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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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Tuesday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My weekly visit to the Dutch Kills tributary of the fabulous Newtown Creek, found in the Degnon Terminal section of the Long Island City industrial zone here in Queens, was perpetrated recently. My pandemic long investigations into the presence of “it” continue, here in the former “Workshop of America.”

What is “it”? It is likely people having some cruel fun with my credulous nature, and taking advantage of the boredom and anxiety which the pandemic has induced in a humble narrator. Regardless, most of the stories I’ve received about “it” revolve around the Hunters Point Avenue Bridge section of the waterway so I keep on finding myself here. I’m also kind of obsessed with the indomitable nature of that tree in the shot above, and have been making it the focal point of various photos all year.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One has been forced into using certain esoteric practices behind the camera to properly record the darkness down on the water. Next up in my bag of tricks will be the use of polarizing filters to reduce the reflectivity of the water and allow the device to peer down into the gelatinous fathoms. It’s actually only about a single fathom, maybe a fathom and a half, here at Dutch Kills. It is fairly gelatinous, however.

One way or another, what I can say is that I didn’t see “it” but had the definite impression that there was something odd going on in the water. There were all sorts of splashes and ripples being caused by one critter or another down there.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The streaks in the water are the reflections of fish scales moving around during what ended up being a thirty second exposure. I’ve actually become quite fascinated by the artifacts of movement which turn up in these shots. Can’t tell you what sort of fishies were swimming around down there, but it’s likely these were Mummichogs.

Mummichogs (Fundulus heteroclitus) are essentially the bottom of the vertebrate food chain at Newtown Creek, but in a larger sense that’s the niche they occupy in the brackish and environmentally compromised waterways of the northeastern United States. They are omnivorous, and can thrive in fairly awful conditions. A bit of pescatarian trivia is that a Mummichog was the first fish to go to Space, having been studied on NASA’s Skylab back in 1973. Environmental scientists use these fishies as an indicator specie, meaning that you catch a bunch of Mummichogs and then grind them into a goo. The goo is then analyzed for the presence and concentration of certain chemical compounds like pcb’s or heavy metals.

The search for “it” continues.

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, August 10th. 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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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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Tuesday searching for “it” at Dutch Kills

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Just the other night, one began to wonder about “it” again and a walk over to the Dutch Kills tributary of the fabulous Newtown Creek ensued. My first stop was nearby the Hunters Point Avenue Bridge, found in the remains of the Degnon Terminal.

As mentioned in the past, the modern day shaping of Dutch Kills occurred in the first decade of the 20th century at the same time that the Pennsylvania Railroad Company was building the Sunnyside Yards. Michael Degnon was a construction magnate whose company completed the Williamsburg Bridge’s masonry, and famously finished the construction of the subway tunnels which carry the 7 line from Queens to Manhattan. Digging out the subway tunnel generated a lot of rock debris which he needed to dispose of, which was accomplished when Degnon purchased the estate holdings of former Governor Roscoe Flowers here in LIC, an area referred to as the “waste meadows.” The fill was used to reclaim and raise dry land from the wetlands, and Dutch Kills was canalized under supervision from the United States Army Corps of Engineers into its current form. That’s when the modern Hunters Point Avenue and Borden Avenue Bridges we’re built. Degnon built an industrial park surrounding the canal which offered rail to barge infrastructure and attracted enormous concerns like the Loose Wiles bakery, Chicle Gum, and Ever Ready Battery to Queens.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

21st century industrial degeneracy aside, Dutch Kills was an absolute mirror on the hot and humid night which I most recently visited it during. There is little to no laminar flow in Dutch Kills, which causes sedimentation and shoaling. Rumors from my network of local informants and Creek watchers have reached me in recent months describing something which strains credulity, but since I have very few things to occupy my time otherwise during this interminable pandemic, one is on the hunt for “it.” I won’t bore you with the rumors, as I don’t pass on stories which I either can not verify or that I don’t have photos to back up.

On this particular night, one spent a bit of time shining a green laser into the depths, which excited the schools of small fishies that nocturnally shelter from predators here. Since “it” would likely occupy the niche of a top predator, exciting the prey animals might have drawn it to me, hence the laser.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As above, so below, the saying goes. Never is the case more so on Dutch Kills on a night when the poison winds are quiet and the gelatinous fathoms are calmed.

The thick humidity hanging in the air made this particular walk perspiratory in the extreme. While shooting these shots, I encountered employees of the NYC Department of Transportation’s Bridges unit, a nearly invisible organization which has been curiously present in recent months during the pandemic. You normally never see these folks unless a bridge needs to open for passing maritime traffic, but for some reason I’ve encountered them repeatedly at both Borden Avenue and here at Hunters Point Avenue in the dead of night.

Perhaps they have heard about “it” as well?

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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