The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Posts Tagged ‘Pickman

anguished frenzy

with one comment

Cut and cover.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Let’s say that a humble narrator announces a tour of the fabulous Newtown Creek, or a boat excursion to some remote corner of the harbor, and I end up taking a bath on the endeavor and lose money. Did I take a risk that didn’t pay off? When I’m talking about my empty right hand pocket, do I pretend that the roll of hundred dollar bills and the bag of assorted gem stones maintained in my left pocket doesn’t exist? What if my left hand pocket assets included billions and billions of dollars of Manhattan real estate? Can I just confess that I didn’t market the tour properly, or manage its costs competently, or proceeded with the operation under some rose colored ideation that it would sell out and make me richer than Croesus? Did I employ the services of a bunch of incompetents who are related to or friends with various political party officials, using my project as a patronage mill?

Or do I just blame the audience, accuse them of trying to get one over on me, and then go further in debt to hire a small army of armed guards with marching orders to generate revenue via fines and tickets because I can’t be losing money unless someone is stealing from me? Of course not, I’m not the MTA.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The practice of blaming the ridership, accusing them of theft of service, pretending that your pocket is empty when in reality you are one of the biggest landlords in New York State… that’s the MTA. Need a few billion bucks? Maybe sell your office building on Jay Street in Brooklyn and move your operations to a less tony location in Nassau or Suffolk County, or maybe Westchester. I understand that Mount Vernon and Yonkers have several abandoned office parks which would be quite affordable to move your army of bureaucrats into. Still underfunded? How about selling off some of your investment properties in upper Manhattan while the real estate market is hot?

That, or you can just wait for the next video of a bunch of cops having a fist fight with teenagers over $2.75 to make the nightly news.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Me? I’d let the Wall Street guys have a go at MTA. Let the bean counters in there to look for redundancy and cost savings through consolidations. Funny thing is, this would barely be felt by the Union people who actually keep the system running. MTA loves publicizing the fact that some shlimiel on the LIRR collected an outlandish amount of overtime pay, but never discusses the number of empty suits populating the office cubicles at their Jay Street HQ. I’d like to smash the system over there, where the subways are still operated as if the IND and IRT were distinct. There’s multiple bus companies, LIRR and Metro North have virtually zero interoperability… it goes on and on. The MTA real estate and property manager folks operate in shadow, with virtually zero public awareness of their shenanigans.

If NYC is an organism, with DEP the liver and kidneys, MTA operates the venous system. Arteriosclerosis is something I’m familiar with. The best treatment, long term, for this sort of disease vector is lifestyle change.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle


Come to the library!

In the Shadows at Newtown Creek – The Roosevelt Island Historic Society has invited me to present a slideshow and talk about my beloved Newtown Creek at the New York Public Library on Roosevelt Island, on November 14th, 6 p.m. Free event!

Click here for more information.!

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

November 7, 2019 at 11:00 am

mundi horriblus

with one comment

It’s a bad year for toes.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I actually wish that I had two priests praying for my big toe today. Yesterday, during that torrential rainstorm, I had to execute some emergency maintenance on a giant planting trough and the thing ended up dropping directly onto the big toe of left foot, smashing it flat. It’s something to look at today, but yesterday the swelling was so bad that the skin actually split, causing blood and other serums to ooze out. That makes two busted toes for me this year, and both are on the same foot.

Before you ask, no I haven’t gone to see a doctor yet. Waiting and seeing at the moment. 50/50 chance I shoot over to Mt. Sinai here in Astoria today to get it looked at, but there’s not really that much you can do for a broken toe. Rest, ice, compress, elevate is standard of care and I don’t really want to pay the hospital a thousand smackers to tell me that if I don’t have to. Still… owwwww.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It’s one heck of bruise, though. Still in the purple and red stage, and the entire left foot is swollen up. That trough which fell on it is about 7-8 feet long and about 15-16 inches deep. Filled with rain saturated soil, I figure that I had about two hundred pounds of force transfer into my toe when it dropped around two feet onto it. How did it drop? Well, you know those workplace safety videos that describe stupid things people do that cause injuries? That was me.

The world hates me, wants to kill me, and the groundling borrowers at Calvary Cemetery are just giggling about it right now.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Luckily, I get to walk on it for around two miles tomorrow night while conducting a walking tour. Otherwise, if any of you reading this we’re planning on seeing me anywhere this week, feel free to make other plans.

Everything is cancelled except for the Newtown Creek walk. Ultimately, you always have to go to work.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle


Come on a tour!

With Atlas ObscuraInfrastructure Creek AT NIGHT! My favorite walking tour to conduct, and in a group limited to just twelve people! October 29th, 7-9 p.m.

Click here for more information and tickets!

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 28, 2019 at 1:09 pm

uncanny noise

with 7 comments

I got to ride on a New York and Atlantic Freight Train!

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Pictured above is the New York and Atlantic’s newest ride – Engine 400. Before I say anything else, I want to acknowledge my pal David Silver and his encyclopedic knowledge of all things rail for pointing me in the right direction on the original make and model of this particular locomotive engine. Originally built in 1966 for the B&O railroad, this model GP40 locomotive’s original configuration offered some 3,000 HP.

NY&A has recently (2018) had the thing rebuilt at Knoxville Locomotive Works to bring it in line with modern day Tier 4 emissions standards. It lost 700 HP in the conversion, it seems, but NY&A operates on fairly level terrain (by rail standards) in NYC and Nassau and Suffolk Counties. NY&A are a private company contracted by the Long Island Railroad to handle their freight duties, as a note.

Also as a note, I’ve actually photographed this unit before, at night in Maspeth at the Haberman tracks in March of 2019. Check that out here.

from wikipedia

The GP40 is a 4-axle diesel-electric road-switcher locomotive built by General Motors, Electro-Motive Division between November 1965 and December 1971. It has an EMD 645E3 16-cylinder engine generating 3,000 hp (2,240 kW).

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The ride itself was offered by NY&A, the Waste Management Company, and the North Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce. A small group of invitees assembled at Waste Management’s Brooklyn waste transfer station on Varick Street, and there were three opportunities to ride on the thing along the Bushwick Branch tracks leading through East Williamsburg into Ridgewood and then Maspeth. I rode it twice, sitting out the middle trip so I could get shots of the thing coming and going.

This was actually pretty exciting for me, since my oft repeated “I don’t trespass” stance has often found a humble narrator staring wistfully at some trackway which I was dying to explore. Today’s post is proof of my pudding that eventually I will get to go where I want, in the company of the people who own the thing, and that I will be able to publish the photos publicly. A number of the officers of NY&A were onboard, notably the NY&A’s president James Bonner.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Hampering the efficiency of the line are the multiple “at grade” street crossings which the route follows. There are no signal arms or even flashing lights and bells to warn motorists or pedestrians or even – god forbid… bicyclists – that the train is about to cross the street along this section of the route. Procedure dictates that the conductor (apparently that’s what you call the guy, even though there’s usually no passengers) gets off the train and walks ahead of the engine, stopping approaching traffic the NYC way – standing in the middle of the street and waving his arms around.

James Bonner told me that this situation is something that the company is trying to fix with some haste, but for now the train moves through this section of the Creeklands at the limited speed which a conductor can walk.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The train carried us roughly a mile into Queens and then reversed back towards the Varick Street location. A humble narrator got quite busy with the camera on this trip. Most of what I shot were pretty boring photos, which were recorded in a simple documentarian manner depicting and detailing the otherwise forbidden rail tracks. During the excursion, I was allowed to walk around on the engine’s catwalks. There were a couple of other photographers along for the trip, as a note. Assemblyman Joe Lentol of Greenpoint was onboard as well, along with other notables from Brooklyn. At one point, the Commissioner of the NYC Dept. of Sanitation showed up and she made a speech.

The notables were riding in a little caboose at the back of the train set. I rode in the caboose on the last ride of the day, but during the first trip I was on the locomotive section. In between the two, there was a “slug,” which I’m told acts as a purely mechanical augment to the locomotive engine providing additional tractive effort assistance and extra braking capability.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The engineer driving the train was a pretty good humored fellow, but I never did catch his name. He was seated at a console offering multiple digital indicators and gauges. I don’t have room for what the console looked like in this post, but if you want to get an idea of it – check out this photo of the setup over at flickr.

Of course I had to be a jackass at least once during the trip, and while standing on the engine’s catwalk at a street grade crossing in Maspeth, I spotted an attractive woman waiting for the train to pass. I shouted out “hey, what do you think of my ride?” to her, and she smiled and then winked her eye at me. It was probably just the sun, or dust, or a seizure, but I’m holding on to it being a wink – thank you very much. I’ve still got it.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The train returned to the Waste Management facility at Varick Street, where bags of NY&A shwag were waiting for us. I got a neat baseball hat with a NY&A logo on it, and a pen with a logo too. Just behind the train, you’ll notice a fence line with some green material affixed to it. Right on the other side of that bridge is the loathsome terminus of the Newtown Creek’s English Kills tributary, some 3.8 miles from the East River. The water is crossed by, and the Bushwick Branch tracks are mounted upon, the Montrose Avenue Rail Bridge, which is roughly 3.7 miles from the East River.

I don’t come back here very often – remember that “I don’t trespass” thing? Also, this is a pretty far walk from Astoria. Saying that, check English Kills and the Montrose Avenue Bridge out at night in this 2019 post, during the day in this 2017 one, and for more on the LIRR’s Bushwick Branch tracks click through and all the way back to a simpler time in this 2012 post.

What a week I had!


“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.

pillars grouped

with 5 comments

Ugghhh.. Manhattan.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

After the boat trip with the United States Army Corps of Engineers ended when we docked at a ferry terminal in Lower Manhattan, I suddenly found myself thrust into the middle of a dystopian nightmare. One had to get home to Astoria to allow Zuzu the dog an opportunity to relive herself of bodily waste, and prepare myself for what turned out to be a highly annoying Community Board 1 Transportation Committee meeting. We were discussing ferries and bike lanes, so of course it got to the boiling point pretty quickly. Passions run deep amongst the bicycle fanatics.

Busy day for a humble narrator, huh?

It was hot when we arrived back in Manhattan, which is appropriate for an urban hellscape, I guess. Check out that little visible bit of the sky which hasn’t been appropriated to glass towers visible in the shot above.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

At the site of National Tragedy, more and more reconstruction is going on. Eighteen years, I have to keep on reminding myself. Eighteen years.

I made my way into the rebuilt subway station at World Trade Center, which is now found under a shopping mall which is populated by shops where there’s naught an ordinary person such as myself could afford, and then boarded an E line train to get out of dodge and back to Western Queens where I belong.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A number of people have commented to me over the years that my demeanor actually alters for the better upon passing over or under the border between Manhattan and Queens. At Queens Plaza, with its rotting concrete and dripping masonry, one transferred to the M line which took me the rest of the way back to blessed Astoria. Zuzu the dog seemed quite amused when I opened the door to HQ, but then promptly fell asleep.

Tomorrow – the other really cool thing I got to do last week will be discussed. It was an actual adventure!


“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 3, 2019 at 11:00 am

done among

with 4 comments

Whom will stop the rain? Still, I wonder.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Last week, one had to attend a Superfund meeting at Greenpoint’s PS 110, and since the presentation being offered by officialdom was something I was seeing for the third time, I got bored. Accordingly, I wandered around the public school floor I was on for a few minutes, wondering what grade school class rooms looked like these days. In the case of PS 110, which is a centuried building found across the street from McGolrick Park in Greenpoint, the answer is found in the shot above.

I don’t know, wasn’t expecting holograms or something, but that’s pretty much what school looked like 45 years ago when I could still fit in one of those chairs.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Additionally, last weekend, I had to attend an event at Newtown Creek Alliance HQ – the Kingsland Wildflower Festival – and I also got bored. I’m easily bored, as a note. I went wandering for a bit and disappeared from the event, and noticed this crew digging and scraping into the pavement. They must have heard the old legend about the pirate Blackbeard burying chests of loot here in Greenpoint back in the colonial era and were trying their luck. Didn’t see any 18th century Spanish Doubloons, Dutch Gilders, or gold of any kind in their truck, so I figure that they came up empty.

Ever hear the one about the guy in Greenpoint who set up an improvised oil derrick in his back yard about twenty years ago, seeking to tap into the underground oil spill?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

After a fairly adventure free and somewhat frustrating summer, the Fall has been absolutely and stunningly fun for me. This week alone, I’ve managed to spend a day on a boat with the US Army Corps of Engineers, and yesterday I got to ride in a locomotive engine on the former Evergreen (modern day Bushwick Branch) tracks found on the eastern side of Newtown Creek.

The camera has had a real workout recording all sorts of cool stuff, as you’ll see next week 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

September 27, 2019 at 11:00 am

dual formula

with one comment

Never know what you’re going to find…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On Saturday last, one attended the Newtown Creek Alliance “Kingsland Wildflowers” event at 520 Kingsland Avenue over in Greenpoint. Sort of a block party set up in a TV studio’s parking lot, it was quite successfully attended by the Greenpoint “nose ring” crowd, and I stuck around until the light got nice and then set off to walk back home to Astoria. As is my habit, Greenpoint Avenue in LIC’s Blissville section was chosen as my path, and since the light was indeed “nice” I got busy on the way.

The security patrol at Calvary Cemetery had already locked the gates of the their Polayandrion Necropolis up, but the regular apertures in their stout iron fencing nevertheless allows one to grab a shot or two from the sidewalk.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Whilst scuttling along, the red envelope pictured above was noticed.

If I was a fish, this is exactly the sort of thing you’d bait your hook with in pursuance of making a dinner out of me. “You never know what you’re going to find at First Calvary Cemetery,” I always say, and the only thing surer to draw me in than a big red envelope saying “help” would be a big red button that says “do not push.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Dare I look within? I darest.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Within the envelope was a hand written index card bearing some liturgical nonsense, a phone number, and a street address resolving back to Roosevelt Avenue between 68th and 69th streets in Woodside.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Given the particular joy one takes in deflating people’s religious beliefs, (I once talked a Jehovah’s Witness into tossing his Watchtower stock into a trash bin and head straight to a bar for his first drink) the sort of language on the card immediately said “Prosperity Gospel” to me.

The term refers to a certain facet of the evangelical and pentecostal paths in which the Church you belong to espouses the religious requirement of tithing 10% (and in the particular case of the organization at the address above, gross pre tax earnings 10%) to them. Tithe honestly and regularly, and god will return the investment, or so the prosperity gospel adherents believe. It’s like a celestial scratch off lottery ticket.

Hey, I don’t care what you do with your money or believe in. As long as you can sleep at night and aren’t hurting anyone other than yourself…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I believe that Jor El sent his only begotten son to live amongst us, with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men. I believe that the savior pretends to be one of us, lies to all of his friends, and continually gas lights his lady love. This is pointed out simply to state that all kinds of people have all sorts of goofy ideations.

The church which the Calvary Card is meant to lead you to is the Iglesia Universal del Reino de Dios, or the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God in english. A Brazilian founded order, which dates back to 1977, the UCKG claims 8 million global adherents. They operate out of a mega church building modeled after and called the “Temple of Solomon” in São Paulo, Brazil. The founder of the church, and its Bishop, is a fellow named Edir Macedo. Macedo is a billionaire, owns what seems to be the Brazilian version of Fox News, and is heavily involved in Brazilian politics. Poor people in Queens give this fellow ten cents on every dollar they earn, before tax.

There you are.


“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 23, 2019 at 1:00 pm

shuddering violently

leave a comment »

Palpable, redolent, and exhausting – that’s me.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It has been one heck of a couple of weeks for a humble narrator, and boy oh boy am I beat up. There’s the proverbial “burning the candle at both ends” and then there’s just throwing the candle into a campfire. The latter is what I’ve been up to, and I’ve finally arrived at a short interval whereupon I can relax for a couple of days and “chill.” Busy is better than having nothing to do, but… I like to break words down to reveal their true meaning, and “recreation” is a literal and tangible requirement at the moment. Time to re-create.

I’ve got a book or two which I want to put together, and I’m hoping to have one or the other ready and available for Christmas. Meeting season is also upon me, and it’s time to start annoying the Government people again. Community Board, Superfund, and a new hopeless cause right here in Astoria which I’ve been laying the groundwork for are about to kick into gear. Anything y’all want me to rattle on about with officialdom? Leave me instructions and so on in the comments, and I’ll see if I can get your pet peeve considered and in front of the right people.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There’s a mean season in politics coming, what with all the three term incumbents term limited in both Brooklyn and Queens. On both sides of the Newtown Creek, the “powers that be” are all about to change seats after a long period of predictability. New factions and interest groups will be manifesting themselves and pushing their particular apple carts. As is always the case with “sharp elbows,” things are already starting to get ugly, and we’re nowhere near an election at the moment.

It’s going to be an interesting if mean interval, I think. Epic bullshitting is what I expect to hear and see, in our ongoing ideological war between the “Know nothings” and the “Whigs.” As I’m wont to remind and chide – Civilizations end, but life goes on. Also, the war between the Cowboys and the Arabs has been going on for 18 years now, and there’s no end in sight, but nobody talks about that.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s what sunrise on the new Kosciuszcko Bridge looks like, as a note. Captured this last Sunday morning, which feels like it was a month ago to me. Back Monday with something else that I can’t imagine quite yet.

Don’t know what I’m doing with my time off this weekend, but I’ll have the camera with me. Can’t wait to find out where I’m going to go and what I’m going to see, but you’ll see it here – at 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

September 13, 2019 at 1:00 pm

%d bloggers like this: