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Time magazine article

Discussion in 'Metal Heads' started by Good Morning Captain, May 20, 2004.

  1. I never come in this part of the board much anymore so if someone alread mentioned this go ahead and delete it.

    Theres a short article entitled "Hobbyist of Terrorist?" in the newest issue of Time. The article talks about the problem with rail fans and beefed up security at train yards. The story focuses on Philadelphia. Worth checking out if this sort of issue interests you.
    Theres some interesting quotes from Septa and UP spokespeople.
  2. http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/...-638410,00.html

    Hobbyist or Terrorist?
    Admiring trains has been a refuge for generations of men. Now it can get you a visit from the police

    Monday, May. 24, 2004
    Every lunch hour, computer programmer John Almeida leaves his cubicle at an insurance company outside Philadelphia and chases trains. He sets up four video cameras on tripods beside the tracks and waits, listening to his scanner. "I come out every day because history happens every day," he says. Almeida, a father of three, is a railfan — a hobbyist who watches trains with the fastidiousness of a lab researcher. Over the past 15 years, he has shot hundreds of hours of video and tens of thousands of pictures. Call it what you will, it is hard to think of a more benign hobby.

    So it is all the more jarring when Almeida gets mistaken for a terrorist — which happens about once a month, sometimes more. Since 9/11, he says, he has been followed by an Amtrak helicopter, questioned by police and rail workers and described to 911 dispatch as a "suspicious Middle Eastern male." Almeida is of Irish Catholic descent.

    Many hobbies, when considered closely, make no sense (spoon collecting, anyone?). But then there is railfanning, which even its disciples are hard put to explain. There are about 175,000 U.S. railfans, almost all men, estimates Kevin Keefe of Trains magazine. They have clubs, websites and vacation excursions. They are, like all hobbyists, consumed by the cataloging of minutiae. "They're just attracted to trains," says John Bromley, spokesman for Union Pacific Railroad, who admits halfway through our conversation that he too is a railfan.

    But the postindustrial age has been tough on railfans. First the majestic steam locomotives disappeared. Then juries started giving huge awards to people hurt on the tracks, and railroads grew hostile toward trespassers. Now comes terrorism. Railroads upped security after 9/11, but since the March bombing of four trains in Madrid, commuters have been more worried. "Anyone seen taking photographs is going to be questioned," laments Richard Maloney, spokesman for SEPTA, Philadelphia's public-transit authority. "The wide-open spaces and the freedom we have enjoyed to meander almost anywhere is gone." Urban train buffs report being surrounded by police cars and customs agents. A Haverford College student of South Asian descent was detained last year by SEPTA police after he photographed a station — homework for an urban-history class, as it turned out.

    Most railfans find ways to adapt. Some substitute business-casual attire for the usual Slayer T shirt to appear less threatening. Others carry the Diesel Spotters Guide — or their kids — to establish their innocence. As for Almeida, "I make a lot more eye contact," he says. Then he offers his card, which lists his railfan-club affiliations. He estimates that he has given out 500 cards since 9/11. Usually, the matter is quickly resolved. "I have a little A.C.L.U. in me," he admits. "So I say, 'Why can't I stay?' But the cop is the one with the gun."

    Railfans have never been well understood. Rail employees call them trolley jollies, or foamers — for those who foam at the mouth at the sight of trains. Worst of all are FLMs: fans living with mothers. Almeida is aware of the snickering. But the history of the trains — not to mention the sheer thrill of a massive contraption hurtling down the tracks — is stronger than peer pressure. Earlier this spring, Almeida, 42, spent five hours in the cold, hoping to videotape the Ringling Bros. circus train, which never came. While waiting, he lovingly pointed out the faded markings of long-defunct railroads on passing trains. "Railroads built this country, and people seem to forget that," he said, raindrops coating his oversize glasses. Almeida tries to find humor in the new age of scrutiny. Says Bob Weiler, a fellow railfan: "John's got four cameras. No terrorist would do that." "Unless," says Almeida, "I was brilliant."

    Hearing a horn in the distance, the men abandon their graham-cracker snacks and scurry off to man the cameras. A hush falls over the fans as a trash train, hauling a wall of Dumpsters to New York City, rumbles by. Almeida smiles and afterward offers his best defense yet: "I could find better things to do. It's just that, uh, I'm doing this."

    From the May. 24, 2004 issue of TIME magazine
  3. Vanity

    Vanity Veteran Member

    Joined: Apr 11, 2000 Messages: 7,673 Likes Received: 6
    such is life
  4. porque

    porque Senior Member

    Joined: May 5, 2002 Messages: 1,844 Likes Received: 0
  5. adderall

    adderall Elite Member

    Joined: Jun 10, 2003 Messages: 2,921 Likes Received: 1
    foamers is my new favorite adjective
  6. 2ten

    2ten Member

    Joined: Apr 9, 2003 Messages: 385 Likes Received: 0
    my homie writes foamer for that exact reason....
  7. crave

    crave Veteran Member

    Joined: Jan 20, 2002 Messages: 6,728 Likes Received: 10
    ...in light of 9/11. . .
  8. angry orphan

    angry orphan Senior Member

    Joined: Feb 3, 2004 Messages: 2,017 Likes Received: 2
    hahahah fuckin foamers...:lol:
  9. krowteN

    krowteN Member

    Joined: Jan 26, 2002 Messages: 480 Likes Received: 0
    that was pretty good.
    i never thought id see the day where benching would be more dangerous than painting.
    a few months after 9/11 we got questioned by a rr cop who after a lengthy coonvo was pretty cool about it. after all we used to bench in the middle of a 6 main line bottleneck. the first cop told us we could stay but we couldnt go on the tracks. understood, since i was never really fond of the idea anyway (i was a victim of peer pressure). he even gave us his card and told us to contact him immediately if you see anything suspicious.
    a few weeks later we met his supervisor who was not as forgiving. we told him about the first cop said it was cool to which his response was "he will be repremanded for that"
    we got tresspassign tickets. the bull acused us of "recording railroad schedules", and said "how do i know some terrorist didnt give you $10,000 to watch the trains and record the activity" (one of these lines is also used by amtrack). during our coinversation, we tried to make the cop understand that it is really to their benefit to have us out here keeping an eye on things. needless to say he didnt buy it, and so we were ejected from a spot that we had benched at for almost 10 years.
    i havent been back since ;)
  10. timemachine

    timemachine Banned

    Joined: Mar 21, 2004 Messages: 773 Likes Received: 0
  11. CrazyLazy

    CrazyLazy Senior Member

    Joined: Jul 17, 2003 Messages: 1,681 Likes Received: 0
  12. gang_starr

    gang_starr Junior Member

    Joined: Jan 23, 2004 Messages: 153 Likes Received: 0
    do you think that was just fear or racism that spurred someone to say that?

    seems like both.......