9, 2018 at 1:00 pm

all opposition

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When you’re in a dark place, that’s what you should embrace.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Recent opportunity resulted in one needing to head over to Greenpoint for a reading by my friend Geoff Cobb from his new book about the Havemeyers of North Brooklyn – “The Rise and Fall of the Sugar King.” Owing to all of my recent sloth, when tying up all the layers of clothing to my sclerotic body, discovery of an uncomfortable level of tightness in the waistband of my pants acted as a chide and it was decided to walk rather than catch the train to Greenpoint from Astoria.

My path would take me past to that particular spot where Jackson Avenue transmogrifies into Northen Blvd. That’s one block north east of the historic pathway of the Dutch Kills tributary of Newtown Creek, which still flows below the street in masonry sewerage tunnels, and as we all know – running water acts as a barrier for vampires. That’s whey we don’t have any Nosferatu in Astoria (we are fairly lousy with a specie of hirsute Greek goblin called the Kalikantzaros around these parts, as well as the Strigoi of the South Slavs, but that’s another story). I only know one vampire in Astoria, and his name is Matty.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Pictured above is the actual corner that Dutch Kills once ran to, and as late as the American Civil War, the United States Coast Guard listed this area as being navigable. From this spot on, my eyes kept darting up into the rafters of the elevated subway tracks overhead, scanning the ebon clad steel for morbid habitations.

Legend has it that a few of these Vampires attempted to form a hip hop group back in the 90’s. “NWV” was thought to be highly derivative, however, and few people bought their debut singles “Straight outta Queens Plaza” or “Look in mah eyes.” Members of the trio are reported to be part of the nightly assaults on the fortress like NY Blood Center on Vernon Avenue in LIC. In general, the population of the vampires are said to be fairly representative of the surrounding human population, with a recent influx of Asian and Latino members, but there are a few ancients amongst them who can only speak in an archaic form of the Dutch Language. The demographics are cloudy.

Thing is, once you’re a Vampire, that’s all that you are evermore.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Losing sight of the worth inherent, or causally dismissing, the stories of addicts, inebriates, or madmen is a bad habit of our modern times. Several members of the aforementioned classes have reported to me that the vampires hidden in the steel above wrap ropes around their waists, securing one end of the line high above. They spiral down from perches above on the ad hoc cables, snatching at the unwary on the sidewalks below, and then both vampire and victim are quickly pulled up by an undead cohort of fellow sanguinarians still in the rafters. One junkie told it me it looked to him like a yo yo made out of people.

I’m not kidding, lords and ladies, stay alert along the stretch of Jackson Avenue between Queens Plaza and 31st street.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This fellow pictured above, innocently waiting for the arrival of a bus which will never arrive, something those of us who live in Queens inherently know. He’s fresh meat to those who dwell above, he’s an easy meal, a free dinner. One has always wondered about the complicity of municipal officialdom in the presence of these cullers of the human herd in this area.

Every wonder why there aren’t any street lights focused on the pedestrian lane hereabouts? Take out your rectangular glass computational device in this spot, and see if its GPS can accurately define your position. Where did all the street signs go?

Who can guess, all there is, that might be hidden up there?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Heading west/south west along Jackson Avenue, and into a dystopian vision of the Real Estate Industrial Complex’s that men once called Queens Plaza, one wonders how the new population of tower dwellers will fare against the undead. When the Vampires begin to climb and skitter along the mirror glass of the new towers like bloated ticks, seeking the finely curated blood of the affluent, will acknowledgment of the presence of these ancestral monsters finally be acknowledged?

As a side note, is it racially prejudicial to hate and loathe Vampires? Are they part of the whole “diversity thing”?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Luckily, once you pass through the crucible of Queens Plaza – having survived the predatory legion above and the vehicular traffic below – you’re pretty much ok. It’s about as safe in LIC as most places in NYC, y’know… except for the endemic environmental pollution, noise, heavy traffic, and roving bands of teenagers.

One scuttled off to Greenpoint, to the reading of Geoff Cobb’s new Sugar King book.


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Written by Mitch Waxman

January 24, 2018 at 11:00 am

byzantine mechanisms

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Can I ask everyone to stand still and just look right at the camera, please?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The little snatches of reality which I like to capture with the camera are often occluded by the omnipresent presence of the humans who infest New York City. A particular annoyance often encountered is when I’m about to click the shutter for a shot such as the one above when some bipedal creature staring into his or her glowing rectangle of glass steps directly in front of me. Often I think that they’re doing it on purpose, but that would indicate the presence of both thought and intent in a probably bestial and non self aware thing. Also, pull up your pants, you look ridiculous. Gahhh… how I hate all of you.

The problem with humanity is all the people.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

You remember that Twilight Zone episode with Burgess Meredith, the one where there’s a nuclear war and he’s the only survivor who now has all the time in the world to read but then he breaks his glasses? Up until the glasses bit, the whole solitude on a shattered earth thing doesn’t sound too bad. I certainly wouldn’t need to worry about updating the blog, and my biggest problems would simply revolve around food and water. It would suck not having anybody to complain to – my parents and family used to refer to me as the “complaint department” when I was a young but already humble narrator.

In a thousand years, future archeologists would find a skeletal mass in a filthy black raincoat holding a camera memory card amongst the ruins of NYC, and they’d have some concretized idea what the first months after the apocalypse looked like. Even in the end of the world, you need to stay useful, I believe.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I really need to take a vacation. Somewhere isolated and unpopulated where I can do long exposures of an empty horizon.

More and more, I think about that old Jack Lemmon and Anne Bancroft movie “the prisoner of second avenue.”


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Written by Mitch Waxman

January 19, 2018 at 1:00 pm

sinister matters

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

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Just a single shot today, depicting the most photogenic of NYC’s Subway lines entering the Queensboro Plaza station in LIC.

Tomorrow night, at Jackson’s Eatery Bar in LIC (which sits atop the Vernon Jackson stop of the 7 line at 10-37 Jackson Ave, Long Island City, NY 11101), Newtown Creek Alliance’s holiday party will occur between 6 and 8:30 p.m. Come with?

 


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Written by Mitch Waxman

December 12, 2017 at 12:45 pm

cryptic formulae

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It’s National Bavarian Cream Pie Day, in these United States.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Newtown Pentacle in back in session.

Aimless, a wandering mendicant found himself recently at a juncture. It’s always been my practice to follow instinct when out on a photowalk, but during those times when my schedule is tightly packed, the efficiency of a given route often trumps the voice of that little birdy that instructs one to turn left or right. Binary logic trees tumble forth from out of these choices – if I go left it takes me towards… – if I go right, I’m heading for… – and so on. Recent interludes have allowed one the temporal freedom to acknowledge and follow the advice of the voices in my head, which is how I ended up on the 7 train one recent afternoon.

This section of the glorious IRT Flushing – or 7 line – was built in a few distinct stages, here in Queens. It wasn’t until 1928 that the line reached its modern terminal destination in Flushing. The stops between LIC and the City (Grand Central Station in Manhattan, Hunters Point Avenue, Court Square, Vernon Jackson, and Queensboro Plaza) having opened in 1915. The second section to open was the QB Plaza to 103rd st./Alburtis Avenue section, and that happened on the 21st of April in 1917. I helped organize the centennial event for that anniversary, btw, with Access Queens and the NY Transit Museum.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A productive habit one has acquired over the years, while researching and writing about the garlands of municipal wonder stitched large across the geographies of the Newtown Pentacle, is to take note of historic anniversaries recorded in the historical record and then to set up a calendar item on my phone which repeats annually. After all this time, I seem to have developed the beginnings of an “On this day in NYC history…” database. So much of what we think of as “nyc” was built or created in the 1900-1940 era, one predicts that attending centennial celebrations are about to become quite a common experience.

I’ve been lucky enough to be at the center of several of these sorts of events over the years. I worked on the Queensboro Bridge and Madison Avenue Bridge centennials, was a parade marshall for the Manhattan and Hunters Point Avenue Bridge events, and as mentioned – helped organize the Access Queens IRT Flushing Line Corona Extension event.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Digressions aside, my impulse to climb up the stairs to and purchase a ride on the 7 train towards Queens Plaza allowed a visual vantage point to photograph the Sunnyside Yards, which is always a plus. Often, when riding elevated lines, I’ll pick out the cleanest window on the side of the subway which is shadowed by the sun and set the camera to an infernally fast shutter speed and narrow aperture (with commensurate compensation for ISO, of course) for a “spray and pray” series of shots recording whatever is passed by. Adoption of a weird physical posture is called for, during which one’s body is used as little more than a shock absorber and camera support. The particular one used by a humble narrator usually results in more than a little discomfort in the lower back and the beginnings of a cramp in my right foot.

Most of what you get are throwaway shots, incidentally, but with digital photography you’ve got no reason not to experiment constantly except when available card memory is short or battery life is limited.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There’s a few shots in today’s post, notably the first and last, which were “experimental” in terms of using a newly acquired bit of kit. In recent years, work on developing the skill set, and collecting the “bright” lenses, to negate the necessitude of using camera supports like tripods has been undertaken. One has been somewhat successful in this endeavor, so a minor investment at a recent camera show resulted in the acquisition of a truly transportable tripod. This sturdy gizmo barely qualifies as a “tabletop” unit, but it weighs virtually nothing and can be carried around in a coat pocket. Despite its dimunition; the unit has a ball head, supports the weight of my standard carry around lenses, and sets up rather quickly.

As mentioned above – the Newtown Pentacle is, indeed, back in session.


Upcoming Tours and events

Calvary Cemetery Walking Tour, with Atlas Obscura – Sunday, December 10th, 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.


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Written by Mitch Waxman

November 27, 2017 at 11:00 am

bygone mystery

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It’s National Sausage Pizza Day, in these United States.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Gentrification… it’s all anyone wants to talk about these days, and it seems like people are just coming out of the woodwork to use the “G” word and pronounce the oncoming doom of NYC. One wonders where they’ve been all these years. All of us out here in the wilds of Brooklyn and Queens have watched first DUMBO, and then Williamsburg, and of late LIC and Greenpoint get hit by the wrecking ball, which is then followed by the erection of banal residential towers without any accompanying infrastructure to accommodate the increased population. For decades, voices in the wilderness have been yelling and screaming about this, and our pals over in the Shining City of Manhattan said “so what”?

Something else I’ve been saying for a decade now is that the Manhattancentric city planning model is the problem. Manhattan is not something you want to point to other than as a cautionary tale.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Now that the same process is playing out in the East Village and Chelsea, where the ivory towered academics live and hang out, it’s become a crisis. You’ve got “not from here” interlopers showing up in Queens and sounding the alarm bells about a fire whereas those of who live here are ankle deep in ash. They inform us that we are not “real” community activists, and that they have the answer to all of our problems without any understanding of how things work. The tactics employed by these outsiders are provocative, and deadly to relationships between government and community which have been painfully and slowly built by generations past and maintained by those in the present.

Are these relationships effective? Is there nothing that can be done to resist the population loading and exploitation of Western Queens by the speculative financiers of Lower Manhattan? Are these outsiders correct in believing that 1960’s era protest techniques will do anything but cause the government people to circle their wagons? Would they be here at all if cherished Manhattan neighborhoods weren’t now in the sights of the financiers of the Real Estate Industrial Complex?

Are the financiers mustache twirling villains colluding with Tammany style politicians?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Reality (census and tax base wise) states that the vast majority of residential buildings in NYC fall under the category of family owned small businesses, once you move away from the City’s core (think 5 subway stops from Manhattan). If you were to draw a bell curve depicting the rising rents in NYC and compare it to a) inflation, b) fuel costs, c) water taxes you’d find a disturbing concurrence in the shape of those curves. Our homeless situation is due largely to the fact that the City and State no longer supplies the levels of supplemental rent assistance to low income families which they used to, a program which I believe was suspended back in 2010, but I may be wrong on the date for that one. As the wrecking balls along the East River have demolished the industrial and warehousing sectors, low income New Yorkers have been forced to take service sector jobs which neither pay as well nor offer any sort of job security.

This is something which the folks who throw the “G” word around miss – jobs and job creation.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

For nearly a decade now, a humble narrator has been deriding the “statements that sound good at cocktail parties” thrown about by elected officialdom and real estate industrial complex employees alike. The REIC folks will offer that their construction activity creates mass employment, and that despite the tax abatements like 421a they enjoy, their projects are a nexus of job creation activity that includes the entire supply chain of their projects – concrete, steel, etc. This is actually true, but given that construction of a new building does not continue forever, it means that all of their contributions to the tax base tend to end after a period of 36-60 months after the demolition crew came in and knocked down the old factory or warehouse which provided career long employment. After that, the warehouse which employed thirty people is replaced by a residential building that has a porter, manager, and a super. It’s also common practice for the development corporation to transfer the property to a management corporation, whereupon all the agreements made by the former do not have to be honored by the latter.

Speaking from a historical perspective, NYC is defined by constant change, construction, and tumult – and going back to Astor – Real Estate has always been one of the major economic forces in our municipality since the earliest days. Believe it or not, the influence of the financial industry on Wall Street is a relatively recent thing. Used to be that industrial activity, shipping, and real estate were the dominant financial contributors to NYC’s health and wealth.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I’ve said it before, and I fear I’ll be saying it for the rest of my life – infrastructure is the skeleton on which our municipal flesh hangs. Without, we’d be a bag of mostly water flopping around in the sun.

The very quality of our lives depends on the transit, water, sewerage, and electrical grids. Hospital beds, school desks, fire stations, police capabilities. All the social welfare agencies, old age homes and elderly rent control programs like SCRIE, are essential. I’ve had high ranking City officialdom use the metaphor for running the show as being “like working on the engine of a locomotive while moving at 1,000 mph, towards a cliff.” You need to tinker around enough to improve the system as you go – but shutting it down, going off the cliff, or applying the brakes to it are unthinkable options.

Thing is, infrastructure costs a lot of money, and involves a lot of labor. People who labor have, by definition, jobs. People who have jobs can afford to pay rent to the hundreds of thousands of residential small business property owners in NYC, which creates a tax base. Don’t know why I have to spell this out, but the “G” people don’t seem to understand it. Maybe it’s because academics and poli-sci majors at say… Hunter… don’t take economics classes and focus on their music instead. Dunno. Sometimes you gotta see the forest beyond the trees.


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 11, 2017 at 1:00 pm

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