Is there anyone in New York who doesn't now know what 99% versus 1% means?
Two short months ago, 1% was more likely to be associated with skim milk than political protest.
These four words, WE ARE THE 99% -- a great populist tag line -- have defined an uncomfortable reality.
Even though pundits crab at its motley 20-somethings for having a muddled message, the Occupy Wall Street movement has lent new language to undemocratic income distribution in the world's richest democracy.
And the broad public seems to get the gist. An October Bloomberg poll suggests that 6 in 10 New Yorkers support the "Occupy Wall Street" effort.
What better time than Halloween to mock the emperor's new clothes?
9 Tips on Making an "Occupy Wall Street" Halloween Party
In the interests of fun and furthering the public debate, here are some tips for a 99 % Halloween Party in New York City or elsewhere:
- Make Your "Occupy Wall Street" Halloween Party a Sleepover. The original Manhattan protests involved camping out in Zuccotti Park. Make your party a sleepover; mattresses not required.
- Dress Up. Be Bernie Madoff. CitiBank. A Fat Cat. Couples could go as Good Cop-Bad Cop. The possibilities for Occupy Wall Street Halloween costumes are legion.
- "Occupy Wall Street" Halloween Party Decorations: Forget decorations. Guests will want to be in charge of that. (It's more democratic.) Hosts can set the scene by pushing some furniture around into "zones," like original "OWS" protest in Zuccotti Park: the library zone, first aid zone, computer zone, and so on.
- Play the 99% OWS Game. Have a drawing of 100 tickets. Label one ticket "1%," and the rest "99%." The odds are a foregone conclusion, of course. The winner of the 1% ticket gets a Bronx cheer, a toy BMW or personal jet, and all the caviar and champagne within a 5 mile radius of, say, Poughkeepsie.
- Be Your Own PR & Media Team. Instant communication and documentation are hallmarks of the "OWS" phenomenon. Create a virtual archive of your "OWS" Halloween Party, in real time. Invite a blogger and stick her in a corner with good WiFi. Obviously, everyone will already have iPhones and be tweeting and emailing photos to Facebook friends.
- Play "Occupy Wall Street" Party Games. No doubt about it, there are a few important party games for a 99% OWS Halloween party. For instance, Amplify the Message is a version of the old telephone game. A "leader" speaks the message into the air. Everyone else roars the same words in unison. It's a bull-horn-free way of communicating, and a bonding experience. Have lozenges on site.
Being Seen is another big element of Occupy Wall Street's protests. Creating handmade signs is very DIY, and PC, and if you happen to use recyclable materials, all the better. Have lots of markers and poster-making material. Finally, what's the policy goal of this protest? There seem to be many. So, whether you decide to use an elephant or a donkey, wear a blindfold and play Pin the Tail on the Demand.
- "Occupy Wall Street" Halloween Party Music: No DJ.s Just DIY music with guitars, tambourines, harmonicas -- and vuvuzelas.
- Want Party Food? Order in! Get pizza. Or fast food from the nearest burger joint. Stockpile the kinds of things that people who've been sleeping in parks for weeks on end might want: donuts, carrots sticks, vegan pad thai. Strew take out menus around so the guests can democratically decide what they want to eat. Share the food, share the costs, too.
- Have a 1% Parade. Parade as ghosts, skeletons, fat cats or other caricatures of the 1%. And if you happen to go outside -- try not to get arrested.
Building a National Movement: Halloween Parties Of, By & For the 99%?
Any masquerade holiday offers an opportunity for caricature and critique of the status quo.
Halloween, with its repertoire of costumed heroes and evildoers, magicians and mimics, beggars and billionaires, has a subversive underside that's often ignored.
In Halloweens past we've seen Bill and Hillary costumes, Osama and Obama costumes. Halloween can be a fun house mirror of America's national preoccupations.
And in 2011, the Halloween stage couldn't be riper for political humor, political satire, and political play.