The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Archive for May 12th, 2011

sweet forgetfulness

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

While wandering about the Newtown Creek, it is easy to lose faith that wholesomeness exists anywhere, and one’s thoughts turn toward the apocalyptic. Floating sewage, volatile organic chemicals, and sometimes even oil envenomate the water. Languid waves lick at and nourish shorelines whose concretized holdings of mud and soil are deeply riven with heavy metals and certain ashy residues which hint at a faded industrial grandeur, and the very air you breath is a poisonous fume.

Yet, somehow, against every possible chance, nature endures in this place.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One of the mythologies about the Newtown Creek is that it is some sort of dead zone, destroyed and irrevocably altered by man.

While some of this is true, Dutch Kills for instance used to run all the way to Queens Plaza (ever notice the smell down in the subway station? That’s Dutch Kills, which still follows it’s ancient course through brick lined subterranean sewers, and oozes through the masonry walls of the subway. I know the specific smell of Dutch Kills, and the odor in the station is definitely it) and Maspeth Creek flowed halfway to Flushing when the Dutch found it.

The thing is, while the bird in these shots is beautiful, most of the life found in the Newtown Creek is not as esthetically pleasing.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Just the other day, a stalwart member of the Long Island City Boathouse described observing oyster colonies, obviously rendered unfit for consumption by the endemic pollution of the waterway, growing wild in English Kills. I’ve personally observed Eel fry as far back as Maspeth Creek, several higher species of the icthyan order, jellyfish. The radical LaGuardia Community College biologist Dr. Sarah Durand is in the process of collecting evidences of zooplankton and other invertebrate populations in the water column. There’s also a Heron which is known to reveal it’s wisdom, close to the Grand Street Bridge, to those wise enough to ask it the right questions.

Who can guess all there is, that might be hidden down there?

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