Happening at the Zu
October 13 – Evening
You navigate the labyrinth of police barricades at Wall and Broad and enter, for the first time, the building that used to be Morgan’s bank. An artist-curated show has occupied the space this last week and you wander the space in a kind of wonder at how the metamorphosis of this bedrock structure of capital into whatever it is now. So distracted you nearly plow into an artwork: a mannequin wearing a fantastical and deeply glamorous gown made of bullets and shell casings with a train of dog tags spread on the floor behind. 48 pounds worth of military hardware. This is “Target Peace,” by Jilian Maslow.
A friend you haven’t seen in near on thirty years recognizes you – he’s one of the curators and has the run of the place. So downstairs you trip to see Morgan’s vault, which, you imagine in the instant, is more or less the size and shape of the Kaaba. “And over there,” he says, pointing into the darkness, “is where the tunnel under Broad Street to the Stock Exchange used to be.”
Leaving, you wend around the barricades and mounted cops and arrive at the Zu just as the evening’s General Assembly is concluding. Tomorrow morning at 7, Bloomberg says, sanitation crews backed by police will enter the park to clean it. The call via human mic goes out for people to assemble before dawn to defend the occupation. “This is our home,” shouts the speaker, and his voice is multiplied a hundred times and more. “This is our community. This is our revolution!”
The better part of virtue requires, if you’re going to show up before dawn, that you get some rest. Heading out by the sacred space, you nearly run into a young woman with close cropped hair and a cardboard sign hung round her neck on a string: “Occupy Your Soul.”
October 14 – Dawn
Who knows what’s going to go down. In consideration of which you’ve left your wallet at home and taken only your phone, driver’s license and five bucks. You wonder vaguely how different the plastic wire tie handcuffs feel from the old school metal ones. Standing near the big red thing, aka Mark Di Suvero’s “Joie de vivre,” when the guy to your right scrutinizing his iPhone gives a whoop. The tweet’s come down: Bloomie backed off.
October 28 – Late afternoon
This morning the FDNY with substantial police escort removed six generators and several containers of the gasoline that powered them. Do your tour. Think about splitting. Ah, there’s Elissa sitting on the Broadway steps. Again, conversation. She hails from New Orleans – rode out Katrina and its aftermath – felt moved to join the occupation five weeks ago, a few days before you met. Today she seems burned out, says she’s heading home soon to rejoin her husband who has been running their community bicycle messenger and delivery business solo since she headed for the Zu. She’s frustrated by how long it takes to accomplish certain things here, whereas in NoLA, everything is slow. Elissa’s particularly irked about the generators having tirelessly advocated using battery-driven generators powered by bicycles. It seems a no-brainer, but they didn’t listen to her and brought in fossil fuel generators instead. You commiserate and say we’re all a mix of smart and stupid and that sometimes we can see the obvious while at others times it completely eludes us. “Yeah,” she says with a half smile, “we brought our stupid into the park too.”
Circumference of Liberty Square:
• 284 paces
• 38 breaths