Friday, September 30, 2011

Plutopods on Their Perches

We can only hope the now-viral video of champagne-guzzling oligarchs ogling the Wall Street indignados gets as much traction as the ones of Inspector Gadget squirting his pepper spray. Nothing beats an infuriating optic for giving a movement that nice added oomph.

Of course, aristocrats on balconies have been amused by peasants in the streets since time immemorial.  Or at least since 1789......

Marie Antoinette & Co Ogled at Their Peril

Or as recently as last May, when the same plutopods at the Cipriani Club at 55 Wall Street peered and sneered at another protest march. (Yes, there have been protest marches, demonstrations, rallies and sleep-ins galore in lower Manhattan this whole year.  But they have not been covered by the mainstream media, apparently because the participants were not bused in by the Koch Brothers.  And although there were a few arrests this summer, they lacked the drama of pepper spray and other assaults. In other words, since they didn't bleed, they didn't lead.)

(photo by Christopher Robbins)

Remember all those horror movies from the 50s and 60s where critters ran amok and attacked out of the blue for no apparent reason, and we come to find out it's because  humans have been so vile and corrupt for so long that nature finally has enough and retaliates?  (Alfred Hitchcock's "The Birds" comes to mind, along with "Them" and other giant insect films made in the wake of The Bomb).

Well, it just so happens that a swarm of 20,000 angry bees did attack the original Stock Exchange building in 2010.  They must have been pissed off about the TARP bailouts, the trillions of dollars in secret Fed loans to the multinationals and banks, the foreclosures, the foreclosure robosigning scandals, the CEO bonuses, the impunity, the fact that the current owners are convicted tax evaders, fraudsters, alleged mobsters, bribers of government officials  -- and yet, in the fine corrupt Wall Street tradition, the Cipriani clan still manages to maintain possession of its property and get richer by the minute.

Were the bees harbingers of things to come?  Let's hope.  But let us also pray that the "OccupyWallStreet" resistance movement does not meet the same fate as the bees.  The NYPD sucked them up with a giant vacuum cleaner and shipped them out to a farm in Connecticut.  So for those who plan to march on One Police Plaza this afternoon to protest the Inspector Bologna brutality, be careful out there!  Remember -- New York's finest also have weapons designed to shoot planes out of the sky.

The Cipriani Club, for those of you not in the know (and I was among the unknowing myself until earlier today) was constructed during the Gilded Age of  Wall Street's glorious heyday  and comprises an entire city block. (the better to view the hoi polloi).  It now houses restaurants, condos selling in the mid to high seven figures, spas, bars. The restaurant has the dubious distinction of being home to a $32 hamburger. It's gotten many a lousy review in the New York Times, for its terrible food, tiny chairs and conspicuous consumption.  As far as I know, the Cipriani is not among the financial district eateries donating food to the Zuccotti Park campers.  But we can always call and ask!  Here is their number: 212-699-4096. 

And speaking of reviews: Ginia Bellafante, the Times columnist who made fun of the Wall Street protesters and their regalia last weekend, should have gone into Cipriani instead.  According to the Indagare travel site, the uber-wealthy Cipriani crowd " truly verges on Fellini-esque with extreme hairdos, face-lifts and implants on parade."  And all Bellafante could come up with was a topless dancer and some cheap masks?  What has journalism come to? 

The Decline and Fall of the Wall Street Empire (Fellini "Amarcord" Poster)


Anonymous said...

What an odd, funny video. 

I well remember my first office Christmas party, which was, yes, at Cipriani's. The food (back then) was good, if plain, though as my boss later joked, had it been inedible, I was then so hungry that "taste wasn't an issue." 

True that a regular supply, through the corporation, of protein and veggies was enough to buy this worker's loyalty for at least a few years. (I had survived on 35-cent bagels for too many years before that.) So at that Christmas party, I was terribly grateful, and thought myself lucky, indeed.

Looking at the video, I wonder how many of those young women on the balcony will have the same perspective in, say, ten years. Something tells me that we may be moving in a direction that neither we nor the balcony girls can predict. 

I'm reminded of the flute girls of Athens, who, they say, could do nothing but play their flutes even as the once-great city fell in flames to the Spartans. 

The flute girls always play, but they do occasionally change their songs. Don't count them out entirely.

Camp Obama, H.E.

VLT said...

The Guardian has a 2 minute video leading up to the pepper spray incident. What were the girls doing behind the barricade that was so dangerous to the public and the police that they deserved to be maced? Pushing? Shouting obscenities? No!!!!!!
They got maced for
1) shouting “shame” for the overuse of force on one protester who made an escape from behind the netting,
2) one woman saying to police officer, “Let her go!” after a cop reached OVER the barricade to grab a woman (it looks like by the hair) and push her to the ground (behind the barricade!)
3) and another woman replying after the police told her to go, “Where do you want us to go? The garage?”
4) and one guy saying, “You are attacking the wrong people!”
It is overwhelmingly clear that these people were protesting peacefully! They ARE allowed to shout – shouting isn’t against the law! What I find amazing is no one even used an obscenity against the police! THAT is how well-behaved these protesters are!
I have got to hand it to these “dumb kids.” They are smart enough to find out who the macer was and smart enough to figure out his address and post it on the Internet! Not that I think for a minute anything will happen to his house or family other than maybe a few rotten vegetables will be thrown – a fair consequence considering the pain his unjustified use of pepper spray inflicted.
Here’s the link to the Guardian –

Anonymous said...


Great comment. In recognition of what these women protestors had to endure, I propose we rename the park in their name. Or: I propose that Zucotti Park be renamed Cammella Teoli Park:

"Consider for example the story of Cammella Teoli. At thirteen, Cammella was the victim of a terrible working accident: she was completely scalped when her hair became stuck in the machine she was operating. Outraged, she agreed, despite her young age and her scant knowledge of English, to testify before Congress against the terrible working conditions of American factories. It was 1912—the year of great working-class struggles and socialist dreams—and the brave testimony of the young Teoli provoked quite a stir: national newspapers published her tragic story and she became almost overnight a sort of celebrity. Yet, Cammella’s family knew nothing of her heroic past. They learned about it only a few years ago when Paul Cowan, a journalist for the Village Voice who was writing an article commemorating the Lawrence Strike of 1912, tracked down one of Cammella’s daughters in the hope of interviewing her and finding out more information about her mother. Cowan was, to say the least, stunned when he discovered that she had never heard of the accident or the testimony."

Anonymous said...

Looking for decent coverage of 99'er protests? I thought this was great:

Too bad the NYTimes can't HANDLE reporting properly on Zucotti Park protests (tho to be fair, baycitizen shares a lot of reporting with the Times.)

Anonymous said...

400 arrested? Arrests = media attention for bank reform. Let's go!
Karen, you were right all along - the slow and steady drizzle adds up to a greater rain.
Camp Obama, H.E.

VLT said...

Karen has a brilliant comment in response to Charles Blow's take on Occupy Wall Street. The MSM seems determined to trivialise this movement as disorganised, without focus and made up of hippies. They also seem determined to say it is a couple of hundred kids. But when I look at the pictures on Youtube
it looks like a lot more people than that! In any case, other organisations have decided to join in – on Wednesday - and with it more media attention – We hope!

In the reader comments to Blow’s article, Jennifer, in Seattle, (#18) had an interesting comment that resonated with me. It is one of the main reasons why I am so angry at Obama.
“Liberals spent 8 years under the Bush regime then rallied all our hopes and dreams around Obama. Obama has been a crushing disappointment to liberals, who now sit around comparing the exact moment when they became disillusioned with Barack (for me it was the extension of the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy in Dec 2010). Every time someone encourages me to rally or agitate, I just get tired thinking of how we DID that, darn it, and look what happened. Obama's repeated failure to give liberals something, anything to get excited about or to feel like he had our backs has really taken its toll since Jan 2009 . . . ”

A betrayal is so emotionally and psychologically devastating and I feel that it is one of the reasons people are so apathetic. They have given up. If Obama is on the take – who can they trust? What leader can they put their hope and faith in? Better to withdraw from the whole political scene and try to take what little joy they can find outside politics.

I feel sorry for anyone trying to start up a movement these days for just that reason so the Occupy Wall Street people should be doubly commended. Between the MSM neglecting to cover protests or trivialising their efforts, it is an uphill battle. But FINALLY someone over at the NYT DID actually write a pretty good commentary of the Occupy Wall Street Protest and cited some good sources in the blogosphere.

Thank you, Karen, for sticking with this story. It is one that deserves to be heard and one that we all need to be paying attention to. It will be interesting to see how Occupy Wall Street segues into the protest in Washington D.C. on October 6th. I hope a lot of these people make the trip to D.C. and support that movement there because I feel that THAT is going to be the really important protest and it needs all the support it can get.
I dare to have a glimmer of hope for our country. Maybe this is the spark that Jay and Ralph Nader have been waiting and hoping for.