If you groan when certain Baby-boomers pat themselves on the back for being at Woodstock and act as though rolling around in mud and feces on LSD actually helped this country, just wait for #OCCUPY, the Broadway musical!
On a recent visit to the pre-dismantled Zuccotti Park squat-in, I took lots of pictures of volunteers and protesters and hangers on. I pointed my camera at people’s faces in the hopes of cataloging future authors, artists, and politicians who will no doubt go on to trumpet their swashbuckling involvement. No, this isn’t an anti-civil disobedience, or anti-OWS rant, so don’t mistake my opinions for, “Back in ‘Nam I ate a Viet Cong heart, Hippie, so don’t you tell me!” It ain’t like that, trust me: I’m trying to avoid turning into my dad.
This week the Internet is marinating in cell phone pictures captured during the surprise take-down of the Zuccotti encampment. Studying them I found myself disappointed at first, then angry because it took me having to serve a prison sentence to discover that I had a voice – and that it was worth protecting. So when I see a voice –damn near any voice– snuffed out as if it were a cigarette butt I’m saddened and pissed off (in that order).
We all know that Occupy Wall Street needs/needed cohesion, foresight, and an articulate way to express its goals, but it was/is still the collective actions of exasperated Americans. And if you refuse to see that the majority of them are indeed patriotic, that many are kids who believe America can do better by its working class –cops included– then I hope they zero in on your front lawn.
But boy, do I feel sorry for their children and grandkids! Every chance they get we’re all going to hear about the singing, the salads and carrot cake, the unity and the meaning of it all. We’ll hear about which babies were conceived in which shanty-shelter and who really wrote the OWS Good Neighbor Pledge. Every year their stories will get better, but less factual; longer, but less charming. From here on out that precious voice I hold so sacred isn’t ever gonna’ shut up! Every year, the media will trot out the news footage and the as-it-happened interviews and every year they’ll be more romanticized and virtuous. There will be God-awful anniversary candlelight ceremonies, shaky cam documentaries and bad art, oh, the commemorative art! Hello, gag reflex! Like the Rose Parade or Lincoln’s birthday, here comes the march of the jabbering OWS veterans! (Ang Lee, are you listening?)
Now, not all Baby-boomers have gone on to claim their asinine Woodstock merit badges or insist that their counterculture saved us all from Nixon, but 97% of those who do, contributed to neither. We can only hope that the same shit-smear of self-admiration doesn’t befall the OWS veterans, but hope of that kind is a bit silly because there will always be posers – and the voice of mediocrity is one I can do without.
Update: Thank you Samantha Bee and the Daily Show for so brilliantly illustrating why –bless its heart– OWS will likey effectuate that very same mediocrity.