The Newtown Pentacle

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Maspeth Plank Road, in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A recent walk through the sunless corridors of Industrial Maspeth found a humble narrator at the Maspeth Plank Road site. The City of Greater New York, in its infinite desire to complicate the environmental cleanup of Newtown Creek, has recently been working on a plan to replace the Grand Street Bridge. That’s a good thing, as Grand Street Bridge is a causal factor in terms of the bumper to bumper traffic one experiences on Metropolitan Avenue in East Williamsburg, Flushing Avenue in Maspeth and Ridgewood, and so on. Unfortunately, a particular and long standing dream of some yahoo at the NYC DOT has been to build a crossing of Newtown Creek at the end of 54th road which would connect to Maspeth Avenue in Brooklyn.

Beyond obliterating whatever historicity remains at the Plank Road, this new drawbridge would only make things worse, in terms of heavy traffic. That’s a lesson Robert Moses refused to learn. It would be a cannon firing fleets of heavy trucks directly at the NYCHA Cooper Houses campus in Greenpoint, and at New York City Parks’ Cooper Park. This would also need to be a drawbridge so it’s extra expensive.

Don’t worry, I’m on it, and have already laid down the law with a deputy commissioner or two. There’s a couple of City Councilmembers who are about to hear from me as well, and I’m getting ready to cause everybody involved a lot of trouble.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My pals at Newtown Creek Alliance have spent a not inconsiderable amount of effort on cleaning up, planting, and performing maintenance at the Plank Road. There’s actual historical signage there now, believe it or not, describing the site. Unfortunately, during the winter months, hydrological deposition carries a literal “shit ton” of garbage down the hill to Plank Road. The place is currently a real mess.

I’ll let y’all know when we plan a clean up party, and arrange for one of our partners to land a dumpster nearby. This is one of the things NCA does on the regular, street end cleanups with crews of volunteers – who are often college students – that pulls tons and tons of garbage off of the banks of Newtown Creek.

If you think the imminent plastic bag ban in NYC is some sort of “libtard foolishness to further the climate lie,” come down to Newtown Creek with us sometime for one of these clean ups and you can start peeling carrier bags off of the rocks and trees. We will argue afterwards about fake news and libtards.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A friend of mine… well, an online friend as we’ve only met once in the flesh… recently posted something to the effect of the plastic bag ban as being foolish policy and some sort of plot to tax the populace. The requirement in the new ban for the return of paper grocery bags is actually a jobs bill, when you get down to it. Recyclable in the extreme, the paper bags economic supply ecosystem will become a source of needed blue collar employment if it’s handled correctly. By creating a government mandated market for the things, private interests will compete to profit from said market. It will also raise the per ton value of recyclable paper and cardboard pulp. Nothing survives in the United States which doesn’t make money, profit, or dangle the lure of avarice.

Environmentalist people reading this, pay attention to that statement.


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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

February 4, 2020 at 11:00 am

taking form

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Industrial Maspeth, how I’ve missed you…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Recent adventure found a humble narrator stumbling and scuttling along the broken sidewalks of industrial Maspeth one recent evening. One gathered much in the way of chagrin and suspicion from the various wage slave security guards who sit within heated boxes while watching television, but a wave or a smile sufficed to scare them back into their labor cubes. As a rule, I do not trespass, instead I need to be invited in like a vampire. Saying that, the security services of Newtown Creek’s industrial hinterlands are slipshod and the only thing preventing my egress through the properties these box dwellers vouchsafe is the vampire rule stated above.

I’ve got a lot of personal rules which govern my behavior. If my natural inclination was that of a good man, I wouldn’t need so many rules. Concurrently, Government officials and employees – who are historically given to corruption and epic levels of indifferent and institutional incompetence – operate under an even more extensive set of rules for the same reason, and must legally stand exposed when queried about policies and budgets. Except when it comes to “security,” which exists in a black box which neither the public nor the press is ever allowed to peer into or critique. I refer to the Homeland Security budget as “Schrödinger’s Billions.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Time and opportunity is what the shot above represents, and I’d ask you where the Homeland Security money supplied to the MTA by the National Security establishment have ended up, accordingly. You’ve all likely seen the video of graffiti covered subway trains in recent weeks. Time and opportunity are well represented there as well. Remember, when the Government tells you that they cannot discuss how they are spending your tax dollars because of security concerns, they are pissing it away on speculative technologies and militaristic toys. NYPD – for example – has a couple of tanks, one of which lives in a garage on 22nd street in Manhattan. I’ve seen the cops washing it with a garden hose and soapy mops. Try and get a picture of them washing the thing, which occurs on the sidewalk, and you’ll get to meet a lot of cops. Tanks for the memories, huh?

Mobile oppression platforms like the cop tanks, or the fleet of airborne drones they also possess, are overkill for the specific mission of the department. Some chief or other brass wanted them, found some budgetary angle to buy and maintain them, and furthered the paramilitarization of the gendarme accordingly. No money for a motion detector triggered camera at grade level rail track ways in Queens? Ran out of budget for hiring some schmuck to lock the gates at Sunnyside Yards? Can’t keep a group of hooligans from painting an entire Subway train in the dead of night in supposedly secure tunnels under Manhattan?

If you see something, say something, right? Not if it involves black budget expressions of the Homeland Security budget.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Bah.

Industrial Maspeth, particularly at night, is my happy place. It represents truth and a lack of varnish to me. Pictured above is one of the theoretically lowest spots in the entire City, in terms of relationship to sea level. A concrete plant just up the block has a steady stream of water charged up with dissolved cement flowing out of it, which gravity carries to the sewer grate at the bottom of that puddle you see. The sewer is caked with concrete, and plugged up most of the time. The sewer discharges directly into Maspeth Creek, when it’s flowing. That’s why I don’t do anything about the concrete people’s effluent and flow. Someday, all the poisons in that mud will hatch out, but not on my watch.

Today I’m just here to capture photos of the wonder of it all.


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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

February 3, 2020 at 11:00 am

pacing nervously

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Hitting the road…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As of this post, so far in the month of January has a humble narrator walked some sixty six and a half purposeful miles in the dead of night around Queens. By “purposeful” I mean that it’s not shlepping through my normal daily round, rather it refers to leaving HQ all kitted up and ready to wave the camera around. By my standard, this number still represents baby steps, of course, but whereas the broken toe drama of 2019 is now just another one of my unpleasant memories there are still physical consequences to having just sat on my butt for two months at the end of last year. Mainly the effects involve the size of my butt, muscle tone in my calves, and a few other “conditioning” issues. A new regime of personal discipline has been established, incorporating changes to both diet and exercise.

This has nothing to do with a New Year’s Resolution, as a note, it’s merely self preservation and the need to experience the world directly after a couple of months of convalescent boredom. On the particular night which these shots were gathered, I was walking along the Woodside/Sunnyside border, where a tiny industrially zoned area bumps up against the fencelines of the second, third, and fourth divisions of Calvary Cemetery.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My ultimate destination for the evening was – what else – Newtown Creek. From Astoria, you’ve got “corridor approaches” which lead you to the various sections of the waterway. 39th street to Skillman Avenue for Dutch Kills, Pulaski Bridge and LIC, or 39th street to Greenpoint Avenue for Blissville and the Greenpoint Avenue Bridge, 43rd street for Kosciuszcko Bridge and the DUKBO area, whereas 48th street takes you to the industrial Maspeth “Haberman” section where Maspeth Creek and the Maspeth Plank Road are found. The 48th street corridor also deposits you within throwing distance of the Grand Street Bridge, so I always pay it a visit when I’m in the neighborhood.

Coincidentally, 43rd street used to be called Laurel Hill Blvd. during earlier times, and it connected the Alsop properties along Newtown Creek to the south with the Berrian and Rycken holdings at Bowery Bay to the north in Astoria after crossing through the Moore and Jackson holdings nearby modern day Northern Blvd. 48th street in Maspeth was the Shell Road, which connected the southern waterfront with Middleburgh (Sunnyside) and Woodside, as well as Greenpoint and Flushing via modern day Greenpoint Avenue.

This and the previous shot were gathered along 49th street, rather than 48th, since a group of teenagers were walking towards me and I got scared. I scuttled over to 49th and hid behind a dumpster for a bit, as pictured above. A feckless quisling and vast physical coward remain I. On the plus side, I met a friendly cat whilst behind the dumpster.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A weird and lonely stretch of pedestrian space is found underneath the elevated Long Island Expressway section which bisects two of the Calvary’s. I’m told there’s a fair amount of drag racing here on summer weekend nights but I haven’t witnessed it directly. Notice that the NYS people haven’t felt compelled to replace the old sodium lamp luminaire heads for their street lighting to comply with NYC’s adoption of the cold blue LED units. You’ve still got that comfortable old orange glow hereabouts.

More next week, at this, your Newtown Pentacle.


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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

January 31, 2020 at 11:00 am

uncouth time

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Death. Annihilation. Hatred.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

All night long, on my trek to the Dutch Kills tributary of Newtown Creek, I was noticing and recording the unnatural colour offered to the sky vault by the Kosciuszcko Bridge’s bizarre lighting system. It’s like no earthly colour, rather it’s like something out of space, in my opinion. Darth Cuomo, in his infinite wisdom and bowel quaking power, has decreed that this prismatic display must occur.

Soon, we shall all know the colour, and it will be a part of us.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A rare vertical or portrait format shot, the photo above was devilishly difficult to capture. There’s the super bright campus of the Federal Express shipping depot, which was absolutely and positively not part of a quid pro quo for their lost facility at what’s now Hudson Yards. You’ve also got the out of gamut color spectrum offered by the aforementioned lighting system installed at the order of the Governor by the New York State Department of Transportation. Everything else in the shot was cast into fuligin shadow, and what I wanted was to find a middle point between the extremes.

I guess “middle point between extremes” describes the general desire one has for his life, but has always been denied.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Borden Avenue Bridge was the midpoint in my mission for the night, where a humble narrator reoriented himself back towards Astoria, Our Lady of the Pentacle, and my little dog Zuzu. Checking my phone, it was realized that I had again lost track of time, and it was quite a bit later than my perception would have indicated. One or two last shots of the Long Island Expressway’s “Queens Midtown Expressway” truss were executed before I made my way back to civilization in Blissville.

Well after midnight, one summoned a ride share cab home. NYC’s sardonic sense of humor manifested then, as two yellow cabs and a bus appeared while I was waiting for a fellow named Singh to arrive in his minivan.


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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.

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Where I belong, leave my body here when I die.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I can now confirm that Dutch Kills is still where it was the last time I saw it. That was after the broken toe literally swept my leg out from under me. Despite the injury, I had to conduct a walking tour, or as I called it then – a limping tour – just two days after breaking the damned phalange. Only time ever that I fell down when conducting a tour. Ultimately, though, i screwed up by displaying weakness to the people in my life. Must never display weakness, because others will take advantage of it. If I’m taken advantage of, I have to respond in a widely inappropriate and disproportionate manner. Ask everyone who knows me – every single day is the first day in prison with me. I’m not locked up in here with you, you’re locked up in here with me. It’s exhausting, really, being me.

That’s the Hunters Point Avenue Bridge in the foreground, with the Dutch Kills tributary of Newtown Creek and the Long Island Expressway in the back. The original draw bridge on this site was made of wood, and was opened and closed by the actions of a donkey walking on a wooden wheel. Happy place.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Irving Subway Grate site continues to decompose, an island of calm in the chaotic development landscape of LIC. Just down the block, the patrons of what has been described to me as the second worst strip club in Queens were smoking the weed while I was shooting this. I’ve never been a strip club guy, as a note. Not saying it’s bad if you are, but like the Karaoke and Dance Club scenes, it’s just not for me. I also don’t see the point of Casinos, loathe musical theatre, and avoid poetry readings.

I like irish bars, poisoned and highly industrial waterways, junk yards, waste transfer stations, sewer plants, and cargo docks. These are the places I belong.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Looking westwards along Borden Avenue, and its eponymous bridge, towards the Empire State Building. Back when I started wandering around Newtown Creek, you could easily navigate the surrounding neighborhoods by the position of three large structures – Manhattan’s Empire State and Chrysler Buildings, and the Citigroup Megalith at LIC’s Court Square. Recent real estate development has obscured the Megalith and Chrysler Building, hiding then behind banalities. Luckily, the Empire State is still visible, although it’s silhouette is often ruined these days by the architecturally dubious Hudson Yards development on Manhattan’s west side.

This is where I plan to someday celebrate the detestation of the water lizard, when the corporeal residue of my body is tossed – like every other bit of wind blown trash in New York City – into Newtown Creek.


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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.

acrid scent

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I’m the thing on your doorstep at night.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Want to have people notice you? Stand on the corner of Skillman Avenue behind a tripod, while photographing scenes like the one above. People will literally walk directly in front of the camera lens and good naturedly ask you what you’re recording. “Right now, madam, your midsection” is something you can say. That’s why I had to stand there for about twenty minutes the other night, waiting for another 7 train to transit above. Shot needed the 7, after all, not some random woman’s abdomen. If you happen across a photographer who is set up with a tripod and all the other junk, and you’re feeling conversational, maybe it would make sense for you not to stand directly in front of their camera? As mentioned, hate for everyone and everything at the moment.

My goal, as mentioned in yesterday’s post, was to get down to Dutch Kills in LIC, which is one of my happy places. I need happy places at the moment.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

“Hell is other people” as the saying goes. Of course, without the other people, these shots would have been gathered in a primeval and legendarily mosquito rich swamp that was supposedly avoided by the native americans. This section of LIC was historically undeveloped until the early 20th century, when the fields of both construction technology and financial capital management had finally attained levels sufficient to not just conquer but totally annihilate the natural environment. You can destroy an ecosystem the old fashioned way (Rome was great at this task), but to totally erase any trace of flowing or flooding water, you need modern tools and lots of money. The Pennsylvania Railroad, Michael Degnon, and the City of Greater New York itself had both requirements sorted out back “in the day.”

This corner is where, instead of some nosey lady, I got to smile and wave at a couple of cops who were mildly curious about my activities. Not curious enough to roll down the window, or get out of the car, just curious enough to stare at me for a few minutes. I waved, smiled, and flipped the tail of my filthy black raincoat at them. Shaking their heads, they drove off.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Finally. When I say that I can only be happy when I’m in places like 29th street in LIC, a blasted railroad access route that masquerades as a proper city street. The bulkheads along the water side of the street have been collapsing for a couple of years now, but no one cares. The waters of the industrialized canal called Dutch Kills, which have tested positive for both Gonorrhea and Typhus, are poison but no one cares. Sick little trees line the banks, wicking up the heavy metals and other pollutants from the landfill used to conquer the swamp. I care.

Nepenthe.


“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.

horror somewhere

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Sick of it all, everyone and everything.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One of those wintry moods has struck, and a humble narrator is very much in “lone wolf” mode at the moment. I don’t want any part of anything which involves exchanges of words longer than a singular sentence. Accordingly, attempts at avoiding pedantry and excess explanatory conversation are liberally ignored by all. I’ve got too much to do and not enough time to do it. Not getting any younger, tick and tock.

Luckily, photography – especially night time photography – is a singular pursuit. I can be alone with the HP Lovecraft audiobooks, although I would mention that while shooting these photos it was an unabridged reading of Upton Sinclair’s “The Jungle” playing through my headphones. If you alter all the pronoun names of the characters in The Jungle from Lithuanian to Spanish – Jurgis to Jorge, for instance – it makes the thing even more depressing as nothing ever changes in this country – ever.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I would like to embrace the sophistry that we are living in some sort of simulation, a computer program which receives regular updates and patches to keep the players interested in us. Unfortunately, this sort of idea is the fever dream of paranoids, and like the worship of a divine sky father…

One left the house relatively early according to recent habit. It had just stopped raining, and heavy banks of clouds were positively hurtling across the dome. Perfect conditions, as far as I’m concerned. If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a hundred times – NYC never looks as good as it does when it’s wet.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My goal for the evening was ultimately going to be a visit to Dutch Kills, the Long Island City tributary of the fabulous Newtown Creek. Due to the shattered toe drama, there’s entire sections of my “beat” which haven’t been visited in months. Given that it’s relatively warm out for January, and my overwhelming desire to be completely and utterly alone, one geared up and scuttled forth.

What I really wanted to find was some eidolon of dissolution and chaos, a true monster. I did glimpse one periodically, when walking past reflective surfaces.


“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.

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