When I was down at ISU last weekend, I noticed that an "Occupy Normal" protest had been staged on the bridge connecting the quad and north campus. Compared to the "Occupy Wall Street" demonstration that clawed its way into the media spotlight in recent weeks, it was very modest; a dozen or so students sitting on the walkway, chilling on their sleeping bags and eating cold cereal. They were clearly visible during the homecoming parade but not distracting by any means. In a section of the state of Illinois where Republicans outnumber Democrats 3:2 most of the locals couldn't have cared less, but I'll give points to the protesters for their resilience and gumption. This year's ISU homecoming theme was "Uncage the Rage," a sentiment that not only applies to our avian school spirit but also the growing frustration at the state of our nation, and those proud underclassmen struck the parallel quite accurately.
So where do I stand on the "Occupy" movement? The fact that the richest 1% of the population controls 40% of the nation's money is certainly wrong, even though I'm not sure if copying the Tea Party's grass-roots rancor was the right way to go. Regardless, you don't have to tell me the system is broken. Capitalism has a right to exist but the chasm between the rich and poor grows by the day, and addressing the situation head-on is not (as some suggest) misguided "socialist" rhetoric. The so-called lazy hippies that are setting up pup tents nationwide are not unlike me, underemployed college graduates with nowhere to go and nothing to lose. The little guy is taking it in the gut these days, and both sides of our government are as polarized as they are incompetent in handling the situation. I may not join in on the protest, but I respect their right to assemble and have their voice heard.
+ And how was the reunion, you ask? I was everything I expected it to be. In the course of two days I spoke with my professor/mentor for all of twenty seconds as she made the rounds with fellow alums, never getting around to asking about my current job status. On the other hand, I ran into an ex-co-worker with connections, so I may have my foot in the door for a possible job. As you might expect the overall homecoming atmosphere was highly cordial and throughly communal; I was in town for four meals and technically only had to pay for two. I drank more Bud Light last weekend than I have in the last six months (not in excess, mind you). By and large, I'm glad I made the long drive down.
+ Fantasy Update: After a prolonged schneid, I finally won my first pigskin matchup of the year. I'm 1-5 for 2011 so far; there's still time for a turnaround, as insurmountable as my situation my seem. In a league where ten teams each have at least two quarterbacks, two kickers, and two team defenses --and the free agent pool is slim pickins'-- I'll have to rely on dark horse receivers and halfbacks to gain momentum.
Next week: the year in music, 1978.