The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Archive for February 8th, 2021

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

A holocaust of Zoom meetings notwithstanding, one still finds the time to wander about Queens aimlessly in the dead of night with a camera. These shots have arrived in front of you due to one of my bimonthly visits to the Dutch Kills tributary of Newtown Creek, which can be found comfortably nested in with and amongst the concrete devastations of Long Island City. There’s a lot of science hereabouts, and not enough fiction.

The fiction is found a few blocks away, in the lobby offices of those shiny new luxury apartment towers, staffed by Real Estate Industrial Complex worker drones who never mention or instead misrepresent the heavy industrial/environmental history of LIC to their tenants prior to getting the rubes to sign on the proverbial dotted line.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It shakes my basic faith in people. They’ll spend hours watching documentaries about where and how McDonalds produces and manufactures its gruel, or the mean reality of the production line for Hallmark Greeting Cards, but won’t bother trying to find out if the luxury condominium they’re entering into thirty years of debt for sits on the former site of a chemical factory. They’ll expound upon on the political issues of the day and adjure you to “do your own research” but don’t bother googling up an old map of the area where they’re investing in property to see what used to be where. Also, as a note, googling something is not research. It’s exactly the same thing as asking a librarian where to find a book. Reading the book isn’t even “research,” but it can be a part of that process.

Just last week, I attended a community board meeting in which a project was being offered to Astoria as a panacea to solve an intractable issue of affordable senior housing, by a highly politically wired developer. As soon as I saw the address, I said “Hey, that’s the Nelson Galvanizing Superfund site.” Why am I the only person in Queens who knows about and talks about these things?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

In Brooklyn or Manhattan, if you were to crumple up a gum wrapper and throw it in the gutter, before it hit the pavement somebody would have already formed a nonprofit group to combat the phenomena. In Queens, you could dissolve truck tires, with gaseous chlorine, in a hole you dug out of your yard and that’s not just peachy keen – it’s also cool. When the vapors kill your neighbor’s dog, also cool. When a kid gets killed, the Politicians will show up and christen a bike lane, and they’ll “tsk tsk” about your chlorinated tire habits but won’t actually do anything to stop you. Hell, the Queens Chamber of Commerce will probably show up and give you a trophy for being industrious and taking care of the old tire problem.

Clean your room. Do you want to get sick? Don’t buy a new construction condo without first inquiring what used to be there.

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, February 8th. 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.

Written by Mitch Waxman

February 8, 2021 at 12:00 pm

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