Place Matters

goldentoadperformance.jpgRevolution needs its plaza, places for songs and shouts. Public space is more and more controlled by the wealthy. Our parks are now “Conservancies” and “Authorities” with their own police forces. As the wealthy take over, our 1st Amendment rights keep shrinking. In Union Square in NYC, a birthplace of labor in the United States, you can’t sing a song anymore. You can play a Woody Guthrie song on your computer that has a line in it about “singing on a grassy spot in Union Square,” but you can’t go do it yourself.

In this Trump time, it is so important that Standing Rock and Black Lives Matter, the Women’s Marches and the Let-Them-In rallies at airports took place. They give us some breathing space, by which I mean shouting and singing space. Every revolt has its iconic gathering places, its pressure points. The Civil Rights Movement had its Pettis Bridge, the highway to Selma, the Lincoln Memorial and the bus-stops of Birmingham. You can think of these places as stages. ACT UP had its Stonewall and Castro. ACT UP had unexpected stages in the offices of bureaucratic buildings, plays in theaters and cabarets, in the White House itself and on the congressional lawn with the AIDS Quilt, a portable space that took control with a quiet shouting imagery and its scale.

In the Church of Stop Shopping we are specializing in banks that finance the Dakota Access pipeline. In New York that means Citi, TD and Wells Fargo. These three killers have thousands of bank branches in the tri-state area and are just begging for our spiritual trespassing.

We will all have to discover our gathering places. Our cities and towns are riddled with “dead space,” – spots where we can gather and talk in that embodied way, with the passion that is beyond computers. We need to be ready to re-emerge and surround the hater. This is his Custer’s Last Stand.