The Newtown Pentacle

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Posts Tagged ‘Long Island City

day programme

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Unpleasantries abound.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

While wandering home from Greenpoint on Sunday, a day wherein the climate suddenly flipped from rainy spring to high summer, a humble narrator was enjoying the existential hell of living in NYC. There are many days when, upon waking up in the great human hive, one can’t believe how amazing the place is. Last Sunday wasn’t one of them. Instead, it was one of those days where the antics of the assembly of humans just grated upon the nervous system. The douchebags doing wheelies on dirt bikes, the assholes throwing fast food garbage out of their car windows, the cock barons who think that the proper way to use an automotive horn is to hold it down steadily for several minutes at a pop while stuck in traffic.

I really need to get out of here for a couple of weeks, go somewhere nice and take a vacation in a place that I know nothing about and where I don’t know anyone.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One has grown weary of constant existential crisis, the “eye of sauron” outrage machine casting its gaze about, and the daily grind of “have to.” This is life, of course, but it often seems as if I get a lot more “life” than most. I desperately need to take some pics of something different, as well. Some “walden pond” kind of crapola, I guess. Of course, I’ll hate that too. Mosquitoes, gnats, mud. Everything sucks.

For the sake of all that’s holy, please don’t hit me up today for something I have that you want but don’t want to pay for. It’s a bad day, generosity wise.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Have I become the “prisoner of Skillman Avenue,” or consigned to just aimlessly wander the streets forever? Am I some sort of flying dutchman with a camera?

Apologies for the inner narrative being offered today, but it’s been a lousy last couple of weeks. One is unhappy, which is predicate to one getting angry. Once anger has set in, so too does motivation manifest. Right now, everything is gray and hopeless. Once I return to being furious and rebellious, which will likely be by Thursday or Friday, this glum mood will pass. Once more, unto the breech, huh? Home sweet hell, indeed.


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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.

curious designs

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Jarring, ain’t it?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One thing I love about traveling around NYC on the water is the perspective offered. When you’re on the streets, alleys, or highways of the megalopolis it’s hard to see the big picture. The fact that the Real Estate Industrial Complex has never managed to convince the Mayors of NYC to pave over the rivers (the developers have tried, several times over the centuries, as a note, and have occasionally succeeded as with “Battery Park City”) allows the opportunity to observe the changing skyline. In the last twenty years, there’s been so much change – both by unfortunate circumstance as in the case of the Freedom Tower World Trade Center above, or through avarice as in the case of that weird apartment building with the leaky windows situated just to the right of it.

Before you ask… there was a plan floated in the 1930’s to pave over the Hudson and create an airport. The fellow running the design process for the quixotic Sunnyside Yards deck proposed filing in the East River between Lower Manhattan and Governor’s Island during the Bloomberg years in pursuance of creating a new neighborhood called “Lolo,” and the current Mayor of NYC wants to expand Manhattan into the Hudson and East River by about a half mile in the name of climate resiliency. A protective wall of condominiums to protect the Financial District.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The skyline of LIC is one of the most altered places in the entire City. Ten years ago, when I started consciously documenting the place, there were four large residential buildings in Hunters Point, and there was the Citibank Sapphire Megalith. Today, it’s hard to point out the megalith to passerby, as it’s been obscured in its primacy by new construction. There’s no talk, yet, of expanding the land into the water in LIC, but that’s because a compliant political establishment here in Queens welcomes the presence of Real Estate Industrial Complex activity in upland properties. Keep an eye on Northern Blvd. between Steinway Street and Woodside Avenue in the coming years.

Just the other night, somebody I know who’s a “player” here in Queens was opining that the recent alteration in rent regulations law that occurred in Albany signaled the end of big development and an impending cessation of new construction. He said that “all the big projects are going to stop, and the developers would be pulling out of preexisting arrangements.” Pfah.

As if.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Personally, I look forward to some future era when it doesn’t rain every day – but I find it difficult to believe that after expensively manipulating the City Planning process, and striking deals with every donation hungry advocacy and political organization you can imagine, paying architects and engineers – you’d pull out of the chance to reap the dreams of avarice. You invest a dollar in pursuance of it turning into a thousand dollars overnight, and then pull away from the deal because you’re only going to make $999 off the project?

There’s no crying in baseball.


“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.

corner pivot

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How much wood could a woodchuck chuck, anyway?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

You may think the delivery truck pictured above represents some sort of madness. This is not madness, this is Sparta…

I’ve been waiting about two years to make that joke, so thanks for indulging a humble narrator in his puerile goals. I notice this particular truck all the time in Astoria, making deliveries of flour and other whatnots to the local bakeries and bagel shops. They’re a local business, Sparta is, operating out of a building opposite Rainey Park on Vernon Blvd. One is resisting the further urge to make a thousand jokes revolving around the movie “300,” write a detailed history of the Laconian Peninsula over in Greece, or describe the many attempts to penetrate the Astoria markets which the Persian Bakery Supply people have been denied over the years by these Spartans.

The Persian Bakery Supply people have said that “if we can get a single bagel shop to use our services, we could take over the entire neighborhood and expand our empire.”

Spartan Bakery Supply always replies to the Persians, laconically, with “if.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One of the quirky things about Astoria is the habit that early 20th century real estate developers had in creating “courts.” A court, in this context, is an open space designed either for the entryway of a large building or one that exists between two distinct structures, and it provides for light and air circulation in residential units that would otherwise have none. The one pictured above is on Steinway Street between 34th Avenue and Broadway, and the shot was captured during a doctors visit for Zuzu the dog. Just a checkup for my increasingly elderly pup, whereupon she got a fairly clean bill of health. Zuzu is getting old, is a bit plump, and seems to have some sort of issue going on with her back – according to the doc. Since dogs are “all back” that’s a worry, but both the ravages of advancing age and the conqueror worm are inevitable, so there you are.

Personally speaking, I’m feeling the decades more than ever these days. Luckily, Zuzu and I have gone gray at the same time so we match. She looks like a giant possum, though, whereas I’m starting to look like Dr. Zaius from “Planet of the Apes.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Over in Long Island City, where new construction driven by the fiendish avarice of the Real Estate Industrial Complex has finally burst through the barriers long provided by the Pulaski Bridge on one side and the LIRR tracks on the other, this trio of feral predators was observed the other day. I’ve mentioned a few times the novel approach to controlling vermin on industrial properties which I’ve observed in LIC, wherein one omits the expense and consequence of employing an exterminator – with their noxious chemicals – and instead embracing the presence of the omnipresent feral cat. Most of these wild kitties have been sterilized by “TNR” (trap, neuter, release) services. You can tell that because they have had the tip of one their ears clipped.

The “bird people” hate this concept, since the particular speciation which they advocate for are predated by these cats. Personally, I’m willing to take a few dead pigeons in return for not having watered down chemical weaponry like Malathion spritzed all over the place. Using cats to control rats and mice is part of what I mean when opining that smartly using natural mechanisms to control the urban environment is the way forward. There’s unintended consequence, of course.

Remember that Daffy Duck cartoon where Daffy has a mouse in his hotel room? The one where Porky Pig is the manager? Porky first sends a cat up to the room to get rid of the mouse. Then a dog to get rid of the cat, a lion to get rid of the dog, and an elephant to get rid of the lion. How to get rid of the elephant? Send the mouse back in. Someday, before Zuzu and I age off of this planet, I’d like to see herds of wild elephants roaming around LIC. Word has it that Persian Bakery Supply once deployed delivery elephants in their never ending quest to cross the Spartan Bakery Supply lines but it didn’t go well for them.


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 11, 2019 at 1:00 pm

certain tools

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Rounding out the week, me.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A couple of times this week, I mentioned a looming thunderstorm nearing my position when I was out and about around Newtown Creek last weekend. After fulfilling a couple of promises – one to a film crew for a couple of hour long on camera interview about the history of Newtown Creek, and then to a photographer/activist buddy of mine who asked for me to talk about the Dutch Kills tributary into a microphone – I was heading home along Skillman Avenue when I began to feel cold raindrops colliding with my skin. Rather than walk and risk a soaking, one scuttled over to Queens Plaza and was happily surprised to find that the R train was indeed operating. Even more surprising was that it was making all stops.

This isn’t always a given, these days. One didst swipe, whereupon one rode, and then did arriveth at a street called Steinway. I was just in time, and luckily – for once – the subway moved faster than something else. Specifically, the storm front.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I didn’t make it all the way home, however, and ducked into the local bar for a pint to wait out the deluge. Nice thing about my “local,” btw, is that it’s got outside tables that are protected by awnings from precipitants.

It wasn’t icy cold for long, but there’s something nice about enjoying a pint of beer in dry comfort while watching people dart around in the rain. I think you’d call it a “sense of false superiority.” Whatever, I was dry, they were wet. I got to take pictures of a driving rainstorm without having to constantly wipe my lens. Win.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Just as the storm had begun to vacate the skies over Astoria, here in Queens, the fellow pictured above appeared. Now, I’m generally a supporter of making it safer and better for people riding bikes to share the streets with other vehicles, but I’ve gotten into my fair share of arguments with “the bicycle people” over the years. Too many of that crowd are humorless tightasses and ideologues, and are promulgating a not so carefully disguised political and corporate agenda, and automatically treat people outside their cultic circle as vehement enemies. I don’t like absolutists of any stripe. The world is made of shades of gray, and not black and white contrast.

Now… what drew my attention to this guy on the CitiBike was multifold in nature. I can get past the not “wearing head protection” thing, and that he’s not wearing discernible socks. It’s the “texting while driving” thing that got me to hit the shutter button. Imagine what the bicycle people would say if they saw a truck driver doing this? Gosh. #carnage #murderhappycharacter


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 7, 2019 at 11:00 am

chipped flagstones

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May showers bring June flowers?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Bother. Last week, the closest I got to photographing any part of Newtown Creek – due to the daily thunderstorms – was the sort of view you see above, which is to say that I was looking at it through the closed window of a car. I had a relatively light schedule last week, but as opined – god hates me – so any chance I had to find time to go out shooting was abrogated by meteorological instability. I’m not sure of the exact numbers, but an unimaginable amount of liquid cascaded down over the City of Greater New York.

NYC possesses what’s known as a “combined sewer system” wherein sanitary sewers (toilet water and other lovely effluents) and storm sewers (street runoff and so on) feed into the same pipe. During dry weather this isn’t an issue, as the NYC DEP’s 14 sewer plants can usually handle the flow. During rain events, a quarter inch of rain, city wide, can add a billion gallons of water into the mix. The DEP is then obliged to release the untreated sewage overflow into area waterways, a practice they’re working hard on avoiding, via “CSO’s” or Combined Sewer Outfalls.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There’s four hundred of these “CSO’s” operated by DEP in NY Harbor, and there’s even more of them on the New Jersey side of the Hudson. As you move into other counties in Upstate New York and on Long Island, even more release points are found. Last time I checked, there were twenty two CSO points found along the bulkheads of Newtown Creek. Pictured above is Dutch Kills, a tributary of Newtown Creek in Long Island City, from last Sunday afternoon shortly before yet another thunderstorm rolled through. The water was a chocolate/coffee brown color this time around, and there were literal tons of floatables – a term used for the garbage and street litter which has been hydraulically swept into the sewer system – moving around on the surface of Dutch Kills in the wind.

To the west, another thunderstorm was building, and the wind was picking up.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

“Give a hoot, don’t pollute” is what Woodsy the Owl used to advise every school kid in the 1970’s, alongside Smokey the Bear reminding us not to start forest fires. Societal priorities shifted towards smoking cessation, avoiding teenager pregnancies, and HIV prevention more recently. We stopped “promoting shame” regarding littering in the 1990’s, as I recall. The City of New York’s streets are dirtier with clutter and unswept garbage than at other point in my lifetime except for the late 1970’s and early 1980’s budget crisis era when cuts to municipal spending reduced the ranks of DSNY personnel. Don’t read that wrong, incidentally, the DSNY is doing its job quite well. The problem is “us.” There’s several generations of native born and immigrant Americans alike who don’t see any particular reason not to just toss their garbage in the street.

I’m pricing out one of those “Game of Thrones” style shame bells. I plan to walk around Queens ringing the thing and proclaiming “SHAME” whenever I see someone toss a plastic bottle at the curb. I know where it’s going to end up, after all. Check out that plastic bag life raft for other plastics floating in the water of Dutch Kills above. Yuck, ya buncha slobs.


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 5, 2019 at 2:00 pm

when shouldst

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So what’s with all the weird stuff this last week?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Ten years ago this week, a humble narrator was pooping his pants out of nervousness and anticipation, as the Queensboro Bridge Centennial event was about to play out and I was transitioning from being a passive participant to becoming one of the people at the front of the line talking to the crowd. My pal Bernie Ente has dragged me, kicking and screaming, into the spotlight for this event. He asked me, roughly a decade ago today, what website I intended to tell “the audience” to visit. On May 29 of 2009, a purely text post was offered titled “what is the Newtown Pentacle,” which was followed by a couple of staccato postings. I like to think that I’ve stayed true to the outline in that post, despite being carried far afield by opportunity. Everywhere I go is someplace that the Newtown Creek has led me to.

What I consider to be the actual “first” post at Newtown Pentacle was offered on June 3rd of 2009. That was 2, 275 posts ago.

I began hanging around with the Working Harbor Committee, and with Newtown Creek Alliance. The first time Captain John Doswell handed me the Circle Line microphone on a boat tour I stuttered and sputtered, but the Captain had faith in me and with some coaching I developed into a fairly decent narrator.

NCA believed in me too, and we began doing walking tours around the Creek. Atlas Obscura started up in Greenpoint about that time, and soon I found myself working with them as a paid guide and event host. I’ve lost count of how many people I’ve brought to Newtown Creek, or out on a boat tour of NY Harbor at this point. There’s been literally tens of thousands; including college students, professional urban planners, activist organizations, environmental officialdom, and most importantly – ordinary New Yorkers. There’s also been dozens of classroom lectures, but that’s a different banana. I’ve published two paper books – “Newtown Creek, for the vulgarly curious” and a recent photo book “In the shadows at Newtown Creek.”

Ten years later, I’m a steering committee member at Working Harbor and I just joined the board of the Newtown Creek Alliance. I was also invited to join Astoria’s Community Board 1 quite recently.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Newtown Pentacle has been visited more than half million times in the last decade, and my Flickr account has seen nearly six million views. I’ve been profiled in dozens of news reports in the last decade, most notably in a NY Times piece back in 2012. When I say “google me,” I’m not kidding or being vainglorious. I’ve made some great friends who are engaged in similar pursuits to mine, like Kevin Walsh from Forgotten-NY, Nate Kensinger from Curbed, Joseph Alexiou from the Gowanus community. I’ve lost some great friends too; Bernie Ente, John Doswell, John Skelson. Our Lady of the Pentacle (my wife Cat), and my buddy Mai Armstrong, have been with me every step of the way and none of what’s happened to me over the last decade would have gone as well as it did without their counsel and help. I also have to tip my hat to some of my NCA peeps who have always been in my corner – Mike Heimbinder, Katie Schmidt, Kate Zidar, Will Elkins, and Lisa Bloodgood. Another person of note is WHC’s Meg Black, who has handed me the mike more times than I can count on boat tours of Port Newark and Kill Van Kull. Oddly enough, some of the other friends I’ve made are in elected office here in LIC, notably Cathy Nolan and Jimmy Van Bramer. It’s an honor to know and interact with all of you fine folks, and thank you for tolerating the presence of this bellicose kid from Brooklyn in your lives.

I’ve made some great enemies as well.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

So, why all the reflection and the bizarre POV stuff that’s been presented this last week? Short answer is that I’ve been holding that stuff back, editorially, for a while and just wanted to give myself a little freedom this week – get it off my chest, as it were.

What’s next? Good question, that.

There’s going to be a few changes coming, notably I’m going to be figuring out how to excise all those annoying ads which WordPress has been inserting into my posts of late. I’m also going to be opening up a few new channels as we move through the summer and into the fall, evolving things as it were. Ultimately, I’m going to continue trying to answer the one great question, which is the only question which matters.

Who can guess, all there is, that might be buried down there?


“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 31, 2019 at 1:30 pm

why tryeth

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As stated, God hates me.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One mentioned this on Monday – the last two to three weeks of my life, during which the weather was conducive to photographic pursuit, my attention and time were consumed by “have to” meetings or events which saw me sitting inside of buildings rather than roaming about outside of them – would be followed by this, a fairly light week wherein I’d get to do whatever the hell I want to, would be an interval of bad weather and storms. God hates me, but I really can’t blame it. That’s right, “it.”

If there is a God, it ain’t a “him” or a “her.” I stand on this statement, as an all powerful extra dimensional and omniscient intelligence with an army of fire sword carrying winged avengers can only be described as being an “it.” Often, I wonder if “it” is just the “lord of the local vicinity” or if there’s a race of these all powerful things experimenting on different solar systems all over this universe of ours. If “it” is the sole autarch of our particular universe, what about all the other universes? There’s got to be a bigger story at work. Presuming each universe has its own “it,” do you suppose they’d compare notes occasionally?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Imagine the various “its” communicating with each other, their divine voices a combination of thunder and volcano sounds, chatting about their individual projects in the white hot particle foam and void soup which the different universes are thought to float about in? “Check this out,” our “it” might say – “My apes just figured out how to split the atom,” with some pride. Another “it” would chime in with “big whup, my lizards have just learned to harvest water from asteroids.” A third comes in with “yeah, my bugs did both of those things but then I threw an asteroid at them, just to see how they react” “can’t wait to see how they react to having to start over from scratch.”

Of course, the basic rules and physics of our world would likely be different in the various bubble universes, as any “universal constant” would be strictly contained to its own realm. Anything is possible, really, when we’re discussing magick and god kings, who live in the sky, and sit on thrones. What if it’s all true, and after death you make it to some heavenly choir where you’re going to sing to “it” for all eternity. What if you don’t like the music? Do you ever get a year end review where you get to say “So, what’s the point of giving kids cancer, oh “it”? Also, “as a disembodied extradimensional intelligence, why do you have so many hang ups about monkey sex” and “seriously, why do you hit us with a Ghengis Khan or Hitler every now and then?”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Long ago, and that’s where this entire narrative offered today drops from, I had a conversation with somebody of formidable intelligence who was a member of what I refer to as the “god squad.” By that, I mean, he was a church guy that saw everything through a literalist New Testament filter. When chatting about Science Fiction, he rejected the idea of life on other worlds since it’s not mentioned by a group of peasants and tradesmen who died two thousand years ago, and left behind detailed notes about their experiences with spiritual matters in Roman occupied Judea in the only book you’re supposed to take seriously. My buddy said that if there was life on other worlds, it would be a mirror of our own, and since mankind was made in “its'” image, so too would any intelligent species look just like us when encountered. “Just like us,” of course, meant people of European and North African descent.

Just saying – terrestrial body plans, with four limbs and a head held aloft on a muscular stalk… that’s just a quirky form of inheritance that sort of jibes with the local environment. A rock falls to the left instead of the right a few hundred million years and we could all be cyclopses or octoclopses instead of biclopses.

As a note, these are the exact kind of questions, musings, and observations which got me kicked out of Hebrew School when I was a kid.


“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 30, 2019 at 1:00 pm

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