The Newtown Pentacle

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Posts Tagged ‘Brooklyn

equally himself

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Tuesday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Wandering disdainfully through the universe’s garden spot, Brooklyn’s Greenpoint section, one struggles to maintain any sort of hope for the future. Jack ass Real Estate enthusiasts masquerading as altruists are the latest addition to the milieu that I have to deal with. Their entire point of view is built around a single disingenuous issue – “affordable housing” for people earning over $100,000 a year. When you point out that every bit of societal infrastructure (power, water, transit, education, healthcare) required to maintain a growing populace is currently failing and the installation of much of it dates back to an era before women were able to vote, they grow indignant. Everything is connected. NYC is complicated. The five boroughs are virtually a nation state unto themselves, and the NYPD’s headcount is larger than most country’s actual militaries. As an example, there are fewer active duty Royal Marines employed by the United Kingdom than there are NYPD officers. There’s 36,000 cops in NYC’s 5 boroughs versus 7,760 Royal Marines for all of Great Britain. I should mention that a Royal Marine is generally considered to be worth 20 regular soldiers, and that NYPD is trained for an entirely different mission so the numerical difference isn’t offered to suggest that the NYPD would win a fight with the British Royal Marines.

The entire British military establishment numbers about 200,000 active duty personnel. Their job is to protect the roughly 67 million people who live on the actual island, and the various bases and territories left over from the time of Empire. The Royal Marines are “tip of the spear” troops, meaning they are the equivalent of America’s Green Berets, Navy Seals, or Army Rangers in terms of training and lethality.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Where does “it” go when you flush your affordable toilet in your new condo? Who pays for the pipe and the sewer plant and what happens to “it” after it gets there? See those four pipes in the photo above? Largest single source of greenhouse gas in Brooklyn, bigger than all the highways and tunnels put together. What powers this sewer plant in Greenpoint and who does it serve? The answer to the former is a bit complex, but the latter is Manhattan below 96th street.

Much will be made of the “need” for affordable housing built close to the urban core along the East River. Few will discuss the need to build new and to fortify existing mass transit. If you understand NYC history, you can say with zero qualification that the Government is shit at building housing. Conversely, Government is great at building roads and train lines and sewer plants. Let’s talk about getting the Government out of the real estate business, and back into the building schools and hospitals and transit space.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Everything in NYC is interrelated. Nothing exists in a solitary silo. A new luxury apartment building, using modern construction technique, isn’t built here – it’s assembled here. Prefabricated sections are brought to the job site from a distant factory and lifted by crane into the correct spot. Those “wide load” sections have to get “here” from somewhere else. How do you do that, when the Real Estate people have eliminated port and rail infrastructure across the five boroughs in a systematic manner over the last fifty years? By heavy truck, of course. In a vastly interconnected system like NYC, a small change in one place causes ripples through others.

Those trucks, coming from distant factories, have to move through other people’s neighborhoods. They encounter obstacles like the elevated tracks of the 7 line on Queens Blvd. or the overpasses of highways. Since everyone is a fucking environmentalist these days, how about we calculate the amount of carbon these truck trips spend while idling in traffic in upper Manhattan on their way to the Triborough?


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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 1, 2021 at 11:00 am

have unlocked

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Wednesday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Tired and overwhelmed is a humble narrator, who is out taking pictures of the greatest city in the history of mankind this week and not attending any Zoom meetings or frankly doing anything he doesn’t want to do. Thereby, this week you’ll be encountering single images here at Newtown Pentacle, in pursuance of taking a short break from the normal blather.

Pictured above is the eastern terminus of the fabulous Newtown Creek, found some 3.8 miles back from the East River in Bushwick/East WIlliamsburg.


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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

April 28, 2021 at 11:00 am

outrageous conclusions

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Thursday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A few more from the Gowanus Dredging operation today, and since the pursuance of getting these shots required no small amount of physical hardship for a humble narrator, we’re staying on the subject for a bit longer.

As mentioned earlier in the week, one woke up a couple of hours before sunrise in Astoria on the literal other side of a very Long Island, then suffered frigid middle December conditions on the East River to get here, and having dodged heavy trucks the entire morning on the streets of Red Hook and Sunset Park, the two eggs with ham and swiss on a roll which I had for breakfast had long ago burned away. It had also been multiple hours since I had drank anything, and the combination of fatigue and an empty fuel tank were beginning to set in. The diesel exhaust didn’t help.

I go to these places so you don’t have to, Lords and Ladies.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The material being scooped out of the Gowanus Canal gets shipped elsewhere for processing. The Superfund people at EPA aren’t exactly forthcoming about where the material gets sent, but I’d venture a guess about that as being somewhere in New Jersey and likely not too far from Bayonne. I can offer a conjectured description about what happens to it afterwards, though.

First, excess moisture will be mechanically removed either by centrifuge or compression. The freed liquid is fed into a wastewater treatment process, one not dissimilar to what happens at a sewer plant. Pollutants and contaminants are filtered out, the water is cleaned up, and then released. The filtered contaminants are combined with the dewatered solids. Secondly, the solids are sterilized, dried, and combined with an inert material like concrete. The concrete is formed into blocks, the blocks get shipped off somewhere for disposal. That somewhere is likely a tapped out underground mine which will be sealed off once full of these now inert blocks.

When Newtown Creek’s process begins to manifest physically, it will look a lot like the shots in this week’s post, just on a grander scale.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The shot above is included, one which I’m fairly sure is of the Third Street Bridge, as I’ve never seen this particular span open before. This didn’t seem to be part of the dredge operation, rather it looked like the NYC DOT (owners of the thing) were performing some sort of maintenance on the thing.

A bit more of this Southwest Brooklyn action tomorrow.

Note: I’m writing this and several of the posts you’re going to see for the next week at the beginning of the week of Monday, January 4th. My plan is to continue doing my solo photo walks around LIC and the Newtown Creek in the dead of night as long as that’s feasible. If you continue to see regular updates here, that means everything is kosher as far as health and well being. If the blog stops updating, it means that things have gone badly for a humble narrator.


“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

January 7, 2021 at 11:00 am

beckoning vistas

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Wednesday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It took leaving HQ in Astoria at 5:30 in the morning, freezing my falafels off on a ferry in middle December, and then walking about a mile and a half but I managed to get to the Gowanus Canal while superfund dredging was actually happening. Pictured above is the Gowanus, as seen from the Hamilton Avenue Bridge under the Gowanus Expressway. Normal circumstance, if such a thing exists anymore, would have found me taking the G train to the elevated structure at the top of the shot – which is the Smith/9th street station. The draw bridge it overflies is the 9th street Bridge. The bucket barge and fuel barge/tug at lower left aren’t part of the dredge operations, as a note, they were there for other business.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Named to the Federal Environmental Protection Agency’s CERCLA or “Superfund” list at the same time as my beloved Newtown Creek, Gowanus Canal involves a significantly smaller geographical and simpler pollution problem to solve than Newtown Creek does. The Gowanus Canal is analogous in terms of scale and circumstance to the Long Island City tributary of Newtown Creek called Dutch Kills, in fact. Since the problem is smaller and somewhat simpler, Gowanus got to this part of the process first, whereas Newtown Creek is still several years away from dredging. Saying that, it’s a real mess down there at Gowanus, under the water.

Before you ask – it really didn’t smell that bad. The most miserable thing, odor wise, was experiencing the exhaust pouring out of the stacks of the Tugs and other equipment as they performed their tasks. You’d suddenly find yourself standing in a pall of blue diesel exhaust when the wind bent in your direction.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There were distinct units working on the various “locks” created by the street bridges crossing the Gowanus. Pictured above is the operation that was stationed between the 9th street and Union Street Bridges. Gowanus Bay narrows into the canal, and it’s crossed by seven bridges; Union Street, Carroll Street, Third Street, the New York City Subway’s Culver Viaduct (Smith 9th street station), Ninth Street, Hamilton Avenue, and the Gowanus Expressway.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Dredging is something I usually see all the time, but I spend a lot of time on the water under normal circumstance. Maintenance of shipping channels in deeper water usually entails using a specialized rig with it’s own power plant that has steel “pods” which are lowered into the water and act as legs to stabilize the machine. What I saw at Gowanus were “materials handlers” with specialized grabbers on them, as pictured above.

The sediments are scooped off the bottom, the water is drained into one bucket barge, and then the solids go into another. It’s likely that the more liquid material will be decanted and then processed as wastewater or sewage would be.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s the Hamilton Avenue lift bridge raising to allow a tug towing away one of those “solids” barges out of the canal. It’s called a lift bridge as the entire roadway lifts vertically to allow maritime egress.

As always – it doesn’t matter if the Tug is pushing, or pulling, or the barge is tied up “on the hip” it’s called “towing.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Same Tug, different bridge. This is the Hamilton Avenue Bridge, which you saw in the first shot from the other side. It’s a double bascule draw bridge, but the two movable sections are parallel to each other. A more traditional setup for this sort of structure would be the Pulaski Bridge at Newtown Creek, where the two bascules are in line with each other and form an arch when closed.

More tomorrow.

Note: I’m writing this and several of the posts you’re going to see for the next week at the beginning of the week of Monday, January 4th. My plan is to continue doing my solo photo walks around LIC and the Newtown Creek in the dead of night as long as that’s feasible. If you continue to see regular updates here, that means everything is kosher as far as health and well being. If the blog stops updating, it means that things have gone badly for a humble narrator.


“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

January 6, 2021 at 11:00 am

hypnotic fumes

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Monday is Monday, whatever year it is.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A couple of weeks ago, I decided that getting a few shots of the Superfund related dredging being conducted down at the Gowanus Canal in in South Brooklyn might come in handy down the line for my beloved Newtown Creek. Accordingly, I decided to head over to the Red Hook/Sunset Park area. Normally, I’d just hop on the Subway, but… y’know… plague times, so I took the NYC Ferry instead as I’d be able to hang out on the top deck in the open air rather than sitting on the thermos bottle like G train for an hour. My plan was valid, but the day I chose to go ended up being an incredibly cold one.

I spent the prior evening packing my camera bag, and laying out warm clothes. Slept on the couch so as to not terrify Our Lady of the Pentacle when my alarm went off at 4:30 in the morning. One woke, inhaled a bunch of coffee and a couple of glasses of water, then bathed and dressed. Left HQ at about 5:30, when it was still dark, and got an egg sandwich at the local bagel shop to provide fuel for the mission. Walked over to the East River, and boarded a southbound ferry as the burning thermonuclear eye of god itself rose in the eastern sky. Luckily, my forethought and preparation involved a secondary layer of thermal underwear, as it was bitterly cold out.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The NYC Ferry offers a free transfer within 90 minutes of activating (via the app) or buying your ticket. The service allows you to jump from one line to another at several locations, notably the 34th street and Pier 11 stops on the Manhattan side act as hubs where multiple ferry lines meet. I rode the Astoria line boat to Pier 11/Wall Street in lower Manhattan’s financial district and then transferred onto the South Brooklyn service. South Brooklyn Ferry now has a stop inside of Atlantic Basin, which is meant to serve the Red Hook neighborhood. In retrospect, I should have debarked there, but instead I went to the Brooklyn Army Terminal stop about a mile or so south.

Hey, I got up at 4:30 in the morning for this, you think I’m not going to walk through Industry City when I’m in the neighborhood? Sheesh.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My ultimate goal was to get to the Gowanus Canal about 10 a.m., which is when my sources inside the Federal Superfund Operation told me that I’d most reliably see dredging operations at work. Thing is, it’s been so long since I’ve been out with the camera during daylight hours that I decided on making this one of my “adventures.”

Adventure and excitement are things which a Jedi does not crave, of course, but I am no Jedi. There are so many experiences which I was forced to leave on the table in 2020 due to the Pandemic that the notion of having an interesting day was just too much for me to pass up. More tomorrow, at this – your Newtown Pentacle.

Note: I’m writing this and several of the posts you’re going to see for the next week at the beginning of the week of Monday, January 4th. My plan is to continue doing my solo photo walks around LIC and the Newtown Creek in the dead of night as long as that’s feasible. If you continue to see regular updates here, that means everything is kosher as far as health and well being. If the blog stops updating, it means that things have gone badly for a humble narrator.


“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

January 4, 2021 at 1:00 pm

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