After a sequence of events so implausible that even my loyal readers would never believe for a second that I had no hand in it, I presently find myself in San Francisco, in a boutique hotel right next to the local Occupy encampment. And I do mean, right next to the Occupy encampment. I heard electronic music, and walked to the window at the end of the hallway on the third floor of my hotel. When I looked out this is what I saw:
Two adorable occupiers offered me some bread. I declined the bread, and asked for a picture. They told me they had been traveling to various Occupy encampments; they had just been to L.A.’s, and were headed to another one in Florida. “You should check out Oakland while you’re here,” they told me. “They’re really organized. They have meetings about what they’re going to do every day.” Huh. Apparently the San Francisco contingent was pretty laid back, even by Occupy standards. And that wasn’t the only difference between OSF and Zuccotti Park.
First there were the tents — lots of them. Many were nothing short of fabulous, offering far more than shelter from the elements: they were destinations in their own right. And there was not a police presence in sight.
It was a gorgeous evening, and people were smiling and friendly. Out of the blue, a seriously hawt young d00d handed me his tiny dog as I walked by. Without even thinking I just took her in my arms and held her close to me. “She’s cold,” the d00d said. His name was Dell, and he was born and raised in San Francisco. “I’m going to take her home and give her a bath.” I asked him, “Have you been involved in the Occupy movement here since the beginning?” “Pretty much,” he said. His brother had been occupying from the start. Dell had run into him at the encampment one day, and decided to join him. He told me his father owned a bunch of restaurants in South Carolina and elsewhere. “So, you’re a 1%-er?” I asked. “Yeah,” he said. “There’s a lot of us.” I smiled and handed him back his dog. “It was nice to meet you,” I said. I held out my hand to shake his. Dell wasn’t having any of it — he hugged me. “Your man’s a lucky man,” he said.
The occupiers had put up a holiday tree. I chatted there with a few others, and inquired about the music. It was coming from the plaza across the street, in the middle of the Embarcadero. Was it occupiers? No one seemed to have a straight answer: “No. They’re here for the occupiers.” Okay, I guess they did give me a straight answer, but I didn’t get it until I went over there to check it out for myself.
I couldn’t believe it: not only did the occupiers have tents, they had audio? Amazing. Zuccotti never had it so good. Their tents were confiscated early on, and there was never any amplification allowed, not even a bullhorn (thus the extraordinarily powerful human microphone that has become emblematic of the movement).
A friendly d00d approached me. “Hi, I’m Robert Garrett.” “I’m Iris,” I said. “I’m visiting from New York.” He shook my hand; strangely, he did not hug me. ? It turns out that Robert was there working as crew for Strategik, a local DJ consortium that had set up on the plaza in support of the occupiers. This was a pro operation: their sound system is phenomenal, and at least three DJs, including Influence, Pirata and Dr. Whiskers, were trading off sets. At first there were a dozen or so people dancing close to the DJ, but soon there were a few dozen, and then more. Occupiers danced and waved protest signs at passing cars, and they often honked back in support. Club kids started showing up.
Robert told me a few cops had been on site while they were setting up their rig. When they started spinning records and cranking up the volume, they worried they would be shut down right away. It didn’t happen. That was a few hours ago. Robert said one of the guys was heading out now to pick up the truck: they’re going to set up their lights, too. Hahaha.
The daylight was quickly fading, and the iPhone battery was too. I took my leave. But sitting in my room now, I can hear some seriously slamming beats, and my head is bobbing as I type this. I probably won’t be quite so enamored later tonight when I’m trying to sleep. But after I post this I’m going back.
Occupy da club.