Wednesday, June 23, 2010
Love That Burns.
He seemed to be doing this out of love, out of the need to tell the truth in a place where it seldom finds its way off the floor. Yep. Dread Scott was burning money in front of the Stock Exchange today. It was beautiful, confusing, and cathartic. He moved right through the green wall and took us with him, like a shepherd. Walking through the fool's fire of unfettered capitalism, he sang and burned his way into a ticket for disorderly conduct.
He repeatedly sang, "Money to bur-rn. Money to burn." while burning the money he had attached to his clothes and also that of any passersby who had their own money to burn. The crowd was a mix of lunching Financial District workers, deliciously confused tourists, and a smattering of people like me who had heard about the action on the internet. The mix of the two major elements, fire and money, guaranteed a certain tension. Money is food and rent until it's been recontextualized by a flame. Then we have to think about it.
The tension snowballed when the police showed up though. They seemed as confused as the tourists, but mostly because it seemed that they were unsure if the artist was doing anything illegal. After a number of phone calls and on-the-spot consultations I heard one of them tell Scott that he was being consider "disorderly." This was followed by more consultation, and a ticket was issued. The burning had stopped, and the singing along with it. Scott was waiting now for the moment of repose. His job done, it was time to go.
His walk to the subway felt like a one-man Jazz funeral without the music or New Orleans. It was slow, deliberate, and replete with some kind of mad grief. I was in tears. Dread Scott had put his hand into the belly of the Beast, and found the terrible end of something. It was messy. It was over. Most unsettlingly, it was quiet.
During the performance, a couple curious traders had come over to see the action. They seemed mildly amused. This was a joke, really. They obviously felt at home. After it was all over they went back inside for the afternoon and ushered the Dow down 148.89 points. Burn.
Pre-Bonus track BONUS: Dread Scott has posted a video of the performance.
BONUS TRACK: Fleetwood Mac's Love That Burns