Savitri kneels before a flower in the Queen Bee gown with swirling hive as the crown, while Lena watches from deeper in the grass. Near the Giant's Causeway west of Belfast (the Irish Sea is just beyond the horizon of this picture) are the haunting sea-cliff meadows. the home of last of the Colette's Bee. These are not hive bees, but "solitary bees" that burrow down in the turf of this windy grass and flowers. This year a right wing rich Irish-American is buying the land and converting it to hotels and golf courses.
There is something the Information Age cannot say. The crisis of the Earth is reported to us as numbers. A hurricane has a category number, a minimum and maximum wind speed, and a cost in number of dead and number of billions. This is classic for the dot com era, where public talk is abbreviated, snarky, and a wet cat doing chin-ups can go viral like the 9th Symphony used to.
In each singing ritual on the tour of Scotland and Ireland, bees have descended on our shoulders, wild bees and honey bees. Today we travel to the last habitat of the Colette's Bee, an species endangered by golf courses and second home condos in Ireland's north.
Tomorrow Monday we perform in the City Centre, the old Corn Market, in Belfast, at 3 PM. It was a market of local produce, including honey and beer and all things Irish, which has now been killed by sweatshop retail financed by big banks. Our hosts in this venture are the Friends of the Earth of Northern Ireland.
COPS & BANKERS LOVE THEIR CHILDREN & WE GOTTA LOVE 'EM TOO. The Earth Movement won't move if cops & bankers don't move on their bosses & defend the lives of their loved ones. So ("COPS & BANKERS...) is the opening line from our new song! Talking with activists in Edinburgh last night.
In the 70's, Joan Didion had a realization that overwhelmed her. She was motoring in Los Angeles at the time, working on a movie, and it dawned on her that "narrative doesn't matter anymore" in American culture. She had to pull off the road. I'm an American in Scotland, on my first morning after the flight from New York, and I'm having a double-take in the opposite direction.
Dragonfly, Sarah and Monica - in a moment of terror, a moment that activists know well.
Arrest and detention is imminent because the information about where the protest is taking place is wrong. We thought we were singing outside of a warehouse in New Jersey, on the outskirts of Princeton University, where the trustees of the New York Public Library (investment bankers, slumlords and socialites) had secretly shipped over 2,000,000 books from the 42nd Street Library. And the books ARE there, but something monstrous is there with them...
It was harrowing to hear David Brooks of the NY Times ho-hum the bombing of schools and refugee camps on American national radio (NPR) last Friday. Ten years ago, he gave the thumbs up to an Iraqi War that would inevitably take a heavy civilian toll, with the human cost so obvious from the first moments of "Shock and Awe." Brooks and war-fever buddy Tom Friedman are opinion-makers who brought many traditional liberals to accept their gruesome idea of necessary violence.
Last winter our New York Public Library trustees, 1%ers all, investment bankers and realtors, trucked at least 2,000,000 books from the 42nd Street Library to a storage facility in New Jersey under cover of darkness. The famous "stacks" below the Rose Reading Room were suddenly emptied of physical books.
Our last remaining bit of shame is being dot-commed, with a young girl's pixilated eyes looking back at us from her murder.
I'm watching this atrocity with up to date technology, as I sit here typing. I remember a time when some techno-utopians thought that the global village would tilt us toward peace, as the violence became so vividly fore-grounded, the bleeding too painfully bright red, the searching for loved ones too real, and the eyes. Her eyes are more piercing than ever.
IF WE WANT REAL CHANGE WE HAVE TO REALLY TOUCH. I know that I need to touch and be touched, for lots of personal reasons, including my sanity; I know that I have to touch and be touched to take my activism across the line, to preach and sing in the Stop Shopping performances, and to keep me telling the truth.
Organic farmers hear recipes from the Earth every time they put their fingers in the soil and come up with ten thousand beyond-the-naked-eye animals on their callouses. It's also true that there are secret nature mystics everywhere, from janitors to life coaches. You don't have to be on speaking terms with Druids or the Hopi or Gaia scientists. Lots of folks have their own nature thing figured out, even on painful 3rd Avenue in New York City.
We can bring a tragic Andalusian song to the trucker who loads up the pesticides. We can funky chicken around the limo of the lobbyist as he tries to park. We have very distracting circus arts for the supervisors who vote for the frackers. We also deliver climate research by way of Mongolian throat-singing, although we're only beginning to learn... but already we sense that this will be good for interrupting fossil fuel investors at JPMorgan Chase. We have still-fresh operettas from Zuccotti park to calm the souls of cops.
The same performance arts that are useless products in the museums and Broadway and rock festivals, can be effective in saving the Earth. Only thing is - you have to let the Earth sponsor you instead of a corporation, which is a very different feeling.
These Honey Bee before us, in their hive, surround their queen, and are to move to another garden. They swarmed earlier, breaking from their larger hive, swarming in such a way that they signaled that they want to move, their beekeepers believe, and so as the darkness descends upon us – Azore and Christian will drive the hive to another garden while the bees sleep.
So we are here to pray to the supreme bee-ing for the safe passage of these sleeping buzzy souls. Although we know that we are an imperfect messenger, with our predation on this animal over the years, nearly half gone now in our poisons, still we wish them a good move. In doing so we make a promise that we will struggle to clean up the air and water and soil, to re-wild the farms and invite the Earth back into the lives of both bees and humans.
After all, we bees and humans are an ecosystem of two, partnering these 40,000 years. Tonight, the Stop Shopping Choir put its ears gently on the wall of your hive and we heard your low hum. Tens of thousands of you in this elegant box, restless in your sleep. Do you know you are moving? We know that we also have a restless sleep now, as we face what we have done. What will future Earth give us after what we have forced on the present? If we save the bees we save ourselves. If we manage to save ourselves it is because the bees saved us. We are a good wildness together.
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!”