The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

idiomatic voice

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Friday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

You don’t need to resort to filters or camera tricks to create a perfect mirror out of the waters of Newtown Creek, about three miles back from the East River. One of the core environmental problems back here is “flow.” Historically, there were dozens of small creeks and streams that flowed down out of the hills in Bushwick and Ridgewood and fed fresh water into the English Kills tributary of Newtown Creek, but colonization/industrialization/gentrification has turned them all into underground sewers. Natural springs were either capped or exploited. The water here rises and falls with the East River tide, but there’s virtually zero “laminar” or horizontal flow.

Anything that ends up in the water precipitates vertically down, building a sediment bed which is currently 15-20 feet thick that is referred to as “Black Mayonnaise.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

To combat this lack of current, and the low oxygen levels inherent in still or standing water, the State commanded the City to build an aeration system which seems to be fairly useless. Expensively useless would also be a phrase that applies. I keep on bringing up the creation of small waterfalls, the engineered kind where water flows and splashes down concrete steps. Hydrological engineering for the bulkheads to accommodate the water’s flow via the introduction of compression and expansion zones is something else I ponder.

The concept underlying the latter is that since water has an absolute limit on its top – atmospheric pressure – and another absolute limit at the hard bottom of the waterway, if you compress the water column horizontally the water will flow faster to its only egress. Same principle as holding a thumb over a garden hose’s outlet increases the pressure of the water. If the bulkheads included some sort of repeating scallop shape, it could theoretically create “flow” without having to power up pumps or impellers. That’s the theory, anyway.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

If improving Newtown Creek requires the use of a mechanism that needs to be fueled or powered, the improvement has already failed before it left the design phase. The physics of how water moves over, past, and through certain shapes embedded in its columnar body is what really matters to my eyes. Irrigation and petroleum pipeline professional engineers handle this sort of thing all the time, moving pressurized liquids around to where they’re needed. Pumping is largely accomplished with gravity and pipes that narrow and then widen.

Ehh. What do I know, I’m just some wandering mendicant with a camera.


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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 17, 2021 at 11:00 am

apologetic hesitancy

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Thursday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s the Grand Street Bridge pictured above, which I’d suggest you photograph soon if you were planning in doing so. The NYC DOT is going to be replacing it in the very near future, and this crossing of yet another Newtown Creek tributary – the East Branch – is going to look very different in just a few years time.

Oddly enough, at the start of the 20th and end of the 19th centuries, this was a very popular spot to commit suicide. There was a Catholic priest who did so here in his full ritual vestments, carrying his Mitre and everything. What?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Speaking of self destructive ideations, this sort of graffiti has been turning up all around the Creeklands in recent weeks. Allow me to decode this one for you – a “fat” lie plays into a certain political dog whistle which states that the only people who get sick or die from Covid are either overweight or already burdened with comorbidity factors like diabetes or heart disease. The “rugged individualism” types push this out there to let you know that they are too morally and physically strong for the virus to find a foothold in them. It’s like lord of the flies, I tell you.

Other lines from the same crowd include “I’ll get the shot when the illegals get it,” and “I’d gladly sacrifice my grandmother’s life for the sake of the economy.” As I’ve been opining for nearly two years now, don’t listen to Politicians about anything. Instead, observe what the most risk averse corporation in America does. Watch Disney.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Did you know that nobody has ever died on Disney property in either Florida’s Disneyworld or at any of their global parks, resorts, and cruise lines? A monorail operator employee of theirs was decapitated in an accident in Florida, and Disney’s EMT’s kept the guy’s heart beating until the stretcher wasn’t on their property anymore. He died in Orlando, not Disneyworld. Like I said, “risk averse.”

The chair pictured above was discovered on the approach to the Grand Street Bridge, and it was covered in barnacles (here’s a close up). The logical supposition is that somebody pulled this thing out of Newtown Creek. The good news is that there seem to be barnacles in the water.


“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, 2021 at 11:00 am

portentous meanings

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Wednesday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One found himself at the Maspeth Avenue Plank Road site recently, attending and photographing a Newtown Creek Alliance cleanup event that occurred on a lovely Saturday afternoon. One of the property owners nearby this site has recently been compelled to do some remodeling of their shoreline. I’ve known about this for a bit, but given that I’m usually here either at sunset or after dark, haven’t explored the new situation.

It’s not a good idea to be poking around in the bushes after dark in Industrial Maspeth, and especially so if you’re on foot and alone. Given that NCA had a fairly large group here, scooping garbage and debris off of the shoreline, I figured “why not?”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The shoreline in this spot has been fairly impassable during my years at Newtown Creek, and largely ignored by the industrial operation which worked busily on the other side of a large concrete and steel fence. An artist I know had briefly set up a small structure back here which he used as a hangout and ad hoc painting studio. That structure had been taken over by some mendicant in the last year or two. Artist, structure, and mendicant are all gone now and there’s all sorts of geographically appropriate plantings here now.

This is where I got into the fight with a raccoon back in 2020, during which I had to poke at the thing with my tripod.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s the mouth of English Kills, the Newtown Creek tributary that flows all the way back to Johnson Avenue in Bushwick. It’s also where water quality along the Creek sharply drops off. If you think Newtown Creek is bad, as everybody including the Federal Government does, you should see English Kills. Yuck.

Back tomorrow with more from my beloved Creek.


“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 15, 2021 at 11:00 am

ostentatiously on

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Tuesday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A few odds and ends today, including a shot above accomplished using some of my DIY made at home camera technology. That’s an office setup at one of the many auto dealerships found along Northern Blvd. here in Long Island City, one which I shot through a plate glass window. Reflections were cancelled out using an air conditioner foam insulator collar affixed to one of my lenses. Boo-yah!

I like it when my DIY stuff works.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A woman lives in that plastic cocoon pictured above. The cocoon is found along Northern Blvd. in LIC nearby another one of the many auto dealerships mentioned above. She’s the one who makes bird sounds, and then laughs in a manner which can only be described as “maniacal” whom I’ve mentioned in the past. What I mean by maniacal is the sort of laugh you’d expect an extra to offer in a “Hammer House of Horror” movie about Bedlam, a laugh which Peter Cushing’s character would ignore.

Before you ask, as I already have, she just wants to be left alone. Doesn’t want socks or “stuff” or access to services, just solitude to deal with whatever’s happening to her. Ok. She’s been here a couple of years, so…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Coming back into Astoria via Steinway Street, one encounters an automotive repair shop which often offers interesting insights into what could happen on the streets of New York City to an innocent motorist. On this particular evening, no spectacular wrecks were encountered but for some reason this towing truck with a hatchback on its bed caught my eye.

Back 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

September 14, 2021 at 11:00 am

cloudy throne

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Monday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I’m not joking when I say that I’m obsessed with that little tree which is growing out from under a factory building in Long Island City, along the banks of Newtown Creek’s Dutch Kills tributary. One feared, during a post deluge walk, that it might have become unrooted due to the heavy rain but there it was. It’s passed from being a tree to being a metaphor for me. Nature wins, ultimately, no matter how hard we try – nature wins.

Hope, basically. It represents hope to me.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It’s why we should be striving to enslave the insects to do our bidding. Imagine commanding armies of ants or termites. It’s just a matter of figuring out their pheromone language and changing their marching orders. Ants can move mountains, one particle of sand at a time. Give me enough indentured ants and I’ll change the course of the Hudson.

To get started – we’ll just need a bag of sugar, a laptop, and a couple of lengths of copper speaker wire. Yeah, eventually we’ll need an AI to act as the Queen, but one thing at a time – huh?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I don’t know why I automatically go to “mad science” as my solution for intractable problems. I have a friend who’s the kind of scientist who does horrible things to monkeys at work (for good reasons, as he’s trying to cure blindness, but it’s still a pretty grim laboratory setup). I’ve asked him if the “science industry” has any sort of safeguards against he or his colleagues going rogue. If you notice your co worker has a human hand wired to a computer, for instance, is there an 800 number to call?

The answer, after he finished laughing about the term “science industry,” was no. There are no restrictive or societal rules against mad science. Order your Tesla coils, lords and ladies, the sky’s the limit.


“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 13, 2021 at 11:00 am

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