The three week experiment in America’s greatest financial capital is starting to take it’s toll – just not for the intended. For those who do not know, #OWS is encamped in New York’s latest tourist trap: Wall Street. Financiers spend most of their days commuting to mid-town, Connecticut or Jersey City vs. downtown. Those who do work downtown are journalists, camera men and women, hotel workers, cooks, document verifying managers, and of course construction workers focused on rebuilding the nearby Ground Zero. Those folks are the missing middle class which OWS is supposedly up in arms trying to save.
Zuccotti Park – the home front to the cardboard wielding, “over-educated”, under motivated base of unemployed supposedly feed up with Wall Street’s greed, indifference and cronyism – is surrounded by three great pillars of art and architecture. The main sculpture in the park is by artist Mark di Suvero. His 70 foot sculpture is now adorned with the latest daily posting of the 7 or so “working” groups that make up OWS inner operations when not in “General Assembly” mode. The second pillar is actually the World Trade Center Tower 4 swiftly rising at Ground Zero – just to the northeast corner of Zuccotti and across the street from the #OWS Burger King internet cafe. Above and towards Wall and Maiden Lane rests the cylindrical marvel by Isamu Noguchi. The irony for OWS is that banks, landowners and the city/state enabled the artists to create great installations for public display – and now act as shelter to 200 hundred or so sleeping bags. Without the involvement of the excessive coffers of Chase Manhattan – and arguably our bailout dollars, the Noguchi garden found around the corner from the Brown Brother’s Harriman installation of Noguchi’s Red Cube would not be shelter to their pickets and wickets.
From the funnels of frustration expressed by the 60’s revisionists children in the park has evolved core competencies desired from the “revolt”. There is a security task force, a food bank – fueled by recent deliveries of a local pizzeria, water desalination stations using high school biology to turn murky water into a somewhat palatable stock, an OWS Espanol booth, a free library, a free clothing section and of course the arts and culture committee – a few decked out in Marie Antoinette garb handing out cake. In pure political science – these are anything but freedom seeking capitalists desiring a democratic change in society. In fact, a high school course once referred to the purported dissolution of Capitalism into Communism or perhaps Lenin-Marxist style rule. Sadly – or perhaps greatly, the free speech found in the park is only possible because it sits in the confines of the US of A as we know it.
The Occupy Wall Street goal with the arts – borrowed motives from CHE, from Gandhi, from lost beatniks who smoked their way to oblivion and a yearning for Woodstock daily. Denverites and eager New Jersey growers – will be happy to know (as with most of the West) that Occupy wants hemp legalized! Most in the crowd are children of the parents from the sixties. Those same parents who have earned millions to live downtown in New York City, who leave their high schoolers to prowl on skateboards and their college graduates to flounder for their roots. As for the arts, the “Obey” antics of Shepard Fairy and Banksy are amiss – none so talented have adorned their message on the makeshift or the permanent. The medium likely though to prevail from this movement – creatively crafted new media. Videos like that created by Alex Mallis and Lily Henderson and shown here.
In plain English: the arts and culture community of OWS leaves a lot to be desired to date. Simple “black power” type fists as logos or banning loan sharks icons is the only apparent means this group has to raise funds to support their cause – of course that is beyond the misguided alignment with unions desperate for party representation. And by selling their t-shirts online, or receiving pledges by internet donation buttons, they undoubtedly succumb to the freedom and commerce that they oppose. Wall Street is inconvenienced for a few weeks in the OWS current form.
Wall Street will only be able to worry when transactions cease. Most Americans appreciate the ability to have commerce conveniently and electronically available. When the city cuts the power, and the imported oil fueled generators run empty, this revolt likely will be a limited movement in America’s short history. That is of course unless a voice rises from the crowd who can lead and carry the movement forward.