The feelings of discomfort have begun to seep through the sociopathic cool of Wall Street and their admirers, the aspirant rich, the people who’d read Jefferson and/or Mussolini and feel it spoke for them, or the more anxious traders have begun to make their whimperings heard. Counter protesters threatened today to come in and pour champagne-the threat was palpable. It’s been raining cats dogs and the kitchen sink all day, and because of squatting laws the cops aren’t letting anyone erect a tent. The campers are soaked and we’ve had to set up dryers in a parked U-Haul. When we had the general assembly, people had to hold up the tarp over everyone. If champagne was poured, there was a risk of hypothermia. Our police liason went to speak with the cops, and explained the pouring of champagne would be assault and battery. The police agreed. As far as I could tell, unless the police blocked them incredibly efficiently, the counter-protesters ended up being chickenshit anyway and never came by.
They may have left remnants on Wall Street itself-while on the 4:30pm march, we came across three guys who kept screaming “Get a job!!!” at us, in much more fully decked-out suits than any real trader would ever wear, holding silver platters with an apple and a banana each on them. They didn’t even last out the full hour we marched, got rained out while putting on the ritz. Like I said, chickenshit.
The relationship to the police has grown increasingly bizarre and complicated. A member of Food Not Bombs, somehow ranked as the third largest domestic terrorist organization in the country (a charge he responded to with “What? We’re gonna fuck you up giving you a bagel?”), who was the subject of a police hit once, has become our police liason. He’s a lawyer and has passed the bar in Washington DC and England, and has kept good working relations with the cops. He told me he walked by two of them talking, and overheard one say “We can’t be that brutal with them-we know they’re right!” The NYC cops haven’t gotten a raise in a year and Bloomberg has basically told the rich in NYC that this is their just desserts, they sat on the tack and now it’s time for them to bleed from the ass. On the march I saw cops smiling, amiable-one protester even picked up a cop’s dropped hat and handed it to him with no more incident than a nod and a thank you.
People have come from all over. Troy, a blonde man from Maine whose outgoing joviality and stout frame evoke a young Sam Kinison, came from Maine. He’s spent 3 days talking to reporters, telling them his story of miraculous hitch-hiking, of first finding a ride with a fellow Maine activist. At first he only had a ride to New Hampshire, but when word came round he was going to Occupy Wall Street he had a ride offer waiting for him when he got there, then another ride in the next place he was dropped off. He’s 47 and is doing this for his grandchildren. The air is intoxicating with goodwill, the spread of knowledge and the sense of a unifying purpose, and I believe Troy summed it up best: “The only way I could feel better is if I was having sex while doing this.”
He’s corny in the best way possible, a genuine believer in the importance of events, expressions that would seem over the top. Have we collectively lost our ability to go over the top? He referred to the woman who got him first from Maine, who was seated next to me, as “his savior”, and she blushed, he described an interview with a reporter:
“She finished interviewing me and told me this was the most important thing she’d ever done as a journalist. When she lowered the camera from her eye while taking a picture, she was fuckin’ crying, like tears streaming down and all that. And I asked her: ‘Does your paper take any ads from pharmaceutical companies? Cause if they do, they ain’t gonna print this.'”
We could all learn a great deal from this man.
Everyone is rolling their own cigarettes, I haven’t seen a box cigarette in days. I brought a lighter and met a young woman-it was her first day at the protest. During the week she makes “surf films.” It’s her job to negotiate with Tommy Hilfiger associates whether a surfer, while on shore, might wear a Hilfiger shirt. The vapidity of this employment undoubtedly influenced her to bring a 30 pack of water bottles and art supplies for the sign making station. I spoke with her a long spell and when I was hoarse from shouting she brought me a cup of hot water. Many thanks!
Yesterday I saw Jon Jost, or his apparition. Jon, if it was really you, please come back, and if it wasn’t, please be honored to have been the Great Pumpkin of the revolution.
In media coverage, it seems the media blackout has become an outright smear campaign. The BBC said only 50 people are there (I’ve never seen it dip below 200 and is usually far greater), meanwhile, the NY Times, again cornering their real estate as the fake liberal paper, took a massive dump on the whole thing with one of the laziest pieces of reporting I’ve ever witnessed. They emphasized the slight disparities and idiosyncracies of people there while missing the whole point. The last paragraph takes the cake though, so I’m hesitantly reprinting it here with commentary:
One day, a trader on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Adam Sarzen, a decade or so older than many of the protesters, came to Zuccotti Park seemingly just to shake his head. “Look at these kids, sitting here with their Apple computers,” he said. “Apple, one of the biggest monopolies in the world. It trades at $400 a share. Do they even know that?”
I know, from firsthand experience, that the protesters for the most part do know of Apple’s shoddy tax record and poor business practices. They have the computers, for some reason or another, maybe gifted from a relative or bought for school, and are using them to transmit the truth about what’s happening in the square. Sarzen, by trading, shows a blatant disregard for the public sector, but doesn’t he know that the sidewalks he walks on are public property, the roads he walks public property? Shouldn’t the NY Times??
But enough of the negative, more of the people. In talking, it seems the number of people there who’ve hitch-hiked the country outnumber those who haven’t, I even met a fellow resident of Saratoga Springs NY. I spoke to a tall bearded man two years out of college. “I used to game. I’m used to being on the internet talking with people. Then my power went out for a week, I was staring at the monitor even then, while I ate or thought. Something was wrong. When I heard about this action, I bought a plane ticket.” He’s been sleeping in the square since last Saturday night.
People who’d been arrested came back to tell tales of their arrests. One younger man which a turned around Guy Fawkes mask and a horn said at an ad-hoc general assembly, “They take you in, and they don’t give you a phone call. They gave one girl a phone call, but on a phone that didn’t work. Then they try to interrogate you, keep asking you ‘Who’s the leader?'” There is no leader. When I related the story later to a fellow protester he suggested when anyone get questioned this they just say “Barack Obama.”
Please tell the world what a positive and incredible thing is actually happening here. These people may have held onto their dreadlocks past the age of 40, may be disheveled or occasionally uncouth, and may disrupt traffic but remember they’re on the front lines, and unless you’re in the top 1% of the wealth distribution, they are sacrificing comfort and their time to fight for you. Send supplies, food, money, or better yet come out to the Liberty Plaza. They’ll be happy to have you.