Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Charlie and the MAX

Since fares are going up again  September 1, and in honor of Neal McFarlane officially taking over the helm of TriMet--it's time to recycle a little ditty posted to last year--updated (and up-spiced) to take recent events into account, and to better reflect (ahem) the local culture.  It's a satire of the infamous folk standard "M. T. A.", transplanted to the Portland area.  The song, originally written as a campaign tune for a left-wing Boston mayoral candidate, later became a big hit in 1959 for the Kingston Trio.  The band changed the name of the candidate in their version to avoid the appearance of endorsing a socialist politician, a big deal in the Red Scare area (even for a folk act).  Nowadays, the fare card used by the MBTA (as Boston's transit agency is now known) is called "CharlieCard" in honor of the tune.

The Portland version takes a bit of artistic license:  MAX uses of proof-of-payment rather than fare gates, and a zone system rather than any sort of exit fare collection.  And I doubt that bojack will be running for mayor, though the fireworks in City Hall were that to occur would be spectacular.  [Image courtesy of the Kinsgton Trio].

But anyhoo, here goes:

Let me tell you the story of a man named Charlie
And how he slipped through the city's cracks
He put two thirty in his pocket, kissed his live-in-lover
Went to ride on the Tri-Met MAX
Charlie bought himself a ticket at the Gateway Transit Center
And he changed at Pioneer Square
When he got there the inspector told him "one more nickel"
Charlie could not pay that fare!
And did he ever return, no he never returned
And his fate is still unlearned
He's doomed to ride forever on the rails of Portland
He's the man who never returned
Now all night long Charlie rides through the station
Thinking "What will become of me?"
"How can I afford to see my dealer in Gresham?
Or my bookie in Milwaukie?"
Charlie's girl goes down to the Rose Quarter station
Every day at quarter past two
And through the open window, she hands him a latte
As the train comes a-crawlin' through
Now commuters of Portland, isn't a scandal,
That the people have to pay the tax?
Fight the fare increase, vote for Jack Bogdanski
Help get Charlie off the Tri-Met MAX!
Or else he'll never return, no he'll never return
And his fate will be unlearned
He's doomed to ride forever on the rails of Portland
He's the man who never returned!

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Keep it clean, please