The Newtown Pentacle

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Posts Tagged ‘Pulaski

elaborately fashioned

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

While moving through DUPBO (Down Under the Pulaski Bridge Onramp) the other day, a passing train forced me to halt my ceaseless marching momentarily. Suffering from a malfunction, my headphones were not working, and the ultimate horror of being alone with my thoughts occurred. A brief interlude with your humble narrator has been described as exhausting, and that’s when the interviewee is feeling generous or is governed by polite behavioral norms. Long exposures to my uniquely abhorrent personality have been known to induce madness, encourage alcoholism, and destroy all hope for peace. An expectation of normalcy is usually abandoned by those unable to escape my presence shortly after first contact.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My family describes me as best taken in small doses, and does their best to disavow, deny, and distance themselves. Imagine what it must be like, between my ears, as one cannot escape from oneself. With the headphones roaring their cacophony, it is often possible for me to drown my endless narrative of self referential critique and worry, but without them the omnipresence of paranoid wonderings is impossible to evade. What you read in this blog is what I’m like all the time.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Poverty stricken of late, my plan to get every last millimeter of sole from my last pair of hiking boots backfired, causing an injury of some kind to my left foot. Not severe, discomfort is barely noticeable until several miles into a walk, but after a while it becomes uncomfortable. While standing in DUPBO, one wondered if it might be something truly horrible and I began to ponder if it might be foot cancer. This led me to begin thinking about whether or not there was any such thing as “foot cancer” (there is), which led me to begin wondering about all the other aches and pains which I experience and attempted to ascribe a hypochondriacal “worst case” scenario to each.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Constant thought is given to being struck by a truck, or car, or train of course. I also worry about things falling off of buildings- did you know that bricks sometimes just come loose and fall? Falling air conditioners, electrified utility lines, even sinkholes could randomly cross my path. There are feral dogs, packs of rats, hordes of flesh eating centipedes, and aggressive seagulls… One could fall in the creek head first and get stuck in the mud, be drawn into a wood chipper, or end up stuffing a fifty gallon drum after taking a photo of something I shouldn’t have. It is not fun thinking these thoughts, and impossible for me to turn them off. Over the years, I’ve seen a lot of things happen in New York City, things which are admittedly “statistically unlikely” but happened nevertheless- decapitation, bloodcicles, and pineapple with ham on pizza. Oddly enough, I seldom worry about being struck by lightning- go figure.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This is, of course, why I keep my headphones buried firmly in my ears and the volume turned way up, on these long walks around Queens and the Newtown Creek. It’s also why, as soon as budget allowed, a new pair of shoes were purchased, because you cannot run away from imagined dangers when your left foot hurts. The repair to the headphones has been accomplished as well, and as this shadow of what looks like a man strides forth, he no longer is forced to listen to a fear crazed maniac within his head. Still worried about foot cancer though… So many things can happen to you…

evasive outlines

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

Recently, your humble narrator was assisting a colleague in the execution of a walking tour of the Newtown Creek when this tug and barge were spotted sliding across the water.

This was “the short tour”, which includes only the tiniest part of Greenpoint’s north side and includes the Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant Nature Walk.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Esteemed, the person whom I was helping out has a rock solid grasp on the science and politics of the area, but had asked me to come along just in case anyone wanted to know who Provost Street or Kingsland Avenue are named for. That’s when I spotted this handsome scion of the McAllister towing company engaging in its occupation advancing down the Newtown Creek toward the East River.

The tugboat Resolute, side hitched to a fuel barge.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

An oft repeated but seldom comprehended statement which those of us involved with the story of this place like to throw out is “a century ago, this was the busiest waterway in North America, and the Creek carried more shipping traffic than the entire Mississippi river”. The official date for that high water mark is actually 1912, so next year we will be correct when saying century.

Your humble narrator, of course, will use the word “centuried” simply because it sounds creepy and cool.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

In times past, it wasn’t just fuel barges mind you- vast amounts of mineral products destined for manufacturers like Phelps Dodge, or barge loads of putrescents destined for corporations like Van Iderstines were common sights as late as the 1970’s along the Newtown Creek.

But- like everywhere else in New York City- nobody really makes anything these days, and even the fuel which the Resolute’s barge carries is refined elsewhere.

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