The Newtown Pentacle

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Locusts, I predict locusts. Repent.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Recent wandering through Astoria revealed that the loathsome serial killer called the Queens Cobbler still stalks, and continues to taunt both community and law enforcement by leaving their macabre singular shoe trophies on public display. Also revealed is the continuing disobedience towards littering and sanitation law displayed by the citizens of Astoria. Sheesh, there’s a garbage can on the next corner, bro.

One is a bit worse for wear today, it was a weird week last time around, what with the pounding we took from the weather and my doctor appointments.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A few of you contacted me after I mentioned that I had visited a doctor to deal with a couple of weird things I had going on, evincing concern. Thanks, but everything is ok, I’m just in a process right now wherein instead of just “having” health insurance, I’m trying to “use” my health insurance. My goal in this is largely prophylactic, as other than a few normal aches and pains I’m largely healthy, but it’s been a good decade since a good full body head to toe (and into orifices) examination has been undertaken and baseline condition was determined by a team of Doctors. Given my calendrical age, and the statistical likelihood of things starting to randomly go to hell, it’s logical to establish a “state of Mitch” report. On Friday, I went to an optometrist for the first time in more than two years, for instance, and discovered that my spectacles prescription had changed.

I’m also trying to keep all of this local, as in here in Astoria. Formerly, I was rolling with Beth Israel over in Manhattan’s Union Square, but that got pretty nasty when I had to commute into the City to see a doc for flu or whatever, so I’m establishing relationships with medical professionals closer to home. I’ll be complaining about invasive procedures and the draining of vital fluids and ichors for months, I can assure you.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One has no idea what’s going on with the shot above, other than offering a sure opinion that if you were to step into that chained off square you’d be transported into some blasphemous realm where the elder gods still gambol and play.

This is going to be a fairly busy week for a humble narrator. I’m doing two walking tours, and hopefully this week I won’t find myself huddled with the group on the Borden Avenue Bridge during a wild thunderstorm like I did last week. That sucked.

Keep an eye out for single shoes cast off and left around your neighborhood, for it means that the Queens Cobbler stalks in your midst.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle


Upcoming Tours and Events


Thursday, July 25, 6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.

Greenpoint Walking Tour w NYCH20

Explore Greenpoint’s post industrial landscape and waterfront with Newtown Creek Alliance historian Mitch Waxman.

Click here for ticketing and more information.


Buy a book!

In the Shadows at Newtown Creek,” an 88 page softcover 8.5×11 magazine format photo book by Mitch Waxman, is now on sale at blurb.com for $30.

Written by Mitch Waxman

July 22, 2019 at 11:00 am

abundantly able

with 4 comments

Hot time, summer in the city…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

While wandering around recently, on a particularly warm and sticky day, the burning thermonuclear eye of god itself seemed positively fixed upon the humid surface of Queens. A humble narrator was wearing his summer costume, which includes a white shirt and hat, but regardless of this – shelter from its radiation was required. As one made his way eastwards long Queens Boulevard, the cement overpass which carries the IRT Flushing line subway offered surcease from the emanations, and since I have always thought it a visually interesting place, I got busy with the camera shutter.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Shadow and bright sunlight offer an interesting quandary to the roving photographer, given the high contrast and conflicting exposure triangles needed for both. The particular late afternoon light encountered, however, was casting long shadows punctuated by shafts of white hot light.

The burning thermonuclear eye of god itself, indeed.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Huitzilopochtli or Tonatiuh, Apollo or Helios, Surya, Shamash, Nyambi, Ra – everybody had a name for the deity of the sun, and they were almost always warrior gods who required some sort of appeasement. Sol Invictus was what the Romans called it, as in the “unconquered sun.”

A humble narrator grew up in a monotheist tradition however, so my perception of the nuclear fireball in the sky is that of a single unblinking eye set into the starry face of an extra dimensional intelligence who keeps count of how many times each and every human being has masturbated.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle


Upcoming Tours and Events


Thursday, July 11, 7 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.

“Infrastructure Creek” Walking Tour w Newtown Creek Alliance

If you want infrastructure, then meet NCA historian Mitch Waxman at the corner of Greenpoint Avenue and Kingsland Avenue in Brooklyn, and in just one a half miles he’ll show you the largest and newest of NYC’s 14 sewer plants, six bridges, a Superfund site, three rail yards with trains moving at street grade (which we will probably encounter at a crossing), a highway that carries 32 million vehicle trips a year 106 feet over water. The highway feeds into the Queens Midtown Tunnel, and we’ll end it all at the LIC ferry landing where folks are welcome to grab a drink and enjoy watching the sunset at the East River, as it lowers behind the midtown Manhattan skyline.

Click here for ticketing and more information.


Saturday, July 13, 10 a.m. – 12 p.m.

“Exploring the East River, From General Slocum Disaster
to Abandoned Islands” Boat Tour w NY Adventure Club

Onboard a Soundview route NYC Ferry – Join New York Adventure Club for a two-part aquatic adventure as we explore the General Slocum disaster, and historic sights and stories along the East River, all by NYC Ferry.

Click here for ticketing and more information.


Buy a book!

In the Shadows at Newtown Creek,” an 88 page softcover 8.5×11 magazine format photo book by Mitch Waxman, is now on sale at blurb.com for $30.

Written by Mitch Waxman

July 9, 2019 at 1:15 pm

cyclopean vaulting

with 2 comments

Another, in a seemingly infinite number of, Tuesday has arrived.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Yesterday I mentioned my distaste for Western style men’s Formal Wear, i.e. a suit and tie. One refers to this setup as “Ritual Garb,” and my problem with it is one of practicality and comfort versus the dubious esthetic appeal it offers for some. One normally favors utilitarian clothing, and I have a stated preference for military surplus items as they offer both a plethora of pockets which have button or velcro closures, and are constructed of fabrics chosen for their rugged and tear resistant nature. Given the life I lead, and the places which I constantly find myself carrying the camera to, it’s a considered decision and I frankly don’t care about “how it looks.” That filthy black raincoat of mine has gotten me through several scraps due to its ruggose construction.

Pants or shorts wise, I’ve generally got six pockets to work with. Cash, a couple of sheets of paper kitchen towels (which come in handy as both snot rags and as absorbent wipes), a lens cloth singularly used for my spectacles, and a leather man pocket tool. Six.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The sweatshirt is where I really pack in the pockets, with a whopping 28 of them. I’ve long favored the Scott E Vest sweatshirt when I’m on camera duty. It’s got an internal zippered pocket for my phone that leads to sewn in wire traps for the headphones, secure pockets for metrocard and wallet, a springy stretch thingamabob for my keys that’s anchored into another pocket. You wouldn’t believe the amount of crap I can carry in this thing. When you’re a photographer, there’s all sorts of little bits and bobs you find yourself shlepping around. Knowing they’re secure and won’t fall – say, into Newtown Creek – when I’m dancing about is a real time saver and one less thing that gets in the way while out shooting. During hot weather, one favors a guayabera, or cuban style, shirt. The Cubans seem to have an understanding of both the need for pockets and the atmospherics in hot and humid climes.

So, what, I’m giving fashion advice now? Not at all.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Over the last decade, one of the questions people have asked me over and over is how I do what I do. Camera equipment, lens kit, and operational technique has been offered over the years in a somewhat staccato fashion. The same care which goes into the curation of the photographic tool box is also applied to everything touching me. My “every day carry” or EDC involves nearly fifty individual items (inside camera bag, on my person, etc.) which all have the potential of failing on me or getting lost when I’m in the middle or nowhere or on a boat or something. If the camera itself gets screwed up, well… there you are. The only thing you can really prepare for is staying organized.

Saying that; I’ve got an extra set of shoelaces with me at all times, a plastic garbage bag or two for waterproofing my bag in case it starts raining, a flashlight, a set of allen keys, etc. All told, it’s about ten and half pounds of crap I have on me when I leave the house fully kitted up. This really isn’t that much, photography wise, and it’s taken me a while (and a bunch of cash) to whittle it down to that number. My current tripod alone took two entire pounds off my back, which is what has made it possible for me to do all the night stuff in the last year and change.

The shots in today’s post weren’t tripod shots, as you probably surmised by how grainy they are. Instead, they were handheld shots with the lens wide open at f1.8.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Buy a book!

In the Shadows at Newtown Creek,” an 88 page softcover 8.5×11 magazine format photo book by Mitch Waxman, is now on sale at blurb.com for $30.

Written by Mitch Waxman

May 21, 2019 at 11:00 am

bearded stranger

with 2 comments

Long shadows.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Recent endeavor found one sheltering from a passing band of precipitation over on the normally sunnier side of the neighborhood, and once the atmospheric wave had passed through a humble narrator began kicking his heels around in pursuance of returning to HQ. My northward path was a familiar one, as was the pensive and self reflective mood I was in. The odor of a not unpleasant smelling strain of marijuana which those two teenagers crossing the street above were smoking mingled with the musty smells of a wet and cold evening. The trees and gardens of Sunnyside Gardens added to the bouquet, as did the wet but creosoted wood of the railroad tracks and the oily street. I can capture audio and images, but I’ve got no methodology for transmitting the experience or quality of “smell,” other than describing it with words.

Is smell the new technological frontier, I wonder? Just imagine if I could deliver the smell of Newtown Creek or its tributaries, after a thunderstorm, to your inbox.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The forgotten sense, smell is. Humans are essentially audio visual beasts, I suppose, which is why there’s so much technology available out there that allows us to transmit what we see and hear. Personally, when the olfactory region isn’t too clogged up by seasonal allergies, I like to take a ripping “shnort” of the ambient. There’s a whole memory center associated with smell that’s almost never accessed. I can imagine something I’ve seen in the past, conjure up a sound or series of sounds, but can’t seem to tell my brain that I’d like to imagine the smell of toast or whatever.

Funny that, ain’t it? Life’s rich pageant and all this.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The scene above was encountered nearby Northern Blvd., and I can offer two possible explanations for it. One is that somebody was making a meal of a watermelon and drinking water from a red plastic cup when they were raptured.

The other is that the foul serial killer whom I have named as the “Queens Cobbler” has returned to the neighborhood and is leaving behind their gruesome trophies as a taunt to community and the Gendarmes alike.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Buy a book!

In the Shadows at Newtown Creek,” an 88 page softcover 8.5×11 magazine format photo book by Mitch Waxman, is now on sale at blurb.com for $30.

Written by Mitch Waxman

May 3, 2019 at 1:00 pm

careful be

with 3 comments

Randomly wandering around Sunnyside, in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Last week was one of those where my calendar was absolutely packed with “have to’s” and one found himself constantly scuttling from place to place. Given that a significant chunk of my “have to’s” involved Newtown Creek and that I live in Astoria, that meant that the way home inevitably meant transiting through the Sunnyside and Sunnyside Gardens sections of Queens.

I’m led to believe that the cabling rig pictured above is the property of either Verizon or Spectrum, and one or the other is installing upgraded data cabling for high speed internet service. As a note, the Community Board people in Sunnyside insisted – many years ago – that these wired connections be installed in the neighborhood in a subterranean manner, which is why you don’t see the ugly and “willie nillie” tangle of airborne data and phone wires witnessed in other parts of Queens in Sunnyside.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The NYC EDC team who are working on the ill conceived Sunnyside Yards Deck have adjured repeatedly that the revised planning for their Death Star will require the deck to be no more than three stories above current street grade, contradicting the feasibility report they created a few years ago. In fact, they’ve said they’re “throwing the feasibility study out” and we should just ignore it.

Ok, but that’s two million smackers of tax payer money you’re throwing out, and let’s do a bit of imagining based on what you’re seeing in the shot above. This section would be relatively unchanged on the east side of 43rd street, where the LIRR is transiting above those one story garages. Figure that the train represents a second story, and that the signal boards above the tracks are roughly the third story. That’s the height of the deck? Only three stories? What about the fifteen to thirty story tall luxury apartment houses on top of the thing of the sort you see in the distance?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Patrick “Battle Axe” Gleason, the last mayor of Long Island City, left us warnings back in 1898 to not trust the Manhattan people’s intentions for Queens. He predicted that they would empty their island of the stinking factories and workhouses, and turn Queens into a charnel house of rendering plants, industrial chimneys, and gas refineries. That’s what started happening in the early 20th century. Ever since, whenever they get a bright idea over at City Hall, where they want to try it out is in Queens.

Stand up, speak out. Just say no.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Buy a book!

In the Shadows at Newtown Creek,” an 88 page softcover 8.5×11 magazine format photo book by Mitch Waxman, is now on sale at blurb.com for $30.


Events!

Slideshow and book signing, April 23rd, 6-8 p.m.

Join Newtown Creek Alliance at 520 Kingsland Avenue in Greenpoint, Brooklyn for a slideshow, talk, and book signing and see what the incredible landscape of Newtown Creek looks like when the sun goes down with Mitch Waxman. The event is free, but space is limited. Please RSVP here. Light refreshments served.

Click here to attend.

The Third Annual, All Day, 100% Toxic, Newtown Creekathon. April 28th.

The Creekathon will start at Hunter’s Point South in LIC, and end at the Kingsland Wildflowers rooftop in Greenpoint. It will swing through the neighborhoods of LIC, Blissville, Maspeth, Ridgewood, East Williamsburg, Bushwick, and Greenpoint, visiting the numerous bridges that traverse the Creek. While we encourage folks to join us for the full adventure, attendees are welcome to join and depart as they wish. A full route map and logistics are forthcoming.This is an all day event. Your guides on this 12+ mile trek will be Mitch Waxman and Will Elkins of the Newtown Creek Alliance, and some of their amazing friends will likely show up along the way.

Click here to attend.

Written by Mitch Waxman

April 8, 2019 at 1:00 pm

endlessly coruscating 

with 2 comments

Florida sounds good today, huh?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A bit behind schedule again, and a highly frustrated and annoyed but still humble narrator has a single image on offer today. It’s a bit of a life metaphor, no?


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

February 12, 2019 at 1:30 pm

sounds beneath

with 3 comments

Ok, I haven’t done this sort of post for awhile, so away we go.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Ask anyone who knows me in real life, and they’ll tell you that the following post is just like hanging out with old Mitch, and that it’s absolutely exhausting listening to the constant drone of me talking about Queens… That’s the Q60 rolling down Queens Blvd. on a recent rainy night.

Queens Blvd. is 7.5 miles long, starts at Queens Plaza nearby the Queensboro Bridge, and was created by merging two older roadways – Thomson Avenue and Hoffman Avenue – in the early 20th century shortly after NYC consolidation. In the 1920’s and again in the 1930’s the boulevard was widened and by the 1940’s there was serious talk of turning into it an arterial highway by – guess who… Robert Moses… but that obviously never ended up happening.

The IRT Flushing Line subway stops on Queens Blvd. opened in 1917. A trolley line (owned by the Manhattan and Queens Traction Company) that used to run off the Queensboro bridge and up Queens Blvd. since 1913 was made redundant by the elevated train service, but the streetcar staggered along for a bit. It took until 1937 for that trolley to go the way of all things, whereupon a private bus company – called the Green Bus Company – recreated the trolley’s “Queens Boulevard” route in 1943 using automotive buses. MTA took over the route in 2006, renaming it as the Q60 bus line. Like the old trolley and Green Bus, the Q60 service starts over in Manhattan on Second Avenue and then crosses over Queensboro into LIC, with its terminal stops occurring all the way out in Jamaica, Queens.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Same rainy night, but a different byway – this time it’s Greenpoint Avenue in Sunnyside.

Diagonally situated against the street grid of most of the communities in Queens which it runs through, both Roosevelt and Greenpoint Avenues were created out a colonial era pathway that ultimately connected the waterfront communities of Greenpoint (East River) in Brooklyn with Flushing (Flushing Bay and Long Island Sound), using a centuried crossing at the Newtown Creek. Prior to Neziah Bliss building the first real bridge carrying Greenpoint Avenue over Newtown Creek in 1850 (the Blissville Bridge), you’d pay for a toll crossing on a flat bottom barge pulled across the waterway by donkey or mule powered ropes. In modern times, you just use the 1987 vintage Greenpoint Avenue Bridge and cross for free. Modernity defines the Roosevelt Avenue leg of this main drag, which travels though Sunnyside, Woodside, Jackson Heights, Corona, Willets Point, and ultimately Flushing as the “7 train corridor.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Same night, but many many hours later.

I’m always shooting, even when – as in the case of the shot above – I’m wasted drunk. I had attended a friend’s birthday party and overdid it with my consumption of gin martinis. The shot above, and a couple of others which I frankly don’t remember taking, jogged my memory the next morning of how and when I ended up back at HQ in Astoria. It was still raining when I left the party in the wee hours, and still raining when I woke up.

NYC receives an average precipitation of just over 45 inches of water per square acre (as in a 45″ tall flood of water which is one acre long on each of its 4 sides) – and despite my perceptions – 2018 was a fairly normal year for rain with some 46.78 inches of precipitant having been observed by those who record such matters. 2017 was a record breaker, which saw some 60.78 inches of precipitant falling on NYC. I say precipitant, as a significant amount of that water takes the form of snow. 2019 is shaping up as a record breaker as well, so far in January we’ve received a whopping 3.54 inches of rain. That’s apparently nearly 1/13th of all of last year just in the first three weeks of January, but I’m notoriously a mathematical moron, so if that arithmetic seems wrong you’re probably right.

More tomorrow.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

January 28, 2019 at 1:00 pm

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