The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Archive for the ‘New York Harbor’ Category

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.

lie outstretched

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An evening trip to Staten Island.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

For reasons that will become clear in later postings, last Saturday night, one had to get out to… Staten Island. The near to final leg of the journey is quite straightforward, as it occurs on the most reliable of all of NYC’s mass transit systems – the Staten Island Ferry. Manifest joy, however, is repeatedly encountered when negotiating the weekend subways with their schedule of FastTrack repairs.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

As you may recall, the weather was threatening all day, and began to clear up in the afternoon. The folks who control and steward my eventual destination gave the green light for a visit, based on meteorological advice from NOAA, and off a humble narrator went. The views from the ferry never disappoint, there’s always something going on in NY Harbor worth pointing a camera at.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Having made my way to Staten Island, the St. George Ferry Terminal is pictured above, one had a few moments of panic while looking for the next connection I needed to make – to a waiting automobile which would take me the rest of the way. Hold tight, lords and ladies – for tomorrow I’ll bring you to someplace entirely new.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

August 7, 2014 at 11:23 am

habitual vacancy

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Maritime Monday? What’s with me these days?

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Over at my Brownstoner column today, an article detailing a boat trip up Newtown Creek (called “my beloved Creek“) which brought members of the Newtown Creek CAG to the waterway on the 11th of July is described.

It’s a pretty long read, and describes a site visit and boat excursion which was initiated by the “Newtown Creek Group” who are the “Potentially Responsible Parties” named by the Federal EPA in the Superfund listing of Newtown Creek. While we were out on the boat, the Thomas D. Witte tug from Donjon towing happened along.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Likely coming from SimsMetal, the tug was engaged in guiding two barges out of Newtown Creek towards the East River. Maritime industrial usage of the Creek wasn’t really a part of the discussion while we were onboard our boat. The PRP and EPA’s contractor, Anchor QEA, had sent out representatives and scientific staff to inform and instruct about their efforts, and the extensive schedule of scientific analyses which they’ve been engaged in for the last few years.

They also wanted to discuss the future.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Quoting from the Brownstoner piece -

“Once upon a time, the industrial Newtown Creek represented nearly two million jobs spread across its vast watershed, and it carried a greater tonnage of cargo than the entire Mississippi River. It’s 3.8 miles long, providing the currently undefended border of Brooklyn and Queens, and sits at the dead bang center of New York City.

What do you want to see happen here on Newtown Creek? The Federal EPA, the City of New York, even the so called “Potentially Responsible Parties” or Newtown Creek Group are requesting your input.  What do you say, Maspeth – and Blissville – and Ridgewood – and Sunnyside – and LIC?”

The Newtown Creek CAG summer meeting will be coming up soon.

 

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

There are two Newtown Creek walking tours coming up.

Saturday, July 26th, The Insalubrious Valley of the Newtown Creek
With Atlas Obscura, lunch included, click here for tickets and more info.

Sunday, July 27th, Glittering Realms
With Brooklyn Brainery, lunch included, click here for tickets and more info.

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