Well - how many miles on public transportation for me yesterday?
Start out early from Hudson, NY, Amtrak two hours down the river to Penn Station, then take the A Train then the F Train to my house in Brooklyn. My Leg hurting - my knee turned it somehow - wondering how hurt I am. Then noon, stiffening up, can't walk, take a cab to meeting with press rep Blake Z, at cafe called The Hungry Ghost at Atlantic and Flatbush. Talk about this fall's run of shows and talk about going to jail with Monsanto as the devil jailer.
After meeting, I take 2-train to upper west side 76th and Broadway, now its 3:30 PM, for my spanish class at El Taller Latino Americano. Stagger out of there feeling loco, now 6 PM. So then I take the 1-Train down the west side to Varick Street in West Village. So now I'm near Film Forum, consider sitting in air-conditioned darkness watching a Hard Day's Night - dropping out of time for awhile, but no - I limp and hobble on worsening leg - but I'm in my hippie cowboy jeans and boots so the pain and suffering is just right, the injured alcoholic rodeo journeyman, Monty Clift in "The Misfits." Monty is dead near my house in the Quaker Cemetery in Prospect Park.
Anyway the bus pulls up I go crosstown straight east to Ave B and visit Steve M in his new apartment. We talk to his cartoonist personal trainer Chris who did Reverend Billy comic book for Green Party mayor campaign in 2009.
Now 9:30 PM take part in a surreal memorial for a recently deceased mother named Jennifer, staged by her sons in the LGBTQ performance fest called "Fresh Fruit Fest." The "Eason Brothers" are a cross-dressing over-ernest folk act but extremely slow, understated, with big gaps of silence. They stand there forgetting what to say while the audience waits. Its a cross between Butoh and Beckett and an Appalachian comedy act. One of the brothers, Felix, he's the ringleader but his two modes are acerbic and awe.... spends much of the show tuning his guitar.
Gradually their faith in this haunted stage act has a huge comic pay-off. The audience suddenly laughs to the point of tears, gasping and rocking back and forth like trees in a stormy wind. There is an over-ernest tap-dancer, very insecure but suddenly brave too - and improv-stomping all over the stage. A father (a young woman in with a Sharpie mustache) who fights to the death with one of the sons over penis size, claiming "I have the smallest penis!" "No I do!" I'm in the front row waiting for my cameo as a death row comedy dance by "Cuckoo-bird the Convict" is crashing among the tourquoise vinyl furniture. The second brother, Dinky, is slouching in a Whistler's Mother black dress, but gorging on deep-fried chicken, and Felix gives me the slightly raised eyebrow that I need to walk up on stage to heal Dinky's upset stomach.
Where do I fit in here? They want a cameo from me. I did the polyester and hair in a little bathroom. (I'd been carrying the garment bag all over Brooklyn and Manhattan.) But now I'm looking back at the audience with disbelief, studying their writhing contorted faces. I'm confused. The dramatic approach is so sophisticated and out there I'm wondering - did their mother Jennifer actually die two weeks ago like they said? Because I took this gig because my mother June also died when she was young and I thought I could lead a prayer, be a good pastor to these young people. Now I'm caught upriver in this ultra futuristic performance art.
Is this the way young people communicate now, in long injured silences? Because this destroys the snarky box of most comedies... I mean its exciting to me, but am I being played for a fool? Or is it perfect for this audience to be taken, out of nowhere, by a televangelist, into a serious funeral?
After the memorial to - possibly - memorial to Jennifer - I'm in a cab back home under a pale yellow moon over the East River. Beautiful. I'm home by 1 AM. Leg throbbing, but fell asleep forgetting to 1) wrap affected area in ice for 20 minutes twice, 2) take Advil and 3) lift my knee above my heart. Though of course my heart could not have been very far below my leg as I slid into the dreams of sleep. Which were probably conservative dreams compared to the day I had.
The word INDEPENDENCE is a Mt. Rushmore word in the American language, up on the mountain with FREEDOM and RETURN ON INVESTMENT (ROI). Look at all the enemies climbing up our mountain: tornadoes, penicillin-resistant bacteria, Honduran children, dying Honey Bees. But I’m safe up here with my new app and Beyonce.
In the 50 years since Viet Nam, after we bombed, strafed and defoliated independence movements worldwide, INDEPENDENCE - the founding psychological profile of our citizenry, turned into its opposite. We take the lie into our bodies. We don’t have fire-works. We have extreme karmic unction: strokes, cancer, and malodorous gastric disaster.
The violence against independence movements of non-Americans is now inseparable from the war on the natural world. The powerless at the edges are harvested for the 1% at the center, whether its people or animals or ancient trees. Or Honey Bees.
July 4th isn’t a celebration for most people. It’s a warning that there are still many of us who are so insecure in our own independence that we see the independence of others as a deadly threat.
The Peoples Climate March planning meeting at Tishman Auditorium last night was a good step forward. What a big march opposite the United Nations climate summit on Sept. 21st would accomplish isn't clear, because big marches haven't worked for a long time, but the coalition in the room included electricians and janitors and train conductors, urban farmers and scientists and puppeteers. The possibility that we have here a reprise of the gathering in Seattle in November of '99, or the Wisconsin capital rotunda in February of 2011 or the first weeks of the Occupy movement – very tantalizing. We live for the human bee-hive, the whirling community, the moment of creativity in this age of corporate darkness.
And yesterday our hometown newspaper the New York Times seemed to finally catch on to the insecticide companies, with stern words for the bee-killing Neonicotinoids. The gray lady says it straight until it can't quite mention Monsanto, which suggests a struggle there behind the scenes, but at least there IS a struggle. It may be that the elites are ready to turn on the GMO-plus-poison companies the way they once subdued the tobacco cartel and are trying to reign in the big banks. Sometimes you wake up in the morning and get a picture of your daughter in the forest and you just want to go for the good version, you know? Like the old Johnny Nash song, “It’s gonna be a bright, bright sunshiny day!”
In our work we have noticed: This is the narrative that people quickly make sense of, much faster than the larger apocalypses, like climate change, species extinction, the population and consumption and war spirals. For years we have lacked the earth-shaking thriller that explains everything else. That is why Hollywood has been able to sell us a blockbuster apocalypse everything month or so, with some Captain Americas or Supermen flying in at the last minute to save us. Somehow that isn't a realistic preparation for what is actually happening to us. But THIS story: The villainy of Monsanto, the instrument of death that is the seed-soaking Neonicotinoid insecticides, the struggle of the Honey Bees to touch a thousand flowers and touch us all... Here we have the STAR WARS that the environmental struggle hasn't had since Rachel Carson. My vote is for pushing against Monsanto and Bayer and Syngenta and the whole neo-liberal factory farming GMO regime. Let's be too outlandish to be called mere "protesters." That part of ourselves that we've held quietly in reserve, that collection of courage? Anybody hear me? Unpack that now and plan a nonviolent direct action. Not a march and rally. Not protesting. A nonviolent direct action that is so dramatic that the first thing people think of is: How will the bees get back to their hive? And how will I survive? (THOSE TWO QUESTIONS ARE THE SAME QUESTION.) HoneyBeeLujah!
WE HAVE A SHOW-DOWN THAT WILL DEFINE WHAT WE ARE. The profitable poison versus the people. (This is a very hands-on version of climate change vs. the people, and that is part of this fight's importance.) For almost a decade the EPA has not moved on Neonicotinoids, but of course the EPA is rendered goofy by the pressure of so many Monsanto people in its offices. Out in the world we have beekeepers, flowers and bees. In the capital we have millionaire masturbators. The trick is to draw them into battle. How do we draw a line between us? The corporate marketers are brilliant cultural analysts. They fuzz the border between us. Bayer, Syngenta and Monsanto hold "Bee Health Summits." They offer themselves as our benign leaders with images of bees, flowers and huggy children. Their conscience policy is - kill the bees while pretending to love them, and while financing RoboBees to replace them. We keep thinking, "Can they be that evil?" Yes, they are.
EVERYTHING WE KNOW ABOUT NEONICS IS AWFULhttp://grist.org/news/everything-we-know-about-neonic-pesticides-is-awful/
Stop Shopping Choir members and friends at the Mermaid Parade on Coney Island. -- Well we've been discussing gender switching and species-switching by activists. This parade is dedicated to ocean life, the romantic gene-splicing that makes the Mermaid. The Honey Bees are all over this picture, a bit hard to see. I see undersea life, cabaret coral, fish kings and star fish... The Earth revolution is sourcing here. This is sexy AND important to survive, and unites with Carnavale events, indigenous ritual, and all the Doo Dah and Burning Man parades... We're onto something here. We're intuitively moving toward it... Give me an Earthalujah!
Now that our run at Joe's Pub is concluded I turn to the computer and find my friend Keegan arrested for impersonating cops. Oh, the costumes of activists, trying to appropriate the authority that has gotten out of control. Then I thought of our strange year, this bee cult we started. The authority we confronted was Harvard, the pomposity of scientists there secretly getting money from the Pentagon to replace bees with robots... RoboBees. What?
Costumes take the predator police momentarily off their scent, off their prejudice as to types, and adds a sense of humor. They are slightly less apt to hand-cuff you if they are laughing. You don't often see laughing cops cuffing protesters. It's all theater! The picture here, after our singing invasion of the RoboBee laboratory - we can see the vogue-ing of the Stop Shopping Choir. It seems that we have practiced drag queens in our midst. Gender-switching and species-switching. C'mon cops, try to catch us!
Our fundamentalism will always have us drowning, in denial to the end, preaching about surviving all this extreme weather. But the wilderness rises up our legs, unlaughing, eating us alive. Right-wing apocalyptic Christianity may try its vaudeville routine as the water rises, because turning your deathbed into a garish comedy is its style, but all Americans have the same contract with the lonely, angry military god. We all have our chance go down into the suffocating wildness with only a sad reality show of our last moments. We are looking for eternity, re-runs, syndication, and profits that silently come into our Paypal account.
Profits are the form that fundamentalism takes now, the wars that support it are just a very expensive form of last minute shouting before drowning. We were supposed to follow a pillar of fire across the wilderness, but it's worse than GPS. The flood put out the fire and the god disappeared like a Wall Street crook in a Dassault jet. We wanted the eternity we were promised. We wanted to slay the natives and settle down. We are still trying to go to church as the water rises. We want our eternity so badly, like a drug-like sexual encounter, like a billion dollars appearing in the seaweed as it swallows us. The Earth is pushing us into the sky for our last words, and this is a speech with no money in it.
Victoria, Casey, Hadar, and Vincent - accepted "Fabulous Sainthood" in the Church of Stop Shopping yesterday. These four sacred activists are among the Cooper Union students who took the school president's office and refused to leave, ultimately living there for 65 days. Our HoneyBeeLujah services are just around the corner in Astor Place, and we have a special appreciation for standing up to institutions of higher learning who turn into real estate empires with college presidents paid like CEO's. Trespassing in the upper reaches of these places warms our heart. We were arrested for preaching from the rooftops of NYU buildings more than ten years ago, when we were trying to save the Poe House on 3rd Street from NYU expansion. It was the residence where Edgar Alan wrote The Raven. So we have explored these highfalutin methods. I believe that the powerlessness that students feel with the remote hugeness of universities was - here in New York at least - assuaged by the seizing of executive offices by these saints. And even as they conducted interviews from their top floor corner office, for instance with Amy Goodman at Democracy Now, they always took us through the issues of transparency, tuition and debt and the consumerizing of students - with a light touch. You can see it in their laughter here.
In the young years that I lived in Minnesota and the Dakotas. I’d return again and again to the end of a dock to stare up, or take a hillpath to a lookout, my listening point. The main thing I wanted was to be free of others and to look out… I was meditating toward the north and west, where I would see the night sky arrayed out there endlessly above the icy sweeps. I didn’t even want to call it the Rockies or the Arctic - I felt strangely nourished by that mystery.
I loved my listening point in the winter when the north wind made the evergreens give off that soft whistling sound. I could imagine the big forest cats, the wolves and their full moons and the great white owls. They were my fabulous gatekeepers to another world. I knew that if I traveled far enough into this vast space that the thousands of rules that were being assembled for my young life would disappear. The measurements, like “millions of miles” would become useless. All human shouts died on the edge of the crushing silent music that swept up to space.
I believe my listening points offered me an invitation to work free of the culture being forced on me. I could glance in that northerly direction while sitting with my workbook in school. At twelve years old that was Mellette School in Watertown, South Dakota. The schoolyard was turned away from the prairie that disappeared into the ice and stars, but I could sense its presence and feel better ….and be better prepared to cast a cold eye on the education I was getting. The story of history taught in school was like a loud shirt with a missing sleeve; my beloved unknown land became the Northwest Passage, or the last scene in Dr. Strangelove, or - constantly – sentimental versions of the natives. But I was confident of my escape. I knew that I could point myself northwest after school and I would hear an incoming counter-story.
Now as an older person I watch the arctic melting. The unknowable top of the world has been meddled with. As a life-long hunter of new culture, I’ve had to move my listening point to increasingly unprecedented scenic views. Now I must find my howling wind in a cubic inch of soil, or a rare bird a thousand miles off its range, or an orgasmic flash of nature in our bed. The northern lights show up in my life on the sly, a gift of intuition, a surprise from an unknown artist, like catching Charley Parker or Jackson Pollock before they got famous. I still believe that my cultural night sky is hiding somewhere, but the escape to freedom is through a shell-game of dazzling space junk.
The unknowable beasts who once saw human beings as wandering loners in the far distance, tramping through the snow with their guns on their backs – these animals are in flight now like we all are. A few weeks ago, in early May, a roaming female wolf was shot by a farmer in Iowa. The newspapers marveled that the lone wolf got so far south. I wondered if she was searching for her listening point.