When he began campaigning for John Kerry five years ago, Doug Levitt, a onetime London School of  Economics student and former CNN war correspondent, had no idea he was beginning a cross-country odyssey that would lead him to a thousand bus stops and town squares. At first he was there with a group of artsy politicos whom he'd gathered to register voters in swing states and to talk up John Kerry. But then Levitt's money ran out just after Kerry's nomination and, in an act of grim bravado, the 32-year-old Levitt borrowed $500 and continued his quest as a kind of one-man USO tour. Greyhound buses took him to small “undecided” towns, where he'd register voters and sing songs as he accompanied himself on a cracked guitar.

Kerry lost but Levitt kept renewing his Greyhound pass, visiting wounded soldiers in hospitals, as well as at-risk kids and homeless shelters — not only singing but also gathering the stories of the people he met. His journey turned into a project — the Greyhound Diaries — that tells the real-time fables of Americans whose greatest agenda is to make it through one more day.

Levitt will appear Thursday at a free event combining songs, stories and images. It's sponsored by the Creative Visions Foundation

and should not be missed by anyone interested in learning what's

happened to the country in the past few years — and where it might be

headed. Santa Monica Public Library, Martin Luther King Jr. Auditorium, 601

Santa Monica Boulevard; Thursday, June 18, 8 p.m.

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