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“The Degree to Which You Resist, Is the Degree to Which You Are Free” – Phil Rockstroh (Common Dreams (dot) Org)

23 Nov

http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/11/23

Published on Wednesday, November 23, 2011 by CommonDreams.org

“The Degree To Which You Resist Is The Degree To Which You Are Free.”

I’ve noticed a meme beginning to fester among liberal insiders who are positing that the Occupy Wall Street movement is starting to “distract” the citizenry from the wicked machinations of Republicans of the legislative class.

Nonsense.

The OWS movement is not a distraction from—but serves as an alternative to—the disingenuous theatrics staged by the political hacks of this faux republic. Conversely, movement members have grasped that it is the hollow grandstanding–the modus operandi of the present U.S. political system itself–that serves as distraction from the realities of the day.

Those drawn to the OWS movement realize this: Vast sums of money are required to get the attention of and gain influence over the entrenched class of self-serving political insiders who hustle their wares in Washington, D.C.

Year after year, election cycle after election cycle, Washington’s political class has revealed whose interests it serves. Accordingly, let the 1% and their political operatives continue on their present myopic, self-serving, society-decimating course: By doing so, they will just bring more outraged people into the streets and hasten their own undoing.

Yet, because arrogant power, girded by duplicity and ruthlessly maintained, does not yield without a fight, we should expect more of the following:

Stories are circulating that Clark, Lytle, Geduldig & Cranford, a well-connected Washington lobbying firm, with ties to the financial industry, have floated a $850,000 plan to pillory Occupy Wall Street. This should not come as a surprise. Living in a society dominated by the power of massive corporations, and the inequitable wealth these self-perpetuating organizations have at their disposal, we will be relentlessly subjected to the narratives they generate.

“The most potent weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed.” — Steve Biko

Since birth, most of us have been enveloped by the consumer state’s commercial hologram. Almost every daily act we perform and attitude we evince is in some measure determined by the dictates, demands and the incessant, commercial come-ons (the defacto propaganda) of the corporate state e.g. from what time you rise in the morning, to the food you eat, to what you clothe yourself in, to how you spend your days, to what time you go to sleep at night, to what stories you are audience to–the cultural myths you have internalized–by means of mass media saturation, to the manner you celebrate festivals and holidays, to how your illnesses and of those around you will play-out, even the circumstances of how you will approach and succumb to your death.

Because these are the waters in which we swim, most will accept societal and cultural circumstances as a given…believing, for example, that when they posit a political utterance that the opinion expressed has been formed exclusively of their own mind, by the exercise of free will.

Accordingly, a large percent of the populace of the U.S. believes consumerism is a form of freedom…that the exercise thereof mainly involves being at liberty to trundle to a mall and be in possession of the right to choose between a big-ass cookie or a giant Cinnabon…that freedom of choice is expressed by over-priced running shoes–or security can be found in a massive SUV.

In this manner, the propaganda campaigns of the corporate/national security state have proven effective at promoting and perpetuating the inequitable status quo in place at the present time. Do not underestimate the well-rewarded, professional con men employed in the criminal enterprise known as “public relations.” Remember, these masters of deceit sell wars, fought by the poor, in which, the underclass kill and die for the profits of a ruthless few. War is a money train for the rich and connected but a death wagon for the rest of humankind.

Ready yourself to be buffeted by a barrage of virtual reality blunderbuss–volley after volley of mainstream media launched Big Lies–and the ground fire of social media small distortions. Don’t walk unarmed into the line of fire.

Remember this: Most likely, the corporate state has, to some degree, colonized your mind, as it is well on its way to destroying the ecosystem of the entire planet.

Conversely, let your soul occupy you. While there might be an ongoing effort to scour Liberty Park of liberty, they cannot do likewise to your heart without your consent. Turn the tables on them: Evict the corporate occupiers from the public realm within–as all the while, you challenge propaganda whenever it crosses your path…on the streets, at your workplace, at family gatherings, and on social media– because a lie left unchallenged begins to be accepted as truth. And worse, invades, colonizes and exploits (and often kills) a portion of the soul of the world.

Importantly, do not underestimate the ruthless nature of calcified power.

Regarding the subject: On Thursday, Nov. 17, near Foley Square, there was blood on Broadway. At the scene, I witnessed thuggish, NYPD motorcycle cops driving directly into groups of peaceful demonstrators, with the intent of antagonizing those gathered, and when people stood their ground and refused to be bullied–then phalanxes of blue shirt bastards, swinging nightsticks, waded into the crowd.

Even with my wife, tugging at the back of my jacket, attempting to tow, as we say down south, my narrow ass away from the direction of injury or jail, I could not contain my outrage; I growled at a smirking cop, gloating over the carnage, “just keep it up, you mindless thug, when you get folks angry enough, the boot just might be on the other neck…namely yours.”

In hindsight, in my own defense: Being on scene and witnessing peaceful people attacked and brutalized, one is apt to become seized by rage.

But what is the mayor of New York City and his Police Commissioner’s excuse?

Mayor Bloomberg, Commissioner Kelley and the ranks of NYPD have proven themselves willing to barricade and checkpoint the city into chaos…as opposed to enduring ongoing moments of freedom of assembly and free expression.

And this is why we must not retreat. Their tactics of repression are very expensive to the city budget, and money is the only thing they love.

Hence, they have, in turn, provided us with a tactic we can use; we can hit them where they feel it. (Conversely, they can take blow after blow to their dignity–because they are devoid of that character trait.)

The ground is shifting below our feet and this phenomenon involves more than the echoing footfalls of marchers and the trudging of militarized formations of riot cops on city streets worldwide.

The first vibrations, closer to tremors, transpired because the ground below us has been fracked of dreams…the void engendered seismological activity. Now, from Cairo, Egypt’s Tahrir Square to Syntagma Square in Athens, Greece to Liberty Park, in New York, New York to Oscar Grant Park, in Oakland, California, we have become like tuning forks, in sympatico with the resonances of the tormented earth.

Subsequently, the walls of the neoliberal prison are cracking…We are no longer isolated, enclosed in our alienation, imprisoned by a concretized sense of powerlessness; daylight is beginning to pierce the darkness of our desolate cells.

“The state can’t give you freedom, and the state can’t take it away. You’re born with it, like your eyes, like your ears. Freedom is something you assume, then you wait for someone to try to take it away. The degree to which you resist is the degree to which you are free.” ~ Utah Phillips

Phil Rockstroh

Phil Rockstroh is a poet, lyricist and philosopher bard living in New York City. He may be contacted at: phil@philrockstroh.com. Visit Phil’swebsite or at FaceBook.

A Message to Trolls Opposing OWS – My note on Facebook

21 Nov
by Kimberley Hannaman-Taylor on Friday, November 18, 2011 at 11:28am

This is a copy of my letter to a FB acquaintance that sent me a link to an image that showed soldiers on one side of the screen captioned: “Those Who Give Everything”  vs. an image of OWS protesters captioned: “Those Who Want Everything.”

I responded to the image thusly:

“This image is offensive. What have you all  (the commentators under the image) done today for your country and/or community other than sit on your asses and bitch about other people’s actions? Shame on all of you.”

I then immediately unfriended and blocked the acquaintance that sent it to me.

He wrote me the following, later that night on Google+.

“hey i dont mean to bug you, and i know you were militantly defriending people. however, youve gotta know that ive spent hours reading the links you shared on your page. also,i know you are pretty deadlocked into your position, but i think if you are not going to address other perspective you will develop a bias (which i guess is only natural?). i guess if one truely wanted to give their life/everything to a cause one could do so via protest/civil disobediance. on the other hand, i dont think protest by itself has everything one needs to better one’s self to better the world. lastly, you are the only person i know of that understands the singularity. that has to count for something right? heh. again sorry to take up your time, but i would really like to continue to follow your coverage, and perhaps celebrate bicycle day with ya’ll eventually.”

I felt pretty humbled by his response and wrote the following in response, which fairly sums up my position over-all and so I am sharing it with you all in an effort to be understood.

Dear (blank):

I apologize for my knee jerk reaction to your post. I must say, I was astonished because I had believed we were simpatico (singularity et al). I found that image offensive on so many levels. To suggest that soldiers give everything while domestic patriots (yes, I believe this movement is the most patriotic motion to occur since the civil rights movement) are acting selfishly is offensive to me.

The ignorance of the trolls is wearing out my patience. I do believe in everyone’s right of expression, but like a bloody accident on the highway, I don’t have to ogle it. The internet allows me to block that which I do not care to view and I’m currently taking the stance that offensive, ignorant propaganda has no place on my page. I don’t care to engage in debate with the unreasonable. Does that make me and my position unreasonable? I suppose you could look at it that way, but it’s better than allowing my faith in humanity to waiver, which it does, ever so slightly, every time I’m exposed to the hateful neo-nazi bs that is running rampant within the opposition. 

I believe this shift is going to occur with or without the xenophobic tyrants who oppose it. I believe the veil will be lifted, is being lifted and that the courage of those who’ve put their necks on the line if only to expose the police state we’re living in as real is a first and crucial step. I’m deeply committed to protecting and propagating this momentum and if I have to lose a few acquaintances along the way to do so, then so be it. 

Whatever you think of OWS and it’s goals and it’s methods, it’s doing these important things: Exposing the truth of our society. Exposing that the police we pay to protect and serve us are actually an army for the financial elite. Exposing that our elected officials are the legal meat puppets of the pirate villains that are robbing our world of it’s resources and human rights. Exposing the mainstream media as the voice of these villains and exposing our society as a dead zone of critical thinking and self absorption. Exposure is our ally. We must look in the mirror, become the change we wish to see in the world, and if need be, give our lives to see the change into fruition. 

I don’t see any other way. The singularity is coming and we can evolve or we can die – first morally (which is nearly complete) and ultimately physically. I choose evolution. Which do you choose? And when?

With hope,

Kimberley

epilogue: I have un-blocked and friend requested him again  in hopes that we can find a common ground and make peace.

Keith Olbermann: Occupy Wall Street Confusing ‘Corrupt’ And ‘Dense’ Media (VIDEO) – Huffington Post

20 Nov
 http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/06/keith-olbermann-occupy-wall-street-media_n_998093.html?ref=fb&src=sp&comm_ref=falseKeith Olbermann lambasted what he saw as the blinkered view of the media towards the Occupy Wall Street movement, and he read out what he said was the first official statement from the protesters — or, as Olbermann put it on his Wednesday show, the group’s Special Comment.Before reading the statement, Olbermann — who has focused nearly all of his show to the movement for weeks — tore into the media, which he said was “too corrupt or too dense to understand anything more complicated than whether the blonde is missing or the verdict is guilty.” He criticized what has become a kind of mantra in some quarters of the media: the desire to know what it is the protesters “want.” Luckily, Olbermann had an answer for those people, in the form of a declaration from Occupy Wall Street. He said that, since it did not list any specific laws the protesters wanted to change, it might “confuse the precocious ninth graders now passing for TV anchor newsmen these days.”Watch Olbermann read the statement, and see the full text of the declaration below.

WATCH:
http://c.brightcove.com/services/viewer/federated_f9?isVid=1&isUI=1

The full text:

As we gather together in solidarity to express a feeling of mass injustice, we must not lose sight of what brought us together. We write so that all people who feel wronged by the corporate forces of the world can know that we are your allies.

As one people, united, we acknowledge the reality: that the future of the human race requires the cooperation of its members; that our system must protect our rights, and upon corruption of that system, it is up to the individuals to protect their own rights, and those of their neighbors; that a democratic government derives its just power from the people, but corporations do not seek consent to extract wealth from the people and the Earth; and that no true democracy is attainable when the process is determined by economic power. We come to you at a time when corporations, which place profit over people, self-interest over justice, and oppression over equality, run our governments. We have peaceably assembled here, as is our right, to let these facts be known.

They have taken our houses through an illegal foreclosure process, despite not having the original mortgage.

They have taken bailouts from taxpayers with impunity, and continue to give Executives exorbitant bonuses.

They have perpetuated inequality and discrimination in the workplace based on age, the color of one’s skin, sex, gender identity and sexual orientation.

They have poisoned the food supply through negligence, and undermined the farming system through monopolization.

They have profited off of the torture, confinement, and cruel treatment of countless nonhuman animals, and actively hide these practices.

They have continuously sought to strip employees of the right to negotiate for better pay and safer working conditions.

They have held students hostage with tens of thousands of dollars of debt on education, which is itself a human right.

They have consistently outsourced labor and used that outsourcing as leverage to cut workers’ healthcare and pay.

They have influenced the courts to achieve the same rights as people, with none of the culpability or responsibility.

They have spent millions of dollars on legal teams that look for ways to get them out of contracts in regards to health insurance.

They have sold our privacy as a commodity.

They have used the military and police force to prevent freedom of the press.

They have deliberately declined to recall faulty products endangering lives in pursuit of profit.

They determine economic policy, despite the catastrophic failures their policies have produced and continue to produce.

They have donated large sums of money to politicians supposed to be regulating them.
They continue to block alternate forms of energy to keep us dependent on oil.

They continue to block generic forms of medicine that could save people’s lives in order to protect investments that have already turned a substantive profit.

They have purposely covered up oil spills, accidents, faulty bookkeeping, and inactive ingredients in pursuit of profit.

They purposefully keep people misinformed and fearful through their control of the media.

They have accepted private contracts to murder prisoners even when presented with serious doubts about their guilt.

They have perpetuated colonialism at home and abroad.

They have participated in the torture and murder of innocent civilians overseas.

They continue to create weapons of mass destruction in order to receive government contracts.*

To the people of the world,

We, the New York City General Assembly occupying Wall Street in Liberty Square, urge you to assert your power.

Exercise your right to peaceably assemble; occupy public space; create a process to address the problems we face, and generate solutions accessible to everyone.

To all communities that take action and form groups in the spirit of direct democracy, we offer support, documentation, and all of the resources at our disposal.

Join us and make your voices heard!

Ten Ways the Occupy Movement Changes Everything

20 Nov

http://www.yesmagazine.org/people-power/ten-ways-the-occupy-movement-changes-everything?fb_ref=likebutton

Many question whether this movement can really make a difference. The truth is that it is already changing everything. Here’s how.
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posted Nov 10, 2011

This Changes Everything Book Cover with Publishing Information

Edited by Sarah van Gelder and the staff of YES! Magazine.
Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2011, 96 pages.
$6.95 (30% off the cover price when you buy from YES!. All royalties from this book are donated to the Occupy Wall Street movement)

Before the Occupy Wall Street movement, there was little discussion of the outsized power of Wall Street and the diminishing fortunes of the middle class.

The media blackout was especially remarkable given that issues like jobs and corporate influence on elections topped the list of concerns for most Americans.

Occupy Wall Street changed that. In fact, it may represent the best hope in years that “we the people” will step up to take on the critical challenges of our time. Here’s how the Occupy movement is already changing everything:

1. It names the source of the crisis.
Political insiders have avoided this simple reality: The problems of the 99% are caused in large part by Wall Street greed, perverse financial incentives, and a corporate takeover of the political system. Now that this is understood, the genie is out of the bottle and it can’t be put back in.

2. It provides a clear vision of the world we want.
We can create a world that works for everyone, not just the wealthiest 1%. And we, the 99%, are using the spaces opened up by the Occupy movement to conduct a dialogue about the world we want.

3. It sets a new standard for public debate.
Those advocating policies and proposals must now demonstrate that their ideas will benefit the 99%. Serving only the 1% will not suffice, nor will claims that the subsidies and policies that benefit the 1% will eventually “trickle down.”

4. It presents a new narrative.
The solution is not to starve government or impose harsh austerity measures that further harm middle-class and poor people already reeling from a bad economy. Instead, the solution is to free society and government from corporate dominance. A functioning democracy is our best shot at addressing critical social, environmental, and economic crises.

5. It creates a big tent.
We, the 99%, are people of all ages, races, occupations, and political beliefs. We will resist being divided or marginalized. We are learning to work together with respect.

6. It offers everyone a chance to create change.
No one is in charge; no organization or political party calls the shots. Anyone can get involved, offer proposals, support the occupations, and build the movement. Because leadership is everywhere and new supporters keep turning up, there is a flowering of creativity and a resilience that makes the movement nearly impossible to shut down.

7. It is a movement, not a list of demands.
The call for deep change—not temporary fixes and single-issue reforms—is the movement’s sustaining power. The movement is sometimes criticized for failing to issue a list of demands, but doing so could keep it tied to status quo power relationships and policy options. The occupiers and their supporters will not be boxed in.

8. It combines the local and the global.
People in cities and towns around the world are setting their own local agendas, tactics, and aims. What they share in common is a critique of corporate power and an identification with the 99%, creating an extraordinary wave of global solidarity.

9. It offers an ethic and practice of deep democracy and community.
Slow, patient decision-making in which every voice is heard translates into wisdom, common commitment, and power. Occupy sites are set up as communities in which anyone can discuss grievances, hopes, and dreams, and where all can experiment with living in a space built around mutual support.

10. We have reclaimed our power.
Instead of looking to politicians and leaders to bring about change, we can see now that the power rests with us. Instead of being victims to the forces upending our lives, we are claiming our sovereign right to remake the world.

Like all human endeavors, Occupy Wall Street and its thousands of variations and spin-offs will be imperfect. There have already been setbacks and divisions, hardships and injury. But as our world faces extraordinary challenges—from climate change to soaring inequality—our best hope is the ordinary people, gathered in imperfect democracies, who are finding ways to fix a broken world.

Tents at Occupy Oakland photo by Seth Schneider

Occupy Oakland.

Photo by Seth Schneider.


This article is adapted from the book, This Changes Everything: Occupy Wall Street and the 99% Movement edited by Sarah van Gelder and the staff of YES! Magazine and published November 2011 byBerrett-Koehler Publishers.

Sarah van Gelder and David Korten are co-founders of YES! Magazine; Steve Piersanti is publisher ofBerrett-Koehler Publishers. This article is available under a Creative Commons Attribution NoDerivs (CC BY-ND) license, which allows for redistribution, commercial and non-commercial, as long as it is passed along unchanged and in whole, with credit to the original publication of this book (photos not included). More on the book and other resources can be found at www.yesmagazine.org/owsbook.

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We Are All Occupiers – Common Dreams (dot) org

20 Nov

http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/11/18-5

Published on Friday, November 18, 2011 by CommonDreams.org

We Are All Occupiers

People the world over salute the Occupy movement for standing up to injustice and fighting for equality at the heart of empire

This is the text of a speech given by Arundhati Roy at the People’s University in Washington Square, NYC on November 16th, 2011.

Tuesday morning, the police cleared Zuccotti Park, but today the people are back. The police should know that this protest is not a battle for territory. We’re not fighting for the right to occupy a park here or there. We are fighting for justice. Justice, not just for the people of the United States, but for everybody.

What you have achieved since September 17th, when the Occupy movement began in the United States, is to introduce a new imagination, a new political language into the heart of empire. You have reintroduced the right to dream into a system that tried to turn everybody into zombies mesmerized into equating mindless consumerism with happiness and fulfillment.

As a writer, let me tell you, this is an immense achievement. And I cannot thank you enough.

We were talking about justice. Today, as we speak, the army of the United States is waging a war of occupation in Iraq and Afghanistan. US drones are killing civilians in Pakistan and beyond. Tens of thousands of US troops and death squads are moving into Africa. If spending trillions of dollars of your money to administer occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan is not enough, a war against Iran is being talked up.

Ever since the Great Depression, the manufacture of weapons and the export of war have been key ways in which the United States has stimulated its economy. Just recently, under President Obama, the United States made a $60 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia – moderate Muslims, right? It hopes to sell thousands of bunker busters to the UAE. It has sold $5 billion-worth of military aircraft to my country, India, which has more poor people than all the poorest countries of Africa put together. All these wars, from the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki to Vietnam, Korea, Latin America, have claimed millions of lives – all of them fought to secure the “American way of life”.

Today, we know that the “American way of life” – the model that the rest of the world is meant to aspire towards – has resulted in 400 people owning the wealth of half of the population of the United States. It has meant thousands of people being turned out of their homes and their jobs while the US government bailed out banks and corporations – American International Group (AIG) alone was given $182 billion.

The Indian government worships US economic policy. As a result of 20 years of the free market economy, today, 100 of India’s richest people own assets worth one-quarter of the country’s GDP while more than 80% of the people live on less than 50 cents a day; 250,000 farmers, driven into a spiral of death, have committed suicide. We call this progress, and now think of ourselves as a superpower. Like you, we are well-qualified: we have nuclear bombs and obscene inequality.

The good news is that people have had enough and are not going to take it any more. The Occupy movement has joined thousands of other resistance movements all over the world in which the poorest of people are standing up and stopping the richest corporations in their tracks. Few of us dreamed that we would see you, the people of the United States on our side, trying to do this in the heart of Empire. I don’t know how to communicate the enormity of what this means.

They (the 1%) say that we don’t have demands… perhaps they don’t know, that our anger alone would be enough to destroy them. But here are some things – a few “pre-revolutionary” thoughts I had – for us to think about together:

We want to put a lid on this system that manufactures inequality. We want to put a cap on the unfettered accumulation of wealth and property by individuals as well as corporations. As “cap-ists” and “lid-ites”, we demand:

• An end to cross-ownership in businesses. For example, weapons manufacturers cannot own TV stations; mining corporations cannot run newspapers; business houses cannot fund universities; drug companies cannot control public health funds.

• Two, natural resources and essential infrastructure – water supply, electricity, health, and education – cannot be privatized.

• Three, everybody must have the right to shelter, education and healthcare.

• Four, the children of the rich cannot inherit their parents’ wealth.

This struggle has re-awakened our imagination. Somewhere along the way, capitalism reduced the idea of justice to mean just “human rights”, and the idea of dreaming of equality became blasphemous. We are not fighting to just tinker with reforming a system that needs to be replaced.

As a cap-ist and a lid-ite, I salute your struggle.

Salaam and Zindabad.

© 2011 Arundhati Roy
Arundhati Roy

Arundhati Roy was born in 1959 in Shillong, India. She studied architecture in New Delhi, where she now lives, and has worked as a film designer, actor, and screenplay writer in India. Her latest book, Listening to Grasshoppers: Fields Notes on Democracy, is a collection of recent essays. A tenth anniversary edition of her novel, The God of Small Things(Random House), for which she received the 1997 Booker Prize, was recently released. She is also the author of numerous nonfiction titles, including An Ordinary Person’s Guide to Empire.

Interview with creator of Occupy Wall Street “bat-signal” projections during Brooklyn Bridge #N17 march

20 Nov

http://boingboing.net/2011/11/17/interview-with-the-occupy-wall.html

By  at 11:15 pm Thursday, Nov 17

REUTERS/Jessica Rinaldi

Earlier this evening, tens of thousands of Occupy Wall Street protesters marched throughout New York City, many making their way on to the Brooklyn Bridge, carrying LED candles and chanting. As Occupiers took the bridge in a seemingly endless sea of people, words in light appeared projected on the iconic Verizon Building nearby:

“99% / MIC CHECK! / LOOK AROUND / YOU ARE A PART / OF A GLOBAL UPRISING / WE ARE A CRY / FROM THE HEART / OF THE WORLD / WE ARE UNSTOPPABLE / ANOTHER WORLD IS POSSIBLE / HAPPY BIRTHDAY / #OCCUPY MOVEMENT / OCCUPY WALL STREET / list of cities, states and countries / OCCUPY EARTH / WE ARE WINNING / IT IS THE BEGINNING OF THE BEGINNING / DO NOT BE AFRAID / LOVE.”

A few hours later I spoke with Mark Read, who organized the “bat-signal” project. He tells Boing Boing why and how he did this, and what technology he used.

http://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/CxG4g62rnd8?rel=0

XJ: How did this come together?

Mark Read: It came up at an action coordination meeting. We were talking about what to do on the 17th. We had a sense that the morning on Wall Street would be forceful and confrontational, and we wanted to not do the same kind of thing in the afternoon. Initial talks focused on having a thousand people taking the bridge in the afternoon, and continuing in a militant mode of activism. But we started thinking about creating a more unifying moment. A celebration of the birthday of Occupy Wall Street. Maybe taking the roadway and having lots of arrests might not be best thing. What if we took the pedestrian walkway, and gave out LED candles? We would give out 10,000 LED tea candles, a river of light streaming over the walkway.

And a guy named Hero, who has been central to a lot of facets of the occupation since the beginning, turns to me and says, “We need a bat signal. The 99%.”

I said, I think I can do that. I know just enough about how the technology works that I think I can pull that off. And for the past two weeks, I’ve worked full time on figuring that out.

My friend Will Etundi, who I know from these renegade street parties, the alter-globalization movementcarnivals against capital—he’s part of a community of friends who deploy spectacle and art in the service of radical politics. Will and I have done other events that were about getting people into public space. Transforming the normal way we use space, turning it into a party, a roving community, something festive and mobile. Through that work, I’d already met people with a variety of skill sets, strange and magical abilities. I got in touch with them right away, and started pulling together a team. Who would have a 12K lumen projector, a big expensive piece of equipment, the most powerful projector you can get?

I knew I wanted to throw it on the Verizon Building. Everyone who lives in New York has looked at that big monolithic structure. For some of us, every time we look at it we think of how cool it would be as a projection surface.

I knew we’d need a powerful projector. But if you had something that expensive on loan for free, you couldn’t just sneak it up on some roof and be in jeopardy.

I knew I had to find someone who lived in a building nearby.

XJ: How did you go about finding someone nearby who would allow you stage this from inside their home?

MR: Opposite the Verizon building, there is a bunch of city housing. Subsidized, rent-controlled. There’s a lack of services, lights are out in the hallways, the housing feels like jails, like prisons. I walked around, and put up signs in there offering money to rent out an apartment for a few hours. I didn’t say much more. I received surprisingly few calls, and most of them seemed not quite fully “there.” But then I got a call from a person who sounded pretty sane. Her name was Denise Vega. She lived on the 16th floor. Single, working mom, mother of three.

I spoke with her on the phone, and a few days later went over and met her.

I told her what I wanted to do, and she was enthused. The more I described, the more excited she got.

Her parting words were, “let’s do this.”

She wouldn’t take my money. That was the day of the eviction of Zuccotti, the same day. And she’d been listening to the news all day, she saw everything that had happened.

“I can’t charge you money, this is for the people,” she said.

She was born in the projects. She opened up her home to us.

She was in there tonight with her 3 daughters, 2 sisters. The NYPD started snooping around down on the ground while the projections were up, it was clear where we were projecting from, and inside it was festive.

“If they want to come up they’re gonna need a warrant!,” her family was saying. “If they ask us, well, we don’t know what they are talking about!” They were really brave and cool.

REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz

XJ: Who wrote the words?

MR: I did. A lot of it is just chants that we’ve heard. “We are the 99%,” everyone knows that one. “We are unstoppable, another world is possible,” a bunch of chants that have circulated around. “We are winning.” There’s one you’d see internationally, when Zapatistas are marching on the zocalo, and it circulated thorugh radical circles. “Failure isn’t possible” is another I wanted to use, which I don’t think made it in there.

And “It’s the beginning of the beginning.” I loved that one. So frequently, things happen in the world that make it feel like we’re at the beginning of the end. But—”the beginning of the beginning,” what a radically optimistic statement that is.

The scale of the environmental and economic crisis we are facing, it’s extraordinary. This movement is a response to that crisis. Our leaders aren’t responding to any of that in a way that is commensurate to the crises we face. And that one sign has always spoken to me. We have to throw off our despair about the future world we might be facing, because if we come together as people and humanity, we can change it. And what Occupy Wall Street makes me feel is that for the first time in a long time that might be possible.

That means a lot to me. This is choosing hope over despair. This is actively and resolutely making that choice. It’s not going to be easy. It’s not going to be over in two months. It’s not going to be just the result of conversation.

XJ: How old are you?

MR: I’m 45. The people who worked on this are a diverse range of ages. Some are in their 20s, but not all of us are that young. It’s hard to study what’s happening in the environment and with the global economy and not feel afraid. There is a lot to fear. One of the things we were projecting tonight, it was Max Nova‘s idea. “Do not be afraid.” And I think that’s so important.

XJ: This event was to mark the two-month anniversary of Occupy Wall Street. We recently passed the ten-year anniversary of 9/11, and in a way, your message seems like a kind of antidote to the climate of fear that followed.

MR: I guess it is. I watched 9/11 happen from my rooftop in Park Slope. I was there. It’s been a crazy decade since then, a fearful time. And our leaders have stoked those fears, there’s been a lot of fear-mongering. It’s been like that for a decade, and it feels like we are turning a page. I know we’re heading into winter in New York, but this feels like springtime.

XJ: Who did the graphics, and what tools did you use to create the sequence, and project it?

MR: Max Nova and JR Skola, from the art group Dawn of Man. They are video projectionists, and artists.

They have done stuff in Zuccotti Park. I didn’t know how I was going to put together the graphics, I’d been running around for the last two weeks trying to coordinate the team—you have to be able to live mix it, you need to understand how to make projections look right coming to the surface from an extreme angle, you need to be a VJ, and I’m not. So Max wound up being the guy. They used Modul8 VJ mixing software, a Sony 12K lumen projector that sells for around $10K. It’s huge. It’s more than 3 feet long, about 2 feet wide.

The whole thing was a combination of high tech and super jerry-rigging on the fly. The Modul8 software we were using can do amazing things: sense the angle you’re projecting at, even if it’s extreme, and modify the image so it looks straight. But then, we held the projected in place with gaffer tape, a broomstick, some baling wire. We only had 20 minutes to get it ready.

XJ: Were you worried about getting in trouble with the police?

MR: I was so sure it was not against the law, but I didn’t ask my lawyer friends. I didn’t want to really know. The police knew where we were, they were pointing up to the window. But no one stopped us when we left.

XJ: When did you get a sense of the reaction the Occupiers had, when they were marching on the bridge and saw the projections?

MR: Oh, we could hear the crowd from the window. We heard them screaming, yelling. We had this idea that we would be able to mic check a short speech, and we timed the words so that it would fit with exactly how people would chant, just as they had been chanting these things for weeks.

XJ: Now that it’s done, how do you feel?

MR: I feel immense gratitude to these youngsters for kicking my ass into gear. I’m feeling so much gratitude to everyone, for putting their bodies on the line every day, for this movement. It’s a global uprising we’re part of. We have to win.

http://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/ReIqX4zsMPU?rel=0(Special thanks to @gemini_scorpio)

Occupy Wall St – The Revolution Is Love

20 Nov

“You can’t evict and idea whose time has come.”