The Asheville Argus: The day it all started

PRITCHARD PARK — From street level, it’s difficult to tell how these things start. The chanting crowd came through the echo chamber of College Street to the surprise of passersby. I circled around the Kress building to get in front of the march.

Summer is gone. Fall is anything but lighthearted. It’s a harsh wind that threatens to run off with my hat, and I can’t help but think — in that way that October makes you think — that things have gotten more serious.

The Occupiers have brought buckets of warm soup and other food. Asheville’s traffic is an inarticulate, bleating mass. Like anything else in the scene, the honking is up to interpretation. Maybe the drivers are down for the class struggle. Maybe they’re late.

Interpret as you will. This is what I saw: The Occupiers hold a “General Assembly” without agenda or procedure. Handmade signs carry messages about taxes, love and betrayal. Vigilant figures wave black flags. As in New York, the Occupation is said to be without form, a soup of many issues; without violence, a peaceful demonstration; without organizers, a spontaneous grip on the street.

But someone paid for the soup. Someone labored to make the largest banner, a crimson piece of fabric with a black, clenched fist. In the bottom corner, where the banner drags the ground, is a claim of responsibility: “International Socialist Organization.” It’s the only sign, anywhere, of the Occupation’s genesis.

A few people eat, unconcerned with the politics or the honking horns. Photographers circle the park, waiting for some pathos to document. We all have our motives.

Currently, my motive is warmth. Whatever these Occupiers stand for, I don’t envy them the weather. On Broadway I stumbled into this:

Even if the world is going to hell, young couples in love are still foolish enough to marry. The wedding party is lined up for its entrance, but the bride and groom are nowhere to be seen. The ladies shiver in their dresses. Their bare shoulders, among all those black tuxedos, suggest that chivalry is dead.

A cheer goes up and I turn around to see a vintage white automobile, caught in Asheville’s Saturday night protest traffic. Horns honk anew, and again it’s hard to tell if the drivers are congratulating or cursing. The young couple waves from the window. It’s the end of the engagement, and the beginning of the hard work.

It’s the first of October. Maybe it’s the day of just another protest in Asheville, maybe it’s The Day It All Started. Either way, it’s some couple’s anniversary, the day they took the plunge. The time for talk is over. Like the journalist H.L Mencken said:  “Every normal man must be tempted at times to spit upon his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin slitting throats.”


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8 thoughts on “The Asheville Argus: The day it all started

  1. Christopher C NC

    I think the cold really helped with the whole trodden masses fashion look going on here.

  2. Christopher C NC

    I think the cold really helped with the whole trodden masses fashion look going on here.

  3. missemmalee

    Very dramatic, indeed..

    “echo chamber” “Summer is gone” “inarticulate, bleating mass” “a soup of many issues” mmmmmmsoooop “banner drags the ground” “pathos to document” “chivalry is dead” This is the one actually evoked a feeling of anger, and not because my self indulgence has been reviled – it’s because of the idiocy: “Even if the world is going to hell, young couples in love are still foolish enough to marry”

    “it’s The Day It All Started”

    This makes me think: “A celebrity is one who is known to many persons he is glad he doesn’t know.”

    Your voice can be very powerful, be careful what you say..

  4. missemmalee

    “If you’re going to tell the truth,
    you have to admit that there are moments worth capturing because they were good. These are the times you’ll remember later, not because they were beautiful or true–though they may have been–but because they were good. Photojournalists struggle with this, because they focus first on the truth. But if you can’t confess that every now and then you find a piece of real beauty in front of your lens, you’re not telling the truth at all.”

    -Max Cooper on wedding photography

  5. Ben

    As a member of the International Socialist Organization I would like to make clear that we are absolutely not the occupation’s “genesis”. Though we are proud to have been involved in Occupy Asheville since the beginning, we are merely one group of supporters/participants for this movement among many. We just happened to be the only one with a banner with our name on it at that particular protest

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