The Newtown Pentacle

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Posts Tagged ‘storm damage

strident pandemonium

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It’s Friday, a word that comes from the Old English “Frīgedæg” – the day of Frigga.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Wee ooh did Astoria ever get hit hard by that storm the other day. For some reason or another, the corridor surrounding Newtown Road in the 40’s got pummeled by the heavy winds and the neighborhood lost a bunch of trees. Unfortunately a couple of the neighbors ended up losing their vehicles as well when the trees came down.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Astoria is a mess, as far as utility cables go. After the Great Astoria Blackout of 2006 saw their cables and underground network burn away, Con Ed did a jury rig job getting the neighborhood energized again. Fourteen years later, they haven’t come back and improved on that, so there’s layer upon layer of cables hanging from the utility poles. Said utility poles are decades old, lean at precipitous angles, and are a subject which I often bring up when talking about the neighborhood with elected officialdom.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

To complicate the matter, these often 80-100 year old utility poles are also carrying hundreds of tons of telephonic and cable/data cables. The lowest level on the pole are generally cable data/tv wires, with phone above that, and electrical at the top.

There’s an absolute web of these wires overhead.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The street trees basically live in a concrete box of sandy soil, which truncates their root systems. Frankly, it’s a small miracle that we don’t lose more of them every time the wind blows, but there you go. As you can see in the shot above, the concrete sidewalk slabs got picked up by the lever action of the tree going down.

Skateboard kids were standing around, waiting for their chance.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This is the corner of Newtown Road and 46th street, where the ancient utility poles were snapped into sections by the weight of an ancient tree suddenly landing on the abundant wires they carry.

As mentioned, this is something I’ve been raising the alarum about for a while now.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Pictured above is Broadway in Astoria, which should give you an idea of how big the issue is. Looks like those pics of Lower Manhattan from back in the 19th century, doesn’t it? Sad thing is that most of these wires are dead and connected to nothing.

You’d think that when the politicians gave the exclusive franchises for data and phone, or cable, or power to the various utility companies that there would have been some discussion of maintenance and of removing dead wires. You’ve forgotten the Borough Motto, haven’t you?

Welcome to Queens, now go fuck yourself.

Note: I’m writing this and several of the posts you’re going to see for the next week at the beginning of the week of Monday, August 3rd. My plan is to continue doing my solo photo walks around LIC and the Newtown Creek in the dead of night as long as that’s feasible. If you continue to see regular updates here, that means everything is kosher as far as health and well being. If the blog stops updating, it means that things have gone badly for a humble narrator.

“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 for $30.

Written by Mitch Waxman

August 7, 2020 at 1:00 pm

invisible walls

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

I just might have proof that God hates me.

It may have been noticed that my postings over the last week have been somewhat erratic in both content and timing. Normally, the Newtown Pentacle updates on a daily basis, and is scheduled for publication at 12:15 am. Under normal circumstance, this schedule is something I’m quite capable of maintaining, but there are a lot of things in New York City which are beyond ones control.

Intermittent outages of internet service, power system irregularities- all are par for the course- but then you’ve got events like the electrical storm which swept through Queens on Wednesday the 18th of July.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Working as a freelancer, your humble narrator is often in the home office on any given weekday, which I’ve referred to in the past as “Newtown Pentacle HQ”. Last week, a heat wave broke and the rain started when a cold front moved in, generating a powerful storm. My little dog, who is quite garrulous and playful, enjoys dancing around in the rain so we stepped outside onto the porch. Within minutes, we both realized that this wasn’t going to be a pleasant shower, but rather a dangerous lightning event.

A sudden flash and booming retort put us on notice to seek indoor shelter. Lightning flashes were occurring every few seconds, and that’s when “it” happened.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the bolt, and the dog and I both startled as it was mere yards from us.

Seeking safety within, I noticed that the standby lights on various electronic devices installed about the house had gone out. After conferring with the neighbors upstairs, who had also lost access to their suite of electronic devices, we realized that lightning had struck the street and that the charge had travelled up and into the building. Casualties of the strike include two televisions, an entire DirecTv setup, a wireless Internet base station- additionally my neighbor’s security camera setup was destroyed (one of the camera units actually appeared to melted).

Additionally, the computer, wireless phones, and refrigerator upstairs were also rendered non functional.

Restoration of both home comforts and necessary equipment has been ongoing, but has introduced a random and quite expensive series of purchases and tasks into my day to day which has negatively affected my productivity, and accordingly delayed substance and quality of postings here.

Apologies are offered- but, as mentioned, God does -in fact- seem to hate me. I’m trying to dig out of the hole, but it may take a few days to catch up.


Upcoming Walking Tours:

July 28th, 2012- Working Harbor Committee Kill Van Kull walk- This Saturday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Kill Van Kull, or tugboat alley as its known to we harbor rats, is a tidal strait that defines the border of Staten Island and New Jersey. A busy and highly industrialized waterfront, Working Harbor’s popular “Hidden Harbor – Newark Bay” boat tours provide water access to the Kill, but what is it like on the landward side?

Starting at the St. George Staten Island Ferry terminal, join WHC Steering Committee member Mitch Waxman for a walk up the Kill Van Kull via Staten Islands Richmond Terrace. You’ll encounter unrivaled views of the maritime traffic on the Kill itself, as well as the hidden past of the maritime communities which line it’s shores. Surprising and historic neighborhoods, an abandoned railway, and tales of prohibition era bootleggers await.

The tour will start at 11, sharp, and you must be on (at least) the 10:30 AM Staten Island Ferry to meet the group at St. George. Again, plan for transportation changes and unexpected weirdness to be revealed to you at

for July 28th tickets, click here for the Working Harbor Committee ticketing page

August 5th, 2012- Newtown Creek Alliance Walking Tour- The Insalubrious Valley

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Newtown Creek Alliance historian Mitch Waxman will be leading a walk through the industrial heartlands of New York City, exploring the insalubrious valley of the Newtown Creek.

The currently undefended border of Brooklyn and Queens, and the place where the Industrial Revolution actually happened, provides a dramatic and picturesque setting for this exploration. We’ll be visiting two movable bridges, the still standing remains of an early 19th century highway, and a forgotten tributary of the larger waterway. As we walk along the Newtown Creek and explore the “wrong side of the tracks” – you’ll hear tales of the early chemical industry, “Dead Animal and Night Soil Wharfs”, colonial era heretics and witches and the coming of the railroad. The tour concludes at the famed Clinton Diner in Maspeth- where scenes from the Martin Scorcese movie “Goodfellas” were shot.

Lunch at Clinton Diner is included with the ticket.

Details/special instructions.

Meetup at the corner of Grand Street and Morgan Avenue in Brooklyn at 11 a.m. on August 5, 2012. The L train serves a station at Bushwick Avenue and Grand Street, and the Q54 and Q59 bus lines stop nearby as well. Check as ongoing weekend construction often causes delays and interruptions. Drivers, it would be wise to leave your vehicle in the vicinity of the Clinton Diner in Maspeth, Queens or near the start of the walk at Grand St. and Morgan Avenue (you can pick up the bus to Brooklyn nearby the Clinton Diner).

Be prepared: We’ll be encountering broken pavement, sometimes heavy truck traffic as we move through a virtual urban desert. Dress and pack appropriately for hiking, closed-toe shoes are highly recommended.

Clinton Diner Menu:

  • Cheese burger deluxe
  • Grilled chicken over garden salad
  • Turkey BLT triple decker sandwich with fries
  • Spaghetti with tomato sauce or butter
  • Greek salad medium
  • Greek Salad wrap with French fries
  • Can of soda or 16oz bottle of Poland Spring

for August 5th tickets, click here for the Newtown Creek Alliance ticketing page

Written by Mitch Waxman

July 25, 2012 at 10:18 am

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