Aiark Ross performs at the NationalrnHobo Association Rendezvous 2000.rnits legal-affairs department, listed as “NornBail” John. Potter’s personal resumernreads like a great American novel. Hernfirst reached for the grab irons of a freightrncar at the tender age of 15. With his fascinationrnand curiosity aroused by thernview of a Utah canyon from a boxcar, hernwent on to study geology and mineralogyrnat universities in Minnesota, New Mexico,rnand Wisconsin. He panned for goldrnin the Western states and explored forrnminerals from Alaska to South America.rnEventually, he founded a successful mineral-rnexcavation business, Bluevvater Mining,rnfrom which he retired in 1995. Now,rnhe writes poetry and produces films andrnCDs about hobo lore and history.rnRendezvous 2000 was more than justrnan opportunity for railroad buffs, hoboes,rnformer hoboes, and hoboes-at-heart tornshare experiences and reminiscences. Itrnwas also a music and poetry festival. Minnesota’srnPop Wagner was the festival’srnartistic director as well as a performer.rnWidely recognized as one of America’srnpremier folk artists, Wagner has performedrnsimilar duties for Elko’s morernfamous Cowboy Foeiry Gathering. Withrnhis thick mustache, he embodies thernspirit of two of America’s most cherishedrnicons, the hobo andrnthe cowboy.rnWhile much of tlierncredit for the stellarrnjob of staging thisrnevent belongs to Wagner,rnthe quality andrnquantit}’ of talent onrnBruce “Utah”rnPhillips demonstratesrnhow thernresourceful hobornopens a winernbottle sansrncorkscrew.rnhand made the job easier. Featured performersrnincluded Utah Phillips, RosaliernSorrels, Spider John Koerner, and Larr^-rnPenn.rnSometimes, and in some places, thernwizardry that these veterans can conjurernrubs off onto everyone else on the bill.rnThat happened at Elko.rnMarisa Anderson’s red-hot guitar pickingrnlit the fuse of an incendiary act calledrn”dolly ranchers” (no caps, and they don’trnsay why), four musicians from New Mexicornwhose music is as wild and free as thernthe hobo life.rnMark Ross is a 51-year-old kid fromrnButte, Montana, \’ith slightly grayingrnhair. If you scratch beneath the road dustrnon this guy, you can plainly see the vestigesrnof a ten-year-old, frecklefaced redheadrnwith a cowlick who might easilyrnhave modeled for a Norman Rockwellrnpainting. From beneath the sweatstainedrnbrim of his ranger hat to his wellworn,rnshin-high, leather lace-up boots,rnRoss exudes an ingratiating, boyishrncharm in spite of the Camel Straightrndangling from his lips.rnRoss is committed to the persona hernhas created for himself The rose tattoornon his arm bears the Latin inscriptionrn”Mors ante servitium.” Its English translation:rnDeath before work. He boasts of hittingrnthe road at the tender age of 17. Hernwas forced, he says, to leave his belovedrncabin in the hills of New York City to lookrnfor work because of an illness in the family:rn”My parents were sick of me.”rnRoss plays no fewer than a dozen folkrninstruments proficiendy and has a vastrnrepertoire of songs and stories. Hosting arnworkshop dedicated to the songs ofrnWoody Guthrie, he dazzled listenersrnwith a jazzy rendition of the crowd-pleasingrn”Do Re Me.” Before anyone had fullyrncaught his breath, he launched into arnmoving rendition of “The Ballad of TomrnJoad,” complete with an historical accountrnof how Guthrie came to turn arnSteinbeck novel into a song. At one timernor another, Ross was called upon to accompanyrnnearly everyone on the bill. Inrneach case, he performed flawlessly.rnThe surprising cast of characters at thisrngathering of hoboes included social activists,rnmusicians, poets, Ph.D.’s, geologists,rnfolklorists, anthropologists, andrneven a professor of economics. Eachrnplayed an integral part in getting the rabbitrninto the hat for the magic that wouldrnmake this festival more than worthy ofrnthe 32-hour drive. When I close my eyes,rnI still see that freight train. And I see it inrna whole new light.rnEddie Allen writes from Trempealeau,rnWiaconsin, where he is known as thern”Singer of the River.”rnLetter From Palermornby Andrei ISavrozovrnIn the MafiarnA friend of mine just got arrested for armsrndealing. From whom he was buying thernarms, to whom he was selling them, or,rnindeed, whether he ever bought or soldrnany, I haven’t the slightest idea. But thernraid, by the Italian police and intelligence,rnon Sasha Zhukov’s five-milliondollarrnvilla in Piccolo Romazzino, onrnSardinia’s Costa Smeralda, made frontpagernnews in London and in the Italianrnpapers. It was in London, in fact, tiiat wernhad first met, and a year later, Sasharncame out to a dinner part)’ in Venice inrnthe companv of his fiancee, a ratherrnglamorous Miss Greece. (Too thin forrnmy taste, mind vou, but then again, withrnthe Greeks, time is on your side.)rnWe were introduced by Galya Berczovskaya,rnwhose ex, the Russian entrepreneurrnBoris Berezosky, keeps an apartmentrnin the same fortified enclave onrnLondon’s embass’ row where Sasha hasrna penthouse overlooking KensingtonrnPalace. Bv wav of a brief digression, thernreader ma’ as well hear what the vituperativernDoubting Thomas and bilious helpmaternof White Counterrevolution, thernso-called writer and self-st)’led nonconformistrnNavrozov, is doing running aroundrnwith people of that peculiar stripe.rnWould Louis Farrakhan choose to dinernwith his natural enemies? Would NormanrnPodhoretz pay for dinner? Is therernno such thing as principle?rnThe answer is that, in the cady 1980’s,rnwhen Andropov’s secret-police apparatusrnrelaunched Beria’s old plan for the restructuringrnof Soviet totalitarianism—tornbe marketed at home and abroad as thern”fall of communism” —Russia’s rulingrnjunta needed a human face for theirrnemerging system. Like an Identikit portrait,rnthis was to be made up of a few predictablernelements, including free electionsrnto a legislati’e body (without anyrn32/CHRONICLESrnrnrn