Archive for January, 2014

The Reason I Owe You $11

Written by Concrete on . Posted in Fuck It Tour, Industrial, Philadelphia

After the church, I decided, kind of against Christian’s advice, that maybe I should go to the mysterious party after all.

(kind of related complaint: it is incredibly hard to buy beer in PA. You have to go to a beer distributor, and even then they won’t let you buy less than 24 at a time. Whatever, I thought, I’d just have some to share. And get absolutely hammered besides.)

So Christian drops me off there, at the Budd Building, somewhere in a bleak, industrial part of the city. I can’t help but think I’m in the absolute wrong place. It’s that same kind of post-industrial foreboding atmosphere as Palahniuk’s Wilmington, or Coppola’s Brooklyn. I’m actually surprised when the person behind the mystery phone actually answers, and shows me the way in. The party itself is on the top floor of the warehouse, and about as far from the street as one could get, looking out onto some roofs and a courtyard.

I don’t recognize many of the guests at first, but they all seem to know me. Of course they would – my face had been plastered on the Memester page enough times, and here I was in his city, quite possibly in his presence. As they introduced themselves I started to realize I knew a few of them as the trolls who were giving me so much trouble last year, but at least this one night we all seemed to get along, pissing the night away around a bum fire in an abandoned factory while police helicopters buzzed around looking for something that wasn’t us.

Somewhere around 1am the party started to break up, and (of course) the people I was supposed to spend the night with were nowhere to be found anymore, and people were going on about taking me to Delaware, which didn’t quite seem right. As I should have expected, I was well too far gone to make any reasonable decisions, but I followed people to a nightclub downtown that I’m not sure any of us really wanted to go to, but it was a place, and there were things there, and maybe friends. And far too many people, and shitty music. We would have walked right out right then if we didn’t have to pay a $15 cover charge no one told us about.

I don’t really have any idea what happened next. Apparently I left the club – next thing I knew it was 8.30am, and I was on the floor of some girl’s bedroom, laying on a pink shaggy rug as two cats woke me up playing “king of my face”. She wasn’t even home, and I didn’t have any clue where I was, but I figured I should get out of the house and, as it turns out, back to Philadelphia, considering I had somehow made it all the way to New Castle, Delaware with no recollection of when or how.

By this time I was lost and late, but I still wanted to try to meet up with Brendan and explore the rest of where we partied last night. I found my way there, and they said they were driving all over looking for a Wawa for breakfast. So I asked them to bring me something too, and they got me a bagel, which didn’t seem like any big deal at the time, and for me to pay for their gas to come meet me there and drive me back to the train station, which I parted with $20.

And once that was settled (ish) we explored the Packard Plant’s east coast cousin, Budd.

Well, I explored it, while Higgins and Ray looked for shit they could steal and sell.

This is an awful picture, but I’m pretty sure this was the party room, and the fire was in that basin sink thing.

And I think these are the stairs I fell down drunk on the way out.

I left Philly thinking everything turned out right in the end, and I’d be likely to come back there eventually. But apparently they were just playing nice and actually think I’m mentally unstable and owe someone $11. Oh well. If anyone would have me back, I’d love to see more of Philly. And whoever it is who is missing $11, let me know and I’ll set that right too.

St. Melba’s Church

Written by Concrete on . Posted in Fuck It Tour, Philadelphia, Religious

After the asylum, my hosts introduced me to the legendary oasis of Wawa, then we continued on to South Philly to see a church, which I know almost nothing about, except that it’s in Philadelphia. That being said, it’s certainly better than any of the abandoned churches in Buffalo!

At least no one has ever done this to me… apparently I still have farther to fall into ignominy.

Every time I see an abandoned piano I want to play it… then I wonder if someone would hear the music and decide we were better off caught.

This is the kind of picture I never thought I’d see.

Hippo Campus

Written by Concrete on . Posted in Fuck It Tour, Institutional, Philadelphia

If the last few trips had unusual beginnings, this one was absolutely weird… starting on the bus ride home from Cincinnati, I began to get unsolicited calls from apparent explorers (caller ID blocked, of course) telling me to go to Philly next weekend for some mysterious UER party. Of course, this being the Fuck It Tour, I obliged; the goal, after all, has been to explore a new area every weekend, and meet new people, who might be part of my comeback, and whoever these strange characters were, it seemed as it might be in my best interest to meet them. Obviously they could be setting a trap, but I’d be more likely to trust people I didn’t know, than people I know, in the UE scene. So, to reduce the odds of getting screwed, I made conflicting plans, both in Philly, and decided I’d go with whoever showed up first, then regardless of what I did during the day, show up to the mystery party.

About an hour after I got to Philly, surprisingly, Christian and Melba actually showed up, and we decided on one of their favorite places, Embreeville State Hospital, or something about a hippo. I never saw any hippos there, must be the wrong time of year.

After what seemed like an impossibly long tunnel from the entrance, we emerged into the main (or perhaps only) building abandoned by the hospital, apparently a school for disabled or mentally unstable children.

I wonder if this is where the hippo used to be?

Someone tagged Kings Park up with “URBEX” all over everything. Here, they had the wonderful idea of putting “UER” in the middle of the wall, like it’s some gang tag or something. Which I guess it kind of is.

How the hell is this bathtub full? Did someone actually bring water in for a photo, since there isn’t any plumbing left…

…and then we noticed security starting to circle around and found our way back into the tunnel and out of here. But the fact remained, only a few months after I thought I’d never get to explore an asylum, this was my fifth in a year, and finally a place I’ve been that the UER types are going on about. Even if I never got the chance to ride the hippo.

Ohio Defiance

Written by Concrete on . Posted in Cincinnati, Fuck It Tour, Industrial

As angry as I was about Cincinnati and the missed meet, I knew I had to make something of it and give the reeking armpit of the United States a second chance. This time, with my friend actually in the area, and still having a list of places from the meet just a month ago, I thought maybe we’d be able to follow in their footsteps and at least get to see the same places, even if not actually at the meet. The reality was something entirely different though – one place after another that seemed to be promising was actually either well above my level, or well leveled and suddenly a pile of rubble. After lunch we FINALLY had one success, in a paper mill about half an hour out of Cincinnati.

Stay away from the brown acid!

It’s kind of unusual for there to be any of the finished product left in an abandoned factory. But this seems to be it, a giant roll of moldy cardstock or package stock ready to be sent off to the print shop

I found your car… and you thought I didn’t know where this would be? #VCXP3X

Unfortunately, this would be about all the success we’d have on this trip. Our next stop was a grain elevator that was a lot more intact last month when the meet was here… Like this, which used to be the stairway to the top.

Or this ladder, which was a disaster waiting to happen, about a second after I took this picture, the ice shattered.

This place just didn’t want to let me in, but yes, Jason, I know where this is too!

And this, with its fresh set of boards.

Our night explores were similarly dismal, as winter dumped its mixed bag onto us and we couldn’t get into Huedepohl (despite quite a bit of effort and some help from my friend, who can easily climb a fence), or the Bavarian Brewery (which would have required an incredibly sketchy 25 foot climb up a drain pipe). We couldn’t even get into any of the caves in Lexington, wandering around aimlessly for one and finding the other, full of water and treacherous ice.

So we got some beer and acid and wandered off into the woods, and forgot about the scene and the bullshit and humanity for a while, and everything was better.

We woke up much too late Sunday morning, just an hour before I had to be on a bus out of Cincinnati, as the trip took a turn toward the Amazing Race. We ran out of gas on the 71 somewhere in Kentucky, and managed to reach a gas station on momentum and fumes, and when we finally found our way to the station, I made it onto the bus by about 15 seconds! So maybe I have some exploring luck left…

Just after I left Cincinnati, the bus stopped at a truckstop with a Skyline Chili right next to it. The Internet is right. Cincinnati “chili”, shitpuke in a bowl, on top of spaghetti, truly is worse than getting hit by a car, for certain cars and certain bowls of “chili”. Let this be your warning. AVOID AVOID AVOID. 0/10 will not try again.

Fluid Dynamics 204

Written by Concrete on . Posted in Fuck It Tour, Industrial, Niagara

And, just a week after Staten Island, the chance came again! Two noted explorers this time, the legendary NAN, and Buffalo’s Zephyr, both active UERers who I’m sure just met up with me to be nice, but still made a good afternoon of it. One of the rules we’d agreed on, which I respect from these people, is that we could only go to places that I’ve already been to, so I wouldn’t release any information on account of them, and so we’d know in advance that they would be places I could get into. With both of them already having had their fill of Buffalo (and me not knowing about the best spots in town, apparently,) we decided on Niagara Falls and the Tesla power plant, which has always been one of my favorites since coincidentally discovering it a few summers ago while lost in the area.

This place never gets old.

After that, we tried to get into the abandoned Fallsview Hotel (which I was at once a couple of summers ago), but there wasn’t any way to get in at my level, and I kind of thought one of the cars going round and round the block was a bit suspicious. Neither of them were particularly happy that we didn’t get in, especially with a window 5 feet up and wide open, but I tried my best to hide that I was afraid to try (and especially afraid to fail at) climbing in. So they decided we’d go to Lockport instead, and go to whatever was left of Flintkote. There was a fresh new fence with some barbed wire around two sides of the place, but the rest was wide open at least.

The whole ride back home was an hour and a half long interview from Nan. Neither of us could fit a minute of silence in edgewise, as soon as I finished what I had to say there’d be another question. Almost like a therapy session or something. I didn’t really mind, but I feel like I ought to mention this, considering that she blocked me yesterday for “talking too much”. Meh. Seemed like a good enough trip to me.

Call It A Comeback

Written by Concrete on . Posted in Fuck It Tour, Institutional, New York City

Between the disastrous start in Cincinnati and a similarly fruitless trip to Binghamton (where at least I had people, but no places to go, and forgot my camera on top of it all), things weren’t exactly looking great for my Fuck It Tour by the time I got a last minute invitation to meet a real explorer and check out a few places. Once I was convinced he was more than just a legendary troll, I booked my ticket and took my chances, arriving in New York on one of the coldest mornings of the year, and finding my host in Brooklyn after just one wrong turn in the subway system, in his Brooklyn apartment he shared with some wonderfully gregarious chihuahuas.

Waiting would be the order of the day… I thought we would spend most of our time exploring, but first we’d have to wait for everyone I was supposed to meet to be accounted for, and then beyond that, for the one person with a car to finally come in from New Jersey — only 6 hours after I got there, we were finally ready though, and went to the one New York City location “at my level”: the Staten Island Farm Colony. It’s about as trashed as places can get, and out of the way enough to probably be the only place we would go all day, but at least it’s something.

Even here… UER truly does rule the exploring world.

A wild explorer appears! (This alone is a huge improvement over my last few trips…)

Every building looks about the same. As far as asylums go, this isn’t a highlight by any means.

At least we had a beautiful winter hour to see it before it got dark (and we still missed most of the property, let alone the hospital across the street)

I think the roofs were the best part, actually.

The rest of the weekend was more or less a disaster. A few other people had plans to meet up with me, but I couldn’t reach any of them, and spent the rest of Saturday and most of Sunday sitting around waiting, wasting my time in New York, at least in terms of exploring. I hardly even care though. I found people to meet up with, went there, explored, and came back. And the way things have gone lately, that’s more than I should ever have hoped for. And I get to do it all again next week!