Peak time on the Long Island Railroad. Lots of people want space. There is an unspoken assumption that a row of seats is filled to capacity if only one person is sitting in it. Something having to do with western culture, comfort zones, and Macy’s shopping bags as personal barriers.
I clutched a vinyl record in one hand and, with the sweet-smelling cinnabon bag under the other arm, was in no condition to sit next to someone, not even the Asians, who might've had a higher tolerance for the violation of comfort zones. Still, I would’ve preferred to sit down with something to read to keep my mind active during the ride, so I stood with the middle aged business men in one of the spaces by the doors and took in whatever external stimuli was available. Some cellphone conversations of the calling-his-wife, got-out-of-work-late variety. A woman read a diet book but she was already attractive and skinny.
Next a subversive message emerged from the environment. Like one of those mass produced Magic-eye images, something was there the whole time, yet took a while for the true meaning to register. I was searching for something amusing, grasping at little details in the mundane, but it was really right in front of me the whole time posted on the wall.
A survival mechanism: when the environment becomes so cluttered with signification- advertisements, crowd chatter, mass population feedback- senses are dulled, attention defecits, things must be blocked out to reduce overstimulation anxiety.
In this case, when the details that are normally blocked were uncovered, a subversive underworld was revealed. Most alarming is the blue tape- this is no amateur job, effort was made here to achieve the subliminal. How many commuters on the Long Island Express came home one night with a greater impulse to perform fellatio? How many were fired from their jobs for inappropriate behavior, sudden impulsive blowjobs?
And the bigger question: What other messages are out there? What else has already been planted deep within passing car radios, stock market tickers, daytime television air waves, junk mail fine print? Or maybe these are all the wrong places to be looking. Maybe the revolution will not be televised; instead, it's already started, it's all around us, but hardly anyone knows.