Out Of The Loop

Written by Concrete on . Posted in Rochester

Imagine a world after cars, after trucks, after petroleum. Imagine walking through the snow, following the track of a guardrail along the ghost of what was once a highway, and now carries only the prints of a few snowshoes. This could be all of us someday.

For now, it’s just one little piece of the Inner Loop, but it’s still a sign of progress. With an intermediate stage as some sort of accidental park, the former freeway will soon be a city street, filling in the moat that separates downtown from the rest of Rochester.

Obviously I wasn’t the first one to wander through here, but it’s a sight I never thought I’d see, least of all in a city that’s seemingly on its way up.

You don’t know how much I wanted to play some industrial-size Jenga here.

Because It’s There

Written by Concrete on . Posted in Outdoors, Rochester

I’ve always had a bit of an attachment to Pinnacle Hill. It’s not much of a mountain… just enough to notice you’re getting up there, before the top appears. Then another 300 feet if you feel like climbing a TV tower. Which I’ve only done once, back in freshman year. But between that climb, and the mushroom summer last year, not to mention the inkling I had ever since 2007 that I’d live within sight of the blinking towers when I could; it’s a place to go when I feel like I’m fucking everything up and I just want to step back and try again.






Occupy Lives On

Written by Concrete on . Posted in Activism, Rochester

It was just the kind of dark and stormy night we remembered, gathered in the October rains at Washington Square, helping set up tents with a crowd gathered around a cooking fire and huddled in the kitchen tent while stump speeches emanated from the statue, free to all with the passion. It’s been two years since I’ve even protested, three since I was here last, but the same scene we knew so well was about to play out – and this time we’d seen the show before, and had some idea what was headed our way.

This time the conflict was a purely local one, coming to us from below the grass roots, taking up the fight for Rochester’s beleaguered homeless. After a few thwarted attempts, Maggie Brooks’ county government forced the last few dozen ‘residents’ of the Civic Center Garage onto the streets at the end of last month. With political means not getting them very far, direct action at the garage stymied twice (the county went as far as to detain and threaten to arrest not only the homeless but also the activists assisting), and Election Day just two weeks away, it was time to take a stand. And so Sanctuary Village appeared, a tent city in Washington Square, designed to provide temporary shelter while shoving the issue of Rochester’s homeless front and center for visitors and workers downtown.

Still knowing to tread lightly after their first experience trying to clear out Washington Square of that potent mixture of transients and activists, the county response started off slowly, with no police raids, but also no concessions made, on the first night of the camp. However, this afternoon, the City government, led by Mayor ‘Lovely’ Warren, stepped in and put a deadline on the camp to clear out by the time the park closed tonight. An ultimatum which many of us remembered all too well.

And as soon as I heard about it, I was on my way to the square too to join in and record what was going on, just like on those Occupy nights.

10:20 — The spirit of Occupy lives on! Action and police involvement expected NOW / within the hour at Washington Square, come support the cause of Rochester’s displaced homeless population!

10.25: Sister Grace advises that arrests are likely to occur and if anyone needs a place to stay tbey are welcome to move tents somewhere else. No one appears to be moving. SOLIDARITY!

10.48: All tents and people who are not getting arrested: the camp will move to the Subway entrance when the action begins

10.53 We have about 20 protestors willing to face arrest, but we’re always open to more. The action has yet to begin, join us at Washington Square!

10.56 Channel 8 is here and will be going live at 11.

11.00 My own personal prediction based on the events of 2011 is that the action will start in 35 minutes when the news ends. There’s still plenty of time to come support, even if you aren’t getting arrested there’s still solidarity.

11.10 the TV has come and gone, but the chanting is just starting. Who shuts shit down? WE SHUT SHIT DOWN!

11.35 We think this is about to begin. No cops yet though

11.36 “Rochester is full of empty buildings, empty blocks, empty houses. We need to confront the city, make a proposal, USE THEM! ”

11.43 A whole lot of nothing so far. I have to wonder if they’re playing the waiting game, hoping we’ll leave before shit gets real.

11.52 More speeches and chanting. All riled up with nowhere to go.

11.58 no sign of them yet. It’s only a matter of time now. Come to Washington Square and support the Occupation!

12.00 midnight Ryan called the police chief, asked for another night in the park and negotiation with the City. Expecting an answer in 10 minutes.

12.04 an RPD black car, presumably the chief, has arrived.

12.09 THEY’RE STAYING THE NIGHT! No police involvement tonight, and there will be a meeting with the city tomorrow! Thanks Sister Grace, Ryan and whoever else made this happen!

The Fire Remains

Written by Concrete on . Posted in Industrial, Rochester

I’ve spent far too long wondering if Gary was meant to be my finale as an explorer after all. It was by far my most successful trip, at a time when everything was slowly starting to fall apart for me, one success nearly swept away by a rising tide of failure. I’d been talking about quitting exploring for months, but I knew it was a lie, and most of the people who actually knew me knew it was a lie, and I didn’t care — it made good marketing. I planned a big meet for the end of it all, to try to check off the last thing on my bucket list, to go to one of the events that I’d been specifically disinvited from over the years, even if I had to organize it all myself. But of course, when the time came, no one actually wanted to go, it was all just designed to keep me waiting and get me excited for nothing.

Then on April 1 things got much worse again: National Block Bill Day was no joke, there was an actual campaign with hundreds of people participating, with the specific purpose of spending a day bashing me and finally blocking me, so I’d no longer have any communication with these people. I did the deed myself on March 31 instead, blocking a few hundred explorers, against my beliefs, just so that they couldn’t have the satisfaction of being the one who hits the block button (and so on April 2 I could unblock them and add them back, if I felt so inclined).

I didn’t explore at all in April or May. I didn’t really want to either; I was still scarred by the Providence experience to the point that I didn’t want to travel anywhere to meet up with people (not that anyone was really there to meet up with, seeing as most anyone who was anyone blocked me…) and certainly didn’t feel like extending any sort of hospitality to them to come here and see our whole lot of local nothing. I didn’t miss exploring too much either that spring, I spent my weekends hiking with Christian, or camping at the Orchard with my friends, or doing really just about anything else, there wasn’t time for sitting around bored.

One invitation, if you could call it that, came up at the end of May, to go to Chestfest, one of the most renowned UE meets in North America. At first I couldn’t contain myself at the thought that this might happen (and I only got the chance because I’d already threatened to raft down the river next to the meet and drop anchor just over the property line, and someone thought that might be dangerous). But the invite came with a price: I would have to find my own transportation there (next to impossible), sign a painfully restrictive piece of legalese, and worst of all, I could only stay for part of the second day, and be there while everyone why belonged there was out exploring, so that I’d miss out on the day of exploring while I was at the camp, and miss out on the fun night in camp since I’d be home by the time the party really got started.

Then by June everything else started to slow down, and I’m spending more of my time watching soccer than anything, as the summer goes by, and I realize that I probably won’t get that far at all with any of what I planned or dreamed. Everything I plan goes nowhere, as one should probably expect around me, and all that ever happens is fail. So, when I get the chance one morning to go to the Rochester incinerator, despite it being far less interesting than most, and a place I’d been many times years ago, of course I took the opportunity.

The last few years weren’t exactly kind to this place since I was here last…

At least the giant claws are still here, even though half the place has been demolished and more has just fallen in on its own.

Hmmm… NOPE?

I climbed this entire mountain of trash thinking there might be something on the other side.

I was wrong, there was just a kind of mediocre view.

The basement ovens were surrounded with asbestos bricks. Smash these against the wall and they release unholy amounts of white dust.

Washed Out

Written by Concrete on . Posted in Industrial, Rochester

Oh, how things can change in two weeks. Yes, I was just here. Yes, it looks exactly the same, from the pictures anyway. But I’m starting over, and I figured the best place to do it was somewhere familiar. Last week, someone probably thought they could stop me from exploring, once and for all. 187 counts of trespass and a year in court would do that. But it seems like I managed to escape, and if not, hell, might as well make it 188. As rainy as it was last week, this time managed to be even worse, and I was thoroughly soaked before I even got to the building — of course they didn’t have room for everyone in the cars and left me to bike there. But at least I got out exploring, and hopefully it’s the start of a new era.

One Flew Into The Cuckoo’s Nest

Written by Concrete on . Posted in Institutional, Rochester

Once I heard the front door was open, and it didn’t even take climbing, the decision was made for me. I had to go in. I’d only been waiting for this place to come down to my level since I started exploring, and for the first time in at least five years (other than a close call where all I managed was to pick the worst, wrong-est possible day to walk right in the front door, climb to the roof and see a parade of every law enforcement agency in the county!) my fat ass could fit into the Terrence Building. Of course, I would have preferred to get in during the day, but especially on a place like this, beggars can’t be choosars. We started on the roof just as night fell, taking in the expansive view and watching for any signs of security that could ruin our night (there was none).

One of the few pieces of equipment left behind when Rochester Psychiatric Center moved (to a sprawling two-story campus next door) was the operating room lamp. Probably because the OR got a lot less use with the end of the lobotomy era…

This seemed a lot more sinister than it actually is. Upon further investigation, it’s a steam autoclave for sanitizing dirty scrubs and linens.

No, we didn’t set off some giant alarm. I was just experimenting with a red flashlight.

The basement is much bigger than any other floor of this hospital, or at least seems that way… I suspect the “shelter stops here” sign represents the edge of the building, and the point past which would no longer have protected the inmates (and more importantly in those times, the employees) of the hospital from the Bomb.

That awkward moment when the world is ending and all you want to do is take a shit.

This guy is EVERYWHERE!

And finally we found it: the morgue.

And I didn’t even think to take an autopsy table selfie. I must not be a real UERer.