The Newtown Pentacle

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Posts Tagged ‘BQE

vast and vague

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Cool Cars in Greenpoint (?), in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That long walk under the Brooklyn Queens Expressway in Greenpoint and Williamsburg mentioned at the beginning of this week provided one with several interesting diversions, and notably this undeniably “Cool Car” was one of them.

I’m of the opinion that this Dodge 4 door coupe was likely a 1948 model, an educated guess based on the shape of the windows, fenders, and bumpers – but it is definitely a product of the 1946-1949 era and the very definition of what I like to refer to as “cool cars.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There were no tags or registration information adorning the auto, which makes it kind of a difficult endeavor to identify, and given the relative homogeneity of post World War 2 automobile manufacture (Detroit was still gearing down from the war, and the explosion of creativity which auto manufacturers displayed in the 1950’s was not in effect in the years directly following the war).

from wikipedia 

Civilian production at Dodge was restarted by late 1945, in time for the 1946 model year. The “seller’s market” of the early postwar years, brought on by the lack of any new cars throughout the war, meant that every automaker found it easy to sell vehicles regardless of any drawbacks they might have. Like almost every other automaker, Dodge sold lightly facelifted revisions of its 1942 design through the 1948 season. As before, these were a single series of six-cylinder models with two trim levels (basic Deluxe or plusher Custom).

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Your humble narrator is far from an expert on vintage automobiles, it should be mentioned, so if anybody who is reading this is possessed on knowledge on the subject – or recognizes the specific model – please share your smarts with the rest of us in the comments section found below.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The location at which this artifact of America’s golden age was found spawns several semantic points as well for the infrastructure nerd. This auto was parked south of McGuinness Blvd. along the west side of Meeker Avenue, under the BQE. Technically, the east side of Meeker is in Bushwick (according to the old ward maps of the pre conolidation City of Brooklyn) and the area to the south of McGuinness is in WIlliamsburg not Greenpoint.

Life long Greenpernters will tell you that their neighborhood actually continues for several blocks east and that the nebulous border Greenpoint shares with Williamsburg is around Withers Street and south of Manhattan Avenue, however.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Ultimately, this atavistic automobile seemed to be in decent condition, at least externally. It obviously has been parked in this spot for a while given the amount of soot and dust which adorns it. Being Brooklyn, someone felt obliged to trace out “wash me” in the soot – natch.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It’s a funny thing for me, of course, seeing a 1940’s Dodge parked here in the “House of Moses,” where it fits in with the esthetics of Robert Moses’s early career.

Robert Moses was the master builder of much of NYC’s infrastructure, and personally responsible for creating both the Brooklyn Queens Expressway and the Kosciuszko Bridge. It was his Triborough staffers that mapped out the vast swath that the BQE moves through and was built – condemning and demolishing mile after mile of homes, businesses, and stores to make way for the automobile. Moses plunged Meeker Avenue into centuried and unending darkness when the BQE was constructed, and callously created the divisions between neighborhoods that we all know today. He sort of invented “urban blight.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Manufactured items from the middle of the 20th century like this Dodge Coupe are notoriously rare, and extremely attractive to hot rod enthusiasts. A restored or modified iteration of this vehicle would be an extremely valuable commodity. Back then, they really knew how to “build ’em” – both highways and the cars which populate them.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Tours –

August 22nd, 2015
First Calvary Cemetery – LIC, Queens Walking Tour
click here for details and tickets.

September 3rd, 2015
Newtown Creek Boat Tour
with Open House NY, click here for details and tickets.

Written by Mitch Waxman

August 20, 2015 at 11:00 am

staves and axes

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Walking down Meeker Avenue, in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

First – a confession – I had something else planned for today’s post, as it was a rather exciting (and highly combustible) weekend in Astoria, but the photos aren’t ready for public consumption quite yet. As a result, what was going to be tomorrow’s installment of your Newtown Pentacle is offered in its stead.

Last week, occasion found me in Greenpoint to photograph a Newtown Creek related event in the afternoon. Having a few hours to kill, since my next engagement was in lower Manhattan in the early evening, a humble narrator decided to walk into the City via the Williamsburg Bridge. A medium sized scuttle ensued, and one found himself walking through and beneath one of the “House of Moses’s” more onerous creations – an elevated section of the Brooklyn Queens Expressway which over flies Meeker Avenue.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Whilst my walk played out, several photos were captured, including shots of this charming bedroom set. One would guess that the Mayor can scratch one unit of affordable housing off of his “to do” list.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Signs of morbid habitation like this one drive me crazy of some reason. To begin with, it’s likely the unhealthiest environment upon the earth for a human being to exist in, here in the traffic choked House of Moses beneath the BQE. Secondly, it exposes the farcical realities of “homeland security” and the so called “security state” in the era of the Terror Wars. If you can set up housekeeping alongside the steel pillars supporting a roadway that carries nearly 200,000 automobiles a day… well… let’s just say you wouldn’t be able to get away with basing yourself in similar circumstance in Riyadh or Tel Aviv.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My path continued along Meeker Avenue, towards the home of the Artisinal Pickle in Williamsburg, which has become one of the most pedantically boring neighborhoods in all of New York City in recent years. Dispassionate and jaded esthetes were observed as they moved aimlessly about the place, searching for some sort of “authenticity” or diversion from the tyranny of the now, which seemed to be in short supply hereabouts.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Shimmering memories of the old Williamsburg, with its DMZ’s and danger, are hinted at here and there. The whores and the bangers are relegated to history, however, and after having walked from McGuinness to Metropolitan along Meeker Avenue, it occurred to me that not once did I feel danger. There were no hookers blowing truckers, no collections of scabby kids selling vials of death candy… just a rather well appointed homeless camp or two and construction workers eating lunch.

There were also grown men riding skateboards in the middle of a Thursday afternoon, incredibly thin women covered in tattoos that were ignoring them, and both sexes seemed to be staring into their smart phones while Brooklyn writhed incessantly around them unnoticed.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Tours –

August 22nd, 2015
First Calvary Cemetery – LIC, Queens Walking Tour
click here for details and tickets.

September 3rd, 2015
Newtown Creek Boat Tour
with Open House NY, click here for details and tickets.

past imagining

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Wandering, wandering.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Last week, a brief interval allowed me to escape from HQ, where a kitchen renovation has been underway for the last couple of weeks. My landlord, distressed by my reports of rodentine occupation in the so called “wet wall” found behind the 1970’s era cabinetry affixed to it, sent in the Croatians. Said Croatians have been doing a brilliant job, and are nearing completion of the project after two weeks of work (which is bit of a miracle itself here in Astoria), but I’ve been stuck here keeping an eye of things and ensuring that Zuzu the dog doesn’t wander into a tile saw or something.

Luckily, Our Lady of the Pentacle invoked a “work from home day” last week, allowing me the freedom to go on one of those ridiculously long walks across Queens for which I am sort of known. This time around, my path wasn’t towards the East River, nor Newtown Creek – instead, I headed east along Northern Blvd.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The first thing which caught my eye was, as always, something Robert Moses left behind – the Brooklyn Queens Expressway. This is literally the “Northern Blvd. exit” by the way, which empties the highway onto the local streets in a confusing series of curved and badly marked lanes. As with all things Moses, “pedestrian friendly” is at best an afterthought. The BQE does serve a purpose for me, however, as a geographic reference point.

It’s easy to know which community of Western Queens you’re moving through when on the neighborhood’s “main drag.” You have no doubt about whether it’s Jackson Heights or Woodside when you’re on Roosevelt Avenue, for instance. Same thing with Sunnyside, Woodside, or LIC. There’s a distinct “feel” to these neighborhoods.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Northern Boulevard, however, was built as a high volume road for automobiles. Most of what you’ll find along its length, from its transmogrification at 31st street from Jackson Avenue to Northern Boulevard all the way to its titular end of pedestrian friendliness at 114th street in Corona (and yes, I know route 25a continues all the way to Suffolk County) are automobile related businesses and chain store restaurants. Northern gets a bit more residential when you get out east into the 80’s, 90’s, and so on but it’s still pretty automobile focused. We’ll talk about that in subsequent posts that spawn out of this particular walk.

The funny thing is, of course, that a few phone calls were made to friends who grew up in Queens to double check my impressions of “where I was” while developing this set of shots. You can’t trust the real estate people, who will try to describe parts of East New York as Williamsburg if you let them.

As I said to Hank the Elevator Guy – “so if I’m on 78th and Northern…” There was some debate amongst my Queens natives on that one, incidentally, as to whether that particular area counts as Jackson Heights or Elmhurst. Consensus was achieved when several parties said “it depends on which side of Northern you’re on.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The fellow pictured above, who made the absolutely terrible decision to stand on the off ramp of the BQE in what is definitively Woodside (62nd and Northern), bore a bit of signage adjuring passing motorists to toss him a few handfuls of loose change. A sign of the times, this fellow actually is. Emblematic of the current Mayoral admistration’s anitipathy towards the enforcement of “quality of life” regulations which have distinguished our municipal experience over the last twenty years. I’m sure he will be replaced shortly by some guy with a squeegee and a bottle of windex. I’d vote for the squeegee guy over our current First Citizen in a heartbeat. I’d also vote for a parakeet just to see the First Citizen sent packing back to Park Slope.

This walk, an escape from the domestic construction project mentioned at the top of the post, was a bit mad btw.  One emulated the proverbial “bat out of hell” and covered quite a bit of ground. Starting at Woodside Avenue and Northern Blvd., I walked east along Northern to 114th and then headed Northwest along Ditmars into East Elmhurst and then southwest back into Astoria.

Many interesting things were observed, which will be offered and described in subsequent posts at this – your Newtown Pentacle.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Tours –

July 26th, 2015
Modern Corridor – LIC, Queens Walking Tour
with Brooklyn Brainery, click here for details and tickets.

As detailed in this recent post, my camera was destroyed in an accident.

For those of you who have offered donations to pay for its replacement, the “Donate” button below will take you to paypal. Any contributions to the camera fund will be greatly appreciated, and rewarded when money isn’t quite as tight as it is at the moment.

Donate Button with Credit Cards

Written by Mitch Waxman

July 24, 2015 at 11:00 am

too vivid

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The Brooklyn Queens Expressway, what a gas.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Last week, an assignment I was working on sent me packing back home to Astoria from Red Hook in a Taxi, and one became sublimely bored as the driver negotiated through traffic. As is my way, the camera was deployed to see “if I can get anything worth keeping.” Every time that I see, or cross, the Kosciuszko Bridge these days – a sense of finality kicks in and it occurs that I really should get some shots of it since there will shortly not be a bridge to be shot – rather it will be a construction site.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

For the camera folks out there, these shots were captured with settings of f1.8 at around 1/250th of a second at ISO 2000+. It’s actually pretty dark up there, something which I’ve never been able to understand given the number of street and vehicle lights, but there you are. I guess there’s a lack of ambient light coming up from Newtown Creek and Calvary Cemetery.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Your humble narrator has nearly caught up on a couple of projects which have been weighing heavily, and is anxious to get back to weightier matters around the Creeklands. Another week or so and one should be free of entanglement and distraction. There’s also a couple of autumn walking tours I need to tell you about, but that will have to wait for a day or two.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

October 8, 2014 at 10:50 am

leading corridor

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What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As mentioned in posts last week, a couple of trips to coastal Brooklyn popped onto my schedule. In the case of today’s post, I was in South Brooklyn at the angle found twixt Red Hook and Cobble Hill, and crossing the street beneath the extremely drippy Gowanus Expressway.

from wikipedia

After the Verrazano Narrows Bridge, I-278 continues into Brooklyn on the Gowanus Expressway. Immediately after the bridge, the freeway comes to an eastbound exit and westbound entrance for the Belt Parkway. After this, a full interchange serves 92nd Street at which point I-278 becomes a single-level six-lane freeway. Along this road, one of the eastbound lanes serves as a high-occupancy vehicle lane. The Gowanus Expressway continues northeast into urban residential neighborhoods and reaches an eastbound interchange at Fort Hamilton Parkway and a westbound interchange at 86th Street. Turning more to the north, I-278 comes to a partial interchange at 65th Street, with an exit eastbound and entrance westbound. The road curves northwest at this point and comes to a directional interchange providing access to 3rd Avenue and the Belt Parkway.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A confession, seldom do I actually pay attention to the minute details when photographing an area with which I’m not overly familiar. Instead, I go for the big shot, and use my lens at its widest angles. In the street, I have a lot to worry about – traffic, criminal underclasses and malign manifestations of the street culture, and so on. Often, when I’m at my desk and examining the shot qualitatively (focus and exposure rather than composition and esthetics etc.), something will jump out at me. Notice the blue van, which I didn’t until I was back at HQ.

from nyc.gov

…standing on a street, walkway of a bridge, sidewalk, or other pedestrian passageway while using a handheld device and not otherwise asserting exclusive use by any means, including physical or verbal, is not activity that requires a permit.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

So, there I stood, dirty black raincoat flapping about in the slipstream of truck and traffic and waving the camera about during a red light interval. Obviously, this registered in the mind of the driver of the blue van as suspicious activity, and he began to photograph me right back. The panopticon at work, lords and ladies, he saw something. Wonder if he said something?

from securetransit.org

Whether you’re following your regular commute route or on your way to a movie or meet up with friends, public transit is a key part of your day. You know public transit, and no one can spot something suspicious or out of place better than you.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The 1984 scenario offered by Orwell has only come partially true in 2014. The State is indeed watching, and listening. Unfortunately, its usually “Little Brother” (as Cory Doctorow coined it) who is watching. This is all good though, as what is good for the goose is literally good for the gander, and the Brooklyn way is to keep an eye on the neighborhood. On this day, under the Gowanus Expressway, there were at least two surveillance devices active and pointing at each other. Mine and his. Mine was bigger.

from wikipedia

Big Brother is a fictional character in George Orwell’s novel Nineteen Eighty-Four. He is the enigmatic dictator of Oceania, a totalitarian state taken to its utmost logical consequence – where the ruling Party wields total power for its own sake over the inhabitants.

In the society that Orwell describes, everyone is under complete surveillance by the authorities, mainly by telescreens. The people are constantly reminded of this by the phrase “Big Brother is watching you”, which is the core “truth” of the propaganda system in this state.

Since the publication of Nineteen Eighty-Four, the term “Big Brother” has entered the lexicon as a synonym for abuse of government power, particularly in respect to civil liberties, often specifically related to mass surveillance.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

January 27, 2014 at 8:36 am

carnivorous organisms

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Today’s post visits DUKBO, Down Under the Kosciuszko Bridge Onramp.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

An angle between neighborhoods, this spot is in Maspeth and Sunnyside and Blissville and Laurel Hill all at the same time. It’s alongside the Brooklyn Queens Expressway and the Queens leg of the 1.1 mile long Kosciuszko Bridge Complex and the Long Island Expressway. To the west lies Calvary Cemetery and its tomb legions, and it is known to all simply and aptly as Laurel Hill Blvd.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One of the spots where Europeans originally settled in Queens, as early as the 1680’s there were farms and houses here, it is nevertheless a forgotten and desolate place seldom traveled to but rather through. In actuality, if you were to count all the humans who travelled by on any given day, the number would suggest one of the most crowded spots on the planet.

Luckily, local artisans have inscribed the spot.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Vast graffiti has been installed, decrying the clarion call of the outer boroughs upon the titan masonry of the bridge’s approach ramp. Epic wit emblazoned with such panache surely indicates the presence of a latter day bard here in this angle between neighborhoods.

Pithy expression, and the freedom to pursue it, indeed.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Happily, everything in Queens faces Manhattan these days, and on a clear day one might be able to discern this delicate missive from the Shining City if atmospheric and lighting conditions are just right. Also, the thought paid by the artist to those visiting the interred at Calvary must be heeded.

Imagine the joy of describing to your grandchild what the word “Scumbag” means as he stands in front of a loved ones grave.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Want to see something cool? June 2013 Walking Tours-

The Poison Cauldron Saturday, June 15, 2013
Newtown Creek walking tour with Mitch Waxman and Atlas Obscura, tickets now on sale.

Kill Van Kull– Saturday, June 22, 2013
Staten Island walking tour with Mitch Waxman and Working Harbor Committee, tickets now on sale.

The Insalubrious Valley Saturday, June 29, 2013
Newtown Creek walking tour with Mitch Waxman and Newtown Creek Alliance, tickets now on sale.

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