The Newtown Pentacle

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harmlessly mad

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Tuesday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A client of mine recently asked for a very specific shot, one that would require me to leave HQ in the dead of night and catch the first ferry out of Astoria just as the burning thermonuclear eye of god itself began to peek out from behind Nassau and Suffolk counties. Coffee was quaffed, a humble narrator was bathed and soon clad in his black sackcloth, and the camera gear was vouchsafed as ready to deploy. A man up early and on a mission, I was there as that first ferry boat arrived at Hallets Cove, and thusly was it boarded with a jaunty step.

The assignment involved the Brooklyn Navy Yard and the NYC Ferry, specifically to get a shot of the latter entering the former at sunrise. The sunrise deal wasn’t part of the original brief/conversation, but from the description of what they wanted, that’s what they wanted.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

What? I’m going to get up at 4:30 in the morning for a job and not get a few in for myself, too? Sheesh, who ya talking to here? Yeah, it was chilly up there on the top deck. Kee-reist, why not just stay at home in your warm bed and whine about the winter? If Marcus Aurelius was here, he’d “tsk tsk” at you. Lazy bones. Sleep when you’re dead.

That’s the Roosevelt Island Bridge at the center of the shot, with the Queensboro in the distance.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Astoria line NYC Ferry makes a few stops after leaving its former terminal stop nearby the NYCHA Astoria Houses campus at Queens’ Hallets Cove. Former terminal stop, actually, since there’s now a stop on the extremely Upper East Side in Manhattan that supersedes. After the Hallets Cove stop, where I usually board the service, the Ferry goes to Roosevelt Island, LIC North, 34th st. in the City, then Brooklyn Navy Yard, and finally Manhattan’s Pier 11. The ferry ride is a little bit more than a half hour, going from Astoria to the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

I’d offer that this is the one thing that the NYC EDC has done right in the last ten years, the ferry. I won’t give credit to De Blasio, as I personally witnessed the plans for it circulating near the end of third Bloomberg. Word has it that the Dope from Park Slope asked for something “ready to go” when he came into office and they handed him the plan which ended up being called “NYC Ferry.”

More tomorrow, from an early morning on the East River.


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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 blurb.com for $30.

Written by Mitch Waxman

December 28, 2021 at 1:00 pm

spider like

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Wednesday, yo.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Do you have a favorite Staten Island Ferry model? I do, and it’s the John F. Kennedy. It’s not the newest, or the largest, but it is the oldest model in the fleet of big orange boats and the last of its class still being used. This baby has been on duty since 1965. It’s the one with wooden benches and the large outdoor balconies. Such a cool boat.

Before you ask… again… it doesn’t matter how big the thing is. The difference between a ship and a boat is that a ship can launch a boat and a boat can’t launch a ship or a boat. Rowboats, emergency boats and inflatable duckies don’t count in this distinction.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Along the route back to Manhattan, a trip which is about thirty minutes long, the Reinauer Towing tug pictured above caught my eye. You’ll often spot articulated Tug and Barge combos “parked” off the coast of South Brooklyn. The fuel barge is riding pretty high up so it’s likely empty of product. The parked tugs are waiting for their turn at a pier which connects to a tank farm of refined petroleum products, with that pier likely found along the Kill Van Kull waterway separating Staten Island and Bayonne, New Jersey.

There are other distribution points, of course, but given the position the smart money is on Kill Van Kull.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

After getting back onto Manhattan, one walked north a couple of blocks and boarded the Astoria bound NYC Ferry, which proceeded along the East River. A smaller tug with a different dance card was encountered along the way. Recyclable materials, of the sort which we citizens leave on the curb in clear or blue bags, were being barged south and the route carried them right under the Manhattan Bridge.

The horrific “Two Bridges” development, specifically the first of its 5 mirror faced luxury towers, was causing the afternoon sun to strobe down onto the water in a most uncomfortable fashion. Gauche.

Note: I’m writing this and several of the posts you’re going to see for the next week at the beginning of the week of Monday, October 5th. My plan is to continue doing my solo photo walks around LIC and the Newtown Creek in the dead of night as long as that’s feasible. If you continue to see regular updates here, that means everything is kosher as far as health and well being. If the blog stops updating, it means that things have gone badly for a humble narrator.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle


Buy a book!

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 blurb.com for $30.

Written by Mitch Waxman

October 7, 2020 at 11:00 am

protean ideations

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Tuesday, sis.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As mentioned in yesterday’s installment, a pleasure seeking narrator found his way onto the Staten Island Ferry to slake his desire for fresh air, sunshine, and something interesting to photograph. Seldom does the big orange boat disappoint.

Upon my arrival on the southernmost extant of the municipal archipelago, the one named for a historic Dutch legislative body, a brief walk carried me down to the waterfront. One was able to observe “the show” offered by the working vessels of NYC’s maritime economy and actuate the camera’s shutter with wild abandon.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The tugs in today’s post are property fo the McAllister Towing operation.

The “colorway” or paint job which the various towing companies decorate their vessels with help to identify them at a distance, a necessity inherited from the days before wireless radio communications were possible or feasible. Today, each one of these tugs operating in NY Harbor are virtually small radio stations with onboard electronics packages that include multiple band radios and even transponders which report the GPS tracked position of them to the United States Coast Guard. That broadcast data is also reported by several public facing websites, which allow you to anticipate where and when a boat will be passing by.

I don’t do that, though. Serendipity is the sugar syrup of my days and nights.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

After spending about an hour hanging around the …Staten Island… waterfront, I checked the time and realized that I’d want to reverse course and head back to Astoria sooner than later. Accordingly, one entered the Staten Island Ferry Terminal at St. George and boarded the big orange boat.

While the crew was preparing to debark the pier, a Staten Island bound ferry was coming in to dock. It was one of the gigantic and fairly modern Molinari class boats, specifically the Guy V. Molinari. The boat is named for the scion of modern day political bossdom and the founder of the First Family of Staten Island politics, former Borough President Guy Molinari.

Note: I’m writing this and several of the posts you’re going to see for the next week at the beginning of the week of Monday, October 5th. My plan is to continue doing my solo photo walks around LIC and the Newtown Creek in the dead of night as long as that’s feasible. If you continue to see regular updates here, that means everything is kosher as far as health and well being. If the blog stops updating, it means that things have gone badly for a humble narrator.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle


Buy a book!

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 blurb.com for $30.

Written by Mitch Waxman

October 6, 2020 at 11:00 am

defied conjecture

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Monday, bro.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A pleasant afternoon was achieved, again, when a humble narrator took to the water. One scuttled over to the NYC Ferry Dock here in Astoria, whereupon an uneventful and not too terribly photogenic journey southwards along the East River was accomplished. Upon arrival in Lower Manhattan, further perambulation carried one to the Staten Island Ferry terminal whereupon the giant orange boat was boarded. The southern terminus of the pentateuch archipelago of NYC was now in reach, and all told I was only out $2.75.

Along the way, the Vane Bros. Patuxent Tug was spotted towing a fuel barge on an extremely long line, as it passed by the Statue of Liberty.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The smarter gulls – obviously the ones from Brooklyn – land on the Staten Island ferry deck and hitch a ride, whilst the more athletic or less intelligent ones fly into and work the slipstream of the big orange boats as they ply betwixt Manhattan and… Staten Island…

Long practiced, this particular round trip excursion of mine is one of the few remaining activities that I actually enjoy. My preference is to stand on the stern of the ferry, as the bow end is typically crowded with tourists. No tourists right now, of course, but old habits die hard. Habit is also how I almost missed taking the third shot in today’s post. Also, technically, speaking the SI Ferries do have a bow and a stern, but their design sort of obfuscates that fact.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It seems that the ferry I was riding was one of the smaller/older ones which have huge bay windows on their central cabin decks. It also seems that, due to the pandemic, the ferry crews are running the service with these bay windows flung wide open to provide ventilation. What that meant for this wandering photographer was the shot above, depicting one of the massive Molinari class Staten Island Ferries sitting at dock and awaiting duty. You normally would have to struggle to find an unoccluded view of this particular wonder, so hooray for COVID.

See, you find the good in the bad. That’s called optimism, and it’s the NYC way.

Note: I’m writing this and several of the posts you’re going to see for the next week at the beginning of the week of Monday, October 5th. My plan is to continue doing my solo photo walks around LIC and the Newtown Creek in the dead of night as long as that’s feasible. If you continue to see regular updates here, that means everything is kosher as far as health and well being. If the blog stops updating, it means that things have gone badly for a humble narrator.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle


Buy a book!

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 blurb.com for $30.

Written by Mitch Waxman

October 5, 2020 at 11:00 am

sticky fluid

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Dutch Kills Monday.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One has had occasion to ask the right person the wrong question over the years, and the answers are usually not comforting. Should, during the routine investigations surrounding the Newtown Creek Superfund investigations, human remains be discovered in the muck and mire adoring the bottom of the waterway the procedure would be to invoke the investigative arm of the NYPD and the services of the NYC Coroner’s Office. Apparently, NYPD would look at its list of “cold cases” to try and assign an identity to the remains, whereas the Coroner would attempt to describe “cause of death” and confirm or damn the Gendarmes’ assignation. Depending on what state the body is in – whole, decaying, or skeletonized – this process could conceivably take days, weeks, months, or it might be impossible to ascertain whom these bits used to belong to due to decomposition. Dental record searches, DNA recovery, or other alienist techniques might be used, but… don’t fall into Newtown Creek if you’re having a heart attack while not carrying a wallet.

Other queries to the powers that are have involved the recovery of firearms and other weapons, the bodies of various animals, or more esoteric items from the font of Black Mayonnaise lining the canal’s depths. 1940’s cash registers, slot machines from the 1920’s, boxes of light bulbs, fifty gallon drums of some mysterious goo?

Who can guess… all there is… that might be buried down there?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One almost got a shot of it the other night, alongside the Hunters Point Avenue Bridge.

Ever since rumors of its’ presence here reached me, I’ve been keeping an eye out, but it is stealthy. I’m still not saying what “it” might be, since a humble narrator cannot stand the idea of accusations of credulity. When a shot of it appears here, though…

Whatever “it” might be swam under the bridge and one ran to the other side in the manner of some obsequious and allegorical chicken following it.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Those dashes in the water in the shot above aren’t “it,” but they might have been swimming away in response to its presence. Those dashes are fish – likely Mummichogs and Menhaden for the smaller ones and Bunker for the larger – moving close enough to the surface of the water for their scales to catch and reflect the street lighting. Like all predated creatures, I too stick to the shallows when I can, and often hide behind large wooden things when hungry creatures with sharp teeth ply the deeper waters just like these fishies.

It seemed to heading towards the Borden Avenue Bridge on this particular night, so one double timed towards that span about one really long block away.

It lives? If you closely observe the shorelines of Newtown Creek, you might see it, just like I’m trying to do.

Note: I’m writing this and several of the posts you’re going to see for the next week at the beginning of the week of Monday, June 29th. My plan is to continue doing my solo photo walks around LIC and the Newtown Creek in the dead of night as long as that’s feasible. If you continue to see regular updates as we move into April and beyond, that means everything is kosher as far as health and well being. If the blog stops updating, it means that things have gone badly for a humble narrator.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle


Buy a book!

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 blurb.com for $30.

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