The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

mixed effulgences

with 2 comments

Tuesdays are inevitable

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Over in Blissville, along Railroad Avenue, there’s quite a situation. It seems that there’s a plugged up street drain or two which has resulted in the DSNY crews who handle the recycling pickups here in Queens having to drive through a couple/three feet of standing water. This water is carrying a lot of fairly poisonous soil suspended in it, given that it’s the southern most street in Western Queens and the last block before Newtown Creek. A lot of the mud and soil is also migrating out of the Blissville Rail Yard (where the garbage train is found), which means it’s just chock full of garbage juice and insulating oils.

Somehow, the fellows driving this particular truck knew who I was and then petitioned “Hey Mitch, can you help us out with this?” Who am I to say no to New York’s strongest? I’m on it fellas. Phone calls have been made, and DM’s to the well connected and politically important have been sent, there’s also an email chain working its way through the hallways of the Newtown Creek Alliance and the local Community Board has been made aware of the problem.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That same night, on my way back to Astoria, I set up my tripod in hopes of capturing the tribute in lights with the Freedom Tower framed in by them, but this year there was no display on September 12. Luckily, the Greenpoint Avenue Bridge opened up so it was worth standing there alongside the fenceline of Calvary Cemetery for about a half hour waiting for it to get dark.

As I was standing by the cemetery in Blissville, a voice from inside the gates let me know someone would be climbing over the fence and they didn’t want to startle me. I let them know that whatever their intention, the startling mission had already been accomplished. A small film crew had been trespassing within, and were vaulting the fence. I broke down my rig and moved on, not wanting to get clipped as a part of their party in case the bulls showed up.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

By the time I walked almost all the way home to Astoria it was quite dark out, and a stop was made at one of the new holes in the fence at the Sunnyside Yards to see what was doing down there in Amtrak land. Luckily, for me, a train set was moving around and I cracked out a few exposures.

That building? My understanding of certain old maps suggests that this is the facility where the Pullman Red Hats were trained for duty “back in the day.”

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, September 21st. 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.

2 Responses

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  1. you are a brave man Mitch, After 60 years of dreading seeing someone coming OUT of there, I would have gone wee-wee!


    September 22, 2020 at 1:01 pm

  2. The scene scene with the immersed garbage truck reminds me of the twice mentioned
    “Lake Maspeth”. My first few years in growing up on 1st Avenue in Harlem saw my young friends and I ‘gravitate’ toward the corner catch basin around which a puddle would form as in your photograph, Mitch.
    We would float discarded popsticks in that puddle, along with anything else we could get our hands on. That is until our parents caught us and reprimanded us for plying in the “Polio Water”. That was a serious consideration in the late 1940’s.
    Fast forward about 50 years or so with the study of drainage and a few field projects.
    The one where a tractor-trailer threw a wheel that went down the ‘sewer’ is the most memorable. That wheel blocked up the sewer and every time it rained a massive flood developed in the heart of that small N.J. town.
    The Town Engineer asked me to assist with some preliminary surveys and drawings.
    Upon excavation for the new sewer, the wheel was found. Getting back to the contaminated water from a combined Storm and Sanitary Sewer System (Sewage and Rainwater)…..which in the later years has resulted in separate treatment for storm water before discharge into our rivers and streams.
    You called it right, Mitch…..that’s a pretty hazardous pond. The contaminants on the street, including animal wastes, fertilizers, insecticides and motor vehicle lubricants all combine to make up “the soup”. The overflow of the Baldwin, Long Island Sewage Treatment Facility after Hurricane Sandy into the surrounding residential neighborhood was a nightmare. It is good to be aware of the problems facing the sanitary engineering industry and to be cooperative in supporting clean water projects.
    “The rain in Spain in goes mainly down the drain”. Or at least I hope it does.


    September 23, 2020 at 6:28 pm

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