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Ben Olson: Fall, rock and roll, and lobsters

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By BEN OLSON/for The Herald  —  This column, much like my movement for the last 3 and a half weeks, will be all over the map. Today my son and I dined on Maine lobster only a few miles from the coast. We will get easter before we go souther- a trip up U.S. Highway 1 to Quoddy Head, the easternmost point in the country.

Many years ago, my good friend Tuck Pence and I showed up at the Amstel Brewery in Amsterdam with coffee and doughnuts an hour and a half before the tour of the facility began. This wasn’t the first brewery tour either of us had been on. We knew that when our tour was complete, we would be led into a fancy banquet hall and served all the beer we cared to drink until the last group finished their tour. Then there would be some talking, perhaps a slide show or short promotional movie and a warm “auf wiedersehen”. A great way to start your day in colorful, historic Amsterdam.

Now think Cleveland. My son thought it would be fun to see the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and we had camped about an hour west of the city. Why, it was right on our way. Now I’ll be the first to admit that Halls of Fame make sense at first, but sooner or later, they let their standards drop. My boy consulted the oracle and the game was on. On his phone, he had conjured up the entire list of inductees into the Rock and Roll HOF. Justice Potter Stewart famously said that he could not define pornography, but he “knew it when he saw it”. That’s the way I feel about rock and roll.

First on the list was ABBA. Not rock and roll. AC/DC. That’s rock and roll. And so it went on down the line, me rejecting half of the members for not being sufficiently rock and roll, some not rock and roll at all. Many extremely talented blues, jazz, country and folk artists were members of the hall. They all deserve to be in a hall of fame somewhere, but they’re not rock and roll. 

We arrived at the venue at 10:30 in the morning, looking forward to the spectacle. Tickets were $35 apiece, and I wasn’t going to squawk about the price. However, all the parking within a mile of the place was $50. We managed to arrive on the Thursday that the Browns were hosting their hated archrivals, the Steelers. Oh sure, the kickoff wasn’t for another 10 hours, but, hey, there are only 8 or 9 days of the year when you can extract $50 from the loyal fans to park that close to the stadium for a home game. We headed back to I90 east with little regret about missing the hall.

Since then we have meandered through a slice of Pennsylvania, a lot of New York, the mountains of Vermont and New Hampshire to get to where we are now. There have been some pretty amazing fall colors, although the locals all say that the peak is still somewhere in the future. I don’t know if they’re saying that to make us feel like we’re missing out or maybe that we’ll just stay there another couple of weeks until the leaves are at their maximum brightness. The one thing that we have done on this trip is to make a point of eating our meals where the locals eat and sampling the specialties in each region.

We will be chilling for a few days along the Atlantic Ocean here in Maine before working our way down the coast to one or both of the Carolinas, and then the westward journey will begin. We will, of course, be passing through New Jersey along the way, the only state, besides Oregon, where we must pay for the privilege of having an attendant pump the gasoline into the tank for us.

Ben Olson, musician and Oakridge Resident, with his standup bass Ben Olson photo

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