Saturday, October 22, 2011

Coney Island, maybe

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Aside from the maddening carnival-music-loop droning from one of its beachside amusement parks, Coney Island on a Sunday in mid-October was almost the opposite of its own lore. The boardwalk, particularly at its western extremity, was quiet and desolate. A stiff wind blew clouds of sand in from the beach. Now and then a headbanded jogger puffed by, blinking the grit out of squinted eyes.

Coney Island is a far jaunt from Queens, thanks to the dearth of trains connecting my borough with Brooklyn. I rode the F train the whole way, rumbling west under Roosevelt Island, making the familiar dip into midtown and then looping back onto Long Island. The car emptied steadily: Manhattan ate most of the riders, and the remainder trickled off as we approached the beach. My last companion exited at the stop before mine, and I was all alone for the final few hundred meters.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Occupy Wall Street, occupy the world

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“Are you press?”

I couldn’t tell if the man was wary or excited by the prospect. I had just taken a picture of his little daughter. Amid the slow-moving ocean of protesters, gawkers, cops, journalists, and a couple of girls very keen to make it across Times Square to the Best Buy, she was balanced on his shoulders, bearing a sign calling for a books-not-bombs fiscal policy.

I assured the man that I wasn’t the press, though even as I was saying it I wondered what that word even meant anymore. The Occupy Wall Street protests have been documented far more comprehensively by amateurs, including the protesters themselves, than by the mainstream media.

That seems to be changing rapidly now as the protests gain steam in New York, Boston, London, Rome and many other cities. The loosely-affiliated protests have their own particular goals – Tokyo protesters, with the memories of Fukushima still fresh, have united against nuclear energy – but they are all flames from the spark struck by the bands of campers who converged on Bowling Green in Lower Manhattan on September 17.