Occupy Wall Street: 60 Wall another new protocol

this too is what democracy looks like

It's beginning to feel like I'm stalking Glenn Greenwald. I was in DUMBO Sunday night at Powerhouse Books hoping to hear he and Matt Taibbi speak. Matt was there, and he was terrific, but it was announced that Glenn had had to cancel the appearance to check out a heart irregularity. I did buy his new book.

While Greenwald's "With Liberty and Justice for Some: How the Law Is Used to Destroy Equality and Protect the Powerful" has just now been published, and was completed before #OccupyWallStreet began, it's argument, expressed within the title itself, is fundamental to understanding both the origin of the protests and their growing strength.

Glenn was also scheduled to talk with people from Occupy Wall Street on Monday evening, and that morning he had tweeted that he was sorry for all the medical drama and "Everything's great now," so I headed downtown to the venue, the atrium at 60 Wall Street. Soon after I arrived I learned that he had extended his apologies that he could not be there that night. I hope he gets some deserved rest, and is soon back in good form.

UPDATE: Greenwald has resumed tweeting.

I lingered for a while before going home. While I talked to people I gathered that there was agreement that the crowd that evening was somewhat larger than usual, perhaps partly in expectation of a respected visitor.

The dry, warm, well-lighted atrium [and Wi-Fi too?] became an unofficial annex to Liberty Park over the last few weeks, especially as the population of the original camp zoomed.

As far as the real estate itself is concerned, the 60 Wall "atrium" is one of those weird New York City public/private spaces. While I was both living and working at the tip of Manhattan in the mid-80's, and as I watched their huge, silly and graceless post-modern tower headquarters going up I wondered what J.P. Morgan was going to do with what looked like way too much lobby space. Then, in the incestuous pattern of bank holdings which has become all-too-familiar over the last decades, its ownership moved from Morgan to Morgan Chase, to Deutsche Bank and then to something called "Paramount Group Inc.". But for over 20 years the four-story atrium "park" with its waterfalls, seating areas and palm trees remained underutilized even during the neighborhood's "banking hours", and it looked completely dead by 6 o'clock. I had never actually used it myself, and I don't think I had even entered the space before this fall.

When I arrived there last night it was definitely being put to use. There were different-sized groups of all sorts of people in conversations or more formal meetings; a few individuals were sitting at computers, and there were several film crews recording and interviewing in different parts of the atrium. Almost everyone appeared to be associated with Occupy. I did spot one tired-looking middle-aged man - probably not #Occupy - finishing a sandwich while sitting at one of the tables; a year ago he might have been the only warm body in the place, outside of the guard or the attendant.

Last night I tweeted (thinking about their very different architectures) that, if Liberty Park was Occupy NYC's messy 19th-century New York, 60 Wall Street was its 20th-century L.A. I should have added that it's an L.A. as free of commercial advertising as the park itself, and that there is at least one more divergence from the common image of Southern California: The atrium is a microcosm.

The two Downtown locations are both in fact Los Angeles and New York City as real urban spaces, whose interactions are face-to-face. See Joanne McNeill's essay "Occupy the Internet" first published in n+1's Occupy! An OWS-Inspired Gazette

The occupation is a gesture against the isolating experience of the screen-mediated online world. A need to experience the world for one's self, to communicate with more than text. So many email threads and conversations over SMS go on, ceaselessly, over points that can be made instantly face-to-face. The "human mic" is not so tedious in comparison.


OWS has created a new generation of change and I am looking forward to what it brings to our world.