How to deal with Trump? A sermon by Rev Billy

United States

Earthalujah, children! The Church of Stop Shopping greets you! I’m Reverend Billy, and today’s sermon is – how to deal with Trump?

We are a group of activists who risk arrest together and then we sing about it. We offer unasked-for concerts in places like Monsanto’s labs and Trump Tower. Then we make songs out of these ‘spiritual trespassings’. We’re from New York City and like everyone in the Apple, we’re wondering how Trump got out of the city zoo?

On the last 10 days of October, the ‘church’ will zig-zag across the sceptred isle in a bus with coffin-like bunks. The name of our tour is The Trump Depression Hotline.

There are weeds and mossy living things coming out of cracks in the walls. Senior officials in the Church of Stop Shopping determined that these weeds are the ancestors of the forest that will eventually overwhelm this 58-flight gold-tinted presidential erection

We were wondering what it would be like if the tour were Brits in a bus in New York. We imagine a bus-full of No Third Runway activists, hexing gentrification projects, visiting rooftop honeybee hives and offering concerts in the Metropolitan Museum because it accepts money from Exxon.

What we expect when we arrive in Britain is a bus-full of opinions about Brexit – and we will offer our opinions about Donald Trump.

We are the Reverend Billy and the Church of Stop Shopping, after all, and he is the King of Consumerism. He glances at the objects around him, especially the women, and mind-beams his brand, TRUMP, upon them.

If it’s possible to find a positive in this POTUS, it’s that he makes us aware of how radical we must be. Many middle-class American consumers are feeling an urge deep inside, to save their lives from the consequences of this guy.

The ‘entertainment fascist’ studied the broken people at his beauty contests and casinos and bullshit get-rich seminars, the citizens robbed silly in the Bill Clinton-George Bush-Tony Blair neo-liberal era. You have to admit that Donald Trump was willing, in his compassionless way, to understand his public.

 DeeDee Halleck
28 September: Reverend and Billy, Savitri D, Dragonfly (in red afro) and members of the Stop Shopping Choir in a "power prayer" at front door of Trump Tower, midtown New York. Photo: DeeDee Halleck

The depressed lefties of the US failed to reach out: and that’s part of what I mean when I suggest that Trump invites our necessary radicalism. We have to talk to everyone.

In the church, we’ve been working our way back to the most consumerized of consumers, tourists and cops. It started last winter, when we discovered that there is a public garden inside Trump Tower. Trump signed a deal with the city to keep a green space open to visitors, in exchange for the right to build his tower 24 stories higher.

To get to the garden, you have to walk through the lobby of Trump Tower, wade through the Darth Vader-like guards, the sub-machine guns and dogs. But the cops and consumers are not as violent as the interior design: the first five floors of the tower are a vertical-shaped mall set in gold-tinted mirrors and pink marble with TRUMP stamped every few feet.

At the top of the five flights of gold-plated escalators is the so-called ‘garden’, although it’s really more like a back alley in the sky. There’s no greenery to speak of – with its fake granite floor and little deco buckets with taped, dying trees, it’s like a small slice of Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park, site of Occupy Wall Street in Manhattan.

There are weeds and mossy living things coming out of cracks in the walls. Senior officials in the Church of Stop Shopping determined that these weeds are the ancestors of the forest that will eventually overwhelm this 58-flight gold-tinted presidential erection.

We now get on our knees and pray to these evolving super-weeds, our only hope to kill the consumer evil in this tower, as tourists stand around us taking selfies. Praying to weeds in public isn’t a bad thing, but your sanctity is challenged by the giggles.

We have begun to tap into a strange dream state in this tawdry place. Savitri D, our director, brings notebooks and hands them out to people. She coaxes us into improvisatory writing. The garden is a sort of balcony, so we can look back at the concentrated violence of the tower above us. We write whatever comes into our minds. We let our fingers vibrate language onto the blank pages continuously – for 45 minutes.

Our earliest memories and dreams come buzzing out of our pens and onto the paper. Sometimes the Stop Shopping Choir wails its secular gospel harmonies over the writers. Our bodies seem to be responding to the tower. Our subconscious life is defending us with private visions, long-ago formative thoughts that pre-date family or school – or anything Trump.

Without any Buddhist-like shut-off-the-mind manipulations, there is nevertheless a body-over-mind quality to this. The poet Robert Creeley said ‘The Plan is the Body.’ The body seems to be telling us that our red-faced anger at Trump is a dance with him. It’s what he wants. The radical response is to create a new culture entirely by letting these long-stored fragments join together in new stories. We are weaving the phrases from the garden into songs and our kind of secular prayer. Can we make something more powerful? Can we face the racist earth-hating hard right with some real berserker power!

We’re not free of Trump, or free of Consumerism, but we aspire to the original culture of jazz in the 1950s, Dada a century ago, ACT UP, and the native Americans’ Ghost Dance.

We’ve made songs, manifestos, curses and prayers out of these raw first-memories from the tower. We’ll share this with people who gather along the tour, while Trump bellows and the superstorms multiply.

The Trump Depression Hotline Tour will be visiting Britain in October:

Saturday 21 October, Birmingham, Fierce Fest
Sunday 22 October, Newcastle;
Monday 23 October, Liverpool,
Tuesday 24 October, Brighton;
Wednesday 25 October, Colchester;
Thursday 26 October, Chelmsford;
Friday 27 October, London, British Museum;
Saturday 28 October, London Toynbee Hall;
Sunday 29 October, Norwich.

All venues are accessible to all. For more information go to revbilly.com

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