The Newtown Pentacle

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Posts Tagged ‘newtown creek

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Thursday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One can never resist grabbing shots of the high steel of the Long Island Expressway when I’m moving through the “empty corridor.”

“Blighting Long Island City since 1939” – they should put that on a sign.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There’s a reason I call this area the “empty corridor.”

Who cares anymore? I keep on saying that to myself these days. I’m in the process of “checking out” right now. Severing ties seems to be the order of the day, as I prepare to separate from NYC. I see fire shooting out of a manhole cover, I do nothing and…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Well, unfortunately, I’m still me and I’m still here.

On the day that this post was written in mid August, for instance, a downed signal light on Northern Blvd. and a looming sewer backup issue were reported to relevant local authorities. I have a sense, however, that beginning in 2023 – Western Queens is going to be consumed by a series of easily fixable problems without me being able to reach out into agency land to get them to notice things spotted “in the field.” If Astoria ends up falling into the river, you’ll say “man, wish Mitch was still here.”

Saying that, I really don’t care anymore. Somebody else’s problem.

Hey, look at that – an Amtrak train set heading into Manhattan from LIC’s Sunnyside Yards! Neato.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

During the entire walk on August 10th, which started out quite comfortable, the atmospheric humidity was rising at a precipitous rate. Having arrived at the Hunters Point Avenue station, one nevertheless masked up and headed down into the sweating concrete bunker below.

My habit in recent months has been to use the 7 Line to go from subterranean to elevated and land on high at Queensboro Plaza. A transfer over to the N or W Astoria Line keeps me elevated and up high all the way to Astoria’s Broadway, and then I scuttle about ten blocks back to HQ. Yeah, I could transfer at Court Square for the M…

Part of my “Doctor Nerdlington” persona is extremely satisfied by executing a series of transfers when using the subways.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The 7 service is pretty good these days, in my experience. Every ten minutes or so, you’ve got one arriving.

I was planning on hanging around Queensboro Plaza for a spell, given the relative infrequency of the Astoria line trains, but the MTA’s ways are wild, and many,

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Arriving at the platform, an Astoria bound train was sitting there, so that funny train rapid dash that we New Yorkers execute occurred, the one followed by the realization that the train would going nowhere for a few minutes and you standing there feeling foolish for having rushed.

Off to Broadway went I, heading eastwards back to HQ and the sweet embrace of Our Lady of the Pentacle.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

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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

September 8, 2022 at 11:00 am

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Tuesday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

After confirming that Dutch Kills was indeed still bubbling, one accomplished his usual shot list at the Hunters Point Avenue Bridge. All these years, one of my self appointed obligations has been to take the same photo from the same spot over and over and over again. Pedantic, yes, but I can show you the evolution of this area over the last 15 years. The skyline has changed, but somehow Dutch Kills never benefits.

What can I tell you? This entire section of my life is ending soon, and I’m deeply – deeply – caught up in sentiment and reflection at this moment. Every time I do something, it’s theoretically the last time.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Tree of Heaven is thriving right now, is in full bloom, and remains an eidolon to me.

After accomplishing the usual shot list, I decided to walk with the camera mounted on the tripod and continue doing deep focus and longish exposure shots.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As you can see, the burning thermonuclear eye of God itself was descending behind Manhattan and into whatever fiery pit it spends its nights in, over in New Jersey.

There was quite a light show on this particular evening.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One was making his way over to Borden Avenue for this particular sunset. The overhanging clouds of humidity rising from the City were causing all sorts of lovely color to manifest up in the vault.

I kept on keeping on to the south.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Up on Borden Avenue, I couldn’t resist this shot, with the Empire State Building framed by a series of illegally parked moving trucks.

Well, they were “technically” legally parked as it was prior to 9 p.m., but you just know for a fact that they would still be there the next morning. Nothing matters, nobody cares.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s the one I was hoping to get, above. I also shot a few hundred individual exposures which I’m planning on turning into a time lapse, but that’s on the back burner right now. I’m still working out the production/capture/delivery system for time lapse videos.

Back 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.

Written by Mitch Waxman

September 6, 2022 at 11:00 am

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Wednesday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Whenever I try to say what kind of a bird a bird is, I get it wrong, so I just make up names for them. Thereby, that’s an Old Republic Throat Chewer in the shot above.

As described yesterday, I spent a bit of time at Newtown Creek’s Dutch Kills tributary on Saturday the 30th of July right about sunset.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The vertical tide of Dutch Kills was rising while I was shooting these. The design of the canal, coupled with its distance from the East River and lack of water flowing in from its banks, negates horizontal flow of the water. The water here goes up and down, rather than exhibiting a laminar pattern like a natural waterway.

The material spilling into the water from the collapsing bulkhead seems to forming spirals, which is fascinating.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There’s some of the timber structure I described to you yesterday, which forms the underpin framework of what we perceive as being the land of Queens.

The light began to decline as the burning thermonuclear eye of god itself descended behind New Jersey. I packed up the kit and moved on.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One stopped at his various “stations of the cross” at Dutch Kills.

My favorite tree is doing pretty well this year, have to say.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There were a bunch of big white birds, which I’d call “Non Striped Juvenile Uncle chasers” but which were likely Snowy Egrets, in position over the water waiting for some slimy dinner to appear in the water under them.

The water was teeming with tiny fishies called “Mumichaugs” which are colloquially referred to as “Killie Fish.” There’s also predator fishies in there, Bunkers and the like.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The tripod section of my evening’s excursion was at an end after capturing this shot along the Borden Avenue Bridge. A quick walk would take me to the Jackson Avenue stop on the 7 line in Hunters Point, which would in turn carry me to Queens Plaza and an assignation with an Astoria bound N train.

Something somewhat different 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.

Written by Mitch Waxman

August 24, 2022 at 11:00 am

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Tuesday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

So… I was in a quasi “ok” place for these, after a handshake with the property manager who handles this particular location on Dutch Kills. Nothing in writing, mind you, but a handshake. Still, I felt like I was doing something naughty. It was a Saturday night, after all. Wasn’t exactly the “naughty” of illegal street racing for pink slips on Fountain Avenue during the 1980’s, but there you are.

This one looks towards the Hunters Point Avenue Bridge, and a different view of that Tree of Paradise growing up from under a factory eave which has been the focus of so many shots over the years.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

When Newtown Creek’s Dutch Kills tributary was canalized at the start of the 20th century, a “T” shape was built into its terminus which is meant to act as a “turning basin” for maritime traffic. This created a stagnant dead end, which has had horrific effects on the environment. Somebody abandoned two oil barges here sometime in the dim past. They’ve been here since I showed up around fifteen years ago, and my buddy Bernie Ente told me that the two barges had been in this spot for twenty years before that. So, approximately 35 years… leave your car double parked for 5 minutes and you get a ticket, but abandon oil barges in an industrial canal? Nada.

I showed up at Dutch Kills on the 30th with a light kit bag, and then got busy with the camera with an ND filter and the tripod.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One arrived at this spot about twenty minutes prior to sunset. By “light kit,” I mean that I was carrying the two lenses – a 35mm and an 85mm – which I usually use for night photography. Full kit involves a second bag with a couple of longer reach zoom lenses in it. Sometimes I like to travel light, especially when it’s warm out.

I made it a point of really taking my time with these.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The point of the ND filter, which is basically a sunglass for the camera, is to “slow” the shot down and allow for longer exposures in daylight condition. I use this sort of filter a lot for these kind of shots. It’s why the water attains that mirror surface, as all of the distracting ripples and movement get smoothed out over the 15-30 seconds of an individual exposure.

The technical issues introduced by the filter include the color cast of the filter glass itself. You can spend a thousand bucks on one of these filters and you still get a color cast, so instead I spent about fifty bucks on one and then I figured out a set of settings for the development process in photoshop which neutralize it.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s the collapsing bulkhead associated with Long Island City’s 29th street which all of the recent hullabaloo is about. When the canal was created a hundred years ago, state of the art for “land reclamation” involved building a latticework of timber boxes whose structure was formed by dock piles driven into the saturated soil and mud of wetlands. Once you had the wooden framing done, you filled the “box” with rock and soil.

At the start of the 20th century, massive amounts of money and labor filtered through Western Queens in pursuit of this sort of land reclamation. More than one Queens Borough President was convicted on corruption charges because of these efforts, and much of the land we walk on today – which is between six and ten feet higher than the tidal zone – was created using the reclamation technique described above. One of Dutch Kills’ tendrils used to snake all the way to 31st street at Northern Blvd. for instance.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The term I’ve encountered time and again in late 19th and early 20th century reports and literature about this section of Long Island City is “waste meadows.” This refers to grassy tidal lowlands which would flood with the East River tidal cycle. Depending on where you’re talking about, these waste meadows were either swamps or marshes or even Juniper tree lined waterways. Every account I’ve read speaks about lots and lots of deer, waterfowl, shellfish, and the sort of critters who make their living in this sort of environment. In fact, when the Dutch arrived in the 1640’s, they talked about problems arising from an abundance of wolves.

That’s pretty interesting, actually. According to the “wolf people,” an adult wolf of breeding age needs a minimum of nearly 4 pounds of meat a day to survive. That’s a minimum, and whereas Wolves don’t necessarily eat everyday, a breeding age wolf prefers about 10 pounds of meat a day. If you’ve got a “wolf problem,” which indicates a large population of these top predators, you’ve got to do the math on this, regarding the prey animals that fed them. Ten wolves – 100 pounds of meat, 100 wolves – 1,000 pounds, etc. Wolf problem? That’s a whole lot of meat.

This used to be a highly productive ecosystem, these waste meadows.


“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 23, 2022 at 11:00 am

dropped despairingly

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Thursday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A humble narrator seems to have spent most of the Obama administration walking back and forth over the Pulaski Bridge. For the last five years or so, it’s been Greenpoint Avenue Bridge. Causation? Correlation? I don’t know, I just walk where I’m going and “then” is different than “now.”

At any rate, I was walking over the Pulaski Bridge, between Brooklyn’s Greenpoint section and Queens’ Long Island City, at dusk.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

All the familiar places… every time I go somewhere or do something these days, it’s potentially the last time. I’ll be gone at the end of this year, living in a different place. When and if I come back to NYC for visits or work, I’ll be driving a car.

Everybody asks, so I’ll just state it plain and simple…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

First, I can’t afford to live here anymore. Taxes are a big part of it, as are the ambitions of the political class to offer ever more tax incentives to the real estate people to dig that tax hole a bit deeper. I don’t mind the idea of incentivizing an industry which needs a little push, but do the real estate people really need your money more than you do? What about schools, or hospitals? Do they need the experience of the Governor’s embrace more than the Related Company’s do?

Second… Our Lady of the Pentacle and I want something different for Act 3.

I was an infant here, a public school student here, I went to college in Manhattan. I have lived in Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Queens for nearly six decades. I have gotten to do things in NYC, and see things here, which most New Yorkers don’t even suspect exist.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

When I start talking about those things, people always think I’m bragging. It’s not bragging if you did these things, I always say, and then ask them if they’ve ever been a NYC Parade Marshal who had to separate two warring Chinese marching bands from fighting with each other, without a working knowledge of any dialect of Chinese. I’ve narrated on the CircleLine, gotten to know people in high elected office, and once found a missing lamp post of the Queensboro Bridge.

It goes on. Suffice it to say, if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere – right?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

What I mean by Act 3, of course, is the dramatic end of my story. There’ll be comeuppance, and victories, but we all know how our individual dramaturges are ultimately going to end. Saying that, I’d love not to have my body found floating in New York Harbor after I collapsed on some bulkhead on Newtown Creek. I want it to be quiet, and dark at night, when I go to sleep.

Also, I can have a crap government anywhere I go in this country, so I’m not sure why I’m “paying in” to this particular one. Look at the clown shoes manner in which they’ve handled the three existential crises of the last 20 years – 911, Sandy, Covid.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

You’re not going to see one of those “I’m leaving New York” essays, the ones that shit all over the City, from me. This is the place that made me, and every single molecule of me is NYC. I’m loud and brassy, grossly over the top in all senses of the word, get a surprising amount of things done every day, and am impressive from a distance.

Just like NYC, up close inspection reveals cracked foundations, a fragile ego, and an inescapable sense of impending doom which is acknowledged but not meaningfully addressed. If I stay here, I’ll always be the same and will die in the same manner that I lived. The longer I’m here, the shorter my life will be.

In short, something different is needed. NYC won’t miss me.


“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 18, 2022 at 11:00 am

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