A flock of illuminated books fly over the corner of Columbus and Broadway in San Francisco. A really cool piece of public art.
When I asked my friend David Greenberg what his plans were after he graduated from Oberlin College he told me about this magical place named Keansburg. Keansburg is a city just outside of where he grew up in the great state of New Jersey, a state known for it’s diners and boardwalks. The thing about this place is that there is a lot of space for rent and it has certainly seen some better days. David took us to Keansburg and asked us if we saw the potential in this small boardwalk town: the answer was yes.
Maybe, growing up in northeast Ohio had a factor in the feelings considering there are no boardwalks, smell of saltwater, not much mystery that come from the sounds of ferris wheel music and wooden doors opening up to let the cars into the spook house. We went on a unseasonably cool day so there weren’t many people but David assured us that on good days the place is packed; imagine having a small amusement park right in your neighborhood and one that isn’t commercialized to extremes at that.
Call me nostalgic but between Coney Island, Asbury Park, and Keansburg I’ve seen a great part of the American past and talked with coin operated fortune tellers and I think that Mr. Greenberg is on to something. Oh yeah, amazing skee ball!
While in Berkley, our friends Lucas and Lily took us to some cool spots. Among them was Urban Ore (http://urbanore.com), an awesome salvage warehouse that holds enough junk and treasure to easily kill an afternoon sorting through it. Transplanting to the Bay Area? Stop here before you go to IKEA. From top to bottom; Giant Robot Head, Island of Misfit Photography Parts, and Yogi with His Bitches.
A quick shout out to Zeitgeist in San Francisco. Thank you for having one of the 6600 Theatre of Magic pinball machines made by Midway in 1995. I’m not a crazy pinball geek, this game is just that awesome. I have a few goals in life; owning one of these machines is one of them, Silver Spoons style.
Left to right: Bobby Stevens and Ben Ryant outside of India House Hostel in New Orleans, LA.
A shot of the now famous ferris wheel at Santa Monica Pacific Park.
Everyone has one of these photos of a redwood in California. It’s just important that you go and take one for yourself.
Hey there folks, hope that anyone who might be reading this is doing well… I feel like we are. Well we just left Los Angeles where we stayed with our dear friends Garyn and Raina (soon to be the Jones’..look out everyone), and celebrated Ben’s birthday with friends, whiskey, beer, and old school dancing. It was a blast…. I saw a woman get hit by a car which, apparently, is not a big deal in that city, luckily she was ok… I think I was more worked up about it than she was.
Right now we’re heading north from LA to the Bay Area on the Coastal Starlight ( I’m getting used to this train thing and even got a thanks from on of the Amtrak employees for helping with the service at one of the stops…it’s been real fun getting to know how these things work). This has been by far one of the more thought provoking rides on the trip (west Texas also), to my left is the mighty, blue Pacific ocean where surfers and porpoises are riding the waves and to my right are the mountains, orchards, farms , the highway, and houses. Both sides are unlike anything I get to see on a day to day basis but, the right side has been very interesting. I just finished retracing The Grapes of Wrath and I’m looking at these areas with the workers eating lunch and thinking “different times, similar situations”. The view has also got me thinking about a conversation I had with another dear friend we stayed with at the beginning of the trip; the illustrious Mr. Don Cook. We’re talkin’ train songs.
Honestly, this part is not very well researched on my part but here are my ideas it all. Trains have played a large part of American growth from the build up of industry to the expansion west, they added speed, the all important speed, to the travel of people and goods. Immigrants built them, Jesse James and the like robbed them, the nameless and homeless hopped them and rode them away, trains came to replace that sweet chariot. There are an amazing amount of songs in the American musical language that use trains as some sort of object or subject. They were and maybe still are magical. A recent personal favorite of mine is the song “Freight Train” by Elizabeth Cotten. It’s a depression era song with a lullaby like melody and a story that might allude to death, or going to a better place, or another way to look at it going home.
I’d like for people who read this to send some of their favorite train songs to us, even if they’re well known and to think about those songs even if there is no destination ( at least so I can ponder ‘em). In the mean time I’m going to write more about this topic…it’s a worthy one. I want to keep my mind on it because I feel when we hit the Bay I’ll get in a more “Beat” sort of mindset.
Thanks a bunch everyone,
A glimpse of Bourbon street last week in New Orleans. Bobby and I stopped in every bar that a) had a live band and b) didn’t have a crazy cover. This one street spectacle is the epicenter of a world’s party.
I’ve learned well enough from any sort of travel to expect delays, leaving from Cleveland towards Hudson, NY our train was already an hour late. The thing about Amtrak is that they share lines with all the big freight train companies, which means that all of the commuter amtrak trains are at the liberty of the freights and any construction that those companies might be doing on the tracks. We arrived in Albany about four hours late.
Ben and I have the fortune of being able to travel on these trains with a much looser time frame than others, some people are not so lucky or at least have a strong desire to make it home. There was a fella on the lakeshore limited trying to get back to Albany, the place he called home, after a long weekend of working in the Midwest building stages for a concert. He expected to be home and wanted to be home but with all the delays and, although I love traveling with amtrak, on this particular train a lack of communication from the crew. It’s very odd when people start getting impatient and do not get the information they want or need to get them through the trip. Basically what happened was the impatient passenger questions the tired employee, the tired employee can’t or doesn’t answer in the way the passenger wants to hear, the passenger quips back and for some reason on this train the employees were getting rude. It’s all about perception folks.
Not to get too deep but lots of people are just moving too danged fast and the people who might be getting them somewhere are moving just as fast and there are serious communication problems coming out of this. Since this occasion we’ve done quite a bit more traveling and there have been some amazing crews and it’s great to see how much more fun these trips have been, when people know what’s going on they tend to be a lot more loose even if they feel like they need to be getting somewhere faster. To all my service industry friends be nice be open, to all the customers take your time and be patient.