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Invisible Mountain

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Photo by John Quilty

Photo by John Quilty

It was so clear, the moment that 280 million year old mountains came to New York City. I think it happened during the Iceland volcano, that Dr. Wizard project that turned Europe into a slumber party comedy. The old deco apartments in midtown became cliffs. The sky started scraping back at the big banks, the sky-scrapers got sky-scraped.

It was a movie we all sat down for but then we couldn’t find the projector. We thought we were in the media age but life itself made a comeback. In the old days we always kept the earth on the other side of the Holland tunnel. But then coyotes started taking taxis down the Joe DiMaggio Memorial Highway. It’s just more of that very unsettling Other Becomes Mother. The earth is taking over finally from the governing species that couldn’t stop consuming it. And the human species is taking over from the banks and corporations who couldn’t stop consuming the consumers. And my neighborhood pushed the highway back and let the children play in front of the bodega.

The earth revolution is the human revolution. Revolutions by Americans were impossible after a while – they were too easily simulated. Uprisings became corporate marketing campaigns for emulsifiers and car wax. But now we get to join the other species and they are showing us the way – they’re fighting for their lives.

On Sunday we had a “Life After Shopping Church” show that dealt almost exclusively in showing things that were invisible. We sang mountain songs in a city that won’t even let hills have their curve. We sang at the Great White Way because a third of Times Square is lit up with the dirty coal of mountaintop removal, and we need to see that dirt. We want to know about these invisible things. We have huge buildings in NY that JPMorgan Chase keeps empty. The homeless New Yorkers see all this sheltered emptiness hovering over the street. It’s for tax reasons, or investment strategies, or something – more invisibility.

We went to the bank lobby, where the money of ordinary citizens goes to blow mountains up. We walked to the bank lobby and stood in the middle of the blue-glowing cash machines. We didn’t know what to do. Our killer is camouflaged. The poison-tipped cursor moves behind an ash cloud of smiles. The poison is a sweet-tasting treat that makes us forget that we are the earth. We are the earth. We are mountains. And a mountain forest is in the ecstatic state of filling up, mutating, singing, engorging, releasing…No ATM lobby can completely empty itself of this magic.

We stood there inside a ribbon of cancerous mud from Coal Valley, West Virginia -which the building superintendent began to vacuum with a long tube. We stood there and began to sing inside the unseen mountain. Have you been on the Appalachian Trail? Isn’t it a special sound, when you call out in a mountain canyon? The way the echo of “Earth-a-lujah!” comes back and you sense the ears and eyes and beating hearts in the mountain.