A well respected member of the community told me the biggest waste of tax dollars is the Newtown Creek Nature Center. I was half paying attention because politics isn’t my thing, but then he told me that hookers turn tricks there, so I naturally had to go – at dusk.
I was getting over a brutal summer cold, and thought, maybe some fresh air and some nature would be good for me.
The walk down Kingsland Ave from Norman Ave to Greenpoint Ave took us, Jon and I, by big open lots with hollow building frames that seem to go up overnight and past my favorite claim to fame on our block – Exxon Mobil headquarters.
Crossing Greenpoint Ave by the draw bridge, I cringed to watch cyclists riding by, since the bike lane was used as a right passing lane for cars and parking for movie set haulers.
Luckily my sense of smell was dulled from my cold, but Jon described it as wet concrete and dead armadillos. Apparently, this is an improvement for the sewage treatment plant from recent summers.
Jon remarked at the slow growth of the trees on that stretch because of the higher than usual amount of salt treatment they receive during the winter and because of truck traffic. Trees don’t like trucks.
Along Provost St we saw how goddamn huge that sewage treatment center is. It has to be to take care of so much “nature.”
At the end of Provost is where we caught our first glimpse of the walk. There was a huge rock at the corner, an old rock with a little plaque on it, and a nice tree where a tiny path began along the back wall of the sewage treatment plant.
“Is this it? Where are the hookers?”
At the end of the path there was a metal ramp with signs warning to look but don’t touch or go near the water.
Under the ramp there was a lot more nature, the greenest patch I’d seen since we’d left the house. It seemed like a great place for a homeless person to nuzzle in for the night and there was even a path down there for easy access. But no hookers. If plants could talk, they would talk dirty under there.
Over the ramp there were great views on the left of the extensive outdoor parking at Time Warner and to the right, more sewage treatment plant. Behind us the sun was beginning to set over Manhattan and the Empire State Building looked like the Empire State Building.
Then began the half mile concrete march. The only thing not concrete was the sky above us. The 10 foot walls had little peep holes. “I bet you there is nature in there.” Instead we found sewage canals and dumpsters.
Through a metal gate, a dirt path began that opened onto the creek. One tree was surrounded by a seating area with a marble table engraved with the squiggly canals of the creek. The modern design of the big marble steps leading down to the water seemed like a cruel joke. It would be the perfect place to cool your toes on a hot evening.
“It doesn’t look that disgusting,” I said as I edged closer.
“It’s the sediment,” Jon explained.
It’s what everyone says. The tragedy is in the sediment.
We heard a mockingbird over the metal being crushed on a barge on the other side of the creek.
As we continued around the bend, the path got greener, a few young Weeping Willows made for good fluffery. The moon rose over the industrial buildings across the water and I sensed we were in prime hooker territory with so many nooks and crannies. I began looking for a hidden vantage point.
Just as I had found the perfect spot I heard, “We’re closing up, we’re closing up!”
“Anybody else back there?” an out of breath and limping security guard said in a crackly lisp.
“There are no hookers, if that’s what you mean?” I said with my head hanging down.
We walked the concrete path back together while the old man complained that it’s a shame that children these days are taught to be scared of strangers.

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