Occupy and Stand Up Chicago!


From the crowd came the taunt. “The wine is cheap! Just like your soul!

As the tall blond woman in the shimmering cocktail dress walked into the Art Institute of Chicago to join in the formal dinner of The American Futures Association last night, she pretended not to hear. But I recognized the voice. Emily Bananas. And if Emily was here, so was Jerry.

Stand Up Chicago had joined with Occupy Chicago to produce big numbers. Scanning the crowd estimated at 7,000 streaming in from five feeder parades to congregate underneath the glassed in wall of the Art Museum’s Terzo Piano restaurant three stories up, members of the 1% class of Americans were looking down on the crowd, pointing, and taking pictures with their cell phones.

Scanning the growing throng, I looked north and saw the tie dyed t-shirt, grey ponytailed figure of Jerry Bananas standing in the brown autumn prairie grass square of Millennium Park. Eyes wide open like he was some kind of deer come down to drink at the prairie stream, he waved and motioned me over.

I hadn’t seen Jerry since the old days. Back in Rogers Park when everybody’s apartment had the steam clanging radiators that kept us all warm against the wild snows of winter and everybody could walk to the shores of Lake Michigan from wherever they lived.

How he got the name Jerry Bananas? Long story. Involved some very tasty brownies, a bootleg Grateful Dead tape and a shopping list that included things like “Six quarts of world peace.”

But of course we started talking as if no time had passed at all.

“So whattya think Jerry? These kids got something here?”

“Oh yeah. They’re close. I can feel it. People are breathing differently here.”

Jerry had always said things like that. I wasn’t sure what he meant. But I liked it.

“Still got the van Jerry?”

“It’s parked right below here. Right beneath the flowers? There’s a parking lot! Cool huh?”

“Mmm. So what do you think will happen next Jerry?”

“Same as always. They’ll start dreaming up fantasies of outside agitators. Make sure that the folks doing this are painted as too crazy, dumb, or young to do this on their own.”

“Way I’ve heard it that’s already happened.”

“Then the screaming from the rich and the powerful starts,”

“You mean like Rand Paul saying that the purpose of all this is to steal rich people’s IPADs?”

Jerry laughed. “Yep. Calling them mobs and all. That’s textbook Roger. You know that’s coming. That means its working.”

“But what about the whole ‘take me to your leader’ bit, Jerry? What’s that all about. It seems like there’s no General here. How do they make anything happen without a leader?”

“Mmm. Yeah,” Jerry closed his eyes and drifted back. Didn’t speak for a moment and then said, “I wish we would have been that smart.”

“OK, but here’s the part that worries me. How scattered they are. How unfocused. Don’t we need specifics? Plans, Flow charts?”

“Hey Roger?”

“Yeah Jerry.”

“Remember when you were a teacher? Back in Uptown? That red ramshakle old building at the corner of Montrose and Clark, right across from Graceland Cemetery?”

“Course I remember. Why do you ask?”

“No reason. Just wondering if you needed any of that stuff back then?”

“Well I. . .”

“They do have specifics,” Jerry said. And he whipped out his I-Phone and punched up http://www.occupychi.com. Here look. 12 items. Which one isn’t clear?

1.PASS HR 1489 REINSTATING GLASS-STEAGALL. – A depression era safeguard that separated the commercial lending and investment banking portions of banks. Its repeal in 1999 is considered the major cause of the global financial meltdown of 2008-2009.

2. REPEAL BUSH TAX CUTS FOR THE WEALTHY

3. FULLY INVESTIGATE AND PROSECUTE THE WALL STREET CRIMINALS who clearly broke the law and helped cause the 2008 financial crisis.

4.OVERTURN CITIZENS UNITED v. US. – A 2010 Supreme Court Decision which ruled that money is speech. Corporations, as legal persons, are now allowed to contribute unlimited amounts of money to campaigns in the exercise of free “speech.”

5. PASS THE BUFFET RULE ON FAIR TAXATION, CLOSE CORPORATE TAX LOOPHOLES, PROHIBIT HIDING FUNDS OFFSHORE.

6. GIVE THE SEC STRICTER REGULATORY POWER, STRENGTHEN THE CONSUMER PROTECTION BUREAU, AND PROVIDE ASSISTANCE FOR OWNERS OF FORECLOSED MORTGAGES WHO WERE VICTIMS OF PREDATORY LENDING.

7.TAKE STEPS TO LIMIT THE INFLUENCE OF LOBBYISTS AND ELIMINATE THE PRACTICE OF LOBBYISTS WRITING LEGISLATION.

8. ELIMINATE RIGHT OF FORMER GOVERNMENT REGULATORS TO WORK FOR CORPORATIONS OR INDUSTRIES THEY ONCE REGULATED.

9. ELIMINATE CORPORATE PERSONHOOD.

10. INSIST THE FEC STAND UP FOR THE PUBLIC INTEREST IN REGULATING PRIVATE USE OF PUBLIC AIRWAVES to help ensure that political candidates ARE GIVEN EQUAL TIME for free at reasonable intervals during campaign season.

11. REFORM CAMPAIGN FINANCE WITH THE PASSAGE OF THE FAIR ELECTIONS NOW ACT (S.750, H.R. 1404).

12. FORGIVE STUDENT DEBT – The same institutions that gave almost $2T in bailouts and then extended $16T of loans at little to no interest for banks can surely afford to forgive the $946B of student debt currently held

“Well, I now know more than I did a few minutes ago.”

“Cool”

“But it seems like they’re still missing something. Something they need to make them successful. Something that will make this message flow into action.”

“Well they are,” Jerry said. “They are missing a vision. They’ve got everything they need to say it, they all feel it, and they will get there. But they’ve got to say it out loud.

They’ve got to paint the picture of the way they want things to be. All the action items, bills passed, policies wonked, all of it won’t mean squat without the vision.”

“So what’s the vision Jerry? What are the words to paint the picture so the bad guys won’t paint it for us? So we will have a picture of the dream made real?”

And Jerry swept his hand through a strand of brown prairie grass, looked up at the October sky of youth’s bright promise, shook his grey ponytail and he said:

“Here’s the vision for them Roger:

Take care of each other

Take care of those who can’t take care of themselves

Bring back possibility

And once again make words have a meaning.”

“I like that Jerry. I like that a lot. But is there anything else?”

And Jerry pointed up to the glassed in cage of the third floor patrons looking out on the assembled crowd of the other 99% of America. He pointed his finger straight at the 1% up in the sky and he said,

“Break the glass.”

2 Responses to “Occupy and Stand Up Chicago!”

  1. Gwendolyn Glover DeRosa Says:

    Wow, Roger. This is fantastic. Best story I’ve read about the events so far. Thank you, as always, for telling the story.

  2. Ted Schneider Says:

    How about adding a few more points to the vision as follows:
    – We will think and plan for the long term.
    – We will look at balance regarding how and who we tax.
    – We will incorporate continuous improvement in our daily routine.
    – We will leave things better than they were before we arrived in Washington.
    – We will live by the same rules we impose on the public (same health care, same benefits, salaries in line with national averages etc.).
    Ted

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