How To Stage A Secret Play On New York City's Most Festering, Polluted Waterway

December 26, 2014 9:06 PM

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How To Stage A Secret Play On New York City's Most Festering, Polluted Waterway

Actor E. James Ford, clad as a fuzzy, steampunk version of the Greek demigod Charon, dips a mason jar into the stewing Gowanus Canal. He raises it toward the dark sky, reflecting yards of concrete and chain link fence and the logo of a nearby Whole Foods in the murky liquid. He studies it for a second, puts it down. A few minutes later, he takes a sip.

It’s a frigid Sunday night in late autumn, and I’m watching Ford from a wooden pew on a pontoon boat designed by celebrated street artist Swoon. Part river tour guide, part tragic narrator, Ford pilots the vessel up and down the canal’s quiet paths. Along the way, a variety of mythical characters ho...

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