The Newtown Pentacle

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Posts Tagged ‘Staten Island

torn to

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Friday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Sunset at Fresh Kills on… Staten Island…

As described yesterday, an invitation from the NYC Parks Dept. saw me and my pal Val travel all the way out to the western edge of the known universe to record the scene. This was part of their “Capturing Change” program, which I last got to participate in back in 2014. Remember 2014? Back then, the notion that America might descend into a Civil War at any second was the stuff spoken about by lunatics.

That’s one of my fancy pants shots above, by the way. There’s about six individual captures combined in that one. The wind was whipping the grass about, all that. Different exposures for fore and background…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

So, you know how I’ve been telling you for the last thirteen years that the burning thermonuclear eye of god itself disappears into a pocket behind New Jersey?

PROOF! Photographic proof.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On the trash caldera of Fresh Kills, with its extreme elevation, you get some pretty epic views. Go wide or go telephoto? What’s the subject? What do I want the image to say? What’s in frame?

That’s the actual thought process I filter through each and every time I hit the shutter button.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I’m glad I got to do this, and have to throw a major kudo at my pal Val, who did a heroic amount of driving through pretty heavy traffic to get us out here. It’s astounding how close Queens’ Astoria is to Fresh Kills on… Staten Island… it’s only 38 miles. Saying that, it took us close to two hours to get out here due to traffic.

As I’ve mentioned, I’m planning on leaving the City at the end of the year. One of the things which I’m having trouble equating is what distance vs. time means in the rest of the country.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

By the time you’re reading this (it’s being written in mid June), I’ve been to Pittsburgh and back again. On that trip, which occurred during the third week of June, I drove from Pittsburgh to Youngstown in Ohio, and then to Wheeling in West Virginia, and back to Pittsburgh in about three hours. Literally a hundred and change miles, crossed in about one third more of the time it took us to go just 38 local miles here in NYC.

I could tell you how to fix the traffic here in NYC, within 20 years, with a moderate governmental investment – but nothing matters and nobody cares – and “bike lanes” and “affordable housing.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

After the event, we piled into Val’s car and headed back into the thick of things at the center of the archipelago metropolis which is the center of the East Coast Megalopolis.

Back next week with something completely different, at this – your Newtown Pentacle.


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Written by Mitch Waxman

July 15, 2022 at 11:00 am

baffling as

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Thursday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

…Staten Island… sits at the risible edge of the known universe. An event horizon congeals just beyond its western shore. Here – you are existent upon the archipelago, found at the heart of the East Coast Megalopolis, which is known as New York City. On the other side of this existential barrier, which is mercifully demarcated by the waters of the Arthur Kill, is found the continent – and America.

Fresh Kills used to be the largest manmade object on the planet, but I think Three Gorges Dam in China wears that crown now. From 1948 to 2001, this was where the archipelago metropolis buried its waste. When you see pipes sticking up out of the ground here, it’s to vent off the methane gas produced by the decaying firmament below.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Much of the vegetation that grows here is self seeded, I’m told. The Parks Dept. people have – of course – been guiding the evolution of the place with specific plantings and earthworks. There’s roads, for instance, and wetlands. The roads we were driving on were gravel.

The last time I was at Fresh Kills – described in these 2014 posts: old garden, grassy bank, and shewing much – the procedure saw us leave the private cars outside of the park’s borders in a lot, and then we moved around the place in a Parks Dept. Van. This time around, because of Covid, the private cars were allowed inside the border and we followed the Parks employees from place to place.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That power plant on the horizon is in New Jersey, which is found across the Arthur Kill. In 2019, I got to ride along Arthur Kill with the United States Army Corps of Engineers on one of their harbor inspection operations, as detailed in this post – magnitude of. The fourth image in that post, depicting a tugboat in front of a grassy mound, imparts an idea of how high an elevation Fresh Kills offers. The shot above is more or less captured from that area.

The section of New Jersey that’s found along the Arthur Kill is the part of I-95 where you roll your car windows up when you’re driving through, due to all of the petroleum processing plants there and their stink. It’s colloquially known as “The Chemical Coast.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

All told, we had about 90 minutes to get busy up here with the cameras. There were probably about 10-12 of us, all photographers. As is the case with people who obsess about cameras, there was very little in the way of conversation while the light was good. Everybody was a “clickin and a whirring” with their gizmos.

The Department of Sanitation still maintains some operations here, as a note. The reason that there are hills and valleys is due to how they historically tipped out municipal garbage. When Parks entered the mix back in 2001, layers of clay and composted soil were brought in which began the process of creating the modern day landscape at Fresh Kills.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

“Kill” is Old Dutch for “creek,” which is why you see it all over the maps of NYC’s waterways. They used to call Newtown Creek “Mispat Kill,” for instance, and the naming convention stuck into the English speaking period with English Kills and Dutch Kills. Staten Island has Arthur Kill and Kill Van Kull and Fresh Kills.

In the distance, that’s the newly constructed Goethals Bridge over Arthur Kill. Just beyond it is a railroad bridge, which connects the NY Container Terminal at Port Ivory to Port Elizabeth’s Liberty Line tracks in Bayonne nearby Newark Airport.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Parks people designed the 90 minute excursion to give us roughly 20-30 minutes each at three locations. That gave me time to pull off some “fancy pants” shots with tripod and filters.

More tomorrow.


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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

July 14, 2022 at 11:00 am

extinguishing all

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Wednesday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

June 8th, and I was attending a performance of something… avant gardé… I guess. I’m not really sure how to describe a “soundscape” performance, but there I was at the sewer plant in Greenpoint.

Before things got started, I walked over to Newtown Creek to pop out a sunset shot because “why not”?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s Che Chen in the yellow shirt, who was the soundscape artist. His team had microphones and speakers set up, and the event drew quite a crowd. Even Our Lady of the Pentacle was there. It went right over my head, but the crowd was digging the hell out of this.

We actually snuck away early and walked over to a bar on Greenpoint’s Manhattan Avenue to grab a drink, and get dinner.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

June 9th saw me in the company of My Pal Val. Several years ago, I was invited by the NYC Parks Dept. to be part of a group of photographers who would get to spend some time at Fresh Kills. At the time, none of the park had opened to the public yet. I’ve been subsequently asked to come back but was never able to make my schedule work. Given that I’m planning on departing the City at the end of the year… when the invite arrived, I said yes, and managed to get Val on the guest list too.

Val picked me up in Astoria, and we headed off to… Staten Island.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

We actually got there far earlier than we needed to, with the intention of finding some “catch as catch can” shooting opportunities along the way. …Staten Island… is fairly photogenic at its edges. Upland (with a few very notable exceptions), it’s pretty much suburban sprawl – highways, housing developments, and shopping malls – but …Staten Island… has a very interesting waterfront.

Particularly so on its eastern (Verrazano/Narrows), western (Arthur Kill), and northern (Kill Van Kull) coasts. The south coast of …Staten Island… is basically a salt marsh and then a beach.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Looking south along the narrows towards the bridge, those ships belong to the Sandy Hooks Pilots. They escort large vessels into New York Harbor. The horizon buildings behind the ships are in Brooklyn, and found along the Belt Parkway.

We picked our way along the waterfront, heading towards Skelson’s Office.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There’s a spot at the end of Bard Avenue which my dearly departed pal John Skelson used to shoot tugboats passing by on the Kill Van Kull from. Several times we called him out, while passing by on a Hidden Harbor tour with the Working Harbor Committee, and the spot became known as “Skelson’s Office” for all the time that he spent here.

Time began to grow short, and My Pal Val and I decided that it would wise to grab a meal. We shortly found a diner, where I had a fine cheeseburger, and then we continued on our journey to the edge of the known world – Fresh Kills.


“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.

undying roses

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Thursday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On the 16th of March, a humble narrator didn’t have much to do, so off to the ferries did I go. It was a beautiful day, and after boarding an NYC Ferry destined to dock at the Pier 11 Wall Street stop, one got busy with the camera.

I was thinking about absent friends, and the path which I used to inhabit with them along these waterways.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Ghosts… Bernie Ente, and John Doswell, and John Skelson, and… suffice to say that there’s a reason why sentimental reminiscing is on the menu for me at the moment. Why I’m visiting all the familiar places.

Don’t worry, my health is fine, I’m just not ready to talk in this space about what’s coming down the line.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The East River corridor happened to be busy and well occupied with maritime industrial operations on this leg of my travels, around the greatest city that the world has ever seen.

Once I arrived at Manhattan’s Pier 11, a quick walk found me at the Whitehall Terminal of the Staten Island Ferry, which I then boarded. It has been a while since I went to… Staten Island…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On the roughly 30 minute trip across the harbor, on the big orange boat, we were escorted by a United States Coast Guard SAFE boat crew armed with a high caliber machine gun mounted on the bow.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

After debarking the big orange boat in the St. George section of… Staten Island… an hour or so was spent cataloguing passing maritime industrial traffic like the tug and barge combos pictured above and below.

This fits under the category of what I consider to be “good, wholesome fun.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My plan for returning to Queens involved an entirely different route than the one employed via the big orange boat.

More on that tomorrow.


“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

May 12, 2022 at 11:00 am

uncounted billions

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Friday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Back in the saddle again, as it were.

It seems, after returning from my various journeys, that a humble narrator has had a bit of a fire lit in the seat of his pants. Within three days of returning to NYC, circumstance demanded that I needed to travel all over the place, and that’s when the malevolent sentience of NYC penalized me for leaving her behind for the interval.

A City based memorial get together in honor of a recently departed friend saw me standing on the subway platforms at Queens Plaza afterwards, which is when the 7 train shot above was captured. I got to talk to the cops about this one, while some asshole was smoking a joint about twenty feet away from us. I don’t care that he was smoking weed, mind you, it’s that he was smoking anything at all on the freaking platform at Queens Plaza and the cops decided to hassle me for taking a photo – which is 100% legal – instead of the other guy who was doing something 100% illegal.

“Why are you taking pictures of the subway”? I dunno officer, maybe it’s cause I’m the Chair of the Community Board’s Transportation Committee, or that I’m part of a transit advocacy group called Access Queens which focuses on problems that happen on this line? Maybe it’s because I can do whatever the hell I want to, and I wouldn’t have to explain myself to you even if I am in the middle of committing a crime let alone not committing one? If it was the former situation, you’d have already added a pair of steel bracelets to my accoutrements prior to getting me to say something stupid enough for you to take me back to the Station House. Grrrr.

“Dystopian shithole,” that’s what I kept on repeating to myself after the N line arrived across the platform and carried me into Astoria. Covid seems to have applied the icing to De Blasio’s seven year long layer cake of municipal despair, indifference, and “less than.” Pfah.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Another occasion found me walking through the blight and wasteland blocks surrounding Manhattan’s horrific Hudson Yards development. The section of midtown nearby Hudson Yards, and the similarly ill conceived Javitz Convention Center, has long been a dangerous and lonely section of the city inhabited by scalliwags, truants, muggers, drug enthusiasts, and whatever the hell “woke” people call street prostitutes these days. Hudson Yards has somehow made this worse by luring future victims to the area. Luckily for them, the wealthy can afford private security. Cops ain’t doing shit for shinola until De Blasio is out of office, so if you’re not rich enough to afford a body man, keep your guard up lords and ladies. Turbulence is ahead.

Luckily, the traffic gendarmes were there to ensure the smooth flow of New Jersey bound automobile traffic through the zone. Wonder how long it’s going to be before somebody comes up with the bright idea to knock down that church (Sts. Cyril & Methodius & St. Raphael’s Catholic Church Croatian Parish) and replace it with a 30 story Walgreens because a) progress, b) affordable housing, c) ride a bike asshole, d) you’re a racist if you disagree with anything that might have just popped into my head right now.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Finally, seeking some sort of quiet time and communion with my arrival “back home,” I rode the ferry out to Staten Island hoping for some tugboat time. I got some of that, but was again thwarted by NYC teaching me a lesson for leaving her behind for a few weeks.

It seems that on my way back to the City, I had to stop off to get sniffed by the security theater labradors stationed therein while rushing through the terminal to catch the Staten Island Ferry. A momentary delay, the sniffing nevertheless caused me to miss the boat, since the ferry guy had already partially closed the sliding glass door he spends his life sliding open and closed, and he would have had to reopen it, and since he’s a city employee who’s already dead inside… there went a half hour of my life, which I spent being cased by a rip off crew that hangs around the SI Ferry terminals.

I’ve seen and noticed this particular pack of “clown shoes” before, a group of scaly looking early to mid 20’s guys who work as a unit. One guy spots the “vic,” and then texts his buddies. They move in through the crowd from different angles, and before you know it you’re standing in the middle of a huddle of dim witted muggers who work you over – picking your pockets and grabbing whatever they can before scattering. I noticed them noticing me (and especially the camera) immediately, and began a fun game of moving about the terminal to give them some exercise while playing dumb about the situation. They would text each other when I stopped moving, and then begin collecting nearby me again. Then I’d move again, and then there they were. So bad at crime, the millennials are. So incredibly bad.

To the cops at Queens Plaza – there’s a heroin operation which uses the Staten Island Ferry to move product between New Jersey and Manhattan. Has been going on for years. Look for what you boys in blue refer to as “skels” when on the big orange boat. Noticing things like this is quite literally your job. Stop hassling photographers.

Bah. Back next week.


“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

November 19, 2021 at 11:00 am

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