12 O'Clock Track: Remembering the Fung Wah bus line with Titus Andronicus's "A More Perfect Union"

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Titus Andronicuss The Monitor
  • Titus Andronicus's The Monitor
Prior to moving to Chicago I lived in the Boston area for about five years, where I had the distinct pleasure of taking trips down to NYC via the Fung Wah Bus Transportation line, which the feds shut down earlier this week. Riding a Fung Wah bus felt like a rite of passage—the company offered the kind of inexpensive transit experience every cash-strapped college student looking to save a little money eagerly sought, and it could get you to New York faster than most other forms of mass transit. Yes, there was something unsafe about getting from Boston to New York in three hours (or perhaps less), and yes, I'd heard tales of Fung Wah buses filling up with smoke or even catching fire while on the highway, but you generally knew what you were getting yourself into when boarding one of those buses. (The headline for a New York Times story on the shut-down says it all: "Cheap Bus Fare Lures Riders Despite Company's Troubles.")

I figured that Fung Wah would eventually get shut down or run out of business at some point, but even so I couldn't help but feel slightly sad when I heard the news. Call it nostalgia, but the term "Fung Wah" will always remind me of random adventures that took me out of my college bubble. With that in mind I've selected Titus Andronicus's "A More Perfect Union" as today's 12 O'Clock Track.

"A More Perfect Union" kicks off The Monitor, a concept album inspired by the Civil War, which obviously occurred long before Fung Wah ever offered college kids cheap rides and/or thrills. But when the voice of front man Patrick Stickles appears on the sprawling punk number one of the first things he sings about is my beloved tainted bus line: "There'll be no more counting the cars on the Garden State Parkway / Nor waiting for the Fung Wah bus to carry me to who-knows-where."

The tune hooked me immediately, partly because of that Fung Wah reference. Stickles' hoarse warble conjures up all sorts of clashing feelings about being young and exploring unfamiliar terrain—excitement, aimlessness, and even the occasional sense of dread—and that image of riding the Fung Wah works perfectly with the track. Then again, that could just be the nostalgia for cheap, dread-spiked rides taking over. Take a listen to the shortened version posted below and see if it strikes you the same way.

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