On the Coachella Express, there are a few distinct types of people: the media, which was invited to document the maiden voyage of the Amtrak line that departed LA's Union Station Thursday afternoon, and who wouldn't leave the kids alone. Local LA news crews were doing their two-minute Coachella stories for the ten o'clock news. A TV cameraman shot a group of hipsters while a square news reporter poked a mike in their faces and asked silly questions like, “Why are you going to Coachella? What are you hoping to find?” Answer, from an obviously disinterested dude: “Uh, music?” She was looking for something profound, but the dude wasn't budging. He was looking forward to Justice, as was everyone on board. They can't stop talking about Justice.

The media search for the meaning of Coachella on the train.

The Amtrak managers view this little adventure in free “eco-friendly” rail service as an experiment, and are on here in full effect interacting with kids “in order to learn what works and what doesn't,” one such manager told me. The kids just wish they'd leave them the hell alone.

Rosanna Arquette, who I'm pretty sure I had a true-to-life moment with, pictured above. It was a moment, wasn't it, Rosanna? I think you agree it was a (brief, unspoken) moment.

Arquette was being trailed by a camera crew, all hired by Coachella promoter Goldenvoice to document the festival. She's the host.

Junkie XL spun his deep, textured breakbeat to a crowded car.

Nasir and Jeremy, looking forward to Justice, and riding the VIP.

The fans, the diehards, the campers of Coachella, aka the kids, took advantage of the free ride offered to those who bought three-day coachella passes. In exchange, and in a super cool gesture, Goldenvoice gave everyone VIP passes for all three days. Not only that, they gave everyone extra passes to give to friends.

The engine pulled seven cars: the VIP car was at the front of the train, in business class, and a little subdued. Then, gradually and one-by-one, the cars got louder and more frantic. Surprisingly, the quiet cars were the most crowded, occupied by people who seemed to be pacing themselves. They read (On the Road, Fortress of Solitude, People magazine), listened to their iPods and talked in small groups. It was like we were going to summer camp. The DJs were in the back few cars, which was where the action is. Armed with laptops, they set up on stainless steel train counters and played to the cars. Very cool.

As we roared through the Inland Empire toward Indio, someone up in a seat up front said to his companion, “In 2012, this is where the race riots are going to be. I used to live around here. There's the slaughterhouse right there.” The graffiti's brilliant, the drinks flowed, the Amtrak managers and marched up and down the aisles, inspecting, thinking, taking note.

“Everybody's happy,” said one such dad-like manager, “the happy juice is flowing.”

The three hours flew by, and though whether we actually helped the environment or not, it was an easy cruise.

LA Weekly