Reverend Billy Spreads the Word

For almost a decade, the activist Reverend Billy has spent a lot of time outside New York City stores spreading the gospel on the evils of consumer culture. He delivers his message as a louder-than-tarnation, brow-mopping, toe-tapping, Elvis-inspired evangelist; he's a hard guy not to notice. For Bill, there's no better way to get attention than giving a rousing sermon on a public street. But don't be fooled by his hair, the Reverend is very pious about the core of his message. Before sitting down with Luke and Alison on last week's show, he invited me to a Starbucks around the corner to watch him preach. Here's how the revival went down.



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That was great. Who knew? I never thought I would be in agreement with Billy, way to go. "This sea of identical details" I can't believe that I am applauding; but yeah to
questioning consumerism. If he can reach the masses with such a critical message, let it be. Once I met a seven-year old boy named Elvis who when asked how can we save this planet answered "Use less stuff". Thank you. bb

Sent by bettina | 7:58 PM | 7-23-2007

Although the $4 latte originally got his goat, the last segment shows it is the likes of the John Warner DAA that should concern us all. Paul Craig Roberts may be prescient.

Sent by purple R | 1:56 AM | 7-24-2007

"sea of identical details"

This guy is cool. I'm not sure why you needed him to break character for you to interview him. You wanted to catch him in action, you got him in action. And he gave you a very good answer for you the interviewer to build on.

I will never understand the appeal of Starbucks. I seriously don't get it. And when I ask any Starbucks drinker to explain it... I never get a real answer. Just responses like: "How can you not drink it?", or the lame attempt at comedy "I'm addicted tee-hee."

It's not just the stores that are becoming devoid of character and actual values, but the general populace too.

I don't want to slam cops or troops, but our culture does not hold funeral processions for the poor and the homeless... or those who die from AIDs or cancer, nor are we as a society very concerned about the wellbeing of teachers, nurses, etc. I realize cops and troops don't make a lot of money, but in terms of cultural practices, they do get elevated to mythic status which may not be such a great idea.

Violent crime was on the decline under Clinton. That trend plateaued with Bush, and actually over the past 2 years, violent crime has been increasing. Its not just a function of crass commercialism, as America was fairly cheesy under Clinton.

The post before mine takes a swipe at John Warner and Paul Criag Roberts. Roberts (who I guess Purple R doesn't like becuase of his theories as to why the Towers fell as strangely as they did) is the dude who conjured up Reaganonics, the disasterous economic plan which our Glorious Leader uses as his economic model.

Sent by Brian | 1:12 PM | 7-24-2007

Actually, I agree with PCR lately:
"Unless Congress immediately impeaches Bush and Cheney, a year from now the US could be a dictatorial police state at war with Iran."

Sent by purple R | 2:54 PM | 7-24-2007

Yo purple R-

Good to hear. I assumed wrong. I should have known onebody with purple in their screenname is alright. Thanks for the link; Cheers! :)

Sent by Brian | 6:01 PM | 7-24-2007

No one seems to be worried about 'the nippleless mermaid'. Why not? Starbucks is also part of the tasteless, homogenized culture force fed to us from every angle, where we try to spit out more or less what everyone wants instead of daring to be different or simply acknowledging that women have breasts and nipples under their shirts. We even cover up fair lady justice's breasts lest real justice tempt us... Such a sad and sterile place.

Sent by Tanager | 8:27 AM | 7-25-2007

While I understand the sentiment, it tends to treat everyone as an insipid moron for liking starbucks. We live in a consumer culture. The sea of identical details might seem prescient, but I seem to remember Henry Miller doing similar rants in Tropic of Cancer. All to no avail.

Sent by terry pagitt | 10:46 AM | 7-25-2007

I must confess that on several points in his 'preaching' I felt like saying, 'amen, brother, amen' to what he was saying about Starbucks/consumerism.

Sent by Marilyn Miller | 3:04 PM | 7-25-2007

Ok, first of all this guy is clearly CRAZY. How much did he spend on that bad frost job? Nippleless mermaid? THERE'S a reason not to get a tall latte! And he's not even a reverend? Why was this guy interviewed???

Sent by David Bonanno | 7:48 PM | 7-25-2007

I liked this more than I ever expected to. The camera work is beyond odd and more than a bit troubling, but it's NPR, it has the quality of NPR, the sound of it. I think of it this way: I felt, while listening that I was listening to someone think deeply about something I probably would have passed by without a thought. Now _I'm_ thinking about it too.

And that's why I listen

Sent by bgfay | 8:53 PM | 7-25-2007

I understand what he means about the box marts clogging up main street culture in America. I, too, find myself shaking my head everytime a new box mart opens up. I often wonder how much more can we buy. I do enjoy Starbucks coffee, and my local Starbucks has a poetry night that I actually look forward to. HOWEVER, because of Starbucks, the standards for coffee shops have been raised, and now I'm seeing more and more coffee shops opening up all over offering even better coffee than Starbucks, so I'm a bit torn on the whole Starbucks thing.

Sent by Roger | 10:41 PM | 7-25-2007

Yeah, this man preaches a good message or whatever but the extent of his 'stop shopping' ethics ends with his book: 'What Would Jesus Buy?' Oh alright Rev. Billy, I'll stop buying stuff...except for your book!

Sent by Dave | 3:17 AM | 7-26-2007

This awesome voice is increasing our daily consciousness, kudos to both you and him!

Sent by Jaye | 9:19 AM | 7-26-2007

I love quirky people that speak their minds in NYC. He has a good point and a creative way of saying it! That's more than I can say for myself or others in terms of being proactive. I think it takes a reporter that is not afraid to be transparent to show the preachers questioning of the interviewer. But I guess that is what makes him the preacher man.

Sent by jojo | 1:16 AM | 7-27-2007