Hallo! How are you? It’s been ages!
It’s been so long since I took a train trip. I think the last time was approx... 2011.
I took a hiatus for a while cause I had nowhere to go…..
This year I decided to go back to my beloved destination~ BISBEE, ARIZONA.

I hadn’t been back to Arizona since Jan Brewer was the governor, (Jan, 2009-  Jan, 2015).
I refused to support a state that elected her and her anti- immigration- IE~ Mexican policies. Keep in mind; this is years before what is now known as Trump.

A little background about my love affair with Bisbee…

Back in 1997, I really enjoyed the film~ LA Confidential, the neo~noir classic about corrupt Los Angeles in the early1950s~ based on the writing of James Ellroy, directed by Curtis Hanson.

In the film the hardboiled dick~ played by Russell Crowe is obsessed with Veronica Lake ~look-alike call girl~ played by Kim Bassinger.  They eventually have a steamy sex scene. The next morning in their love making afterglow- Russell Crowe notices a hand- embroidered pillow that reads~ 
 “Bisbee?, Russell Crowe says inquisitively. “Yes," responds Kim Bassinger as the Veronica Lake ~call girl/ look-alike, “ I grew up there. I'm moving back in a couple years.... open a dress shop.  
The girls in Bisbee need some glamour.”
And that’s exactly what they do at the end of the film. So I thought this was cute & romantic.

Years later in 1999, I was convalescing at my friend’s Duck & Mouse, (I called them this because their names were Donald & Michael) I had been in a serious bike accident and was off my feet for almost 4 months.  Duck & Mouse were living in Tucson, AZ, they invited me to recuperate at their high desert estate. 

Duck and I loved to banter with each other. At one point he said, “you’re soooo bizarre, you would probably like Bisbee.”
“BISBEE?!” I screamed. Like Bisbee on Kim Basinger’s pillow from LA Confidential? You mean there really is a Bisbee? I begged to go so badly.... basically I forced them to take me the following day. Since then i have been a Bisbee devotee.

on to my train trip~
We are now leaving Union Station at approx.. 10pm. My dear pal Ricardo came to see me off even though he didn’t know I was going anywhere. He thought we were just meeting at Tracks restaurant. Turns out the fucker was closed, as was the bar, so my plans were foiled. We ended up going to Philippe’s instead.  I got Ricardo so excited about Bisbee, he almost came with me…. next time.

The train is going pretty fast…. This train is completely booked.. There is not one extra seat open-
 so I may have a problem doing my usual seat hopping. I was one of the first to board the train.  That is because I travel alone and listen to instructions. I knew exactly what train car to board, ( #11 ) and exactly where my seat was, (#29). Other passengers were scrabbling about like chickens without their heads- baby strollers in tow, they move very slow.. 
I'm glad I was not behind them.

This youngish post-hippie guy sits next to me. I say hi… no response. Then he says,” is there a light?” ... like as if I’m the conductor.  I answer as if I am, “yes there is.” 

He’s reading a book… he most def doesn’t want to chat.  So of course I ask, “where are you going?” “Palm Springs, “ he responds.  I didn’t know this train stopped in Palm Springs! How exciting. I love Palm Springs. “
He goes back to his book.

I’ve never taken this route before. The  SUNSET LIMITED ( what a great name), it goes from Union Station, Los Angeles~ Pomona~ Ontario~ Palm Springs~ Yuma, AZ, Tucson AZ~ Benson, AZ, (where I get off) Spurling, NM, ~ a bunch of hideous places in Texas, 
(i hate Texas, except for Austin. I love Austin)  final destination~ New Orleans.
 I will have to do this full trip sometime.

everything is quiet… it is quiet as a mouse.

 there are two girls behind me chattin up a storm. I can’t make out what they’re talking about, just the lull of their voices.  The young- post hippie guy next to me is fidgety. He’s only pretending to read his book; I know he’s trying to read what I’m writing. I must be very careful. Fellow passengers can be sensitive if they know you're writing about them.

 Oh wow~ we are already at the first stop- Pomona? That seamed so quick. I don’t see anybody at this station… it is bleak.

I always enjoy train trips… there’s something relaxing and classic about it.
Believe it or not, I haven’t flown since 2007. It's expensive with all the baggage fees. 
I just find flying very stressful with all the security checks, and I hate taking off my shoes. 

Somehow train trips inspire me to write, something about being in a stationary seat with a view from the window, watching the towns fly by… it’s very cathartic.

I’m reminded of Strangers on A Train~ the classic 1951, Hitchcock film, based on a book by notorious lesbian writer~ Patricia Highsmith. She also wrote The Talented Mr.  Ripley series, and The Price of Salt, recently made into the film CAROL, directed by Todd Haynes. 

Patricia Highsmith was a real tool. She was a grumpy lesbian during the era when it was illegal to be one. She wrote The Price of Salt under the alias Claire Morgan  in 1952. One of the first lesbian books, and def the first to have a happy ending.

 Highsmith also had a mollusk, (snails) collection.  Over 300 mollusks. She one time went to a fancy cocktail party with a large purse. In the purse was a head of lettuce filled with snails munching on it. “These are my companions for the evening,” she happily showed whomever was interested.

At first I didn’t understand why she had a mollusk collection, then I realized that there must be allot of slime trails that accompany something like this. The oozy slime seems to me to be along the same lines of vaginal secretion…... the semen equivalent for lesbians? 

This  is my unofficial view as to why Patricia Highsmith had a mollusk collection.

 Ok we just left Ontario… it seems we are doing very well on time.  Someone behind me is SNORING.. It’s only 11pm. these people crash early!

 we are whisking by darkened car lots. Many of them.. They look lonely.
I think I’m the only one who's awake.

the post~hippy young guy next to me is pretending to be asleep. I know he is really trying to read what I’m writing.

In the loudest voice possible the conductor says to the post-hippy young guy next to me~
“WHAT’S THE LAST NAME TO PALM SPRINGS?”, “T-O-L-I-S-K-I” he responds in shock. “WHAT?” she says loudly. The post-hippy-young guy repeats, "TOLISKI- T-O-L-I-S-K-I."
  “OK WE USUALLY WAKE THE PERSON UP 10 MINUTES BEFORE THE STOP. IS THAT FINE WITH YOU, OR DO YOU NEED MORE TIME? “That’s fine,” says the post-hippy young guy. So obviously if I’m asleep I will also be woken up by her bellowing voice.
 I think I’ll just stay up.

” PALM SPRINGS STATION~ 10 MINUTES AWAY”…  boy that conductor is loud and I am awake…. Well I guess I’ve I always wanted to see this station.. It’s so barren & serene.
 I love all the yucca and mesquite trees.
The post-hippy young guy gets off.. I now have the two seats to myself!
 I can stretch and take a load off my sling-backs… sorta.

 we just passed Coachella. I am reminded of that hideous music festival started  when Pearl Jam had a fight with ticketmaster back in 1993. Coachella was once a sleepy little desert town with nothing to do except go to the swap-meet on Sundays. Then because of the remote,vase space, someone decided it would be a great place to host a music festival, kinda like a 21st century Woodstock, minus the heart, minus the optimism, quadruple the price, and have all these VIP areas so no- one except VIPS can attend. Now young people can say, “let’s move to Coachella, the rent will be cheap and we can walk to the music festival once a year."
 I was staying in Palm Springs earlier this year while the festival was going on. There were actually young people in floppy hats and sandals walking from Palm Springs to Coachella! 
Do you realize how far that is?! And it was approx.... 110 degrees in the shade!

December 28th~ 5:48am~
 I am awaken.. I have to pee. I’m very groggy. I go downstairs and two people hobble in front of me.  This large Mexican man in front of me makes a beeline for the toilet, he opens the door and says, “yew”. He then goes to the other toilet, opens the door and says, “yew”. Somehow I believe him and don’t double check.  This other middle-aged Mexican lady says, “Did you try the other lounge?” 
(I think that’s where the change the babies), “it’s locked, " replies the large Mexican man.
Ok~ so there are now three people waiting for the toilet... one is occupied, and two are too messy to even enter. I have to piss like a racehorse, so decide to go to the next car over. I wobble down the aisle trying my best not to fall into people asleep. Don’t laugh, I’ve seen it happen many times. All you need is one lurch from the train.

I am in the next car trying to go down the stairs. An army of very large black people besiege me....
 I am not kidding.
BTW- where I mention someone race~ it is not my intention to be racist. I am trying my best to describe each person to my dear readers. Please don’t take my descriptions in a PC way… 
my descriptions are merely for entertainment. And if you do take it the wrong way-
 fuck you and lighten up.

First there is this huge~ as in FAT~ black guy with bags. He is just standing in the middle of the isle. I cannot get by.. “Excuse me please” I say. This does no good.  He mumbles to someone.. I think his wife who is equally large. “ we have to get to our seats, he bemoans.” I agree with this statement.
“Excuse me!” I say once again. This seems to do the trick and I squeeze by. I then try to flee down the stairs but what looks like a blockade turns out to be a very-very-very large black lady wearing a poncho with a weenie dog in a blanket. She is huffing and puffing, and has all but given up climbing the stairs. You would think she’s trying to concur Mount Everest they way she's panting.

There is a thin black lady wearing a Bill Cosby type sweater observing all of this. The thin black lady wearing the bill Cosby sweater states, “she’s gonna need some help.”
I think this is directed at me so I say to the gigantic black lady wearing a poncho with a weenie dog in a blanket, “do you need some help?” she doesn’t respond. 
“ I don’t think I can make it. I don’t think I can make it. “ She keeps repeating.
“ok. I say, do you want me to hold your puppy?” “yes, could you?" she replies. I take the weenie dog in a blanket. “ your puppy is so soft.” I comment. The seated black lady wearing the Bill Cosby style sweater smiles. After a long time, the gigantic black lady wearing a poncho makes it to the top of the stairs. I hand her back her weenie dog in a blanket. She doesn’t say anything! 
Sometimes I think other people think I am a conductor.

I try to go downstairs and there is another large black lady. Then another large black man. Then another! “what is this a clown car?” I exclaim. “the seated black lady wearing a Bill Cosby style sweater smiles… slightly.

6:09 am~
 the sun is barley starting to come up on the Arizona desert. Not sure where we are, but there are all these scattered houses in what looks to be barren wasteland. I’m not sure if they are abandon or not, perhaps both. One lonely car with its lights on drives alongside this two-lane highway… 
it is so lonely, just like the opening scene of Brokeback Mountain..
 that opening scene is  melancholy.

 ok, I just recognized this dried up apple tree orchard. I remember it from years ago when I used to visit Duck & Mouse in Tucson, so I am a few hours away from Tucson.
 I wonder why the train doesn’t stop at Phoenix? I mean I’m glad it doesn’t, Phoenix is a pit and Bristol Palin lives there, but I just wonder why it doesn’t stop. Probably because nobody wants to go to Phoenix. I hate Phoenix,

 my sleeve is totally wet! I don’t know why since the only liquid I have is hot tea, ( the cafĂ© gave me a small cup of hot water for free. I brought my own tea. I’m a tea snob) and my sleeve is cold & wet! 

Large white guy in white t-shirt walks by aimlessly. “Where's the snack bar?”  I point and say, “downstairs.” In this car? He asks. He still seems confused. “Yes,” I respond. He still seems confused.
A white guy with glasses, wearing a plaid shirt~ pipes up directly behind me.
“It is downstairs right here.” Oh, ok thanks. The white guy lumbers off.  Well that’s pretty much what I said so I don’t know why he didn’t understand me? 
Maybe I speak too fast.. or Greek?

An old white guy wearing a plaid short-sleeved shirt with a pair of jogging sweat pants, with racing-strip down the side hobbles by. Who told him to match up that plaid shirt with those sweatpants?  The train lurches and he falls into the table.  See?!... I knew this would happen.

This dopey white lady with glasses is chatting, “ok this is gonna be where we set up the card table. This will be where it happens.  Ok~ I’m gonna leave my coffee here and that will be the signal that this table is occupied. I’ll be right back, ok?” 
I realize she is talking to me…… and the large white guy in a white t-shirt. He has sat next to me with a bottle of cranberry juice and side of ice. I guess he found the snack car.
I decide to get another cup of hot water for me tea. I guess I’m pushing Amtrak’s generosity, but she does give me a refill. As I try to go back up the stairs, the large white guy is standing in the middle of the stairs with his cranberry juice and cup of ice.
“Is this the snack car?,”  he asks me again!
"Yes. Do you want to come down?," I respond quickly.  “No I wanna go back to my seat,” He says helplessly. “There is nothing here but the snack car," I tell him. 
“oh.. just like you said before.” 
SEE! He did understand me the first time.  Slowly as molasses he turns around and walks back up.

The dopey lady with glasses is talking on her cell phone. I know she’s not really talking to anybody. She’s just pretended. She has no friends.

A smiling lady walks by with her baby. The baby is waving at  everybody. They are a happy parent & baby.

6:53am~ we are come up on Tucson, AZ.. it’s cute to see it from the train POV.

There's a mid-western couple with their child seated next to me. “who’s your daddy?” says the dopey girl wearing glasses to no one or everyone in particular. Nobody responds.

The mid-western mom is reading to her daughter. She has a very thick drawl. “Good night house. Good night table good night cock, good night chair..." 
Did she really say cock?! Maybe she said clock.

my sleeve is still wet!.. I feel like I have a stigmata sleeve. I don’t understand why it is wet?

Every time I look up. The dopey girl with glasses tries to make eye contact.  I def don’t wanna engage her. Does this make me anti-social?

The Midwestern mom took her girl to the toilet leaving the midwestern dad on his lonesome.

The dopey girl with glasses see’s her chance. 
“ I was gonna start a card game with my son, but he was tired. So I set up this table, but he didn’t come. My husband’s asleep. It really passes the time." When she talks she doesn’t pause.

Somehow I don’t believe she has a family. I guess this makes me a cynical person.
She is talking the Midwestern dad’s ear off. I am sooooo very glad i am not him.

The old guy wearing the plaid shirt & sweatpants walks by. He is holding a book.

Now the Midwestern mom with her daughter comes back and sits down. The dopey lady with glasses is in full on conversation with the midwestern dad.

Now they have all three engaged in this mindless conversation about every little minor thing on their minds. "I always book coach, except my sons get a sleeper car. They have special needs."

Ok  I can no longer deal with their banter. The dopey lady with glasses notices that I am moving. 
I think her goal is to have the entire train engage with her and play cards.
“ like to play cards on the train. It’s boring , but passes the time,” announces the dopey lady wearing glasses.  “Are you playing solitaire?” asks the midwestern dad. 
This  question seems to hit the dopey lady wearing glasses between the eyes..

I now move to an observation seat. I like these. There is this gruff white lady with grey hair hovering around. I’m not sure if she wanted the seat that I took.. she didn’t say anything. She seats herself in a booth seat. Shortly another gruff white lady with grey hair joins her. I think they are European.... 
In fact I know so. They are French. I think they are a couple.... In fact I know so.
In 2015 it’s easy to tell.. nobody feels the need to be closeted. This is so refreshing.

We are still at the Tucson depot. Not sure why..
Another lesbian couple seats themselves across from the French lesbian couple.
One lesbian takes a picture of the other lesbian. One of the French lesbians asks,
 “Would you like me to take a photo of the two of you?” “yes”, responds the other lesbian. 
Sorry, but you are backlit by the sun so I’m afraid the photo will not look good.
 Leave it to the French to know this, and not waste their time.
This was the perfect icebreaker they are now in a full-on 4- way couple chat.
This is becoming The Cubbyhole, (lesbian bar in NYC during the 70s/80s. Cher & Karen Black went there)  on a train!

8:05 ~ 
The dopey lady with glasses interrupts the synergy and walks thru the conversation. 
“Oh excuse me. excuse me.” They ignore her, as do I. she is desperate.
 If she has any sons, which I doubt, they will grow up and leave her. If they are on this train they have gotten off and didn’t tell her. She is destine to play solitaire.

 I pack up my things and head back to my seat.. as I’m leaving the dopey lady with glasses is coming back, she see me….”HI!” she shouts. “Hello,” I smile back meekly. Actually she is very nice.
 I get lost for a second and cannot find my seat. There is a sweet young couple in my seat- #29. 
"Are you looking for your seat?” they ask. “Well I thought it was this seat, but my luggage is not here. The sweet young couple direct me to a conductor. The conductor tells me I am in the next car. 
I find my seat...  the post-hippy young guy is long gone, so I have the two seats to myself. 

Once I am settled I decide I want another cuppa tea so make my way back to the snack shop which is now closed, so I am forced to go into the diner.  I like to pretend the train dinning cars are like from the film, Stranger on a Train, but in modern reality they are sad little fast food stations on tracks. “May I help you," asks the large black waitress. “Yes I would like a cup of hot water to go,” I say. “I’m sorry sir, but you will have to wait until the snack shop reopens.” “Well couldn’t I just get it from you since you’re the same kitchen? I’m willing to pay for it.” I sorta beg. 
“OK that will be $2 dollars” replied the large black waitress. 
As I’m walking back pass the observation deck I witness the dopey white lady with glasses. She is playing cards with a sorta cute young guy!  She found someone! Maybe it’s her husband after all? Maybe she does have kids asleep in the sleep car. 
Maybe I am embellishing and using my creative license as a writer?

We are now well into the south Arizona desert. I find it very beautiful. Quiet, somewhat harsh, but beautiful. The sky is so clear. There’s so much space. It’s nice to see wide-open space.  
Natural settings like this lend themselves to refection on where you’ve come from, where you are, and where you are going in your life.
They just made a call for Benson.. my stop!

I left Benson, AZ  @ approx... 6:25pm… the train was 7 minutes late!
My new Bisbee friend~ “sheriff Paul” was kind enough to not only pick me up, but also  drop me off and wait for the train to come.  The Benson train depot leaves allot to be desired. They’ve closed the original depot and made it into some sorta historical monument. They now have a sign that reads BENSON DEPOT and two aluminum sidings with two metal benches… that is it!….. In the middle of this bum fuck town..... In the middle of nowhere.  

We got to Benson a little early and decided to walk around… The term ghost town comes to mind.  We walked one block off the main street.... there was this weathered abandon shack with dead bushes covering it.

 I told sheriff Paul I had to pee… as I was taking a whizz, I suddenly saw this large figure twirling around wearing a large poncho in the window. I think it was human.... 
Later on sheriff Paul thought I might have seen a ghost. A very large ghost wearing a poncho.
 Like a twirling ghost dervish.

I’m the first to board once again! I am very organized.
The conductor issues me seat #37. I lumber upstairs to my seat and some semi-handsome, yet creepy guy is seated there. Not only is he seated there, but also he is sprawled out with all his belongings. Walkman, computer, potato chips, water, blanket.. I think he even had a cooler. I say to him, 
“I’m sorry, but I think you’re in my seat....
Well, you would’ve thought I sentenced him to death the way he didn’t know what to do..
 I mean why couldn’t he just go back to his original seat? It took him forever to gather his things, which he did in a dramatic, elongated way.
 To ease the pain I said, “so sorry to kick you out.” he sorta mumbled some incoherent response. Then to add to his misery another guy shows up and says, ‘ I think this is my isle seat… you see he was taking up not one, but two seats.
 Then other people were trying to board and pass, and could not, because this sorta good looking, but creepy guy was taking way too long to gather his belonging.
 For the rest of the trip, whenever I would encounter him, (and it was often) he would glare at me.

I have moved so many times and can’t get comfortable. I sat at the table section and the sorta good-looking, but creepy guy sat facing me. He kept staring/glaring at me. He makes me nervous.  I then went and sat in the observation deck and he sat next to me once again. 
This time he realized it was me and left.

I am seated in the observation deck. It is raining. This good-looking black guy with a nice body, 
(I know this because he changed his shirt earlier) sits next to me.... which is nice. 
What isn’t nice is he has a hotdog. It smells so strong! All that relish, mustard and meat,
 that isn’t really meat, smell is getting me nauseous.  I wish he would hurry up and eat it.

This guy on the other side of me is talking on his cell phone. He has the most annoying voice.. 
It’s sorta quiet, but grating at the same time. This other guy is trying to sleep on the floor, he’s not doing a very good job of it and keeps coughing and clearing his throat. How much phlegm can one person have? Maybe he’s asleep and dreaming that he’s coughing and clearing his throat.

I really wanna sleep, but I can’t. I’m so uncomfortable.

The good-looking black guy with a nice body just started a conversation with a cute young black girl. I like his voice, he had a really nice voice.. it’s low-key and kind. 
If he were talking to me I would love his voice.
He finally finished that hot dog so it’s all good.

For some reason the cute young black girl got up and left.
I find it interesting the someone is always interested in someone, who's not interested in them.

It's so dark out.. I cannot see anything.. 
We must be in the middle of the desert between Maricopa and Yuma, Arizona.

I’m gonna have to pee soon. I’ll hold it for as long as I can.


The train is so wiggly.. It’s not as smooth a ride as the trip before. I think we’re making good time. We’re already close to Yuma.  I still do love trains. They have a certain old-school romance when people had more time, things weren’t as frantic, and people didn't feel so self-entitled. 
Train travel has a human humility to it. People tend to be more engaging on train trips. 
They’ve let their guard down.

We are just about to hit Palm Springs CA, one of my fave places in CA. it is raining, which is very nice. I love the rain. Especially in the desert.
Whenever I witness rain in the desert it makes me happy because I think it must be a real treat for the plants & such to have rejuvenation. It is still very dark; so the combo of darkness, the desert & rain make it very somber and lonely… sometimes lonely is a good thing. As I get older I’ve come to understand loneliness. One is not really alone when they include nature. 
If you include your surroundings you have everything you need.

Palm Springs train depot is not much better than Benson. Perhaps one grade up…. barely. 
It consists of some desert landscaping, a parking lot, and a brutal concret covering with built- in concrete bench. That is it… nothing.

One sad boy was waiting for the train. One middle-age man got off. Each had someone to drop them off, or pick them up.  Now I see a black family that is just getting to the train. I guess they're late. Hummm… they didn’t get on or off and the train is pulling out..
 It’s always been my fear to miss my train. I did that one time in Paris. I over-slept at Rick Owens & Michele Lamy's atelier. No one else was around so I had to ask the secretary to book me a new ticket. It was a nightmare; except I ended up sharing a train car with Martin Margiela. I didn’t even know it was him until after he invited me to dinner and we cuddled together.

it will go by very fast now. This train trip. We are only two or so hours away from downtown Los Angeles, Union Station. I think we have a Pomona stop, then Ontario and then Union Station. 
A hop, skip and a jump.

So the entire trip back was in darkness.. that’s sorta sad.. one of my fave things about train rides is the scenery. The train travels thru parts of the country you just don't see by car.

4:04 am
one black female conductor is talking to another black male conductor. She is very loud, especially since its 4am in the morning. Not only is she basically screaming, her walkie-talkie is on and you can hear all the static and voices. She is complaining about something that happened to a co- worker. 
“ I said to her, you need to tell them this. You need to make sure they know. They need to know. I wouldn’t put up with that. They would know right away how I felt.” 
Well doll, I think the entire train knows how you feel.

I think we’re near Banning.. I like Banning. It’s a sleepy little town with a few cute Victorians’ and antique shops. I bought many of Antebellum gallery’s teacups in Banning. My long-time friend Iris Parker toyed with the idea of moving to Banning. She was convinced she could buy a house here with no money down. Perhaps she was right, however she ended up moving back to New York instead.  She drove cross-country with her 16 cats! She was trying to coheres me into driving with her. She promised she would pay for everything and pay for my plane ticket back to LA. I didn’t believe her.  She was supposed to be moving in with her sister in Harlem. I asked her if her sister knew she was bringing 16 cats. She neglected to tell her. I said I was definitely not taking this road trip with her and she replied, “If anything happens to me on the road, it will be your fault.”
 Can you imagine someone saying that? What a guilt trip. There’s a word for that kind of behavior. 
Is it passive aggressive? Or transfer of blame? All I know is if I was her sister and I saw her at the door of my beautiful brownstone in Harlem, with her 16 cats, I would not let her in.