Last Friday around noon EST, the NYC blogosphere, from Gawker to Gothamist to BrooklynVegan, lit up with rumors that Radiohead would be playing a “surprise show” for the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) demonstrators in downtown Manhattan. We even wanted to share the news with you.. But then sometime after 1 pm, when the bigger news outlets, including the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times, had picked up on the story, Radiohead’s PR firm came out and said something to the extent of ‘this isn’t happening’. Yet the OWS group insisted the performance was still on, so I made my way down there to check it out in case something happened. It just so happened that Radiohead did not play, though I thought I heard the makeshift band play some Radiohead riffs.
The OWS protest is noteworthy in and of itself however. My first impressions were that this was a mostly ragtag bunch of hippies, and while that may have been true, underneath the most outrageous appearances, there was some measure of organization and a message. As I plodded through their home in Zuccotti Park, I found areas designated as a kitchen, a makeshift medical station, a library and a media center with working computers. A group had gotten together to play music at one end of the park. A man in saffron walked around handing out cough drops. And most importantly, people were walking around asking for donations so the group could continue their protest. All the while, NYC police had created a perimeter, including vans and a lookout tower and occasionally made their way through the park to get people off the sidewalk.