The Birthday of Occupy: Reflections on New York's Fattest
We lost the black bloc after a couple more swirls and hooked up with some splinter of the Guitarmy, led by two young men with cheap acoustic guitars. We found an intersection already full of stopped cars, walked into the middle of it and sang several verses of “The Times They Are A-Changin’”. The two guitar players were only intermittently familiar with the chord progression and lyrics, but we made a lot of noise. Finally, one of the white-shirted middle-management cops (more fat-necked than fat) dared to come into the street and scream that he was going to arrest us for singing in a traffic jam. So we walked into a Starbucks and sang several more verses, until the middle-management cop came in and screamed that he was going to arrest us for...I don’t know...maybe the crime was singing folk songs for free when Starbucks was trying to sell them on overpriced CDs by the cash register. The veins were popping out of his fat neck, I remember that.
“Those cops must be getting blue balls,” said a friend. “By the time enough of them show up with their clubs out, we’re gone.”
I never saw the scheduled Labor Walk of Shame at 8:30 a.m. Nor did I witness any of the 10 a.m. Storm Wall Street thing, whatever it was, if it happened. I did go to the 11:15 Action Spokescouncil at Bowling Green park. They had many “report backs,” with all the spokespersons from the various AGs describing to the large crowd a feeling exhilaration and satisfaction with swirling. The police had two or three helicopters doing their own swirl overhead, making it difficult to hear. There were also hundreds of people milling about the open space around the Bowling Green subway stop, and another large contingent in Zucotti Park/Liberty Plaza, and an unknown number still blocking traffic around Wall Street. And it just kept going all afternoon. A good time was had by all, except maybe by the morbidly obese, who were gassed before their deep-fried lunch. At last count 185 honorable Occupiers got arrested, or allowed themselves to be arrested.
When Occupy Wall Street started on September 17, 2011, everyone remarked on the brilliance of the slogans. It was like Madison Avenue with a conscience. All the imagery of the oppressed 99% versus the opulent 1% caught the country’s imagination as much as the actual encampment. Many stirring chants, like “Banks got bailed out, we got sold out!”, followed from the basic insight that the many were getting screwed by the few. The Democrats looked on enviously while never missing an opportunity to demoralize their own voters. “Lets steal some of that Occupy language while raising most of our money on Wall Street” was their response. It fell flat, and now we are in the middle of yet another presidential campaign that is more dismal than the last. Dismal, dismal, dismal--all the way back, and all the way forward. The Democrats learned nothing from Occupy Wall Street, least of all courage.