The Greyhound Diaries: Documenting America’s Lesser-Known Side Through Songs, Stories, and Images

Doug Levitt has been travelling for 13 years and has covered over 120,000 miles. This artist and former journalist started working on the presidential campaign of 2004 registering voters. While traveling the country by bus he discovered an often-unseen segment of America. This inspired him to keep going. This exploration has since evolved into a documentary art project, The Greyhound Diaries, and what Levitt now calls a way of life.

In America, long-distance travel by bus tends to be a last resort. Most riders only do this by necessity. Levitt has observed that the bus transports an under-acknowledged segment of American society including the poor, people who live in very rural areas with no other forms of transport, and ex-convicts who are given a bus ticket to return to where they were initially convicted. Many of the cross-country journeys are long, and chatting with your neighbor is the best option for entertainment. Levitt has learned a lot about his bus mates through conversation on long journeys.

Doug Levitt grew up in a middle-class family in Washington DC. Like many Americans, he never saw the segment of society that he encounters on the long-distance Greyhound journeys while growing up in DC. He has found his conversations with the people he meets on the bus to be revelatory of underlying themes that go unnoticed in American media and larger culture.

His experiences documenting and traveling on the Greyhound bus have exposed him to a lesser-known pocket of American society and have helped him process his own life experiences through conversations with strangers. His journey has helped him come to terms with the trauma of his father’s suicide that occurred when Levitt was 16 years old. He compares it to affordable therapy. His perspective as an artist and singer-songwriter helped him to capture the images and feeling of his experiences on the bus, leading to the creation of an EP, a book, and a website documenting this.