Sunday, October 3, 2010

On the water.

When he was despondent, Joseph Mitchell (who wrote for The New Yorker for something like forty years) always went down to the New York waterfront. There he found a different life from the one he lived and different people, with simple values and assessments of right and wrong.

An ex-boss of mine once described a writer who was standing in my way as "all wind and no sail." It's hard to get away with that sort of deportment on the waterfront. There's no reporting bs to HR. You'll, instead, get the shit kicked out of you. It would be a better world if people who are duplicitous fuck-faces would get the crap beat out of them, but alas, we are civilized and can't do that. So instead we stew, get ulcers and spend sleepless nights.

In any event, today I went with the New Yorker Festival out on a tugboat tour of the New York harbor. We were out on a 1800 horsepower tug built in 1958--a tug about the same age as I am.

The tug was strong, like me, and determined. Its diesel engine ran through the brown waters, past the tip of Manhattan and the helicopters of the rich. Past the Staten Island ferry and the Statue of Liberty and into the hard working estuaries where ordinary people don't go. The backside of oil refineries and container ports presided over by massive cranes. In little creeks where pilings decayed and snowy egrets hunted.

All the while the large diesel chugged and chugged. It plowed through the murk as if it knew its way on its own.

After four hours past Kill van Kull and Fresh Kills, past Governor's Island and Red Hook, we moored once again at a pier in Lower Manhattan.

The 52 year old had made it back.


Anonymous said...

At least you didn't jump like Hart Crane or Spaulding Gray.

george tannenbaum said...

I would have gotten wet.

Sarah Tannenbaum said...

I really like this one, Dad. Especially the feeling of going down to the waterfront to decompress and ease the mind.