Two weeks ago, just as Ezra’s daycare began its two-week summer hiatus, the public schools started their 2011-2012 school year. This worked out wonderfully for Ezra. Everyday at 3:30 we would sit on our stoop, eat a snack, and wave as the school buses passed on their way to the elementary school a block away. Ezra’s obsession with buses has not wavered over the summer so this was one of the favorite parts of his daily routine.
Amanda and I also enjoyed a school bus this week. Rather than filled with anxious and excited children off to meet a new teacher, make new friends, and explore a new curriculum, our bus was piloted by Merry Pranksters and fueled by psychedelic drugs. We did not ride this bus. We missed its stop by nearly 50 years, but learned all about Ken Kesey’s1964 cross-country, LSD adventure in the documentary Magic Trip. The film was shown at the IU Cinema and followed by a Skype interview with one of the Merry Pranksters, Ed (Captain Kentucky) McClanahan. Before setting out on their journey, Kesey and the Merry Pranksters painted their bus and christened it “Further” - a place that can only be reached by pushing one's own perceptions of reality. With their bus trip and subsequent parties in the San Francisco bay area, the pranksters asked people "if they could pass the Acid Tests?" as they provided a counter-culture bridge between the beats and the hippies.
The spirit of our playful (yet very adult) painted bus full of costumed passengers merged with the innocence of Ezra’s buses by the end of the week in a different form: the Muppets.
Ezra was already a big Sesame Street fan. Curious about how the newer episodes differ from the classic episodes I partially remember as a toddler, I searched Netflix for older seasons of the show. All that was available via streaming was a twentieth anniversary special from 1989 featuring Kermit the Frog in his role as news reporter. Ezra fell in love with “frog.” We had already been listening to the Muppet tribute album The Green Album, and "Rainbow Connection" has always been one of Ezra’s favorite bedtime songs so we decided it was time to introduce Ezra to the The Muppet Movie Friday night. “Look frog, SEE!” "There frog!" Pointing and joyful clapping greeted Kermit with every appearance on screen. The disappointed voice of a toddler questioning, “where’s frog? Want frog,” filled the room during the movies few Kermitless scenes. He was partially appeased by appearances of “bear,” but was indifferent to the Muppet’s band, The Electric Mayhem, and their painted school bus. A traditionalist, Ezra prefers his buses yellow and his Muppets green.