Friday, May 20, 2005

Bus-World, two years of my life

To paraphrase Bruce Springsteen, "I don't wanna ride in no city bus again."
All his songs are about cars. Buses are the car's fat sister.

Crossing this town in a MUNI bus is like trekking across a wasteland on the back of a wounded animal. Not just wounded, but vitally wounded, and stubborn and tempermental even when in the pink of health; the thing pauses and heaves every few steps, shambles, drops to its knees, foams and pants, trailing blood and wheezing, and you're never quite sure when--or if--the damned thing will Get Up and Carry On.

My last two years have been lived on buses. My memory of Frisco will be a memory of buses. The door hiss and the scree of brakes, the perfumes, varying by neighborhood, bad cologne, hair treatment, fish and mothballs, feet, dried shit, booze, the blood-tang of insane furies, aluminum-bitter sadness and general filth--the greasy poles, the plastic seats with various unnameable substances dried onto them, the tiny windows that let in rain but not air, the tinny songs from ipods, the bad dreams, the dts, the glazed looks, the looks that will not back down, the children with their metal teeth, the coiffed hair, the hair jumping with lice, the ponytails, the women in scrubs, the garbage bags, the cripples, the teenagers eating fries and spitting into condoms (a version of water balloons?) the rants, the fights, the horror...the horror... It's a moving Grand Guignol for those who have the stomach for it. But Over and Over and OVer... the new Ship of Fools, moving like a planet on a track, Over and Over and Over...

I will not miss my bus-body, dumpy and resigned, spine sunk in on itself, spreading thighs, flattened ass. The bus has shaped my body into its image.

To cross the city in a bus, an hour or more each way, morning and evening, day by day, back and forth, is slow torture. You never sense any progress. It's all arrested motion and bursting, or brown and settled, impatience. The bus is one of the city's symptoms, loaded with the working poor, the out-of-work poor, the just plain poor, the mad, the sad, those pressed by necessity, all sufferers. Except the tourists. They're like indifferent angels gazing down on hell... On the bus it becomes obvious that the poor are being robbed, outright robbed of time. The bus spends time like water, wastes it, dissipates it, eats it and shits it out and there's nothing you can do but try to make the best of it, reading, or dreaming, or writing, or fighting with your cracked out spouse, or taking the varnish off your nails, or talking to your imaginary tormentors, or calling your buddies on a cell, or exposing your genitals, or praying for death. Time, time, the buses are thieves of time, fat intenstines on wheels that belch out people and eat their time.

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