The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

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southern satellites

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Roosevelt Island and the Megalith, in today’s post.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

As described yesterday, one found himself scuttling across the pavement of Roosevelt Island recently. Purpose had carried me to this spit of land which exists as a sort of existential buffer between Manhattan and Queens, and the desire to see what had become of the Queensboro Lamp Post base under the stewardship of the Roosevelt Island Historical Society. After visiting the group’s HQ, one elected to move across the island in a southerly direction, whereupon the Vane Brothers “Red Hook” tug was observed towing a fuel barge in a northernly direction.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Famously, the previous administration of the Big Little Mayor signed a deal with Cornell University to create a new campus here on the island. As far as I know the current administration of the Little Big Mayor hasn’t found a way to bollock that up yet by inserting “affordable housing” into the mix yet, and there is an awfully large demolition project underway at the former Goldwater Hospital campus. As always, the thing which cannot possibly exist that dwells in the cupola of LIC’s sapphire megalith has its unblinking eye fixed upon the world of men and is omniscient.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The impossible ideation found at the apex of the megalith, and its global army of acolytes in the Real Estate Industrial Complex, will see all around it transformed. In the end there will be naught be mirrored towers for miles in any direction, daggers aimed at the heavens, shadowing the earth from the radiant gaze of the burning thermonuclear eye of god itself. How many vantage points have I presented to you, over the years, which depict a scene such as the one above? How many more will we see before the world is remade in its image?

- photo by Mitch Waxman

One cannot relate too much about the hospital itself. The Goldwater Hospital was established in 1939, and was named for a former NYC Hospitals official. Goldwater had been merged with another hospital on Roosevelt Island, Coler, and served the community as a more than 2,000 bed chronic care facility. Dilapidated and decrepit, the hospital complex was condemned in order to make way for the coming university campus. The acknowledged expert on this subject is Judith Berdy from the Roosevelt Island Historical Society, so why not come out to the island and allow her to share her wisdom?

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Neither Goldwater Coler nor the Tug Red Hook was the focal I had in mind when beginning the short walk from the Roosevelt Island Historic Society’s HQ to the southern tip of the island, however. One’s desire was to visit the brand new “FDR Four Freedoms Park” which was opened somewhat recently. Observations of the space from Long Island City and multiple boat trips over the last summer have intrigued me, and a closer inspection seemed warranted.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

On Monday, a short photographic presentation of my observations will be made manifest at this, your Newtown Pentacle – but here’s a teaser image of the sights encountered when I first entered the monument. It seemed quite appropriate, somehow – that as I walked into a park celebrating the first of the imperial Presidents of the United States – a military helicopter was flying overhead, and that the United Nations building was framed by the park’s masonry.

There was a sign, one which admonished visitors “do not climb on the walls.” Don’t believe me? See for yourself, if you dare.

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faint draft

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Sludge Boats, baby, Sludge Boats…

- photo by Mitch Waxman

For those two weeks which formed the end of November, a humble narrator was enjoying a vacation from all things with the Missus. In fact, for about half of our vacation time, Our Lady of the Pentacle and myself weren’t even on the North American continent. The week of Thanksgiving, we were back, but maintained a low profile.

One thing which drew me and the camera out of our splendid seclusion, however, was the news that the NYC DEP would be holding a ceremony to christen the fleet of three new sludge boats over at their Wards Island facility. How could I resist… I mean… Sludge Boats.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

MV’s (municipal vehicles) Rockaway, Port Richmond, and Hunts Point have been shaking down in NY Harbor all year. Remember, back in the beginning of 2014, when a humble narrator braved the chill climes of a polar vortex at the Brooklyn Navy Yard to bring you images of Hunts Point?

You’ll say “jump” and I’ll say “how high” when the subject of Sludge Boats is at hand. Height is what these boats are designed around, incidentally. This new class of MV’s can pass under the Pulaski Bridge, spanning my beloved Newtown Creek at high tide, without requiring the drawbridge to open.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The lady in the center of the shot is DEP Commissioner Emily Lloyd, incidentally, with Deputy Commissioner Angella Locata to her left. I don’t know who the lady on the right is, but I led this post off with her christening the Hunts Point, so there you are.

There were lots and lots of important folks at Wards Island – brass from DEP and City Hall, Press, even a press Helicopter – as well as a whole gaggle of us from the Newtown Creek Monitoring Committee. NCMC is a community group that performs citizen oversight on the multi billion dollar construction efforts at the Newtown Creek Waste Water Treatment Plant over in Greenpoint, and the delivery of these three new Sludge Boats are a sign that the decades long project is nearing completion.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

After the ceremonial events were accomplished, the DEP welcomed all onboard the Hunts Point, allowing an opportunity for inspection and observation.

The Port Richmond peeled out of the dock early, probably because it had “shit to do.” Get it? Shit to do? Sludge Boat… Shit… Ahhh, nevermind. Port Richmond headed south toward the Triborough Bridge through the Hells Gate section of the estimable East River.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Exploration of the boat brought me to the big chair up on the bridge, and although no one would have let me start the engine and put Hunts Point through her paces, I did stand there murmuring “vroom vroom” until such time as I was asked to stop doing so. I did manage to say “make it so” and “ahead warp factor 3, Mr. Sulu” as well. One thinks that being so close to the very locus of Robert Moses’s power base on Wards Island causes odd concatenations in the thought process.

Alternatively, actually getting on a Sludge Boat after all these years simply made me giddy with delight. A big Mazel Tov goes out to the NYC DEP on the occasion of the birth of their new triplets.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

heavy with shadow

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Flip ‘em da boid, Mickey.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

All male gulls, were their language translatable, would tell you that their name is either Mickey or Lou. The Mickeys and the Lous would tell you that all female gulls are called either Maeve, Lorettta, or Jennifer. It’s a bird thing, at least in New York.

A bird thing which I don’t understand at all is that New York City itself doesn’t seem to have an official bird – although the State of New York does.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

It was Governor Nelson Rockefeller who - on May 18, 1970 – signed a piece of paper in Albany which officially adopted the State of New York’s avian mascot. The Eastern Bluebird was selected, a bird whose very appearance instinctually conjures visions of “New York State” to its admirers… the Eastern… Bluebird… I don’t know if I’ve ever even seen one of these things. Ever.

If we’re stuck with the Bluebird for our State bird, I’d like to propose the Gull as our official NYC bird.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Strong argument can be made for the Pigeon, I hear you. Thing is, the Pigeon iconography is more closely associated with London than anywhere else, and NYC ain’t gonna be nobodies second best.

Hear me out - the Gulls have been with us every step of the way, historically. They scavenged from the garbage of Stuyvesant and Cornwallis, followed the trade routes north and west via the Hudson and Erie Canal to the Great Lakes, and they are absolutely thriving in the ruined modern environment of New York Harbor. That’s my kind of boid.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Walking Tours-

Saturday, November 8th, Poison Cauldron
Walking Tour with Atlas Obscura, click here for tickets and more info.

Note: This is the last Newtown Creek walking tour of 2014, and probably the last time this tour will be presented in its current form due to the Kosciuszko Bridge construction project. 

Written by Mitch Waxman

November 4, 2014 at 11:00 am

enormous circumference

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Bruce Wayne, Tony Stark, or perhaps Goldfinger’s yacht, I would presume…

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Last weekend, a humble narrator was out on the water, and this luxury yacht was encountered nearby the Statue of Liberty. Painted on the hull is the legend “Altessa IV,” which a bit of googling has revealed as being the property of a fellow named Dennis Washington. A Montana businessman of some note, calling Mr. Washington’s vessel a mere yacht does the thing a disservice. This is an incredible ship (an accurate description, as Altessa lV can actually launch two smaller vessels from within her hold). Also, there’s a helicopter deck.

Apparently, Mr. Washington lent the thing to Bill Gates for a family vacation to Belize back in 2012.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

To me, it looks like this ship is ready to jump into the air and transform into some sort of giant fighting robot, but I’m an idiot.

Forbes got onboard, and there’s a great set of shots by Neil Rabinowitz that detail the interior spaces onboard here. Boatinternational.com also hosts a set of images from the same photographer, which can be viewed here.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Luxury yachts are not normally something I point out, but the Altessa lV was a striking ship. As to what I was doing on the water, suffice it to say that I was circumnavigating Staten Island with the Working Harbor Committee and let’s leave it at that.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Walking Tours-

Saturday, October 25th, Glittering Realms
Walking Tour with Atlas Obscura, click here for tickets and more info.

Written by Mitch Waxman

October 23, 2014 at 11:00 am

cold and humorless

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Well, here we are again.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

September 11th is the only thing that can make a New Yorker flinch, a subject which causes all of our carefully cultivated callouses to fall away. City people have thick skins, but the subject is still raw around these parts.

A world ended thirteen years ago.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

War came to New York City that day, and we weren’t ready for it. There were no air defenses at the ready in the defacto capital city of the United States that morning, when the Twin Towers fell. This is something one still finds stunning.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Here’s to absent friends.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

September 11, 2014 at 9:56 am

impelled to

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As promised, shots from the Tug race in today’s post.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Last Sunday, the Working Harbor Committee organized this years iteration of the Great North River Tug Race and Competition. A multi pronged assault on the brain’s fun center, it starts with a race that begins at the 79th creek boat basin on the Hudson River. The finish line is at 42nd street, and this year the Robert McAllister tug won. Someday, I’d like to win something, but the only thing I’ve ever been good at winning is being a good loser.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The fun center of the brain is something which I’m fairly sure has withered away within my own skull, likely due to some unheralded ischemic event. Suspecting that my fun center has been “stroked out” of operation, it’s no surprise that the dull and quite existential horrors which typify my days were only briefly punctured by the “tug of war” nose to nose pushing competition segment of the event. It’s all so depressing.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Once, this sort of thing would have caused my mouth to form into a horrible gap toothed shape which could be roughly interpreted by others as being a smile. Now, there is only a flat affect and an abundance of dull eyed staring, I’m afraid. At least I can still work the camera, but can’t seem to distinguish the difference between sweet and sour tastes anymore. It takes sewerage or burning plastic for me to take notice of smell or taste these days.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The part of the Tug Race which I’ve always loved photographing, if that’s an emotion I can still experience, is the line toss. The various tugs form a queue and then hurtle at the pier, whereupon they hurl a rope at a bollard. The goal is to loop the rope onto the bollard and the throwers are rated for time and accuracy. I wish I could tell you who won, but a group of teenagers scared me so I headed home and locked my doors securely, back in Astoria where I belong.

The entire race set can be viewed at this flickr page.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

This weekend-

Saturday, September 6th, The Insalubrious Valley of the the Newtown Creek
Walking Tour with Atlas Obscura, click here for tickets and more info.

Written by Mitch Waxman

September 5, 2014 at 12:29 pm

spectral summer

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Damnation, hell, and other allegories plague my days.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s a gull catching the free ride on the Staten Island Ferry, a critter smarter than me who says “why walk (or fly) when you can ride?” Severe fatigue marks this day for a humble narrator. A freelance assignment carried one out to storied Red Hook yesterday, a trip made remarkable by the atypically wonderful weather. Having clicked the shutter while pointing the camera at my intended targets, and not having much else to do for the afternoon, one decided to walk home to Astoria.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The shot above depicts what the City looks like from the water, at night. Walking from Red Hook to Astoria sounds insane, I know, but it’s only about 10 miles from A to B. Along the way, one gets to witness the majesty of the East River while moving out of Red Hook, into Brooklyn Bridge Park, through Vinegar Hill, past the Navy Yard, into Williamsburg and Greenpoint, over the Pulaski into Hunters Point, and then the Queensbridge, Ravenswood, and finally Astoria neighborhoods are encountered in Queens. It takes around four to five hours to do this section of the western coast of Long Island.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

My beloved Dutch Kills, above. When you return home, a little puff of steam is released as you doff your shoes. You really do feel it the next day, mainly in the lateral part of the hips, which is where my feeling of fatigue comes in.

It’s actually so silly cool a walk that I’m considering organizing a free event on the Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend, the 29th of November, and calling it the “Red Hook to Astoria Challenge.” This won’t be a tour, per se, it’ll be more of a hang out. More to come on this.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

This weekend-

Saturday, August 16th, LIC’s Modern Corridor
With Atlas Obscura, click here for tickets and more info.

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