Urban Exploration

I had some fun breaking the law today. Or at least I presume I was breaking the law. I did something that I’ve been planning to do ever since I moved in here and went for a poke around the derelict building next door.

I’ve always had a fascination with abandoned buildings and post apocalyptic settings. I don’t know why. Something to do with the impermanence of the human condition maybe, and the overwhelming power of time and nature to destroy everything we achieve. A contemplation of our own mortality manifested through derelict architecture – or something similarly pretentious. I’m obviously just a repressed Goth (I already dress in a lot of black and like Morrisey and Nick Cave, white face make-up can only be a matter of time :). So anyway, I decided to indulge my Gothic side and do some exploration of the place before it gets torn down and redeveloped (it was auctioned off a few months ago).

From the street you can see two buildings. A semi-art deco construct fronting the street, and a smashed up industrial workshop of some kind stretching off towards the back of the lot. What I was amazed to discover was not only the sheer extent of the workshop (it has two huge rooms going all the way back to the cliff above the river), but that there’s a house back there. A full on, big, two storey, totally trashed house and garden. Maybe it belonged to the caretaker, when the place was still worth taking care of, but it seems way too classy for that. Fantastic views, a huge garden with what would have been a wide expanse of lawn and a big garage-workshop on one side, and a landscaped cliff garden on the other, enough rooms for a family of five or more – I’d like to live there, if it was cleaned up and fitted out again obviously.

Naturally, as a good urban explorer I took my digital camera along. Rather amazingly I ended up taking over 60 photos of the place. So I now present a (probably excessive) selection of the best ones…

The art deco building from the street. The window frames vanished overnight about a month ago. I blame a wandering pack of feral builder-renovators.

The front of the workshop. Up the stairs is a door with a notice on it that may say what the place was before it shut down, but I wasn’t willing to push my way through the vegetation to see properly.

Inside the art deco building. The entire wallspace is decorated with the most incredible graffiti. The further you go inside, the denser it gets.

Some more graffiti.

The biggest room in the deco building. Is this space crying out for some kind of performance art or what?

Looks like someone’s into Taoism…

To get into the worksheds you have to walk down a ramp into the earth. That’s the back of the deco building in the distance.

The first of the two big sheds.

The same place in the opposite direction. The burnt out car really adds to the general ambiance don’t you think?

The view out the back of the shed. It looks out to the hills and down to the river. Whoever redevelops this site is gonna make a mint.

The second shed room. The stairs go up into offices behind the bit visible from the street. I wasn’t stupid enough to try and get into them. Even if the floors hadn’t looked ready to collapse I wouldn’t have risked it.

A half collapsed bench covered in old letters, blueprints and invoices. The most recent ones I could find dated from eighteen years ago. I thought about taking some as souvenirs, but, I dunno, they belong to the place. So I left them for pondering over by other explorers. Or taggers. Or druggies. Or hookers. Or whoever.

Looking back through room two towards room one.

Sinister gates beckon the explorer into the overgrown garden surrounding the mysterious house.

The house itself. Spooky, no?

Looking back along the windy path through the wild garden from the front door.

Looking from the completely trashed kitchen out onto the balcony. The entire building was littered with empty bottles, crushed beer cans, impromptu fireplaces and other evidence of the homeless. Happily I didn’t run into any though. Either they clear out during the day, or they heard me coming.

Looking from the balcony across the river to Belmont Park and the Burswood Resort complex. The squat with the best view in town.

The stairs down to the lower floor.

A huge open area on the ground floor, opening out into the garden overlooking the river. Possibly a games room. This would have been a fantastic house, I’d like to know what happened to it.

I had a weird feeling that this was directed personally at me. Possibly a comment on my attempts at urban exploration 🙂

The house from the river side. You can see just how great it would have been in it’s prime.

So yeah, all up it was a funky adventure. It almost got way more funky, when on the way out I found a car sitting in the driveway. I ducked back around the side of the deco building before anyone saw me, and it soon drove away. It could have been someone just using the drive to turn around in, but it could also have been some kind of security responding to call put in by some nosy neighbour who noticed me wandering around. If they were security though they didn’t do a very good job, since they failed to find me completely 🙂

After that I went off and did my shopping, almost breaking my back carrying home (on foot) a combined 7.4 litres of milk, chocolate milk, orange juice and apple juice, not to mention a whole bunch of other groceries. A lot of people don’t realise how heavy fluids are. Here’s a quiz night question for you, how much does one cubic metre of water weigh? That is a cube of ordinary water* 1 metre on all sides. Give up? One metric tonne. Yup, a tonne. I could hardly believe it myself when I worked it out.

Anyway, about the only other thing I’ve been doing is listening to my Corrupt and Immoral Transmissions CD which came a few days ago. For those coming in late, this is a rare promotional (ie: never actually sold, just distributed to radio stations and the like) CD for my third favourite band in the entire universe, Shivaree, which I purchased on eBay (the CD that is, not the band, I couldn’t afford that, nice as it would be to have them at my beck and call :). After listening to it carefully several times I have come to the considered scientific opinion that it ROCKS 🙂

It starts out with a live version of Goodnight Moon, recorded and broadcast on Los Angeles’s 98.9 KCRW. Naturally this isn’t anywhere as polished and orchestrated as the album version, but it’s just as good, in some ways it’s even superior. Without all the (highly enjoyable though they are) musical flourishes on the Shot in the Head* version the strength of the tune and Ambrosia’s vocals can really shine through. It also features more jazz organ, which has to be a good thing.

The same goes for the next track, a live version of I Don’t Care again from 98.9 KCRW, but this time from Santa Monica. The location seems to have snuck into the band’s performance making it a much more laid back and tripped out version of the song, suggestive of lazy summer afternoons in a small coastal town when you’ve got no worries in the world, and work is still weeks away.

The next track is Scrub, which I’d describe as the spookily beautiful carnival music of the damned. It’s a slow, smoky, dark blues waltz – the kind of the thing they’d play over the PA at a ghoul fairground after all the zombies have gone home for the night and the janitors are sweeping up.

In complete contrast is the final song, a cover of My Boy Lollipop has an incredible verve about it – almost Phil Specterish in it’s sheer layered force. Not quite a wall of sound, but certainly a pretty substantial wrought iron fence. Ambrosia manages the vocal with almost annoying ease, dancing freely through her entire vocal range as if she’s not really trying at all, and would like some kind of challenge next time round. Duke, Danny and the session musicians go all out with explosive drum breaks and a nice little jangling surf guitar solo in the middle, producing all in all a pretty damn fine (and fun) track.

So yeah, I’m pretty happy with it 🙂

P.S: They showed the Citizen Kang Halloween episode of the Simpsons the other night where Kang and Kodos impersonate Bob Dole and Bill Clinton with bizarely hilarious results (“I am Clin-Ton the overlord!” :). Am I completely nuts, or did there used to be a scene (where Clinton/Kang is addressing a crowd at a rally) that went something like this?

Clinton/Kang: Abortions for everyone!!
Crowd: Boo! Hiss! Boo!
Clinton/Kang: Uhhhh – Abortions for no-one!!
Crowd: Boo! Hiss! Boo!
Clinton/Kang: Uhhhh – Abortions for those who want them and miniature American flags for everyone else!!
Crowd: YEEEEEEYYYY!!!!!!

Because if I’m not dreaming, and there was such a scene, they’ve cut it! Bunch of fascists!

* At sea level and standard temperature yada yada yada, sheeze! 🙂

* The full title of the album in question is I Oughta Give You a Shot in the Head for Making Me Live in This Dump. I challenge anyone to fit that into a sentence and still have it flow smoothly 🙂

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