Savitri D and Reverend Billy Talen from the art/activist group “The Church of Stop Shopping” have begun writing in a public garden on the 5th floor of Trump Tower on 56th and 5th Avenue. People are beginning to join them in the mid-day write-ins. Their intent is to “start culture over,” concluding that current culture is killing so many people, and so much of the earth’s life generally. They made the decision to start small, with free writing in 45 minutes periods in the garden. They have dubbed the write-ins, “Radical Ritual,” but the results of the gatherings are not known or guessed at. The story below is from Rev Billy’s writing at Trump Tower on May 25.
Out here in this strange community garden, a stone balcony with twelve little trees, with entry from the 5th floor of Trump Tower, we sit in the New York roar. It rolls down on us from the clouds that peer into this glorified air-shaft.
The roar is the soundtrack for the gold-and-pink-marble-lined skyscraper of Donald Trump. In these first 5 stories of the tower, the tourists take escalators up and down. It’s a vertical mall.
A week ago we began to come to the tower every day. We take walks in the Trump mall and there are lots of chatty product people mixed with ;];]≥≥≥÷/c/c/ ;// silent police people. This is a weird museum, dedicated to a single man’s aspiration for billions of dollars. It’s hard work to hold your own line of thought for any length of time. The high-volume gold décor is in such bad taste, it comes at witnesses like a big dare.
There are so many different kinds of cops, with so many suits and badges, it’s like a comic Italian city-state. Each level of police acts macho in a slightly different style. We upset the Trump corporate cops the most, the ones who were here before Trump won the presidency. They believe tourists are the single brand of person allowed. It is clear to them that we don’t respect the loud gold spell of this place. We point at the wrong things. We gaze into the tourists’ faces like there’s a mystery to solve.
Maybe the cops sense that we know that Trumplandia isn’t permanent. This building will be transformed by something stronger than Donald Trump. Ascending diagonally up the steps of the gold-plated escalator will be someone coming from beyond the gold.
I can look down from the edge of the 5th floor and see that down in the fake sidewalk cafes that this someone is already here. I’m not sure of the gender or race or age in the distance of confusing gold mirrors. I see her. She is apparently alone. She walks a few steps and stands at an angle. Her image multiplies and vanishes in the five floor-high box of gold mirrors.
Then I realize that she is Reality Winner.
And behind Reality on the up escalator is Chelsea Manning. And Nina Simone. And Winona LaDuke.
Yes! A crowd of truth-tellers is rising in the vertical mall. Daniel Ellsberg. Chuck D. Victor Jara. Fannie Lou Hamer. Arundhati Roy. Bobby Sands. Haydee Santamaria. Patrice Lamumba. Pussy Riot. Waldemar Fydrych. John Lennon. The tank man of Tiananmen, Joan Baez. Now lots of people are pouring through the giant doors on 5th Avenue, past the soldiers with their submachine guns, people from Tahrir, Syntagma, Gezi Park, Puerta del Sol, Red Square, Zuccotti, Hong Kong, Heathrow, Cuernavaca, Ferguson and Baltimore, and Standing Rock…
They pack the elevators and escalators, rising up through the gold. Where are the tourists? No-one is a tourist anymore. No-one is shopping.
There is someone here who will carry the dream out of the street and up into the tower.