The Newtown Pentacle

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It’s always Monday somewhere

– photo by Mitch Waxman

These images have nothing to do with the route, but I conducted a short walking tour on Saturday. First one of the year. Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney attended. That’s me, Mr. Big Pants.

One of the Newtown Creek Alliance “revitalize” projects – we have a “reveal, restore, revitalize” mission statement – is playing out in the Hunters Point section of Long Island City. The plan involves the replanting of a median strip nearby Gantry Plaza State Park so that cultivars chosen to attract the attentions of insectivorous pollinator species can be installed. A fairly large group of volunteers showed up to pull weeds and turn over the soil, and on Wednesday of this week another crew will show up to plant said cultivars. Next Saturday, I’ll be leading another short walk if you’re interested in coming along. Masks and distancing required, obviously.

It was nice to feel useful again.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Tonight, one of the Queens Community Board 1 committees I’m a member of – Environmental – will be hosting a zoom meeting discussing various issues here in Astoria. Contact the CB office if you’d like to virtually attend. It should be a fairly uneventful conversation, as we have to procedurally focus in on budgetary recommendations for most of it. If you’ve got anything environmental in nature you’d like to bring to the groups attention, please do so.

Again, it’s nice to feel like I’m actually earning my dinner again.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Next Sunday, the 27th, marks the ten years in point since the declaration of Newtown Creek as a Superfund site by the Federal EPA. This has put me into a reflective mood, which never works out well for a humble narrator.

Before any of you ask “how the hell did you narrate a walking tour while wearing a mask,” I used a small amplification gizmo which has a microphone headset and a belt worn speaker to compensate for the muffling effect.

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 blurb.com for $30.

Written by Mitch Waxman

September 21, 2020 at 11:00 am

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Thursday, in LIC.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Frustrated by yet another unsuccessful expedition and attempt to photograph “it,” one decided that since midnight had been arrived at it was time to begin plying a course back to HQ in Astoria. The night was hot and humid, and despite the absence of the burning thermonuclear eye of god itself bobbing about in the sky, sweat was running freely from my skinvelope. It had rained heavily earlier in the day, and olfactory observation indicated that NYC’s Combined Sewer system had contributed some meaningful amount of untreated sewage into the Dutch Kills tributary of Newtown Creek, here in the Long Island City section of Queens.

Also, I’d been on my feet for hours at this point.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The latter statement proved my undoing. Knowing this area as well as I do, places where one can take the proverbial load off for a few minutes are a part of my list of features and attractions. In the shot directly below, you’ll notice a picnic table and umbrella in front of the surprisingly excellent delicatessen “Sparks.”

I did mention the heavy rain? Did I mention that before I sat down at the picnic table I didn’t check to see if the seat was concave in shape and hosting an absolutely terrific amount of rain water? Well, I hadn’t, and so didst one sit down. As I felt the liquid penetrating up through my pants, and underpants, it occurred to me that I should have – in fact – checked to see if it was wet. I didn’t, and now I was.

At least it is was quite cooling.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This incident prompted one to summon a cab, which is something I’ve only done twice in the pandemic period. Not having wet skivvies, as far as “twice” goes. I mean taking a cab. Nothing is more miserable than walking multiple miles in wet clothing during a heat wave. Chafing, it affects us all, and some more than others. Masked up, a car was summoned for my trip home via the miracle of cellular telephony.

Everything mundane is scary now, in the age of the killer cooties, even calling a Lyft.

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, July 13th. 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 blurb.com for $30.

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Wednesday photos of the after times, and the search for “it.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Nothing to see here, Officer, just an old schmuck with a camera hanging off the side of the Borden Avenue bridge at midnight, shining a laser into the water to excite the schools of little fishies in the hope that their activity will attract “it” into frame. Of course, if any of the rumors about “it” are true, it would be big enough to pull a large dog off the shore and drag it to the bottom of Dutch Kills.

Excitement abounded, during the process described above, when a sudden flurry of shoreline movement and chittering began to emerge from the darkness.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Whipping out my pocket flashlight, I soon discovered that the sound wasn’t coming from “it” but rather from “them.” On my way to this particular location, one encountered a lovely woman named Virginia whom I discovered as being the mysterious person that had been feeding the colony of feral cats along Dutch Kills for the last few months. Her deposits of cat food and water, apparently, had been contributing to the growth of a family/colony of Procyon lotor – or Raccoons if you must. The notion that wild mammals are inhabiting the banks of Newtown Creek is encouraging, given the fearsome reputation and environmental issues which put the waterway on the Federal Superfund list.

I only got a clear shot of the one pictured above, but I counted around seven sets of eyes shining back at me from the self seeded brush lining Dutch Kills’ banks. Speaking as I do on behalf of other creatures of the night, being shy and careful is a great survival mechanism.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My inspection for “it” continued, and given that “it” has always been reported to me as being aquatic, the camera was again pointed at the water. Unfortunately, the mirror surface of Dutch Kills betrayed the fact that not too much in the way of living activity was occurring this particular night. During the summer months, oxygen levels in the waters of Newtown Creek fall precipitously due to the heat. The warm water, which is fed into by NYC’s Combined Sewer system, becomes a haven for algae that live and die in the stagnant water. When the algae die off, their remains precipitate down into the water column and bacterial entities go to work consuming these leave behinds. The life cycle of the bacterial world consumes dissolved oxygen in the water and produces carbon dioxide and other gases in its stead. The bacteria then die and putrefy, which in turn promulgates the growth of the next algal bloom.

If you spend enough time around Dutch Kills, you’ll notice the waters are sometimes yellow ochre, then olive green, then black, then silver, and then the cycle repeats.

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, July 13th. 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 blurb.com for $30.

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Looking for it, Tuesday.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Trying to get a shot of “it” has proven more difficult than I thought it would be. One is being purposely vague about “it,” since it cannot possibly exist. A different sort of “it” used to reside in the cupola of the Sapphire Megalith of Long Island City at 1 Court Square – a formless and immaterial monstrosity identified via a three lobed and unblinking eye that didst stare down at the world of men with disdain – but that “it” moved out shortly after the whole Amazon thing fell apart and headed back over to Manhattan. This new “it,” which might actually be a very old “it” if these unverified rumors I’m receiving carry any veracity at all, is something else entirely . It’s all quite intriguing, really.

After possibly sighting “it” in the waters of Dutch Kills, just north of here alongside the Hunters Point Avenue Bridge, one positively boogied over to Borden Avenue to see if “it” might just be hanging about the maritime basin found nearby the 1908 vintage Borden Avenue Bridge.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The shape with what appears to be three glowing red eyes isn’t “it.” That’s just a reflection of a tree mixed in with three lights mounted on the high flying Long Island Expressway. “It” was definitely in the basin, however, evinced by the enormous ripples on the water’s surface and the panicked reactions of those smaller fishies who were schooling about in the dark fathoms there.

As a note, a fathom resolves down to about 1.8 meters or exactly six feet. In the center of the Dutch Kills channel, and it varies, you’re looking at probably 2-2.5 fathoms. At the sides, where shoaling is a serious issue, there are spots where the bottom sediments are exposed at low tide and the depth of the water is in negative fathoms. I’ve never heard anyone else use the term “negative fathoms” so it’s likely I just added something to the English Language again.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One changed locations again, this time picking a spot with some brush cover, thinking that “it” very well might be aware of my silhouette against the night sky, with the sky dome all under lit by the street lamps and automotive traffic. Additionally, some fellow who was walking up Borden Avenue just stopped dead in his tracks about four feet away from me and was staring intently, at both me and his phone, and I got weirded out.

In the end, I didn’t get a shot of “it.” I’m trying though. If your journey carries you to Newtown Creek or its tributaries at night anytime soon, keep an eye out on the water near the shorelines and let me know what you see. It’s out 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, June 29th. 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 as we move into April and beyond, 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 blurb.com for $30.

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Borden Avenue Bridge, #LIC.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One is in the process of a quarterly exercise, visiting all of the corners of the Newtown Creek watershed. I’ve been doing this for awhile now, quarterly, and certain areas in the Borough of Queens which host the Newtown Creek’s tributaries have been positively haunted by my nocturnal inspections during the recent tribulations we have all been enjoying. Oft repeated, Dutch Kills is a tributary of the nefarious Newtown Creek which branches off of the main trunk of that waterway some .7 of a mile from the East River and proceeds roughly 3/4 of a mile into the Long Island City section of Queens. The Borden Avenue Bridge is one of several retractile spans across Dutch Kills, retractile meaning that the roadway retreats for maritime access, and was built in 1908. It is owned and operated by the NYC Department of Transportation.

It’s my second favorite Newtown Creek Bridge, after the Grand Street Bridge.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One often comes here and scans the shorelines with a powerful flashlight. The eye shine of feral cats reflects back, but that’s not what one searches the rocky shores for. One is hesitant to describe the rumor which led to the activation of that pocket flashlight. You would think me credulous, or superstitious at best.

Suffice to say that some stories need to develop, and that still water may indeed run deep. I did take advantage of the fact that the local strip club remains closed, as the shot above was captured on their entryway steps.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Post facto gathering these shots of Dutch Kills, one has since been entertaining himself with walks heading both eastwards and southwards into Blissville and Greenpoint, with the product of said effort is being prepared for your consumption later this week.

As a note, today is the 130th 116th anniversary of the General Slocum disaster in 1890, 1904 for the historically minded amongst you. Thanks to George the Atheist for the fact checking on the date, not sure where I came up with 1890.

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, June 15th. 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 as we move into April and beyond, 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 blurb.com for $30.

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