Our Man About Town and critic extraordinaire Dan takes us all on a sensory journey of discovery and delight this week as he reviews his bus trip to the movies.


by Dan
Our Man's Bus

"Culture is not only in museums; it's also something they take out of your throat" --Garrett Kondo

Of course Velasquez's Little Museum was playing in only one theatre in town, The Casting Couch, located in the ritzy quarter of downtown, far from my local theatres with their punk revivals and cult flicks ad pukum (a coined Latin phrase whose meaning you can guess).

Needless to say, I would not be arriving in any kind of style
seeing how my own car has been dead for several years, and, so far, my employers and the purchasers of my linguistic creativity have not seen fit to provide me with the means to afford the limo (which my heart is still set on).

And not even a company car. Hence, genius rides the bus.

Amazing how one receives more cultural data from a bus ride than from an underexposed dance film loosely based on the paintings of a dead master. This bus ride, the quizzical 6 Parnassus was no exception. Hosted by the City Municipal Transit System, the 6 Parnassus begins in medias res (a real Latin term whose meaning you would know if our school systems didn't reek of indifference) at the corner of Haight and Masonic.

The corner is done in the plastic style of neophyte fadism: the stucco
scarcely dry on the sixth community head-shop, and clashing ridiculously with the old-style victorians housing the typically blah Gap Store catty-corner from several homeless once-Deadheads. In any other city, this would be unpardonable: here it is a tourist's liquid rush. As cultural comment, it says "huh?"

But then the 6 Parnasus arrives. As if from nowhere a savior from the madding pastiche wheels around the corner at Waller and Masonic. The 6, with its predetermined direction! Late or early, crowded or empty, this van with a plan will surely see us out of this wonderland of dead fashion.

Sure enough: it's late, and crowded, but the busdriver, with a smile as mild as an elderly Billy Dee Williams, or rather, an elderly Lando Calrissian reminiscining on the rebel victory "a long time" after the fact, accepts our fare. I board with a woman whose hair is eight distinct colors and whose lips are shot through with metals too various to describe. There are a few other, too non-descript in comparison to mention. In fact, the bus is filled with normal faces.

The 6 Parnassus transports the viewer from the bizarre world of popular city to the drab reality of commuterism, just as it carries people from as far away as Quintara in the humdrum blocks of the suburban sunset to the daunting coolness of downtown. It's all about transport, and in its way is sublime. The pattern of the bus is not disturbed by anything. It moves forward, with a grin as unfaltering as Jim the bus-driver's, past urban insanity in all of its incarnations. Its normalcy is juggernaut.

At last we've all boarded and the ship of fools lurches up Haight, taking a conspicuously "straight" route for ten or more blocks amid one of this town's meccas of off-kilterism. At Market street, it takes a leftward veer, as if it were a moderate affected after great contemplation by the surrounding diversity of belief. But we soon learn that the leftward turn is not ideological. We are, after all, on Market street, and the city's concrete center of finance dominates us
like Sunkist over Orchard Hills Organic Commune. 6 Parnassus begins to lurch.

The smooth ride is clearly over by now. The crowd is thick and heavy, betraying the dark side of commuter life: the cattle-call, "the rush and crash of hellacious party in the street" as Michelle T. Clinton says. Now, when the multi-colored hair-lady disembarks, it is not with the carefree booty-swing of the happy-go-lucky haightnik, but the measured stalk of one with anerrand.

We are packed in, standing room only. We are nearing the climax of this journey and we know it. The Ferry Building sits unbudgingly at the end of our ride and we know that we will reach it. We know how we will reach it. What we don't know is how long it's going to take in all this confounded traffic. Several people bail out at Montgomery, and the viewer feels a pang, desiring either that they would stay to face this journey with "us on the bus" or that you would go too, since walking will be faster at this point.

Now, the destination is moot. Still, 6 is steadfast, lets neither the
sentiment fade nor the action drop away. We reach Embarcadero. 6 Parnassus is pulling around for another go. But I disembark and catch the downtown loop, a 44 or 42. My notes are illegible here, but after 6, this second ride, plain and brief, is like the sentimental epilogue that embarrasses. Needless to say, the film has already begun.

Tickets are also quite a bit more than at an ordinary theatre, this being one of the new breed of "micro-treatres" that are at least partially intended to keep out those of us without limos. I walk on the pier. I'm ready to go home. But do I have strength to match 6 Parnassus?

Our Man About Town says the 6 Parnassus is a MUST RIDE.

Our Man's Bus

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