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Posts Tagged ‘Astoria

imperfect salts

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Getting my groove on in Astoria.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Pictured today are the POV’s from 31st street and Astoria Blvd., which is one of the worst street crossings for pedestrians and bicycles in all of Queens. The construction materials are related to the “enhanced station initiative” that Governor Cuomo introduced a few years back, which has been playing out in incremental stages all up and down the 31st street corridor between Northern Blvd./Jackson Avenue and the terminal stop of the N and W Astoria lines at Ditmars Blvd. One was admittedly skeptical about this when it was described, but – in my opinion, at least – the newly redesigned stations are pretty good. They supply an abundance of light to what has historically been a dark and somewhat menacing streetscape, and the “upstairs” component is pretty clean visually.

Saying that, the corner pictured above which… y’know… has a train station over it and thusly a lot of pedestrians, is terrifying to navigate on foot and particularly so at night.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Ultimately, the high volume traffic problem is due to the Triborough Bridge, which spits thousands of cars a day out onto a two block long stretch of local streets which lead to the entrance ramps for the Grand Central Parkway. Why there aren’t express lanes leading directly to the parkway from the bridge is yet another one of those Queens mysteries nobody can answer. The Grand Central Parkway runs through a trench sunk into Astoria Blvd. which stretches from roughly 33rd street to 47th street, where it eventually joins the same altitude as the surrounding local streets. The trench is due to topography, of course, and both sides of Astoria Blvd. for the more or less 3/4 of a mile between 33rd and 47th are heavily trafficked one lane service roads with a parking lane along a fairly narrow sidewalk.

Why not deck the highway and create a green space/park over it? It would save the State a bunch of money in terms of snow removal, create a planted area in place of highway, contain the particulates of auto exhaust wafting off the Grand Central and into the residential streets surrounding the thing, and would likely eliminate the de facto “us and them” factor between the bifurcated neighborhoods of Astoria (one centering around the commercial strip of Ditmars to north and the southern 30th ave./Broadway zones). We’d drink up a lot of storm water with a green space, and break up the heat island effect – and as I’m often wont to point out – there is no greater magnifier for real estate valuations than the presence of a nearby park. Everybody wins – contractors, labor, drivers, pedestrians, politicians, real estate people, even the actual community itself.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Over in Brooklyn’s South Williamsburg, where the BQE runs through a similar trench, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams has been talking about something similar for quite a while. They’ve done a bunch of the math for this sort of thing, and it’s not outlandishly expensive as long as conversation about the subject stays away from creating a deck structure that needs to support buildings, only parkland. You’d be able to prefabricate the sections, install them one by one during (relatively) low traffic intervals, and give a section of NYC remarkable for its lack of parklands a new reason for the citizenry to move in and join the party. Also, this would likely end up being a fully union laborer operation, so all the Politicians could wet their beaks at the trough of a happy Building Trade Council. Again – win, win, win.

Why not here in Western Queens? Tell me why this wouldn’t improve things for the people of Astoria?


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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

September 19, 2019 at 11:00 am

surprising sort

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Minimalist Wednesday, it affects us all.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s me on the sign above, or at least it is in my personal construct of reality. I’m on every corner in NYC, as is my arch enemy, whom I call “the Red Hand.” It’s been an interesting week with lots and lots of meetings and things to do, but at least I’ve been amongst people. They seemed nice.

Last night’s Community Board 1 meeting was largely procedural. The NYC Conflicts of Interest guy gave us a refresher course on how not to get prosecuted for corruption. He reminded us that we can only take bribes under $50 as Community Board members. It’s the most Queens thing in the world, by the way… not “don’t take bribes,” but instead “don’t take bribes over this amount.” Wonder what the price is set at for Elected Officials or District Managers. sigh.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The protests at the EDC’s Sunnyside Yards meeting came up a couple of times, and a number of the more “institutional” players in Astoria were upset that the protestors had interfered with EDC’s narrative and presentation. I made the case to any that would listen that they were complaining about free speech and the exercise thereof. If the crowded theater you’re in is actually burning, you SHOULD shout “fire.” Also, you should do ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to discourage the younger members of our society from expressing their dissatisfaction and anger by protesting.

The people complaining about it last night are probably cashing checks for $49.99 today at lunch. The bad actors acted, the annoying people annoyed, and it was long and drawn out nearly three hour meeting dealing with protocol and procedure. My head nearly fell off the back of my neck several times out of boredom. Luckily, I sit next to a pal of mine from the neighborhood who is another old school outer boroughs guy and we whispered wisecracks to each other all night.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The procedural niceties of this CB thing are something I’m slowly learning. All these years, as an activist in Queens, my methodology has been to strike fast when opportunity presents. Grab the elected, their people, any other concerned parties and make a deal on the street to get a new green space or something rolling when the time is right. Bang, boom, bang. Advertising and comics industry new business techniques, learned at hundreds of cocktail parties over the decades. Sell, sell, sell.

This “Roberts Rules” stuff flies directly in the face of how things actually get done in Western Queens and North Brooklyn. Protocol? What?

Tonight, I’ll be at the Newtown Creek CAG meeting at PS 110 in Greenpoint on Monitor Street for an update on the Superfund situation. Afterwards, I’m going to return to the utility poles and engage in my eternal battle with the Red Hand.


“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

September 18, 2019 at 11:00 am

oblong apartments

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Three Assholes, in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

An anti-vaxxer has been sticking their pseudo scientific call to arms and meme based advice on the lamp posts and mail boxes of Astoria and Sunnyside all summer long. Coincidentally, all summer long I’ve been prying stupid stickers and flyers off of lamp posts and mail boxes. Champion level dumb assery, the Anti-Vaxxers are admittedly one step closer to reality than the flat earth crowd, but there’s always the chance that some badly educated or gullible new parent will take the advice of these people and their innocent kid will die of a preventable disease or start an epidemic which will hurt me and mine. What’s next? Witch panics?

Here’s my take on things – electricity, airplanes, and nuclear bombs work, as confirmed the underlying scientific assumptions which their technologies are based on. So too do antibiotics, fungicides, and so on work and confirm their underlying theorems. Given that the viewpoint of what these dopes called the “science industry” has real world efficacy and results – Measles and Rubella or Whooping Cough or Polio, for instance, are no longer major concerns for most of the world’s population (there are 250 cases of Leprosy in the U.S. diagnosed in a average year, as a note) due to modern medicine’s embrace of the “Germ Theory of Disease,” I choose to stand alongside the pro vaccination majority. If you’re an Anti Vaxx person, cool, but go live in the woods. Also, you don’t get to pick and choose which scientific facts you like and which ones you don’t. Autism and Aspergers are nothing new, jack holes, and the reason there’s “an epidemic” is that the diagnosis has been expanded to accommodate a “spectrum” of disability rather than a narrow and severe slice of the condition. It’s not because of vaccination.

Asshole.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s not lens distortion in the shot above, rather it’s the severe overload of the electrical transmission wires which those utility poles are carrying that is causing them to bow and bend. You see this all over LIC, Astoria, and Sunnyside.

There’s a few similar looking utility poles on Broadway in Astoria, and I can predict that they will either break in half or drop their cables during a storm in the near future. When someone dies, the local government people (who are fully aware of this situation) will act shocked and call for the creation of a blue ribbon committee to study what happened. The committee’s findings will be submitted to another committee that studies the findings of committees. Ultimately, this citywide existential problem should go to City Hall and the Mayor’s office, but word has it that Bill De Blasio is going to run a campaign to be named Sultan of the Ottoman Empire after his doomed and quixotic effort at becoming President of the United States goes down in flames.

Asshole.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Queens Cobbler’s handiwork has been observed in the neighborhood again, after a summer long interval during which few or no single shoes were observed. The Queens Cobbler is a likely serial killer who leaves these single shoes as taunts for the Police in the districts surrounding the Newtown Creek in Brooklyn and Queens, and the infamous trophies are found displayed along area streets. The Cobbler has been written about in the past, here at Newtown Pentacle, and in fact I’ve been talking about this for over five years at this point.

Asshole.


“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

September 10, 2019 at 11:15 am

gradual provisions

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Staying low, and minimal like, in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It isn’t easy to avoid other people these days, as the City has become rather crowded. That’s part of the reason I’ve been doing “my thing” at night so much in recent years, I suppose. Avoiding encounters with other people, and their radicalized political views of the world, is nepenthe. My current pet peeve is a phenomena called “virtue signaling,” wherein you’re supposed to espouse sympathy or something for some aggrieved fellow traveler based on their affiliation or perceived membership in some group that receives more than its fair share of societal abuse. This abrogation of the individual is disgusting to me, and my antipathy for modern day “identity politics” is something which a humble narrator has not been shy about.

Just because you’re a homeless poet doesn’t mean you’re not a dick too. I’m sympathetic towards your existential horror and the mean treatment you receive, but all your other qualifiers don’t buy you any special consideration if you’re kicking a dog, breaking into my apartment, or holding up a bodega. Life sucks, toughen up. We’ve all got it bad – disappointments, tragedy, and ennui are part of the human experience. Bah!

– photo by Mitch Waxman

More than ever, one’s generational status has been coming up over and over. My older friends who are “Baby Boomers” decry the “Millennial” crybabies. The “Millennials,” on the other hand, are fairly sure that they invented (amongst other things) alternative lifestyles and bicycle riding. Both groups, whose population cohorts dwarf my “Generation X,” like to lecture and comment about society’s perceived sins and injustices. Both groups start sentences with “You can’t say that,” or “You have to.”

How many angels can dance on the head of a pin? How many grains of sand are there in the ocean? Let’s throw a handful of rice in the air and try to count the grains before they fall? How much time do we have to waste discussing crap? To my older peeps – what happened to your empathy? To my juniors – nobody really cares about anything, it’s all a god damned game.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

What’s the point of trying then? If the deck is stacked against you, why not curl up into a ball in some ditch and just cry yourself to death? If some group you’re a part of is being oppressed by some other group, do you just sit and complain about your lot?

Or do you get angry? Remember – the world only makes sense when you force it to, and you’re not a part of some larger group, you’re an individual. Knock it off with this group identity crap, folks. You’re not a Republican or a Democrat or a Libertarian. You’re not white or black or trans or whatever. If you willingly join into the groupthink mentality, you’re just a number. Also, the most successful identity politician of the 20th century was Hitler.

It’s not easy to find a place devoid of people these days, as the human infestation has gotten out of control and “colony collapse” disorder seems to be on the horizon.


“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

September 5, 2019 at 1:00 pm

previously noticed

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Minimalist Wednesday is difficult.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Feature rich and cluttered is how I describe the visual environment that one dwells in. A gauntlet I’ve thrown down for myself is to produce three shots a week which aren’t long focal, do not depict some urban landscape in all of its complexity, and which are somewhat reductive in nature. This ain’t so simple in Queens.

As mentioned in Monday’s posting, a good way to stay interested in what you’re doing is to set a few rules and limitations for yourself, so in the tradition of Newtown Pentacle “series posts” like “Project Firebox,” “Maritime Saturday,” and so on – you’ve got “Minimalist Wednesday.” Something to do, right?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Pictured above is an obvious solution tot he problem, optically speaking, which is to use a shallow depth of field aperture setting to isolate out an object from its background. The object above was a bit of heavy chain attached to a utility pole, but you get the idea. The shot above is cheating, imho.

What I’m looking for… man, I don’t know what I’m looking for but I know it when I see it. Or at least, I hope I will.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

To wit, this little scenario encountered in Greenpoint. I have no idea what the purpose of this array might be, but that – that’s what I’m looking for.

Anyway, that’s Minimalist Wednesday for you.

This post is being written on Monday, btw, and as you’re reading this, I’m ostensibly down at the Kosciuszcko Bridge opening ceremonies and taking lots and lots of very complicated pictures involving the Governor. My plan is to get all of that to y’all in Friday’s post, as I’m sure that I’m coming back home with hundreds of pics from the K Bridge event(s).


“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

August 28, 2019 at 11:00 am

burned out

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Hey, what’s with all this Northern Blvd. stuff?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I know what is to come. In recent years, the NYC Dept. of City Planning was working on something they called “LIC Core,” a planning document centering around Northern Blvd. between 31st street and Woodside Avenue. My understanding is that the planning document has been abandoned, and that the Real Estate Industrial Complex will just be allowed to do whatever they want under the proviso that a politically viable number of “affordable” apartments are a part of their plan. The whole “affordable” thing, and the arithmetic by which the concept of affordability is determined, is a bugbear of political deception which I don’t want to get into.

As mentioned in the past, I’m now a member of Community Board 1 here in Astoria, and before the summer break, a humble narrator was obliged to vote for or against a couple of these projects. Now, when you’re on a community board – and I seem to be the only person in Queens who adheres to this – it’s meant to be like serving on a jury. The petitioner presents their facts, you make inquiries, and then you vote. In the case of two large projects just a few blocks from my own home, I voted yes. Here’s why…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Close to transit, shopping, and City services? Check. Best use of the land? Well, I don’t think used car lots are the best use of the land within one to two miles of the East River. How densely populated is the area already? Well…. let’s just say that when the kids want to experiment with cannabinoids well outside the purview of their parents or just see how loud their car stereos are, the side streets along Northern Blvd. are where they go, as it’s a ghost town at night after all the car lots and mechanics shutter their doors. People sleep in their cars along these blocks, or on cardboard boxes piled up against the walls.

Just like when you’re on a jury, your CB vote is supposed to be based not on personal prejudices or preconceived notions, rather it’s meant to be guided by the presented facts and informed by your personal knowledge of the area. Saying that, my queries and comments to the various entities seeking to develop residential properties in the neighborhood revolved around topics that longtime Newtown Pentacle readers will find familiar – green roofs, truly public space, stormwater capture, hospital beds, school desks, and transit. Also, what are you going to plug the building into, since our electrical power system hereabouts… frankly… sucks.

Also – since this has come up a few times during the summer when I was talking to the press about unrelated Newtown Creek business – I in no way speak for CB1, and if you want an official opinion of the group on anything, talk to the Chair or call the office and ask for one. I’m still new to the Community Board, and getting to know not just my fellow members but also the procedural norms under which it operates. My plan for the next set of sessions, which begin again in September, is to show up and observe the way things work and then vote my conscience on the various issues presented. What you read here is from my personal POV, and all opinions are my own. If I’m speaking “officially” on behalf of any of the groups which I work with, I’ll state that. Otherwise, it’s just some schmuck with a camera mouthing off again.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Saying all that, and I’m still startled at the number of people who have willingly made their homes in Queens Plaza, living along Northern Blvd. seems like a poor choice. You do have fairly regular bus service, but the closest subway stops (other than the 36th street R/M) are all several blocks to the north – in Astoria proper – along Broadway. I’ve long called this stretch of Northern Blvd. the “Carridor” as it’s a super wide primary automobile and truck route that offers some of the scariest street crossings in all of Queens. Really, Steinway at Northern… brrrr…

At the moment, I’m spending some effort on recording what’s found on the Carridor right now, in order to create some kind of record before it all gets swept away by the forces of modernity and the rapacious hunger of the Real Estate Industrial Complex. The history of NYC is a story of wrenching, and quite sudden, change. Take a picture when something catches your interest, as it might not be there tomorrow.


“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

August 27, 2019 at 11:00 am

hastily filling

with 3 comments

Back in session.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A humble narrator has enjoyed his self allotted time off, if you’re the curious type. Given the tropical clime and frequent rainstorms, the last two weeks haven’t exactly been a wonderland of joy, but evening hours when the temperatures were a bit more tolerable were exploited. During these nocturnal scuttlings around the various neighborhoods I keep an eye on, it was decided to severely limit the amount of “kit” one carried and utilized in my pursuits.

The normal “everyday carry” of heavy zoomable lenses, tripod, and all the other crap I normally drag around was left at HQ. Leaving the house, all I had on me were two prime lenses – a 24mm pancake lens and the 50mm “nifty fifty.” For camera support, I was carrying a gizmo called an “ultra pod,” which is a metal plate with a tripod head on it and four latex furniture caster feet. Beyond that, all I had on me was an air blower and a couple of lens cloths, a flash light, and a cable release. The camera bag weighed more than what was inside it. Perfect for roaming around on sultry August evenings, here in the Borough of Queens.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One of the worst things you can tell any kind of artist is “do whatever you feel like.” Limitations are important, as that’s where challenge lies. The tyranny of the blank page has demolished the aspirations of many, whereas forcing oneself to write or draw or photograph within set limits is an invitation to “get creative.”

The cool thing about the ultrapod and the tiny and extremely light lenses I was using was that this setup forced me to slow down a bit and really put some thought into where the camera was placed, rather than just zooming in on a subject. Additionally, it put me back into the mental space I used to operate in back when I first got serious about shooting and was using a Canon G10 mounted on a magnetic tripod. My camera has been sitting on top of fireboxes, on the sidewalk, windowsills – you name it – for the last couple of weeks.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Saying all that, the one thing I was constantly wishing for during this particular two week long exercise was a more modern camera body with one of those neato keen flip out screens. Composing the shot above found a humble narrator lying prone and belly down onto the pavement on the corner of 38th street and Northern Blvd., which was kind of gross.

The Canon 7D is a champion camera body – tough, resistant to the constant physical and emotional abuse I inflict on it, and quite the omnivore as far as the number of common tasks it can handle ably. Saying that, I’m quite attracted to the new Canon mirrorless R series cameras, but everyone I know recommends getting a Sony A7 series with a third party adaptor for my lenses instead. This is all intellectual, of course, as a humble narrator doesn’t have two pennies to rub together. I’d need several hundred thousand rubbable pennies for a new camera.


“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

August 26, 2019 at 1:00 pm

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