JELLO BIAFRA ON TOUR! - "IT'S US OR THEM...NOW OR NEVER!"
"WE INTERRUPT THIS PROGRAM WITH A SPECIAL BULLETIN. AMERICA IS NOW UNDER MARTIAL LAW. ALL CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS HAVE BEEN SUSPENDED. STAY IN YOUR HOMES, DO NOT ATTEMPT TO CONTACT LOVED ONES, INSURANCE AGENTS OR ATTORNEYS. SHUT UP! DO NOT ATTEMPT TO THINK OR DEPRESSION MAY OCCUR. STAY IN YOUR HOMES, CURFEW IS AT 7 PM SHARP AFTER WORK. ANYONE CAUGHT OUTSIDE THE GATES OF THEIR SUBDIVISION SECTOR AFTER DARK WILL BE SHOT! REMAIN CALM, DO NOT PANIC. YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD WATCH OFFICER WILL BE BY TO COLLECT URINE SAMPLES IN THE MORNING. ANYONE CAUGHT INTERFERING WITH THE COLLECTION OF URINE SAMPLES WILL BE SHOT! STAY IN YOUR HOME, REMAIN CALM. THE NUMBER ONE ENEMY OF PROGRESS IS QUESTIONS. NATIONAL SECURITY IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN INDIVIDUAL WILL. ALL SPORTS BROADCAST WILL PROCEED AS NORMAL. NO MORE THAN TWO PEOPLE MAY GATHER ANYWHERE WITHOUT PERMISSION! USE ONLY THE DRUGS PRESCRIBED BY YOUR BOSS OR SUPERVISOR. SHUT UP, BE HAPPY! OBEY ALL ORDERS WITHOUT QUESTION. THE COMFORTS YOU DEMANDED ARE NOW MANDATORY. BE HAPPY. AT LAST EVERYTHING IS DONE FOR YOU." (JELLO BIAFRA)
As this intro rang through the PA system of Youngstown State Universities Kilcawley Hall, enter one Jello Biafra, former vocalist of the legendary DEAD KENNEDYS. Dressed in an ankle length black leather coat and very dark sunglasses, Jello took center stage and the audience of over 900 were held spellbound for the next three hours with chilling futuristic dialogue and song lyrics that applied to the world we're now faced with.
Jello's rap which he delivered at 12 different colleges this fall, would spiral through such topics as The Middle East (i.e., "800 million dollars for a Batman plane that doesn't even work") through contemporary relationships but would always return to his central theme of fighting for free expression and against the forces of censorship.
Jello and his record label Alternative Tentacles, were one of the initial targets of the PMRC and the anti-rock forces (in 1986) when 9 cops raided Biafra's house looking for the DEAD KENNEDY's "FRANKENCHRIST" album because it contained on the album sleeve a photo of a painting by H.R. Giger. Though Giger's work has been shown in art galleries throughout the world, Jello was charged with "distributing harmful matter" for displaying the "rasters" work on the album.
After 2 days and 10 hours of jury deliberation, a mistrial was declared. Jello described his arrest and subsequent proceedings in ways that were in turn chilling and hilarious, taking the time to outline some of the forces behind his bust, i.e. most of whom, like Tipper Gore, remain on the scene in 1990 looking for opportunities to slap down artists for their "thought crimes." Independent bands and labels are particularly vulnerable to attack, Jello pointed out, because they don't have the financial resources that the big record companies do to fight back. The only way Alternative Tentacles was able to do it, in fact, was through the grass-roots support shown by fans throughout the country sending small donations to the NO MORE CENSORSHIP DEFENSE FUND in San Francisco.
Watching Jello perform his spoken word gig in 1990 was what it must have been like to experience Lenny Bruce at the beginning of the 60's when that activist decade was just incubating. Today, with what feels like the stirrings of a new Free Speech Movement aborning within the student and creative communities, Jello Biafra stands as a force much like Saint Lenny in those early days, shamanistically igniting dormant, creative energies in his audiences which were to challenge "official" dogma and ultimately change the face of society. It was a moving evening for the ROC'ers present, and we highly recommend his booking to any college; you'll get your money's worth!