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An Occupation

The cops and the firemen came through on Friday morning to take away the generators. They were polite about it. But firm. So no one's got juice to spare to watch Game 7 tonight. They're making power for the whole camp off a single stationary bicycle.

This is Occupy Wall Street. No one kicks a ball around or throws a ball or throws a Frisbee. There's no room. No Hacky Sack, no badminton, no beanbag and nobody much thinking about the World Series. I'm downtown to find out if sports transcend politics or finance or survive the revolution. But there are no sports in Zuccotti Park. Not on Friday.

The camp is a utopian no place/boomtown. An acre of blue tarps and cheap tents at the corner of Broadway and Liberty Street, in one of those inhuman business parks the city makes you set aside if you want your million square feet of rentable office space rising past a certain height. Polished stone benches and struggling trees bounded by skyscrapers. Dark as a sub-basement even at noon. Come outside to eat a sandwich and it's like falling down a well. Dusty sparrows flap in the shadows. No tourist ever saw it except in passing or in error. From here it's a two-minute walk to the exchanges on Wall Street, and a block to Trinity Church. A block to Ground Zero.

By the light from the store window at Brooks Brothers, the signs read:
"Don't wait for change, BE change"
"Together we're stronger"
"GREE D N IS GOOD. "

The peace symbols and the hypnotic chants are all as familiar and comfortable to me as old shoes, as reassuring as the old tribal music. The drum circle; the passionate argument; the pretty, serious girls and the charismatic boys spitting fire. And same as it ever was, for every earnest kid with a vision for a better future, there's a bankrupt crackpot with an ax to grind. Contending with both are the smallbore moralizers trolling past on their way home from work on a brokerage desk. "Get a job!" they yell.

Across Church Street is the High School of Economics and Finance. Tourists crowd the bodegas and Steve's Pizza. Charlys. Burger King. All busy and bright as day.

In the camp's food tent, they're serving beans and rice by lantern light.

Around the corner at O'Hara's pub and restaurant the out-of-town diners and the Happy Hour regulars are shoulder to shoulder watching Game 7. Flat screens everywhere. This is a New York Irish joint at the foot of Ground Zero in the early years of the 21st century, and by the hundreds of patches and pictures hanging on the walls, it's safe to say they dote on cops and firefighters here. Ask the large rectangular man working the door about the protesters and he'll tell you that "Some of them are all right." But he'll cock his head in such a way as to make you understand they're clearly not. And maybe you're not, either, bub, what with that notebook open and a camera hanging around your neck. Suggestive cultural illustration? Or scientific proof that 100 percent of bouncing is half mental? Worth mentioning in any case that no OWS protester walked here to watch the deciding game of the World Series.

One street over the guys from Ladder 10 watch the baseball and wait for the bells. Their big rollup door, and the small plaque next to it, is one of the places New Yorkers come when they need a good cry.

So there are no sports in this story. Not really.

On Saturday, winter comes. The rain pours down and the snow swirls and the wind howls and the thunder and lightning flash and crack and in Zuccotti Park they stuff their jackets with newsprint and wrap their boots in foil and hunker down while the tarps snap like gunshots in the gale and everything soaks through. Maybe this is how you win something.

On Sunday it is clear and bright and cold and the sun bounces off the skyscrapers like a searchlight.

Halloween doubles down the weirdness and the political theater, and for every Guy Fawkes mask there's now a princess, a cowboy, a transvestite zombie. Tourists come and go by the hundreds, thousands, a tide of black turtlenecks and digital cameras. Every language and every accent pool and eddy at the crosswalks. "Keep it moving," say the cops. Polite. Firm. "Keep it moving."

The watch commanders and the sergeants huddle in the sunshine on Broadway. Cold, patient, happy for the overtime, they watch the crowds and check their smartphones.

The weekend turnout around the corner at O'Hara's is small. Warm and dry they watch the Giants struggle against the Dolphins in relative silence. You can hear the ring of the cutlery against the plates.

The crowd at the Burger King surges and ebbs, hungry and footsore and loud. High on the lobby wall, on a spattered plasma, the game goes on. No one looks up.

Ask any 10 people in the camp "What's the score?" and they'll beam back polite stares -- or tell you the truth about campaign finance or fracking or the CIA and global banking.

Ask any 10 cops, and six guys pipe up "Miami 14-10."

On Liberty Street the celebrities come and go in their museum-quality SUVs. The drum circle drums. Widens. Accommodates. I see Russell Simmons and I see Triumph the Insult Comic Dog. There's a bagpipe now and an accordion. People sing on all four corners of the block. We shall, we shall, we shall not be moved.

Snowmelt mists and swirls off the buildings like glitter. It rises and falls and rises again. Sparrows flap and preen in the gutters.

Across the street in front of Steve's Pizza a father lines up his children for a snapshot. The sunlight pours down on every one of us, on every son and daughter of America. "Smile," he says, squinting into his camera. "Look like you're protesting something."

Jeff MacGregor is a senior writer for ESPN.com and ESPN The Magazine. You can e-mail him at jeff_macgregor@hotmail.com, or follow his Twitter.com feed @MacGregorESPN.

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