Saturday, October 29, 2011

"We Ain't Got Time to Bleed"

Just in case anyone missed the 43 times I found places to post this on my social networking sites, here's one more time:

I'm thinking My Man Jesse's photograph and letter will be my next Occupy Wall Street sign.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

How Bad is It, When a Mass Movement Won't Even Take You?

This blog should be a "wrap" on this subject, and contrary to what the headline suggests, it's pretty positive. (I had to use the headline because it's funny.) I am happy report: I'm getting over it! Mostly. I am beginning to realize the joke was on me, and — believe it or not — it’s so rich that even I may LMAO about it.

Why didn’t the Occupy Wall Street organizers just say they “never trust anyone over 30” in the first place?

Now, don’t get me wrong, it was the height of rudeness to suggest this movement is open to “the 99 percent” when it’s not, yet. Somebody should teach those whippersnappers better manners than to start publicly announced meetings an hour late. Maybe those wacky kids could run meetings that respect that their elders only have half their lives left. If you say you’re going to march, then march; don’t set up a mike and ask people to sit around with their signs for two hours. An apology would be nice, if people travel a long way and use up a lot of gas but then are turned away … 

(If you’re not at least chuckling a little at my expense about here, I need to work on my comedy skills.)

A brilliant friend of mine commented on an earlier post: "I wonder if they used flow charts in Tiananmen Square." (Pity the poor fellow who found his name in the rectangle at the end, under the title "Stands In Front Of Tank.")

But in a way, you have really got to admire these American youngins' chutzpah. As of this writing, I no longer think their “bad behavior” spells the end of the movement, because their only job is to start it. It may well develop a life of its own, independently of all this nonsense. And the flow charts will be blowin’ in the wind then, and I’ll be there.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Human Prairie Fire

In a fit of fury and frustration yesterday, I posted a link to the flyer that Johnson City’s Occupy Wall Street group handed out, its guiding principles for building consensus within the movement. Its “guiding principles,” in my not-so-humble professional opinion, on how to destroy itself. Complete with flow chart. Any professional with organizational and real-world experience can look at that plan and think, OH SHIT. Anyone within the corporate realm, opposed to the Occupy Wall Street movement, is cackling evilly, to know of it. (And not because of what Corporate America understands of the corporate world we repudiate, but because of what applied marketing research has taught them about human nature. Quite successfully, in case you haven’t noticed.) I have wondered if Wall Street actually planted that flyer in the hands of a young OWS organizer punch drunk on 15 straight days of sidewalk sleep.

Some academic has probably spent an entire half-lifetime researching the “consensus plan” our local OWS group is using, working away inside a bubble, racking up the numbers that show “this is the best way to get consensus,” out the ass. How sweet. Here’s the problem:  that’s all the plan does. Build “consensus,” while A) the group shrinks down to a handful of the most passionate diehard souls holding mirrors up to each other and nodding their affirmations fiercely, and B) the goal (if anyone ever had one) turns to dust in our hands. I can imagine no better formula for frittering away a moment.

And the message of this potentially defining moment? Messages in a defining moment are not made by consensus, shows of “thumbs up” or “thumbs down.” Those messages are human prairie fire, raw emotion on the upturned faces of thousands, saying ”Go ahead. Shoot.” If a government is stupid enough to obliterate the first swell, hundreds-of-thousands rush in behind it.

But before we get started, let us see, do we have “consensus” on Raw Emotion #3.4A, Item 6, Line 23b?

Damn it, and this movement has more potential than any I’ve ever seen in my lifetime. (Because I was born in 1964, a flesh-and-bone byproduct of a particular kind of peace and love, who mostly missed the last great movement as a result of being in infancy.) This now grown-up marketing professional recognizes that just about everyone in this country is waking up to the fact they’ve been screwed by Wall Street for their entire lifetimes. Tea-baggers, even, although they’re suffering from Stockholm Syndrome. This movement has a perfect name, “Occupy Wall Street,” a perfect target, and a perfect slogan, “We are the 99.” (I wish I’d had such great ideas 15 years ago, when I was capitalizing on naming campaigns, targeting markets, and coming up with slogans.)

I came home yesterday after a second try at a local Occupy Wall Street event, and threw my signs in the trash. I was livid after getting up early, driving an hour to get there, and waiting the two hours the group was behind schedule. I didn’t speak up about these counter-culture babies’ confidence-killing faux pas when I had opportunities, both this weekend and last, because of what I know of human nature. I was a lone representative from outside the choir of activists; I had no dreads and no beads. I would have been wasting my breath, to say Stop! when these people were enjoying their open mikes so much.

But my wiser husband retrieved our signs from the trash, and propped them against the wall of his shed. The Most Cynical Man On Earth likes what he sees of the New York occupation, and — what? — doesn’t think it’s time to give up on it yet.

Twenty-four hours later, I am sitting back on my heels and wondering, “How can those of us who have something to add get in, and effectively share a little wisdom with these kids?” Or, considering that no small proportion were my age or older, “kids at heart.” (I know, I know — begin by not calling them “kids.”)

The rest of us must find a way, somehow.

Because we, too, are among the 99 percent. (The flyer.) (Previous blog on Knoxville OWS.)