The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

The very air

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

The light is very different here in Pittsburgh, with its river valley atmospherics, than the skies that I used to experience back in the oceanic climes of NYC. It’s been mentioned a few times here, the volatility and changeability of Pittsburgh’s weather. Apparently, it’s the interaction between the flat plains of Ohio and Pittsburgh’s location in the foothills of the Appalachian range, coupled with the corduroy riverine terrain which generates the dynamics above. It could be gray, then raining, then bright sun, and then overcast again all within a couple of hours.

Observationally, Pittsburgh’s specific location is one that causes most of the truly severe weather just blow around it (so, meteorological kudos to George Washington). 50 miles north or south, they’re getting blasted with snow or even tornadoes, and in Pittsburgh it’s just drizzling. I’ve apparently gotten lucky in terms of the move, as this year had a mild enough winter that the TV news meteorologist people have commented on it.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Thing is, and you may have noticed this in the last few months, is that the sky here is a distinct part of the setting, so I’ve been making it a point of exposing the images in a manner designed to capture the circumstance. Back in NYC, if you wanted to ‘place’ an image it was just a matter of getting a landmark like the Empire State Building in it and no matter what the subject was, the visual subtext indicated ‘NYC.’

I’m working under the theory right now that Pittsburgh’s ‘Empire State Building’ which ‘sets the place’ is the sky itself, with its dynamic stacks of clouds and omnipresent turbulence. When we first moved here, one of the new neighbors advised that Vitamin D supplements would be advisable, given that on average – 2 out of every 3 days in the Pittsburgh region are at least partially overcast. The locals complain about experiencing ‘SAD’ or ‘Seasonal Affective Disorder’ due to a lack of radiate exposure to the burning thermonuclear eye of god itself, and that these supplements help vouchsafe one against the phenomena.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

In general, you’re a lot closer to the sky in this part of the country than you are down on the coastline. The first shot in today’s post depicts UPITT’S Cathedral of Learning in the Oakland section, the second is from the Strip District along the Allegheny River, and the one above was captured while onboard a boat navigating the Monongahela River during a period of fairly heavy rain.

In all three shots, what caught my eye was the sky vault itself, rather than the arrangements along the ground. I don’t know, maybe it’s my imagination. Is any of this real? Where am I? Maybe I’m on a ventilator somewhere and this is all just some fantasy that’s playing out while my brain is dying. Who can tell?

Back next week with more.

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In the Shadows at Newtown Creek,” an 88 page softcover 8.5×11 magazine format photo book by Mitch Waxman, is now on sale at for $30.

Written by Mitch Waxman

May 26, 2023 at 11:00 am

Posted in Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh

Tagged with ,

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