The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

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

fresh surprise

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Megalopolis harbor, in today’s post.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Last Saturday, a welcome return to the bosom of the Working Harbor Committee was enjoyed. WHC’s programming this year has occurred on Saturdays, when I’ve largely been busy with my own Newtown Creek and Kill Van Kull tours, and accordingly I’ve missed most of the 2014 schedule. Luckily, I got onboard the Port Elizabeth Newark Bay trip which occurred onboard a Circle Line vessel. Even luckier, I wasn’t asked to speak on the mike, so I stuck my headphones in and turned up the heavy metal and started shooting.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The headphones weren’t deployed because I didn’t want to pay attention to the three speakers onboard – Ed Kelly, Gordon Cooper, and Capt. Maggie Flanagan – I did, but one needed to tune out distraction. Look up, down, all around… shoot everything… record, reveal, recall. This is something truly enjoyed by one such as myself, and I wasn’t seeking companionship on this trip – which is something I enjoy less and less these days.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

There’s a couple of WHC trips still on the schedule for this year – a circumnavigation of Staten Island and an exploration of Gowanus Bay, I believe. Tomorrow, I’ll have some shots from last Sunday’s WHC event – the Great North River Tugboat Race and Competition – for you.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Walking Tour 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 4, 2014 at 11:56 am

fancying that

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The new normal, the way we live now, and so on.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The recent imbroglios surrounding breaches of security in and around the fabled Brooklyn Bridge does not surprise one at all. For several years, your humble narrator has been pointing out that there is no security whatsoever – outside of highly visible areas within Manhattan – being provided to NYC’s infrastructure other than “security theater” which is a sort of kabuki. Billions have disappeared into the black hole that is “homeland security” over the last decade, and when officialdom is asked where it has gone the response is often a play on “if I told you, I’d have to kill you to maintain the secret.” Meanwhile, within a period of just a few weeks over the summer, foreign nationals have managed to penetrate the so called “ring of steel” at the Brooklyn Bridge twice.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

One cannot count the number of times that this blog has discussed this “apeshit security situation” – whether it be fences left unlocked and unguarded at the Sunnyside Yard on holiday weekends (or any of the hundreds of unmonitored infrastructure sites in LIC which are left to fend for themselves) or the abrogation of any semblance of sense that allows anonymous cars and trucks to be parked directly under the structural elements of area bridges. If a group of German hipsters can swap out the flag on the Brooklyn Bridge, they had time… and opportunity. Should a bad actor have gotten up there, and not some Russian tourist hoping to take a selfie just a few weeks after the flag incident, we’d be having a very different conversation than whether or not the Mayor’s family danced well at the Caribbean Day Parade or not.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

I’m reminded of a presentation and speech offered by a certain Lieutenant in the NYPD Counter Terrorism Unit who showed up in Astoria at a community meeting around a year and a half ago. The officer instructed the citizenry that should they witness anyone taking pictures of the various area bridges, a call to the Police should be made, intoning that photographers are probably working with foreign Terrorist organizations as scouts. This fellow turned up in combat gear, wearing an aviation jumpsuit and sporting a speed holstered automatic weapon rather than a standard NYPD duty or even dress uniform. It should be pointed out that despite his rhetoric, and the billions that have been poured into securing the vital infrastructure of NYC, I still could have done whatever I wanted under the Queensboro bridge when shooting these pictures of its underpinnings just last week (and on the very same day the NYPD Commish announced a tightening of the reigns around such structures). There are no cameras, drones, sensors, or even some schmuck cop who has been consigned to walking a beat keeping an eye on things down here. Where has all that Homeland Security money gone? Are we allowed to know, or is that a state secret?

“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 3, 2014 at 12:36 pm

singular division

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Everywhere I go, there I am.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

A busy holiday weekend for a humble narrator, and for you, ended with a humid exhalation of heat it would seem. Ribald barbecue notwithstanding (one grills a mean pork chop), the holiday interval has been personally marked with a stunning amount of photos which were captured during it. There was a Tugboat race on Sunday, y’know.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Additionally, I attended a “Newark Bay” tour with my pals from the Working Harbor Committee on Saturday, so an abundance of new maritime shots are currently being processed here at HQ. Intervals like this one are great, as I capture a lot of images, but also stink as I need to process and “develop” them afterwards – trapping one in front of the computer for days. Still, no reason to complain, as I have a system for turning these shots around quickly, and sticking to it means everything.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Interestingly, I might have discovered a spot where other dimensions rub up against our dross material world, over in Queens Plaza. Not sure if we live in the evil mirror universe, where Spock has a beard, or if our reverse counterparts do. I can tell you that the humble narrator staring back at me from the other side was clean shaven, so perhaps I’m the evil version, as I sport whiskers just like evil Spock.

“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 2, 2014 at 12:04 pm

jutting promontory

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Witches, or Warlocks, are at work in Astoria.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

For several years, your humble narrator has been documenting an odd usage of St. Michael’s Cemetery here in Astoria. An adherent to a presumptively afro-cuban syncretic faith has been performing rituals in Section 10 since at least 2010. The phenomena is discussed at great length in the November 2010 post “pale garden.

By 2012, things had quieted down a bit here. Perhaps the postings alerted the cemetery management to the situation or the magick worker him or herself might have come across them and realized someone was watching.

The other day, one had an afternoon to fill, and scuttled over to St. Michael’s to see if any new developments might be observed.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Unfortunately, upon arriving at the graveyard, one observed a crew of groundkeepers hard at work. This meant that any evidence I might find would be disturbed by the actions of lawn mowers and weed whackers, but I headed over to section 10 anyway. That’s where the main “altar’ is.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

On the ground, as expected, there was naught but grass clippings and the odd piece of wind blown litter. On the ‘altar” there was a small metallic chalice.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

It seemed to be made of fairly common materials, possibly a cheap alloy given the cosmetic qualities of brass.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Inside was ash. A particulate and grainy sort of ash.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

By the way, there’s two cool Working Harbor Committee events going on this weekend you might want to attend.

Saturday, the 30th is a Port Newark excursion onboard the Circle Line with Captain John Doswell, Ed Kelly of the Maritime Association of Port of NY/NJ and Maggie Flanagan – Marine Educator South Street Seaport Museum. The boat boards at 10:30, sails at 11, and returns at 1:30. Click here for more info and tix.

Sunday, the 31st is the annual Great North River Tugboat Race and Competition. 10:00 AM – Parade of tugs from Pier 84 to the start line. 10:30 AM – Race starts – From South of 79th Street Boat Basin (near Pier I) to Pier 84. 11 AM – Nose to nose pushing contests and line toss competition. Noon – Tugs tie up to Pier 84 for lunch and awards ceremony. Exhibits, amateur line toss, spinach eating contest 1 PM – Awards ceremony. Tugs depart at about 2 PM.

For tix on the spectator boat, click here.

 

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

August 29, 2014 at 11:00 am

defined apprehensions

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Twirling, ever twirling.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The affability of recent climate has seen me visiting old haunts and novel locale alike in recent weeks, which might be described as having been a somewhat pleasurable set of experiences. That would mean, of course, that your humble narrator was actually capable of experiencing a sensation called “pleasure.” A series of dull events punctuated by occasional gastro-intestinal distress, all sorts of bacterial and viral infections, and the oft bizarre actions of others is the way one such as myself describes “Life.”

One bright spark in the otherwise gathering clouds of existential horror which plague me are unexpected moments of serendipity.

A train passing by can excite one endlessly, and reminds that “you have to appreciate the little things.”

In my case, it’s big things that go “thruuummmm thruuuuuuummmm thruuummmm” or “claaacckkclaaacckkclaaacckk” as they pass by, but I’m all ‘effed up.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Good days are ones where I’m not walking to go anyplace in particular. Days when I leave the house and decide only which compass point to walk toward. For some reason, its not east that often, as that’s usually looking into the light. Instinct always points my path towards water, no matter where I am. It was kind of interesting finding myself in Queens Plaza, which I used to inhabit back in 2009 and 2010 during the Queensboro Bridge Centennial period but which I mainly cross through these days on my way to someplace in Brooklyn or Hunters Point.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Luckily, Our Lady of the Pentacle had agreed to visit the Brooklyn Grange roof top farm here in Astoria with a friend of ours who subscribes to their CSA program and I tagged along. While they picked up some quality produce, I got busy with the camera. Serendipity at work, when I woke up that morning, seeing this vista overlooking the Sunnyside Yards and the Shining City of Manhattan was not on the menu.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

incessant reverberations

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Cool cars are everywhere in Astoria, and I don’t even have a bike.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Scuttling along in building shadows, beneath outstretched awnings, along heavily wooded lanes, and under the dripping steel of the elevated subways are the only places one such as myself can hide from the burning thermonuclear eye of god itself as its burning gaze stares down upon Western Queens during the summer.

Wan, a pale enthusiast such as myself will quickly combust if overexposed to the ultraviolet and shrinks away from direct exposure. While huddling in these particular absences of light, wonders like the sedan pictured above are encountered. This shot was from fabled 31st street, here in Astoria.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

On Broadway, still in Astoria but on the way to Woodside, a relic of different but still earlier times rolled by – a Volkswagen Camper van. Many a hippie will offer tales of exciting exploration and disappointing travel associated with this model of vehicle. This survivor seems to live in the neighborhood, as it has been observed while parked on area side streets. There have been several “hipster” spottings by members of our little community of late, but until now we seem to have been free of “hippies.”

A worrying development.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Nearby the location of the passing VW Microbus, this outlandish roadster was racing its engine in anticipation of the changing nature of traffic signals. One congratulates at the style and panache of choosing an Italian made Ferrari, but is also dizzied by the ideation of sitting in stop and go traffic on Steinway Street in one. Cool cars, lords and ladies, Queens is full of them.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

August 27, 2014 at 11:00 am

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