The Bottle Men

Image of our Ancestors… I guess.

For a longer time than I can remember, the homeless have been presented as a thing, this massive structure that seems impossible to break down or an ocean, because it would be impossible to disseminate a drop of rain from the largest body of water on the planet. The homeless in this country lose their identity and, after a while, they all start to look the same. Even if they look different, after a while something happens where you don’t pay attention. You see them, but it’s like seeing a tree in someone’s office. You don’t think about it. You shut off. They blend into the scenery to such a point that nobody says anything and the world moves on.

It’s when you break down certain levels of poverty that you realize there even are levels. Homeless isn’t the furthest decline into poverty. If anything, it might be nearest the beginning. It depends on who you talk to, if indeed you can talk to anyone. The homeless aren’t always one for conversation. Some need a lot of help and have fallen so far that talk isn’t good enough. They move shiftlessly, like ghosts trying to find their own plane of existence. They have a way of blending in that’s quite miraculous, for although they share the same appearance of grime and disease collected over tattered clothes layered on top of one another for warmth and utility, each of them has a singular destiny relative to his condition.

The Bottle Men are nothing unique to our city. They wander around with steel baskets that they wheel around and fill with bottles. They get their donations from neighbors and businesses. They live among us, and aren’t a they, which is to say they aren’t a group. They’re individuals who make their living off recycling. They pick up the bottles that people don’t want to return and bring them to their recycling centers to get some cash. It isn’t glamorous, but it allows them to exist. I think it’s important to examine this story, because, although it’s not the lowest level of poverty, it’s somewhere within that delicate strata and deserves thorough inspection. It isn’t that they’re desperate, although some of them most likely are, it’s that they’re made to be. They’re made into ‘The Homeless’, when these are individuals under a certain set of stimuli that become a certain way. Their conditions are unique, despite ending up the same, I assure you they’re quite different.

Then, I guess we could ask, what creates this massive body of water that we call ‘The Homeless’, but does that really have one answer? I assume that they’re generated from across the river. They walk along the bridge and ask a question of the Sphinx that guards it. If the Sphinx can’t answer they’re allowed to pass. If he can, he must eat their hearts. You’d think we’d have more bodies washing up along the shore, but the river goes on forever. It’s our protector against the endless sea. If you’d just go over to the other side, you could see them sleeping beneath the overpass, roaming the streets around the mission that’s a block away from the bridge.

Some don’t care about bottles. They’ll scribble a few desperate words on cardboard and wait for passersby to hand over a few bucks. It gets repetitive on your way to work, day after day, as the place remains the same, yet the homeless person changes. I don’t know if there is an agency of homeless that take turns waiting at the same spots, but something must happen, some arrangement of stimuli to make them flock, like birds heading south for the winter. Something clicks in their minds that they have to be here at this time, always the same times each day.

Time seems all the more important to the homeless. You’d think they wouldn’t have anywhere to be, being homeless, but they shuffle in patterns, like the tides that come with morning and night along the river. When night comes, the tide moves in, when its’ gone so is the tide. Morning comes and the homeless move. Five o’clock comes with that rush of traffic and the homeless become vigilant. They follow a rhythm that has yet to be determined, as I doubt many scientists are looking into the migration habits of Bottle-men or the virulent mating season of people that live under the bridge.

Song of the Hill People

Image result for sneakers over power line

Look like crows to me…

Stretching around Partition St and going for miles, passed Central Park and out to Herkimer St is what historians have labeled ‘Land of the Hill People’. Starting at Partition, the streets become narrow and slanted, as this half of the city is constructed on a hill… well, a mountain. In the early seventies, a group of nomads conquered this section of the city, known as the ‘Comanchi Hill Squatters’. They took the south side of Partition by force, invading the Stewarts and forcing out indigenous people that had lived there for generations. From there, they sped along the hill, gathering a brute army that slaughtered hundreds, before the city evacuated to the south. An army had to be called in to monitor the growing strength of this invasion, which amassed so swiftly it could hardly continue with such energy. Military experts could do nothing to save those within the area of Partition to Herkimer St, and thus the hill people either murdered those left behind, enslaved them or used them as a type of broodmare for their rotten genes. Since that fateful time, the hill people have become a staple of this fair city, with their genes being so inter-spliced amidst one another that their DNA can hardly be differentiated between one another. They’ve made this central point of our town their kingdom, which slants at an awkward right angle and forces all who park here to use their emergency brake.

There is a great hymn that these people have preserved over the years, sometimes editing to make their heroes sound that much greater to the ears of their children. It’s an important piece of their history, protecting it from invaders, as the Hill People are oft to do. They don’t take to outsiders with affection. They’ve always been xenophobic to a point where even their neighbors become enemies, if only for a while, before they’re friends again. History is their bond and theirs is full of myth and superstition. There’s this song that has escaped their secrecy, for which plenty have heard. I will share it now. This is the ‘Song of the Hill People’:

Many deeds have bested belly Bibby Bobby Maroo

Who tied together both his strings and gave the world his shoe

Not one to bother ever more to see between his sneakers

and belly slim amidst the mass of unrepentent tweekers

To cringe a toss so delicate betwixt his bloody fingers

That wrapped around those blackened cords with not a twinge of singer

And Billy Bobby broke it down to dance before his rivals

as they cringed with crimson rage and tossed their shoes in piles

For victory had been denied, because of Bobby Maroo

Who tossed, just one, but plenty more, his bloody, busted shoe.

Going through the land of the Hill People, one will see these decorations, shoes tied at the laces, strewn about the power-lines, as a show of respect to Bobby Maroo. Outsiders aren’t welcome for good reason. We can’t possibly understand the complexity of their culture. It would take anthropologists decades to infiltrate and understand the superstitions and religious hierarchies of the Hill People. This seems an impossibility, since the core belief among all Hill People is that if they can’t trust you they can have nothing to do with you. Still, one has to wonder what occurs at night, when they sing these songs, howling at the moon and honoring their dark gods.

Eternal State of Boredom

The Eternal State of Boredom, so it goes or so it seems, from one bridge to another. It’s those things in between: houses, streets, cricks, parks, people, playgrounds that I wish to ignore. The entirety of these forms shall pass, yet, with any city, there can be said to be an ‘identity’ that’s all its own. It belongs to none of us, yet it has become who we are. This is the Eternal State of Boredom.

Every city has its identity. You can walk down a street in New York and feel the incessant rush of constant motion. If it’s not people moving it’s buses and cars, subways, trains, plains, taxis and people on bikes dragging tourists. They move in a million different directions. Everyone has somewhere to go and, what’s more, after that they have somewhere else to go. It’s constant motion, wanting more, needing more, and moving to sustain a society that would crumble to dust if the inertia ever stopped. I haven’t been to other cities, but they’ve all come up under different circumstances and it’s wrong to assume that every city is the same. Some are developed through ports and trades and find their identity in accepting a different form of culture from those that arise through other means. Others become ‘the party city’, like New Orleans, a place I hold close to my heart. New Orleans is a beautiful city full of all sorts of wild animals. You have rats in all forms. Some come along as ‘street beggars’, who act like musicians or do whatever they must to earn a dollar. I met a man who claimed to be a time-traveler needing a few bucks to fix his machine and get back home. He said he saw the bloody days of the French Revolution, as he went on about the clean precision of the guillotine, which he believed to be well ahead of its time. Now, how could I deny a man like that a single dollar?

Every city possesses an identity that, although it is also subject to change, this is something all its own. No other town can be like New Orleans. They can be similar, but nothing can compare. Can it be said, if I’m proposing an identity for every city, that these same cities can possess their own destiny? We’ve often thought a town to be something different, where people make up its identity and nothing else. If this is true, then what do we make of a town with a destiny? If this is true, we must look at the world in a new light, for what could be said to be the destiny of a town like New Orleans after Hurricane Sandy? While we’re on the subject, what about towns with horrifying scars on their past, like Hiroshima, Auschwitz or… well, how about you guys give me some fun one?

Salem, Massachusetts is a fun one that I’ve actually visited. I enjoy the town, because you can walk around the streets and have all the presence of a normal person walking around a simple, puritan town. It has the feel that nothing has ever happened ever to leave a black mark on their record. If you go down the right corner you can see what is an alleged ‘haunted house’ that belonged to the former mayor during the Salem Witch Trials. For those who don’t know, the Salem Witch Trials were a period of mass hysteria when people were believed to be manipulated by dark forces and thus, had to be tortured. It’s something that none of us would ever want to endure and thinking of that time sends a chill of fear, as you realize that sensible people can be denigrated to monsters with a whim of hysteria and terror. Now, of course, it’s become a show. They use their story to entertain the world, establishing their ‘pirate museum’, as well as their ‘torture museum’, where they show the dungeons that some of the people were kept to stew in their dark powers. It’s all entertainment, yet, during that time, the paranoia and mass hysteria created a far more sinister identity.

As it goes for my city, I can see no destiny. I see what I wish it to be, sure, but as for an identity that the few thousand inhabitants would agree upon, well… it’s something I wouldn’t want to admit. It’s something ugly in, not only its laziness, but its apathy. I call it ‘The Eternal State of Boredom’. I’ve struggled to explain our identity to outsiders. You look in on our city and see a mess. You see nothing and that’s a fair point that comes to define who we are. We’ve nothing to manifest an identity, so we turn to the train. Tracks cut the city in half, yet none of us ever follow them out of here, far away, moving beyond toward a greater destiny than what we’ve been given for so long. If a city has a destiny, does it find it on its own? How does a city possess its own destiny? How do we help our city find where it belongs?

I’ve walked along these same tracks all my life. I’ve seen people and places change, all the while the city remained the same. The Eternal State of Boredom is a product of a mindset that has already given up. We’ve failed to change what we perceive to be of no importance. We’ve ignored the warnings of the world, as our city somehow sustains itself without falling into the abyss of time and impatience. Roanoke is another city with an interesting history. Its people abandoned it or so the story goes. Nobody knows what happened to the ‘lost colony’, although similar fates have come to several cities throughout history. Boom cities came up when gold was abundant in the western states, but when the gold disappeared so did the people. The cities remained. Everyone calls them ‘haunted’ now. Ancient cities had to be abandoned as well, when either their water source became depleted or marauders came and enslaved their people. We act like that can’t happen today, but really, it’s only the technology that’s advanced… and maybe the cities, but not the people.

It’s important to see different worlds before they disappear. For every city an identity. For every city a destiny. If you want, you can walk down South Street or any street, since the train goes through everyone’s backyard and sit and stare at the tracks. They run by at the same time each day, creating so much noise before it all disappears into the crippling nothingness of our culture. The trains are something to see, not exactly New Orleans or New York, but something in the least. A train is a relic of a time when man and technology forged an empire. They’re modern day petroglyphs, marking a city that might have to move on if it’s identity is somehow forgotten. Even worse, if the identity was never there in the first place. We sit in reverence of the trains, skipping stones along our quiet river, sharing a subtle appreciation for this Eternal State of Boredom.

Lost Cultures of Columbia Turnpike: Kmart

Here it is… your moment of zen.

For those who don’t remember (I haven’t written on this topic in a while), Columbia Turnpike is a long stretch of road that cuts through our town. I worked for many years in a store along this road. If you go up Columbia Turnpike now, you’ll see several abandoned buildings, some of which used to be thriving businesses or factories that helped to keep us afloat. Most of these factories packed up and left before I was born. These industries have an innate sense of survival. Unions gained momentum and threatened their ecosystem. The smart businesses went to China, while nothing became of those buildings… or the people who remained.

The fall of the Industrial Age has seen the rot of its decline seep into other facets of American life. Retail is no exception. The smart businesses aligned with China and other countries to get their wares for cheap, while exploiting labor that, while it might not be slave, still remains in question for morality’s sake. Factories shipped their business to other countries and invaded like a virus attacking a cell. You see this several times throughout history, especially with this being the time of ‘Giving Thanks’. The pilgrims left Europe, where they were certainly not welcome and had to kill many an ‘indigenous people’ to call this place home. It’s always been more a game of survival than anything…

I didn’t enjoy my time in retail, as is evident by the incessant nightmares that bubble up from time to time, where I feel the terror of being a part of that world. For those who haven’t endured it, I don’t know how to convince you of the terrible feelings that arise when I enter these places. I can’t walk into a Target or a Wal-Mart without feeling this sense of impending doom… most likely because I felt it for over a decade. I went into work without a sense that things could get better. Why should I? Every year that I was there things got worse. I grew accustomed to that feeling and, in all honesty, became numb. It’s the type of talk that a hardened soldier should use, not a man who worked far too long at a shitty store.

Again, I don’t know how to explain it. Sometimes hell is the same to people and sometimes it’s different. Retail was my hell. More specifically, Kmart was hell. My coworkers and I endured something altogether baffling, as we watched our corporate elites exploit the minimal resources we had. They squandered and destroyed, like any other invading army. The corporate world is no different. It’s full of sociopaths and pederasts. They visited our store from time to time, always with a firm handshake, something vulgar when it comes to their touch. Businessmen use the handshake to fuck one another, because a firm grip assumes something masculine. It’s perverse. I wish they’d fuck and get it over with!

Trust was never established between us at the store level and those in corporate, but it didn’t seem to matter. We watched our store rot away, losing more and more of itself. We knew what was happening, but it all came with this sense of being overpowered. It was helpless… a lost cause. I didn’t give a shit at the time. If they were going to let this place fall I couldn’t care. I wanted it, same as them. I think that makes me at least a little responsible. I worked with ineptitude, sure, but maintained a bare-minimum within that same work ethic. I did what I had to, not what I could, because going ‘above and beyond’ was something a fool would do. Why work harder when you knew the outcome? Why work harder when you knew you weren’t going to get a raise? Why work harder when you knew that corporate had you by the balls and were just waiting for the right moment to squeeze?

The day that lives in infamy within the retail stratosphere is known as ‘Black Friday’. Thanksgiving is a pretty terrible day as well, but nothing compares. If you’re looking for a way to lose faith in humanity… go sit in front of a store around 530 in the morning and wait. What the public doesn’t know about this day is that three workers our chosen at random from corporate to be sacrificed in an effort to appease the crowd. The names come down from headquarters. We have no say in the matter, although we hope that the most inept employee gets picked, sort of to ‘cleanse our ranks’, if you will. The number of those chosen actually depends on the number of workers per store. We didn’t have many, so they went with three… but I digress.

Three sacrifices are chosen a week before the event. We honor their sacrifices, making them honorary guests at a party all for them. We get them drunk and provide for them plenty of escapes from the realization. The affair is always solemn. You’re about to lose a friend and while you’re happy it’s not you… well, you have to make the best of things.

Thanksgiving day everything changes. We surround them in a dark room and pummel them with socks full of bars of soap. We beat them within inches of their lives, strip them naked and tie them to posts outside the store. This all starts around 12 at night. We have to get ready for the day… this terrible day. People are already waiting by that time. The smell of the rotting flesh, as the sacrifices begin to chill on the November air is something I’ll never forget. They sit for hours. People change in that time. They can’t help themselves. It takes only a few hours, as more and more people come along and wait in the lines, before they attack. The sacrifices do enough to distract the people from our store. It gives us enough time to prepare and hope not to be their next victims.

Around the time that they finish with the three sacrifices, our store is ready to open. We wait at the front behind the doors, until they open and we run for our lives. There’s something in that hunger that is altogether human. It’s desperate and pathetic and… just a shame. I think of what it could mean to have so many people together and have it mean something. Instead, they fight for video games and bath robes. I wonder what it all means, but it’s like trying to make sense out of the movements of those little fruit flies. For some things… you’re just not allowed to know.

The building is still around for those to see. I could’ve taken a picture of it, but I found this one all the more endearing. It’s a husk of its former glory. For some reason, I get a calming sensation whenever I look at this photo. I had to share it with you all. I think of it rotting and collapsing to dust and feel really good. Most people will never understand the significance of this temple. I’m probably one of them. Nothing can describe what we endured. Nothing can describe the true horror of those days. If you’re curious, I’m sure you’ll see and think back to that time with a sense of wonder and, if I’ve done my job, hopefully an open mind.

Tale of the Eternally Blinking Light

Time goes faster when you find something to do that you love. To the contrary, when you do something you hate, time takes forever. It wastes time, each time. We’ve come to understand that how we spend our time has to be understood. We have to appreciate the time we have, because we can’t always be doing what we love. Nobody enjoys waiting in traffic or sitting in boredom at your desk. In those moments, we allow time to slip away, as we imagine ourselves on beaches under the sun. We spend our time being happy, even when, in reality, we’re not.

At the intersection of Ring Street and South, there’s a traffic light that’s been blinking for the past two years. There’s still a stop sign at the end of Ring Street leading into South, although the light was constructed at least two years ago. The entire thing makes no sense, but it’s there. It exists, such as time, only constructed to perplex and confuse. Thinking about it is like trying to understand time and space, while existing in that same strata. Simply put, it cannot be done.

I don’t know how the world does it, but for all the money we claim not to have there’s an awful amount that we manage to waste. For those things that we’ve wasted our time, we have no choice but to call them sacred. If not, then we’ve lost so much. We lose that most sacred thing… our time on this earth. Between South and Ring Street, sits the ‘Eternally Blinking Light’. It just appeared one day out of nowhere, like the rest of us. Its existence is ours. We’re born from the same nothing that spawned the cosmos. It sits there blinking, one red and one green to each side, without a purpose. Nobody knows where it came from. Nobody knows. Some say it was put there as a warning for those who belong to a secret society. Some believe it was a waste of money. Others just ignore it, like everything else in the city.

The passage of time waits for no one. We’ve wasted enough time concerning what is sacred and what is nothing. For those that hold the light sacred, they hold a few ritual orgies at the beginning and the end of the month. They meet under the light for a few hours, give or take, depending on the traffic. It’s a sight to see… or be a part of… with so many bodies coming together, brought together by absolutely nothing. I guess time has a way of bringing us together. It offers us momentary glimpses of the sacred, before the illusion falls and we’re exposed for what we are.

I’d hate to think of my soul as an eternal tourist in this life. I’d like to think that I never belonged in this place or that. I think I’ll make my time as well deserved compost in this area eventually. If I get a say in the matter, bury me beneath the ‘Eternally Blinking Light’, where the orgies happen twice a month and if you look at the right moment up to the stars, you see the galactic battle between constellations we’ve named and stars that know nothing of their struggle.

Lights go down on South Street

People don’t bother with you on this street. You get your ‘hellos’ and go about your day. It can be quiet in the way of social chatter, but more than makes up for it in traffic. We have a road right outside our doorway. Eighteen wheelers drive by and it sounds like a tank barreling through the city. In my backyard, as well as on the other side of the white chain-link fence, are two train tracks. The train runs and makes a lot of noise, although I hardly notice the one going through my backyard. Further passed the train tracks, someone revs his engine all night long, either performing testing on his automobiles or trying to piss off the rest of us. He does a fine job of both, either way.

There isn’t much to see here, unless you enjoy watching traffic, either from cars or trains on their way to distant worlds. You can see the skyline of Albany from your porch, although you’re looking through electrical lines. If you look above all that mess, at least on this night, you see blue clouds shifting to purple. They move along, like the traffic. I see them coming in darker and darker. I see purple clouds just over the horizon. This city exemplifies the phrase ‘life passing you by’. All the clamor of engines, tires against pavement, steel dragging heavy locomotives to distant worlds that most of us will never see. We remain. We live in the city where everything passes and nothing stays.

I’m writing about this night, because of the storm. It brought on something I’ve never seen. It was a beautiful sight that can only come from reverence of that natural force that guides everything in the universe. Call it what you want, but it works better without a label. On this night this most benevolent forced called the bugs to dance around the streetlights and perform ritual sacrifices. I’ve only seen a few Praying Mantises in my life. I’ve always thought they were cool looking and had to study them for a while whenever they crossed my path. For whatever reason, there have been dozens of these things all around our city. They came out of nowhere and flooded our streets. They flew around and you couldn’t tell what the massive blobs of green were, until they landed on your car or dangled from a tree.

Along the stretch of white fence, the streetlights shine just as bright as any other road, but something has happened to two of them that makes them shut off for about thirty seconds to a minute. The two at the far sides, one to the North and the other to the South, always remain on. It’s the two in the middle that take turns shutting down. It happens in succession, where one will go out and then another.

In the height of the Praying Mantises growth, the creatures would fly around these brilliant orbs of light, as if they represented some celestial force that moved everything into place. When one light went out they’d go to another and so on and so forth. Beetles and other bugs joined in, although some were made into ritual sacrifices. Others, the mantises allowed to dance in honor of the brilliant light, at least for the time. The bugs cannibalized each other. Mantises ate beetles, beetles ate anything smaller, anything smaller drank the blood of my neighbors. It’s one great big cycle that, no matter who we are, we’re a part of.

Everyone’s enjoying the festival of carnal pleasure, until, in one perfect flux, the light goes out for the entire street. It’s not something terribly significant to any of us, but to the praying mantises and for me, it became an ordeal worth further documentation. It took a keen eye to see what happened to all those bugs floating around that radiant essence. They scattered so fast it was hard to tell that they were still there. The light still burned in my eyes. I could see the little black dots against the backdrop of darkness. It might’ve been just an illusion, but it seemed the bugs were trying to remain as still as possible. They scattered and fled in terror. The festival was over and the time to hide from predators was upon them. Trees stood beneath the lights in great bushels. They could fall into the canopies and get lost, hopefully, to avoid any danger. If they made it in time they could wait out the storm and pray for the light to return.

The storm came in with rain and long, white bursts of lightning. They felt so close and hit with such a loud impact that the power went out. Everything went dark. My neighborhood was forced to watch the sacred display. Whatever force it is that guides us in this world, it wanted us to see. Darkness washed over the land. It took with it all forms of life. In that moment, the world was dead. The coffin closed. We breathed into the dirt and darkness ate the remains. You don’t realize what you make of yourself when you’re lights are always on. You become a target. When you’re out in the darkness is when you’re free. It represents something in our psyche, something primordial, something we fear. I think it’s more that ‘return to darkness’ that we fear. Humanity’s come along way from hunting for survival. The light is something we own now, instead of it owning us. It’s become our greatest mission. Humanity is responsible for protecting the light.

When order restored, as it always does, the bugs rejoiced. The mantises returned, dancing around the light. They ate each other, they performed ritualistic orgies of blood and sexuality for which humanity could never understand. That part of us died with the dinosaurs. Such desperation is animal. Something we’ve forgotten. If only the lights would go out. Every light, every television, every bit of energy that fuels this world. Let it go out for a few seconds. Let us sit in darkness for a few seconds and wonder what became of the world we knew only a moment ago. Then, perhaps, we can relate.

Pompeii – 2016 A.D.


Hudson River, Albany, NY.

I’m only sharing this, because I’m fascinated.


If anyone knows more about things like this happening in our time or closer, please don’t be afraid to share. It talks about a cloud of CO2 that comes up from a lake and kills 1,746 people. There were myths about the lake that spoke of a great evil that claimed many lives. I like that. I’m warped, but I like that. I’ve imagined the same type of scenario for my city. I’m not a prophet, don’t think I have those allusions of grandeur. I see the possibility of us being erased from the planet. I mean… with the world always seeming to balance itself on the precipice of order and chaos, who wouldn’t try to predict our end?

I see our city ending in flood. There are cricks that extend around us, through us, which all matters because of the river. One day, it’ll come through flood. Depressing, but these things happen. This has been fun… not depressing at all. I just enjoy sharing with you all!

Epidemic Infrastructure

Not about my town, but more about every town in this country. There’s a widespread epidemic of abandoned buildings that have no use and in this new age is the opportunity to change the purpose behind them. It’s time to get creative.

The epidemic in this country is the infrastructure and it’s about time we found a cure.


Ghost Boxes: Reusing Abandoned Big-Box Superstores Across America

The Ruins of Ashland Chemical


The Ruins of Ashland Chemical

For a moment, as I make my way down South Street, I have to marvel at the six foot tall chain link fence with white slats that follows the entire length of the road. Barbed wire lines the top of the fence to persuade anyone from trying to climb it, not that anyone would, as there’s nothing inside except an abandoned industrial complex. A relic of the old ways once stood behind this fence, until the Ancients tore it down. Ashland Chemical. Their ruins stood behind the barbed wire, chain link, white slats, until they renovated and left us behind. Now, we’re left with just a fence, just some cracked pavement and iron-wrought tubs built into the ground. The concrete remains, but has been warped and broken by years of neglect.

If you walk down the road to the point where the fence ends, looking back, you’ll notice the delicate breeze carrying a noise, like a delicate hum reverberating against the chains. If you stare for long enough, you’ll see the fence moving ever so slightly, never to break, but stretching out. You think, if only for a second, that perhaps it will break. You think, let it break and let whatever bile that’s hiding inside there be set free. You think of tribal elders performing purification rituals to cleanse the land. Cars pass you by, beeping, because you’re the asshole on the side of the narrow road who doesn’t seem to be paying attention. In truth, it feels like you’re the only one paying attention. You feel a pulse in your heart that is relative to the beat. It’s an ancestral fear, akin to when a child’s afraid of the dark. The wind whirls passed you, riding along the fence to create the hum. The fence shakes, never to break, but to breathe. It’s breathing in the air and breathing something out. The tribal elders want to purify the land, because ancient spirits have grown angry. I picture lungs polluted with tar and nicotine, breathing in smoke for generations. The smoker felt joy for those few moments; he became addicted to feeling this way. Now, we’re left with the rotted lung that for some reason continues to breathe.

My first thought is of Chernobyl… I don’t know why. I imagine an entire town abandoned


Chain link fence with white slats, our sacred protector.

because of the most devastating disaster of its time. I wonder why I’m not allowed back there and what they might be hiding. You can see from above that there’s nothing left to the site, but still there’s something. I couldn’t go inside and plant trees. I wonder if I’d come back with webbed feet! I wonder if I plant a bunch of trees how many would grow. I imagine one massive tree that managed to bulk up on chemical waste and learned to thrive. I imagine it rising high above us, above the chain link fence with white slats. Towering over us, the tree brings forth life. Birds flock to the tree, finding new homes within its gnarled bark and branches. Bugs flutter along to chew on the leaves, some glowing from either radiation or something natural that makes them essential to our ecosystem. They’ll chew through leaves and pull forth seeds and the breeze will take them away. They’ll float onward, throughout the town, taking root to grow something more. What will come of us? I wonder if the fallout will ever be clear enough for us to build some kind of park. I imagine, if only for this moment, children playing under the great and wonderful tree. The trains goes by in the background, as it does throughout the town. So does the tree now, as its seed has made its way to our greatest recesses. I imagine tables set into the concrete of the former site of ‘Ashland Chemical’. Massive tankers of God knows what used to sit in the same place as the tree. People gather around the tree of life, instead of an empty landfill of chemicals rotting into the center of our city.

It’s at least an attempt to make things better. Instead, at this moment, there’s so much noise. Most people probably wouldn’t bring their children here to play. Most people look at the ruins of this chemical compound and don’t even know it’s past, so probably couldn’t perceive its future. It’s ruins. It’s a relic of the past that stands, because either we jsdojaperupadfasdon’t know what to do with it or we don’t care. It’s a perception long since shared by many in the city and all around the world. We carry our pasts into the future, with monuments dedicated to our ancestors; things they could use, but to us, they serve no purpose. We keep them around as a comfort of a glorious time. A few still believe there’s something salvagable, as if the company will come back and the jobs will return. We hope and it keeps us in Limbo. We want something better to leave future generations. No matter how hard you hope, these ruins will do us no good.

I pass along the chain link fence with white slats, stretching down the length of the road. When it ends, you can see inside the complex. Life grows between the cracks, seeping up from the busted concrete, overflowing between shattered remains of pavement. Best wishes to the future site of the ‘Blessed Tree of Life’. A creek flows between the ruins and the railroad, which is just beyond the site. I wonder what chemicals have leaked out and are poisoning the world. Fallout. Chernobyl. It happens in places far away. We don’t have webbed feet, but still, we have something. Or maybe we have nothing.

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.