The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Posts Tagged ‘Sunnyside Yards

maddening suggestions

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Keepin on keepin on.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

So far so good here at HQ, and the only thing I can report to as involving coughing and wheezing so far involves the seasonal allergies which one has always contended with. Why we plant flowering trees in NYC is something I cannot fathom. Pollen is the age of pandemic is a “poop your pants” situation every time you sneeze or blow the shnoz.

As described in prior posts, one needs to maintain a fairly regular schedule of exercise for health reasons. Accordingly, I’ve been leaving Astoria at opportune times when the streets are entirely unoccupied and then heading towards similarly unoccupied areas in the industrial zones surrounding Newtown Creek. Personal security is something which I’m very, very aware of given the deserted sidewalks and thusly I haven’t been sticking my headphones into my ears as is the normal custom. Situational awareness, I call it. It’s part of what I promise Our Lady of the Pentacle when I’m leaving the house and she opines “Be careful.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Long Island Railroad traversing the Harold Interlocking at the Sunnyside Yards is pictured above, a set of tracks which are said to normally be the busiest right of way in the entire country. On this particular walk, one noticed breadstuffs scattered about on the sidewalks, often arranged in cruciform patterns. Could have been something random, and it wasn’t worth taking a picture of frankly, but does anyone know anything about such practices? Desperate and scared people typically embrace ancestral magic and peasant rituals during crises. Many cling to their magic books or scrolls, thinking the imagined power of the words contained therein will protect them from pestilence and misfortune. I grew up in a Jewish neighborhood which was partially populated by people with numbers tattooed on their arms, who would have gladly offered to any that queried them that those scrolls didn’t do them one bit of good when the wolves arrived.

This is the hour of the Wolf for our civilization, isn’t it? We’re all locked up inside and some forest monster is scratching at the door in the dead of night. Stay frosty, I always say, and be smart. Your god won’t vouchsafe you, instead fate helps those who help themselves when the wolves are near.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s why I’m continuing to march about, all alone in the night. When it comes time to put everything back together, we are going to need strength – both emotional and physical – to bury the dead and comfort the living. I’m hoping to count myself as part of the latter, but it’s impossible to predict whether or not a plague will take you.

The only thing you can do is lock your doors, and keep that wolf at bay.

Note: I’m writing this and several of the posts you’re going to see for the next week at the start of the week of Monday, March 23rd. 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 as we move into April and beyond, 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 blurb.com for $30.

Written by Mitch Waxman

March 31, 2020 at 11:00 am

startled auditor

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Terrific, it’s Tuesday.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Recent endeavor found one scuttling along the sidewalk on the Harold Avenue Truss Bridge, or 39th street if you must, over the Sunnyside Yards. For a glaring visual example of why I’m so opposed to decking over the railyard, the Standard Motor Products building at top right would be about a story or two shorter than the “ground level” of the platform, and large scale apartment houses would have their lobby entrances at that altitude. “Large scale” you ask? The EDC and their planners have said that “height isn’t their goal” you offer? Well…

If you’re interested in buying some real estate, there’s a bridge connecting Brooklyn and Manhattan I’d like to show you, found just a few miles south of here. I know the owner, and can handle the whole transaction, as long as it’s in cash. Give me the money, you wait here, and I’ll bring you back the deed, OK? Sound good? Will you Queens people never learn? The City people lie, like rugs.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There is an absolutely impressive amount of traffic observable on the Harold Truss – or 39th street – and pictured above is about thirty or so seconds of its intersection with Northern Boulevard. On the north side of the intersection, 39th becomes Steinway Street, and continues all the way to 19th Avenue in Astoria. The terminus of 39th street, to the south, is found at the start of Hunters Point Avenue nearby the masonry shield wall which the Long Island Expressway rides on. It’s got nearly arterial road levels of traffic, which would all be running through a post deck tunnel, I suppose.

This truss bridge is also – oddly enough – a spot where water bubbles up and out of the sewer grates continually. This is despite being the grates about four stories up over the actual ground at the rail yard, and it’s puzzling. Queens is like that, though.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I’d love to tell you that the electrical transmission utility pole in the shot above was purpose built as a cruciform to help control the vampire problem here in Western Queens, but that would likely be over the top. This shot is from just about the middle of the Harold Avenue Truss, or 39th street, so it’s mainly there to give you some idea of how high over the actual rail yard this point of view actually is. In this area, the planners at EDC have indicated that the deck would only have to be a story or two higher than that pole and sickly little tree.

That wibbly series of horizontal silhouettes you might notice on the fence are water hoses, recently installed as part of the East Side Access project. The hoses are part of the last phase of that particular MTA boondoggle. The hard hats have been building a separate trackway for Amtrak to use, here at the Harold Interlocking – which is the busiest rail junction in the United States.


“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

February 11, 2020 at 11:00 am

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.

hardly fitting

Cacophonies of tumult.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Having staggered and stumbled down Northern Blvd.’s Carridor, and then down the vampire infested expanse of Jackson Avenue, one made the turn away from Queens Plaza, towards Skillman Avenue and onto one of the truss bridges carrying pedestrian, bicycle, and vehicle traffic over the narrow part of the Sunnyside Yard while wearing a too tight hat.

This is a pretty busy byway, as a note, with thousands of vehicle trips an hour passing through, and since LaGuardia Community College is just a few blocks away there’s also a considerable amount of pedestrian and bike movement. This is another one of those spots where utilitarian concerns trumped all other considerations, including esthetics, when it was created. Unfriendly is the word.

Far and away this is one of the most unwelcoming, ugly, and down right hostile passages in all of NYC for perambulatory pursuits, in my experience. It’s also badly lit, and there’s a hundred places for a bad actor to lie in wait for passerby. Luckily, since there’s running water in the ground below, no vampires are found above.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Just as the truss bridge ends at Skillman Avenue, the street officially gets listed as Queens Blvd., but “technically speaking” the actual Boulevard of Death begins at the corner of Van Dam Street and Thomson Avenue. There’s spots like this all over Queens where an overpass above (the one pictured today carries the IRT Flushing or 7 Line Subway) obscures the actual street name below and cartography gets vague. One interesting thing about the design of Queens Plaza is that if makes you want to get out of Queens Plaza just as quickly as possible. It’s not the sort of place where you look around for a cafe with out door seating, where you’d want to sit down to enjoy an espresso.

This was the “turn around” point in my scuttle, where I orient my steps back towards HQ in Astoria. An eastwards turn onto Skillman Avenue was executed.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I had to “Frankenstein” the shot above, or I should say “shots.” One of the problems often encountered while gathering these night photos is the uneven illumination. The exposure for the gas station was literally half of what was required for the rest of the shot. Accordingly, it’s actually two shots welded together, which you can get away with doing if you’re using a tripod and the camera is in a fixed position. Luckily, the 7 was delayed during the longer exposure so it renders as something other than a streak of lights.

Formerly common commercial establishments seen in NYC were gas stations. When the fires of gentrification begin to be stoked in any neighborhood, large footprint businesses like gas stations are usually amongst the first to go. Supermarkets too. A point has been made in recent years to record their location and appearance.


“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

January 22, 2020 at 1:00 pm

betook himself

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Till you’re blue in the face.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

What’s wrong with the EPA Superfund people allowing NYC’s DEP to continue releasing 468 million gallons of raw sewage a year into Newtown Creek, as opposed to the 1.2 billion gallons they currently do, for the rest of time? That’s the 61/39 issue for you, and it’s the absolute focus of the Newtown Creek Community right now.

EPA is currently floating a proposal which would cap off the liabilities of the responsible party behind the “combined sewer outfalls,” the NYC Department of Environmental Protection (funnily enough), to a goal in which they would only need to attenuate 61% rather than 100% of the municipal wastewater flowing into Newtown Creek. Not exactly reaching for the stars here, are they?

The Federal EPA doesn’t think 468 million gallons of sewage released into a narrow industrial waterway – which runs through a highly populated area – is all that bad, since the flow isn’t carrying a legally actionable load of what they call “contaminants of concern,” with the short list of these chemicals including PCB’S, PAH’S, and organocoppers. Sewage doesn’t count, they tell us.

Over on the Gowanus Superfund, the goal state for CSO (Combined Sewer Outfalls) reduction was raised to 74%, but here on my beloved Creek, 61% is the goal. It should be mentioned that the 61% number is based on “right now” precipitation amounts, numbers which were actually compiled back in 2008, and that the remedy date they’ve set for this reduction in outfall is 2042. More to come on this subject in the coming weeks.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One is slogging through the customary December “show my face at” circuit of holiday parties this week and last, which is something I actually do enjoy. There’s been a lot of “going to’s” and “how do I get home from’s” in that equation, but at least MTA is always working to keep you on your toes with frequent night time service changes. Stay nimble, lords and ladies. If you don’t make at least two transfers, you’re not doing it right.

Funnily enough, I’ve gotten so used to transit gymnastics and taking the long way around during the evenings that when planning on how to get from Point G (Greenpoint) to Point MHK (Manhattan’s Hells Kitchen) recently, my convoluted plan didn’t even consider simply taking the E to the City from Court Square in LIC.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Looking forward to gradually longer walks in the near future, a humble narrator is. The big toe situation is moving along, although it’s at that point where it aches and throbs while healing. If you’ve ever had a broken bone, you’re familiar with that particular phenomena. I’m just tired of sitting on my butt, which I fear my lack of exercise has made larger.

Back Monday with something new, at this – your Newtown Pentacle.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle


Come on a tour!

With Atlas ObscuraInfrastructure Creek! My favorite walking tour to conduct, and in a group limited to just twelve people! December 14th, 1:30-3:30 p.m.

Click here for more information and tickets!

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

December 13, 2019 at 1:00 pm

agriculturally challenged

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Does anyone ever say “thank god, it’s Tuesday”?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Banal and sad is how I’d describe the current state of the Steinway Street commercial corridor here in Astoria, where the most interesting destination restaurants are often food trucks. Online, and in person, conversations about the subject lament the modern state of this old commercial strip.

Block after block of empty storefronts, sidewalk gathering places for lawless inebriates, law and order issues, blight. High commercial rents are usually blamed, or Amazon, or the “new people” who don’t shop locally and order everything online. High traffic volumes, a dearth of street parking, are also offered as causal factors for the current state of the street. Funny thing is, there are plenty of shops on Steinway which are doing extremely well, serving the needs and wants of the “new people.” I’m suspicious of all this, and wonder if some game is afoot. The answer offered to any problem these days is to demolish the current building stock and erect new structures, right?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The best example of this going on in the neighborhood, in my eyes, revolves around the not too far in the future expulsion of the used car and automotive businesses along Northern Blvd., in favor of building more and more “affordable” housing on the large footprint property lots these entities currently occupy. Why we aren’t talking about converting these spaces over to some sort of retail or other commercial function is beyond me. I’ve long believed that what Astoria, and LIC in general, needs is to cease being a referential dormitory community dependent on Manhattan and to plan/develop purposely as an exurb “city” instead.

The problems facing Steinway Street’s commercial establishments are hardly unique in modern day NYC, but the solution isn’t going to be offered by “anchor tenants” like Taco Bell or Chipotle. Steinway Street is not some midwestern shopping mall. Look to Roosevelt/Corona or Flushing for solutions to the retail crisis.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Given my recent trials, it’s kind of a rare thing for me to present either a shot of the Sunnyside Yards or a photo captured while the burning thermonuclear eye of God itself was twisting about in the sky, but there you are. One happened to be returning from a protest event offered by a cabal of leftist groups decrying the Sunnyside Yards proposal last week, and on my merry way back home I couldn’t help but crack out a couple of exposures at one of the facilities many fence holes, most of which are in my mental catalog.

Back tomorrow with something else, at this – your Newtown Pentacle.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle


Come on a tour!

With Atlas ObscuraInfrastructure Creek! My favorite walking tour to conduct, and in a group limited to just twelve people! December 14th, 1:30-3:30 p.m.

Click here for more information and tickets!

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

December 3, 2019 at 1:15 pm

latter presently

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My busy week is busy as promised.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A humble narrator managed to get onboard that United States Army Corps of Engineers Harbor Inspection boat which I hoped to be on yesterday. One had a pretty nice day, despite having to get up at six in the morning to get there. Soldiers get up early, what can I tell you, and if you want to hang out with them so do you. The excursion returned to dock at about 2:30 in the afternoon, whereupon a quick train ride back to Astoria ensued. While the photos on my camera were downloading to the computer (the boat circumnavigated Staten Island, and the USACE described their various flood resiliency projects) Zuzu the dog received a bit of my attention.

Then I had to attend a Transportation Committee meeting for Astoria’s CB1 in the evening. There were two items on the agenda.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The first was a request for support by the Durst Organization, who are petitioning the NYC Ferry service to include the E. 91st street (Manhattan) stop on the Astoria Ferry Route. As you’d imagine, I stepped up and did a lot of the talking with them on this one, given the whole maritime side of my life. It’s a good idea, ultimately, but this would add another ten minutes or so onto the Astoria route which has already been lengthened by the addition of a stop at Brooklyn Navy Yard. I asked if the Durst people were agnostic about which route would connect the Hallets Cove and E. 91st routes, and suggested that the Soundview Route might be a good candidate for the service. Additionally, I asked for their petition to include the creation of a stop at Randalls/Wards Island, to allow the kids from Astoria and in particular the NYCHA Astoria Houses easy access to all the ball fields on the islands. They liked that one. As a rule, when somebody wealthy is asking you for a favor, you ask for something in return. They became wealthy by being transactional, and this is a normal thing for them. Try to get something done for your community before saying “yes.”

Then came the bike lane discussion.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Transportation Alternatives people are currently working on getting a protected bike lane installed along Crescent Street. It’s not a bad idea at all, and there’s a lot of support for it, and not just amongst the Elected Officialdom who are seemingly terrified of drawing the group’s ire. The Transportation Committee voted unanimously to send a letter requesting that the NYC DOT look into it, and do a study. The study would then be presented publicly, whereupon commentary from the actual community and not activists would be received by the Community Board which would then vote on it according to the local feedback. Odds are pretty good that the project would be controversial, but adopted. That’s the correct procedural methodology, according to the veteran community board members and committee chairs who were present.

Thing is, if you’re a belligerent group of activist bullies…

I won’t go into names and or details here, but suffice to say that several members of the committee are far more than just ideologically aligned with TA. They began an hour long circular argument that requesting a “bridge to bridge” study wasn’t good enough, and that they specifically wanted the committee to request a “Crescent Street” route which would align neatly with their advocacy position. The Chair of the Transportation Committee was adamant about not doing that, as it was procedurally inappropriate. The bullies, including one who couldn’t be bothered to attend but was instead texting to a present member and using them like a sock puppet, were incensed. In the end the motion for calling it a Crescent Street lane versus a Bridge to Bridge lane ended up being withdrawn.

I do not like belligerence, bullying, or a group of ideological activists shoving their current advocacy campaign down my throat. When one of them asked to review a copy of Robert’s Rules of Order…. grrr.


“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

September 26, 2019 at 1:30 pm

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