On the Edge of Sleep Dreaming of the Bi-Line

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What is the highest number of Italian-Americans you’ve come across on New Jersey Transit? I’ll tell you for me it’s one. Not a lot, I know. He punched my ticket, which isn’t even an innuendo, and we were off under the bowels of New York City hurtling towards the Garden State. In the end, what greater motion of humanity, what crawling passage of meaning slouches towards New Jersey? I can answer this question for you if you ask me about it because the lone Italian-American is peering over my shoulder watching me write this. In my deepest sleep, when I cut from the city and it gives way to brackish marsh and the march from one place I do not know to the other, I am dreaming of the Bi-Line. There’s not anything sadder than something truly funny.
My version of minor celebrity derived from this newspaper and spun from there into an odd abstraction centered around eating myself alive with brief forays into finger painting and training large predatory circus animals before P.T. Barnum closed his doors for good. I spent time as Senator Johnny Isakson’s nose-blower and a group of middle schoolers hired me out to shout “Did Not!” when accused of things they, in fact, did. This has coalesced into a life of wealth and leisure affording me time to ruminate on the larger questions that haunt a high school columnist with enough money to buy every Bird scooter and an entire migrant workforce to destroy them and subsequently donate enough money to the High Museum that they display the mutilated scooters in a wing named after me. These questions all relate to the Bi-Line, naturally, and include: is any news new, and is making light of a story a worthy place to stop, or must something in turn be done, why is Meimei Xu still in high school, why does Westminster not have a newsroom, and what is it a newspaper is supposed to do?
Yet another wonder of small-town America: when their local newspaper inevitably gets driven out of business by larger media conglomerates prices in the area spike on domestic goods. Alright, sure. Consumer protection. But what is the nobler cause of journalism? Well, who else would write in capital letters that I, Andrew Zacks finally finished the makeshift beaver dam in my backyard and can finally route enough water that I am able to reenact Washington Crossing the Delaware in Billabong shorts and a Nirvana t-shirt (Washed-out-ington Crossed on the Delaware)? That is to say, the things critical to the culture we all help in creating must not only originate somewhere but be disseminated by means other than word of mouth. Fundamental aspects of contemporary identity are inextricably tied to people and places that most of us will never be within face-punching distance of. I will never know what Drake smells like (probably), but the mere fact of his existence has changed my experience of American life. Ok, so much of this could be conferred over social media, but not only are these sources less psychologically credible they more often than not source what they have from actual journalistic bodies. It’s probably alarming how much of what I know or claim to know can be traced back to a story in the New York Times, whether I read it or not. So, if the purpose of media is to inform and make the society it writes to, has it failed? As an agent of change, is news media a non-starter? The ultimate caveat of robust journalism is a public willing to act on reporting, willing to be shocked and outraged. I do believe that if a piece on the deeply corrupted nature of crafting tax codes stirred the pot as much as Ted Cruz managing to dig an entire pocket Bible out of his belly button then a more responsive and reformed government would manifest. That is, naturally, another classic pretentious, extremely obvious non-observation on my part, and it’s not like I crawl back to my nuclear fallout hut under Wendy’s and read page after page of zoning laws. I know I’m preaching to the choir, but I adore the sound of my own voice. That’s why I scream into the mirror every day when I get home. Bloody murder.
This last bit is dedicated to my latest conspiracy theory, dear reader. It came to me in a dream of the Bi-Line. For two years now I have been bleeding the beast from the inside. For two years I’ve had my cake and eaten it too. I’ll tell you the only thing I am sure of: world peace is possible and the Bi-Line is integral to it. The only news every American needs is high school drollery and the taut opinions of every flash-in-the-pan already-balding hack like myself. We hold that truth to be self-evident. As such, I think it all goes to the top. I don’t know what the President is reading but I’m almost convinced he’s never seen a Bi-Line. I have arranged my contacts and the latest issue will be brought to him with his breakfast of Irish coffee and the marshmallows in Lucky Charms. Hear me out: the president reads our paper, he realizes what boils beneath him, he passes it along to North Korean and Russian leadership though Morse code telegram, and suddenly Meimei Xu is the voice of the public, of the democratic world. Everyone who’s anyone is reading the Bi-Line, discussing the latest permanent sub hired, the art installation in Broyles, the basketball team beating Jackson. Westminster builds an airstrip to accommodate the tourism and eventually applies for statehood. Keith Evans runs for president of the New World Order and wins in a landslide, contested only by Dennis Rodman. Peace is achieved. Conflict is resolved in the Well, which is now the entire country of former Denmark.
Keep writing, my friends, it’s the only way in and the only way out. The point of a voice is to speak. Love thy neighbor like you love thy Bi-Line. May it visit you, too, in your dreams.

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