The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Posts Tagged ‘New York City

resident alienists

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Friday bits and bobs.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Last week and here in Astoria, just as a humble narrator was about to succumb to that daily interval of involuntary unconsciousness during which wild hallucinations occur, the windows at HQ began to strobe with a scarlet hue. Thinking that the Astoria Borealis might be occurring again, one rushed to the porch. It seems one of my neighbors was having a visit from both the NYPD and the FDNY, and since both of the municipal vehicles were quite static while the City’s preeminent staffers were busy within, one decided to get a couple of shots for the archive.

I do love seeing an unnaturally colored series of lights. A recent query offered by a passerby nearby Queens Plaza which was a variation on the standard “why are taking pictures of that”? My answer was “Y’know those old photos of NYC that people share on the internet? Somebody like me took those, and whereas these photos are new, someday they’ll be old.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Luyster Creek is a lonely industrial waterway found on the forbidden northern coast of Queens, here in Astoria. A humble narrator is drawn to things forbidden, lonely, and industrial so a scuttle from HQ on the Broadway side of the neighborhood was enacted. Timing was key in this walk, as I wanted to get there just as the burning thermonuclear eye of god itself was dipping down beyond the western shore.

There’s a pretty active industrial driveway leading to the aforementioned western shore, leading to what’s soon going to be a new Department of Sanitation New York (DSNY) maintenance garage and salt dome complex. The City is moving operations from 21st street nearby the Ravenswood NYCHA campus over to the IBZ (industrial business zone) found on the north side of Astoria. DSNY is planning on spending a ball park number of $131 million back here.

Did you know that NYC has a 1% for art requirement in all new municipal construction projects? It’s how the Newtown Creek Nature Walk in Greenpoint got funded. Been on the books since 1982, the 1% for art requirement. You know who must have gotten that into the books, back in 1982? I’ll bet it was Astoria’s own Peter Vallone, senior. Hmmm.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One stuck around at Luyster Creek for a while as the tide was coming in. Saying that, Luyster is a lot like my beloved Newtown Creek in terms of there being a vertical rather than laminar or horizontal flow related to the tide. There’s a bunch of indeterminate muck in the water and its sediment bed due to industrial pollutants as well as a large CSO or Combined Sewer Outfall (BB-041) maintained by the DEP at the head of the canal. As a matter of fact, the shot above was gathered while standing on the pipe’s outfall weir.

NYC has a combined sewer system, meaning that sanitary and storm water use the same underground pipes to travel to the 14 sewer plants. A quarter inch of rain, City wide, means a billion gallons have suddenly surged into the system, and the agency responsible for wastewater management and the 14 plants – the NYC Dept. of Environmental Protection, or DEP – is forced to release the overage into area waterways.

The nomenclature of “BB-041” is explained thusly; the BB stands for Bowery Bay Wastewater Treatment Plant” which is just a few blocks away, the 041 indicates that this is number 41 of the 1936 vintage Bowery Bay plant’s 47 outfalls. BB-041 experiences an average number of 61 weather related discharges into Luyster Creek annually, and pours roughly 84 million gallons of untreated sewage per year directly into the water. Fun times.


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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 21, 2020 at 11:00 am

those miniscules

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Getting a clean shot.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

These shots were gathered during an interval of trespass, something which I advise everyone who asks against doing. In the foreground above is an inactive MTA rail bridge’s trackway, with the 1908 Borden Avenue Bridge at center frame and the 1939 Queens Midtown Expressway’s 106 foot tall truss bridge over the Dutch Kills tributary of Newtown Creek at top. It’s not easy getting the camera into position for a shot of the entire Borden Avenue span, I’ll offer, nor entirely legal to stand where it’s possible to do so. That’s why I was up here just before 8 in the morning on a Sunday, after all.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Another shot for which one was risking a fine for is above, depicting a quite active Long Island Railroad Bridge called DB Cabin which is the gatekeeper to the Dutch Kills tributary of Newtown Creek. LIRR facilities in Long Island City go back 1870, and the 1893 vintage DB Cabin is meant to function as a movable swing bridge. When I first showed up on Newtown Creek about fifteen years ago, my pal Bernie Ente told me that he hadn’t seen it open in twenty years, so I guess that makes it thirty five non functioning years now.

DB Cabin connects the Lower Montauk tracks of the LIRR across the water. On the western side of the bridge is the Wheelspur Freight Yard, and on the east it feeds into the Blissville Yard.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s the sort of view normally offered, gathered from the Borden Avenue Bridge.

Having gotten away with my naughty little mission, I headed towards the spot I was meant to meet the NCA crew at over on Skillman Avenue.

Tomorrow, something else, 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.

utter extirpation

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I had to make pee pee.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

While wandering around Dutch Kills, Long Island City’s (surviving) tributary of the fabulous Newtown Creek, one suddenly felt the call of nature. It was about six a.m. as I recall, when tolled the telltale alarum that it was time for a tinkle. Luckily, one had already secluded himself in a hidey hole along the banks of the waterway, one which offered both privacy and open unpaved soil. Why do I mention this, you ask? Because the City of New York completely and utterly disregards human biology in its various machinations and zoning decisions and has for better than fifty years. Why there isn’t a public pissoir found every mile or so is something that just escapes me. Luckily, as a bloke with an “outie,” the world offers lots of shadowed corners, spaces in between trucks, abandoned industrial canal bulkheads, and so on. I imagine the problems which proper renal function causes are more difficult for those of you with “innies.”

Anyway, as the sign in the shot would adjure – there’s meant to be “No Swimming’ here in Dutch Kills. Probably because of the millions of gallons of untreated sewage which the City dumps into every year.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Of all the sections of Newtown Creek which one visits regularly, Dutch Kills is most frequently seen. It’s not too far from Astoria by foot. Most of the time I come here, however, is definitively later in the day than the one these shots were gathered – which was just as the burning thermonuclear eye of god itself was rising in the east. I kept on debating whether or not to use a lens filter to “slow down” the rising light levels a bit, but the actual scene was just so beautifully lit that I didn’t want to screw around with it too much. I did have the camera up on the tripod though. The settings for this one were f18, iso 100, and .6 of a second.

Why am I telling you that, just like why talk about having to take a piss? I’ll let you know pretty soon. That’s coy of me, ain’t it?

Also, ever think about that phrase “taking a piss”? If anything, you’re “giving” rather than taking one. British English uses “having” for the act, as a note. Doesn’t make sense to me, just like the flammable/inflammable conundrum.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My eventual destination was going to be over on Skillman Avenue, where I was supposed to meet up with the Newtown Creek Alliance crew at nine. I still had plenty of time before that, so it was decided to shlep over to another hidey hole spot along Dutch Kills, one which is decidedly less private than the one so recently moistened by a humble narrator.

More tomorrow at this – your Newtown Pentacle.


“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.

multifarious items

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Dutch Kills at sunrise, in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Breaking off in a generally northern direction, from the main course of the Newtown Creek, is its Dutch Kills tributary. Just under a mile in length, Dutch Kills is encountered about 3/4 of a mile into Newtown Creek from its junction with the East River, in Long Island City. Dutch Kill is crossed by five bridges – the railroad bridges DB Cabin and Cabin M, Borden Avenue Bridge, the Queens Midtown Expressway truss, and the Hunters Point Avenue Bridge.

Recent obligation found one scheduled to meet up with my chums from Newtown Creek Alliance at 9 am on a Sunday nearby Dutch Kills, in pursuance of us walking it and discussing the near future hereabouts.

Since I set the standard for sanity in this world, much like Caligula once did, I got there four hours early, and some two hours before sunrise. I set up the tripod and started getting busy roughly 5:30 a.m.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Funnily enough, and photographers don’t normally say things like this, I was unhappy with how abundant the ambient light was. I’ve been spending so much time working in near total darkness of late that it’s almost become rote. Having to constantly figure out new exposure triangles every ten minutes got annoying.

Pictured are Cabin M, in the foreground, and DB Cabin. They are two of those five bridges mentioned above, and are both railroad bridges owned by the Long Island Railroad. Cabin M, which these days carries mostly graffiti, is meant to be demolished according to this year’s MTA capital budget plan. It connects the Blissville Rail Yard and the very active Lower Montauk tracks along Newtown Creek to the deactivated Montauk Cutoff tracks leading to the Sunnyside Yards.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Looking north east from another span over Dutch Kills – the Borden Avenue Bridge – towards the 106 foot tall Queens Midtown Expressway truss bridge. In the distance is a Fed Ex ground shipping center and the Degnon Terminal IBZ.

Even though the light was becoming uncomfortably stronger, one hung around and kept on shooting all morning waiting for the Newtown Creek Alliance crew to arrive for our appointed round. 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.

vague presentiment

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Mighty, Queensboro… and I guess I’m a troll now.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One of my recent jaunts, carrying the camera about, found me wandering around the footings of the Queensboro Bridge in LIC. The amount of wasted space under here, which is frankly squandered by the NYC DOT, is colossal. DOT has the whole area gated off, with utilitarian fencelines of the chain link type bearing signage warning passerby of non existent security, and the city block sized lots under the bridge are used as parking lots for DOT’s municipal vehicle fleets, storage areas for various sorts of equipment like bike racks and tables, or they just sit empty.

For an area that’s so visually interesting, and so close to the largest of the NYCHA campuses, not having some combination of playgrounds and sitting areas… or even a single sign talking about Lindenthal and 1909… bah.

Trolls hang out under bridges, right?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I’ve got a special place in my three sizes too small heart for Queensboro, as the centennial for her was the first time that I participated in a public event. A humble narrator was a Parade Marshal for that event, and in fact, the very first post at this – your Newtown Pentacle – carried a shot from the upper roadway shot on that day. That’s the first and only time I got to meet Mayor Bloomberg, the first time I interacted with Congresswoman Caroline Maloney, Borough President Helen Marshall, or then DOT Commissioner Jeanette Sadik Khan.

In many ways, it was my coming out party.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Now, I’ve been bringing the thunder to Western Queens ever since, of course, but yeah Queensboro’s Centennial was the first time I stood up out of the shadows and said “Hi.”

Pictured above is one of those monumental wastes of space discussed above, a mostly empty parking lot for some of DOT’s fleet of passenger cars. Ever wonder why the DOT doesn’t require its people to ride bikes? I mean, institutionally speaking, they are the ones pushing the whole “bike lane agenda” in cooperation with the almighty TA Bicycle Lobby. You’d think they’d be providing some sort of moral example by abandoning their cars and riding bikes. The bike lobby is pushing the slogan that “street parking is theft,” right? So… what would you call that parking lot pictured above? Wouldn’t something else be a better use of the public land?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There’s an intricate web of ramps leading onto and off of Queensboro Bridge at the western side of Queens Plaza. You’ve also got structural steel aqueducts that carry subway lines to and from the area. The streets are pretty high volume as far as private vehicle traffic goes as well. It’s not terribly pedestrian friendly down here.

Ever notice how the pedestrians always get left out of the argument? Most people walk to and from either their cars or their bikes, as a note, and there’s some like myself for which walking is their primary manner of getting around. Saying that, it’s all about parking versus bike lanes.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On the bike lane front, a significant amount of conversation in the coming months is going to involve Crescent Street. The bike people, and the elected officialdom crowd, have started a process which is calling on the NYC DOT to study creating a “bridge to bridge” bike lane on Crescent Street which will negate a lot of parking, reduce the number of vehicle lanes on the southern side of the street down to one, and create a protected bike lane. It’s not necessarily the end of the world, as some would offer, and not necessarily the solution to all things as others would say. What it is, however, is problematic in terms of engineering the street’s ultimate flow of both motor vehicles and bikes onto Queensboro.

Pity me, I’m going to be right in the middle of this on Community Board 1’s Transportation Committee.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s the 7 line subway tracks pictured above, and the streak of light exiting stage left is the line itself. Cannot tell you how long I stood on this corner waiting to get this shot, but I can tell you it was pretty chilly out and that shortly after the capture above, rain started to drizzle down. One headed over towards the north side of Queens Plaza, whereupon I discovered that the R line had been shut down for the night due to repairs and that MTA was running a shuttle bus instead. Luckily for me, that shuttle wasn’t asking for a swipe of the old Metro Card, so I got a free ride home.

Tomorrow, back to the fabulous Newtown Creek, at this – your Newtown Pentacle.


“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 17, 2020 at 11:00 am

possible significance

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Freaking fantastic, it’s Friday!

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On one of my nocturnal jaunts across the concretized realities of Western Queens, it began to drizzle. Luckily, one happened to be hauling his carcass about in the vicinity of Queens Boulevard – the proverbial Boulevard of Death itself – and advantage was taken of the shelter which a path under the vaults of the IRT Flushing (or 7) elevated subway line would and did offer. One had his hood up, which seemingly made several of the people whom I passed by suspicious and or apprehensive of me. Humpf! No one at the Creek ever complains about my sartorial elegances.

Seriously though, this has been a thing my whole life. Sans traveling with armed guards, the safest you are ever going to be is when I’m around, but old ladies have been clutching their handbags and pearls in my presence since I was a kid. Sometimes, good guys don’t wear white.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I don’t like the act that modern day old ladies put on, actually. If you’re an old lady in 2020, odds are you were rolling around in the mud at Woodstock with some bloke and didn’t used to be the innocent and easily shocked type which you pretend to be now. The classic “old lady from Pasadena” who somehow made it to their golden years without ever experiencing the coarser side of life has always been a stereotype to reject. Of course, in general I reject any sort of stereotyping so I’m never surprised when folks turn out to be quirky and odd. This seems to be an anomalous position, especially when chatting with friends in their 20’s and 30’s who often tell me what I’m feeling or thinking based on my status as an “old white cisgender male.” When I point out that this is actually a prejudice based point of view that dehumanizes and reduces my individuality down to some identity politics check mark, and represents an inherently racist point of view, they get angry with me.

Discourse during my entire trip on this planet has been built around the attempt to not see or judge people based on their tribal/religious affiliation, skin coloration, or accent. If you think in this way, you’re actually very much in tune with the Nazis, despite your claim that this “oppressed group” or that “shunned clique” are automatically morally superior based on their prior experience of institutional or societal discrimination.

Individuals. We are all individuals, lone sailors lost on a heaving sea. Identity politics is going to be the death of this republic, as the entire ideation plays directly into the hands of actual racists. Me and you are “Us,” so stop focusing on “them.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This is amongst the many reasons why I absolutely love wandering around in the dead of night during the winter, in a filthy black raincoat with my voluminous sweatshirt hood pulled up in a manner that scares old ladies, by myself. Solitude, and not having to deal with other people’s depressing views of the world, is nepenthe. I get enough of the derision and virtue signaling at all the governmental meetings I have to attend, and where I have to be somewhat polite towards the mindset. Thing is, where I belong is out here on the street, alone.

Every minute during which I’m not engaged in the operation of my camera, I’m basically wasting my time.


“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 14, 2020 at 11:00 am

uncanny resonance

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Thunderation, it’s Thursday.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There’s a (I believe to be owned by) Con Ed electrical substation in the Dutch Kills neighborhood, nearby the Scalamandre Silk building on 38th aevnue. Used to be that when you walked past it, presuming that like me you had your headphones stuck into your ears and you were listening to Black Sabbath, you’d hear a weird electronic buzzing playing through them. For one reason or another, I haven’t been inhabiting this zone too frequently in recent years, but it used to be a regular sight for me. More than once during those halcyon days of frequent passage, a humble narrator had actually experienced electric shocks transmitting into my ear canals via that headphone route while scuttling past this facility, which is part of why I’m stupid. On the particular evening these shots were captured, I’m happy to report that no such buzzing or zapping occurred.

Modern design, huh?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Speaking of Black Sabbath, I’d like to take this opportunity to propose changing the National Anthem to either “War Pigs” or “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath.” That is my recommendation, so just deal with it and go start a popular movement to do so. I have spoken.

This substation occupies an entire city block, as a note. I didn’t focus the camera too deeply into the lot, but this place has all sorts of science fiction looking coils and frammistats within its fence and should be on one of those listicles you see all over the web about “five things to see in Queens.”

Don’t forget about that Black Sabbath National Anthem thing, either. I’m counting on y’all. Imagine how much cooler Baseball will be when we all stand up and take off our hats while Sabbath Bloody Sabbath plays.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A few blocks away, one encountered this display. It was hard to notice, really. There was a huge crowd of people further down on the sidewalk, where a barrier had been erected “closing it,” and they were tragic. Lost souls bottlenecked at the barrier, unable to conceptualize backing out, pressing agains the green plywood with desperation. At the very front of the group, crushed skeletons ground into the barrier, making a disconcerting sound. Luckily, a humble narrator caught himself before proceeding. They should really try to get people’s attention in a more obvious fashion, but life is cheap in Long Island City, and not dearly held.

Black Sabbath.


“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 13, 2020 at 11:00 am

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