Occupational Hazards

By CHRIS FARAONE  |  October 12, 2011

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PHILLY: SATURDAY, OCTOBER 8

Occupy Philly is like Occupy Baltimore without Ritalin, and with a whole lot more tents, people, and percussion. Just two days in, Dilworth Plaza outside of City Hall is already host to a 1000-plus Philly bash to rival Will Smith's "Summertime" video, with teach-ins in mid-lesson, animated Hare Krishnas bouncing like deflated basketballs, and an overall mood that's more festive than organized.

Even some cops can't help but nod to the drum circle's rhythms, while cliques of pot crusaders, war veterans, and other breeds of radical proudly reflect on an earlier group march to the Liberty Bell. It's the party of the week; a cadre of Temple co-eds, who are not at all involved with Occupy, tell me that they came to watch the freaks before going out clubbing. They're drinking vodka cocktails out of not-so-clandestine Gatorade bottles.

This place already has the most sophisticated tech department I've seen yet — powered by eight slabs of solar thrust — and it's a good thing that they're wired. Already there is little chance of accomplishing much at Philly assemblies; tonight's devolves into poorly projected mayhem at the get-go. Around the perimeter, dozens of punks with dirty dreads and painful piercings talk over the discussion, while emotions start to fly in the front as grievances are aired over permit issues and how to picket the imperialistic Columbus Day.

I cup my ear, attempting to hear what folks are saying in the frazzled assembly, but can't make much out. So I ask a volunteer from the book table for a synopsis. He didn't hear either, but assures me that's okay. "As a group we've got no clue what the hell we're doing," he says while stroking his beard, "but there sure are a whole fucking lot of us."

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Related: C.T. Butler is back on the front lines, Inside the Occupy Boston media struggle, Photos: Occupy Boston celebrates one-month anniversary at Dewey Square, More more >
  Topics: News Features , Occupy Boston, Occupy DC, Occupy Baltimore
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