The Newtown Pentacle

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Posts Tagged ‘East River

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Either go clean your room or go outside and play.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I’ll go gather some proper shots of it next week, but as you can see from the shot above the second phase of the new Kosciuszcko Bridge project is coming along nicely. Those two new towers are rising from industrial Maspeth, right at the border with LIC’s Blissville, and are in the footprint of the old K-Bridge which was “energetically felled” last year. I’m going to be asking the K-Bridge team about an official update on the project sometime soon, but probably won’t hear back from them until the fall. Not too much happens in officialdom during the middle and late summer, as people who work for the government usually enjoy a 1950’s style work schedule that includes summer vacations and getting out of work at four or five. This is part of the disconnect between the citizenry and their Government these days. They have no idea about how corporate America operates in modernity, and what life is like for the rest of us.

It’s why they constantly design boxes to fit us all into that seem too small and constraining, just like our friends and family do.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Hallets Cove in Astoria, pictured above.

Boxes are what others want to build around you, in my experience. Folks want to quantify their friends and family, coworkers and neighbors, defining acceptable behavioral norms and expectations for others. Speaking as somebody who avoids doing this, as it always leads to disappointment and conflict, and personally speaking it can be quite annoying when somebody gets after me about not fitting in one of their “slots.” I’m not a player on anybody’s stage other than my own.

It’s funny how often I get accused of egomaniacal braggadocio. Is it bragging if you’re just stating things that you’ve actually done, and recounting the tales of your adventures? There’s never been a box offered that can actually contain me, and at least for the last decade the life of a humble narrator has been lived in pursuit of “envelope pushing.” What that means is that when I’m asked if I want to do something that makes me uncomfortable, or nervous, I say “yes.” People close to me will often tell me “you can’t,” mainly because it threatens the envelope of expectation they have formed about you. Just do it, and screw what others say, life is short and it’s your life you’re living, not theirs.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Dutch Kills, LIC, pictured above.

What I’ve discovered is that whereas I do have physical limits, their boundaries are far beyond anything I believed they were. Board a boat at four in the morning in January? Sure. NYC Parade Marshal? Why not? Testify in Federal Court about Newtown Creek and or Western Queens? OK. Advocate and argue for esoteric points of view with Government officialdom? Sounds good. The box I used to live in a decade ago before all of this madness began?

Shattered. 


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

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War Planes in Manhattan.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One has recently learned that the mature human body’s largest organ – the skinvelope or integumentary system – weighs approximately twelve to fifteen percent of your body weight – and it also really depends whose skinvelope we’re talking about when weighing the dermis. Personally, I’m naturally pallid and spotty, and a humble narrator’s skinvelope is delicate. I’m highly vulnerable to sudden tears and punctures, blistering, abrasions of all sorts, and at any given time there’s at least a few microbiotal blooms going on somewhere in the roughly twenty two feet of skinvelope which I keep onboard. One is also given to receiving painful radiation burns, if paused too long in the emanations of the burning thermonuclear eye of God itself, so I like to keep moving and walk in the shade whenever possible.

The Marines were in town for Fleet Week, as I discovered while in pursuit of shadowed cover. They had v-22 Ospreys with them, which were pretty cool. The Marines are famously thick skinned and leather necked, skinvelope wise.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My path had an intended destination on this particular evening, an anomaly for one such as myself, which was on… Staten Island…

The big orange boat at the Lower Manhattan Whitehall Terminal was, as in most encounters with it, well – the big orange boat was absurdly on time as always (which is actually true, The Staten Island Ferry has a 96% on time rate). In an ever changing world of disturbing social trends and the constant braying of news reports describing horrible urgencies and dire portent, the very last thing which a humble narrator clings to as efficacy of some possible future in which everything isn’t horrible all the time anymore is that the Staten Island Ferry still runs on time.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It would seem that the current occupant of the White House was in town as well, a theoretical dictum advanced by the presence of a phalanx of cops, soldiers, and tough looking guys wearing ear pieces, sunglasses, and black suits guarding one of the Presidential helicopters in Lower Manhattan. Two of the V-22’s were present as well.

The big orange boat offered a nice view of the scene as we slid greasily out of dock in Lower Manhattan and began the journey to… Staten Island…


Upcoming Tours and Events

June 9th – 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.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

June 5, 2018 at 11:00 am

bursting cachinations

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Lurking in fear, for today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Onboard the NYC Ferry’s Astoria line heading for the City recently, one felt the oppressive gaze of an impossible thing that dwells within the cupola of the Sapphire Megalith of Long Island City (an inhuman intelligence which cannot possibly exist, nor stare down with avarice upon the world of men through an unblinking three lobed eye) fix upon me from up on high. Paranoid ideation and local rumor would suggest that other attentions were gathered from below the greasy waters as well. There are stories told in the Ravenswood section of Long Island City which describe frog or fish like men who sometimes emerge from the eastern channel of the estuarial East River, specifically the section of the waterway found between Roosevelt Island and Queens.

Who can guess what there may be down there, buried in the slime and post industrial sediments?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The thing in the megalith, which neither breathes nor sleeps, only knows hunger – and contempt – for the world of man. The aims and actions of the things in the river are less obvious, hidden as they are in the dark and sepulchral depths where the emanations of the burning thermonuclear eye of God itself never reach. In the aqueous silt, where the worms gnaw and wriggle and slither, there is rumored to be a complex of shadowed tunnels reaching out to all corners of the Great City above. These tunnels breach into the City’s sewers, allowing them egress to all sections and locales. Only the Mayors of NYC know the truth of the extent of these amphibian stranger’s ambitions, knowledge of which is passed from potentate to potentate across the generations in a letter originally penned by Mayor Fernando Wood in 1855.

Rumors of the contents of this letter are dearly held, but during a drunken stupor at a midtown speakeasy back in 1927, Mayor Jimmy Walker hinted not just at the confirmable presence of an amphibian race of “Deep Ones” in NY Harbor but also alluded to their monstrous desire to interbreed with terrestrial New Yorkers. Efforts by the fish/frog things in that pursuit had occurred during raids on the asylums and workhouses of Welfare (Roosevelt) Island during the late 19th century, launched from the water in the dead of night. The progeny produced by these couplings were, as the inebriated Walker indicated, a “hybrid pestilence” which demanded destruction. The victimized women who incubated them were afterwards found to be hopelessly insane, and driven towards suicide.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Mariners and Longshoremen have long hinted at the presence of things observed in the Upper Harbor of New York, but never explicitly discuss such matters with outsiders. Queer and persistent raspings at the keel in Buttermilk Channel, those bizarre underwater light sources keeping pace with your boat at Hells Gate, the basso sounds encountered at Sandy Hook… those serpentine shapes that must have just been some extraordinarily large fish… perhaps a large Sturgeon? Those weird dark lumps spotted in the water at Newtown Creek that just disappear into the depths mere seconds after they are noticed?

Who, truly, can guess… all there is that may be found down there in the drowned metropolis of the worm just off shore?


Upcoming Tours and Events

June 9th – 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.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

June 4, 2018 at 11:00 am

frenetic explosiveness

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What ever happened to the anal probes?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Every chance I’ve had to get out on the water has been eagerly seized at in the last couple of weeks, despite the tepid nature of the springtime warmup. The weather was a lot better when Bloomberg and Obama were in office, so I blame DeBlasio and Trump for the unseasonable atmospherics.

One wonders if during the BloomBama years there was some sort of super scientific weather control technology at work, and that the DeTrumpio era of ascendant flat earthers and fake news decriers has ushered in a new dark age of ignorant speculation which has rendered formerly functioning technologies moot. Rhetoric over data, belief over baselines, and the truth is what they say it is because you can trust them not to lie like everybody else. Hell in a handbasket, us, with the Dope From Park Slope locally and a guy who actually went bankrupt in the Casino business nationally.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Recent conversations found me assuring a Republican friend that the Democrats did not, in fact, invite MS-13 into the country, and a liberal Democrat audience received a rousing lecture about first firearms and then political economies (the currency in that particular economy is called patronage, the discussion was about its value, who has it and who doesn’t). I also explained that we have the worst possible situation right now, where the children of politicians go to politician school where they get law degrees with a masters in politics, and then go to work for other politicians and amass fortunes of patronage until their respective parties decide it’s “their turn” to run. In Rome, these people would have been called patricians.

Has everyone lost their damned minds of late? Doesn’t anyone read a newspaper occasionally, or is it just posts titled “top 5 reasons why Republics fail” at buzzfeed?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Commonly held issues, like garbage and raw sewage in the river? Nope. Crumbling bridges and tunnels, a national locomotive freight system worth hanging your hat on, hospitals? Are we talking about the near future crisis in elder care when the baby boomers are fully immersed in senility and old age? A plan for national flood walls and levies… How about…

…Hey, I think I just saw Elvis Presley installing Hillary Clinton’s email server on Bigfoot’s UFO, which is staffed with Vladimir Putin’s spies and also Facebook transexuals. What about Veterans… and the illegal aliens… and who invited MS – 13 to my black panther party, those guys are high on goofballs. What ever happened to all those alien abductions anyway, isn’t that a thing anymore? Are the space aliens illegals, and if they are should we build a roof instead of a wall? You know who likes roofs? The Clintons and… Here’s the top ten reasons why Hillary Clinton is the worst and best thing since…

sheesh.


Upcoming Tours and Events

June 9th – 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.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

May 29, 2018 at 11:00 am

pandemoniac howling

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A few more shots from high over LIC.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As mentioned yesterday, an event found me in Hunters Point, and a friend invited me to get some shots from the roof deck of the tower building he lives in. Normally, I’m wallowing in the filth of the gutter and Newtown Creek, so whenever I have an opportunity to change the perspective, I take it.

The shot above looks down at the East River shoreline along the Hunters Point Park waterfront, and depicts the littoral gradation from dry land to river mud.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There’s a new section of the park opening fairly soon, and construction on it has been briskly occurring for a while now. That green fenceline in the middle of the shot depicts the currently public area (bottom) and the new section which will soon be available for recreation enthusiasts (top).

That curvy shape at the bottom right forms a roof for the home of a local restaurant called Coffeed, and the LIC Landing NYC Ferry stop.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s the mouth of Newtown Creek in the center of the shot above, which looks south along the Queens and Brooklyn waterfront towards the Williamsburg Bridge. The prominence on the Manhattan side is Corelars Hook, roughly the Lower East Side’s Cherry Street. Within the next decade, the entire left side of the view above will be filled in with residential tower development projects.


Upcoming Tours and Events

May 12th – 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.

May 17th – Port Newark Boat Tour – with Working Harbor Committee.

For an exciting adventure, go behind the scenes of the bustling Port of NY & NJ on our Hidden Harbor Tour® of Port Newark! Get an insider’s view of the 3rd largest port in the nation, where container ships dock and unload their goods from around the world. See how the working harbor really works and learn about what all those ships and tugs do. See giant container terminals, oil docks, dry dock repair, and more! Tickets and more details here.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

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Getting high in Hunters Point.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Saturday last, a shoreline cleanup operation was scheduled by HarborLab and the Hunter Point Park Conservancy, and the Hunters Point Civic people were present to lend a hand as well. The goal was to gather up and dispose of the flotsam and jetsam that had gathered in the East River shoreline over the last couple of seasons. I helped out by offering a free walking tour of the area for some of the volunteers from HarborLab, and getting shots of the effort for usage by the various groups involved, and for one of my pals from Councilmember Van Bramer’s office – the irreplaceable Matt Wallace.

At one point, my friend Rodrigo announced he was going to go up to one of the roof decks at the Hunters Point South development and offered to take me along. The shot above looks eastward, along the spine of my beloved Newtown Creek.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There are actually two parks on the LIC waterfront, one managed by the City and the other by the State. Hunters Point Park is the southern one, and Gantry Plaza State Park is the northern one. The actual dividing line between the two properties is about mid block between Center Blvd. and 51st Avenue, if you’re curious.

The shoreline cleanup focused in on two locations, the rocky area pictured above where you see the crowd of people gathered up on the concrete, and another one just south of the ferry stop at LIC Landing. The NYC Parks Dept. sent along a garbage truck to collect up the debris, and a few employees who were there to help out and supervise.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The shot above looks north west towards Roosevelt Island and the Queensboro Bridge, and over the grounds of the NYS Gantry Plaza State Park.

As a note, this was my first time shooting from one of the Hunters Point South towers. Normally, I’m staring up at them from the gutter, where one such as myself belongs.


Upcoming Tours and Events

May 12th – 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.

May 17th – Port Newark Boat Tour – with Working Harbor Committee.

For an exciting adventure, go behind the scenes of the bustling Port of NY & NJ on our Hidden Harbor Tour® of Port Newark! Get an insider’s view of the 3rd largest port in the nation, where container ships dock and unload their goods from around the world. See how the working harbor really works and learn about what all those ships and tugs do. See giant container terminals, oil docks, dry dock repair, and more! Tickets and more details here.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

May 2, 2018 at 11:00 am

reconised from

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It’s National French Toast Day, in these United States.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I was on my way to the ferry one recent morning, but had to make a quick stop nearby Queens Plaza. Lotsa running around, me. The light bouncing around in Queens Plaza caught my eye, however.

That’s the Rosenwasser Bros. factory at the right hand side of the shot, all illuminated by one of the shiny mirror box condo towers being built in Queens Plaza. It’s Orchard street, by the way, corner of Jackson Avenue. The Rosenwassers were magnates in the rag trade who started out – like many Jewish garment tycoons – in the shirtwaist industry of Lower Manhattan. Running what 21st century eyes would process as a sweatshop, they accumulated enough money to set up a large industrial combine in Queens shortly after the Queensboro bridge opened in 1909, and enjoyed several military as well as civilian contracts. By 1913, they were an established and well known Queensican company run by its President, Morris Rosenwasser, which offered baseball cleats (sold under Babe Ruth branding) and scouting equipment to retailers.

At its height in 1918, the Rosenwasser Company employed some 2,500 people. During the First World War, the firm enjoyed several valuable contracts with the Federal Government. The factory in Queens Plaza turned out an average of 6,000 pairs of shoes a day, 15,000 pairs of leggings, and an undetermined number of canvas gas masks, rucksacks, and other commodities for the war department. A so called “open shop,” the Rosenwassers were prime movers in a case (Rosenwasser Bros. Inc. v. Pepper et al, NYS Supreme Court October 1918) which defined the rights and limitations of organized labor during wartime for a generation.

Who knew?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Welfare Island Bridge opened, officially, on May 18, 1955. We know it as the Roosevelt Island Bridge.

Like the nearby Pulaski Bridge over Newtown Creek, which was erected in the same era, Frederick H. Zurmuhlen of the Dept. of Public Works oversaw the design and construction of the Welfare Island Bridge. One of the unsung men who built the modern city, Zurmuhlen served under three mayors and one Robert Moses.

The Welfare Island Bridge, known to modernity as the Roosevelt Island Bridge, has recently undergone a refurbishment and makeover. Much was made of the cosmetic improvements to the span, but the reality of the investment was a determination that in case of a seismic event – which the City of New York is long overdue for – the Bridge would suffer catastrophic damage. A massive earthquake is one of the unspoken horrors which the City government had been quietly planning for during the twelve year tenure of Michael Bloomberg, something which that Mayor’s office would be applauded for were it more widely known. A tip of the hat goes out to the municipal engineers and planners for both their discretion and the secretive work which they had been performing. Of course, that sort of thing went out the window when the Dope From Park Slope showed up.

As far as the current Mayor… he’s busy trying to build “affordable” waterfront housing that starts at $3,700 for a one bedroom. A highly technical description of NYC’s earthquake risk factors, as prepared and offered in 1998 by the NY State DOT, can be accessed here.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

These shots were captured from the NYC Ferry’s Astoria line, which is one of the few things that I consider the current Mayor as having done well in his first term. Of course, I can tell you that I’d been hearing about this expansion of the East River Ferry service in harbor circles for years, and can quietly point you at certain employees of the NYCEDC who handed the current Mayor a finished plan for him to put his name on the day he got into office, but regardless – if you haven’t ridden the new ferry from Astoria yet, what are you waiting for? You paid for it, you might as well use it. The experience is pretty cool, and it’s only $2.75.

Pictured above is a section of the Big Allis power plant, with the sapphire megalith of LIC peeking through some of its works. Big Allis supplies about 16% of NYC’s electricity, and was the first million kilowatt generating facility in the entire country. Built at the behest of Consolidated Edison, Big Allis (aka Ravenswood Number Three) first went online in 1965. Upon activation, the
dynamos of Big Allis were reduced to slag by the heat issuing from within its massive, natural gas driven turbines. Six months later, a rebuilt system managed to withstand a full hour and twenty seven minutes of these cosmic forces before it too went out of commission for a further four months. The problem was diagnosed by experts and teams of engineers being caused by a malfunctioning bearing which was producing concatenation and vibrations.

Did you know that Big Allis was originally meant to be a nuclear plant?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s the Queensboro Bridge, pictured above, looking back along the shoreline of Queens at the border of Hunters Point and Ravenswood. The borders between these areas are always hazy, and are often the subject of debate amongst those with an appreciation for times past and things forgotten. I’ve coined the term “angle” to describe these blended neighborhoods; Blissville and West Maspeth, Woodside and Sunnyside, Astoria and Elmhurst etc. In the case of Blissville and Maspeth, the Koscisuzcko Bridge sits on the exact border between the two… but where does Woodside start and Sunnyside end? Even worse, where does Winfield fit into the puzzle? Angles, I tell you, angles.

At least along the East River, things are fairly simple – Astoria, Ravenswood, Hunters Point – from north to south.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

You’ve got a lot of “sub zones” as well in those East River neighborhoods in Queens, the Astoria Ferry Line leaves from Lawrence or Astoria Point at Hallets Cove, and the “north side” ferry dock pictured in LIC above is found alongside future superfund site Anable Basin. A hundred years ago, the area where all of those shiny new residential towers pictured above sit in modernity was once the property of the Standard Oil Company and hosted a pretty large parcel of petroleum oriented equipment, chemical and paint factories, and one or two large oil canning operations.

There was also the Ward and Co. Oil and Lard mill back there, which is one of those late 19th and early 20th century industrial operations whose occupation and business… well… common usage would describe it as “Dickensian.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It’s always difficult to do justice to the East River.

The bridges, the history… it’s a maritime corridor in which so much happened that it’s often hard to believe. In many ways, it’s where American capitalism “figured itself out.” In the 18th and early 19th centuries, it’s where the slave ships were built over on the Manhattan side. It’s where the financial powers which would become “Wall Street” began issuing the credit documents and bills of laiding recognized by the European colonial powers, where the first modern steel hulled and steam powered ships were built, and where profiting from the “five black arts” were perfected and practiced.


Upcoming Tours and events

Calvary Cemetery Walking Tour, with Atlas Obscura – Sunday, December 10th, 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Explore NYC history, hidden inside sculptural monuments and mafioso grave sites, as you take in iconic city views on this walking tour, with Newtown Creek Alliance Historian Mitch Waxman details here.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

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