“Hello, my debt is $40k.” As we entered the People’s Bailout last night at New York’s Le Poisson Rouge, a volunteer invited us to make a name tag — but instead of writing down our names, we were supposed to fill in the amount of debt we’re struggling under. Although my student loan debt isn’t something I’m used to speaking openly about, and the naïveté with which I mortgaged my future to get a master’s degree in a field where master’s degrees aren’t so much a requirement as a stigma still embarrasses me, I grabbed the Sharpie and wrote, “$40k.” For the first time since I started making my just-barely-feasible loan payments, being honest about my debt brought me relief instead of guilt.
I didn’t expect the People’s Bailout to be such a personal experience for me. Organized by Strike Debt, an Occupy Wall Street offshoot dedicated to fight predatory lending and challenge big banks’ power over the vast majority of Americans through credit card, medical, educational, and mortgage debt, the event was a benefit for the organizations Rolling Jubilee project — an ingenious plan to buy up distressed debt and forgive it. Since debt can be bought for just pennies on the dollar on the secondary market, Strike Debt realized that if they raised $250,000, they could relieve a whopping $5 million of it. To aid in the effort, they planned the People’s Bailout as a live — and live-streamed — telethon, featuring performances by a boatload of entertainers sympathetic to the cause. Although I always supported the cause, I’ll admit that it was those big names (Jeff Mangum’s in particular) that convinced me to make my donation and come down to LPR.
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Despite the pervasive assumption that Occupy Wall Street is defunct or irrelevant, in the weeks since Hurricane Sandy struck, the movement has mobilized countless volunteers to fill the gaps left by government agencies and larger humanitarian organizations. Now, in order to sustain its efforts, Occupy Sandy has announced a benefit concert… Read More
Just like the punk movement to which it shares more than a casual connection, Occupy Wall Street isn’t dead — it’s just harder to find these days. But an all-star concert to be held November 15th at Le Poisson Rouge promises a resurgence of the movement in New York’s popular consciousness. The show will feature… Read More
It’s only about a year late, but Occupy Wall Street finally has a candidate for that anthem old media Baby Boomers spent last fall demanding. (No, sorry, the Third Eye Blind one still doesn’t count.) Tom Morello has joined forces with Rise Against’s Tim McIrath and Serj Tankian from System of… Read More
Right now, Occupy Wall Street commemorates its one year anniversary by taking to the streets and getting arrested in droves. The movement’s viral visibility had gone down over the course of the last few months… until today. But what about the encampments? The tents? The little cities trying to present if not a unified voice against inequality then at least a unified feeling, idealistic pockets of utopia? Photographer Mark Strandquist captured what was left behind on Washington DC lawns after protestors were evicted for a project entitled Absence/Occupy, asking, “How will the movement be remembered?” Here is a simple series of photographs of bare, worn patches of ground, encircled by dirty leaves and stomped down grass, “ghost-like” imprints left behind. “They are evidence of their history and reflections of their commitment, but they are also natural objects devoid of human existence,” he explains, imbuing them with meaning. See them more than holes in the ground with this slideshow.
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The relationship between law enforcement and those looking to document the Occupy Movement has been strained at best, and we’ve all heard horror stories about photographers getting roughed up and pepper-sprayed, having their cameras seized, and even being arrested for shooting footage that certain people don’t want the world to see. Joseph Gordon-Levitt, the Gregory Brothers, and the ACLU want you to know your constitutional rights as a photographer this election season, and they’ve made a short film on the topic that features an animated Benjamin Franklin as your guide. Let’s all take a look, shall we?
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Right now, the Kardashians are probably the most well-known American family living in defiance of Plato’s maxim, “The greatest wealth is to live content with little.” To the voluptuous Kim and company, more is more. The very name of their reality TV show — one of their many reality TV shows — Keeping Up with the Kardashians, is a blatant celebration of accruing status, money, and power without much of a point besides staying ahead of one’s neighbors. And, perhaps, the Hiltons.
Some people are angry about this. They don’t want these valueless values to spread throughout society. They abhor the idea that Kim Kardashian — someone who got famous for essentially making a sex tape with the brother of an R&B singer, remained famous simply for being famous, and is still famous for divorcing her professional basketball-playing husband after 72 days of turbulent marriage — is one of the more prominent characters in America’s media landscape.
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Wall Street made our naughty list this year, which is why we had a good laugh at this trailer for an Occupy Wall Street riot brigade Lego set. Slate V created the clip for the toy that puts the fate of the wealthiest 1% in your hands. Loud drum circles, dirty Band-Aid smell, and tear gas (under adult supervision only) also included. Imagine what this would be like as a last minute holiday gift past the break.
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As 2011 draws to a close, it’s worth noting that it has been exciting year for the art world — and not just for all the “sacrilegious” work that was banned, abducted, and attacked with crowbars. Let’s take a look back at some of the year’s most controversial exhibits and shows, and the tempestuous responses they provoked in critics, visitors and sensitive observers. Granted, not everything in here is as loaded as a portrait of Charles Manson painted by Pogo the Clown aka serial killer John Wayne Gacy, but if next year is anything like this one, the tabloids will never run out of “Outrage!”-related headlines.
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