The Indignity of Commuting by Bicycle in a Corrupt and Oppressive Capitalist System Driven by Greed: Protests

Further to yesterday's post, in which I mentioned my new mountaining bicycle which I'm beaming at right now with one eye as I type this (which should explain all the typosepaoieh[aiwn), a commenter commented the following comment:

billy said...

Wow, nice bike. Frames start at $2K? Hard to listen to someone complain after beginning their post with, "oh btw... check out my super expensive bike I just took delivery of...fuck hipsters". No, Fuck you, dude.

September 27, 2011 12:10 AM

Wow. Firstly, Billy, I still love you, even though you were mean to me. Secondly, to be honest, I actually do have some regrets about this bicycle. Granted, these regrets are mostly along the lines of "I really should have gotten a second one exactly like it so I could ride it while my helper monkey is cleaning the first one," and "I wish I'd gotten the words 'Wildcat Rock Machine' spelled out in diamonds on the top tube," but they're regrets nonetheless. Ultimately, though, the truth is that I've earned this bike, since before my semi-retirement from racing I was the 183rd best single-speed mountain biker in the entire world:

Sure, I was one of the few people there who was still sober enough to stand (let alone ride an actual bicycle), but if I have to cheat my way to sub-mediocrity at an ironic World Championships by drinking far less than everybody else then so be it.

Anyway, by way of atoning for my consumerist sin of owning a nice bicycle that I will ride and enjoy for many years to come, yesterday I decided to visit the Wall Street protests. I did this with some trepidation, too, since not only have they been arresting people down there, but Police Commissioner Ray Kelly recently announced that the NYPD now has the means to shoot down a plane:

("Yeah, we got a plane guy now.")

If they can shoot a plane right out of the sky, then there's no telling what they could do to a slovenly bike blogger on a Big Dummy.*

*[Cue more lavish bike insults from Billy.]

Upon my arrival, I immediately found lots of protestors being watched by people with backpacks:

As well as at least one person wearing a retro-retro-retro-chic tricorne hat:

(Fall 2011 is all about tricorne hats and Crocs, I read it in GQ.)

And even a man who looked not completely unlike a young Burt Reynolds:

("Hey, hot stuff. Hate Wall Street? Me too.")

In search of someone who could articulate the protester's ideology and goals to me, I sought out this dog, who went on and on and on about Ben Bernanke until I politely backed away:

In fact, I almost backed into this gentleman, who I immediately identified as someone in charge:

Not only was he actually in the act of rabble-rousing, but he was also dressed kind of like Brad Pitt in "Fight Club," albeit sans shirt (and, I'm reasonably certain, sans underpants). Here he is engaged in the more mundane administrative task of approving signage:

After some deliberation, he finally signed off on the crudely-drawn skull:

Meanwhile, the police kept watch on the periphery:

I was much too frightened to get close to them, but I happen to read lips:

Indeed, there was actually toplessness:

Though fortunately I did not witness any skull-busting. However, I did witness one officer sternly admonishing this particularly outspoken girder:

Basically, he told it that it better put a shirt on or else it was going to jail.

Unsurprisingly, the local news media was also out in force, complete with TV cameras:

As well as world-weary reporters and/or producers who have not only seen it all:

But also heard it all:

Of course, protesting isn't just about voicing your opinion and making a change. It's also a great opportunity to dress in those timeless countercultural fashions. This look is what's known as "Countercultural Black Tie," and is inspired the "Yippie" style of the "Chicago Seven:"

Sadly there's only three of them and not seven:

This means they need four more people dressed like members of Creedence Clearwater Revival before they have a "Hippie Minyan."

Here is somebody who was uncertain as to whether this was a protest or a casting call for American Apparel models, and who wisely opted to dress for both:

Not everybody knows how to dress for a protest, though. Take, for example, this duder:

I'd bet my flared trousers, my pointy boots, and my white man's Afro that he's a Narc. I mean, look at those sunglasses! For shame. John Lennon is rolling in his grave, and Tupac would be too if he were actually dead.

Thankfully, the protesters aren't falling for it, as you can see from this sign that reads, "NYPD We Are Watching You Too:"

As for these people, I'm not sure if they're discussing the injustice of our financial system, or if an NYU professor simply decided to hold her "Womyn's Studies" class outside yesterday due to the fair weather:

Most likely, both scenarios are correct.

Speaking of our financial system, it could take days or even weeks of displaying cardboard signs to bring it to its knees, so you might as well get comfortable:

Yes, these protestors are in it for the long haul:

By the way, while this protest might appear similar to those of the 1960s and 1970s, these savvy 21st century revolutionaries aren't going to make the same mistakes their forbearers did. For example, back then, the revolution would not be televised. Now, not only will it be televised, but there will also be product placement:

There's also what appears to be sort of a "new media" pit:

Where slovenly bike bloggers with smartphones take pictures of other slovenly people using smartphones. There's also an old-fashioned fax machine:

At least three former messengers old enough to remember how this antiquated form of technology once stole their livelihoods had to be forcibly restrained.

Here, I ordered a Venti Iced Peppermint White Chocolate Mocha™, and was disgusted when they refused to make me one:

And here are conga drums:

Because it's just not a protest without a conga line--or without somebody wearing suspenders and carrying a clarinet:

This is a gigantic analog Twitter feed:

And this is a woman analog-Tweeting:

But make no mistake--this protest is as much about the evils of office furniture as it is about Wall Street:

When I got home, I burned my swivel chair.

To be honest, though, as a New Yorker I was strangely inspired by the sight of lots of people in varying states of needing a shower expressing themselves while loitering. It reminded me a bit of the Tompkins Square Park riot of the 1980s, which I took part in by listening to a "Squat or Rot" record in my bedroom and not doing my homework. At the very least, it's more interesting than an artisanal mayo shop.

On the way home, I headed over the Brooklyn Bridge, where I had a total Amsterdam flashback:

Once I recovered, I looked around and saw that the DOT were handing out bells to cyclists. Here's one DOT staffer explaining to a cyclist how a bell works:

And here's the cyclist pretending not to get it so she'll get closer to him:

Here's another DOT staffer explaining to somebody that the reason he's having so much trouble is that he's actually closed his pants around his stem:

That can happen if you don't dismount before urinating.

In addition to bells, the DOT was giving out pamphlets:

And they even had signs and "Pedestrian Safety" officers directing people, which was surprisingly effective and made for perhaps the least chaotic rush-hour Brooklyn Bridge crossing I've ever experienced.

I of course already had a bell, but if you want to schnorr one for yourself I believe they'll be out there again today. Then you can take it down to Wall Street and ring it from the end of the conga line.

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