The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Posts Tagged ‘New York City

threat level

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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. 


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rigidly classified

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Head east, old man.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

So, as the sky was still filled with milky clouds yesterday morning, my ambitions for a morning photo session were thwarted by ugly. Woke up early for nothing, essentially. Things cleared up nicely by the afternoon, which is when I found myself heading out to Flushing Meadow Corona Park in pursuance of shooting the iconic Unisphere. This is probably the most “iconic” thing that just screams “Queens” when you see it.

There you are. 

– photo by Mitch Waxman

While I was in the neighborhood, a few shots of the MTA’s Corona Yard were gathered as well, and there was an entire fleet of 7 train sets just sitting there in the sun.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Uneventful is how I’d describe my afternoon. Didn’t have to speak to anyone, or do anything annoying to please their delicate sensibilities. I was by myself, keeping my own counsel, and nobody was giving me advice or offering any tips on behavioral modification.

The way I like it. 


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Written by Mitch Waxman

July 19, 2018 at 1:00 pm

fear distorted

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One of those days, man, one of those days.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On this day – July 18th – in 1290 A.D., Edward the 1st of England signed an Edict of Expulsion for the 16,000 or so Jews who lived in England at the time. In 1870, the Vatican Council introduced the concept of Papal Infallibility to a gullible public. In 1925, Adolph Hitler saw his “Mein Kampf” first published to a similarly gullible public. In 1937, Hunter S. Thompson was born (to tell the public how reliably gullible they actually are) and then in 1954, gangster Machine Gun Kelly died of natural causes at Leavenworth Penitentiary after 21 years in prison.

On July 18th in 1984, the so called and notable McDonalds Massacre occurred in San Ysidro, California, during which 21 people were shot and killed (mass shootings were still fairly uncommon then).

– photo by Mitch Waxman

If everything went to plan this morning, as you’re reading this I’m returning from a mid morning photo project. I’m attempting to catch a certain angle of light, at a certain place which I’m not 100% familiar with, so it might have been a frustrating morning but hopefully I made the best of it. An educated guess is being made, I’ll show y’all what I got later in the week.

Luckily, after having a killer schedule to get through last week, a bit of time to pop my headphones in and wander about seems to be coinciding with a period of tolerable temperatures and humidity this week. Looking forward to getting a bit of work done, and getting out of the Astoria/LIC/Greenpoint/Newtown Creek neighborhood for a few day trips. Hoping to be able to maintain an early schedule for this, seeking out propitious atmospheric lighting.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The most important thing at the moment, for one such as myself, is solitude. I really cannot stomach the thought of having to explain either myself or my actions to one more person than I actually have to at the moment, and have grown quite unwelcoming towards advice emanating from friend and foe alike. The idea of losing myself into the bowels of the City for a little while, looking at it through the isolated safety and emotional distance offered by a camera lens… is both nirvana and nepenthe. 

Look for me, scuttling along the side of the road on the eastern side of the Newtown Pentacle. I’ll be the weird looking guy with a camera.


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Written by Mitch Waxman

July 18, 2018 at 11:00 am

mental atmosphere

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Drama, drama, drama.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Why one ever tries to engage socially with others remains a question that has no answer. Generally speaking, it never ends well, and one finds himself in a “situation” at the moment which has – in fact – confirmed his worst suspicions and general presumptions about the humans. Fickle, feckless, and basically fearful are they. Not worth the effort.

Best that I retreat to my wastelands.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Accordingly, like some slime dwelling bivalve I am going to snap my protective covering shut and avoid interaction entirely. There is no point, no future, no nothing. All is worthless, and the world spins to inevitable doom.

I have had it. Done.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This dark cloud I’m under will inevitably pass, of course. I’m too personally weak to ever fully engage in hermitage. Saying all that, I want nothing to do with anyone for a bit. Just leave a message, I probably won’t be answering the phone.

Avoid me.


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Written by Mitch Waxman

July 17, 2018 at 1:00 pm

quarters elsewhere

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Scenes from a summertime Creek.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There is only one safe harborage for one such as myself, a single place on this planet where a humble narrator has any sort of worth. Luckily, over the weekend, I got to share this place – the Newtown Creek – with literally a couple of boat loads of people for the City of Water Day festival. When conducting Newtown Creek Boat tours, the program involves me narrating humbly about the East River specifically and NY Harbor in general from the point of embarkation – in this case Pier 11 in Manhattan – until the boat navigates into Newtown Creek. One continues with descriptions of the waterway’s long and intricate history and the environmental problems found in the present day due to its heavy industrial past and present. When we reach the spot where we have to turn around and head back for the pier, the mike gets handed to my colleague Will Elkins from Newtown Creek Alliance and he discusses the various plans for remediation of the waterway’s woes. In short, I talk past, he talks future.

Since I effectively have no future, I get busy taking photos while Will’s on the mike.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The NJ based NY Waterways outfit generously donated the usage of their Henry Hudson ferry boat to City of Water Day, and the Waterfront Alliance organization handled the nitty gritty of getting us onboard. Luckier still, when the boat arrived, the Captain was a fellow named Chris Costa whom I’ve worked with before and have managed to strike up a friendship with. Capt. Costa managed to get us all the way back to Maspeth before we had to reverse course and head back to Lower Manhattan. The first shot in today’s post depicts Allocco Recycling hard at work in Greenpoint, the shot above shows the Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant from a spot on the water found between Meeker Avenue and Apollo Street in the Brooklyn side.

The brightest part of my life involves sewage and garbage.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s the “Green Asphalt” operation at work on the Queens side in Blissville. Their role in our commonly held municipal “thing” is to recycle excavated road surface asphalt and prepare it to be reapplied to to NYC streets. Can you believe that – prior to the 2010 Solid Waste Management Plan – they used to just bury this stuff in landfills? 

This is where I belong, which is about as far away from other people as I possibly can get without leaving NYC.


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Written by Mitch Waxman

July 16, 2018 at 11:00 am

chemical odours

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Don’t miss the links for 2 free Saturday boat tours at the bottom of today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The great thing about that new lens filter I’m using, an ND filter which allows me to “stop” down light and do long exposure shots in afternoon sun, is that it renders the garbage floating around in my beloved Newtown Creek virtually invisible. The particular experiments in today’s post were gathered in LIC, earlier this week. All that white and orange stuff in the water was trash moving around in the tidal waves, and since it’s a thirty second exposure, it makes the waterborn litter seem like a landscape feature.

Turns out, all you have to do is blur your eyes and you don’t have to think about pollution.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Even this open storm sewer looks intriguing and natural using this technique. The trash and garbage that’s already lodged onto the rip rap shoreline and is static, that you can still discern, but the floating black and clear bags of trash? Not so much.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The possibilities boggle the mind!

Links to a very busy weekend’s worth of Newtown Creek tours found below, come with?


Upcoming Tours and Events

Saturday, July 14th – City of Water Day Newtown Creek Boat Tours – with Waterfront Alliance, NY Waterways, and Newtown Creek Alliance.

As part of the Waterfront Alliance’s “City of Water Day” event, I’ll be conducting two free 90 minute boat tours heading to Newtown Creek, leaving from Pier 11 in Manhattan. We won’t be visiting the entire Newtown Creek, as a note, due to time constraints and navigational issues, but we will get a good mile and a half of it in.

Tickets and more details

Ten a.m. departure here.
Twelve p.m. departure here.

Saturday, July 14th – 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.

Sunday, July 15th – Penny2Plank – with Newtown Creek Alliance.

There are eleven bridges crossing the modern day Newtown Creek and its tributaries, nine of which are moveable bridges of one kind or another. Other bridges, forgotten and demolished, used to cross the Creek. The approaches to these bridges are still present on the street grids of Brooklyn and Queens as “street ends.” Newtown Creek Alliance and a small army of volunteers have been working to transform these “street ends” from weed choked dumping grounds into inviting public spaces. This walk with NCA historian Mitch Waxman will take you there and back again, discussing the history and current status of these street ends and the territory in between.

The tour will start in Brooklyn’s Greenpoint, and end in Queens’ Maspeth nearby the Grand Street Bridge.

Tickets and more details
here.


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Written by Mitch Waxman

July 13, 2018 at 1:00 pm

pregnant pauses

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Announcing two free boat tours, in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This Saturday is the Waterfront Alliance’s “City of Water Day” event, and with NY Waterways, the folks at WA have given me the opportunity to bring two boat loads worth of people to the fabulous Newtown Creek. The tours are free (there is a $5 registration fee during ticketing) and will be 90 minutes long. There’s a ten a.m. and a twelve p.m. tour, both of which will include a fully narrated history of the East River and the Newtown Creek. Navigational issues and timing dictate that we are going to be visiting the first half of the Creek only, which is as far as the Greenpoint Avenue Bridge roughly one and a half miles from the mouth.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Ticketing links for the tours (as well as a couple of other offerings I’ve got going this weekend) are at the bottom of this post. Sights you’ll see up close from the water include the Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment plant, SimsMetal Recycling, Allocco Recycling, the Pulaski and Greenpoint Avenue Bridges, and the coastlines of Long Island City and Greenpoint. The East River section seen and discussed will be the equivalent stretch from Manhattan’s Pier 11 (Wall Street) to 23rd street. That gives you Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Williamsburg Bridges as well.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Come with? My colleague from Newtown Creek Alliance – Will Elkins – is going to be sharing the microphone duty with me on the Newtown Creek, exploring the meaning and manifestations of our “Reveal, Restore, Revitalize” motto at Newtown Creek Alliance.


Upcoming Tours and Events

Saturday, July 14th – City of Water Day Newtown Creek Boat Tours – with Waterfront Alliance, NY Waterways, and Newtown Creek Alliance.

As part of the Waterfront Alliance’s “City of Water Day” event, I’ll be conducting two free 90 minute boat tours heading to Newtown Creek, leaving from Pier 11 in Manhattan. We won’t be visiting the entire Newtown Creek, as a note, due to time constraints and navigational issues, but we will get a good mile and a half of it in.

Tickets and more details

Ten a.m. departure here.
Twelve p.m. departure here.

Saturday, July 14th – 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.

Sunday, July 15th – Penny2Plank – with Newtown Creek Alliance.

There are eleven bridges crossing the modern day Newtown Creek and its tributaries, nine of which are moveable bridges of one kind or another. Other bridges, forgotten and demolished, used to cross the Creek. The approaches to these bridges are still present on the street grids of Brooklyn and Queens as “street ends.” Newtown Creek Alliance and a small army of volunteers have been working to transform these “street ends” from weed choked dumping grounds into inviting public spaces. This walk with NCA historian Mitch Waxman will take you there and back again, discussing the history and current status of these street ends and the territory in between.

The tour will start in Brooklyn’s Greenpoint, and end in Queens’ Maspeth nearby the Grand Street Bridge.

Tickets and more details
here.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

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