occupy sunday

the people’s reference librarian, and other occupiers

you’re looking at the people’s reference librarian. one of them, anyway.

within minutes of my initial descent into liberty square, where the much-heralded occupation of wall street is now in its fifty-first day, i realized i’d been woefully misled. this was not so much a matter of bias, which, as an oft-obsessive consumer of news, i feel capable of identifying and accounting for. clarinet player in a pop-up jazz trio at occupy wall street it was instead an utter lack of understanding among the vast majority of those assigned to report on the protest of what it was they were looking at (it doesn’t help that many didn’t bother to show up before settling in to pontificate). this haziness on the part of our media intermediaries has been widely perceived as a lack of purpose or organization among the occupiers themselves, but the absurdity of this appraisal reveals itself to physical visitors almost immediately.

[ the clarinetist in a pop-up jazz trio (which quickly morphed into a quartet, and then a quintet, as strangers joined in the jamboree. ]

i found myself back on the india street pier waiting for the ferry to wall street the next morning, and the morning after that, and many of the mornings to follow, with my sketchbook and my long-dormant political intensity in tow. i brought books (with and without pictures) to the people’s library. i attended general assemblies and meditated in (and on) the plaza’s sacred space. i received non-violent(ish) direct action training from some of the most formidable anarchists i have ever encountered. sam, my direct action training facilitator i arrived before dawn with the national lawyers’ guild’s hotline sharpied on my leg when the encampment’s eviction seemed imminent, to help prevent it if possible, and document it if not.

[ my direct action training facilitator. ]

i became quietly obsessed with the ambition to correct the record, to grant occupy wall street a fair hearing in the court of public opinion, to explain to the less proximate world that it is not a rally or a march or a clash with the authorities or a set of demands or even a steady procession of the above, but a place wherein such things have room to occur, like a campus on which everyone majors in revolutionary whimsy. i came home and posted a couple sketches beside my initial impressions of the people’s mic, in what i intended to be the first in a series of illustrated dispatches.

the people’s reference librarian

but the bulk of my thoughts ended up in a photographically-illustrated article over at act now examining the culture and community of this unexpected place. within a day it became my most widely read essay (not so tremendous a feat, but still), and has since multiplied its audience several times over. if you’ve been wondering what exactly the protestors are doing, or what it is they want, or why they’re camping about it, you may find it instructive. or a fun read, at least.

i draw slowly, as those of you waiting on my promised new comics have on occasion pointed out to me. because zuccotti park is an unusually vibrant place these days, occupy wall street general assembly consensus and the revolution does not stop to pose, i was forced to capture some of the encampment’s more ephemeral sights with my camera. all non-crappy photos from my visits to the occupation can be found, and used freely for non-commercial purposes (under this creative commons license), on the boykenan flickr page.

the aforementioned act now blog, where members and friends of one of new york’s largest progressive mobilization organizations air grievances and hatch schemes, is looking for people who draw less slowly than i (as noted, an easy bar to clear) to contribute political cartoons (comics, animation, collage, what-have-you). bass player in a pop-up jazz trio at occupy wall street because we are an all-volunteer organization (unlike, say the huffington post), there is sadly no money to be distributed to deserving contributors. but artists and authors retain all rights to their work and gain access to a wide audience of politically active new yorkers. holler at kenan [at] actnowny [dot] org with submissions.

[ the bassist of the aforementioned trio, quartet, and quintet. ]

midnight OccupyLap

of course, i am not the only activist in the family. inspired by the fearless displays of solidarity emerging across the nation and the world, midnight has begun an occupation of her own. you can follow her revolutionary whims and political wisdom on twitter at @occupylap. it’s activism at its sexiest and most sedentary.

the occupation’s drum major

[ it would probably be both too hierarchical and too militarily-coded to call this man the occupation’s drum major, but it would probably not be inaccurate. ]



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