I wore my long johns so that I could sit in the Tombs, a cold jail even if its 70 degrees on the surface. So I had my baptist hanky out right away as we approached the front door of the Central Park Conservancy – that dabbing off of sweat only made me seem more like a wearied-by-the-spirit preacher. Then as we walked up to the billionaire’s club – a surprise - the police and well-dressed security types, faded away. This made me sweat just a bit less.
It showed us that in the billionaires part of town, the Upper East Side of Manhattan, between Park Avenue and 5th Avenue on 60th Street, the police work for their overlords. In another part of town the cops will walk by the crowd and the Stop Shopping Choir and push me over and hand-cuff me. Then I’m led away while the choir sings our gospelized version of the 1st Amendment. This has been going on for 15 years.
But yesterday I remained free under the CPC’s “martyrdom management,” – a more nuanced approach by the marketing department of the very rich. We began to sing and shout about poisons in the parks, starting with “Monsanto is the Devil,” from our new record.
Yesterday was about secrecy… the secrets of modern personal fortunes. Yesterday was also about the secrets of poisons dispersed in nature, that nature being the Central Park foliage and lawns and promenades.
High society New York style, of course, must have secrets. The castle has a wraith of mist, with the princess swirling briefly by a high window. That’s the classic cover of those bodice-ripper books that after-work nurses read on the subway. Funny how the cheapest pop culture can accurately catch the essence of the modern governance…
This is essentially the Central Park Conservancy’s presentation to the hoi polloi, and to the ten singers and Elvis impersonator dogging their doorway with the Tiffany glass awning. We look like a subway car of people who stumbled into the rich part of town, but we ara a threat. Our little theater company’s lawyer has submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to the NY Parks Dept that is well-made and legally binding. We demand to know when and where of the spraying by the city of Monsanto’s carcinogenic herbicide “RoundUp” is incomplete. The city showed us where the poisons were sprayed on the African and Hispanic citizens, the working poor and new immigrants – but where the rich live in Manhattan and in Brooklyn around Prospect – we got big blanks. The conservancies refused to cooperate. They should have given us the information last October. Our map on the website Revbilly.com has a Joker-like question mark on Central Park. Secrecy.
The largest gift the park ever got came in 2012 from John Paulson. The gift was a cool $100 million. Paulson is a god of secrets. He used the credit default instruments invented by Blythe Masters at JPMorgan Chase, to “short the housing market.” Let’s say that again. Paulson created hedge funds where he and his speculators could take bets that the housing bubble would burst. He made $4 billion that year as millions of families lost their homes. He made a market that was secret because he invented it, a definition of the waves of absconded wealth in recent decades.
So we sang and shouted for a couple hours. My sermon was all about secrecy. The bullhorn made nice echoes in this canyon of billionaires. The snuck in an out of our harmonies. We tried to give them information on the sidewalk but they scurried off. Savitri got into fascinating conversations with clumps of lunchtime workers, who drifted near us, smoking and smiling – but maybe not quite clapping or shouting Earthalujah!
They will privatize this sidewalk as soon as they can, I suppose. Meanwhile the laws of the land reach this far: shouting citizens in the doorway. We’ll be back. And of course they know that – because the police being there as we arrived indicated that they had read our emails.
Concservancy people – listen to me. If we’ve been sprayed by RoundUp, a carcinogen that is banned in scores of countries. And insiders in the Parks Dept. have whispered to us that we have been sprayed by the stuff… we need to know about it. The rich can’t keep secrets.
Photo by Kate Bingham