Saturday, March 14, 2009

When nobody's paying you to sing...

...it's not a cue to sing louder.

Amtrak, like some horrible zombie, is back for another round of chomping on our brains. "29 million passengers last fiscal year!" chirps the CNN article, failing to mention that the I-285 perimeter highway in Atlanta probably had 29 million passengers last fiscal week.

The government hasn't stopped bailing out passenger choo-choo trains since 1971; it's been one big bailout for thirty-eight years and this fresh round of $1,500,000,000 taxpayer ducats isn't going to be the last either.

Look, if the government really wanted enough people to get on choo-choo trains from Boston to LA to turn a profit, what it should do is pass laws making air travel such a colossal pain in the arse that only a dedicated masochist would even think of going to the airport, and then pass some more laws demanding that we all drive boring, crappy little cars that have about as much zest and pizzazz as British cuisine.

Wait...

39 comments:

Anonymous said...

$1,500,000,000 divided by 78,000 = $19,230 per passenger. Plus there annual loss paying the rediculous Union salarys and benefits another half a billion annual. Yes we subsidize roads but not to the tuen of 25,000 per car on the road. It would be cheaper to buy all of those commuters a car.

og said...

You have your snark set to "stun" this morning. Nice.

Chip said...

Gotta disagree with you on this one. What everybody needs to do is get over the Amtrak is going to make a profit thing. The roads don't make a profit, the airports don't make a profit yet we fund them to the tune of HUNDREDS of Billions of dollars every year and nobody seems to mind. Hell we have an airport in Illinois that the feds and the state built and NO ONE USES. We pay outrageous union salaries to fix and run them also. In the big scheme Amtrak is a drop in the bucket so like every other part of the transportaion system lets just fund it and get it to run more efficiently.

Anonymous said...

You're an idiot. Look at the amount of money that we spend on the FAA, building airports, building roads, rebuilding bridges when they collapse, etc, etc, etc.

If you did any research whatsoever, you'd learn that (per passenger mile), rail subsidies are SIGNIFICANTLY lower than that for other forms of travel. But, keep on being a good conservative and don't let the facts get in the way of righteous indignation.

Bill said...

"... what it should do is pass laws making air travel such a colossal pain in the arse that only a dedicated masochist would even think of going to the airport..."

Part one done. Part two pending.

Cheers

og said...

Tam, I had no idea you were an idiot. And to think, because Amtrak wastes less money than other things it's actually just fine! Who knew? Boy, the thinks you learn on the intarweb. Amazing. Hell, I thought all waste was horrible and nasty, and here i find out it's teh awesum!!!

JT said...

I'm no expert on where exactly all the money gets spent, but I think I'm missing these guys' analogies.

If we subsidized automobile travel as a system the same way we subsidize train travel as a system, wouldn't the government be paying not only for roads & bridges (analogous to tracks & bridges, no?), but also for the cars & trucks themselves (analogous to the trains) and for operating expenses like fuel & salaries. I don't know about anyone else, but the only automobile travel subsidies I see on a daily basis are the roads.

So maybe we shouldn't mind so much that the train tracks themselves are maintained federally, but we should mind that the feds are buying & maintaining Amtrak's trains for them. I tried to come up with something similar for airlines, but the airlines and their sorta-bailouts are such a mess already that I'm not sure their situation isn't more similar to Amtrak already than automobile travel.

og said...

As for "The roads don't make a profit" Obviously you've never seen those things we call "tollways"

Captcha: Yokelrant. How much more appropriate could you get.

the pistolero said...

what it should do is ...

Oh, c'mon, don't give the assclowns in charge any more bad ideas, Lord knows they come up with enough all by themselves!

perlhaqr said...

In his remarks Friday, Biden argued that every modern passenger rail service in the world depends on subsidies.

Well, maybe that's a hint that they're a bad fucking idea!

Amtrak is "poorly run and poorly managed," Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Oklahoma, told CNN's Brianna Keilar on Tuesday. "That doesn't mean we shouldn't have a train service, but we [shouldn't] give additional money and reward incompetency and inefficiency. If that's what the stimulus is about, we're in a whole lot worse trouble."

Someone hasn't been paying attention, I see. Incompetence and inefficiency are the gold standard for receiving bailout / stimulus funds.

And Anonymous 8:58, why don't you just shut your fucking pie hole until you've read more than one post here and thus decided what our politics are thereby. Folks 'round here tend to be more Libertarian than Conservative. I suspect if you suggested getting the Interstate System off the Federal Subsidy wagon and making them pay their own way, that'd go down just fine around here. Goddamn. I am so tired of drooling leftist morons slinging the term "conservative" like it's an insult, and further, like it applies to anyone who doesn't agree with them.

In other words, you pusillanimous gob of festering dog snot, in all likelihood, we're a hell of a lot more radical in our politics than you are. Which, in a world where "words" have "definitions", actually makes you the "conservative". So put that in your pipe an smoke it, Andy.

Brad K. said...

Um, don't miss the point, folks.

Eisenhower had the Interstate highways designed for .. national security. To be able to move troops, equipment, and material around the country quickly, in case of need.

Two reasons. One, he took a military truck convoy from the East coast, back just after WWI, to to California. About a month. He knew, from personal experience, what isolation like that means to an invading army. After WWII, the ability to isolate sections of a nation by blowing strategic road and rail bridges was pretty memorable to the Allied commanders, including Eisenhower.

The other reason is that a strong national economy (which the Democratic Congress seems intent on showing Obama how to destroy) is critical to avoiding "adventures" by foreign forces. And good roads, physical and electronic communication, are a big part of what it takes to grow an economy.

Dropping Federal interest in the interstates or railroads would be about as helpful as deciding the Navy should have just one carrier group, and let Congress decide which ocean (Pacific, Atlantic, Indian, etc.) it should be deployed in, when it should be overhauled, and which mission it should be assigned. Or, perhaps like deciding the Army needed one combat team, and let Congress decide if it should be deployed somewhere, or train for a future mission. (That is, I think dropping the Federal involvement, and Federal standards, would harm the nation's security.)

To make Amtrak profitable, cut union scale by the amount of union dues, and allot 3% of profits to profit sharing. Invest the union people in the enterprise actually making a profit. See how long union officials care about union workers, when the unions don't make money from their private-level taxes.

One thing passenger rail could do, would be to figure out a way to ferry automobiles, like many river ferries do. Provide passenger areas away from the vehicles. But one of the most expensive and tedious parts of traveling is the temporary transportation arrangements at the destination. Air travel isn't likely to let you check your car; where you might design a honeycomb, two deck or three deck car where you drive your car in from one side, and out the other at the destination. Maybe use separate ramps for each level of cars.

Perhaps freight facilities are sufficient to meet national security planning and reaction needs. But keeping passenger service alive keeps the prospect of a return of useful rail service alive, too. And in certain commute corridors, rail provides a useful service. For those used to the mass transit arrangments at each end of their ride.

Frank W. James said...

Maybe I've lived a sheltered life, but in all my reading the only time any railroad has made a profit in this country is when they were given square miles of real estate to build one mile of roadbed or when they were heavily subsidized to carry the 'mail'. I don't think in the entire history of this country they have EVER shown a profit with help from government.

All The Best,
Frank W. James

Anonymous said...

Since 1990, the US has abandoned more miles of rail track than exists on the continent of Europe. The US has, by any account, the finest and most efficient rail network of any nation. It is used for hauling freight. The great passenger lines of yore also did not make money; railroads operated them for prestige. A good move.

The old railroaders' joke is that you can't make money hauling people, because they don't weight enough. I humbly submit that some faction has been hard at work remedying that shortcoming.
____________

I used to travel via Amtrak a lot, as long as it was a holdover of the old passenger days. On their good days, it was glorious. My best travel stories are rated X. Once that generation retired at last, and the govt.com bean-counters took over, the thrill was gone. It's over. To be brutally realistic, so is automobilism.

Roberta X said...

Passenger rail is not profitable; freight-carrying is. Margins are slim but it can turn a profit, which is why Conrail (FedGov's freight trains) eventually made money (thank you, Staggers Act) and went private but Amtrak has not.

As for car-carrying trains, Amtrak still runs one.

Last time I rode Amtrak, the standard of travel was appreciably better than commercial flight -- better seats, more room, able to get up and move around, more washrooms and (generally) larger, snack bar, decent meals in the dining car, etc. Does that justify it? I dunno.

Amtrak is beset by inefficiencies -- not just restrictive union rules; they are stuck with the majority of all railroad pensions, for instance. It's a messed-up situation, truly a Federal Government "solution" to a problem that might not even have existed.

Some independent passenger service survives, including one in Northern Indiana.

In re highway "subsidies," a lot of that money comes from gasoline taxes, doesn't it? A lot closer to a "user fee" than our heroically-wrong Lefrie commenters would have us think.

Roberta X said...

Or "Lefty" Geesh.

Pauli said...

Tits or GTFO, Tam.

Chas S. Clifton said...

Bill @9:16 beat me to it.

reflectoscope said...

I agree with the idea of maintaining a national railway system for the sake of strategic mobility, but I am all for not encouraging lousy management, be it on the small-business or federal level.

To quote a wise man: If they're gonna drown, put a hose in their mouth.

Jim

TJP said...

The problem with passenger rail is that no new expansion has been made in quite a while. It's like the community groups who want to appropriate tax money to "revitalize Main Street", when I'd be revitalizing it with my wallet if I could park less than a quarter-mile away, and not have to cross through Little South Central to get to it.

Not sure if rail fans have noticed, but after decades of passenger car predominance, the organization of towns and cities has changed dramatically. See, we country folk gave up our ox carts quite a long time ago, and the costs of modern living necessitate efficient use of our time--made possible by the passenger car. Perhaps it is that rail fans are flat-footed citiots, who think everyone else walks to a train station on tax-payer funded sidewalks, level and ice-free most days of the year; well-lit and guarded by transportation police.

The last I checked there are something like 200 million licensed drivers in the country. So at least two thirds of the population directly benefits from vehicles (and that's not counting riders), while ten percent benefits from rail. That probably doesn't tell the whole story, either, because the passenger rail nearest my home operates two days a week seasonally, and only goes to two towns out of, oh, maybe a dozen in the area.

And I'm not giving the, uh, "competing" systems a pass. The current incarnation of the airline industry needs to die. (For the neophobics: this doesn't necessarily translate to, "disappear permanently".) There is truly no service that the airlines offer that I want. I'm not giving roads a pass, either. Maybe things are different in your state, but in mine projects are beset with corruption and poor workmanship. I'm ready for some privately-funded roads, thanks very much.

Calling Tam "stupid" is way out of line. Heaven forbid if she ever posted her thoughts on gas-powered street lights.

rickn8or said...

Yes, I think subsidized mass transit is a marvelous idea, every time I'm stuck behind an (empty) smelly diesel bus or an (empty, quaint) trolley car.

D.W. Drang said...

Last fall Mrs. Drang attended a professional conference in Salem, OR. She didn't want to drive, as this was at the height of gas prices, plus she doesn't enjoy driving long distances.
Salem has no commercial air service. Greyhound was out, even if it still served Salem, which is questionable, as they have ceased serving a lot of communities. But Amtrack has service between Seattle and LA, with stops in Portland and Salem.

Much more comfortable. Much cheaper.

Unfortunately, since she decided to put in a full day at work beforehand, she caught the last train from Seattle and got into Salem after the station had closed, so she got to stand around in the dark waiting for a cab to the conference center.

Oh, yes, and you can't take a gun on a train.

Let me emphasize that: Federal Law prohibits the carriage of a firearm on a train, or even checking one in as luggage.

Probably the Anonymous Troll(s) think that's a Good Thing.

On Saturday, she had a choice of leaving her conference early to catch the one Weekend train that stops in Salem, so, instead, she stayed for the end of the conference, stayed with relatives Saturday night, and caught a ride to Portland for the morning run from Portland.

The reason Amtrack is losing money is that it is just not as convenient as either driving or flying. We briefly considered taking the train to Reno for the Gun Blogger's Rendezvous, but that "no guns" thing popped up...

Anonymous said...

Passenger rail cannot be run for profit, anymore than any other transport structure. The infrastructure for road/air/maritime travel is all heavily subsidized (whether this is good or bad is another issue). In the US the railbeds are generally privately owned and Amtrak is leased a certain amount of traffic right-of-way on tracks owned by BNSF, CSX, UP, and NS (with a few others).
Amtrak (or the federal government) owns equipment, but not much infrastructure. There are state owned railbeds in some areas, but they aren't always connected to Amtrak.
Cross country rail service is great for tourists, but probably isn't something that tax dollars should pay for (as much as I enjoy it). Where Amtrak is a valuable service (if you feel public infrastructure is a good thing) is in the Metro-North corridor (which now is Boston to DC), California, and other metro regions. If Amtrak was given sufficient capital (without the usual political strings) that they could buy or maintain sufficient rollingstock, rider numbers would continue to increase. This would be nice, because in those areas if there was more rollingstock and more trains using the railroad instead of flying or driving would be very sensible (it already is close to competitive). Europe and Japan have rail systems which are competitive (or better than) air travel or cars, but only due to massive amounts of subsidy.
Do we want to do that? Well maybe not. But it would be better to either fund Amtrak properly or cut bait completely. The half-a--ed, political nonsense that has passed for Amtrak since the 70's is a waste, but that doesn't necessarily mean it has to be that way. But don't expect a profit.

Anonymous said...

p.s. see comment at 2:40pm by Anon. I despise the fact that I can't carry on public transport. But I also have to accept that there are simply too many people to fit them on the roads or into the airspace (at least in in the Metro-north corridor).

Ken said...

Not sure if rail fans have noticed, but after decades of passenger car predominance, the organization of towns and cities has changed dramatically. See, we country folk gave up our ox carts quite a long time ago, and the costs of modern living necessitate efficient use of our time--made possible by the passenger car. Perhaps it is that rail fans are flat-footed citiots, who think everyone else walks to a train station on tax-payer funded sidewalks, level and ice-free most days of the year; well-lit and guarded by transportation police.

There's a fella name of James Howard Kunstler who would have us all doing that again, tout suite and will we or nill we. See, we're past Peak Oil -- no, just take his word for it, we just are -- and the era of Happy Motoring and industrial agriculture are over (who knows, maybe so, we'll see). Mr. Kunstler's solution is to turn loose the New Urbanists (you say tomato, I say Bauhaus with latte stands and gingerbread trim on the rabbit warrens) with, ahem, "public resources" to make us all live in sustainable, walkable, urban settings served by public transportation.

In other words, live where and travel when someone what thinks he knows What Is Best For Us...thinks it is best for us.

If the Peak Oilers are right, then we might be headed there anyway. I'll be dipped if I go there at the behest of some thug-backed functionary with a clipboard and .gov-issue Blackberry, though.

Finally, as you might expect, no Kunstler screed is complete without swipes at flabby overfed suburbanite clowns mesmerized by American Idol. Yeah, whatever. I'm nearly as impressed by his bio, which features clips in Atlantic Monthly and Midlife Crisis Bongwater Review...'scuse me, I mean Aging Stoner...jeez, what's wrong with me today?...I mean Rolling Stone, as he is by American Idol. Maybe a Wal-Mart employee from the suburbs kicked his ass at Disney World once or something.

mts1 said...

Passenger service existed in its halcyon day because the U.S. Mail used it instead of freight service. So the Feds subsidized it at that time, too (the Post Office was not separate from the Feds than). It made sense, since there was no air travel to get people across the country in a more timely manner, and the roads were still a joke until Eisenhower's Interstate System. Rail WAS the state of the art.

Seeing rail travel in the old movies like Pride of the Yankees, I can see where people fell in love with train travel, and why it lasted past its time.

If they only gave up the ghost on national rail and concentrated on boosting short jaunts like Chicago - Milwaukee, Chicago - Indianapolis, etc., and made the time near or better than by car, you'd see a resurgence. Or boost airline usage of outer airports by having people fly into South Bend then express train them to Union Station in Chicago, and have that spread out air traffic over the high density cities.

Passenger train can be viable (as in something I can see being supported, at a lesser cost to us), if it stopped reliving 1946 and insisting on being a boutique business.

But that would make sense. An anonymous, you're an idiot, not Tam, and you didn't do your homework. It took me 10 seconds to find this:

http://www.avjobs.com/history/airports.asp

Page down to the financing section.

perlhaqr said...

Oh Pauli, I'd pay a hundred bucks to watch you say that straight to Ms. Tamara's face. But you're just an anonymous coward, trolling on the internet, so there's no possibility you'd have the testicular fortitude to actually insult someone in person.

Or, to put things in small, crude words you might actually be able to parse, "Balls or GTFO, Pauli."

Brad K: I don't know why it is that everyone seems to assume that if the Feds weren't paying for these things, no one else would be smart enough to figure out that it is useful to be able to transport things and people cross-continent effectively.

TJP said...

Are they still talking about Peak Oil? What is it with the Millenarianism? Why does the end of the game also have to be the end of days? Does it ever occur to the petrol apocalypse acolytes that maybe we have already seen the "peak", and this is what it looks like on the other side? When the Saudis have to build a massive computer control infrastructure to keep costs down--and over here we're squeezing it out of rocks--that might be a hint that it's not so easy to recover as it used to be.

TJP said...

It's now 8:38. Just stopping in to let you know that the Post-Peak Oil Armageddon has not yet happened.

No thanks necessary. I know you're all relieved.

Don Meaker said...

There are passenger rails that make a profit. They are in the northwest corridor where the sheeple live cheek by jowl, mostly from Boston through New York, to Newark, Baltimore, to Washington, to Arlington.

There is a government effort to build a rail line from Los Angeles to Nevada, so that People's Republic of California people can get properly liquored up while on their way to taking avacations away from California's bad government. Really, the only thing to recommend Los Vegas is it isn't under the perview of the incompetent and corrupt California State Legislature. That also explains the partial advantage of the Indian Casinos inside of California, they are partially not under the California legislature's thumb.

The market would reduce rail service to where it made sense.

Ed Foster said...

A really good read tonight! Thanks everybody, even including asshats named anonymous.

First topic of conversation in this tidy little Phillipic, the Florida East Coast Railway.

Back in the 70's, they bought out a lot of private line, ran it all together, fired all the union types, put in welded rail on concrete sleepers, and began running freight at 15% of the rate per ton/mile charged by interstate trucks.

The reason for dumping the union types? The crews had to be changed every 300 miles (the distance a nineteenth century crew could travel in 8 hours, counting the time spent taking on water and coal at 2 hour intervals), and the union also required a fireman on all runs, presumably to shovel coal on diesel-electrics. And they made a tidy profit, as do most all freight operations not handled by government. End of lassez-faire example.

Next up, Metro North, the partially subsidized commuter service between Connecticut and New York City. I really do like New York, for the occasional weekend. More than that and I want to start setting fire to things, although in the Concrete Jungle, C-4 and DetCord would make more sense.

Parking is such an abomination in the city that leaving the wheels in the Old Greenwich train station parking lot for $2.50 per night makes a lot of sense. Lots of cops (It's the Bush hometown, and filled with commuting millionaires).

Taking the train into the city gets me there hours faster, and Grand Central gives me a rush everytime I step inside. The restoration was finished 2 or more years ago, and it's litterally stunning. Also, walking from the Metro track to the lobby brings me past the Oyster Bar, quite simply the best sea food restaurant in the world (yes, I'll argue that with anyone).

Connecticut partially subsidizes MetroNorth, because lots of high income people commute to the city from the "Gold Coast" down in the south-west corner of the state, and Connecticut collects income tax on wages earned outside CT by people resident in CT.

New York partially subsidizes MetroNorth to get the highly paid people into NYC, where they get taxed again for the same income (go figure). Also, it brings in millions of tourists without adding to traffic congestion or parking problems. Total amount of subsidy, about 20%.

Lastly, the East Coast Car Train. It makes money, so SELL IT! The government shouldn't be competing with private enterprise by running profit making enterprises. As a non-governmental entity, it would be even more profitable (see Florida East Coast Railway, above), and would generate taxes. Invest the monies earned by the sale, then tax the profits earned by the new owners. Win-win.

All three of the above observations have one thing in common. No Federal government involvement.

Where private track and private rolling stock make a profit (Florida East Coast Railway and the car train), leave it alone.

Where local subsidies are cheaper than the highway and parking upgrades otherwise needed, let the locals subsidize and reap the financial windfall. How complicated does Washington have to make it?

Anonymous said...

I wonder if I would use New York City as an example of anything not already covered in Genesis 19. Certainly rail is my second-favourite choice for arriving in the Big Apple (USS New Jersey is best), but then NYC is on the very verge of outlawing the automobile, being built around cart tracks, trolley lines and subways. They tell me people sing and dance there as a profession--then again, those telling me that were waiting tables. Were I going to Hell, I'd probably take a train there as well. And the things you see in the tunnels!

If NYC can 'subsidize' its collectivist transport systems, for the good of its commerce, fine. What is the last thing NYC did without money from west of Hoboken? World Trade Ctr was paid for by 'the rest of us.' Their several municipal financial collapses were bailed by 'the rest of us.' Whatever finally gets built to fill the hole in Manhattan will be paid for the same way. The city no longer has a reason to exist. It is maintained as a kind of tenement, a pet for Carlos Slim. If I need to pay an extra tax to make it accessible from Greenwich and Asbury Park, I hope it falls off the face of the free world.

Since you are blissfully ignorant of the history of this site, Professor Foster, and the reasons why one may want to remain anonymous, it's going to be MS. Asshat to you.

Crucis said...

"Look, if the government really wanted enough people to get on choo-choo trains from Boston to LA to turn a profit, what it should do is pass laws making air travel such a colossal pain in the arse that only a dedicated masochist would even think of going to the airport."

But, but, they've already done that!

I won't fly anymore until I'm the pilot---and that's getting real expensive too!

E said...

They are in the northwest corridor where the sheeple live cheek by jowl, mostly from Boston through New York

North...east?

Now I will tell you what really chaps my a$$.

Amtrak's cheapest ticket from my corner of RI to NYC is $50. It can go as high as $95 for the same trip (Non-Acela, thank you).

They have instituted airline-style price hiking. The day before, the ticket is $50. But when you arrive at the station at the time of departure with a coupon in hand (only redeemable in person), the price has gone to $75 overnight for the same train. Which is 1/3 full.

Alternative: get dropped off in Old Saybrook, take the SLE train ($6) to New Have, get on Metro North to NYC ($14). That's ~$20 off-peak. On-peak, it's about $26 (plus the trip to Old Saybrook).

$50 vs. $20.
$95 vs. $30.

gas for the 150mi trip: ~$15. (then $1000 in blood pressure medication playing the parking game)

Now Amtrak IS more convenient for my usual trip, and the accomodations ARE better.
But Helloooo $95 for a 150mi trip? ONE WAY??
Hate 'em.

I hear you can get from Indiana to DC for the same price. WTF?

"mingogen".

-E

Ed Foster said...

Throw in $15.95 for the first hour of parking, plus $5.00 or more after that, and the gasoline part of it becomes somewhat minor.

Although I did make a killing on the insurance when my trunk was sliphammered and my side window popped in the village. All New Yorkers know a Connecticut license plate can only belong to a rich uber-wasp who owns a horsefarm. Ahh, the drollery of it all.

I was born in New York (Navy Brat, Brooklyn Navy Yard Hospital, in and out of Floyd Bennett NAS as a home port, between TDY in every s--t heeled crash and burn strip between Pax and Green Cove Springs FL).

Funny thing about growing up military. You live in America even if your part of it is attached to one of the coastal People's Republics. It gives a sense of objectivity.

My niece, the daughter of my brother the Navy Commander, grew up on the Navy base in Rota Spain. When I asked her how her Spanish lessons were going, she told me, in Spanish, "Wonderful". "Spain has three parts". "Officer's Country, EM Country, and Off Base".

Anyway, having seen NYC at it's best and worst, I left. But it really is a great place to visit. Lighten up Ms. Asshat:-)

Actually, way too formal. You call me Ed, and I'll call you... Actually, Anonymous is just as formal. I can't call you Noni, it means grandmother in Italian, and I don't even know if you have a moustache.

Seriously, why all the anymosity? It's a different culture, a different country actually, far more a part of Europe than the USA.

But I go to Europe sometimes too, and enjoy it for a few days. No, I wouldn't want to live there, but the shows, the restaurants, The Cloisters, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, come on.

Just packing a picnic lunch and sitting on a gun mound in Battery Park with that breeze all around, watching the whole world steam by only a few yards away.

Getting over to Staten Island, much of which is still a piece of America misattached to modern day England. Listening to my Uncle Freddy tell his stories of his rum running days with Dutch Schultz and the shootouts with the Irish and Italian gangs. The sailing and fishing and eating from City Island, another piece of America lost in the west end of Long Island Sound.

You should see the survivalist fortresses/mansions on the east side of City Island. Real live fortresses, 18 foot walls, and the only connection to New York City a rickety little wooden bridge you know someone has plans to blow "come the day". It has some really cool places to fun at.

And E/mingogen, AMTRAK= The Feds, =The Devil. Try my sneaky way into the city. Drive to Old Greenwich, leave your car in the honor system lot ($2.50 per day), and get into mid-town for single numbers each way.

And Ms. A, really, I am sorry if I jogged a bad memory or something. I hope you can forgive me.

But even if Minnow's Law (90% of everything is s--t) holds true for NYC, you really can scope out a lot of the remaining 10% in a long weekend.

Les Paul is 90 something, plays 3 nights a week in little clubs around Times Square, and I still haven't heard the man play live. That alone, well perhaps that combined with a 24 ounce steak at Rosie's, washed down with a few John Courage stouts and lunch at a certain Brazilian joint over on 41st, would certainly justify a foray into enemy territory, true?

Anonymous said...

Eddie, Les plays Mondays only in just the one club. The tax you pay there, and the revenue you spread, is being used to do away with your way of life. They may get to hang me, but I will not pay for the rope.

The shows! The shows! The shows! The way the ghey waiters gush over their roles, you'd think it was Sophocles as sung by Callas, instead of frail, corny revivals with throat mikes. I miss Cole Porter (he was from Peru!), riley I do, but those days are gone and you are massaging a corpse. I saw Macbeth last summer in Montana, under the sky. No stimulating tax dollars changed hands.

New York long ago fell into MacNeill's fallacy, that the hinterland exists for the polis. While you pay them, they are mocking you.

Larry said...

If there was money to be made at passenger trains, CSX or BNSF or UP would be making it. When the railroads dropped passenger trains, the fed.gov took them over and they have lost money on every route besides the Northeast Corridor ever since.
The airlines make more money hauling freight in the baggage compartments, so I've heard. Train travel is almost as expensive as airlines, at many times the travel time.
I love trains, but I understand the days of the long-haul varnish are long past. Same as horses and buggies. It's a good thing that the fed.gov wasn't in the same socialist mood when Henry Ford started making the Model T, otherwise the buggy whip manufacturers would be subsidized.

Ed Foster said...

Actually, I'm far more worried about L.A. It's far more trendy, and it is Hollywood, (sadly) the source of most ideas for most of the people in this country.

Son #2 is a script editor out there, and his stories are staggeringly scary. It's only a matter of time before Alex Baldwin or one of the Sheehans runs for President. Why have to use those tacky Washington apparatschiki as front men when you're already paying an agent?

As for the city, think of it as a science fiction story. A time travel back to Pompeii. It's fun to be a tad decadent for a weekend every few months, and shopping on Canal street is a lesson in Lassez-Faire if there ever was one. It's a Leroy Niemann experience.

Also (a humble moment here, enjoy it, they're rare), some of those revivals are shows like Chorus Line and Les Mis. I don't care how corny is is, if you can walk out of Les Miserables without wanting to both laugh and cry at the same time, I suspect you've been bitten by a zombie. And we don't even want to hint at zombies around Miz Tammy.

One small point I'll debate with you. New York is such a financial sponge, I doubt much of anything I spend there will eventually work it's way up out of the black hole's financial event horizon. Sure it supports the occasional Bebe Neuwirth type radical butt head, but they'd just be out in Hollywood taking more of my money for nothing at all.

If you're ever in the area, get my email addy from Tammy and I'll stand you lunch at this super neat, amazingly cheap little French (O.K.,rural Norman) place on City Island called Le Refuge. Right in the middle of some good hot dog stands and excellent sea food take out.

The island is mostly blue collar fishermen, and Crazy Pierre seems a lot more comfortable among them then the midtown swells he cooks for as a living. And how about Ms. Annie? Much more friendly than Noni, and no more moustache jokes.

Word verification was direc. Probably a misspelling. Google up Dirac Angestun Gesept.

Ed Foster said...

Actually, I'm far more worried about L.A. It's far more trendy, and it is Hollywood, (sadly) the source of most ideas for most of the people in this country.

Son #2 is a script editor out there, and his stories are staggeringly scary. It's only a matter of time before Alex Baldwin or one of the Sheehans runs for President. Why have to use those tacky Washington apparatschiki as front men when you're already paying an agent?

As for the city, think of it as a science fiction story. A time travel back to Pompeii. It's fun to be a tad decadent for a weekend every few months, and shopping on Canal street is a lesson in Lassez-Faire if there ever was one. It's a Leroy Niemann experience.

Also (a humble moment here, enjoy it, they're rare), some of those revivals are shows like Chorus Line and Les Mis. I don't care how corny is is, if you can walk out of Les Miserables without wanting to both laugh and cry at the same time, I suspect you've been bitten by a zombie. And we don't even want to hint at zombies around Miz Tammy.

One small point I'll debate with you. New York is such a financial sponge, I doubt much of anything I spend there will eventually work it's way up out of the black hole's financial event horizon. Sure it supports the occasional Bebe Neuwirth type radical butt head, but they'd just be out in Hollywood taking more of my money for nothing at all.

If you're ever in the area, get my email addy from Tammy and I'll stand you lunch at this super neat, amazingly cheap little French (O.K.,rural Norman) place on City Island called Le Refuge. Right in the middle of some good hot dog stands and excellent sea food take out.

The island is mostly blue collar fishermen, and Crazy Pierre seems a lot more comfortable among them then the midtown swells he cooks for as a living. And how about Ms. Annie? Much more friendly than Noni, and no more moustache jokes.

Word verification was direc. Probably a misspelling. Google up Dirac Angestun Gesept.

Anonymous said...

Larry, buggy whips, heh. Priced one lately? The few who had the guts to stay with it through thin and thin have done very well. Without a cent of subsidy. There's a lesson in this.

The first combat photo from Afghanistan was of four mounted Special Forces troopers, riding hell for leather after some Taliban down a hillside. They were Air Force. I wondered what the horses' parachute harnesses looked like. Later it was found that our cavalry was on borrowed saddles--the Army had surplused all of ours.