Who: Jello Biafra
Where: Delta Whistler Hotel Ballroom
When: Thursday, April 22
Jello Biafra’s answering machine spews a rant about the Mel Gibson film The Passion of the Christ.
No "Hello." No "Leave a message after the beep." Just a sardonic tirade on hypocrisy delivered with the staccato snarkiness the former front man for legendary 1980s punk band the Dead Kennedys has made his own.
Say what you want about the man – he definitely walks the walk. He’s an activist even down at the answering machine level. A political warrior pressing for change at all levels of government. A free speech advocate, a creative freedom advocate, and a fierce believer in individualism.
If you’re a delicate lamb that can’t handle dissenting opinion, Biafra is going to bowl you over, then kick you when you’re down.
And he doesn’t even need the power of distorted electric guitar to do it.
He’s mainly a man of words now. Spoken word. Kind of like an atheist evangelist, travelling from town to town, trying to shake people up with his fervent beliefs.
It’s been said that spoken word is what punks do when they’re too old to rock. But Biafra’s a bit of an anomaly since he started presenting his sharp-tongued writings and opinions at coffee houses in early 1986, before The Dead Kennedys disintegration.
His profile as an orator was bolstered when the band was sued under California obscenity laws over surrealist artwork accompanying 1985 album Frankenchrist.
True to his punk rock roots, Biafra had no intention of conceding to anti-obscenity and censorship crusader Tipper Gore and Co. He fought the charge and the case was eventually dismissed in 1987.
In an ironic twist, the trial vaulted the coffee house punk poet to the level of the university free-speech lecturer.
Small venue or large, he takes every opportunity to tell it like he thinks it is. And right now he thinks the U.S. government stinks.
Bush is bunk. Gore was no better. Besides, there was that thing with Mrs. Gore a while back that’s pretty hard for him to forget.
Biafra’s a Ralph Nader man, naturally, and was even on the ballot himself for a while in 2000 after being nominated by fellow Green Party members. However, a running lawsuit with members of his former band over the right to use Kennedys’ song Holiday in Cambodia in a Levi’s commercial (not surprisingly, Biafra counts himself among the no-way-in-hell-camp) tied up his resources and prevented him from actively campaigning, he says.
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