Today is a very strange day. The past and present seemed to have collided. A star has left this solar system & gone to parts unknown. The firmament is less bright as it once was. Its departure also leaves a hole in our collective beings. But as a shooting star travels, it leaves a trail of beauty in its wake. A trail left for all — who might see — listen — hear.
I had no intention of writing today, about this star, musician, artist — but the passing of David Bowie could not go unmarked, unnoticed, unheralded. He’s left his mark, like the artist he was — and we were all fortunate to bear witness to his artistic incarnations for so many years. For some, he was a big part of the soundtrack of our lives.
I’m sure there was a cassette of Scary Monsters in my bag as we traveled from London, England, on our way to Dover, in Kent, on our way to France, that early summer of 1982. It was always one of my favorite Bowie records. There were also recordings of The Clash, Gang Of Four, The Jam, Roxy Music, Television, Talking Heads, Bob Marley, Marshall Crenshaw and so many more. But that’s part of our nature. Part of the “mix tape” we all create as we move through our lives. Music is one of those things, that can transport us from one point in time to another, in the blink of an eye. It can purify, clarify, sanctify, and help propel us forward — even when we lack motivation to do so under our own power.
As my friend Charlie Maraia and I traveled from London to Dover that Sunday, June 27th, 1982, the portable powered speakers attached to a Walkman were indeed pumping out any combination of those artists we chose to travel with; to mark time with. I had already sold a few of my Clash photos to the NME and Teenage Kicks magazine in our first week in London. Now we were on another leg of this month-long journey; headed for Dover. Once in Dover we would catch the hovercraft ferry to Boulogne, France, and from there, hitch to Paris.
Sunday, June 27, 1:30 PM
Goodbye London, Hello Dover. Here we sit on a train, second class, to Dover. We left Chris and Sheila’s flat earlier this afternoon. We hated leaving, needless to say. We stopped at Mickey D’s for lunch — it’s not the same as the states. Nothing is here. Even the music. There are still punks here, and many of them.
Went to the Zig Zag club last night. Julius (from Teenage Kicks Magazine) guest listed us to see The Vise Squad with Beki Bondage at the helm.
Boy they sucked! They were terrible! Second generation punks don’t have half the bite first one’s did! Oi! They seem like they’ll be doing supper clubs and casino dates like Tom Jones ended up doing. What? Who?
Better Badges were at the club, selling their wares. Bought a few. Charlie picked up his portfolio from Julius, and we were back “home” by 1 o’clock.
Tuesday, June 29, 9:50 AM
I’m sitting in a park in lovely Dover, England! The White Cliffs Of Dover are before me and the English Channel lies to my right. A glorious day it is too! This place has been much better than London.
Charlie and Dave have just walked off to the travel agent to get tickets for the hovercraft which will take us to France. Dave is a real nice, dark haired Englishman. I believe, although he had a British accent, he really doesn’t quite look British. But anyway … we all went out last night for out last pints of bitter in England. We went to a nice local pub, drank a few with this guy from Brooklyn named Ray. He’s been biking around England.
Ray also left earlier than us for Boulogne, France. We may meet up again in Paris. But last night we were all bushed from walking around with two American girls, Leslie and Sara, up the cliffs overlooking the channel. We later took them to the hovercraft and saw them off.
Charlie and I then went to Tesco’s for provisions for lunch: bread, cheese, ham, milk, and chocolate chip cookies. With these provisions in hand, we climbed the steep roads to the castle on the hill. After reaching the very top, we sat in the gusting wind and ate lunch. The view from the cliffs is better than anything we saw in London.
Charlie has been feeling better these days. It’s funny, when we are with other people, Charlie is quite nice. When we are alone, he tends to rag on me.
The beach-front homes near this little park reminds me of the beaches back home in Tom’s River. Boats pulled up along the beach and small sail boats anchored off shore. It’s all quite lovely. But the cliffs are breathtaking!
The past two nights we’ve stayed in a youth hostel. It seems everywhere we go, we leave all too soon. It’s kind of disturbing, but it’s all part of traveling. The though of going to France is scary; not knowing the language and all. The sun feels so good!
It figures … when we leave it’s one of the nicest days we’ve had the whole trip. The sound of the water and the seagulls are like music to my ears. It reminds me of home. Good-bye little seaport … it’s been great!!! I hope France is as nice.
Well, here come Charlie and Dave. Time to go. More later.
Tuesday, June 29, 12:30 PM
The boat rocks and cuts its path through the turbulent waters, and here we sit, Charlie, Dave, and I. No hovercraft. We are on the ferry to Boulogne. The weather is still quite strange. Rain for five minutes — sun — then rain again. Charlie sits and writes descriptions for his Guardian Angels photos for Teenage Kicks Magazine, and I sit writing words for later reading. Dave sits an munches a few morsels — a roll of cheese with some crisps. English school girls laugh and giggle at the table next to us. “Eat a Peach” Charlie — in memory of a week gone by — and then some.
The sun is showing its face; but for how long? The boat rocks on. We’ve been meeting people and they leave just as you get to know them or enjoy their company. It gets distressing. Quite like the places we visit. Nothing is permanent. Of course not, we’re on holiday — vagabond virgins — to places unseen. France, treat us gently.
The first night at the hostel in Dover, we met these girls from the states; Michigan — I think. And a guy from Missouri. He didn’t like working on tractors — “like the rest of the boys at home” — so he took off for Europe! Didn’t like corn fields much either! We went out for fish and chips with Sarah and Leslie. Quite greasy, dripping gobs of cooking oil — ugh!!! Then a walk to the Dover Castle. It was beautiful that night. The hills were killer though. Sweaty and hot we made it to the top; took some nice photos — I hope — and then went looking for a pub to down a few bitters.
The first place looked like a Mom and Dad pub, complete with couches and an easy chair, occupied by some English lads. We must have been a sight! Four Americans with radio and all. The guy at the next table was quite amused by our antics. We then left that pub; walked a bit, and found a more livelier place — good juke box too. The juke boxes here in England are fantastic! Even the one in the pub in the countryside, with Chris and Sheila on our way to the design show. We drank and had to be back at the hostel at 10:30 PM and in bed by 11:00 PM. How strange it all has been!
Charlie moved in on the “bird” I had been priming up (Leslie), and left me with Sara.
Charlie and I went to the castle yesterday, in Dover. I thought it was cool, but Charlie didn’t like it much. It was boring in parts, okay, but there were parts that I loved!
More later … I need a smoke!
And that’s all she wrote. Well .. all that I wrote for those few days after leaving London.
It’s funny — after all this time I don’t think Charlie and I have ever seen the photos each other took on this trip. I KNOW I have not seen his. But since we’ve reconnected on Facebook, I’m getting to see bits and pieces of photos, as is he. This whole Dover post is being propelled by a single photo Charlie posted to his Instagram account, and later eMailed me a fantastic scan of the original photo. It’s the photo of me, Leslie and Sara sitting on a brick wall in front of the “Quick-Fit-Euro Motorist Centre” on Alexandra Place in Dover. I have to say — I LOVE THIS PHOTO! I don’t have many of me from this time period. I love that I’m wearing the British Postal Deliveryman’s jacket that I bought second hand in London, earlier in the week. I love that I’m young and thin — and my hair looks great too! (huge grin!) But beyond these boosts to my ego — it’s a great photograph. A moment documented in time — something Charlie does well. It’s historic yet timeless. People just being people. Love it.
I got so excited seeing the photo, which I had never seen before, and don’t remember being taken — I Google mapped the location from the street names in the photo. Luckily, there were Google Street Views of the same exact spot we were sitting in, back in 1982. I decided I’d do a knock-out of the three of us, including the wall and our Coke cans, and do a composite photo using the current color Google Street view of the same location. The result is the image at the top of this post. Below I’ve included Charlie’s original black and white photo, the Google street view and the composite, so you can compare. Yeah, I was getting my creative nerd on!