16. Occupied on Wall Street
By David Barry Temple
(Excerpt from the novel under construction It Won't Work; Life's Progressive Movement)
Emerson replayed the frozen morning he faced the music at WBAI eleven years earlier; security at the heady studio on Wall Street wouldn’t let him on the talk show after the Christmas coop. With the wind whipping around the jack knife corners of the financial district, he had passed Zuccotti Park without a second glance, certainly no thought of stopping in it to take a piss behind a bush on that empty Sunday morning. If he had known that spit in a vest pocket would be the heart of resistance against the takeover, the beginning of the grandiose non-violent occupation, he would have at least stopped in to bring hot soup to the homeless there whose piss froze their cardboard beds to the pavement.
Ten years after the Twin Towers had disintegrated like sand castles in the American mea culpa, he couldn’t even find the little shit of a park. He was looking for something much bigger, at least as big as the footprint of one of the downed towers. Maybe four-hundred thousand joyful protesters blaming the end of the free world as they knew it on the melting environment had taken one hundred fifty years for his namesake, Ralph Waldo Emerson, to prophesize. It was futile to do anything about it in 1840 and it was still futile. Greed has its way because might always, always makes right with gag orders.
Look as Emerson may, he couldn’t find the war; no man could find the war. Workers of the world would unite over the ashes of cold dead remains, but in the ‘slash and burn’ mentality of the ruling class, the world wasn’t worth living in anymore.
So Emerson followed the cooing of the pigeons that strutted near hot dog vendors and glided like silent drones over Pine Street on the backside of the Stock Exchange. The pigeons would tell him where the bread crumbs lay in the park under the nearest trees to Wall Street in Zuccotti. Emerson walked on the other side of little Pine Street slowly passed the black-clad gargantuan guards standing like upright cockroaches. “The occupation isn’t here,” he muttered to himself as the guards, armed, seemed to eye his passing, so he put his head down and kept on moving his flat feet squashing the dungaree sneakers onto steamy grates around Broadway.
He looked left; nothing. He looked right; nothing. Then he saw three young sojourners across the valley, like mountain men in the wilderness, tattered packs ripped and tied to their backs haphazardly.
“Where are the Occupy Wall Street people?”
“Over yonder,” one young bearded man responded pointing unhesitatingly across the street that he kept climbing.
“Over there?” said Emerson incredulously for he had passed by that spot a short while ago and had seen no one but a few folk standing around talking. The police were there now indicating what terrible danger they were preventing and the business people they were protecting. “Over there?”
“Yeah, over there,” the other tracker yelled from up the path where Emerson stood in disbelief. Emerson followed. When they reached the clearing in the petrified forest of buildings, he had to rub his eyes in disbelief. Perhaps two dozen people were there mulling around a missing piece of New York puzzle. Some looked like they had just been sleeping. There even looked like there was a soup kitchen with a staff meeting cross-legged near some hung tarps. “Gee,” Emerson thought, “I’ve seen more people congregating in Thompson Square on a Tuesday afternoon that I see here. This is the resistance?”