General Sisyphus's Chicken

So I've been banned from

I exceeded the 644-click limit.

Compared to what's happening to me right now, this is excellent news. Here's my timeline:

9:13 P.M.: The Chinatown bus to Boston is nearly empty. The passenger in front of me is wearing the same "brown with white stripes" shirt as me. Neither of us acknowledges our fondness for the other's shirt. Awkward. I prepped myself for my mission, a Rush concert, by listening to some of the songs I would hear the next night.

11:09 P.M.: The Chinatown bus makes its routine stop at McDonalds, but before anyone can get their Big Mac, the driver stands up and tells everyone to stay seated. The bus doors hiss. I'm hungry but denied. Instead, a boisterous clan of people gets on, filling the bus to capacity. Their bus broke down. My perfect, albeit tacitly awkward, bus ride has been tarnished. I attempted to keep the seat next to me "taken" by my backpack. Inefficient.

12:03 A.M.: A loud pop shakes the left side of the bus. All the passengers take their headphones off in unison. I laugh. My friend Kyle looks at me in confusion. I think they say people laugh when they get nervous.

12:37 A.M.: The bus starts shaking.

12:45 A.M.: We slowly quiver our way down the Massachusetts Turnpike to a complete halt. The bus is partially pulled off to the shoulder.

1:56 A.M: I'm standing outside of the bus, eavesdropping on the conversation between the tow truck driver and the bus driver. The bus driver does not speak any English. All the tow truck driver could say was, "English?"

2:29 A.M.: Still stranded. I'm angry.

I can't listen to music right now. The idea that someone is playing an instrument, and I am nowhere near one, aggravates every single one of my twitching digits. But even if there was an instrument in front of me, I couldn't touch it. I'm too pissed. Good thing I'm going to a concert tomorrow.

The best playing comes when my brain is at "point zero." I would compare this to the point right as you are falling asleep (which is in my opinion the best time to whip out your weapon of choice).

I try playing when I'm relaxed and easy, but I'm really just too absorbed in my own self-content to actually stimulate my creativity. My playing is lazy and unfocused.

Point zero is key. Just have nothing on your mind. At this point, you can form instantaneously your own musical identity. Thoughts and melodies just become. If relaxation is on your mind, you are welcome to play relaxed, but I wouldn't expect rockets to come from the guitar. And if you're pissed, you are probably too frustrated to really play coherently.

Now you say, what about passion!? The fire in people's playing when they are angry! Or just that relaxed Sunday afternoon porch playing? Isn't that where you hear the best material? Maybe, but I say let your fingers do the talking and leave your mind back home. Don't focus so much on your brain, but more on the music itself.

But as for now, I am forever doomed to sit in this bus, just 70 miles outside of Boston. I watch the vehicle crumble. I am the Chinatown Sisyphus.

Ryan Harrington's picture

Forget it, Jake. It's Chinatown.

Ariel Bitran's picture

I am Jack Nicholson

Evan's picture

Well, the Chinese, first they screw a little bit, then they stop, then they go and read a little Confucius, come back, screw a little bit more, then they stop again, go and they screw a little bit... then they go back and they screw a little bit more and then they go out and they contemplate the moon or something like that. Makes it more exciting.

Vinnie Rossi's picture

Must have been a Feng Wah bus... I always see them broken down on the side of the highway, usually the Mass Pike :-)

Ariel Bitran's picture

Good guess Vinnie. Cause it was the Fung Wah. We were picked up around 3 from the side of the highway. For the people who got on our bus at McDonalds, they had to be on 3 different buses the whole night.

Wes Phillips's picture

I know exactly what you mean, Ariel. The few times I've transcended my (lack of) ability on any instrument, I have had the sensation of not being the center of attention, but almost a spectator. It's a transcendent experience (although one that is far too rare). It's also the reason I keeep on keeping on.

Aaaarial's picture

The Fung Wah isn't necessarily one of the bad ones, but it does have a kind of spotty track record. BusJunction is a search engine for cheap bus tickets, and it includes a lot of the Chinatown bus lines. You should check it out!