The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

dark and stern

with one comment

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Just the other day, one observed this crow walking down the center median of the Greenpoint Avenue Bridge. For the purposes of nomenclature, we’ll refer to him as the Grey Crow. Even by the standards of their kind, this particular Crow seemed seedy and more than a little “off”. For those of you new to the ongoing story of the Crows- if a piece of metal, or a mattress, or anything shiny- finds its way to the sidewalk anywhere in western Queens or North Brooklyn, itinerant metal collectors like this gentleman sweep in and grab it. Soiled and blackened by their occupation, these foot soldiers of recycling then make their way to one of the several scrap metal dealers in the neighborhood, where they sell the materials at market rates and by the pound. Often, these fellows won’t wait for metals to reach the curbside midden, and they will harvest whatever metals they might happen across- as recently documented by Ms. Heather at NY-shitty.com.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

While one applauds the industry of the Crows, for they are a hard working bunch who operate in an invisible and unspoken economy at the absolute bottom of the economic spectrum, they are often the proverbial “rats in the walls” of our community. One need only walk through one of the 22,000 square acres of cemetery which distinguish western Queens to see the effects of their actions. Monument and mausoleum are part of their harvest, and the valuable white bronze and copper adornments which have been pried loose from century old graves are testament to their actions. Of late, manhole and gas main covers have been part of their harvest. The Grey Crow didn’t seem to be carrying any of this illicit cargo, but these sullen and solitary men (they are almost always men) are opportunist scavengers nibbling in at the edges of civilization.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Dark in aspect and mood, existing at the edge of law and society, the Crows are growing in population- no doubt due to the worsening economic conditions which have been felt by all. This Grey Crow drew my attention due to the reckless manner in which he crossed the busy Greenpoint Avenue Bridge, walking down the center median of the traffic choked span which crosses the malign Newtown Creek between Blissville in Queens and Greenpoint in Brooklyn. Like many of his kind, when he observed a shabby man in a black trench coat pointing a camera at him, sneering commentary and verbal threats were offered to that photographic mendicant, who remains as always- your humble narrator.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

November 14, 2011 at 11:38 am

One Response

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  1. […] In closing, I’d like to note that this phenomenon (the commandeering of public property for sale as scrap) has not gone unnoticed by a colleague of mine in Queens. In fact, today he authored a blog post of his own on the subject. Give it a read! […]


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