What do you think of the protesters? "Oh, I try to make food that's healthy that (caters) to this crowd."
Have you seen a jump in business since they've taken over Zuccotti Park? "Oh, a little bit. You know, just trying to get everyone to eat healthy."
How long have you had a truck here? "Three years."
And since protesters have come to the park, have you had more business? "Oh yeah."
So you are happy to have them? (Laughs) Happy? I don't know. Business is very good. But it's not so much the people in the park as the NYPD. Every day we have about 60 police from the NYPD ordering food, they come down and they buy from us, every day."
How long have you had a truck down here? "Four years."
Have you seen a rise in business since Occupy Wall Street? "No, business has gone down. The people who used to order here, they don't come by anymore. This is not good for our business."
How long have you had a truck in Zuccotti Park? Since 1992.
Have you seen a change in business since the protests started? "Not really. It hasn't gone up, it hasn't gone down…it's about stayed the same."
And what do you make of the people in the park? "I'm honestly very confused about what they are trying to do."
How's business? "It's been a decrease. I think it's the economy, but also with these protests going on, it's blocked a lot of people who might want to come over to us. But that's just…"(Shrugs)
What are your thoughts on this whole park occupation? "I like that it's a peaceful protest. It's a lot of people having a good time. I support that…I've been to a lot of protests, and this one is pretty peaceful."
Do you work around here? "No, I've just come to New York to see a client, and I passed by here. I wanted to check it out."
So what do you think of Occupy Wall Street, now that you've seen it? "Actually, I'm from Tunisia, and it's amazing what's going on here, with people asking for respect. Because you know in Tunisia we had a revolution, and it begins like this."
Really? It's the same. In Tunisia, people are asking for freedom, and here, people are looking for…uh…they are asking for…uh…"
Equality? "Equality! Yeah! The system here really sucks, because the rich people are getting more rich, and the middle class is really in a poor state. And here they are asking for…uh…the rich people to pay more. It's great."
What brings you to New York? "I'm just here to visit my sister in Brooklyn."
So you just came down to Wall Street to see what's going on? "Absolutely."
And what do you think of it? "I think it's hilarious. The whole thing just kills me. The 'We are the 99%'…that's just great. I'm a lot of different percents. I don't have any catchy sound bites, except to say that, you know, I have a job so I don't have time to go protest things. I think it's quite amusing…these Americans need diversion, and it's a nice little park. So it's a pretty place."
Is this your first time down at Zuccotti? "It is. I've been nervous about bringing the baby, but I have a few friends that have been staying at it…they've said it was okay."
Is this the kind of scene you expected to see? "I keep thinking today's Friday, so I kept expecting to see more people. I think it's great. I'm glad that people are finally saying things…anything at all. Getting together and doing something like this."
Is this your first visit down to Occupy Wall Street? "Nope, third time."
Oh, you must really like it down here. "Well…we're staying in Staten Island, so we have to come right by here. Because everything in New York is in Manhattan, and this is where we enter."
So do you find it annoying to always be running into this group in the park? "Oh no, not at all. You have to combine it. I was expecting it to be a lot bigger. We actually had to go around looking for it, and be like 'Oh, okay. It's located on this one little tiny block.' I was expecting a much bigger deal, in how much space it takes up, and how much of a…problem it is for people around here. I don't perceive it to be a problem at all, so the national news gave me the wrong picture."
Do you have any personal opinions about the protests, one way or another? "Yeah…I'm sympathetic. I'm a sympathizer."
Do the Swiss protests fall under the 'Occupy' movement? "I don't think they are as solid as they are here, but there are some. I find it interesting to have (the protests) in the core of the capitalist city."
How often do you go buy Smoothies in the park? "Several days a week, afternoon snacks."
So you can't speak on the record about your feelings towards the protesters, but can you tell us anything about what you see on your Smoothie trips? "I've told my mom -- because she obviously knows what's going on – that it's at a point now where it will feel weird when it's not happening."
So now you walk by these protests every day…have any thoughts? Is it blocking your way to work? "No it doesn't. It's the police…it's all them. The police on Wall Street, they won't let you pass, they tell you to go around. But I find a way, a way to get around all the police blocks."
Any other comments on what's going on down at Zuccotti Park? "Not really."
How has your daily life been affected by the protests? "Yes and no. It's been affected every time I have to navigate across the area from where I live. But the police have done a pretty good job, so it's okay. But the noise has been a disaster."
Really? "Well yeah, this time of year, you want to have the windows open for the fall, it's a beautiful time of year. All I hear until two in the morning, when I can actually fall asleep, is bum-bum-bum-bum-bum…all night long. It's very loud. If I lived here, it would probably be a disaster. But I live across the highway! And it's still so loud! I live on the 30th floor, so it's the acoustics, for sure, but I can hear everything. The drum circles go on and on and on and on. And I'm all for (the protests). But I was raised to respect my neighbors."
Have you actually visited inside the parerk? "Oh yeah, I go in there frequently. It's a disaster. I mean, I just actually had extra food from an event, and I brought it over to donate. And I specifically gave it to the Sanitation (workers), because I may live in New York, but I am a person of community. And it's really disgusting over there; it's gross. I could get into the whole political aspect…but you know, I used to think that appearances weren't everything, but when you' looking at something en masse, appearances matter. Like you go through there, and it's like, 'Why would I listen to you? You're disgusting.'"
So the mess is kind of detracting from the message? "You know, I just got into a serious conversation with a guy over there, and I was happy to have it. A lot of the noise and filth distracts from the actual message. Which I'm still unclear on…I just saw someone walk by with a 'Bring Communism Back' sign. I saw someone with a Herman Cain sign. But this guy reminded me, the guy I talked to, that there is a serious component there. Which is good…it's good."
Have you been by the protests yet? "I've been past, but I haven't actually stopped."
Do you have any thoughts on what's going on down there? "No, I really don't. I don't even know what's going on, I'm so busy paying attention to doing…everything else. It's the New York life, we live the busiest lives…so if it doesn't really involve us, we don't really get involved. Though I'm assuming that what's going on…it pretty much involves us, does it not?"
Do you have any feelings, one way or another, towards what's been going on? "No I don't. I really don't. I don't mind nothing. Just some people trying to make a point, make a statement, and that's fine to me."
So what brings you to this part of town? "The guy we're staying with works around here, and of course we wanted to come check it out. Wanted to get a look at Occupy Wall Street; feel the energy more than anything else."
So you're pro-protesters? "Yeah."
Any thoughts, now that you've seen it? "It didn't change my opinion in any way. I just got to see their passion; got to hear it…got to donate some money."
So what did it look like to you? Was it what you were expecting? "I was hoping it was going to be a little more exciting. But they did have a dishwashing station, and I thought that was awesome."
Wow, so we guess you're glad you moved back to Paris to miss all of this. "This? (Gestures to O'Hara's) This, no I love this place. I know the bartender."
No, we meant what's going on in Zuccotti Park. "Oh, have you been over there? I don't know what's going on over there. I just saw that, a bunch of people…I didn't know what was going on."
Are you from the city? "Oh yeah, I was born in New York, raised in Weschester County, and now I live in Brooklyn.
So have you been to the protests before? "Yeah, it's my second time down here. My boy who's real into it keeps telling me to come back. And you know, I totally understand what's going on, but I feel like maybe not everybody is on the exact same page. It makes it sort of…I guess…a shitshow?
I mean the ideals and the ideas are very good and I agree with them, but my only problem is with some of the people I hear protesting. They kind of take away its credibility, and that's depressing. Because there's a lot of people…like the 98% who aren't here at the park … they aren't hearing about the protests and the ideals behind it. They just see the guys with the tattooed faces on TV, the guys that are here to "fuck the system"…sorry about the language. They just want any reason to protest.
And when we first dropped the bomb on Iraq -- on what, April 20th? – those protests in New York were amazing. Everyone was united, and I thought it was really good. And these…well, they're good, but I just don't see them going anywhere. Because I am realist, and I understand and I sympathize – I'm broke and unemployed myself! – but I just don't see it doing much. Don't get me wrong, I like it when the public gets together…"
But you don't see any real change coming out of this? "Well, no. The publicity is good, and it gets certain people listening. But it gets the attention off of Obama. And I'm not saying it's like a conspiracy, but I think this is helping Obama in a lot of ways."
"I guess my problem is: I'm smart, I'm all for this, I love protests, and I love people standing up for their thing, and there's great food here and stuff, they've raised some money…but I just am looking for that unified, set goal for this protest. They keep saying that they're not going to leave here until things change. Well, it's about to get cold. You won't find me out here."
Does it affect your commute at all? "Not really, no."
So what are you doing watching the park outside? "We're actually on our way somewhere else. We just stopped to gawk, I guess."
Trevor, you live right around here, right? "Yup, right at ___ Liberty."
So you've seen the protests every day. What do you think of them? "Well, they're sort of freaky sometimes. And also, they're really loud and annoying."
Can you hear them from your house? "Depends what they're doing."
Do you see anything that looks like fun over at the park? Like the painting or the music? "Not really. It looks pretty boring…they're just sitting around."
What do you think of it? "I…I think it's good. It's just…I don't know if it's going to do anything, but it's a good idea."
Is there something about Occupy Wall Street you wish you could fix? "I think what it is, is media in general. Like they (Occupy Wall Street) are doing a lot of media to get their point across, but a lot of things they're not really being honest about. The same with the media that's against them: they're not really honest either. So it's kind of hard to decide what is actually happening."
What do you mean when you say OWS hasn't been honest to the media? "Well, I'll get the news, then I'll go on Occupy Wall Street's website to see what they're writing about, and then I'll go down here to see what's actually happening, and it's like three different variations. It's all very different perspectives, but it's all happening in the same space."
And now that you have seen the protests for yourself, what do you think? "I think there's a little bit of truth to what all the different media outlets have been saying. There seems to be no central message. A lot of people would say that's a good thing, and to some degree I would agree with that, but I also think that there are a lot of uber-liberal causes that are being championed here that just really distract from the greater issues. I do think there are these bigger issues they could focus on, that would still leave them with a wide variety of messages. But they could get more serious."
And what do you think? "I'm not sure…"
Is this what you were expecting? What you saw on TV? "Basically? I don't know. I'm not sure what the main point is."
We're hearing that a lot today. Maybe they're having an off-message day? "I think they need a stronger point. I support the anti-corporate greed message, but is this going to solve anything? I guess they're getting their voice heard. I think they need unified direction."
Have you seen any Occupy protests in Minneapolis? "Nuh-uh. It wouldn't surprise me if there was something in St. Paul, the capital…but I haven't seen anything like that."
Well, what brought you down here today? "Just to see what's going on."
Now that you've seen it? "Well, I didn't know how small it was going to be. The park is pretty well-confined. There's lots of young people…I just got here, that's all I've observed so far."
What do you think of the protests? "Well, until I came down and actually looked and observed people, I thought that it was so great that people were going to create something, because we need to bring attention to the fact that there is a big disparity. But when I came down and looked, I was kind of disappointed in what I saw. I think the people need more structure. The ones that are here, they need to get a life."
Wow. "Yeah. (Laughs) Well, the appearance is that they want something for nothing, which is not what I'm about. But that's just the impression that I get…I haven't talked to anybody here. But from the signage and the comments and the appearance, I think some of these people, if not most of them, are looking to blame someone else for their problems instead of taking responsibility for themselves. I could be wrong."
Sorry. So what brought you down to Wall Street? "I wanted to see the original Occupy Wall Street."
And now that you've seen it, what are your thoughts? "It's pretty interesting, observing at least some of these interactions between people. The signage that's up, the kind of community that's being created here: about being respectful of people, about being respectful of the environment, and people expressing their opinions."
There's an Occupation in Berkeley right now, isn't there? "There is actually a larger occupation in Oakland and San Francisco. We're all sort of following the lead here from New York."
Is this what you were envisioning? "I don't know. You always see things on TV and then it's different in person. I expected to see more tents. Maybe they got put aside for the rain."
No, they don't allow tents in the park. "Really? So…people just sleep out in the rain? Wow."
As we’ve documented the changes in Occupy Wall Street over the past month, it occurred to us that we had forgotten one giant demographic: the non-Occupiers of Wall Street. Zuccotti Park’s tourists, the locally employed, and those poor souls who actually lived in the area…what did they think of the never-ending protests?
Unfortunately, we soon found out that many of the people that worked in the area weren’t willing to give us sound bites on how OWS has affected their life as a hedge fund capitalist. But we were able to track down a couple of onlookers and ask them about the movement: was it annoying, rejuvenating, or just plain underwhelming? Read on to find out.
(Photos by Marielle Solan)