Grateful Dead Kennedys

Stealing Back Punk Rock

“You know Alex, you only like Trump because of your white male privilege.” That was a direct quote said to be my Klaus Fluoride while I was in the dressing room at Webster Hall for a Dead Kennedys show back in June of 2016. I had been drinking with their current singer and all drunk me could respond with was “Yeah! And it’s awesome!”

But that got me thinking, his band, specifically the lyrics of Jello Biafra are very much complicit to my current political head space. “Aren’t they all crazy liberals” asked one Proud Boy when I told him I was exploring this topic. I mean, I guess, I’m sure there is a lot that me and Jello Biafra would argue about, as well as agree on (he’s also the only member of the band I’ve never met).

Dead Kennedys music is best described, to quote my friend Tim, as “a Ventures record with yelling.” Lyrically, the band is head and shoulder above almost all other punk bands. Sure, you have Bad Religion whom are very analytical and constructive with their message, but they lack the sardonic humor and mad scientist / Dr. Demento quality of Jello Biafra. I have a special connection with the band, my mom claims to have seen their first NJ show in the late 70s, and this classic concert took place on my literal birthday (June 16th 1984).

This was the band that got me to really question the government, question authority and, most importantly, to not blindly follow dogma. They preached non conformity and self responsibility and of course that essential punk rock ideal of doing things yourself. I was only 14 when I bought my first Dead Kennedys LP and it really hit me hard and changed my mental stream.

Pictured below, 15 year old me in my first band, wearing a Holiday in Cambodia shirt:

I picked some of my favorite lyrics from Jello and gave my take and interpretation of them. I would LOVE if somehow Biafra sees this and gives me the time of day to have a discussion.

I know I’m alone on this either, recently Gavin McInnes made a Tweet that referenced a lyrics from “Soup is Good Food” as well as his article for Taki that titled itself after a DK tune.

(By the way, their current singer isn’t a fan of Gavin what-so-ever. This is a screengrab of me sending him a video of the G man singing along to “Riot” on the show)

I Am The Owl
If you demonstrate against somebody we like
I’ll slip on my wig and see if I can start a riot
Transform you to an angry mob
And all your leaders go to jail for my job

But we ain’t the Russians
Political trials are taboo
We’ve got our secret ways of getting rid of you

People revere the government way too much these days. It used to be that my punk friends in the 90s were actual anarchists and not neo Marxists that wanted the government in control of EVERY aspect of their lives. And what is more oppressive and intrusive than a breach of your privacy? The Russians are not involved buddy, it’s your own government doing it. Of all the reasons (actually the only reason) why I was a Trump supporter from day one (again, on my birthday) was I saw him as a political outsider. Here was a man I believed to be unbeholden to lobbyists and donors and would go in and fuck everything up for DC and the establishment. (Sorry, lefties, I know you heard ALL Trump supporters are racists but you’re wrong). Now, if I’m wrong about my assumption then fine, but given the choices we’ve been given for presidents in my lifetime he seemed like a great choice. Why bring up Trump and spying? Because it was never the Russians, it was the White House.

Where Do You Draw the Line?
Ever notice hard line radicals can go on start trips too
Where no one’s pure and right except themselves
“I’m cleansed of the system.”
(‘Cept when my amp needs electric power)
Or “The Party Line says no. Feminists can’t wear fishnets.”
You want to help stop war? Well, we reject your application
You crack too many jokes and you eat meat
What better way to turn people off than to twist ideas for change
Into one more church that forgets we’re all human beings

The left has been cannibalizing itself according to Jim Goad, but judging by this song from 1986 this was happening 30 years ago as well.

Holiday in Cambodia
So, you’ve been to school for a year or two
And you know you’ve seen it all…

Now you can go where the people are one
Now you can go where they get things done

I take this to be about some college brat liberal who now thinks he knows everything about everything and really understands the struggles of the working class and wants full on Marxism. Jello calls his bluff and sends him to a trip where equality is enforced via everyone has NOTHING. Let’s see how this pampered college kid likes his ideal world played out in reality.

Kill The Poor
Behold the sparkle of champagne
The crime rate’s gone, feel free again
Oh, life’s a breeze with you, Miss Lily White
Jane Fonda on the screen today
Convinced the liberals it’s okay
So let’s get dressed and dance away the night
While they kill kill kill kill kill the poor

Have you noticed that the social outspoken liberal celebrities always live in gated communities? They love to virtue signal about the plight of the poor but also want absolutely nothing to do with them either. I’m not saying they want the poor killed, but neither was Jello. He was being hyperbolic to make his case – sort of like Alex Jones saying that frogs are turning gay.

Nazi Punks Fuck Off
If you’ve come to fight, get outta here
You ain’t no better than the bouncers
We ain’t trying to be police
When you ape the cops it ain’t anarchy

All irony is lost on Antifa…

Stars and Stripes of Corruption
Tell me who’s the real patriots
The Archie Bunker slobs waving flags?
Or the people with the guts to work
For some real change?

How about both? I don’t believe in equality, some people want to put themselves on the front lines to make the world a better place (intentions notwithstanding) and some people just want to work, pay their bills and be left the fuck alone.

We don’t destroy society in a day
Until we change ourselves first from the inside out
We can start by not lying so much and treating other people like dirt

I agree, it makes me AGAIN think of Antifa, these are people that want to blow up society because of their own perversions and deviancy. If society is destabilized then their own lifestyle won’t seem so out of the ordinary.

I’m thankful I live in a place
Where I can say the things I do
Without being taken out and shot
So I’m on guard against the goons
Trying to take my rights away
We’ve got to rise above the need for cops and laws

Again, I agree. But in 2017 the only people I see trying to take my rights away (the 1st and 2nd Amendments) are the left. I understand 30 years ago is was the religious right that were the societal boogeyman. But hey, according to Robert Anton Wilson, “It only takes 20 years for a liberal to become a conservative without changing a single idea.”

Triumph of the Swill
Ever wonder why commercial radio’s so bad?
It’s ’cause someone upstairs wants it that way
If the Doors or John Lennon were getting started now
The industry wouldn’t sign ’em in a million years

One of my favorite Jello moments is when he called out Tipper Gore, pulling out an article he had in his pocket and reading to her a quote she said about him. He really believed, rightly so, that government forces were overstepping their bounds and trying to essentially censor (by way of interfering with retailers) artists. However, today music is so safe and predictable and to quote Morrissey “it’s just more lock-jawed pop-stars… so scared to show intelligence, it might smear their lovely career.” Musicians today LOVE their government and will never saw anything bad about it, unless it’s Trump. Jello was right about this in 1987 and it’s true now. Paul Joseph Watson goes even deeper with this very topic. “Punk rock musicians are nothing if not cowards” said Ben Weasel.

Chickenshit Conformist
Agree with us on everything or we won’t help with anything
That kind of attitude just makes a split grow wider
Guess who’s laughing while the world explodes
When we’re all crybabies who fight best among ourselves

This all feels too much like the current social justice warrior / Millennial mentality. Jello was complaining about the punks and radicals of the mid 80s and it looks like nothing has changed; they were awful people then and they’re awful people now.

Thank you Jello and Dead Kennedys, you helped me into becoming a total right winger and more than likely someone who you’d want killed (since you’re all Marxists.)

Alex Caprio

Written by Alex Caprio

New Jersey, former musician and stand up comedian with a degree in English. He can also make a better eggplant parm than your Grandma. Follow him on Twitter @alexclarkcaprio.


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