The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Archive for the ‘South Street Seaport’ Category

hopelessly alien

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Merry merry.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A humble narrator is taking this week and the first half of next off, so singular images will be greeting you through the week. Have a joylessly laconic Festivus, a Merry Christmas, and a Kwazy Kwanzaa.

Be back on the 27th to finish up the year at this. your Newtown Pentacle.


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Written by Mitch Waxman

December 24, 2018 at 11:00 am

sickly complected

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It’s National Bouillabaisse Day, in these United States.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Cliché, a “New Yorkers walking through steam boiling out of a lower Manhattan street grate” shot is presented above. Often, whilst moving around the City, one is confronted with imagery like this. It’s a shot which people far more talented and technically adept than I have taken a thousand thousand times before, and there’s little point to adding another specimen of it to the visual lexicon but there you are. Same thing with seeing a squirrel eating an acorn while perched on a fence or something. You just have to click the shutter.

This time of year, I don’t have much going on anyway, might as well take what the City offers you when it comes along.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Often has a humble narrator asserted that NYC is embedded with psychic firmament, and that the city itself is somewhat sentient – a “being” possessed of a seething cauldron of emotions and a radiant intellect. I believe the City to be female in gender and temperament – a mother goddess like the Hellenic “Hera.” She likes to mess with you, throwing pedantic and existential obstacles or tests your way, the city does.

“Oh great” usually precedes many of my observations concerning the MTA, or the sudden appearance of any number of City agency or utility employees on my block. “Oh great, Verizon is setting up on my corner at midnight. And, they’ve got a backhoe with them…” is the last one I can recall uttering. Occasionally it will be stated as “Wow, there’s a lot of Cops here all of a sudden.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Thing is, the City is eternal. Long after the American experiment has faded away, New York City will still live on in some sort of decedent form. Cities almost always seem to live on in one form or another long after the Empire has fallen; Rome, Memphis, London, Istanbul, Beijing, Persepolis, Tokyo, Damascus… Babylon the great always falls. A certain point of view often comes up in modern conversations which looks back to a period just one century ago in NYC as some sort of heroic age. Giants existed, who built subways and great bridges and highways and tunnels. These giants are long gone, and we marvel at their works, which we lesser beings are barely able to maintain.

What do I know? I’m just some wandering mendicant in a filthy black raincoat, scuttling along the streets of an eternal elder goddess/City which is possessed of a malefic sense of humor, carrying a camera.


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Written by Mitch Waxman

December 14, 2017 at 1:30 pm

furtive fragments

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It’s National Greasy Foods Day, in these United States.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Working Harbor Committee, a non profit whose mission is “to educate the public about the Harbor and New York and New Jersey” and which a humble narrator is both the official photographer for and a member of the organization’s steering committee, called a meeting recently. We had some organizational business to conduct, voting on Board members and other nitty gritty at an annual meeting.

Instead of some banal office, however, this time our annual gathering occurred at the South Street Seaport Museum’s Wavertree. a historic sailing vessel which dates back to 1885 and which is the flagship for the museum.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It should be mentioned that a humble narrator isn’t possessed of the same sense of wonder and excitement that some of my cohorts at WHC are when the subject of sailing vessels comes up, but it was pretty cool to be able to visit an artifact of the “forest of masts” era on NY Harbor.

The Wavertree recently spent some time at Cadell’s shipyard on Staten Island, wherein the old girl received expert attention and refitting. The renovations and so on are still ongoing.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There are just a few historic ships in NY Harbor, with the South Street Seaport museum hosting the majority. Given NYC’s predilection towards annihilating anything older than a few decades old whether terrestrial or maritime, the presence of Wavertree in Lower Manhattan is a not insignificant thing.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This shot, and the following, are tripod shots captured from onboard the ship itself. The far background in them will appear a bit blurry, as Wavertree was bobbing about a bit in the tide. It was interesting, from a behind the camera POV, to have the fixed point in my focal zone set for the ship I’m on rather then some thing which is off in the distance – the opposite of what I normally do when onboard a vessel.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s some complicated rigging up there, and I joked around with one of my WHC pals about him going all “Burt Lancaster” and swinging around on the ropes. My pal assured me that he was not going to go all “Burt Lancaster.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

From the quarterdeck looking across the East River towards Brooklyn.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Also from the quarterdeck, and looking west towards Manhattan.


Upcoming Tours and events

Exploring Long Island City, from Luxury Waterfront to Abandoned Factories Walking Tour,
with NY Adventure Club – Sunday, November 12th, 2:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Long Island City is a tale of two cities; one filled with glittering water-front skyscrapers and manicured parks, and the other, a highly active ground transportation & distribution zone vital to the New York economy — which will prevail? With Newtown Creek Alliance Historian Mitch Waxman details here.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

October 25, 2017 at 11:00 am

to listen

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The changing face of NY Harbor, in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As Johnny Cash used to say – “I been everywhere, man, I been everywhere.” The bizarre ideation which one such as myself call “life” carries me back and forth, forth and back, across this human infested megalopolis continually. Always an outsider, always an observer. Spectating the vast changes in the East River corridor which have been underway for the last decade or so has largely involved watching the coast of Long Island being weighted down with residential towers, a process that the folks in Manhattan have been largely indifferent about.

Now, the wave of urban rebuilding and wholesale loss of neighborhood character is starting to happen to them, and the city people are all in a panic.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The shot above is from February of 2013. It depicts the Pier 17 building of the South Street Seaport complex. Surely the worst shopping mall in the local vicinity, it nevertheless hosted several small businesses and employed many people. The decision, pre Sandy, was made to eliminate this structure and replace it with a shiny mirror box of a hotel. Post Sandy, it became a paramount of municipal importance to replace the building, because… Hurricane Sandy and Terrorism… or whatever they use to scare us into doing things we don’t want to do these days.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As this 2014 shot depicts, the demolition process of Pier 17 is quite far along at this point. The Howard Hughes corporation owns the spot, it’s private property and they can do whatever they want with it. Also, Lower Manhattan is somewhat under utilized. The hotel which will be built here will provide jobs to first construction workers and then to hotel employees. It will buoy up the local economy and act as an anchor for other businesses.

This is exactly the sort of sophistry that the powers which be have been selling us in Brooklyn and Queens over the last 20 years, while the residents of the Shining City sat on their hands watching the condos rise to the east. It’s happening to them now, and they are pissed off.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The question is not whether or not the Pier 17 structure deserved preservation or not (it didn’t). There is no room for debate regarding “growth” or “development” in the City of Greater New York (it is inevitable and unending). The question is one of empathy, and whether or not we should feel sorry for an entitled group who have finally felt a well used hammer smashing their particular nail?

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There’s a Newtown Creek walking tour, and a Magic Lantern show, coming up.

Wednesday, June 11th, Newtown Creek Magic Lantern Show with Brooklyn Brainery.
Click here for tickets and more info.

Sunday, June 15th, DUPBO – Down Under the Pulaski Bridge Onramp
A FREE tour, courtesy of Green Shores NYC, click here for rsvp info

Written by Mitch Waxman

June 11, 2014 at 12:04 pm

dusk comes

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The Union guys hate it when I start shooting.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Apologies offered to all the hapless workers I’ve photographed over the years, but damn it all, they do cool things. To wit, I spotted this crew over at South Street Seaport attacking the street with esoteric machinery the other day and one could just not resist the temptation. I mean… a giant saw? Yes, please.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The saw operator noticed me, but didn’t really give a crap about being photographed as he went around his business. His colleagues on the other hand, were staring me down as if I was pointing a rifle at him. I guess that they’re hassled by cameras as they move about the city. Fair enough, who likes having a stranger show up at your job and start waving a camera about?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The sound that this machinery created was tooth shatteringly loud, a screaming and high pitched tone which sounded somewhat demonic. In the war of spinning steel versus masonry, the Belgian blocks which composed the so called “cobble stone” pavement were no match for the spinning blades.

There are three public Newtown Creek walking tours coming up, one in Queens and one in Brooklyn and two that walk the currently undefended border of the two boroughs.

Poison Cauldron, with Atlas Obscura, on April 26th.
Click here for more info and ticketing.

DUPBO, with Newtown Creek Alliance and MAS Janeswalk, on May 3rd.
Click here for more info and ticketing.

Modern Corridor, with Brooklyn Brainery, on May 18th.
Click here for more info and ticketing.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

April 23, 2014 at 11:00 am

without cause

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Photographers photographed while they’re photographing.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A short break, wherein offerings at this, your Newtown Pentacle, will consist of lighter fare than that normally served is underway. Obligation and a series of deadlines have dominated all attention, and accordingly – for the next few days, singular images with a pithy yet abbreviated description will be supplied. One must render unto Caesar, after all.

There are now four public Newtown Creek walking tours coming up, one in Queens and one in Brooklyn and two that walk the currently undefended border of the two boroughs.

Plank Road, with Newtown Creek Alliance, on April 19th. This one is free, click here to get on the list.

Poison Cauldron, with Atlas Obscura, on April 26th. Click here for more info and ticketing.

DUPBO, with Newtown Creek Alliance and MAS Janeswalk, on May 3rd. Click here for more info and ticketing.

Modern Corridor, with Brooklyn Brainery, on May 18th. Click here for more info and ticketing.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

April 16, 2014 at 11:00 am

gradual glow

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She floats thro’ the air with the greatest of ease

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Like one of the personalized parables which populate “Thus Spake Zarathustra,” your humble narrator dares not tread the sky for he knows that failure will result due to personal inadequacy and a hidebound mind. This youngling spotted at South Street Seaport’s “Trapeze School New York,” it seems, has no such limitations placed on her “Will to Power.”

from newyork.trapezeschool.com

Trapeze School New York is dedicated to making flying trapeze available to anyone who seeks inspiration, challenge, fitness or just a couple hours of unique fun. Our mission every day is to create a safe, fun, challenging environment where our students strive to surpass limitations and more richly enjoy their lives.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The trapeze section of Pier 16 is well fortified, with nets and rigging, and is surrounded by a chain link fence to keep the curious out of harms way. The procedure, as I’ve observed it, is to allow participants an opportunity to learn the circus art under tutelage. They come up, one by one, and train in handling themselves on the wire.

If your humble narrator was to attempt something like this, it would merely provide an EMT the opportunity to learn how to resuscitate someone who died of fright.

from wikipedia

A trapeze is a short horizontal bar hung by ropes or metal straps from a support. It is an aerial apparatus commonly found in circus performances. Trapeze acts may be static, swinging or flying, and may be performed solo, double, triple or as a group act.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I’ve never had the urge to swing from a series of ropes, ride a wild or even tame horse, nor drive without a seat belt on. Vast physical cowardice is my thing, having long ago decided that disease or old age will suit me nicely, rather than accidental or violent death. These people are meshuggeneh.

from wikipedia

meshugaas, also mishegaas or mishegoss: Crazy or senseless activity or behavior; craziness (Yiddish משוגעת meshugaas, from Hebrew məšugga‘ath, a form of the above)

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Nothing wrong with the activity, however, they are all trussed up with safety lines and every participant observed ends their routine by practicing a drop into the safety net, which is actually pretty smart. Still, it takes some sort of fortitude to do this in front of hundreds of people a couple of dozen feet over the dock. This is one wild hobby to cultivate- swinging roughly through the air, on the flying trapeze, at South Street Seaport.

from wikipedia

Courage is the ability and willingness to confront fear, pain, danger, uncertainty, or intimidation. Physical courage is courage in the face of physical pain, hardship, death, or threat of death, while moral courage is the ability to act rightly in the face of popular opposition, shame, scandal, or discouragement.

In some traditions, fortitude holds approximately the same meaning as courage. In the Western tradition, notable thoughts on courage have come from philosophers such as Aristotle, Aquinas and Kierkegaard; in the Eastern tradition, some thoughts on courage were offered by the Tao Te Ching. More recently, courage has been explored by the discipline of psychology.

Want to see something cool? Summer 2013 Walking Tours-

13 Steps around Dutch Kills Saturday, August 17, 2013
Newtown Creek walking tour with Mitch Waxman and Newtown Creek Alliance, tickets now on sale.

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