Our first impression when we surveyed the grim scene at Zuccotti Park, where Occupy Wall Street protesters have set up a home base, was that it wasn't very grim at all. Crowded, definitely, but more of a hippie commune than a tiny slice of Mumbai in Lower Manhattan. Not to mention, now a bigger tourist draw than the Wall Street Bull.
We even got a D-list celebrity sighting in the form of Jon Foster from the CBS sitcom Accidentally on Purpose.
But it was the propaganda, prayer circles and on-site food and health care that got us really concerned. Surely these folks were reading socialist texts, puffing ganja, eating rat- and maggot-infested crusts of bread and being poked with used, rusty syringes by someone who got their medical qualifications on the Internet.
So, out of concern for a budding public health crisis, we walked seven blocks to document the despair. View at your own risk...
We found Occupier Mike O'Brien drinking chia seeds, a calorie-dense source of protein, calcium and omega 3. "It has protein and vitamins and minerals and it absorbs 12 times its weight in water, so it just hydrates and lubricates your cells. It's like a superfood."
Hm. That's actually kinda healthy. But we've heard reports of protesters gaining weight by the pizza tray, so we probed further...
"I'm not really concerned about my health," admitted this Occupier, who reported not having lost or gained any weight. "I just walk around New York City for a bit, do some push-ups, drink some water. That's about it." As for diet, he hadn't missed out on much living in the park for the last four days. "I always have breakfast, lunch and dinner."
Ah HAH! These people must be eating like animals.
We knew it. New York City's ubiquitous food carts own this place. But where is everybody?
Whoa. Turns out a roster of rotating volunteer cooks offers hungry Occupiers the fuel to stay angry, and at no cost. "The chefs cook up some pretty healthy meals. They get donated a lot of food and it's completely free."
Free food? It's gotta be soylent green. These people are eating people. And you can print that.
"They have a lot of beans, a lot of rice and quesadillas. There are a lot of fruits and veggies and salads."
Holy shit, don't print that thing about eating people!
WHITE BREAD! This place is a disaster.
"There are such healthy meals. We get a lot of protein, a lot of vegetables, a lot of fruits. A lot of coffee, luckily. Health hasn't been a concern," one Occupier said. Here, a volunteer hands out apples (and proves to us that they aren't laced with cyanide.)
"In the beginning there was a lot of pizza, but [that]'s been cycled out. Every now and then, you'll see it, but recently it's been a lot of rice and beans, Chinese food," said these protesters, who had been occupying since day one.
Asked if all the free food had made these Occupiers fat, one responded, "I've gained intellectual weight."
Another source of intellectual weight could be found at the makeshift library, where Occupiers were asked to adhere to the honor system.
This guy's just playing a didgeridoo. Clearly, the movement is starting to take a mental toll on protesters.
"The medical tent also has contacts established with people at a mental health facility that are able to do psychiatrist sit-ins," a protester told us, but others have turned to alternative methods for their mental well-being.
"We have a medical tent that's been taking care of people amazingly. I started feeling a little sick the other night, went to the medical tent, got some stuff and felt amazing the next day," Occupiers revealed. "Real doctors and nurses. EMTs too." Another recounted, "I had to get six stitches about a week and a half ago. I got the best medical care in my life, right here."
Seriously?! Fuck it, we're inmake room, hippies. What are we mad about, again?