October – December

Bluetrain were offered a gig up in the mountains. We picked up the gear from the gallery where Mark lived and a few of us drove up there, including Ulf and his lovely Mustang.

We went to a party at an amazing house up in the mountains after we played.

Since we had gone to Dan’s suggested, very American gig – Fishbone, the month before, when we saw that The Jesus and Mary Chain were playing at the same venue in October, we invited both Dan and Heather to come. It was a great night, although I think at the end of the ‘test’ the Brits still preferred ‘our’ band and the Yanks, ‘theirs’!

We went to a couple of local gigs in Riverside, both at The Barn including The Village Idiots, (who we had played with at Fairmount Park) and The Conditions . A nice local vibe and bar.

Then, back to Hollywood in the trusty Datsun to see New Zealand band, The Chills at The Lingerie on October 14th.

This is them recorded a few months earlier in New Zealand.

We drove to LA for the day, going to Melrose and Hollywood and taking in a couple of films (‘A Fish Called Wanda’ and ‘Arthur 2’!). We paid a visit to a record store and I was delighted to see the Bluetrain 12″ – I bought it and still have it in the cellophane sleeve with the price sticker on! The shop also had the new Stone Roses 12″ – ‘Elephant Stone’ which I also bought.

That evening we went to see a cajun band, Buckwheat Zydeco, at the Palace. They were on the soundtrack to ‘The Big Easy’ the Dennis Quaid film, which had been released year before, a film we really liked.

October 20 – The Los Angeles Dodgers defeat the Oakland Athletics, 4 games to 1, to win their 6th World Series Title

We hung out in Riverside; at parties – beat up sofas outside in yards, listening to music and drinking beer, went to an art exhibition, saw a few films, took in some High School football and ate out where we could to afford to a few times. The Downtown area had some great second hand book shops , a skate shop and Lanes, a thrift store where we bought some clothes.

October 27 – Ronald Reagan decides to tear down the new U.S. Embassy in Moscow because of Soviet listening devices in the building structure.

A guy who had seen us play in the mountains got in touch and invited Bluetrain to record a session for his community tv station. We went to the rehearsal studio we had been using and they filmed a short interview and one song. Once again I’m wearing my Lloyd Cole tee shirt!


Here it is – 

Danny had now joined me, working at Victoria’s Orange. He was the breakfast waiter and had to leave the apartment at 6am. I got there to get everything ready for the lunch time customers when he was clearing up and getting ready to head home to sleep. Along with the soups, I made various cakes, including carrot cake, in big metal oven trays, and lunch time orders as the people appeared at the window. It was gearing up for the Presidential election and the Democrats candidate was in town for a rally. A lady called at my To Go window and ordered sandwiches for Michael Dukakis and his entourage. What a shame he didn’t win, it would have been awesome to have made a sandwich for the President!

November – The U.S. unemployment rate drops to 5.3%, the lowest level since May 1974.

November 8 – 1988 United States presidential election: George H. W. Bush is elected as 41st President of the United States over Democratic opponent, Michael Dukakis.

In November my school friend Clare Patterson came to stay for three weeks. We lined up a few adventures. Danny and I picked her up in a hired car at LA X. Clare volunteered to drive the hire car back once we were in Riverside, with Danny going in front in the Datsun for us to follow. We missed him leaving the freeway and started to laugh hysterically, neither of us knowing where we were going as we headed back towards LA, Clare at the wheel having only landed a few hours earlier. We took the next exit and somehow made it.

A few days later Clare and I got a Greyhound bus in to Los Angeles. Arriving at the bus depot in Downtown LA was insane, we clutched on to each other as people screamed and shouted all around us.

Armando, Shannon and a couple of their friends invited us to Mexico for the day. We all drove to the border, parked the cars and walked over the bridge into Tijuana.

We drove through the desert to Las Vegas.

We flew to San Francisco. We went to the City Lights book store, John Coltrane was playing on the radio in the cab as we drove through the rain.

Clare left towards the end of November after three wonderful weeks.

For various reasons, the energy had left Bluetrain. It was in fact, the end of Bluetrain in all its guises. Danny and I had written a couple of songs though and we decided to record them with Joey on drums, Ulf on piano and a friend of theirs, Remy, a huge XTC fan, on guitar.

Our flights back to London were booked for December, so we said our goodbyes to Pat and Helene at Victoria’s Orange. They asked if we would like to return in January to keep working there but we knew our American story was coming to an end and our London one was due to start.

We had one more thing we wanted to do before we left America though. To drive across it.

We picked up a car from Los Angeles – the owner had recently moved to Boston, we were to drive it over there for him. We were given a certain amount of days and miles to do this in.

We bought ourselves a Rand McNally map and headed off! By the time we had filled in all the paperwork and left LA, we only had time to make it to Needles for our first night.

Day 3 Santa Rosa to Little Rock.

The radio turned from any music stations to be religious and dull so we called into a small town called Emerald and managed to find a shoe shop that also sold cassettes. We bought ‘Rattle and Hum’ by U2 and the Tracy Chapman album. Next Graceland and Sun Studios!

Day 4. Little Rock to Bristol.

Day 5. Bristol to New York

Bristol, Virginia. My kind of guitar shop.

My Dad’s cousin, Muriel lived in Forest Hills, New York. All we had was a phone number. She knew we were on our way. We phoned her from a call box in Philadelphia and she gave us directions. It was dark as we drove across the Hudson River, excited beyond words to see the lights of New York ahead of us. With nothing but Muriel’s directions scribbled down and our map of America to guide us, we were a little later than anticipated arriving. As we turned down her street, we saw her, outside her house looking for us. I had never met her before. She was wonderful and welcomed us in to her large house. She gave us drinks and food and showed us to our rooms (one each, we weren’t allowed to share!). We had driven for so long each day to get this far, often just taking photos through the car window, so we could spend a day in New York. Muriel asked us what we would like to drink when we got back and said my cousin Nancy would be joining us for supper. Nancy was Muriel’s niece and my second cousin.

Day 6 New York.

Day 7. New York to Boston.

We drove straight to the guy’s office, no time to stop anywhere to sight-see. It was absolutely freezing in Boston with a wind blowing through us. He checked all was ok and we got a cab to the station and a train straight to the airport, where we flew back to New York.

‘It was a cold and wet December day

when we touched the ground at JFK. ‘

Straight on another plane to Las Vegas. Straight on another plane to Los Angeles.

It was hot in LA and our heads were spinning! We collected some luggage from Riverside, spent one last night in a motel there.

Day 8 Riverside to Los Angeles

Spent the night in a motel near the airport in LA, the next day (Day 9) we caught the flight home to London, Heathrow.

We landed on December 8th, the day before my 23rd birthday.

My Mum had been posting me the N.M.E. while I was away and I couldn’t wait to get the Buzz Club up and running again….

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