The Newtown Pentacle

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Posts Tagged ‘Maspeth

furry thing

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Wednesday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Wandering back towards home through Industrial Maspeth, my happy place, one encountered a cool car. This is a 1965 Mercury 4 door sedan, which I believe to be a “Monterey” model. This absolute unit of a car was parked on 56 drive/road/Rust Street in front of an operation which specializes in the revitalization of classic cars and the kitting out of more modern ones.

I’m of the opinion that every car in Industrial Maspeth should be at least 50 years old, guzzle a lot of premium “Hi-Test” gasoline, and be put on display for passing photography enthusiasts to marvel at.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

For the last few years, there’s been a real dearth of “cool cars” encountered on my scuttles. There was a period, I’d say 2012-2015, when I couldn’t help but encounter one every time I left the house.

This 1965 Mercury was positively gangster.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The auto shop it was parked in front of, as I’ve recently learned, is sited on a property with quite a tragic history. In 1962, there was a soap factory here. A fire broke out and the soap company’s supplies of fat and other constituent chemicals caught fire. Six FDNY Firefighters died battling the blaze when a roof collapsed on them.

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, August 17th. 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 here, 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.

Written by Mitch Waxman

August 19, 2020 at 11:00 am

mathematical depths

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Monday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One has no idea at all why he feels so exhausted and tired at the moment. Has nothing to do with illness, I would offer, nor is it the sensation of “waiting for the other shoe to drop” as 2020 has dropped a lot of shoes and things just promise to get more interesting as the wheel of the year turns towards Autumn. This part of August always offers that “time to go back to school” cue to me, and I feel like I’m about to have to go try on winter clothes while it’s still shorts weather. My mom would insist on buying my kid clothes from a store in either Midwood or Flatlands called “Widensky’s.” Let’s just say that even by 1970’s standards, the offerings of this particular shop were not the most fashionable choices which a young fella might make. Lots of orange courdoroy pants and multi colored velour sweaters, coupled with Buster Brown brand shoes. As soon as I started working and buying my own stuff, that story changed, but when you’re a kid you eat what they tell you to and wear what’s laid out. It’s a lot like being a prisoner, being a kid.

Seriously, I cannot tell you how uncomfortable most of those clothes were. Badly sewn, fabric that came out of a chemical drum, plastic shoes… wearing Sneakers was still seen as as an impolite gesture when worn for anything other than exercise back then. This was when the old lady had barbers craft me up the bangs and long sides Partridge Family haircut.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I remember a fad in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s where males of all ages began wearing matching sweatsuits. This was considered casual wear, and I would often notice men getting the sweat jacket (no hoodie) tailored at the dry cleaners. This was around the time that mirror sunglasses were in vogue, as well as casually wearing sweat bands on the wrists and head. I have never, ever, understood what a wrist mounted sweatband’s purpose is. If you wanted cargo shorts, you’d make them yourself out of a pair of army surplus pants you got at the second hand. People would also walk around back then wearing shirts with repeating screen printed patterns of anchors or traffic signs.

Of course, it was kind of a big deal back then that cops didn’t have bullet proof vests routinely assigned to them, and don’t get me started about the hair. I recently got sent a shot of myself from tenth grade which displayed the most embarrassing hair cut I ever had. It was the 80’s, I was young, so what can I tell you?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

When you get down to it, all of us are kind of different people at different stages of our lives. Some old suit of clothes of the type you used to be known for wearing doesn’t fit anymore, so you move on to another. Shoes wear out, hair gets long and then short and then it goes and changes color on you.

Ever heard about the philosophical conundrum called “Theseus’s Ship”? It seems that when Theseus sailed back to Athens, they preserved the great hero’s boat. The thing was maintained and cared for, and if a plank of wood became rotten over time an exact copy of it was created and installed. Over several centuries, every molecule of the original boat was replaced, and the eventual realization that whereas every replacement part was an exact duplicate of the original no part of the original boat still was present offered up a metaphysical crisis. Was it still Theseus’ ship?

I often wonder if I’m still all the people I used to be.

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, August 17th. 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 here, 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.

Written by Mitch Waxman

August 17, 2020 at 11:00 am

recent notes

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Still no rat hordes, but I’m a-hoping.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As described yesterday, a recent walk found one on the western end of Railroad Avenue in the Blissville section of Long Island City. Some people ignore the 10,000 or so industrial jobs and the businesses which employ them along the bulkheads of the Newtown Creek. That’s where I come in, My name’s Waxman, I carry a camera. The weather in NYC was cool, and I was working out of Newtown Creek Alliance’s Queens Division. Reports from Federal Authorities have warned about hordes of ravenous and cannibalistic rats of unusual size, so I was patrolling the tracks of the Long Island Railroad Lower Montauk Line in search of them. The garbage train parks here.

Thankfully, things were uneventful, and I moved on. This is based on a true story.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On my way home to the rolling hills of almond eyed Astoria, one eschewed the normal path back and instead proceeded northwards from Blissville through the “Crane District” of industrial Maspeth. Neither the Dept. of NYC Planning nor Google Maps have caught up with my daring nomenclature quite yet, still referring to the “Crane District” as “West Maspeth” or “Laurel Hill,” and only a few esthetes and scholars use the archaic “Berlin.” Savages.

Why do I call it the “Crane District”?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A heady mix of socialism and an indignant vendetta against societal norms have infected me with the need to tear away at the foundations of society, and rename places according to whatever whim strikes me. There are no cranes here, that’s fake news.

In all seriousness, though, people still live hereabouts, in the Crane District. There’s private homes all over the place.

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, June 8th. 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.

mental disturbance

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Flowing water.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Funnily enough, I was just saying to a friend of mine that I’d really like to find some flowing water and photograph it. This was part of me pining for a walk in the woods, or the sort of natural setting which I’m currently unable to reach due to the shut down. Pedestrian distances, for me, involve a lot of interesting things to photograph, but flowing water? Not so much.

My beloved Newtown Creek must have heard me, as I discovered during a recent midnight walk through my happy place – Industrial Maspeth.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One of the industrial lots seemed to have a broken water main or something, and what must be hundreds of gallons of water an hour are pouring out from under their fenceline onto the street. The DEP sewer grates in this area are nearly always clogged up, and street flooding is fairly ubiquitous here on the corner of 58th road and 47th street, nearby the DSNY’s Queens West 5 Garage.

At the end of the street is the Maspeth Plank Road historic site, which I had walked over from Astoria to visit this particular evening.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The flowing water was following its natural gravity driven course, towards Newtown Creek. Not wishing to soak my shoes, a short scuttle saw me on dry land along… the temporary tributary? Let’s call it Furman’s Creek for now.

About three people are going to get that reference, so here you are – this part of Maspeth used to be an island called Furman’s Island. Another island in Newtown Creek called Mussel Island was demolished at the start of the 20th century, and its spoils were used to connect Furman to Maspeth.

Below is a section from an undated map of smell nuisances that was likely drawn in the 1890’s depicting Mussel Island, Maspeth Creek, and Furman’s Island. As you can see, the coastline of Queens was VERY different in the relatively recent past.

Just as a point of interest for my fellow NYC history nerds, the shaded in smell nuisance site labeled as #17 was Peter Cooper’s Glue Factory in Greenpoint.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Here, I negotiated my way over to the flowing water which I had so desired to photograph, and set up the camera in what was fairly pitch darkness. From the look of it, this flow of water has been going on for a while. Normal rainfall flows have long created a hydrologic “shape” in the ground at Plank Road through which street precipitant runoff has been flowing for years.

The constant flow of water off of the industrial compound has deepened that “shape” into sort of a gorge. There really isn’t any sort of firmament to the soil here – it’s rip rap, boulders, gravel, and the only thing holding all that together are the shallow roots of self planted weeds and grasses.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Furman’s Creek, now flowing through Furman’s Gorge, was carrying a lot of street litter in its flow towards Newtown Creek. This is normal, unfortunately, but until we start putting social pressure on each other not to litter…

There was a soothing sound coming from the flowing water though, so that was nice. Quite tranquil, really. I said Industrial Maspeth is my happy place, and I mean it.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As you may have noticed, there’s a lot of photos on offer today, as opposed to the usual trio. Just couldn’t stop myself. As mentioned, I was desirous of finding a bucolic waterfall in the middle of some pristine forest to point the camera at.

Then along comes Furman’s Creek.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The flow, as mentioned, had created a gorge of sorts for the flowing water. Unfortunately, the gorge has made getting down onto the concrete bulkhead at the Maspeth Plank Road impossible without the usage of rubber boots. There was a good 4-8 inches of rapidly flowing earth juice moving towards the fabulous Newtown Creek in this section, surrounded by either gravel or super slippery mud.

Super slippery, not just slippery. Also – Now, more than ever.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

From what I could see, there seemed to be a buildup of material in the mud flat to the right of the shot above. Saying that – it was dark, after midnight, and I was as socially isolated as you can get here at the Plank Road, so the discretion/valor internal discussion I had with myself determined that I wasn’t going to try and negotiate a path down to the edge to find out.

Under normal circumstance, I’d probably have tried, but given that I still had to walk back to Astoria…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I did scuttle over to the eastern side of Plank Road for the shot above, looking roughly westwards towards Brooklyn’s Greenpoint section and the Kosciuszcko Bridge. The large tanks in the center of the shot are on the National Grid property, and the dark shape in lower right foreground are pieces of wood that have somehow survived there since 1875, during the Presidency of Ulysses S. Grant.

No, really, here’s an illustration of this scene from Harper’s Weekly in 1881.

I’m fairly sure I’ve got other shots of the Plank Road throughout the decades, but just can’t seem to find them at the moment. Back tomorrow.

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 4th. 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.

Written by Mitch Waxman

May 6, 2020 at 12:00 pm

stamped out

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Maspeth!

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That recent long walk I mentioned found me over in industrial Maspeth, experimenting with various camera settings, as regarding capturing photos of the Kosciuszcko Bridge and its weird illumination. LED lights, architecturally speaking, are insanely bright. They also produce unnatural colors which wreak havoc on the color theory algorithms in digital cameras. Since the Governor literally flipped a switch turning on the bridge’s lighting system a couple of years ago, I’ve been fairly bedeviled by its idiosyncrasies.

A big part of the problem is that the bridge’s lights rotate through a chroma key, turning yellow, green, blue, red, violet… when all those colors add up on your camera sensor it equals bright white – as you see in the shot above.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Not wanting to sacrifice the sharpness of the captured image at my lens’s hyper-focal “infinity” setting, one has been playing around with length of shutter speed and sensor ISO sensitivity all winter and into the spring. The shot above, depicting both the Kosciuszcko and the Empire State Building flashing red and showing Newtown Creek as well, represents a set of trade offs which I’m kind of happy with.

When you’ve got a bunch of time on your hands, and all of your summer gigs have been cancelled due to a pandemic, you might as well figure out new ways to configure and work with the camera – right?

That which doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, with the notable exception of polio. Polio makes a mess out of you.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A different set of experiments are at work in the shot above, which is actually three separate images combined into one in a Photoshop process called “focus stacking.” You set up a stable camera base – a tripod or whatever – and then move the shot’s focus point around. One focus point is on the distant Kosciuszcko Bridge, another on the mid ground tomb stones, and the third is on the trunk of that tree. These are narrow aperture shots, so all these elements would have been sharply rendered anyway, but the stacking technique is a skill I’ve been meaning to understand and use for a while, and since I essentially have no there reason to wake up I might as well hone some of my lesser used skills. Also, the “stacking” assures a uniform level of sharpness throughout the image.

Back Monday, or whatever, with something else. I don’t know what exactly, I’m just hoping to still be alive by then.

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 27th. 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.

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