The Newtown Pentacle

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Twirling, ever twirling, that’s me.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The venerable Grand Street Bridge is pictured above, as seen from the northern fork of the East Branch tributary of Newtown Creek. The East Branch doesn’t seem like much of a tributary today, terminating as it does in a supermarket parking lot (for the north fork) and at an open sewer on Metropolitan Avenue (the southern fork). Once upon a time…

As a note, one of my colleagues recently informed me that a high ranking DEP official complained to him about our common use of the term “open sewer,” and opined that modern day wastewater engineers feel that the term demeans their trade and is offensive. One point eight billion gallons of untreated sewage being released annually into Newtown Creek offends me, let alone the totality of NYC’s entire wastewater output in the harbor. Engineer that.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Trekking through industrial Maspeth for the first time in a few weeks, obvious indications that the Queens Cobbler has been busy in the first month of 2018 were apparent. For those of you new to the story, a theorized serial killer is active in the neighborhoods surrounding Newtown Creek who leaves beyond trophies of their kills on area streets. The trophy is always a single shoe, seemingly cast aside in the tidal surges of garbage and litter which abound in these parts.

Western Queens is full of dark secrets. The vampires of Queens Plaza, the thing unearthed beneath Burger Jorissen’s grist mill during the construction of the Sunnsyide Yards… Curly Joe knew the score.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On the particular day these shots were captured, industrial Maspeth was busy defrosting itself. The sidewalks became slippery again as formerly gelatinous petroleum products that are regularly spilled hereabouts regained their liquid state, due to the higher atmospheric temperatures, and that odd combination of smells which the area is known for began to nebulously recombine forming a mephitic olfactory profile. The smell of fine marijuanas, roasting on open fires, was omnipresent as well, but it was late afternoon on a Saturday. If a man works hard, there’s nothing wrong with a bit of stress relief after the work day has ended, right?

It ain’t Jack Frost nipping at your nose in Industrial Maspeth, its hydrogen sulfide.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Moving inexorably south east, a humble narrator again encountered the calling card of the Queens Cobbler, displayed pretty as you please on those concretized devastations which form the flood plane for all the existential horror found in these parts. One does not allow himself to forget the rumors handed down to me by the Slavic centenarians of Maspeth, which hint at certain events in the early 1950’s that drew the attention and a deployment of certain United States Marine Corps specialized units.

As the story goes, something colossal rose from the Newtown Creek after nightfall, an abominable and mutated reptilian thing said to be capable of swallowing a horse in one gulp. Federal authorities conspired with the office of the Queens Borough President (Maurice A. FitzGerald) to keep things quiet until the Marines arrived, saying that there had been a gas leak and an explosion which required a temporary evacuation of residents and laborers. That’s how the BP explained away the artillery fire, saying it was just a gas leak. Hang around in the bars of Maspeth, or at the Clinton Diner, and you might hear a different telling of what went down at the United Enameling and Stamping Co. property on that summer night in 1950. Some that you’d ask, and certainly every Government official, will deny such an event ever happened.

Who can guess, all there is, that might be buried in the mud and sediments of the Newtown Creek?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Of course, the biggest hazard to the mammalian way of life along the Newtown Creek in Industrial Maspeth isn’t actually the possible presence of a serial killer who leaves single shoes in his wake, rumors of a giant mutated turtle called Creeky, the probable witch cult who cast off numerous artifacts in area cemeteries, or the endemic environmental pollution and ongoing release of billions of gallons of untreated sewage into the waterway every time it rains. It’s the trucks.

Pictured above is a fairly indestructible safety cone, whose purpose is the visual indication of “no go” areas for drivers, smashed flat and torn asunder by truck tires.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Later that same day… over in Ridgewood.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

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Written by Mitch Waxman

January 22, 2018 at 11:00 am

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