The Newtown Pentacle

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Posts Tagged ‘ny harbor

corridor outside

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Remember, remember…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On this day, June 15th in 1904, the General Slocum excursion boat left its dock at Peck Slip in Manhattan at ten in the morning with just over 1,000 people onboard – most of whom were women and children. It caught fire as it moved north on the East River, and reports of smoke below deck reached the wheelhouse as it was passing 97th street in Manhattan. It didn’t take long for the wood hulled boat to catch fire. It was a product of Tammany’s NYC, where safety inspectors could be convinced to overlook violations for a small sum, which is why the life vests were filled with sawdust and powdered cork and the fire hoses onboard were either non existent or rotted. Most of the crew abandoned ship, leaving the passengers to fend for themselves. By the time it grounded at North Brother Island, the official death toll was 1,021. Bodies were washing onshore at Hells Gate for days.

Today is the anniversary of the day that Lassez Faire capitalism and local control of the ferry industry ended in NYC, and why the United States Coast Guard was given broad oversight powers regarding safety onboard vessels in NY Harbor.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

After the Slocum disaster, which scored the largest death toll of any single event in NYC until the September 11th attacks in 2001, the Coast Guard instituted regulations and rules for all shipping in NY Harbor which they enforce with military discipline. It’s why you hear an announcement on every ferry trip telling you where floatation devices can be found onboard, and why private pleasure and fishing vessels in the harbor are often “pulled over” by USCG for safety inspections.

It’s also one of the arguments I make when talking politics, with my friends who identify as “Conservative,” in defense of what they describe as “job killing regulatory oversight.” There is a staggering amount of inefficiency and an abundance of stupid rules in Government, but we also haven’t had anything like a General Slocum disaster in what… 114 years?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Given the focus point of my historical interests, which can be somewhat summed up as “maritime industrial history of NYC from the colonial to WW2 periods,” there’s a lot of horror stories which I’ve stumbled across. 95% of the environmental issues in NYC were caused by unfettered and unregulated industrial operations which, prior to 1972 and the Federal Clean Water and Clean Air acts, had zero obligation not to dump acid into rivers and streams or pulse metric shit tons of poison into the air. A disaster can occur in any era, but the needless deaths of 1,021 women and children onboard an excursion boat leaving from lower Manhattan to attend a picnic on Long Island? Unthinkable in the modern era.

All that is due to a regulatory regime for the maritime industry which was largely created and coded into law by Republican Party politicians led by Teddy Roosevelt. Dump acid into the water, or spew sulphur compounds into the sky? Also impossible thanks to a Republican named Richard Nixon. Give credit where credit is due, I say. I also question why the politics of the modern day has members of the same political party chipping away at the achievements of their historical forebears who ensured that you could just mindlessly walk onto a ferry without thinking about the General Slocum


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

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Written by Mitch Waxman

June 15, 2018 at 1:00 pm

business section

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Everything backfires, all the time.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

After crossing over that primal mystery through which even thought cannot penetrate which are the waters of New York Harbor, and arriving on… Staten Island… one got busy with the tripod and camera. I was in pursuit of some iteration of the shot above, which I would mention I’m not 100% satisfied by, depicting the whole shebang visible from St. George. Jersey City in the left of the shot, Manhattan in the middle, and the East River on the right. This is just about twenty minutes after sunset, incidentally. I plan on heading back out there when the skies, and the stars, are right.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The shot I was most happy with, and which sort of made the entire journey to… Staten Island… worth it was the one above, which is a long exposure looking westwards towards the Kill Van Kull. That concrete thingamabob is the 2004 “Postcards” 911 memorial, if your curious, commemorating the memories of the 274 Staten Islanders who lost their lives in the 1993 and 2001 World Trade Center attacks. The Postcards monument is shaped like a combination of two wings and a pair of hands praying, and there are profile sculptures of the victims inside it with their names, birth dates, and where they worked.

I, for one, don’t want to be remembered for where I worked but rather for where I lived.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Arriving back in Manhattan, my pathway home involved the MTA, and wouldn’t you know it… It took close to forty minutes for this work train to clear itself out of the South Ferry station, which in turn allowed the “R” line to transit through from Brooklyn and get me back to Astoria. Life is a joy, in a city which never sleeps.

As I’ve said many times, the “A” in “MTA” is for “Adventure.”


Upcoming Tours and Events

June 9th – Exploring Long Island City – with NY Adventure Club.

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?

Tickets and more details
here.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

frightened servants

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So above, so below.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Whilst riding a big orange boat across the harbor, one recent and banal evening, litanies of wonder rolled past the lens. A United States Marine Corps V-22 Osprey was flying circuits around Governors Island, tugboats frolicked about in the warm light offered by the unoccluded burning thermonuclear eye of God itself, and the Shining City of Manhattan glowed. Onboard the Staten Island Ferry, riding towards its terminus at St. George on… Staten Island… one was surrounded by European tourists. Many of them bore an aspect which I did not like, as they seemed sly and sinister, and several showed the scars of old world pestilences. The chorus of languages they spoke all seemed guttural and base, not lilting or wholesome as in the manner of English spoken with a Brooklyn accent. Overall, their choices of clothing were mainly what offended me… the cargo shorts and polyester shirts… the bandannas… the knap sacks with too many zippers and cords to be functional…

A humble narrator was, of course, wearing garments nearly indistinguishable from rags. My garb was not unlike that of some exhumed corpse – threadbare, smelly, torn, battered. Just like me.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Marines were flying circuits, as mentioned, no doubt as some sort of display during the annual Fleet Week event during which examples of the military might of the Nation is displayed in NY Harbor. The V-22, as I understand it, has vertical take off capabilities. When the propulsion units are in the orientation pictured above, the plane operates in a manner similar to a helicopter, but the pods can be rotated ninety degrees to provide thrust during conventional flying postures. Apparently this has been quite an engineering and operational challenge for the folks who work with this first of its class model of plane, but they seem to have worked out a lot of the kinks.

Whether there was any esoteric machinery in the V-22 scanning the bottom of the harbor for signs of those said to lurk down below, who can say?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

You’d have to imagine that were there a group of amphibian fish/frog men living in the sediments of NY Harbor, they’d likely have neighborhoods down there somewhat analogous – class distinction wise – to the ones you find up on the islands. The upscale Deep Ones of the Upper East Side, the working class population of those who dwelleth in the below at Hells Gate, the tragically hip battrachians of North Brooklyn, the shimmering horrors at Coney Island Creek, and so on.


Upcoming Tours and Events

June 9th – Exploring Long Island City – with NY Adventure Club.

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?

Tickets and more details
here.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

June 6, 2018 at 11:00 am

merciful deletions

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War Planes in Manhattan.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One has recently learned that the mature human body’s largest organ – the skinvelope or integumentary system – weighs approximately twelve to fifteen percent of your body weight – and it also really depends whose skinvelope we’re talking about when weighing the dermis. Personally, I’m naturally pallid and spotty, and a humble narrator’s skinvelope is delicate. I’m highly vulnerable to sudden tears and punctures, blistering, abrasions of all sorts, and at any given time there’s at least a few microbiotal blooms going on somewhere in the roughly twenty two feet of skinvelope which I keep onboard. One is also given to receiving painful radiation burns, if paused too long in the emanations of the burning thermonuclear eye of God itself, so I like to keep moving and walk in the shade whenever possible.

The Marines were in town for Fleet Week, as I discovered while in pursuit of shadowed cover. They had v-22 Ospreys with them, which were pretty cool. The Marines are famously thick skinned and leather necked, skinvelope wise.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My path had an intended destination on this particular evening, an anomaly for one such as myself, which was on… Staten Island…

The big orange boat at the Lower Manhattan Whitehall Terminal was, as in most encounters with it, well – the big orange boat was absurdly on time as always (which is actually true, The Staten Island Ferry has a 96% on time rate). In an ever changing world of disturbing social trends and the constant braying of news reports describing horrible urgencies and dire portent, the very last thing which a humble narrator clings to as efficacy of some possible future in which everything isn’t horrible all the time anymore is that the Staten Island Ferry still runs on time.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It would seem that the current occupant of the White House was in town as well, a theoretical dictum advanced by the presence of a phalanx of cops, soldiers, and tough looking guys wearing ear pieces, sunglasses, and black suits guarding one of the Presidential helicopters in Lower Manhattan. Two of the V-22’s were present as well.

The big orange boat offered a nice view of the scene as we slid greasily out of dock in Lower Manhattan and began the journey to… Staten Island…


Upcoming Tours and Events

June 9th – Exploring Long Island City – with NY Adventure Club.

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?

Tickets and more details
here.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

June 5, 2018 at 11:00 am

bursting cachinations

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Lurking in fear, for today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Onboard the NYC Ferry’s Astoria line heading for the City recently, one felt the oppressive gaze of an impossible thing that dwells within the cupola of the Sapphire Megalith of Long Island City (an inhuman intelligence which cannot possibly exist, nor stare down with avarice upon the world of men through an unblinking three lobed eye) fix upon me from up on high. Paranoid ideation and local rumor would suggest that other attentions were gathered from below the greasy waters as well. There are stories told in the Ravenswood section of Long Island City which describe frog or fish like men who sometimes emerge from the eastern channel of the estuarial East River, specifically the section of the waterway found between Roosevelt Island and Queens.

Who can guess what there may be down there, buried in the slime and post industrial sediments?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The thing in the megalith, which neither breathes nor sleeps, only knows hunger – and contempt – for the world of man. The aims and actions of the things in the river are less obvious, hidden as they are in the dark and sepulchral depths where the emanations of the burning thermonuclear eye of God itself never reach. In the aqueous silt, where the worms gnaw and wriggle and slither, there is rumored to be a complex of shadowed tunnels reaching out to all corners of the Great City above. These tunnels breach into the City’s sewers, allowing them egress to all sections and locales. Only the Mayors of NYC know the truth of the extent of these amphibian stranger’s ambitions, knowledge of which is passed from potentate to potentate across the generations in a letter originally penned by Mayor Fernando Wood in 1855.

Rumors of the contents of this letter are dearly held, but during a drunken stupor at a midtown speakeasy back in 1927, Mayor Jimmy Walker hinted not just at the confirmable presence of an amphibian race of “Deep Ones” in NY Harbor but also alluded to their monstrous desire to interbreed with terrestrial New Yorkers. Efforts by the fish/frog things in that pursuit had occurred during raids on the asylums and workhouses of Welfare (Roosevelt) Island during the late 19th century, launched from the water in the dead of night. The progeny produced by these couplings were, as the inebriated Walker indicated, a “hybrid pestilence” which demanded destruction. The victimized women who incubated them were afterwards found to be hopelessly insane, and driven towards suicide.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Mariners and Longshoremen have long hinted at the presence of things observed in the Upper Harbor of New York, but never explicitly discuss such matters with outsiders. Queer and persistent raspings at the keel in Buttermilk Channel, those bizarre underwater light sources keeping pace with your boat at Hells Gate, the basso sounds encountered at Sandy Hook… those serpentine shapes that must have just been some extraordinarily large fish… perhaps a large Sturgeon? Those weird dark lumps spotted in the water at Newtown Creek that just disappear into the depths mere seconds after they are noticed?

Who, truly, can guess… all there is that may be found down there in the drowned metropolis of the worm just off shore?


Upcoming Tours and Events

June 9th – Exploring Long Island City – with NY Adventure Club.

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?

Tickets and more details
here.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

June 4, 2018 at 11:00 am

frenetic explosiveness

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What ever happened to the anal probes?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Every chance I’ve had to get out on the water has been eagerly seized at in the last couple of weeks, despite the tepid nature of the springtime warmup. The weather was a lot better when Bloomberg and Obama were in office, so I blame DeBlasio and Trump for the unseasonable atmospherics.

One wonders if during the BloomBama years there was some sort of super scientific weather control technology at work, and that the DeTrumpio era of ascendant flat earthers and fake news decriers has ushered in a new dark age of ignorant speculation which has rendered formerly functioning technologies moot. Rhetoric over data, belief over baselines, and the truth is what they say it is because you can trust them not to lie like everybody else. Hell in a handbasket, us, with the Dope From Park Slope locally and a guy who actually went bankrupt in the Casino business nationally.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Recent conversations found me assuring a Republican friend that the Democrats did not, in fact, invite MS-13 into the country, and a liberal Democrat audience received a rousing lecture about first firearms and then political economies (the currency in that particular economy is called patronage, the discussion was about its value, who has it and who doesn’t). I also explained that we have the worst possible situation right now, where the children of politicians go to politician school where they get law degrees with a masters in politics, and then go to work for other politicians and amass fortunes of patronage until their respective parties decide it’s “their turn” to run. In Rome, these people would have been called patricians.

Has everyone lost their damned minds of late? Doesn’t anyone read a newspaper occasionally, or is it just posts titled “top 5 reasons why Republics fail” at buzzfeed?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Commonly held issues, like garbage and raw sewage in the river? Nope. Crumbling bridges and tunnels, a national locomotive freight system worth hanging your hat on, hospitals? Are we talking about the near future crisis in elder care when the baby boomers are fully immersed in senility and old age? A plan for national flood walls and levies… How about…

…Hey, I think I just saw Elvis Presley installing Hillary Clinton’s email server on Bigfoot’s UFO, which is staffed with Vladimir Putin’s spies and also Facebook transexuals. What about Veterans… and the illegal aliens… and who invited MS – 13 to my black panther party, those guys are high on goofballs. What ever happened to all those alien abductions anyway, isn’t that a thing anymore? Are the space aliens illegals, and if they are should we build a roof instead of a wall? You know who likes roofs? The Clintons and… Here’s the top ten reasons why Hillary Clinton is the worst and best thing since…

sheesh.


Upcoming Tours and Events

June 9th – Exploring Long Island City – with NY Adventure Club.

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?

Tickets and more details
here.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

May 29, 2018 at 11:00 am

splitting crescendo

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I get around.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Ye olde Newtown Pentacle is back in session, I tell ‘ye. The weather has been bizarre and unpredictable, with the storm tossed wrath of jehovie breaking out randomly, but a humble narrator has nevertheless been scratching his way around and through the mortal coils of the great Metropolis. Pictured above is the Shining City itself, the eidolon of the system, according to those who rule over it. It’s where all the gears and works resolve back to, and where they get all gummed up in political patronage and intrigue. Imagine it as an outer borough, rather than as the center. That’s how an ‘effed up humble narrator thinks.

Manhattan is the problem, not the solution. Remember that.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A big orange boat is pictured above, which one hadn’t been on in several months when this particular shot was captured. That situation has since been rectified, but such matters will be discussed in a future post. The big orange boat was originally privately owned, by Commodore Vanderbilt himself. Recent conversation with one of the bicycle fanatics forced one to describe the ludicrous state of affairs back in the days when the big orange boat charged a fee for riding it, and that the costs of employing the ticket sellers and takers and money counters was nearly that of operating the boat itself. It turned out that running it without a fare was cheaper than it was with one, given the size of the per passenger subsidy paid out by taxpayers. You listening NYC Ferry?

That’s why it’s free to ride the Staten Island Ferry, and one continually wonders why no thought is given to creating a third terminal for the service in Red Hook or Bay Ridge.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One has also found himself on the subway several times in the last weeks, and I will reiterate my slogan that “The “A” in “MTA” is for adventure.” Several times over the last few weeks has one simply taken the first Queens bound train that comes, rather than the one that goes anywhere near my actual destination, under governance of the notion that getting out of the Shining City and back to Queens as expeditiously as possible is what matters. Once I’m back in Queens, I have options – walk, crawl, etc.

Unfortunately, there really isn’t a publicly section of the Queens shoreline left (which isn’t a park) that’s deep enough or expansive enough to dream of there being a terminal built for the big orange boat.


Upcoming Tours and Events

June 9th – Exploring Long Island City – with NY Adventure Club.

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?

Tickets and more details
here.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

May 28, 2018 at 11:00 am

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