The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Archive for July 14th, 2021

listless fury

leave a comment »


– photo by Mitch Waxman

One does enjoy it when they accidentally leave the industrial fences open, over at the Dutch Kills tributary of the fabulous Newtown Creek in Queens’ Long Island City section. It was a hot night in LIC, with high humidity. One was hoping for a spectacular sunset which didn’t materialize, which is sort of a metaphor for my entire life, but that’s neither here nor there. Here’s this profundity however – If you’re working at sorting different grades of gravel and sand, you need the sort of stuff pictured above to do so. That’s a sly observation, no?

There was some sort of drama playing out on the street behind me, wherein a woman was displaying all sorts of outré behavior while two uniformed men sat in a car not far away and watched her. They had DHS logos on their polo shirts, so the entire tableau likely involved official business on the part of the Department of Homeless Services. I didn’t inquire into the matter as it was none of my actual business.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Oh, the sewer jellies. The sewer jellies are categorically my business. Over at Dutch Kills’ intersection with Hunters Point Avenue, a work barge has been stationed. The gear they’re using seems to involve large chunks of lumber and a lot of rope. These floating apparatuses allow the sewer borne lipids dancing along the surface of the water to congeal into fungible fecundities. When the light is just right, one may discern the conditions.

New York City has a combined sewer system. What that means is that sanitary and storm water travel through the same pipes. A quarter inch of rain in NYC, citywide, translates into a billion gallons of water entering the system. During thunderstorms and other sudden deluges, the people who operate the sewers – the NYC Department of Environmental Protection or DEP – are forced to release untreated combined sewer waste water into outfall pipes which empty into area waterways. A lot of cooking grease and oils get carried in this flow, as does petroleum residue from the streets.

Jellies. Meringue. Syrups. The DEP calls the stuff honey.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One always scolds newcomers to the Newtown Creek watershed to beware the trucking traffic and be very careful when moving about. Eyes are crinkled, smiles are forced, and they tell me that they know how to cross streets. I offer “this is not the world you know” and then point out safety cones which are squished by, or torn apart by, the wheels of heavy trucks.

If a safety cone ain’t safe on the street, you ain’t. Never walk in front of a truck without first getting acknowledged by the driver that they know you’re there. You don’t want to get squished by a gravel sorting machine, which would turn you into a kind of red street jelly.

“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

July 14, 2021 at 11:00 am

%d bloggers like this: