(F)ART in a skillet

The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers never went electric, but they sure as shit knew their buses. Freak Bros. © forever by Gilbert Shelton

“Hit the road, Jack, and don’t you come back no more,” sez Albuquerque to BYD, the outfit behind the famous Little Electric Buses That Couldn’t.

Regulars here at the Duke City Chuckle Hut know the story of the Albuquerque Rapid Transit project, a.k.a. ART, which has become something of a nutty cluster of fks, as Charlie Pierce might say.

See, our city fathers once dreamt a grand dream of running electric buses down the middle of Central Avenue in order to something something something, possibly because they’d eaten too much posole right before bedtime, or maybe it was the worm in the mescal.

But the buses supplied by Build Your Dreams — which should rebrand to IYD (In Your Dreams), or perhaps BYOB (Bring Your Own Buses) — apparently make my 1996 F-150 look like a Rolls Royce Silver Cloud.

“You don’t need a mechanic, you need an exorcist,” a frustrated dealership mechanic said of that fiend-ridden Ford, which began rattling itself into bits and pieces about 30 seconds after I drove it off the lot.

I never test-drove an exorcist. Instead, I sprung for a ’98 Toyota. But I expect that not even Fathers Karras and Merrin, with an assist from Kiichiro Toyoda and Toshirô Mifune, could chase the boogeymen out of BYD’s buses, which are said to suffer from brake failures, problems with operable range and battery life, and electrical issues that multiplied upon inspection like flies on hot horseshit, the all-natural substance at the heart of BYD’s marketing strategery. Also, there remains the basic underlying issue of demonic possession.

And so the alleged buses are being returned, assuming they can make it past the city-limits sign without exploding like a penguin on a telly.

To replace them, the city has ordered up 10 new, non-electric buses from a “well-established American company that makes buses all the time,” says Mayor Tim Keller. Why nobody thought of this earlier remains a mystery, especially since it will be a year and a half before the replacement buses can be delivered.

“Obviously, we are very concerned about what we’ve been put through as a city by BYD,” Keller added. “I think down the road, we’re interested in being fairly compensated for [how] we have been misled on these buses.”

A BYD spokescreature, who declined to be identified because the Great Old Ones had not authorized it to speak with the media, said cryptically, “Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn.” This is R’lyehian for “In his house at R’lyeh dead Cthulhu has many lawyers.”

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18 Responses to “(F)ART in a skillet”

  1. Stan Thomas Says:

    If electrickery won’t cut it, perhaps you could propose an alternative green solution by installing pedals in front of every seat, all linked thru to the back axle…

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Hey, how about using that nifty center lane for all the undocked electric scooters nobody else wants? Or maybe just a plain vanilla bike lane?

      Meanwhile, “electrickery.” Heh. This I like. I am so stealing that.

  2. khal spencer Says:

    BYD = Build Your Debacle. What I find amazing is the city rebuilt Central Ave for these godforsaken buses without ever validating that they would work. All, with legendary pain and suffering. Not that I considered Central in its previous arrangement to be anything other than a deathtrap for those not encased in an Urban Assault Vehicle, but be that as it may.

    This is one of those times that the torches and pitchforks crowds should make itself seen and heard. BOHICA, Mr. and Mrs.Public. Another 18 months delay and more expenses.

  3. Libby Says:

    I remember you wrote about this before. Situation was bad then.

  4. larryatcycleitalia Says:

    This make me wonder. Did the folks who gave the contract to the NFG bus company get some massive kickbacks? I wonder because it’s not like there are no proven, reliable suppliers of perfectly serviceable electric buses on our planet. I see examples going around our tiny island all day, every day.
    The problem wasn’t that the ABQ buses were electric, it was that they were NFG…so going back to internal combustion seems just a knee-jerk reaction.

  5. Pat O’Brien Says:
  6. khal spencer Says:

    Nice picture. So was the original!

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      I decided I’d used the other too many times and dug this one out of my comics collection.

      I’m pretty sure that cover is a collaboration between Gilbert Shelton and Dave “Dealer McDope” Sheridan, who died way too young of cancer. Sheridan brought a whole new look to the Freak Brothers, not so much supplanting Shelton’s work as hot-rodding it.

  7. Herb from Mixhigan Says:

    I lived with three guys back when the earth was cooling who could have been the real live Freak Brothers. It was one helluva year. I was trying my best to live like a zen Buddhist and here these dudes were doing almost anything to catch a buzz. How’d they turn out years (many!) later? One is a lawyer, one is a research scientist and the other a big time developer/builder. Me I’m still in the salt mines toiling to be able to retire without having to live on Raman noodles. Should have expanded my mind more eh?

    • Pat O’Brien Says:

      Yea, but did they ever own a bike shop?

      Looking back, it seems where we are in life depends on which bumper or flipper you hit along the way.

    • khal spencer Says:

      Back in the Pleistocene when I was in graduate school, there was a natural food store in Port Jefferson, NY (Port Jeff is just east of SUNY Stony Brook, about halfway between NYC and Orient Point on the North Shore of Long Island) that must have been the prototype of natural food stores. It was called Provisions and was introduced to me by my downstairs neighbor Ron, who was a vegetarian. Ron still talked to me even though in those days I was hauling venison out of the woods.

      Ron did have one really good influence on me: he started me into year-round bicycle commuting. Back then we got home in the winter months with small motorcycle batteries strapped to the back bike racks and Rube Goldbergian headlight assemblies whipped up out of whatever was available in the car parts store. I used an auxiliary driving light and a bunch of hose clamps. Finally, Ron spent big bucks on one of the first high performance bicycle headlights. That was circa 1981-83. One day I overcharged my motorcycle battery and the resulting acid leaking out of the vent partially dissolved my rear derailleur.

      Back to Provisions. Provisions had lotsa bins of real food, i.e. whole grains, actual vegetables, blocks of tofu swimming in big barrels of water, rather than shrink-wrapped etc. The folks who shopped there could have been right out of the Freak Bros cartoon series so that store was always Freak Brothers Natural Foods to me.

      Wow, had not thought of that in a while. Yet another unplanned trip down Memory Lane.

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