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Friday, November 11, 2011
Current Affairs ... Politics ...

(With all due apologies to those of you who enjoyed the 1960’s ballad “McArthur’s Park”.) Actually, with the cooler autumn weather coming in, the refrain should become “freezing in the dark”.

But seriously, I finally got down to the Manhattan financial district to have a look at Occupy Wall Street. Which of course is actually located three blocks north of Wall Street in Zuccotti Park, near the fallen and now re-rising World Trade Center complex.

I have a few comments about what I saw, but I know that you first want to see the pix! So here they are:

More follow! Click at right to open them.

And last but not least, some personal and political commentary from OWS:

My impressions? First off, the park is smaller than I would have imagined. Second, the whole scene is rather sedate. I didn’t see all that many of the people actually doing the “occupying”; I saw a lot more plastic tents, photographers and tourists like myself, and police, as opposed to real occupiers. A handful of them surround the perimeters collecting donations, handing out literature, and chatting with anyone interested. But Zuccotti Park doesn’t appear to be teeming with occupiers; and those that were there weren’t doing very much. There were no marches or chanting, very few placards being held, no clenched-fist singing of L’Internationale. “Enslaved masses, stand up, stand up, the world is about to change its foundation . . .” Perhaps the cool weather (in the low 40s) put a damper on spirits.

Third, despite their overwhelming presence, the NYPD is not being obnoxious (hey, a lot of cops are probably getting overtime ’cause of this, so why should they want it to end). There is a movable rail perimeter around the park, but no one bothers you on the sidewalk. It seems like just another Manhattan tourist attraction, with plenty of people like myself taking pics. Fourth, the signs and placards that are visible indicate an eclectic mixture of concerns, most prominently student loan burdens, organized labor gripes, and military veterans issues.

And interestingly, there is a quotient of capitalist entrepreneurship going on amidst the occupation. A handful of vendors have custom-made buttons and T-shirts for sale at tables placed alongside the occupiers; you know these were made in China and imported by some multi-national corporation. I paid $3 for a “I’m The 99%” button!

And so, the surrounding temples of international capitalism and private wealth (as propped up by federal government rescue funds taken from taxes paid by the 99%) in lower Manhattan hardly have anything to worry about. Construction of the new World Trade tower complex just a block or so to the north proceeds unaffected.

And yet, despite my lack of enthusiasm for the “occupy” approach and philosophy, I couldn’t help but feel sympathy when being up close to it. I actually left a few bucks in the collection bucket and waved supportively to those manning the fence. I couldn’t help but sympathize when seeing the occupiers up close (what few I did see). They are trying to change the world; it probably won’t change much, but you gotta give them credit for coming together and trying.

◊   posted by Jim G @ 2:19 pm      

  1. Jim, Interesting. Somehow that’s about the most I can say. That is an observation of the Occupy movement, not of your reporting or pictures. Not being anywhere near where I can personally observe the situation myself, your pictures do convey very well a sense of what the whole thing is about.

    Odd, isn’t it, that for a “movement to change something” it seems to be generating so very little enthusiasm and/or sense of serious energy being put forth for a cause on the part of either the “occupiers”, those being “occupied”–as in “Wall Street” (seems no response there at all, almost a “who cares?”), or in those observing.

    It’s almost a what’s wrong with this picture type of thing, seems to me. (Again, let me make clear: I am not addressing this observation to your pictures but to the movement itself that one gets a very good sense of from your pictures.) Not that there should be violence at all. But when one thinks of past movements–particularly peaceful, passive, non-aggressive ones–there seemed to be a sense of real enthusiasm for the cause, energy being expended to effect some change.

    Unless I’m missing something (which I may be), I find myself wondering just what the Occupy movement is all about. Maybe that’s exactly what the problem is–no really specific goal, at least that is publicized and well known to all onlookers. And then too, there is no dynamic, charismatic, dedicated to the good of the people, involved leader.

    Unfortunately, it seems that unless these two things–a specific goal however intangible it may be and a dynamic leader–are “added” to this mix, it is likely that the Occupy movement may simply fade away as the colder weather sets in. Or it may turn into a place for the homeless to take shelter in the colder weather.

    At this point I find myself disappointed in this movement. The Oakland group got violent–not good. The NYC group seems almost a “so what?” I find myself asking, does anyone care, really? As to the cities in the rest of the country joining in this movement, I hear less and less about it all, especially in my own area which for about 5 days was enthusiastic. Around here they marched through downtown areas and then…. Seems nobody has heard from them around here lately.

    Is this generation taking the same approach to this movement as it has taken to so much else in its life–a lackidaisical approach? I’m really disappointed in this group at this point. As I just wrote that I found myself thinking, is it really a “group”? Or is it just an amalgam of people sitting/standing around, almost looking for something to do. What a shame. MCS P.S. Your pictures convey the mood perfectly.

    Comment by Mary S. — November 12, 2011 @ 7:39 pm

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