Dennis Jackson Occupies Wall Street

Dennis Jackson’s family rented an Old Mill home in the summer of 1950.  They moved here that fall, and in 1956 moved to “the middle of nowhere”:  North Avenue.

Dennis’s brothers and friends camped out in the large woods across the street, until it was cleared to build “a fancy new high school.”

Dennis was in the first graduating class — 1958 — at nearby Burr Farms Elementary.  Three years later he joined a young Gordon Joseloff and others in forming an AM radio station called WWPT.

Mentored in radio by a friendly Staples High physics teacher named Nick Georgis, Dennis designed and built a small AM/FM transmitter.  He still has it.

He graduated from Staples in 1964, and went to RPI.  In 1967 “the allure of Westport life and Westport girls proved irresistible,” so Dennis came back.

He worked at Norden; helped start the new WWPT-FM at Staples; got an MBA at UConn; did a morning show on WMMM/WDJF, and from 1974-76 rented a beach house with his girlfriend Maureen (Staples ’67).

They moved to Wilton, Vermont, the Berkshires, then back to Wilton in 1982.

The other day, Dennis visited the Occupy Wall Street site in lower Manhattan.  He reports:

Dennis Jackson (right), with friends (from left) George Levinson and Ed Hoffman, at Occupy Wall Street.

There has been much criticism from conservatives that the occupiers have no proposed solutions.  However, in the tradition of American patriots who have assembled peacefully throughout our history, this is a protest against injustices for which Wall Street has become the focal point.

Much dialogue takes place among the occupiers and day visitors like us, and a regular schedule of “think tanks” in which anyone may participate.  Especially when compared to the relatively unfocused anger and deconstructionism of the tea partiers, these dialogues seem to offer very constructive ways to resolve feelings of frustration into refined thinking. and move toward consensus.

An older occupier. His sign protests the influence of corporate financing on political campaigns. (Photo by Dennis Jackson)

In addition to high unemployment, record levels of home foreclosures, and the expense and difficulty of obtaining health coverage, it seemed clear that a number of prominent financial absurdities that are highly unfair to the average American underly the protest.

One example is the ever-increasing income and wealth disparity between Americans in the top brackets relative to what we used to refer to as the “middle class,” and the disadvantaged, as exacerbated by the Reagan revolution and Bush tax cuts.

Another is the bailout of banks when people had to default on mortgage payments, when far less bailout money could have been applied to the write-down of mortgages so those homeowners wouldn’t have had to default in the first place.  Perhaps then, banks might not have been in the position they were to hand out bonuses that many homeowners and ordinary Americans consider obscene.

As in the ’60s, there was a current of peace and anti-war sentiment at the expense of more humanistic applications of the trillions of dollars invested in our military adventurism and warmaking, particularly in Iraq.  A good number of veterans were represented while we were there.

A woman with a Ph.D., who can't find a job, asks for work. (Photo by Dennis Jackson)

From the tone of many conversations, it’s probably fair to say that the occupiers, although not universally “liberal,” are progressive thinkers.  They seem mostly opposed to the Republican national agenda, which they perceive as favoring the already rich and powerful, seeking to increase corporate influence, hegemony and control, and to undermine and blockade programs intended to help the average American.

Comments overheard suggest that Fox News, the only network not in evidence, and Channel 5, the only local TV absent, were generally held in low regard.

Liberty Square was populated by everyone from college students to octogenarians.  All races were well represented.

A code of conduct was posted in several places.  There was no violence, discourtesy, scatology, drug use, “free love,” or unsanitariness in evidence.  Directions were posted to several nearby rest room facilities.  Volunteers circulated constantly, sweeping and cleaning up.

Bags of coats and bedding were free to anyone who got cold or wanted to “occupy” overnight.  A “free kitchen,” manned by what we understood to be 5-star chefs prepared food, and would not accept a donation for the delicious piece of chocolate cake I had.  I offered, but the reply was, “No thank you.  We’d like to contribute the cake to you.”

In spite of all the vitriol directed at the OWS movement by the right-wing media, it would be hard to imagine a more thoughtful, courteous, productive gathering of like-minded people opposed to financial injustice.

Many Occupy Wall Street protesters are young. (Photo by Dennis Jackson)

41 responses to “Dennis Jackson Occupies Wall Street

  1. Camping in public is hardly productive.

  2. Fred G. Sanford

    Most appreciative of Dennis Jackson’s report. It is rather surprising to read and listen to the increasing vitriol directed toward the OWS movement. Did Sean Hannity and his brethren over at Fox forget that it wasn’t a dirty bomb that brought our great country to its knees in 2008? Did like minded folks forget that one company alone, Wilton based AIG received 182 billion dollars because they were too big to fail? Even my son Lamont could figure this one out.


  3. I heard a 20-something radio producer on the air last weekend. He said he has $35,000 in student debt but he is working 3 jobs to pay it off, not living on the streets. I don’t think Dennis got where he is by holding up a sign protest.

  4. I guess DJ had a cup or two of OWS kool aid while he was there. Generations have enjoyed a good life in this country, not by sitting in the park, costing the tax payers money every day, but by being innovative and hard working, some more then others. Perhaps instead of whining to eachother in the park about how they deserve someone else’s wealth, they should think about the unimaginable….get a job. It may not be the job of their dreams, but there is work out there.

  5. The unemployment rate among college graduates is 4.2%. If you are a college graduate and don’t have a job, maybe you don’t have a marketable skill. No one was forced to take either college loans or a mortgage. The whining by the OWS types is getting tedious.

  6. It was stated in the article, that these OWS types are not Republicans. now there is a blinding revelation, but when you mention to them that Obama took $1,000,000 from Goldman Sachs , and is killing Americans and thousands of others without due proces in the ME, they just defend Obama. The OWS crowd is nothing more than a front for Obama’s reelection campaign. Let’s see how this works out.

  7. Fred G. Sanford

    “Generations have enjoyed a good life in this country, not by sitting in the park, costing the tax payers money every day, but by being innovative and hard working”

    Great point anonymous, hence the disgust, disdain, and petition for and against the thieving puttans who seriously jeopordized future generations right to and potential for the “good life” you describe. Anonymous, did you also forget what transpired in 2008? You big dummy!
    JPT–great points up until your last.

    Fred G. Sanford

  8. The unemployment rate is as stated. What happened in 2008 is that a bubble burst; a bubble fueled by cheap money (the Fed), and non-existent credit requirements ( the CRA). It is easy to blame the “other guy”, but who signed on for the cheap mortagages? Who signed on for the college loans with no chance of servicing either debt? Not only is the whining tedious but so are childish insults. BTW according to the NBER the ression ended in June of 2009, how are you liking the recovery?

  9. Chicken_Farmer

    Ah, the first “everyone gets a trophy generation”. Yep, All my life I was told how wonderful I am by Mom & Dad. Win or lose we got trophies and ice cream. Now that I am out of college with my liberal arts degree, I want the adult equivalent of Mommy and Daddy to tell me how great I am, give me a nice easy job where I care wear jeans to work, at my own hours of course, listen to my ipod, and be told what a great job I am doing, and if you don’t give me that, I’m just going to stand here in the park until you do.

  10. The Dude Abides

    I wish they would Occupy the Pentagon instead. Plus, their fight is with student loans/health coverage mostly and I am not sure Wall Street is much to blame for that. I will be very interested if they bare the cold to continue the protest? The anti-war demonstrations of the 60’s disappeared when they instituted the draft lottery. At least these folks are honest, they are selfish.

  11. I support the Occupiers but I wonder why it is so important for them to stay in the parks overnight? Why can’t they protest during the day and go home at night? Seems like all the trouble with the police relates to rules about not being in the parks after a certain time.

    • Many do go home at night. Read about one high school senior from New Jersey
      who takes the bus into the city and goes home each night. The rest are probably just enjoying the night-time sex like Herman Cain believes. Gotta be getting cold these nights though.

  12. Not enough space for a comment with depth. But before you agree with the unwashed ones, try Gretchen Mortgensens book on the subject of what happened and who did it starting with the Community Reivestment Act of 1977. There is plenty of blame to spread around but the mass of protestors should be in Washington DC in front of the Capitol and the buildings of Fanny Mae and Freddy Mac.

  13. Fred G. Sanford

    “That, to me, speaks volumes about the primary challenge of opposing the 50-headed hydra of Wall Street corruption, which is that it’s extremely difficult to explain the crimes of the modern financial elite in a simple visual. The essence of this particular sort of oligarchic power is its complexity and day-to-day invisibility: Its worst crimes, from bribery and insider trading and market manipulation, to backroom dominance of government and the usurping of the regulatory structure from within, simply can’t be seen by the public or put on TV.”

    Read more:


  14. Oh good, Rolling Stone as a source on the complexity of capital markets, how markets function, and the crimes of the modern financial elite. That will be worth a read; not! The corruption is in Washington. Get on a bus. Politicians sell access to power, the more they have, the more they sell. It is not only Wall Street who is buying, there are thousands of special interest groups who have offices on K Street. The “For Sale” sign is still out.

  15. The Dude Abides

    Agreed. Rolling Stone is hardly an unbiased report. These folks that site anything they read on the internet are moronic. I did see a candid interview with a pharmactical executive the other day. When asked whether he would invest 30 million in a new anti-cancer drug or pay a lobbyist, he responded: “The lobbyist will do more for my bottom line than fighting the FDA for a new drug”. WTF!!! The common folk have become the peons and essentially, that is the frustration seen on OWS.

    • But look at the choices offered. Why should the FDA be seen as an obstacle to bringing a new drug to market? Some people go overseas to get drugs they cannot get here. That should not be necessary. A new anti-cancer drug might take $ billions to develope and a decade to bring to market. Why make the investment?

  16. The Dude Abides

    Because it might save a whole bunch of lives.

    • Only if the FDA approves the drug.So first they spend $ billions to find the drug, and then they run the risk the FDA does not approve it. Maybe the FDA’s procedures reduce the flow of funds to drug research.

  17. The whole master plan, by Republicans AND Democrats in Congress is for them to be the power-people serving the largest corporations, not the people. While this is a non-partisan event (OWS), it appears that Republican people have the hardest time grasping that they’re getting (and will be getting more) screwed too. – Time to totally replace Congress. If we don’t, then we will not recognize this country in 15 years.

  18. OWS is not non-partisan. Politicians sell out to whomever cuts the best deal. If you think special interest groups are resticted to corporations, you are naive, or partisan. At the top of the list of special interest contributors to politicians is the NEA with almost $53 million in contributions. There is a reason American public schools are failing so much of the school population. Maybe you should become better informed before offering solutions.

  19. Fred G. Sanford

    Dude and Anonymous, it is blatantly clear that you two skunks are as biased as you suggest Mr. Taibbi and Rolling Stone to be. This is completely understandable. After all, you and I reside next to many a folk who have been directly complicit in the greatest heist of America’s future well-being ever witnessed as evidenced by the recent take down of the Beach Road, Goldman skunk that was recently targeted. Blaming it merely on Washington, Jim Himes, et. al is laughable. Take a look around where much of the wealth that is located in 06880 came from. A great portion of it did not come from making anything as was the practice for entrepreneurs in Anonymous’s “good ole days”. At best it was generated from providing a productive service to others, at worst it was generated from exploiting others and skimming a rather hefty percentage while doing so.

    You blokes are not only blowhards who enjoy hearing your own voice and reading your own words a bit much, but are as transparent as they come.

    Since you didn’t appreciate Matt Taibbi’s commentary. Here is a piece from the Journal that might suffice.


    • I don’t think you read the article. The author seems to favor a market driven solution. BTW sophomoric insults don’t advance your argument, such as it is.

  20. Fred G. Sanford

    Typical bully you are Anonymous. Here is a little snap shot of your condescending ways in merely this one particular thread. You my friend are a skunk and a bully skunk at that. Sophomoric insults? Not really, just giving you a bit of push-back for assuming the lead in being the lead of the condescending, omniscient elite on this forum.


    “Maybe you should become better informed before offering solutions.”

    “Perhaps instead of whining to eachother in the park about how they deserve someone else’s wealth, they should think about the unimaginable….get a job.”

    “If you think special interest groups are resticted to corporations, you are naive, or partisan.”

    “Oh good, Rolling Stone as a source on the complexity of capital markets, how markets function, and the crimes of the modern financial elite. That will be worth a read; not!”

  21. The Dude Abides

    Fred, you are not going to win any war of the words with Anonymous, especially on economics. I worked for Rolling Stone. Great for interviews but not so much for economic or domestic policies. Werner has his views to the far left. You need to chill and lite up a doobie. Life to too short and the power elite could give a shit about what we think.

    • “punk” Do you thinks he meant that in a nice way? How about “skunks”? Did that add rigor to his argument or was it just screed? “thieving puttans” He must hate all of his neighbiors here in Westport.

    • Dude – read Matt Taibbi. He has been brilliant on the depravity of the American economic aristocracy (who happen to be many, many of our neighbors). He also writes for Rolling Stones – which is not my first source for investigative journalism – but Taibbi may change that, at least with regards to our crushingly corrupt, anti-competitive crony built economy.

  22. Fred G. Sanford


    Not looking to win a debate here. Looking to call out a smug, sarcastic, elitist punk. Your last sentence is spot on. Thanks. Good night amigo~


  23. Yikes, I wouldn’t want to be in a park after dark with this crowd!

  24. I hate to break it to you but Anon. Is more then one person……I made some of those quotes….not all. Btw Fred, you’re a douche.

  25. Virginia Gilbertie

    As usual, I’m coming late to the conversation. However, I had to comment on the oversimplification of the OWS objectives. It’s not just college students whining about student loan debt. That’s a red herring that turned into a good soundbite. It’s more about money in politics and what it’s doing to our political system. And, as Dennis pointed out, it’s people of all ages, races, and walks of life.

    This is the type of discourse that America was founded upon – no matter which side of the debate we’re on, it is our civic duty to participate in government and make our views known. Agree or disagree with OWS, but before you do, ignore what you hear in the media and go to the source. Here’s their overarching statement:

    • It doesn’t seem very focused. Most of us favor liberty, but some see the government as the primary threat to that liberty, and believe further that making government even larger will not diminish the threat.

    • Agree with you Ms. Gilbertie, in principal. But as you can see here, amongst the hateful name calling and personal attacks, this country is polarized severely at the moment. OWS is just another additive to the anger prevalent in this country and hardly a deterrent to the widespread disparity between the 1%/99%. I don’t see its purpose???

  26. Hunter Thompson

    “If you are a bastard, then you have a formidable enemy.”

  27. Another view of bailout nation from an actual economist.

  28. Sanford & Son

    As compared to someone who plays one on TV?

  29. Dennis Jackson

    Good article by Sowell. Here’s an honest politician’s analysis:

    (Conservatives: If you must, feel free to shoot any messenger who’s in your line of fire.)

    • The Fed was established during the regime of a “progressive” president. Funny how thing work out. Bernie should ask his fellow congress people why they took $millions from the people at Fannie and Freddie while trying to oversee their operations. The causes of the financial dislocation are many and of long standing, but no one has the patience to do any in depth analysis.