Thursday, July 29, 2004

LEFTOVER CRACK ...a vote for Bush is a vote against yourself...

Now here is some provocative, political punk rock.  I found myself agreeing with a lot of the things they had to say, which you can get an idea of from the song titles, like "Clear Channel (Fuck Off)," "Life Is Pain," and even the album's title "Fuck World Trade." But the song "One Dead Cop" is where I have to take exception--it exhorts listeners to "Kill Cops..."

Granted, you can barely understand it as it's being sung, but it's right there in the lyric sheet. I do agree with them that the police are "protecting the money and out serving the state/crushing the people with the laws they create" (from the song "Gang Control"). But I can't agree with killing anyone, cops or criminals. Unless maybe the cops are the criminals and they won't be deterred any other way.

I don't know--I really found myself questioning my beliefs as I listened to the album. Leftover Crack really has some extreme left-wing politics, which I like, but I guess what makes me uncomfortable are the methods of bringing their politics to fruition that they advocate.

For example, I can relate to the sentiment of "Burn Them Prisons." It is very much of a piece with that favorite Eugene Debs quote of Kurt Vonnegut's:

"While there is a lower class, I am in it. While there is a criminal element, I am of it. While there is a soul in prison, I am not free."


But the lyrics of the song are "We'll bomb the police state/assassinate the magistrate/we'll go to every town and burn them fuckin' prisons down." Again with the killing.

And of course, the closest analogue to Leftover Crack that I'm familiar with is the Dead Kennedys (I understand they're very much like Crass also, but I'm not very well-versed in their stuff at all). The thing is, the DKs seemed to use much more hyperbole and satire ("Kill The Poor", etc.). Their lyrics were over the top politically, so you got their point, but they seemed less radical (by which I mean they didn't advocate killing people--I mean, they didn't like the cops, but they never said that cops should be killed--to my knowledge) than Leftover Crack.

That's why I'm kind of thrown off a little bit by Leftover Crack. There's not really any humor to speak of--maybe in "Rock The 40 oz." But if that's humor, it's slight and nonexistent for all practical purposes. Really, there's nothing reassuring about Leftover Crack, like I always kind of felt there was with Dead Kennedys, Sex Pistols, the Clash, the Minutemen, etc.

Life is all blackness and hopelessness and the only way out of it is to kill cops, they seem to be saying. I generally would agree with the first part, but I have to take exception to the second part. That's one of the main problems with society, is that everyone is always trying to solve problems with violence.

Obligatory Michael Moore Section

It reminds me of one of the best Michael Moore ideas--I believe it's from "Downsize This." I can't remember exactly how he set it up, but it was something like an open letter to Arafat, in which Moore basically sympathizes with the Palestinian people. But he points out that the Palestinians cede the moral high ground with their suicide bombings.

So Moore asks Arafat in the letter if he's not familiar with Martin Luther King, Jr. and Gandhi. He points out that they got what they wanted through nonviolence. He even goes on to say that war can and often has fallen short of helping nations achieve what they want, but he points out that nonviolent protest has never failed.

Back To Crack

So anyway, in any event, I wouldn't sit around and listen to Leftover Crack for pleasure. But I do think that they have an important, and desirable, anti-corporate message. I just wish they wouldn't talk about killing cops. I might just be missing the wink (hey, could someone start using that for someone who doesn't get something that's tongue-in-cheek)--you know, like maybe they're going "wink, wink, we don't actually mean for anyone to actually kill cops, we're just expressing the outrage of the oppressed in extreme terms." And that very well may be the case.

I would sit around and listen to Chumbawamba's new album "Un" for pleasure, though. They're basically just as lefty as Leftover Crack, but they're even more subversive because their songs are so pleasant and catchy, yet so crafty and just-subtle-enough that the message seeps into the brain of the unsuspecting listener bopping to the beat. And Chumbawamba's got a sense of humor about it.

And that's not to say that the literal plundering of the world and the literal sacrifice of the good of the world's people for higher profits by corporations is in any way funny. But what a coup (pun intended) to turn public opinion against such things with the cold, hard truth and a belly laugh now and again. Because we're all going to die, so why not have a chuckle once in a while?

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