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Recap: LA to Oakland on the Station to Station Train

For three days last week, I joined the merry band of artists, musicians, craftspeople, chefs, coworkers and documentarians on Doug Aitken’s cross-country art train for Station to Station: A Nomadic Happening, made possible by Levi’s®. —Dave


About five hours into a 12-hour ride up the California coast, I had my Station to Station moment. I was late to the party, so to speak; this was the last leg of a journey that had already crossed the entire country over the course of three weeks. A lot had happened. The people I was joining had the better part of a life-changing experience in common. Boarding the train after the Los Angeles Happening felt a bit like transferring to a new school on the day before Summer vacation. So, for the early part of the ride, I did what any weird new kid would do: I tried to look busy. I took a million photos. I checked my email. I toured the train with no real agenda. I checked my email again. I hit Instagram like a new mom. I made small talk, standing on the edge of conversations and smiling at strangers lot more than anyone should ever. But, after a few hours, I ran out of stuff to “do.” So I let go.


            I stopped between cars, alone on an open platform looking out to the California coast. And I just let the train do the work of transporting me. Sun and wind and speed and brake dust. Against my own will, I kinda mellowed out and opened up. I stayed there a while. Then...I went back inside, my vibe now tuned to the rest of the train, and had a truly amazing time. Here are some things I saw along the way…

 

 

This guy, a real train conductor! Who knew?!

 


The juxtaposition of new and old technologies. Dan Deacon wearing Google Glass. An archtop guitar that recorded directly to SoundCloud. A vintage typewriter, rigged with some kind of steampunk magic to automatically broadcast tweets as you type. 

This was one of them (it says hello...live what you love love what you do.):

 



 

Drinks! Poured with care during the Levi’s 501 Happy Hour, which kicked off at 5:01pm, naturally.





George from Twin Shadow, who at one point played a quietly soulful cover of “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long” to a handful of lucky passengers. 

There was a lot of music on the train, actually. Both Dan Deacon and Sun Araw laid down tracks in the recording car, a fully equipped recording and mixdown studio complete with a ton of Moog gear. And songs played from speakers just about everywhere throughout the day, from Dylan to Quad City DJs.



 

Liz Glynn’s personal Drawing Room



The Kinetic Drawing Machine, by Olafur Eliasson. I watched this thing a LOT. Basically…an inked ball travels around a circular canvas, propelled by the motion of the train. The result is an ever-changing line drawing both OF and BY the journey. Whoa.

 














Our arrival in Oakland was at once triumphant and a little bit sad; the journey was over and the Station to Station train had reached its final destination. Hopping on for only the final leg of the trip, it felt like catching the last 20 minutes of a really amazing movie. I knew it was special, and I wish I had seen more! We said our goodbyes (to each other and to the train) and somehow got to a hotel in San Francisco. I went to sleep soon thereafter, still feeling the movement of the train, excited for the Oakland Happening the next day...

Visit the Station to Station site for additional (incredible) coverage.


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