Monday, May 10, 2004

Sometimes my mail is worth reading

I received the May 27, 2004 issue of Rolling Stone today. I am already to page 47 and it is possible one of the best issues I have received in my numerous years as a subscriber.

I first had a peaked interest when the cover featured Prince. Yes, the Twin Cities' claim to musical fame - the Purple One himself. That feature story must appear after page 47, or I would have already read about the rebirth of Prince.

The most interesting part thus far begins on page 13. (For a change, we don't have to thumb through 40 pages of advertising before the first written story) THe article which caught my eye pertains to the FCC (Federal Communications Commission). They are the ones who deem what is acceptable on the nations radio and TV airwaves. Bastards. That is, in short, how they are described in the story whose headline reads "Fighting for Free Speech". The media giants such as Viacom and FOX are protesting the censorship of music in particular, songs such as Lou Reed's "Walk on the Wild Side". A song which has been played in its unedited form since its release nearly 30 years ago.

The lyrics in dispute are these:

Candy came from out on the island
in the backroom she was everybody's darling

But she never lost her head
even when she was given head
She says, hey babe, take a walk on the wild side
said, hey babe, take a walk on the wild side
and the coloured girls go...

A simple veiled reference to a blow job is now deemed unacceptable by the FCC. Oh, there's more...

The 1996 SHeryl Crow tune titled "A Change Would Do You Good" is just another in a long list of songs containing lyrics which are now deeemd unacceptable by the FCC. Another example of veiled references of not-exactly vulgar phrases being edited.

Chasing dragons with plastic swords
Jack-off Jimmy, everybody wants more
Scully and Angel on the kitchen floor
And I'm calling Buddy on the Ouija board...

In my opinion, I never found those lyrics offensive when I heard them the first time as a high school Junior and as a quasi-adult, I still find them more than acceptable. Maybe I am just more open minded, maybe I have grown up differently than the dangerously-powerful heads of the FCC. Maybe I am just more open-minded and feel that if people don't want to hear something, they will simply tune out to an alternative. It's pretty simple - the power of choice. Or is our "elected" regime in the process of taking away our power to choose.

It happened with the flick of a switch. In one swift move, Howard Stern was pulled from the airwaves of six Clear Channel stations where his morning show was heard. He is still heard on Viacom stations. That is where he is broadcasting his views. And people are listening. Listening more than they had before the publicity of his show being censored after the Superbowl half-time incident with Janet Jackson.

Stern has now taken a powerful stand against Bush and member of his cabinet. Al Gore's former chief of staff in 2000 says that Stern has the power to mobilize millions. His anti-Bush message is heard on 35 stations nationwide. I wish he could be heard here but at least I know that SOMEONE on the radio is taking a stand against Bush and his network of good ol' boys. Visit his website, it's not the typical radio site. I have never been a fan of STern but his new cause is one I wholly support.

The small feature on the bottom of page 24 reveals the FBI's latest scheme to thwart would-be music pirates. A label that would occupy upwards of one-third of a CD's surface. Simply an overgrown FBI shield with the words "FBI ANTI-PIRACY WARNING" across it. Ooooh, I'm shaking. And so are experts who say the sticker will be simply uneffective. It will stop nobody from ripping music.

This issue's random notes contain the usual gossip that Britney has a new man but receiving equal space is a story about one of my favorite bands - Blink 182. Guitarist Tom DeLonge is using his downtime to stump for Democratic hopeful, John Kerry. Stating that at age 28, he's discovered the Kerry is "Awesome". DeLonge is taking such a stand due to the fact that, besides believing in and agreeing with Kerry's views, he has a brother stationed in Iraq in the Navy.

DeLonge states that "The scariest thing in the world is going to be is Bush is elected president again..."

I agree whole-heartedly. It is great to again see musicians take a stand for their political beliefs. It's also great to see a magazine who is unafraid to publish so many stories about politics. I used to be appalled with the amount of political coverage in a music magazine. Now I am just releived to see a media source unafraid to report a view different from the ultra-conservative views of newspapers, TV, radio and numerous other magazines.

The most disturbing piece is within the National Affairs portion. Having just read the first few 'grafs of this story, it pertains to voter registration boards disallowing (traditionally liberal minded) college students who live in dorms to register to vote. Saying instead that they need to vote where their parents live. Many times a difficult and tedious task to fit into the busy lives of college students. To sum it all up, college students are not seen as citizens where the live in dorm rooms because it is not permanent housing. What's next, apartment dwellers will be denied the right to vote because they either choose to live there or cannot afford a traditional house?

I, too, fear for the future. Especially if we are subjected to another four years with Bush and his cronies in the White House.

Run to your local market and buy this edition of Rolling Stone. Guaranteed not to disappoint.

And assert your right to vote in November. Make the time to do so. Your future, now more than ever, depends on it.

Stay tuned.

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