PUTTING HUMOR AND MUSIC IN THAT EARTH ACTIVISM! That is the idea. The song we're dramatising in our shoot is one of our old chestnuts, "Fabulous Bad Weather" - It's like a bouncy tune in which climate change the butch top, and the entire human race is the fem bottom. So we are creating a complete capitulation to a force greater than ourselves, a funny sex comedy but in which the meaning, if you think about it, is absolutely chilling.
We believe that the inability to admit that the Earth has power over us is a unique prejudice of the West. We colonized the Earth for centuries and its a bad habit to break. Every once in a while it comes home how wrong we are. The Fukishima tsunami had the power of 30,000 atom bombs.
The Environmental Movement is puritanical. There is a preference for sentimentality, in the style of corporate advertising. But think of the congress of Madagascar meeting underwater in diving gear to dramatize the rising seas. That is funny, and it is also memorable. We see humor - music - strong public emotions - prayer and dance trances - breakthrough human expression - as the kind of thing that successful social movements always have.
We dedicate our songs to the traditions that we remember from the Civil Rights and Gender Right Movements. Check the drama of the songs of Black Lives Matter; of D'Angelo and Kendrick Lamar and Janelle Monae. We sing in that spirit for the Earth.
Crimes against the Earth are not precisely the same thing as the lurid descriptions of the campaigns that try to stop them. Put it this way - here we are in the picture singing and meditating in the heart of Kayford Mountain in West Virginia. A coal company blew the summit from the mountain, explosively hurling deer and mushrooms and young birds - all life - to their deaths. Then they scraped off the "over-burden" and pushed the refuse into the streams below, burying the mountain stream life under the death-rubble.
As urban people, our exposure to Mountaintop Removal (MTR) coal mining came as dramatic writing like my writing so far in this post. Campaigns against a crime must carry that crime to possible activists, to grow the opposition. Since we are isolated in the city, we get, well, like everyone everywhere gets - so many crimes described to us by hopeful change agents.... But then we traveled to Coal River Valley and met Larry Gibson, Maria Gunneau, Judi Bonds, Bo Webb and the community of Climate Ground Zero gathered around Mike Roselle. They took us on the inevitable sojourn up to Kayford Mountain. Larry and Bo took us hiking into the dry bones of the mountain.
We climbed down into the strange ashy insides of the mountain and all the information, guilt, polemical writing, graphics - all of that became preliminary to this immersion in the violence. The wind and sun were weird. We sang our MTR song at the awful feeling. We were letting ourselves become haunted... And for years after we talked of this afternoon's power - and how primary experience must answer the needs of all the polemics of a campaign.
We miss Larry and Judi and all the heroes of this movement in Appalachia, many of these heroes die so young. With their old mountains, they have been killed...
When we say that the Earth must come up into us, as a source of energy and focus and impact for our activism, Sweetwater Nanauk's painted face tells us this is true.
The NGO staples of policy, strategy, lobbying, electronic petitions, etc. hold us back. Of course we need these things to some degree, but they are not the Earth. They should not be regarded as an important result - these corporate data collections are a big stall.
Our activism needs a spiritual infusion. Sweetwater is a planet crier, from the Killer Whale clan of the Tlingit of southeastern Alaska. She is what we need to pull us from our computers and take us to the streets, take us to the forests and the sea. She is convincing us quickly that we are in such an emergency that MODERATION IS DEATH.
I was honored to talk to her today for our radio show, which has been renamed "The Earth Wants YOU!" I was on the phone here in New York. She was in Seattle, where the kayaktivists and canoes surrounded the drilling rig last year.
Thank you for talking with us, Sweetwater. Your presence puts the Earth-a-lujah into our activism! Sweetwater Nannauck
Does New York City Spray Monsanto's carcinogenic Roundup in your park?http://www.revbilly.com/map
Monsanto's Roundup continues to be the major weapon in New York City's arsenal of herbicides even though the World Health Organization says glyphosate is a probable carcinogen. In fact, the frequency and volume of glyphosate used by New York City has increased since 2013.
Scientific studies have found glyphosate to cause non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and other cancers, birth defects, and celiac disease, allergies, asthma, chronic fatigue syndrome. Glyphosate is persistent in body tissue, blood and breast milk in humans. The non-profit organization, Moms Across America, claims exposure to RoundUp has cause pregnancy problems, including stillbirths.
Because the electronic wallpaper of commentary makes it impossible to communicate a single good idea. We can't have such clarity when everyone points in every direction with digital streaming.
Everything that moves has cursors on it. All things are Selfied, from the evening meal to an ancient Seqouia. So reality is middle-distanced, framed and digitized, pushed to the distance and converted into sparkling mush.
So it's hard to press forward in this bizarro environment with one, single compassionate political action.
This must be at least part of how difficult it is to persuade people that corporate poisons are real. The toxicity of Monsanto and Syngenta and Bayer's chemicals don't show up in our Selfys. The alarming studies and the corporate denials ambush with the same pixels. All we have are the smiling actors in their advertisements and their lawyers' litigations. The one thing that breaks through their fog of sales is actual death. There is this mysterious cancer epidemic. All these dead loved ones. There are the corrupted recommended safety levels for Monsanto's glyphosates, with the government riddled with Monsanto executives, but then - these pesky corpses.
We will accept the testimony of the dead to save the living. Yes Monsanto spy reading this - you will be haunted. That zombie citizen telling you about her final illness - she has an opinion.
This time, in Paris with Antoine du Caune. The show is the popular L'Emission d'Antoine. He invited me 8 years ago to Los Angeles where we invaded a mall together, preached, and in a comic turn of events that entertained on French TV, we got kicked out by mall cops.
The writers who best describe the deadening impact of shopping are the French. Guy Debord of "The Society of the Spectacle", Raoul Vaneigem of "The Revolution of Everyday Life", and Michel de Certeau of "The Practice of Everyday Life" - are three examples of brilliant refractions of consumer culture.
I was invited to talk to Antoine last week, after eight years had passed since our collaboration in LA. He had grown gray-haired and famous, looking very much like Jon Stewart. He called me back last week, as the French struggled to rebound from the Bataclan massacre, playing footsy with the law enforcement overkill of "The State of Emergency" and Hollande's new macho pronouncements. In my talk on the show, before I exorcised his iPhone and flew into the audience, I wove together the state of official fear and the state of constant shopping. Was I convincing? Perhaps I covered up that question's answer by praying for Antoine's soul and crashing into his congregation.
Antoine kept saying, "But we cannot stop shopping, can we? You have been protesting this consumerism for many years. Won't you give up?"
The Earth is not giving up. We appreciate doing what we believe the Earth is telling us to do. What's the good life if not the moral one.
SIGN ME UP FOR THE EVOLUTION REVOLUTION. The skies erupt. The streams become snakes, the sea boils, the mountain rocks crush our memory.
I am a consumer in the "Developed West." I am living inside a thick fortress of rituals which are unacknowledged. My conveniences are extremely repetitive. I walk down the street and thousands of times the mental environment of the USA shouts at me that I am free, that I am happy, that I am very special.
I have seen children who refuse to go gently into that freedom. But they are surrounded. Consumerism hunts them down, promising new Mouse-ka-teers who have the tweener foreshadowings of orgasm.
I go to the window of our apartment and look out. We are watching the sky, which has delivered a six month long Indian summer full of birds and insects from the tropics. Another gigantic freak storm is coming. It seems more intelligent than Pope Francis.
A natural disaster is a living thing that seems to know that the humans were evolution’s mistake.
We are proud citizens worshipping at the altar called "America" and we are layered in unacknowledged ritual.
We suddenly stop. We stop our prayer and turn to look at the front door of the church and there she is, the Earth, what now? Here she comes. Is this a flash flood or a slow flock of rare cancers? Oh no! Evolution spits like lava from the face of Jesus.
We are in the last moments of Christian living. Evolution was more than the fundamentalists could handle. Will we die? Yes that is what this is. This is death. American consumers don’t know what death is because death is not for sale.
Will our children die? Will they remember what we did before they die? How we tried to stop?
Our children are emissaries from the Earth, and the Earth remembers everything, every single life. But it was up to every single life to remember the Earth. We remember her now.
THE SECRET CULT OF THE NORMAL MUST NOW BE CAST INTO THE LAKE OF HELLFIRE. After all the floods fires droughts and typhoons - we have never had a politician not-corrupted enough to say WE MUST CHANGE HOW WE LIVE. Back down carbon-intense industrial ag, cars, "big retail", tourism, war? Well, uh, that's BAD FOR JOBS. "Bad for jobs" translated into common sense means BAD FOR THE 1%.
Let's get 2016 started with some truth. Our convenience is based on ruining the weather. Our god is based on ruining the weather. Our law enforcement is based on ruining the weather. Imperialists have never changed very much while the empire was still making money, but never before have imperialists been threatened with the loss of their lives from the Earth itself. That's the good news gospel. This is our opportunity if we seize it.
Nothing is more crucial to the corporation culture than this idea that our life is normal. Every single purchase of a product is a high-stakes defense of Consumerism. It's why Chelsea Manning is more important than the Sierra Club. The violation of the sanctity of the whole system is what we need.
How do we do that? Maybe we're not violent - so we won't blow up the nearest Dunkin Donuts. We'll do something that's much more taboo. WE WON'T BE NORMAL Happy New Year.
Brother, Sinner, Saint. I used to hunt down and collect brother figures, pummel them with questions, keep them up on a pedestal longer than they wanted and lob more questions. I don't think I ever went to school; more like, I created the situation of being tutored by flotillas of friends who floated into my voracioius orphanage.
Mike Roselle is a throwback for me but such an illustrious one in this desperate year. When he walks somewhere I walk alongside if I can help it and I'll have a question in a moment. Sit down nearby and after a while he can hear it coming I'll tender a subject he might address. Its enough sometimes to get a verbal painting of the Arctic 30 blow by blow, of the order of War and Peace, so vivid and full with tangents to explain motivations of characters in the plot, and at the end like a chaser his friend Cat walks up with the email of Captain of the Arctic Sunrise and suddenly that chapter in my book has its primary source.
Last week I stayed with Mike and let the new year come up Coal River Valley. I washed dishes and stoked the fire and asked questions, and like all my questions in recent years my questions have apocalyptic accents. Mike is more patient with me than he is with the end of the world. He's got wisdom he doesn't know what to do with. His first arrest in the ice above the arctic circle was in 2003. Thanks Mike!