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Jello Biafra Still Fighting the Big Fight

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  • Clore Daniel C
    Sunday 3 September 2000 Former punk rocker is still fighting the big fight Peter Simpson The Ottawa Citizen Jello Biafra, with his normal haircut and normal
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 5, 2000
      Sunday 3 September 2000

      Former punk rocker is still
      fighting the big fight

      Peter Simpson
      The Ottawa Citizen

      Jello Biafra, with his normal haircut and normal clothes,
      doesn't look like a punk icon. Then, it's hard to say for
      sure, since it seems most punk icons his age are dead.

      But Biafra, born in Boulder, Colorado, in 1958 ("six blocks
      from the JonBenet Ramsey murder site," the press kit says),
      is indeed a giant of the punk rock underground. And 20 years
      after he first poked the public eye as frontman for the
      outrageously outspoken Dead Kennedys, he introduced his older,
      mellower stage character to a capacity crowd in the auditorium
      of the National Gallery last night.

      "This area is now under martial law," he intoned from off-stage,
      as he began the spoken-word performance with a dystopian
      fantasy -- one that forewarned of, among other horrors, "mandatory
      black velvet paintings of Conrad Black on everybody's living-room

      That one got a hearty burst of applause from the 450 or so fans
      who filled the seats and spilled over onto the stairs. "Your
      neighbourhood watch officer will be around to collect urine
      samples in the morning," he continued, as he walked onto the
      stage for the three-hour show, presented as part of the annual
      Alternafest music festival.

      Biafra is still fighting the big fight, the one against the
      mainstream media and corporate malevolence. His public life has
      been a series of fights: the pugilistic, electric battles on a
      quiver of Dead Kennedys' albums, including Bedtime for Democracy
      and Give me Convenience or Give me Death; the fight against
      Tipper Gore's corps over naughty rock lyrics in the 1980s; and
      his recent battle against the rest of the Dead Kennedys over his
      refusal to allow their song Holiday in Cambodia to be used in a
      Levis ad.

      Most people in the audience were not yet born, or at least still
      smelled of diapers, when the Dead Kennedys released Fresh Fruit
      for Rotting Vegetables in 1980. Biafra has changed his delivery,
      but not his message, and it still pulls in the young and

      "The homeless? Give them a home," he said, in a satire of sound-
      bite politics. "Balance the budget? Tax religion. We have a
      minimum wage: How about a maximum wage?"

      He wrote Canadian content into his script: "Mike Harris to drink
      water in Walkerton," he said, while calling for suitable punishment
      for politicians, landlords and other ignoble characters. "We could
      force him to do a blind taste test. Which one's the Walkerton water,
      Mike? Which one?"

      But, for the most part, he railed against the usual American
      suspects -- Tipper Gore and other leading Democrats and Republicans;
      Columbine grief counsellors; the drug war; SUV-driving yuppies, CNN,
      privatization. "Privatization is the key to everything," he said in
      a wry tone. "Get government off people's backs, so you can put
      corporations on people's backs."

      Still fresh from his run for the Green Party presidential nomination,
      he envisioned an unorthodox cabinet of Green candidate Ralph Nader,
      lefty philosopher Noam Chomsky, rapper Ice T and "Larry Flynt on the
      Supreme Court."

      "Nowadays, we're programmed to believe that everything from
      immigrants of a different skin colour to Snoopy Doggy Dogg are more
      responsible for tearing apart our social fabric than are conniving
      Democrats and Republicans."

      It may have lacked the edge of a punk band in a basement bar, but
      the young audience applauded frequently and loudly.

      Dan Clore

      The Website of Lord We├┐rdgliffe:
      The Dan Clore Necronomicon Page:

      "Tho-ag in Zhi-gyu slept seven Khorlo. Zodmanas
      zhiba. All Nyug bosom. Konch-hog not; Thyan-Kam
      not; Lha-Chohan not; Tenbrel Chugnyi not;
      Dharmakaya ceased; Tgenchang not become; Barnang
      and Ssa in Ngovonyidj; alone Tho-og Yinsin in
      night of Sun-chan and Yong-grub (Parinishpanna),
      &c., &c.,"
      -- The Book of Dzyan.
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