The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Newtown Creek, and the Mountains of Madness

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

A Friday, on March 19th the Hermetic Hungarian had left his laboratory workshop (a set of rooms on Manhattan’s decadent Upper West Side where he is exploring the deeper meanings and implications of esoteric 19th century clockworks) and ventured forth to Newtown.

The Hermetic Hungarian, referred to as HH from this point on, is a pale and sickly genius who has been intrigued by the presence of certain atavist religions and the persistence of modern adherents to these sects who remain extant along the poison shores surrounding an ancient industrial center called the Newtown Creek. HH had procured an automobile for the day’s exertions- as his fragile health precludes him from the long walks favored by your humble narrator which are so pedantically detailed at this- your Newtown Pentacle.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Returning from a day of exploration, which first described the extensive branching of the transportation network referred to as “The Great Machine“, we proceeded to the currently undefended border of Maspeth and storied Greenpoint and crossed the Grand Avenue Bridge. HH was searching for evidences of a grandiose clockwork mechanism which long hours of research and supposition have led him to believe existed in the days of Trolley and Rail. Influenced by his metaphysical beliefs, which are both Hasidic and Buddhist in nature, the HH’s itinerary required his trip to be brief- and after spending an afternoon exploring the ancient climes of Newtown, Bushwyck, and Greenpoint- and we headed back toward a transportation artery that would allow him egress back to the Shining City and his hierophant isolations.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On our return, the bascule mechanisms of the Pulaski Bridge suddenly sprang to life, allowing egress to the Newtown Creek for shipping. The first watchtower on the Creek, the Pulaski is also the busiest of its bridges. While traffic on the Newtown Creek is a shadow of what it once was, there is still a significant industrial presence on the maritime highway that requires connection with the vast enterprises of New York Harbor- especially the petrochemical empires that line the shores of the Kill Van Kull in distant… Staten Island. Additionally the car shredders and other recycling facilities, which bless Newtown with their labor, utilize barges to move their wares to distant customers.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

In this case, it is the petrochemical shipping industry which commanded the opening of the Pulaski Bridge, as evidenced by the appearance of the DBL 28 fuel Barge, a 28,000 BBL double hull tank barge (which conforms to the Oil Pollution Act of 1990’s requirements- no mean feat) which was built in 2006 and weighs some 2,146 gross tons.


The 28,000 bbl capacity DBL 28 measures 297.6-feet in length, with a 54-foot beam and 13-foot depth. The DBL 28 is the first of a series of eight units currently in production at BMF for K-Sea. DBL 28 is coupled with an existing K-Sea tug using the state-of-the-art Beacon JAK 200 tug/barge Push-Pin coupler system, which is designed to increase operating efficiency and enhance safety and reliability by operating as a dual mode ITB. The series of barges are manned, non self-propelled, double hulled with a raked shaped bow, with six cargo tanks. The barges are classed Lakes, Bays & Sound (Inland) Tank Barges, ABS +A1 Oil Tank Barge, and USCG certified. The barges are being constructed primarily for bunkering and harbor service in ports on the U.S. East Coast.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The fuel Barge was being guided by the K-Sea Davis Sea, a 2,000 HP 95 gross ton, 77 foot long tug whose mast spires nearly 57 feet over the water. Online sources describe the Davis Sea as possessing 6 foot diameter propeller screws, which are powered by twin engines, and as having been built in 1982.


K-Sea Transportation Partners L.P., headquartered in East Brunswick, New Jersey, is a leading provider of marine transportation, distribution and logistics services in the U.S. From locations in New York, Philadelphia, Norfolk, Seattle and Honolulu, K-Sea operates a large fleet of tugs and tank barges that serves a wide range of customers, including major oil companies, oil traders and refiners.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Davis Sea, of course, is named for the oceanic area along the coast of Eastern Antarctica which abutts the Shackleton and West ice shelfs. Lying along the Indian Ocean side of the polar wasteland, it is the coldest, windiest and driest section of the southern pole. Eastern Antarctica is still largely unknown to man, except by aerial and satellite observation- although the Soviet and American hegemonies established scientific research bases as early as the 1950’s in the relatively ice free coastal areas. Today, all of the great nations are represented in scientific exploration of this final frigid frontier.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Gamburtsev Mountain Range as well as the prominences of the Transantarctic Mountains, and the East Antarctica Ranges are amongst the oldest ranges on Earth, although some of these great structures are quite nearly buried beneath the glaciers they have formed. Hostile to normal terrestrial life, these mountains of madness are rumored to contain and house several obscure occult constructs including “The black pit,” “the carven rim,” “the protoShoggoths,” “the windowless solids with five dimensions,” “the nameless cylinder,” “the elder Pharos,” “Yog-Sothoth,” “the primal white jelly,” “the color out of space,” “the wings,” “the eyes in darkness,” “the moon-ladder,” “the original, the eternal, the undying,” and other queer occult concepts.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Of course, your humble narrator digresses, influenced by a day spent with the limitless intellect of the Hermetic Hungarian- and the Davis Sea pictured above is merely a tugboat making it’s way down an urban waterway, and is not the seat of some cosmic horror which would shatter our notion of civilization and man’s place in the universal order.

The HH began frantically gesturing at me as I stood on the roadway of the Pulaski Bridge just then, lost down the soda straw reality of a telephoto lens.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Its purpose accomplished, the drawbridge had returned to its vehicular roadway duties, and traffic flow between Greenpoint and Long Island City was about to resume. Angry at the inconveniences offered by the delay, anxious drivers were about to rocket forth into Queens, and would have hardly afforded a specimen such as myself the luxury of not being ground to paste beneath their spinning wheels.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Davis Sea proceeded up the Creek, no paddles required or missed. She sauntered past FreshDirect and the Newtown Creek Waste Water Treatment Plant at Whale Creek, churning the languid gelatins which line the Newtown Creek as it went. This must be a difficult course, as there is so little room for error in piloting the narrow and tightly populated channel.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That is Calvary Cemetery on the horizon, with industrial Queens occupying the left side of the image. Just beyond is the Greenpoint Avenue Bridge and the significant petrochemical facilities- recently upgraded and enlarged and enjoyed by those on the Brooklyn shore – that adjoin it.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Forced to begin speeding up, the Hermetic Hungarian allowed me one or two last shots of the Davis Sea as it passed into that world of ancient mariners and atavist custom which typify Newtown, while angry motorists behind us employed their horns to display displeasure at our lack of enthusiasm for leaving the scene. Their horns formed a mocking chorus, an antiphonal response to our absent haste whose sound can be described only as…

“Tekeli-li! Tekeli-li!” “Tekeli-li! Tekeli-li!” “Tekeli-li! Tekeli-li!”

Driven to madness by the sound, the Hermetic Hungarian began babbling madly, repeating the names of subway stops as we drove.

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  1. […] astride Whale Creek, and maneuvering a barge into position. Tugboats are seldom observed at work this close, and certainly -in my limited experience- it is a rare thing to see one in such a nearly static […]

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