The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Posts Tagged ‘Sunnyside Yards

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

leave a comment »

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

with 2 comments

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

leave a comment »

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

another moment

with 4 comments

Lots and lots going on in Queens and Brooklyn this week.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

At Aviation High School, tonight, the NYC EDC will be presenting the latest iteration of their outlandish and quixotic plan to deck over the Sunnyside Yards. This municipal boondoggle has been going on for years now. Community opposition to this monster has grown and grown even as EDC has doubled down on it. The estimated numbers for what this project is currently projected to cost are on the order of waging a small war. I’ve got intel on what the internal estimates which are being floated at EDC for the cost of just building the deck itself. I don’t want to say them out loud since that might “out” some of the people internally at the organization who secretly oppose the Sunnyside Yards project, but let’s just say this:

If you were able to save $100,000 a year, it would take you 220,000 years to save enough for this decking project. You’d alternatively be able to purchase 733,000 cars at $30,000 a pop. If dollars were miles, you’d be able to enjoy 46,044 thousand round trips to the moon. If dollars were tax refunds, you’d be able to write a $66.77 check to every living American citizen (all 329,467,210 of us).

The Sunnyside Yards meeting will be held at Aviation High School (45-30 36th St., corner of Queens Blvd., in Long Island City, NY 11101) tonight between 5 and 8 p.m.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On a personal note, I’m a little bit behind schedule as this week starts, and am struggling to keep up with the various “have to’s” which are upcoming. A few pretty exciting, to me at least, opportunities are coming up in coming weeks. I’m going to get to ride on a freight train, and inspect Port Newark with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. There’s also a couple of swell parties coming up.

This Saturday; Newtown Creek Alliance, Broadway Stages, NOoSPHERE Arts, Greenpoint Innovations and Alive Structures will be offering the Kingsland Wildflower Festival in Greenpoint between 2 and 6 in the afternoon.

Details for the event can be found here.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

If you want to watch me pretending to be an adult, and a responsible member of society, Astoria’s Community Board 1 will be gathering tomorrow night (Tuesday the 17th) at Astoria World Manor (25-22 Astoria Boulevard) at 6:30 p.m. to discuss issues of the day and resume the monthly meeting schedule after the summer hiatus. I don’t think anything earth shattering will be happening, but you never know, and if you haven’t attended a community board meeting… well, why not? That’s how republics die – apathy.

The Newtown Creek Community Advisory Group – or CAG – will also be resuming its meeting schedule with the various powers that be on Wednesday (the 18th) night over in Brooklyn and also at 6:30 p.m. at PS 110 auditorium (124 Monitor Street).

October 3rd will see a Newtown Creek Alliance benefit event – the “Tidal Toast” – occur at 520 Kingsland Avenue in Greenpoint. Want to help us do what we do? Support the “reveal, restore, revitalize” work that NCA does? Grab a ticket. There’ll be food, and drinks too! Click here for more info.


“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 16, 2019 at 12:00 pm

firmly determined

with 4 comments

Sunnyside Yards, in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As mentioned earlier in the week, one has been utilizing a severely limited photo bag for the last half of August, containing two small lenses and a novel form of camera support called an Ultrapod. The latter is basically an aluminum plate with machined screw holes of various sizes punched through it and there’s a tripod head screw mount welded onto it too. A bit of customization is called for, but due to the ubiquitous nature of the screw holes (.25 inch, 20 turn), I mounted latex furniture casters onto it – for friction. The whole thing weighs just a few ounces, even with the tripod head.

That’s Skillman Avenue up there in the shot above, and some monster has left a shopping cart nearby the bike lane. Surely a crime against humanity, and a terroristic act, this shopping cart abandonment must rate up there with the crimes of Mao and Stalin… just ask the bicycle people and they’ll tell you so. #carnage

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One of the fun things which I’ve been able to do with this minimal sized setup is to exploit some of the holes in the security fencing surrounding the Sunnyside Yards and get the camera lens into a steady position looking through the chain link. The smaller of the two lenses I’ve been using is a pancake lens, the Canon 24mm STM, which has a tiny little piece of glass that it peers through. That itty bitty POV is just small enough to look through these defects in the fencing, and the ultrapod gives me the stability to pull off longer exposures. Right tool for the right job, huh?

The illuminated structure in the upper right of the shot above is the Acela maintenance building, and there’s two trains inside the thing. Just to the right of that is a regular Amtrak trainset which was stopped on the tracks, and the brightly lit white building is the Standard Motor Products structure found on 39th street and Northern Blvd. The shot was gathered from the Honeywell Street truss bridge over the Sunnyside Yards.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Also gathered on the Honeywell Street truss, the shot above looks southwest across a Amtrak holding yard for what I imagine to be Northeast Corridor rolling stock, but that’s strictly an educated guess as to what they are. Sunnyside Yards is a rail coach yard – meaning that trains cross through, change crews here, stop for maintenance and cleaning – but that you can’t actually catch a train here. The irony of that never ceases to amuse one such as myself, but it is an important reminder that if you want to get technical about railroad stuff – I’m an enthusiast and know more than the average bear – but I’ve never called myself an expert on the subject.


“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

August 29, 2019 at 11:00 am

day programme

with one comment

Unpleasantries abound.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

While wandering home from Greenpoint on Sunday, a day wherein the climate suddenly flipped from rainy spring to high summer, a humble narrator was enjoying the existential hell of living in NYC. There are many days when, upon waking up in the great human hive, one can’t believe how amazing the place is. Last Sunday wasn’t one of them. Instead, it was one of those days where the antics of the assembly of humans just grated upon the nervous system. The douchebags doing wheelies on dirt bikes, the assholes throwing fast food garbage out of their car windows, the cock barons who think that the proper way to use an automotive horn is to hold it down steadily for several minutes at a pop while stuck in traffic.

I really need to get out of here for a couple of weeks, go somewhere nice and take a vacation in a place that I know nothing about and where I don’t know anyone.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One has grown weary of constant existential crisis, the “eye of sauron” outrage machine casting its gaze about, and the daily grind of “have to.” This is life, of course, but it often seems as if I get a lot more “life” than most. I desperately need to take some pics of something different, as well. Some “walden pond” kind of crapola, I guess. Of course, I’ll hate that too. Mosquitoes, gnats, mud. Everything sucks.

For the sake of all that’s holy, please don’t hit me up today for something I have that you want but don’t want to pay for. It’s a bad day, generosity wise.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Have I become the “prisoner of Skillman Avenue,” or consigned to just aimlessly wander the streets forever? Am I some sort of flying dutchman with a camera?

Apologies for the inner narrative being offered today, but it’s been a lousy last couple of weeks. One is unhappy, which is predicate to one getting angry. Once anger has set in, so too does motivation manifest. Right now, everything is gray and hopeless. Once I return to being furious and rebellious, which will likely be by Thursday or Friday, this glum mood will pass. Once more, unto the breech, huh? Home sweet hell, indeed.


“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.

%d bloggers like this: