The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

strained formalities

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Ok, now I’m getting a little stir crazy.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Something which has happened the last few times that I’ve left the quarantine of HQ for one of my constitutional walks is that before I even realize it, I’m at Dutch Kills. Maybe it’s because Dutch Kills, a tributary of the fabulous Newtown Creek in Long Island City, is a familiar and comfortable place for me. Perhaps it’s the fact that I can get to and from the place via depopulated corridors of illimitable solitude.

At any rate, Dutch Kills is where you can spread my ashes if the virus takes me.

Pictured today is the so called turning basin of Dutch Kills. The waterway averages a distance of about a thousand feet between its bulkheads, except for an area at its terminus, which is shaped like the head of a hammer and was designed to allow maritime traffic a point of easy rotation to reverse course rather than forcing vessels to back out to the main stem of Newtown Creek.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Technically speaking, where I was standing while gathering these shots is public land. One of the property owners whose lot adjoins this spot erected fencing around it shortly after Hurricane Sandy. The lock on the fence… well… let’s just say that I know how to open it and that I wasn’t too worried about having to chat with private security during a pandemic. I know, I know. What’s the point of having rules if you never bend them?

That’s an abandoned oil barge, one of two, which have been slowly dissolving into Dutch Kills for decades. It’s been there for the entire time I’ve been on the Newtown Creek beat, and even my buddy from ExxonMobil and the team at EPA have no idea whom these barges used to belong to. These days, they belong to a bunch of Canada Geese who use them to sleep and sun on.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

These photos were gathered on a full moon night, during which a “king tide” was manifest. What that means is that the water level at high tide was a great deal higher than it normally is. I was reminded of this by one of my chums at Newtown Creek Alliance when I mentioned that I though the barges seemed to be sinking deeper into the mud. Perception, particularly at night is a weird thing.

I’m desperate to get out of “the zone” at the moment, and might just tie my face mask on and go ride on the top deck of the NYC Ferry one of these days – just to be able to focus my eyes on distant objects. I also need some sunlight.

Note: I’m writing this and several of the posts you’re going to see for the next week at the beginning of the week of Monday, April 13th. My plan is to continue doing my solo photo walks around LIC and the Newtown Creek in the dead of night as long as that’s feasible. If you continue to see regular updates as we move into April and beyond, that means everything is kosher as far as health and well being. If the blog stops updating, it means that things have gone badly for a humble narrator.

“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 for $30.

Written by Mitch Waxman

April 20, 2020 at 11:00 am

One Response

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  1. Loved the turning-basin pic! I’d have thought that’s a fairly familiar viewing angle for me, but not looking like that! Stay well, Mitch!

    Kenneth Furie

    April 20, 2020 at 3:40 pm

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