OCCUPY CHICAGO LOSES GROUND
wanted to go to The Art Institute, so the family piled on
Metra’s 10:35 a.m. train to downtown Saturday. It would, I
calculated, have been cheaper to drive — the dreaded
family multiplier effect: four people x $3.65 fare x 2 for
a round trip = $29.20 transportation costs.
didn’t feel like driving. And it was pleasant to sit there
and face each other and talk while being whisked to the
heart of the great city on a lovely day. We emerged from
Union Station to a dull clanging sound.
does that mean!?” asked the younger, anxious one.
bridge is going up,” I said. At that moment, down went the
gates on the Adams Street Bridge, and a pair of rich guys’
yachts could be seen bobbing below us in the river.
was all for watching the bridge go up, and I’ll confess to
the little-boy thrill of seeing city streets lurch into
the air. We parked ourselves at the rail and waited.
waited. The transportation folks were taking their sweet
time about pressing the Bridge Up button, apparently.
there’s some technical problem,” my wife said. Growing
bored, we nipped down to Jackson to walk to the museum.
The bridge finally went up — at least the western half —
while we were crossing the river. We paused to watch one
yacht slip under the Adams bridge, but the other seemed
reluctant — were it me, were I stopping traffic into the
Loop, I’d be quicker about it. But what’s the rush? It’s
his world, now. The ants can wait. We pushed onward.
will be your chance to see Occupy Chicago,” I enthused to
the boys, as we approached La Salle. The older boy — who
really is like Michael J. Fox in “Family Ties” — fell into
reverie about confronting the “bohemians” for their
that,” I goaded. “Feel free.”
got to La Salle, the light changed, and we paused before
the Federal Reserve and regarded the protest across the
street. There was no drumming. There were five or six
protesters, two holding signs expressing solidarity with
the people of Egypt, who I’m sure appreciated the support.
it?” said my wife. “Pathetic!”
they’ve marched off someplace,” I mumbled, as if I were
responsible. “They sometimes go to Grant Park.”
location, location, as the real estate folks say. By
establishing themselves in Zuccotti Park in Lower
Manhattan, Occupy Wall Street drew a day of media
smirking, because they weren’t actually occupying Wall
Street. But the practicality of having space to camp in
swelled their numbers and numbers are what protests are
Chicago obviously didn’t get the memo, and based itself at
the heart of the financial center, one of the more tight
and unwelcoming corners in the city; I don’t think you
could comfortably operate a pretzel cart at La Salle and
Jackson. They tried to shift to Grant Park, but were
interpret pointing out this tactical error as lack of
sympathy. Regular people in this country need help. That
said, the Republicans have become ruthlessly effective at
servicing their big business masters, crippling the
government when necessary. This paltry response is just
feeble. Tea Party ideas — social programs don’t work,
taxes and regulations are bad, helping people is not
government’s role and best left to churches — have become
the holy writ for many, who maybe don’t know we tried
laissez faire in the 19th century and the resulting horror
led to the government regulation and safety net now under
get attention by their size, which creates a sense of
drama, by the possibility of social upheaval and real
change. Nobody is going to take significant action because
a handful of people are cold. The Occupy movement started
strong but now smacks, not of a protest, but a vigil, of
those Quakers standing across from the White House, year
after years, accomplishing nothing. Occupy Chicago isn’t
winning, it’s losing. Entrenched wealth is still busily
maximizing its advantages — those pesky EPA standards have
to go! And why should employers be saddled with the health
care of their workers? The only opposition is this
shambling mess, its novelty gone, its numbers dwindling.
That was it? Sheesh.