The wheels on the bus go round and round

So what was I doing on the aforementioned bus? I wasn’t entirely sure myself, at first. Last spring, before I even left Brooklyn, I was contacted by a guy named Jason Silverman, who was in the process of putting together this three day promotional tour for John Sayles‘ upcoming film Silver City, a political-satire-slash-detective-mystery. The idea was to have a sort of rolling salon, a political chautauqua — the Silver City Express. It sounded intriguing to me, but I’ve had enough experience with film industry types that I wasn’t entirely sure whether or not to take it all seriously. And then I moved, and was wrapped up in the details of that for several months, and then suddenly it was upon me, and I got on a plane, not entirely knowing what to expect.

Well, it was a pretty amazing three days.

My part of the shindig was a stripped-down version of my usual dog-and-pony show. When I was a kid they always showed cartoons before the movies, and I guess that was kind of what I was doing. Except that my cartoons didn’t move, and the mayhem was created by politicians rather than wacky cartoon animals, but other than that, pretty much the same thing.

We went to Santa Fe, Colorado Springs and Denver. In retrospect, Santa Fe was probably the night that came together the best. That night, you had my presentation, sets from Steve Earle and Kris Kristofferson (individually and together), and got to see all the actors onstage. In Colorado Springs, the venue was an actual movie theatre, and since there was no stage, the thinking was that there was no real place for Steve and Kris to play — maybe a mistake, in retrospect (though they did play at a party afterwards, in this second story pool hall nearby.) And in Denver, the audience was still streaming in a half hour after we were supposed to have started, and some morons in the audience were screaming “MOOOVIE” in the middle of Steve’s set, and for better or worse his set got cut short so the movie could begin. (This article in the Denver Post blames it all on “the entertainment” running a half hour long, which is nonsense — “the entertainment” started a half hour late due to disorganization at the venue.)

The bus ride between Santa Fe and Colorado Springs was maybe six or seven hours. I’ve travelled back and forth across the country on the Greyhound bus more than once, and, well, this was more fun. Steve Earle spent most of the time giving us all an impromptu concert in the back of the bus, while Sayles held forth in the front. I was also riding with Michael Murphy, Mary Kay Place, Maggie Renzi, Sal Lopez, Luis Saguar, Daryl Hannah, Kristofferson and his family, some Silver City crew members and other various friends of the enterprise — including David Barsamian, Patty Calhoun from Denver Westword and Louis Black from the Austin Chronicle. (Chris Cooper, who I met at the Democratic Convention, and whose portrayal of a George Bush-ish character is utterly sublime, was supposed to be along for the ride, but had to cancel out.)

There’s an article about the second day’s ride here, but that reporter was just along for the short hop from Colorado Springs to Denver — the ride from Santa Fe to Colorado Springs was really the magical one.

I’ll write more about this as it occurs to me — I’m home and need to get back into cartoon-writing mode at the moment. But definitely go see Silver City when it opens next week. And check out Earle’s new CD — this guy is genuinely brilliant, and that’s not something I say lightly.

There are a few pictures from the week here.

And if you ever get a chance to ride on a bus for a few days with this specific group of people, I suggest you take it.