The Newtown Pentacle

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Posts Tagged ‘DUKBO

he seeks

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Wednesday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The last stop on my early morning walk from the Brooklyn Navy Yard to Astoria… well, I didn’t make it to Astoria on foot since my left one was screaming with arthritic pain by this point… was the Meeker Avenue Street End site in Greenpoint. This used to be the Brooklyn side mooring of the Penny Bridge, replaced in 1939 by the “New Penny Bridge” which was renamed as the Kosciuszcko Bridge in 1940 and has since been replaced by the modern day Kosciuszcko Bridge seen above. I cannot count how many times I’ve had to make all of those connections to explain Penny Bridge over the years.

In every post describing every step of the way, I’ve mentioned the constancy of needing to find a place to pee or poop. Why? Well, in the midst of all the high fallutin political movements here in the City that never sleeps, one of the things that we continually ignore is basic human biology. You can decarcerate, you can include, you can… but you can’t work out how to create public bathrooms. The City has a hundred billion dollar budget and there’s no way to solve this.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

During non pandemic times, the “NYC system” revolved around walking into a diner or fast food joint and ordering something cheap off the menu – like a coffee – and then asking if the facilities are available. That’s what’s known as “passing a problem off to the private sector.” We do a lot of that here in NYC. The political estate mandates stuff all the time, and then hopes that the private sector can work out the details. It’s a big part of the pandemic issue right now. Vaccine requirements are meant to be enforced by bars and restaurants, but there’s no clear set of regulations for them to follow, nor is there a clear set of instructions for what to do if somebody refuses to cooperate other than summoning the cops to come and do their usual wrecking ball “overt display of authority” thing. It’s dopey.

My understanding is that NYPD’s morale is at the lowest it’s been since the late 1980’s. Telling people what to do is different than convincing them to do what’s best for everyone. It’s not a Cop’s job to do the latter, it’s a politician’s. Our Politicians all want to be superstars, and spend most of their time coming up with new laws rather than finding ways to make the old ones work better, and expect the cops to enforce whatever the hell it is they just came up with. Also, our laws never get retired, despite irrelevancy or ineffectiveness. You still can’t keep a goat, ferret, or chicken in your apartment for instance, and the NYC Anti Mask mandate of 1845 is still on the books. It’s illegal to wear a mask in public in several regions of the United States, which was a 1960’s statutory response to the Ku Klux Klan. The NYC version was installed to keep landlords from sending masked gangs into tenement buildings to keep their tenants in line.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Politicians rattle on about climate issues, but the vast majority of the so called affordable housing built under the recent regime, in the last decade, is rated “D” or worse by the City’s Department of Buildings on energy efficiency. Fossil fuel companies are the culprits, they say, and not the political campaigns which take election year contributions from National Grid and a host of other “energy and job providers.” What is the “super power” of a City Council member? It’s called ULURP, for NYC’S “Uniform Land Use Review Procedure,” which effectively gives an office holder the power to shape development in their district. ULURP power is also held by the Borough Presidents, and City Hall. You need Council, BP, and Mayor’s offices to sign off on this process. The latter can overwrite what the former opposes, but that’s a whole other story which involves pecking order and rank.

Let’s say that you’re a City Council Member – would you demand that new construction in your district include real estate investment that has environmental benefit and green space? Playgrounds? Transit contributions? Or – would you just let the same players who have been raping the urban environment and exploiting the political system’s vanity your whole life sidle up to the trough for another rich meal? Tenants don’t write checks during election campaign season, after all, landlords do.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The mantra… Nothing matters and nobody cares…

There’s a situation at another section of the fabulous Newtown Creek, one in Long Island City, which grows increasingly perilous. A collapsing shoreline and tidal action which is clearly undermining a well travelled street that’s within a stone’s throw of LaGuardia Community College and several charter schools. Reporting the situation to the relevant agency was the most depressing experience I had in 2021, and given what the rest of that cursed year was like… The agency essentially said that they wouldn’t even inspect the situation since they looked at it three years ago when a different section of the shoreline collapsed.

Now, if a thumb tack was found in a bike lane – they’d call the FBI – but… Bah.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A few people on the Twitter have asked me why I keep on rattling on about bike lanes, which is a program and network expansion thereof that I’m generally very much in support of. Here’s the thing – bike lane support doesn’t make you an environmental crusader – and support for a network of protected pathways for non automotive traffic to flow through isn’t a substitute for talking about the frankly existential storm water issue, and about legitimate and actual open soil green space. The actual implementation of most of these bike lanes has been piss poor – painting the gutter green, and surrounding it with plastic sticks about 30% of the way isn’t sufficient. You need actual physical separation, as in concrete barriers, not paint and plastic sticks. You also need to install a fourth lens on traffic signals, which will allow bikes an extra thirty to forty five seconds to cross and clear intersections before vehicular traffic gets the go ahead. Other cities with fewer resources have managed this.

If I’m wrong, then why did the Vision Zero years see traffic related fatalities go up instead of down? I swear, if anyone brings up Amsterdam to me again… Amsterdam has a population of just under 900,000 living in the central city, and about 2.5 million in its “greater metropolitan” area. The latter number is about how many people live just in the Borough of Queens. When a City agency tells you why they can’t do something it’s “because of scale,” but then they bring up freaking Amsterdam as an example of what’s possible. This is New York City, we don’t follow trends, we set them.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

See that leaking fire hydrant? I’ve watched it leak for about 15 years. It’s been reported to the City hundreds of times. The water it oozes carries street garbage to a nearby sewer grate which empties directly into Newtown Creek. The garbage causes the grate to become clogged, which creates a garbage pond. The pond, in turn, slowly empties into Newtown Creek carrying trash along with the flow. The last time that I managed to get the drain cleared, you want to know who I called to bring in a work crew? ExxonMobil. They operate some of their pumping equipment nearby, for the oil spill cleanup operation, and when I mentioned the “optics” of this to one of their principals, it was handled quickly and they used heavy equipment to scoop away the garbage pond’s embankments. Saying that, it was about four or five years ago. The hydrant continues to leak, and the pond grows. Someday, there’s going to be a waterbody called “Lake Meeker” here. Will that qualify as green space, or parkland?

Nothing matters, and nobody cares.


“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 5, 2022 at 1:00 pm

he screams

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Tuesday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s the Kosciuszcko Bridge, crossing my beloved Newtown Creek, pictured above. One had scuttled here from the Brooklyn Navy Yard along Meeker Avenue, and since my trick left foot was acting up, I decided that this would be an excellent place to chill out for a bit. As mentioned yesterday, a bathroom break was also required. There’s usually an unlocked Porta Potty down here, so that was my first destination in and area I call DUKBO – Down Under the Kosciuszcko Bridge Onramp (the Porta Potty was a great experience, I gave it a three out of four stars Yelp review).

I set up the camera on the tripod and got busy, afterwards. Of course, I could have gotten away with just doing hand held shots here, as it wasn’t even close to noon o’clock yet. Saying that, I wanted to “slow things down” a bit and attached a filter to my lens to cut down on the amount of light entering it. Smooth out some of the distracting texture and reflection in the water, all that.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One finds its fascinating, actually. When you’ve got the shutter open for 10-30 seconds, you can begin to visualize the currents in the water column. See how, and where, the flow goes, y’know’s?

My pals at Newtown Creek Alliance shake their heads “no” at me when I describe my desire to release hundreds of thousands of rubber duckies into Newtown Creek, just to see where they go and illustrate how the currents work. Something about “micro plastic” and illegal dumping pretty much describes their objections. They also don’t like my plan to seed pumpkins and or carnivorous plants into the shorelines in Maspeth. No fun.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

You’ll notice structures like the one pictured above all over the harbor, and their purpose is to provide protection for shoreline features from passing maritime traffic. Called “dolphins,” they’re generally a bunch of wooden piles held together with galvanized steel rope. This is one of the ones which protect the piers of the Kosciuszcko Bridge, but it’s obviously associated with the 1939 version, rather than the newer one that’s currently extant.

The wood is likely creosote treated, which is why it hasn’t rotted away. Creosote is a chemical treatment for wood – usually coal tar creosote or petroleum creosote in a setting like this- which involves placing wood in a vacuum chamber to rid it of any water in the wood’s cellular matrix and then after introducing the creosote into the chamber, reversing the pressure to several atmospheres to force the creosote into the wood’s cellular lattice. This effectively makes the wood a hostile environment for micro and macro organisms. This process is used for railroad sleeper ties, dolphins, piers, utility poles and a host of other applications. Creosote is also a major component of a substance sold as a food flavoring additive called “Liquid Smoke.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Over on the Queens side of my beloved Newtown Creek, that’s the former site of the Penny Bridge. It’s also formerly a Long Island Railroad Lower Montauk line station called “Penny Bridge.”

Just to recap my day to this point, I left HQ in Astoria at about 4:30 in the morning and made it over to the NYC Ferry dock at Hallets Cove. From there, I captured shots for a photo assignment at the Brooklyn Navy Yard and then walked along and under the BQE through Brooklyn to this spot at Newtown Creek. The shot above was captured at about 10:30 in the morning on November the 21st, so I’d been “at it” for quite a while at this point.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I’d ingested a meal along the way, a standard NYC egg sandwich and a container of orange juice which I grabbed at some deli in Williamsburg. Saying that, I had become fairly dehydrated by this point and was regretting my normal prohibition against carrying bottles of fluid. This habit of mine, which is prosaic as I’m literally carrying high capacity batteries and electronic devices all around my person, has bit me in the ass several times recently. Have to work out a way to get around my physical needs, I always think.

Between my sweatshirt – which hosts 22 distinct and secure pockets – my usual pants – which have 13 pockets – and the filthy black overcoat with its two pockets, and the ubiquitous camera bag(s) – I’ve got to figure out some spot where I can secret away a pint of water. Of course, then you have to pee again, so it’s a recursive feedback loop.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I made one more stop after this, and then abandoned the entire idea of walking the rest of the way home due to the operatic condition offered by the trick left foot which I’ve been complaining about for what feels like years now. Internal dialogue wise, I refer to my feet as “the roadway interface” and having a full 50% of this apparatus malfunctioning has become a bit more than an annoyance. It’s slowing a humble narrator down, damnit.

More tomorrow.


“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, 2022 at 1:00 pm

almost illegible

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Monday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Recent adventure found one at the Turning Basin of the fabulous Newtown Creek just before sunset. That’s about three in the afternoon at the moment, given that the whole “December daylight savings time thing” is in effect right now. Life gives you lemons, you make lemonade, right?

I found a great lemonade recipe last summer, actually. I use about 8 lemons for this formula, and a measured cup of table sugar. Use a vegetable peeler to remove the yellow section of the lemon peel, avoiding the pith. Put the skinned lemons into the fridge, you’ll need those later. You combine the yellow peels and sugar in a mixing bowl, which you tightly cover with plastic wrap to create a moisture seal. Let the bowl sit overnight out on the counter, and in the morning you’ll find that the sugar has turned gooey and bright yellow. That’s the lemon’s essential oils, which have leeched out into the sugar.

Dissolve the mixture with a bit of hot, not boiling but hot, water. Squeeze and juice the skinned lemons into a water pitcher, then pour the peel/sugar mixture through a strainer into the same pitcher and mix up the juice and yellowed sugar. Add cold water to the mix, and presuming you used a large enough pitcher you’ll get about a half gallon to a gallon worth of delicious and bright yellow “County Fair” style lemonade.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It’s difficult to maintain a sense of humor these days, given how serious everyone is all the time. Hidden trip wires abound. Extreme points of view and non nuanced positions seem to rule the day.

I didn’t write the following joke, I’m just telling/passing it on. It’s my candidate for best “joke of the week” from the last quarter of 2021. (I try to have a new one in my quiver each and every week, which has been difficult due to COVID, I tell’s ya…)

‘There’s a bar near a courthouse, and a guy slams the door open upon arrival. He exclaims to the other boozehounds, at the top of his lungs, that “All Lawyers are assholes, and if any of you have an issue with what I just said, come talk to me.”

He sits down at the bar and starts drinking whiskeys. The bar is quiet, only the sound of crickets and the clinking of glasses can be heard. The guy orders a second, and then a third whiskey in dead silence. Finally, one of the other patrons stands up, walks over to him, and taps him on the shoulder roughly. The second guy says “I actually have an issue with what you said, sir.”

The first guy spins around on his stool and says “Are you a Lawyer?” The second guy says “No, I’m an asshole.’

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One was out of town for much of last week and weekend, exploring foreign shores and wonders. What a pleasure it was to be absent from the twilight days and death throes of the term limited political estate here in NYC. They really do seem to serving all of the red hot and deep fried turds up at the moment, huh? It’s almost as if they all waited until there would be no retribution at the ballot for their actions. Weren’t they all “anti big real estate” back in November before the election, or was that just a movie? Don’t worry, Eric Adams will solve the future for you. He’s incorruptible, just ask him.

One of my favorite “classic rock” bands is The Who, which was formed in 1964 by the quartet of Pete Townsend, Roger Daltrey, John Entwistle, and Keith Moon. Amongst my favorite ditties by this quartet is “Won’t get fooled again.” Here’s some of the lyrics:

‘There’s nothing in the streets, Looks any different to me, And the slogans are replaced, by-the-bye. And the parting on the left, Is now parting on the right, And the beards have all grown longer overnight, I’ll tip my hat to the new constitution, Take a bow for the new revolution, Smile and grin at the change all around, Pick up my guitar and play, Just like yesterday, Then I’ll get on my knees and pray, We don’t get fooled again, Don’t get fooled again, no, no

Yeah, Meet the new boss, Same as the old boss’


“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

December 13, 2021 at 11:00 am

abnormally placid

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Tuesday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I’ve mentioned the presence of an idol dedicated to the Hindu god Dattatreya at Newtown Creek before. Saying that, since I was out and about in the area where it’s found, I figured I’d check in and see if it was still there.

These bulkheads are part of the former shoreline property of the Phelps Dodge corporation, also lengthily discussed in prior posts, including this one. The definitive book on this section of the Newtown Creek is called “Copper on the Creek.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

At any rate, check. Idol of Dattatreya is still present, standing in the poison waters of Newtown Creek’s Turning Basin in the happy place of Industrial Maspeth.

Hooray.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As to how, or why, this object of veneration arrived here is the subject of some speculation amongst we Creek enthusiasts.

Me, I like the mystery.

As a note – I’d actually like to see all the denominations install idolatry along the waterline. Flaming Stars of David, Glowing Crescents, Tesla Coiled Cruciforms. A bunch of those colored Tibetan flags would be cool too.


“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

December 7, 2021 at 11:00 am

crazier people

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Monday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As mentioned, a new habit I’ve been actively cultivating in recent months has been to commit to an early morning photo adventure at least once a week. I’m a night owl by nature, and it’s quite normal for me to be wide awake at 3 or 4 in the morning. The solitude and quiet offered by these midnight intervals is cherished, but it royally screws me up during the winter months due to a paucity of light and being out of sync with everybody else.

Sunrises are cliche, sure, but the light is nice and there’s that whole Marcus Aurelius thing – “At dawn, when you have trouble getting out of bed, tell yourself: “I have to go to work — as a human being. What do I have to complain of, if I’m going to do what I was born for — the things I was brought into the world to do? Or is this what I was created for? To huddle under the blankets and stay warm?”

Whenever you’re feeling lazy, or unmotivated, there’s always Stoicism and Marcus Aurelius to fall back on. At any rate, it certainly does make you seem smarter or better read than you actually are. Saying that, huddling under the blankets sounds pretty nice, if you ask me.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Loving portrait compositions of sewers, that’s what I think about. The one above is an exposure stack of multiple tripod shots, actually. That’s how I spend my early morning hours these days, which is why I’m a schmuck with a camera and not a Roman Emperor like old Markey Marcus. My morning had begun with a pre dawn arrival at the Maspeth Avenue Plank Road and from there I walked westwards towards the Kosciuszcko Bridge, and these shots are literally from “DUKBO” or “Down Under the Kosciuszcko Bridge Onramp.”

Another one of Marcus Aurelius’ bits of advice I try to follow is to wear two entirely different sets of clothes – one for inside the house, another for the world at large. I tend not to wear the shoes I was walking around the Creeklands with inside of HQ, and make it a point of changing out of whatever I was wearing while photographing sewers when arriving back home. Saying that, when Zuzu the dog was still around, I would always get a full “sniff” inspection from her when I got home after proximity to this sort of infrastructure.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On this particular day, I had left HQ at 4:30 in the morning, and was on-site by 5 a.m. The shot above was captured at 8:14 a.m., so I was just north of three hours into the session. I didn’t get back to HQ in Astoria that day until about noon, so I guess I was out about 8 hours. I had other stuff to do, in addition to processing all of the photos, and didn’t get to bed until well after midnight. Suffice to say that I slept well that night.

Marcus Aurelius might have been proud, I would hope, but as a Stoic – he’d just expect this sort of effort.


“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

December 6, 2021 at 11:00 am

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