Archive for October, 2011

Banksters’ Paradise

Written by Concrete on . Posted in Activism, Rochester

Occupy Rochester’s lighter side! I’d like to see more of this artivism and street theater, even though I suspect most of the Occupy pictures for the foreseeable future will be of the not-so-thin blue line keeping us away from our first amendment rights and agendas.






Singing For The Dark Times

Written by Concrete on . Posted in Activism, Rochester

In the dark times, will we be singing?
Yes, we’ll be singing for the dark times!
Every new day’s dawn brings a song of its own,
Waiting to be sung, waiting for the sun!

I tried to explore today. I had to, for the group (trying out a new recruit with a car), for me (clearing out my head after last night), for Laura even (to keep me away from those “interminably stupid and self serving Occutards” before I’m lost altogether). It wasn’t really the best of days for it, pouring rain and barely making it to 40 degrees, but someone to go underground with, and a driver no less, there was no passing it up! The result was probably pretty obvious: I took just about the worst pictures I’ve ever shot. Not one even worth keeping. My mind was in Washington Square, no question about it. It didn’t help that I found Shane rather abrasive, he seemed to be after nothing but my information, a suspicion which was proven correct shortly after, when he shook me for every fact I knew about the drain system, and made it seem very doubtful I’d ever explore with him again. I have no qualms about saying this right out in the open: he is not a nice person, and proud of the fact. Yet I think we both understand, the facts being what they are, his power over my group as the one who can take us places, so I suspect this won’t be the last of him.

So we resume with my coverage of another night of Occupy Rochester…

It didn’t look good even on my bike ride up to the park. Police were everywhere, converging on the south wedge and U of R campus. I circled around a bit, then found the mother load, all lying in wait for what they must have hoped would be a riot.

10.06: eleven police vehicles including 2 vans and an LRAD gathered at 100 block Mt. hope. Presumably about to head up to your area.

Arriving at Occupy, the scene was much the same as last night: a crowd assembling waiting for the drama of getting kicked out, and/or the political coup of being able to stay. The optimism toward staying may have been a bit more muted though – only one or two tents were set up, and a few tarps in case it rained during the protest, probably, not for camping. Being the night before Halloween, some chose to be festive about it, showing up in 99%-themed costumes!

Our neighbors, however, were quite less tolerant of our street theater.
10:52 Geva has relayed the message that they have a conservative clientele and do not support occupiers using their facilities. We should respect them, they are a community institution and it is their private property
May it be noted that we stayed in the park, and didn’t do anything at, or to, Geva Theatre.

10.59 the news is about to start, we are getting loud and waiting for action
11:01 minute by minute, hour by hour, we are the people, we have the power. No opposition yet at the Square!

It was a waiting game once again – we knew just what the police had in store for us, but there was no sign of it. We were expecting it, the TV news was here expecting it, and all we got was more time milling around in a chilly park waiting for action.

We called a brief assembly just to confirm that no one wanted to get arrested tonight, then went back to talking and singing among ourselves. Someone started handing out little songbooks with the Internationale and “This Land Is Your Land” and some other old protest songs they threw together.

11:08 GA announced for 1pm at Washington square tomorrow . Still no sign of the expected officers.
11:10 agreement to stay and occupy until we are warned to leave, even if they do not show tonight!

The AdBusters flag, United Corporations of America

11.19 we think the cops are waiting for the news to end. On a related note, 13 is showing college football. Score/time left update for the occupiers?
11:31 channel 8/31 news truck leaves, 10 and 13 still here. Also the one officer who was here ostensibly for Geva traffic must really have been, he drove off as well
11:37 still no sign of the police. About 30 of us in the park waiting to see what happens

As 11.35 passed and midnight approached, people started to think there would be no action, despite our theory about the news, and the fact that the mob of police was only growing larger by the minute at Mt Hope.
11:45 channel 13 appears to be on live.
11:48 Krause calls us pathetic. No cops, people are leaving. COME HERE! WASHINGTON SQUARE IS OURS! channel 13 and 9 are still here. As the news ends, there may be more police action. WE NEED PEOPLE! WE MUST REMAIN!
11.57 COME TO WASHINGTON SQUARE AT 12.15 AND AWAIT THE POLICE. channel 13 will be broadcasting until 12.22 due to the football game and the RPD will likely wait until the news has concluded to take action!
12:18 12.18 20 of us left and still no cops, TV13 preparing to pack up and leave

And sure enough, we got exactly what we expected. Just as the news van left, the prisoner van took its place.
Paddy Wagon

12.19 cop with lights on at woodbury and st marys (corner of park
12.20 they are here in force, 9 back on air
12.21 force to be reckoned with, they are clearing the park and we are leaving. WSP occupied by the RPD
12.23 twelve officers lined up in Clinton ave

This looked as if it was about to be a sound defeat. With the park cleared and surrounded by officers, it was clear who was in charge, and on the side of the law no less. Then, just about the only thing that could have gone our way, did. As we sang and picketed, the police had their way with not only the park, but our belongings.

12:26 the cops took our signs and posters in a paddy wagon
12.28 signs were considered abandoned property. Even.though they were clearly ours. And we were clearly here.
12.29 cops will give the signs to Alex White once everyone leaves the premise

In full view of all of us, and the news cameras, a mob of cops took our signs and a pile of coats and stuff, and left. We all watched, bemused, as this bizarre end to the night went on the record.

Arrest count: zero people, and about 50 signs.

The fact that the police were so ready to oppress, combined with our inability to raise a riot, will probably cool Occupy off for a while… I don’t especially like the idea of taking the park anyway, I feel like it’s the action that alienates people most about our movement, that we are fighting drawn out battles to live like the homeless, on behalf of the 98% in between cardboard boxes and McMansions.

The People United Will Never Be Defeated

Written by Concrete on . Posted in Activism, Rochester

And, just a day after my last post, Occupy Rochester took a huge turn toward the dark reality of what Occupy is in so many other cities: free speech grating against the boundaries of police oppression. While so far there has been no violence here, we have had 30 arrests and counting tonight, after a month without incident.

I know I said I would keep this blog apolitical, but I needed a place where I could report and put together the story of what I saw, a bit less fragmented than the #ROCcupy twitter feed but more linear than a photo album, where I can compile the tweets and pictures in a readable form. While I do strongly endorse the Occupy movement, I was very unimpressed with the decision, made abruptly yesterday (Thursday 10/28) to move from the Liberty Pole and set up a camp, effective just one day later, without permission from the city or strong consensus from Occupy itself.

The evening began with a zombie walk protest march, which unfortunately I missed, not making it to the park until about 9pm. Washington Square was still buzzing with people and littered with signs from the zombie march, but most of the more hardcore occupiers left for a while to get their camping gear.

9:51pm – Even if you don’t want to risk arrest I’d like to see all of you here by 11pm. The worst that can happen is we march in circles on the sidewalk at 10:59, providing a distraction and a disapproving crowd while whatever goes down in the park.

The mood was understandably tense in the 10pm hour, as we waited for what seemed like inevitable chaos at 11. We practiced speeches and chants, and stress-ate bags of halloween candy and doughnuts brought as a donation by Wegmans workers.

10:50pm – The people united will never be defeated!
Most of the campers were still setting up, but the rest of us started chanting and making loud noises as the 11:00 news showed up

The dreaded 11:00 passed strangely without incident. While a General Assembly developed at the statue of Lincoln, all four news stations took interviews at the other end of the park. Notably absent was any police presence. A theory began creeping through the murmured zeitgeist that it would in fact be 11:35 that the heat would be put on our gathering, once the outside broadcast vans were cleaned up and the only news would come from Chief Shepard’s press release in the morning.

It didn’t even take that long; at 11:20, a convoy of police cruisers arrived, and were met swiftly by a scrum of reporters. There are few things cops dislike more than to be surrounded by cameras. Undoubtedly tempered by media presence, they cordially gave the Occupiers 15 minutes to clear the park. Maybe one or two budged, everyone else got even louder, recognizing the more or less idle threat.

11:38pm – They gave us 15 minutes to clear out, which is up. No action yet, we are still chanting and rallying at the Square.
11:39pm – The police have relayed a message that they are sending officials who may let us remain in the park overnight!

This news caused a tremendous roar in the park, and the announcement provoked some of the most rousing chanting of the night. While most of the television vans left, channel 13 stayed on air live on their digital broadcast, covering the speeches (hopefully with a 7 second delay!)

11:47pm – We are still here and strong, waiting for more word from our city. Let this Square be our Tahrir! Let this Park be our Zuccotti!


As the crowd continued to show no signs of dispersing, the police presence grew heavier and heavier, and the news vans returned. The mood on the ground was the same sort of almost savage joy in gallantry as one could expect from soldiers facing their first battle. But without any motion to arrest yet, we held our ground and rallied ever louder.

11:54pm – The police have blocked southbound streets. Chief has arrived at Washington Square.
The sight of Chief Shepherd walking along the sidewalk, flanked by a few lieutenants, quickly sent everyone who didn’t want to be arrested tonight away. Which still left a few dozen in the park waiting for their chance to win overnight accommodation in a holding cell.

Chief Shepard himself did the deed, and with his deputy dragged away the first arrest of the night. The mood of the event instantly went over from bold and joyous to incensed and defiant.
11:57pm – One arrest and counting. Chant of “The whole world is watching!”
12:01am – They have stopped so far with one arrest. We are loud and numerous still on the sidewalks and in the square

12:05am – Two down, we have just lost our police liaison to them.
12:07am – We have elected a new liaison, still at 2 arrested.
Things quieted down for a few minutes, as the chief processed what to do with his new trophy catch. Then the rank and file officers descended on the park, and began methodically removing one Occupier after another, raising the arrest count one at a time, picking off mostly recognizable faces first.

12:15am – 5 down so far including another liaison
12:20am – 7 down, [Ryan] Acuff taken away, Krause goes down yelling about RFK and Martin Luther King

This was becoming the scene, one after another, all willingly resigning to and accepting their arrest.

12:23am – 9 down, James the latest, chants of “go fight real crime!” So far cops haven’t touched the sidewalks full of chanting protestors.
One arrest after another still, young, old, men, women, all taken out in the exact same way and loaded into the paddy wagons.

12:31am – The police are lining up, 14 down including Olivia so far

12:32am – It’s 16 now, Chelsea, CJ, Jake Allen, Holly the latest arrests.

12:34am – 19 arrests, the teacher, Anna and Ben taken off the Square
12:37am – (Holly) is the 20th arrest, cops taking a break so far after a burst of lining up and arresting peaceful protestors
12:42am – No further arrests yet, processing the ones who were already taken

Wrong Way
12:45am – Police talked to and let go a wrong way driver on Clinton. Yet they arrest 20 protesters who present no danger to themselves or others. What is wrong with them?

12:51am – Police and sheriff cruisers take away some of the arrested… still no further action

12:54am – More arrests imminent — but only those lined up in the park. Those in sidewalks allowed to remain, clean park after end of arrests. Upcoming march tonight on public safety building as soon as this ends!

Round 2

Perhaps the strangest moment of the night involved the 22nd and 23rd arrests. A photographer for the RIT student newspaper walked into the park to take a picture of one of the arrests, believing that only those who intended to be arrested would be taken. Somewhat predictably, an officer grabbed him to arrest as well. In an act of desperation (and to prevent it being lost as evidence), the photographer threw the camera toward the sidewalk crowd. The pass was underthrown, and his professor crossed the park boundary to catch the camera. While the professor was already back in line, officers took him away as well, a total departure from prior behavior.

1:01am – 27 arrests and counting, including Shirley, Lisa, Denise, Evan, and Lynn.

Jesse was the 27th arrest of the night, leaving just 3 people remaining in the park.

The final two hold hands, waiting for their turn to go to jail
1:03am – 29 arrests so far, Emily Good standing in the square untouched
1:05am – Emily still free! This seems to be it, they were more than capable of arresting her and haven’t. Final (?) arrest count = 29.
1:08am – Emily still safe, and clearing the park to us. She is the only one who they won’t arrest. Chief retracted permission for us to help clean the park.
1:09am – Officers tell us to grab belongings and clear park, in a third reversal
1:10am – March on Public Safety on Exchange st coming up as soon as the tents are cleared.

Emily held the park alone, with a ring of onlookers on the sidewalk undoubtedly as confused as she was that the 30th arrest had yet to occur. Officers hovered over her from time to time, but did nothing, evidently afraid she would create as much of a stink for this one as her last two court cases.

1:21am – Emily occupies the square alone. We stand in solidarity from the sidewalks.
1:25am – An officer takes a photo of Emily and walks off.
1:27am – Officers prepare to arrest Emily.

And finally, Emily too was gone, and on her way to the jail. With 30 arrests, the police job was done, and we prepared to go off to the jail and bail out some comrades.

1:28am – They took our Emily!
1:40am – We stand in quiet opposition at Public Safety. Working on figuring out bail and who exactly has been hit.

1:47am – 30 of our brothers and sisters in resistance were taken from us today by agents of the RPD. But the people, united, will never be defeated! We have already begun negotiations to bail the first one out!

1:55am – One officer remains at the Square to make sure we don’t come back for a while.
2:06am – Expecting bail money soon to get the first ones out!

And this is where I left them, with a story just beginning to unravel over the next few days, and wondering if, in fact, the whole world was watching. It remains to be seen what the next action will be, and whether all of these arrests were taken in vain… I hope, for the sake of these 30, that is not the case.

Not Just A Phase

Written by Concrete on . Posted in Activism, Rochester

It’s been over a month now since the first Occupiers set up their tents and dreams in Zuccotti Park, and 20 days since our daily gatherings at Liberty Pole began. I took some heat personally for my first photos here — most painfully from Laura, who echoed the view of the older conservative generation, that the best thing to do about the Occupy movement is to tell them to grow up, get real jobs, and leave the damned park. So with that moral support to rely on, I’ve been spending more and more time AT the Occupy meetings, with an entire community of people who think like me. Laura calls it my Woodstock of mistakes, my quest for a moment in the sun. It certainly has been sunny, but not for a chance to get attention (observe, for one, that I choose to stay behind the camera!), rather for the awakening and newly living thoughts of grass roots change, and something to believe in. So far we in Rochester have stayed somehow clear of the infighting between Occupy sects, and the crushing opposition from government and police; we really do have something kind of resembling an ideological utopia, an anti-school to learn about the ways of the world. We aren’t just here to change the world — we’re here to change ourselves, we’re here because it’s the gathering of our generation.

Anyone who is interested in checking this out and being a part of a growing movement, come join in! We are at Liberty Pole from 4-6pm on weekdays, also Thursdays until 8:30 and Mondays noon-2pm.





Lately we’ve been expanding from protest signs and chants into music and street theater too

The Earth Ran Dry

Written by Concrete on . Posted in Adirondacks, Industrial, North Country

Thirty-four years ago, Star Lake, New York, once a thriving Adirondack town with a population of a few thousand, a golf club, a drive-in movie theater, and everything else you’d expect in rural New England, collapsed. It had always been a company town, ever since the 1890s when the Sykes family controlled most of the logging in the then town of Clifton, and continuing through decades of stability between the paper mill at Newton Falls, and Benson Mines closer to the village, employing hundreds of union workers and quite literally building the town. Then in 1977 the mines closed, never to return, and only a few months later, by the summer of 1978, Newton Falls closed for what would be the first of many times in its troubled history.

As one might expect for a place that has been gone for so long, Benson Mines is wide open now, left to rot and gradually fall back to nature. A minor earthquake in 2000 led to breaching of the water table, and the mine pit filled in, becoming Lake Benson. The greater majority of the buildings still remain, and are unlikely to see any future use.

Looking back at the entrance, at the corner of routes 3 and 60

Building 1 contained the mine’s front offices and laboratories

The rest of the buildings, 31 in all, were strictly industrial, although their exact functions were gutted with the rest of the equipment
Building 6

All that machinery ended up in neat little compacted cubes, headed for a scrap yard they never reached

One thing that remained surprisingly intact is the complex’s electrical wiring

I think this was a copy machine of some type, it seems to be just the right size to accept blueprints, and is sitting on top of a blueprint/map cabinet

Finally, just some more beautiful destruction, a place falling down entirely on its own, without human assistance or vandalism

They All Fall Down

Written by Concrete on . Posted in Adirondacks, Amusement, Industrial, North Country

Another return trip, this time to the Adirondacks, once again, with UR UrbEx. As one might expect, the place looks almost exactly the same as it always did. I won’t bore you with more overview photos of Frontier Town, since it’s just what it was last year… I tried to focus more on details this year, as the place falls down there’s less and less left to see though.

Abandoned pianos are so much fun. Especially when there’s no risk of getting caught and you can actually “play” them (which usually amounts to absolute noise, but still…)

What’s left of Main Street – Nature has basically won!

The church is probably the most authentic and most solid structure in all of Frontier Town

This is the house where Teddy Roosevelt found out he had become President after McKinley’s assassination in 1901. It has seen far better days.