Reverend Billy In Secret Meeting At Trump Tower

trump_savi_stare.jpgWe’re in a strange place, a garden inside Trump Tower.  We are facing blank pages with our pens.  There are 15 of us. Savitri D and myself and singers from the Stop Shopping Choir and friends who heard about it. We’re waiting for the timekeeper to say “Write.”  We will write nonstop for 45 minutes. 
 
The Trump Company is required to let us sit here under this 700 feet high slab of gold-tinted glass.  Years ago, Trump agreed with the city to keep this garden open to the public, in exchange for 24 extra floors.  This is Donald Trump’s business headquarters and sometimes home, with body-armored men at the door with submachine guns.
 
Being inside Trumplandia can be unnerving.  For the New Yorkers who join us in the tower garden, Trump has been the city’s unsavory clown for decades.  We encountered the gold lettering of his name everywhere and we glimpsed posturings with hair in the distance.  When we take the five flights of gold-plated escalators up to the garden, we suffer a full-body immersion.  The gold mirrors make a dim, almost soupy light.  God it’s ugly.
 
“Write!”  We all start scrawling. What we write might be called secrets, first-thoughts, recovered memories, streams of consciousness.  I say “secrets” because we don’t share our writing with one another.  Not yet, anyway.  Now in our fifth week, we haven’t read our work out loud or handed off the journals.
 
We’re focused on pre-Gutenberg writing.  We use the older technology of longhand-and- paper. We’re spending time on the nearside of pixels, streaming, virtual reality. This home-made culture of our little band of citizens, at the site of world-wide piracy and hokum and treason – assumes that something has gone radically wrong in our basic social communicating. But it is inside the sentences that you and I speak all day long, let’s admit it.
 
To borrow from science fiction, there a space-time rip in our language. The Trump tweets, Russian hacks, and Koch trolls seem more like symptoms than causes. Our failure is more devastating than Donald Trump. As a nation, and as a species, we don’t know how to communicate with ourselves. Our town crier function is silenced. The attack-noise of products and law enforcement and fear – make our public media conceal more than reveal.
 
Otherwise we would have written or spoken something in public about the racism, compelling enough to Out The Hate. Why haven’t we shown that families must be protected? How can our defense of life itself be demoted to “issues” and “policy” and “write your congressperson?” This 700 foot wall is crawling with Devils!
 
We don’t need to be great writers. We need to say something. Where is the art of effective protest, the howl, the arts as a starting-over point, or call it just plain I-don’t- buy-it independence. Freedom of expression has become as irrelevant as White House press conferences. 
 
This is why we are turning inward for awhile. Margaret Meade said that revolutions start with a few people talking at a table. We’re in the thoughtful inhale before the talk. The stakes are so high and the hour is so late. We’ll spend some time tilling the soil of silence.
 
There are little weeds in the cracks of the pink granite floor of this so-called garden. There is moss and mold along the walls. We talk to the weeds at the end of our 45 minutes. We ask the weeds to remember us as they dismantle this modernist slab. Can we be super-weeds in your forest?
 
Culture starts from inside, quietly under the surface, like a seed in the soil.  The first breath of a thought, before the socializing starts, is the protest that will grow to bury this wall.We sit together at tables in the garden, the police and the tourists eyeing us from the edges of the gold decor.
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My Preaching Heart

19787252_10154541031195974_9162927819115128198_o.jpgFive days ago my ticker began tocking when she should be ticking. Instead of the reggae beat I was born with, with the beat "one TWO three FOUR" the beat converted to "ONE two THREE four" and pumped 25% less blood. This is called fibrillation or heart arrhythmia. 

In my life I've been preaching on street-corners and in bank lobbies, trying to find the evil and shout back at it. I made my voice louder by working with an opera singer, vibrating my heart with the rest of my body. He taught me to make my whole body a big woofer and my volume doubled. I did this because the police kept taking my bullhorn. My cardiologist says I have to learn to carry some kind of stress-reducing walking yoga into those "contested spaces"... 

Last February I had a real episode, with a jolting in my chest. I took the bus to the local hospital and the busdriver took the whole bus to the front door of the ER. She said her father had a bad heart. I spent a miserable three days and nights in the cardiac ward, getting the "fix", with needles in the back of my hands at 4 AM, pills and bad food. Hospitals!

I suddenly knew I had to leave. It was the middle of the night. I walked out. They threatened me, "If you die outside the door we can't be responsible!" I walked home in the dark with my heart tossing and turning. When I got home I was dizzy. I crawled in with the warm, dreaming Savi and Lena. When I woke up my heart was beating, no - I was beating - on the reggae beat I was born with.

And this morning I'm back on the beat again. This time I cut out the hospital part. This picture near my desk, with the smiling heart, is Lena's.

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Trump Tower Earlier Today

19390830_10154479935915974_7668096810246771882_o.jpgSix of us at two tables. Impossible questions, unspeakable acts. The presentation of a completely opaque personality, exteriorizing constantly and on into the twittering night, but in such a way that nothing at all is revealed. Impossible questions, unspeakable acts. Trump Tower scrapes the clouds, all surface, all presentation, but oddly lonely. We huddle in the fifth floor garden letting intimate memories rise in us, into our fingers and onto our journal pages. Strange that with our tender painful memories in the shadow of this man's tower, we have the sensation that we are silencing him.

 

 

 

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Chaleena Lyles

1497891880-charleena_lyles.jpgNow a police murder of a pregnant mother - this racist violence just goes on and on. Yesterday in Seattle, Charleena Lyles was with her three children ages 1, 4 and 11. She had called the police to report a burglary. She was shot within 15 seconds of entry by two white police. This takes place after the acquittal on all charges of the murderer of Philando Castile in Minneapolis, also in front of children. The cop shot Philando through the window of his car as he reached for his identification. And now, with career racists in positions of Attorney General and President, communities of color cannot feel safer from federal monitoring of local police violence. 

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Radical Ritual

reverend-billy-2017-06-15-v03VILPRINT_WEBWEB.jpgOur RADICAL RITUAL AT TRUMP TOWER is free writing gatherings on the 5th floor where the city mandated a public garden. We express our intimate privacy in the shadow of Evil. This may be the seed of all change, of revolutionary change. Emma Goldman reminds us that just a few people sitting and talking begin the process of basic change.

It can also be said that each of these few revolutionaries had to first know their own secrets. They found a way to their own personal freedom. They know what that will look like. And then they found others to share those discoveries with.

We need to do that now. The new knowledge of personal freedom will have to be discovered in the oppressive presence of this Evil. So we sit there with Trump Tower above us, and wait for our souls to testify.

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Trump's Wall Keeps Tumbling Down

Reality-Winner-via-Reuters-640x480.jpgReality we knew you were out there: a person with a conscience who responds honestly to the world that she sees. Now Chelsea Manning comes back to us and you go forward. There will always be a truth-teller. The secrets and lies cannot keep the conscience imprisoned. The truth is a living thing.

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Writing In Trump Tower

trump_gold_labyrinth.jpgA radical ritual begins in Trump Tower.  New York City  artist/activists Reverend Billy and Savitri D. of The Church of Stop Shopping scribble towards freedom under the gaze of the Secret Service.   June 6th marks their 12th day of free writing in the POPS (Privately Owned Public Space) Community Garden on the 5th floor of Trump Tower in midtown Manhattan. The Garden is public space and protected by the First Amendment. Around mid-day, most weekdays, they write quickly for 45 minutes in long-hand. The project will continue until the ritual is completed. If you are interested in joining, RadicalRitual@Revbilly.com. 

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The Way That Earth Makes Life

18766397_10154428354280974_6376228378343306729_o.jpgAMAZING - I'M TELLING YOU ITS BETTER THAN GOD, AMERICA OR TRUMPS WALL. When I wake up in the morning I walk out in the dark and listen to the birds. I promise the singing that starts up in the dark that I believe in the Earth's life, this completely mysterious force that creates everything. If I start there, then the sun rises and fighting the battles of the world falls into place. Loving life means sheltering the immediate life around me, my daughter and my life-partner, my neighbors and the Stop Shopping Choir. I love the soil and water and sky, the living beings of the Earth. 

From that foundation of life, fighting racism and sexism and consumerism comes naturally. Those things are essential to life. Its not like they are second or third in a list of priorities, because when I wake up and love life, the absence of fear immediately faces down these "isms," which depend on fear. In the Life faith, justice isn't an add-on, its basic to consciousness. I get into trouble if I start my day with systems forced on me in my youth, like Christianity, Capitalism, and Patriotism... These systems begin with a Trump's wall, a defense against unfair life, which after all has death waiting within it. My experience is that if life is trusted from the first moment of my day, then living makes sense. Earthalujah!

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Trump Is The Ultimate Frankenstein

09082016_Trump_Megaphone.jpgTRUMP IS BEING PAID MORE TO DROP THE PARIS AGREEMENT THAN TO KEEP IT. It is hard to imagine that someone would run for president for this reason and this reason alone. Think about it. He likes his sexism and racism - he even likes his incompetence - because the most unimaginable thing of all is hidden behind these evils. He is a pathological capitalist. The suffering and death that he causes are simply his work, he is ready to adjust to the pain of others, even children, because his only measurement of experience is making money. He is the ultimate Frankenstein of the stop and shop culture. He is paid more to kill children with rising sea-levels and drought, disease, floods and wildfires. He is paid more to trigger an apocalypse than to listen to science or the wise elders of earth cultures. He will die rich and many will die poor. That's the art of his deal.

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Memorial Day Message

18813844_10154408748685974_5896579368922653920_n.jpgGoogle is the pillar of fire leading us to the promised land where we kill the people who got there first. The corporations figured out that our past is a commodity. We should pay for it. Follow the pillar of fire and after the killing is over, well then we can go shopping. 
Our national dementia has us drawing a blank. We log in to our exterior brain which someone else owns. Oh, to think for ourselves again! That would be to painstakingly re-learn a long forgotten mother-tongue.
This is Memorial Day 2017, in Trump America, and we demand the freedom to remember. We demand to remember the many promised lands that were not murderous. We will revisit the peaceful visionaries before they became pixels on sale. 
Oh remember! Remember! The pleasure of remembering! You are real. You are flesh and hair and smell and desire. You are a heart and soul and love.

To return to reality is radical! And it is time to be radical Americans again!
 
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