That the music underground is so engaged with Bernie Sanders’ worker-friendly, anti-1% presidential campaign comes as no surprise—punk and left politics have always been extremely comfortable bedfellows (sorry not sorry Michale Graves), and it’s a big plus that Sanders’ oppositional candidacy is being run within one of the mainstream parties, and thus won’t serve as a potential election spoiler like the Nader insurgency that ultimately spelled disaster for both the Green Party and the USA. Last autumn, we at Dangerous Minds told you about Berned in DC, a Facebook group producing image macros of the candidate paired with invented quotations that mirrored hardcore scene purism, to utterly hilarious effect. Today, our task is to show you the work of L.A. artist Mark Mendez and Portland printer Rob Campbell, who’ve created a wonderful series of Sanders shirts based on well-known punk band logos. In an interview with Visual News, the pair offered:
It’s hard to think of Bernie as “punk rock” by his appearance alone. He’s a 74-year-old, white, veteran politician from Vermont. But his ideals are what make him the most punk rock candidate who ever ran for office. He’s been speaking about economic inequality, civil rights, and antiestablishment politics for over four decades. It is people like us who do what we can to support his campaign and raise awareness about who he is, what he stands for, and how we the people can make a difference.
They’ve named the t-shirt line “Bern the White House” (simply brilliant—how has nobody used that before now?), and the shirts can be bought from the pair’s Etsy shop or from bernthewhitehouse.com. The profits from the sales will of course benefit the Sanders campaign up to the amount legally permitted for individual contributions, after which proceeds will go to “Bernie-friendly charities and grassroots organizations.”
A devotion to politics as theatrical spectacle and vice versa made Jerry Rubin, along with Abbie Hoffman, one of the most visible and notorious activists in the counterculture of the late ‘60s and early ‘70s. A founder, again along with Hoffman and others, of the Youth International Party (a/k/a the Yippies), Rubin was known for media-engaging stunts like showing up for his HUAC testimony variously dressed as a Viet Cong guerrilla and as Santa Claus. His utterly gonzo approach to politics flipped in the mid ‘70s, when in a surprising ideological reversal, he became a capitalist businessman who ended the decade (and entered the Reagan years) as a yuppie millionaire, advocating for EST, “networking parties,” and diet fads instead of revolution. Credit where it’s due, though—among his capital ventures was an effort to marshall investment in solar panels.
Hindsight of that transformation/sellout might be a part of what makes the clip below feel kinda righteous. Though the Chicago Seven trial made Rubin a well-known public face of The Revolution™, there were times when he wasn’t one of its most articulate advocates. He appeared on Cleveland, OH television in 1970 (Rubin was Cincinnati born and raised, himself) to flog his screed DO IT! Scenarios of the Revolution, but he just came off like an inchoate stoner jackass. He had science on his side in his assertion that weed is less destructive than booze, but he was such a dumb dick about it, prolonging an unproductive back-and-forth on the matter, sounding more like a tedious sophomore ruining Thanksgiving than a nationally-known activist engaging with the public to bring awareness to his manifesto. He piled on tiresome levels of I’m-so-cool smarm to cover the deficiencies in his talking points until the fed-up interviewer—an improbably flame-haired 76-year-old lady named Dorothy—got sick of his bullshit and shut the interview down.
About that Dorothy: she wasn’t just any little old lady—she was a career ass-kicker. Dorothy Fuldheim was and remains a widely admired Cleveland legend, a broadcasting lifer and pioneer for women in newsrooms who’s acknowledged as the first female TV news anchor. Her utterly unbelievable highlight reel included one-on-one interviews with Adolf Hitler (Fuldheim was Jewish), Albert Einstein, Helen Keller, Winston Churchill, and Jimmy Hoffa, and she didn’t retire until age 91, when a stroke she suffered shortly after interviewing Ronald Reagan (make of that what you will) made it impossible for her to continue working. She died in 1989, and was recently the subject of a Drunk History segment that you should probably just go ahead and watch right now.
Fuldheim was unapologetically opinionated; she shut down her Rubin interview when his declaration of solidarity with the Black Panthers proved to be her last straw. But though she was very much an establishment figure, bristling at Rubin’s characterization of police as “pigs,” she was no conservative, and it’s tempting to wonder how her feelings about Cleveland’s finest may have changed had something like the Tamir Rice murder and the outcry in its aftermath happened in her lifetime. We actually don’t even have to wonder all that hard; within a month of the Rubin interview, she put her career at risk to TORPEDO then-Governor James Rhodes and the Ohio National Guard on the air in the wake of the Kent State shootings, forcefully decrying a system that killed its own children.
Even in these so-called enlightened times it’s not so unthinkable that some slobbering buffoon could be elected the leader of a great country to the detriment of its people, and indeed the entire world. In politics the unthinkable is always possible—and unfortunately such dangerous men often stand for election. You can recognize them by their speeches that play on fears and grievances and creates division thru trumped up accusations against anyone who disagrees with them—I’m sure you know the Trump type.
Charlie Chaplin was all too aware of the dangers of some twit being elected on a racist, xenophobic and downright nasty manifesto when he poked fun at Adolf Hitler in The Great Dictator. Though Chaplin was criticized by various countries (Germany, Britain) for being irresponsible while making his fascist satire, he was soon vindicated by the actions of Herr Hitler and the Second World War—though the great comedian and director later said he felt some regret about making the movie:
Had I known of the actual horrors of the German concentration camps, I could not have made The Great Dictator; I could not have made fun of the homicidal insanity of the Nazis.
On its release in 1940 The Great Dictator was an enormous success in the Allied countries—though not at all in Nazi Germany… The film was a rallying point for those who wanted to defeat the evils of Nazism. It helped people to laugh at the Nazis while at same time being made aware of the insidious dangers of voting a madman into power—a point still highly relevant today.
In the film, a Jewish barber is mistaken for the dictator Adenoid Hynkel and by chance ends up taking his place. At the end of the film, the barber addresses Hynkel’s army of followers with a speech about hope and humanity:
I’m sorry but I don’t want to be an Emperor – that’s not my business – I don’t want to rule or conquer anyone. I should like to help everyone if possible, Jew, gentile, black man, white. We all want to help one another, human beings are like that.
We all want to live by each other’s happiness, not by each other’s misery. We don’t want to hate and despise one another. In this world there is room for everyone and the earth is rich and can provide for everyone.
The way of life can be free and beautiful. But we have lost the way.
Greed has poisoned men’s souls – has barricaded the world with hate; has goose-stepped us into misery and bloodshed….
You the people have the power, the power to create machines, the power to create happiness. You the people have the power to make life free and beautiful, to make this life a wonderful adventure. Then in the name of democracy let’s use that power – let us all unite. Let us fight for a new world, a decent world that will give men a chance to work, that will give you the future and old age and security. By the promise of these things, brutes have risen to power, but they lie. They do not fulfill their promise, they never will. Dictators free themselves but they enslave the people. Now let us fight to fulfil that promise. Let us fight to free the world, to do away with national barriers, do away with greed, with hate and intolerance. Let us fight for a world of reason, a world where science and progress will lead to all men’s happiness.
Now that’s the kind of manifesto I’d vote for.
More photos of Chaplin as ‘The Great Dictator’ plus color footage, after the jump…
“Cowardice! Are you serious? Apologies for freedom? I can’t handle this.”
On Wednesday evening, a capacity crowd of 10,000 people showed up at the Pensacola Bay Center in Florida for a Donald Trump campaign rally, complete with a trio of cheerleading singing moppets called the Freedom Girls who were there to debut Trump’s new “official jam.”
If you just got a contact high after reading the title of this post, then congratulations. Take two tabs of acid and call me in the morning! But only after you’ve listened to the three tracks from Harvard psychologist and drug guru Timothy Leary’s album (which was recorded in 1968), You Can Be Anyone This Time Around.
Timothy Leary and his bass player
Leary recorded the album, in part as a way to raise cash to fund his ill-fated run for Governor of California against the then incumbent, GOP golden god, Ronald Reagan. His campaign slogan was “Come together, join the party” and his campaign song was supposed to be, “Come Together,” which was conceived specifically with Leary’s political aspirations in mind by John Lennon.
Learys and Lennons
Sadly, after Leary was arrested on December 26th, 1968 for the possession of two pot roaches (for which he was given a ten-year prison sentence, with another ten-year sentence tacked on to that due to a previous arrest in 1965, let that one sink in), his campaign went up in well, smoke.
Leary’s prison mugshot
Lucky for us, the 45-minute long, three-track record (which was allegedly recorded in one session that went on until the early morning hours at the Record Plant in New York City) that includes musical contributions not only from Hendrix (on bass guitar no less) but also Stephen Stills, drummer Buddy Miles, and John Sebastian, founder of The Lovin’ Spoonful, did see the light of day. Unlike Leary’s political career.
Historically speaking, it’s one of the very first records to use “samples.” Sonic snatches from the catalogs of The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and sitar maestro, Ravi Shankar round out the album’s unique “sound.” As if all that isn’t cool enough when it comes to rock and roll mythology—the record is actually a great listen…
“Eve of Destruction,” written by teenage Bob Dylan fan P. F. Sloan and sung by former New Christy Minstrel Barry McGuire, spent eleven weeks on the Billboard chart in 1965, reaching number one that September. Apocalyptic, adolescent and aporetic, it was loathed as only a hit can be. “Even at the time, Paul McCartney, John Lennon, Paul Simon, Pete Seeger, Noel Stookey of Peter, Paul & Mary, and Manfred Mann lead singer Paul Jones all slagged the song in the press,” Richie Unterberger writes. I suspect most of these musicians just thought the song was not a very good Dylan ripoff, but some public-spirited citizens were seriously concerned that the protest number gave ground to the Reds. “How do you think the enemy will feel with a tune like that No. 1 in America?” future respected foreign policy analyst Rose Parade host Bob Eubanks asked in the pages of TIME.
Staying at the Hollywood Sunset Hotel in the late summer of 1965, Dylan provided his own response to “Eve of Destruction,” as biographer Howard Sounes reports:
‘Get P. F. Sloan,’ Bob demanded. ‘Let’s have P. F. Sloan up here.’
Sloan was duly summoned to the Hollywood Sunset Hotel where Bob played him acetates of Highway 61 Revisited. Sloan rolled about on the floor laughing when he heard ‘Ballad of a Thin Man.’ Bob laughed too. He slapped his knees as if it was the biggest joke in the world. Then he said, seriously, ‘I gotta big problem here. Columbia Records doesn’t have any idea what this song is about. They think it’s communistic.’ Before Sloan had time to digest this shocking piece of information, David Crosby of The Byrds entered the suite and he and Bob went into the bedroom, leaving Sloan on his own. What happened next seems to have been an elaborate stunt arranged by Bob to cause the already excitable Sloan to freak out. ‘Two women come in from the bedroom half-naked – topless – sit down like book ends on the couch, and they don’t say a word, just sit there,’ says Sloan. ‘In from the window, from the outside, comes a man, flying in from a rope wearing a Zorro outfit, with a black hat and black mask, wearing black silk pajamas.’ The man dressed as Zorro sat between the topless girls and stared at Sloan. ‘I can only imagine that Bob had set this up, but I don’t know. And he’s in the other room with David Crosby. About fifteen, twenty minutes go by. The girls get up. Nobody says a word.’ Zorro and the girls exited via the front door, leaving Sloan again on his own. ‘David Crosby comes out of the bedroom and shakes hands with me and Bob continues to play me the rest of the album.’
Musician Ian Whitcomb records how, in November ‘65, one Singing Swallow, then the program director at a radio station in Santa Rosa, California, interpreted the success of “Eve of Destruction.” Whitcomb, who had recently shared the stage with McGuire (“a perfectly charming man, very warm and gentle, not at all like his hate-filled song”) on a Pittsburgh TV show, was visiting radio stations to peddle his single “N-N-Nervous!” Accompanying him was George Sherlock, the subject of the Stones’ “The Under Assistant West Coast Promotion Man,” who, in the excerpt below, has just spun the singer’s new disc. From Whitcomb’s Rock Odyssey:
Spinning his chair vaguely in my direction, [the program director] asked: “When you gonna make another record, son?” “But you just listened to a smash, Swallow,” said George with a boogaloo swing of his hips. “Naw—I mean one I can play.” Before I could answer, Swallow continued with: “Have you guys heard this ‘Eve of Destruction’ mother? It’s a stone fox smash!” And to emphasize his point, he burst open another can of beer, soaking my record. “A lot of the lyrics I can’t make out, but what I can is goddamn treason! Can you believe a guy who knocks our Draft, our senators, our church, our H-bombs—and all on a pop record?” “So I take it,” said George with a dismissive click of his fingers, “that the disc is negative as far as your big boss playlist is concerned?” “Not on your Hollywood scalp doily! It may knock the U.S.A., but I don’t knock success. I grab it by the balls and hang on tight. That ‘Eve’ disc is Dylan made commercial. It’s gonna open up a whole new area. It’s a new kind of loot music under the title of protest, remember that! Now, Whitmore, you got something I can play, something that fits the times and our format—and I’ll spin it like crazy. But until that time, it’s so long and have a happy day. Out!
As you can see, “Eve of Destruction” shocked and convulsed the nation with its radical message that everything might not work out so great. Here are five songs that strove to replace Sloan’s teenage “no” with a paternalistic “yes.”
The Spokesmen, “Dawn of Correction”
The most famous retort to “Eve of Destruction,” beloved of rock writers Greil Marcus and Lester Bangs, came from Philadelphia’s Spokesmen, a trio formed by the partners who wrote “At The Hop” and a local DJ. The three rock professionals bent Sloan’s ungainly rhymes to the service of their relentlessly cheerful view:
You missed all the good in your evaluation
What about the things that deserve commendation?
Where there once was no cure, there’s vaccination
Where there once was a desert, there’s vegetation
Self-government’s replacing colonization
What about the Peace Corps organization?
Don’t forget the work of the United Nations
I’m not sure where the TV clip of “Dawn of Correction” below comes from, but according to lead Spokesman John Madara’s website, they performed the song on American Bandstand and The Lloyd Thaxton Show.
The Spokesmen, “Dawn of Correction”:
But you tell me over and over and over again my friend that you want to hear more ‘Eve of Destruction’ answer songs? There’s more, plenty more, after the jump…
When I watched this the first time, I wasn’t aware of the fact that it was actually produced by a group of conservatives, the Public Integrity Alliance of Arizona, a nonprofit largely made up of East Valley Republicans. Frankly one doesn’t expect to see something legitimately amusing coming from Republican quarters—as everyone knows Republicans aren’t funny. But this is excellent, a pitch-perfect country-rock video starring Phoenix-based comedian Brian Nissen’s redneck “Dwain” character, a mullet-wearing simpleton who wants to “make America great again” by voting for a blustering, buffoonish billionaire who believes American wages are too high, that we need a border wall to keep out all of the Muslims and Mexicans and all kinds of other silly stuff tailored to the basest of the GOP base… Perhaps you know who he’s talking about?
As Raw Story’s Travis Gettys points out, although the song brutally mocks Trump’s most outrageous ideas “in the bizarro world of the 2016 presidential race, it’s not hard to imagine Trump playing the song at his own rallies.” Sadly this is all too true…
“I’ve noticed that some of the Trump fans loved it,” said Tyler Montague, founder and president of PIA. “They’re like, ‘Yeah, this is everything Trump is about, this is dead on.’ We’re like, ‘You’re kidding us, right?’”
Montague, who appears in the video as a redneck buddy, said the 501(c)(4) group — which is not required to report its donors but cannot be used primarily to influence elections — became motivated to act after Trump suggested a ban on Muslims in the U.S.
“When he said the stuff about Muslims, we were like, we’ve got to call that out and make fun of the absurdity of that,” Montague said.
He blasted Trump’s ideas as anti-conservative and un-American.
“I don’t want to overstate it, but [Trump’s] kind of a fascist,” Montague said. “It’s the closest thing to fascism that America’s had, at least in our lifetime.”
Here’s the video. Tell me if you think the average Trump supporter will get the joke or simply sing along?
A screenshot from the Facebook page “Spell Check a Racist”
I feel like it is safe to assume that you have perhaps come across commentary on posts in your social media news feed that defy all logical explanation. Racists who preface their statements with “I’m not a racist, but…” or perhaps a comment that contains the same high level of fear mongering crazy that is currently running rampant within the GOP. To say nothing of the usual poor spelling and grammatical issues that generally go hand and hand when it comes to people with strong xenophobic or right-wing Christian tendencies.
The obligatory “I’m not a racist, ask my black friends” post
One of the more popular racist approaches to dealing with people of other races, the “Kill ‘em All”
“Spell Check a Racist” is a UK-based Facebook page that does a pretty damn good job epically trolling folks who have no problem making heinous, hateful remarks in social media, while having no regard for literacy. The members of “Spell Check a Racist” craft a (mostly) polite, helpful response to the post, offering corrections to the sometimes horrific grammar and punctuation mistakes, then call out their racist remarks. One of my favorite discoveries on “Spell Check a Racist” was my introduction to my two new BFF insult words: “hoofwanking bunglecunt.” Bless you UK, bless you. I plan on using that one a lot in 2016.
Of course being hateful of all things that don’t look like you is a fairly time-consuming pursuit, so I can sort of understand how things like good grammar tend to fall by the wayside because you’re so fucking angry about the “muslins” or other immigrants and the “plaque” they are bringing into your country. I’ve included a few fantastic posts from “Spell Check a Racist” that will make you ponder how these short-fingered vulgarians were able to smash away at a keyboard and hit “post” without considering the gravity of what they are saying, and the fantastic corrective responses will restore your faith in at least some of the humans that inhabit this earth. The screenshots that follow are as hilarious as they are somewhat NSFW.
The last two days have brought us two absolute must-reads on the idiocy of the typical Trump voter—articles that also clarify why they may be unusually difficult to divert away from their current white knight in shining armor. The first is yesterday’s terrific account by Dave Weigel of the Washington Post of a Frank Luntz focus group gone horribly wrong, in which all the efforts to tear down the candidate that usually prove so effective in this case had the horrifying effect of increasing the group’s adherence to Trump. Among other things you’ll learn that Obama wasn’t born in the United States and took his oath of office on a Koran, while Hillary Clinton has, for sure, “committed crimes.”
Oh yeah, and also, Trump would be a shoo-in if he were the GOP nominee against Hillary.
Today we have Olivia Nuzzi’s essential bit of reportage in The Daily Beast into the Trump voter’s mindset, in which she called up 100 of Trump’s donors to see what was on their mind. Not too surprisingly, as a group they detest Muslims (which is one reason why Trump’s call to ban Muslim immigration into the United States hasn’t hurt him yet), but maybe more surprisingly, there’s a strong strain of 9/11 truther-ism in the mix (logically, if you think that Dick Cheney perpetrated 9/11, you would think that this would make you more tolerant of Muslims, but it doesn’t seem to work that way).
Amusingly, they also wanted to know if Nuzzi herself was a Muslim.
The most unusual of the Trump donors was a fellow from Oregon named John Captain, who claimed to have sent money to the billionaire candidate because he wanted Trump to “look into” the death of his girlfriend, as he suspects she was a Project Monarch mind control sex slave who was assassinated by “her family, part of the Illuminati and the New World Order.”
It’s worth quoting this passage in full:
John Captain, of Portland Tub and Tan, home of “Portland’s premier hot tubbing and tanning specialists with exclusive outdoor hot tubs year round,” was glad that I called because he wanted to talk about his girlfriend, who he believes was a monarch [sic] mind control slave who was murdered by her family, part of the Illuminati and the New World Order.
Captain talks a mile a minute in run-on sentences that jump from one topic to another—an effect of his ADHD, he said. He explained, in record time, that he had been on Trump’s website, trying to contact him to ask for help in his fight against the Illuminati, when he decided to send him $1,000. (He donated in the past to Ross Perot.)
He had recordings to prove that his girlfriend was a robot, he said. He’d been sent tapes of her sessions with a therapist who told her to, “follow the yellow brick road,” but said he would let me ask about Trump before he explained all of that.
Captain liked Trump, he said, “because our government’s out of control in terms of spending and unaccountability and I have no belief in the government that’s currently in power.” Being a small business owner, Captain said, has made him wary of “anybody who gets a check from the government: federal, city, county, state, people who collect leaves. Anything they do is wrong.”
Captain thinks, he said, “on my own,” but he said he agreed with Trump’s proposal to ban Muslims from entering the U.S. “What I would say is anybody that’s a concurrent threat to our country should be stopped.” Why would we let people in, he said, who are “statistically” more likely “to hate us”?
“If, consistently, we’re having an issue with Muslims that hate Americans…” he trailed off.
“A part of me hoped that Donald Trump would take over and maybe he would help look into my case,” Captain said, his pace slowing down. “I don’t know what to do, you know? I’m at a loss because not only is this over my head, the facts surrounding her murder, but America is ruined as a whole.”
I don’t suppose this is exactly typical of Trump’s voters, but it is suggestive…....
Here’s behind-the-scenes video footage of a 27-year-old bald eagle named “Uncle Sam” hatin’ on Donald Trump. The footage comes from a TIME photoshoot shot back in August for a cover story on a billionaire asshat running for President on the GOP ticket.
I’m not quite sure, but there might be something kinda symbolic here? Do you feel me?
The world’s new hero is Uncle Sam. Good on ya, buddy.