The Newtown Pentacle

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Posts Tagged ‘sunnyside

curious explanations

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Neither here nor there, and feeling pretty burnt out.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One was out and about conducting a tour of Greenpoint’s East River and Newtown Creek coasts when a vast amount of smoke was noticed rising out of Sunnyside last week. Some of the members of my group engaged their portable data terminals to inquire about the plume, and it emerged that there was a warehouse fire underway on 37th street near the corner of Queens Blvd. Having missed the actual conflagration, one did happen to wander past the aftermath the next day and a few shots were gathered.

Oddly enough, FDNY was still on scene, no doubt in cautious anticipation of flare ups in the still hot rubble. Luckily for the fire fellas, the fire took place directly across the street from Gallagher’s gentlemens club, cause y’know, for when you need to use the toilet or something.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It would be a show of serious remiss for me to not mention that one of the firefighters on scene was perhaps the largest human being I’ve ever seen. I’m talking pro wrestler big. I’m talking David vs Goliath big, Batman big. Like seven feet tall and pure muscle big, He was taller than De Blasio big.

I’m talking “he claps his hands to put out fires, like the Hulk” big.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

By all reports, this was a fairly huge conflagration, and even the biggest fireman in the world wouldn’t be able to do anything but contain and control the blaze. The company based in the one story warehouse style building hereabouts was involved in the cabinetry business, I’m led to believe, and the raw materials stored in the structure were all wood based – which the FDNY would refer to simply as “fuel.” My buddies over at the Sunnyside Post were on scene during the event.

Check out their shots and videos of the raging fire here.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I can tell you that the day after the fire, the smoot smell of burnt wood still stained the air, but that the businesses next door were open for business. For those of you reading this who live in North Brooklyn, I’m sure you’ve already done the math on what probably happened here, based on experience.

Long story short, the real estate guys have been eying this still industrial stretch of Queens Boulevard for a while now, and their interest in an area usually renders it quite combustible.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My prediction for the next decade – based around what I’ve seen in LIC, Williamsburg, and Greenpoint over the last decade and a half – is that the industrial neighborhoods surrounding the Sunnyside Yards are going to be seeing a lot of largish fires occurring. The great thing about immolation is that it’s so costly to repair a burned up structure that the only sensible thing to do is to declare it a total loss and sell the land to a developer.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Truly, we are doomed by the ambitions of our lessers and their base short term desires. It’s all so depressing, and it leaves me (and us) totally burned out.

Like a leaf, you.

Upcoming Events and Tours

Sunday, August 14th, 11:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m. –
Calvary Cemetery Walking Tour,
with Atlas Obscura. Click here for more details.

Sunday, August 21, 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. –
Poison Cauldron Walking Tour,
with Atlas Obscura. Click here for more details.

Wednesday, August 24, 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. –
Port Newark Boat Tour,
with Working Harbor Committee. Click here for more details.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

August 11, 2016 at 11:00 am

imperfect posture

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Just a short, and selfie, one today

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As one scuttles about from place to place, lots of things are observed. Recently, the young lady pictured above was taking advantage of a (fairly) recently installed bike lane on one of the truss bridges crossing the Sunnyside Yards, at 39th street, to capture a series of selfies as she rode along. Vision Zero, or zero vision?

Upcoming Events and Tours

Saturday, May 21st at 3:30 p.m. –
A Return to The Poison Cauldron of the Newtown Creek,
with Atlas Obscura, in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Click here for more details.

Thursday, May 26th at 6 p.m. –
Brooklyn Waterfront: Past & Present Boat Tour,
with Working Harbor Committee. Click here for more details.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

May 10, 2016 at 1:00 pm

unpleasant person

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No matter where I go, there I am.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One has been particularly verbose and vitriolic this week about subjects substantial, which indicates to those who know me that the proverbial process best described in “Brooklynese” as “gettin my shits togetha” has been underway for the last several weeks. The walking tours season has begun, and I’m planning a series of excursions for the year with Mai Armstrong and the various organizations we work with. Cross your fingers and thank the stars – as boat trips, walking tours, and all kinds of cool stuff are being planned. The Atlas Obscura tour listed below has already sold out, I’m afraid, but I’ve got a few pretty cool irons in the fire right now.

While we’re waiting to finalize things, Mai and I decided we might do a walk through Calvary Cemetery with a smaller than usual group, next weekend – probably Saturday. More on this one Monday, and I’ll have a link ready for those of you who might want to come along.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There’s a few iconic Queens spots which will be hitting centennial anniversaries pretty soon, and I’m trying to figure out a few ways to commemorate that. Again, these things are on the stove’s back burners and simmering right now. A bizarre part of my thought processes, one which always befuddled and confused those unlucky enough to know me, is that I can take a project and tuck it away in my subconscious for processing while my waking mind concentrates on and handles other stuff like walking and laundry. Sometimes these simmering bits are utterly forgotten until I look through one of my notebooks and then – boom – it boils over and unfolds into something conscious and actionable.

Unfortunately, this “unfolding” often happens at 2:30 in the morning, which finds me huddled over the computer scratching away at a project as the sun is coming up. Lack of sleep is why my eyes often look and feel like they’ve been boiled.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Photography wise, there’s a few new locations and opportunities I’m interested in pursuing this summer, and many ongoing spots that I need to exert some real effort into continuing to document. Within the next two weeks, one plans to roam through the predominance of the municipality of Long Island City’s former borders, and do so with camera in hand. There’s night shots I want, places I’ve never been that I intend on visiting, and nothing – NOTHING – is going to stop me from getting to Aquarium in Coney Island this year. I’ve got boats to catch, trains to find…

It should all be a lot of fun, but it’s all still kind of depressing at the same time.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

April 16th, Obscura Day 2016
“Creek to Creek Industrial Greenpoint Walking Tour” with Mitch Waxman and Geoff Cobb.
Join Newtown Creek Alliance historian Mitch Waxman and Greenpoint historian and author Geoff Cobb for a three-hour exploration of the coastline of Greenpoint. Click here for more info and ticketing.

Written by Mitch Waxman

April 15, 2016 at 11:00 am

black coat

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Back in session.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The good news about my recent two week break is that it allowed an interval in which a humble narrator could really drill down and focus in on how lousy a human being I am. Lots of 3 a.m. staring into the bathroom mirror, accompanied by vast introspection and self loathing, has been accomplished.

Unfortunately I didn’t get much done, in terms of getting “out” and doing my “thing” for a variety of reasons. A few Newtown Creek oriented meetings were attended, however. Notably, I was at one with some high ranking DEP officials at the sewer plant in Greenpoint, where presentations on the final stages of construction of that mammoth facility were offered (I also went to the Bronx Zoo, but that’s a different story).

It seems the Nature Walk phases two and three, which will create a corridor between Kingsland Avenue and the current entrance to the NCWWTP Nature Walk on Paidge, are slightly delayed but funded.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The DEP reported to the Newtown Creek Monitoring Committee – which I’m a member of – that “NCMC” (as it’s called), will continue to exist throughout these final stages of Nature Walk construction and that DEP has renewed the contract for our technical advisor and community liaison – a wonderful and quite clever guy named Steve Fleischacker. This is great news. The DEP then moved on to report on the “Waste to Energy” project they’re doing with National Grid.

The “Waste to Energy” thing, in a nutshell, boils down to DSNY collecting organic (food waste) garbage then delivering it to a waste management facility over at the tripartite border of Greenpoint, Ridgewood, and Bushwick for processing into a “macerated slurry.” This slurry will then be trucked over to the sewer plant, where one eighth of the total capacity of the sewer plant has been committed to the production of methane gas – which the National Grid people will incorporate into their system and then sell to their customers.

Of course, that’s when the lying started, but if you walk out of a meeting with DEP and they haven’t fibbed at least once – then you know something is really wrong. DEP claims that there will only be six truck trips a day between the Waste Management facility and their own, but didn’t count the DSNY truck trips through Greenpoint. When I asked them to define “truck,” they all started leaning in and whispering to each other, and finally admitted that by “truck” they’re mean a semi tractor trailer pulling a massive 50,000 plus gallon tank through mostly residential streets.

That’s for Month one of the “waste to energy” project, by month twelve, they anticipate doubling the number of truck trips. They also haven’t done the math on months thirteen to twenty four yet.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

NYC DEP, which manages both the sweet (drinking) and tainted (sewerage) water systems for the megalopolis, is the very definition of the “permanent government.” There’s a hidden world of “lifers” and bureaucrats who actually run the agency, but the commissioner levels of management are directly tied to the political vagaries of NYC. In the last ten years, I’ve seen four executive teams come and go. They all make promises and commitments to the community, but when a new political order is decided on at City Hall and the Mayor moves someone new into the job – they are not obliged to honor the commitments of their forbears.

The DEP officials assured me that as long as the current Mayoral administration is in place, their promises are exactly that. For what DEP’s promises are worth and the realities of a “politics first” approach to municipal management, and an interesting look at the expediencies of City Hall – I suggest a read of this recent whistleblower NY Times article describing the “Water Tunnel #3” scandal.

Also, tour season is upon us again, so if you want to actually get a read on how repellant a human being I am in person – click the link below and come out to Greenpoint next Saturday for “Obscura Day.”

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

April 16th, Obscura Day 2016
“Creek to Creek Industrial Greenpoint Walking Tour” with Mitch Waxman and Geoff Cobb.

Join Newtown Creek Alliance historian Mitch Waxman and Greenpoint historian and author Geoff Cobb for a three-hour exploration of the coastline of Greenpoint. Click here for more info and ticketing.

negative impact

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Credos, declarations, statements on the street – in Today’s Post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Whilst wandering about, your humble narrator likes to take note of the various missives and graffitos encountered. Most of the graffiti you see are “tags” left behind by “writers” which indicate mainly that they have been there before you. There’s also the “art” types who do renderings and or complex paintings. You’ve also got the gang stuff, which is meant as either provocation or an announcement of territorial preeminence. My favorites are the credos, seeming attempts to liberate the minds of those who read them. Often, these credos are placed in highly visible locations, what the graffiti community would refer to as “a good wall.”

The shot above is from 48th street in Sunnyside, along the LIRR overhead tracks. This particular writer has been quite busy in the recent past.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A similar typographic style and brand of rhetoric has been appearing all over the study area which I call the Newtown Pentacle in recent months. The messaging above is found in Queens Plaza, and my presumption of its authorship is that it’s the same as the missive in the first shot.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Probably not the same graffiti enthusiast, but this less than monumental declaration was recently witnessed on Jackson Avenue nearby the Court Square subway station.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

In Astoria, nearby Steinway Street’s intersection with Broadway, this messaging appeared one morning in the late autumn. Again, I believe, it’s the work of the person(s) featured in shots 1&2.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Over at Socrates Sculpture Garden, this polemic was observed on a lamp post during the summer, but you’ll always find a whole lot of “artsy fartsy” graffiti near the institution.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Back in Sunnyside, on 48th street near Skillman, a more permanent sort of scrawl was observed which mirrors the sentiment of the block printed missives found along the LIRR tracks, in Astoria, and Queens Plaza.

It’s not quite as eloquent, but there you are.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

February 3, 2016 at 11:00 am

grotesque night

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Vampires be damned, I’m going out!

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As you might recall, last Thursday saw the Newtown Pentacle experiencing a temperature inversion whose unseasonable warmth generated a not insignificant amount of mist and fog. Atmospheric humidity was measured in the high end of the ninetieth percentiles, and the air temperature – even at night – never dipped below seventy degrees on that scale which was offered by and named for German physicist Daniel Gabriel Fahrenheit in 1724. Accordingly, one decided to stay up and go out into the fuligin.

After preparing and quaffing several decanters of caffeinated beverages, and having slavishly outfitted the camera bag for “night shooting,” I left Astoria at four in the morning, with a certain destination in mind, and my full kit on my back (including tripod). The tripod wasn’t deployed for a while, however, and all of the shots you’ll see over the next couple of days are handheld.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One decided on 48th street as offering my best southern path from “a” to “b,” with “b” in mind as being the lugubrious Newtown Creek. This is essentially one long incline, passing from the former marshlands of Northern Blvd., over the ridge into which Sunnyside Gardens was embedded, and continuing up the crest of Laurel Hill whereupon a gradual descent to the elluvial flood plains of the Newtown Creek and its tributaries once suffused a vast and mosquito breeding wetland environment.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The thickening of the atmosphere – due to the high humidity – and combined with ascending the gradual slope, caused a heavy wave of perspiration to start which was soon oozing out of my skinvelope. This occult liquid, thick with secretions, began to soak into my clothing and cause no small amount of discomfort. Of more concern was the effect which the atmospherics might be having on my camera, which – unlike the meaty carriage utilized to carry my brain around – was functionally the same temperature as the surrounding mass of air so accretions of airborne moisture sought to coat it. I had long ago stored away my eye glasses, as their continual fogging made them more trouble than they were worth.

High humidity plus air temperatures in the chillier range, to the glassy parts of a lens, are a terrible combination. Condensation is ruinous. The prophylactic measure is to hold the camera close to my body, which warms it up a bit.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Passing over Queens Blvd., and under the elevated concrete viaduct of the high flying IRT subway tracks, one began to feel a bit creeped out. It is an odd sensation moving through a City in the dark, knowing full well that any of the humans encountered will likely be inebriated or possessed of malign intent – or possibly some combination. Sex criminals and burglars are out at 4:30 in the morning – as well as photographers, it would seem.

As always, my headphones were in place, and the playlist of audio books employed for my night time jaunt were exclusively the writings of H.P. Lovecraft – as read in unabridged form by Wayne June.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Maybe it was the Lovecraft, or June’s basso performance of the material, but one found himself looking over his shoulder a lot. In the shadows and mist, unccommented upon men – if men they were – moved about in a manner which suggested that some series of neighborhood bacchanals had been well attended. All around me were cemeteries, ancient burying grounds locked away behind high iron gates. The desire to trespass was cut down by the sure knowledge that there are some things one does not wish to know.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

At the height of Laurel Hill, the darkened streets began to brighten as the phosphorescence and sodium lighting of industrial West Maspeth began to illuminate the fog and mist. A quickness of step began to sharply increase my pace, which unfortunately began to increase the levels of perspiration one was experiencing.

Realization that my hair and clothing were saturated, and that although I was perspiring heavily, there was no way that this amount of liquid could have emerged out of me caused me to wonder – and more than wonder – why I was so moist.

The fact that I was walking through a gaseous vapor, a grounded cloud as it were, occurred when a casual touch revealed that my camera bag had become somewhat moistened as well. The closer I got to Newtown Creek, the more that an obsequious combination of automotive exhaust combining with the fog began to roil the olfactory senses, and my eyes began to sting. Regardless of discomfort, one had come this far, and the creeklands awaited.

Tomorrow – more.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

November 9, 2015 at 1:00 pm

abnormal horrors

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Salutations and Happy Wednesday, from here in the dimly lit Newtown Pentacle.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Recent endeavor found one wandering about in the early evening, along the border betwixt Sunnyside, Woodside, and Astoria. Pictured above, a gas station found at the corner of Northern Blvd. and Woodside Avenue. It’s a Mobil station, as the corporate branding would imply, which historically means that it’s a SOCONY or Standard Oil Company of New York filling station.

SOCONY was based, of course, along my beloved Newtown Creek in Brooklyn. The modern world may be dross, but if you know what you’re looking at, history is writ large across it.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The shot above was shot from a spot solidly within Astoria, and depicts the iconic credo of the LIC Turn Verein. The Turners were a Duetche organization, who are actually still around but based further east of Queens than formerly, who promulgated the idea that physical and spiritual exercise were inextricably linked. This rather esoteric idea is what’s behind their iconic combination of a dollar sign and a crucifix, as seen above.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Woodside Avenue, one is happy to report, is still there. I will check in on and confirm the continuing presence of the ancient lane once the week long rain event that has begun today has reached its conclusion.

On the subject of Tropical Storm, or possibly Hurricane, Joaquin – this weekend’s walking tour of Calvary Cemetery with Atlas Obscura has been rescheduled for the following weekend, specifically for Saturday the tenth of October. It just ain’t going to be too safe to walk around on the saturated ground there, as my long experience with the property informs that the turf will be syrupy and difficult for perambulation. Last thing I ever want to happen on one of my tours is for someone to get hurt, and a slip and fall at Calvary could easily result in a serious injury, what with the vertical slabs of stone sticking up all over the place.

Also, lightning and open fields really aren’t a good combination.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Newtown Road’s terminus at Northern Blvd. is where you’ll find the NYCHA Woodside Houses, depicted in the shot above. Hopefully, Mayor Vain de Glorioso isn’t planning on instituting his asinine plan to build condos on the green space and playgrounds of this public housing development, but you never know. He is so tall that his head is literally lost in the clouds, and he walks upon the earth with gigantic feet that progressively crush all that are regressive enough to not get out of his way. When Ragnarok arrives in November of 2017, the Jotun (storm giant) is likely to experience some stormy weather and lightning. Hopefully, an electoral hammer will be thrown and find its mark, which will drive him and his ludicrous ideology back to the frosty shores of Park Slope.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Tours –

October 10th, 2015
Calvary Cemetery Walking Tour
with Atlas Obscura, click here for details and tickets

Written by Mitch Waxman

September 30, 2015 at 11:00 am

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