When you fall in love, it’s all about what you have in common, and  you can hardly imagine that there are differences, let alone that you  will quarrel over them, or weep about them, or be torn apart by them—or  if all goes well, struggle, learn, and bond more strongly because of,  rather than despite, them. The Occupy movement had its glorious  honeymoon when old and young, liberal and radical, comfortable and  desperate, homeless and tenured all found that what they had in common  was so compelling the differences hardly seemed to matter.
Until they did.
Revolutions are always like this: at first all men are brothers  and anything is possible, and then, if you’re lucky, the romance of  that heady moment ripens into a relationship, instead of a breakup, an  abusive marriage, or a murder-suicide. Occupy had its golden age, when  those who never before imagined living side-by-side with homeless people  found themselves in adjoining tents in public squares.
All sorts of other equalizing forces were present, not least the police brutality that battered the privileged the way that inner-city kids are used to  being battered all the time. Part of what we had in common was what we  were against: the current economy and the principle of insatiable greed  that made it run, as well as the emotional and economic privatization  that accompanied it.
This is a system that damages people, and its devastation was  on display as never before in the early months of Occupy and related  phenomena like the “We are the 99%” website.  When it was people facing foreclosure, or who’d lost their jobs, or  were thrashing around under avalanches of college or medical debt, they  weren’t hard to accept as us, and not them.
And then came the people who’d been damaged far more, the  psychologically fragile, the marginal, and the homeless—some of them  endlessly needy and with a huge capacity for disruption. People who had  come to fight the power found themselves staying on to figure out available mental-health resources, while others who had  wanted to experience a democratic society on a grand scale found  themselves trying to solve sanitation problems.
And then there was the violence.
Keep reading Rebecca Solnit’s essay, “Mad, Passionate Love—and Violence” …

When you fall in love, it’s all about what you have in common, and you can hardly imagine that there are differences, let alone that you will quarrel over them, or weep about them, or be torn apart by them—or if all goes well, struggle, learn, and bond more strongly because of, rather than despite, them. The Occupy movement had its glorious honeymoon when old and young, liberal and radical, comfortable and desperate, homeless and tenured all found that what they had in common was so compelling the differences hardly seemed to matter.

Until they did.

Revolutions are always like this: at first all men are brothers and anything is possible, and then, if you’re lucky, the romance of that heady moment ripens into a relationship, instead of a breakup, an abusive marriage, or a murder-suicide. Occupy had its golden age, when those who never before imagined living side-by-side with homeless people found themselves in adjoining tents in public squares.

All sorts of other equalizing forces were present, not least the police brutality that battered the privileged the way that inner-city kids are used to being battered all the time. Part of what we had in common was what we were against: the current economy and the principle of insatiable greed that made it run, as well as the emotional and economic privatization that accompanied it.

This is a system that damages people, and its devastation was on display as never before in the early months of Occupy and related phenomena like the “We are the 99%” website. When it was people facing foreclosure, or who’d lost their jobs, or were thrashing around under avalanches of college or medical debt, they weren’t hard to accept as us, and not them.

And then came the people who’d been damaged far more, the psychologically fragile, the marginal, and the homeless—some of them endlessly needy and with a huge capacity for disruption. People who had come to fight the power found themselves staying on to figure out available mental-health resources, while others who had wanted to experience a democratic society on a grand scale found themselves trying to solve sanitation problems.

And then there was the violence.

Keep reading Rebecca Solnit’s essay, “Mad, Passionate Love—and Violence” …

Rappers Sage Francis, B. Dolan, Toki Wright, and Jasiri X recently recorded “Film the Police,” a call to arms—er, well, phones—reminding young protesters that police brutality is unacceptable.

Keep reading …

Jeff Conant, writing for Earth Island Journal, isn’t holding out much hope for COP17, the UN Climate Summit currently happening in Durban, South Africa. And judging by the last  two summits in Copenhagen and Cancun, who could blame him.  “[N]o matter  where you come from,” Conant writes, “if you are actually concerned  about the climate crisis, [the UN Climate Summit is] going to be an ugly  two weeks.”
He continues:

The previous climate summits have made it painfully clear  that, at the top levels, government ministers, heads of state, and the  United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) itself,  is more about form than content. Last year, in Cancun, after the spectacular debacle of the failed talks in 2009 at Copenhagen,  the concern among global leaders was less about saving the climate than  about saving face.  Those clamoring for justice in Cancun – a  delegation of thousands from civil society – were fenced out, and kept  literally miles away from the talks. They were the 99 percent.

Keep reading …

Jeff Conant, writing for Earth Island Journal, isn’t holding out much hope for COP17, the UN Climate Summit currently happening in Durban, South Africa. And judging by the last two summits in Copenhagen and Cancun, who could blame him.  “[N]o matter where you come from,” Conant writes, “if you are actually concerned about the climate crisis, [the UN Climate Summit is] going to be an ugly two weeks.”

He continues:

The previous climate summits have made it painfully clear that, at the top levels, government ministers, heads of state, and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) itself, is more about form than content. Last year, in Cancun, after the spectacular debacle of the failed talks in 2009 at Copenhagen, the concern among global leaders was less about saving the climate than about saving face.  Those clamoring for justice in Cancun – a delegation of thousands from civil society – were fenced out, and kept literally miles away from the talks. They were the 99 percent.

Rebecca Solnit on Civil Society at Zucotti Park

"Last Tuesday, I awoke in lower Manhattan to the whirring of helicopters overhead, a war-zone sound that persisted all day and then started up again that Thursday morning, the two-month anniversary of Occupy Wall Street and a big day of demonstrations in New York City. It was one of the dozens of ways you could tell that the authorities take Occupy Wall Street seriously, even if they profoundly mistake what kind of danger it poses. If you ever doubted whether you were powerful or you mattered, just look at the reaction to people like you (or your children) camped out in parks from Oakland to Portland, Tucson to Manhattan.

"Of course, “camped out” doesn’t quite catch the spirit of the moment, because those campsites are the way people have come together to bear witness to their hopes and fears, to begin to gather their power and discuss what is possible in our disturbingly unhinged world, to make clear how wrong our economic system is, how corrupt the powers that support it are, and to begin the search for a better way. Consider it an irony that the campsites are partly for sleeping, but symbols of the way we have awoken."

Keep reading …

Melvyn Bragg writes that John Steinbeck’s novel “seems as savage as ever … It is just as alive, with its fine anger against the banks: ‘The bank - the monster - has to have profit all the time. It can’t wait … It’ll die when the monster stops growing. It can’t stay in one place’.”

(via The Guardian)

It was bound to happen. After nearly four years of prolonged economic struggle , lingering joblessness, an ever-increasing income gap, declining household wealth with an incongruent gain in corporate wealth ), and a resulting explosion of mass frustration, people were bound to start asking: Where is the music that speaks to my problems? “Every successful movement has a soundtrack,” the New York Times recently quoted former Rage Against the Machine member Tom Morello telling reporters during a rally at the Occupy Wall Street Protest. Others concurred with Morello. NPR’s Ann Powers had run a similar story two weeks earlier. As 24-year-old college student Martían Hughes told the Times: “I have not heard a single song that sums up what we are trying to do here,” and as a clever wag joked on Twitter: “ Really torn by the Occupy Wall Street movement because I agree with the message but I fucking hate drum circles.” 

These concerns raise questions. First, has there actually been music, during past struggles, that spurred on mass protests movements or that soothed and inspired frustrated and struggling masses of Americans ? And, if so, is it reasonable for people to insist that such a soundtrack emerge for a protest movement that is so young it has yet to even decide what its protesting exactly? And, perhaps most importantly, if we need music to raise us out of the muck, what is it about drum circles that fail to satisfy this desire? 

Today, we can look back from our safe remove at past eras of suffering and despair—the Great Depression of the 1930s, for instance, or the sustained economic troubles of the 1970s—to examine the role music may have played in helping the society deal with times of systemic troubles, how it may have given solace to the suffering, or provided a source of inspiration, and how it may even have helped affect change. And we can take heart in the fact that conditions today are both the same as they ever were, and also completely different.

Keep reading …

This is a story about one of the newest forms of communication—social  media—and one of the oldest—poetry—and how the two joined forces for  social change.
On April 20, 2010, nine students chained themselves to the Arizona  state capitol building to protest Arizona’s new anti-immigrant  legislation, SB 1070. Their slogan: “We are chained to the capitol just  like our community is chained by this legislation.” While others chanted  and gave speeches, the nine students sat silently and with dignity as  police officers cut the chains and arrested them. Of course their  protest was posted on YouTube, and when a friend sent the link to  Francisco X. Alarcón, a prize-winning poet and professor at the  University of California–Davis, Alarcón responded as poets have for  millennia when they witness acts of courage in the face of oppression:  He wrote a poem.
Alarcón posted “For the Capitol Nine” to his  Facebook page, addressing the young people directly: “you … / chain  yourselves / to the doors / of the State Capitol / so that terror / will  not leak out / to our streets… / your courage / can’t be taken /  away from us / and put in jail / you are nine / young warriors / like  nine sky stars.”
So many “friends” and “friends of friends”  responded to the poem that Alarcón decided to create a Facebook group  and invite other poets to post poems on the subject.
The word went out over Facebook and Twitter and poet to poet, so that by August 2011 “Poets Responding to SB 1070”  included more than 1,200 poems by prominent and emerging poets from all  over the country and around the world. Eight volunteer moderators now  manage the site, keeping up with submissions and choosing poems for a  weekly feature on La Bloga, the Latino literary blog. They also are preparing a hard-copy anthology.
Keep reading … (Image by Tim Gough)

This is a story about one of the newest forms of communication—social media—and one of the oldest—poetry—and how the two joined forces for social change.

On April 20, 2010, nine students chained themselves to the Arizona state capitol building to protest Arizona’s new anti-immigrant legislation, SB 1070. Their slogan: “We are chained to the capitol just like our community is chained by this legislation.” While others chanted and gave speeches, the nine students sat silently and with dignity as police officers cut the chains and arrested them. Of course their protest was posted on YouTube, and when a friend sent the link to Francisco X. Alarcón, a prize-winning poet and professor at the University of California–Davis, Alarcón responded as poets have for millennia when they witness acts of courage in the face of oppression: He wrote a poem.

Alarcón posted “For the Capitol Nine” to his Facebook page, addressing the young people directly: “you … / chain yourselves / to the doors / of the State Capitol / so that terror / will not leak out / to our streets… / your courage / can’t be taken / away from us / and put in jail / you are nine / young warriors / like nine sky stars.”

So many “friends” and “friends of friends” responded to the poem that Alarcón decided to create a Facebook group and invite other poets to post poems on the subject.

The word went out over Facebook and Twitter and poet to poet, so that by August 2011 “Poets Responding to SB 1070” included more than 1,200 poems by prominent and emerging poets from all over the country and around the world. Eight volunteer moderators now manage the site, keeping up with submissions and choosing poems for a weekly feature on La Bloga, the Latino literary blog. They also are preparing a hard-copy anthology.

Keep reading … (Image by Tim Gough)

Immunity and Impunity in Elite America:
As intense protests spawned by Occupy Wall Street continue to grow,  it is worth asking: Why now? The answer is not obvious. After all,  severe income and wealth inequality have long plagued the United States.  In fact, it could reasonably be claimed that this form of inequality is  part of the design of the American founding—indeed, an integral part  of it.
Income inequality has worsened over the past several years and  is at its highest level since the Great Depression.  This is not,  however, a new trend. Income inequality has been growing at rapid rates  for three decades.
Keep reading …

Immunity and Impunity in Elite America:

As intense protests spawned by Occupy Wall Street continue to grow, it is worth asking: Why now? The answer is not obvious. After all, severe income and wealth inequality have long plagued the United States. In fact, it could reasonably be claimed that this form of inequality is part of the design of the American founding—indeed, an integral part of it.

Income inequality has worsened over the past several years and is at its highest level since the Great Depression.  This is not, however, a new trend. Income inequality has been growing at rapid rates for three decades.

Keep reading …

Inspired by an image of an Occupy Wall Street protester with a dollar  bill covering his mouth, sketch artist Gary Bedard decided to draw his  own versions of the image, calling the project “Ten Occupy Wall Street Demonstrators in Ten Days.”  “The dollar bill speaks to ending silence on corporate greed, tax  breaks for millionaires, and social injustice,” he said. “When I saw it,  I thought—oh my god, that means everything. It says it all.”
Keep reading …

Inspired by an image of an Occupy Wall Street protester with a dollar bill covering his mouth, sketch artist Gary Bedard decided to draw his own versions of the image, calling the project “Ten Occupy Wall Street Demonstrators in Ten Days.” “The dollar bill speaks to ending silence on corporate greed, tax breaks for millionaires, and social injustice,” he said. “When I saw it, I thought—oh my god, that means everything. It says it all.”

Keep reading …

(via NYTimes)

Part of the sequel to “The Dark Knight” will be shot over two weekends in Lower Manhattan, only two blocks from the base of the Occupy Wall Street protests.