Occupy Wall Street... On Acid!

By Harry Cheadle

Everything on acid is nuts, right? Steve Jobs is like Bill Gates (except dead)… on acid; Alan Greenspan is like a raisin that knows a lot about money... on acid; Guy Fawkes is like Antonio Banderas… on LOADS of acid! Etc. Well, we decided to do really scary things on acid and see if that journalistic cliche has a point. This week: Occupy Wall Street.

This is my buddy “Dave” (not his real name). That stuff on his tongue is LSD. We were at the McDonald’s across the street from Liberty Square (née Zuccotti Park), getting ready to join the protestors in a march in honor of “Bank Transfer Day,” the day when people are supposed to remove their money from big bad banks and put it in good guy credit unions. Because obviously, the best way to have a good psychedelic experience is to surround yourself with angry leftists who are—as we found out—100 percent ready to start something with the cops. 

Before the march started we wandered around the occupation a bit, waiting for the acid to kick in. It was much more organized than last time I visited, with signs indicating where the kitchen and sanitation stations were, another sign reminding the occupiers to be “good neighbors,” and throngs of tourists wandering around. This is a sign Dave made himself that I don’t understand. 

We stood out in the cold and waited for the march to start with people from MoveOn.org, who were much older and less dreadlocked than the Occupy Wall Street people. Dave was concerned because he was still totally sober—I think the combination of the cold and the strident political speeches was slowing the chemical process down. 

The march finally started and we stepped into the sun. “Whoa,” Dave said. This was the exact moment the first wave hit him, I think. 

Here Dave was imitating one of the marchers, in order to “understand him better.” He was goose-stepping around and weaving in and out of the crowd, but no one seemed to notice. 

Dave saved a toy from the Happy Meal he ate at the McDonald’s and played with it constantly as we marched along. He loved moving the legs and appeared to have a deep spiritual connection with the plastic egg. He ignored the protestors.

“Wow, the light is just—it’s so beautiful.” He kept saying stuff like that. In fairness, yeah, the light was pretty awesome.

This is Dave saying, “I’m high as balls!” 

“This kid is looming over me,” Dave said. We had to move away from it. 

Later in the march, Dave started joining in the chants (“This is what democracy looks like!”) and talking about how we were realizing our “collective superpower.” He also spouted some acid-y gibberish about how people got “slotted in” when they were in crowds. He was enjoying himself.

When we got to our destination—Foley Square—Dave got worried about some blue paint that he had somehow gotten on his face, so he dunked his head in this fountain. No one was really paying attention to him, and I was relieved.

At this point, with the march completed, it wasn’t clear what the plan was. No one was making speeches, and the crowd just sort of milled around. Then the cops told us we were blocking pedestrian traffic and had to move along.

This was not received very well by the protestors. Dave was getting into the spirit of the thing, but pretty soon those infamous orange crowd-control nets came out, and cops started arresting people, I wasn’t sure for what.

This is when the scene got sort of rowdy. People chanted “Shame! Shame!” and “This is what a police state looks like!” as a crowd formed around some cops who had just arrested some people. I had no idea what was going on, and I was trying to control Dave, who was getting antsy. He tried to make a break for it and run at the center of confusion, but I managed to grab his arm and hold him back. Later, we’d learn that 20 protestors got arrested and maybe a cop punched someone in the face. “Bad vibes,” Dave said, and we got out of there.

As soon as we got clear of the protest, Dave flipped out over these buildings and babbled about “The last breath before the body dies.”

We wandered over to a deserted plaza between some official-looking buildings (I think it was some kind of NYPD headquarters), and Dave became fascinated by these plastic cones, which he stacked on top of one another. “I feel much better now,” he said. Order had been restored. 

For more trips with VICE, check out: 
London Fashion Week... On Acid!
Druids... On Acid!
Doing Scary Things in London... On Acid!

 

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