The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Posts Tagged ‘Brooklyn

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.


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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.

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

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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

insidious outrages

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Wednesday’s are seldom fun.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It’s been a pretty busy couple of weeks for a humble narrator, which has seen me visiting several spots scattered around the Newtown Creek. Last week, Newtown Creek Alliance offered a lecture by NYS DEC’s Randy Austin titled “Oil Spills 101” to the public at our 520 Kingsland Avenue HQ. Well attended, the lecture is nevertheless something which I’ve experienced multiple times, so after helping out with setup and introductions, I went upstairs to the Kingsland Green Roof and set up the camera for landscape action. Unlike the failed attempt at such an endeavor described last week, this time I remembered to click all the right buttons and followed my checklist exactly.

See? I’m smart, not dumb, smart. Not like people say.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The shot above, which presents here at Newtown Pentacle as a rather small image in the vertical sense, is actually a MASSIVE panorama image whose resolution would easily accommodate the pixel count needed for a five foot long print. Click through to flickr and check out the “all sizes” tab if you’re interested. I’d mention that you’d likely not want to do that if you’re on your phone right now. It’s a GIANT image.

Of late, the camera technique I’m using for panorama shots involves turning the tripod mounted camera on its side, in “portrait mode,” and then rotating the leveled tripod head around about five degrees for every exposure. The one above is composited from around thirteen individual shots stitched together. The reason for this, and why I’ve started doing pano shots this way, is that any lens distortion is usually more pronounced at the edges of the frame, and the “squarest” section of any lens is at center. I was using an ND ten stop filter on my lens as well, which means that the shot above represents about five minutes of actual elapsed time, since the ND filter allows me to do longish exposures in full daylight.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A more conventional shot is above, looking over the DEP’s Newtown Creek Waste Water Treatment plant property towards Greenpoint’s St. Anthony’s and the lower Manhattan skyline beyond.

Also, regarding the ludicrous plethora of ads which WordPress has been inserting into the blog – and of late into the body copy – is a state of affairs which is currently out of my control to stop. In June, I’m going to start making a few changes once the site officially turns ten years old, and one of them will involve eradicating as much of that junk as possible.


“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.

quintessential loathsomeness

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Got to remember to click all the clickie things.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Last week, I headed over to the Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant Nature Walk in Greenpoint to play around with the camera a bit. It’s a fairly controlled environment, the Nature Walk, and my desire was simply to set up the tripod and attach a certain filter to my lens in pursuance of doing long exposure daylight shots. The benefit of this particular filter, a ten stop neutral density model which is nearly as opaque as welding glass, is that it cuts the amount of light hitting the lens precipitously and allows you to leave the shutter open for long intervals. Problem with it is that you need to set up the camera in a few highly specific ways, which I normally follow a mental checklist to satisfy. If you miss a single one of those steps on the checklist, bad things happen to your images.

I spent about an hour shooting what I thought would be pretty neato keen images, but later discovered that I had skipped a critical step. Managed to get lucky with the shot above, everything else was tossed. Note to self: Don’t forget to turn off the image stabilizer on the lens when you’ve got the camera on the tripod.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Just as I was breaking down the rig and reinserting my gear into the bag for the walk back home, this tug showed up. I had already stowed the filter and cable release and all the other “chazzerie” but the camera was still up on the tripod. A few quick adjustments brought my settings back into accordance with “normal” shooting. Since these shots were at “normal” shooting speeds measured in fractions of a second, the image stabilizer issue didn’t screw me up.

That’s DonJon Towing’s Emily Ann, maneuvering two bucket barges into Newtown Creek and heading over to their clients at SimsMetal in Long Island City.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

What went wrong with the tripod long exposure shots that I had intended to gather was leaving the lens image stabilizer on, as stated. What that means is this: an image stabilizer is a bit of technology which compensates for shaky hands and moving objects that can offer up to a couple of stops of exposure compensation by wiggling the lens elements around. You’ve got one in your phone camera, so it’s not an esoteric thing. Problem is that it doesn’t sense when you’re mounted on a tripod for an exposure of thirty seconds or more, so despite the camera being stock still, the lens elements are still wiggling. This wiggling introduces blur into the image, which screws the proverbial pooch.

Human error, huh? Human, all too human.


“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.

virtually beyond

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My beloved Creek.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One has always indulged in the habit of taking periodic breaks from visiting that flooded valley of wonder called the Newtown Creek, in pursuance of occasionally allowing my immune system to scale back a bit to normal NYC levels. Now, New York is a pig sty, and often these days it feels like it’s dirtier than it’s been in decades. As a culture, we’ve done a great job of using “Public Service Announcements” to convince the citizenry of the the efficacy of condom usage, smoking cessation, and to get teenagers in the habit of not getting pregnant as often as in generations formerly. What we’ve stopped doing, however, is convincing people that littering is bad.

Street litter ends up in the sewer grates, and then into the water. It causes the NYC DEP, who operate that science fiction like sewer plant in Greenpoint – pictured above – no end of problems. They have to strain the solids from the otherwise liquidic flow which they refer to as “honey.” These solids become landfill, ultimately, which they would have anyway if just placed in those garbage baskets on nearly every street corner – they just wouldn’t be biohazardous waste as well, having been mingled with poop and sewage in the pipes.

That’s a lot of “funk.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That is what’s referred to as the “BP Amoco” tanks in Greenpoint, pictured above, although the facility has recently changed ownership. For the life of me, while I’m writing this I can’t remember the name of the new corporate entity who bought it. That’s a distribution yard. Petroleum products are barged in by a tugboat, off loaded into those tanks you see, and then pumped into delivery trucks for the proverbial “last mile.”

That’s also just about the dead bang center of the Greenpoint Oil Spill, in relation to the bulkheads of Newtown Creek that you’re looking at, at Greenpoint’s Apollo Street. Just east of here is the spot where the US Coast Guard spotted oil oozing from the bulkheads in the 1970’s, kicking off a decades long process which would eventually result in the entirety of Newtown Creek being named as a Federal Superfund site.

There’s a sediment bed down there under the water which contains a lot of gunk.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This one is looking across the Newtown Creek at Long Island City from the bulkheads at 520 Kingsland Avenue in Brooklyn, where Newtown Creek Alliance is now headquartered. That’s Sims Metal Recycling on the Queens side. From a maritime point of view, this is still an acutely active and well navigated section of the Newtown Creek. There’s multiple daily visits to the nearby Whale Creek tributary by NYC DEP sludge boats, tug and barge activity due to the presence of Sims in Queens, and Allocco Recycling in Greenpoint.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – a single barge carries the equivalent cargo of up to thirty eight semi trucks. That’s a lot of junk!

As you may have guessed by now, break time is over, and I’m once again communing with my beloved Newtown Creek.


“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.


Events!

Slideshow and book signing, April 23rd, 6-8 p.m.

Join Newtown Creek Alliance at 520 Kingsland Avenue in Greenpoint, Brooklyn for a slideshow, talk, and book signing and see what the incredible landscape of Newtown Creek looks like when the sun goes down with Mitch Waxman. The event is free, but space is limited. Please RSVP here. Light refreshments served.

Click here to attend.

The Third Annual, All Day, 100% Toxic, Newtown Creekathon. April 28th.

The Creekathon will start at Hunter’s Point South in LIC, and end at the Kingsland Wildflowers rooftop in Greenpoint. It will swing through the neighborhoods of LIC, Blissville, Maspeth, Ridgewood, East Williamsburg, Bushwick, and Greenpoint, visiting the numerous bridges that traverse the Creek. While we encourage folks to join us for the full adventure, attendees are welcome to join and depart as they wish. A full route map and logistics are forthcoming.This is an all day event. Your guides on this 12+ mile trek will be Mitch Waxman and Will Elkins of the Newtown Creek Alliance, and some of their amazing friends will likely show up along the way.

Click here to attend.

Written by Mitch Waxman

April 12, 2019 at 1:30 pm

baffled curiosity

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Whitney Mausolea, Greenwood Cemetery

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A humble narrator has nothing new to show you this week, so archived shots are on offer. Fear not, as you’re receiving this, one is running about the City whilst the camera is clicking and whirring away. In the meantime, enjoy yourself, as it’s probably a lot later than you think.

Day light savings time is an anachronism and should be abolished.


“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

March 11, 2019 at 11:00 am

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