The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Posts Tagged ‘Pickman

threat level

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Either go clean your room or go outside and play.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I’ll go gather some proper shots of it next week, but as you can see from the shot above the second phase of the new Kosciuszcko Bridge project is coming along nicely. Those two new towers are rising from industrial Maspeth, right at the border with LIC’s Blissville, and are in the footprint of the old K-Bridge which was “energetically felled” last year. I’m going to be asking the K-Bridge team about an official update on the project sometime soon, but probably won’t hear back from them until the fall. Not too much happens in officialdom during the middle and late summer, as people who work for the government usually enjoy a 1950’s style work schedule that includes summer vacations and getting out of work at four or five. This is part of the disconnect between the citizenry and their Government these days. They have no idea about how corporate America operates in modernity, and what life is like for the rest of us.

It’s why they constantly design boxes to fit us all into that seem too small and constraining, just like our friends and family do.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Hallets Cove in Astoria, pictured above.

Boxes are what others want to build around you, in my experience. Folks want to quantify their friends and family, coworkers and neighbors, defining acceptable behavioral norms and expectations for others. Speaking as somebody who avoids doing this, as it always leads to disappointment and conflict, and personally speaking it can be quite annoying when somebody gets after me about not fitting in one of their “slots.” I’m not a player on anybody’s stage other than my own.

It’s funny how often I get accused of egomaniacal braggadocio. Is it bragging if you’re just stating things that you’ve actually done, and recounting the tales of your adventures? There’s never been a box offered that can actually contain me, and at least for the last decade the life of a humble narrator has been lived in pursuit of “envelope pushing.” What that means is that when I’m asked if I want to do something that makes me uncomfortable, or nervous, I say “yes.” People close to me will often tell me “you can’t,” mainly because it threatens the envelope of expectation they have formed about you. Just do it, and screw what others say, life is short and it’s your life you’re living, not theirs.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Dutch Kills, LIC, pictured above.

What I’ve discovered is that whereas I do have physical limits, their boundaries are far beyond anything I believed they were. Board a boat at four in the morning in January? Sure. NYC Parade Marshal? Why not? Testify in Federal Court about Newtown Creek and or Western Queens? OK. Advocate and argue for esoteric points of view with Government officialdom? Sounds good. The box I used to live in a decade ago before all of this madness began?

Shattered. 


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rigidly classified

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Head east, old man.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

So, as the sky was still filled with milky clouds yesterday morning, my ambitions for a morning photo session were thwarted by ugly. Woke up early for nothing, essentially. Things cleared up nicely by the afternoon, which is when I found myself heading out to Flushing Meadow Corona Park in pursuance of shooting the iconic Unisphere. This is probably the most “iconic” thing that just screams “Queens” when you see it.

There you are. 

– photo by Mitch Waxman

While I was in the neighborhood, a few shots of the MTA’s Corona Yard were gathered as well, and there was an entire fleet of 7 train sets just sitting there in the sun.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Uneventful is how I’d describe my afternoon. Didn’t have to speak to anyone, or do anything annoying to please their delicate sensibilities. I was by myself, keeping my own counsel, and nobody was giving me advice or offering any tips on behavioral modification.

The way I like it. 


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Written by Mitch Waxman

July 19, 2018 at 1:00 pm

fear distorted

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One of those days, man, one of those days.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On this day – July 18th – in 1290 A.D., Edward the 1st of England signed an Edict of Expulsion for the 16,000 or so Jews who lived in England at the time. In 1870, the Vatican Council introduced the concept of Papal Infallibility to a gullible public. In 1925, Adolph Hitler saw his “Mein Kampf” first published to a similarly gullible public. In 1937, Hunter S. Thompson was born (to tell the public how reliably gullible they actually are) and then in 1954, gangster Machine Gun Kelly died of natural causes at Leavenworth Penitentiary after 21 years in prison.

On July 18th in 1984, the so called and notable McDonalds Massacre occurred in San Ysidro, California, during which 21 people were shot and killed (mass shootings were still fairly uncommon then).

– photo by Mitch Waxman

If everything went to plan this morning, as you’re reading this I’m returning from a mid morning photo project. I’m attempting to catch a certain angle of light, at a certain place which I’m not 100% familiar with, so it might have been a frustrating morning but hopefully I made the best of it. An educated guess is being made, I’ll show y’all what I got later in the week.

Luckily, after having a killer schedule to get through last week, a bit of time to pop my headphones in and wander about seems to be coinciding with a period of tolerable temperatures and humidity this week. Looking forward to getting a bit of work done, and getting out of the Astoria/LIC/Greenpoint/Newtown Creek neighborhood for a few day trips. Hoping to be able to maintain an early schedule for this, seeking out propitious atmospheric lighting.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The most important thing at the moment, for one such as myself, is solitude. I really cannot stomach the thought of having to explain either myself or my actions to one more person than I actually have to at the moment, and have grown quite unwelcoming towards advice emanating from friend and foe alike. The idea of losing myself into the bowels of the City for a little while, looking at it through the isolated safety and emotional distance offered by a camera lens… is both nirvana and nepenthe. 

Look for me, scuttling along the side of the road on the eastern side of the Newtown Pentacle. I’ll be the weird looking guy with a camera.


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Written by Mitch Waxman

July 18, 2018 at 11:00 am

mental atmosphere

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Drama, drama, drama.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Why one ever tries to engage socially with others remains a question that has no answer. Generally speaking, it never ends well, and one finds himself in a “situation” at the moment which has – in fact – confirmed his worst suspicions and general presumptions about the humans. Fickle, feckless, and basically fearful are they. Not worth the effort.

Best that I retreat to my wastelands.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Accordingly, like some slime dwelling bivalve I am going to snap my protective covering shut and avoid interaction entirely. There is no point, no future, no nothing. All is worthless, and the world spins to inevitable doom.

I have had it. Done.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This dark cloud I’m under will inevitably pass, of course. I’m too personally weak to ever fully engage in hermitage. Saying all that, I want nothing to do with anyone for a bit. Just leave a message, I probably won’t be answering the phone.

Avoid me.


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Written by Mitch Waxman

July 17, 2018 at 1:00 pm

quarters elsewhere

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Scenes from a summertime Creek.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There is only one safe harborage for one such as myself, a single place on this planet where a humble narrator has any sort of worth. Luckily, over the weekend, I got to share this place – the Newtown Creek – with literally a couple of boat loads of people for the City of Water Day festival. When conducting Newtown Creek Boat tours, the program involves me narrating humbly about the East River specifically and NY Harbor in general from the point of embarkation – in this case Pier 11 in Manhattan – until the boat navigates into Newtown Creek. One continues with descriptions of the waterway’s long and intricate history and the environmental problems found in the present day due to its heavy industrial past and present. When we reach the spot where we have to turn around and head back for the pier, the mike gets handed to my colleague Will Elkins from Newtown Creek Alliance and he discusses the various plans for remediation of the waterway’s woes. In short, I talk past, he talks future.

Since I effectively have no future, I get busy taking photos while Will’s on the mike.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The NJ based NY Waterways outfit generously donated the usage of their Henry Hudson ferry boat to City of Water Day, and the Waterfront Alliance organization handled the nitty gritty of getting us onboard. Luckier still, when the boat arrived, the Captain was a fellow named Chris Costa whom I’ve worked with before and have managed to strike up a friendship with. Capt. Costa managed to get us all the way back to Maspeth before we had to reverse course and head back to Lower Manhattan. The first shot in today’s post depicts Allocco Recycling hard at work in Greenpoint, the shot above shows the Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant from a spot on the water found between Meeker Avenue and Apollo Street in the Brooklyn side.

The brightest part of my life involves sewage and garbage.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s the “Green Asphalt” operation at work on the Queens side in Blissville. Their role in our commonly held municipal “thing” is to recycle excavated road surface asphalt and prepare it to be reapplied to to NYC streets. Can you believe that – prior to the 2010 Solid Waste Management Plan – they used to just bury this stuff in landfills? 

This is where I belong, which is about as far away from other people as I possibly can get without leaving NYC.


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Written by Mitch Waxman

July 16, 2018 at 11:00 am

chemical odours

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Don’t miss the links for 2 free Saturday boat tours at the bottom of today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The great thing about that new lens filter I’m using, an ND filter which allows me to “stop” down light and do long exposure shots in afternoon sun, is that it renders the garbage floating around in my beloved Newtown Creek virtually invisible. The particular experiments in today’s post were gathered in LIC, earlier this week. All that white and orange stuff in the water was trash moving around in the tidal waves, and since it’s a thirty second exposure, it makes the waterborn litter seem like a landscape feature.

Turns out, all you have to do is blur your eyes and you don’t have to think about pollution.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Even this open storm sewer looks intriguing and natural using this technique. The trash and garbage that’s already lodged onto the rip rap shoreline and is static, that you can still discern, but the floating black and clear bags of trash? Not so much.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The possibilities boggle the mind!

Links to a very busy weekend’s worth of Newtown Creek tours found below, come with?


Upcoming Tours and Events

Saturday, July 14th – City of Water Day Newtown Creek Boat Tours – with Waterfront Alliance, NY Waterways, and Newtown Creek Alliance.

As part of the Waterfront Alliance’s “City of Water Day” event, I’ll be conducting two free 90 minute boat tours heading to Newtown Creek, leaving from Pier 11 in Manhattan. We won’t be visiting the entire Newtown Creek, as a note, due to time constraints and navigational issues, but we will get a good mile and a half of it in.

Tickets and more details

Ten a.m. departure here.
Twelve p.m. departure here.

Saturday, July 14th – 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.

Sunday, July 15th – Penny2Plank – with Newtown Creek Alliance.

There are eleven bridges crossing the modern day Newtown Creek and its tributaries, nine of which are moveable bridges of one kind or another. Other bridges, forgotten and demolished, used to cross the Creek. The approaches to these bridges are still present on the street grids of Brooklyn and Queens as “street ends.” Newtown Creek Alliance and a small army of volunteers have been working to transform these “street ends” from weed choked dumping grounds into inviting public spaces. This walk with NCA historian Mitch Waxman will take you there and back again, discussing the history and current status of these street ends and the territory in between.

The tour will start in Brooklyn’s Greenpoint, and end in Queens’ Maspeth nearby the Grand Street Bridge.

Tickets and more details
here.


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Written by Mitch Waxman

July 13, 2018 at 1:00 pm

horribly disturbed

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Don’t get fooled again… yeah…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

All anyone I talk to can talk about in Western Queens, at the moment, is the fall of Boss Crowley. “It’s a great day for Democracy” is what one elected official who often stood defiant in front of the Congressmen told me the other day. Shock waves are the best way to describe the sensation, as political hopefuls and operatives that had “paid it forward” into the Queens Machine realign themselves and attempt to figure out where the new center of gravity is. I can tell you who the big winner in all this derring do is, and it’s not Alexandria Ocasio Cortez (whom I’ve met, and she does live up to the hype).

The big winner of the Crowley primary is Bill De Blasio. Allow me to explain my perceptions on this…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Boss Crowley was in league with several of the other borough honchos, notably the Democrat clubs and Civic organizations in the Bronx and Queens. The former boss of North Brooklyn, Vito Lopez, notably went down in flames a few years ago. Brooklyn’s centers of political power moved south to Borough Hall and to South, and Eastern Brooklyn. Staten Island is its own political entity, and power over there is centered around the Republican rather than Democratic Party. Manhattan is fairly weak, in terms of organization and turning out the votes, I’m told. What that all means has little to do with the public face of Government that you see on TV and read about – rather “power” is about who gets to be made a Judge, or County Clerk, or even the Speakers of the New York State Assembly and NYC Council and by whom. “You can have Corey Johnson or Carl Heastie, but I get to name who executes Estate Law in Queens, and name two Deputy Commisioners to Sanitation,” or elevate some promising new player from a connected family to become an assistant District Attorney in Brooklyn.” Ever wonder what the connection between David Patterson, Elliot Spitzer, and Anthony Weiner is? They were all protégés of Senator Chuck Schumer, and all were methodically brought down by public sex scandals. Who “outed” them? Good question, and I’ve always wondered if it involved a certain ex-President setting up shop in Harlem, and a former First Lady becoming a Senator. The answer doesn’t actually matter, what matters is that room at the top of the ash heap was made by clearing dead wood from somebody else’s vertical silo of political patronage. With Boss Crowley moved out of the picture, there’s now a vacuum of high level power in Queens, and the Bronx has been demoted as they’ve lost a powerful partner. Brooklyn’s political clubs are now elevated in position and importance, and so are Staten Island’s. A struggle for political primacy in Queens is beginning, and there’s only one unifying “Boss” left for NYC’s elites to gather around and trade horses.

That’s the Mayor.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A humble narrator, of course, has no skin in this game. Other kids collected baseball cards, I collected politician cards which had all their legislative stats on the back. I’ll trade you a rookie Donald Manes for a mint 2014 Gregory Meeks, nobody has ever said except me. The next election to watch the hijinks for is Gubernatorial in nature, as the Dark Prince of Albany uses all of his art and craft to crush a challenger rising from his southern left flank, with said challenger a firm ally and agent of the Mayor. Additionally, the “lefties” of Queens have already begun realigning their allegiances with City Hall. The “read” must be that since Ocasio Cortez was to the left of Crowley, the best way to realign themselves would be in that direction. They’re missing the truth, which is that just like Hillary Clinton, Joe Crowley ran a crappy (primary) campaign and failed as a Candidate. The Mayor is already capitalizing on this, as is the south Brooklyn political establishment that he’s the representative of. Thing is, he’s a fake “leftie,” and is in fact a neoliberal corporatist and “Gentrifier in Chief” who seeks to maintain the system exactly as it is right now (as he is at the top of said system), just with higher graduated income taxes on about two percent of the total population to pay for his unending expansion of government (20% in six years!) and to continue his spending spree. The Mayor has actually been a godsend for one particular group, whom upstate Republicans present as a boogie man to their constituencies while raising funds.

Meanwhile, as the left continues to eat its own arm, the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer.

All of this is just one idiot’s opinion, take it for what it’s worth.


Upcoming Tours and Events

June 30th – The Skillman Avenue Corridor
– with Access Queens.

Starting at the 7 train on Roosevelt Avenue, we will explore this thriving residential and busy commercial thoroughfare, discussing the issues affecting its present and future. Access Queens, 7 Train Blues, Sunnyside Chamber of Commerce, and Newtown Creek Alliance members will be your guides for this roughly two mile walk.
Skillman Avenue begins at the border of residential Sunnyside and Woodside, and ends in Long Island City at 49th avenue, following the southern border of the Sunnyside Yards for much of its path. Once known as Meadow Street, this colonial era thoroughfare transitions from the community of Sunnyside to the post industrial devastations of LIC and the Dutch Kills tributary of Newtown Creek.

Tickets and more details
here.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

June 29, 2018 at 1:00 pm

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