The one thing I remembered of Mr Biafra's spoken word material is his exhortation to "be the media". It's not exactly original — many of the nineteenth century anarchists like Joseph Proudhon and Peter Kropotkin ran their own printing presses with exactly the same rationale — but Jello gave it a snappy expression.
I thought that quote came from this album, but it doesn't, so it must have come from the live performance I saw him give at Sheffield's Memorial Hall in late 2002 or early 2003. Just as blogging was taking off, then. I went along just out of curiosity — in the fifteen years since I'd bought this double-LP, I doubt I'd listened it more than twice, if that — and was surprised to find people queueing right round the building, on a Sunday evening, too. All the Sheffield Ubuntuists were there: I knew they were wary of me, because I was part of company selling broadband connections at a modest loss, and they were critical of such modesty (give it away! go bankrupt faster!). I sat alone, and pondered the weird economics of the event, while also observing Biafra's unbiafranness. "Be the media?" Indeed. "Stay hungry?" Evidently not.
No More Cocoons is very much a product of the mid-eighties and Biafra's experiences around that time, including his trouble with the 'authorities' over the Dead Kennedys' Frankenchrist album. There's a whole side dedicated to Tipper Gore and her Parents Music Resource Center, scaremongering that she was just a front for the Christian Right, and had ambitions to be First Lady. With hindsight, better her than the ones we actually got? In this and other fields, Biafra had common ground with Frank Zappa. As with Frank, there's a republican individualism about his distaste for Establishment Power, a defence of the sanctity of individual freedoms against Church and State. This is alien to us on this side of the pond, where the great traditions of dissent have always been collectivist — even in republican France, non?
At least everyone kind of knows who Tipper Gore is. I can just remember Oliver North, too. But references to someone called Schultz? I had to look him up.
Back in the eighties I recall thinking of No More Cocoons as a kind of lite version of William Burroughs' non-fiction rants. It's harder to see that connection now, aside from the shared hatred for the bible thumpers and a predisposition towards seeing all power as an explicit (rather than tacit) conspiracy between commercial interests and nannyish do-rights. Now it sounds like Bill Hicks, but with fewer jokes.
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