The Largest Small Place in America.
Zuccotti Park, in lower Manhattan is less than what you would call a square block. But the vibes it gives off are huge.
I am staying at my sis-in-law’s pad in Harlem, If you know NYC, it is 147th and Broadway.
The easiest, cheapest and quickest way to get anywhere in NYC is the subway. I took the storied “A Train” to lower Manhattan and switched trains to a Wall Street stop. I was actually wondering how I was going to find the park. I thought I would have to ask a cop “Which way to the revolution?”
I got off the train, walked up the stairs to the street and was immediately drawn by an energy force. Honestly. I did not even have to look. I just walked two blocks and there it was. The epicenter of a new America. All the reading and watching videos did nothing to prepare me for the next 8 hours of my life. An old saying is you cannot write what you do not know about. I can update that and say you cannot understand a movement, a community or a people until you personally experience it with your eyes and your feet.
Now, I must write about it. The energy force has occupied every pore of my body. I am determined to try to spread the word. So friends, please keep reading and try to excuse the hyperbole I will definitely use. If you had been there, no matter your political persuasion, your age, your race, creed or planet of origin, you would get hyperbolic as well.
I do not even know where to start. Let’s cover that age, creed, race and planet thing first. I would hazard to guess that average age was 30 to 35. 80% white folk including people in Yarmulkes. There were lots of Latinos and blacks and a handful of Asians. Next time someone tells you this is just a bunch of young white hippies skipping class, they are either lying or ignorant. As far as extraterrestrials go, yeah I figure a few of the people I saw did not exactly get there on the subway.
Political persuasion? Well, I approached dozens of people and asked questions like “on a sliding scale 1 to 10, with Adam Smith at 1 and Karl Marx at 10, where do you put yourself?” The average answer was 7, I say average. There were a couple proud 10’s and quite a few 3’s or 4’s.
I asked if they were going to vote in 2012. Most of the people were hesitant to say yes. Many said that they were so disappointed in Obama that they wish they had another viable option. I must say, no one I met there is going to vote for any of the clowns the Republicans are pushing. But I think Obama is in trouble. As the realities expressed in the voices of this movement reach more people, they are going to just stay home in November 2012. There is nothing Obama can do about it either. He cannot reach this new community. He does not speak the language.
Wow, the language. First, I do not think I heard the F word used in anger once in 8 hours. I did hear people say “I hope this makes American wake the f up”. But out of the hundred or so possible uses of the F word, not a single “F’n wall street” or “F’n government” and certainly not a single “F you”. The overall civility of this community is not only impressive, it is inspiring.
Much more to come on the language. I will incorporate the language into my snapshot views of events of the day. It might sound like I have stopped speaking English.
I went to two GAs. I did not get stacked. I participated in the mic checks. OK, in English.
A GA is a General Assembly, but no one calls them that. These were both special GAs to deal with an impending invasion of the park by Mayor Bloomberg’s forces at 7 a.m. the next day. This is a really big deal. By the time you read this the community may be gone. Here is the situation, and believe me this was the topic everyone was discussing. Some background. Zuccotti Park is a privately owned piece of land. It is open to the public to enjoy and eat their lunch. It is a hangout for wall street brown baggers, you know, the little people without expense accounts. The company that owns it wants the stinking hippies gone. On the board of directors of the company sits Bloomies girlfriend. So, he is taking the boys in blue, making them wear brown shirts on Friday morning and invading the park. We shall see what happens.
Getting stacked means being put in the queue to speak at the GA. The facilitator stacks you, and you will get your turn.
When your turn comes, you yell out MIC CHECK. Then everyone around you yells MIC CHECK. Then everyone further out in the crowd yells MIC CHECK. Then you say GOOD AFTERNOON. Then everyone around you yells out GOOD AFTERNOON. Then everyone further out in the crowd yells GOOD AFTERNOON. Then you say WHAT I NEED TO SAY IS. Then everyone around you yells WHAT I NEED TO SAY IS. Then everyone further out in the crowd yells WHAT I NEED TO SAY IS. Basically you speak in short phrases, and a thousand people repeat what you just said very loudly. A woman said I LOVE YOU, and a thousand people yelled out I LOVE YOU. She just needed to hear it!
There is a form of communication which I think is based on American Sign Language, but I’m not sure. If someone is speaking, you do not clap or yell “right on” or boo or anything, because you are too busy participating in the MIC CHECKS. So if you like something you raise a hand and wiggle your fingers. If you like it a lot you raise both hands. If you don’t like it, you point your fingers downward. The MIC CHECKS are made necessary because the cops outlawed bullhorns, or any form of amplification, probably because of all the businesses surrounding the park. So…they have to put up with a couple thousand people screaming everything. HA HA
I had lunch with a guy my age who is in charge of sorting and delivering contributions that are coming in literally by the ton. People across the country are sending stuff to a UPS office a block from the park. The manager of the office supports OWS, but all of a sudden his facility is chock full. The local teachers union had some basement space warehouse nearby, and now it is getting full also. People are sending in everything a community needs from drinking water to blankets to Imodium by the case. The biggest problem they have is money orders. They are at a loss as to what to do with over $100k seems how anything they could buy is being donated anyway.
All these facts and figures and short stories do nothing to convey the sense of “WE THE PEOPLE”, the feeling of ‘THIS IS THE BEGINNING” and the awe at the fact that what started as a small group is now a nationwide happening, and still growing.
And to sum it all up, the beautiful thing is nobody is making demands, there are no leaders. To the establishment OWS is an enigma wrapped in a puzzle. To the people in the country, they are hearing the basic fact that it is time to WAKE THE FUCK UP BECAUSE WHAT WE GOT IS NOT WORKING ANY MORE!
I honestly can say I watched history being made.
That’s it folks. If you liked this post, go to occupywallstreet.org and make a donation. Thanks for reading.Welcome to the new world!