That’s what I’m facing, a return to the beginnings of the idea of Reverend Billy, a return to his first church – the pavement. This time not so much in Times Square, where homeless citizens sleep in doorways. The sidewalk preacher’s new church is the front door of billionaires on East 60th Street.
The Central Park Conservancy is overseen by about 70 trustees. Among them are the world’s biggest gamblers – real sinners who desperately need the advice and comfort of the Church of Stop Shopping. Take for instance – the man who made billions betting on the pain and suffering of millions of Americans when he hedged the housing bubble, the eviction and mortgage fraud bubble, of the late naughts.
Such a legend of depravity as John Paulson hangs in the air at East 60th Street. He is an untouchable. He lives somewhere around the park, and maybe he comes to the conservancy office once a year, who knows? He has given millions to the conservancy. He has said that the park is a dreaming place of his boyhood, but now he allows his park workers to spray the playgrounds and picnic areas with Monsanto’s carcinogenic herbicides.
You say he doesn’t even know about it? Well they say he jogs in the park most days, and lives in a townhouse on the east side, somewhere around the conservancy offices. It is more important to ask, why would another Conservancy trustee, Mitchell Silver, who is the Commissioner of the Parks Dept of New York City – be so complacent about the poisons. His deputy commissioner told us (the Coalition Against Poison Parks) that there is a minimum safe dosage for RoundUp. What? What study said that? No scientist that doesn’t work for Monsanto ever proved a safe ingestion of this toxin, not of any amount.
No, Silver and his people is as close to the death struggle of poisoned everyday people as Paulson was to evicted home-owners in 2008, when he made $4 billion in 12 months.
So a shout in the street is my media again. I was in Times Square in the 90’s with the Naked Cowboy and the Black Hebrews, and now I’m here. But comparing the two church sites, this place feels much stranger. It is quiet here. There are no shouts here. Only the Romanesque facades of money, layered in law enforcement. Where will my shout go? Maybe my echo will wend its way through the airshafts of the super-rich.
Perhaps my echoes will somehow ascend the elevator into the building and trip something in the brain of the conservancy staff. Perhaps the Monsanto chemicals, banned in so many countries, really is the asbestos and lead and Marlboro murder of the future? Somebody was shouting about those killings too, when everyone was making too much money to hear.