Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Underground Professor

I encountered the self-proclaimed "Underground Professor" this morning on the subway. He greeted us on the downtown 4 train at Fulton Street, saying, "Hello America," and then proceeded to remind us that there's still an "illegal, immoral war" going on in Iraq. Troops are still there and still dying. Fair enough. Then, as we neared the next stop, he told us that this war was "brought to you by Wall Street," just as the recorded voice of the subway informed us that we'd arrived at, yup, Wall Street. The professor then digressed a bit to tell us that this neighborhood was a "high-crime area." "Be careful as you're walking around the streets up there," he said. "Keep an eye on your savings accounts." I kept expecting actual anti-war, anti-corporate fodder from him for us to think about, but it wasn't forthcoming, at least not by the time we reached Bowling Green. I couldn't help smiling at the novelty (if not the delivery) of his spiel.
It was certainly a change from, say, the young people selling chocolate bars, who all miraculously seem to have memorized variations on the same speech, forever assuring us, their potential customers, that they're "selling candy ... not for no basketball team." They're "keeping it real," trying to put some money in their pockets, and stay off the streets: Ignoring, of course, the fact that it's illegal to sell anything on the subway, and thus, while they may be staying "off the streets" in the actual sense, they're not doing so metaphorically.

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