Escape from new york Street level

| 05 May 2016 | 05:45

Remember a few years ago when there was that blog called “Stuff White People Like’? It was funny because it nailed New York liberal educated types. That would be us, wouldn’t it? Coffee was the number one thing on the list of stuff white people liked. TED talks were on there. So was the World Cup. So were microbreweries. David Sedaris made the list, of course. Stephen Colbert. So did public transportation, except buses.

I rarely take buses in the city. But I take them to get out of the city. I went to D.C. last weekend on a Bolt Bus. $45 round trip. I bought my ticket last minute; it could have been even cheaper. They have wifi and the windows are big and it’s bright. You can read without turning on the little overhead airplane light. At that price I’ll take it over the train. Plus, the Bolt buses leave frequently.

Once last summer I was getting an early bus to D.C . and I saw a young couple in biking shorts bending down and putting their bicycles into the baggage compartment of the bus. They each had small backpacks on. The kind with twine-thin straps. They were going to Washington for the day to ride around, coming back that night. They seemed so European. That should have made the list: cycling couples in wire-rimmed glasses going to another city for the day.

The bus I took went non-stop to lively, colorful Union Station. Being there underscored my belief that Grand Central could use a brighter bulb.

Washington thrilled me a bit, as we got near the station. I like its purposefulness. Its new neighborhoods. I like the Washington Post.

“Washingtonians love the ‘So-and-so is spinning in his grave’ cliché. Someone is always speculating about how some great dead American would be scandalized over some crime against How It Used to Be. The Founding Fathers are always spinning in their graves over something, as is Ronald Reagan, or FDR. Edward R. Murrow is a perennial grave spinner in the news business (though in fact, Murrow was cremated).”

-- Mark Leibovich, This Town

The Yankees are drooling over the Washington Nationals’ Bryce Harper.

No one sat next to me on the bus. If you just keep going through your backpack on the seat next to you, never looking up, while the last few people are boarding, you can win, unless of course it’s a full bus.

If you’re a reader the four-hour ride is wonderful.

I’ve learned you can’t write on a computer on a bus. It jiggles too much, especially an Apple. The keyboard jiggles around too much, and there are too many typos.

-Stephen Stills

The bus I’m taking to the North Shore above Boston this weekend, after my Bolt Bus trip to South Station, has solved the problem of people talking on their phones. The driver announces that there will be no talking on phones allowed. Anyone who tries gets reprimanded immediately by another passenger or two. If I made a list of the stuff I like, that would be near the top.

Maybe 10 years ago I took a bus to Wyoming from here. It was not a Bolt Bus. It was a Greyhound. It was not filled with students going to D.C. or to Boston watching ‘Silicon Valley’ or reading Ben Lerner. These were people with big pillows and blankets and big bottles of Mountain Dew. In sweat pants. At every stop they got off to smoke. They didn’t read. Sometimes after I’d finished a newspaper or a magazine I’d bought along the way, I’d hold it up to see if anyone wanted it. No one did. Most of them were sleeping. Without TV, they could only think to sleep.

It was a long trip, but I liked doing it. I got to see the big stadium in Lincoln, Nebraska. I got to stand by the river in Davenport, Iowa. I got to look out the bus window and watch the Tetons come into view.

I have friends who wouldn’t be caught dead on a bus.

One of the things on the Stuff White People Like list is Study Abroad. We’re too old for that now. The bus out of the city to Washington or Boston can give you some of the feeling of going to another country. You see Fenway Park coming into Boston. You see the city up ahead of you getting closer. There are museums. In Washington, too. There are walks to take. Bookstores, There are all sorts of restaurants. Breakfast Places is on the Stuff White People Like list.

I frequently think about that couple with their bicycles.