The evening meeting of the General Assembly.
  • Andy Haynes
  • The evening meeting of the General Assembly.
I had to work late on Thursday, so I arrived at Zuccotti Park around 7 p.m.

The park, if you weren't reading yesterday morning, is where the Wall Street protests are being held—excuse me, where the occupation is occupying. Don't worry if you've never heard the word Zuccotti before. I don't know if the protesters know that's what the park's called, either.

I call it Stinky Town, USA. Parks in New York are often occupied, but this time it's different. More people sleeping there than usual, you get the point. Luckily, I was able to show up right around the beginning of the General Assembly—not the United Nations kind, where dictators give speeches and Palestine fails. This is the Occupy Wall Street General Assembly, where everybody gets to talk.

EVERYBODY.

Occupy Wall Street holds its General Assembly twice daily, at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. And like I said, EVERYBODY gets to talk—at least everybody who signs up. (What is this, Germany? Maaaaannn...)

No one's allowed to use amplified sound at this protest—i.e., a mic—so the speakers speak in short soundbites, which are repeated in yell format by a designated yeller. Then the entire group repeats whatever the yeller just said. The Revolution will not be amplified, at least not electronically.

This tedium goes on for hours, TWICE DAILY. The assemblies cover the goings-on of the shire / fun tent city / shitty camp ground, as well as agenda items including the schedule of activities (more protesting, woo-hoo!), foodstuffs, what to do about cops, and health-related matters.

Health was a big order of business, or anti-business, because hygiene is severely compromised when living in a city park (or any park for that matter). So showers were being arranged, sleep aids dispersed, and How to Stay Dry lessons were being taught. It had been raining torrentially earlier in the day (because God is on the side of money!) and pneumonia grows in you when you stay wet too long. So I think the point was: If people get sick, they can't protest, and the mustachioed guy from Monopoly wins. By the way, he is the enemy. (Someone Google his name for me.) Anyway, the organizers seemed pretty organized—way to be—and they were dispersing dry socks, tarps, and Bank of America corporate retreat ponchos. I'm not sure about that last one.

Zuccotti Park is the dream of all babies.
  • Andy Haynes
  • Zuccotti Park is the dream of all babies.
I’m impressed by the protestors, and their organizationalness. Which leads me to say I think I'm coming around to them, at least in principle. And not that I was ever against them. I believe in everything they want. (Well, almost everything. I still like the idea of being able to shop at Nordstrom someday.) But protesting takes a maturity / patience / lack of selfishness I don't have, or at least haven’t had yet, and I can’t imagine myself listening to EVERYBODY for two, three-hour-long General Assemblies per day. I’m starting to realize, though, that that’s how it gets done: baby steps. In this case, babies with shitty parents who bring them to live in parks, baby-stepping through grossness. (Though living in a park does seem like a baby’s dream. That and a zoo full of animals made of marshmallows.) I give them a week before they’ve installed a corn-based jungle gym, which they won’t call jungle, because it has “connotations.”

Puppies need jobs, too.
  • Andy Haynes
  • Puppies need jobs, too.
But like I said, I think I’m starting to come around. Because I couldn’t help but think about the protest all day on Thursday. Like: What’s that lady with the beard doing? How many rolled cigarettes have been smoked this week? Is there a kombucha mother starting in a socialist’s vegan boots?

No, seriously. I was at work on Thursday, and I thought a lot about the protest. I’m a mover—like, a move people from one apartment to another person. Many times this is horrible manual labor, and today was no exception. I was moving a wealthy “Brooklyn Mom/Artist”—trust me, there’s enough of them here that it deserves quotations—because her studio was being torn down to build a Whole Foods on the Williamsburg waterfront. (I swear to fucking God all of this is true.) One of the items we were moving, down a metal staircase, was this industrial sewing machine. It weighed a good 200 pounds.

And as I was lifting it with a coworker down the stairs (and silently regretting going to Western Washington University), a liquid began to pour out of it. It was oil. It was all over the stairs. My coworker slipped, and I barely held on as the sewing machine part of the contraption became unhinged and flew past my soft Aryan face. We could have been fucked up, royally, like a drunk king. Luckily we weren’t, but it made me realize that it was not that long ago that tons of regular people, not dumbasses like myself, were working in Brooklyn, America, and getting smashed by industrial sewing machines, and nothing happened.

Upton who? Try the park library.
  • Andy Haynes
  • Upton who? Try the park library.
They just got smashed, and the whole damn trip over here from whatever Jew-hating country they came from was for naught, and the guy who owned said industrial sewing machine just hired another Ellis Island t-shirt wearing mofo, whom he kept for making jorts and jeggings till that mofo too was smashed. It wasn’t until Upton Sinclair and other people actually made it a point to scream the turn-of-the-20th-Century version of that line from the movie Network that people started asking the guy from the Monopoly game to bolt down his industrial sewing machine, so that someday a spoiled whiteboy like myself would almost die in this very old-timey Brooklyn fashion and think, "That’s completely crazy." And I’m sure that took a lot of long, boring, patient work.

Oh my god, I’m catching their disease! Help, I smell bad!

As I left the General Assembly, there were yells, chants, and clapping to note the passage of hour one (out of three) going down. The park had an air of festivity. The Occupy Wall Street people had just been fed their gruel (vegan Aloo Gobi), and despite the meeting going on, music was being played, rolled cigarettes were being smoked, and little circles of young people listening to one old person were forming everywhere. (That old person is most likely a perv, i.e. Donald Sutherland in Animal House.) I heard a girl talking to another woman about how many books she was able to trade. A “journalist” from the Bay Area told me that this was the start of a revolution. He had skipped a trip to Germany, he said, and I assumed it was just so he could stay here and be able to say shit like “revolution” to people. I still might be cynical.

As I continued to hear soundbites about how awesome this all was, and how exciting it was that it was spreading (the MTA and postal unions have both endorsed Occupy Wall Street now), a man was carried out of the crowd by the NYPD Community Affairs people (who wear royal blue coats, and aren’t quite cops, I don’t think they have guns?). He was being searched. I had seen him earlier antagonizing a protestor about “serving his country." He himself had apparently been served a few drinks by his country.

Everything!
  • Andy Haynes
  • Everything!
Anyway, lefty blogger / documentarian types were swarming to... well, document the arrest. They were asking him why he was being arrested, who he was, what his stance on Tower 7 was, and all of a sudden a young black male stood up and shouted “MIC CHECK,” the official protester code for "Listen."

They all listened as he stated, “This man is being removed because he is not one of us. He is a dissenter, and he is saying hateful and hurtful things. He is not welcome here with us, and is being removed!”

The drunk man yelled “Faggots!” as he was taken away by the police. (He apparently had said he had a stick of dynamite to someone, too.) The crowd went back to repeating the words of the designated yeller.

As I watched the man go, a girl walked up to me and asked, “What’s up with that guy?” I told her what I had seen. She said, “So he’s a Wall Street guy.”

Me: “I don’t think so...”

Her: “So he’s not one of us, though?”

Me: “Yeah...”

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Her: “So he’s a Wall Street guy...”

Me: “Sure...”

I’m getting in too deep.

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