I’ve come to a new understanding of my feelings about the BoingBoing BBS.
I think of it now as the old Greyhound bus station on Cahuenga in Hollywood. They had these rows of black plastic molded seats with small coin-operated TVs built onto the armrests, the one time I rode into Hollywood on Greyhound (a 20th century rite of passage I wouldn’t recommend). Anyway, so yeah, I imagine some buddy of mine recommending a particularly talented busker who typically plays at the bus station on weekday afternoons, so I go there to check him out. I happen to meet some cool weirdos there at the bus station. I happen to notice those black plastic seats are kinda comfy and not too smelly, and the screens show everything from the better Sanford & Son reruns to interesting music videos, magic tricks, and single-use kitchen appliance reviews. The restroom’s toilets mostly work, a lot of the tourists and commuters passing through are fun and friendly, the staff is eccentric and tolerant and sometimes entertaining, particularly the shaggy redhaired shoeshine dude over by the vending machines, and after a while, whaddaya know, the Cahuenga bus station has become my usual hangout. Some of us play craps in the corner. Some of us welcome new rubes off the bus from the territories, some of us wave goodbye to old pals who finally have to get their asses on the bus to work, or home with the family, or the long haul one-way ride to Muncie.
Things groove okay for a few years, more or less, but then the landlord gets crusty. He doesn’t do well in the dice games. People keep sticking disparaging reviews on his vending machines. Nobody reads his band fliers, people keep turning the TV channels away from his favorite old shows, nobody admires his shiny old German van in the parking lot, and all those people who keep playing the games and planting flowers in the windowboxes and sweeping out the roaches and organizing the poetry slams over by the Departures board never actually seem to buy any goddamned bus tickets… so he starts kicking those people out. “This is a bus station, temporary shelter and minimal comfort for the weary but valid-ticket-holding traveler,” he proclaims. “This ain’t no party. This ain’t no disco. This ain’t no roadhouse. This ain’t no art gallery (except for my fliers over on the bulletin board). Greyhound business only. And stop ragging on the snacks in the vending machines. Buy 'em or ignore 'em. Stop changing the channel. Find your own garden, or get on the bus.”
So yeah, a bunch of us left. It was fun for a good while, but y’know. Couple of the folks mentioned they had a new hangout we could drop in on, one where we didn’t have to worry about the crabby-ass bus station manager. It’s… I dunno, sort of a combination warehouse/rooftop/garden party/pool hall/backyard/rumpus room/rec center/basement bar kind of joint, only with a bookstore/coffee bar/arcade/beach blanket sort of headspace to it. Whatever it is, it has those same strangely comfortable bus station seats, with better channels on the TVs, and nobody to tell us we can’t put our feet up on the furniture or make out down on the benches by the platform. Honestly, I don’t miss that damn bus station at all. It was a space that happened to contain a particular blessed circumstance for a while, one that allowed me to meet all of you. Which was great, especially now that so many of us have moved the party away from Cahuenga.
Huh. Or was it on Vine? Yeah, I think it was. Vine. Huh. Doesn’t matter.
Anyway. I kinda miss that redhaired shoeshine kid.