The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

time at

leave a comment »

A splash of color for a gray world.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A humble narrator is not having a good week, and as it’s only Tuesday, portent does not offer much in the way of hope. The weather isn’t helping, either. This gray, misty, and unseasonably warm climate is depressing. Accordingly, since I haven’t been doing too much in the way of shooting for the last week or two, the archives have been accessed in pursuit of color and polychrome light. Consider this a public service from your Newtown Pentacle.

Or don’t, I’m too numb to care.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This whole climate change business seems fairly obvious now, don’t it? The butterfly in the shot above is the one responsible, and I was there when it flapped its wings.

I should be living inside a hoodie sweatshirt by this time of the year, damnit.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It feels like we didn’t get a “spring” in 2018, and that the summer was composed merely of the uncomfortably humid and hot days and punctuated by rain. Bah!


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Advertisements

Written by Mitch Waxman

October 9, 2018 at 1:00 pm

more affable

with one comment

Heading somewhere, with nowhere to go, while having to “go.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A humble narrator’s experience can be described, ultimately, as a series of denied ambitions coupled with frustratingly implacable obstacles. Too often are my carefully laid plans upset by an externally generated mid course correction, or by having the bar raised as I’m reaching for it. My life often seems to be gummed up while trying to get from anywhere else in NYC to “Point A” in Astoria, Queens while using the subway. Additionally, enough people have told me that “I’m full of shit” over the years that I’ve started to believe it.

Last week, I found myself going everywhere all the time and wandering about the City in pursuance of a series of mundane tasks. At the end of each of them, whilst trying to return home, creativity and adaptability were required.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On one particular day, and I should mention that I had eaten oatmeal for breakfast the day before, there was some urgency in finding my way back home, so the observation about “being full of shit” offered by many was demonstrably true. Certain biological functions, as centered in the alimentary system, had created a bit of a ticking clock which needed to be acknowledged and dealt with in a somewhat expeditious fashion. Renal function is easily accommodated, in my experience, but blowing other forms of ballast are something which I have a certain situational preference for handling back at HQ. Somehow the MTA realized this, and conspired with that malign sentience which NYC is possessed by to have some fun with me. I saw many, many subway stations and instituted several increasingly urgent transfers. Having what one would colloquially refer to as “one in the chamber” while negotiating the transit system is not pleasant.

Before you ask, I did make it home in time, but just barely.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One is blessed by predictable function regarding such matters. Regrettably, life in the Big City and its various exigencies don’t always jibe with or conform to the clockworks found within. Accordingly, while double timing it back from the N – as MTA had decided it would be crazy for me to have actually used the R line which stops two blocks from my house – one pondered that age old question…

Why is it that in the greatest city in all of human history there no acknowledgement of human biology, and no public “pissoirs?” The Romans and Babylonians managed to create facilitations for this unavoidable existential fact, so why not NYC?


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

October 8, 2018 at 1:00 pm

Posted in Subway

Tagged with , ,

voluntarily followed

leave a comment »

ugggh, Manhattan, in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It’s not paranoid to say that there’s always something watching you these days. We’re betrayed by our various devices to the data collection business. Conversations with members of a certain transportation authority let slip the fact that they can track a card “swipe” through their system and use the data collected for all sorts of things. You know this, of course, but it’s nice to hear it from “the horse’s mouth” as it were. There’s cameras everywhere, acting as watchmen, but with all the video data being collected – is anyone watching it?

Pondering is what I do while riding the subways, and on a particular day this week, these thoughts occupied me.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I didn’t have anything prosaic or interesting to do, just visit one of my doctors for a routine checkup. Since I had to participate in a conference call directly preceding the appointment, my travel time to Manhattan was amended to “put me on the ground” for the call, which meant that I was going to be fiendishly early for my scheduled appointment. Accordingly, I got off the train some forty and change blocks from my destination at Union square and walked there while participating in the conversation.

One observation I can offer is that Manhattan’s daytime occupants have lost that old NYC skill which involved the negotiation of crowded sidewalks in a fluidic fashion. Part of it involves everybody staring into their phones rather than paying attention to their surroundings. The dichotomy of the deep attentions which the phones themselves are paying to their users in the name of data collection seems to be lost upon them, as they bump into others and randomly stop moving in response to the pings and chimes of the things.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

What you should be worrying about, I’d advise, is the malign thing which cannot possibly exist in the sapphire megalith of Long Island City. Staring down at the world through its three loved burning eye, this figment covets, and sees all – even that which occurs across the river in the Shining City.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

October 5, 2018 at 11:30 am

dyed aspect

leave a comment »

Sunlight, who needs it, gimme the night.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Diurnalism has its benefits, sure. There’s the tan, of course, and the vitamin D production. The burning thermonuclear eye of God itself, however, often causes one to “shvitz.” Night time shvitz only occurs during periods of exertion. but the lack of ambient light is a bane for the photographically ambitious. Regardless, the shots captured which I seem to be drawn towards these days involve darkness. I’ve grown bored with dappled morning light and bold sunsets, it is feared.

Besides, night time is when true party animals come out to play.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It’s always night in the sweating concrete bunkers offered by the MTA, which is a good place to practice low light photography. Lighting conditions are fairly uniform, and you’ve got a series of challenges to overcome down below – fast moving shiny things with bright lights moving through sooty black tunnels, weird depths of field, an abundance of signage printed on saturated color boards, and then there’s your fellow New Yorkers you have to contend with. Saying that, if you want to begin to understand low light photography, the relationship of captured color temperature with noise, and exactly how to fine tune your usage of the manual mode of your camera – use your Metrocard and get clicking.

Seriously, the MTA should hold workshops for photo people on the weekends.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

While this shot was being captured over by the Sunnyside Yards, a humble narrator was being assaulted by a plague of flies. Must have been something dead in the grassy knoll behind me. I also had to watch out for traffic, as there is no sidewalk on this section, which is one of those Queens things I will never understand.

How can there be no sidewalk on 43rd, a block from Northern Blvd.? Or 58th a block or two from Queens Blvd.? How did you people ever survive here in Queens before I showed up and started complaining about things to anyone who would listen? Sheesh. Growing up in Brooklyn, where “bitching” is weaponized, a sidewalk would have been complained into existence decades ago.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

October 4, 2018 at 11:00 am

provoking curiousity

leave a comment »

DUGABO, in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As you may have discerned by this point, one tends to circuit the Newtown Creek in its entirety about once a month.

Obviously, since I live in Queens, and specifically on the south eastern side of Astoria, the LIC and Maspeth zones are routinely visited when I stroll out for one of my constitutionals. The Brooklyn side is a bit more of a reach, especially the extant sections of English Kills which kiss up against the Ridgewood and Bushwick borderlands. The other night, while getting my gumption up in preparation of conducting a walking tour for Atlas Obscura, I wandered down to the Greenpoint Avenue street end to see what’s what and wave the camera around a bit. I find my time spent at the Creek and behind the camera to be rather introspective.

My beloved Creek never disappoints… thought I…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

then one laughed a bit after spotting this wry bit of signage adorning a parked car…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

commented to myself about the indomitable will to live that this patch of moss, found on the bulkhead’s edge, is possessed of…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

pondered my role in the universe, then I grew concerned about an itchy spot on my left leg, while spending way too much time framing this throwaway shot of some oil tackle…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

wondered if some new form of inorganic life was organizing itself here in the poison cauldron of the Newtown Creek…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

and that’s when I realized that time was growing short and that I had to get over to the meetup spot so that I could check everybody in for the tour.

Yes, my inner dialogue is that pedantic. My leg still itches a bit, and it’s possible that I may have picked up some poison ivy contamination on Sunday, or it’s just leg cancer. Who can say?


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

October 3, 2018 at 11:00 am

attic realm

leave a comment »

Aftermath, LIC.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

You may have heard that there was a rather large fire in Long Island City over the weekend, which saw an auto body shop consumed in what ended up being a five alarm blaze. Multiple FDNY units were sent to LIC from other boroughs, and despite their efforts the fire raged for hours and hours. The roof of the structure collapsed, and I’d be willing to bet that it’s going to be declared a total loss somewhere down the line by insurers.

On Sunday I walked over to get some shots of the scene, and given that this area is kind of “my stomping grounds,” knew where to go for an efficacious angle.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The FDNY had two units on hand in case anything flashed back to life, and NYPD was also on hand controlling the intersection and keeping “lookie-loos” like me from getting into trouble. FDNY had Rockaway’s Tower Ladder 155 unit, as well as Engine unit 289 from Corona, on point. The coppers were from the 108 pct.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I say it all the time, “Newtown Creek has a history of large industrial site fires.” When I say that, I’m thinking of actual history – the 1882 and 1919 Standard Oil refinery fires in Greenpoint or the Pratt Varnish works fire just down the block here in LIC. Just in the last decade there’s been two major fires, both in Greenpoint, which took nearly a week to put out. Also in Greenpoint, there was the Greenpoint Terminal Market fire about 15 years ago which saw the largest FDNY deployment since 911.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

October 2, 2018 at 2:00 pm

villainous looking

leave a comment »

Happy 77th Birthday, Gowanus Expressway!

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Today is the day that all the children of infinite Brooklyn emerge into the streets and lanes to gambol and celebrate, reveling in a common heritage. October 1st signals to them not just the arrival of “sweater weather,” but also jogs an ancestral memory of the opening of a branch of the House of Moses in South Brooklyn along the fabled Gowanus Canal (Robert Moses, that is). They don’t celebrate the Hamilton Avenue Vampires of course, but… really… who celebrates exsanguinators on the first of October? That’s for the end of the month on Halloween.

The Vampires known to infest this section of the larger Brooklyn Queens Expressway were discussed in two posts from 2017 – “unsigned letter” and “decisive steps.” Read them and take the message of their presence to heart. We’ve got the same problem in Queens Plaza, I’m sorry to say. The City suppresses NYPD statistics on this subject.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The House of Moses landed heavily in South Brooklyn, and stole the sky. It blighted the ground and blocked the emanations of the burning thermonuclear eye of God itself from ever directly warming the pavement set squamously about the Gowanus. As above, so below – automotive traffic is everpresent and flows heavily in these parts. The exigent needs of pedestrians in the area were abrogated, ignored, and arrogantly discarded.

I seem to recall that – sometime in the late 1980’s or early 90’s – a decades long season of deferred maintenance on the elevated Gowanus Expressway resulted in a truck plunging through it to the streets below. Same thing happened in the City, over on the West Side Highway.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Construction on this wonder of the Brooklyn world began in 1939, and the consequences for the neighborhood below were dire. If you lived, or worked, in the pathway chosen by Mr. Moses for his marvel… well… you couldn’t stand in the way of progress. The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, and you can’t make an omelette without breaking a few eggs. This was called “progress.”

As a note, this is why I argue about semantics with my political friends when they call themselves “progressives” in the 21st century. I usually refer them to a dictionary, because “progressive” doesn’t actually mean what they think it does. Robert Moses was a progressive.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Gowanus Expressway as viewed from the turgid water of Gowanus Bay, in the shot above. Gowanus Expressway was designed to connect the corridors of Ocean Parkway, Sunset Park, and Bay Ridge with the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel. Concurrently built, the Koscisuzcko Bridge over in North Brooklyn was meant to provide egress to extant sections of Queens, notably the new Grand Central Parkway which fed into the Triborough Bridge. Mr. Moses then made the case that it would all be wasted effort were a connecting highway not created between the structures. He called it the Brooklyn Queens Connecting Highway, which, in the years following the Second World War was widened and improved into becoming the Brooklyn Queens Expressway. The BQE was then extended a bit to the south to meet and join with the Belt Parkway, which – coincidentally – also provided an eastern connection to Triborough via the Van Wyck and Interborough Parkways to the Grand Central.

That’s the Hamilton Avenue Bridge just below the Gowanus Expressway, if you’re curious, and it was discussed in this Newtown Pentacle post from 2014.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The sections of Brooklyn found under the Gowanus Expressway, in addition to being lousy with vampires, are pretty horrible. The elevated road drips, it hums, it overshadows and overwhelms. It’s not a pleasant experience either driving or walking down here. All is shadowed by the best intentions of the exigencies of the past.

One of the less salubrious corridors of the “House of Moses,” this.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It’s especially horrible at night.

Anywho – Happy Birthday Gowanus Expressway, you vampire infested nightmare.


Upcoming Tours and Events

Monday, October 1st, 6:30 p.m. – Infrastructure Creek – with Atlas Obscura.

Join Newtown Creek Alliance Historian Mitch Waxman as he leads an exploration of the city’s largest sewer plant, tunnels, draw and truss bridges, rail yards, and a highway that carries 32 million vehicle-trips a year over flowing water.

Tix and more details here.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

October 1, 2018 at 1:00 pm

%d bloggers like this: