Our Pre-Halloween Urban Side Show
It was as if Shelley and I had gone on an experience-binge last Saturday…
It’s our 5th wedding anniversary, and we start by getting dressed up and heading down to the Waldorf Towers to see Steve Cohen, the Millionaires’ Magician. This is something a client had recommended to me. The gig harkens back to the days when magicians strutted their stuff in parlors before a small, select audience. Thus the admonition to dress up.
I had gotten us front row seats (hey, it’s our anniversary). The wow factor starts right away when Steve places a soft hat on the table and proceeds to produce a brick inside of it. A large, hard, heavy brick. And it just gets better from there. He is amazing, but towards the end, with his final, climactic “trick”, I begin to think he’s petering out.
This is at first a most remarkable round of seemingly psychic or intuitive “readings”, guessing facts about our individual lives.
He points to the Chinese guy in the back, and says, “Somehow I see kosher food. Why is that? Where are you from?”
“What is your exact background?”
After a moment, apparently in shock, the man says, “I’m a Chinese Jew”.
And on and on, guessing the instruments people played as children, or what they drive now…
“I see a horse. A black horse,” he says to a young woman.
That turns out to be the color of her Mustang.
But when it comes to me, he seems to falter.
“You like to do laundry.”
“Ok. We’ll get back to you later.” I wonder if he will.
Five minutes later, he tries again.
“When you go to the laundry, you read the labels to see how to wash it.”
“No.” (I don’t mention I only bring the laundry in to be done for us.)
I think he gives up, though at the very end he returns to me one last time.
“So you don’t read clothing labels. Ok. Then why do I see something about shrinkage? Does this mean anything to you? What do you do?”
When I tell the audience I’m a shrink, we all erupt in astonished applause.
Though I figure it all out later (I think), the wonder Steve brings me makes me feel like a kid again. He is delightful.
II. MIKE CHECK!
From there Shelley and I go to my office on 15th Street to change into our street clothes. Ah, much better! (It’s funny how you can graduate from the 1% to the 99 % with just a quick costume change.)
We then go to The Grey Dog on 16th Street (an excellent, very funky restaurant) for a quick bite.
There, I tell Shelley I want to take us downtown to see Occupy Wall Street, as neither of us has actually been there. (I did go to the Times Square demo, as I’ve written about). But I have just one problem: I don’t really know where Zucotti Park is. After ten frustrating minutes at the restaurant on Google, I am only able to pull up an aerial view (without street names). I’m getting all agitated, until Shelley simply leans over and asks the young couple at the next table.
“Hey do you know how we can get to Occupy Wall Street?”
“Sure! Take the E train down to the end…and thanks for joining the struggle!”
Down at OWS we see two things we hadn’t bargained for. One is a fight that breaks out between two guys in the quadrant of the park where all the drummers, and most of the people of color, congregate. But the men around them contain it. The other is the General Assembly. This is the ongoing democracy lab that’s by the Broadway entrance. And how do 100-200 + people get to hear each other without the microphones and P.A. system that the police won’t allow? During the discussion, someone can yell “MIKE CHECK!” and then he or she gets the floor. Speaking in 5-7 word chunks, everyone around that person then loudly repeats their words for others to hear, often chanting them with the same inflection spoken. If the circle is big and there’s noise from the street (or the drummers) the larger group that had just heard the words from the first group will then repeat it a second time for the rest of the crowd. This gives one person the experience of being amplified by the Vox Populi. It’s a slow but effective process of decision making.
No wonder one of their call and response chants during demonstrations goes:
One person: Tell me what democracy looks like!
The crowd: This is what democracy looks like!
Shelley gets into a discussion with a woman who has blindfolded herself for 24 hours (read her signs).
Shelley and I realize that we have gone from the “Millionaire’s Magician” to a protest against the black magic of Wall Street in the blink of a subway. What a town.
It’s all so moving to Shelley, she soon experiences some stress-induced chest pressure (which a Nitro or two alleviates), so we catch a cab back home.
Arriving, we start surfing to learn more about her condition, and click on a link for an article about “Silent Heart Attacks”. Now Shelley’s on so many medications, it would be quite a surprise for her to actually have a heart attack now, but well, who over the age of 40 wouldn’t click on a link with such a title?
Fifteen minutes into the “article”, it becomes apparent it’s really an online commercial for a doctor’s Free Report On Preventing and Reversing Heart Disease! And if you order right away, we’ll send you….
Ahh, the market economy.
So we turn off the computer and turn on the tube instead, and watch Bad Teacher with Cameron Diaz. This is actually quite funny, about a gold-digging blond whose fiancé suddenly calls it all off (“But I was just about to give you a blow job!”) and so has to take a job as a teacher. Its bad attitude is perfect, and the movie is just what we need.
And then we channel surf and stumble into a Sundance doc on Sex In The Movies that is a wee bit more than we bargain for.
In no time, they go everywhere: A brief history, and then: fetishes; S&M; perversions of every stripe. Before we know it, we’re watching rape scenes and depictions of a nymph with a corpse.
Then it’s time for SNL, but I say, “You know what? I think I’ve had enough for one day.”
At Occupy, there was a guy with a sign: OccupyHalloween.org, where they’re asking everyone to join the Halloween Parade next Monday, dressed in their scariest banker-vampire outfits and the like.
But last Saturday Shelley and I got an early preview, experiencing the city, and the media that feeds it, in all its rich and hideous, dark and gorgeous glory.