The Newtown Pentacle

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Posts Tagged ‘kosciuszko bridge

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Monday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A long walk to my happy place – Industrial Maspeth – resulted in a humble narrator returning to HQ with several interesting shots on the camera’s memory card. The Kosciuszcko Bridge is all lit up like a Greek coffee shop these days, with outré LED lights that cast a weird luminescence on the surrounding landscape and upon the lugubrious Newtown Creek that it spans.

I’ve mentioned a landscape photography technique called “focus stacking” in the past. You shoot multiple exposures of the same scene, while moving the focus point of the lens about. This gives you a series of “tack sharp” foreground, middle ground, and infinity point images which are then combined into one shot during the developing process. The shot above isn’t one of these, as a note, it’s just a “normal” exposure.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

What I’ve noticed, however, when gathering images for these “focus stacking” images, is that if the Kosciuszcko Bridge is going through its lighting sequence while you’re shooting the photo sequence, the changes to hue and color offered by the bridge end up becoming part of the final image. Like many of these sorts of discoveries, it became apparent to me when a sunset focus stacking shot of the Kosciuszcko Bridge formed a rainbow. The image was weird, as it wasn’t intentionally shot that way, but one said “hmmm.”

Hence, the focus stacking photos above and below, wherein I timed the shutter to coincide with the bridge’s lighting package cycling through reds and purples. I was also trying to be conscious of maintaining some texture in the water, rather than letting it turn into a glassy mirror as in the shot below.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

These were shot from the bulkheads of what was once called Phelps Dodge, in Maspeth. I’ve shown you the Hindu god statue that’s secreted away in the piles of this section of Newtown Creek in the past.

What I’m up to in these shots, experimentally speaking, is turning focus stacking into time stacking.


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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

February 28, 2022 at 11:00 am

limitless limitations

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Friday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Whilst scuttling about on a recent evening, one met an Opossum. I have no idea if the critter was a he or a she or a they, but it seemed nice. Are there trans or non gender conforming opossums, and do we have to worry about their feelings? The thing was vamping for me, and since I had just updated the firmware on my camera with what Canon promised as being “improvements to the eye tracking autofocus for animals and people” this situation presented an excellent opportunity for me to test the improved feature out.

Apparently, a big part of this face and eye tracking update involved adapting to the presence of Covid masks. The Opossum wasn’t wearing one, and neither was I for that matter, but there you are. Speaking as someone who has treated Covid with a great deal of respect over the last two years, it absolutely flummoxes me when I see people who are entirely alone – and outside – wearing masks. Same thing with people who are driving solo and wearing one. Why?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Now, when I was riding around on various Amtrak’s in the September and December, and on Subways here in the City, you’d have had to pry the mask off my cold dead face before I’d remove it willingly in an unventilated congregate setting. Outside, though? Unless it’s a truly crowded sidewalk – a protest or maybe a press event – I’m bare faced. Ventilation, people, ventilation. Also, distancing, people, distancing. This isn’t advice, you do you.

Recent occasion found me at the Jackson Heights intermodal subway and bus station at Broadway and Roosevelt Avenue here in Queens, where a masked up crowd formed into tight rows less than a foot away from each other when either boarding the escalator or awaiting the train’s arrival. Me? I was masked up, but stood well away from everybody else and their clouds of cooties. Why crowd in? What advantage is there? Who are you trying to beat out for pole position in terms of boarding the R? I guarantee you’re going to get onto the train, why do you need to be first?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My evening’s destination, which the pursuance thereof had precipitated meeting the nice Opossum, was the Newtown Creek waterfront in Maspeth. The former bulkheads of a long gone copper refinery and chemical factory called Phelps Dodge offer a commanding set of views of the Kosciuszko Bridge as well as a few other interesting things to point a camera at.

As far as Newtown Creek goes, the waters which greasily lap at the Phelps Dodge shoreline are generally considered to be the most deeply compromised – environmentally speaking – on the entire waterway.

Back next week with more – at this – your Newtown Pentacle.


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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.

amorphous amenity

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Wednesday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Lucky. Just happened to be in the right place at the right time, which happened to be the Brooklyn/Queens border, found on the Greenpoint Avenue Bridge, at about 8 o’clock at night on a Friday in middle January. The tug is the CMT Pike, a 1979 vintage push boat operated by Coeymans Marine Towing.

This was a very, very difficult shot to get the exposure right for, as a note. The difficulty was due to the contrasting environment of bright lights and deep shadow, and complicated by the boat being operated at full steam and sliding quickly across the gelatinous waters of Newtown Creek.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One doesn’t like heading home along the same path which he left it from, so my toes were pointed in a generally “Maspethian” direction for the return leg of things. There’s a little park, on Review Avenue at the corner of Laurel Hill Blvd., that was constructed along with the new Koscisuzcko Bridge. One likes to have a bit of sit down there when out for a long walk, and although sitting on a block of concrete in January isn’t exactly comfortable, it’s still nice to be able to take a load off for a few minutes and “unclick” my back.

As long as I was there, why not get in a couple of shots of the bridge? Why be lazy when you’re already out and about, and sitting down on a block of frozen concrete which is draining your body heat away through your butt?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My path back to HQ in Astoria found me walking through Sunnyside Gardens, and looking over my shoulder a lot. My paranoia alleviates around Newtown Creek, given how relatively depopulated it is. Sunnyside, however, enjoys quite a dense population. Using my old rubric that 2 out of every 10 people are straight up evil, what that means is that when you’re moving through a densely populated neighborhood about 20% of that population might screw with you.

My “rule” is that out of every ten people, two are evil and two are good. The remaining six are in the middle, and can go either way depending on whether or not they follow their social cues from the good two or the evil two. “The company you keep” isn’t just something your grandmother warned you about, in my mind.


“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

February 23, 2022 at 11:00 am

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

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