After years of playing with the Dead Kennedys, running Alternative Tentacles, fighting various court battles, and always attending rallies for various political causes, one would expect chaos to follow Jello Biafra, but on this night, Biafra was a rallying point for those looking for a shread of reason in today's world.
Of course, the chaos didn't end until everyone made it inside the venue. Originally advertised as having a 5:30 open door, the front door didn't open until 7:45, which had quite a few people upset and wondering if the performance would get off the ground.
Once everyone made it inside the venue, everything began to come into focus. Jello came out and began "A Public Service Announcement" which could be heard on the Terminal City Velocity soundtrack. For something released so long ago, it was frightening how relevant it was with the current state of affairs.
Dressed in a black robe with black glasses, Biafra began to instruct the audience how to behave in the new world led by government force. As he instructed, "Don't try to think, the number one enemy of progress is questions."
This led to a great deal of commotion and various comments screamed to Jello. As he taunted the crowd in return, the event took shape, this was no boring spoken word performance, this was a town hall meeting where everyone had a say.
Jello spent a lot of time listening to the audiences comments and even expounding upon them. It wasn't your average drawn out, diagrammed speech, there was a wonderful flare of spontaneity involved throughout the entire event.
The opening focus moved directly to fall of Enron and how Texas helped produce King George II, a.k.a. George W. Bush. This led to a bit of heckling from the audience, but a great lesson was learned when Jello asked how many people at the show voted in either of the elections for Governor when Bush ran. About 1 in 8 rose their hand, and as Jello stated, if that stayed true there could be a new power in place, but voter apathy had led to the reign of King George II.
Of course, after a few topics were discussed, Jello made his way to the subject on many an audience member's mind, the split of the band's catalogue from Alternative Tentacles (except Fresh Fruit... and Nazi Punks 7") and subsequent rise of a Dead Kennedys cover band featuring 2 of the original members and late addition Dead Kennedy, D.H. Pelligro.
This of course saw Jello show a little annoyance, not with the people at the event, but with the entire predicament he found himself in with the rest of the Dead Kennedys. This really was a short part of the show, but a good view into Jello's view of everything and how strongly he felt about the music he wrote with the Dead Kennedys and the current exploitation of it.
As with most Jello problems, everything ended up in court (none of his appearances to date have been initiated by Biafra). This led to the band taking control of the DK catalogue, except for the afore mentioned releases, and the band also taking credit for writing all the songs with Jello, despite a good deal being written with original drummer Ted instead of Pelligro, who was credited.
Instead of allowing himself to get whiny about it and over do everything, Jello decided it was time to move on. But not before saying how guilty he felt that people were being duped into seeing the cover band thinking Biafra was in it. This went as far the cover band using photos with Jello in them. False marketing at it's finest.
As the night moved on, Jello began discussing the state of the "war" in the Middle East. As he stated, we are pouring so much and making such a big problem for ourselves. As he said, "By killing Bin Laden, we are opening the door for a hundred of his underlings." This may just ring true as Bin Laden is believed to be dead at this point.
Another point I brought to heart was that two of Bin Laden's three conditions weren't too unreasonable. One being pulling troops from Saudi Arabia, which I feel should have been done years ago, dropping the embargos against Iraq, which are hurting the citizens of Iraq, but hasn't even come close to making Sadam miss a single meal. The third, the unreasonable one, being the eradication of Israel.
After this, it was time for an intermission. Jello took off a shoe and asked those who could help to donate to the legal defense fund for Alternative Tentacles against the "other Dead Kennedys." As he stated, "Don't give unless you can, I'm not trying to take money you can't afford to give." I viewed this as a fair request and one I'd be willing to accept since I am for the preservation of such landmark albums as The Dead Kennedys and the ideas they stood for.
After intermission, Jello came out and didn't miss a beat. He touched on a lot of older topics and some fun stories. As he was talking about how the Green Party, who he is a member and supporter of, was blamed for costing Gore the election, he went into the world of having Tipper Gore as a first lady.
This led to the always entertaining tales of Jello vs. Tipper. He even brought out his autographed copy of 'Raising PG Kids in an X-rated World'. This led to quite a bit of laughter and commentary from the audience. As always the talk of Tipper and her guilt of being the catalyst behind the use of "Parental Advisory" stickers on music.
As people laughed their way through all the pokes at Tipper, Jello began to make his way through some of the material off his older spoken word releases, most of which came from 'Beyond the Valley of the Gift Police.'
I couldn't help but smile as heard him go into an updated version of "I Have a Dream." This was a quality rant about what would make the world a better place. While some of the speech is tongue-in-cheek humor, there are some valid and viable pieces of information that one should heed throughout.
After speaking for nearly five hours, Jello came to a close and thanked everyone for coming. Everyone couldn't help but scream and applaud for such a wonderful night of interactive fun and knowledge. If only all learning could be as painless and entertaining, maybe then we wouldn't have such a problem with schools.
Samuel Barker is Senior Editor. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.