Monday, June 16, 2008

Jello Biafra Hits The Big 5-0

Love him or hate him, you cannot deny that Jello is turning 50 this week. Happy birthday Jello. Happy birthday to you. The Dead Kennedys are rare in that their 30-year-old songs still sound fresh, raw and good. And since their angry yet dynamic power-punk was so tinged with dark humor and satire, it's still relevant. Way to go, DKs.

Two personal anecdotes (it wouldn't be a blog with them): When I was briefly living in Mexico in the late 80s, my friend Rosanna and I befriended a punk band in south Chiapas (the only punks we could find). The Swiss bass player had lived in San Francisco for a time and he asked me what Jello Biafra was up to. "I think he's a collage artist now," I said. The guy suddenly got spitting mad and sneered, "Like every FUCKING asshole in San Francisco!"

Aaaand when I worked at the SF Art Institute (as a lowly receptionist/data-entry drone), Biafra called one day to talk to one of my overlords in public relations. "Sure!" I said, "Can I put you on hold?" He said something that sounded like a cross between "yes" and "uh" in the most annoyed voice ever. I gleefully punched the button and ran into the p.r. office where I hung on the door frame and laconically announced, "I just put Jello on hold!" We all cracked up for no reason at all. When you're the receptionist you have to take your fun where you can get it.

Holiday in Cambodia - live. Love East Bay Ray's atmospheric guitar; like a film soundtrack. Jazz pianist Michael Udelson used to play a lovely rendition of this on the grand piano in the Redwood Room at the Clift Hotel.

Let's Lynch The Landlord - live at the Mabuhay Gardens, 1980. My favorite DKs song and one of the reasons I can never picture myself becoming a landlord (other reasons: laziness, lack of funds). Great Klaus Flouride bassline throughout.

Viva Las Vegas with photos from the archive. Sar-DONIC.

Nazi Punks Fuck Off - take 3 in the studio. Despite (many) shirtless moments for Biafra over the years, as far as I was concerned, D.H. Peligro was the babe in the group. People think punk-rock drumming is easy and requires no finesse (just ask Marky Ramone), but Peligro is quite the well-timed powerhouse. The real reason punk rock songs are under three minutes: so your drummer won't implode. He's an African America punk rock pioneer; featured in the 2003 documentary, Afro Punk.

California Uber Alles - video by rp61wasinnocentok. I sang this on the day Schwarzenegger was sworn in and yes, it's still working for me.

- Because the DKs and Biafra can't stand each other, he will be celebrating his 50th with The Melvins and a bunch of other guys at The Great American Music Hall tonight and tomorrow.

- Usually Aidin Vaziri of The Chronicle asks some off-the-wall and borderline offensive questions of his subjects. Not this time. Saturday's Jello Biafra interview is, as my six-year-old would say, "Ho hum, bo-ring, so dumb." But there's a helpful Jello timeline for those of you working on your Dead Kennedys thesis over the summer.

- Afro Punk official site.

- Another failed CWW business venture: DKs sports socks.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

the nazi punks vid is what punk energy is about. cramped rooms, sweaty---energy!

but who is that engineering the session...bill clinton?