Promenade of Industry, where the Squirrel eats tin foil


Each and every physical, material, inorganic/organic matters around is definitely delivering an affect to me (Brennan), LIVE: I’ve been walking on a promenade for more than 30 minutes after I got off the 7 train at Mets-Willets Point, and the station getting smaller and smaller as I walked away. This is the promenade connecting Corona and Flushing, hovering over a large parking lot where scrapped cars jammed together. The airport is definitely nearby, for I’ve heard the 8th airplane flying by at a rather low altitude. Looking back to Mets-Willets Station, I saw a huge industrial chimneys breathing out grey clouds of smoke, which finally scattered around and darkened the sky a little bit. This is a perfect environment for a semi-deserted post-industrial place.

But the Mets-Willets Point is only one stop away from Flushing Main Street Station. The large Flushing residential area is sitting only a couple of blocks away from the promenade that I’m walking on. Apartment buildings and huge billboards were reflecting the sunlight and casting a shadow. It’s hard to make a connection between Flushing residential area and this promenade; they are so different: one is busy and alive, the other is quiet and desolate. But indeed, they are so close, only less than a mile away from each other.

I’ve almost walked to the end of the promenade, and here came a calm water—the Flushing creak. The promenade and the subway are not the only connector between these two places: the Flushing creak is the natural link between the two places as well: the branches of creak are available to see in several downtown Flushing areas. The water seemed fine at a distance. It was a sunny afternoon and the sunlight was gilding a gold-plating on the water. But zooming in—zooming in—zooming in. I saw a Dr. Pepper bottle, a Sprite can, some other plastic bottles without belted labels that were not distinguishable. White and red plastic bags were lying there, with stripes of plastic straying around. Two or three iron wires half floated on the water—by saying half floated I mean half of them remained onshore whereas the other half was soaked into the water. The color of water turned into a suspicious greenish grey color. Is the greenness of water because of the proliferation of algae? I couldn’t help but recollecting that once my city called up for several campaigns to clean up the algae in the river because the algae made the water smell terrible and the fish hard to live. I wanted to get closer to figure out the smell of the river, however I caught a bad cold the night before, and my nose was not functioning at all.  I guess the smell of the water will have to be unveiled a week after.

Brennan in her essay elaborates how the vital materiality of THINGS/actants equals affect (Brennan). The rusted cans, the turning-yellow plastic bottles, the simmering iron wires, the greenish-grey water, the dark black soil with stripes of plastic bags in it, the starting-to-rot root of trees and bushes, the already-died-out grass on the shore, and the grey coming-out-of-an-industrial-chimney smoke on the sky. Every single object in this environment is informing me that the water in this creak is NOT CLEAN, or poisonous perhaps, and that the water is threatening the vitality of “inorganic” objects evolved in this environment (The water is too calm, and there might not be living creatures in the water). The promenade actually belts a post-industrial brownfield, where the heavy metal such as mercury and lead contaminates most of the soil and the water. The land here is not at all fertile, and the water too dirty to be home for fish and turtles, so people dumped trash here without concern. The situation is made worse by the careless littering, thus making the water and soil more infertile.

Then the idea that the creak is actually running water suddenly jumped into my mind. Where would the water go? And how will it affect the organic/inorganic matters wherever it goes? Or… the Flushing residential area is only blocks away, will the water threaten residents’ health? I was concerning the possible harm while walking on the promenade, and a squirrel ran into my sight. It is obviously not as chubby as those in Washington Square Park, and is smaller in size. The squirrel circled around the creak bank for a few seconds, as if it was looking for something. Then it grabbed a piece of tin foil which was littered on the grass and started to eat it. It WAS precisely eating the tin foil, without any hesitation, nor any pause. Tin foil, the “supplementary food” for this squirrel, was eaten all by the squirrel within a minute. Then the squirrel looked around and jumped away, leaving me flabbergasted on the promenade. The actant of this squirrel made it harder to imagine how the residents living near the polluted creak are affected.

Work Cited:

Bennett, Jane. Vibrant Matter: A Political Ecology of Things. Duke University Press, 2010.

~ by gracehuang24 on February 14, 2018.

6 Responses to “Promenade of Industry, where the Squirrel eats tin foil”

  1. Best Style/Affect: I really enjoyed how the narrative of this blog post flowed. There was a lot of visual description that allowed me to envision the environment. I particularly enjoyed the way that the post started with “LIVE” to indicate Grace’s experience as she went through it. The post was conversational in a way that allowed me to read it as if she was actually speaking.

  2. I award this blog post the “Best Style/Affect” award as it is the only blog post to utilized media other than text to convey affect. I feel that the writer conveyed affect through her prose quite well and made me feel the emotions she was feeling and consider the questions she was raising seriously.

    – Adil Akbar

  3. #1

  4. Best overall- with a combination and words and pictures, the blog post has a good flow and a nice sense of affect.

  5. I think this blog post is the most informative. The author gives very detailed description of her chosen ecology site. She first made a comparison between the flushing Chinatown and the Flushing Creak, giving us a big idea about the different vibes. Then she talked about the little annoying items in the site, such as the water color, the bottles, etc. I am especially impressed by the squirrel eating the foil. All these details and story combined to creative a vivid imagery of the site.

  6. Best style/affect. I greatly enjoyed the writing in this blog post, as the narrative and descriptive articulations really got me interested in this particular ecology. A strong personal voice is consistently evident throughout, and it got me invested in the pollution issue in Flushing.

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