A Critic at the Occupation
December 2, 2011 5:26 AM   Subscribe

The New Yorker's music critic Alex Ross was at Lincoln Center last night to hear a Mahler symphony -- until NYPD officers shooed him out of Josie Robertson Plaza, a public space. The MacArthur Fellow stayed behind to observe an Occupy Wall Street action timed to coincide with the final performance of Philip Glass's Satyragraha at the Metropolitan Opera. The composer himself came out of the Met to join the action, reading via human microphone from the libretto of this opera about Mahatma Gandhi's activism in South Africa. Both the moving speech and the spectacle of operagoers herded out of Lincoln Center by armed police are documented by Ross on his blog The Rest is Noise.
posted by La Cieca (25 comments total) 54 users marked this as a favorite
At the same protest, Lou Reed.
posted by with hidden noise at 6:02 AM on December 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

Good stuff:

When the Satyagraha listeners emerged from the Met, police directed them to leave via side exits, but protesters began encouraging them to disregard the police, walk down the steps, and listen to Glass speak. Hesitantly at first, then in a wave, they did so. The composer proceeded to recite the closing lines of Satyagraha, which come from the Bhagavad-Gita (after 3:00 in the video above): "When righteousness withers away and evil rules the land, we come into being, age after age, and take visible shape, and move, a man among men, for the protection of good, thrusting back evil and setting virtue on her seat again." Lou Reed and Laurie Anderson were in attendance, and at one point Reed helped someone crawl over the barricade that had been set up along the sidewalk (see photo below). The police didn't seem to know quite how to react. In all, it was a remarkable scene.
posted by mediareport at 6:19 AM on December 2, 2011 [6 favorites]

I was hoping to see a new #occupy post here, and this is a good one. with hidden noise's link to the Nation's blog is the only source I've seen that provides a clear picture of what's going on nationwide.

This was a smart, savvy action by the OWS, particularly in terms of getting Glass involved. Nonviolent, pretty clearly messaged, and engaging enough that they were able to get the Opera-goers to defy the police and come hear the message.

We can only hope it changes a couple of minds. Don't know if it will, but it's an excellent counterpoint to the scenes of violence that have become associated with the movement.
posted by anastasiav at 6:23 AM on December 2, 2011

It's deeply moving to hear Act II : Tagore, Confrontation and Rescue and Ross' video at the same time. (Start them simultaneously.) Operatic, even.
posted by octobersurprise at 6:29 AM on December 2, 2011 [2 favorites]

Yeah, but the music of Satyagraha could make, like, a fat guy in board shorts buying a hot dog look like a noble blow struck for universal freedom. It is an amazing work and whoever in OWS had the idea of reaching out to Glass like this was a genius.
posted by No-sword at 6:38 AM on December 2, 2011 [7 favorites]

Lucky for Glass the OWS-ers caught up with him there instead of a screening of Mishima.
posted by Trurl at 6:39 AM on December 2, 2011 [2 favorites]

posted by caddis at 6:58 AM on December 2, 2011

My apologies for misspelling the title of the opera: it's "Satyagraha," obviously, and it's a remarkable work the Met produced brilliantly. For those who missed it in the theater (last night was the closing), a encore HD telecast of the opera will be shown in cinemas on September 7.
posted by La Cieca at 7:16 AM on December 2, 2011

If it isn't too much of a threadjack, the Met in HD broadcasts are really quite something, I highly recommend giving it a try. Satyagraha is a wonderful show to see this way, as you don't have to read subtitles (which are sometimes distracting).
posted by troika at 7:28 AM on December 2, 2011

not so surprisingly, and despite the peoples' mic doing it as well, philip glass repeats repeats repeats his lines.
posted by ecourbanist at 7:32 AM on December 2, 2011 [4 favorites]

That must have been amazing to witness in person. It reminds me of a bit of musical activism by another composer fond of rhythmic reptition.
posted by exogenous at 7:41 AM on December 2, 2011

Whoever is behind organizing these actions continues to impress me with how savvy they are. For a band of dirty hippies, this is a particularly disciplined and smart group, and winning over opera-goers is exactly what they should be trying.
posted by Gilbert at 7:48 AM on December 2, 2011 [3 favorites]

LCPA is a very weird organization that took David Koch's money to rename a theater named for the people of the state of New York, and took a lot of questionable money from questionable people to put together the 1.2 billion dollars they spent in the last 3 or 4 years on campus renovations.
And now, they're acting as an arts organization that evidently doesn't care for the artistic expression of their own artists.
I've started to ask myself just what crawled up Lincoln Center's ass.

I used to work at LCPA, in their education department, until they laid off a quarter of their education department, this spring. My grandmother has chair named for her in Avery Fischer. My feelings on LCPA may not be entirely uncomplicated. Sorry if this is a derail. I like what OWS did here.
posted by qnarf at 8:38 AM on December 2, 2011

Occupy Broadway is happening tonight and continuing into tomorrow morning.
posted by stagewhisper at 8:54 AM on December 2, 2011

No one has the power to unite the masses against The Man like Phillip Glass.

Look out, Wall St.
posted by Fister Roboto at 8:54 AM on December 2, 2011

Alex Ross' piece is good – there's an even better one, linked by Ross in his post, at The Awl:
If at first it seemed depressing to realize that one could not attend both "events" on the same evening, the crowd did its best to erase that inside/outside distinction by repeating Glass's excerpt several times, in the by-now well-storied "mic check" fashion, with waves of sound fanning out over the expanse of Lincoln Center Plaza. To occupy with a physical presence is only one method. Sound can occupy, too. "Thank you to the people on the other side of the fence for joining us," the crowd said, as the Occupation roughly doubled in size after a period of steady accretion on the other side of the police-patrolled fence.
posted by Len at 12:25 PM on December 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

This makes me so proud. To be a New Yorker. Holy crap, there is an elect-fucking-tricity in this fucking town right now, like I have never felt. This is just outstanding stuff.
posted by Skygazer at 1:57 PM on December 2, 2011 [8 favorites]

I want to be part of this in each and every way. --Lou Reed 12.01.2011, Lincoln Center
posted by Skygazer at 2:10 PM on December 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

Ya know, I'm willing to forget about Lulu now.

All is forgiven, Lou.
posted by bardic at 8:37 PM on December 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

Tent Protest Costume Violently Stripped from Protester's Body (followup to the previous Melbourne link I posted)
posted by finite at 5:39 PM on December 5, 2011

Occupy Wall Street: The Will to Face the Arithmetic by Stanley Rogouski
posted by finite at 6:20 PM on December 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

#OccupyOakland Argues In Court In SF That Police Violated Crowd Control Policies
[U.S. District Judge] Seeborg did indicate that he may be swayed by arguments that by deploying force broadly against large groups of protesters, their First Amendment rights had been violated by deterring them from attending future protests.

But Gregory Fox, an attorney representing the City of Oakland, said that there was little evidence that protesters were being kept at bay due to police action.

"Any argument that they're being chilled is purely speculation," Fox said.
posted by finite at 1:56 PM on December 6, 2011

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