occupy wall street

I have not been in lower Manhattan since September 14, 2001.

The last time I was in the neighborhood, the twisted steel girders from the World Trade Center were still smoldering. I could see that the Trade Center was gone, but it just did not comprehend it. I stared and stared, and tried to understand that it was gone. All gone.

I’ve been in Tribeca and the Lower East Side many times since 9/11 (I met Top Cat at a party in the old Meat Packing District in 2003) but I haven’t been near Wall Street for a decade.

The new Freedom Tower that is ring up in place of the Trade Center looks like it will be a beautiful building:

The reason I was in lower Manhattan is because I wanted to see Occupy Wall Street, so Top Cat and I drove in. It took us 40 minutes to find a parking space — the whole area is a huge tourist attraction now, now that it’s called “Ground Zero” (a name I loathe).

We entered Zucotti Park down by the Faith Tree.

The Faith Tree is a meditation circle that is the official “quiet zone” of Occupy Wall Street. You can see that people put little totems up and sit in contemplation here. That’s a photo of John and Yoko in the center, above a Petition For World Peace. That green and purple sign says “Community Altar. Sacred Space”. There’s little American flag there, incense, potted plants, picked flowers, and candles.

The park was packed with people, occupiers and visitors. We walked up to the end of the park where some clergy people were holding an outdoor service. The lady minister wore a turquoise jacket that you can see in the background.

I liked this guy in the hard hat with the tiny American flag on the top.

You’ve probably heard that the occupiers are not allowed to have tents at Zucotti  Park. But they can have cardboard boxes and tarps. Here’s an occupier at home in his cardboard abode:

Getting his sign ready for the next march.

This is the famous “grey water” purification system that the Occupiers use to water the plants at Zucotti Park.

This kid was doing his Holding Up The Sign For Tourists duty, eating a popcicle. I thought he was extremely cute. If that were my kid, I would be extremely proud that he was fighting oppression there at the grey water station.

I was excited to see the Press Working Committee in action —

—there were about five bloggers hammering away at lap tops, oblivious to the throng. In fact, it seemed that the occupiers were mostly oblivious to the crowds, busy doing their Sunday afternoon prep for the working week ahead.

I LOVED the Occupy Wall Street Think Tank stand:

The sign had an email address, with little arrows pointing to plastic bowls, “Deposit Ideas Here”.

And I had to get a picture of the guy holding up his iPad Protest thingy:

It says OTC Derivatives. I don’t get  it.

This whole Occupy Wall Street is  such a Baby Boomer-free movement — that that was one of the reasons I wanted to head down here , to show up for the nest generation. But I was happy to see a few fellow Boomers hanging out with the kids:

I also had another two reasons for coming down to OWS in person. I wanted to give them money for food, so I found the Food Working Group at their open buffet:

It was very well organized, with lots of pizza and rice and vegetarian dishes on a long table. People waited in line with a paper plate to choose from about a dozen hot dishes (and you can see that the food servers were wearing gloves — nice!).

 I had planned on giving lots of money. I asked the guy, “Can I make a cash donation?” and he said  “Sure!” And he pointed to a small locked tin, into which I stuffed $100.

I was also lugging two large tote bags of books for the library. Occupy Wall Street has a lending library and I had  some very good books  I had travel books, half a dozen Calvin and Hobbes books, Christopher Hitchens and Martin Amis books.

This is the library at Occupy Wall Street:

And these are the librarians at Occupy Wall Street:

I talked to these librarians, and there wre serious book lovers. They were very happy with my donation — they have a system. Each book that they take into the library is marked on the top of the pages with black magic marker “OWS” with a number. They have a ledger into which the book title and number is entered, and then it’s put on the shelves and people check them out.

Yes, those are copies of my book in that photo (lower left corner. I gave them three copies of When Wanderers Cease to Roam and I wasn’t going to mention anything, but Top Cat picked up one  and told the young man, “This is the book that my wife wrote!”

“Wow,” the guy said (which I thought was awfully sweet of him). “Would you autograph it for us?”

So I did, one book. I wrote:

Occupy Wall Street, October 16 2011

Occupy Everywhere! Vivian Swift

It is my dream that one day I will find that book selling on eBay for an obscene amount of money.

We’d had enough of the crowds by then, so Top Cat and I were edging our way out of Zucotti Park when we saw John Oliver from The Daily Show with a fim crew walk right past us.

And right before we exited, an occupier asked us if we would like to take home this:

Thank you, Occupy Wall Street.

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So me and my sister Buffy took our un-ironed selves down to the First General assembly of Occupy Wall Street at Washington Square Park last Saturday, Oct. 8, 2011.

Buffy made us two matching signs that read: “I Am The 99%” — this is her picture from before we dove into the gathering, standing at the famous Washington Square arch:

And this is her picture that showed up on the famous website Gawker when they reported on the event later that day:


(In case you can’t read the sign, here’s a close up:)

Her sign — I Am The 99% — means, of course, that we are of the 99% of Americans who did not rape our beloved capitalist system of the USA with fraudulent and criminal bank loans/steals, yet we are the 99% being held accountable financially and politically for the devastation that has ravaged our society for these past three years (and for generations to come).

This is the Occupier “wave”, the way we all signify that we like what the speaker is saying — raising our arms and wiggling our fingers — instead of cheering or clapping. It’s very restful, and makes you laugh when you see all those arms shoot up and all them digits flapping in the breeze. (There was no breeze on that day BTW. It was hot and  sunny, and Buffy and I were glad to use or signs as shade devises.)

A lot of people asked if they could take pictures of me and Buffy holding our signs. Did I tell you that Buffy is my identical twin sister and we both had  khaki pants and white shirts on? Yeah. Cute. And plus, we’re, like, old.

These guys (see below) were standing next to us right before the General Assembly began, and they asked Buffy for a pen so they could write “I Am The 99%” on their coffee cups, and hold them up to let their freak flags fly:

Once the General Assembly began,  we were asked to sit down in front so that the thousands in back of us could see. This is what I call my “Occupy Wall Street” neighborhood (the people I stared at for the next hour or so, during the speeches):

Buffy and I both thought this was the cutest guy in the neighborhood:

As you can see, Buffy and I were right in the front of the Assembly. We could hear the speakers just fine, but as the speakers were not allowed any amplification, we were part of the Human Microphone that, in a chorus of 200 or so, repeated every few words of speech so that it could be heard, and relayed, to the back of the crowd.

It was a HOOT to be part of a chanting crowd.

This is the guy (see below) from Egypt’s Tahrir Square who came all the way from Cairo to add his support to Occupy Wall Street — the things he said got a lot of “Like” signs, even though he mentioned revolution:

OK, you can’t really see Mohammad in this shot — but you can see the speakers facing us, and although I have a lot of photos of the scrum of photographers who were crowding the speakers area you can’t really get a good idea of how many media-types there were, snapping photos like crazy. HUNDREDS. Maybe dozens. About 40.

Now, I haven’t been to Zucotti Park since it was occupied, but I know Zucotti Park and it’s nothing even close to a “park”, by the way. Even in the best of times it’s a shitty paved plaza with some crappy potted trees, so don’t worry that it’s being a green space that’s being trampled to death.

I’d love to see how it’s been humanized, colonized by My People.  I want to go down and hang one day soon. You too!

Come on down!

We Are The 99%.

We’re Too Big To Fail.

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