Friday, September 4, 2009

The Bus

I'm reading a bunch of stuff now about New Orleans for this screenplay I've been working on with two friends for longer than any of us can remember. I know Rosey's had two children in the process and Lou Lou adopted Lillian.

Just finished Plenty Enough Suck to Go Around by Cheryl Wagner and moved on to New Orleans, Mon Amour by Andrei Codrescu. First of all, I love Andrei. Second, I love that he writes one and one-half page essays. I mean that's my format. That's my sweet spot only I'm missing some or much of his talent.

Codrescu wrote this essay entitled Two Americas. It's about taking the bus because he doesn't drive. Personally, that is my preference as well. I hate driving especially here in the Northeast where everyone is, pardon my french, un cul. You can figure it out...

The essay begins, "There are two Americas: There is the America that drives, and there is the America that takes the bus. If you watch television, the only America you see is the America that drives. The America that drives lives on the other side of the TV screen from the America that takes the bus."

That's me. That's my life. I'm not taking the bus but I'm here in the only part of Fairfield where buses are a part of life. Fairport we call it. The edge of Fairfield near the city of Bridgeport. Bridgeport is the porta-potty of Fairfield County. There's no other way to put it. There are parts of Bridgeport that are nice. And there are so many other parts that we think, "Wow. I bet that was a lovely home once."

But for the most part, if there's crime in Fairfield County, it's in Bridgeport or was perpetrated by someone in Bridgeport. The thing is here in Fairport, we're just on the edge. Surrounded by really some of the nicest people you could meet, young and old, cool and stodgy, but we are a band of brothers battling petty and not so petty crime.

When you live on the edge, it's sort of a strange place. Like I used to live in Southeast Capitol Hill when DC was the murder capital. I lived in New Orleans when it was the murder capital. Maybe the fact that I'm in town creates a "murder capital" type environment. I don't think I should tell the neighbors.

The first time my Dad visited me in DC, my friend and roommate had just been robbed and beaten. Dad immediately went to the hardware store and installed a new deadbolt, this on top of the metal bars that covered every opening in our apartment. I'm sure he was afraid for me and if I'd had any sense, I would've been too. When you live in the shit, you learn to navigate the shit. When you live on the fringe, it seems okay...until someone gets robbed.

Our neighbors, one my my faves, put up a For Sale sign this week. I think they've had enough between a tacky quasi-commercial property across the street and possibly the news of a stabbing/baseball incident at the Subway about a block from their house.

They moved here from New York with a daughter and a son on the way. No doubt thinking surely Fairfield will be a lovely place to raise a family. Unfortunately, like many of us what they could afford at the time was Fairport. Not quite apple pie, not quite crack den. Somewhere in the middle.

But tonight, I'm looking outside watching typical suburbia. My neighbors are cooking out, spraying the hose and learning to ride a two-wheeler. It doesn't get more apple pie than that. Maybe it's possible here on the fringe to accept the two Americas: the people who drive and the people who take the bus. Or at least learn to live with it.


  1. One way to look at it is that we live on the edge.

    I'm also a fan of Andrei Codrescu. Knew him a bit in Baltimore and now love his books and his essays on NPR. An amazing, and amazingly prolific writer. He's also one of those writers who, once you hear his voice, will always hear it when you read his writing.

  2. "Not quite apple pie, not quite crack den. Somewhere in the middle." Not exactly an I Love New York-type slogan, but it hits the mark.