The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Posts Tagged ‘queens

almost snatched

with one comment

Project Queens is a work in progress, and always has been.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It often seems as if everyplace I find my heels clicking upon the sidewalks of Western Queens is a construction zone. This one got my attention the other day when I noticed a shaft of sunlight while riding a train, somewhere between the 46th Street and Steinway Street stops on the venerable R line tracks. After returning to the ancient village from points west and south, a brief investigatory wander revealed it to be a crew from the MTA construction division hard at work on Astoria’s Broadway. I walked up on the end of this process, but it seemed that they had cut a hole in the street in order to deliver bundles of lumber and other heavy materials to the sweating concrete bunkers below the street.

I know, that sounds ridiculous, cutting a hole in the street. Why go to such lengths and expense, inconveniencing an entire neighborhood, when you could just use a work train to transport materials to the job site… but… I did say “MTA” didn’t I?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Can you imagine the sort of existential horror that would ensue if the current Mayor of NYC’s mad plan to deck over the Sunnyside Yards happened? Often have I contemplated the nightmare scenario of materials laden heavy trucks criss crossing through Woodside, Astoria, Dutch Kills, Hunters Point, and Sunnyside while carrying tonnages of construction equipment and materials. The noise alone…

It would be less instructive, IMHO, if they were to just extend the Dutch Kills tributary of Newtown Creek a couple of blocks to the north and bring it all in via a maritime shipping channel. That is, in a scenario in which this Queens killing abomination actually happens, of course.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Whilst marching about on Skillman Avenue nearby Queens Plaza, a work train crew was spotted on the overhead tracks. Presumptively, these folks were working on the long overdue CBTC signals project on the 7 line. This project, which seems like its been going on for decades (it has been) and must be millions over budget (it is) will allow the estimable scions of the MTA the opportunity to run one extra train per hour on the 7 line. Will the perfidy displayed by Jay Street ever end?

One of the military industrial complex concepts, which I wish the MTA would adopt in planning and spending, is the “resource to kill ratio.” In layman’s terms, that call that “bang for the buck.” You don’t use a million dollar missile to kill a guy on a camel, essentially. You use a sniper instead.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Advertisements

Written by Mitch Waxman

January 15, 2018 at 11:00 am

trick atavism

with one comment

Uh huh shattered, uh huh shattered.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There’s a long list of things which are looked for when one is out wandering, and shattered glass is one of them. Don’t know why, but it’s something I’m attracted to shooting, as I like imperfection and meaningless destruction. Spotted the shatter pattern above on the window of a shop along Queens Blvd.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The one above is from those walkways you’ll notice above the digester eggs of the sewer plant in Greenpoint. I was told that a “bird strike” caused the damage.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Somewhere in industrial Maspeth, which is the epicenter for illegal dumping, these windows were abandoned on the sidewalk after being accidentally arranged in an esthetically pleasing pattern.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That used to be a mirror, which was similarly ditched in industrial Maspeth.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One of the reinforced glass windows – which used to be installed at the old Van Iderstine property in Blissville – was encountered along the bulkheads of Newtown Creek one day, and a humble narrator found himself transfixed.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

January 10, 2018 at 11:30 am

hurled consequentially

leave a comment »

No matter where you go, there you are.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

“How are ya?” is usually greeted wth “just another day in paradise,” whenever a humble narrator is queried by friends and acquaintances. It’s nice to have a catchphrase, and it took me years to come up with one that didn’t involve verbiage that could be considered a threat, hate crime, or offer a string of profane words randomly strung together. For a while, I liked “gaze upon the dragon and despair” but it’s difficult to pull that one off with the proper theatrics before coffee.

Here in paradise, one has been quite inert due to the weather. That sucks, but the good news is that “the project” has been moving along nicely. Allow me to explain…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

“The project” which was slowly chipped away at throughout 2017, is cataloging photos. It all started last winter when I realized that I needed to print up new business cards. I use a printing company called “Moo” for this, and their services allow for variable color fill on one side of the card (photos) and a single BW layout for the other. Essentially, it’s up to twenty shots for the photo side. Thing is, while hunting through something like sixty thousand photos, I realized that it was time to start organizing and separating the wheat from the chaff. That means that I’ve had to comb through the entire archive, just in the name of “doing it right.” I literally finished the process on December 30th, and am in the early stages of arranging shots into categories – harbor, bridges, people etc. Believe it or not, I’ve consciously avoided inclusion of Newtown Creek or NY Harbor oriented shots, as those will be getting their own individual processes. There’s a reason this project has taken so long to get done.

The end of this grueling procedure will be a godsend, and will be spawning several byproducts. I still haven’t printed any new business cards, incidentally, that’ll be the first thing I do. 2018 is going to be something of threshold year I hope, which will lead into the tenth anniversary of this – your Newtown Pentacle – in June of 2019.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One of the things I plan on doing in 2018 is creating more video essays like the “A Short History of the Sunnyside Yards” or “Newtown Creek Magic Lantern” ones I’ve offered in the past. I’m also planning on creating a few pamphlet sized publications exploring various subjects, which would be offered for sale as both digital and physical items. Suffice to say that there are other goals for the end product of this project, but that’s still something I’m scribbling down in my notebooks and thinking about.

“Just another day in paradise” might be a worthy title for a photo book about Western Queens, one believes.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

January 3, 2018 at 1:00 pm

in cipher

with 3 comments

On this day in 1898, the City of Greater New York was born.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Happy New Year.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

January 1, 2018 at 3:41 pm

Posted in Astoria

Tagged with , , ,

peeling coats

leave a comment »

It’s National Chocolate Candy Day, in these United States.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It’s amazing, the way people can find a way to form up battle lines around just about anything these days. At the moment, I’m really enjoying the farcical arguments playing out in NYC regarding bicycling. How, on earth, anything as simple and wholesome as riding a bike has became so politicized is symptomatic of everything wrong with us as a society. A) Bikes aren’t the answer to everything transit, and B) Bikes aren’t the reason that were all going to hell in a handbasket. This one, it ain’t that complicated.

It vexes, you’ll have to understand.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

First, everybody in NYC orders in food periodically – Pizza, Chinese, whatever. Generally speaking, the person doing the delivery will likely arrive at your house on a two wheeled vehicle of some kind. Might be one of those newfangled electric jobs, or it could be a human powered bicycle. Could even be a velocipede, depending on whether or not you live in a hipster neighborhood. Let’s refer to the delivery people, the messengers and so on as “working bike riders.”

There’s a place which the politicians have been leading the vociferous and quite vocal “bicycle lobby” towards for several years now, by the way, and the working bicyclists are going to get there first.

Inevitably – there will be a municipal requirement for every bike and bike rider to be able to produce an operators permit, insurance, and display tags (license plates) – just like every other vehicle in NYC – when they interact with the NYPD. The politicians will eventually be setting up a fee based regulatory environment around bike riders soon enough, and it’s just a matter of time before they start hitting bicyclists with the sort of parking tickets and fines they do motorists to pay for the regulatory system.

Ten years at the most, in my opinion, before you need a drivers license to ride a bike in NYC. The Mayor is currently having the NYPD blitz the delivery riders with tickets as you read this, and a scheduled period of confiscation for the electric bikes is coming in the New Year. It’s already begun.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Secondly, bikes are a pretty good choice to get around in fair weather, if you’re young and healthy enough to use one. Part of the argument which biking proponents miss is that for some of our neighbors, the only way to get around is by automobile. Your walking or stair climbing abilities may be compromised by any number of random medical factors, after all, and it’s not appropriate for many of us to show up at work slaked with sweat after a summertime commute.

You miss that sort of detail if you’re a member of the landed gentry who has decided to do a course of “public service” at City Hall, where the taxpayers maintain shower stalls for you to rinse off with before sitting down in front of your mahogany desk. Speaking of – I haven’t observed many of the City Hall people riding bikes to work, they use the train or drive City vehicles.

Practice what you preach, I always say, and as to that time I saw a former DOT Commisioner ask a limo driver to pull her bike out of the trunk a few blocks away from a press event (she wanted to be seen riding a bike to it) still ticks me off.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Third – the anti bike people would point out the sort of dumbass behavior on display in the shot above as being emblematic of all bicycle enthusiasts. Bicycle proponents will describe stories of automobiles running roughshod throughout the City, purposely squishing and fracturing the populace. Both of these narratives have truth to them, but are overstated.

Why do we always jump to absolutes, and proclaim the impending arrival of the apocalypse over every little issue?

The “protected bike lanes” which the NYC DOT are pushing on us all are another one of those political terms, as they are not at all protected from other vehicles and still spit naked bike riders out into heavily travelled intersections. Given that bicyclists generally ignore traffic signals…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

These days, I’m a dedicated pedestrian, but I used to ride my bike all over the City just like any other Brooklyn kid. I was the worst kind of biker, incidentally, riding at speed both on and off the sidewalks and blowing through lights. Saying that, one was always fully in control of the thing, and never found myself in “trouble” with other moving objects on the road. That’s because, just as I do when I’m walking around, attention is paid to my surroundings. This is what is known as confirmation bias, incidentally. Just because you’ve done something risky once – or a hundred times – and gotten away with it, doesn’t mean your luck will continue.

You don’t want to be shooting selfies while riding along a busy street in LIC, as a note.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

If you are indeed hell bent on selfie shots, I’d point out the hundreds of so called “ghost bikes” which the Bicycling advocates have installed along our city streets, which are meant to memorialize those who have lost their lives in collisions with motor vehicles and chide the populace. The one above is on Rust Street in Maspeth nearby the Newtown Creek industrial zone, which is notorious for heavy trucking and is a poor choice to ride a bike through. It’s one of the few places in the City that I literally beg people to use the sidewalk when riding their bikes.

Thing is, a lot of these new bike lanes are actually accelerating the amount of interaction between human powered and motor vehicles – especially around the industrial areas. As a note, I’ve observed that a LOT of the lower pay scale laborers in these areas ride their bikes to work. Bosses drive, workers pedal, it would seem.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

In western Queens, the ghost bikes aren’t even safe on the sidewalk, nor is the signage admonishing vehicular operators to slow down or obey some of the rules of the road. This particular one sat alongside a “protected bike lane” sited on the LIE overpass at Greenpoint Avenue in Blissville. The turn lane for westbound traffic exiting the highway, as well as the turning lane for entering the east bound section, exists on this short block. It’s always a nightmare spot for traffic with 24/7 congestion, but despite this, the DOT decided to delete a traffic lane for bike usage. Bikes don’t actually use the lane, they wisely utilize the sidewalk instead, and there’s ghost bikes on both the north and south corners.

An anecdote: A few years ago, when a party of NY State environmental officials were queried as to why there weren’t any “No Fishing” signs along Newtown Creek, they said “well, you can’t fish there without a license, that would be illegal.” I asked them how the war on drugs was going, and reminded them that literally everything is legal in NYC if there aren’t any cops hanging around. The Albany people were aghast.

This sort of narrow bureaucratic thinking is precisely how we’ve found ourselves in the societal spot we’re in, arguing about everything in apocalyptic tone, because there aren’t gray areas anymore.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I’d point to the very expensive solution DOT installed on the Pulaski Bridge as being what a protected bike lane should look like. Concrete barriers were set up to keep bikes, pedestrians, and trucks away from each other in distinct lanes. Thing is, just like every other half hearted process undertaken by officialdom, these “jersey barriers” end where the bridge ends in bothe LIC and Greenpoint, where turn lanes for vehicular traffic leaving the span cross right through the bike lanes and the helter skelter rules of NYC traffic begin. I guess this is the NYC way, however, lulling you into a false sense of security before dropping an air conditioner out of an eighth story window on you.

I’m also a fan of the experiments in Manhattan, along Broadway in the 30’s and 20’s, where the parking lane has been relocated to about 15-20 feet from the curb and the parked cars serve the purpose of protecting the bike lane. This particular plan has not been popular with drivers, however, who have lost a lane of travel and gained even more congestion at what has always been a traffic choke point between Herald Square and the Flatiron district.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

When I was a kid in Canarsie, one of the neighbors was an old sailor (part of the fishing fleet at Sheepshead Bay) named Joe who had one of the most well developed Brooklyn accents I’ve ever encountered. Now, my Dad’s mutterings often included “terlet,” “icewhole,” “boid,” and “glass a whatah,” but this old Irish guy named Joe next door was just magic. Joe would often opine “dat opinyeons ahrr likes iceholes, evrie botties gots one’s.” Personally, a humble narrator has little skin in this particular bicycle game, and as my old neighbor would have said – “koodint gives toose chits, one ways orz da uthher.”

Be like Old Joe, and share what ya got in the comments? What’s the way forward on this bike argument? Want to argue with other Newtown Pentacle readers? Click the comments link below and spout off.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

December 28, 2017 at 11:00 am

only briefly

leave a comment »

It’s National Fruitcake Day, in these United States.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

With one foot in Queens’s Flushing, and the other in Brooklyn’s Greenpoint, this NYC street endlessly fascinates. It’s called Roosevelt Avenue east of 48th street and Queens Blvd., and to the west it’s called Greenpoint Avenue. The elevated IRT Flushing line has been lurking above the street since 1917, meaning that the Roosevelt Avenue section has been shielded from the emanations of the burning thermonuclear eye of God itself for a century now.

Funny thing is, as far as I’ve been able to discern, Roosevelt Avenue isn’t all that much older than the elevated tracks. Here’s a NY Times article from 1910 which discusses the great haste undertaken by the newly consolidated City of New York in creating the road. Back then – Roosevelt Avenue was considered a highway, apparently, and it was designed to parallel (and create a secondary path for Queensboro Bridge bound traffic) Jackson Avenue (Northern Blvd.) for its three mile route from Woodside to Flushing.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The elevated subway along the street (to Corona, Flushing happened a bit later) opened in April of 1917, but it had only been proposed in 1911. This is one of the many reasons which should keep the managers of the MTA up at night, as a note, for the actual agreement to build the thing didn’t happen for another two years in 1913. Imagine the modern incarnation of the organization being able to get literally anything done, let alone monumental capital construction, in just four years.

Them’s was giants in those days, I tells ya.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I’ve been led to believe that there are a significant number of “quality of life” issues suffered by the folks who frequent Roosevelt Avenue due to the presence of the elevated tracks. Bird droppings, toxic lead paint flaking from the steel, omnipresent heavy vehicle traffic, a suffocating amount of noise. There’s meant to be a significant footprint of the underworld along Roosevelt Avenue as well, and Ive been told tales of all levels of prostitution (street to Madame run apartment Boudoirs), gangsters, and gambling dens.

Funny thing is, all of these things don’t slow things down along the street one little bit. The shops are all occupied, and commercial businesses thrive, even on the third floors of walk up buildings. Compared to other commercial strips in Western Queens – Steinway Street in Astoria comes to mind – every kind of business seems to be booming along Roosevelt Avenue.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

December 27, 2017 at 11:00 am

hidden picture

leave a comment »

It’s National Hamburger Day, in these United States.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

If my plans work out properly, while you’re reading this post, I’ve actually managed to drag myself away from the slothful indifference to all things which have distinguished the last couple of weeks and I’m somewhere in Manhattan pointing my camera at things and humans. The shots in today’s post are from the archives.

That’s a juvenile Red Tail Hawk at Calvary Cemetery in LIC, as seen on a wintry morning a few years back.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I like all the seabirds, but will be damned if I can tell you with certainty what speciation they are. Everytime I try, I’m wrong, which somebody gleefully points out and then all my credibility is shot. It’s like that game “Jenga,” pull out the wrong brick and the whole tower crashes down, credibility is. It’s best to say “I don’t know” and muster up my Brooklyn accent for “Issa Boid.”

I enjoy taking pictures of birds, it’s rather challenging. The ones above and below are from this past summer, at Hallets Cove in Astoria.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Actually… come to think of it, the one above of the murmurating flock was gathered on 48th street in Sunnyside, nearby that shopping center off of Northern Blvd. There’s always a lot of seabirds thereabouts for some reason. Maybe the birds are passing on some genetic or inherited memory of where there used to be water to their kids. Maybe they’re just hanging around the Stop and Shop parking lot because they’re in a gang. Who knows?

That whole zone used to be quite swampy, as a note, prior to the whole Sunnyside Yards happening.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This little war monster decided to die on my porch in Astoria. It still had a little life left in it when I found it, so I scooped it up on a piece of paper and let it die while lying on soil in the shade offered by a potted plant. What can I tell you, I’m a giant softie for well armored pollinators. I also didn’t want the dog to get too interested in it either.

The next morning, after having poked at it with a pencil to assure that it had met its demise and wouldn’t vaingloriously sting me as part of some futile last stand, I had my way with its corpse. Photographically, I mean… sheesh.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The reason that Red Tail Hawk was hanging around Calvary Cemetery in the first shot is exemplified by the subject of the one above. There’s a population of these groundling burrowers which exist in the loam at the polyandrion. Groundling Burrowers is what I call ’em, of course, but the kids all just say “Bunny!”

I’ve seen what happens when the aforementioned birds of prey achieve their intentions, regarding these burrowers, and it ain’t a pretty sight – I’ll tell ya.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This is actually a fairly old photo, depicting one of the yellow eyed black cats which manifest sometimes as I scuttle along and around the Borough. The one above used to live on 29th street in LIC, and I often saw it hunting along the bulkheads of Newtown Creek’s Dutch Kills tributary. When I see one of these golden eyed swivel eared shadow beasts, I know it’s going to be a productive day photographically, and Queens has something special in store for me.

I just have to keep walking and find it. Queens is coy like that.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

December 21, 2017 at 11:00 am

%d bloggers like this: