Consumerism is violent. The apologists for ads and products, life styles and brought-to-you-by media are disastrously wrong. The thousands of marketing confrontations that a person must get through daily are not persuasive, clever, or normal. The 50 foot-tall actor wearing a watch and grinning at me - is not my new best buddy, Amen? This is atmospheric assholishness…
The mono-culture of Consumer Society - this corporate economy - can only be created by threatening us with loss of our good looks, status, youth and power. They want us to quietly believe that without their products we will suffer the annihilation of our personal identity.
And what does this psychic aggression have to do with the police I found surrounding Zuccotti Square this afternoon? A longing for a very recent pleasure of freedom from corporate bullying swept through us as we stared at the empty square. When we lived in that little plot of granite, there were no corporations. There were no threats. We had a gift economy. We were being of service to one another. It was a civil revolution. What am I saying? It still is.
What was it that made journalists froth at the mouth and cops come running with their pepper spray on September 17th? At least part of it was - we were starting a new economy. Their products were not inside the square to supervise our desires. And - once Consumerism is established as the dominant economy, it is far easier to militarize police and physically attack those who resist the allegiance to corporations. Yes it is surprising that the shift from psychic to physical violence is that automatic. But sure enough - once Consumerism was banned from a small patch of ground - especially public space in the shadow of Wall Street - that armed police were terrorized and the logos on the sides of the surrounding buildings seemed to angrily glow.
The police are paid directly by big corporations. So they are both city cops and rent-a-cops. They are still spending the 4.5 million given them by JP Morgan Chase shortly after the takeover of the square on September 17th. Was that extraordinary pay-out really a gift to the city to restore order in the face of anarchists? No, of course not. The institution sitting on the top of the present economy saw a clear threat to their scam. The gift economy aspect of Occupy Wall Street was immediately vilified in the commercial press as hippy-esque, bongo-ridden and noble-but-naive. We didn't listen to those people, watching their anger alongside that of the cops. And that was before two thousand Occupy sites erected their tents around the world. We were learning to start a democracy from scratch, and found it fascinating, and still do, and so do more and more people.
How far will police and law enforcement agencies go in attacking those who enter public space and stay there together, these islands of no Consumerism? At what point does a policeman admit that the refusal to cooperate with consumerism is not grounds for violence? If they are violent, then they have made their choice. But we will continue to say (without violence but full of conviction!) that you police are part of the 99% and - we welcome you!
Reverend Billy's Freak Storm" finds our wandering preacher at Occupy London on the steps of St. Paul's Cathedral. We open with the Stop Shopping Choir sings their "99%" anthem, livestreaming from Occupy Wall Street. "Rev sez: There are 2000 occupations now. We don't even have a data-base yet - but we reach each other somehow. We share the single belief that a kind of power must be overthrown, the corruption of our democracy by big banks and corporations. We share our direct democracy hand-signals, our working groups. Mostly - we are doing what revolutions do - we've got the commons and we live there. Sharing, helping, dish-washing, flirting, teaching - this is a frontier after so many years of isolation from one another in Consumerism. Products isolated us. Advertising threatened us into a "product loneliness." Directly living together - it's so basic and yet it is a rediscovery of our power. We must get through the winter... "Reverend Billy's Freak Storm" sermon #3 about the Koch brothers action at Lincoln Center. The First Amendment is back!! A strange faith is brewing for these apocalyptic times. Post-fundamentalist and happy-crazy with a 35 voice choir and worshippers throughout the world -- "The Church of Earthalujah!" began in New York City in 2009. We have cast the Global Warming Devils from the cash machines of JP Morgan Chase and UBS -- the Swiss bank that invests in the Koch brothers and climate change skepticism. In our church we believe that the natural disasters are messages from a living thing and we're teaching each other to listen and pray. Earthalujah! Credits:Camera: Emily James and Leah Borromeo, Editing: Richard Dedomenici
This little film shows Tuesday's simulcast between the London and New York OCCUPY communities. I flew out to the encampment at St. Paul's Cathedral, and we sang the 99% song together, across the Atlantic - what a wonderful moment! That made the whole London visit worth it - when Londoners held up a sheet to show the Stop Shopping Choir from Wall Street. We want to go to OCCUPY communities carrying a message of courage as we head into the winter - and as Wall Street/police wait us out. Give a loved one this gift: help the Stop Shoppers tour world of tent-cities. We'll make media of it for all the 2000 communities. Yes children - Give the Gift that keeps on Occupying. Revolujah!
This Saturday thousands of people around the country are transferring their money from large corporate banks to small banks & credit unions. We've been doing this for some time, check out our own Dragonfly's amazing stealth video during our (successful!) campaign against JP Morgan Chase and their financing of Mountaintop Removal We begin our day at Union Theological's James Chapel on the Upper West Side, after some fervor and an inter-choir rendition of our OWS anthem We Are The 99% (as we gather together) we will accompany people to nearby bank branches as they begin their money moving. Then we head downtown to the Bank of America in Union Square (14th and University Place) where we will enact ritual glorification on a group of people removing their money from that singularly evil institution. Join Us. Dress is festive, transcendent, outrageous. If you plan to move your money or already have and so wish to be glorified please let us know savitri(@) 11 AM James Chapel btwn 120-122 on Broadway 1 PM Union Square corner of 14th St and University Place RVSP on Facebook: Rev Billys
Tuesday, November 15, 7 p.m. - 9 p.m. @ The Tank 151 West 46th Street, 8th Floor, New York City Tickets: $10 at the door RSVP on Facebook: Join critically acclaimed author, KtB editor, and founder Jeff Sharlet and the unstoppable evangelists of anti-consumerism Reverend Billy and Savitri D for a discussion about religion and politics in the Occupy movement and beyond. The conversation, held at the renowned Midtown performance space The Tank on November 15, will be hosted by Killing the Buddha. Savitri D and Reverend Billy lead a New York City-based radical performance community, with 50 performing members and a congregation in the thousands. They are wild anti-consumerist gospel shouters, earth-loving urban activists who have worked with communities on four continents defending land, life, and imagination from reckless development and the extractive imperatives of global capital. Their most recent book, edited by Alisa Solomon, is The Reverend Billy Project: From Rehearsal Hall to Super Mall with the Church of Life After Shopping. You know Jeff Sharlet: the bestselling author of The Family and, most recently, Sweet Heaven When I Die: Faith, Faithlessness, and the Country In Between, a collection of 13 portraits and personal essays on subjects like an accidental anarchist martyr, a hell-house preacher, the last great Yiddish writer, Cornel West, and the nastiest banjo player who ever lived. The Washington Post wrote that Sweet Heaven belongs "to the tradition of long-form, narrative journalism best exemplified by writers such as Joan Didion, John McPhee, Norman Mailer and Sharlet's contemporary David Samuels," and that Sharlet "deserves a place alongside such masters, for he has emerged as a master investigative stylist and one of the shrewdest commentators on religion's underexplored realms." Sharlet is a contributing editor for Harper's and Rolling Stone. (by KtBniks)
Obama compared Occupy Wall Street with the Tea Party, and then called one right and the other left. He doesn't get it. Noami Klein said the Occupy Wall Street is not a place - that it is a state of mind. She gets it. MoveOn made a fundraising offer to OWS, and was turned down by the downward wiggling fingers. Jesse Jackson stood in front of the new medical tent in the square, facing a team of police sent to tear it down. They withdrew. Cornel West must not be a celebrity. Celebrities come once to Liberty Square and then return to their schedules. Dr. West keeps returning. The NY Times says the movement has no anthem. No "Blowing in the Wind" or "We Shall Overcome." Liberty Square emits a roar all day long, singing, drumming, shouting, chanting. Many writers say the movement lacks specifics, as if it is not professional or educated or in the real world of politics. At five weeks, it is still growing across the world. Moral of the story: No-one knows what Occupy Wall Street is. It is a movement. It is in motion. We do know a couple things: We know that public space has been claimed in 950 cities and towns. We know that we have a ritual of consensus direct Democracy that we observe strictly every day. It is functional, but it is also the practice of Democracy, which we know we must learn from scratch. And we believe that 99% of us have a memory of Democracy, somewhere in our lives, and that we want it to return again soon. Rev Billy The Stop Shopping Choir's anthem:
WATCH: Anti-Consumerist Preacher Reverend Billy Talen serves up a fiery sermon against the global economic machine at the ongoing Occupy Wall Street demonstration in downtown Manhattan. There's a term for the present American system: "Totalizing." That means that consumerism/militarism comes all the way across the landscape - into every nook and cranny. It kills all the smaller systems, like the neighborhood economies, the gift-economies. This system is self-propelled to come into the arts, into medicine, into libraries, into our intimacy - and into our children's lives at the beginning of identity. At the Occupation of Wall Street you really feel this. Liberty Plaza is a small park where we say we're free of that system. The difference is so dramatic. We are starting a culture here - a way of life from scratch. It is clumsy and beautiful and frustrating. But no-one regrets being here and everyone knows what leaving this small island means. Go back into America and our freedom is portable, hidden near our hearts.
The latest episode of Reverend Billy's Freak Storm, filmed at Liberty Plaza. Reverend Billy connects occupying banks and #OccupyWallStreet Let's get up from our computer, get out of our cars, come down from whatever fundamentalism keeps our America old and violent and profit-taking - and go down to the public square that sits there covered with pigeon shit and the shadow of a soldier on a horse - and sing the 1st Amendment! Start our culture over! REVOLUJAH!
Reverend Billy's Freakstorm #18 Watch more episodes & subscribe: I visited the occupation of Wall Street late afternoon yesterday, after recording this Freak Storm sermon. What an unusual time we live in. Tropical storms and people storms sweep through the public squares. Climate change and national debt are Devils releasing deadly energy. Leaders in politics seem like ciphers, drained of energy. But Earth defenders are flying, Vendana Shiva, Wangari Maathai, Bill Mckibben - and those kids at Liberty Square.
On the 10th anniversary of 9/11, the Reverend asks "What happened to peace?" On that impossible day when the skyline of New York City collapsed on its southern tip - I watched from a rooftop across the East River - we entered an unexpectedly peaceful eye of the storm. We all fell toward the terrible scene. We fell through tunnels, over bridges. We were cultural first responders and many of us ricocheted over to a park called Union Square, the site of so much freedom fighting in the history of the United States. There, thousands gathered in candle-light vigils on the first nights after 9/11, and this quickly evolved the park into a "people's republic" without police, with an intense series of sing-alongs, rallies, prayer sessions and circles of traumatized but also liberated citizens, having conversations with strangers, passing the "talking stick" from hand to hand. Around us were copy-shop color reproductions of the faces of the missing, with Magic Marker notes by loved ones, "Hurry home Katherine, Bob and Nancy will wait up for you!" Candles and flowers were everywhere, and mementos of a personal nature were left in little shrines: feathers and diary pages, old record covers from John and Yoko. Artists set up easels and painted images of firemen with angel-wings. Break-dancers took turns. Monologists shouted in the trees. Fire-swallowers. Mimes dressed up like the Statue of Liberty. Professors studied this unfolding "original culture." The vortex of expression continued for weeks and weeks. We stood in circles talking about Peace. We passed the talking stick. We felt Peace was among us, as the missing dead, a parallel world of peaceful smiling friends who died that Tuesday, watched us from every surface. Yes Peace is here, we thought. Something we do here will forgive everyone. A large act of forgiveness is possible - the habit of war can be changed. The bombs haven't dropped yet. In the ten years since then, the official violence has been grotesque. Our taxes kill children, with old dead "freedom" rhetoric spoken over the bodies by politicians. At home here in New York City, the 1st Amendment protections that made the Union Square moment possible are strictly hunted down. We have gone to jail for the simple act of shouting or singing in public. Peace - we are told - cannot come from anything but brute force. This infantilizes the citizenry - into consumers only, victims momentarily safe in a culture of fear, in a culture of apocalyptic blockbusters and Tea Party crazies… This is a very dark time. We can only love and work in a parallel world, in local cultures that we can touch and make sense of. We must carefully select when and how to stand up to an energy company, for instance, that walks into town with bank money and drilling equipment. We do have power from that Union Square world we created.