“There’s somethin’ happenin’ here. What it is ain’t exactly clear.”
That’s the opening line from the most famous protest song of the ‘60s, Buffalo Springfield’s For What It’s Worth. It was written by Stephen Stills, who went on to Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young fame, and then went on to become old and fat, like most of the other citizens of Woodstock Nation.
But, as my grandma used to say, if you hang around long enough, history will repeat itself, like beans for dinner.
My grandma may have been a bit rude, but she was right. There’s a new protest movement in town. It’s called Occupy Wall Street, and if the youth of today weren’t so prejudiced about classic rock, Steve’s song would fit right in: There is somethin’ happening here … and what it is ain’t exactly clear. And that’s putting it mildly.
Occupy Wall Street started small in a park near the New York Financial District when 100 people were arrested for being obnoxious on or about Sept. 24, and has grown daily, spreading to other cities in the U.S., Europe and Japan and, of course, Canada, which never wants to be left out.
Occupy Wall Street Nation, spawned by the children of the boomer citizens of Woodstock Nation, is an eerily accurate echo of the original. Stylish, young, technologically hip protesters drape themselves over iconic real estate uttering incoherent slogans.
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Back then it was “Smash the state” and “Hell, no, we won’t go” and “One, two, three, four — what are we fightin’ for?” etc. Today it’s “Honk if you’re in debt,” “Tax the rich,” “99 per cent” (as in, 99 per cent are poor; one per cent are rich) and “Compassion is evolutionary”… whatever that means. Slogans and stylin’ are more important than policy, which is, after all, complex, boring and contentious. Ee-yew.
Like Woodstock Nation, Occupy Wall Street Nation is a shambolic coalition of leftist ideologues, all-over-the-map “anarchists,” actual poor people struggling to make ends meet, and students who naturally support any movement featuring free smoke, free pizza and a chance to meet beautiful people with bells on their toes and rings in their noses.
There’s still part of me that wants to stick it to the Man, just like I did back in 1970. Until I remember that I am the Man, man, which is a bummer. When did I get to be the Man? When I got a job? Grew up? Had a family? All of the above?
How about that? Four decades later, and it still ain’t exactly clear … for what it’s worth.