The Most Tabloid Story Ever Told

Did you see this insanity about a young, heroin-addicted, ivory-tower-educated, would-be terrorist couple getting busted for a cache of drugs, weapons and explosives in their Greenwich Village apartment? Pretty wild, but not so wild as the fact that one Morgan Glideman, nine months pregnant, went into labor as she was being arrested. But I guess that’s adrenalin for you.

One chemical powder found in the lair, HMTD, is so volatile that police evacuated other nearby buildings. The dude, Aaron Greene, is a Harvard grad with supposed connections to Occupy Wall Street. Yet even with all this uncovered firepower, intimations of class warfare and reason to use the phrase “baby daddy,” we’re not seeing a lot of hysterical tabloid coverage. Why?

Giuliani would have been all over this—and it’s a little odd that Bloomberg hasn’t suggested putting CCTV cameras inside all personal residences. Right-wingers should be pointing out that domestic terrorism is not just a pursuit for Tea Baggers. Ordinarily, by now, the Internet would be in a screaming match about the procedure by which an incarcerated woman gives birth! So come on, let’s turn this into a genuine clusterfuck. These weirdos earned it. 

Alan Moore Releases Occupy Song on International Quote ‘V For Vendetta’ Day

From the second you woke up this morning, odds are you were inundated with your particularly obnoxious/half-assed-politically-engaged friends on social media quoting "Remember, remember, the fifth of November" and other such lines honoring Guy Fawkes’ Day and V For Vendetta. Appropriately enough, the author of Watchmen and V For Vendetta has released a new song with Joe Brown in support of Anonymous and the Occupy Movement, on a day when many a London Occupier willl don the Guy Fawkes mask and recreate one of Moore’s pivotal scenes

"The Decline of English Murder" features lyrics and vocals from Moore and music from Brown, a sparse and haunting folk ballad warning of the dangers of greed and incompetence from the government and financial worlds. His ending is the most telling:

"And English murder. It’s all over the place/The bunches of flowers in pedestrian precincts/Your average psychopath, at least kills with a hammer or brick/and not with greed and incompetence/And after two or three years maybe they’ll express remorse/"

We can’t help wonder if fellow graphic novelist Frank Miller will respond by putting his anti-Occupy rant into a dirgey, Tom Waits-ish musical number, perhaps called "Wake Up, Pond Scum." You can listen to and download Moore’s song on the Occupy Records website or watch a video of Moore at Occupy London below. 

Occupy Wall Street Having Its Own All-Star Celebrity Telethon

Looking to get people fired up about your cause? Need to answer critics who claim your movement has no clear goals? Need to reignite the base after more than a year fightin’ the big banks and big business? Instead of live-tweeting the revolution, Strike Debt is kicking it old school with “The People’s Bailout: A Variety Show and Telethon to Benefit the 99%” on November 15th at Le Poisson Rouge.

Like any good telethon, the People’s Bailout has an eclectic mix of Occupy All Stars, including Neutral Milk Hotel’s Jeff Mangum, who performed a set for Occupy protesters at Liberty Park last year. The roster of artists, musicians, comedians and more joining him include Janeane Garofalo, Lizz Winstead, Max Silvestri, Hari Kondabolu, John Cameron Mitchell, TV on the Radio’s Tunde Adebimpe, Fugazi’s Guy Picciotto, Sonic Youth’s Lee Ronaldo, David Rees and The Yes Men. The telethon will fund Rolling Jubilee, an initiative that buys debt on the cheap and absolves it—for example, a $25 donation will abolish an estimated $500 worth of debt. The Rolling Jubilee website will stream the event live.

 “People shouldn’t have to go into debt for an education, because they need medical care, or to put food on the table during hard times,” the organizers write. “We shouldn’t have to pay endless interest to the 1% for basic necessities. Big banks and corporations walk away from their debts and leave taxpayers to pick up the tab. It’s time for a bailout of the people, by the people.”

Last year around this time, Jeff Mangum performed his Liberty Park set, including a Minutemen cover and a few Neutral Milk Hotel classics, including “Holland, 1945,” “Ghost” and “Oh Comely.” You can watch the performance in its entirety below. 

Occupy Wall Street Still Around, Sort Of

Remember Occupy Wall Street? Of course you don’t! To refresh your memory, let’s consult Wikipedia: OWS is “an ongoing protest movement that began on September 17, 2011 in Zuccotti Park, located in New York City’s Wall Street financial district.”

All on the same page now? Good. Because the use of the adjective “ongoing” irks me just a bit. Here, almost a year on, is what constitutes this supposedly eternal protest:

—An empty Zuccotti Park. Well, not empty, but full of white-collar office drones enjoying the sun and eating lunch. The lone oversized poster being carried around in the vicinity advertises a going-out-of-business sale at Daffy’s. Very peaceful!

—A confusing crew on the steps of Federal Hall. Sometimes. Other days it’s just one guy with a guitar case covered in “OCCUPY” stickers. I say guitar case because I have seen no proof of an actual instrument within. Other days, you get a smattering of the scary, screaming, prophet-of-doom-type protesters, but never in numbers greater than those of the Asian tourists who assemble to photograph them. Basically, we’re back to normal raving New York street corner lunatic status here.

—A loose front of several dozen occupiers ranged on the sidewalk in front of Trinity Church. Claiming sanctuary, it would seem. This is the last gasp of the movement as it was popularly depicted last autumn: half-hearted addresses delivered in Uncle Sam garb, unabashed but somehow sarcastic fast-food consumption, etc. It’s worth noting that only 30% of this contingent is awake at any given moment.

Long live the revolution. Or whatever.

Occupy My Birthday! How to Eat Like the 1%

Once upon a time May Day meant walking around the May pole and the hedonistic jumping through fire to celebrate fertility for both the land and people. In the late 1800s it became International Worker’s Day and after the May Day riots in 1894 the day quickly became a time to speak out against government, capitalism, and what have you. This year the month of May kicked off with branches of the Occupy movement storming the streets of Manhattan marching and videotaping police brutality.

All this happened outside the window of Onegin as I sat in a plush chair dining on red caviar wrapped in blintzes and sipped from tiny glasses of spicy horseradish infused vodka. For May Day in my world is also my birthday and for one day, I felt a part of the one percent as I spent the afternoon in completely opulent luxury.

The birthday adventure started with cups of mellow and smooth kopi luwak, otherwise known as civet cat coffee, a brew that comes from beans harvested from the animal’s poop. It tasted great. To go with the poop coffee we stopped at SCRATCHbread for the most amazing poached egg sandwich that popped with bright kale pesto. Breakfast was quickly followed by lunch at Onegin where we downed too many shots of flavorful house-infused vodka and munched on the aforementioned caviar.

Next, our plan was to get birthday cake at Parm, and this is where the day turned sour—they were out! After a childhood filled with Dairy Queen’s beloved ice cream cake all I really wanted was to sample the version at Parm, but alas, this didn’t happen. Instead, the bartender bought me a magenta beet negroni, which had a faint sweet, earthiness to it that was very pleasing. While it didn’t make up for the cake, the cocktail satisfied my taste buds.

From there we headed to Pegu Club to sample their smoked trout deviled eggs, a snappy dish that makes even egg haters swoon. I paired my nibbles with a creamy Earl Gray mar-tea-ni, it was after all, tea time. The end of my birthday commenced at The Vault at Pfaff’s, which ironically was right in the path of more May Day marchers. Police lined the streets and Broadway was blocked off from traffic. So, I did what any self-respecting one percent birthday girl would do: I marched down the dark stairway into the swank cocktail lounge and ordered champagne.

Tom Morello Starts a ‘Guitarmy’, Thousands March On May Day in New York City

It only took about fifteen minutes tops – five blocks south of Bryant Park – before the “illegal” Occupy Wall Street and “Guitarmy” march to Union Square broke through the tight NYPD formation corralling protestors to the sidewalk along 5th Avenue in New York City. Across the country 135 cities planned similar May Day related action.

The formation had been meant to keep the swelling ranks of protesters to the sidewalk. Cries of, “c’mon, we’ve got the numbers, let’s take the streets!” pierced through the sound of whistles, chants and drums, as small groups of enthusiastic occupiers broke through and encouraged their comrades to follow them into the middle of the broad avenue as generations of rabble-rousers have.

The cops fought back with shoves, shouts and even a few baton thrusts, but they couldn’t stem the tide and by the time the march crossed 33rd Street, 5th Avenue belonged to the protesters. Jay Manzetti, a self-described AFL-CIO member from “Occupy Long Island” who had been talking-up breaking the NYPD cordon since before the march started was one of the first to bust through. “Fuck yeah, I want the whole fucking city taken!” he cheered.

Smack in the middle of this chaos, wearing a cap marking his membership in the stately old I.W.W (Industrial Workers of the World) and coolly strumming an acoustic guitar, Tom Morello—frontman of socially-conscious headbangers, Rage Against the Machine, and longtime OWS supporter—chanted: “this occupation is not leaving,” and, “these are our streets.” 

As he readied to run through a quick rehearsal with his “new band” of what he described in a slight exaggeration as “10,000 guitarists,” a short while earlier, Morello shared his ideas on the respective significance of International Workers’ Day—a May 1st holiday for progressives and organized labor since the late 1800s—during the current economic crisis and OWS.

Morello, a Harvard graduate descending from an impressive transcontinental leftist pedigree, speaks with a perspective markedly more global—and critical of U.S. foreign policy—both economic and military, than the average OWS denizen, who mostly worries about the shrinking middle class and corporate money in politics. Answering a question about his patriotism, Morello says that America is not a “homogeneous” block. “There’s an America of the Napalmers and the lynchers; that sends missiles to kill civilians oversees and forecloses on farms,” he says. “Than there’s the America that fights back against it that’s the country I’m proud of.”  

But even the most parochially minded OWS supporter nodded along with Morello when he said that the most pressing message for Americans to take away from Occupy is that “gross economic inequality” is not just an accident of market forces, as the consensus-oriented media and our moderate politicians would have them believe, but the result of a massive theft of wealth from the middle-class by “criminals who should be prosecuted,” in the very top-economic tier. Once people know the score, he added, “the genie can’t be put back in the bottle.”

As the protest moved downtown, gaining steam, white-collar workers watched from office windows above. At one point when a gap in the march grew too long, the group out front called a “sit-in.” Despite of all the smart technology in attendance and concomitant social media it was left to a runner to be dispatched to find out how far behind the next clump of protesters was.

People chanted and waved banners, some obviously dusted off from last fall, but there were new ones as well. (A memorable one juxtaposed a headshot of NYPD police commissioner Ray Kelly with that of notorious southern racist sheriff Bull Conner.)  A few handed out flowers, but there would be no photographs of lilacs gingerly placed into the barrel of NYPD guns. One flower giver, 26-year-old Emily Hosmer-Dillard of Brooklyn, said her offerings were decidedly not for the boys in blue. Like many others who were marching yesterday, Hosmer-Dillard still remembered the mass-arrests, late-night evictions and all-around authoritarian tactics that marked the NYPD’s treatment of OWS last fall. Laughing at such a “60s type image” she said, “I’m not here to make the cops’ job easier.”

While nothing approaching the anger directed at millionaires, bankers, the GOP Congress or the NYPD, several OWS supporters had harsh words for the “mainstream media,” (but especially Fox News), which they felt deceived the majority of middle class Americans against the movement even though they shared common interests. Sitting on a bicycle Fred Gates, a 39 year-old “self-employed web designer,” was arguing civilly with Phil—a middle-aged “auditor” who would not give his last name but works near Union Square and was for the moment at least stuck in his car—who told him that if someone’s unemployed he should be “looking in himself and looking for a job,” instead of out marching.

Effectively summing up the grumbling heard that day directed towards the fourth estate, Gates told Phil that they’d be on the same side if it wasn’t for the  “media coverage,” which back in October “started making us look like dirty hippies with nothing substantive to say.” Indeed the two certainly agreed on one important idea, that as Phil the auditor put it, “the economic pie is shrinking and we’re getting squeezed up down and sideways.” 

By the time the “Solidarity Rally” (featuring Tom Morello and Das Racist) started after 4pm, the sun was shining and Union Square was filled with thousands of activists and onlookers (video below). With free food, a “free store,” a library and representatives of a different far-left political party thrusting literature in your face every time you turned around the scene had strong echoes of the Liberty Plaza occupation. But there was a stronger union showing, especially of domestic workers, and a more international vibe.

Morello climbed the makeshift stage with his acoustic guitar and “guitarmy” comrades and kicked off into “Rebel Songs.” Looking around at the crowd and flags flying from every color of the rainbow (but especially red), one couldn’t help but think that minus the NYPD helicopter circling low overhead and the ubiquitous smartphones, this could have been May Day during the Great Depression. As if on cue, Morello announced that this year would have been Woody Guthrie’s 100th birthday and that he would end his short set on a song that “we all learned in school,” except for the fact that we were taught it wrong. Then Morello played a version of “This Land is Your Land,” with a last verse about the speaker seeing “[his] people, as they stood there hungry,” waiting for government relief. This angrier version with its raw “censored” last verse ends with a plaintive question, rather than a patriotic statement. “Is this land made for you and me?”

The News: Tyler Perry’s Compound is on Fire, Also Dissidents Unhappy Everywhere

Blind Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng, who escaped house arrest last month and was taken in by the U.S. Embassy, left the safe compound after Chinese officials promised to reunite him with his family, move them someplace safe and allow him to attend university. China’s demanding an apology from the U.S., though, because they don’t like other people playing with their citizen-prisoners without asking. [WaPo

There’s nothing funny about the huge fire that ravaged filmmaker Tyler Perry’s Atlanta compound Tuesday night, causing one building to partially collapse. There’s no word on what started the fire at the money-minting Good Deeds director’s 60-acre estate. [CNN

All over the country yesterday, thousands clashed with police during May Day protests. And it wasn’t all peaceful. In the Bay Area, after a peaceful march ended, activists began throwing bottles at police, who responded with tear gas and “flash-bang” grenades. Protests were held in Seattle, Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta and more. [WSJ]

One-time club queen Amy Sacco, who was the toast of New York for a hot second thanks to owning clubs like Bungalow 8, got into a scuffle with JD Samson, a member of the queer electropunk outfit MEN and former member of Le Tigre, over what Samson considered to be rude comments at a Manhattan nightclub. Sacco accused Samson of using her for publicity, but that seems like projection to us, considering Samson is rather well known in certain circles and Sacco is the one who’s been off the radar for years and is about to open a new gastropub. [NYP

Linkage: Levon Helm Dies At 71, Occupy’s May Day Event Gets A Lineup

The Band’s Levon Helm has lost his battle with throat cancer. He was 71 and with music in his bones well into the end. [NYT]

Vampire Weekend bassist Chris Baio is back, still with the steel drums but minus the band mates. "Tanto" is the first song off of his first solo EP, Sunburn, which is scheduled for a May 21st release. [Fader]

Never mind what Wikipedia says, Waka Flocka Flame’s middle name is actually "James." [Interview]

Madonna revealed on a British talk show this morning that what she really wanted for her Superbowl halftime show was to perform with a mother’s favorite Adele, but because Adele was having "her throat problem or throat operation or something," she was instead stuck with wild-eyes Minaj and the rabble-rousing M.I.A. [Page Six]

Worry not if you missed last weekend’s Brooklyn Zine Fest, the event was successful enough that organizers are already working to make it an annual thing. [Capital]

Weekend One of Coachella was the most well attended in recent years and also, apparently, the most rowdy: 134 arrests have already been made, up from last year’s 48, and there is still a weekend of festival to go. Stay safe, kids. [Spin]

Das Racist, Dan Deacon and Rage Against the Machine’s Tom Morello have all signed up to play Occupy’s May Day rally in Union Square. Immortal Technique, Talib Kweli, David Byrne and The Roots have also been invited the event that organizers are calling "Occupy Wall Street’s biggest action ever," but have yet to confirm. [D+T]

And to keep things all in perspective, Gloria Steinem doesn’t know what Girls is. [Vulture]

Occupy ‘Law & Order’: TV Shoot Gets Shut Out of Zuccotti Park

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit is planning an Occupy Wall Street-themed episode, and the production crew set up camp in Zuccotti Park last night. Once the Occupy protesters heard that their efforts were going to be the basis of a sex-crime mystery, they did what they do best: got everyone kicked out of the park. 

The set was in place with realistic replicas of the original Occupy site, featuring a kitchen tent and a mock library. Once the Occupy crowd caught wind of the set, however, they formed a new protest dubbed "Mockupy NYC," and surrounded the shoot chanting, "Whose fake park? Our fake park!" Some highlights from last night’s occupation can be seen in the video below:

Of course, all of that protesting attracted the police, who eventually showed up in Foley Square to take action. And just like the eviction a few weeks ago, "producer Dick Wolf Films saw its film permit rescinded sometime overnight, and no scenes were shot."