Why Is New York City Planning to Sell and Shrink Its Libraries?

Defend our libraries, don't defund them. . . . . fund 'em, don't plunder 'em

Mayor Bloomberg defunded New York libraries at a time of increasing public use, population growth and increased city wealth, shrinking our library system to create real estate deals for wealthy real estate developers at a time of cutbacks in education and escalating disparities in opportunity. It’s an unjust and shortsighted plan that will ultimately hurt New York City’s economy and competitiveness.

It should NOT be adopted by those we have now elected to pursue better policies.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Library Defending Icons, A Fabulous Two-fer: Reverend Billy, The Stop Shopping Choir AND Michael Moore

Rev. Billy and Michael Moore, Dec. 16 in the lobby of The Public
What excitement!  Getting to watch two library defending icons meet, hug, and trade jokes: Reverend Billy and Michael Moore.  Reverend Billy and his Stop Shopping Choir are, of course, known for the songs they generate and perform about resisting the soulless, rampant consumerism that commercials and advertisements are perpetually seeking to claim our attention to promote.  As such, Billy and his choir are generally performing and getting extra attention around Christmas as they put out the message that Christmas can and should be a more spiritually based holiday. . .

 . . .  Michael Moore, knowing the work of our dear reverend, no doubt is quite aware of all this–  When Moore met the Reverend for the very first time he performed for Billy one of his own self-composed satirical songs about the commercialization of Christmas: written in 1966.  Indeed, he did so under our very eyes and close up: We have a snatch of video of Moore’s merry musical ditty.  We’ll share it with you below.

This is how our little two-fer came about.  At the end of December, Sunday the 16th, while sending out emails to invite other library defenders to join us at a library-defending table, we caught Reverend Billy and his Stop Shopping Choir who were featured at Joe’s Pub again for a few Sundays.  We recommend, whenever you can, catching a full fledged performance of the Rev and his choir in all their Hallelujah glory and Joe's Pub is one of the locales where you can often see them.
Joe's Pub December 16 performance
You'll never know beforehand exactly what will happen at a Reverend Billy+choir show or who might be attending in the audience.  Full disclosure, at one show the Reverend, who is always looking out for good work to trumpet about, declared library defenders in the persona of two of the individuals attending, Carolyn McIntyre and Michael D. D. White, saints in his church.  These individuals and the library defending cause were introduced to the rest of the audience with ceremonial pomp and then some extra laid on.

After this Sunday, December 16th performance, as we ourselves departed, Michael Moore was out in the lobby of The Public (of which Joe’s Pub is a constituent part).  You'll never know who will be in the audience for a Reverend Billy show.  Now, it actually turned out that Michael Moore hadn’t caught Billy's performance, although he said he’d like to catch one.  Still, performance artist Laurie Anderson (“O Superman") was one of those in the Stop Shopping audience that afternoon.  Not shabby!

We got talking with Mr. Moore who we have had the chance to speak with about the libraries once before.  Had we known enough to be able to recognize them when we ran into Moore and were thanking and appreciating him for his work, we would have realized he was with film makers Tia Lessin and Carl Deal, founders of Elsewhere Films, who work with Moore.  So, although we didn't know it, we were obviously praising their work too.

We should tell you more about both Reverend Billy and Michael Moore as library defenders.  Who should we tell you about first?  Let’s start with Moore. . .

Talking with Mr. Moore we mentioned that we have a few pages up at about him and the libraries.  They are:
    •    Michael Moore (Who Says The Attacks On Libraries Are An Effort To Dumb Down The Public and That Librarians Saved His Book From Censorship) Has A Terrific New “Must See” Film: Fahrenheit 11/9

    •    Books As Catalysts In A World Where Information And Points of View Are Often Suppressed

    •    Michael Moore’s Anti-George Bush Book Was Saved From The Censorious 9/11 Tyranny by A Courageous Librarian Mobilizing Comrades

    •    How Did Trump Get Elected?: Michael Moore In “Terms of My Surrender” Envisions That It Was A Dumbing Down of the Country That Involved Closing Libraries
Mr. Moore did correct us on one thing though, the gentlemen we once identified as Mr. Moore’s bodyguard with him outside after his Broadway show, a gentleman who know well about the Inwood library sell-off, was actually his regular driver.

Reverend Billy and his choir have been the special guests with us at many a library demonstration almost from the start.  And the choir wrote and performed a don’t destroy libraries song to defend the 42nd Street Central Reference Library incorporating the words of Ada Louise Huxtable in her very last column: “You Don’t Update a Masterpiece.”  Ms. Huxtable’s last column was influential and inspiring in multiple ways.

Here are some of the links (including videos): 
    •    PHOTO GALLERY: June 3, 2013 Vigil At Central Reference Library Protesting Loss of Our Cultural Patrimony- Evening of NYPL Fund-Raiser (includes extra videos)

    •    New York Public Library SERMON by Rev. Billy + "Breaking Into Public Space" SONG

    •    SAVE THE STACKS! - NY Public Library Protest "Shoutin' out in Public Space" song

    •    Reverend Billy choir goes to save the libraries from sale a (includes “You Don’t Update A Masterpiece)

    •    PHOTO & VIDEO GALLERY: September 25, 2013 Rally Outside NYPL Trustees Meeting At the Countee Cullen and Schomburg Center Libraries In Harlem, 515 Malcolm X Blvd

    •    PHOTO & VIDEO GALLERY: February 14, 2015 Library Lovers Gather on Valentine's Day to Speak and Sing of Aching Hearts

    •    Valentine's Day- Open The Rose
Sometimes Rev. Billy and his band have soloed without other library defending groups.  In August of 2014 the Reverend Billy led a small band of fellow activists out to discover and visit the ReCAP facility site in New Jersey where the NYPL’s exiled research books are now entombed.  His plan was to lead a ceremonial “Stonehenge Circle” protest about the books’ removal.  The protest was interrupted, its completion effectively prohibited, because it turned out that ReCAP shares an area of Princeton University with the nearby Forrestal Campus, a high security level federal site.

Here are some of the photos we got of the meeting of these two great defenders of libraries and the public interest and who somehow also always manage to maintain the good humor to have some satirical fun with it all at the same time.   It’s followed by the video snippet we can share of Michael Moore singing his Christmas song to Billy.

Michael Moore with Citizens Defending Libraries co-founder Carolyn McIntyre

In the background Tia Lessin and Carl Deal, founders of Elsewhere Films. In the foreground right Citizens Defending Libraries co-founder Michael D. D. White.

Michael Moore sings his Christmas Song to Rev Billy (Click through to YouTube for best viewing)

While we are on the subject of satirical Christmas songs, we should mention that Tom Lehrer wrote his, A Christmas Carol,” which has in it this stanza:
Hark the herald tribune sings,
Advertising wondrous things.
God rest ye merry, merchants,
May you make the yuletide pay.
Angels we have heard on high
Tell us to go out and buy!
And while we are on the subject of defending libraries songs, and great personalities who entertain us as we fight for causes, let’s remember the “Don’t Sell Our Libraries Song” written for our cause by Judy Gorman who, still with us, sang on the same stage with an admiring Pete Seeger.

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