A few Vice staffers kept mentioning a graffiti-covered bus that's been parked around the corner from the Brooklyn office for the past month. We don't mean to be total dicks about it, but the thing looks like something the cast of Fraggle Rock should be driving. Everybody knows that hippies are the closest thing to real-life Muppets, so we sent an intern down the road to see if some Phish fans mistook the intersection of N. 14 Street and Nassau Avenue for Haight-Ashbury.
Eric. I’m also known as DJ Imagine.
What’s with the bus?
The idea started about two and a half years ago. My partners and I pulled together a little money and decided to buy this bus, make it run vegetable oil and hit the road for eight months.
You start this right out of college?
Yeah I was a jock at first and then I realized how political it all was, I wasn’t feeling it. Then I got into philosophy...
Got any favorites?
You mean in terms of thinkers? I like a lot of the naturalists like Emerson and Thoreau. I also like kinda existential philosophers, you know? Philosophers who don’t hold back on their own inner conflict. Guys who can embrace the hypocritical point of view, you know?
Guys that understand that compromise is part of making it. Guys like Sartre and Nietzsche, who lead very conflicted lives but understood what they were doing even if it was morally reprehensible.
Hmm. So are you gonna hit the road soon?
Eventually, just waiting for a couple things to come through.
It’s just me right now but it should be about 15 of us when we take off.
What’s the point of all this?
We came up with this model where we made a bus which runs completely on vegetable oil and--[His dog keeps barking at us] YO! REALLY!? NOT NOW!--so we're trying to show people a way to live that speaks for itself without preaching. We spent a lot of time driving up and down the Pacific Northwest getting tied into the green community there and it didn’t take long to see that they were all preaching to the converted. So we started asking, how do you attract a different crowd?
How much did it cost to do the conversion?
It’s about $3,000-$5,000 but if you think about it you could easily spend that much on diesel going from here to San Francisco once. With the conversion you can go back and forth multiple times essentially for free. You still need your diesel tank to start up on but it really works. I’m not afraid to be called a hypocrite because I run my generator sometimes.
How do you guys make money?
Sponsorship, mostly. Our pitch has gotten pretty strong so people are coming to us lately.
What are you guys selling?
Art, adventure, entertainment. We’re trying to skateboard each mile across the country. We do little projects when we stop in different communities, things like installing solar panels in neighborhoods that don’t really know what’s up with green, but we try to do it without coming off all preachy. We just pull up and let them come to us and then after that service initiative is over we throw a party off of the bus.
We like to party but at the same time we also are concerned with the state of the world, the state of the environment, and what it is to be trapped in the wheels of corporate culture. Obscurity is not admirable. You can have great ideas and a great perspective and you can say that stuff to your friends all the time and they’ll half listen. But how do you make that relevant to a wider culture? So yeah, we like to party but we also like to discuss relevant shit. We’re just trying to bridge the gap between pop culture and conscience living.