Lost Cultures of Columbia Turnpike (Ongoing study)



Central Warehouse, Albany, NY.

The decline of the Industrial Age in America has blessed us with another form of pollution than the one we’re used to discussing. The remains from that golden time, the busted structures, falling ruins of factories, businesses covered in graffiti and shattered windows, has had a devastating effect on this city and all over the country. Manufacturers and businesses of old have crumbled and are presently rotting in our backyards. You can see them rotting all over the country, but here, in a city where industry never boomed, but was all we had, it’s a horrifying reminder of the fallen age of American Industrialism. In this ongoing study, we’ll examine the decline of this industrial age, as it pertains to its effects on this city, as well as the hieroglyphs and forgotten tombs that remain. We’ll examine what we worshipped in that long-since forgotten age and how those beliefs somehow fell out of practice.

Give a close look and see the decline of this decadent age. In this city, it only takes a CTdown the street. We’ve yet to see the birthing pains of the future, which promise to give us another age to adhere, much like the fallen industries of that forgotten time. This city, if we are to make it to that age, must pull away from that dying time. We can’t hold onto the boon of our ancestors. Their temples dedicated to the Industrial age have stood for generations, but all that they meant is long forgotten.

Industry brought on a golden age of ‘American exceptionalism’, which brought about the height of our empire. The World Wars left most of the industrialized world in disarray, leaving us as the heir to the ‘Imperialist Age’, for which we would profit. Within the past sixty years, steadily that empire has fallen apart.

Industrialism in America has disappeared; it’s fading from our lives, as well as our economy. Industrialism in America isn’t dying. It’s dead. We’ve entered the age of decline, a transitional state, before we either collapse into our dying infrastructure or create something better for the future. Still, this infrastructure is all around us. We’re surrounded by the reminders of industrialism. Massive structures that used to house hundreds of workers look out from cul de sacs around the city, but even more abandoned monuments survive around the country. They’re massive, brooding monoliths of a forgotten age, decaying into the ground, rotting between generations. We’ve grown up around these monuments to decadence. They’ve shadowed generations of Americans, who could hear the wind rustling through busted windows, shattered doorways and frames and blame ghosts, specters, forgotten souls lost in oblivion. We dared each other to enter these places, certain we’d find treasure or some accursed relic of the Ancients. Our grandparents or even great-grandparents worked in these places, but to us they’re just massive structures rotting into the backdrop of our cities. They’re all around us and although they don’t hold the same significance, still, they hold great significance.

-Why are they still here? Many relics and reminders still stand of ages passed. We make memorials for wounded soldiers from wars from which we only have stories. There’s plenty of curios of different ages that somehow remain in our time, even though they’re outmoded and serve only as a quaint reminder of a ‘simpler time’. In the case of the ruins left by the Industrial Age, there’s just no feasible means to dispose of them. The industries for which they stood will never return. Even if they did, the age has passed. These buildings have been rotting for decades and will require years of reconstruction. They’ll have to be torn down and made anew, which is an expense in itself that most cities that harbor these fallen monuments can’t afford. The answer is this, nobody can afford to put these statues dedicated to industrialism out of their misery. We can’t afford to bury them in the past. Our age is the age of decline, decay, the rot of Industrialism. We’re left with the shells of foundaries and manufacturers that made this country great. In order to survive into the future, we need to tear them down and rebuild. The falling infrastructure is one of the great modern struggles, for with their furtherance there’s a fear that America will continue to cling to past idols and not attempt to make any for the future. This is the generation, where we’re stuck with the idols, not of our fathers, but our great-great grandfathers. This is the age where every generation since that time has taken cover in the shadow of these monoliths, without any benefit to their being in our way.

It seems the time of transition is our only hope for salvation, as we reach that paradigm where we either cling to the past and die with it or move into the future. Technology is changing, as well as the industries arising from this age of consumerism. The area is becoming something different from what I remember. We’re entering a time where we’re the ones creating the monoliths. I wonder, still, if this city will create some that will stand for all of time, not as a burden to future generations, but something to inspire hope and prosperity. We’ve inherited the responsibility to care for the ruins of our ancestors and what we do with them, this will come to define our future.

Neighbor Jim is a Murderer

It amazes me how many of these streets I’ve never taken, despite living in this city all these years. I’ve taken to exploring, drawing off the usual course and studying the various cul de sacs and vacant lots harboring former businesses and industries. I imagine the vacant homes with their families to keep them warm and I wonder where they went and what made them leave. I wonder what made these streets feel so empty, what drove away the businesses and pulled this town into a black hole, spitting it out in this future.

One thing I’ve noticed in walking down lesser-traversed avenues is that there’s much in this city that I don’t know. I cannot tell you where the people or the businesses went, but I can tell you what remains. The remains are that, just remains, hollowed husks of lives left behind for something better, hopefully, like the vast emptiness that waits in the afterlife. All we can know, without knowing these former people and places is that they’re empty now and we’re left alone.

The less you know about these happenings the more your mind speculates, following insanity until it reaches a discernible point of madness, from which there is no return. Walking down one of the backroads on the south side of the city, you come to a dead end. Houses line the street, until you reach the end of the road. A three foot long stone is implanted in the ground at the end of the road, demarking the crossing point between our city and the woods beyond. The woods protect us, with their ancestral spirit, from the encroachment of forces beyond our control. If we lose its favor, nothing will sustain us and we will be consumed by those greater predators that wait on the precipice.

Along these borders reality and fiction meet. Nightmares seep steadily into our city, tearing into the fabric of reality ever-so slightly, severing our delicate flesh, to leave enough of a wound that it might infect us. The nightmare wishes to make us unclean, as is the nature of its vile spirit. The voices beyond the rift have several names, as there are a myriad of vulgar souls eager to break into our world. Remembering the names or even hearing them is abhorred, as their names are unfit for the civilized tongue. Nevertheless, they remain waiting in the void for those that hear.

Along the edge of this buffer is a home that looks no different than any other, except the original inhabitants are dead. One of the creatures from the void killed them, yet no one has done anything about it. Most people are afraid to acknowledge the treacherous spirit that killed this family and it’s that fear that makes us ignore. There’s no stopping it. The vile figure tore his way into our world and there seems no way to force him back. All we could do is move on. That’s what everyone did.

The Hendricks family went out into the woods in their backyards on that fateful day and never returned. Well, in truth, they came back, but not the same as they’d gone out. Nobody knows what drew them out into those woods. Some neighbors claim that a bright light pulled them out of their homes and made them run towards it. Several reports of the phenomenon have been examined, although no one has come to any discernible conclusions. Some report seeing the four members of the family being dragged back to the house, either unconscious or dead, with the same man pulling them by a rope tied to each of their left feet. Skeptics doubt the claim, as it seems unlikely one man would be able to pull two grown adults and two children along at the same time.

No matter what happened, it doesnt change the fact that the family is gone and now, sitting and brooding on their front porch, is an ornery old man. He sits out on a swing perched in front of a wooden railing, staring at nothing. If you walk too close to his house, he turns on you. He’ll stare, saying nothing. If you try to walk towards his home, he’ll pull out a long hunting knife with a black wooden hilt. He never seems to leave that porch. He never seems to do much of anything. He doesn’t seem to see the world, at least not as we do. He’s a stranger in our world, establishing a new barrier, where the undeniable chaos impedes from the woods and will not be pushed back.

Decadent Monoliths

Rensselaer_Rail_Station_8_930x470_72dpiThere’s nothing that can epitomize the transitory state of existence for this city’s history than the train. Even as we exist in this ever-changing state, the train is our one constant. No matter how many people leave this city it’s always there. It’s our one key that gives us entry into the world and yet, for all it seems to offer it seems to deliver the opposite. This town seems to be shrinking, while everything around us expands.

The train is a utility, not of the city, but of everyone and anyone that needs to get where they’re going. People use the train, but they have no use for this city. This city to them is just a place with a train-station. They go home, far away from here and don’t give us a second thought. This city means nothing to them, because it has nothing within its bounds to sustain them. They retreat to their homes far away from us. This city only has attachment for those who were born here. The train allows outsiders to enter our city without needing to stay; thusly, we maintain our status as nothing more than a ‘way station’ for all who wish to escape to another place. People come and they go, so that they might provide for their families. This city has no sustenance for them. We have nothing more to offer, except a route to bigger cities that might get people the financial security they desire. It’s something we provide or, in truth, something the train provides.

This area needs the train as a means to establish a connection with bigger cities, without bringing the clutter that working alongside a ‘big city’ demands. We have not the resources to create a big city in this area. There aren’t so many jobs in the area that people can work so close to home; some need to escape to the city and return home with the essential monetary gains their families need. It’s perfect for those with degrees, so they may stay in the area, while still filling vacancies in high operating businesses.

Now, as to how this affects our fair city, well, it’s kinda like something in your house that everyone can use and benefit from, except for you. It cuts the city in half, with its hub sitting in the center of the town. It creates for our city a necessity for more roads to keep traffic out of its way. Everything flows by the will of this structure, for a city in which it has become mostly benign. It provides for many in the city jobs, which are plentiful, although within the city itself there’s nothing that can profit from having such a resource. It’s amazing that more businesses aren’t just propped up and sustained, but there aren’t enough visitors that want to come to the area. Most people leave for the bigger cities to have their fun and only return for rest or out of obligation. This city, to most, is nothing more than a way station for weary travelers to enter for only a moment, before leaving for places they really would like to be.

Rensselaer became the obvious depository for the train, as Union Station cluttered too much of Albany. There are few accommodations in either place, but fewer still in Rensselaer. Still, the area needed the blessing to their industries, hotels and various accommodations. The outlying areas have plenty to offer. There’s nothing more for Rensselaer, except for the train. I;ve often wondered what it provides us then, besides a reason to exist. I’ve always thought of this place as a suburb of the greater area, either Albany or East Greenbush, although I doubt either wants to claim us. We’re just our own. We exist for others to exist.

The more you look at the anomaly of the train-station, the more you wonder if there’s no other purpose that waits for our fair city in the future. The train seems to provide for us, in its own way, a subsistence, allowing us to persist, yet never to thrive. Society was so amazed once by the technology of the locomotive, but lately nobody seems to be paying attention to the advances in the industry. If only they’d get here sooner… our subsistency might be at stake! We’re not allowed such decadence! The train connects us to the world, but we don’t see much of the world. We’re left with this connection, assured that it’s still holding us in place within this meager gathering of tribes. We seem to be marginalized, because it comes as no surprise that if the train didn’t exist neither would we.


Refuge of My People


This is Rensselaer, a town in upstate New York.

This is the story of a town that has no identity. It’s one unspoken treasure is a diverse array of people, who bring with them their memories and cultures. They bring with them their culture, although this city doesn’t have its own. They come to this place seeking more than what the world has given and in this city they’re given a chance to grow. They want more than to squirm along, as if life is a meaningless fight for survival. The world tries to make them into something else; this place accepts them for who they are, because this place is essentially nothing. We all want to belong. This is a place of refuge for people who have nowhere else to go.

Some of us were born here, while others come for miles. Those who are born here can never figure out what brings people from other continents to our city. We assume its moderate housing prices, low taxes and affordable schooling, but for some reason it never adds up. There’s nothing significant that would attract them to us. I’ve always asked myself, ‘what brings people to this place?’ I’ve lived here all my life and even I can’t find it on a map! It continues to happen that I must ask, because more and more diverse cultures are overriding those that came before them. The city remains, yet the stories we’ve known are starting to fade into the backdrop.

We’re a diverse biosphere of people divided by races and ideologies. There are so many that come to this place and bring new traditions and folklore. They bring the tales of their people, which they cling to for support. This is our city. We’ve no name to unite us, no cause to rally our people. We’re all part of a system that doesn’t seem to belong to us. We come here, as if this place is but a way-station, before we’re off to our final destination. We imagine a greater future. We imagine something to give us hope.

This place isn’t what we look for when we think of hope. This is a place for journeymen to wait out the storm. They bring amazing stories of impossible feats of strength, yet their traditions never remain. Their legends are not those of our people. They carry along in whispers, yet this city has no history of its own. This is the true nature of life; ethereal dreams wafting along behind us, until we pull them into the present and force them into existence. For the time, this place is refuge from a dangerous, bleak world.

Still, however morose it might seem, I dream of that glorious day. I think it would be the best thing for us to have the foul wizardry that protects us dissolve into nothing and leave us vulnerable to predators. It would either unite us or destroy everything we’ve created. We’d be forced to defend ourselves, forced to come together and protect this place. If that happens, we’d have to find something sacred, something worth fighting for. That thing has yet to reveal itself. It’s here, somewhere, within the ether of our illusions. It takes so long to reveal itself, because it’s so precious and finite the world would chew it away, like a worm digging its way through an apple. We can hardly deny our attraction to it, this pulse that once triggered brings us into life and if we can temper it, if we can feed the flame it will either destroy us or set us free.

But, why ruin a good thing? Maybe this town is just destined to be a holding point, a Purgatory for us lost souls until we reach our heaven or hell. For some, we’ve been here so long that it’s become a hell, as any holding point should become when we’ve waited for our time to come and somehow it passes us by. Waiting for salvation is our longest standing tradition. For now, we bide our time in refuge, until reality asserts itself and the wave of time rolls back to pull us apart, as we were always meant to be.