The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Posts Tagged ‘New York City

terrible difference

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Minimalist Thursday? I dunno, mebbe.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The shot above is from Greenpoint, showing some of the curbside slime and garbage which distinguishes the neighborhood, and I captured it on Earth Day Sunday. Dichotomous, yes. Sarcastically offered, probably. All too commonly observed, absolutely. Doesn’t anyone else just carry their litter with them until reaching a receptacle like I do? Seriously, how far do you have to walk to find a dumpster in the age of gentrification?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Looks like someone was prying into one of the electrical hatches on the Greenpoint Avenue Bridge again, and observationally causing a small fire while likely trying to harvest the copper wires held therein. Happens all the time, I’m told, in the age of cash on delivery metal recycling. The Crows, which is my pet name for the metal collectors, will sweep in and grab up anything shiny on the pavement. Sometimes that includes manhole covers and the screw caps for fire hydrants.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One was waiting for a sandwich recently at the little bodega across the street from HQ back here in Astoria, and while a gentleman named Carlos was expertly manipulating the grill a humble narrator wandered about the shop with the camera in hand and snapped out a few shots for future usage. That time is now, in the case of the flowers pictured above.


Upcoming Tours and Events

April 29 – Bushwick-Ridgewood borderline Walking Tour – with Newtown Historical Society.

Join Kevin Walsh and Mitch Waxman as they take us along the border of Brooklyn and Queens, Bushwick and Ridgewood, with stops at English Kills, an historic colonial Dutch home, and all kinds of fun and quirky locations. End with an optional dinner on Myrtle Avenue before heading back to the Myrtle-Wyckoff subway station. Tix are only $5 so reserve your space today!
Tickets and more details here.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

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Written by Mitch Waxman

April 26, 2018 at 11:00 am

most unplaceable

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Odds and ends, needles and thread.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On this day in 404 B.C., the Peloponnesian War ended when the Spartans crushed the Athenians with a naval blockade. Sometime later, in 1792 A.D. the French rolled out the guillotine for the first time, ending the life of a highwayman named Nicolas J. Pelletier. In 1859, ground was broken for the Suez Canal by French and English engineers. The Spanish American War officially began with a declaration by the United States Government on April 25 in 1898. In 1945, American and Soviet troops joined up at the River Elbe in Germany. In 1953, Crick and Watson publish their paper describing DNA, and in 1960 the US Navy Submarine Triton competes the first submerged circumnavigation of the earth. In 1983, Pioneer 10 travelled beyond the orbit of Pluto. In 1940, Al Pacino was born. So was Edward R. Murrow, but that was in 1908.

Today is also World Malaria Day.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On this day in 1901, New York became the first state to require automobiles to carry license plates. During the First World War, the disastrous Gallipoli Campaign was launched in 1915. In 1945, what would become the United Nations sat down to chat, plan, and organize in San Francisco. Polaroid introduced the instant camera to customers in 1972, and the Hubble Space Telescope was deployed from the Space Shuttle Discovery in 1990.

Personally, I’m stuck in front of the computer at HQ all day today and have an abundance of tasks to accomplish.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One will be writing tour descriptions for upcoming excursions around the fabled Newtown Creek and larger harbor, developing the shots I managed to squeak out last night before it started raining again, and generally servicing the needs of an increasingly elderly dog named Zuzu today. A busy few days are in front of me, which will be carrying the camera across the concretized realities of the great human hive, with everything culminating in a tour I’m conducting with my pal Kevin Walsh from Forgotten-NY for the Newtown Historical Society on Sunday. Link for tix is below, which are only $5.

Come with?


Upcoming Tours and Events

April 29 – Bushwick-Ridgewood borderline Walking Tour – with Newtown Historical Society.

Join Kevin Walsh and Mitch Waxman as they take us along the border of Brooklyn and Queens, Bushwick and Ridgewood, with stops at English Kills, an historic colonial Dutch home, and all kinds of fun and quirky locations. End with an optional dinner on Myrtle Avenue before heading back to the Myrtle-Wyckoff subway station. Tix are only $5 so reserve your space today!
Tickets and more details here.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

sleeping quarters

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Hitting the shutter button in Blissville.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

After having attended a community meeting at Point B (Blissville) the other night, regarding the homeless shelter situation, one decided to scuttle back to Point A (Astoria) and take advantage of the warming climatological conditions photographically. Pictured above is a line in the sand known as the Fairfield Inn, whose owners decided to answer an RFP – Request for Proposal – from the City’s Department of Homeless Services and convert their hotel to a 154 room homeless shelter. The shot is from Van Dam Street.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Pictured above is the inviting street scene here along Van Dam, with its ever present traffic.

Were the City actually serious about its responsibility towards helping the unhoused, officialdom might be looking into finding ways to create, sustain, and expand blue collar employment but that’s not how our Mayor thinks. His current plan is to expand and extend the usage of Homeless Hotels in pursuance of ending their use, which is the same logic that addicts offer when going on a binge the night before entering rehab.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Just two blocks away is where Van Dam feeds into the Long Island Expressway. Three blocks in the other direction is the Newtown Creek.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Blissville is largely an M1, or heavy manufacturing area, according to City Planning. The shot above was captured directly across the street from the Fairfield Inn.

Inviting, ain’t it?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s the enigmatic “Blissville Flatiron” pictured above, an apartment house on Van Dam Street.

One has looked into the history of the flatiron in the past, but never too deeply. I like not knowing something about the Creeklands, and would prefer to preserve the mystery. The only clue to its past is on a concrete panel which reads “S.M. 1916.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My path home to Point A carried me, as always, to Newtown Creek. The shot above looks northwards along the Dutch Kills tributary towards the Hunetrs Point Avenue Bridge.


Upcoming Tours and Events

April 29 – Bushwick-Ridgewood borderline Walking Tour – with Newtown Historical Society.

Join Kevin Walsh and Mitch Waxman as they take us along the border of Brooklyn and Queens, Bushwick and Ridgewood, with stops at English Kills, an historic colonial Dutch home, and all kinds of fun and quirky locations. End with an optional dinner on Myrtle Avenue before heading back to the Myrtle-Wyckoff subway station. Tix are only $5 so reserve your space today!
Tickets and more details here.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

April 24, 2018 at 1:00 pm

rather gruesomely

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Like every other bit of wind blown trash in NYC, this is where I belong.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Despite being a shambling and sclerotic mess, nevertheless does a humble narrator scuttle on about and around the Newtown Creek in the middle of the night. Recent endeavor found one in Blissville to attend a meeting of the newly created Blissville Civic Association, which the community has formed in response to the Mayor dropping multiple homeless shelters into their midst, and afterwards one set out to a nearby tributary of that legendary cataract of urban malfeasance known as the Newtown Creek – specifically Long Island City’s Dutch Kills.

That’s the Borden Avenue Bridge in the shot above, but don’t ask me where the shot was captured from as I’d have to confess to a misdemeanor. Suffice to say that every nook and cranny is known to me. It’s all I’ve got, ultimately.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Either the world happens to you, or you happen to the world.

That’s the Long Island Expressway above, riding on a truss bridge that carries it some one hundred and six feet over the waters of Dutch Kills. The height was determined by the demands of the War Department of the Federal Government, who had laid down the law to State of New York that the LIE would need to allow egress for maritime vessels on Dutch Kills, and specifically vessels of the Naval surface warfare type.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One has read some of the planning documents for this section of the LIE, which is officially the Queens Midtown Expressway, and sections of said plans discussed the need to defend Newtown Creek and the larger harbor of New York against a potential maritime invasion by German naval forces in the run up to WW2. One of the guiding principles was the defense of the industrial zones, and the East River corridor specifically. The Navy’s theory was that the Kriegsmarine would enter New York Harbor via the Narrows between Brooklyn and Staten Island (there was no bridge there in the 1930’s) and that would be the most strategic and effective spot to interdict the German Navy. Accordingly, in the case of such an invasion they would have stationed Destroyer class vessels in Newtown Creek and the Gowanus (as well as other places) to act as protective bulwarks for the industrial operations.

The Navy plan also intended for the Destroyers to fire artillery southwards over Brooklyn to shell the Narrows on vast parabolas. The people in Bay Ridge would have loved that one, I tell you, had it been commonly known. Fuhgeddaboutit. 

Upcoming Tours and Events

April 29 – Bushwick-Ridgewood borderline Walking Tour – with Newtown Historical Society.

Join Kevin Walsh and Mitch Waxman as they take us along the border of Brooklyn and Queens, Bushwick and Ridgewood, with stops at English Kills, an historic colonial Dutch home, and all kinds of fun and quirky locations. End with an optional dinner on Myrtle Avenue before heading back to the Myrtle-Wyckoff subway station. Tix are only $5 so reserve your space today!
Tickets and more details here.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

haggard aspect

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I’m an idiot, but it’s kind of fun inside my head.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

So, last week I was going to some “thing” in Greenpoint, and found myself walking along Meserole Avenue. At 128 Meserole, you’ll notice the 1880’s era church building which was once occupied by the Faith Gospel Church but which, since the 1950’s, has been the HQ of the Pentecostal congregation of the “Church of God.” (as a note, thanks to my pal and Greenpoint historian Geoff Cobb, who filled me in on the identity of the original tenants of 128 Meserole) What caught my eye, in truth, was the lettering on the side of the church van, which I initially read not as “Church of God of Greenpoint” but instead as “Church of, God of Greenpoint.”

This filled me with a sarcastic glee, as I began to contemplate what worship of the God of Greenpoint – or GOG – might entail. I’m sure yoga would be a part of the ceremonial liturgy, and that the priestesses would be devastatingly beautiful hipster women with full sleeve tattoos.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Mr. Cobb informed me that the original 19th century congregation housed here were evangelicals who pursued missionary activities. As mentioned above, the current occupants are Pentecostals. The building sits just outside the Greenpoint Historic District, and the reason that I had to ask Mr. Cobb for his help was that any attempt at discovering the story of the structure quickly resulted in hundreds and hundreds of Real Estate Industrial Complex web pages which reduced 128 Meserole down to mere equity valuations. From the REIC’s POV, the actual worth of any historic cultural institution’s domicile is reduced to mere money, and everything is just a commodity to be bought or sold.

The God of Greenpoint might just be Mammon. Maybe Asmodeus.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There very well might be some pagan deity who could claim the title of “God of Greenpoint,” an elder devil reviled by the Keskachauge who wanders the subterrene caverns beneath the neighborhood seeking a pathway to the surface. The ancestral Lenape culture, which the Keskachauge were a part of, acknowledged spirits both dark and light. The God of Greenpoint… could it be slithering around in deep set tidal and hydrological voids, where centuried petroleum products sit atop the water table, beneath the thick crystalline crust and elluvial underpinnings which support our concretized modernity? If GOG dwells below North Brooklyn, then where is MAGOG?

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


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

April 17, 2018 at 11:00 am

metal substance

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Crispy around the edges, me.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The last few days have been busy ones, and accordingly, here’s a few shots without too much accompanying folderol or explanations. This last weekend saw me do two tours, a late afternoon walk in LIC on Saturday and the all day 100% Toxic Newtown Creekathon on Sunday. Having walked something close to 18 miles during the last 48 hours, whilst shouting out narration, I’m plain old pooped today.

Pictured above, the Sunnyside Yards.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Luckily, my colleague from Newtown Creek Alliance – Will Elkins – and I managed to bring the Creekathon to a close yesterday well before it started raining, so there’s that. Unluckily, I haven’t been too busy with the camera this last week due to the cold and wind and rain, so that side of my psyche is quite unfulfilled.

Pictured above, a Thornton Tug on Newtown Creek.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Looking forward to the middle of this week, a humble narrator is. The weather should be on my side, and I’m making a few plans to get out at night with the tripod and night kit.

Pictured above, the instersection of Van Dam Street and 49th avenue in LIC.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

April 16, 2018 at 12:00 pm

village elders

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It’s hard to wake up sometimes.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One had a bizarre dream last night, wherein a sentence of death by poisoning was handed out to me by a tribunal of masked judges who were wearing powdered wigs. The specific toxin was Belladonna, which was administered via a wound opened up in my right thumb. I have no idea if this is how Belladonna would be administered, but dream logic is what it is. In the dream, after having the poison introduced by a Rastafarian wearing a Corrections Dept. uniform, I was told that I had three hours to live and I was released “back into the wild” as it were to die on the streets of the City. I spent my time visiting old friends and haunts, eventually making it to a bridge over Newtown Creek, where everything began to grow dim and a humble narrator exited the narrative.

In this somnambulist fantasy, a wild hallucination which occurred after finding myself suddenly unconscious last night, my travels in the city were accompanied by a growing numbness in the right arm, whose thumb was the point of inoculation. Waking this morning, which temporally concurred with that moment in the dream when death was arriving, I discovered that I had my arm wrapped around my head in a quite uncomfortable position which impeded the normal circulation of the vital fluids and that the limb was quite numb.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Sleep is an odd thing, I’ve always thought. Medical professionals assure me that it’s entirely normal, but ever since I’ve been a child, one has been suspicious of the entire phenomena. Sudden fatigue, a clouding over of the mental faculty, a loss of consiousness followed by intervals of nearly a third of a day spent wildly hallucinating? It just ain’t right. There has to be a cure.

Often, I’ve wondered which world is true – the waking one or the hallucinatory one. Given the nature of my dreams, with their wild implications and Freudian suggestions, I’d rather take the horrible reality of the two thirds of the day when I’m “woke” to the phantasmagoric and demon filled interval experienced during the other portion. One has never dreamt of puppies and green fields, nor playing the role of some sexual or heroic eidolon, rather it’s about stumbling into some colossal bit of industrial machinery and being passively filleted by wires and gears, or experiencing an even greater level of personal or professional humiliation than I normally have to endure.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One is not sure about the “why and what” which the tribunal of masked judges condemned me for, due to the way that my dreams fade away soon after waking. One has friends who can relate their dreams as if they were describing a movie they had recently seen, whereas for me it’s a series of pressurized blasts of imagery and experience exploding forward in the manner of ocean waves. It’s not unknown for me to rise up from sleep screaming in terror at the horrors conjured, nor for Our Lady of the Pentacle to report that I had been mumbling in my sleep. One usually doesn’t talk about such things, but for some reason the one last night was both disturbing and persistent into the wakeful daylight. It’s probably because the physical effects of “sleeping funny” had left me with a numb arm, which needed a good “shaking out” to accommodate the return of normal blood flow and normal nervous function, but still. Last night I died alone in the cold on the Pulaski Bridge, after being sentenced by an anonymous tribunal for an unknown heresy.

What can I tell you, I’m all ‘effed up.


Upcoming Tours and Events

April 14 – 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.

April 15- Newtown Creekathon – with Newtown Creek Alliance.

That grueling 13 and change mile death march through the bowels of New York City known as the “Newtown Creekathon” will be held on that day, and I’ll be leading the charge as we hit every little corner and section of the waterway. This will be quite an undertaking, last year half the crowd tagged out before we hit the half way point. Have you got what it takes the walk the enitre Newtown Creek?
Click here to reserve a spot on the Creekathon.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

April 12, 2018 at 11:00 am

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