Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Occupy Wall Street Returns to Union Square

Photo: Julia Reinhart
Welcome drummers and clowns and street performers of all varieties - and yes, real activists and protesters too. And with the six month anniversary for OWS on March 17th at Zuccotti park, Occupy was back in business - until the cops kicked them out again on that Saturday night. The Raw Story covers things here with police violence marking the otherwise peaceful protests and bringing back to mind the government oppression of the last days at Zuccotti Park. And so after a full day on the 17th I left at midnight, only to see the protesters physically removed later on TimCast's livestream and an OWS move to Union Square. 

Capt. Ray Lewis
Monday I arrived at Union Square to a more than festive atmosphere. It was like the police had given OWS a gift - a new park to haunt. Befuddled park rangers and police tried their best to deal with a morning crowd, much more spirited than they might have been used to, but somehow in their eyes, you could see they were just waiting for word from above to drop the hammer yet one more time on the Occupy movement. Captain Ray Lewis, a retired Philadelphia police officer was there, just as he had been at Zuccotti, and a whole new generation of New Yorkers seemed to delight in the idea that the fun had finally reached their neighborhood. Occupy was back. At least in spirit.

Throughout the week, police presence had increased and on Tuesday night, the ritual of barricading the place, a Zuccotti staple of American freedom, had returned. But this time, it was the police barricading themselves into a small portion of the park and forcing the protesters onto the sidewalk, a legal sleeping area in NYC, to look back on the cops and taunt them from the outside. A video of protesters "Cop fishing" with a donut shows the Occupy movement has still not lost its sense of humour. Later in the week, I designed the logo above, based on the idea that people were trying to Trademark the Occupy Wall Street concept but didn't have a logo. I thought this solved the problem nicely - to sort of occupy the legal concept of owning intellectual property. It seems things will just get more interesting as this American spring gets under way.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Today's Epiphanies: Goldman Sachs' Executive Director, Greg Smith, Quits - Pat Robertson Endorses Legalisation of Marijuana

"Wake up Dorothy, the tornado's over", said Aunti Em to the American Public. And so today, with a sidebar in the New York Times that features the two most popular stories on Facebook, 'Trending' stories as they say, we are treated to two seeming epiphanies from the far right. 1) Resigning Executive Director Greg Smith in an NYT OpEd: "Why I Am Leaving Goldman Sachs" and 2) Leader of the Televangelist stalwart The 700 Club, 81 year-old Pat Robertson, with the NYT bullet: "Pat Robertson Says Marijuana Use Should Be Legal". Holy shit Tin Man, it seems we have all just woken up from a terrible dystopian nightmare - and are now what? Free? Nah, it's not that good yet, but these two stories are a helluva start for an otherwise slow news day in New York.

Victor Kerlow
Smith begins his revelation with this striking moment of clarity: "TODAY is my last day at Goldman Sachs. After almost 12 years at the firm — I believe I have worked here long enough to understand the trajectory of its culture, its people and its identity. And I can honestly say that the environment now is as toxic and destructive as I have ever seen it." 

Boy howdy, Scarecrow, I believe you have seen the light! But TheDailyMash in London takes things even a shade more truthful in its parody resignation letter from Darth Vader to the Empire. "The firm has veered so far from the place I joined right out of Yoda College", states Vader, " that I can no longer in good conscience point menacingly and say that I identify with what it stands for." Hilarious, but more patently heartfelt than anything in Smith's confession of conscience. I mean, really, where in the fuck did he think he was working for the past twelve years? Oz?

Conversely, on the other side of the right, as if it had two sides, Pat Robertson, a five-decade evangelical leader and outspoken voice of his own moral minority, the Christian Boadcasting Network has come out in favour of the legalisation of Marijuana.
“I really believe we should treat marijuana the way we treat beverage alcohol,” Mr. Robertson said, "I think: this war on drugs just hasn’t succeeded.” And his comments come as music to the ears of many whom have argued that drug laws unfairly attack young minorities. “It’s completely out of control,” he continues. “Prisons are being overcrowded with juvenile offenders having to do with drugs. And the penalties, the maximums, some of them could get 10 years for possession of a joint of marijuana. It makes no sense at all.”

So imagine if you will, that we all woke up one day and everything was fine in Kansas, or Tokyo or dare we say, New York and we could go about our daily business with less fear and a whole lot more hope about the world in general - but oh no.

No high profile resignation from the evil empire that is Goldman Sachs would be complete without a rebuttal from the head Satans named in Mr. Smith's letter. "Our firm has had its share of challenges during and after the financial crisis, but your pride in Goldman Sachs is clear. You’ve not only told us, you have told external surveys", they state, writing to clients to control damage, citing an 89% approval rating from clients and employees. Hmm. Denial. That's a tough one. If I had Goldman Sachs on my couch today I could only advise that maybe they click the red slippers together twice, call Pat Robertson and smoke a joint. Maybe then things would be alright.

D a v i d E v e r i t t - C a r l s o n
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