Sunday, August 16, 2009
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
i've been excavating my entombed interests in the paranormal and urban decay lately (which, at times, go hand-in-hand). in-so-doing, i've been skulking around the internet, looking for more information, some of which i'd forgotten, about the various institutions that once existed on roosevelt island. roosevelt island has a very dramatic history of varying states of quarantine, it having at first been known as blackwell island, inhabiting a sprawling penitentiary that inmates with mostly misdemeanor charges. a lot of the inmates, however, remained in penitentiary housing (obviously not in imprisonment) upon release due to how extremely poor most of them were. most other institutions that sprung up after the existing penitentiary were constructed completely out of prison labor (note the interesting link between punishment and existing political and economic systems, i.e. capitalism influencing penalty methods and redress rendered through commercial productivity). this includes the octagon (lunatic asylum for women) and the renwick smallpox hospital for incurables. both locations, oddly enough, were also staffed by many inmates. the octagon went under investigation a number of times in the 1800s for instances of abuse and neglect, and a large majority of its patients were women whose husbands admitted basically out of boredom. nellie bly published a very famous exposé, at the time, which later turned into a full-on book, about the excessive abuses of the hospital, after feigning mental instability and becoming admitted. the facilities had in common the overwhelming poverty of their inhabitants and the inattentive treatment received on all fronts to all housed on the island.
i've had a difficult time unearthing specific gruesome grievances in relation to any of the facilities, but knowing the state of the mental health system during the 19th century is a bit elucidating. the octagon's been restored into an excessively expensive apartment complex and many of the original buildings like the penitentiary, alms housing, etc have been destroyed. the smallpox hospital lies in ruin at the one end of the island, looming over the water in all its gutted gothic decay. i once found an image online of a flier that was posted on the fence surrounding the ruins with a mutilated and emaciated body on it as well as an ominous demand for acknowledgement of the ills done there. i haven't been able to come across that again.
when i broke into the renwick ruins twice a few years back, there was a lot of eerie residual energy, also some cold spots, and definite electronic interference. mostly i experienced a melancholic feeling, also some aggravated claustrophobia. when we were walking away from the hospital it almost felt like we were being pulled back, as if there were something stuck behind us reaching a hand out to be released, too. my cell phone, which had complete service and battery just a few feet away from the hospital kept shutting off and the battery died. my friend's battery also died and her service went out completely. once we stepped about ten feet away from the ruins, our batteries were full again and service restored. we also heard a bell ringing at one point.
aside from the possible paranormal potential of the place, it was just a riveting location to explore. seeing overturned bed springs, tables, and half-tiled walls, with very little foundation remaining on the inside aside from the overall frame... it's interesting to note what remains.
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
upon exiting the lirr station at long beach on saturday, on the way to visit a friend, i had to press through the throngs of tangerine-skinned beach enthusiasts to get to a taxi. having been slightly annoyed at the "sweetie" that proceeded the dispatcher's directions to the cab i'd be taking, i just sat back in the mini-van and waited to depart. an irritatingly enthusiastic guy sat next to me and an amiable, typically-long-island woman sat in the front. we proceeded toward our respective destinations, leaving the ditzy, chipper guy off first. as we approached my destination, i realized the driver had no intention of stopping and i watched my friends whiz by, their building number, which was clearly-articulated before, slipping from my vision. i phoned my friend to tell her i just passed her, thinking this dude's going to drop the other woman off and wheel around. as i'm talking to her, i overhear the woman say, "oh, no, i think it was him. he was going to shore road." i hung up and the driver corrected her with exaggerated emphasis, "oh, SHE wanted shore road." the woman turned around, held her hand up to her mouth in embarrassment and apologized profusely, but i was really more irritated with the driver, because i found it really irrelevant for him to be so blatant about it. i was actually quite excited that i passed because i'm generally hoping to be sort of enigmatic in the gender department, and despite my breasts being purposefully pasted to my chest, to my dismay, i'm usually perceived "correctly," even if i mightn't be yr run-of-the-mill young lady. i know this because of the abundant "sweeties," "ma'ams," and "honeys" i get.
then the driver said, "you were so quiet back there, i forgot you were here." to which i wanted to respond, "well, maybe i should just FORGET to pay you."
anyway, getting closer to the middle everyday, i guess.