The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Posts Tagged ‘broadway

bright again

with one comment

An accidental encountered.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Whilst perambulating to the gustatory battlefield which is the Thanksgiving ritual feast table, Our Lady of the Pentacle and myself encountered an “accidental” along the way. We missed the moment of kinetic contact betwixt the two motor vehicles, but the aftermath was spread out along the intersection of 45th street and Broadway, here in Astoria, for all to see. By all appearances, at least one of these vehicles – possibly both – were moving at quite a clip where they collided. There didn’t seem to be any obvious injuries, or at least there weren’t any pooling puddles of blood or other human juices.

I’ve always wondered if human blood could be called a juice. Maybe it’s a broth, or a gravy? I guess it depends on your dietary preferences, huh?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I’m not a fan of the archaic yellow cab industry, and display zero sympathy for either drivers or medallion owners. A half century lived in NYC has imparted a sour taste in my mouth towards these stalwart livery service workers and the oligarchs they work for. Saying that, I hope the driver didn’t suffer any injuries other than losing the day’s earnings and what will end up being a substantial repair bill at the auto mechanic.

I recognize the white car from the neighborhood. One of the many vehicles which have been tuned up to make as much noise during normal operation as possible – it’s part of what we’ve come to refer to as the “fast and furious” crowd here in the local zone. Alterations of the proper functioning of the carburetor and fuel injection systems increase engine noise, often resulting in backfires as they sit in traffic. This crackling explosive sound must somehow excite the females in their social circles, and encourage them into mating with the drivers, which must be why the males who perform these noisy alterations risk the concurrent damage to their expensive automobile’s engines and exhaust systems.

The endless permutations of primate display behaviors offered by the human infestation hereabouts is fascinating to one such as myself.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

We didn’t stick around to see the cops show up, nor the tow trucks and ambulances which usually follow the constabulary into situations such as this. Our grandiose feast and celebration of American abundance awaited.

One was busy cooking for most of the morning, assembling the contributions to the Thanksgiving meal which Our Lady and myself were participating in. I was trying to avoid all social media on Thanksgiving, since my friends who are “woke” were passing the time waiting for their feast to emerge from the kitchen reminding all who might listen about just how shit the world is, was, and will be. Additionally, they needed to remind the universe about the Native American genocide as well as imparting the importance of composting the inedible portions of the feast. Bah!

Take a day off, I say.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle


Come on a tour!

With Atlas ObscuraInfrastructure Creek! My favorite walking tour to conduct, and in a group limited to just twelve people! December 14th, 1:30-3:30 p.m.

Click here for more information and tickets!

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

December 4, 2019 at 1:00 pm

another report

with one comment

Dinner and a show!

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On Friday nights, my neighborhood friends and I regularly gather for a “pub night,” at a bar which is found at the Times Square of Astoria – 42nd and Broadway. Now, since I’m all knowing, I can tell you a few things about this particular corner but for the purposes of this post – the NYC DEP has a storm sewer under the street here which leads directly to Newtown Creek’s Dutch Kills tributary. That’s important in terms of the totality of things, but what’s also important is that several of the local sanitary water sewer pipes conjoin into a junction at this corner as well.

Apparently, there was a “priority one” repair order sent out to DEP’s maintenance crews, regarding something involving the storm sewer having developed a leak.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Our little pub night gatherings involve sitting outside at the sidewalk cafe tables, and as always I have the camera ready and in my hands even when socializing. As the DEP crew got to work, so did I. Here they are noticing me.

Everyone at my table started waving and I started a chant of “DEP, DEP.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Unsung, these municipal heroes seemed to enjoy the respect they were being paid as they got busy. 

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The notoriously impatient drivers of Astoria, who seem to believe that their cars do not have a gear which allows them to reverse, turned the sidewalk into a vehicle lane for a short while. This stopped after a few minutes and presumptively the DEP crew set out cones at the northern corner of the block of 42nd street that they were working on.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Being the gregarious fellow I’m known for being, I walked across the street and introduced myself. This fellow was busy digging a hole. The head of the operation told me the circumstance of their tasks, which would involve exposing a broken pipe and replacing a section of it.

I congratulated him on the Friday night overtime, wished him luck, and headed back to my gathering across the street as it started raining.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

NYPD was called in, and towed a car which was perilously close to the job. The tow truck reparked this car around the corner on Broadway, and my friends and I were anxious to see the confused driver find their car somewhere else than where they had parked it, but alas…

At this point, everyone at my table started chanting “NYPD, NYPD.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Heavier equipment began to show up and set up shop.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s the fellow who was digging the hole, and who was now guiding the operator of the excavator.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

More and more DEP crews kept appearing, carrying supplies and esoteric equipment. From what I could discern, one of them was a mobile welding unit.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It turned into quite a party, happening across the street from my regularly scheduled Friday night party. Deciding that I couldn’t miss a minute of this, I ordered food and another drink.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The rain really set up in earnest at one point, but I was sitting in a carefully chosen spot under one of the pub’s awnings.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

You really have to hand it to these folks. As much shade as I throw at DEP’s management during Newtown Creek oriented posts and in person at meetings, I have nothing but respect for the folks that do this essential, difficult, and dirty job on behalf of the rest of us.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A section of pipe was removed, another one welded in, and then the street was closed back up. Sated with food, drink, and a free bit of municipal dinner theater – a humble narrator then headed home to my little dog Zuzu.

You just have to love it. I do.


Upcoming Tours and Events

Friday, August 3rd, 6:30 p.m. – Infrastructure Creek – with Newtown Creek Alliance.

If you want infrastructure, then meet NCA historian Mitch Waxman at the corner of Greenpoint Avenue and Kingsland Avenue in Brooklyn, and in just one a half miles he’ll show you the largest and newest of NYC’s 14 sewer plants, six bridges, a Superfund site, three rail yards with trains moving at street grade, a highway that carries 32 million vehicle trips a year 106 feet over water. The highway feeds into the Queens Midtown Tunnel, and we’ll end it all at the LIC ferry landing where folks are welcome to grab a drink and enjoy watching the sunset at the East River, as it lowers behind the midtown Manhattan skyline.

Tix and more deatils here.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

August 1, 2018 at 11:02 am

Posted in Astoria, Broadway, NY 11103, NYC DEP

Tagged with , ,

muffled conversation

leave a comment »

There was quite a hullabaloo, here in Astoria.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One received a text from a neighbor on the night of October 30th that there had been a vehicle collision involving the local gendarmes here in Astoria, so I grabbed the camera and headed down to take a look at what happened.

The NYPD unit involved was from the local precinct, the 114,  and they had collided – at speed- with a civilian vehicle at the intersection of 45th street here on Broadway.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Given that I’m a “yenta” and the whole neighborhood knows it, the neighbors began relating the story to me.

Apparently, the NYPD unit was in one of those big hurries that they periodically display, the kind when they don’t have their sirens or lights on. My understanding is that this is procedure when they’re trying to catch someone surreptitiously by sneaking up on them, or they’re enroute to assist another officer who is in a dicey situation.

Observationally, when Cops blow a light just cause they want to, they perform what could be best described as a rolling stop while doing so. They can also park pretty much anywhere they want to, and I see both as perks.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One of the local Greeks informed me that he had witnessed the incident. The cops were moving through a red light at the corner of 45th street and Broadway at a considerable velocity when they contacted the front end of a sedan which was proceeding at speed through the green light. They tore the front end of the civilian car up, but neither car’s occupants were seriously hurt. That’s what the Greek guy said.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s the bumper of the sedan, which was being operated by a fairly young guy who had two passengers with him. They were instructed to park around the corner, and seemed – to me at least – as quite anxious. On Broadway itself, there were multiple NYPD people investigating the event. There were ambulances, looking loo civilians like me, and the usual emergency crew that the City’s got.

Of course the three kids were anxious, how would you feel if you had just rammed a cop car?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I ran into a couple of officers from the 114 a couple of days later (long story) and inquired as to the condition and health of their comrades. They informed that the two officers in the unit were fine, but had taken a couple of days off to recuperate nevertheless. No word on the three kids, however.

My personal belief is that all five participants in the accident probably had to go shopping for new underwear.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

November 11, 2016 at 11:00 am

local vicinity

with 4 comments

The manhole cover saga of Astoria, and Jimmy Van Bramer.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

When I’m out and about here in Astoria the neighbors will express their various problems to me and then ask me to call 311 for them, as they don’t want to get involved. It could be a basketball sized wasp’s nest hanging over their driveway, a busted street light, or just a funny smell coming from the sewer. Why the neighbors cannot grasp their tacit ownership of the environs of their own community is something which one such as myself cannot fathom. Admittedly – I’m the one who tears down stickers advertising “cash for junk cars” on Broadway, chases drunks around with a camera, and I’m the one who calls 911 when I find them passed out. Neighborhood crank, that’s me. The weirdo guy with the cute dog named Zuzu who talks to everybody.

It was one fine night in October, while escorting the aforementioned canine on her nightly rounds, that one encountered this defective access cover on the corner of 45th street and Broadway. Just this once, I decided, I wasn’t going to do anything at all and see if either one of the neighbors – or the literally hundreds of City vehicles that cross it daily – would make an attempt at getting it taken care of. This was back in October. The shot above is from December 7th, so as you see – I was let down once again.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One was paralyzed with a sort of fever on this December night. While the dog sniffed about at the base of a tree, I angrily watched city buses driving over the thing, causing it to spin like a dime in the broken rim of the pipe it covered. A motorcycle driver almost rolled into it, and then a FedEx truck making the left off of 45th street plunged a wheel into the hole, causing it to flip.

God damn all of you. 

I called 311, and told my tale to an operator whom I had to convince that Astoria was in Queens and not the Bronx. The operator decided it was a police emergency and forwarded it to the 114th pct (who called me some four and a half hours later, btw). Ultimately, the cops did nothing (and the situation persisted through November).

Fearing someone might actually get hurt waiting for the Gendarmes to arrive, I called my neighbor Mario (a construction guy) to grab a few safety cones from the basement and bring them over to the corner.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Suffice to say that Mario has an abundance of traffic safety devices primed for ready deployment, and he showed up with not just traffic cones but one of those barriers with a blinky thing attached to it. We arranged the safety devices about the broken manhole cover, and again this was the 7th of December. Fervently, one hoped for succor throughout the month, and that a crew from either DOT or DEP would show up and remedy things.

As mentioned in the past, I’m an optimist.

The shot above is from January 2nd of this year. 

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On the 3rd of January, I was again walking around with Zuzu the dog and noticed that the impromptu safety devices we had arranged about the hazard nearly a full month earlier had begun to scatter. Cursing my neighbors, the City of New York itself, and whatever malign powers there are which have regency over my life – a decision was made that I was going to be forced into exercising the nuclear option.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Elected officials are kind of a dice throw in Queens, where a single political party enjoys landslide elections and office holders are appropriately described as having been appointed rather than having won an election. In my section of Astoria, the dice have fallen propitiously, as our representative in the City Council is Jimmy Van Bramer.

I’m a big fan of Mr. Van Bramer, it should be mentioned, and several times in the past I’ve reached out to his office for assistance involving one quality of life issue or another. I’m also in regular contact with several of the local electeds (Newtown Creek stuff), and overall – Western Queens is ably served by our representatives on the subject of “Quality of Life” issues.

January 3rd was a Sunday, so I pulled the glass cover away from the big red button that must never be pushed on Newtown Pentacle HQ’s control panel, and called Team Van Bramer’s office on the 4th.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Just the other day, Monday the 11th actually, while returning from the subway stop at 46th street to Newtown Pentacle HQ, the shot above was taken. A dangerous street condition first noticed in October, which was reported to 311 in December, and which persisted through the holidays to January – was fixed.

It’s for the saga of the Astoria manhole cover and many, many other reasons that Mr. Van Bramer and his team can expect my support, endorsement, and vote in the next election cycle. They can somehow work the levers on the juggernaut mechanism which is the City of Greater New York in expert fashion, and realize that to the citizens of our metropolis – it’s the little things which matter.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

January 18, 2016 at 11:00 am

sun choked

with 2 comments

Consarned and new fangled gizmos – in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My pal Kevin Walsh of Forgotten-NY is the lamp post guy. You will tremble in your boots when he begins discussing “luminaires” and other mechanistic implementations designed to light the streets of the City of Greater New York. Saying that, here on Broadway in Astoria (and along 34th avenue) between Steinway and 48th street, the inestimable NYC DOT has recently installed the latest generation of street lighting – which are LED fixtures that replace the familiar sodium lighting which has long punctured the sepulchral darkness of Gotham.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

At the start of December, work crews from Weisbach – DOT’s contractor for all things electrical – were observed on the throroughfare in a “cherry picker” truck swapping out the old school sodium lights for the new LED ones. According to official sources “NYC DOT operates the largest municipal street-lighting system in the country, with 262,000 lights on City streets, bridges and underpasses, 12,000 in parks and 26,000 on highways,” and the City plans on replacing every single one of them with the new LED lights.

The effort is expected to reduce the amount (and cost) of electricity consumed in pursuit of lighting the streets by a significant amount, as well as reforming the “carbon footprint” of the municipality. It’s costing us tax payers about $75 million smackers to change out every light, but is expected to save about $6 million a year in energy costs.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As you’d imagine, the gentry here in Astoria have been busy debating the relative merits of the new lighting. On the plus side, the LED’s produce a brighter light which is quite a bit “whiter” than the old sodium lamps. The actual color of the light is 4300 Kelvin, which is quite a bit “bluer” than the sodium lamps which produced the familiar (and warmer) orange yellow light that all New Yorkers are used to suffering in. The LED light is quite a bit better focused on the street itself, and from a photographic point of view – has brightened things up by around two stops.

Observation and conversation, however, have revealed that the new lights create quite a bit of glare. I wear glasses, so… bother.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Non empirically speaking, the sodium lamps scattered their light in a globe of illumination whereas the newer lights are a bit more like a reading lamp in design. Drivers have reported to me that on rainy nights the new lights create a problem for them, windshield glare wise, but nothing insurmountable. There’s also people who just don’t like the new color.

Most of Astoria’s Broadway community seems fairly ambivalent/positive about the change, as a note, offering “why would I care, what can you do about it?” as a response to queries such as “what do you think about the new street lights?”.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There are all sorts of theories on the effects which LED lighting on human perception. Like the shutter of a motion picture projector, the LED’s flicker at a rate which is just outside of normal human perception. Some say that the flicker induces a state of anxiety to the sensitive, but truth be told, I’ve tried to capture it using video capture and have been unable to perceive anything other than steady illumination – no strobing, in other words.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On the plus side, the directed light is no longer illuminating the residential windows along Broadway, and since I live along the street – I can report that at night my windows are considerably darker than they used to be under the old sodium lights. Additionally, the streets and particularly the sidewalks seem considerably and perceptually brighter.

Everything you could possibly want to know about the new LED lights is answered by this PDF at NYC.gov.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

You can discern the different temperatures of the two lighting systems in the shot above. The avenue (Broadway) is lit by the new and bluish LED’s and the street (44th) by the older and orange sodium light system.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

January 7, 2016 at 11:00 am

%d bloggers like this: