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    2008-2009 reviews:
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    Reverend Billy's Spring Revival

    Amen to be reckoned with

    The Reverend Billy is back, saving your soul from Disneyfication, downtown high-rises, the corporatization of the mind, shopping-mall culture and the Antichrist.


    (Originally reviewed during "Reverend Billy's Spring Revival," March 2001.)

    The Reverend Billy is on a crusade to save the civic soul of New York City. He's aghast at the Starbucks sitting on every corner, Barnes & Noble encroaching upon independent bookstores and mass media shrinking the collective mind. He's had the guts to preach about needless consumerism in a Disney store, and these Sunday services — located in the rent-escalating neighborhood of NoHo — mix entertainment with a sense of social urgency.

    Cast: Rev. Billy and the Church of Stop Shopping, includes Bill Talen, Mother Dee Spencer.

    Related links: Official site
    The cloth that Reverend Billy (aka Bill Talen, a New York based writer and actor who is a faculty member in the New School's graduate media-studies program) is cut from isn't exactly ecclesiastical but he utilizes the trappings of a revival meeting to address community matters.

    The night I attended, the topic at hand was the struggle between WBAI and Pacifica. On a stage decorated by crucified Mickey and Minnie Mouses and after the lively Stop Shopping Choir led by Mother Dee Spencer sang "Shop No More," Rev. Billy (introduced as the man who put the diss in Disney) came out and talked about the history of WBAI for a bit and then he and the chorus recited the "We Believes," a litany of tenets including "We believe that something will happen, somebody will do something, before every fucking inch of New York is like the Mall of America."

    Passages were read by choir members of writings by Mumia Abu-Jamal and Naom Chomsky. Audience members were asked to hold their credit cards in the air and have them exorcised. Embattled WBAI personalities Amy Goodman and Bernard White were inducted as saints.

    Even if organized religion gives you the heebie jeebies, the Rev. Billy and the Stop Shopping Gospel Choir have the capacity to stir the soul as they fight the good fight. Upcoming Sunday night topics included the Hudson River park scam, a luxury tower set to be built on Ludlow Street and the East Village franchise-free zone.

    MARCH 21, 2001

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