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American Autumn in New York
Home to roost at last, the sixties’ chickens Occupy Wall Street.


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So I’m sitting here in Zucchini Park, or whatever it’s called, watching the fetching topless lassies and trying to keep my nose pointed upwind from their stinky companions, and, man, am I digging it. Probably not since my father, the sainted “Che” Kahane, and my Uncle Joe were getting their heads bashed in during the Days of Rage in Chicago has a Kahane been so close to the front lines of the Revolution. And let me tell you, the reality is ever so much more bracing than the theory.

I mean, it’s one thing for me to preach social justice while sitting with Ginger in the hot tub at my palatial pad in Echo Park. It’s another to confront it up close and personal — outdoor latrines, food scraps, B.O., posters of BO2, and all — especially when your cause graphically illustrates, shall we say, the internal contradictions of capitalism.

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So I was thrilled to see some picket signs being carried by members of my own union, the Writers Guild of America, protesting Big Banking, because the last thing both studios and indy filmmakers alike need is more access to capital that somebody’s prepared to lose in order to meet hot starlets. As Steve Martin so presciently says as the title character in that great Hollywood documentary, Bowfinger, every movie costs $2,184, and the rest is all accounting tricks to make sure we scribes and thesps get screwed out of our fair shares.

I had to admit I was astounded to see such a large group of out-of-work, lily-white screenwriters in one place other than the WGA theater on Doheny, but then Ginger told me that most of the demonstrators weren’t in the Industry at all, but rather were civilians, outraged at Goldman Sachs, Larry Summers, Daddy Warbucks, and the late Steve Jobs for making things like the iPhones they all seemed to have. For a moment, I wondered if Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn had iPads back in the day in Chicago, but then I remembered they barely had Princess phones.

“What’s their beef?” I asked, not really caring. For me, it was enough to be out on the streets among the people. Real people, not the imaginary characters — mostly evil wingnuts and heroic progressives — who live in my head rent-free, because rents are low in Echo Park. I would have had an acid flashback to those heady days of bombing the Pentagon, blowing up a townhouse in Greenwich Village, and getting shot at Kent State, except that I’d left the Owsley back at the bottom of the bong in good old Edendale.

“They’re marching for liberation,” explained Ginger, looking up from her book: an autographed copy of Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung by Schopenhauer. I noticed she’d heavily annotated her copy in German in yellow highlighter, complete with happy faces over her favorite bits.

“From what? Soap?”

“From capitalist hegemony, patriarchy, oligarchy, poverty, bigotry, usury, antimony, simony, parsimony, parsnips, passports, indentured servitude, ignorance, bad credit scores, college loans, interest on college loans, paying back college loans, thinking about paying back college loans, the minimum wage, the maximum wage, really crappy bridges that fall down, and not enough free swampland. Among other things.” Ginger is always on top of stuff like this.

“Well, who wouldn’t be for that?” I inquired. Not far away, a group of the unwashed were pounding drums and chanting something that sounded like “U.S. Out of U.S.,” which makes a lot of sense when you stop to think about it. I mean, if we can’t un-occupy our own “country,” how the heck do you expect us to ever get out of Iraq, Afghanistan, the English countryside, and the nicer parts of Berlin?

“Lots of people,” she replied. It was a nice sunny, warm day, so she made herself comfortable as only a former adult-film star can. Out of the corner of my eye I could see several autograph hounds lurking, but I put on my best Ryan Gosling tough-guy in Drive look — one that’s almost indistinguishable from my adorable Ryan Gosling chick-magnet in The Ides of March look — and kept them at bay. “Or don’t you know anything about the internal contradictions within the capitalist system, as explicated by Marx and Engels? Haven’t you read your Obstbaum?”

“Who?”

“That’s Hobsbawm to you,” she replied, closing the book on Schopenhauer and rising and stretching. “But then, you probably haven’t read him in the original Egyptian, German, or English. Honestly, don’t you know anything? I’m beginning to think I overmisunderestimated you.” She batted her eyes at some skinnymalinks pounding a pair of bongo drums, who promptly keeled over, his soul rent asunder by the internal contradictions of capitalism.



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