The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

voyages incalculable

leave a comment »


– photo by Mitch Waxman

A humble narrator was accomplishing a longish scuttle on the 23rd of September, one which saw me perambulating from the rolling hills of almond eyed Astoria in Queens towards the concrete devastations of the lugubrious Newtown Creek and the Greenpoint section of Brooklyn. Pictured above is the view from mid span on the Greenpoint Avenue Bridge.

“Every time might be the last time.” That’s my mantra at the moment, and thereby I’m trying to visit everywhere one last time.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

At the poetically named “Unnamed Canal” along Newtown Creek, I spotted the tug Miss Madeline struggling a barge against an incoming tide flooding in from the East River. There’s a bit of laminar or horizontal tidal movement in this section of Newtown Creek, whereas in other areas – notable the tributaries like Dutch Kills and Maspeth Creek, where tidal action is discernible only in a strictly vertical form.

Everybody tells me that I’ll be coming back to NYC within two years. This is extremely unlikely. If things go badly for me in Pittsburgh, Our Lady of the Pentacle and myself will just move on to the next place, or the one after that. I’m sure that there will be occasional visits here for work or extended family events, but my residence will be elsewhere.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Hey, it’s the New York City Department of Environmental Protections’ Newtown Creek Resource Recovery and Wastewater Treatment Facility pictured above. Can you imagine being the person who answers the phones there? Due to my influence, everybody associated with the various Newtown Creek community groups have just started using “the sewer plant in Greenpoint” instead. Give DEP five years and they’ll have probably inserted the first stanza of “T’was the night before Christmas” into the place’s name by then. Jeez.

My next destination was the Newtown Creek Nature Walk, which was funded under the NYC Charter requirement known as “1% for art.” The stipulation commands NYC to commit one percent of the budget of any new municipal construction project to either public open space or to a work of public art. Phase 2 & 3 of this Nature Walk was a project which a humble narrator was deeply involved with, as a member of the community oversight “Newtown Creek Monitoring Committee” or NCMC. I ended up putting in a lot of hours for this one.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

From Phase 1 of the Nature Walk, one observed Miss Madeline still struggling against the physics of the tidal cycle. They had maneuvered out of Unnamed Canal and into Whale Creek, as pictured above.

The hour was beginning to grow late, and my desire was to find myself somewhere else, with an interesting and elevated point of view, when the descent of the burning thermonuclear eye of God itself behind New Jersey occurred in about 60 or so minutes.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One leaned into it, and began quickly scuttling eastwards, past the largest source of greenhouse gas in the borough of Brooklyn, pictured above and found at the Department of Environmental Protection property known as “the sewer plant in Brooklyn.” Those four pipes are burning off the methane produced by the sewer plant. The venturi jet burner is tuned up to produce a clear flame, and you need to look for the heat distortion emanating from the things to visualize the horror of it all.

DEP has been working with the National Grid outfit for nearly a decade to work out a “waste to energy” program which would harvest the greenhouse gas, and will often talk about this project in public in a manner suggesting that it’s up and running, but in reality not a single visible screw has been turned yet and it’s kind of a scandal waiting to explode and embarrass them.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Every time might be the last time…

You may have noticed that I’m centering that scaffold clad chimney in a few of my shots lately. It’s all that remains of Van Iderstine, the ghastly fat rendering company who’s redolent presence defined the Queens side of the Greenpoint Avenue for nearly a hundred years. It’s being taken down and demolished currently, which feels like a quite appropriate thing for me to witness, as regarding my own situation. The edifices of the past and all that.

More next week, at this – your Newtown Pentacle.

“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

October 21, 2022 at 11:00 am

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: