Three bus rides


leftovers & links
Friday, May 12, 2023

Unless you swim or own a rowboat, there's only one way to get to the island where I work, and that's via the freeway. Know what happens on freeways? Nothing interesting, but traffic gets clogged at rush hour, so the bus is often tootling at 5 mph or simply stopped, as we inch across the lake.

One sunny afternoon, a middle-aged white woman wanted the bus to go faster, and she complained about it all the way. "We're not even in the carpool lane," she said several times, between her other complaints about "so much traffic" at 4:45 on a weekday.

She never shut up, really, but to keep this short I'll focus on the part that's pertinent, her complaints that the bus wasn't in the carpool and transit lane.

After she'd said it twice, I started working on a retort, and when she said it a third time a few minutes later, I said, "Use your noggin, lady. The diamond lane is all the way to the left. Our exit to downtown is all the way to the right. If the driver puts us in the carpool lane, he'd have to fight across four crawling lanes to exit."

"Shut up," she said, "nobody asked you," so I shut up, because nobody'd asked me.

Another afternoon after work, my bus from the island got slowed by freeway traffic again, and I missed my connecting bus home. Since the #99 only runs twice an hour, I took the #H instead — it's a longer ride, and a longer walk at the other end, but it gets me home.

Riding the overcrowded bus, I was standing in the second doorwell, right behind the front sideways seats, where a middle-aged Hispanic dad sat with his pudgy, just barely pre-teen son. They looked like Hank and Bobby Hill-Herrera, and I noticed that the kid had noticed me.

And I knew what he saw — a fat, nearly bald man in shabby clothes, a putz, a living punchline. The kid was sitting straight, but inside he was laughing at me, I knew, because I'm a man I would've laughed at when I was that kid's age, so…

Without any eye contact I made a grouchy face, and saw the kid smirk. I looked out the window and picked my nose, and from the corner of my eye saw that his eyes were rolling. I was becoming a story he'd tell his friends, about the disgusting old fat man picking his nose on the bus. For a better story, I put my picking finger into my mouth.

Feigning fascination with something out the bus's front window, I stared wide-eyed straight ahead, letting my mouth droop open in awe, as if a flying saucer had landed in front of the bus. And yup, the kid turned to see what I was looking at.

That's when I lost it and started laughing, so the ruse was over. Everyone near the front of the bus presumably thought I was crazy, but the kid knew he'd been had.

His father was weirded out by the laughing fat man, and pulled the kid closer to him, like I was a pervert on the prowl. Oh, how I wanted to wriggle my eyebrows sexy at them, but that might've gotten me flattened, so I blankly scratched my beard, and slowly let my fingers wander up my nose again, until the boy's father turned away. But the kid was laughing.

Another afternoon, a homeless black guy got onto the bus that takes me home. He was carrying a stained and ratty blanket, among his other possessions.

Settling into a sideways seat, he wrapped the blanket around himself but also over his face, leaving his shoes uncovered but nothing else. Completely obscured, he napped all the way until I got off the bus, and probably kept sleeping until the end of the line.

That man wanted some privacy, understandably. There's not much privacy, when you have no walls of your own, no door you can close, anywhere. The blanket was his wall, and door. You gotta respect that, or at least I gotta.

News you need,
whether you know it or not

Wendy's turns to AI-powered chatbots for drive-thru orders
They're doing drive-thru first, but does anyone think AI can't flip burgers and make fries, too? Where do teenage and "unskilled" workers fit into this brave new world?

Is there any job AI can't do? There's nothing to prevent AI lawyering and AI doctoring, AI auto-mechanicking and AI-tooth-pulling, and CGI-acted movies written and directed by AI, with popcorn popped by AI, too.

The older I get, the more I'm looking forward to being dead.

Climate change not 'serious risk' to financial stability, Fed's Waller says 

If any young whippersnappers are reading this, please file that quote away for giggles after I'm gone. You're going to need some giggles.

Regulators are rewarding Sinclair broadcasting for lobotomizing local broadcast news 

Google unveils plan to demolish the journalism industry using AI 

Democrat Clyburn worked with Republicans to protect his own district at a cost to Black Democrats 

Public health collective reacts to hospital dropping its masks

New York Times puzzled why neo-Nazi killed people 

Integrating the Negro Leagues with Major League Baseball will take a long time, apparently 

Buddy Holly wins Westminster Dog Show 

Some lawyers vow to not prosecute climate activists 

Disasters, exacerbated by climate change, displaced more people than war in 2022 — the year Russia invaded Ukraine 

Greenpeace sues Eni for aiding and abetting climate change 

Experts urge increased attention to the threat of climate change and pollution on children's health 

Police videos of a 65-year-old man in a walker being forcefully detained are finally disclosed after more than three years of stonewalling 

Sweet plea bargain for cop who did "most of the beating" among several cops beating man who shot back at cops who shot at protesters from an unmarked van 

South Carolina police shooting survivor says deputies opened fire on him and his mother 'immediately' 

"A blunder that is just epic": LAPD reels after release of undercover identities 

Ogden police say they're investigating punches thrown by officers captured in bystander video 

Drunken cop shoots up hotel; gets sentenced to therapy; violates terms of sentence; gets probation 

It's hard to get neo-Nazi cops fired. Too hard. 

Police sergeant pleads guilty to child molestation 

Republican leaders stand behind Santos after his indictment 

Florida teacher's union sues DeSantis over a new law that forces teachers to pay union dues through mail-in checks 

South Carolina Republicans advance new abortion restrictions 

Mystery links
There's no knowing where you're going


My browser history
without the porn

What two massacres in Texas — one with a car, one with a gun — reveal about America's culture of violence 

Rehabilitation: Escaped killer lived a quiet life, raised a family, and died at age 69 

How Oakland poured pollution on black neighborhoods 

♫♬  It don't mean a thing  ♫
if it don't have that swing

Aquarius — Renn Woods 

I Love L.A. — Randy Newman 

Just a Song Before I Go — Crosby Stills & Nash 

Lookin' Out My Back Door — Creedence Clearwater Revival 

Piano Lesson — The Music Man 

Eventually, everyone
leaves the building

Jean Argles 

Heather "Dooce" Armstrong 

Neville Chesters 

Denny Crum 

Billy the Kid Emerson 

Rita Lee 

Brian McKenna 

John Stobart


Cranky Old Fart is annoyed and complains and very occasionally offers a kindness, along with anything off the internet that's made me smile or snarl. All opinions fresh from my ass. Top illustration by Jeff Meyer. Click any image to enlarge. Comments & conversations invited.  

Tip 'o the hat to ye olde AVA, BoingBoing, Breakfast at Ralf's, CaptCreate's Log, Dumnezero, Katameme, Looking for My Perfect Sandwich, One Finger Medical, Two Finger Magical, Miss Miriam's Mirror, Nebulously Burnished, RanPrieur.com, Voenix Rising, and anywhere else I've stolen links, illustrations, or inspiration. 

Special thanks to Linden Arden, Becky Jo, Wynn Bruce, Joey Jo Jo, John the Basket, Dave S, Name Withheld, and always extra special thanks to my lovely late Stephanie, who gave me 21 years and proved that the world isn't always shitty.


  1. Rock music without drums, blues performed by white guys, and the singer plays the harmonica and still manages to get it on. It's gotta be John Mayall and I don't really care whether I commented this a year ago. Mayall turns 90 later this year and is still touring with version 17 or 23 of the BluesBreakers. The laws must change someday. I am waiting for my case to come up, and I am waiting for a rebirth of wonder. . . jtb


    1. Did you comment on this a year ago? I haven't heard any John Mayall and specifically that song in so long I think it was a cassette.

      Classic stuff, off my audio radar for at least 40 years...

      Still touring, eh? That's excellent.

      Was doing without a drummer something Mayall did on purpose for a while? I know enough to know Mick Fleetwood was very briefly on drums.

    2. I had several vinyl copies of Mayall albums in my extended youth, but lost them and my ass in a divorce. Always been a fan, though. Mayall has probably had drummers more often than not, but in a 70-year career there have been, well, multiple band configurations. On a slow night, you should read his Wikipedia article, but on a slightly faster night you might consider the Wikipedia article "List of John Mayall Band Members".

      Sure, Becker and Fagen used hundreds of players too, but they didn't tour all that much. Mayall took something like 100 configurations on the road, and recorded with many of them. He didn't invent blues rock, but he has embodied it since the mid to late '60s.

      With Mayall, just forget about hits and focus on the vibe. He's been a consummate player and bandleader since you were 5 or 6 years old, and he's still heading for another joint. He's a walking World Heritage Site, but you already knew that.


    3. You perhaps overestimate what I know about John Mayall. I know an itsy bitsy bit about the man and his music, but most of what I know I learned in your three paragraphs above.

  2. The American version of Mayall (and the Bluesbreakers) is Canned Heat. Their album Boogie With Canned Heat is on my list of the Ten Best Albums of the Rock Era, but they did so much more, including work with several blues era players including John Lee Hooker and Son House (Alan Wilson actually taught Son House Mr House's old recordings because he'd forgotten them, thus reviving at the end of Mr House's life his former greatness).

    Canned Heat was "the voice of Woodstock" and is still going today after over 50 years in the business. For example, the ashes of Henry "The Sunflower" Vestine wait quietly in their container in Oregon for a ride to the crater on the moon named after The Sunflower's father who was a geophysicist of some note. Canned Heat has an impressive list of alums, living and dead, just like the Bluesbreakers.

    It's a long story.


  3. Well, you're invited to tell it, because I'm probably too lazy to Google it myself and besides, you'd tell it better than Google or Wikipedia.

    I've long liked Canned Heat, and it's no fair, but like Mayall, my impression is that they've been largely forgotten and aren't given their due alongside bands like Creedence and Crosby Stills whatever.

    1. That's because blues rock doesn't sell like pop rock, rarely releases singles like pop rock, rarely has AM "hits" like pop rock, and the people who play it usually don't dress in outfits like pop rockers. To be continued . . . interrupted at midnight.


    2. I look forward to the rest of it.

    3. This isn't the rest of it.

      I think the Canned Heat lineup of Woodstock knew that they weren't going to be stars. They just wanted to jam with serious players like John Lee Hooker. Hooker 'n' Heat is a whole album of Mr Hooker playing with the band. They seriously get it on for those who don't forget to boogie. I can't tell the story: that would be a book. All I can do is point you to some music. Sadly, Alan Wilson died in 1970, Bob Hite (the Bear) ten years after that and Henry Vestine ten years after that. But Canned Heat kept replacing players and singers and taking that blues rock around the world. The only guy left from the classic lineup is Fito de la Parra who continues to tour with a band that still sounds a lot like (and is named) Canned Heat.

      Sometime when porn preferences aren't the soup of the day I'll list my ten favorite albums of the rock era. I have no problem with porn preferences: they just don't go with Amphetamine Annie, although in trade for some gofast, Annie might have done a little acting herself. Speed kills.


    4. > I think the Canned Heat lineup of Woodstock knew that they weren't going to be stars.

      Do you think so, really? The low-level minor leaguers, banks playing in bars or for an audience of hundreds, after a few years they must know they'll never hit the big time. They're doing it because they love it.

      Canned Heat was in the big time. They *were* stars at Woodstock, and before and after. And then they faded away, and I wonder how long they'd been essentially gone before they noticed they were gone.

      "Amphetamine Annie" has some great riffs in it, but it's not in my top ten by Canned Heat.

  4. Just to more or less close out the category, Canned Heat wasn't even in the theatrical release of the Woodstock movie. You could hear them as Going Up The Country played over the opening credits, but you didn't see their performance (they were in the Director's Cut a decade later).

    I don't think the band really survived the death of Alan Wilson in 1970, who adapted and sang lead of two of their three AM radio songs. Sure, the band has been playing for the last 53 years on and off, mostly on, and occasionally releasing an album, but they never got AM radio play after Alan died (at 27) and damn little FM play. Wilson died within a month of Hendrix and Janis, and within a few months of Jim Morrison, so got buried both literally and figuratively alone.

    Alan had developed an odd, old-timey voice that really worked with the sound of the band, and was a terrific guitarist and harmonica player. He was a National Merit Scholar who dropped out of college to spend all day every day working on music. He and the Bear formed the band and he was never actually replaced. Maybe that was impossible.

    If you get a chance, listen to Boogie With Canned Heat all the way through. It captures Alan AND the band at their very best.


    1. Was it drugs that done him in? That's my first thought when someone's dead at 27.

      Living in cold places like Missouri and Wisconsin, I've needed Canned Heat and heard a lot, but soon I'll give a listen to Boogie With Canned Heat all the way through.

      Just personally, none of the National Merit Scholars I've known wowed me very much, but there's always something fine to be found in a dropout.

  5. Sort of, but not recreational drugs. He was one of a kind and a little bit like all shy people. His Wikipedia entry isn't book-length and you should read it. He was inspired and tortured. Welcome to the world.



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