In support of the current Occupation of Wall Street, I offer up a few scenes of where the action is now taking place. The whole neighborhood has tremendous architecture, a surprising and easy sort of intimacy, plus more style than your average highrise cityscape. Thing is, all the financial manipulation is going on behind the scenes, and that's what this admirable protest is all about. (Cheerful explanatory captions for these non-Panavision scenes accompany each color plate.) Go, protesters!
|Way down there, past the Empire State Building, of course, lies fabled Wall St. and its adjacent lanes, all in a London-like maze.|
|The BRIDGE was there before most everything else.|
|A natural passage in and out of Wall St. WARNING: PRODUCTS CONTAINING SODIUM ARE NOT ALLOWED PAST THIS POINT! You have been WARNED!|
|The public loves it.|
|And what's not to like?|
|From its vantage point, one can see the easy accessibility to the district of finance.|
|Awe-inspiring buildings usher us into the invitational city.|
|It - the main mass - awaits!|
Drama is everywhere, but you must look up, up, up.
The settings are epic.
The situations can be intimate. This lady, the widow of a banker, has been reduced to begging. She had total class and did not want to be doing what she was doing.
Jean Dubuffet's sculpture at Chase Plaza was behind bars.
See? It looked like the whole Chase highrise was being closed... scrapped. Perhaps it's being turned into rent-controlled co-op apartments. Or perhaps they were just getting ready for the coming masses.
You'd think that Chase could afford the price of an extra 'A' at the end of 'PLAZA', but I guess it's a sign of their cost-cutting, even after the neighborhood bail-outs.
Say what you will about renegade buccaneer capitalism, but it's produced some fine structures. Not the boring boxes in the foreground, but Clinton & Russell's superb Cities Service Bldg (1932) in the middle, one of my favorite skyscrapers. AIG bought it some time ago, and it's virtually empty now, because, you know what happened to AIG, right? We all should get together and buy it (no doubt at a fire sale price) and turn it into artist studios.
A quiet, Gothic moment to contemplate heartless Wall St...
...well, because Wall St's friendly neighborhood Borders was just going out of business, and this kid just got laid off from there. So he simply went out and set up shop, to plan ahead. Expect more of this.
In Wall St's more sober days, they wore wigs - as a warning...
... as ye will come to be judged by thy actions.
In Wall St they let the birds shit on the saints and prophets. So much for a Christian attitude.
The Three Stooges of Wall St. That's Curly, Moe, and just out of the picture, Larry. They're guarding the back door of the NY Stock Exchange. No kidding!
See? I wasn't kidding. Look closely to see how bored Moe is with it all. 'Why, YOU!'
(Note the toxic soot buildup above the ventilation grating behind the flag - signs of sulphurous, hellish behavior within!)
Time to add some personal commentary.
Wall St is full of high-quality irony. I interpret this scene as Geo. Washington praying for the nation to be delivered from the evils of the military-industrial-congressional complex. The CEO of Union/Dynamotor happened to be passing by. He pointed to the plaque and asked an associate, 'Who is that guy, anyway? Some girly-man in a wig and cape, or what? I mean, what's he waiting for, down on his knees like that?'
The Father of the Nation, standing tall now, broods over what 'they' are doing in his name. It's a good thing that he's bronze, otherwise he'd never stop throwing up.
Note Washington's 'stay thy hand' gesture to calm my pessimism. It is also his Warning to Wall St.: 'Simmer down, self-important, self-absorbed rugrats! Your self-serving pettiness and greed threatens everything I labored to build up! Ye who have so much contempt for democracy, I banish thee from the privilege of citizenship - with the wave of my hand! Get thee away to Dubai and Shenzhen!' Does anyone notice?
The Donald had just entered his domain in order to get his secret weekly hair renewal (made in the finest sweatshops in The Philippines).
But Wall St provides! If you're a street person down here, you can always cuddle up to one of these really neat 'derelict heaters' in the frisky frost of a sprightly 36-inch blizzard dump. Talk about classy!
Cell phone reception can be dismal down in the canyons. Not so on top 'o the phallic towers, occupied by the Pale Paternal Penis People! (Credit Robert Hughes, one of the most perceptive art and social critics today, for the handy PPPP term.)
These are they who sweep up after the hallucinogenic party-mad goofballs on the floor of The Exchange.
Dogs are working tirelessly and thanklessly in trying to humanize Wall St.
These three rapidly-aging CEOs of three mega-corporations keeled over with heart attackage seconds after this photo was taken. It's OK though, because minutes later they were successfully replaced and no harm came to the three mega-corporations' welfare. We all gotta go sometime, and I ain't never seen a U-Haul behind a hearse, neither.
Wall St has ALWAYS been two faced about everything. No Temple of Janus, this - its' gates are open in BOTH peace and war! (One of the many fine surface decorations on the glorious City Bank Farmer's Trust Bldg - 1931, Cross & Cross, arch. - one of the grandest and most stately of skyscrapers; no joke: City Bank moved out long ago, and it's been turned into condos!)
I'd trust any dog to inspect my street for any inconsistencies more than any humanoid any old day of the week.
(Note Frank Gehry's compelling Beekman Tower in the background.)
And this is only the tow truck used to impound cars. With Courtesy, Professionalism... and Respect, too. Note the Fed Reserve HQ in the background, the very seat of Empire. (The architecture of Power - inspired by Florentine prisons.)
People think that Wall St's just a bunch of Gordon Gekkos strutting around spewing 'Greed is good' proverbs, but I like the 'hood for its always-present picturesqueness. I must give The Street credit, though: not once was I told NOT to photograph anything. Of course, I was surely well-known on every closed circuit camera in the whole area, and I'm sure I was mocked by every monitor watcher for being the bozo tourista that I was.
Behold, the rot, corruption and sleaze behind the scenes, that I'd mentioned earlier. Stark evidence, huh?
The Wit of The Street in full flower.
Back to the Fed Reserve, the most fortress-like fixture this side of the Final Repository for Nuclear Waste at Yucca Mountain. But what's with the shabby plaque, huh?
The meek shall inherit all CEO positions in the future. Part of the canine humanizing of The Street.
Isamu Noguchi is one of the finest sculptors of the 20th century. Wall St never did get his wry sense of humor. His cube balanced on one corner satirizes the whole neighborhood like nothing else. Fortunately, CEOs in the 60s had fine taste in modern art, so they wanted trophies to advertise the fact. Noguchi took the gig and made a comment out of it, unchallenged to this day. CEOs today ain't got much taste, but the sculptor has the last laugh.
Now, here's Liberty Plaza (aka Zuccotti Park), where the center of the Occupation is. Plenty of room away from the canyons to make their point, which is a proud and powerful one. They've got guts, and their protest is in the great American tradition, rather than just rolling over.
Overlooking the plaza is this, the Equitable Building. When it was built (in 1913-15, Ernie Graham, arch.), it was the biggest office building in the world, and the HEAVIEST. It's bold mass changed skyscraper architecture forever, and freaked many out because of its uncompromising use of the land it occupies and the shadows it casts below. An important historical structure, to be sure, and it's in mint condition. None of the Occupiers is in the least bit intimidated by it, though.
Here is the scale of the monolithic witnesses of the Occupation down in Liberty Square. Once again, that's the iconic Cities Service Bldg, framed in the background. Isn't it so much BETTER than the boxes? (Note Noguchi's Cube and Mark di Suvero's Joie de Vivre 'emergency-red' sculptures way down there somewhere.) PS: Ground Zero's just a block away.
Wall St isn't really known for its shopping, but the innovative Century 21 department store has been hiring the homeless for advertising purposes, urging those stodgy Streeters to git off their asses and GO SHOP! (A George W. Bush-Approved Concept™)
(There are some ugly rumors that Wall St, in order to show its diversity and humanity, hires actors to pose as homeless persons, wandering dejectedly around to prove that 'We of Wall St have our own homeless, too!' So lay off, critics! Wall St ain't no gated community, ya know!)
Speaking of diversity, you can get any wig you want or style you want - at a price. The Greek flag in the upper right-hand corner denotes Wall St solidarity with the bankrupt Cradle of Democracy - even though democracy as a belief is, as they say, quietly 'off the table'.
Mute evidence of Wall St's callousness. Bikes of course, will rule in the future, but not until the current generation of CEOs has been consumed.
Now, to sign off with a warning: Beware the wiles of an unbridled Wall St and its associates: The current financial mess could be preparation for the 82nd Anniversary of the '29 crash this coming Oct. 24-29! Celebrations will kick off with an actual, real time recreation of the events and their consequences.
Just kidding. Maybe.