The Newtown Pentacle

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Posts Tagged ‘Brooklyn

grim purpose

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Plumb Beach, Brooklyn.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Yesterday, I got to hang out with my photographer buddy Val, and we headed over to southeast Brooklyn to wave the cameras about. Plumb Beach is just east of the Emmons Avenue exit on the south side of the Belt Parkway, nearby Sheepshead Bay. It’s part of the Gateway National Recreation Area operation, and can be pretty well populated. We saw windsurfers, and paragliders, and old russian guys wearing speedos who were working on their tans. Brrrr.

Me? I set up the tripod and played around with an ND filter, as I love the “mist” effect caused by the tide. When I was developing this, I really wished that I had done another shot or two at quicker shutter speeds and wider apertures to marry in some spray and water detail with the mist via compositing. Next time, huh? You learn something new every time you click the shutter, I always say.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Yesterday’s storm was rumbling in the distance, and the sky was starting to darken. Despite this, a humble narrator scuttled onto and over a dune to get the POV offered above, looking towards the Gil Hodges Marine Parkway Bridge and over a salt marsh.

I was still rigged up with the ND filter, which is why there’s a dreamy quality to the shot, which had a shutter speed of thirty seconds. The wind was kicking up as the storm approached, and the first few droplets of rain were noticed.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The shot above is the one I like best of the three, and it’s where the particular setup that my camera had really paid off. Luckily, I was using a zoom lens.

As far as I know, there’s still a few tickets left for tonight’s “Infrastructure Creek” walking tour, or if you decide to come at the last moment, walk ups are always welcome and we can transact in cash if need be. Be at the corner of Kingsland and Greenpoint Avenues by 6:30-45 p.m. in Brooklyn, right at the footing of the Greenpoint Avenue Bridge by the Miller Building. Come with?


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle


Upcoming Tours and Events


TONIGHT – Thursday, August 8, 7 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. 

“Infrastructure Creek” Walking Tour w NYC H2O

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 (which we will probably encounter at a crossing), 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.

Click here for ticketing and more information.

Saturday, August 10, 10 a.m. 12.00 p.m.

Exploring the East River, From General Slocum Disaster to Abandoned Islands – with NY Adventure Club.

June 15th is one of those days in NYC history. In 1904, more than a thousand people boarded a boat in lower Manhattan, heading for a church picnic on Long Island — only 321 of them would return. This is the story of the General Slocum disaster, and how New York Harbor, the ferry industry, and a community were forever altered.

Join New York Adventure Club for a two-part aquatic adventure as we explore the General Slocum disaster, and historic sights and stories along the East River, all by NYC Ferry.

Tickets and more details
 here.


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

August 8, 2019 at 3:39 pm

vernal somnambulant

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It’s too hot for a regular post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Accordingly, the week ends with a single shot, captured in Greenwood Cemetery one happy evening. Have a nice weekend, lords and ladies, and stay hydrated.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle


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

June 28, 2019 at 2:02 pm

crabbed penmanship

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Neato Keen, bro.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One found himself riding a southbound NYC Ferry, uncharacteristically early one recent morning (I’m not a morning person), and as mentioned last week – I can’t resist the shot above and make sure I click out a couple of exposures of it every time I see it. The shot is from Wallabout Bay, where you’ll notice the Brooklyn Navy Yard. It looks across a somewhat peninsular section of Manhattan called Corlears Hook. According to Riis and other 19th century contemporaries, Corlears Hook was the absolute bottom of the barrel when it came to poverty, disease, and the other vagaries of NYC tenement life. Oddly enough, it’s where Washington lived (on Cherry Street) in his early days as the first President, and a couple of generations later Boss Tweed lived in the same house that Washington did. There used to be a Whyos connected gang that operated out of Corlears Hook called the Sewer Rats who practiced river piracy in the 1850’s, which causally forced the creation of NYPD’s Harbor Unit. Later on, when the Williamsburg Bridge opened in 1899, the Delancey Street corridor between the East River and the Bowery saw a huge influx of Jews move in, and right up until the Great Depression maps were being printed with a legend labeling the area as “Jewtown” and or “The Ghetto.” Go figure.

To modernity, it’s known simply as the Lower East Side.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Wallabout Creek and Bay used to be called “Hennegackonck” by the locals before the Europeans showed up and started renaming everything. French speaking Walloons, that’s who settled here, and they were supposedly the first of the foreign newcomers to settle on Long Island. I’ve always had a hard time believing that one, personally, but “officially” that’s the story.

Wallabout Creek was the official border between the City of Brooklyn and the Bosjwick colonies to the north, which were separated from each other by a boggy swamp called the Cripplebush and from the Newtown colonies in modern day Queens by Newtown Creek and its tributaries. By the end of the 19th century, Brooklyn had absorbed the Bosjwick – or Bushwick – municipalities of Greenpoint, Williamsburg, and Bushwick and had expanded to its modern dimension. The Cripplebush was long filled in by this point.

The Wallabout Creek is just on the other side of that pier you see in the shot above.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There’s a concrete company which operates out of this pier in the Navy Yard, one which receives its working material by maritime delivery. You’ll often spy heavy cargo boats docked here while hundreds of tons of gravel and other aggregate materials are unloaded from them and onto the pier for processing.

Truth be told, I was fascinated by the distinct colors of the various rock piles, and the clearly delineated lines between them. I also find the cyclopean scale of the operation absolutely and totally interesting.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The particular NYC Ferry line I was riding on was the Astoria one, heading for Lower Manhattan. They’ve recently added a Brooklyn Navy Yard stop to this line, which I’ve heard some grousing about online since it incurs an additional ten minutes onto the journey from Hallets Point in Queens to Pier 11 in Manhattan. Me? I’m just happy to now have the Navy Yard as part of my regular rounds.

It was always a pain in the neck to get in here, and has always been “catch as catch can.” During the First and Second World Wars, waving a camera around in Wallabout Bay while onboard a boat could have gotten you shot dead by the Marines guarding the place. Back then, the Williamsburg Bridge had wooden panels set up on the side facing the Navy Yard so that spies and saboteurs couldn’t observe military ships being built.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Although the Brooklyn Navy Yard doesn’t play the same role it used to doesn’t mean that you don’t get to see interesting vessels here. There are still operational dry docks, and the military still puts in here occasionally. The white hull vessel at the left edge of the shot above is the United States Navy’s “Pathfinder,” and the “Cape Ann” is a former privately held cargo ship (SS African Mercury, built 1962) which went to the MARAD Ready Reserve Force in 1980, and then was reassigned to be a part of the National Defense Reserve Fleet in 2002. It’s normally found on the James River in Virginia, so it must be in Brooklyn for a refitting or some other sort of service.

Maybe it needs its oil changed, or something.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Just before entering into the Navy Yard, I spotted the MV Hunts Point sludge boat at the equivalent of Manhattan’s 23rd street, plying the East River.

Sludge Boat, baby, sludge boat.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle


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

June 26, 2019 at 1:00 pm

day programme

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Unpleasantries abound.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

While wandering home from Greenpoint on Sunday, a day wherein the climate suddenly flipped from rainy spring to high summer, a humble narrator was enjoying the existential hell of living in NYC. There are many days when, upon waking up in the great human hive, one can’t believe how amazing the place is. Last Sunday wasn’t one of them. Instead, it was one of those days where the antics of the assembly of humans just grated upon the nervous system. The douchebags doing wheelies on dirt bikes, the assholes throwing fast food garbage out of their car windows, the cock barons who think that the proper way to use an automotive horn is to hold it down steadily for several minutes at a pop while stuck in traffic.

I really need to get out of here for a couple of weeks, go somewhere nice and take a vacation in a place that I know nothing about and where I don’t know anyone.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One has grown weary of constant existential crisis, the “eye of sauron” outrage machine casting its gaze about, and the daily grind of “have to.” This is life, of course, but it often seems as if I get a lot more “life” than most. I desperately need to take some pics of something different, as well. Some “walden pond” kind of crapola, I guess. Of course, I’ll hate that too. Mosquitoes, gnats, mud. Everything sucks.

For the sake of all that’s holy, please don’t hit me up today for something I have that you want but don’t want to pay for. It’s a bad day, generosity wise.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Have I become the “prisoner of Skillman Avenue,” or consigned to just aimlessly wander the streets forever? Am I some sort of flying dutchman with a camera?

Apologies for the inner narrative being offered today, but it’s been a lousy last couple of weeks. One is unhappy, which is predicate to one getting angry. Once anger has set in, so too does motivation manifest. Right now, everything is gray and hopeless. Once I return to being furious and rebellious, which will likely be by Thursday or Friday, this glum mood will pass. Once more, unto the breech, huh? Home sweet hell, indeed.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle


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.

varying antiquity

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And so doth Monday once more rise.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Prepping for last Saturday’s NYC Ferry tour found me riding around on a few of their boats last week, which is where I spotted the MV Hunts Point “Sludge Boat” crossing under the Williamsburg Bridge. Originally built as “East River Bridge #3” the bridge opened in 1899, a full ten years before East River Bridge #2 (Manhattan Bridge). It was built to replace the old Grand Street to Grand Street ferry operated by the company which Robert Fulton had founded. The Williamsburg Bridge was considered an eyesore when it opened, and the Municipal Art Society was founded as a response.

The Astoria line of the NYC Ferry, from which these shots were gathered, has recently added a new stop to its service, one which goes into the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Wallabout Creek was the first recorded site of European settlement on the Long Island side of the East River, in these parts. The Lenape word for the Wallabout, I’m told, was “Hemegacknock.” In 1801, shortly after the American Revolution, the newly minted Federal Government desired a ship yard along the East River. At the time, the busiest boat building center on the planet was found on the East side of Manhattan, and real estate prices for a property large enough for what the Feds wanted to occupy forced them to look towards the east. They purchased Wallabout Creek and Bay, and created the Brooklyn Navy Yard there in 1801.

By the American Civil War in the 1860’s, the BNY was employing over 6,000 people at the Wallabout.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

By World War 2, there were 10,000 employees and the Brooklyn Navy Yard hosted five miles of paved roads, 2 steel shipways to launch new vessels, six pontoon and cylindrical floats, and 4 dry docks. That ship you see above is sitting high and dry in one of the dry docks (it’s actually called a graving dock, but there you go).

Between 1937 and 1953, amongst several other large vessels; the BNY launched the Battleships Iowa, North Carolina, and Missouri. They also built the first angled deck aircraft carrier here, which was called the Antietam. After the Federal Government began contracting its ship building and servicing in NY Harbor, the Navy Yard fell on hard times. These days it’s experiencing a bit of a renaissance, and has become a corporate industrial park of sorts. The FDNY and NYC Ferry maintain bases here, and there’s also a movie studio, the country’s largest urban farm, and several warehouse operations working out of the Navy Yard. Additionally, there’s a new museum here called “Bldg 92” which preserves the history of the place, accessible from the Flushing Avenue or landward side.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle


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.

grinding halts

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Problems not of my making are annoying.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One continues to struggle against changes made without my consent or direction to paid services like WordPress and Flickr, but those are just the tip of a personal iceberg that offers a continually shifting footing. The trick to being productive in the digital age involves consistency on the part of the content creator, which is dependent upon the predictability of technologies used to bring the content forward and present it. The sudden insertion of advertising into this page, which I don’t see a dime from and is the digital equivalent of a business card stuck into your door jam, just annoys me as it breaks up the narrative offered and introduces a coarse visual esthetic. What I see being inserted involves a series of banner ads which revolve around some quack selling snake oil for sufferers of stomach issues. You? Leave a comment and let me know, I would beg of you.

Extortion is what’s at work, as WordPress is essentially blackmailing me into forking over some filthy lucre to them in order to make the ads stop, and causing the site to work and look the way it used to. It’s not like I’m freeloading, Newtown Pentacle is already, and has been, coughing up money annually for the privilege of publishing with WordPress. WordPress just wants more. They want to monetize me, and by extension – you. Apologies are offered, I should have this situation solved soon but it means forking over extortion monies.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The service which serves the photos here is Flickr, which has been owned by Yahoo for more than a decade and was recently purchased by an outfit called Smugmug. The Smugmug people are modernizing a lot of things at Flickr right now, but a particularly annoying “gotcha” they’ve introduced bars me from logging into my paid account via the desktop computer which I use to process and deliver photos via. This has added to my workload in several annoying ways, making even the rather straightforward task of setting up posts from a template labor intensive. My desktop is a few years old, but still quite capable at doing what I need it to. The technology companies seeking to monetize me, however, are all fairly insistent that I should buy a new box, which would aid them in their profit seeking. A new box would see me paying a monthly subscription fee to Adobe, give Apple further opportunities to isolate me into their walled garden, and remove any vestige of control over the desktop environment that I currently have.

Today’s post was constructed using three different devices, when I used to use just one. That’s how many “workarounds” are now involved.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Can’t fight City Hall, don’t be a luddite and embrace change, you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t, right?

As a note, I remember installing Adobe Illustrator off of about a dozen floppy discs onto one of the first Macs with a color screen at a Madison Avenue agency back in the early 90’s. I’ve been around the digital world since it emerged, and have profited off of my technical acumen and understanding of it over the last three decades. Tech companies have always been somewhat predatory, but we seem to have entered a new era in this regard. I don’t mind paying out for technologies, but forced upgrades accompanied by a diminishment of services enrages a humble narrator.


Upcoming Tours and Events

June 15th – Exploring the East River,

From General Slocum Disaster to Abandoned Islands – with NY Adventure Club.

June 15th is one of those days in NYC history. In 1904, more than a thousand people boarded a boat in lower Manhattan, heading for a church picnic on Long Island — only 321 of them would return. This is the story of the General Slocum disaster, and how New York Harbor, the ferry industry, and a community were forever altered.

Join New York Adventure Club for a two-part aquatic adventure as we explore the General Slocum disaster, and historic sights and stories along the East River, all by NYC Ferry.

Tickets and more details
here.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

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

June 3, 2019 at 1:30 pm

what matter

with one comment

Megalomaniacal ambition, it affects us all.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

If you saw an older fellow lying prone on the turf at Astoria Park recently, with a laptop that had two speaker wires leading from its usb port down into an ant hill, yeah that was me. I’m trying to hack into both ant and termite mounds, in pursuance of recruiting some of the most numerous and industrious species to be found upon the land to do my bidding. My disastrous 2008 experiments with primates, which were first called “Operation Tarzan” and then later “Operation Damn Dirty Ape,” taught me many lessons. That’s why, while performing field work on “Operation Formicidae” (as I’ve styled it) I leave the bag of sugar cubes at home rather than having them on site. That shipping container from Chiquita was just too much temptation for my nascent ape army to resist. I know better now.

Someday, instead of a Queen, the ants will have a King. He will be as terrible as the oncoming storm, and in his name will vast armies skitter forth from their holes. Together, we will form a construction company, and grow rich in both fungus garden and bank account. My company will be called Myrmidon, LLC., and despite having billions of employees, I won’t have to pay them in anything but empty beer bottles and leaf cuttings. This is Capitalism at its purest, lords and ladies.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Another one of my projects involves an adaptation of the biological sixth sense enjoyed by sharks, made possible by the “ampullae of Lorenzini,” which allows these cosmopolitan predators the ability to detect the electromagnetic fields produced by the movement of muscle tissue in living organisms. The Great White Shark, for instance, can detect field variances of half a billionth of a volt, allowing it to home in on a beating heart at close range. I’m not sure what my “shark skin suit” will be used for, but it will likely come in handy for a variety of tasks.

I mean, look at all those wires here in Astoria… can you imagine?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My landlord, and Municipal regulators, insist on a strict “Mad Science” policy of “zero tolerance” here in Astoria. That “Astoria Borealis” thing… it wasn’t me, I swear. The official story explaining it away sounds reasonable… no? It’s not like someone was working on reanimating a corpse and accidentally opened a dimensional portal, that’s crazy. The fact that the corpse disappeared during the light show… what does that mean? Nothing, I tell you, nothing. Also, that “Beast of Berrian Bay” thing that the construction guys go on about at the bar is just a story.

Also, as a note, the teams of scientists studying the Great White Shark population around South Africa’s Seal Island have observed Great White’s operating cooperatively in a clan system not unlike that of a wolf pack. There’s a social hierarchy, and an “alpha,” and there seems to be some kind of behavioral custom they follow when encountering other “clans.” Sharks that cooperate with each other… Maybe I should be trying to hack the sharks, instead of the ants.

That’s some mad science, kid. It’s also kind of the scariest thing I’ve ever heard.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

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

May 28, 2019 at 11:00 am

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