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THE CONSTANT RIDER OMNIBUS
(Microcosm Publishing) by Kate Lopresti. Zine anthology, 2007. 125 pages. I read most of this sweet little manifesto on the adventures of traveling in general- and public transportation in particular- while riding the train to and from work. Because I was reading this book, I was convinced that something interesting was destined to happen during these trips, but my sedate fellow passengers just wouldn’t oblige me on this front. Come on people- I know my commute is only 12 minutes each way, but can no one help me reach the gloriously awkward, tense and totally absurd heights the absolutely batshit middle aged black dude I encountered about a year ago on the Orange Line took me to? This guy kept asking people what time it was, then muttering, “Gonna rape the women and kill the men. Rape the women and kill the men.” And then he chanted, “Surrender yourself. SURRENDER YO’SELF! SURRENDER YO’SELF DOT COM! DOT COM!” As soon as I got home, I went to surrenderyourself.com and was fairly surprised to find that it’s actually some sort of personal growth website with all kinds of links on subjects such as healthy living, nutrition, religion and family. I guess this strident gentleman was really just voicing his concern for us in his own special way.
  ANYHOW- This book is a compilation of all seven of Kate Lopresti’s individually published Constant Rider zines, and it’s chock full of interesting illustrations that do a nice job of supplementing the text. Highlights include her essential bus etiquette tips (including solving the age-old quandary of what to do when sitting right next to somebody and then having the bus suddenly clear out. Do you stay where you are or move away immediately? Either decision might offend your seatmate…) and the hilariously embarrassing details of the time she passed out on a train ride into work. Sure- there’s stuff that probably will only appeal to her Portland (OR) brethren (local transit legislation and in-depth detail about buses being re-routed due to presidential motorcades, for example), but most of these fun stories are easy to like and universally relatable.
  One of my favorite things about The Constant Rider Omnibus is that it made me remember incidents such as Mr. Surrender Yourself Dot Com, and it’s also helped me once again focus on what fabulous people-watching public transportation can provide. Kate Lopresti conveys these everyday occurrences with a sharp eye for detail and such gentle good humor that it makes me think I’d want to be friends with her if I actually knew her. So Kate, if you’re ever in Boston , I’d love to spend an hour on the “T” with you, (quietly) riffing on the characters on display. –Ben Hunter

 

 

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