Occupy History

Occupy History: Taking Magic Mountain, with Alex Carvalho

(In another Occupy History with Hard Times Review, Alex Carvalho, a doctor now living with his wife and children in Chicago, reflects on some of his favorite direct actions of Occupy Wall Street, solidarity with protesters in jail after arrests, and the origins of Occupy’s takeover of Magic Mountain, a headquarter for the planning and infrastructure of Occupy.)

Some of my fondest memories of Occupy were the friends I made, and the different arrests, which were intense. It was fucked up, at the time, to get hurt, but then you’re going to jail with your friends, your buddies, banging on the cell walls all through the night, passing around a cigar we’d somehow slipped into the jail. There were some really cool direct actions.

We did a direct action at the Museum of Modern Art, a badass banner drop of a banner we’d painted, which went down about three stories.

We had two teams, one with a fake banner, because the cops were all around, so one team went one way, the other team went the other way, and security was tight that day but we were somehow able to pass the banner through after distracting people on the museum floor who were just trying to get tickets.

It was like choreography, like a huge dance, when the banner dropped. It was badass.

What did the banner say?

It was supporting the museum workers for better wages, better healthcare, things like that.

One of the greatest actions in Occupy, one of my favorite memories, was when a friend of mine learned of a dispute between a tenant and a landlord in a building near the Stock Exchange, and the tenant was just like, “You know what? Fuck this landlord. You guys wanna come in? Just come in and occupy it.”

It was a dispute over rent, and he basically just said, “You know? Just take over. I’m out.”

So, we got the keys, and we took over.

Dude, it was a HUGE office space, a block away from the Stock Exchange, on the sixth floor.

We called it “Magic Mountain,” and it was our squad. A lot of the movement’s direct action planning, housing for homeless people, parties obviously, happened at Magic Mountain.

Man, we literally painted the walls with poetry, drawings, and put a huge banner up, which we’d also painted. We had music. It was too good to be true. And it lasted for six fucking months.

Six months, we were living there, no rent, using it as a springboard for direct action, right in heart of Wall Street.

Obviously, they figured it out. The po po figured it out and came to evict us. The Wall Street Journal was there documenting.[i] So, there’s this little piece in The Wall Street Journal about the eviction of Magic Mountain.

(laughs)

It was really a special place for us. Magic Mountain is one of the greatest memories of Occupy, for sure.


[i] Jessica Firger, “Occupy Evicted from its Outpost,” Wall Street Journal, 4/23/2012