The way Homeboy DC (who I must note immediately is not a "black" person) tells it rings true to anyone who's been wrung out in this town for more than a day or two. Three years ago cops stopped him on a DUI, took him to the station, where he was tested and told he could go ahead and drive home. Presume innocence? His first mistake. Homeboy says he never received any further word about the incident. Until last week, when he was walking to a bus stop at five in the morning so he could get out in the sun and work his tail off to make rent. He says a cop pulled up and demanded to see identification, just like in Nazi Germany, the history of which DC has studied, so he would know. The policeman ran his license (Homeboy's second mistake; don't give them that piece of ID when you're on foot). Came back with an outstanding warrant. From the three-year-old "DUI" debacle. Homeboy spent the next 30-something hours held hostage by his own government, caged. We had to scramble up a few grand to get him out, and the pigs still have that money (a trial date hasn't been set). The reason, by the way, that he was walking to a bus stop: He hasn't had his own vehicle ever since someone whom the cops did not stop stole his truck.
Upset? Not me, oh no never, and probably not him, either. He's an awfully easygoing guy for an ex-Marine later gaffed by corporate creeps who stole his airline career out from under him, forcing him to resort to a day-labor gig. But all this sure makes me tend to not want to take part in the boycott of Time Warner being called by pigs everywhere on account of the last song on Side 2 of Body Count's debut album. (Hard rockers Body Count, fronted by Ice-T, record for Sire/Warner.) The tune begins with a spoken intro by Ice-T: "This next record is dedicated to some personal friends of mine. The LAPD. For every cop that has ever taken advantage of somebody, beat 'em down or hurt 'em because they got long hair, listen to the wrong kind of music, wrong color, whatever they thought was the reason to do it, for every one of those fucking police, I'd like to take a pig out here in this parking lot and shoot 'em in their motherfucking face." The grammar isn't perfect, but the sentiment sure hits homeboy.
Miami Herald editorial board member Kathleen Krog recently wrote a chunk of op-ed gibberish about homeless people, or (WARNING: squeamish types should immediately skip to the next item), as the headline called it, "homeless issue" (eeeww, gross!). Impossible to determine the point of her article, but the last paragraph's a freak: "Come on, get going," Krog writes. "I want to be released from my suspended emotion. I want the homeless to dwindle back to a quantity that I can handle, so I can feel something besides helplessness when I look into a face full of despair. Even apathy can't kill that one." Could this possibly be some sophisticated form of satire, meant to get bleeding hearts like her - and you and me - off our collective fat butts? I'm afraid it isn't. Even if it were, it's a pretty risky shot for someone whose biggest "homeless" problem is being intruded upon while sitting in her no-doubt air-conditioned car. Or perhaps she's really, literally (and even more sadly) calling on "the government" to assume responsibility for American poverty. Whichever. Coincidentally enough, I spent some time the other day talking to a guy who'd just finished a hoops game on the Reebok courts downtown. He was down (and out) from Jersey. "I thought Miami would be nice," he said. "It's nothing but tough." He told me he's "camping" in Bayfront Park. No agencies have helped you? "That's all talk, man." He asked me if I knew about a job he might acquire. Any job. But he didn't ask me for money. And even though he was seriously sweating from the b-ball action, he didn't get one drop of issue on me.
Too much politics today, not enough music, which has always been the potential Achilles' heel of Midnight Oil. That concern rises on their latest release, the live collection Scream in Blue. The Oilers have always boasted a strong live rep, and the treatments of "Progress," "Beds Are Burning," "Read About It," and the others here are mighty powerful indeed, revealing a raw, punkish, screaming approach usually filtered from their studio albums. It's a wonderful work, especially for hungry fans. The only knock I've encountered was against the occasional proselytizing by overgrown front man Peter Garrett. Just remember that in November of 1978 (nigh fourteen years ago), just ten days after the release of their first album, Midnight Oil performed in Sydney - at an anti-uranium-mining protest concert. That history alone gives them every right.
Tonight (Wednesday) a benefit for the Everglades takes place at Washington Square, with the Beat Poets, Grupo Ilu, Kazak, poetry readings, and more. A $5 donation is suggested.
Things that are do: You might already know that every first and third Friday of each month is Grateful Dead night at the Island Club, but did you know they serve Owsley Orange Sunshine Ice Cream? Blues bands and soloists who want to compete in the National Amateur Blues Band Competition (the same compo that brought deserved attention to the Roach Thompson Blues Band, which went on to win the national competition as well) on June 28 at Tobacco Road should call Mark "Hobbitt" Weiser immediately at 666-6656. Before disappearing into the vortex of recording their next album, Forget the Name will play a couple of see-ya shows, including one at Reunion Room this Friday. RBT and Agony in the Garden appear live at Churchill's Hideaway, also on Friday.
Speaking of the Church, owner Dave Daniels has some new ideas, the implementation of which begins this week. Thursdays will be turned over to upstart bands (sort of an audition night) who will be videotaped as they perform and will receive the resulting footage. Not only is a solid video a handy promotional tool, but plenty of bands might be surprised to see themselves from the audience's perspective. On Sundays, Daniels is leaning toward the visionary. Frankly, he - and he's not alone here - is sick of Seventies rehashing and the same old same old couched as something worthwhile. With Lonnie Donnegan ringing in his ears, Daniels wants to see the use of unusual instrumentation in experimental form. A trombone here and a kazoo there is nice, and the Volunteers, for one, certainly mix up the sonic artillery, but I think Daniels has something even more drastic in mind. Watch and help this take shape. It might be the beginning of a revolution in Miami's music scene.
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One of the good things about Bob Slade's Off the Beaten Path show on WLRN-FM is that you get to hear song titles such as Elvis Hitler's "Super Sado Masochistic Expealidocious."
Butthorn of the week: Power 96 staffers (or so I hear) and other insiders who hogged primo seats at the recent Cure concerts. Let's toss extra bonus 'horns to the Cure, its management, and the show's promoters (Fantasma) for continuing the exploitation of the consumer. It's bad enough that this state is stuck with boneheaded and useless legislation that permits "ticket brokers" to regularly and legally screw us. To have industry types - including music critics, even if they can claim that good comp seats are essential to their work - increasing the unlikelihood that the real fans will get good seats is intolerable.
The media circus: A big thanks to Shelly at the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences for the research assistance. A giant thanks to Rooster Head's Michael Kennedy for everything.
Greg Brown lyric of the week: From 1990's "Worrisome Years" on Down in There: "In the worrisome years/Over the hill/I thought it was supposed to get easier/To pay your bills/I got nothing to show/'Cept a worrisome heart/Can you please tell me/When does the good part start?