The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Posts Tagged ‘Birds

grim castle

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Today is the Fête du Vodoun in the Republic of Benin.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Shlepping around Astoria one day, my footsteps found me over by Luyster Creek on the forbidden northern shore of Queens. The real estate shit flies have recently been getting pretty active nearby, with medium sized developments that absolutely do not have any connection to local elected officialdom’s blind trusts and out of office legal partnerships. That sort of thing could never happen in modern day NYC, after all. Dimly lit rooms have replaced the smoke filled ones, I’m told, as it’s now impolitique to smoke indoors. I don’t want to talk about any of that this week, however.

I came here for the boids. 

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Another urban waterway in Queens which I describe as a “future superfund site,” Luyster Creek can also be referred to as Steinway Creek – as it adjoins the Steinway piano factory and once upon a time, old man Steinway used to have his mahogany delivered in log form via Bowery Bay and Long Island Sound by floating it into Luyster Creek lumberjack style. One wrote a profile of the waterway at my old Brownstoner Queens column a few years ago, click here for it.

To understand the modern incarnation of the waterway, let’s just say that these shots were captured from a spot at the end of Astoria’s 19th avenue and that I was standing on an open sewer leaking sewage overflow from the nearby Bowery Bay sewer plant. The shorelines on the western side are pretty much all Consolidated Edison property, but as you head north to where it meets Bowery Bay, you’ll encounter a couple of fuel depots on the eastern side. The water smells like bad cheese and goat poop.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Despite all that, it’s still one of the spots where migratory water birds like to hang out during the winter. The shallows seem to host a fairly abundant amount of whatever delicacies they prefer to quaff. I’ve never been sure where “Duck” ends and “Mallard” begins, but there’s a few of one or the other in the shot above.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I’m fairly sure that these friggin things are Mute Swans, which as of quite recently (January 1st) are no longer targeted by Department of Environmental Conservation hit squads for being a specie termed “invasive.” The DEC hit squads are nothing to mess around with, incidentally. A team of hard men and and women with combat experience and the “thousand yard stare,” they recently exterminated a group of coyotes in this area with extreme prejudice.

I’ve heard accounts of that operation which sounded like something from a Charles Bronson movie.


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Written by Mitch Waxman

January 10, 2017 at 11:00 am

neatly fitted

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A short, and kind of weird, one today.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One has a number of theories about the shot above, captured on Greenpoint’s Manhattan Avenue near the corner of Commercial Street – about one block from the fabulous Newtown Creek. One involves a war in Pigeon Heaven and the stripping away of a rebel eidolon’s wings. Another revolves around an undescribed form of life, or something very much like life, which might lurk in the shadowy recesses of Greenpoint.

The most likely explanation involves feral cats, of course, but what fun is there in pondering that?

Back tomorrow with something a bit more substantial, a post that’ll carry a beat more “meat on the bone.”

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Written by Mitch Waxman

April 27, 2016 at 11:00 am

louder drone

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Holiday pretty pictures, in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Found an unfortunate chicken on Newtown Road in Astoria a few years ago. It seemed like a cat had gotten at the upper reaches of the thing, so one decided to focus instead on the feet, since “out of frame” is “out of mind.” The family resemblance to Dinosaurs always seems pretty clear when you look at avian feet, no?

Enjoy the roast dinosaur you’re eating today, accordingly.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s my pal Jiminy the Parrot in the shot above, who will describe to you in fairly perfect English how he’s feeling about this or that. Jiminy often completes sentences started by the primates he hangs around with, which is a bit disconcerting. It’s also weird when he calls you a bird brain, but there you go.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The pigeon above was spotted in Sunnyside one day, and seemed to be considering something massive while a humble narrator clicked away with the camera. For some reason, it made sense that a thanksgiving post at this – your Newtown Pentacle – would be one for the birds.

Remember, you are what you eat, which means that when you start buying presents tomorrow on “Black Friday,” Jiminy the Parrot might call you a turkey or dinosaur – depending on his mood or if he’s green with envy.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

November 26, 2015 at 11:00 am

lowered edges

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Dismissed, diminished, derided.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Obligations notwithstanding, a humble narrator desperately needs a bit of a break from the daily grind. The recent twists and turns of the atmosphere have done a number on my rather fragile homeostasis and one requires an interval to adapt to autumn. Sleep has been less than restful, my knees hurt, and I seem to be flying off the handle over less than important issues. It’s all very depressing, really.

Accordingly, this and the rest of this week will be bringing you library shots. This sort of thing is nothing new to longtime readers of this – your Newtown Pentacle. Occasionally, one finds himself overwhelmed.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Weather of the type recently experienced, as well as certain other things, have functionally derailed the locomotive train of imagery that is normally presented, and a bit of “catch up” is required. There are several things going on this week which will “feed the blog” in the coming weeks, but at the moment – I’ve got nothing new worth showing you. As is my habit, interesting individual images will populate this space on a daily basis, but don’t look for anything profound or well researched here anytime before next Monday.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One has been reading up on a number of rather esoteric subjects. Manufactured Gas plants and their historical footprints, in particular, seem to be drawing my eye. Additionally, the carefully occluded history of the NYC sewer system and the creation of the NYC DEP itself in 1983 have been occupying quite a bit of research time.

Wednesday the 7th, one will be appearing on a panel in Brooklyn to discuss Greenpoint’s environmental history, and this Saturday the rescheduled Atlas Obscura Calavry Cemetery walk will occur. Links below.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Tours and events –

October 7th, 2015
Our Polluted History:
A Non-Toxic & Fascinating Forum on Greenpoint’s Environmental Past panel discussion

with GWAPP, click here for details

October 10th, 2015
Calvary Cemetery Walking Tour
with Atlas Obscura, click here for details and tickets

Written by Mitch Waxman

October 5, 2015 at 2:00 pm

Posted in animals, birds

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fully inanimate

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Hanging out at Hallets Cove, in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Having nothing especially pressing, on a recent and quite cloudy afternoon, a general scuttle was enacted to go out and “see what Queens wants to show me today.” My footsteps carried me to Hallets Cove, where the ancient mouth of Sunswick Creek lies forever buried beneath the folly of progress. One decided to pay some attention to the local fauna, and then find a private spot where the elimination of metabolic waste water might go unobserved by the surrounding human infestation. Such unfortunate consequences of my consciousness residing in a biological organism notwithstanding, the age old question of NYC once again arose and bedeviled.

Why is there no place to pee in New York? 

– photo by Mitch Waxman

NYC plans for everything in excruciating detail, and employs armies of academics and consultants to study the citizenry in the name of accuracy and scientific methods. I’ve met people who can tell me how much water I use, trash Our Lady directs me to carry to the curb, and predict my usage of the subway system based on geography and income levels. There are officials who can hazard a pretty good guess about the month and year you are likely to die in, barring accidents. They also have good figures for the probability of accidents.

The one thing which they can’t seem to figure out is the deployment, and maintenance, of a few piss buckets.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Eastwards of Greece, you start seeing a different form of public toilet than the ones we see in the affluent Western countries – what is known as a squat toilet. The system boils down to a cess pool or sewer connection with a goose neck drain that breaks the surface at a tiled hole in the ground with two raised blocks of concrete on either side. The name “squat toilet” describes how you use it. These are ubiquitous in the East, as they are FAR cheaper to install and maintain than our western porcelain. Over at Barge Park in Greenpoint, a recent “comfort station” cost better than a million bucks.

I’m not asking for “comfort stations.” How about three walls and a hole in the floor to piss in?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

NYC has a “one percent for art” requirement baked into all of its municipal construction projects, which is how the Newtown Creek Nature Walk was funded. May I suggest we create a similar requirement stating that NYC must budget “one percent to acknowledge human biological functions” into future endeavors? Wouldn’t this be better than having to find some retail establishment which will allow you to use their facilities, or pissing against the wall of some innocent party?

Maybe we can cook it into a deal with future commercial and residential developments that they would be required to build and maintain publicly available facilities for elimination of bodily waste as part of the cost of doing business in the City Of Greater New York?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

What do I know, though? One such as myself does not claim to possess advanced degrees in Urbanism or City Planning. I mean, everything that such professionals have done over the years has worked out perfectly. Why would actual community need figure into development plans and the march of progress?

I’m probably just full of shit, but the lack of public bathrooms in the City of New York pisses me off.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Tours –

June 7th, 2015
13 Steps Around Dutch Kills Walking Tour
with Newtown Creek Alliance, click here for details and tickets.

June 11th, 2015
MADE IN BROOKLYN Hidden Harbor Boat Tour
with Working Harbor Committee, click here for details and tickets.

June 13th, 2015
The Insalubrious Valley of the Newtown Creek Walking Tour
with Atlas Obscura, click here for details and tickets.

June 20th, 2015
Kill Van Kull Walking Tour
with Brooklyn Brainery, click here for details and tickets.

Written by Mitch Waxman

June 3, 2015 at 11:00 am

powdered exquisites

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The state of the Newtown Pentacle.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Whenever I’m not pouring coffee or whiskey down my throat hole, I seem to be fretting. I’m not playing guitar (fret… get it? Ha!), instead one is usually sweating what the next post is going to be either here at Newtown Pentacle or for Brownstoner. There’s also freelance projects – I’m still sort of engaged with the Red Hook people, for instance, and there’s the whole NY Harbor thing as well.

2014 wasn’t exactly a banner year, financially speaking, but I’ve been keeping pretty busy.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A bunch of cool posts have been produced over the last year for the O’Connell Organization’s Red Hook Waterfront site which I’d encourage you to check out. I’m the photographer for nearly everything at that website, and act as primary writer on most of the posts, although they are often heavily edited (which is a part of the process on freelance jobs). 

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Over at Brownstoner Queens, I’ve got two posts a week to fill. Of particular note in the last quarter of 2014 was when I scooped the NY Times and every news source in the City, this post about getting high in LIC, this one about finding where you used to be able to find a pint of Guinness, Halloween in Astoria, and my reactions to the latest attempts at decking over the Sunnyside Yards. More recently, a walk led by Queens Borough Historian Dr. Jack Eichenbaum was attended out in Willets Point.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I tweet the Brownstoner and Red Hook postings out whenever they appear, so if you use Twitter and care about staying in touch with my various offerings, click through to the link below and subscribe to my feed. You can also follow Newtown Pentacle in a reader like Feedly or whatever via the handy RSS Feed link at top right of this page. Additionally, there’s an email signup box at top right which will deliver these posts to you whenever one is published. An appeal is offered to you to please share these posts of mine, if at all possible, on your Facebook wall or on twitter.

There’s a bunch of buttons at the bottom of every post which makes it easy.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A few people have asked me when the Newtown Creek tours will start up again, and my answer is purposely vague. It’s likely that we’ll get going again in April or thereabouts, but right now… brrr. The weather is too unpredictable and the possibility of ice and snow causing slip hazards along the way is too great. There’s a couple of interesting things cooking, but nothing definite enough to mention yet.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

January 23, 2015 at 11:00 am

to listen

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The changing face of NY Harbor, in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As Johnny Cash used to say – “I been everywhere, man, I been everywhere.” The bizarre ideation which one such as myself call “life” carries me back and forth, forth and back, across this human infested megalopolis continually. Always an outsider, always an observer. Spectating the vast changes in the East River corridor which have been underway for the last decade or so has largely involved watching the coast of Long Island being weighted down with residential towers, a process that the folks in Manhattan have been largely indifferent about.

Now, the wave of urban rebuilding and wholesale loss of neighborhood character is starting to happen to them, and the city people are all in a panic.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The shot above is from February of 2013. It depicts the Pier 17 building of the South Street Seaport complex. Surely the worst shopping mall in the local vicinity, it nevertheless hosted several small businesses and employed many people. The decision, pre Sandy, was made to eliminate this structure and replace it with a shiny mirror box of a hotel. Post Sandy, it became a paramount of municipal importance to replace the building, because… Hurricane Sandy and Terrorism… or whatever they use to scare us into doing things we don’t want to do these days.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As this 2014 shot depicts, the demolition process of Pier 17 is quite far along at this point. The Howard Hughes corporation owns the spot, it’s private property and they can do whatever they want with it. Also, Lower Manhattan is somewhat under utilized. The hotel which will be built here will provide jobs to first construction workers and then to hotel employees. It will buoy up the local economy and act as an anchor for other businesses.

This is exactly the sort of sophistry that the powers which be have been selling us in Brooklyn and Queens over the last 20 years, while the residents of the Shining City sat on their hands watching the condos rise to the east. It’s happening to them now, and they are pissed off.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The question is not whether or not the Pier 17 structure deserved preservation or not (it didn’t). There is no room for debate regarding “growth” or “development” in the City of Greater New York (it is inevitable and unending). The question is one of empathy, and whether or not we should feel sorry for an entitled group who have finally felt a well used hammer smashing their particular nail?

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There’s a Newtown Creek walking tour, and a Magic Lantern show, coming up.

Wednesday, June 11th, Newtown Creek Magic Lantern Show with Brooklyn Brainery.
Click here for tickets and more info.

Sunday, June 15th, DUPBO – Down Under the Pulaski Bridge Onramp
A FREE tour, courtesy of Green Shores NYC, click here for rsvp info

Written by Mitch Waxman

June 11, 2014 at 12:04 pm

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