Madonna, Yin and Yang, and an Umbral Self-Portrait.

Light and shade were strong, during a sunny spell that suddenly brightened pre-departure waiting minutes on the ferry.

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The sight of strong shadows on dockside tent drew me to the upper deck, for photographic purposes.

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I had a feeling that the red ball would be out there, too. It was. One of these days I’ll have collected enough red ball images to present them in a post. The image below is a teaser.

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During the months after “9/11”, our government and our elected officials did a typical thing. Taking advantage of “do something!” hysteria, they threw money around. Piles and piles of money. Everybody got money. Downtown New York City got money, but so did rural Iowa. Just about anything related to transportation got money. Demonstration canals in inland parks got money, and the “operators” of the demonstration antique towboats were then required to have background checks, to obtain official clearance papers, and to secure proper TSA credentials, in order to show park visitors the boats that exemplified the nature of nineteenth century transport, on a canal that no longer went anywhere. Good job, Brownie!

The Steamship Authority was another recipient of this largesse. Flush with a tsunami of cash, pork-barrel changes swamped a once peaceful and casual ferry operation. Loudspeakers blared baggage-handling protocols. Signs in double-negative bureaucrat-speak proliferated. NO LUGGAGE IS TO BE LEFT UNATTENDED! Sections of linkable galvanized steel crowd-control fence turned ten-step trips into mini-hikes. Gates that blocked nothing were installed. Former order was randomly shuffled. Handicapped parking spots were moved hundreds of feet away from the entrance to the terminal. Bus parking replaced car parking. Car parking replaced bus parking. Other parking was abolished, causing capacity problems. The abolished parking area became SSA official-only parking, with access granted by security-code activated gates in a chain link fence. For a while, before boarding, cars were inspected in random and mysterious ways. Various levels of inspection were rewarded with yellow, green, red or blue little circle stickers, which, according to your inspection status, were placed on various parts of the vehicle. The “Chosen” got to be sniffed by K-9 dog noses. If you forgot something, you were NOT allowed to get off the ferry,

A large and unknown sum of money went to purchase and install modernistic tents on parts of the wharf area. The Ringmasters and the circus performers must have failed their TSA and SSA background checks, for in the years since, little has happened underneath these tents. The Woods Hole tents got some picnic tables, and sometimes passengers wait to board underneath the white fabric, but these structures have never been used much. No one thought to specify rustproof fittings for a tent in a salt-water environment, so rust soon set in on the metal parts.

One of the conical tent-tops in Vineyard Haven is missing. It has always been AWOL. Today its rusty base, and forlorn attachment bolt, stare at the sky.  The assembly looks like a giant apple corer/slicer kitchen gadget.

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Here’s what the cone-tops are supposed to look like. If ever we get a giant Madonna statue, like the giant skirts-up Marilyn Monroe statue in Chicago, these tent tops could be repurposed as bra cups for Madonna’s mammaries.

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The tents are aging poorly. This winter’s new drumbeat is “rent-in-a-tent, rent-in-a-tent”.

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The shadow of a behatted passenger, next to the shadow of a spotlight, next to the shadow of a waiting liferaft container, made a rectangularized and double centered yin-and-yang shadow composition.

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The behatted passenger is me.

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But am I on the left or on the right?

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