In 1999 I bought a bike for $40 at the flea market at South Van Ness and Mission and rode it home. Near Valencia Gardens a guy yelled at me and chased me for three blocks. He said it was his and it probably was. At 16th and Mission I lost him in the crowd. You could find anything you wanted at 16th and Mission and you could lose yourself if you didn’t want to be found. That’s where these Trainwreck boys found a 110 power outlet where you could plug in an amp, in the crowd at the top of the stairs at the BART station. Gutterpunks, street preachers, hustlers, pimps and prostitutes, skeezers and weirdos. Crack, meth, and x. Dice and three card monty. Heroin and angel dust. Bootleg CD’s, Walkmen and VCR’s. Sixteen years old and these boys plugged in and started to play. Bang on a drum until your sticks break, bang on a guitar until your fingers bleed. Scream into a blown out mic. Play until you lose yourself. And keep an eye on your shit or it’ll walk off and you’ll have to go buy it back at the flea market. How else are you supposed to make sense of it when you grow up in it? You can’t outrun it so you dive in feed it and suck down every drop that comes back to you. Just keep playing, louder and louder, and don’t stop. The Trainwreck Riders’ plugged into that outlet at the BART station and they’ve been at it ever since. Born and raised, and damn proud of it, they saw San Francisco get kicked in the balls and they’ve kept on. Techies and a two faced local government blinded with greed have done everything they can to destroy the City and all the while Trainwreck has kept on with a fervor and a deep knowledge you only get when you soak it up as a young buck. Their songs are fierce reminders and a vestige of a culture on the brink of existence. It’s a vibrant, rebellious spirit armed to the teeth with a history and a tradition that goes far beyond what’s streaming on the internet. Their culture and their city is on the brink and their music is as raucous and freewheeling as ever in spite of it all. It’s a Johnny Cash concert in prison. It’s the bleachers at Candlestick when the Giants are in the cellar. It’s bushoppers, and Pier 7, and the back room at Tommy’s Joynt. It’s Its, dutch crunch and pink popcorn. Ben Davis, Derby’s, and beanie hats. Arik’s, Kaplan’s, Harput’s, and Siegel’s. Oak and Divis, and the Red Vic. It’s Adobe Books, Rooky Ricardo’s and Flat Plastic Sound. It’s calling it Frisco. It’s the 91 Owl and the 15 3rd St. It’s the Busyards and El Farolito. It’s Specs and O’Keeffe’s and Aunt Charlie’s, and it’s the Perch and Skerwin’s. It’s everything that the new San Francisco will never be and will never understand, and it’s carrying that all around with you no matter where you go, and knowing you’ll never be able to put it down no matter how heavy it gets because you grew up with so much goddamn respect for it ⎯ a respect a techie or a real estate developer will never have ⎯ that you don’t know how to be any way else. The Trainwreck Riders are keeping on and as long as they are kicking and breathing, whether it’s in the Bay, or in the Gold Country, or on the Sonoma Coast, down in Las Cruces, up in Olympia or out in Milwaukee, or Nashville, Frisco lives on, and all the people, all the beautiful freaks, that would have gone west way back when, way back to 1849, but now they can’t, they can listen to Trainwreck and feel what it was like back in 1999, when San Francisco still had a soul, and all those beautiful freaks can feel it because they’ll be looking it right in the eye, they’ll be up there at the top of the stairs at 16th and Mission. Keep an eye on your shit or it’ll walk off and just keep playing louder and louder and don’t stop.
⎯Rocks at Your Window