"If you make a revolution, make it for fun, don't make it in ghastly seriousness..." — D.H. Lawrence, "A Sane Revolution"
It had to happen. Mix gross economic inequality with modern technology that levels the communication playing field and — voila! — instant revolution.
The Occupy Wall Street movement may borrow heavily from '60s be-ins, Civil Rights marches, anti-Vietnam War protests, and Timothy Leary's famous instructions to "tune in, turn on, drop out," but its methodology and wildfire-like spread from city to city is much more Arab Spring. Inspired by that wave of social media-ignited protests across the Middle East last year, the Occupy movement has become the first social uprising to go totally viral on a truly global level. Occupations in the U.S. alone have taken root over the past two months from the Alaskan tundra (where one Occupier and her dogs have hunkered down) to the multiple locations across California, including Pasadena's Occupy Rose Parade (we kid you not). Occupiers have tweeted, Facebooked and blogged their messages to the Powers That Be from all corners of the earth, turning "We are the 99 percent" into a global mantra that makes "The whole world's watching" — that famous chant from the '68 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, where cops beat the shit out of student protesters in front of TV cameras — seem quaintly exaggerated by comparison.
It only made sense that Charlotte would get in on the action. After all, one of the Occupy movement's chief arch enemies, Bank of America, is headquartered here. What's more, next year the Democratic National Convention is coming to this town and, well, we know what happens when protesters become unruly at Democratic National Conventions. Outside of Wall Street itself, there's not another place on the planet where the Occupy movement should feel more symbolically at home than in a bank town where islands of white wealth are so poignantly surrounded by non-white poverty, where "love me, love me, love me, I'm a liberal" means casting a vote for Obama but not necessarily lending a hand at the homeless shelter. Charlotte was positively designed for the Occupy movement.
And yet ... Occupy Charlotte is relatively small and tame compared to Occupy movements in other cities. (Even tiny Chapel Hill has seen more action.) So we at Creative Loafing felt the local movement needed a few pointers on how to effect the most productive revolution. After all, if you're going to change the world, you have to actually occupy the role. You must read the right books, watch the right movies, listen to the right music, wear the correct outfits and gather at Occupy-approved coffeehouses and watering holes. Most importantly, you must — must! — laugh at yourself. Before you can occupy an ideology, you have to occupy yourself. Russian-born feminist and anarchist Emma Goldman once famously said (or didn't say, who knows?), "If I can't dance, I don't want to be part of your revolution."
So dance, dear Occupiers, dance. And sing. Make potty jokes. Netflix a few South Park episodes on your iPhones. Do bizarre things with a Chiquita banana. Have a little fun.
Anarke Jeans: Who says you can't be fashionable (see photo) while participating in a revolution? This local brand of denim, courtesy of Stan Fraser, is anchored by its slogan, "With complete chaos and no type of governing, you're left with nothing but Anarke." Need we say more?
Bandana: The locals camped out at Occupy Charlotte have been sporting bandanas over their faces like bandits. Could it be to show that they're faceless among the 99 percent? Or are they simply taking precautions against potential pepper spraying? (Purchase yours at a local Korean-owned beauty supply shop, like Tisun Beauty Supply on North Tryon. They have so many colors!)
Ammo Belt: No one will take seriously a revolutionary with sagging pants. An ammo belt — or the 10-pocket canvas belt sold at the American ArmyNavy store on Independence Boulevard — can hold all your small necessities (such as notes with protest chants so you don't forget what to say; gum or breath mints; and hand sanitizer) without weighing down your pockets.
TOMS Shoes: Of course, the general preference among anarchists is combat boots. But if you're going to camp out on the Occupy Charlotte site for the long haul, we recommend TOMS Shoes, found at Revolution in the EpiCentre. They're vegan-friendly, and your purchase puts a pair of shoes on a child in need. But most importantly, the canvas insole offers comfort and breathability. Stank feet will make a statement — just not the one you intended.
Che Guevera T-shirt: Reggae Central in Plaza Midwood sells shirts sporting Che's likeness; he is, after all, the ultimate cultural symbol of rebellion. If you're going to be Occupying Charlotte, be like Che. Or, at least be radically chic. No need to consider the outrage he would probably feel, were he still alive, over his image being mass-produced by the dirty dogs of capitalism.