The Newtown Pentacle

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Posts Tagged ‘Brooklyn Queens Expressway

muffled oaths

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More Astoria night time action, in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

An expressway “cloverleaf exchange” between the Brooklyn Queens Expressway, the Grand Central Parkway, and the local street grid is found on Astoria Blvd. in the high 40’s and 50’s blocks A small industrial zone exists thereabouts, which is quite a busy place during working hours. At night, it’s a ghost town inhabited by rats, cats, and me.

Also, the one guy on a delivery bike who rode through the shot while the shutter was open.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I find these kinds of structures fascinating, there’s something about the curving steel and concrete which are lit by harsh sodium fixtures which I just can’t get enough of. The cool coloration of the City’s new LED street lamps provide for a very interesting color contrast, to my eye.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A point of pride for me is knowing where to find hidden byways like the stairs pictured above, which carry you over and through the tangle of high speed roads from one sidewalk plateau to another.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Said plateau is pictured in full above, roughly a full story of elevation from one level to the next.

As a kid growing up in south east Brooklyn, it was critical to know about places like this when fleeing random dangers or avoiding the attentions of law enforcement. My little group of idiots favored the usage of back yards and the jumping of divider fences, or just running across the roofs of connected homes and garages.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As an addendum to a recent conversation I had on social media with a bicycle enthusiast, who was aghast at my assertion that bike lanes in Astoria are superfluous as bike riders use every paved surface available to them, the red light trail over the sidewalk comes from the tail light of an electric bike which zipped past me at speed on the sidewalk.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This shot looks down on the street where the first shot was captured. That’s the Brooklyn Queens Expressway running in the trench.

Robert Moses was entirely specific when assigning nomenclature to his roads, and it all depended on where he was getting to the money from to build them. Parkways have planted dividers and shoulders – built with “parks” money. Expressways have more exits feeding into local streets than Highways – or High Speed Ways – do. Thruways have even fewer exits, which can be 5-10 miles away from each other. The latter three were generally built with slum clearance or urban renewal funds. There was a method to that man’s madness, I tell you.


Upcoming Tours and Events

April 14 – Exploring Long Island City – with NY Adventure Club.

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?
Tickets and more details here.

April 15- Newtown Creekathon – with Newtown Creek Alliance.

That grueling 13 and change mile death march through the bowels of New York City known as the “Newtown Creekathon” will be held on that day, and I’ll be leading the charge as we hit every little corner and section of the waterway. This will be quite an undertaking, last year half the crowd tagged out before we hit the half way point. Have you got what it takes the walk the enitre Newtown Creek?
Click here to reserve a spot on the Creekathon.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

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Written by Mitch Waxman

April 6, 2018 at 11:00 am

decisive steps

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It’s National Hot Fudge Sundae Day, in these United States.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Despite the known presence of a tribe of Vampires lurking in the steel rafters of the Red Hook section’s Gowanus Expressway, the elevated span offers a welcoming respite from the radiate energies of the burning thermonuclear eye of God itself to a humble narrator as well as the revenants – and given the high temperature and humidity levels last week – one was willing to take his chances with the bloodsuckers in pursuance of a bit of shade. This corridor in South Brooklyn is hellacious to drive through, and is also a bit of an adventure whilst on foot.

It’s the “House of Moses” after all.

from wikipedia

Robert Moses (December 18, 1888 – July 29, 1981) was a public official who worked mainly in the New York metropolitan area. Known as the “master builder” of mid-20th century New York City, Long Island, Rockland County, and Westchester County, he is sometimes compared to Baron Haussmann of Second Empire Paris, and was one of the most polarizing figures in the history of urban development in the United States. His decisions favoring highways over public transit helped create the modern suburbs of Long Island and influenced a generation of engineers, architects, and urban planners who spread his philosophies across the nation despite not training in those professions. Moses would call himself a “coordinator” and was referred to in the media as a “master builder”.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One’s plan was a simple one. Attendance at an event in Sunset Park was on the menu, and a convoluted trip using the subway from Point A in Queens’ Astoria to Point R in Brooklyn’s Red Hook was instituted. From Smith/9th street, I had a distance of about a mile to cover on foot, during which one encountered a series of challenging pedestrian obstacles which made me wish I had called a cab. My plan was to take Hamilton Avenue over to Third Avenue, whereupon I was headed over to 28th street in Sunset Park. Simple?

Btw, that’s NYC DOT’s Hamilton Plant pictured above, they do asphalt.

from wikipedia

Asphalt concrete (commonly called asphalt, blacktop, or pavement in North America, and tarmac or bitumen macadam in the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland) is a composite material commonly used to surface roads, parking lots, airports, as well as the core of embankment dams. It consists of mineral aggregate bound together with asphalt, laid in layers, and compacted. The process was refined and enhanced by Belgian inventor and U.S. immigrant Edward de Smedt.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Things got a little hairy for a scuttling narrator as the realization that there was no way to safely cross the street set in and that I was just going to have to “go with the flow” and follow whatever detours Robert Moses left behind for me. Realizing that you’re the only person moving along on foot along a busy road is a bit disconcerting. More so, the unseen eyes staring maliciously down at my gloriously blood swollen body were sensed rather than observed.

My understanding is that this tribe of Nosferatu are nowhere near as organized or aggressive as the ones found around Queens Plaza. Those are the ones who enact a nightly siege at the NY Blood Center facility in Vernon Blvd., but one remained vigilant nevertheless.

As quoted from a 2015 post at this – your Newtown Pentacle – “It is said that the vampires arrived with a grain shipment from Germany in the early 1900’s, quickly established themselves in the neighborhood, and never left.”

from wikipedia

During the 18th century, there was a frenzy of vampire sightings in Eastern Europe, with frequent stakings and grave diggings to identify and kill the potential revenants. Even government officials engaged in the hunting and staking of vampires. Despite being called the Age of Enlightenment, during which most folkloric legends were quelled, the belief in vampires increased dramatically, resulting in a mass hysteria throughout most of Europe. The panic began with an outbreak of alleged vampire attacks in East Prussia in 1721 and in the Habsburg Monarchy from 1725 to 1734, which spread to other localities. 

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The diversionary sidewalk path carried me away from Hamilton’s intersection with Third Avenue, and one was forced to vacate the BQE’s shadows – which sheltered both undead army and humble narrator alike from the sky born radiation. One found himself at the veritable angle between the three neighborhoods surrounding the Gowanus Canal, and proceeded along his way.

I kept a close eye on those steel rafters, however.

from wikipedia

Legends of vampires have existed for millennia; cultures such as the Mesopotamians, Hebrews, ancient Greeks, and Romans had tales of demonic entities and blood-drinking spirits which are considered precursors to modern vampires. Despite the occurrence of vampire-like creatures in these ancient civilizations, the folklore for the entity we know today as the vampire originates almost exclusively from early 18th-century Southeastern Europe, particularly Transylvania as verbal traditions of many ethnic groups of the region were recorded and published. In most cases, vampires are revenants of evil beings, suicide victims, or witches, but can also be created by a malevolent spirit possessing a corpse or by being bitten by a vampire itself. Belief in such legends became so rife that in some areas it caused mass hysteria and even public executions of people believed to be vampires.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Along my path, several gaunt and filthy humans appeared, asking me for things I might have – oddly specific amounts of currency or just random items that they noticed me carrying. Surely, these debased people were the “bled white” servitors of the vampiric powers, enjoying the brief sojourn of freedom which the daytime brings them. Shoving past them with a “harummpf” and a “good day to you madam,” one was nevertheless on a mission, which was arriving at my destination in Sunset Park on time and not quite a perspiring mess due to the uncomfortable atmospherics.

One had arrived at Third Avenue, finally.

from wikipedia

Clinical vampirism is named after the mythical vampire, and is a recognizable, although rare, clinical entity characterized by periodic compulsive blood-drinking, affinity with the dead and uncertain identity. It is hypothetically the expression of an inherited archaic myth, the act of taking blood being a ritual that gives temporary relief. From ancient times vampirists have given substance to belief in the existence of supernatural vampires. Four vampirists, including Haigh, the ‘acid-bath murderer’, are described. From childhood they cut themselves, drank their own, exogenous human or animal blood to relieve a craving, dreamed of blood-shed, associated with the dead, and had a changing identity. They were intelligent, with no family mental or social pathology. Some self-cutters are auto-vampirists; females are not likely to assault others for blood, but males are potentially dangerous. Vampirism may be a cause of unpredictable repeated assault and murder, and should be looked for in violent criminals who are self-mutilators. No specific treatment is known.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I noticed that the steel rafters of the highway were no longer quite so high relative to my position, but were instead placed far closer to the ground. At this lower height, it would be a simple thing for some glass nailed claw connected to a pale limb by creaking ligaments to swing down and scratch at my skinvelope, causing my bodily juices to spill out and make for easy consumption. The local gendarmes don’t inquire too deeply into exsanguinated corpses around these parts, I’m told, chalking the complete lack of blood up to “extreme dehydration” on official NYPD paperwork.

Yeah… there’s definitely something thirsty hereabouts… I’ll tell you!

from wikipedia

The Oxford English Dictionary dates the first appearance of the English word vampire (as vampyre) in English from 1734, in a travelogue titled Travels of Three English Gentlemen published in The Harleian Miscellany in 1745. Vampires had already been discussed in French and German literature. After Austria gained control of northern Serbia and Oltenia with the Treaty of Passarowitz in 1718, officials noted the local practice of exhuming bodies and “killing vampires”. These reports, prepared between 1725 and 1732, received widespread publicity. The English term was derived (possibly via French vampyre) from the German Vampir, in turn derived in the early 18th century from the Serbian vampir (Cyrillic: вампир).

The Serbian form has parallels in virtually all Slavic languages: Bulgarian and Macedonian вампир (vampir), Bosnian: vampir, Croatian vampir, Czech and Slovak upír, Polish wąpierz, and (perhaps East Slavic-influenced) upiór, Ukrainian упир (upyr), Russian упырь (upyr’), Belarusian упыр (upyr), from Old East Slavic упирь (upir’) (many of these languages have also borrowed forms such as “vampir/wampir” subsequently from the West; these are distinct from the original local words for the creature). The exact etymology is unclear. Among the proposed proto-Slavic forms are *ǫpyrь and *ǫpirь.

Another less widespread theory is that the Slavic languages have borrowed the word from a Turkic term for “witch” (e.g., Tatar ubyr). Czech linguist Václav Machek proposes Slovak verb “vrepiť sa” (stick to, thrust into), or its hypothetical anagram “vperiť sa” (in Czech, the archaic verb “vpeřit” means “to thrust violently”) as an etymological background, and thus translates “upír” as “someone who thrusts, bites”. An early use of the Old Russian word is in the anti-pagan treatise “Word of Saint Grigoriy” (Russian Слово святого Григория), dated variously to the 11th–13th centuries, where pagan worship of upyri is reported.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One bolted across Third Avenue, seeking safety instead of avoiding the burning gaze of the Thermonuclear Eye of God itself. For one such as myself, it is merely uncomfortable to stand in the radiation of the almighty’s gaze, but for the Vampire folk it is an existential matter. It’s why their kind prefers cold climates with long winters, when’re they can enjoy the ecstasies of freedom and the hunt both unmolested and unrestrained, like the wolf.

I’m told that one of the local South Brooklyn Vampires has recently announced a run for the local City Council seat as an independent. There’s a lot of minor candidates who feel emboldened by Donald Trump’s surprise victory to try and gain elective office who figure that if Trump could do it, why not them too? Watch out Brad Lander.

from wikipedia

Opportunism is the conscious policy and practice of taking advantage of circumstances – with little regard for principles, or with what the consequences are for others. Opportunist actions are expedient actions guided primarily by self-interested motives. The term can be applied to individual humans and living organisms, groups, organizations, styles, behaviours, and trends.

Opportunism or “opportunistic behavior” is an important concept in such fields of study as biology, transaction cost economics, game theory, ethics, psychology, sociology and politics.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Warehouse and fenceline shadows would now have to be my only shelter from the burning rays of the thermonuclear orb in the sky, and one proceeded south. Now all I had to worry about were those man things which have seemingly never been instructed in how to wear human clothing that are common in this area, the everpresent high speed and randomly directed truck traffic, and a growing crowd of disaffected and heavily tattooed young humans who were riding their bicycles clumsily on the sidewalk while texting on their iphones.

from wikipedia

The hipster subculture is stereotypically composed of youth who reside primarily in gentrifying neighborhoods. It is broadly associated with indie and alternative music, a varied non-mainstream fashion sensibility, vintage and thrift store-bought clothing, generally progressive political views, organic and artisanal foods, alternative lifestyles and snobbery. The subculture typically consists of mostly white young adults living in urban areas. It has been described as a “mutating, trans-Atlantic melting pot of styles, tastes and behavior”.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Tomorrow, I’ll show you where I was going to in Sunset Park, and why I braved the horrors of the sweating concrete bunkers of the MTA, the pedestrian hating “House of Moses,” and the Vampiric hordes of hoary Red Hook itself.

That’s Gowanus Bay above, as seen from my eventual destination in Sunset Park, which was ultimately kind of a trashy experience – but more on that subject tomorrow – at this, your Newtown Pentacle.

from wikipedia

Sunset Park is a neighborhood in the southwestern part of the New York City borough of Brooklyn. It is bounded by Park Slope, Greenwood Heights and Green-Wood Cemetery to the north, Borough Park to the east, Bay Ridge to the south, and Upper New York Bay to the west. Because it was once close to the southern boundary of the City of Brooklyn, Sunset Park is considered to be part of South Brooklyn. However, until the 1960s, the northern part of Sunset Park was considered to be part of Gowanus, and the southern part was included in Bay Ridge. The neighborhood received its own name in that decade.


Upcoming Tours and events

The Insalubrious Valley of the Newtown Creek Walking Tour, with Newtown Creek Alliance – Saturday August 5th, 11 a.m. – 1;30 p.m.

Century old movable bridges, the remains of a 19th century highway between Brooklyn and Queens, and explore two of the lesser known tributaries of the troubled Newtown Creek watershed. For the vulgarly curious, Conrad Wissell’s Dead Animal and Night Soil wharf will be seen and described, with NCA Historian Mitch Waxman details here.

Brooklyn Waterfront Boat Tour, with Working Harbor Committee – Saturday August 12th, 6 p.m. – 8 p.m.

Explore the coastline of Brooklyn from Newtown Creek to Sunset Park, with NCA Historian Mitch Waxman, Andrew Gustafson of Turnstile Tours, and Gordon Cooper of Working Harbor Committee on the narrating about Brooklyn’s industrial past and rapidly changing present. details here.

The Poison Cauldron of the Newtown Creek Walking Tour, with Newtown Creek Alliance – Sunday August 13th, 11 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.

Explore the hellish waste transfer and petroleum districts of North Brooklyn on this daring walk towards the doomed Kosciuszko Bridge, with NCA Historian Mitch Waxman details here.

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.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

to overtake

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Glamorous thrill in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Not once, but twice, have I been invited to ride along with people in their automobiles in the last week. Motor coaches were once a significant part of a humble narrators life, when jaunts and journeys would carry one across the megalopolis, but my current incarnation is that of the pedestrian so when an opportunity to hurtle along in a steel motor box comes along – I take it. Of course, that doesn’t stop me from waving the camera around. Pictured above, the Penny Bridge section of my beloved Newtown Creek as witnessed from the high flying Kosciuszko Bridge captured while traveling at about 30 mph.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One of my destinations was over at the border of Bushwick and Williamsburg in infinite Brooklyn. While gathering this shot of a “sweet pete” truck, one had to work quickly as my presence had awoken the pack of dogs that patrol this yard. Didn’t wish to set them off, so I shot and ran. That’s the thrilling part.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Last Tuesday’s fog lent a certain atmospheric quality to another shot gathered while hurtling over the Kosciuszko Bridge. A dream of mine is to actually have some time to linger up here, but that would close lanes on the busy Brooklyn Queens Expressway, and I’ve already pissed off enough of my fellow New Yorkers over the years.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

There’s two FREE Newtown Creek walking tours coming up.

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

Sunday, June 21st, America’s Workshop
A FREE tour, courtesy of Green Shores NYC, click here for rsvp info

evil counsel

with 2 comments

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As mentioned in prior postings, there are certain dates on the calendar which are remarkable for the long list of significant events which have made their mark in the historical record. August 9th is one of those days.

In 586 BCE, for instance- the Temple of Solomon was toppled during the Babylonian siege of Jerusalem, and in 1483- the Sistine Chapel was opened for Mass in Rome. In 1936, Jesse Owens won his fourth gold medal in Berlin.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Charlie Manson sent his Helter Skelter squad to Sharon Tate’s place on the ninth of August in 1969, and the Victorian era ended when the Edwardian began in Great Britain. In 48 BCE, Julius Caesar and his Legions won the Battle of Pharsalus against Pompey. In 117 AD, a Caesar named Trajan died, and two hundred sixty one years later in 378- another named Valens was obliterated by the Visigoths.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Today is the “national day” of Singapore, the Eastern Orthodox feast day of Saint Herman of Alaska, and the day that Jerry Garcia died. It’s also the day that history changed forever, for the second time, when the city of Nagasaki ceased to be.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This is the 222nd day of the 12th year of the 2nd millennia, and the anniversary of Richard M. Nixon resigning the Presidency of the United States. It’s also the United Nations “International Day of the World’s Indigenous People“.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

We’ve just passed through the halfway point of summertime in the Northern Hemisphere, on this oddly propitious date. History is a series of coincidences, strung together after the fact, but any calendrical marker which ties together the fall of the Temple of Solomon with the rise of Caesar, the fall of Dick Nixon, the great working of Charlie Manson, and the use of an Atomic Bomb betrays something else. Dire portent abounds.

maddeningly untransmissible

with 3 comments

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A curious thing happens when one exits the former Celtic Park at 43rd street in Queens, and crosses beneath a titan viaduct carrying the Long Island Expressway near its singular junction with the Brooklyn Queens Expressway. First, one realizes the enormity of having entered DUKBO (Down Under the Kosciuszko Bridge Onramp), and secondarily the realization that this is not the safest path for a pedestrian to have chosen becomes readily apparent.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This is a “back door” to the massive truss bridge, thrice damned, which spans the Newtown Creek and has done so since 1939. Any driver with NY plates on their vehicle, ones worth their salt at least, has several of these short cuts etched into their mind. Taking Hunters Point Avenue to Skillman Avenue when exiting the Pulaski Bridge in order to avoid the traffic at Queens Plaza is another one of the Creek specific ones, but there are hundreds of similar opportunities to shave a few minutes off of a drive found all over the megalopolis.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Recent announcements by the elites of Albany have made it clear that the Kosciuszko Bridge replacement project has had its timeline amplified, and work will begin on the endeavor in 2013 rather than the following year. Accordingly, your humble narrator has been attempting to spend a whole lot of time in the neighborhood of late, with the goal of recording everything in the place during its final days.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One of the features here that I will sorely miss is this lovely little footbridge which carries pedestrian traffic from the 43rd street sidewalk over to the head of Laurel Hill Blvd., which runs alongside Calvary Cemetery’s eastern wall. As far as I’ve been able to discern, this structure is unnamed, here is where it might be found on a google map. If anyone reading this post works for an “official” agency and has information on the structure which you can share, please email me here, and let me know if you’d like to stay anonymous.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As you can see, the foot bridge spirals over the onramp of the Kosciuszko fed by the Long Island Expressway’s “Queens Midtown Expressway” section, and said road channels Brooklyn bound traffic onto the truss bridge. In my estimation, the foot bridge is just wide enough to accommodate an automobile, although the turns would be tricky to negotiate in anything larger than a compact. Perhaps this is what it was originally intended to do, or it might just be a feature designed to allow emergency access to police.

Unlikely, but long have I wondered why the foot bridge is so over built. Look at all that steel.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

An access hatch is visible beneath the brick and mortar abutment which is freestanding from the LIE ramps, and evidence of some regular habitation is readily apparent. Someone is indeed living under, or actually within, this little footbridge.

One can imagine few places less peaceful to exist, at the locus point of the BQE and LIE at the foot of the Kosciuszko, within a masonry cairn.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Habit and expectations demand that this person be labelled a “troll”, after the mythical creatures which European folklore describe as living beneath bridges. Odds are that this would be a cruel description for whomever it might be that calls this his or her “little hole in the wall”. Of course, this somewhat circular apartment offers one of the finest city views in all of Queens, and easy access to the B24 bus.

What tales might this individual describe, living across the way from Calvary Cemetery?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

All around the Newtown Creek, hidden amongst the bridges and rails tracks and amongst weed choked lots and abandoned industrial buildings, live an undocumented population. The odd thing is that they have jobs, or seem to, and just don’t mind a little discomfort if it means not paying rent. Once, it would have made sense to me to try and help out somehow, but age and experience have taught me to be afraid of people who brave such hardships.

Whoever this troll is, it is probably best to leave them alone, as the NY State DOT will be evicting them before long in any case.

You may think this is callow, or callous, or claim it to be madness.

This is not madness, this is DUKBO.

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