Friday, July 18, 2008

The Dead Kennedys

Friday July 18, 2008

Today’s Friday Flashback is brought to you by John, Bobby and John Jr… . it’s a racy one friends, so “consider yourself warned.” Today’s Friday Flashback is also brought to you by Lisa. Why Lisa? Let me tell you!

I was running down the road a bit ago and who should enter my line of travel (also running)? Lisa. She was sportin’ an iPod. So I yell as loud as possible (because I have reason to believe she wears earphones that are so loud/good they aren’t safe). “LISA! WHATCHA LISTENIN’ TOO?” To which she replies: “The Dead Kennedys. And some Dixie Chicks.”

Grinning, I thought to myself Either she’s listening to her tunes by artist alphabetically (perhaps a little Duran Duran after the Chicks?) OR her playlists are as random as a peanut butter and pickle sandwich. If it’s the latter - that girl just might be my twin lost at birth!

Should we get on with the flashback? I realize you don’t have all weekend (like I obviously do), so here goes.

The Dead Kennedys are a punk band from the 1980s who’s music and lyrics were all about sarcastic free-thinking anarchy. The DKs were anti-conservative, anti-religion, anti-record label, anti-establishment, anti-rich. Pretty much anti everything.

From the name, you’d think they were against the Kennedy clan, but the opposite was true. They fashioned themselves with an intricate liberal agenda and hated Reagan. Yes Ronnie. Does this mean the opposite of the Kennedys is the Reagans? Am I supposed to learn about politics from a punk band? Shouldn’t it be The Dead Kennedies? Have I asked enough questions?

The Dead Kennedys began their irreverent political commentary in 1978. Guitarist East Bay Ray wanted to form a punk band. (Won’t he gasp in disgust once he learns a yuppie golf course in Provo is named East Bay). East Bay Ray put an ad in a San Francisco paper and found singer Jello Biafra, bass player Klaus Fluoride, and drummer 6025. None of these names are their birth-certified given names – but I didn’t need to tell you that because you guys are smart and had that figured out already.

The DKs had a radical and malcontent view of the world and were always beating the crap out of the envelope. I mean seriously, doesn’t that defeat the whole purpose of the envelope? If you beat the crap out of it, you can’t mail anything. But then again, it seems they were against the US post anyway, so having an envelope is hardly necessary. That would be like eating vegetarian gumbo on a bear skin rug.

The Kennedys had some legal trouble after releasing a certain album. I won’t mention the album's name because the title is offensive. Even to me. Not only was the title offensive, but the album featured phallic symbols on the cover. The state of California had a problem with the artwork on the album and charged the DKs with “violating the California Penal Code, which carries a maximum penalty of up to one year in county jail and a base fine of up to $2000.” The charge went to trial and the jury was hung. Now that's funny. Get it? How about a headline for that one: Phallic symbols on album artwork violate penal code and result in hung jury.

Remember that I warned you.

After a few years of one nihilistic diatribe after another, the DKs finally called it quits. The DK fan base just wasn’t getting their political whit. Let me give you an example. In their tune Moral Majority, the Kennedys say, “Circus-tent con-men and Southern belle bunnies / Milk your emotions then they steal your money.” Which the female fan base would interpret as "It’s about when your boyfriend breaks up with you.” And the dudes? “It means beat the crap out of your best friend in a mosh pit.”

In addition to the fans “not getting’ it” the DKs began to attract a neo-nazi skinhead convoy. Evidently the free thinking individualism that inspired their music became a little too much like conformity. (What says conformity better than looking exactly like your friends?) The Kennedys disbanded in 1986 with an album called Bedtime for Democracy.

In the 1990s, the Dead Kennedy band members began to squabble over royalties and payments. Ironically, the anti-record label, anti-establishment DKs ended up suing each other for rent money (or gas money or tithing). The other irony is that they too began to see that if one wishes to earn a living (so to speak), one must follow the rules (at least some of them anyway). Bummer huh?

The Dead Kennedys experienced a recent revival of sorts when the Guitar Hero people released Holiday in Cambodia as one of the wanna be rocker tunes on Guitar Hero III. Holiday in Cambodia is a song about the corrupt Khmer Rouge regime and the “liberal elite”. The kids these days, however, think it’s a song about Angelina Jolie going to Cambodia on vacay and coming back with a mowhawked punk rocker baby.

With caution...
Holiday in Cambodia - Rawhide - Stars and Stripes of Corruption - Hyperactive Child - Police Truck


meg said...

Oh, you've got me dead on. The Bishop Higgins blog is hilarious. I know that on any kind of bad day that blog'll have me rolling no matter what.

Dead on.

Lisa said...

Actually, I was listening to The Dead Milkmen ("the thing that only eats hippies," picked up from a high school california skater boyfriend) but now I guess I'll have to check out the Dead Kennedy's too! My earphones rock and really aren't safe;) so thanks for yelling loud enough for me to hear you!

I need some new tunes desperately so I'll be calling my fone a friend soon.

Lisa said...

I also like the dead 60's too.
Maybe there's a bad theme going on . . .

rabidrunner said...

Oh! You said the Dead Milkmen. Duh. Once again, I heard what I wanted to hear. Maybe the Milkmen will be fer next week.

rabidrunner said...

Oh yeah and Lisa... "Dead" is not a bad thing. Didn't you learn that in church? :)

Nigel said...

I always loved the bands perfect logo. Four straight lines form a D and a K. So simple.

Since I'm an artist, my musician friends have always asked me for logo advice.I always tell them a band needs a logo that any kid, regardless of artistic ability, can scrawl on a notebook or carve into a desk.

Other good examples include Black Flag and Van Halen. Before there were "street teams" and "viral marketing" there were simple, direct logos.