Dear Occupy Wall Street,
I defeated Karl Rove and his Bush White House Candidate for Governor of California, Bill Simon, in the year 2002. I created the press release and the press conference that turned the tide of the election in Califonrnia in Governor Gray Davis’ favor. I revealed with that press release, entiteld “Kafka vs. Capra”, and in the press conference, that Rove’s strategy consisted of saying Gray Davis was handed an illegal campaign contribution in the walls of the State House in Sacramento by a hero cop named Al Angele. This was a Rovian lie. I formulated the press release from the standpoint of how Al Angele’s life had been ruined by this allegation. He was going to be denied his police pension and this retired grandfather was going to have his public reputation tarnished after his years on the force. I revealed that the campaign contribution was not only legal, but showed the media the undoctored photos that proved that the contribution had been given at a private dinner at a residence in Santa Monica Ca. Hence, rather than fighting Bill Simon just as a lying Republican, the real effectiveness of the campaign was that it gained the empathy from the media for the “little guy” and his plight. Someone who was caught in the middle of the campaign controversy and should not have been. This cop had lived a Capra life and then been unstuck from that life into a Kafka-like vortex of lies. I saved the cop’s reputation, helped to win a libel lawsuit against powerful Republcian Bill Simon and then helped the Democrat win that race. It was the only Big Loss for the Republican Party between the years 2000 and 2006.
But I know for a fact that none of you know my name. I also bucked the common tactic of the extremists in the animal rights movement and helped get cat de-clawing outlawed in the cities of West Hollywood and Beverly Hills. Many prominent producers, editors and bookers at newsdesks and tv and radio talk shows know me and the causes I work for. But you in the Occupy Wall Street movement have never heard of me. You don’t know my name.
The lesson in this is simple and just one I want to pass to you: You can win a victory for people who have been disenfranchised with a few simple pieces of advice. And you can do it while remaining way, way out of the limelight and the glare.
So, here then is the simple advice:
1. Educate. Know where you are and what time it is when you go out into the street. Where you are is in urban areas that are centers to what is a huge, electic and suffering homeless population; patrol routes for police, and public areas rife with business people, consumers and tourists. While there, the prime imperative of anyone who is recieving much Media Time as you are ( the prime imperative of anyone appearing on camera) is to Educate.
There should be well-written and cogent materials with atractive graphics that you can hand out to ALL the 99 percenters around you: Something they can hold onto and learn something about you from. These written pieces should express solidarilty with ALL the people in the US who are suffering the Econonmic Melt Down: this is where your friends and allies are going to be coming from, America. Do you have something to say to them other than that the 1% is bad?
A message that will survive the rigors of time is best. Tell the police and the business people and the homeless that you are one with them. That is the first message that should’ve been uttered and printed. Tell the cops, tell the politocs, tell the people passing by. Live the message by feeding and comforting the homeless in your respective areas. Live the message by turning those passing onto books, movies and cd’s that express the full circle of how good it is to help others in need.
2. Narrow the target so that you can yourself can see it. How about utiltizing all the vaunted power of the internet and learn from the models of all the other Impossible Dreams that have been so easily accomplished recently.
What are these accomplishments? Look at these facts: Americans’ Cigarette Smoking was once one of the hugest addictions and addiction/problems in the history of the world. With the behemoth of Organized Tobacco lobbying hard and lucratively every year: Big Cig had its way with everyone. Well, notice then the simple fact that with no marching in the street, no fighting with cops, no signs on sticks: Big Tobacco has been disappeared forever from its prominence in America. What was once The Lifestyle has been legislated into a criminal fringe activity that is socially unaccptable. It happened overnight and there was no war or fighting. Historically, Tobacco has dominated America much longer than Wall Street. Think about that. And now Tobacco is gone. Replicate how that happened as one of your models.
Also, look at Medical Marijuana. The most dedicated past enthusiast of cannabis would be shocked today to find out how readily available and de-criminalized pot is now in many major areas of the US. Yes, we are talking about the substance that Neal Cassady (hero of the Kerouac novel “On The Road” ) had two joints of and was sent to San Quentin for three years for possesssion of in 1957. But now, pot is seemingly everywhere and no big deal. And its de-criminalization wll continue.
And, finally, look at Gay Marriage and Gay Unions. Much like pot, it was a social abberration of horrifying consequences. But now, gay marriage has assumed its place in America, with no cop-fighting and big rioting in the street.
The point is for you, Occupy Wall Street, to take a look at how all this massive change in human life in this country was accomplished without the cops-and-robber antics of rioting and fighting in the street.
3. Simply, you need some humor or some music. Humor is memorable because it frames the entire movement with an appealing humanity and also it cuts to the quick of the mission! Remember, Yippie media manipulator Abbie Hoffman already went to The Stock Exchange in 1967 and threw dollar bills down on the brokers causing the brokers to have a riot! Now, that was funny! A simple demonstration segment of greed, greed, greed. Simple, easy and fun.
Music, of course, was the initial coherent strand in whatever countercultures there have been, so its power must be invoked as well. And it need not be heavy. Woody Guthrie, the richly talented poor man who was/is the Father of Protest had a song called “This Land Is Your Land” and that song that might be a good one to start with. Show that Occupy Wall Street is in solidarity with all Americans, even the Tea Partiers and the other 99 percenters. This land is your land and not just the 1 percenters’ land. It is a good continuing message. And it is tradtionally American. Remember, America was never a Right Wing nation before Reagan.
Do you know your country well enough to invoke the myths that work? Remember, George W. Bush was beloved because he reminded the population of Nicholson in “The Shining”. He was the out of control dad, who listened to only his inner thoughts about what was menacing America–W. was the incarnation of all Pop Culture from Clint Eastwood–another lone man listening only to his own thoughts of revenge–to Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver. That was Bush’s effectiveness–he tapped into the myths of America, and his goofiness didnt hurt since everyone loves Seth Rogan and Jack Black. So he cleverly combined the idiot antics of Will Ferrell with the pursed lip murerous revenge fantasy of Clint. Since, Americans don’t ready history but love the movies, Bush’s schtick really worked.
So where does Occupy Wall Street stand as a narrative? Are you Woody Guthries with a radical message of inclusion that can be sung? Are you a cyber phenomenon, with most of the participation online? Are you a elite movement for a precious few? Do you even know what you are?
Because if you don’t know what you are: it will be decided for you by the pundits who seem to love you now, and will elevate you and then discard you when a new story comes along, unless you have the guts and the ability to frame a message that is strong.
My initial suggestions would be to iniitate a White House deluge, so that whether Barack Obama wins or not: he is persuaded to at least attempt some social programs in the next vital year.
Monies need to be taken (and I mean taken) from Halliburton and Blackwater et al. right now in lawsuits and government action that recognizes that they and other companies have had several privatized wars that enriched them beyond the imaginaings of China, and now those profits are going to be distributed to Americans who are poor and in need of social services. We provided all the taxes to grease Halliburton easily into the profit margin and now we want our investment back. A first step in ending poverty. These monies will be used to build the infrastructure of America as we have done for a decade in Iraq and Afghanistan. We need bridges and health care here in America, just as our economic dependents in Iraq and Afghanistan do.
Secondly, distribute this column to the Wall Street’s minions. Let them know that Wall Street is now being asked to set up many companies to take care of the homeless and the mentally ill in our country. These compnaies will make money over and over with interest for Wall Street, and meanwhile these monies will be used to help build America. It’s simple and it is time. There IS going to be wealth re-distribution and we will let Wall Street encourage it and even make their money off it. We just make it work. There has got to an information deluge/overload flowing like a river to Wall Street and Defense Companies and to Presdient Obama. They are simply going to have to do what we say. One more time” WE dsiappeared cigarette smoking, we made marijuana a respected drug of choice for people in need; and we have created a framework of gay marriage. The rest of this stuff is easy. It is just leaning on people with money to make more money by all of them investing in us, or being criminalized into the margins. It is very simple. We must all start bringing law suits.
Because there is one secret we all share: China is buying trillions of dollars of goods and services from the US. With China’s spending we are fine. There is no real economic problem. It is just that the money is being skimmed entirely off to the Pentagon and its cronies, and diverted from providing health care and food for the people of our huge, incredibly wealthy empire.
We bring all the troops home, and close all those far flung tentacle bases, and finally: fire all lobbyists. Period. No more lobbyists.
This is a recommedation and a plan of action. Get on the computer and start writing: All these victories can be as easily won as anti-cigarettes, medical marijuana and gay rights. The only problem is that you do not believe yet that it is already won, and think that the Old Paradigm of marching in the street is something anyone in power cares about.
Two stories: Daniel Ellsburg and Henry Kissinger are looking out a Pentagon window in 1967 at 250,000 protestors and Ellsburg expresses incredulity at their sheer number, and Kissinger says, “It doesn’t matter. They are all idiots”. Yeah, the people in power do not care and are not moved when you march. It is a readymade paradigm that does not carry the weight it once did in the 1930’s.
But if Henry Kissinger was being taken to court by just one protestor, he might have had a different response.
Second story: Working in PR in Los Angeles, I know many of the “radical rich” who are part of the Mike Moore circle. A few years ago, there was a movement to have a farm in South Central Los Angeles (scene of many unfortunate riots and crime) that would involve local people raising health produce that they could enjoy in the community. A disagreement on rent broke out between the owner of the land and the locals; and before you knew it, hundreds of amateur idealogues who were not part of the community started weighing in, demonzing the owner of the property (who wanted to negotatiate) in the media, and then finally driving him to the wall, until he decided not to sell the land after all.
When the farm was closed down, I got a call from one of Mike Moore’s PR people in LA. “Did you hear what happened”, she yelled into the phone” We won! We won!”. I said, “Wow! You won? I just heard on the radio that the farm was closed down!” “Oh, yeah, the farm was closed down……..But, we got a picture of Daryl Hannah being handcuffed!”.
I said, “Man, that really doesn’t put food on anybody’s table”.
Photo ops are nice until they fade from memory. The victory is in educating at least one other person. That is revolution. And it is done most easily. And without fighting in the street.
Take my advice. Let’s help some people while you have you close-up.