BY S. FITZGERALD LODWICK On Friday evening, Jello Biafra strafed the Trocadero with a five-hour (!) rant-cum-lecture on societal ills, political shams, global cons, and what we citizens can do to right these wrongs. The session was a blend of spoken-word poems, such as the classic “Die For Oil, Sucker,” general rants, and charming anecdotes from the days in the life of former lead singer of the Dead Kennedys. In the first half of the spoken word session, wherein Biafra recited the laundry list government scandal and corporate shame — from “The War Against Terror,” (reduced to the shorthand acronym of TWAT) to Enron execs aiding Schwarzenegger’s election, nothing was sacred. Not even the Democrats. Jello wasted no time pointing out the flaws of the “Barakstar,” the Clinton dynasty and Nancy Pelosi, citing mostly how each of them claim to be against the war yet continue to enable it with legislation. His point was that these people are not the great Liberal saviors the media hypes them to be:, rather they are the same old self-serving career politicians in reformer clothes. “Republicans stand for greed, pollution, bigotry, and war. Democrats pretend to feel guilty about greed, pollution, bigotry, and war,” said Biafra.
Mass media institutions, according to Jello, were better during Vietnam because reporters were constantly trying to scoop one another. What has changed is that now the same companies own all most all of the newspapers and television news companies, thus the news is filtered to be in the political interest of these companies. Jello gave us a great quote about the media from his friend, revolutionary electronic musician Brian Eno: “It ain’t just propaganda, it’s propagenda.”
After intermission at 12:15 am, most of the crowd came back for round two. During the second half, Jello began explaining what we can do to work against these seemingly unstoppable forces. The first suggestion is certainly the easiest, yet the one most often taken for granted — voting. Not just in presidential and Congressional elections, where votes are often tampered with, but especially in local contests. By voting on everything from the sheriff to ballot referendums, your voice is louder because there are fewer voices. As Biafra pointed out many states and counties make great progressive strides via local elections –everything from San Fransisco voting against public funds building sports stadiums to the legalization of medicinal marijuana in several states, local action often leads to change on a national scale. Biafra also listed organizations people can get involved with from their computer desk, such as Iraq Veterans against the War (who had a booth at the show), United Students Against Sweat Shops, and the Anti-Globalization Movement.
Biafra also stressed the importance of personal politics. Now, many would think the man who penned songs such as “Kill The Poor” and “Uber Alles California” would have some fairly brash techniques in this area. Instead, Jello encouraged people to discuss the issues with people. Find out why your friend/neighbor/cell mate has the opinions they do, listen to them about their lifestyle and beliefs, and then explain why you believe and act the way you do. In the end, Jello was hilarious, informative and inspirational. And exactly five hours after he started, he left the stage with these words: “Now it’s Your Turn.”