Friday, March 30, 2012
My debut album 'Jerm Warfare' will be officially released on May 1st, 2012.
The album is quite dark, comprised of ten underground hip hop songs that take the listener on a journey through my past and into the present day. The theme of Jerm Warfare runs throughout, playing out as an introspective audio autobiography of a man battling self, in an attempt to become a better person today than he was yesterday. Many of my street art scrolls were taken directly from these songs. I'll delve into further detail in a future post before the full album release.
But for now, the day has finally arrived for my first single to be released into the world. It is called 'Glass House' and it was produced by Metty the Dert Merchant. I hope that you enjoy it.
You can purchase the song here or by clicking the Glass House cover image above.
Stay tuned my friends. The second single, Everything I touch, will be released later this month.
And as I said, the full album will be released on MicReach Records on May 1st, 2012.
Sunday, March 25, 2012
Everything must come to an end. After regaining our bearings in the car, in the wake of exploring the very creepy Cordova Mines Vansickle House 5, we came to the end of the road. A dead end. That is where the 6th and final abandoned house on Vansickle road stands, on a vast property that is still farmed to this day. Cattle rustled about near the barn as the farmer tended to the fields, and we climbed the fence and entered this beautiful old home.
Just as the road came to an end with this 6th house, so to will this series. It began with a question that I attempted to answer, so what better way to wrap it up then to try to answer another pressing question that the series prompted me to ponder: why is this road such a gold mine for abandoned houses?
A number of factors could likely be cited for the more recent abandonments, such as the deaths of inhabitants, the shift from family to factory farming, an exodus to urban environments resulting in an overall decline in rural populations, and the high cost of retrofitting old homes. Overall though, research tells a cyclical story: this area is no stranger to abandonment.
In the mid 1860s, a young town clerk by the name of Marcus Powell discovered gold shimmering in the walls of a cave. As the news of this discovery spread, the town of Cordova Mines boomed virtually overnight. Boom turned to bust quickly however, as it was found that the gold was difficult to mine.
David Vansickle opened the town's first general store and post office in 1880. By 1886, with an estimated population of 50 people, the small hamlet was also home to a carriage and agricultural implements business, a cheese factory, a school, and two churches: Methodist and Episcopal. This decade slowly brought forth advancements in technology which greatly improved mining production, and by the 1890s, the mines were in full operation. In 1903, the mine was abruptly closed and remained idle for the next 8 years. Again, the population dwindled. In 1911, another company set up shop, and once more the community was bustling. But the 50 year plan was brought to a halt in 1917, when the plant was destroyed by fire. Again, another exodus. The mines sat dormant until 1937, when yet another company decided to resume mining. In 1940, the mines were closed forever, the mining buildings were destroyed, the mouths of the mines were sealed, and the population saw its final decline. That is, until this most recent wave of abandonments.
Like many mining communities in those earlier days, Cordova Mines was a dry town. During periods of activity at the mines, a trailer would set up shop on Vansickle road selling alcohol. When authorities approached, to avoid legal recourse, the trailer would be moved to the opposite side of the road, which is a boundary between Peterborough and Hastings counties.
Today, many of the original buildings are long gone, but a small population still calls the tiny hamlet of Cordova Mines home. In the 4th installment of this series, we visited my grandparents cottage at Ma Bell's house, where I spent time in the summers as a young boy. These days, we have a family cottage just around the corner, and so in the summers, I still call it home.
This is where we were
This is where we brought warmth into our world
This is where we washed away our sins
This is what we turned into
This is what we wore
This is who we were
This is where we created memories
This is where we came from
This is where we've been
This is where we dreamed
This is when time stopped
This is what we did
This is what we left behind
This is who we thought we were
This is what we were made of
This is when we stopped dreaming
This is what became of us
This is where we went
This is when we moved on with our lives
And so now we have reached the end of the road, and thus, the end of the series. This is where we part ways, and follow in the footsteps of so many before us, and depart from Cordova Mines.
Once again, Vansickle Road offers up more of it's ghosts. Push through the dense forest and come on inside the Cordova Mines Vansickle House 7.
click here to check out all of jerm & ninja IX's ABANDONMENT ISSUES
Saturday, March 24, 2012
After our little family reunion at Ma Bell's house, nearing the dead end of Vansickle road, we stumbled upon this fifth abandoned house. Here lies a great example of a place with bad vibes. The house itself isn't terribly interesting, but the negative energy that overwhelmed us was as powerful as the stench. Spine tingling chills shivered up the backs of my brother and I, and we both vocalized the sense of anxiousness and discomfort that we were feeling. Ninja wanted nothing to do with it, and waited in the car.
Directly in front of the house, a pile of furniture rested amongst raccoon feces, as if the house couldn't handle the smell either, and one day just vomited its innards out the front door, over the porch and onto the lawn. Inside, a shovel, a hatchet, an axe, and some hunting gear all added to the sense of fear that had us both trapped and intrigued. Once the mind gets into a place of fear, it tends to interpret these types of objects in the most negative of contexts.
In the kitchen, as I opened the cupboards and photographed it's contents, my brother made a rookie mistake: he opened the fridge. Here's a tip, always make opening the fridge the last thing that you do before retreating hastily outside. The horrible smell intensified instantly and astronomically. He let go and turned away coughing and gasping for breath. With my face wincing and eyes squinting, I held my breath, snapped the shot, and slammed the door. Then I gave him that tip, as if he needed to hear it though. That's a mistake any half intelligent explorer would only make once.
Upstairs, as I crouched under a giant spider web to photograph the silver stools, we both froze solid for a split second, paralyzed with fear. The sound of two loud male voices were coming from directly in front of the house, on the other side of the tree line. We quickly made our way back downstairs and outside. The potential danger of exploring rural properties like this in the middle of nowhere is never lost on me. It is one thing to encounter security, police, scrappers, taggers or addicts in abandoned urban settings, but what is a derelict abandoned house in the middle of nowhere in the eyes of an explorer, may very well be Dad's house or Grandma's place in the eyes of a property owner or surviving relative. The emotional connection that someone may have to these types of locations could be far greater than that of an urban location such as a factory or hospital, and therefore the emotions could run high and drastically increase the aggression and anger in response to trespassers.
The hunting gear, the axe, the hatchet, and the shovel flashed through my mind in these brief moments. The sense of danger, that rush that I'm always after, it might just get me killed on a day like today. But as quick as the voices appeared, they were gone. Where they had gone to was as much a mystery as where they'd come from.
Back inside, even more on edge, we finished photographing the house. That eerie feeling never left us, it just kept building. Not so much as if we were being watched, but if we were to be caught here, we were in some sort of real danger. Strange how we both sensed it so strongly.
Outside, wandering the property, we located a few couches, a boat, and several outbuildings, including a chicken coup, an outhouse, and a garage containing about a dozen old cases of empties. And then we approached the trailer at the back of the property, along the tree line. It was instantly obvious to us both that this trailer was used at some point for the preliminary stages of a grow-op.
Fact: Encountering drug labs and grow-ops while trespassing can get people killed.
A fast dash back to the car ensued, where Ninja informed us that a car had pulled up behind her for about a minute, and then pulled away. She tried to text us a warning, but there is no service in this area. This vehicle was the source of the voices, we concluded. A few minutes later, we arrived at the dead end, and explored the Cordova Mines Vansickle House 6, which will also be the end of the road for this series.
click here to check out all of jerm & ninja IX's ABANDONMENT ISSUES
Tuesday, March 20, 2012
This was originally intended to be a three-part-series. But alas, Ninja and I finished off Vansickle Road this past weekend, in the company of my older brother, and we found three more abandoned houses before reaching the abrupt dead end. So this will now be a six part series. Coincidentally, it all comes back around full circle to my own personal experiences.
In the third post, I stated that exploring these types of locations offers a glimpse into the past, and where we came from. I didn't actually mean a literal glimpse into our own pasts. But that is exactly the case here, this was a true glimpse into my own past, and it brought back memories that I had long forgotten.
In the summers of the early 1970s, my grandparents rented the tiny cottage above the garage, from the Cordova Mines Vansickle House 4 property owner, the widow Kay Bell. Each summer, my mother would take a two week holiday from her nursing job at St. Joseph's Hospital and spend her vacations relaxing on the shores of Cordova Lake, and lounging in this miniature cottage. Kay Bell was quite fond of my mother and gave her a lamp and an antique butter dish as wedding gifts, which she still possesses.
My grandparent's cottage
Spring forward to the late seventies and early eighties. My grandparents would spend entire summers at the cottage rent free, in exchange for caring for the property on behalf of the aging Kay Bell, who we called Ma Bell. We would spend weekends here in the summers as very young children, my brothers and I, frolicking in the water and playing with our cousins that lived around the corner. While most of the adults pounded back the alcohol lakeside, my grandfather would be doing his own thing in the late Fred Bell's workshop in behind Ma Bell's house. The house itself we never entered, until now, and in pitch blackness, it proved to be far less interesting than the workshop. The cottage where we spent most of our time as children, was now sealed tight, and the lakeside shack has been demolished.
As we wandered the property and poked around in the workshop, my older brother regaled us with stories that continued to trigger memories in me. My father out on the lake fishing with a case of beer and returning to shore hammered with dinner, which my grandmother would prepare on the stove in the cottage. My grandpa stashing and sneaking cigars and liquor, some of which we found still stashed away in the workshop. "Don't tell your Nana boys, our secret." he'd always say. There was no running water in the cottage, my brother told us. And the STINKY sign above the door of the outhouse instantly refreshed my memory, and I chuckled. My brother unraveled a newspaper he found on a shelf in the workshop, it was dated the summer after I was born. Our grandfather would have read that paper, folded it up and placed it in that very spot, we concluded. In fact, our grandfather would have been the only one using this workshop since the early seventies. These old vices and jars of nuts and bolts. These moonshine bottles and aspirin tins. This is literally where I come from.
Ma Bell's front entrance
Ma Bell's living room
Ma Bell's Rideau heater/oven/stove
Ma Bell's fridge
Ma Bell's dishes
Ma Bell's broach
My grandfather's workshop exterior
My grandfather's workshop interior
NO BOTTLES OR TINS
My grandfather's moonshine bottles
The Globe & Mail Sports August 12, 1978
Another family vice
Fred J. Bell's train and Outboard Motor receipts
I literally walked into the light
Every explorer's must have tool
My grandfather's moonshine bottle
RRR RADWAY & CO. MONTREAL CAN
Horseshoe for good luck
Buried in history
We lifted up the ice box and propped it up
Fred J. Bell's blueberries dated July 01, 1953
Again, thanks for sharing in our adventures, it is always nice when you stop by. I'll definitely cherish this visit for the rest of my life, it was a wonderful experience to share this rediscovery with people that I love.
In part 5, we'll explore a creepy old house further up the road, still containing hunting gear and complete with it's own abandoned grow-op trailer, as male voices outside appear to be approaching.
click here to check out all of jerm & ninja IX's ABANDONMENT ISSUES