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The Kennedys will Never be Dead: Thoughts on Punk Rock, Rebellion, and Historical Memory
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I was listening to NPR's "This American Life," and heard a dope story about Dead Kennedys front man, Jello Biafra and Prosecutor Michael Guarino, the man who tried to put him in jail for obscenity. The DK's have a pavlovian-type effect on me. I LOVED AND STILL LOVE the DK's. They were my political guide to looking behind what's being told and by whom. It was rebellion with a point and action.

Here's a bio about Jello, for those who don't know about him or the Kennedys.
http://www.angelfire.com/punk/jello2000/bio.html

All this made me think about how much I still hear about punk rock, and how little I hear of the Kennedys. I did a google search with the criteria, punk rock top ten. I only found 3 that even mentioned the Kennedys. Not one had rated them above 5th.

Maybe that explains why the Kennedys were and are so important. They were to punk rock what Public Enemy is to hip hop, what Consolidated was to industrial. The Kennedys took the anger of knowing the people in charge are continually lying to us and manipulating our perceptions and turned it back on the system with a ferocity that was magnetic.

Jello ran for mayor of San Francisco and placed 4th out of a pack of 10. Jello won his case against the government, justifying the later release of the song, "I Fought the Law and I Won." He isn't just a "things suck" type of person. They pointed out things that were wrong and energized people to act.

Even the prosecutor Michael Guarino, whose son became a massive fan of the Kennedys, had been so moved by Jello that he would rethink his motivations behind his actions. I know a number of people that would attribute Jello for opening their eyes to the real world they live in.

The Sex Pistols were really harmless, although I loved them none the less. They did obnoxious things, seemingly to just piss people off. The Kennedys were more raw, faster, harder than the Pistols ever were, AND they were like a punk rock socio-political college.

If it weren't for the Dead Kennedys, I have no idea what I would be doing now. Certainly the vision of s6k might be different, less DIY focused. I had many other influences, but they were the perfect mix of aggression, intelligence, humor, putting words-to-action, insight, sarcasm and pure talent.

I thank you Jello, wherever you are. You really showed what type of a person you were by completely and honestly forgiving a person that wanted to ruin your life's work. That was great to hear. You guys seemed like old friends...not to mention your silence when you discovered it was you who had helped him become a better, more sincere person. Still a class act.

Peaceness and Sledgehammers,
Darryl Hell

 


 
 

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