7. Occupy Wall Street Reflections
Today’s episode is another throwback, reflecting on Occupy Wall Street, which we are currently in the 7th anniversary of. The occupation began on September 17th, 2011, and was viciously evicted on November 15th. Living in New York during OWS is something I will always treasure. I first heard about something going on downtown from a few friends’ posts on Facebook. It wasn’t long before I realized that this was a historical moment, and so I tried to participate as much as I could. At the time, I was working full-time at an ad agency cranking out animated banner ads (for Citibank, ironically). Deb and I were not yet married, and we were 8 months into occupying our new roles as parents with our first son, Dominic. I started spending my lunch breaks down at the park, holding up a sign that read “I have worked in advertising for 13 years for corporations such as GE, Pfizer, Merck, Wells Fargo, Citibank, HSBC, and many more. I know this beast, and it is not human. END CORPORATE PERSONHOOD” On the weekends, the whole family would go down together for a few hours to talk with people or play some music. My favorite song to perform down there was Sixteen Tons, by Merle Travis. A few weeks into the occupation, I had a flash of inspiration. I remember, I was smoking a cigarette on my apartment stoop, when I suddenly realized that the people’s mic, the only means of amplification permitted in Zuccotti, would be an amazing way to propose to Deb. I spent the next week looking through antique flea markets for a reasonably priced ring, writing a speech that would work within the people’s mic format, and organizing some friends to meet us at the Park the following Saturday. Deb thought we were just heading down there to hang out and play some music again. I knew that my idea was going to go over great with Deb and our friends and family, but I had no idea that the damn video would go viral! I uploaded it to YouTube on Saturday evening, October 15th. On Monday, friends started messaging me that my video was featured on Gawker.com. By the end of the next week, we'd been featured in The Atlantic, The Huffington Post, Gothamist, The New York Daily News, and dozens of blog entries, with over 100 thousand views. The experience galvanized our support for the movement, and we used every media inquiry into our story as an opportunity to articulate specifically why we were supporting OWS. We then became aware of Parents for Occupy Wall Street, and figured that be a good entry point for going deeper into supporting the occupation. On October 21st, the group organized a sleepover in Zuccotti park, which ended up being quite a fiasco. So much so that the night after, Deb and I decided to sit down and record a recap of what transpired. If I weren’t spread so thin with work this month, I’d love to have done a full episode discussing all the aspects of OWS that we witnessed and participated in, but I just don’t have the damn time. Shit, I wanted to have this episode prepped and ready to drop a week ago, but it took me this long to write and record this introduction. So in the meantime, please enjoy this time capsule recollection of the night Deb, Dominic, and I spent in Zuccotti park, and thanks for listening.