Live occupation when the most crook-like and powerful institutions steal from the poor. In essence, there is no denying the fact that Occupy Wall Street does not “occupy” Wall Street itself. As some may already be aware, the video for the track “America” that I recorded back in 2009 was shot in October 2010 on Wall Street by the NYSE as well as the Hermes store a block away from it.
For those who dont know, Wall Street itself is very narrow, security-laden and undeniably cordoned off for more than obvious reasons. As a former New Yorker, I used to frequent Wall Street often as it was on my train ride home to Mill Basin along the route of the 2 train. Indeed, unemployment brought about many temporary jobs and freelance work in which I would regularly commute the city and randomly sit and observe and continue on what would be a pensive route. Unemployment and rapid gentrification were one of many reasons why I would sit and write, but there was that other thing: 9/11.
In my book, 9/11 was always an inside job. The moment those planes struck those buildings conspiracy alarms ran through my mind. By the time the buildings fell straight down, it was clear to me that the implosion was premeditated and properly organized. Indeed, 9/11 united and divided many of us as Americans living in the US. For many it was a wake-up call of some sorts. In my case, it was to become a struggle with my identity, being a brown man with an Arab name (despite the “Mickey Boston” moniker my legal name is a very Arab one) was not easy to survive with socio-economically. Many CVs and resumes were turned down and brushed aside and despite holding a Masters degree, there was no professional job for me in site.
There is no denying that depression was to kick-in alongside the stress of living in a nexus of rising rent, debt and gentrification. Being a starving artist was another facet, which undeniably affected my progress as a musician and lyricist. Life in America was becoming harsher after 9/11.
Ironically, the schizophrenia and xenophobia in America was one thing however the presence of looming and expanding gentrification was another struggle in itself. I saw how the poor were being pushed out of Queens and Brooklyn at the expense of the affluent and wealthy, NYC was not the NYC I was in when I was six-years-old and so too was St-Henri changing back in Montreal. I opted to delve into gentrification in my doctoral research within the strata of 19th-century American literature. Edith Wharton‘s House of Mirth was to be the precursor to my research, the inspiration: the hunger and weight loss I was going through. Undoubtedly, I would wander the city late into the night and early mornings without aim or motto, simply searching–seachring for opportunities and self-betterment.
In many ways I saw what Edith Wharton was showing in House Mirth, the schism between Old New York and New New York. How the rich were commencing to eat away at the poor and how neighbourhoods were subject to change and gentrification. My hip-hop was to reflect this socio-economic schism to this very day. The narrative of money and the struggle of money and race and merit has been one of many themes that I have juxtaposed within the confines of my bars and lyrical content. “Money” recorded alongside Canada’s Anarchist hip-hop duo, Test Their Logik, was only one facet of the insight.
Occupy Wall Street is based in headquarters located in nearby Zuccotti Park, ironically owned by a Canadian firm. Zuccotti Park is no Bryant Park–Bryant Park being my favourite park in the city located just outside the Public Library where I spent many days sitting and pondering the direction of my life and where exactly it was to go. Like Bryant Park, it has trees, nice trees, as well as a strategic location in which it is two blocks away rom Wall Street. In essence, as far as I am concerned, if Zuccotti Park is a stand-in for Tahrir Square then let it fulfill this role, what is unfortunate and bothersome is the lack of aerial coverage and in fact the blackout on the reality on the ground.
Truth be told, there were numerous aerial shots taken by mainstream commercial media when “revolution” was occuring in Egypt. Indeed, the blackout is present despite the fact that there are news reports on television by major networks. Indeed it is a people movement and the people will have to fully make use of whatever they have in context of social-media as well as blogs, vlogs, posts, videos and radio broadcasts as well as podcasts.
Despite the opening confusion, ambiguity, lack of focus and rancor, the Occupy movement is a movement with purpose, people just dont come out in masses for no reason, if such was the case it would have been habitual throughout human history. One need not to be a Socrates or Plato to observe and sense that something is not working. Indeed, any protest or people uprising will bring about the usual unjustified and unnecessary police brutilaity, corruption and roughness. Moreover, what comes with it is the usual rough handling of peaceful marchers who are carted off to be booked, however in this case, how many people will the police-state that protects the bankers and politicians arrest? It is 98% against 1% right? Or maybe it’s more like 1% versus 1% with the other 98% sitting back chillin’.