It’s a very small park, and crowded. I dropped a winter coat at a station with the sign, “COMFORT.” Boxes of clothes for the taking, a man picking out a pair of cotton slacks.
Observers, pundits, and talking heads are searching for a message. Lacking one, the NY Times reported anger, and had photos of signs: “End the Fed,” “Stop the Wars,” “Young, Educated, and Unemployed,” “I Am Very Upset.” Reform Corporate Welfare,” “I am the 99%,”: and one from the opposing side: “9-11 Was an Inside Job. Don’t believe the Liberal Media.”
On sidewalks at the park’s edges, people with cameras clicked away. I spotted an older man in a wheelchair wearing a cap, “Battle of the Bulge.” He turned out to be the guy whose picture had run in the Sunday Times. He dug it out, “My fifteen minutes of fame,” he said. He’d been in the infantry, wounded in the Battle of the Bulge “I’m a socialist,” he declared proudly.
A tourist bus pulled up few emerging, most just staring out of the windows. Three youthful Hassidics, one too young for a beard, held green shoots asking people, “Are you Jewish?”
A Mr. and Mrs. Donohue from Boulder, Colorado, youngish middle age, said they felt obliged to come by. Later, I chatted with a man and woman, not a couple, she, Elizabeth, from New Hampshire, who lives on a family farm that produces alpaca wool. The man said he had a degree in literature but no job. Both had arrived the first week. “It’s going to rain tomorrow,” said Elizabeth.
“Do you have a tent?” I asked.
“No tents. We’ll get wet.”
Wish I’d asked why no tent. Are they prohibited? Also wish I’d asked my wife’s question: “Where do you go to the john?”
If the protest is criticized for not having an objective, signs announced plenty of individual objectives: Get Out of Afghanistan, Get Out of Iraq, Hang Turkish Dictators,” etc.
The park looked disheveled, as did the protestors, yet not stagy, or the exhibitionistic slob chic of the 1960s that inspired Jules Feiffer to create a character who cried, “I want to be different, like all those others!” These had more maturity and yes, seriousness.
What’s happening in Zuccotti Park is said to have sparked protests all over the U.S.A. and Europe too, and all peaceful except for the one in Rome. I turned to Elizabeth, “How does it strike you that what started here has gone national and international?”
She thought for a moment. “It has, hasn’t it?” she answered.
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