It’s been a long day so I’ll make this a short post. It was nasty and cold and wet and sparsely peopled at Zuccotti Park around 5 p.m., and as I stood facing Broadway I had the funny experience of being the unofficial greeter for a whole slew of people who stopped by to see how the Occupation was faring. I spoke with a man from somewhere in Ohio who has tried to be active in his little town but feels frustrated at not being able to get out much of a message other than “Honk If You Support the Middle Class.” Then there was a young man with a few teeth missing who’s “been here since Day One” and is working on a new live streaming effort. The middle-aged French couple in New York for their first visit, the woman apologizing for her limited English and expressing her support along with her sense of foreboding at the bad economic times to come in both of our countries. The young women from San Francisco State, who’ve been participating in the Bay Area. The guy from Richmond, Virginia who asked if he could get under part of my umbrella for a little while. The tiny young woman who looked so hesitant that I mistook her for a newcomer, at which she explained that she works with OWS at another location, but hadn’t been back to the park since the raid. She stood there seeming quite unconcerned by the rain, though she didn’t have a poncho or even a hat, and politely complied when a stocky, jolly woman asked to be photographed standing next to my sign and then wanted multiple shots with and without a flash. I spoke with a man from Occupy Oakland, and a woman about my age who said she’s been to visit Zuccotti Park eight or ten times, and wanted to know, “What are they doing to get rid of these barricades?” She’d come up with a detailed plan for how the park could be configured in a formation she thought should satisfy the neighborhood residents who’d been unhappy with the pre-raid situation: tents should be allowed in 50% of the space, with mandated aisles of a specified width permitting free circulation of pedestrian traffic. “This could go all the way to the Supreme Court,” she said.
One of the guys in DayGlo vests told me (when I asked) that the yellow tape strung from tree to tree and blocking off a substantial portion of the park was there to protect the newly installed rows of winter-hardy foliage plants. A likely story.
From the Library of America’s American Poetry: The Twentieth Century: Vol. II, I read an extraordinarily apt Richard Wright poem called “The FB Eye Blues” (he also has a great selection of haiku–who knew?). “That old FB eye/Tied a bell to my bed stall/Said old FB eye/Tied a bell to my bed stall/Each time I love my baby, gover’ment knows it all” (p. 641). Too bad there weren’t any cops around to listen.