The Newtown Pentacle

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Posts Tagged ‘Long Island Expressway

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Empty Corridor.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Were it not for political maneuvering and the inertia for which a certain NYS authority whose mandate involves metropolitan transit is famous for, you’d have some open space in Long Island City to visit during this interminable quarantine, namely the Montauk Cutoff. The cyclopean wall on the left hand side of the shot above supports a set of abandoned railroad tracks which several of my chums and I have been trying to turn into a public space for years at this point. Ennui abounds.

One found his way down here last week, to an area of LIC which I often refer to as “the empty corridor.” When the Long Island Expressway and the Queens Midtown Tunnel were installed here, eight decades of blight began. Devil’s advocate, though, says that the chemical and pharmaceutical factories, as well as the lead foundry and varnish plant which the LIE displaced weren’t exactly “not blight” but at least there were a lot of people with jobs hereabouts as opposed to a lot of people driving back and forth to office jobs in Manhattan.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Empty Corridor is pure and utilitarian. Not a single thought was given to anything natural or “normal.” Anything green growing here is due to shrinking maintenance budgets on behalf of City and State authorities. It’s been decades since they sprayed herbicide, or sent in teams of arborists to clear cut the self seeded trees. Rodents walk around freely here, much to the joy of the residents of a nearby feral cat colony.

Illegal dumping is art. The streets are broken pavement, shattered automotive glass collects along the crushed curbs like rainwater, the air smells of burning wire insulation and automotive exhaust. The buzzing sound of failing electrical transformers echoes out from the manholes, infrequent local traffic rockets past at incredible speed, and half of the street lights are burned out.

I love it so.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

When this whole “social distancing” thing started up, I thought of this particular scene and place.

The immense street level loneliness of places like the Empty Corridor belie their actuality. Whereas in my mind, I was totally alone with my personal biome, in reality I was surrounded by crowds of people. The Long Island Expressway is descending into the Queens Midtown Tunnel at the left of the shot, and just beyond the tunnel is the population center of Long Island City at Hunters Point. On the right is the New York City Housing Authority Warehouse, and most of the street parking is occupied by their fleet of trucks. Biome wise, therefore, there’s probably a couple million people’s worth of cooties floating around in the air down here, or they’re stuck to some greasy smear.

I’m going to get the Montauk Cutoff done, as we need some more open space. Or, at least I’m going to reduce the number of streets in Western Queens without sidewalks. There’s no sidewalk on the left side of the street in the shot above, for instance.

Note: I’m writing this and several of the posts you’re going to see for the next week at the beginning of the week of Monday, May 25th. My plan is to continue doing my solo photo walks around LIC and the Newtown Creek in the dead of night as long as that’s feasible. If you continue to see regular updates as we move into April and beyond, that means everything is kosher as far as health and well being. If the blog stops updating, it means that things have gone badly for a humble narrator.


“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.

stirred stealthily

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Borden Avenue.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I got scared the other night, thinking I had spotted a pride of teenagers roaming about LIC, so I hid behind one of the structural legs of the Long Island Expressway and pondered a few things. Yes, teenagers travel in a “pride.” Busy body white ladies, the “Karen’s” you see all over the internet trying to boss people around, form up a “privilege” when they gather, as in a “Privilege of Karen’s.” A band of teenagers is less than five individuals, whereas a pride is a large group comprised of a lead Alpha team commanding several Master Betas who in turn lead individual bands. Dominance behaviors familiar to any primatologist are displayed. Deep and turbulent currents occur when a Pride encounters a Privilege, with both sides threatening to summon a Cadre of Cops while recording each other with cell phones. Invariably, someone shouts “world star” or “welcome to YouTube.”

As a note, Cops usually come in pairs. Six or more Cops form a Cadre, whereas a full precinct wide deployment is a “fuck ton” as in “Holy Shit, there’s a Fuck Ton of Cops out there.” Any wonder why I choose to just hide behind and beside the structural elements of the built environment?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

“Mitch, there’s no such thing as salt and shade resistant plant species which could survive around the outfall pipes of NYC’s elevated highways,” I’ve been told that by botanist, parks personnel, and everybody else in positions of City or State authority over NYC’s elevated highways. As you can see from the self seeded vegetation in the shot above, whose speciation is cosmopolitan, they are right and I am as always wrong.

Looking out of your narrow windows at a world which you despise, and comparing your world view to mine, it is quite easy to describe me as naive, badly informed, or as some sort of agenda pushing hack. Call me names, abuse my statements, say whatever you wish as it is your absolute right. The fact is… life finds a way. Abandon orthodoxy, see what is and what grows, be organic in your logic. You’ll be happier working towards creating the world you wish we lived in than the dross corner which pain and shattered hope has painted you into. Go take a walk, and watch the world. It can be beautiful. You don’t have to pronounce everything as false and perverse to protect your heart. You just have to embrace the fact that green things can and do crack through the concrete.

Watch out for Prides of Teenagers though, they have zero impulse control.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It’s funny, actually, that I never seem to grow tired of shooting around this outlandish steel traffic viaduct in LIC. The thing arches over Newtown Creek’s Dutch Kills tributary, where it rises 108 feet up, with the Queens Midtown Tunnel and Greenpoint Avenue at either end. The utilitarian esthetics embraced by the engineers of the House of Robert Moses have always spoken to me, design wise, but I like a good onramp.

Note: I’m writing this and several of the posts you’re going to see for the next week at the beginning of the week of Monday, May 18th. My plan is to continue doing my solo photo walks around LIC and the Newtown Creek in the dead of night as long as that’s feasible. If you continue to see regular updates as we move into April and beyond, that means everything is kosher as far as health and well being. If the blog stops updating, it means that things have gone badly for a humble narrator.


“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.

common case

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Echo… cho… o… o…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The show often comes to me, as was the case the other night when an industrial wrecker appeared and towed away a broken down DHL delivery truck here in Astoria. Speaking of Astoria, I’m happy to report that a few of the local shops have reopened, which has eased a few of the supply issues experienced here at HQ. A cache of milk bone cookies can only last so long, and Zuzu the dog doesn’t want to hear about plague, pale horses, or other excuses when she wants a snack. The dog is demanding. She does a lot for morale, and expects her tithe.

The operation to get the DHL van hooked up to the wrecker was surprisingly complex, as a note. The wrecker’s crew had to raise and chock the front tires of the van in stages until its nose was high enough relative to the street to slip the tow bar under it. Luckily, this operation was undertaken while I was pay per viewing “The Rise of Skywalker,” which is officially the worst Star Wars product ever made in my opinion – and that includes an infamous 1978 TV “special’ called the “Star Wars Holiday Special.” Watching a tow truck crew at work was preferable.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A recent walk through the concrete devastations found me on Borden Avenue, staring down the Empire State Building and the Queens Midtown Expressway section of the larger Long Island Expressway. Just on the other side of the fence with all the barbed wire on it, as seen in the left side of the shot above, were dozens of FDNY ambulances awaiting their turn on the lifts at a mechanic and maintenance facility operated by the fire service. There was a fair amount of civilian traffic moving around, which I wasn’t really surprised by. I’ve noticed automotive traffic is inching back up, everywhere.

I call this area DULIE – Down Under the Long Island Expressway. As I often opine, you need to get ahead of the real estate crowd on this sort of thing, lest they rename your neighborhood “Karen,” or “Todd.” It’s where I like to go to be by myself, just like industrial Maspeth. The latter is next on my list, and I plan on heading over there sometime around when you’re reading this.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Blissville is where this photo was gathered, along Review Avenue. One positive thing that’s come out of all this free time I suddenly have has been the gradual conquering of the LED light dilemma. The unnatural frequencies offered by LED lights have been bedeviling me, exposure wise, for a while. Still haven’t quite got them locked down or licked yet, but as the shot above suggests I’m starting to get there.

One thing I really miss on my long walks involves not having my headphones jammed into the ear holes and listening to my “theme music” playlists. As mentioned a few times, I’m trying to be more fully aware of my surroundings right now, as the deserted streets offer up all sorts of uncertainties. There’s the possibility of finding myself the center of attention for adolescent rowdies or gutter toughs or even street muggers, there are hot rod clubs burning rubber all around the Creek, and if you had noticed the bands of Raccoons and Canada Geese prowling about like they own the place as I have – you’d desire “total situational awareness” too.

Still – It’s just not the same without “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath” grinding out.

Note: I’m writing this and several of the posts you’re going to see for the next week at the beginning of the week of Monday, April 20th. My plan is to continue doing my solo photo walks around LIC and the Newtown Creek in the dead of night as long as that’s feasible. If you continue to see regular updates as we move into April and beyond, that means everything is kosher as far as health and well being. If the blog stops updating, it means that things have gone badly for a humble narrator.


“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.

alien shadow

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Seeing the big rigs in Long Island City.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One encountered a lonely semi truck on my recent scuttle across a still quite industrial section of LIC. It’s a “class 8” heavy truck, and manufactured by the Kenworth company. “Class 8” are vehicles which serve vocational applications – heavy dump trucks, concrete pump trucks, and refuse hauling – as well as including long-haul 4×2 and 6×4 tractor units such as the one pictured above. Washington state based, Kenworth has been in the truck business since 1912. Don’t ask me to identify what model of truck this is, as I’m sure there’s a gear head reading this who can help with the ID (share in the comments section) and will know far more than I about it. Like taxis and tugboats – when you see a vehicle like this just sitting there parked on the street, the owner is losing money.

I have always been fascinated with this idea of perpetually moving vehicles. Certain vehicles are meant to be operated continuously by multiple crews of drivers, and meant to never stop moving. Police cars and ambulances, subways and trains of all types… cargo ships… all are meant to rest only when undergoing maintenance or changing work crews and operators. That’s interesting, no?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A graffiti crew had obviously taken fairly recent advantage of the expansive warehouse walls (a “building trade” lumber operation) on this particular block in LIC, but I was more interested in the sickly trees lining the sidewalk than the fairly inexpert tags. In these industrial zones, trees are scarce, and often fall victim to the hustle and bustle of getting things done. In this sort of area, the DEP and FDNY have to erect bollards around their fire hydrants to vouchsafe them from getting knocked over or down, and you’ll often notice utility poles which have had huge swaths carved out of them by careless truckers moving multi ton loads about. Stop signs and lamp posts are regularly snapped off their stanchions as well.

As I tell the people who have just discovered Newtown Creek – all the time – be careful, it’s easy to get dead around here if you don’t know the lay of the land. Luckily, I’ve been obliged to sit through literally days of the safety training which the “union guys” get in order to legally enter job sites and facilities with the camera, and I “sprech the deutch” of their acculturations.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s the Queens Midtown Expressway section of the Long Island Expressway in the upper left, and it’s been towering over Borden Avenue in LIC since 1939. The LIE rises from ground level at Greenpoint Avenue all the way to 106 feet over the waters of Newtown Creek’s nearby Dutch Kills tributary before beginning its descent into the Queens Midtown Tunnel in Hunters Point. I refer to the zone underneath the LIE as “the empty corridor,” but there’s actually quite a lot going on down here.

More from the empty corridor tomorrow, at this, your Newtown Pentacle.

Note: I’m writing this and several of the posts you’re going to see for the next couple of weeks at the start of the week of Monday, March 16th. My plan is to continue doing my solo photo walks around LIC and the Newtown Creek in the dead of night as long as that’s feasible. If you continue to see regular updates as we move into April and beyond, that means everything is kosher as far as health and well being. If the blog stops updating, it means that things have gone badly for a humble narrator.


“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.

cosmic fear

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My continuing tour of the worst places on earth, in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Pictured above is the spot where the Long Island Expressway off ramp feeds into the local street grid in LIC, specifically at the intersection of Borden Avenue and Van Dam Street. For some reason the FDNY routes ambulances through this traffic choked lane, so in addition to the rumble and exhaust of thousands of cars an hour, there’s also sirens to listen to and flashing lights to enjoy. What with all the artificial light cascading about, and the low ceiling of the Queens Midtown Expressway truss above – this is about two blocks from Greenpoint Avenue, for reference – it’s actually quite beautiful as far as environmental and urban planning disaster areas go. What can I tell you, I like places of this sort. It’s where I belong.

Not exactly pedestrian friendly, though.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Behind all the colorful tumult pictured in the shot above, there’s a small wooded area adjoining an on ramp for the LIE, which the local Queensicans have designated as a great place to engage in the native art form of the World’s Borough – illegal dumping. For quite some time, there was a sizable homeless colony back here which would better be described as a homeless village. In many ways, it looked like a galactic refugee set piece from the Star Trek series, with shanty structures and people engaging in an off the grid mercantile economy.

All that is gone, and these days the little stand of trees back here are merely a knoll. If it wasn’t state owned land, I’m sure the Mayor would be trying to build affordable housing here, or maybe a homeless shelter. Dotting the “i”‘s and crossing the “t”‘s is what the horde of loathsome sentience in City Hall is going to be up to until December 31st of 2021, I predict. That’s how much longer we have to wait until Citizen De Blasio is powerless again.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There’s a lot of wasted space in LIC, I would point out to the First Citizen’s team.

This patch could easily be used to store municipal vehicles, or perhaps establish a small office park for the NYC EDC to work out of. Ever wonder why these clowns get to work in skyscrapers owned by the City, rather than empty strip malls in Nassau County? MTA has 2 Broadway in the City, and a rather handsome structure on Jay Street in Brooklyn. Real Estate rules the roost these days, so why do our civil servants get to occupy prime value locations? Wouldn’t it make sense for them to work out of a transit desert? Go to work in East New York, or the northern Bronx, or western Staten Island, just to give them a bit of perspective on what the rest of us experience?


“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.

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