The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Posts Tagged ‘Pickman

gray quill

leave a comment »

Friday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

After my encounter with the elemental forces of Industrial Maspeth at the Plank Road, wherein a cataract of broken water main fluids sought to sweep me into the Newtown Creek, a humble narrator was feeling pretty haughty. It was a full moon, after all, and here I was in the happy place. Saying that, one was still full of vinegar and a particularly long photowalk continued apace.

By the time I got home to Astoria on this particular night, I had covered about ten miles worth of ground. Only half of it was arduous, as I was walking against the rotation of the planet. Walking is easier if you just let the world turn under your feet. I’ve always wondered if you can move fast enough (in an atmosphere) to just be standing still, while allowing the world to spin around below your shoes. I’ve always wanted to form a fixed point in space/time.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Unfortunately, a humble narrator moves at a fairly predictable speed which aligns neatly with average human walking velocity. I’ve got a whole series of different gaits that are cycled through on my walks. Long strides, quick steps, sauntering… one tries to work different groups of muscles when out for a walk.

Always, though, I’m moving in shadow. I wish and fantasize about some sort of Harry Potter magick cloak which would render me invisible to passerby. Imagine it – you’re doing something and then you suddenly start hearing a DSLR shutter flipping about in a patch of empty space. Of course, there’s no such thing as empty – even the voids of outer space are laced with thinly dispersed energetic particles and molecular remnants. If you think about, stars and planets are ultimately congealed piles of space junk. Romantic, ain’t it?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My path back to Astoria carried me down 43rd street, through the terrifying tunnel sidewalk leading from Blissville to Sunnyside. This is my “put the mask back on” spot, by the way. Generally speaking, once I arrive at an area where there’s nobody else, I pull the thing off. Once an area where you can’t either “distance” or be alone has been reached it’s all mask all the time for me. Read that as 43rd street between the LIE and Skillman/39th Avenue, for instance. I’ve been picking my paths to favor being unmasked for a couple of months now, but again, depends on circumstance.

One thing that’s really been cooking my carrots about the mask thing has been that since my face is covered, excess body heat normally radiated by breathing and the mass of small blood vessels found in the face has forced me to stop wearing the baseball style caps which are normally part of my daily ensembles. It’s the small things which always strike me in times of tumult. Carrying a little bottle of hand sanitizer, which breaks all my rules about having liquids secreted about my person? Not wearing a cap?

The big problem, and I’m not being facetious here, is that I wear glasses full time at my advanced age and the breath fogging introduced to this practice by wearing a mask has found me crossing Queens Boulevard – at night – without a crystal clear view of oncoming traffic. Crossing the boulevard of death without being able to see the reaper coming for you? Brr. See y’all next week at this – your Newtown Pentacle.

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, October 12th. 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

October 16, 2020 at 11:00 am

shapeless robe

leave a comment »

Thursday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Maspeth Avenue Plank Road allows for and offers a few fairly unique points of view, along that river of urban neglect called the Newtown Creek. It’s one of my favorite spots in Western Queens, and if you’re there at the right time of day there’s a spectacular display of light painting both the water and the industrial zone surrounding it in oranges and golds. Lovely.

As mentioned in yesterday’s post, while shooting at this location, a somewhat distant “pop” and then a “whoosh” was audible and echoed evidently.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It turns out that the water main feeding a fire hydrant – one which has been mentioned a couple of times this week – had popped open while I was shooting. Back in May of this year, flowing water was encountered in this area, but that flooding was occurring because of a different reason. I jokingly called it “Furman’s Creek.”

Of course, while shooting that post, I wasn’t on the Newtown Creek side of the hill as the water was pushing through. In today’s shots, it was flooding right towards me, and I was basically caught between two waterways, feeling like a fool.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The channel carved out by the Furman’s Creek flow quickly filled and began to overflow. Normal persons would react to this sort of thing by getting out of the way of a torrent of water rushing down a hill at them, but I’m a seasoned urban photographer, so… schmuck with a camera mode.

I wasn’t being vainglorious, mind you, rather I was keeping a close eye on the flow and increasing depth of the cataract. A plan was hatched, and a benchmark level calculated, for escape. Saying that, I had a few minutes before the water was going to rise high enough for me to have to walk into it, so I got busy.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The flow ultimately was heading into Newtown Creek, flattening and spreading out over the concrete plinth found at the end of the Plank Road site. What you’re looking at above is a rapidly flowing bunch of water roughly a yard across and 2-3 inches deep.

By the time I made my escape, the water had subsumed the entire plinth and was about 5-6 inches deep and flowing rapidly. Hundreds and hundreds of gallons were ripping past me. Luckily, I was stationed on two concrete structures which offered me a bit of altitude over the flow.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Unfortunately, litter and garbage as well as motor oil and all sorts of industrial zone street “yuck” was being carried into the Creek by the flow.

After shooting this image and the one above it, wherein my back had been turned to the flowing water, I suddenly realized that my escape route had flooded. Not wishing to have to walk through the now ankle deep torrent, a rapid series of hops/leaps and jumps carried me over and out onto drier land, allowing egress back to the top of the hill and street level. I’m just like a goat, yeah.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

By the time I reached street level, the flowing water had pretty much flooded out the pathway used to get to the coastline of Plank Road. Oddly bucolic, thought I.

Exciting, no? I thought it was.

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, October 12th. 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

October 15, 2020 at 11:00 am

triangular gulf

with one comment

Wednesday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As mentioned in the last couple of installments, a humble narrator recently perambulated aimlessly about in Industrial Maspeth while waiting for the burning thermonuclear eye of God itself to descend behind the skyline of Manhattan. Many were the poison acres which were crossed, and I managed to get in a few decent shots at the venerable Grand Street Bridge, spanning the fabulous Newtown Creek approximately 3.1 miles from the waterway’s intersection with the East River.

Ribald happiness abounds, for one such as myself, in such actions.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The appointed time was approaching and therefore one made his way to the Maspeth Avenue Plank Road where my intentions revolved around setting up the tripod and configuring the camera into landscape modality. It’s a simple process, there’s a checklist, and it’s just a matter of getting to the location a few minutes ahead of when the sky and light will be “just right.”

I mentioned this fire hydrant and the puddles surrounding it yesterday, and since I’m calling your attention to it again… suffice to say that this bit of urban street furniture will figure heavily into the narrative of tomorrow’s post at this – your Newtown Pentacle.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

In the meanwhile, one achieved the location and arrived at the timing of that which had carried me to Industrial Maspeth – a 6:39 sunset cue. I actually missed an important step on that camera checklist, which forced me to trash a few shots and start over. The whole point of a checklist, Mitch… ennui.

It was while I was actuating the shutter for the shot above that I heard a distant “POP” and then a “whoosh” but wasn’t sure where the sound came from. I soon found out. More 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, October 12th. 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

October 14, 2020 at 11:00 am

seething around

with one comment

Maspeth Monday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One recently found himself scuttling about in industrial Maspeth, and waiting for the burning thermonuclear eye of god itself to dip behind Manhattan. Having a bit of time to kill, a fairly generalized “wander” was instituted, and I soon found myself hanging around a certain railroad intersection hoping to catch a shot or two of a passing freight train. Whereas I’m often quite lucky when it comes to maritime transport, I seem to be possessed of zero ability to predict when a train might be coming. C’est la vie, ay?

At any rate, Rust Street is still there, although it might be called 56 drive at the location where this photo was captured.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The wandering on this particular outing was intentionally wide ranging. One tends to get hooked into walking certain routes due to their efficiencies. That causes me to see and photograph the same things, over and over. Now… part of the “Mitch Method” does involve finding a composition and then visiting it repeatedly during different climatological conditions, times of the day, and seasons of the year seeking an iconic variation of the shot. That’s where the photographic “intentionality” I talk about comes into the equation, but I’ll also rattle on and on about “serendipity” as well. You want the latter, go wandering without a plan whereas for the former – plan. Let Queens show you what she wants you to see if serendipity is on the menu.

I did have a plan on this outing, incidentally, but I also had a couple of hours to kill before sunset. This is one of the best times of the year in NYC for morning and afternoon light, given the relative angle of God’s burning thermonuclear eye to the Metropolis. Take advantage, I say.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Industrial Maspeth hugs the northern shore of Newtown Creek, and is punctured through in several places by freight train tracks. It’s a central node on the distribution network for foodstuffs, construction equipment and supplies, and there’s a lot of light industrial activity as well. There’s a substantial footprint hereabouts enjoyed by the waste handling industry – both private carters and municipal DSNY operations are extant. Overall, the neighborhoods surrounding both sides of Newtown Creek host businesses that represent about 17,000 blue collar jobs. I’d be guessing if I tried to break that down into Brooklyn versus Queens, as if that actually mattered.

More tomorrow at this – your Newtown Pentacle.

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, October 12th. 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

October 12, 2020 at 11:00 am

was whining

with 3 comments

Thursday’s sextuplet.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Have you ever encountered a standing wall of sound so intense that your visual field begins to narrow? One which causes your teeth to hurt? How about one which is actually painful to be in the way of? Well, if you desire this sort of novel experiential stimulus, I’d suggest paying a visit to the Grand Street Bridge on a warmish evening when the NYC Department of Environmental Protection has its aeration systems for the Newtown Creek operating.

The pump house for this ill conceived system is nearly a half mile away, across the water in Maspeth, and is the latest shape which environmental pollution has taken here at the fabulous Newtown Creek.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Looking westwards from the Grand Street Bridge, you’ll notice schools of predatory fish splashing about in the lit up area of the shot above. The aeration system is theoretically operated for the benefit of benthic organisms like these. In actuality, it’s to comply with a court order that the DEP is forced to oblige due to their releases of billions of gallons of untreated sewage into the waterway, which carry a bacterial charge so intense that the microorganisms contained therein consume all the oxygen from the water column which in turn suffocates the fish.

Not dumping raw sewage into the water? That’s crazy. Build a multi million dollar aeration system that generates jet engine levels of noise to overcome your inability to fulfill the mission laid out for you in the NYC charter? Check!

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One has been working around several different photographic approaches to capturing the aeration system, with its churning tumult and maelstrom of surface whipped mucosa meringue for a while. I finally hit upon the right exposure triangle and settings, one which illustrates what’s happening here. These shots are from the Grand Street Bridge, looking more or less along the Brooklyn/Queens border towards Ridgewood, Bushwick, and Maspeth.

Notice that frothy meringue? Sewerage, whipped.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The particular section of Newtown Creek you’re looking at here is called “The East Branch” and one arm of it used to flow east all the way to Onderdonk Avenue. Today, it’s truncated by a gigantic seven vaulted sewer that drains neighborhoods as far away as Canarsie into the canalized waterway.

Look at all the energy being pumped into the water here. That’s the Department of Environmental Protection at work, burning fossil fuels to power electrical generators to overcome the effect of the 2.1 billion gallons of raw sewage they release into these waters annually, while producing a standing wall of noise louder than that of an approaching subway train. Dichotomy much?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Makes for interesting pictures though, huh?

Here’s one of my urban parables – I used to have neighbors that were Police Cadets. Like all young cops, they liked swinging their dicks around when I or any of the other neighbors were doing something they didn’t like. When they would have a party however, it was mainly other cops who showed up. When the party went on too long, or got too loud, they’d tell you to go ‘eff yourself if you complained that it was four in the morning. If you called the cops to complain, then you’d just have more cops showing up to join their party.

In the case of the DEP, guess who hands out tickets for noise complaints? Guess who polices the dumping of hazardous material into area waterways? Watchmen? who watches them?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It’s really quite a shit show.

See what I did there? Shit show?

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, September 28th. 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.

%d bloggers like this: