Friday, September 4
Line 40, Montebello Bus Lines, Westbound into and through East Los Angeles
City buses all have the identical layout,
rows of forward-facing seats, two apiece, vestigial windows that barely open enough to let air in to blow out foul public commuter swarthy odors and let in streams of hot air on steamy days. Uncomfortable hard seats, squashed in barely enough
room for ONE
person but if you get 2 and you’re pushing it. One person invariably wins the battle of the knee and will bully their way into dominating the seat space.
If you sit next to a woman you will win the space war by
she is a dyke and sits like a man to let her imaginary balls air out.
The back of the bus has two bench seats which run parallel to the sides of the bus and if you sit across from someone on the
mirror image bench seat…
psychology dictates that you will find many clever and weasel-ly ways to avert having to
stare at the person in the face
very uncomfortable unless you happen to close your eyes and feign sleep. Or do like I do listen to my Ipod and zone out by staring into the urban distance (which means no distance because this is the goddamned city and the horizon is cut short by ugly buildings and ugly grafitti and some incredibly ugly people wearing shocking clothes.
And here I am unpacking and unravelling the twisted maze of wires that are my
Ipod earphones. I’m on my cellphone in conversation. I talk barely loud enough for for the person on the other end
of the line
to hear me.
I don’t perform on the stage, my phone conversations are not for public consumption.
He sit and TALKS on the back row of seats, a bench, at the very back of the bus that sits right over the hot engine which bakes your ass and back on hot days
he sits there on the back in the right corner. In the middle is a pretty girl with glasses and at the other end of the bench on the left corner is another pretty girl who does that pretty girl thing which means to punch away at a cell phone in order to avoid
committing to an expression of interest
in her environment.
She is doing that pretty absent girl thing. Punching at those keys.
on the cell phone
drowns out my conversation
drowns out my words and thoughts
he’s like amped up static and I’m like a low muted buzz like a television station’s signal
3:15 in the morning just like the old pre-cable days when television went to sleep
with everyone else. That
was my conversation.
A low buzz.
neo-Rush jars my thoughts and words.
I finally hang up and end my cell convo and struggle valiantly to untangle
my Ipod cord
and put his loud voice to sleep.
For once and finally.
He drones and drones
and seems to enjoy performing for the folks the outcasts here on the back of the
A captive audience.
I try to ignore him.
But he sounds
Not just white but country trailer park white. He sounds super White a very odd
thing to hear
on the bus which runs through ELA. Most of the phone conversations on this bus, line 40
are not White-sounding no way Jose, it’s all accented and Spanish pidgin derivations of badly spoken English or failiing that, just Spanish.
That’s all you hear on line 40.
Except this time.
neo-Rush sounding very Wyoming white
and talking way too loud
about faggots and transvestites.
And I fill in the blanks. Middle-aged white guy with a life that is audience free.
So now stuck on the bus with helpless and prone
people he goes on a bender of sound and airs out his grievances, BELLOWS them out so all can hear, and finallly
he has his own talkshow!
Pretty girl married to her cellphone keeps glancing
at neo-Rush. And looking pretty and pretty…amused.
And girl in middle staring straight ahead and acting
And I finally untangle my earphones and slip on the buds and listen to Joy Division.
And put neo-Rush to sleep zipper his little talkshow ass
and he finally floods outta the bus near downtown in his blue pants blue shirt.
Unhappy man, lonely man, needs audience. Bus doors close…you’re it baby! Check it out on the AM dial…