Hey, what about Green Tortoise? I went to a march on Washington when I was in college and the sad thing is that I can't remember what we were protesting--U.S. out of Nicaragua? Keep Abortion Legal? But I can remember the bus ride. I remember meeting at 10 at night down at the parking lot and receiving my bus assignment. My friend and I walked past bus after great, gleaming bus parked like a row of two-story houses until we got to the corner of the parking lot where we came upon two circa-1956 buses. They were as rounded as an airstream trailer and long since shiny. When we got on board, we were welcomed aboard the Green Tortoise Line, which has ferried hippies up and down the West Coast since the '70s and told that this was a big deal for the Line and its buses--it was their first time on the East Coast, and oh, by the way, top speed is 50 miles an hour! My friend and I groaned that we were in hippie heaven and thought about seeing if we could change our bus assignment. But just then, they started changing the seats into bunks and we soon realized that we would be able to sleep the 10 hours to Washington and wake up refreshed for a day of marching and yelling. I felt like the kids in a book I remember from childhood where they get their bunk assignments at camp and they get the leaky, broken down looking one, but when they get inside, there are pinball machines, a trampoline and piles of candy! And it was very comfortable.

The only other thing that I remember from that trip was that we arrived in Washington at 6 am and the bus let us off by the back of a circus and I saw elephants walking around.

I took Green Tortoise again about 4 or 5 years ago from San Francisco to Seattle. Another very comfortable experience in their sleeping bunks. We also stopped at the Green Tortoise Farm in Oregon for a vegan pancake breakfast and a swim in the river. I have no complaints except that me and my luggage reeked of patchouli when I got to Seattle.

I have another bus story, but I'm not sure it will sound without it being told in a bad Finnish accent. This one also involves a circa-1956 bus and takes place on Halloween in a tiny Slovenian mountain town where Bobby Conn and I were playing a show. A Finnish hard-core band was there to open for us--and too bad I have forgotten their name, because I'm sure it was as funny as some of their song titles, like "Scarf-Headed Punishment Expedition." Every song required 2 or 3 minute spoken introduction, and the one for that one was something like, "there is this certain imperialist power that went and bombed this country because they wanted the oil and maybe you will remember. . ." Well, you have to imagine a tall, overbearing guy with an extremely loud voice and a Finnish accent saying it, with a drummer, a dreadlocked girl and another guy with a saxophone fixed with duct tape and rubber bands--well, not really fixed because it's so badly out-of-tune--behind him. Anyway, about their bus--it was a '50s city bus that had to be pushed to start and once started, couldn't drive more than 60 km/hour, which is like 40 miles/hour. In order to get to all their shows, they had to drive constantly. Or, in the words of the lead singer: "We have three drivers. One to drive, one to sleep, and one to drink." To operate the windshield wipers, they had to have two guys lean out the window and the door and pull a string back and forth between them. They were pulled over in Austria and banned from the Autobahn for being unsafe and had to sneak through Austria on back roads. We didn't get to hang out with them much because they had to get back on their bus immediately after they played and drive to their next show.

Well, I don't know why I just spent an hour writing all that.

- Brock Brokowitz