The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Archive for March 20th, 2012

shocking moan

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

Amongst the shocking grotesques of Brooklyn’s DUKBO, or Down Under the Kosciuzscko Bridge Onramp, one such as myself finds confirmation of all those things I wish I didn’t know. Following my nose, as it were, an odiferous cloud drew me to this particular corner seeking to investigate whether some cauldron of ichor might have been overturned or to discover whatever it might be that could produce such a miasmic stink.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A pile of industrial site runoff ran lugubriously toward the sewers, obeying gravity. The effluent carried with it some odd and somewhat fibrous substance. The smell intensified as I neared the fence line, and the runoff was clearly organic, shimmering beneath the thermonuclear eye of god itself with a greasy iridescence.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Close inspection revealed the presence of avian feathers in the runoff, betraying the origin of the brownish gray liquid. This was clearly chicken feces, running in a rivulet toward the oil stained streets which adjoin and parallel the gargantuan thoroughfare known as the Brooklyn Queens Expressway that is carried by the pendulous Kosciuzscko Bridge.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The variegated texture exhibited by the pavement is coincidental, and due to the habits of local concrete contractors who cleanse their machinery on the street, dumping what washes from their trucks wherever it may fall. There are large sections of this neighborhood whose sidewalks and streets exhibit the appearance of volcanic flow, where tons of waste concrete cured while seeking those self same drains which a feather laden stream of poultry feces was attempting to enter on this day.

Choked with cement, the sewers become the center of a fetid lagoon, but such sights are common in DUKBO.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The operation which plies its trade at this corner is a poultry merchant, one which trucks the hapless birds to this warehouse. My understanding is that they are involved in the wholesale section of the business, supplying neighborhood Halal abattoirs, “Pollo Vivo” dealers, and certain Asiatic Restaurants which are scattered around Brooklyn and Queens with fresh stock. Unlike the native born’s habit of purchasing a familiar and largely inoffensive carcass- a plucked, butchered, and often steamed or bleached cadaver- on sale at chain supermarkets and “traditional” Yankee butcher shops- many newer immigrants in the area prefer to inspect their food animals while still alive.

Prosaic, the practice is regarded as barbaric by area wags who prefer to maintain some insulation from the bloody business of supplying industrial quantities of animal protein to an ever growing human infestation.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Urban sophisticates tend to overlook these sort of details, forgetting that every “organic” or “factory farm” chicken may not have been a healthy bird before it was roughly extinguished. Recent immigration from the queer foreign courts of Asia and other more southernly latitudes has carried with it a certain skepticism about such matters. Inspection of eye, beak, and feet is paramount in certain circles- especially when it concerns the food laid out for children.

They have no trust in the USDA, it’s curious marks and unintelligible grading system for food quality- all of which were codified by bureaucrats.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Of course, what stretch of the imagination could conjure for them the image of that prize bird stacked in crates ten deep just 3 blocks from the Newtown Creek, imprisoned in those exhaust clouds which bubble and froth invisibly down from the BQE? Could they understand that this is a neighborhood of scrap yards, garbage depots, oil tank farms, and former home to oil refineries, bone boilers, and chemical refineries? Can anyone imagine what these birds are breathing in?

A question often asked of your humble narrator these days concerns the status of those who might engage in subsistence fishing on the Newtown Creek, and the consequences of consuming such a catch.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The question which is offered as an answer in itself is “do you have any idea how much of the food you buy as “organic” moves through the shadowed warehouses and poison atmospherics of the Newtown Creek?” and “what makes you think you’re any different than those fishermen”?

Seldom do I receive an answer, for when faced with considering such realities about their own food supply, even the clear eyed and prosaic will reveal themselves to be chicken shit.

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