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The Idiots Aren't Taking Over

So I'm on the verge of getting my rabble seriously roused at the Amy Goodman/ Democracy Now! talk at the Rio on Sunday, when I'm told that some chickenshit right-wing nutjob has called in a bomb threat to the building. And all I can think is: why are nutjobs always right-wing? You never hear about bomb threats being called in to, like, NRA meetings. Liberals just don't have much interest in getting their weapons of mass destruction on. Maybe it's because we have better sex lives, I just don't know.

Anyway, then I started thinking about how nothing drives all these right-wing nutjobs nuttier than seeing someone trying to make the world a better place. Case in point: the NOFX show last week at the Civic. If you didn't go--and if you're over 30, I know you didn't, because I felt like Grandpa in a sea of younguns--you missed the hands-down most breath-taking, hope-restoring, goddamned inspiring event of this entire election year thus far. And not just because NOFX's Fat Mike was promoting it as the Rock Against Bush tour, or because he had Jello Biafra in there on the middle of the playbill handling the hazardous material about Gulf War II and the state of the American economy that the corporate-owned media won't touch (just like Goodman did, the difference being that she did not return to the stage after her talk to belt out the Dead Kennedys' "Too Drunk to Fuck"). Even more than all that, it was just freakin' unbelievable to see 1200-1400 kids at the Civic roar in approval when Jello or Fat Mike would shout out about providing health care to all Americans or getting Bush the hell out of the White House. Even The Surliest of the Moshers were pumping their fists in support of protecting abortion rights. Fucking awesome. I don't think I've ever felt better about the possibility for positive change in this country this year.

Oh yeah, the show was great, too. Fat Mike tweaked the opening of "Murder the Government" to get in some digs at the Bush Mob (no, he didn't advocate murdering them) and made a subtle but clever change in the lyrics of "Franco Un-American" ("Please don't vote for Nader."). Even though I wanted to hear newer songs like "The Idiots Are Taking Over" (which, in a very punk rock moment, Mike claimed they were simply too lazy to learn live) and "American Errorist," it was actually pretty cool that the band didn't overload the set with their more political stuff. They did break out a lot of favorites, though, from "Stickin' In My Eye" to "The Brews" to "Bob."

But my original point was about how this kind of stuff drives the right-wing nutjobs crazy. And indeed, if you look online, there are at least half a dozen web sites devoted almost solely to trying to tear down NOFX and Fat Mike's punkvoter.com site for putting so much money, time and energy into fighting for what they really believe in. Pathetic. Just to give you a sense, the most articulate of the email criticism I got for my article on the Rock Against Bush tour read, in its totality, "Go teabag a pitbull, you commie punk!" Fascinating and well-argued! Nutjobs of the world unite!

Steve Palopoli

The Joke's on Who?

"I'm Swedish and my pants are tight" was the priceless excuse that (International) Noise Conspiracy frontman Dennis Lyxzen gave for not making any sense last Friday night at the Vet's Hall. Ironically, it was that joke that made it all make sense for me--the absurdly ostentatious banner covering the entire wall behind the stage, the band's uniform of black leather jackets and tight black jeans, the choreographed rock-jumps and rock-kicks, the swinging-and-catching microphone tricks, and the impossibly trite lyrics: "I wanna smash it up / In every way I can / Right now I think I wanna be a man...Smash it up yeah / When I'm down!"--all of it seemed to add up to an SNL spoof of some corporate-made '80s rock band that wished it were The Who.

If we give them the benefit of the doubt, we could say that they're exploiting the corporate music industry that loves and coddles prefab pop-punk rock boy bands, and especially the"dangerous" kind that wear leather, play really loud and are all political and stuff. We could say that they're reaching out to the kids who normally eat that shit up, but with a real subversive message embedded in all the glitz. Judging by all the anarchist propoganda at the merch tables, it looks like they really do have their message where their mouth is. The band admits to aspiring to Phil Ochs' ideal band: "the perfect symbiosis of Elvis and Che Guevara."

That pretty much hits the capitalist nail on the head. They may not be the "perfect" symbiosis, but at least they're fun to watch and they're getting a message across that's a helluva lot more interesting than anything Blink 182 has to say. And by the looks of things, they're having at least as much fun doing it.

Girls Gone Wild!

There was a time when a Hell's Belles show was a sacred affair, a kind of feminist reclamation of cock-rock, or butt-rock, or whatever you want to call it. Even all the sexy antics of lead guitarist Adrian Conner running around in a tiny skirt and taking off her shirt mid-set felt more like a celebration of virile female sexuality than anything else. But can I just tell you that the guitarist for the opening band Hellfire Choir took her shirt off in exchange for six shots of booze? I just had to tell you that.

Mike Connor

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From the April 21-28, 2004 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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