March 13—Coronavirus Holiday
by Lenny Hughes
The celebrated Prevost Tour Bus has come to an unscheduled pitstop—side-lined, not by a head-on collision with an 18-wheeler or catastrophic failure of its mighty diesel powerplant, but by a microscopic bug that has brought most of the country to its knees.
Bus at The Four Winds
We're holed up at the Four Winds Casino in the curiously named town of New Buffalo, Michigan. We have a show here tonight, but tomorrow's plans to play at the McAninch Arts Center in Glen Ellyn, Illinois, have been scrapped.
So have a slew of shows on the West Coast. Stay tuned to Lewisblack.com for updated information.
Meanwhile, in February when last we talked, we were hit with a catastrophe.
We were roaring down I-95 just south of Washington, on our way to Virginia Beach, when the side window EXPLODED.
I started to dive for the floor, expecting the whole thing to start rolling down the highway like an oil barrel.
“What the fuck was THAT?!” Lewis was yelling.
Fortunately, Driver Jethro was totally calm about it, cruised to a safe place to pull over and inspected the damage, which he said was like problems similar buses have had. The curved window on the passenger's side can self-destruct with vibrations, he said.
The entire window was gone. Shards of glass littered the common quarters of the Bus. I usually sit in the seat inches away from that former window, but because I'd gotten up to joke around with Lew, I was spared an unscheduled facelift of the right side of my head.
Next day, Ben and Jethro fashioned a temporary patch with gaffer's tape. And later, Jethro built a wooden frame and improved the patch with sheet metal—a safe modification until he got the Bus into the shop for a permanent glass replacement.
Custom Gaff Tape
That weekend, we also did a return engagement at the Paramount Theatre in Charlottesville, Virginia.
I got a chance to visit the embattled statue of Robert E. Lee, which was the focus of 2018 protests that pitted factions from all sides of the issue against one another.
As I saw it, the statue seemed rather small to be at the center of such tragic mayhem.
Me ’n’ Bobbie Lee
On to Williamsport, Pennsylvania, we got a temporary replacement bus, which I was told, had been Lew's first tour bus and is now the bus for the crew of comedian puppeteer Jeff Dunham.
We stopped at a scenic rest-stop on our way home that weekend, so Lew could tape a message to the citizens of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, that he'd be coming to their town like the Wise Men of old.
Slouching Toward Bethlehem
That weekend, we started with our newly repaired bus at the Broome County Forum Theater in chilly Binghamton, New York.
I especially like that playhouse for its displays of Rob Serling's life. He grew up in Binghamton where his family ran the local meat market. Picture THAT, if you will.
Picture if you will…
Next day, we plowed through relentless rain for an engagement at the venerable Merriam Theatre in historic Philadelphia.
Jeff Stilson was the only one of us who took advantage of the town. He hit Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell and other choice sites before we pulled out for Bethlehem that Saturday morning for the show at the Wind Creek Event Center, a resort/casino fashioned from an enormous, abandoned steel mill.
Used to be the Sands, last time we were there, but it was sold over the summer to the Wind Creek people.
I spent the following week listening to news about the disastrous coronavirus. Not sure the disease is so disastrous as the massively bumbling response to the crisis from the Trump brain trust.
Undaunted by it all, we landed in Chicago yesterday and pulled off a fine show at the Blizzard Theatre of the Elgin Community College. I sold T-shirts and bobbleheads while wearing rubber gloves, and trying my best to keep the suggested six-foot distance from the fans.
I think we all survived (though I haven't seen anyone since we checked into the Four Winds this morning at 3 a.m.).
Maybe they're just sleeping in.
I'll let you know later, after I check the Bus.