When Queens native Chris Faraone moved to Boston in 2004, he arrived as an outspoken journalist inspired by the voices of politically minded hip-hop artists like Chuck D and Talib Kweli. Now 32 and a prominent staff writer at the Boston Phoenix (where this writer also contributes), Faraone is thick in the fray of the very political issues that inspired some of his idols — fairness, social justice and other core virtues of the Occupy Movement, which helped inform his debut book, “99 Nights with the 99 Percent.”
“Writing about political music was an ideal training ground for my investigative career,” he says. “Everything I need to know I learned from Public Enemy.”
In “99 Nights,” Faraone chronicles his multi-city voyage through the Occupy movement, from its inception at Occupy Wall Street on Sept. 17, 2011, to an arbitrary point 99 days later on Christmas Day, where he reminds us that the movement is just beginning. Keeping his narrative personal, Faraone pays special attention to the milestones of the Occupy Boston Movement — which he refers to as a “franchise” movement — including its continued work and influence since its eviction (such as its work with recent MBTA protests).
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An incisive and colorful writer, Faraone throws himself full-bore into the book, and “99 Nights” finds its strength in unfiltered accounts of interactions with personalities on all sides of the Occupy table.
“Let people write me off if they want, but this is a personal book,” says Faraone. “I was actually in there and seeing what some of the defining characteristics are at all the camps across the country.”
That’s exactly what Faraone shows readers, from the performance art antics of the New York protests to the somber solidarity of Black Panthers and union workers marching side by side in Oakland.
“Maybe Occupy would have fizzled out a little bit, but not in this political climate,” says Faraone, hinting at the upcoming conventions and G8/Nato summits that are going to occur in 2012. He says in Boston there is still room to get involved: “It’s a healthy movement.”
On page 44 of “99 Nights,” Faraone credits Metro’s own Steve Annear with breaking the Occupy story in Boston. In this excerpt, the author has arrived at the second day of protests.
“Roughly 300 showed — with a number of reporters also on the scene — despite the event having been announced less than a day ahead of time (Steve Annear broke the story in the Boston Metro).”