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 the verses, 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 reporting 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. 185 honorable Occupiers got arrested, most allowing themselves to be arrested.
When Occupy Wall Street started on September 17, 2011, everyone remarked on the brilliance of the slogans. All the imagery of the oppressed 99% versus the opulent 1% caught the country's imagination as much as the actual encampment. Many great 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.
My own favorite Occupy slogan emerged from the dark tents of the lumpenized/bohemian elements: "sh*t is fucked up and bullshit." The first time I heard it, probably last October, I laughed out loud. It was perfect in its lack of art, theory, grace, abstraction, education or pretense. It was at once inarticulate and eloquent, stupid and profound. It was Zen in its brevity and hints of vastly deeper insight. You didn't need to understand Marx's theory of surplus value, you didn't need to understand the nuances of gambling on bubbles of collateralized mortgage obligations. You just needed to understand that sh*t was fucked up and bullshit. And if you did understand, you had to act.
At first I assumed it must be a quote from some rapper I didn't know. But I asked around, and everybody insisted it came out of the park, even though nobody knew who originated the phrase. Maybe someone said it at a general assembly and it got echoed by the people's microphone. The mainstream of Occupy, wary of offending the middle class, never pushed the slogan, but it lived on as an inside joke among the cognescenti of rebellion.
I was happy to see "sh*t Is Fucked Up And Bullshit" on a sign someone was carrying in the distance on Monday. The slogan perseveres. Occupy perseveres. Wall Street would love to forget it. The corporate media would love to forget it. Both political parties would love to forget it. The union leaders who have thrown in again with Democrats would love to forget it. The sectarian far left, always uncomfortable with a large tent, would love to forget it. But they can't forget, whatever they all claim, because sh*t is still fucked up and bullshit.
CHARLES M. YOUNG is a founding member of ThisCantBeHappenng!, the new independent Project Censored Award-winning online alternative newspaper. His work, and that of colleagues JOHN GRANT, DAVE LINDORFF, LORI SPENCER and LINN WASHINGTON, JR., can be found at www.thiscantbehappening.net
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