I love Rage Against the Machine.When I was a pissed off13-year-oldmiddle class white male living in suburbia,their anti-establishment lyrics and angst ridden music appealed to me instantly.But just as I began to actuallyunderstand their lyrics,the lead singer left the band.That day ranks among the worst of my life,right up there with the death of Mitch Hedberg and the day I found out the Power Rangers weren‘t real.
So when I heard Rage would be playing a reunion show at Coachella last year,I nearly creamed myself.And when I heard they would be playing Rock the Bells inSan Francisco,I really did cream myself.I had waited my entire adult life for this,and unlike the wait to lose my virginity,this one might actually end.
And end it did.The moment I arrived at PacBell/SBC/AT&TPark,I knew I was among friends.From the local communist party feigning relevance to the requisite olive-green Ché shirts,the place oozed anti-consumerism and self-righteous rebellion.
It was a day of angry black men yelling at rich white men being cheered on by the sons and daughters of those rich white men who simultaneously steered clear of all the angry black men in the crowd.This was truly American.
But as the concert wore on,something felt wrong; everything around me seemed nothing more than a pop venue painted black.
I saw people wearing Converse who believed they were somehow outside the system.But Converse was bought by Nike in2003,and now that pinching numbness in their toes must be creeping its way up into their souls.
I saw people wearing bandanas over their faces,showing solidarity with the Zapatistas inMexico.But those bandanas were made in Mexican sweat shops under the very conditions the Zapatistas are fighting.
There were studded belts made inChina and selling at Hot Topic for$25.There were$30concert T‘s,$6beers,$9hot dogs and enough corporate sponsors to fill the non-recyclable concert brochure cover to cover.On top of all this,it cost upwards of$80just to get into the damn thing,not counting the gasoline it took to get us here.
Then I looked at myself.I had a bandana,but it was keeping my hair out of my eyes.I had Converse,but I bought them in2001.I had a beer,but I was thirsty.I had driven here,but BART doesn‘t reachDavis.I had excuses.
I became increasingly alienated from my own counter-culture.How much coal had to burn to power this concert? How many clean water wells could have been dug inAfrica with these resources? How many blankets could have comforted the cold,meals fed the hungry,doctors helped the sick had everyone here spent half the time and money on those things as they did on this short lived orgy of noise?
Rage was supposed to come on in20minutes,and all I felt like doing wasgoing home and moving intotheco-ops.
But then it happened.The lights went out,the music stopped and I heard the most beautiful words spoken since the day Jerry Falwell died.
“We are Rage Against the Machine,fromLos Angeles,California.“
What came next can only be described as a90-minute auditory orgasm.I testified,I shut down the devil‘s sound,I put my fist in the air in the land of hypocrisy and finally,I woke up.
I woke up.I realized that even though the words I had just heard were the epitome of rebellion,even though the people around me voted for Nader,even though we all wanted justice,we were nothing more than a bunch of hypocritical cowards too scared to truly represent our ideals,who instead sought refuge in the intellectual security of the like-minded and allowed ourselves to be seduced by capitalists in Marxist hats.
And each time Zack screamed“wake up,“ I felt him asking,begging,pleading with us to genuinely wake up.To wake up and realize that listening to a record for70minutes won‘t change the world,but tutoring kids from the ghetto for an hour is a start.
See,even the counter-culture has to medicate itself; has to buy things,fly flags and wear black caps with red stars to make it feel real.But deep down,it is real.Sleeping,but real.It just needs to wake up.
K.C.CODY woke up,but then he hit the snooze button.Wake him up again at email@example.com.XXX