A Further Perspective

Occupying My Time

It's never too late for a non-protester to change his tune.

By 11.2.11

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I missed the Occupation of Europe by a few years so I'm delighted to have an opportunity to Occupy America. Hey, it's a start. Today America, tomorrow China!

Critics of Occupy Wall Street (also Boston, Denver, Oakland, Dubuque, etc.) claim that the protesters have no stated goal, which could not be further from the truth. The current movement is a major advance in protests -- the first all-purpose grassroots protest in American history, which very neatly serves everyone's purposes -- mine anyway.

Former protest marches, sit-ins, love-ins and the like were much too narrowly focused for me on specific outrages -- segregation, women's inequality, anti-Vietnam war, that sort of thing. Good causes, I'm sure, but not enough to get me really fired up. I was never able to take part in any of them, for one reason or another (inclement weather, a dental appointment, something always came up), but the Occupiers have come up with a brilliant catch-all solution that allows everyone to get anything bugging them off their chest immediately.

This is a far more efficient way to protest major problems, and I commend the organizers for coming up with such a perfect tactic that suits every trouble -- one size fits all. Can't get a home mortgage loan? Credit card interests rates too high? Boss not appreciating you? Grocery prices going through the roof? Spouse refuses to listen to you? Cost of movies and sports events out of sight? The kids ignoring your advice? Wait time to see a podiatrist too long? Leaf-blowers and plastic shrink-wrap driving you nuts?

Folks, if any of those things are bothering you, it's time to grab your tent and get yourself down to your neighborhood Occupiers location. There is one near you. If not, it isn't too late to begin your own protest site. Go to Occupiersunited.com to find out more. Be the first on your block to establish an official protest area and get on local TV. Learn to become a community organizer, which could put you on the path to the White House. Become a talented on-site cook. Perfect your outdoor survival skills under blizzard conditions. Find new markets for T-shirts, posters, coffee mugs, and trinkets. Yes, people, great career opportunities await you!

In the past, as I say, I tended to sit out political demonstrations of every kind (though I did once put a "Ban the DH" sticker on my bumper), but the Occupy Whatever people showed me that even I, a lifelong non-protester, could be roused into action by taking a stand against whatever riled me -- and, to my delight, I found that not necessarily just one cause, but several, could be taken care of in one fell swoop. Talk about catharsis.

So I made a list of stuff that's been bugging me lately and was surprised how long it was -- 136 matters in all, starting with noisy TV commercials. When I contacted officials at Occupy Main Street (a wholly owned subsidiary of Occupy Wall Street), they said that there was a limit of a dozen issues per month that one person could protest against. "Otherwise, this thing could really get out of hand," they emailed me.

"We prefer major issues," they said, "but whatever's troubling you may be included. The more the merrier. We have a fairly lax policy here." They said it wasn't necessary for me to run my issues past them. "Just show up and hand out fliers. Hey, it gets you out of the house, and of course, like in the '60s, it's a great way to meet girls."

"That's a good enough provocation right there," I said.

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About the Author

Gerald Nachman is the author of Funny: The Rebel Comedians of the 1950s and 1960s, Raised on Radio and Right Here On Our Stage Tonight!: Ed Sullivan's America. He is currently working on a book about the great Broadway musical show-stoppers.