(Have you checked out my book on the 1st incarnation of OWS? You should, it’s getting quite excellent reviews. Check it out!)
The reason Occupy has seemed quiet in the past month despite the rather precocious shift in the weather is the General Strike and day of action that has been in preparation for some time now. We’re taking back Mayday!
Mayday itself has a long history that extends far beyond the time when there was anything resembling a labor movement, in fact, there were Mayday celebrations (though not called Mayday, at least in any dialect we’d understand), before the advent of the modern calendar. It’s where the mayqueen comes from.
In 80 countries across the world, May 1st is International Workers’ Day, though in the US we have Labor Day as a rough equivalent. However, to show the international scope of Occupy, a lot of things are planned for this Tuesday. Here are my picks for what to do on Tuesday:
~12am: Police Harassment at Union Square and the Federal Building on Wall Street. This isn’t an official event, but I’m sure it’s going to happen. A good one to get in on for all you Occupy night owls, and pretty sure street cred for those desiring some.
7-9am: Don’t go to work or school. Easy enough. Bonus points if you work somewhere large, corporate, evil, and/or anti-labor. Wal-Mart workers, Verizon workers, Urban Outfitters workers, etc., this means you especially. Though NYC doesn’t have any Wal-Mart employees, many other parts of the country do and are having their own events. Check your local listings.
8am: 99 Pickets, various locations. This one is going to be in a lot of places, certainly enough to find one to enjoy. Less than 99, but then, that might end up spreading things sorta thin. I should also note some of them are starting at 7am too, and that different ones have been happening over the past week. Their tumblr, the last link posted here, will have much more information and specifics on this than I will.
8am-2pm: Pop-up Occupation at Bryant Park, 5th Avenue and 42nd Street, Manhattan. The Occupied Wall Street Journal describes this as “A family-friendly meet-up in the park with free food, skillshares, teach-ins, and public art.” I’m most interested in the teach-ins, and hopefully the amount of promotion that has gone into the May 1st events will snare some interesting and competent teach-ins. Otherwise, I’ve been a bit let down by the last couple “Pop-up Occupations”, which have seemed too table-heavy. Still worth checking out.
10am-3pm: Free University. A series of free lectures at Madison Square Park on Broadway and 23rd, easily accessible by the N and R trains, also only 2 blocks from the Baruch College campus, making it very convenient for me, so I’ll probably be there. According to their twitter feed, the two big names they have are Robert Robinson, not the dead baptist apparently but a representative from Take Back the Land, a pro-housing organization, and Laura Whitehorn, a former member of the Weathermen and political prisoner. Should be interesting.
1pm: Wildcat March at 2nd Street and Houston Ave. This one I got a flier for and I’m not really sure what the deal is. The flier says “strikeeverywhere.net” and not Occupy Wall Street on it. Their website says in the call for the march:
We were told by a bosses, by activists, by union leaders we couldn’t strike. Perhaps, they suggested, if we wanted to protest we could carry a sign and walk within police barricades, safely cordoned off in a free speech zone. On May 1st, we aren’t working and we aren’t protesting. We are striking.
The typos are theirs, not mine. And not really sure what activists were saying people couldn’t strike, seeing how all anyone with Occupy has been saying for months is “Strike May 1st!” But I suppose the nonspecific persecution narrative is one that still has some cultural capital-I fully expect their next missive to read “THIS AIN’T YOUR DADDIES (sic) STRIKE!” as we approach the anarchist zine-Doritos bag convergence of prose stylistics (to be followed by a bright beam of light and reality collapsing in on itself.)
4pm: Convergence in Union Square, 14th and Broadway. Here’s where we get down to brass tacks. I’ve been hearing less than academic estimates of everything from 10-90,000 people. Either way, we’ll probably never know any more than you ever find out how many jelly beans are in those “Guess How Many Jelly Beans are in the Jar!” jars in deli windows. Still fun, and a big event. A good place to meet people and reacquaint oneself with old Occupy friends.
5:30pm: March from Union Square to Wall Street. This is the big one. Let’s see if we can beat the supposed 50k in the Times Square March or the November 17th 32k. A long and spirited walk, in some of the most interesting and spirited parts of Manhattan. Forecasts are predicting morning rain and an overcast day, so prepare accordingly. Expect some arrests at Zuccotti, and increased police presence the closer the march gets to Wall Street, especially since they know where the march is headed. Police behavior will also probably hinge heavily on protester attendance. The more people, the more they risk losing control of the crowd.
6:30pm-May 2nd: Jail Support. This is another one that isn’t an official event, but there will definitely be arrests, and the good folks at OWS Jail Support are probably going to be busy late into the night. Why not give them a hand? They’ll most likely be at 1 Police Plaza. My computer is being a pain in the ass right now and refusing to load nycga.net, but you can find them there, check it out.
In non-Occupy news, Saratoga rock n roll legends (and soundtrack to much of my early teens) The Figgs have been together 25 years! And though tempted to trot some twaddle, “The 1% makes us all Bad Luck Sammies!”, “Sammie-Uncle Sam, the song is a subtle portrait of a troubled America…”, and so on, I’ll resist the itch and simply say it’s a damn catchy rock song. Congrats to Gent, Donnelly and Hayes.
And come to think of it, this is off the excellent Banda Macho, their second CD, which was released and then dropped like a hot potato by 1%ers Capitol Records. So it does kinda fit.