Friday, October 14, 2011

How it was

Occupy Wall Street:

Afraid this morning that this whole, astonishing, peacable and peaceful act of social protest might come to a crashing end this morning. In a little more than an hour, Bloomberg's orders will be put into effect -- such stupid orders. Dragging out the hundreds, maybe thousands! of people doing nothing more than voicing a much needed message of conscience, awareness, dare I say it -- love.

Below some impressions of my first and I hope not my last visit to Zuccotti Park. It should have been posted a week ago, but my pics won't load for some reason. So, pictureless!

I went down to Liberty Park (amazingly, that really was its name) also known as Zuccotti Square this past Wednesday and wandered around just to take it all in. It was my first visit, and there was a lot to take in. Just a few impressions for now, with a few of my pics below. You can’t avoid the feeling of an open air encampment, mounds of sleeping bags, a huge blue tarp, sleeping heads poking out here and there. There’s a (large) library, a place you can get food. It’s a village. Artists, some with easels, some with black magic markers and pages of thick paper, scrawling on the pavement. I was handed a sign by James De laVega (I’ve learned later he’s a hipster muralist and street artist) The Game of Capitalism Breeds Dishonest Men it read. I joined in a march heading uptown, proudly holding up my message.

The folks who were running OWS are astonishingly polite. It – the good manners -- takes you aback. I’m of the generation that marched, shouting angrily, veins popping in the neck, fists raised. No veins could be seen anywhere. While I was snapping pictures I inadvertently strayed into a group of people who had started a slow, quiet group “walk” (I wouldn’t call it a march) around the park, chanting a slogan, calmly. I was standing like a boulder in a stream and I needed to be nudged aside. Someone told me, with a tinge of impatience “can you move please?” He then came back to me to explain why it was he had to ask me to do this. He actually did this. In the middle of a political demonstration.

This isn’t a minor characteristic. It’s telling of what this carefully crafted movement wants to convey. And they’re distinguishing themselves as decidedly mature, neat, and together.

The people’s mic – the mechanism and the messages. ‘Lovely’ Sounds dated, but something like that is the way you’ve got to describe it. The people’s mic is how they (whoever they are. A small group of Canadians I’ve heard started this and helped put in place the tone and method) have chosen to amplify the short speeches which are given on the Broadway (Eastern) edge of the park, where there’s a slightly lower amphitheater effect. At around 4:00, they called a halt to the bongo drumming and sporadic, undulating dancing of a few, and get us prepped for the expected arrival of the union faction. (Will it be a lasting, contributing faction? If so, I think OWS will definitely not be able to be ignored) Tens of thousands of union delegates from the SEIU, TWU, District 37, CUNY, NYU, The New School and others were massing from all parts of lower Manhattan and were expected to join together at this spot. We were getting our instructions. The way they told us about it, about how proper we needed to be, how we needed to make room, and move back, how we had to welcome them, etc. was all made clear in short succinct sentences that were repeated by concentric circles of us, participants, stretching all the way to the back to Trinity Place (the Western edge of the park). There was a church like, call and response feel to it, which turned into a concentric giggle when said organizer said – “Don’t fuck it up.” The group of people surrounding him repeated dutifully, ‘don’t fuck it up,” and the message travelled back. Then a young woman mounted something that enabled her to be taller than all of us, the huge orange arms of DeSuvero’s sculpture soaring above her head, and talked about how this was all in partnership with the Arab Spring. I thought at the moment -- what she’s saying, it isn’t a metaphor, it’s an answer, a huge people’s mic, stretching from Manhattan to Cairo, a rippled shout to those in Egypt wanting freedom, telling them, at that moment, that thousands of people across North America, wanting something as yet unnamed have linked arms with them. She said, ‘the people in Egypt. They have it much worse than we do. However bad it gets here, they have a very very difficult situation…” I had to head uptown to work, and I had to wrench myself away.