Sick and Twisted in the Passaic River

Not one, but two bodies were found in the Passaic River on Sunday. Discovered in Clifton: the body of a two-year-old girl, which turned out to have been stolen from a grave in Connecticut. And in Elmwood Park: the body of a 44-year-old PR woman and mother of three, Beverly Spano.
The grisly discoveries were pointed out to us by Baristanet friend Wheeler Antabanez, winner of last year’s video contest, who is something of an expert on Passaic River weirdness. Last year, Weird New Jersey published a special issue, “Nightshade on the Passaic,” written entirely by Antabanez (aka Matt Kent), about his exploration of the river on a motorized canoe. Here’s a short excerpt.

If someone were to hold a beauty pageant and call it “Miss Passaic River” what would the final contestant look like?
If it were Miss Colorado River she might be a busty blonde, with long smooth legs in a skimpy bikini. If it were Miss Delaware River she would be a gorgeous redhead, giving speeches about joining the 4-H Club. Miss Amazon River would be the most beautiful of all; green eyes, flowing black hair and a crown of orchids across her brow.
Miss Passaic River would be a disgusting, nightmare of a woman. Envision an animated corpse draped in a gown of sewage. She would appear on stage as a shriveled hag, dripping with dioxin. Imagine the sickliest; most putrid woman you have ever known and she would take the prize.
The Passaic River is disgusting. Her 90 miles of twisted shoreline serve as a garbage dump for millions of human consumers. We pump our sewage and throw our trash into the same river that flows back into our homes as drinking water. We shower in a watered down version of our own excrement; filtered, but tainted just the same.
She has been left for dead, raped by her keepers and deserted, but is there no beauty left on the Passaic? She has been trampled, trashed and abandoned, but does that mean she is ugly? Portrait painters have shown us that beauty can be found in even the lowest of women. Photographers will tell you that pictures of corpses tend to take on a life of their own. Is it possible to find secret beauty intact on the Passaic?

You can buy “Nightshade on the Passaic” here. Wikimedia photo by Matthew Trump.
Wheeler sure had it right when he described an “animated corpse draped in a gown of sewage.” But what sick mind could imagine exhuming the corpse of a two year old? And to what purpose?

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  1. I grew up a 9 iron from the Passaic River and it is an interesting place. I fell in it twice while fishing for carp and man was it nasty. That was about 30 years ago and I can still smell that scent of gas , oil and sludge and feel it like it was yesterday. I am a Wierd NJ reader and have the “Nightshade on the Passaic” issue. It is a must read for anyone that lives in the area. Great reading.

  2. “Her 90 miles of twisted shoreline serve as a garbage dump for millions of human consumers.”
    What’s the quote? We have seen the enemy and it is us?

  3. From one of the linked-to articles:
    “Downriver in Clifton, meanwhile, two fishermen made a similarly grim discovery hours before Spano’s body was found. The men told police they found the body of a young girl, stuffed in a plastic bag, floating at the water’s edge near the Ackerman Avenue bridge.”
    DEAR GOD! That is sick and twisted!
    …People FISH in that river?

  4. Amandala, I know people who fish in the Passaic not far from there and they catch and release.

  5. Ohh, fishing for fishing’s sake. Gotcha.
    I guess I just associate fishing with the eating of fish. Which…

  6. Thanks for the heads-up.
    “Nightshade on the Passaic” is now on my to-buy list next time I’m at the bookstore.
    Years ago I had a spot in Lincoln Park where I fished – just to fish. If you didn’t know it was the Passaic, you never would have guessed.
    Those were the days – before the Internet – when I actually left the house to do things. LOL

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