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Tuesday, August 20, 2013

A Taste of Jello...Jello Biafra

Off the beaten path a moment...This one's an editorial. Enjoy.

I rifle through the racks of jeans at the Sally Ann store. It's the same old Sally Ann it always was, only now I don't shop to find my next neo-punk anarchist uniform...the faded, tight in the ass, loose in the legs and damn-all-of-society look; I just need to save some cash. I find a suitable pair among dozens, something that says: 

     "Yeah, I'm 40, but I can still kick some ass and I've got some serious night moves!"

     Uncertainty, however, hits me as I head to the register; I wonder if these Levis came by way of superstore or some other price slashing paradise, or rather, where they came from before that. Echoes of one Jello Biafra turn my walk to the cashier in this all but forgotten second hand store into a green mile. Jello journeys country wide, speaking, among other things, about why we need to reconsider supporting our local mega chains, and fast. There's a bigger price to pay for big savings. 

     1978...one of punk rock's most outspoken and controversial bands is in the works...the Dead Kennedys, fronted by Biafra.

      Dead Kennedys...the decline in American values following the last of the Kennedy reign.

     1985...Second Lady Tipper Gore launches an assault on an array of musical artists, including the Kennedys, Twisted Sister and Frank Zappa. Even John Denver is dragged in, for his hit song "Rocky Mountain High" which had nothing to do with dope and everything to do with spiritual cleansing. They are hauled into Senate hearings for their crimes of corrupting the youth of Wholesome Christian Corporate America via album content. The Kennedys are quickly put out of business as record retailers are strong-armed mafia style into dropping the band's vinyl by Gore's men in black. Tipper defends the bad behaviour, the blood of freedom dripping from her fangs. All artists are aquitted of any wrong-doing, but Jello's home is literally invaded by San Francisco police, where they hold him at gun-point while they search his home for obscenity related materials. The incident is denied by all involved.

     Biafra isn't thwarted; singer becomes public speaker, hitting a new stage with the same decisive message: In truth we trust, not government, greed or manipulated media. (post Ted Turner CNN)


     2012...a fire rips through a shoddy, sub-standard Bangladesh garment factory, claiming 112 lives. All exits were locked, as per daily protocol, to prevent workers from leaving the building. Who's the biggest client of this sweatshop? WalMart. Coming in a close second and third, H&M and Gap. The concerned corporate cats send their utmost condolences. In their defense, they ship their inspectors to these shops routinely. (Albeit with plenty of notice for the overlords.) All said, foreign foundry fires are on the rise. 

78% of Bangladesh's export revenue comes from clothing, shipped to wealthy North America...stores like Sears, Dickens, Nike and even old Walt Disney. These chains do a thriving business in foreign markets with the blessings of government hypocrisy. Want the stats on our Chinese imports? Cheap labor's always in style.

     Biafra is no mere misguided missile, simply content to dwell within society's expectations of the average antisocial punk rocker, many of them rebels with little cause. He launches only the most educated and passionate attack on government and corporate corruption. He's researched every syllable he spits into the mic, whether on the music stage or the speaker stage.

     Jello...a mass produced, easily prepared product...evidence of North America's obsession with instant, affordable gratification. 
Biafra...a now non-existent, impoverished Nigerian state...the sort of place we'd rather not think about when we hit the markdown aisles.

     Jello Biafra...a name that says it all.









Friday, August 2, 2013

Featured Writer for August, John Keats (1795-1821)

Keats is considered one of the great romantic poets, although his work received little attention during his lifetime (take heart, young writers!) Keats' work only saw publication during the final four years of his life.
Perhaps there is much truth in the notion that an artist can well operate ahead of his/her time...
or at least somewhere outside of his time, and create endearing work that although existing on the fringe of contemporary thought, can stand with room to spare as a lasting treasure for the ages. This is the case with John Keats, who's work is now widely revered, studied and analyzed. John Keats can safely take a seat along side 
Shakespeare and Oscar Wilde.

A promising (and practicing) surgeon, having begun his life in the medical profession, John Keats would devote increasingly more time to his writing. His first published work: "Oh Solitude" was featured in a popular liberal magazine, The Examiner, in 1816. 
Thereafter, Keats' published works would receive mixed reviews.

In 1818, he found true love in young Francis (Fanny) Brawne. Much writing was devoted to her. It is unclear exactly how intimate the two became, although Keats left many hints in correspondence to those close to him, letters to her directly, and in his writing.

John Keats' final act fell upon him in 1820, in the form of a common illness at the time, Tuberculosis. He was advised to relocate to a warmer climate, and thus went to Greece to live out his days. His last year was shadowed by depression and longing for Fanny Brawne. 

Keats was convinced that he had left no substantial literary legacy to follow him, but with the biographical publication of his life and work, 27 years after his death by Richard Monckton Milnes, Keats was launched into the canon of great British writers, and his stronghold in the field lives to this day.


Sonnet to Fanny (1819)

I cry your mercy-pity-love!-aye, love!
Merciful love that tantalizes not,
One-thoughted, never wandering, guileless love,
Unmask'd, and being seen-without a blot!
O! let me have thee whole,-all-all-be mine!
That shape, that fairness, that sweet minor zest
Of love, your kiss,-those hands, those eyes divine,
That warm, white, lucent, million-pleasured breast,-
Yourself-your soul-in pity give me all,
Withhold no atom's atom or I die,
Or living on perhaps, your wretched thrall,
Forget, in the mist of idle misery,
Life's purposes,-the palate of my mind
Losing its gust, and my ambition blind


You Say You Love

You say you love; but with a voice,
Chaster than a nun's, who singeth
The softest vespers to herself
While the chime-bell ringeth-
O love me truly!

You say you love; but with a smile
Cold as sunrise in September,
As you were saint Cupid's nun,
and kept his weeks of Ember.
O love me truly!

You say you love-but then your lips
Coral tinted teach no blisses,
More than coral in the sea-
The never pout for kisses-
O love me truly!

You say you love; but then your hand
No soft squeeze for squeeze returneth,
It is like a statue's dead-
While mine to passion burneth-
O love me truly!

O breathe a word or two of fire!
Smile, as if those words should burn me,
Squeeze as lovers should-O kiss
And in thine heart inurn me!
O love me truly!

Faery Songs

Shed no tear-O shed no tear!
The flower will bloom another year.
Weep no more-O weep no more!
Young buds sleep in the root's white core!
Dry your eyes-O dry your eyes!,
For I was taught in Paradise
To ease my breast of melodies-
Shed no tear.

Overhead-look overhead
'Mong the blossoms white and red-
Look up, look up-I flutter now
On this flush pomegranate bough-
See me-'tis this slavery bill
Ever cures the good man's ill-
Shed no tear-O shed no tear!
The flower will bloom another year.
Adieu-Adieu-I fly, adieu,
I vanish in the heaven's blue-
Adieu, Adieu!