Yesterday, the first of several weekly Reverend Billy picnics was held in Tompkins Square Park.
People sat in the grass and ate snacks. Then they donned their green robes and gathered to sing--"This town ain't no super-mall"--while Reverend Billy preached through his bullhorn, reminding us to remember the generous spirits of the people who made the neighborhood and the city a creative place and an activist place--Charlie Parker, Allen Ginsberg, Emma Goldman.
But the city has become dull and numb. Bloomberg's mayoral campaign, he said, is a "$30-million video game," like the advertisements meant to distract us and put us to sleep.
After a few songs, the group marched over to Ray's Candy. Ray came out from his shop and accepted the love that Billy and the choir showered upon him. People spoke about Ray's generosity, how he sheltered people during the riots, and about his need now for help. As Bob Arihood has chronicled, Ray lacks the funds to regularly pay his bills, not to mention the fines that keep coming from the Health Department. (See Bob's coverage of this event here.)
Recently, an army of See-Skwatters spent the weekend getting Ray's place in shape for a health inspection--putting in floors, fixing electrical outlets, and scrubbing grease. They took no money for the work, explaining, as Ray told The Villager, "Where we gonna hang out? Where we gonna get fries, egg creams?"
That's the kind of neighborhood generosity Reverend Billy was preaching about. He said he'll have information on his website soon about ways you can help Ray's Candy.