Note: This message was transcribed from a phone conversation with Reverend Billy while he was in jail.
Approaching Tompkins Square, I was planning to initiate a tree sit for the weekend during the People's Climate March and preach from the crotch of the tree. I got to the tree and couldn't climb it. I tried to shimmy up the trunk, but sure enough I felt a muscle snap in my right leg like a big rubber band. I dropped back down on the wire mesh floor of the orange truck. I felt the soul of Bendy Tree with multiple amputations. I found myself getting progressively depressed as I talked to the neighbors who knew the tree. Everyone there knew Bendy Tree. We cared for Bendy Tree.
BENDY TREE from Thompkins Sq in NYC's E Village, threatened by well-meaning chain saws. Called old/dangerous, the tree that bends horizontally is set for destruction. Bendy Tree symbolizes the independent thinking of the E Village. In the tradition of the New York cops, the only way to take down this living thing is to kill it. But a community of creative and compassionate people could make an area for the tree to fall, if it must.
A week off. A thousand orgs & ads everywhere. Orange t-shirted volunteers with sign up sheets. "The Biggest Climate Change Parade." "Change the World! Sign up Now!" As one friend said, "We have to support this. What if a million people showed up?" And so the elusive Woodstock Moment is dreamed of. That means that we are ready to try again, after the experience of Feb 15, 2003, when millions DID show up, in 700 cities, opposing the War in Iraq, and we were labeled a "focus group" by the uber consumerist Geo Bush.
We've been touring the farmers markets of New York, working with the Organic Consumers Assocation, old friends and among the first to forcefully oppose GMO factory farms, pesticides and of course they shout HoneyBeeLujah! We will perform at the Bee-In at Bowling Green on Saturday the 20th, with many beekeepers and such joining in. The choir and I will hold forth at 4 PM Saturday and its family friendly. Meanwhile, yes, COOK ORGANIC NOT THE PLANET.
Nehemiah and I spent the afternoon in the cage. They came down into the subway and snatched us. Got out after nightfall. They took half of our toad-heads as souvenirs, or "arrest evidence," but then let us go. Very grateful not to be in the Tombs today. Brooklyn seems like a beautiful dream. I'm not getting better at jail as I get older. It's awful. But it does feel like the right way to begin The Church of Stop Shopping fall campaign. The cruel illogic of defending the earth-killers while rushing to neutralize and hand-cuff a group of nonviolent activists... Extinct amphibians handing out information about Chase Bank investments and shouting and dancing a bit... this warrants the charge of "Riot?" Our arresting officer read the charges to us in the cruiser on the way to the station. He said, "Disorderly Conduct and Conspiracy to Riot." What? Did we do that when said "Let's hop like ancient toads around the bankers..." It feels like the right place to start because we must personally feel how tortured and rigged this is. We walked into that reverse gravity and got swept up. Start with that. The earth-killers proceed, the bankers direct the police. The propertied oppose the living. The conformed confront the misfits. We know where we stand. Trying to survive is conspiring to riot. Earthalujah!
It seems as if Syria and Washington are mirror images of one another: impossible partisanship, corruption, lack of fear of war in fact acceptance of bloodshed and acceptance of slaughtered children at the hands of long-distance missiles and drones...
Life passages like birth, good fortune, love, a friend's death - invite us to step back and take that panoramic view of our lives. Something from the terrible summer of murderous cops and beheadings and the Earth's ongoing disasters has run straight into the good things, like receiving such gifts from you our electronic congregation (as well as physical neighbors on Sherman Street in Brooklyn) so that now we can go to Ferguson and sing and go to Monsanto's headquarters and have an organic and very public Thanksgiving meal. So, despair and radical change, the past and the future are dueting, like our emotions during a life event.
Things are going so badly now in the world and in our country that our activism feels like we are laying down a marker for a future that we can barely see. But life beyond the corporate state will be made unimaginable by the corporation. Of course. That is marketing’s job. So now our imagination needs your imagination. We'll have to keep each other going for awhile, and it might feel like our feet are off the ground.