The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

sharp toothed

with one comment


– photo by Mitch Waxman

My weekly visit to the Dutch Kills tributary of the fabulous Newtown Creek, found in the Degnon Terminal section of the Long Island City industrial zone here in Queens, was perpetrated recently. My pandemic long investigations into the presence of “it” continue, here in the former “Workshop of America.”

What is “it”? It is likely people having some cruel fun with my credulous nature, and taking advantage of the boredom and anxiety which the pandemic has induced in a humble narrator. Regardless, most of the stories I’ve received about “it” revolve around the Hunters Point Avenue Bridge section of the waterway so I keep on finding myself here. I’m also kind of obsessed with the indomitable nature of that tree in the shot above, and have been making it the focal point of various photos all year.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One has been forced into using certain esoteric practices behind the camera to properly record the darkness down on the water. Next up in my bag of tricks will be the use of polarizing filters to reduce the reflectivity of the water and allow the device to peer down into the gelatinous fathoms. It’s actually only about a single fathom, maybe a fathom and a half, here at Dutch Kills. It is fairly gelatinous, however.

One way or another, what I can say is that I didn’t see “it” but had the definite impression that there was something odd going on in the water. There were all sorts of splashes and ripples being caused by one critter or another down there.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The streaks in the water are the reflections of fish scales moving around during what ended up being a thirty second exposure. I’ve actually become quite fascinated by the artifacts of movement which turn up in these shots. Can’t tell you what sort of fishies were swimming around down there, but it’s likely these were Mummichogs.

Mummichogs (Fundulus heteroclitus) are essentially the bottom of the vertebrate food chain at Newtown Creek, but in a larger sense that’s the niche they occupy in the brackish and environmentally compromised waterways of the northeastern United States. They are omnivorous, and can thrive in fairly awful conditions. A bit of pescatarian trivia is that a Mummichog was the first fish to go to Space, having been studied on NASA’s Skylab back in 1973. Environmental scientists use these fishies as an indicator specie, meaning that you catch a bunch of Mummichogs and then grind them into a goo. The goo is then analyzed for the presence and concentration of certain chemical compounds like pcb’s or heavy metals.

The search for “it” continues.

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, August 10th. 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 here, 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.

One Response

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  1. When you eat a Mummichog, does it taste like chicken?

    georgetheatheist . . . dog days fishing

    August 11, 2020 at 1:16 pm

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