Stranger On A BUS

Busking Tour Fall 2001

Ole Double-dy Clutch
The Fine Art of Ridin'
Le Chien Grise

In which we learn the finer points of logging thousands of miles upon the DAWG!

Stranger on a Bus

indent spacerOK,'ve just gotten on the DAWG out there in Montana. There's one seat left, next to a wizened old gentleman, who's asleep against the window. You put your guitar up in the rack, and sit your weary self down. Just then, the fellow sleeping wakes up and turns toward you. You can smell the last cigar on his breath..."dead ringer" for George Burns in his nineties! He opens his mouth and begins to softly croon this song, after he says, "I was looking at myself in the mirror one morning, and I thought I saw the Beast...Then I got the idea for this song and sang it to myself...couldn't help but smile, then. It's not too heavy, simply a wrinkle in rhythmn and rhyme. Hope you like it, John..." (and you don't even look the slightest bit like John Denver...) See if you can guess which verse is the hardest to sing without laughing. No kidding. Really!

indent spacerThis page is named in honor of Mister Doubledyclutch hisself, Neal Cassidy. Jack Keroac wrote of their adventures together in On the ROAD...He drove the Furthur Bus for the Merry Pranksters. If Paul Bunyan was a fabled legend of the 19th century, Cassidy apotheosed into a living legend of the 20th.

indent spacerToday, November 10, 2001, after coming in from picking apples for drying and sauce making, where I'm house guest in the fir forests of Oregon, I got the news on-line that Ken Kesey, author of "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" and "Sometimes a Great Notion" has died after an operation to treat his liver cancer...I will post the obit shortly on my obit page.

Prank-STIR bus FURTHUR before the paint 
Click Furthur

Furthur is where Kesey is now
tripping the Light FANTASTIKALLY!

So, Ken has joined Cassidy in the "Great Wide OPEN..."

indent spacerYet, for folks of my generation, it wasn't just the Merry Pranks of Ken's Krazee Krewe, that captured imaginations in the fifties and early sixties - there were all those Bob Hope, Bing Crosby Road to... movies (as stereotypical of people in Zanzibar and Rio as they have proven to be...), Marilyn Monroe in "The Wayward Bus," and countless "Gun That Won the West" Pastoral Pony Parades...we wouldn't find out the difference between romantic novels, movies, and songs until we found ourselves in the saddle of a horse that wouldn't move, at the wheel of a forty year old "jalopy" when it "coughed", or hitch-hiking in blizzards in Utah ourselves...

indent spacerIt's been 34 years since I first hit the road, like Tom Joad (The character in Steinbeck's Grapes of Wrath - still worth reading, then seeing in the movie form). Hitch-hiking was my main mode of movement back then, and continued to be up through the end of the seventies. I've had a few plane trips purchased for me by people who wanted to see me get where they knew I really needed to be...Thanks Ken! Then I discovered the advance fare deals with Greyhound and Trailways (before it ceased to exist as a truly transcontinental carrier in competion with the Dawg). An uncounted number of Microbus adventures...even spent 2 weeks on the Steven Gaskins caravan when it toured the country in 1971, when Steven holding the "floatable/portable" version of his Monday Night Class, transcriptions of which in book form became hugely popular on college campuses by 1970 when the caravan actually commenced from Land's End facing the Pacific in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park. It ended up there too. I know, I was there for the finish of it!

indent spacerSomething Steven said one night on the tour has remained with me over these decades. He said, "There's hardly a limit to the heavy magic one can effect by assuming the other person's good will." Note that he gives himself and others "wiggle room" - the necessary qualifier...I've found the essence of his advice to be a lifesaver many times...Each time such an assumption proved to be worth the attention it takes to effect, one gets sharper at knowing what the limits are - as in "no quarter" situations. Of course when "given no quarter" it takes a Zen master to walk away unharmed, with no harm done to any other, doesn't it?

More soon
The remainder of the page
will offer some suggestions
for optimizing one's long haul
bus experience - if I can help
one person have a better time on the bus
it's worth the effort and time it's taking
to write this!

indent spacerI began travelling longer distances by bus in the late 1970s, after having enough harrowing experiences hitch-hiking by myself. Back then Trailways was a second run competitor of Greyhound. I used them both to get back and forth from Indiana to the West Coast, primarily the San Francisco Bay area. I soon discovered the slack in their pricing system, and bought tickets in advance to get a discount. Also, transfer points from one schedule to another didn't require I board the next bus out toward my destination. This was in the days of the paper, multi-sheet carbon copy coupons, where each new driver would either tear a sheet off, or punch the sheet instead. So, I would look for a departure from Salt Lake City that would leave after 6pm and arrive in Oakland, California by 6-9am, thus getting a "deluxe" sleeping accomodation out of the evening's haul. (Deluxe" is written/spoken tongue-planted-firmly-in-cheek, of course...LOL!!!)

indent spacerSome people simply can't manage to get any sleep in even a reclining position from a bus seat...I learned early on to take along a small pillow stashed in a carry-on ruck-sack, or even the rainbow-colored woven scarf I'm wearing as I met my "brother-in-film" from the Woodstock Festival Movie back in 2000. I've had that scarf for nearly 10 years and it doubles greatly as a pillow against a bus window. People will often complain to me about this lack of comfort on long bus trips, yet don't care to make the effort that goes into a tad bit of planning...for me those cheap advance fares have made a lot of travel possible, and as a busking guitarist who makes an art form of bricolage, I've had the FREEDOM to move with little gelt in my pockets by using this pays yer money, and you takes yer pick (...and yer harmonica holder, harmonica, kazoo, and shoulder strap, TOO!)

indent spacerI've been able to take time off the road in getting to Oakland in three cities! First, in Indianapolis, north of Bloomington, my starting point in Indiana. Then a schedule out of "Indy" that puts me in Denver/Boulder for a bit of a saunter around those places, back to the depot in time for an overnight up through Bertholdt Pass, 11,300 feet in the Rockies, and down to Salt Lake by eight am...same thing there, and on through Reno at night to Oakland...I've done it when it only cost $59 for all that distance...14 days in advance.

indent spacerPerhaps the best time I had with such a Busker for FREEDOM bus tour was in September, October, November 1992...overnight from Bloomington, IN, to Columbus, OH. I found the High Street strip along the Ohio State University campus. Found some coffee houses, and few places to sit on a bench and play. When I chose one over the other, I was very amused to sight a dime lying on the pavement where I placed my boot as I moved to set my guitar case down. Such serendipity brought and audible chirping laugh from my mouth...I would find 52 dimes during my BUSking tour...then, overnight on the bus to Syracuse...where I found the Syracuse U campus...about five that afternoon, I found a raskeller tavern of the sort frequently seen in college towns. About the time I was choosing to leave for the bus depot, a fellow came up the stairs with a guitar in one hand. He asked me if I was new in town and identified himself as my local "bread-and-butter" equivalent around Syracuse! Would I want to spend the night and the day in town? Did I have two elbows I'd let him twist? LOL!

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