The Newtown Pentacle

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Posts Tagged ‘Astoria

intense interest

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It’s National Ice Cream Cone Day, in these United States.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A few odds and ends, in today’s post at this – your Newtown Pentacle.

There’s nothing that somebody who works for the City hates more than being photographed while pursuing their occupation, and none moreso than the NYPD. Saying that, if you’re doing a traffic stop right in front of me while I’m hanging out with my pals at the neighborhood saloon… what’s a humble narrator to do? Constitutionally speaking y’all have less of a right to privacy in the public sphere than the rest of us do because you’re wearing that blue suit and sporting the badge, and the inherent lack of privacy that all of us suffer when out in public is the constitutionally justified reason y’all can get away with hanging surveillance cameras and speed trap gizmos on lamp posts.

Big brother? Little Brother? All part of one big happy, and quite paranoid, family.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Same corner in Astoria, different day, and a DSNY garbage truck was experiencing mechanical problems. You don’t see tow trucks of the type pictured above too often… well… I do, but most don’t. I didn’t stick around too long to watch them towing the truck back to 58th street and the garage found at the angle between Woodside and Maspeth.

I had somewhere to be, people to see, politicians and officials to annoy.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Down in Hunters Point one night, as I was passing by the LIRR yard, I noticed this cool bit of kit. My surmise, based on the sort of tools that the gizmo sported in its front end, was that this was a track maintenance mechanism. It had what looked like two claws that stuck out of the front which were positioned pretty close to where the steel tracks are found.


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.

Exploring Long Island City, from Luxury Waterfront to Abandoned Factories Walking Tour,
with NY Adventure Club – Saturday, October 7th, 1 p.m. – 3 p.m.

Long Island City is a tale of two cities; one filled with glittering water-front skyscrapers and manicured parks, and the other, a highly active ground transportation & distribution zone vital to the New York economy — which will prevail? With Newtown Creek Alliance Historian Mitch Waxman details here.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

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Written by Mitch Waxman

September 22, 2017 at 12:00 pm

mute clue

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

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As mentioned yesterday, one seems to have been hanging around in Astoria quite a bit recently. The long walks from the ancient village which a humble narrator is known for undertaking, carrying one from Astoria in North West Queens to all sorts of distant locales, require a bit of time to undertake and a variety of factors have limited the open windows of time needed to commit them. Fear not, for vast overland crossings through the concrete devastations are being planned and will be embarked upon shortly, whereupon description of said events will be presented at this – your Newtown Pentacle.

Just in the name of getting some exercise, for myself and the camera alike, I’ve been perambulating about in a roughly two mile circle from HQ for the last few weeks.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The world is a scary place. It’s full of wildly unpredictable people, some of whom just might be a part of some sadist doomsday cult who seek the world’s end. Others are just stupid, and you can see it on their faces when they try to think about something. The other day on the train, I sat there watching some woman visibly thinking. Her brow beedled, she silently mouthed words, and was apparently either rehearsing or reviewing an argument she either had lost or will lose when she has it. Occasionally, she would pull out her phone and fire off a text missive, which was angrily stabbed out with her digitus tertius or “curse” finger. Lip reading informs that she was upset at somebody she knew who had said hello to her “ex.” She kept on mouthing the word “ratchet.”

She had her two kids watching the display, one of whom was licking the subway seat. There really is no hope.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Astoria is decidedly carnivorous, as a rule. Don’t get me wrong, “we gots our vegans ’round here’s,” but most of the people you meet in the neighborhood talk about some kind of meat when you ask “what’s for dinner?” I know I do, but when I came across this display of half pig in a butcher shop window, one became entranced by its gruesome spectacle and the illusion of some monstrous face screaming in terror.

Pareidolia (/pærɪˈdoʊliə/ parr-i-DOH-lee-ə) is what it’s called when your brain perceives facial structures in inanimate objects. According to studies of the psychological phenomena, if you’re like me and you see “faces” in a LOT of inanimate objects and every cloud reminds you of some esoteric critter, it’s sympomatic of a highly neurotic personality type. Me, neurotic?

Who knew? 


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 13, 2017 at 11:00 am

mental complexity

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It’s National Chocolate Milkshake Day, in these United States.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My daily walk for the last few weeks, due to certain constraints on schedule and other obligations, has been decidedly local in nature and a humble narrator has seldom found himself less than an hour from HQ before its time to turn around and head back. As I enjoy the distinct pleasure of living on the southern side of Astoria, Queens – this isn’t that big a burden. Lurking, in fear – after all – around Western Queens is one of my favorite activities.

There’s always something interesting happening here in the ancient village.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Over on Steinway Street’s intersection with 34th avenue, there’s a mid sized construction job going on. A former one story furniture store is being converted over to a multi story residential dealie. The iron workers have been busy at this corner all summer, doing their thing, and a whole crew of local lords and ladies have been observed entering and leaving the job site in their bright yellow vests since last winter.

I know that to some calloused eyes this is “gentrification” occurring, but it’s hard to argue against creating both a bunch of construction jobs and some new housing units that are so close to the 34th avenue side of the Steinway Street stop on the R and M lines. Y’know, no form of housing is “affordable” unless you’ve got an opportunity for gainful employment and the chance to earn a living from it. That is, unless your idea of “affordable” involves the redistribution of earned wealth from someone else’s pocket into yours.

Just saying. 

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On this particular day, a crane was delivering steel beams and the union guys were crawling all over the skeleton of the new building. I can tell that they’re Union, as you’ll notice all of the safety equipment they’ve got on display. If this was a non Union job, these cats would be sporting baseball hats instead of hard hats, and the safety harnesses they’re wearing would be absent or made of duct tape.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

They seemed to know their business, these fellows (I think they’re fellows at least, as I wasn’t close enough to discern sex), and after snapping out a few shots I moved on. My half way point destination for the afternoon walk was set to be Queens Blvd. in Sunnyside, where an easterly turn would be undertaken towards Roosevelt Avenue and a return back to Astoria’s Broadway in the 40’s would be accomplished via Woodside Avenue.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Walking south down Steinway Street, where it transmogrifies into 39th street at Northern Blvd., one encountered this little assemblage of compound signage. It somehow fit my mood, and current worldview.

You people scare the hell out of me. 


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 12, 2017 at 1:00 pm

true conditions

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

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On this day, in 70 AD, the Romans sacked Jerusalem. In 1776, the very first submarine attack on a warship occurred in New York Harbor when the Turtle attached a time bomb to the hull of HMS Eagle. In 1860, Garibaldi entered Naples and began the process of creating the modern day Nation of Italy. In 1921, the first Miss America pageant was held in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Over in San Francisco back in 1927, inventor Philo Farnsworth demonstrated the first television signal. Benjamin, the last of the thylacines, died alone in a Tasmanian zoo in 1936. In 1940, the Nazis began the London Blitz, and in 1978 Rock and Roll drummer Keith Moon kicked the bucket.

The cool car pictured above was spotted in Greenpoint, incidentally. I was out one night conducting a walking tour of Newtown Creek and happened across it. The graffiti is what drew me in.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

After conducting the walking tour, one set upon his path back towards the rolling hills of almond eyed Astoria, but had to pass through the concrete devastations of Hunters Point and Queens Plaza in order to do so. It was a nice night, and I decided upon walking home. On my way, I passed by the Queens Midtown Tunnel and captured this shot.

The funny bit – to me at least – about the current efforts by the State of New York to elimate toll booths in favor of electronic tolling is that no one thought about what happens on the Manhattan side of the tunnel. I’ve been noticing massive traffic backups on the Long Island Expressway since they instituted the new system, which was meant to ease traffic and smooth the commute for the 80,000 or so daily vehicle trips through the tunnel. The toll booths had the effect of causing traffic to pulse through the toll plaza four or five at a time, but now the traffic just snakes into it. The head of the snake emerges into the City and is met by traffic lights on second avenue. Those traffic lights are now the de facto governors of how fast traffic can flow through the tunnel, and on the 71 miles of the Long Island Expressway found to the east of it.

The military guys and gals have a word for this sort of thing – it’s “FUBAR.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Back in Astoria, it was preternaturally dark when I arrived home, but this sort of thing doesn’t bother my little dog Zuzu. She operates by smell and sound, my dog, and as we engaged in her evening saunter and as she performed her investigative sniffing, I was growing increasingly apprehensive for some reason.

My pineal gland was twitching with latent horror.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As we swung back around onto Broadway and made our way back towards HQ, a large group of teenaged men were riding their bicycles down the block in a pack. According to a report I saw on the local CBS TV news, events such as this are to be viewed in a menacing light and feared. I found it menacing simply because they’re all teenagers. Darned kids, with their bicycles and the hip hop, engaging in group activities without first obtaining police permits or parental approval. Chaos!

There should be a curfew for anyone under the age of thirty, I tell ya. Damn kids.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Bicycles such as the ones pictured above are a fairly modern invention, but some scholars attribute the first bike design to a sketch by one of DaVinci’s students in 1534. The first verified appearance of bicycles was in the 19th century, specifically in 1817 Germany with the “dandy horse.” These were “running machines” which were operated sans pedals or chains. The velocipede era saw the addition of pedals to the front wheel, but it wasn’t until 1863 that a french engineer came up with what we’d recognize instantly as a bike – with pedals and a chain driven rotary crank. What you’re looking at in the shot above are 21st century variants of what was introduced as the “safety bicycle” back in 1885. John Dunlop introduced the pneumatic tire in 1888. In 1889, the diamond shaped frame of the modern bike was introduced, in a model that also folded. The modern multi geared bike, which included a “Derailleur” mechanism on the chain, came on the scene at the start of the 20th century. Everything since has simply been refinement of the design.

Teenagers, however, have always been dangerous and unpredictable. Curfew!


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 7, 2017 at 1:00 pm

three divisions

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

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Gaze ye wicked, and despair, for today’s solar eclipse heralds a new dark age! when the burning thermonuclear eye of God itself is occluded by the heathen Moon… well… let’s just say things are going to be getting pretty metal this afternoon. My understanding is that you’ll start seeing it go dark around 1:20 p.m., with the eclipse peaking at precisely 2:44 p.m. and the whole thing is meant to be over and done with by 4 p.m. That’s a two hour and forty minute window during which the dead might rise, Satan’s abominable court will hold authority upon the Earth, and an interval during which cats and dogs will live together peaceably will occur.

The lords and ladies pictured above have warned us, and they did it on Steinway Street no less. That’s democratizing the “word,” I tell ya. Repent, for the time of tribulation is nigh! Nigh I tell you, nigh.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A few people asked me where I’d be photographing the eclipse from, and they shuddered at my answer that I’ll be hunkered down and deep underground in the bunker we set up for the Mayan Apocalypse a few years ago.

So many unlikely things have occurred this year… the odds of there being a triffid swarm clacking down the LIE in search of prey blinded by staring into the sun, or the dead rising at Calvary… the mind boggles at the possibilities. My biggest worry actually revolves around the holy rollers, whose emergent flat earth proselytizing and general supranormal belief system might be threatened by the celestial display, losing their collective minds and starting a riot.

I don’t need no eclipse glasses, yo. I’ve got my tin foil hat to protect my delicate eyes.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I do live in a neighborhood which has a “hells gate” after all, here in Astoria, Queens. That’s why I’ll be in the bunker.

Tribulation!


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

Written by Mitch Waxman

August 21, 2017 at 11:00 am

embroidered legend

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It’s National Lemon Meringue Pie Day, in these United States. 

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Once upon a time, the scene pictured above would have included the premises of one of Brooklyn’s largest employers, the American Manufacturing Company, but that would have been during the very late 19th and early 20th century. At the close of the 20th century, you’d have been looking at twenty two acres of abandoned and derelict factories and warehouse buildings which folks referred to as “Forgotten City” or simply the “Greenpoint Terminal Market.”

If you were here in 2006, you’d be looking at the largest fire FDNY had to deal with since the World Trade Center collapse on September 11th. 

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s the Ditmars terminal stop for the N and W lines of the NYCTA subway system, overflown by a concretized arch which carries the NY Connecting Railroad tracks towards the Hell Gate Bridge in the Astoria section of Long Island City. Pictured is a “work train,” as the MTA is currently busy on the elevated tracks applying some of their endless series of band aids to the centuried elevated, which opened for business on July 19 in 1917. 

It’s a semantic point, incidentally, but Astoria is indeed part of Long Island City. If your zip code starts with a “111” you live in the former independent municipality of Long Island City. 

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s a pair of courting pigeons pictured above, high over 31st street at the Broadway stop of the N line. “Columba livia domestica” is how you’d describe these critters to the scientifically minded, but the cool kids kids just call them Pigeons. Those two above are involved in a courtship ritual, which I interrupted by taking a photo of them. Pigeons reportedly mate for life, although the fellows are known to stray when they have the opportunity. 

I’m happy to have provided these two lovebirds with a shot of their first date, for posterity and to show their grandkids. 


Upcoming Tours and events

Two Newtown Creek Boat Tours, with Newtown Creek Alliance and Open House NY – Wednesday August 16th, 5 p.m. and 7 p.m.

The neighborhoods surrounding Newtown Creek are home to the densest collection of these garbage facilities anywhere in the city and collectively, the waste transfer stations around and along Newtown Creek handle almost 40% of the waste that moves through New York. Join Newtown Creek Alliance’s Mitch Waxman and Willis Elkins  to learn about the ongoing efforts to address the environmental burden that this “clustering” has caused. details here.

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

Written by Mitch Waxman

August 15, 2017 at 11:30 am

latent idiosyncrasies 

with one comment

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

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Whilst watching a bird eating some random drunk’s vomit here in Astoria recently, a humble narrator found himself contemplating the news of the day. One soon realized that he’d rather watch a bird feeding on puke than deep dive into another pointless conversation about the news of the day. Nazis…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One is disgusted, depressed, and despondent.  

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I just do not have anything to say. I just can’t. 


Upcoming Tours and events

Two Newtown Creek Boat Tours, with Newtown Creek Alliance and Open House NY – Wednesday August 16th, 5 p.m. and 7 p.m.

The neighborhoods surrounding Newtown Creek are home to the densest collection of these garbage facilities anywhere in the city and collectively, the waste transfer stations around and along Newtown Creek handle almost 40% of the waste that moves through New York. Join Newtown Creek Alliance’s Mitch Waxman and Willis Elkins  to learn about the ongoing efforts to address the environmental burden that this “clustering” has caused. details here.

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.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

August 14, 2017 at 1:00 pm

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