The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Archive for June 12th, 2012

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

Despite excited anticipations- the main, backup, and double backup plans which I had so carefully concocted for photographing the Space Shuttle Enterprise on its journey up the Hudson to the Intrepid fell apart independently and left me with only terrestrial options for the point of view.

So many others would be photographing the installation of the grand device on the deck of the aircraft carrier from this common perspective that little value would have been achieved for me from this angle and it was decided to abort the mission. This is the price one pays for violating rule number one, which is “Make no assumptions”.

Apologies are offered to you, lords and ladies, for failing to deliver the goods.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The shots presented instead are from the day before that heroic journey, depicting the spacecraft dangling over a barge at Weeks Marine in New Jersey on the Fifth of June. Happenstance had carried me out onto the water that day, as the estimable Working Harbor Committee was engaged in presenting three consecutive tours of the “Hidden Harbor”. The two trips during the day were the “Senior Tours” which are made possible by the Borough President of Manhattan, Scott Stringer.

These harbor tours offer a trip out on the sixth borough to the clientele of the various Senior Citizen Centers, and nearly a thousand people gather at the Circle Line annually to take advantage of the generosity and dispensation of Mr. Stringer.

Your humble narrator was narrating humbly, along with lead speaker Captain John Doswell.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Three distinct passes were made past the Shuttle, two on the aforementioned Senior Tours, and the third on one of the “Hidden Harbor Sunset Tours” offered by the Working Harbor group (of which I am a member, and also serve on the Steering Committee). The Sunset Tours are spectacular, incidentally, and as summer is once more upon us- following a regular schedule of excursions.

Whenever we got close to the shuttle, the microphone was quickly handed to Capt. Doswell, and I raced to an opportune point of view to quickly crack out some shots.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That expensive and rented Canon lens, which was mentioned recently, came in quite handy while attempting to get these shots. The extra clarity, sharpness, and reach it offered allowed me to get in quite close to the spacecraft- although I was physically the better part of a mile away.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

In those days before personal degeneracy and madness, when I was employed full time and on staff in the big leagues of the advertising industry, interesting opportunity often arose. When I announced that a holiday weekend trip to Florida was in the offing, during which I would be visiting an artist friend employed by the Disney corporation, a co worker asked if I would be interested in visiting nearby NASA.

Strings were pulled (I was working on a government account at the time), and soon Our Lady of the Pentacle and myself found were attending the NASA “diplomat tour”.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

An actual space shuttle engineer gave us a personal viewing and tour of the vast works of the space agency at the Johnson Space Center, and we encountered the space shuttle Atlantis in it’s “garage” and “up on the jacks”. Additionally, we were asked to don clean suits and entered the assembly room for the International Space Station as well as other hidden parts of the facility not normally shown to visitors.

Our visit was cut short as news that the USS Cole had been attacked spread through the installation, and NASA went into lockdown.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Enterprise has, of course, never been to space. Amongst the Shuttle fleet, it is sort of the “floor model”. It has done a lot of time in the air, as extensive studies of the aerodynamic properties and shape of the “space plane” have been carried out that altered the design of the later space going craft which followed it off the assembly line.

It now lives on 42nd street, on the west side, why not go have a look?



June 16th, 2012- Newtown Creek Alliance Dutch Kills walk (this Saturday)

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Newtown Creek Alliance has asked that, in my official capacity as group historian, a tour be conducted on the 16th of June- a Saturday. This walk will follow the Dutch Kills tributary, and will include a couple of guest speakers from the Alliance itself, which will provide welcome relief for tour goers from listening to me rattle on about Michael Degnon, Patrick “Battle Ax” Gleason, and a bunch of bridges that no one has ever heard of.

for June 16th tickets, click here for the Newtown Creek Alliance ticketing page

June 23rd, 2012- Atlas Obscura Thirteen Steps around Dutch Kills walk

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Additionally- the “Obscura Day” Thirteen Steps around Dutch Kills tour proved that the efficacy and charms of the Newtown Creek’s least known tributary, with its myriad points of interest, could cause a large group to overlook my various inadequacies and failings. The folks at Atlas Obscura, which is a fantastic website worthy of your attentions (btw), have asked me to repeat the tour on the 23rd of June- also a Saturday.

for June 23rd tickets, click here for the Atlas Obscura ticketing page

June 30th, 2012- Working Harbor Committee Kill Van Kull walk

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My various interests out on the sixth borough, NY Harbor, have brought me into association with the Working Harbor Committee. A member of the group’s Steering Committee- I also serve as the “official” group photographer, am chairman and principal narrator of their annual Newtown Creek Boat Tour, and occasionally speak on the microphone during other tours (mainly the Brooklyn one). This year, the group has branched out into terrestrial explorations to compliment the intense and extant schedule of boat tours, and I’m going to be leading a Kill Van Kull walking tour that should be a lot of fun.

The Kill Van Kull, or tugboat alley as its known to we harbor rats, is a tidal strait that defines the border of Staten Island and New Jersey. A busy and highly industrialized waterfront, Working Harbor’s popular “Hidden Harbor – Newark Bay” boat tours provide water access to the Kill, but what is it like on the landward side?

Starting at the St. George Staten Island Ferry terminal, join WHC Steering Committee member Mitch Waxman for a walk up the Kill Van Kull via Staten Islands Richmond Terrace. You’ll encounter unrivaled views of the maritime traffic on the Kill itself, as well as the hidden past of the maritime communities which line it’s shores. Surprising and historic neighborhoods, an abandoned railway, and tales of prohibition era bootleggers await.

The tour will start at 11, sharp, and you must be on (at least) the 10:30 AM Staten Island Ferry to meet the group at St. George. Again, plan for transportation changes and unexpected weirdness to be revealed to you at

for June 30th tickets, click here for the Working Harbor Committee ticketing page

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