Thursday, June 26, 2008

Chinatown Bus Live Blogging

I've already decided that my memoir will have a chapter called The Blond Years: 2005-2007. It will cover that fruitful, exciting stretch of work from columbinus to Passion Play and back to columbinus (there was a brunette Hamlet with red highlights in the middle there, but ... more on him later). Three productions in four theatres across the country in which I was contractually obligated to be blond -- my boring Aryan name now had a flashy phenotype to match. And I had a 600% increase in romantic advances from both sexes.

If I had to write a broader section heading for this memoir, it would be The Chinatown Bus Years. Anyone in my income bracket who has to skirt between DC and NYC several times a year has heard of the Chinatown Bus. It's this delightfully skeezy cartel of second-hand charter buses that run every hour down the BosWash corridor. $35 won't even fill your car's gas tank, but it will get you round-trip service from New York City to Washington, DC any day, any time. Which begs the question: what the hell does the Chinatown Bus combustion engine run on anyway? Attitude? Inertia? Compacted body odor?

The bus I'm riding RIGHT NOW doesn't have a toilet seat -- any frequent Chinatown-er knows it's better to bring your own. But this same bus happens to have a Wi-Fi connection for my laptop, which makes it two steps better than Amtrak. Sure, we were supposed to leave a half-hour ago, and there's always the outside chance this bus will be the one-in-twelve that explodes en route, but damn. If you added a rest-stop break and sold cheap wine on board, there would be no reason left to take our beloved nationalized train service. The cheapest Amtrak ticket costs five times as much and only shaves an hour off your travel time each way. Plus (and I don't have the patience to research this) I'd be willing to bet the Chinatown bus has a better safety record than Amtrak, too.

A couple years ago, I was sitting at home when a friend called to tell me that I was on the news. Apparently, some local channel was doing an expose on the perils of the Chinatown Bus and I was standing in the background of some b-roll. "Don't make the mistake these dumb-asses did! The Chinatown Bus could kill you!" I'd like to think this memoir chapter won't end with fame and fortune. If I ever strike it big, I'll happily grant my first endorsement to the Chinatown Bus. I can safely say I wouldn't be here without them.


whizzz said...

Saw the performance yesterday evening. Kudos to you for grappling with such a multi-dimensional role and challenging script. Would prefer to trade emails to talk about this, rather than use the blog comment area. If you're inclined. Thanks.

Karl Miller said...

Sure thing ...

... thanks for coming out to G'town!

the artist formerly known as jess. said...

Wait, wasn't there something on the news recently concerning a certain Chinatown Bus-like bus (try saying that five times fast)crashing into oblivion on some highway??

Well, even if it was just my imagination, stay safe...those Fung Wah buses look slightly shady.

al-urdun said...

The west coast could use some Chinatown bus action. But then who would want to ride Fung Wah from Portland to San Francisco?