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Archive for March 2010

Green Jobs of the Future

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- photo by Mitch Waxman

One of the current political buzz phrases, “green jobs of the future”, gets under my skin. The 2 shots in today’s posts are what I call “snatch and grabs”, meaning that I was passing by- took a couple of quick shots- and beat it out of there. This is one of the many recycling facilities one may find in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. I bring them to your attention not because of intrinsic merit or photographic interest but rather to make a certain point about this particular political meme. Non union and dirty, the recycling side of waste management enjoys a certain vogue amongst the elites of the intellectual and political class, but the truth of it is somewhat different. Were these elites to actually walk the neighborhood streets where their ideas are made manifest, one wonders how their enthusiasm would fare.

from nyc.gov

Place all paper together in CLEAR bags, or in any bin labeled with green recycling decals or marked ” MIXED PAPER”. (Or place in the white dumpster for paper recycling, if your building has one.)

Flatten and bundle large pieces of corrugated cardboard and tie with sturdy twine, or break into small pieces to place in your recycling bin or bag. (Or place loose in the white dumpster for paper recycling, if your building has one.)

- photo by Mitch Waxman

A neighbor of mine works in one of these plants, located like this one near the Newtown Creek, and has described the process of collection and sorting to me in some detail. Most of this paper ends up getting pulped and processed into shipping boxes. Raw paper is sold by the ton to be shredded into pulp, and free market vagaries apply. He’s told me that as the economy has tanked, so too have the orders for boxes from online retailers (a large part of the recycled paper market), which has depressed the market. His literal quote, which was said without a hint of irony, is that “the bottom has dropped out of the cardboard box market”.

from dec.ny.gov

In the Solid Waste Management Act of 1988, the Legislature established our State Solid Waste Management Policy. The following are the solid waste management priorities in New York State:

  • (a) first, to reduce the amount of solid waste generated;
  • (b) second, to reuse material for the purpose for which it was originally intended or to recycle material that cannot be reused;
  • (c) third, to recover, in an environmentally acceptable manner, energy from solid waste that can not be economically and technically reused or recycled; and
  • (d) fourth, to dispose of solid waste that is not being reused, recycled or from which energy is not being recovered, by land burial or other methods approved by the department (from New York State Environmental Conservation Law 27-0106.1).

The primary mandate of the Solid Waste Management Act is to reduce the amount of waste destined for landfills and incinerators in New York State. Source separation and recycling programs are fundamental components to the diminishing of the ultimate volume of solid waste requiring disposal. Source separation and recycling play primary roles in meeting this goal. In New York State, municipalities are required to enact local recycling laws under General Municipal Law section 120-aa.

Written by Mitch Waxman

March 30, 2010 at 9:27 am

Terminal Destination

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- photo by Mitch Waxman

As mentioned in the past, your humble narrator is often employed by the advertising industrial complex to perform the job function of “photo retoucher”. What that means, essentially, is that I use photoshop to remove the mustaches and wrinkles from photos of pretty people or create elaborate images that might be composited from as many as a dozen photos (use this head, that shirt, these legs, and put these sneakers on him- for instance). This particular specialization of advertising, there are thousands, takes place on the “production” side of things. Non glamorous, we are not the “madmen” types. The madmen are in Account (a business division which handles numbers, legalities, and client relations) or Creative (strategists, art directors, copywriters). Account makes the deal, Creative imagines up the strategic thinking, Production manufactures it.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Creatives are irascible individualists, who will follow an idea right over a cliff if you let them, but that’s what production is there for. We’re the safety net beneath their intellectual trapeze act, an often 24 hour a day operation that churns out the actual ads you encounter under the close supervision of Creative and the sceptic oversight of Account. There is an expected error rate of zero in this business, and a vast support staff exists around these core services. Retouching is part of that, as well as- proof reading, human resources management, information technologies, and to a certain extent- photography. It’s all about client service, and ensuring that that all bases are covered.

Again- an expected failure rate of zero.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Our Lady of the Pentacle is also employed in the breakneck advertising industry. An ad agency which recruited her is actually the reason that she left Britain behind and came to New York, an unlucky event as it made her geographically vulnerable to the questionable charms of an inferior specimen such as myself.

Brilliant and successful, Our Lady (in her current incarnation) found need for a photographer to accompany her team around a client’s place of business one day in January, but had no budget. A feckless quisling and traitor to joy, I nevertheless was enlisted to join with the team and explore the client’s property with perfect freedom to just shoot as many photos as I wanted to (as well as dozens of shots of kiosks, signs, counters, and other ad specific duties- and within certain ground rules as the federal government takes security here VERY seriously, and one is normally denied such opportunity by the cold reality of the Terror Wars).

Many of the shots I took are in the hands of Our Lady of the Pentacle, but these were just for me. Welcome to JetBlue’s Terminal 5, at John F. Kennedy International Airport.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Designed by an architecture firm which mankind knows as Gensler, a multinational firm based in San Francisco, Terminal 5 is a nearly billion dollar complex of runways, passenger waiting areas, and a state of the art check in facility. The design stats on the place sound made up; a facility designed to handle 250 flights a day, 26 gates, 20 security checkpoints, 625,000 square feet, 20 million passengers a year- and as construction started some 4 years after 911- it is task built with security in mind.

I’ll tell you, though, that these Gensler folks understand light.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Clever gels and tinted windows cast the “brand colors” of the airline about the terminal, and made for brilliant swatches of color. The warm and cold colors also happened to concur with the colors of New York’s state flag, which is coincidence as far as I know, but lucky for both parties. The structure performed its central function though, and navigating its cavernous depths was intuitive.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

A central atrium provides access to the long banks of passenger gates, with retail vendors strategically arranged. The quality of light in these bays is spectacular.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Those Gensler folks are good with light, I tell you.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Terminal 5′s central theme is curvilinear, attempting to invite the sensation of soaring. Incidentally, just in case you’re thinking I’m writing some sort of ad puffery, forget that. The place really is gorgeous, form and function are quite balanced. If this was an ad, you’d know it.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The baggage Carousels, for instance, don’t look this good at LaGuardia or Heathrow. The place is also impeccably clean, but then again, it is a recently completed structure.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

One of the constraints on photography I was under that day, and appropriately so, was to not capture images of the check in area or the security apparatus and personnel. There is a Casino level of security here, with watchers being watched by those who are watched- I’m pretty sure that they have ninjas on staff somewhere, but our attendant guided us away from troubles and escorted us through the steady stream of passengers and explained our activity to inquiring constables.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

To advertising people, jaded and scarred, my mention of the trip through here was greeted with “oh yeah, that’s cool”- but antiquarians and neighborhood cranks immediately asked “did you get into TWA – the Saarinen building?”.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

One of the world’s great buildings is just outside Terminal 5, the TWA World Flight Center, and was built by a genius named Eero Saarinen. Still undergoing renovation and repair, it is an iconic structure and its future seems quite bright. This is the rear of the building, incidentally.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

It was time to leave, with Our Lady’s team needing to return to the Shining City and take up once more the reigns of advertising, and for your humble narrator to scuttle mournfully home to sun kissed Astoria.

Written by Mitch Waxman

March 28, 2010 at 9:47 pm

Posted in JFK, Photowalks

Tagged with , , , ,

One of those days

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- photo by Mitch Waxman

March 25th… this is one of those days on which a random series of events lend the day a sense of odd concurrence and portentous destiny. Cherry picking any series of historical events in the name of stitching together a narrative is an easy thing to do, and its best practice is expressed by the art of propaganda. Certain patterns, moments of causality and traditional celebration, however, do seem to cluster around parts of the year. Equinoxes or traditional holidays that transcend temporal distance and cultural extinctions, the remarkable October 31-Nov. 2 period, the end of december and first week of january, middle-late march, and the last week of august all have long chains of historical events that coincide with ancient Roman feast days- which were post modern celebrations of antiquity even in their own time.

from wikipedia

At an equinox, the Sun is at one of two opposite points on the celestial sphere where the celestial equator (i.e. declination 0) and ecliptic intersect. These points of intersection are called equinoctial points: the vernal point and the autumnal point. By extension, the term equinox may denote an equinoctial point.

An equinox happens each year at two specific moments in time (rather than two whole days), when there is a location on the Earth’s equator where the centre of the Sun can be observed to be vertically overhead, occurring around March 20/21 and September 22/23 each year.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The Roman feast of Hilaria Matris Deûm (honoring Cybele) fell to it’s apex today, and of course its the Christian Feast of the Anunciation, and the British Empire legally abolished the Slave Trade on March 25 in 1807.

Today is also the anniversary of the 1947 Centralia Mine disaster (a seminal moment in the history of the American Labor movement), the Rev. Martin Luther King’s 3rd march on the state capitol in Montgomery, and closer to home- it’s the anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire which happened in 1911.

from wikipedia

The Annunciation is the Christian celebration of the announcement to Mary by the angel Gabriel that she would become the Theotokos (God-bearer). Even though a virgin, Mary would conceive a child who would be the Son of God. Gabriel told Mary to name her son Jesus (“Yahweh delivers”). Most of Christianity observes this event with the Feast of the Annunciation on 25 March.

According to the Bible, the Annunciation occurred in “the sixth month” of Elizabeth’s pregnancy (Luke 1:26) with the child who would become known as John the Baptist. This celebration of Jesus′ incarnation falls nine months before that of his Nativity.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Deep in our colonial past, prior to 1752- in fact all across the early British Empire – March 25th was actually New Year’s Day. Commonly called Lady’s Day, it dates from the days of the Julian Calendar, which was established by Caesar.

from wikipedia

The logic of using Lady Day as the start of the year is that it roughly coincides with Equinox (when the length of day and night is equal) and it is worthy to note many ancient cultures still utilse this time frame as the start of the new year, for example Iranian new year. In some traditions it also reckons years A.D. from the moment of the Annunciation, which is considered to take place at the moment of the conception of Jesus at the Annunciation rather than at the moment of his birth at Christmas.

Written by Mitch Waxman

March 25, 2010 at 12:12 am

Posted in linkage, Photowalks, Pickman

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No surgery! No Suffering!! Make Your Life Better!!!

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- photo by Mitch Waxman

The ridicule of pretention and a desperate desire to describe wonders witnessed drive your humble narrator to offer these recent photos. Driven by hubris and frustrated aspirations, vast journeys across the major metropolitan city have been accomplished, and hundreds of images have been uploaded to my flickr page in the last week with dozens more awaiting review and file transfer. To wit…

Check out the Breezy Point ferry set here.

Leaving pre dawn from Pier 11 in Manhattan, the Breezy Point Ferry was potentially on its last run. Maritime enthusiasts, a quartet of us were assembled onboard. The burning thermonuclear eye of god itself was occluded by the silhouette of infinite Brooklyn as it opened upon the great metropolitan city. The fury of its gaze was apparent when the tiny ship entered the narrows, and the horizon was lit by omnipotent luminosity. That’s the Jane Reinauer tugboat, incidentally.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Other new photos to check out have recently hit flickr… Continuing experimentation with the “new camera” is producing intriguing views and exhibiting technical exercise and exploration of the wild possibilities and damning limitations hinted at in the first 3 months I’ve owned it.

Check out the Newtown Pentacle 14 set here.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

There’s a walk over the Williamsburg Bridge to be found in this NP 14 set…

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Wandering aimlessly around Queens never fails to produce interesting and enigmatic images… and for rail fans, there are shots from the A line in Rockaway in NP 14.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

A walk through Mt. Olivette cemetery in Maspeth and the revelations found atop the high ground of the terminal morraine… as well as the bottom of the hill along the Newtown Creek and adventures along the Kill Van Kull abutting Staten Island can be accessed in the Newtown Pentacle 13 set here.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Lots of cemetery wandering can be observed in recent uploads, actually, it’s where I belong after all…

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Check ‘em out, if you want a preview of the next few weeks of postings, there’s also an awful lot of photos at my flickr page.

I’m off on a boat trip in the storm today, heading for Albany along the Hudson River, an all day journey which will be completed by a twilight journey back by rail…

additionally, I’ve been helping out on the fledgling LIC Millstones blog, and have just uploaded a little history lesson from Bob Singleton of the Greater Astoria Historical Society that explains just what the heck a millstone is and why it matters that a significant and totemic piece of Queens from the colonial days is sitting in a construction zone in Queens Plaza. Here’s the vid:

Written by Mitch Waxman

March 23, 2010 at 12:42 am

family photos

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Check out the work of our Lady of The Pentacle, me missus, as she exhibits our weekend excursion to the wilds of the Long Island Gold Coast and exploration of the Vanderbilt Mansion. Her blog post about it is here, and check out her flickr slideshow

Here’s a flickr slide show of my own, detailing the recent Breezy Point Ferry trip I was on (I’ll be doing a proper post on this later on this week). Check out NY Harbor at dawn…

Another crazy series of experiences is underway, hundreds and hundreds of new photos are in the oven right now…

Written by Mitch Waxman

March 22, 2010 at 1:57 am

Posted in linkage, New York Harbor

Tagged with ,

running in place

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- photo by Mitch Waxman

Maritime pursuits call out to your humble narrator this 18th of March, and the mysteries of Barren Island and the greater Jamaica Bay await. Just a short post today, before I head down to the docks.

This whole “mom is sick again”  business is going as well as it can, but has set me off in a tail spin of guilty self recrimination and brutal self examination. A quick walk around Cavalry yesterday helped to clear my head a bit, but I’m all ‘effed up, and even my little dog Zuzu is worried about me at the moment. Tendencies toward maudlin and tiresome self loathing render me a real “ray of sunshine” at moments like this, but from such psychic manure often bloom new and interesting ideas. In the meantime, I’m just snapping photos.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Some good news is apparent-

One of my photos ended up on the Roosevelt Island community newspaper’s front page. Click here for the latest  Main Street Wire

Also, a Newtown Pentacle reader who once worked at Cavalry Cemetery offers some insight on the mysterious knotted cords I observed back around Halloween. I have another update, in the works, observed there yesterday- more on that next week.

Creek Week, which was truncated by “newsworthy” and “strike while the iron is hot” postings about public ceremonies and parades, will continue- I promise.

Written by Mitch Waxman

March 17, 2010 at 9:53 pm

Posted in Pickman

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Bacchanal

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Astoria Back Yard – photo by Mitch Waxman

The Romans had a name for March 16th and 17th, specifically for tonight and all day tomorrow, and it was the Bacchanlia. A central holiday for the cult of a fertility and wine god called Bacchus, who was a latin interpretation of the greek Dionysos, the Bacchanal (which was originally a gathering of women, but was made co-ed in 188 BC) would take place on the Aventine Hill. Shackles of conventional morality and licentiousness would be thrown off and vast celebrations of oinoculture would be enacted.

from wikipedia

In the rites, men were said to have shrieked out prophecies in an altered state of consciousness with frenzied bodily convulsions. Women, dressed as Bacchantes, with hair dishevelled, would run down to the Tiber with burning torches, plunge them into the water, and take them out again. Their flames would not diminish as they were made of sulphur mixed with lime.

The rites gradually turned into sexual orgies, particularly among the men, and men who refused to take part were sacrificed. It is said these men were fastened to a machine and taken to hidden caves, where it was claimed they were kidnapped by the gods.

The festivities were reported to Postumius who persuaded the Roman Senate to authorize a full investigation. In 186 BC, the Senate passed a strict law (the Senatus consultum de Bacchanalibus) prohibiting the Bacchanalia except under specific circumstances which required the approval of the Senate. Violators were to be executed.required the approval of the Senate. Violators were to be executed.

Lexington Avenue, Manhattan – photo by Mitch Waxman

Just as our modern Republic seeks favorable comparison with the ancient titans of Rome, so too did the Romans see themselves as the inheritors of the advanced cultures that preceded them in dominance over the Mediterranean world, and which they conquered in the most brutal manner imaginable. The Bacchanal was a conservative Italian version of the wild Dionysian Mysteries and the Greek Bacchanal.

from wikipedia

If the Dionysus Cult first came to Greece with the importation of wine, as seems likely, then it probably first emerged around 6000 BC in one of two places, either in the Zagros Mountains, the borderlands of Mesopotamia and Persia, both with their own rich wine culture since then (arriving in Europe via Asia Minor), or from the ancient wild vines on the mountain slopes of Libya / North Africa. North Africa was the source of early Egyptian wine from around 2500 BC, and home of many an ecstatic rite involving animal possession—notably the goat and panther men of the Aissaoua Sufi cult of Morocco (though it is also possible that this was of later origin and influenced by Dionysian cults itself). Whatever the case it appears Minoan Crete was the next link in the chain of transmission, importing wine from the Egyptians, Thracians and Phoenicians and exporting it to its own colonies, such as Greece. Thus it was in Minoan Crete (c. 3000 to 1000 BC) that the basic Mysteries probably took form—certainly the name Dionysus exists nowhere else other than here and Greece.

Ia, Santorini – photo by Mitch Waxman

Even the Greeks, or “Hellenes” as they would have and do call themselves (Greek is bad latin, a derogatory term meaning short legged- Graeki). When the christians gained power and influence in the latter days of the Roman Empire, Hellenes was the term used for heathen or pagan, and so it fell out of usage.

The Hellenes themselves were late comers to the mediterranean milieu, conquering a civilization which modernity refers to as the Mycenae (which had supplanted the still earlier Minoan) some 10,000 years ago. This culture, which is believed to have traded with Pharonic Egypt and Phonecia (also modern terms), fell to ruin after the explosion of the Santorini (Thera) volcano ca. 1600 BC left them defenseless. The Bacchanal, however, was already an annual tradition by then.

from wikipedia

Cultic rites associated with worship of the Greek god of wine, Dionysus (or Bacchus in Roman mythology), were allegedly characterized by maniacal dancing to the sound of loud music and crashing cymbals, in which the revellers, called Bacchantes, whirled, screamed, became drunk and incited one another to greater and greater ecstasy. The goal was to achieve a state of enthusiasm in which the celebrants’ souls were temporarily freed from their earthly bodies and were able to commune with Bacchus/Dionysus and gain a glimpse of and a preparation for what they would someday experience in eternity. The rite climaxed in a performance of frenzied feats of strength and madness, such as uprooting trees, tearing a bull (the symbol of Dionysus) apart with their bare hands, an act called sparagmos, and eating its flesh raw, an act called omophagia. This latter rite was a sacrament akin to communion in which the participants assumed the strength and character of the god by symbolically eating the raw flesh and drinking the blood of his symbolic incarnation. Having symbolically eaten his body and drunk his blood, the celebrants became possessed by Dionysus.

Kalives, Crete – photo by Mitch Waxman

Crete, which is the true cradle of the western tradition, was an important cultic center for Dionysus- but the Cretans are known and commented on historically for their parties. Come and spend a night out in Astoria, you’ll see what I mean.

from wikipedia

The idea of a mystery religion consisted essentially of a series of initiations which benefited the individual or their society in some way. Initially associated with the passage from childhood to adulthood and maturity, they later became seen as what we might call an evolutionary rite. And it was in the form of a Mystery Religion that the Dionysus Cult was first channeled in a more civilized way, probably first in Minoan Crete.

The notion behind the Dionysian Mysteries seems to have been not only of the affirmation of the primeval bestial side of mankind, but also its mastery and integration into a civilized psychology and social culture. Given the dual role of Ariadne as the Mistress of the Minoan Labyrinth and consort of Dionysus, some have seen the Minotaur story as also partly deriving from the idea of the mastery of mankind’s animal nature, though this remains controversial. The self mastery achieved in this way was not one of domination as in similar cults, most famously preserved in contemporary culture as George and the Dragon, and perhaps the original Minotaur myth, but one of acceptance and integration. Thus while the Mysteries did much to lighten the darker aspects of the cult they often failed to reassure its perhaps excessively civilized critics and continued to be regarded by many as dangerously liberative (particularly given its egalitarian tendencies as well).

Astoria Maenads – photo by Mitch Waxman

Fascinating, the way that some traditions just will not die out. St. Patrick’s day is tomorrow, and when you raise a glass to some wee lass in a pub, or go to some drunken revel at a friends apartment, think of the Maenads and realize that you are enacting the bacchanal- and carrying out a tradition that extends back through time. Watch out for the ladies, though, they have a tendency to go a little wild on this sort of holiday, even the prim and proper ones.

from wikipedia

Carry A. Nation (November 25, 1846 – June 9, 1911) was a member of the temperance movement, which opposed alcohol in pre-Prohibition America. She is particularly noted for promoting her viewpoint through vandalism. On many occasions Nation would enter an alcohol-serving establishment and attack the bar with a hatchet. She has been the topic of numerous books, articles and even a 1966 opera by Douglas Moore, first performed at the University of Kansas.

Nation was a large woman, almost 6 feet (180 cm) tall and weighed 175 pounds (79 kg) and of a somewhat stern countenance. She described herself as “a bulldog running along at the feet of Jesus, barking at what He doesn’t like”, and claimed a divine ordination to promote temperance by smashing up bars.

Written by Mitch Waxman

March 16, 2010 at 12:05 pm

Posted in Astoria, Pickman

Tagged with , , ,

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