Friday, October 30, 2020

A Visit with Michelle Joni and Glinda the Good Bus

Text and photos by Stacie Joy

Back on Oct. 11, we wrote about Michelle Joni and her Expand-a-Band taking Glinda the Good Bus out on the streets of the East Village for a rooftop tribute show to John Lennon in honor of his 80th birthday.

This was not the first time that you've likely seen Joni and Glinda on the road together for this mobile popup party... and you may see it again this Halloween weekend... here's some backstory...
Late in the summer, I joined Joni and a band of dancers, musicians and merry-makers during a multiple-night ride through the neighborhood that started from Amy Van Doran’s now-closed Modern Love Club, 156 First Ave. between Ninth Street and 10th Street.

I’ll be honest, I was somewhat petrified to be rolling around the East Village on a platform built on top of a bus, but I sucked it up and climbed aboard.

A few things I hadn’t counted on: low-hanging soaking-wet branches that smack you in the face, having to duck lest stoplights clock you in the head, the look of wonder and curiosity as people stopped to whip out cellphones and record, the urgent through-the-rooftop-porthole communication between the band and its driver, DJ Mikey Microphone, “Mikey, pull over, there’s a line of M14 busses behind us!” 

Joni later answered a few questions about the bus, her art project and creating during the pandemic.

How did Glinda The Good Bus come into existence?

I imagined this bus into existence! For many years I researched busses online, and learned the buslife ways from my bus peers. I just wanted to travel and bring joyful experiences to people, with all my toys and tricks in one place. When I found this bus on Craigslist I knew it was it. I pictured the unicorn horn immediately. Glinda was born in community and collaboration and continues as such!

Can you speak a bit about your AlphabetiX project and how it came to be hosted at Amy Van Doran's Modern Love?

AlphabetiX is a philosophy and practice I’ve been discovering for years, since I first asked “What’s your Power Letter?” and continued, realizing everybody knew intuitively but nobody is talking about it or doing anything with it! There’s also an AlphabetiX calendar, so you can experience time in letters. I use this system to hone energies, doing my best to awaken others to the practices of modern myth-making! I had the workbook coming out, and Amy Van Doran was kind enough to hand me the keys and let me use the space to my heart’s abcdesire.

How has it been creating art during the pandemic? 

It’s been prime time for art making in my opinion, and I wish I’d been doing it way bigger TBH. There have definitely been challenges! This is the time for artists to be paving the path to the new world...any block to that results in depression.

What was the experience like rolling through the East Village on top of the bus? What was the reaction you received?

It was so much fun! The East Village is one of my favorite places in the city. I lived here once upon a time, and again during the pop up (’cuz I live in my bus!). The artistry and surprise of the East Village seems to be missing and I feel this was able to bring back a sense of hope and creativity. Reactions are the heart of why I do it — witnessing that moment of awe that causes people to gaze doe-eyed, smile and temp-check their reality...perhaps take out a phone and film it, cheering, Venmo-ing! It keeps me going.

Any future plans to bring the bus and performers back for another trip?


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