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without cause

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Photographers photographed while they’re photographing.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

A short break, wherein offerings at this, your Newtown Pentacle, will consist of lighter fare than that normally served is underway. Obligation and a series of deadlines have dominated all attention, and accordingly – for the next few days, singular images with a pithy yet abbreviated description will be supplied. One must render unto Caesar, after all.

There are now four public Newtown Creek walking tours coming up, one in Queens and one in Brooklyn and two that walk the currently undefended border of the two boroughs.

Plank Road, with Newtown Creek Alliance, on April 19th. This one is free, click here to get on the list.

Poison Cauldron, with Atlas Obscura, on April 26th. Click here for more info and ticketing.

DUPBO, with Newtown Creek Alliance and MAS Janeswalk, on May 3rd. Click here for more info and ticketing.

Modern Corridor, with Brooklyn Brainery, on May 18th. Click here for more info and ticketing.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

April 16, 2014 at 11:00 am

wildest speculations

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In today’s post – it’s the Goyem.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Last year, I got to photograph the Irish Language Mass at St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral on Mulberry street in Manhattan, as described in this post from march of 2013.

Opportunity to capture this year’s event presented itself, so I got on the train from raven tressed Astoria to the Shining City and headed over to the House of Dagger John.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

This time around, your humble narrator decided to move the camera about a bit more, while still attempting to document the mass itself. As mentioned in the past, one is captivated by the pageantry of the Roman Catholic practice, despite having been raised in the Jewish tradition.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

A bit of attention was paid to swapping around my lenses this time around, which runs counter to my normal practice of choosing an “omnivore” lens with which I handle an entire event. Normally, these days, I’m using my Sigma 18-35 or Canon 24-105 for most everything. I’ve got a Canon 70-300 which is somewhat unreliable, but it found its way onto the camera as well during this event.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The issue with the 70-300, a “consumer” level zoom lens, is that I find it to be a bit soft and prone to “back focusing” in the focus department. Its an intermittent thing, mind you. I’ll pop out three exposures and the one in the middle is sharp while the two surrounding it are soft. This sort of unreliability causes me to use it less and less, as photography is all about freezing a moment and there are no “do overs.” I’ve got my eye on a lens I want, but it’s going to take a LOT of summer walking tour revenue to pay for it.

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hewed way

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The pipes, the pipes are calling.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

There’s just something about that sound. For people of certain ancestries, Bagpipes sound pretty good (I’m one of them) and they stir the emotions. To others, and this has nothing to do with the modern concept of “nationality” so get over that one, this instrument creates a wave of revulsion that shakes them to their core. Your humble narrator used to keep a disc of bagpipe music handy to break up teenager parties in our last apartment building. The kids would scatter as soon as the drone started, acting as if chlorine gas had been released into the air.

from wikipedia

Bagpipes are a class of musical instrument, aerophones, using enclosed reeds fed from a constant reservoir of air in the form of a bag. Though the Scottish Great Highland Bagpipe and Irish uilleann pipes have the greatest international visibility, bagpipes have been played for centuries throughout large parts of Europe, the Caucasus, around the Persian Gulf and in Northern Africa. The term bagpipe is equally correct in the singular or plural, although in the English language, pipers most commonly talk of “the pipes”, “a set of pipes” or “a stand of pipes”.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Famously, the Irish and Scots considered (one of the hundreds of variations on the bagpipe) this instrument a weapon of war. The Spartans marched behind a sort of bagpipe, accompanied by drums, all the way back in ancient Greece. The legend of Emperor Nero playing his fiddle while Rome burned is apparently a bastardization of Emperor Nero playing the Tibia Utricularis, Roman bagpipes, while the inferno roared.

from a very cool site, with lots of historic representations of bagpipes, going all the way back to the Roman Tibia Utricularis, billhaneman.ie

All throughout the centuries when warpipes were used by the Irish as a part ot their military equipment. Little Irish history was made in their absence, though their participation in the activities of warfare was not specifically mentioned. In forays and battles the pipers took literally a foremost part. Being always in the lead, and heroically remaining to encourage their troops with spirited war tunes, until death or defeat silenced their strains.

The Irish advanced to the charge at the famous battle of Bel-an-atha-buidhe, or the Yellow Ford, in 1598 to the stirring strains of the warpipes, and many instances are cited by Grattan Flood where the warpipes were used effectively. In the language of Standish O’Grady: “They were brave men those pipers. The modern military band retires as its regiment goes into action. But the piper went on -before his men and piped them into the thick of the battle. He advanced sounding his battle pibroch, and stood in the ranks of war, while men fell all around him.”

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Acoustic weaponry or not, like those teenage partiers at my last apartment, the sound of bagpipes is generally enough to upset those who don’t have a predisposition to their particular sonic wavelengths. They’re hardly an LRAD, of course, but these things – when played in concert and syncopation with other pipers – set up a standing wave of sound which can penetrate the din of battle and shake the confidence of an enemy force, who know instantly that the men of the north are approaching with serious intent. Happy St. Pat’s, ya’all.

from theguardian.com

As anyone who has walked along Princes Street in Edinburgh will know, the sound of bagpipes is enough to make any stroller beat a hasty retreat, which is why the Scots have historically used them to repel their enemies. And long before the Scots had discovered how to make a horrible noise, Joshua was using trumpets to make the walls of Jericho come tumbling down. Throughout history noise has been a powerful weapon but can it really curdle your insides, or make buildings crumble?

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frigid and impersonal

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Gotham City, or Metropolis?

- photo by Mitch Waxman

First, Happy Regifugium.

NYC – barely recognize the place these days, although I’ve watched it all happening, the Shining City has started looking like Metropolis of late – but we ain’t got no Superman. Accordingly, one would presume to be the first person, perhaps in decades, to offer and advance a suggestion that we just get it over with and build a dome over the city. We all know that this will happen eventually. We’ve always known, deep inside.

Imagine, that we are destined to gambol and labor within a vast and transparent geodesic dome spanning all five boroughs (and the Hudson riverfront of New Jersey). We could build very tall around the center, and project ads on it at night. It would pretty much let us laugh at floods from within the fishbowl, and everybody’s friends at the NYC DEP could be responsible for air freshness and circulation (and billing). That would be swell.

Also, if we used to be Gotham, then where’s the other guy?

from wikipedia

In ancient Roman religion, Regifugium or Fugalia (“King’s Flight”) was an annual observance that took place every February 24. The Romans themselves offer varying views on the meaning of the day. According to Varro and Ovid, the festival commemorated the flight of the last king of Rome, Tarquinius Superbus, in 510 BC. Plutarch, however, explains it as the symbolic departure of the priest with the title rex sacrorum.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Secondly, Happy Dragobete.

Of course, rain and weather issues would be a thing of the past under the dome, but sky graffiti would likely become a huge issue. The sunset would likely illuminate a “REVS” tag before long. One surmises that poorer sections of the City would receive fair shares of air circulation and as clean a patch of dome as Manhattan’s Financial District or Central Park would get but we all know how things really work in this town, with or without a theoretical yet definitively hemispherical enclosure. If there’s a dome over new York City, Far Rockaway’s section of the Euclidean shield will have a crack in it.

The scorched reality found, as the path of the burning thermonuclear eye of god itself tracks across the sky in seasonally appropriate positions and passes over the curved reflective surface of the dome – any damage which might be visited upon neighboring counties by the intense heat and radiance could be considered an unfortunate consequence suffered by an outside few for for the greater good of the many inside. Just like the way that the water system was built.

Also, terrorism.

from wikipedia

Dragobete is a traditional Romanian holiday originating from Dacian times and celebrated on February, the 24th. Specifically, Dragobete was the son of Baba Dochia, which stands for the main character in the pagan myth related to spring arrival and the end of the harsh winter.

The day is particularly known as “the day when the birds are betrothed”. It is around this time that the birds begin to build their nests and mate. On this day, considered locally the first day of spring, boys and girls gather vernal flowers and sing together. Maidens used to collect the snow that still lies on the ground in many villages and then melt it, using the water in magic potions throughout the rest of the year. Those who take part in Dragobete customs are supposed to be protected from illness, especially fevers, for the rest of the year. If the weather allows, girls and boys pick snowdrops or other early spring plants for the person they are courting. In Romania, Dragobete is known as a day for lovers, rather like Valentine’s Day.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Political or business insiders would achieve a new cache from the descriptor in this dream of a humble narrator. As a child, comic books coupled with speculative fiction stories filled his mind with images of domed cities and other marvels of the world that was to come. These domed cities were populated by a group of athletic people who wore stretchy superhero style clothes and used handheld computers. They ate artificial food, had remote control robot armies fight for them, and they lived in cities which had both movable sidewalks AND jet packs for longer distance travel. We’ve got all of that already except for the Dome and the Jet packs… I think Metropolis has Jet Packs, in Gotham you swing from a rope.

Also, it’s August Derleth’s birthday.

from wikipedia

August William Derleth (February 24, 1909 – July 4, 1971) was an American writer and anthologist. Though best remembered as the first publisher of the writings of H. P. Lovecraft, and for his own contributions to the Cthulhu Mythos genre of horror, as well as his founding of the publisher Arkham House (which did much to bring supernatural fiction into print in hardcover in the US that had only been readily available in the UK), Derleth was a leading American regional writer of his day, as well as prolific in several other genres, including historical fiction, poetry, detective fiction, science fiction, and biography.

A 1938 Guggenheim Fellow, Derleth considered his most serious work to be the ambitious Sac Prairie Saga, a series of fiction, historical fiction, poetry, and non-fiction naturalist works designed to memorialize life in the Wisconsin he knew. Derleth can also be considered a pioneering naturalist and conservationist in his writing.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

February 24, 2014 at 9:30 am

not utter

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Curious marking, everywhere.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

While wandering through the megalopolis, one is exposed to a constant barrage of information. Bill board, signage, even the streets have instructions and a complex code of symbols that instruct and inform. It is impossible, for the literate, to not translate these graphical representations of words directly into thought. You can’t “not” read something, if you can – in fact – read. It would be like ignoring a smell.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The thing is though, and I’ve mentioned environmental adaptation before (in reference to the fact that I don’t really smell Newtown Creek or the sewer plant in Greenpoint anymore), unless something painted or posted to the wall is truly extraordinary, I can’t distinguish it out from the rest of the visual clutter. The way I see it is that even if only a letter or two of a word triggers recognition (that’s an “A” and that’s a “B”) in me, the graffiti person has won. Same thing goes for advertising, I guess. Either way, I don’t like being forced into thinking. That’s the direction in which trouble lies, when one begins to think.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

This is currently occupying a sidewalk here in Astoria, and a Brazilian fellow walking a strange dog told me that the word is Portuguese and translates as “corruption”. It really stands out, as no one else has written anything on any nearby sidewalks, or in front of other houses. My Brazilian friend shrugged his shoulders, and sauntered off with his odd pet. Also, I must compliment the handwriting on this graffito, and would love to own a font which follows its esthetic.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

January 30, 2014 at 7:30 am

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