Liberty Plaza 10/5/11: Protesters, Cops and the Greatest Reality Series Ever
It has been several weeks since my last blog post. Or several lifetimes, I am no longer sure. It is almost impossible to keep up with the events of each day, when seemingly each moment has transcendent significance. A threshold has been crossed, where it is no longer possible to simply live in the moment, breathe it in and experience it for oneself as a first-hand witness. By the time you process it, it has already been seen by a few thousand people. We have seemingly evolved countless sets of eyes overnight. The witness is much less powerful than the media device that documents and transmits to the eyes of the world.
Each moment is now a meta-reality, recorded on cell phones and cameras, live-streamed on the internet all over the world. The news cycle is now as instantaneous as a Tweet or a Facebook post. The corporate media, which took nearly two weeks and hundreds of arrests to take the Occupy Wall Street movement seriously, has been exposed as what the internet generation has long believed it to be: a Dinosaur dying off in Darwinian fashion as it is too old, slow, and entrenched in a system maladapted to the new paradigm emerging before our very eyes.
It is a peculiar feeling to be living in such a context. To know with absolute certainty that I am, in my actions and my physical surroundings, at the center of something truly historic and perhaps even the beginning of a new era in human history, and yet to experience the mainstream channels of information responding with such blatant hesitation, reluctance and outright denial, is utterly fascinating. How deeply they've conditioned us, and for so long. But the spell has been broken. The corporate media is quickly trying to recover, to act like it has been there with us the entire time. Sometimes they even offer complimentary words. But I will never forget those first 10 days, as we, American citizens slept outdoors on Wall Street's doorstep, constantly facing police intimidation, and the media were no where to be found.
It is odd for me even despite the fact I was pretty much the first representative of the movement to break through the corporate media blackout, appearing in interviews on MSNBC, Countdown with Keith Olbermann and Liberty Watch with Judge Napolitano. In each of these instances I recieved my introduction to TV news. Superficial questions, not a lot of time to respond, interruptions, and a clear angle based on network editorial policy. But more difficult was the uncertainty of the movement taking hold, and that my words could impact how the police respond to the situation in Liberty Plaza. I did not want to say something that would prompt the NYPD to end this spectacle in the park before it is given more media attention. Since the media would portray it as nothing more than a few unemployed kids causing a pointless ruckus. But now, the movement has spread beyond the reach of the NYPD or the mainstream media. The corporate media is dying a slow, painful death. The internet, social media and cell phones have already won. And so has our movement.
Give up your home, live in a park, join a movement, and watch as countless packages of food and clothing arrive each day to make sure you are warm and well fed.
Liberty Plaza has obviously changed significantly since the first days. The most incredible thing aside from the way in which we were able to spontaneously come together, form productive working groups and transform a small park in the financial district into a village capable of sheltering and sustaining a movement, was the fact that we were assisted throughout the entire process by faceless contributors who responded to our every need. The occupiers of Liberty Plaza formed a group mind and quickly met urgent collective needs. But the disembodied eyes and hearts and minds in the digital world made all of this much more easy and efficient, in ways unthinkable in previous decades. Our village is a meta-village. It exists physically in a specific location, on Broadway between Liberty and Cedar. It exists in cyberspace and will continue to exist even if we are forced from this location. And as a result of it existing in meta-reality, there are now occupations in over 80 cities in the U.S. As the movement continues to grow and to occupy new territory, the digital reality continues to grow and remains equally significant. The occupiers depend on the support and solidarity of those who follow in the digital realm. This blog post has come to you later than I would have liked. But it does so with the direct assistance of our supporters and online occupiers. My laptop was stolen over a week ago. Liberty Plaza is an amazing place, but it is still subject to the ills of human nature. I was unable to get much writing done, until an angel benefector from California who wishes to remain anonymous responded to a call for help replacing it. It is this generosity, this collective sense of purpose, that is allowing us to change the world. This is the new economy we are creating. A gift economy in which needs are responded to quickly and purposefully to fulfill the higher purpose of the greater whole. It is this that gives me faith we can build a sustainable future in which everyone can utilize their talents as they are called and no one is left behind for lack of care or resources. It is in our grasp, if we truly want it.
My interview with Keith Olbermann
Webster Tarpley and Alex Jones appropriate my name and image (at 7:50)
The last thing I want to touch on, but ties into the earlier ideas, has to do with celebrity culture. Liberty Plaza is now the most interesting place in New York City, and as such, the world. In the early stages of the ancient Greek city-states, they had the agora, the open space where free people would gather to debate publicly, to be seen and to be heard. Liberty Plaza is the modern equivalent. It is a marketplace of ideas, a beacon of open democratic process, and a mecca of art and culture. At any given time you are apt to hear a speech from a leading intellectual or be treated to an impromtu performance by a famous musician or artist. Celebrity media figures from Michael Moore to Susan Sarandon have regularly appeared in Liberty Plaza. You are also just as likely to be interviewed and end up a media personality yourself. That has been my recent experience in this journey into the surreal life. After having been pepper sprayed by the police, I was invited on mainstream media shows to share my story. I have learned that once you are in the media, you are a commodity to be consumed as much as anything else.
My life as a media personage as taken on Phillip K. Dickian weirdness. One day my I am accused of being a lazy slacker with nothing better to do, the next I am accused by some of my favorite media figures of being a head honcho in a conspiratorial plot to undermine the movement I am part of. The very first responses to my media appearance that I saw were typical youtube comments that I would expect, criticizing my appearance as the look of a "slacker hippie", rather than engaging in the ideas presented. Then things took a bizarre turn when Webster Tarpley and Alex Jones, two people whom I respected for their insights and non-mainstream opinions, actually accuse me of being a pawn for George Soros and trying to undermine the movement to serve the globalist agenda. First of all, the fact that they can make such unsubstantiated claims without even speaking with me or evaluating my history is extremely disturbing. Is this how they come up with their theories on a routine basis? What is worse, they are exploiting the fact that I was on TV, as a victim of pepper spray and police violence, and twisting it for their own concocted story and for their own financial gain. It is completely depressing coming from them as I actually was a regular listener and reader of theirs. Now, it has been exposed to me that they are not interested in facts. They have an agenda just like the mainstream media they decry. They are willing to throw and innocent victim and an honest protester, as well as an entire movement, to the wolves so long as it backs the agenda they serve. I have learned a lot about media in the course of a few weeks. It is the 99%. 99% bullshit.
We are living in an historic moment. A generation has literally taken the course of history in its hands. It is time for us to step up, to end the fear and division that the media has sold us for so long. We are united. We are one. We are the 99%, and we cannot be stopped. We will not settle for little concessions or reforms. We know we have been lied to, repeatedly, and stolen from every step of the way. It is our destiny to throw off the liars, cheats and oppressors. We will not trust media that has decieved us over and over again. We will trust our eyes, the eyes of our village, our meta-village, our cameras and videos.
This is our moment. Our MLK moment. Our Gandhi moment. We will seize it. We will win.