On the Bus

The late Ken Kesey, whose most popular novel was One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, was a primary contributor to the cultural divide of the 1960s.

Kesey and his Merry Pranksters took a cross-country psychedelic bus ride to promote his second book, Sometimes a Great Notion, and a lifestyle that would flourish in that era. Tom Wolfe captured the mania in The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test.

"You're either on the bus, or you're off the bus," the Pranksters said repeatedly, the implication being that you were one of us--the counterculture--or one of them, that is, those that just don't get it.

Andrew Kornylak reminded me of that in his story for this issue, "On the Bus," a compelling read about a rather more mundane day in the life of a passenger on SunTran.

I cut Andrew's reference to Kesey but I kept his theme because, in a different context, being On the Bus is relevant. Times have changed--don't I know it; I still remember parts of the '60s--but those counterculture rebels today are stuck in traffic in those two-story buildings they call SUVs. With rare exceptions, aging boomers are definitely not On the Bus.

What became of Volkswagen Beetles and day-glo buses? They're museum pieces now, and so is the culture that promised it would be different.

What a long, strange trip it's been.

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