Abandoned Prosperity

America, for all its supposed wealth and prosperity, has many abandoned places. From natural disasters, to foreclosures, to budget cuts, to rebuilding; I've seen quite a few in my short life-time. All across this vast country people are homeless, when there are many buildings and places that could be "repurposed" to house them. This blog is all about the places I've lived and explored, over the past 50 years. It also involves other things of interest to me, which will become apparent as I continue along. Most places and events I can only remember and have no photographs of them. Currently, I'm active in exploring the current state I live in, Tennessee, when time permits me to do so. Follow along in my foot-steps as I clambour over and sometimes into the abandoned debris of our society...from junkyards to cellars to my own mind.

Friday, August 14, 2015

4948 Island Home

My search for a new home has led me to some pretty bad places. The house at 4948 Island Home Rd. in Louisville, TN. was probably one of the worst but not the worst. I already told my agent what I thought about another house we saw. Puke city, that one. At any rate, potential buyers beware of this house! It has a major mold problem!My first impression of this house was caution. You can smell the musty, moldy odor before you even open the front door. The bulging siding isn't a good omen, either. Once inside it wasn't hard to tell that a smoker or two had previously lived here...

...the rear windows are covered in nicotine as are the walls, themselves. There is also the beginnings of mold starting to form on the walls. The carpets are junk as is everything in the kitchen...

...the main bathroom looked to be about the only thing in decent shape as opposed to the other bathroom...

...and when my agent opened the rear door (which is off of one of the bedrooms), I advised her not to venture out onto it. The deck is completed dry-rotted and totally unsafe. It would have to be completely removed...

...but all these above problems pale in comparison the the full, walk-out basement. And here's where the caution comes into play: ENTER THE BASEMENT AT YOUR OWN RISK! DO NOT TOUCH ANY SURFACE! THERE IS MOLD EVERYWHERE!

I took a snap from the top of the stairs, this after we both had gone down with the aid of flash-lights (the is no power on in the house as far as we could tell). I didn't want to contaminate my camera. Bad enough I had to immediately change my clothes when I got back home. Apparently, there is a water leak in the basement which looks to have been leaking for quite some time. We found a full pot under a sink that was way past doing its job. A disclosure sheet indicated that the house had been vacant since April, 2015.  It also stated no evidence of mold. Methinks that report should updated. So, the leak went unchecked long enough for the water to flood the basement and for mold to grow...EVERYWHERE! It was on the walls, cabinets, toilets, rugs, books even the handrail, walls and carpet going to the upper level. We "squish-squashed" around on the soaking, moldy carpets too long, I think.  And I still feel sick to my stomach.

I don't even want to think what it would cost to remediate all that mold! The basement is a complete gut-job. And could someone tell the listing agent to get the damn water shut off? Please? If you do chance to have a look at the lower level, I'd recommend some water-proof boots (galoshes would do nicely) as well as a face mask...or even better...a respirator. Or a hazmat suit. I'm not kidding.

*SIGH!* On to the next house...

4321 McKamey Rd.

FOR SALE! 4 bed, 2 bath rancher! That's it, above. At least from the outside. I'll spare you the inside pics. I'm currently looking for a new home in the Knox area. Something a bit closer to work. I'd like to cut my commute time in half. I'd also like something that's a bit more "move in ready". The house at 4321 McKamey Rd. is far from that. And as I'm trying to get a loan through the VA, the house wouldn't qualify anyway but, was still worth a look. The house does have some major problems. Like uneven front concrete stairs (that are currently crumbling), not to mention that they're no handrails...

...there are also broken windows that need replacing as well as an illegal outside electrical outlet, not to mention the work needed to repair the rear decking...

...one good thing is that the a/c until appears to be a newer model...

...the roof appears newer but whoever did the work forgot to repair the soffets...

...and though there was no disclosure list in hand, someone decided to write one on the kitchen wall. I was there with a trio of other potential buyers. When we read the line about mold in the attic, they couldn't clear out of the house fast enough, heh, heh...

...and also according to the disclosure, the house needs all-new plumbing and wiring. The roof is a couple years old and the windows are four years old. Oh yeah...and KUB (Knoxville Utility Board) apparently has a lien on the 3 year-old a/c unit. Hokay! So, obviously, I won't be putting in an offer on this house.

Other things to note about this property...it does have over 4 acres of land but...it's all uphill behind the house. Also, the driveway will cause any car to bottom out both entering and exiting (yes, I did check my car for damage and no worries, there.) The driveway is also on a blind corner. I know older homes can have issues and this one certainly does. I also don't mind doing a bit of fixing-up but this house would take me too long to re-do by myself. Oh well. On to the next property...

Bags Of Ignorance

I've been in Knoxville, TN. for nearly a year. Busy little city. Like most cities, Knoxville (or simply, Knox as some the locals refer to it as), has quite a few green spaces. Knox also has its share of other city problems; crime, abandoned buildings, vehicle accidents, vandalism and, oh yes, litter. But the city at least tries to keep up with it all, as far as I can tell. But don't go by my POV. Observe for yourself.

 I migrated from the Northeast in September of 2014. And though I'm not native to that area, I sound like I am. I guess I lived there too long but, given enough time, I'll probably sound like a native to Tennessee in a couple of years. I have the ability to do that even without thinking about it. But I digress.

 My first encounter with the public water supply in Knox did not go well. WTF? I thought Boston & Worcester water was bad! Even a filter system on the fridge can't keep the taste away 100%. And I've read the water quality reports. I don't care what the reports say; the water still tastes terrible! And the smell! GAG!

So, I set out to find a source of good, clean, odor-free water. Like the natural spring I used to go to up North. I talked to a few locals and one pointed me to this place here. As don't use a GPS (heck, I don't even have one in my car), it took me a while to find it (okay, I cheated and used a Google maps search.) My first trip there was a pleasant surprise. Nice park and the spring is covered from the elements, for the most part. And the water tasted gooooooood. Not as cold as the spring water up North but then, just as clean. I filled up a few gallon jugs and went on my way, vowing to return on a regular basis. One other thing about this spring water: it does make for awesome sun tea :)

Unfortunately (and I expected this at some point), the place was deluged with litter! I tell ya, some folks just don't give a damn about their surroundings. And it really pisses me off to find a place of solitude, only to have some dumb-ass toss their trash out the window. hey genius! there're a trio of refuse containers right there in the park. Oh wait...you probably don't care. That or you're just too damn lazy to walk the short distance to them. I mean, jeez! They're right over here...

So, like any good citizen who actually gives a care, I commenced to a "field day" and "policed" the area, not once, not twice, but thrice, so far. And I'll do it every time I go out there. Note for you civilians: "field day" and "policing" are terms I used in the Navy and Army. It means "to clean up the area". I can't do anything about the graffiti, as yet. Maybe someday when I get a lot more free time. Below is what this place should look like.

I like this place. Especially early in the morning. Before the city wakes up. nothing but the sounds of nature and the occasional train. There's a huge play area for the kiddos and a covered eating area, complete with grills for BBQ-ing. There are also hiking trails, which I should take more advantage of. Also a place to leave your rubbish (see pic above again...) And my crappy pics don't really do this place justice. *Note to self to get a better camera.*

I've not done any more research but am fairly sure the city of Knoxville maintains the place. Keep up the good work ya'll!

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Lotta's Health Care Reform

If I were "politically correct", I wouldn't have much to bitch about when it comes to the (U.S.) government and their policies, in general. Especially where health care is concerned. But then, health care is just another commodity, much like shopping at your local grocery store (as a matter of fact, a certain retail pharmacy giant offers "pre-paid" health care cards!) Of course, many of us (myself included) just simply can not afford the insane costs of a health care plan. So...we do without. Or in my case, go crawling to the nearest veteran's care clinic. I'm glad I have that option. As a "double-service veteran" ( I served in both the Navy and Army),  I can at least get checked over without having to take out a mortgage.

 The U.S. is the most expensive country when it comes to medical care, according to many reports. What did you expect of a system that is mainly profit-driven? Apparently, we are a nation of sickly people and need all those drugs to make us better. But...what if we weren't so sick? What if every-one in the country got on the "healthy life" band wagon? What if there were no longer a need for all those drugs and treatments? What if you didn't have to be told to purchase a health care plan or suffer a monetary penalty for not doing so? Ah, what if, indeed! Unfortunately, this isn't Utopia.

 When I found this story below I actually had to read it twice. Once, to just read it and twice to dissect it all. It was re-printed in an old issue of Richie Rich Comics, from the early 1970's. I'm not sure when the story itself came about; probably the late 1960's but, it illustrates more than one idea. And it's no-where near "politically correct". I'm not sure what the writers were thinking back then. I mean, would the average 8-year old have gotten the jokes? I highly doubt it but, let's analyze this story page-by-page, anyway.

The story starts out innocent enough. Always overweight "Little Lotta" is looking for more ways to do more exercise after one of her workouts so, she dozes off in a hammok for a dream-scape. In "Dream Land", she finds herself in the office of the Commander In Chief who appoints her head of the nation's health programme. She's actually made "Supreme Boss" and quickly gets to work. Yeah. Right. As if this could ever happen. But, this is just fantasy-comedy. With a lot of unseen draw-backs.

"AH! Supreme Boss! Has a nice ring to it!"

One of Lotta's biggest problems (other than her appetite) is the fact that, deep down inside, she's just a bully. Take the two poor dead-beats below. Are they doing anything to anyone? No. They're just sitting round having a natter. But to Lotta they're just a couple of lazy hippies (her expression here highly suggests she's racist, where lazy people are concerned). So, she forces them into getting into shape. Kind of like how Americans are being forced to pay for a health care plan via a Draconian law (in my honest opinion). Really now, where the hell in the U.S. Constitution, does it allow the government to force it's citizens what to purchase? As far as I know, it doesn't. Or maybe I've not read that part, as yet? But I'm getting ahead of myself, here. I'd also probably be the first one to either go tell Lotta where to get off or, bitch-slap the crap out of her. But the story just gets worse...

"God-damned Hippies!"

After dealing with the "riff-raff"in the park, Lotta calls a press conference to alert the nation what she's on about, in true dictator fashion. But really, I'd find it hard to accept that getting in shape was my first priority, when spoken from the mouth of one who, quite obviously, was way more over-weight than I'll ever be. One good point is brought to bear here and it still holds true to-day; we blindly follow the government's examples. Hey! If Congress can be over-weight and unhealthy then, it should be okay for the rest of us, yes? I mean, when's the last time you saw an under-weight politician? Oh, don't get me wrong, I'm sure there are enough of them out there that do conform to some sort of health and fitness regime but, not enough of them do.

The other thing that comes up here is the whole problem of smoking and cigarettes. But Lotta has a different idea on how to end that as well. Unfortunately, in to-day's world her act of blowing up the cigarette factory would be considered an act of terrorism, regardless. And there are a lot of factories making these "death sticks". Again, don't get me wrong, as I used to smoke myself but, I quit nearly 20 years ago. But, the folks in this story are forced to quit...or else.

"Fat boys, fat boys, whatcha gonna do when Lotta comes for you?"

But, therein lies a problem. You can't just shut down a corporation as big as the cigarette manufacturers, over-night. Think of all the jobs that'd be lost. Think real hard of all the more jobs that would be lost if everyone walked or ran to work. No need for vehicles. Sure, the air might get cleaner but if no-one was driving, no-one would be buying petrol, oil, parts, labour, etc. Literally millions of people would be out of work. With no-one working, no-one's earning anything. Sure, "healthy-as-a-horse" Grandpa can chase the young girls all over the beach but, where will he return to when the bank has foreclosed on his home? Or maybe he has a "reverse mortgage? Probably not. I mean, if there's no work, no jobs, how will we pay taxes? Or the mortgage or even rent? Unless Grandpa has a "reverse mortgage", perhaps? But then, if we're not paying any taxes then the multitude of government employees aren't getting paid, either. Nor are the cops, fire-fighters, doctors, EMT's, etc. And to tell you the truth, I would find it pretty difficult to live on a zero-dollar paycheck. Bet the writers didn't think to deeply on this as I do. 

A sexual innuendo in a kid's comic? Of course!

And then we have the ultimate collapse of the whole health care system as we know it; Medicare and Medicaid are broke because no-one is contributing to the resource pool, ditto Social Security. The bad thing is that many of to-day's citizens that have yet to retire, will probably not benefit from an aging and over-abused system when it comes time for them to do so. Then what? Unless you've got millions of dollars socked away somewhere, you'll be basically screwed. Why should we "contribute" to a health care plan (Medicare) and yet, be forced into buying another plan? If our nation, on the whole, wanted to improve it's outlook on life, wouldn't we have already done so? If we truly wanted to stay healthy, would we have a fast-food restaurant on every fucking corner of every town or city? 

We now live in an era where the government thinks it's a good idea to ban things that might be considered harmful to us. Like trans-fats and incandescent lighting. But the same government isn't doing enough to rid the U.S. of the real problems as seen in this story. Alas, I'm just a poor ex-combat veteran that now has to depend on the Veteran's Administration for health care. I never thought I'd need it. Bet the writers didn't see that, either

But all's well that ends well in the story...sort of. The ending pokes fun at itself as two obviously over-weight citizens approach the sleeping Lotta and voice their opinions of her. Sweet dreams, Lotta.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The House On Lovell Road Pt.3

At the back of the property on Lovell Road, sits this worn-out but still fairly sturdy...um...really big..."factory". At least, that's what I'm calling it, currently. It's two storeys of solid brick and concrete. Even the roof is concrete. The day I went exploring this was after a heavy rain the day ere. Water was dripping everywhere amid the debris and abandoned junk...anyone need an old construction barrel? Or perhaps a slightly used sofa? Some 5 gallon, plastic buckets?

Just about all of the window panes are gone from their metal frames and moss (and who knows what else) is growing unchecked, both inside and out.

And of course, more graffiti. Anyone know what the hell "ARPUS" stands for? I'm guessing it's an acronym for something unpleasant...

NOTE: NOT Banksy art...

I can also only imagine the amount of contamination that might be present, here. Why do places like this still stand? I doubt this building is on any historical register (though, I've not done a search as yet). Is it an eyesore? yes to some; no to others. Is the property secure? Hell no. As a matter of fact, there aren't even any "No Trespass" signs about. At least there weren't the last time I was out here. Not that said signs would stop anyone from doing whatever they damn well pleased, right?

Well, this concludes my little tour of another ruin of our modern society. Join me next time for...whatever or wherever I might plan to explore, next.