Sunday, October 30, 2011

Occupy Wallstreet bears winter, wolves, and zombies

Deep into its second month, the continuous protests in Zuccotti Park have faced their first winter nights and appear to still be going strong. Saturday night brought bitter cold and wet, piercing snow to the shanty-like collection of tents, many of which collapsed under the weather. "Hunker down, it's Valley Forge!" Roared a piratey protester as he charged by in the wind, and others abjectly implored the few passerby for laundry money. One could also find hula-hooping UFOs, from time to time.

The movement carries within it contradicting impressions that manifest themselves simultaneously, to jarring effect. I stood and withstood a dreadlocked moron babble at me about drugs, booze, fat bottoms, and bouts of the Chiquita banana song when I asked him about the most responsable way to discard my banana peel. Other people were engaged in ego battles left and right, yelling predictably obtuse things at each other and storming out of one another's squatted territory. Various factions factionalizing, various hot-heads being hot. The storm grew more bitter. The next morning a rough-voiced, ex-con, angry white man who kept referring to me as 'n**ger' informed me that if one more person took his photo he'd break their camera. When I pointed out that he was at a demonstration, holding a sign no less, he threatened to break my camera. I deferred to his persuasive tactics.

As a counterpoint, everywhere people were getting stuff done. Trucks roll in with donated food, prepared offsite, students compile surveys from their schools that show misconceptions about the protest and then field them to the protesters, creating statistical dialogues, lawyers discuss direct action vs. rule of law, donated transport shows up to house unprepared people temporarily in homeless shelters, and even in the driving rain a General Assembly meeting is held.

All in all it's pretty much like real life. Some people are principled and step up to contribute, others only contribute occasion for facepalm reactions. Little things that are hard to stomach, like the movement's wholesale dependence on a nearby McDonalds for nighttime bathroom relief, are offset by things like Time's Up's (an environmental bicycle co-op/group which I've been volunteering for) appearance with electric bikes to help the movement power things more sustainably.

Everything re-emerged in full force the morning after the storm. My friend Cressa donned her home-stitched Halloween costume and used it as protest art. It was adorable.

She single-handedly created a media frenzy. The cameras were out! and so were smart, engaging protesters. This guy knew what's up. Side note: he's also a hunk.

Speaking of hunks, there was this kid, whom I'm doing the disservice of forgetting his name. He made cookies for the occupiers, which were damn good. I can't wait 'till you grow up to be the best anarchist intellectual baker there ever was, dude.

There were also,of course, Zombies.

Yes, that appears to be a man dressed as a giant French bedbug in the background. No, I don't know why. The world keeps spinning, Zuccotti Park stays occupied, and I still don't have a job. Welcome to New York!

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