Joe Biden said it best this week at the Huffington Post in a fine article about Why America Needs Trains .
My words: trains are a reliable and progressive system.
Rail transportation of goods and people are well worth spending plenty of money on rebuilding all across America. We need the jobs and less roads. It's that simple.
This year, I've loved schlepping up and down the coast to San Francisco, Portland, Seattle and Bellingham from Bakersfield ~via~ Amtrak. Its affordable travel that offers a great opportunity for engaging with people from all over, and - well, these days ... my time is affordable ~ passing by opportunities is not!
It works something like this: the S.F. International Airport is an easy connection for flying out to Juneau. From there I catch an Alaska Marine Highway ferry home to Haines, a little fjord edged berg that nestles in the northern end of Lynn Canal.
In June '09, I slipped away from caring for our Elder Ma in S. Cal. For a treat, I caught Amtrak up to San Francisco to catch Garrison Keillor. He gave an evening reading from his fine collection of 77 Sonnets .
As G.K couldn't join me afterwords, (my article)I went solo for what turned out to be a wonderful all-nighter of walking around the city, talking to strangers and visiting old familiar neighborhoods.
I was an adventurer as a kid. I traveled then by hitch-hiking. I hopped freight trains with a pal and caught the ever reliable Greyhound bus when I could afford it.
All to give me access to geographic and musical discovery.
In San Francisco the Palace of Fine Arts housed the Battle of The Bands in 1968. There were free concerts that summer in Golden Gate Park with The Dead and Quicksilver, Big Brother and The Jefferson Airplane.
A few months later, Jimi Hendrix stunned Bakersfield with an incredible performance at The Memorial Auditorium, (oh, those expensive eight dollar tickets!).
I found my barefooted way to the Newport Pop Festival at Devonshire Downs in '69.
The last performance I attended while still in Bakersfield was with the live-wire R&B man, Elvin Bishop, performing with full-on accompaniment at Bakersfield College in 1971.
For a year after I graduated from BHS, I criss-crossed the country, learning what I could, absorbing it all.
When I returned to the left coast, I decided to move to San Francisco. Newspaperman, Dick (Poppa) Revenaugh, had established half-a-dozen salon-like residences while learning all that was cooking in the Bay area.
The Fillmore District held his favorite music haunts. He was a regular at Minnie's Can-Do, the heart of the neighborhood at that time.
When I was in tow with my first roommate, actress Atoinette Attell ~ Toad, I caught a few shows at the old Winterland. North Beach and the Haight were always lively nights out. That year, I was a personal schlepper for Toad's live street performances at Ghirardelli Square and as a willing shill at the various comedy clubs of the day where she performed.
Though these were exciting and heady times for an 18 year old with a false ID, the ultra hip scene in San Francisco never quite jived for me. I could have stayed forever in The Fillmore of that era but I wanted out of the city.
When I figured that part out in 1974, I bee-lined for the forest and the small entertainment venues of S.E. Alaska. Talk about finding heady times!
In Ketchikan, I helped manage a warehouse type tavern, The Thunderbird Lounge.
Many of the seine fisherman and the pulp mill pipe-fitters who loved the joint were from St. Paul and elsewhere in Minnesota. The bar was down below the first home of public radio in Ketchikan, station KRBD.
The Minnesota boys spent Saturday afternoon shoretime introducing the west coast transplants to schnapps with beer chasers. Ever taller tales and their favorite home-town boy, Garrison Keillor gave them special distinction.
As part of a concert series, I helped with an effort to bring John Fahey to The T-Bird. Though the fellow arrived in town sorely sotted, and remained so throughout his stay, his musicianship was magnificent.
John Hammond and a collection of other fine musicians were to follow. Nights at the Thunderbird lounge were focused toward live performance and local poetry reading.
Saturday Night Live was also a hot commodity and played from a high-tech overhead Beta Max. There was chess and conversation. Writing groups and popcorn. Cafe/tavern style camaraderie and fooseball.
On a focused chase toward family, I wanted to be farther north still. Homesteading over the last twenty-five years, has been perfect. For income, my solid partner taught at Mosquito Lake Elementary and Klukwan School.
At 39 miles north of Haines, our lives revolved around home-school, snow shoeing and growing critters and gardens. Basically, living scantily in a large manner. And, did I say, a lot of snow?
We became highway warriors during the kid's high school years, a time that married nicely with the whole family being busily involved with community, both in Klukwan Indian Village and Haines.
The SE Alaska State Fair and the Bald Eagle Music Festival continue to bring us a week of saturation level fun in Haines. Just right for my tastes once a year.
This next week, I'll be coming up from Bakersfield on an Elder Mom-care-haitus. I'm about to hit Amtrak again and SF for a Jan. 16, 2010 performance of a Prairie Home Companion with special guests, Elvin Bishop and Jean Redpath at the War Memorial Opera House.
From the PHC website: The War Memorial Opera House is a palace that opened in 1932, a granite and terra cotta beauty, with high windows with keystones with lion's head carved into them, lions with sharp teeth. Across a courtyard surrounded by a cast iron fence is the San Francisco War Memorial, a courtyard that is medieval looking with trimmed hedges and knobby old trees. The War Memorial Building is where the United Nations charter was signed in 1945, and also the peace treaty with Japan after World War II.."
I'm in! The last time I caught Elvin Bishop, he had our community dancing through the night, without a break at the S.E.Ak. State Fair. He helped to deliver us to a 1:30 AM summer dawn in his fine, driving style.
Jean Redpath belongs in Haines. She'll see. We have a fine traditional folk community in S.E. Alaska, alive and well, adopting younger musicians who are choosing to stay to raise their families.
Gotta confess, I'm hoping to lure the whole group up onto our performance circuit.
G. Keillor might find he'd enjoy setting up a seasonal camp there. Perhaps then he'll help me to convince the others.
We'll be sure to include Bakersfield's Banshee in The Kitchen. Banshee, Jill Egland, has already expressed interest in our seasonal fair and music festivals.
Here's to outstanding, live, music performances on into the future.
Only 200 rush tickets available at the door?
Well, I've got the Amtrak tickets in hand.
And this just in,... Sister Mick got two tickets for the show!
I ask you, what kind of magic is that gal not capable of?!
The show was Fine. Find the story ~ In The Doon ~ a connection is above