Quivering Jello

Jello Biafra BMU Auditorium, Chico State Wed., Nov. 12

“We interrupt this program with a SPECIAL BULLETIN. America is now under MARTIAL LAW…”

Written over a decade ago, Jello Biafra’s scathing screed about an America completely under the corporate/state jackboot seems almost wistful now, as opposed to alarmist when first introduced. Speaking before a half-full house at the BMU last week, the former Dead Kennedys front man and premiere punk spoken-word activist seemed almost tired himself of the events of the past two years of the Bush revolution, perhaps because—with the exception of the substitution of Schwarzenegger’s name for Dan Quayle’s—his piece remained unchanged, yet seemed to be ripped from today’s headlines, as opposed to the near paranoid rant of a dystopian near-future that it was 10 years ago.

As if to emphasize the irony of Biafra’s unheeded warnings about the new American user-friendly fascism, local feds actually swept into the auditorium 10 minutes into the show and whisked out a local activist. Thinking it was part of the show, audience members shouted out “Terrorist!” and other such clever taunts. Biafra himself seemed befuddled, looking about with a “What’s going on?”

When a friend of the detainee replied that he was being arrested for perjury, Biafra looked perplexed, then moved on into his routine, from using the cult movie Terror of Tiny Town as an allegory for contemporary world events leading up to the invasion of Iraq, to the absurdities of the progressively goofy rationalizations for the war, Bush’s notorious malapropisms and into the lawsuits inflicted on him by his former band mates (essentially litigious identity theft). Speaking for well over two hours, Biafra startled the audience when he announced an intermission (less than half returned for the rest of the show).