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TRIBESMAN – “When I Father Come.” The music is so free and pleasant, a summery whistling happy synthesizer, a lazy day lilting rhythm, a good day sunshine song, going lazily along, making love in the noon, but . . . . .
Where you gonna run?
* © 1979, Nasus Publishing, Ltd, from Street Level, BOA Records, BOA LP 1001.
The most inspiring concert I ever saw ever ever ever ever was a performance of the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto performed by Itzhak Perlman with the University of New Mexico Symphony Orchestra around 1968. (Don’t sneer, under the baton of Kurt Frederick they were one of the best college orchestras in the U.S. at the time.) As I sat in the dark hall I was lost, I was gone. It was as if I lived inside, I was infused by, I merged with each moment of the music. I was not solitary in my transfiguration. The audience gave the performers a standing ovation between each movement!
Perlman’s recording of the Tchaikovsky isn’t nearly as powerful as my experience that day. But then, perhaps, no recording can replicate the confluence of planets and the sweat of meat and the mountains of atmosphere and the renunciation of consciousness that make one particular evening more magical than all others.
A RANT ABOUT JERRY FALWELL AND THE MORAL MAJORITY
A REAL DREAM:
I am running with many people down a dirt road lined by tall trees on one side and open farm lands on the other. It is a beautiful spring day with the bluest of skies. The earth is trembling, there are screams and distant explosions. Other people run towards us their eyes bulging with terror. In my ears are horrible sounds but I see only this lovely sunny day. There is the roaring of an enormous fire but I see no smoke. Before us a misty human shape rises through the stratosphere spreading his arms for miles. The people I am with are laughing. We run towards him. I feel good.
On the McNeil-Lehrer Report on public television I watch Rev. Jerry Falwell. He is the leader of Moral Majority, Inc., a non-profit organization. He loves to enrage his opponents with his smugness. I look at him closely and I see something beneath the surface of his image on television. I see that he is a demon.
On the George Prentice Show on Wizard Radio, I listen to the quivering voice of a man who leads the local Buffalo branch of an organization called Morality in Media. His group has been picketing porn shops and violent movies and they are trying to ban X-rated programming on cable television. I listen closely and I hear something hidden in his voice. He has the devil caught in his throat.
Both these men are evil. Why do they have such power? Why do they garner such attention? Why do their friends become elected leaders of this country? Why does the Butcher President embrace them? Why do people fear them? Why are they called Christian? Why are they called good? Why can’t people see and hear what is hidden beneath the surface?
Many of the problems these men have made their cause are
legitimate problems. They are obsessed
with some of the major social issues of our time, issues that point to real
evils in the world: what constitutes a healthy family, who should decide how
children are educated, what is the meaning of equality, what is the best way to
deal with the sad complex questions surrounding abortion, what constitutes
healthy sexuality, how does the media affect the public, how do we deal with
pornography, what should be done about the misuse of drugs and alcohol, how can
we best come to terms with our racist past, what kind of national defense do we
need, to what extent should the government interfere with the lives of its
Rev. Falwell has written a book called Listen America! In the concluding chapters he declares:
Listen, America! Our nation is on a perilous path in regard to her political, economic, and military positions. If America continues down the path she is traveling, she will one day find that she is no longer a free nation.*
I certainly can’t disagree with that. The trouble is I think Falwell and his Morality in Media friend represent and espouse the all the evils that are leading to the death of America and the End of the World. I think they are satanic haters of freedom and truth and life. They really bug me. I get upset and start talking to myself. I get headaches. I yell at other people.
The thing I hate most about Rev. Falwell is that he talks a lot like me. At first, I thought I would really put him and his followers in their place with this essay. “I’ll show them!” But after reading Falwell, I realized he and I have nothing to say to one another. If we even met, he would see in me the same godless demonic corruption I see in him. We would both accuse the other of dragging America to Hell. He and I are invincibly self-righteous in our moral stances. He and I are sloppy scholars – we are cavalier in our use of other people’s ideas (though I think he is much worse about this than me; I do not invent quotations on so blatantly use the Bible and other people’s words out of context). We are simplistic and platitudinous when discussing morality. We are both worried about many of the same problems like freedom, Cambodia, and the Third World War. We both have a crappy sense of humor when it comes to ethics. We would sit and glower at each other and nothing would change. He would dismiss me as a humanist saying I place the values of man above those of God. I dismiss him as a charlatan and a facade and a kisser of the Devil’s ass.
Of course, I could endeavor to respond to him intelligently with real facts and valid reasoning. If I did a little research, I could describe how the social changes since the New Deal in the 1930’s have made the Moral Majority almost an historical inevitability. Or I could use the psychoanalysis of Wilhelm Reich and describe the morality cult as a “psychic plague” – mass insanity like that which made possible the rise of Nazism. I could use my knowledge of the Bible to methodically and rationally dispute and disprove the ideology outlined in Falwell's book. But there is something so pointless and ineffectual about reason and facts in the face of Falwell’s smugness. This is because truth and intelligence are the least of his concerns, he and the man from Moraity in Media and their followers simply do not operate on that level. Truth just whizzes past them without ever making contact. I have decided in this essay to commit the foolish error of dealing with these fiends on their own level:
I want to write about them emotionally – morally if you will. I want to imagine I am angering some of them as much as they anger me. I am following my natural predilection for impassioned discourse.
I want to write about these monsters because they are media wizards and because they are inextricably entwined with the End of the World.
* Jerry Falwell. Listen America! New York: Bantam: 1980, page. 213.
WGRQ is the big Abrams station in town. One month the Critic’s Poll is assaulted by an angry letter from the Assistant Music Director of that station:
I hate to turn this column into a grudge match, but after reading last month’s Critics’ Poll, I am forced to withdraw from this feature as of this issue.
Since the column’s inception last September, it has become increasingly obvious that each month’s final tally for best and worst albums are leaning heavily toward the New York City-oriented and New Wave albums, mainly because the core of the critics is made up of people biased toward this musical influence.
I have voiced my complaints privately, but every month the column has become more ludicrous. For a time, I was content with just sending in my entry and hoping that I would make an impact as being the only contributor taking the job seriously, but I soon found myself hopelessly buried in critics naming endless streams of imports, singles, EP’s, British picture-discs and “Swahili Language Versions of the New Bowie album.*
My opinion, of course, is that it is the music policies of his station that have done more to kill music in this area than a thousand critics’ polls could hope to destroy. What a simple minded music-murdering dope. Dale Anderson makes a fine reply:
I also have fretted about the dynamics which have pitted the pop-minded critics against the avant-garde. A balance between these forces would have been ideal. The schism, however, has been a revelation. And it hasn’t shaken my premise that all contributors, regardless of their bent, are united in the search for the visceral excitement and thrill of self-definition that elevate rock’n’roll beyond all factions and labels.
A readers’ poll, though democratically desirable, simply reflects mass sentiment like the annual polls in the rock magazines do. A radio station poll, like Billboard magazine’s merely amalgamates limited playlists. The Gusto Critics’ Poll – like its model, Robert Christgau’s "Pazz and Jop Report” in the Village Voice – is intended to spotlight worthy recordings and focus the various verdicts of informed tastemakers who are in positions to judge at large the vast flow of music biz offerings.*
He goes on to point out that despite these two camps of critics, the poll has been fairly accurate in highlighting albums which endure as classics. It is amusing to see one of these commercially-minded nitwits squirming under the thoughtful opinions of music experts who believe that what sells is not necessarily what is good.* Dale Anderson. “Critic’s Poll.” Buffalo Evening News Gusto, May 12, 1978, Vol. CXCVI, No. 32, page. 31.
JERRY FALWELL CONTINUED . . . .
Why do so many people believe in what people like Jerry Falwell and the man from Morality in Media say, why do people want to follow them to the End of the World, how could anyone think they have the right idea? All I can guess is that many people in this country are driven by a profound, incessant, and unhealable despair. One can speculate on the social economic and psychological reasons for this despair, but I think few would argue that whatever the cause there are many confused fearful unhappy people – masses of them – a huge social trend of sadness in America. The feeling that something is horribly wrong weighs down people’s hearts. It is a feeling shared by all kinds of people, young and old, prosperous and impoverished, hip and square. Everyone wants some kind of cool. They unconsciously bewail the Fall of Man. They smell the stench of the End of the World.Christians like Rev. Falwell and the man from Morality in Media say we are fallen because we strayed too far from God. They speak disingenuously of our nation’s founders who always kept in mind the laws of God when they wrote the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights – a claim any one who paid attention in their high school history class knows to be a lie. Rev. Falwell asserts that he speaks for a majority of Americans: It is not your fault; 84% of you believe in the Ten Commandments according to recent polls; most of you are therefore moral and your rights have been violated by an evil ungodly minority. And the people who listen to him look at the fallen world. They worry about the End of the World. It is easy to imagine it really happening. They see evil things happening everywhere. They direct their anger against faggots, and ragheads, and humanists and all the other people Rev. Falwell and the man from Morality in Media castigate. They blame people who have nothing to do with the hell that burns in their eyes. They never realize that the sources of their sorrow are the politicians, financiers, and broadcasters who align themselves with the evil words of Rev. Falwell and the man from Morality in Media.
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BOB MARLEY AND THE WAILERS – “Trenchtown Rock”
One good thing about music
Oh, what more is there to say? Let’s dance. Let’s kiss. Let’s get naked.
* no date, Cayman Music, Inc. (ASCAP), from Live!, Island ILPS 9376.
JERRY FALWELL CONTINUED . . . .
The man from Morality in Media and Rev. Falwell exemplify
two types of people who emerge as leaders of the desperate crowds of
quasi-Christian sheep. The first is
himself a victim of the despair – so much so he does not know what he is
doing. The second knows exactly what he
is doing – he consciously manipulates people through their sadness and
fear. The first I call the CHEWER OF
DESPAIR. The second I call the TYCOON OF
SADNESS. Below I shall explain each one .
THE CHEWER OF DESPAIR
Our Buffalo friend from Morality in Media is like the first of these manipulators of sadness. I wish you could hear him speak. There is something very odd about him. I get the feeling he is not saying what is really on his mind. His voice quavers, sometimes he almost seems to chant his denunciations of the godless smut vendors. He trembles as if he is about to explode, his rage is almost out of control. I do not think he is full of morality – if there is anything inside him, it is seething demons of fear and sadness. I call him a Chewer of Despair because he gnaws out his own heart.
He becomes a leader because he is so obsessed and articulate that weaklings find him charismatic. Hard-core pornography is not his only concern; he attacks sexiness and violence wherever they occur in the public media. He holds meetings, organizes his cohorts, publishes a newsletter, runs about frantically picketing porn shops, decrying violent children’s shows, speaking against X-rated cable television, condemning homosexual references on television, causing a stir in the newspapers, complaining about violence in the news, monitoring advertisements, protesting un-Christian radio and television programming, censoring books in the public schools, pestering the Board of Education, slandering city officials – spending an unbelievable amount of time and energy ruining people’s lives with his moral cause.
He righteously ignores the fact that his campaign to abolish sex in the media will never succeed as long as basic American freedoms are preserved. In fact, his enemies probably more often than not benefit from the free publicity he provides. Even if every prurient item were expunged from the media, the love of smut would still be nestled close to the American heart. He ignores the sexual sadness that is so easily exploited.
Our friend from Morality in Media thinks he is enraged by smutty violent displays. But he is not. A person does not go through all the incredible trouble to ignore the obvious complexities of a problem unless there is something else driving him. I believe this Chewer of Despair is on the verge of an absolute moral collapse. You can hear it in his voice. There is something really bothering him and it is not the immorality of the world. It is something private – something that is not really your business or mine – something I can never prove – something in his heart of hearts that no one will ever know about.
He is obsessed with what people read in private and what they watch privately on television and what they pay their private money to see in clubs and movie houses. Does he look sadly at all the young bodies he will never touch? Does he regret all the bodies he has touched? Does he regret the way he was touched? Does he think sadly of the bodies he could have touched when he was young before he was married? Does he touch his body now? He uses the word “morality” when he really means “jealousy” and “regret” and “longing.”
It would be the easiest thing in the world to get under the fingernails of his soul – but it would be cruel. He is a sad man. The Chewer of Despair misguides himself – he thinks he speaks like an angel – but the devil is caught in his throat.
A BRIEF ASIDE ON DANTE
I am a language person. When I am confused the first way I seek clarity is with words. When I see a person hurting my world 1 try to articulate the problem. If I can name the sins then I can begin to have power over the troubles I see, I can at the very least see what the world should – but never will – do, and I can perhaps free myself from those who would crush me.
Often when thinking about complex ethical questions I will turn to one of my favorite poets: Dante. Dante was the medieval poet (1265-1321) who wrote one of the most perfect of all literary works: The Divine Comedy, an epic poem in which he is led on a visionary journey through Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven. The work is from the middle ages and is structured by reference to the Roman Catholic catalog of “seven deadly sins”: Pride, Envy, Wrath, Sloth, Avarice, Gluttony, and Lust. Nevertheless, when I sort out the cultural changes that distance me from Dante’s vision, I find him amazingly subtle and true in his understanding of good and evil. With The Divine Comedy, I begin my meditations about morality.
Part of the beauty of The Divine Comedy for me is that I studied a translation by one of the most worldly and beautiful scholars I have ever read – Dorothy L. Sayers. Her translation is wonderfully readable, her notes allow me to comprehend the esoteric subtleties, and her commentary brings the work into The Modern World. (It should also be noted that, even without translating Dante, she would be immortal as the creator of the great detective, Lord Peter Death Bredon Wimsey.)
Dante depicts himself in his epic poem, traveling deeper and deeper into Hell encountering individuals from history and literature who illustrate various sins. Then he travels up the Mountain of Purgatory and talks to truly repentant souls who tell how they atone for their sins. Finally, in Heaven he is provided with a vision of Virtue. In Dante, we have a universe in which the punishment always fits the crime – and the crime is always punished. When I wonder if a person’s actions are virtuous or evil I try to imagine how Dante would view them. Sometimes my virtues are his sins. Sometimes there is a perfect little spot in Hell for a person who acts against obvious virtue. Dante helps me fantasize that the evil people will get theirs in the end. It helps calm me down.
Where would Dante place the Chewer of Despair from Morality in Media? This man is a very ordinary man, really. Freud might say this Chewer is projecting his despair on the world, he is blaming the world – in this case, immoral media – for his own secret sadness. How can someone be condemned because they are forced to strike out only as a consequence of inner pain? In his vision of Purgatory, Dante accounts for the psychological urges that cause us to do wrong. Every wrong act can have several permutations, distinguished by which of the seven deadly sins the act is driven. A murder can be committed because of Pride or Envy or Lust or any of the other sins.
Clearly, the man from Morality in Media is driven by
Wrath. Dorothy Sayers defines Wrath as
“love of justice perverted to revenge and spite”* and it is true that some of
the evils about which our Chewer is concerned are evil. “The effect of Wrath,” says Sayers, “is to
blind the judgment and to suffocate the natural feelings and responses, so that
a man does not know what he is doing.”**
A sinner who is guilty of Wrath is punished in Dante’s Hell by being
choked and blinded by the irrationality and simple-mindedness that drove him
through life. Thus, in Hell, the
Wrathful end up wallowing in their anger, cursing and mauling themselves and
each other in the polluted River Styx.
If the Wrathful truly repent, they will wander through blinding choking
smoke on the Mountain of Purgatory until purged of their sin. Will our friend from Morality in Media ever
stop chewing his heart, or will he continue in blind anger to the end of his
* Dante. The Divine Comedy: 2 – Purgatory, trans.
Dorothy Sayers, Baltimore: Penguin, 1955, page 67.
** Dante. The Divine Comedy: 2 – Purgatory, page 192.
It was about 5:30 a.m. and I was feeling kind of drowsy. Gary put on the Bloch Concerto Grosso; the conversation was winding down. Gary was talking about being angry. He said Frank Zappa and William S. Burroughs were probably more pissed off than he, but that “I’m totally pissed off most of the time. The reason I’m pissed off is because I believe in what people are capable of. I don’t resign myself. I don’t ever want to resign myself to . . . .” He paused and listened to the Bloch. “Listen to that chord change,” he said quietly. “It’s beautiful. See, I deal with beauty. I deal with the greatest things human beings create. That’s what my show does. The greatness of human beings. And I could never resign myself to believing that all human beings weren’t capable of making a beautiful world rather than a hell, which is obviously what we try to do if we allow millions of people to be murdered in Cambodia, even if, like, the Holocaust won the Arbitrons on television.”
“My heroes in literature and in movies, like in Ionesco’s Rhinoceros – in the plot of the story, the world around him, all the people are turning into rhinoceroses, the obvious meaning being that human beings have all become beasts. And one guy doesn’t. At the end, he’s saying ‘I will never give up. You’ll never make me become a beast.’ Or the other people like that guy in the play, A Thousand Clowns, or the hero of King of Hearts. Those are my favorite kinds of heroes, the type that are first insane but are the ones that don’t give up. That being a human being is a beautiful, wonderful, riotous, glorious, total orgasmic-type insane delight that need not be hell”*
Did I really say all those silly things? Richard taped and transcribed them word for
word, so I guess I did. I feel a little foolish. I know exactly what these semi-grammatical
mumblings are about, but I wonder if other people understood. I come across like some kind of nut. My friend Jay Boyar who is himself a writer
for the Courier-Express reassures me. People
who find themselves in print, he tells me, tend to think of those words as
engraved in bronze and placed on a wall in Grand Central Station for everyone
to memorize and discuss. Think of how
you read an article, he says. And I
remember that I skim over interviews in the newspaper, put them down and almost
never think about them again. Rats. No one will think I am cool. No one will think I’m an asshole.
* Richard Chon. “Nibbling on Extra Cheese: When Gary Storm Makes Music.” SUNY at Buffalo Spectrum, March 28, 1980, Vol. 30, No. 74, page 10 ff.
JERRY FALWELL CONTINUED: THE TYCOON OF SADNESS
Rev. Jerry Falwell is like the second of the manipulators of sadness. I believe that many of the leaders of religious and morality cults, as well as Madison Avenue advertisers, and many politicians like Ronald Reagan’s “advisors” all know exactly what they are doing: they are trying to control vast segments of the populace through fear and despair and frustration. I call them Tycoons of Sadness because they profit from the confusion and terror and sadness of human beings. They have learned to profit from the Fall of Humanity.
One of the most notable aspects of Rev. Falwell’s book Listen America! is the striking closeness with which it parallels the platform upon which Ronald Reagan based his presidential campaign. Issue by issue Rev. Falwell discusses from a religious standpoint the same problems and solutions Reagan recited on the campaign trail: the fearful spread of godless communism; the inadequacy of the U.S. military to address the Soviet threat; the economic problems caused by the welfare state; the capacity of the godly free enterprise system to solve all our problems; the lack of strong leadership; the claim that government has become too big; the anti-capitalist attack on big businessmen by government regulations and environmentalists and labor unions; the usual catalog of sexual issues like the break-up of the family, feminism, sex education, abortion, homosexuality, smutty television, and pornography. I know there have been many religious types who have involved themselves in national politics (like Carl McIntyre), but the coincidental timing between the founding of Moral Majority, Inc. and Reagan’s rise to genuine power, as well as the ideological parallels, are so close it is easy in paranoid moments to imagine a fantastic scenario like the following.
“Boss, we need something to unify all those disparate conservative groups. Y’know, we gotta get all those dimwitted nuts like the Right-to-Lifers and the anti-feminists to vote for us.”
“Hey! How about religion? The ol’ opiate-of-the-masses routine was always hot. We need some guy to come along and say that God is on our side, y’know, you abortion haters and anti-environmentalists are all on the same team as us, God’s team!”
“Great idea! How ‘bout if we call up that old coot, Falwell. He would be perfect. He’s got a good conservative reputation, he acts like he really believes in what he’s saying, and he looks great on the tube. Let’s run it up the flagpole and see who farts.”
“Great! I’ll get him on the phone. Now, where’s that cocksucking number . . . . . ?“
Just how calculating and evil is Rev. Falwell? No one will ever know how much he believes in what he says. I personally suspect he does not think Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Light anymore than any Madison Avenue advertiser believes Tide gives the brightest wash. In fact, one of the most difficult problems for me in writing this essay was the futility of dealing with Falwell’s “ideas.” Falwell is not interested in being rational. He has no qualms about using mindless slogans, platitudes, slander, lies, he freely misquotes his sources, takes statements totally out of context, invents quotations, invents facts, ignores facts. He markets his product so that the simplest mind can grasp it without a second thought. There is no arguing with Falwell – he does not use arguments.
He is powerful at persuading people because he is a media wizard. He is absolutely cool. He is fabulous to watch. His smugness drives his opponents wild. Smugness is a technique of bypassing reason. He is such a skillful user of media that he does not need reason. The racism and facism and satanisin drop from his shoulders in filthy bloody shreds and yet he acts as if he is the mouthpiece of an angel. In truth, he speaks with the voice of the devil – but he does not believe the devil really exists. He does not believe there will be any price to pay for being a Tycoon of Sadness. It would be quite easy to awaken people to the fact that Falwell is a bad man. But, alas, there are no Edward R. Murrows around today.
A SECOND BRIEF ASIDE ON DANTE
I think I have found a place in Dante’s Hell for Rev. Falwell among the Flatterers. Flattery is one of the many kinds of Fraud which is the perversion of the intellect. Dante has all the souls who have committed this sin floundering for all eternity in shit. As Dorothy Sayers explains in her notes, these sinners exploit others by playing upon their desires and fears; their especial weapon is that abuse and corruption of language which destroys communication between one human mind and another. In Dante’s Hell they are plunged in the slop and filth which they excreted upon the world. Dante did not live to see the full development of political propaganda, commercial advertisements, and sensational journalism, but he has prepared a place for the perpetrators of these evils.*
Rev. Falwell thinks he can manipulate people with words,
that he can exploit their sadness without ever paying for it. But it is nice to imagine all the filth from
his mouth being carefully stored for him to suck for all eternity.
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I hate to be the one to tell you, but you have not lived until you have heard BONGO JOE. Allow me to give you birth. His real name is GEORGE COLEMAN and he plays “a 55 gallon oil drum shaped with a hand ax in a curious series of dents, bulges, cuts and wrinkles.” He’s a street musician, and I hope he’s still alive. In 1968, he put out an album on Arhoolie. “I Wish I Could Sing” he intones, he chants, he hums, he grumbles, he warbles, ah! He sings!
JERRY FALWELL CONTINUED . . . .
So the Chewers of Despair and the Tycoons of Sadness play
upon the fear and sadness and frustration of millions of people, and the
people, desperate for simple problems and simple solutions, close their eyes
The name of Rev. Falwell’s nonprofit organization – Moral Majority – is founded on the phony presumption that 84% of all Americans agree with him because 84% of Americans believe in the Ten Commandments. I would like to know what manipulative false dichotomies were posed to the people who took the poll that arrived at that figure. I’ll bet the numbers wouldn’t come out the same if the sample were taken only from people who could demonstrate that they have actually read the Bible.
Most of Americans who call themselves Christians – probably 99.9999% of Americans who call themselves Christians – have not read the Bible. Otherwise they would know that the Ten Commandments are part of Mosaic Law – the Laws that Moses gave his people – and, if you take the words of the Bible on their face, Jesus threw out the whole shebang. That’s why, despite the Laws of Moses, you can eat shellfish and pig and why true Christians cannot demand an eye for an eye. Jesus threw out huge hunks of, if not all of Mosaic law, including the Ten Commandments. The Bible sez so: one of the Pharisees (of whom Falwell would certainly have been a member) demanded of Jesus:
“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: “‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”*
The way I read this is that, for Christians, the Ten Commandments went out the window. Jesus said there used to be ten but now we only need two. WE ONLY NEED TWO! Which is a good thing because most of the Ten Commandments are pretty screwy anyway.
And don’t forget that the Apostle Paul (in defiance of those Bible pretzelers who say he was adopting the Ten Commandments) (and in spite of that vision he had on the road to Damascus which proves he was a psychotic loony brain) said – and he really said it – there is really ONLY ONE COMMANDMENT:
The commandments, “Do not commit adultery,” “Do not murder,” “Do not steal,” “Do not covet, and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.**
LOVE IS THE FULFILLMENT OF THE LAW!!!!! THAT’S IT!!! NOTHIN’ ELSE!!! WE ONLY NEED ONE!!! ONE COMMANDMENT GODDAMNIT!!!!!!
Of course, the people who follow Falwell have no interest in the Commandment of Love. In fact they will do anything – steal, lie, fuck, covet, put their faith in money, worship Falwell’s god, vainly vomit avowals of Love, poison their Mama Earth and Father Sky, darken the sanctity of each sunrise, even kill – to avoid following this Commandment.
I must admit, there are few lifestyles more difficult or unpleasant than being a real Christian. I mean, if I had to act the way Jesus wanted us to act, I would not only have to give up my record collection. I would have to give love and compassion to the world’s most wretched monstrous repulsive creatures. I would have to love Ronald Reagan!!!! I’d have to love the CEO of Exxon!!!! I’D HAVE TO LOVE JERRY FALWELL!!!! I’d have to waste my life trying to convince those filthy satanic sons-of-bitches not to be evil! No way that’s going to happen. I ain’t no Christian.
If the Tycoons and Chewers have to love their neighbors as they do themselves they cannot carry on with their campaign of hatred and bigotry against homosexuals and humanists and Muslims and all the other groups Falwell demonizes. Falwell counts on the fact that most of the pinheads who call themselves Christians haven’t read the Bible and don’t know he’s pulling the wool over their eyes. Bottom line: if Moral Majority, Inc. is comprised of people who believe in the Ten Commandments, it ain’t moral, it ain’t the majority, and it ain’t Christian.
* Bible, Matthew 22: 36-40, NIV Translation.
** Bible, Romans 13: 8-10, NIV Translation.
THE CHIEF ENGINEER
The Chief Engineer of my radio station is Mark Fruhauf. He loves James Joyce and plays the violin and never comes to work before 1:00 in the afternoon. The most magical person at any radio station is the chief engineer. His province is all the technical mechanical electrical property of a radio station. Mark came at 4:00 a.m. on Christmas morning to repair the transmitter last year; he keeps our cranky tape decks running; he constantly repairs our poor old cart machines that we are too impecunious to replace; he has to be up-to-date on all the changes in the FCC rules and regulations; he teaches all the inept bumblers who want to learn to be his assistants.
Mark is in charge of a large part of the station’s budget because he orders parts and equipment. When we were negotiating with the FCC for an increase of power, it was Mark who had to deal with the Canadian stations whose frequencies we might intrude; Mark had to submit a proposal to the lumbering cogs of bureaucracy in the FCC; for three solid years in battled malicious delays contrived by the paranoidal masturbatory retarded bureaucrats in Albany who approved the budget for the new transmitter; he had to negotiate with the contractors who were to install our new 21,300 watt system.
Mark is in charge of ordering tape and keeping the coffeemaker running. He has built up a staff of co-engineers who are the smartest and most personable people in the station, like John Farrell and Stu Ledger and Dan Gurzynsky; he trained them and they possess his secret knowledge. He can tell you things about other radio stations, who is an alcoholic, who can be trusted, what their equipment is like, what they think about our silly little public station, who wouldn’t know good radio from a boil on a rat’s ass.Chief Engineers in a literal sense have the power of the station in the palms of their hands: in a commercial station especially the marketing and program and music directors and the general manager without the chief engineer are nothing. It is only a radio station as long as he is there. But if he leaves those other leeches will soon crackle and fade from your receivers. Mark is special even for chief engineers. He and I spent many nights together totally wasted wandering winter nights suffering over the loss of our girl friends. He has one of the most fascinating record collections I have ever seen, spanning from Tim Buckley to Frank Sinatra to Brahms to Hank Williams. He just bought a sailboat and spends his rare free time dreaming on the lake. And you know in those rare moments when he finds the time to produce a show, it is always a marvelous gem.
JERRY FALWELL CONTINUED . . . .
It is banally obvious that many of the concerns of the morality cults lead by Rev. Falwell and the man from Morality in Media are explicitly sex related: the break-up of the family, sex education, feminism, abortion, homosexuality, pornography, the throbbing beat of rock and roll. These morality people seem to think about nothing but sex. In fact, I believe they literally think of nothing but sex and do little more than yank their crank. Recently I have been reading the works of the visionary poet Gary Snyder and he has written lucid passages that speak directly to this situation.
In a culture where the aesthetic experience is denied and atrophied, genuine religious ecstasy rare, intellectual pleasures scorned – it is only natural that sex should become the only personal epiphany of most people and the culture’s interest in romantic love take on staggering size.*
Those who do not even have the courage to pursue their own
soggy little sexual fantasies want to kill the dreams of everyone else. It was a long time before the ancestors of
these pathetic haters-of-reality accepted the discoveries of Galileo; for 150
years they have been struggling with the ideas of Darwin; it was only a few
years ago that one wicked little branch of the Baptist Church decided to allow Negroes into
their congregations. How many millennia
will it be before they are forced to cope with Freud and Wilhelm Reich who
would tell them they worship sex above any god.
* Gary Snyder. Earth House Hold. New York: New Directions, 1957, page. 19.
A Letter from a Listener:
I am a fan of the one true great all-time all-American voice of America radio show Oil of Dog, hosted by the one and only Gary Storm.
I was back in Cleveland over Christmas, and was so disappointed (because I missed a few shows and also) to hear at seven o’clock “Stay tuned for the News”. The news comes and goes but rock’n’ roll is forever.
I picked up some hitch-hikers in Cleveland who were heading back to Buffalo, and we spent a little time discussing some of the great cultural achievements around the country, and some of the great points of interest; but most of the time we laughed about Oil of Dog.
Wake Up America!
JERRY FALWELL CONTINUED . . . .
At the end of his book, Listen America!, Falwell lists five sins of America “that have political consequences, political implications, that moral Americans need to be ready to face.”* These show how silly and simple – how truly pathetic – Falwell’s “moral” world really is. He lists four of his sordid sexual favorites: abortion, homo-sexuality, pornography, and the fractured family, and throws in the sin of “Humanism – the contemporary philosophy that glorifies man as man, apart from God.”** This petty, heartless, meanspirited little list, according to Falwell, comprises the five most important problems in America. They are the evils that are undermining our freedom, destroying our economy, stealing our jobs, giving the communists superior strength, and dragging America to hell. There is no question that the United States is a sinful nation. But Falwell’s list is designed for wicked little pus-heads who do not have the courage to see the true evils of The Modern World. My list of America’s five worst sins is different:
1. Genocide – the butchering of vast numbers of people in the name of some cause or for the expedient realization of a particular goal. Falwell accuses the communists of this but does not mention how genocide is a key element of U.S. foreign policy as it has been subverted to the interests of big corporations.
2. Bigotry – the butchering of the minds, lifestyles, education, happiness, culture, neighborhoods, and bodies of vast numbers of Americans based solely on their race, religion, sexual orientation, or nationality. Even though Jesus said that, along with loving God, nothing was more important than loving your neighbor as your self, Falwell does not seem bothered by the cruelty most of the people who call themselves Christians visit on their neighbors.
3. Environmental Destruction – the butchering of the Mother Earth who sustains us all. Falwell does not think this is a problem at all. In fact, he damns environmentalists for interfering with godly capitalism and saintly free enterprise.
4. The Redistribution of Wealth from the Poor and Middle Class to the Powerful and Rich – the butchering of our entire economic system, and the middle class, and the impoverished, so that the economy functions to the benefit of the wealthy few. Falwell condemns any ideology that seeks to limit the murderous consequences of an unregulated market. Perhaps more importantly, he knows that as long as the masses are sad, struggling, and poor, they will be easy to manipulate.
5. The Fear of Democracy – the butchering the axiomatic inalienable rights upon which the United States was founded. Falwell brandishes a hokey “morality” that he would use to replace the Bill of Rights. Though Falwell warns about our freedom being taken away by the communists, in truth, there is nothing he loathes more than freedom of religion, freedom of privacy, and freedom of thought.
That's my list friends. These are the sins that will fry your pecker, dry up your womb, and wipe out your bank account. These sins are the harbingers of the End of the World.
* Jerry Falwell. Listen America! New York: Bantam: 1980, page. 221.
** Falwell, page 222.
“That’s right,” said Alec. “You don’t listen to this concert – you watch it. Now pay attention.”
As the conductor waved his arms, he molded the air like handfuls of soft clay, and the musicians carefully followed his every direction.
“What are they playing?” asked Tock, looking up inquisitively at Alec.
“The sunset, of course. They play it every evening, about this time.”*
How many people have told me that Norton Juster’s The
Phantom Tollbooth was their absolute favorite book as a child? I read the book over eight mornings. The day of the first chapter someone calls:
“What a fucking asshole you are. I want to
hear music. Oh man, why do you do this
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JERRY FALWELL CONTINUED:
THE SILENT MAJORITY
Recently in Buffalo there was a well-publicized Nazi rally planned for Martin Luther King’s birthday. As it turns out, very little happened. Hundreds of people came to protest and only one self-proclaimed Nazi showed his face. It was considered a victorious day for human rights.
But I discussed this a lot with John Farrell. John awakened me to the idea that it is not the Nazi philosophy that caused such a stir. It was the packaging. The Nazi icon is just not desirable to most people anymore. It lost something of its flair after the Second World War. I mean, when people learned about millions of Jews being murdered in the name of Nazism, the swastika logo no longer seemed fashionable. Letting people know about all those deaths was a bad marketing move. But even though the Nazi image has lost its appeal, people still love the ideas it stood for. They still think there is a righteous superior – moral – group of people who should have absolute say over everyone else.
The Tycoons of Sadness and Chewers of Despair have picked all the elements of fascism, but they have packaged it in the good old wholesome – and infinitely more powerful – cross. They want an invincible military of soldiers for god. They want to limit the rights of non-Christians. While demanding small government on the one hand, they call for “big religion” in which “moral” codes legislate the most private aspects of life. They want government to serve the interests of big businesses so that fewer and fewer control more and more of the wealth. They want censorship; for the moment they censor only sexual matters, but soon they will attack non-Christian, humanistic, and liberal media. They want to “deal with” minorities; they oppose bussing and accuse brown-skinned people of misusing welfare; other races must be kept from “infringing on the rights of the majority.” They want to abolish sex education and certain scientific notions like evolution because they threaten their shallow dimwitted understanding of the Bible. They want to continue that good old sex-obsessed repression; the want to crush sex education, abortion, pornography, feminism, and homosexuality because the Tycoons know that one of the best ways to manipulate great masses of people is to take advantage of their sexual sadness.
And the followers cry hallelujah to people like Falwell who say, “It is not your fault. You are moral, you are on the right side. If you feel your life is hell, remember you were put there by the evil few. It is the Jews, not you. It is the witches, not you. It is the Japs, not you. It is the Comies, not you. It is the Gooks, not you. It is the niggers, not you. It is the Arabs, not you. It is the queers, not you. It is the abortionists, not you. It is the pornographers, not you. It is the environmentalists, not you. It is the humanists, not you. You must rise up and demand the annihilation of these evil people who are ruining your life.” This has happened many times in history. It is happening now in the United States.
A THIRD BRIEF ASIDE ON DANTE
One of my favorite parts of The Divine Comedy is very near the beginning when Dante enters the Vestibule just outside of Hell. There he sees an enormous swarm of wailing cursing souls chasing after an ensign which is carried beyond their reach by wind. These are the souls of the Futile,
Whose lives knew neither praise nor infamy;
They’re mingled with that caitliff angel-crew
Heaven cast them forth – their presence there would dim
The Vestibule of Hell is more populous than all the rest of Hell and Purgatory and Heaven combined. These are the souls who never really lived, who never committed themselves to either good or evil. Here are the masses who chose not to choose, who followed those who said “You are right, you do not have to change your life, you do not have to worry, you do not have to be inconvenienced, you do not have to think, we will tell you what is good and evil, you will follow what we call good, you do not have to look at the world as it is, we will tell you what is going on, we will name all the evil sinners, you will vote for those whom we recommend, you will follow the lifestyle we recommend, you will place your will in our hands and we will rule your life for you.”
To Dante, the Futile are the most wretched miserable godless untouchable worthless filthy bags-of-worse-than-shit in the universe. Even the Wrathful and the Flatterers, the murderers, adulterers, child rapers, sodomites, atheists, heretics, and thieves are less loathsome than these pointless creepers who merely follow. It is better to rapturously embrace evil than to mindlessly do what you are told. These are the Silent Majority who never chose to be human beings. They never chose to use the beautiful mind that makes humans different from all other creatures; they never used the gift of Free Will given by God. They are so base and obscene that they must be kept outside of Hell proper, lest the sinners – the ones who chose evil – would be comforted knowing they are better off than others. No one in Hell is allowed any comfort. That is why no one in Hell can be aware of the Futile
Dante. The Divine Comedy: 1 – Hell, trans. Dorothy Sayers, Baltimore: Penguin, 1949, page 86.
Talking to a somewhat loaded Willy DeVille – leader of the soulful new wave group Mink DeVille – backstage in a noisy dressing room. Outside Elvis Costello is getting ready to go on stage. I have been up for more than thirty hours and am about to collapse. Earlier this day I spoke with Dave Edmunds and Nick Lowe.
Gary: Ummrnmm . . . . the subjects of your songs. They almost all seem to be love songs.
Willy DeVille: I’m-I’m a kind of a . . . . . hard-core romantic. Idonknow.
G: Yeah, it’s yer-tha-you really are a romantic band.
W: You bet. Yeh. You know . . . . . it’s real easy to walk around, y’know, pretending you’re hard, hahahaha, that’s really easy, y’know. I mean . . . . you gotta be you gotta be kinda tough to have a, y’know, real heart, y’know? ‘Cause you feel those kicks more than somebody who don’t have the brains nor the heart, y’know what I mean?
G: (croaking voice) I could tell a story or two. (Everyone laughs.)
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WILDMAN FISCHER. You cannot listen to this whole album without feeling sad and wondering about yourself. Wildman Fischer is and was a street singer in Los Angeles. FRANK ZAPPA plopped him in a recording studio and produced a brutally cold portrait of this sad crazy wonderful performer. Along with his disturbing monologues about hating his mother, Wildman sings some of the world’s greatest acapella rock songs.
bow ba ba bow bow
ba bow baba bow baba bowbow bow
Eeee-uh eee-uh eeeee hooooo!
Monkeys versus donkeys
What a pleasure to hear him sing the drums and guitars much
as we all do when singing a rock song in the shower.
* Wildman Fischer. “Monkeys vs Donkeys.” © 1968, Bizarre Music Co. (BMI), from An Evening with Wildman Fisher, Bizarre, 2X5-6332.
|JERRY FALWELL CONCLUDED: FREEDOM OF WILL
One of the biggest surprises in Falwell’s book for me is his constant use of the word “freedom.” He emphasized the freedom that we enjoy as Americans and the ways it is being destroyed by the evil minority of non-Christians and the godless communists. I find this odd because I think there is nothing the Chewers of Despair and Tycoons of Sadness find more vulgar and terrifying and obscene than freedom. And I think their followers would rather die – more than that, would rather go to Hell – than be free. The last thing in the world they want to see is people being responsible for their own lives. That is because being free – abiding by the dictates of one’s own mind and heart – is the hardest road of all. It is more difficult than morality. It is more difficult than religion. It is more difficult than laws. I love the way Gary Snyder talks about freedom:
Discipline of self-restraint is an easy one; being clearcut, negative, and usually based on some accepted cultural values. Discipline of following desires, always doing what you want to do, is hardest. It presupposes self-knowledge of motives, a careful balance of free action and sense of where the cultural taboos lay – knowing whether a particular “desire” is instinctive, cultural, personal, a product of thought, contemplation, or the unconscious.*
Freedom implies knowledge of one’s self. One must know what causes one’s desires, one must know the consequences of one’s actions, one must establish alone the criteria for making decisions, one must be personally responsible for every aspect of life. Only the flimsiest of religions (or governments for that matter) are threatened by true freedom.
As interesting as is Falwell’s constant use of the word “freedom” is that, throughout Listen America!, he makes almost no mention of Jesus Christ. He calls himself a “fundamental, independent, separatist Baptist.”** and talks a lot about God and godliness and the Bible. Why did he think Jesus was too controversial to mention? I am not, never was, and never will be a Christian, but I think one thing Christ stands for is freedom. Christ makes it possible for all people to save themselves. He says the bad and good are at your command – you are free to choose. God gave you a beautiful, powerful mind with which to understand the world and choose the right way to live. And for many people, this is the most horrible admission of all: that they have a choice, that the world need not end, that we need not perpetrate evil, that our lives need not be hell. This is the worst confession: I have ruined my life of my own free will. It is much easier to blame your troubles on an evil minority. It is much easier to follow those who claim the world is simple. But we are all free. We can act in favor of love instead of power. In favor of truth instead of wrath. In favor of heaven instead of hell. In favor of beauty instead of lies. In favor of life instead of death.
The Chewers of Despair and the Tycoons of Sadness and their followers pretend to have the minds of worms. They want to see the world with worm-like simplicity. They read a worm Bible, they worship a worm religion, they vote in a worm nation, they obey worm laws, they creep blindly, they choose not to see. Their Lord is the Lord of Flies. Their Savior is Slavery. The beams of their Cross are Fear and Despair.
If Christians are right about anything at all and the Lord does appear on the Last Day and send all the good people to Heaven and all the bad people to Hell – I sure hope He knows what’s what. If I don’t see William S. Burroughs, Michael McClure, Samuel Becket, Gregory Bateson, Kenneth Patchen, Wilhelm Reich, Thomas Paine, George Carlin, William Blake, Howard Zinn, John Brown, Robert Creeley, Che Guevara, Lenny Bruce, Scott B. and Beth B., Crazy Horse, Black Elk, Sun Ra, Jim Morrison, Noam Chomsky, Chris Williamson, Ian Dury all sailing on gleeful golden wings – and if I don’t see Rev. Jerry Falwell, Ronald Reagan, Edmund Burke, Senator Joseph McCarthy, Richard Nixon, Henry Kissinger, David Rockefeller, Nelson Rockefeller, Alexander Haig screaming in the Pit – then it will only prove that the whole universe in its most basic structure even down to the mind of God is a total fucked up failure.
Hand me an anchor, Boss, and throw me away.
* Gary Snyder. Earth House Hold. New York: New Directions, 1957, pages 18-19.
** Jerry Falwell. Listen America! New York: Bantam: 1980, page. 224.
A large city in Western Europe is decimated by a nuclear reactor accident. Not long after, a large region of Canada is rendered uninhabitable by a nuclear meltdown. Millions of people die. The U.S. government, which exists only to serve big business, continues its plans for expansion of the breeder reactor program. There are huge demonstrations. Cities around the globe are inflamed by “Solar Riots” and antinuclear strikes. It is a wonderful time for rock’n’roll.
|Just hanging out playing records for the people. Zgeech! the needle gives a wild skip and jumps across the gooves ripping the airwaves. A somewhat shaken beetle bug totters across the spinning record. I stop the record and tell my listeners, “You won’t believe this but an actual bug just crawled in front of the needle! That’s a real scientifically true fact! Honest! I just had to stop and tell ya . . . .”||Image under construction.|
|THE HOLY ADVENT OF IAN DURY AND THE BLOCKHEADS
One of the most glorious events in all my experience as a disc jockey was the day Ian Dury and The Blockheads came to the station for an interview. They had opened for Lou Reed the night before and I was waiting at WBFO with some engineers and friends for their arrival. We expected him to ride up in a rented car or limousine as do most of the personalities we interview. They got lost on the way and called us for directions. I promised to meet them outside the station. Suddenly, an enormous touring bus pulled up and it was clowns and wild animals and death-defying feats!!! One at a time they emerged from the bus, first Ian Dury with his walking stick, grinning his two bottom front teeth flashing the Union Jack, followed by roadies, musicians, and trails of managers and promoters and pretty girls and reporters, each one with their hand on the person before in a long line chanting
Chips and beans
Chips and beans
Chips and beans
Chips and beans . . . .
over and over, rocking and chanting, threading their way into the building one step do-that-move another step do-that-move one step Chips and beans two step Beef bur-ger and down the hall and into the elevator all of us at the same time Chips and beans and down the hall Beef bur-ger and into our prestigious Studio A where Mark Fruhauf was making the place jump with “Sex and Drugs and Rock and Roll” and they tumbled into the station and the place was sprawling with people.
I was dying, laughing and dying. Here they were so alive and real and I came with a bunch of dopey questions about musical influences and childhood diseases culled from a bunch of dopey magazine articles. I said, “My goodness!” I sat around the microphones with Ian Dury and some of the musicians and tried to talk. He was not in the least interested in doing a traditional interview and I had trouble understanding his Essex accent, I didn’t know what to say or do, I lost my cool, he asked us about all kinds of music, what do we play at our station and he was pleased by what I told him. I asked him about their chant and he said it was a sign they saw along the way, “Cause we’re all vegetarians.” He expressed approval for American lettuce, “It’s the most tasteful thing I’ve found over here, it’s got more character.”
Gary: Umm . . . . . well, do you have ideas about what you want to do here?
Ian Dury: Yeah, you got any Sun Ra records?
G: Yes, we do!
I asked questions about his extraordinary Blockheaded musicians, the music he grew up hearing.
D: If you got something that’s essentially English in its character, it’s essentially non-danceable.
G: Oh, really? Th- . . . . . . . . . . . . (long pause as Ian holds his soda up to the microphone) . . . . . . Yer listening to the carbonation?
D: Yeah, listening to the ummm, Lyndon Johnson’s wet dreams.
G: Hahahahahaha. I-I don’t think that his was that effervescent, if you want to know the truth!
He said things like “C’mon, let’s get some activity going on here.” I just didn’t know what to do.
G: One thing I wanted to ask you, if you want to liven things up, do you have a favorite dirty song? Like . . . . .
D: Yeah . . . . . . . . anything off The Heliocentric Worlds of Sun Ra LP.
G: Oh, is that dirty? Do you want to play it, shall we listen to it?
Everyone in the Room: Yeah yeah. Yeah.
After listening to The Heliocentric Worlds of Sun Ra:
G: Tell us, ah, why-why did you ask to have that music played?
D: ‘Cause you said, “Did you want anything played.”
Voice in the Background: I think it sounds like blockheaded animal frequencies.
G: Blockheaded animal frequencies
D: To me, I don’t wanna talk about it.
G: You don’t want to talk about it.
D: No. No.
G: Jus-just listen.
D: Yeah, just listen to it. I f you don’t wanna listen to it turn it off.
My mind swirled heliocentrically and sat down plop on the floor of my skull.
D: I mean, that’s all that we do: is make you wanna get up. That’s the first thing, that’s the first duty we got. To ourselves as well as to other people is to make it danceable. If it isn’t danceable, it ain’t worth a light as far as I’m concerned, as for any of us. It’s gotta be there, if it ain’t in us. That’s the primary function, I would say.
My mind danced and pranced trying to keep cool, trying to think of something to say, bounding through his thick Essex tongue. My brains spilled out my ears.
D: Now, look, I’ve just spilled my lemonade.
G: . . . . . Umnmm . . . . . . . wha-, tell me about the Blockheads, is-is this, you about this almost as if it’s an idea more than just a group.
D: No, it’s not an idea, it’s a complete lack of ideas.
D: It represents itself, it becomes an idea of you talk about it, it’s very dangerous.
G: I mean – are you espousing a way of life?
D: No, no!
Voices in the Background: No no no. No. Yeah.
D: Completely not.
G: Do anything . . . . .
D: Some said yes, some said no, see? See what I mean?
G: (Looking around at everyone.) No? Yes?
Voices: No. Yes.
D: You can’t talk about it. You really can’t talk about it. If you talk about it you destroy it.
Voice: Definite maybe.
D: You turn it into bullshit. Straight away. As soon as you talk about it.
G: Oh, I see. Okay.
D: You just can’t help that.
G: So so so . . . . . people out there in the listening world, will just have to pi-pick up bbockheadedness from . . . . . .
D: Well, I can describe the behavior patterns of a blockhead.
G: Oh, yes? What are they?
D: Politeness coupled with stupidity.
G: Hahahaha. Politeness coupled with stupidity?
D: Yeah, but that’s only a behavior pattern. That isn’t a rule or anything. That’s just what happens, when you find . . . . . this is what you find.
G: Ah. The stupidity part I think I go-I’ve got down. I’m not so sure about the politeness.
D: I say, you don’t think we’re polite, eh? Mmmmm. Hahaha.
G: I’m not – I might not be polite.
D: Oh, I see.
D: I see what you mean by that, then. Well, then we’re all blockheads in
G: Yes. That’s true. There’s another group that says we’re all DEVO.
D: (Robot voice) WE ARE NOT DEVO WE DID NOT GO TO ART SCHOOL.
G: Oh. Oh, you’re not DEVO, huh? But wait, wait a second. You used to paint, didn’t you?
D: I used to paint houses, that was the outside, I was the house painter.
D: There’s a lot of lies being spread about me.
Ever more polite and stupid, I asked about their song “Billaricki Dickie” but I mispronounced all the accents calling it “Billercray Dickie.” Everyone in the room laughed and laughed and laughed at me. I got a quick lesson in Essex.
As we talked, Mark put more songs on the turntable: “Blacknuss” by Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Little Richard’s “Send Me Some Lovin’,” and “Woman Love” by Gene Vincent after which everyone in the room intoned a benediction of “Yeah” and “Great.” With a resounding “Oy! Oy!” the interview was sealed and this magical troop gathered themselves and drifted out.
Watching all this with wonder and astonishment were two friends of mine who had never heard of Ian Dury. They were on their way back to Ithaca, the same town where the Blockheads were performing the following night. Since my friends were out of cash, the drummer gave them money so they could see the show. As I walked him to the bus, Ian told me about the blonde woman who sat darkly in a corner throughout the interview. She was a prostitute from the Holiday Inn. They paid her $40 to come along and take a rest from her work.
Saint Ian climbed into the bus and with a strident “Oy! Oy!” was gone, aliver than anyone I’ve ever met.
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A band of monsters. ARMAGEDDON. They only needed one album to destroy the world. This song “Buzzard,” Keith Relfs singing in dark canyons far removed from the Yardbirds, that thundering panting ripping guitar by Martin Pugh. Every time I play this I die. This is a Bible for heavy metal, for earth rock, for music at the End of the World.
|I believe that in his last years as anchorman, Walter Cronkite became an alcoholic. Toward the end, he kept making mistakes, reading the wrong page, stumbling over words, smiling secretly. A few years back, this would have been impossible. I think he got depressed by the news. He was sad that the dissemination of information on a global scale had done so little good; that actual knowledge had not been enough to avert disaster. Trying to tell the truth was useless. Things were getting worse. Walter Cronkite failed. He must have been privy to facts behind the news that we normal folks never heard about. It must have killed him every time he said, “That’s the way it is;” he knew more than he was telling. “Walter, Walter,” said Mrs. Cronkite, “Everything will be fine, you’ll see.” But he could not stop this feeling. He wanted to make people realize. He, of all people, was in a position to do something. But he didn’t know what to do. He just didn’t have it in him. “Make that a double” he told the bartender.|
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