Holy Water

27 03 2009


Mayoral Candidate Reverend Billy took some time to reflect on the church’s recent Blessing of the Water event that brought awareness to plans to drill for natural gas in the watershed Upstate on World Water Day 2009. This isn’t all Bill Talen has done to raise awareness about water this year he also participated in Think Outside the Bottle. Here’s a very informative interview with TOTB


Let The Water Speak 

The Church of Life After Shopping, the singers and I, were the performers that afternoon. People came to see us.  On the other hand, all of us watched the water, the clouds and waves.  We were listening.  We were guests of the water for an hour on that pier out over the Hudson River.  

World Water Day, March 22, was the original mover of our “Blessing of the Water Picnic.” And another thing – it was an early outing in my candidacy for Mayor of New York City.   But what got the crowd there was “fracking,” – the process by which a chemical cocktail is injected into underground shale to drive the natural gas toward Halliburton’s suction, shipment and storage.  This extraction poisons the water around it, as the citizens with the falling-out hair and flammable tap-water have noted… 


The choir donned their blue robes and my preacher’s suit was blue too, and the two blues did not match as well as the blues in the river and sky.  The Christopher Street pier is a long one, with real grass, but with over-designed concrete and shiny-metal filagree.  The sun was warm at the start of our water picnic, and many families were unfurling blankets on the ground.  The Green Party people handed out placards for crayoning the name of your part of town, in line with our campaign’s endearing slogan, “The Rise of the Fabulous 500 Neighborhoods!” 

In the crowd were veterans of the battles against chain stores and gentrification, eminent domain and rent-hikes.  These are our friends, and we could tell they wanted a respite now from the onslaught of the predator economy.  This was a Sunday to relax.  The sun shone on the water, and the Hudson River with the gigantic green woman with her torch at the mouth of it, looked grand.  “It’s time to go to church!”  I got shouts of Aqua-lujah! Aqua-lujah! from my congregation on the grass.  And in Spanish please?  That would be “AGUA-lujah!” 

We decided to face the Evil straight away.  The water activists were handed the bullhorn.  The mendacity of the gas drillers left us dazzled.  Like an unstoppable ghoul rising from the slab of the Bush administration, Dick Cheney’s old company is skulking around the countryside buying off broke townships and putting in place a cancer-causing, endocrine-disrupting extraction beast that somehow evades all the EPA safeguards.  In particular an activist named Josh Fox scared us and scared us well.  In an era when evil is relativized and dissolved into special effects – Josh raised the flag. 

Laura Newman and the choir lit into our new song, “Fabulous Bad Weather,” with fatalistic lyrics that could’ve been authored by an Earth Firster, but with the confessions of eco-cide delivered in a bouncy rhythm, an unlikely pop tune. 

    Fabulous bad weather!
    Climate change – change our laws!
    Cast a spell on our nature!
    We obey – you’re the boss! 
    Katrina – killed New Orleans!
    While we dream – of getting rich!
    Stimulate – stimulate our assets!
    We’re programmed just like this! 
    What are we doing in the sky?
    Where’s our next End of Time?
    Humans need to live or die!
    Go ahead, leave us behind! 
    Life on earth what will you do?
    Life on earth what will you do?
    What will you do? 
    Go ahead, leave us behind… 

A cold rainy wind came down the river and across the pier.  The temperature plunged 20 degrees with bellying clouds.  The sky seemed to be singing “Fabulous Bad Weather” with us!  The wind whipped the blue robes and collapsed my Elvis do and whirled a neighborhood sign like a frisbee into the old river.   

I preached then, into that wind, with the crowd of shivering environmentalists hugging their children.  Here are the talking points I found in my blue jacket two days after… 

    – water is the best teacher – there are famous translators like Al Gore, R K Pachauri, Bill McKibben, – they only translate the rise of the sea, the death of the coral, the century storms…   
    – water is the authentic preacher.  – alvin ailey’s dancers and “wade in the water” from “revelations” –  water speaks from the genocides and slavery – indigenous whispers in the natural springs – rivers – this arguing Hudson under our feet today – the hundreds of natural springs that gushed and seeped all over this land that became our city – 
    – one spring comes to mind – at 165th Street in Harlem – the Audubon Ballroom was built there – with the mermaid sculpture over the front door – the ballroom was eminent domained by the city and columbia university to build a bio-tech lab – the neighborhood feared the contamination but couldn’t stop the construction –  Malcolm X come back!  We need you today! 

Aqualujah!  Agua-lujah! 

Well judging from the YouTube the sermon came differently than my notes, on that windy Sunday. 

My water policy is this.  As your Mayor I will find the hundreds of natural springs in the five boroughs that have been paved over as land values rose and cars and trucks over-ran the boroughs. Let’s give the water Eminent Domain.  My administration will break the pavement open and let the water rise the way it wants to. The water never stopped singing its message.   

Water is our leader!  The water will rise up and be protected in community gardens, in pump-houses, in the lobbies of buildings.  Our children will touch the water and listen!  Let the water speak!   




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: