Faithfull Correspondent

Marianne Faithfull at 64, Golden Gate Park 09IMG_0209

Marianne Faithfull Golden Gate Park 09

Barely out of the house on en route to the last day of Hardly Strictly Bluegrass (aka Warrenstock) I ran into marathoner/author Bob  Cooper finishing his Sunday ride.

Damn, if he didn’t do a U-ey and ride along for a spell .
People who will do a U-ey for you are in a special category. When was the last time you did an about-face to ride with someone?

He told me about his recent three week Euro-travel writing assignment.

I tried to rob him of an iota of his work, sorry, his diligence ethic with an innocuous knuckle-bump. Bob cranks out award winning articles by the boatload…and I just….watch ‘em sail by.  Sure wish I launched a few.

He insists he likes it.

Then, as I climbed Camino Alto’s curvy turns I could hear conversation.  I pushed a bit harder on the pedals.

Bogged down with tea in the thermos, cookies, spring rolls, salad, and other fortifications, not to mention a ski-jumpsuit in case the fog rolled in. Oh, what else? Lock,  and a brand new Cat–Eye lighting system, top of the line “Li-ion” lithium set up, and battery-operated tail light. And WOMBATS vest for easy identification in a crowd of roughly a million.  The bike swayed imperfectly with its single overloaded pannier.

Finally the conversationalists  passed me and one asked if I was still in touch with Eliza W. (a long-ago wombat)… How did he know–Oh, right the wombat vest!  His name was Carl  and he’d dated the wombat’s daughter. His companion, Mark, greeted me and shared a bit about how his wife was getting a bit nervous about dirt riding. “And everyone knows a husband is the wrong person to do the critique” he told me ruefully.

How well I know.
I told him I’m working on the solution to this ‘problem’.

Having perfected the Boast-card grope, I  handed him my card.
“I take it you’re not doing the Chris Carmichael style of coaching” Mark chided. “With the wattage an’ stuff…”
I told him I barely even thought about the technicalities of cycling…gears, nutrition, training… quite uninterested in all those numbers, and schedules.

“US, we’re a couple of rolling lab rats” one of them shot back, pulling away toward the bridge beyond  Sausalito.

Again the world felt puny. The bike world,  that is.

Though a million people were streaming  into the park in S.F., at least three hundred riders  were coming the opposite direction.
Marin feels very mecca-like.
I felt sorry they were pedaling away from where the action was.

I didn’t find Ramona Wheelright, but left her a note at the agreed-upon spot, in case she found it.
Had the strange experience of solitude in the throng. Naturally it was mitigated when I shared my Zeiss monocular….better than a spliff. See Earl Scruggs, Doc Watson up close (and I was seated only fifty feet from the stage).

To move between the six stages is an ordeal, and I am happy my bladder’s cast iron, cuz having to pee would just ruin  half the set…mental  note to pack a ‘Depends’ next year, my 55th. Just in case….
Trekked a quarter mile toward the “Towers of Gold” stage, and immediately encountered Mary, Gary Fisher’s  girlfriend in 2008. We caught up on a year’s news, and I left her to navigate the throng–I saw a lot of free space down in the lumpy meadow where Marianne F. was to perform.

My favorite act was British rocker Marianne Faithfull–I guessed correctly that the area would be sparsely filled.  Bluegrass listeners are  clueless that rock n roll royalty was mere inches away (we HAVE been treated to Elvis Costello, Boz Scaggs, an’ that guy in Led Zeppelin, what’s his name? Robert Plant, right).

Faithfull did begin as a folk singer–perhaps being put forth as the Brit’s answer to Joan Baez. Within months she was lured away from a tame “As Tears Go By” by the fast lane in mid-sixties London. And what a ride she had.

Her songs were original (though she told the crowd that Down from Dover was a Dolly Parton song) and harrowing: deep, painful and of course beautiful. Oh and then there was an angry one (“Why’d ya do it?”). But I liked the Dover one, and loved  the Ballad of Lucy Jordan.

I left full of respect for this poet/singer with her  beaming grin. I learned she doesn’t drive a car or motorbike. Wonder if she rides a push-bike? Of course. Every self-respecting post-war London kid rode. 

What I would have done to get to go to HER after-party!

Hopped on my trusty Breezer bike and rode the last hour of daylight into Sausalito where a friendly voice hailed ‘Miz Wombat!’

It was Allen Biggs, a percussionist riding home from his gig in the city playing in the orchestra for Wicked.I didn’t know him but soon would.

You must be the only guy in the whole production riding a bike to work… what, fifty miles?!

“Yeah, they think I’m nuts…”

We blabbed the whole way into Ross Valley, with me schooling him about dumpsters, cross-country rides. As a huge moon appeared over the eastern horizon he told me there was a gathering of drummers on Angel Island right now.
Everywhere in the Bay Area, it’s the October magic. Tourists take note: you want to be here now, not in summer.

By San Anselmo, I’m starved. It’s eight-thirty at night, the sidewalks are all rolled up and no one on the street. Taco Jane’s  is still lit up, just finishing another day.

Got to share a bit about the 42 ride with Matteo the owner, over a couple of margaritas.  He fingered my green Patagonia capilene tee-shirt.
“Wasn’t this mine?” he asked.
Yes. He had given it to his brother who lives upstairs.

“Dude, Ben  donated it to Goodwill”

I intercepted the bag and made off with the One Good Item. Or…had I (ulp) swiped it as it went TO Ben?  Argh…

Some small world.

~ by jacquiephelan on October 5, 2009.

3 Responses to “Faithfull Correspondent”

  1. I am resigned to the fact that I won’t meet her in this lifetime. She’s touring, and probably never ‘kills time’. Check out great interview: http://www.blackbookmag.com/article/ryan-adams-marianne-faithfull/7025

  2. I will most likely be just up the street from you for a week or two come March/April.

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