I went to Zuccotti Park today, on my lunch break.
I wanted to eat a felafel sandwich, because I hadn’t had one since I left Philadelphia for the summer, in May.
I missed eating a felafel sandwich.
It cost me five dollars, and it came with a can of soda.
This surprised me, because a felafel sandwich with a soda at my felafel place in Philadelphia costs about six dollars.
My felafel place is in an economically depressed neighborhood in North Philadelphia, where I live.
Today, I was eating a felafel sandwich in a park that’s located in one of the financial centers of the world.
The park was crowded. There were a lot of people who seemed to be from another country, and I heard different languages spoken. There were also high school tour groups, or something that resembled that.
One of the languages spoken was Mandarin, I believe.
One of the people who spoke Mandarin poked his head into the felafel cart, to look at the men preparing food.
It seemed awkward and inconsiderate, or maybe just unaware of the standard social propriety.
I think this person was merely curious about the food that the chefs of the felafel cart were making: what did it look like, what did it smell like.
Afterward, the boy who spoke Mandarin smiled appreciatively and walked to the back of the line.
I ate my sandwich at the park.
I thought “Occupy, man” in a voice that was reminiscent of the ‘classic stoner’ voice.
I thought this maybe three times while I was at the park.
I sat next to a group of people who were engaged in a conversation.
There were many pigeons near us.
One of the girls from this group said, “I’m freaking out about this pigeon that’s close to me.”
I don’t remember exactly what she said, but it was to that effect.
When she said this, I noticed how close the pigeons were to our bodies.
"They know we have food," one of the men in the group said, with a tone of voice that was knowing but also indifferent.
One of the pigeons came close to me as I was eating my sandwich, and I motioned my leg as if I were kicking, and said, “Fuck off.”
I did this leg motion at least one more time.
I think I felt really tough when I did it, like I was asserting how strong I was, how capable of real cruelty, like I wasn’t going to roll over for these animals.
I felt a sense of, “Motherfucker, I’m from here,” when I was making this leg motion. Like I wanted to suggest total dominance over anyone who would try taking my sandwich away from me.
I thought about giving one of the pigeons a piece of my felafel, because it was falling out of the side of my sandwich.
It just felt like something I could do. It wasn’t out of contrition. I was still feeling good about my previous display of power.
I ate the entire sandwich, including the tiny pieces of lettuce that had fallen out, in a period of about five minutes.
As I walked through the park to leave, I saw someone, probably a Wall Street employee, who looked like an older version of this poet I know.
I thought, “That’s their alternate life, if they didn’t write poetry or something.”
This thought left me as soon as it entered me.
I walked back up Broadway, drinking my soda.
I threw the Diet Coke out about halfway through, in a garbage can.
There aren’t any garbage cans in the neighborhood I live in, in North Philadelphia, so the streets are littered with a lot of garbage.
Sometimes when I look at trash on the street I try to imagine what garbage used to look like before mass-produced products.
I’m trying to remember if I had any other thoughts during my twenty minute lunch break on July 24th, 2014.
I thought about Slavoj Žižek, when he came to Zuccotti Park for Occupy Wall Street, and imagined him talking to one of the people he had come with about where to stand before delivering his speech, or whatever it was that he did. I thought about him doing this in a way that was fussy, like someone complaining about their food at a restaurant to their dining partner.
The felafel sandwich wasn’t as good as the one I get in Philadelphia.
I’m looking forward to eating there again when I move back in August.
I also thought about people camping in Zuccotti Park, and about the police forcing people to leave in the middle of the night.
I wonder what the felafel cart did when Occupy Wall Street was happening.
This was the first time I visited Zuccotti Park.
Claude Monet, Vétheuil dans le brouillard, c. 1908
MANUAL OF MEDICAL EMERGENCIES
7 1/4” x 4 3/4”
resin stick, charcoal on book cover