We Need More Crazies

Issue 244

Reverend Billy Talen Mar 3, 2019

Dear Billy,

I think my friend is joining a left-wing cult. You know the kind that sell their newspapers at protests, get in ideological arguments with strangers on the street, act like they have all the answers and they’re going to wake up early and lead the revolution tomorrow. It’s almost like she repeats everything she picks up at their meetings. Should I orchestrate some kind of intervention?

— Johanna, Elmhurst

You’ve got to be kidding. Interventions are for saving lives. You are against something that you only vaguely understand, as if its style embarrasses you.

You have an idea of a cult that you believe to be improper, and yet the only behavior that will save us from imminent fascism and outright extinction is exactly that — crazy, over-convinced fearless behavior. Vague puritanism is the bane of American culture.

We need more crazies. We need screamers and cussers and orators back in the Union Square. Fortune favors the bold. Power can only be met by power. Let’s make a practice of radical interventions on our own selves. Let’s face our social conditioning as an obstacle, a Trumpian wall. Let’s go outside and shout what we believe.


Dear Billy, I enjoy spending time on social media. I feel like for all the data collecting and privacy concerns I have it keeps me connected to the larger world. I catch up on the news and am in touch with friends and family who are all over the place. Then I look out the window and see cars and pedestrians moving about in the sun. When do you know when to step away?

— Derek, Midwood

The computer, iPhone — these devices do not offer a logical pause. You don’t get a message like, “You can go now,” from the screen. The screen has devoured the world. Addiction to it has built the biggest companies. Here’s a simple act of resistance.

First, breathe deep. Exercise that NO muscle. Shut the computer on purpose, even if it feels arbitrary. While you do so, sing these words to yourself: “I am not a pixel, yeah!” Repeat. Inhale the meaning of these six words each time you escape.

“I am not a pixel! Yeah!”

The words become stronger and stronger and your freedom easier to achieve. You can control the sensual aggression of corporate, artificial intelligence. Use the screen. Build your mighty ritual-power against the screen. Don’t let it use you.

Reverend Billy is an activist and political shouter, a post-religious preacher of the streets and bank lobbies. Got a question for Reverend Billy? Just email and unburden your soul.

Mickey protests Disney’s environmental practices. Credti: Margery Epstein/Rainforest Action Network.