the bad beginning

A Series of Unfortunate Events Awaits Wall Street Executives

Beloved children’s author Lemony Snicket has visited the Occupy Wall Street protest and wrote up a list of observations that will hopefully chill those within the executive suites looking down upon Zuccotti Park. Here are three of those observations:

  • Historically, a story about people inside impressive buildings ignoring or even taunting people standing outside shouting at them turns out to be a story with an unhappy ending.
  • There may not be a reason to share your cake. It is, after all, yours. You probably baked it yourself, in an oven of your own construction with ingredients you harvested yourself. It may be possible to keep your entire cake while explaining to any nearby hungry people just how reasonable you are.
  • Nobody wants to fall into a safety net, because it means the structure in which they’ve been living is in a state of collapse and they have no choice but to tumble downwards. However, it beats the alternative.

[Occupy Writers via The Awl]

About the author

A writer and editor of this website from 2006 to early 2012, Ken Layne is occassionally seen on Twitter and writes small books and is already haunting you from beyond (your) grave.

View all articles by Ken Layne
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  1. nounverb911

    "A Series of Unfortunate Events Awaits Wall Street Executives"
    Will they finally have to pay taxes?

    1. prommie

      In China, they do bill the families of executed criminals for the bullets used. Would this be considered a "tax?"

        1. Michele_Blachmann

          Judging by the acts of previous regimes, it would be entirely historically accurate to respond with, "They kill you and every living relative of yours, burn down your clan house, and invite the entire village to shit on your ashes."

          However, I believe since the advent of Communism, the Chinese have learned restraint in such matters. Presumably, they merely deduct the outstanding amount from your grain allowance.

  2. nounverb911

    "A Series of Unfortunate Events Awaits Wall Street Executives"
    Will their limos get flat tires? Will their yachts sink?

      1. Michele_Blachmann

        If things don't improve right quick, chances are the help will be too busy planting bombs and setting fires to take the night off.

  3. donner_froh

    "Historically, a story about people inside impressive buildings ignoring or even taunting people standing outside shouting at them turns out to be a story with an unhappy ending."

    But it can be a lot of fun along the way–taunting investment bankers in the tumbrels on the way to the guillotine; decorating lampposts with bank presidents; smashing the state.

  4. SorosBot

    "Historically, a story about people inside impressive buildings ignoring or even taunting people standing outside shouting at them turns out to be a story with an unhappy ending."

    Oh please let defenestration time come soon.

    1. FakaktaSouth

      How pissed woud you be though if one fell on you? Cause you KNOW these fuckers wouldn't have the decency not to defenestrate onto another person below.

  5. johnnyzhivago

    But what if someone left that cake out in the rain? Will they be able to take it, given that they took so long to bake it? And more importantly, will anyone have that recipe again?

    1. finallyhappy

      I had Richard Harris sign that album(that is a record made of plastic for you younguns) when he appeared on the Charlie Rose show here in DC(it was kind of a more lively talk show then)

    1. comrad_darkness

      I would also like them PAID their fair share. Rather than sucking up a percentage of everyone else's.

      1. SorosBot

        I'll go with cherry pie; Put a smile on your face ten miles wide, Tastes so good
        make a grown man cry, Sweet cherry pie.

  6. BaldarTFlagass

    I don't necessarily want to see those people strung up or drawn and quartered or guilliotined, but I probably wouldn't complain if it happened.

        1. Michele_Blachmann

          I found out about them, to my shock and horror (I was younger then and easily horrified) while watching that excellent British crime series based on Val McDermid's books. Available via Netflix, if you like really weird, twisty, somewhat crazed, but excellent murder mystery.

    1. kissawookiee

      Much like sausagemaking and birthing, you don't have to enjoy watching the process to benefit from the results.

      1. Michele_Blachmann

        Er, what's the benefit to birthing? My lady friends assure me that they have hemorrhoids, vulval varicose veins, a good chance of having their inside bits dangling outside their outside bits, and all kinds of other ailments, plus 20 years of working to raise a kid at a cost of some half-million dollars only to hear them say "I hate you!" as they storm out the door at midnight.

        Perhaps I'm just being a little more disaffected than usual, having just heard that my friend's 18-y.o. just pulled such a stunt.

        1. kissawookiee

          Ah. Wookiee Jr. has actually been a reliable ray of light for the past 19 years, so I'm a titch biased.

        2. Beowoof

          Ah yes experiences I know well. I used to hear that I was not cool. Which I usually responded with cool requires a big brain and a fat wallet and you aren't toting either one around.
          Now that they are in their 20's we have become friends again.

          1. Michele_Blachmann

            So there *is* light at the end of the tunnel! I tell my friend not to worry, at least the kid's not doing drugs (that we know of) or turning tricks on the street, but at 18, you can't spank them, you can't control them, but you're still responsible for them. Let's hope she straightens out.

          2. Pristine_ODummy

            I'm tellin' ya. I want to grab these little boys and girls who think having a baybee is so wunnerful, just grab them and shake them hard. It takes a hella lot of sacrifice and hard work, and nobody should even think about doing it unless they're willing to make the commitment. I'm not willing to stay awake all night worrying that my kid's in trouble. It's OK to admit you can't do it. And total props to those who can and do. It ain't for me. But I will pass your words of wisdom to my friend. She's got a young 'un who just hit 14, too, but at least that one's a couch potato junior geek who thinks reading in bed is the coolest thing EVAH.

      1. Michele_Blachmann

        Quarters do seem a bit large, don't they?

        Would you settle for the Death of A Thousand Cuts?

  7. paris biltong

    The challenge is explaining to starving people how reasonable you are. Once you do that, they don't feel so hungry anymore. They feel even less hungry if they don't listen to your explanation and eat you instead. Forthwith.

    1. Michele_Blachmann

      Have you ever been *really* hungry? I mean, like, fast for a week hungry? Words mean nothing at that stage. People talk to you, and they start looking like giant, delicious hams and roast turkeys. You can't hear their words, you can only hear the delightful sizzling sound their fat would make as it drips off their spitted carcass onto the glowing coals.

      Much better to share the food outright.

      1. Michele_Blachmann

        The Muslims refer to the circumcision as "akad sunat," but unlike Jewish kids, Muslim boys have this done at a later age. We used to delight in tormenting the poor Muslim kids who were walking splay-legged for days afterwards. The most fun was telling them stories about the mohel's shaking hands.

        Kids sure are mean, rotten little bastids, aren't they?

    1. James Michael Curley

      Job could probably be done with a small pen knife. Lets make it a small, dull pen knife.

  8. finallyhappy

    I need to get to OWS- I can't knit like Madame Defarge but I can crochet – and 99% don't know the difference,

      1. finallyhappy

        I think knitting is harder(and don't even get me started on circular needles or the 4 needed to make a sock) and of course, those needles make better weapons- I understand it was a longer time before knitters could bring needles on planes after 9/11 than our hooks. Still for the cause- we are all one!

      1. finallyhappy

        Well, only among THE 99%. However, I would first exempt all knitters and crocheters because WE KNOW. Also see OlekNYC on Twitter- you can see her project with the Wall Street Bull(pre-Occupy Wall Street)

  9. proudgrampa

    Actually, I baked a very nice Spice Cake last night. It was delicious! I would have gladly shared some, but one 13×9 only goes so far, if you know what I mean.

    1. Michele_Blachmann

      Wow, you can bake? I'm a great cook, but baking is one thing I don't do. My brother's a fabulous baker, but we're living on different continents now. Long time since I had a homemade (good) cake. He made a great Black Forest, complete with hand-shaved chocolate curls.

      1. proudgrampa

        I have done most of the cooking in our household for years. It's one way I decompress.

        Also, no one questions the contents of the liquor cabinet when I'm in control of it: ("Where's the vodka?" "Oooh, I used it for the spaghetti sauce." "That's funny, we aren't having spaghetti tonight.").

        As for baking, I don't do it that often and tend to just bake a simple cake, put some fresh fruit and whipped cream on it, and I'm done. Let the oven do most of the work.

        1. Michele_Blachmann

          Me too. Nothing so satisfying as the bashing of metal pans, the whipping of cream, the beating of egg … er, right.

          I cook like my father did. A pinch of this, a handful of that, measuring be damned. Throw in what tastes good, add a little something. He was a fabulous cook. Good old-fashioned home cooked food from scratch, with all the vegetables straight from his garden. I have a food garden too, now, but the man had ten green digits, and I only have half a thumb.

          You wouldn't happen to be the mysterious poster from way back when I first commented here who was talking to me about Larousse Gastronomique?

          1. proudgrampa

            No, I'm not familiar with Larousse Gastronomique. That one's not in my library, yet.

            My favorite book for French cooking is Le Cordon Bleu (the big one). That one has lots of classic recipes that I have used over the years.

            You're lucky to have a garden. Even half a green thumb is better than nothing!

          2. Pristine_ODummy

            I got mine from an ex who's a professional chef. Apparently, professional chefs live and die by Larousse. It's a fun read. If you like reading about food and cooking. But it also is HUGE and weighs a ton, so not for those with carpal tunnel.

            Yes, I am very lucky, and very grateful for my little patch of nature. Tomato season was pitiful this year, but now the little golden Blondkopfchen cherry tomatoes are coming in at long last, and we did get a good crop of eggplant, so no complaints.

      2. ProudLibunatic

        Two things about baking:
        1.You have to follow instructions, because it's more like chemistry than other cooking.
        2. It helps if you love the taste of raw batter.
        I love it all, cookie, biscuit and bread dough, cake batter, muffin batter, even pancake batter.
        (I know it's supposed to be bad for you, but I have never been sick from it.)

        1. Michele_Blachmann

          It's definitely MUCH more a combination of chemistry and physics. I have a wonderful cookbook by a physicist that explains cooking from a physics point of view, and the obsessive love of exact measurement that bakers share with scientists. Unfortunately, I have a tendency to eat everything in sight, especially if it contains one or more of the four basic food groups — fat, refined white flour, sugar, and chocolate. I used to bake occasionally, but my waistline expanded faster than my bank account could accommodate, so I restrict my culinary adventures to new and interesting ways to make healthy food taste fucking fantastic. It's a struggle.

          1. ProudLibunatic

            So true.
            My "compromise" is to bake healthy things.
            I'm just unhappy if I can't cook.
            I heard someone say that creating something transcends the past and even the present. Maybe that is what cooking is for me. (Too bad there are calories involved!)
            My daughter once said, "Mom has a lot of faults, (thanks, honey), but she's a good cook!"

        2. comrad_darkness

          If I love the taste of raw butter, is there a reason not to just eat the raw butter and save the effort?

    1. Steverino247

      You gotta love Napoleon quotes. Here's my favorite: "Never interrupt your enemy when he's making a mistake. It's bad manners."

    1. NYNYNYjr

      Yeah, how dare he insult President Bush! I don't think President Bush would like reading these things at all!

  10. SayItWithWookies

    To those in the impressive edifices, the silence of the masses means their assent with the way things are — but if they so much as raise their voices in complaint, they're rock-throwing irrational anarchists, and probably anti-semitic ones at that.

    1. glamourdammerung

      Nothing like the logical consistency of conservatives to whine about the "antisemitism of the left" and go on about Soros/The Elders of Zion banking conspiracies at the same time.

  11. ttommyunger

    The question is, simply: can the combined voice of the people drown out the money at the top? Which will the decision-makers pay attention to? When and if they start getting voted out of office for their efforts, we may see some change for the better, assuming elections are still fair and free in this digital (read paperless) age.

    1. Beowoof

      I read that as lack of an audit trail. Something these guys seem to be really good at is hiding or getting rid of the evidence of their skulduggery.

    1. BlueStateLibel

      There probably really is a giraffe sitting in his yard – a nut in Ohio who hoarded wild exotic animals let them all out this morning, including tigers and bears. Can't the 99% ever get a break?!

    2. NYNYNYjr

      The gas meter is locked in the basement and no one has the key. The neighbors all have each other's gas bills because the mailman is high. Everyone's bill says 'final notice'. There's only one gas company to choose from, it's owned by a British energy concern. I'm the Brooklyn 99%!

  12. chicken_thief

    "You probably baked it yourself, in an oven of your own construction with ingredients you harvested yourself. "

    I call bullshit. It's not likely that the 1% do any one of those activities, let alone all three.

    1. hagajim

      They let their help bake the cake, have their personal shopper buy the ingredients at Whole Paycheck, and then eat the shit while the help looks on. Job Creators!

      1. Michele_Blachmann

        Stop slandering our Fine Constitutionally-Protected Jerb Creators! Why, they've been known to let the help have ALL the crumbs off the table!

        Commie scum.

  13. HistoriCat

    One of my daughter's frequent book requests at night time is a battered old Little Golden The Little Red Hen – I fucking hate that book.

    Little Red Hen "finds" a grain of wheat. Little Red Hen takes the wheat to the miller … but how does she pay the miller? Who provides the fuel for the oven wherein she bakes the loaf? But oh no – she did it all herself. God damned propaganda.

    1. DashboardBuddha

      Actually, we all know how the Little Red Hen got the miller to do the work for her. I read something about it Penthouse Letters.

    2. comrad_darkness

      Sounds due for a revision.

      The grasshopper/carpenter ant brigade worked for hours cutting wood for fuel.
      She pays the miller with a bj.

  14. Kakkeltje

    Ah, taunting from a big building….

    I don't want to talk to you no more, you empty headed animal food trough wiper. I fart in your general direction. Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries.

  15. BlueStateLibel

    I've got to say I love Mr. Lemony Snicket and his observations. My own humble observation is that it's all game over for the Let-them-Eat-Cake crowd when the military turns. I don't know if it'll ever happen here, but I do know a lot of returning vets have been treated like dirt, so who knows.

    1. bureaucrap

      If those vets are still holding on to their tanks and shoulder-fired missiles, then we're golden. Otherwise, fuggedaboudit.

      1. Biel_ze_Bubba

        An awful lot of 'em re-enlisted, finding few options for feeding their families. They have their hands on all sorts of interesting hardware.

    2. comrad_darkness

      The fate of our GI Joes and Janes is such a sad one. They traded literally everything for a series of pep talks.

      And the kicker is, to point this out is tantamount to treason, of course.

  16. hagajim

    They just better hope that while taunting, the crowd doesn't go apeship, overrun their security and throttle them at their desks.

    1. glamourdammerung

      I would be happy with some simple severe beating to teach them the manners their parents apparently neglected to bother with.

  17. Callyson

    Money is like a child—rarely unaccompanied. When it disappears, look to those who were supposed to be keeping an eye on it while you were at the grocery store. You might also look for someone who has a lot of extra children sitting around, with long, suspicious explanations for how they got there.
    That's the most concise explanation of how we got into this mess that I've ever read–thanks, Lemony!

  18. Allmighty_Manos

    "A Series of Unfortunate Events Awaits Wall Street Executives"

    What, they got the guillotine set up already?

  19. chascates

    From Al Franken:
    “Any time that a liberal points out that the wealthy are disproportionately benefiting from Bush’s tax policies, Republicans shout, “class warfare!”
    In her book A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous Fourteenth Century, Barbara Tuchman writes about a peasant revolt in 1358 that began in the village of St. Leu and spread throughout the Oise Valley. At one estate, the serfs sacked the manor house, killed the knight, and roasted him on a spit in front of his wife and kids. Then, after ten or twelve peasants violated the lady, with the children still watching, they forced her to eat the roasted flesh of her dead husband and then killed her.

    That is class warfare.

    And THAT would be an unfortunate event. For the bankers.

  20. Tommmcattt

    Ah! ça ira, ça ira, ça ira
    les aristocrates à la lanterne!
    Ah! ça ira, ça ira, ça ira
    les aristocrates on les pendra!

    Et quand on les aura tous pendus
    On leur fichera la pelle au cul!

    Ah! ça ira, ça ira, ça ira…

    1. user-of-owls

      Ok, I can sort of make out a lantern, aristocrats and an asshole. Plus it has a catchy beat and I can dance to it, so I give it a 9 out of 10, Dick!

      1. Tommmcattt

        LOL, it was the theme song of the French Revolution, this version says:

        Oh, it's ok! It's Ok! It's Ok! (or "so it goes")
        The aristocrats [are going] to the lamp-posts!
        Oh, it's ok! It's Ok! It's Ok!
        We're going to hang the aristocrats!

        And when we are finished hanging all of them,
        We will stick our shovels up their asses!

        Oh, it's ok! It's Ok! It's Ok…

  21. Negropolis

    So, when are they going to try and "Release the Kraken!" on Zuccotti Park? When will Hosni Bloomberg send down the his camel-mounted thugs?

    What's that? I think I hear the electric guillotines whirring and purring. Ever see a man beheaded by a laser? Some say that the first cut is the deepest…

    Au revoir, y'all! Parce que la liberté and so forth and so on. Aussi. French is a language best served hot, drowning in Hollandaise sauce whilst viewing a classy execution on a public square.

  22. Nothingisamiss

    Also from Mr. Snicket:

    * 99 percent is a very large percentage. For instance, easily 99 percent of people want a roof over their heads, food on their tables, and the occasional slice of cake for dessert. Surely an arrangement can be made with that niggling 1 percent who disagree.

  23. HateMachine

    I'm way late to this comment thread, but I'd just like to strongly suggest that everyone read the other contributions to the occupywriters page (hit the main page and look for the names with links in). The Snicket bit is delightfully snarky and there's one or two more like it, but some of the others are downright moving and generally great reads all around.

    "But it’s hard for me to lie still (lay still?) while I am getting fucked.

    It’s late and you been at me all night and I hadn’t risen from it.
    I was tired.

    I’m even more tired.

    But now I’m up."
    -D.A. Powell

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