Showing posts with label Ellis Island. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ellis Island. Show all posts

30 May 2014

Jan Michael Vincent Returns


When I worked on Ellis Island, I had about 12 guys who were union movers reporting to me. They were making four times what I was making as a GS-4 and there was this one guy who was the laziest motherfucker I had ever seen. I've seen worse since then. Oddly enough, in NYC as well but I don't think PR has unionized yet...

We all ate lunch together, wherever on the island we might be, and I told this guy, while eating my can of tuna fish,  he was what we called in the Army a "Buddy Fucker," since he wasn't carrying his weight… which was significant. I'd have added he could lose some weight by only eating a can of tuna fish at lunch but he was furious and all six foot three and 300 odd pounds of him stood up and said, "No fucking Yuppie (this was 1985) calls me a Buddy Fucker."

I stood up and said, "Yuppie?! I make $12,600 a year." His face went from anger to pity in a half second and he said, "Shit man, I thought you were a big deal around here. Hey, if you want, I can get you in the union." And then he said, "You look just like that mother fucker Hawk on Airwolfe." So, I had that going for me. Although, Jan Michael Vincent's Twitter shows him doing far better than I am...

17 March 2013

Thousands Are Sailing


The Pogues












All photos taken on Ellis & Liberty Islands, 1984-1985

Happy St Patrick's Day

03 April 2012

Holy Week: R100

Ruff Hewn - 1987


An Object of Desire


Far from the Ramrod



Somewhere in Chelsea - back in '85 - six vintage BMW motorcycles in front of a bar on Tenth Avenue. Five black. One white. Stopped - dead in my tracks. I ask Herbst to hold up, "Geez, man. Look at these! They're beautiful!" Herbst whines, "Tinseth. Lets go." "Hold on. What's your rush?" I lean over a speedometer to check the miles. "Tin-seth! Come on!"

I'm thinking, "What's his fucking problem?" Another voice. Deeper -- Closer. "You like bikes?" I look up to see three men covered in black leather and - for the first time - I see the name on the bar. 'The Ramrod.' "Yeah, I like BMWs," I say and turn to see Herbst a quarter of a block away with a smirk on his face.

"Why don't you come on inside and join us?" The invitation grunted by a man with a ring in his nose, a braided beard and a tattooed head. He takes a swig from a long neck Miller and holds a cigarette between two fingers -- his thumb hooked on black leather chaps. I stand and walk, not too quickly, towards Herbst. "Thanks. I better catch up with my buddy." "He can come too," says the tall one... and they all laugh.

Herbst was a free lance archeologist (Have Trowel- Will Travel) working a dig for the NPS under the Main Immigration Building at Ellis Island. I was loaned to him during renovations at the Statue of Liberty and most days it was just the two of us digging through oysters and mud.

Ellis was a garbage dump for Indians living on Manhattan going back five or eight hundred years - give or take a few hundred - based on the carbon date of a femur we found. In addition to throwing away oyster shells and refuse on the island, the Indians also left their dead there.

We had time to talk - looking for dead Indians. Herbst had a thing for Jeremiah Johnson and early trappers. He told me they'd eat once a day but dinner was five pounds of buffalo. There was a moment of silence as trowels scraped. Exposed light bulbs strung above us cast a honey yellow light on the dark dig. Herbst broke the silence, "Jesus, Tinseth...just imagine the huge piles of petrified shit all over the West."

Herbst had a Tudor Submariner and admired my Rolex Sub until he discovered it wasn't a chronograph. I don't think he ever like me after that. Still, he invited me to the wildest Manhattan party. All apartments on one floor were opened up. Jazz band in one. Bar in another. Food in another and so on. Herbst introduced me to a numerologist. She was pushing 40 in tight Guess jeans and a silk blouse.

Necking on her sofa later that night, she breaks away and stares at me. "I'm sorry," I said. I think I've gone too ..." She stands up, takes me by the hand and pulls me to her bedroom. She cut through a lot of bs.

It rained the next morning and we stayed in bed until late that afternoon. I treat her to a cheap brunch of French Toast and Bloodies at J. Melons then make tracks back to her bedroom. Grateful, I thank Herbst the next day. He points his trowel at my head and berates me under the honey yellow light, "Tinseth, she's the older woman. Don't you get that? She's supposed to fucking pay not you." This pissed him off more than my watch.

I haven't talked to Herbst in 12 years but called yesterday to fact check and catch up. He told me he had laryngitis and couldn't talk long. I finished fact checking and he promised to call back. I doubt I'll hear from him again. That's okay. I'm amazed by the trip I went on with a motorcycle I never owned.

Update: So much for fact checking. The bar was the Rawhide ( 8th Ave bet. 20th & 21st) and not the Ramrod. Apologies for my lack of leather bar knowledge.

19 March 2012

Kodachrome & Not Knowing

Ellis Island, 1985, Canon F-1 and Kodachrome 64 (photo by B. Feeney)

When the Park Service closed the Statue of Liberty for repairs in 1984, I was lucky enough to be given a few weeks to wander Ellis Island and photograph whatever I wanted. It was one of the best times of my life. I recently purchased Tri -X, Ilford and Fujichrome, in the hope that I might be able to relive some of those Kodachrome days.

Don't get me wrong. I love digital. The idea of firing off five shots in one second with minimal grain and no worries about focusing, shutter speeds and f/stops...that's a beautiful thing. But I miss film and contact sheets and I think, most importantly, not knowing until the film comes back from lab. I even found a lab in NYC that still does Cibachrome, but the owner tells me not for long.

That's all I needed to hear.

01 May 2010

Weekend Archives - Ellis & Liberty Island 1985


Ellis Island- Jan 1985



Liberty Island - Feb 1985



Ellis Island - Feb 1985




Ellis Island, My Boss- Jan 1985



Liberty Island, Old Torch - Jan 1985



Ellis Island, Lehrer McGovern - Feb 1985




Ellis Island, Power House- Mar 1985

As a GS-4 I made $12,400 a year working as a seasonal park ranger at the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island in 1984 thru 1985. It was the lowest paying and most enjoyable job I ever had. I'm glad I had a camera with me. These are all Kodachrome 64 taken with an Olympus OM-1 and a Canon F-1.

05 October 2009

National Park Service - Parting Shots

Ellis Island New Immigration Building

Ellis Island The Liberty II Work Boat from New Immigration Building

Ellis Island My Mouton on top of New Immigration

Ellis Island The Great Hall
Most of these were taken using my Olympus OM-1 with Kodachrome. Although, I was known to bum a Canon F-1 every now and then. My parting shots to a week of Park Service memories.