Much has been written about the Financial District community’s reaction to Occupy Wall Street’s continuing occupation of Zuccotti Park, and now that a splinter group from the movement has spread to Washington Square Park, its presence is being felt by a vital sect of the park’s community: musicians.
There’s been one (failed) attempt to officially “Occupy Washington Square Park” back in October, but a WSP-based General Assembly formed and has been meeting regularly ever since. It’s now been almost a month since OWS expanded to WSP, and we went to check out how the park’s regular musicians were reacting to their new neighbors.
The piano player who’s a staple at WSP wasn’t out yesterday. But we found a few musicians who were able to share their opinions and experiences, or lack thereof, with the OWS protestors and WSP General Assembly.
Standing in front of the statue in the eastern section of the park with a sign imploring passerby to request songs was violin player James Livengood, an 18-year-old freshman at NYU who plays here every weekend. “I love when [OWS protestors] are here. I wish they’d be here everyday,” he said as he continued to fingerpick his violin. “It’s fucking awesome because there are more people and I get a lot more money.”
Livengood told us that he has not taken part in any of the events or assemblies because his sole purpose in the park is to play and make money, but he has had some interactions with members of the movement. “I’ll always be like, ‘You guys love the Tea Party, right?'” he said. “And they’re all like, ‘What? We don’t like the fucking Tea Party!’ Then I ask if they know the Tea Party theme song and I play for them.”
Sean Daly, a guitar player seated on a bench near the fountain, has a less antagonistic, more sympathetic relationship to the WSP General Assembly. Daly said he always stops his playing to listen to the People’s Mic and has even taken part in some of the assemblies.
“I think it’s the best-organized patriotic protesting going on right now,” he said. When asked if the protestors ever stop and give him money, he said that instead, he gives them money. “They need support for basic things. The guys on Wall Street needed stuff for food and clothing. I donated a little bit of clothing, gave them a little bit of cash.”
Across the street from the park, on the corner of Washington Square North and Fifth Avenue, a saxophone player who plays there regularly offered a third point of view: “I don’t know what you’re talking about. What are people occupying?”
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on November 11, 2011