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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.









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