What's a Jello Biafra?
April 21, 2017 3:47 AM   Subscribe

Graham Isadore writes: "Earlier this month I decided to live a week as Ian Mackaye. I wanted to see what I could learn by emulating my hero. What I discovered is that most people don’t know who Ian Mackaye is."
posted by jenkinsEar (41 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
 
Obligatory "get off my lawn."
posted by kuanes at 4:22 AM on April 21 [1 favorite]


To properly know who Macaye is, you needed to grow up in or directly adjacent to DC, so that it would be beaten into you by the music press and City Paper, record store clerks, and nearly every disaffected white male suburban high school kid with a strong opinion to share that he is some sort of Willy Wonka Christ figure with a fuzz pedal. He was ubiquitous in "underground" circles, but after a while the alt weekly hagiographies would really start to wear on a person.

Plus, he had a giant blue ox who'd help glue his record sleeves together.
posted by sonascope at 4:32 AM on April 21 [31 favorites]


Dude, Mackaye would never use a fuzz pedal.
posted by mushhushshu at 4:34 AM on April 21 [4 favorites]


Substitute your distortion model of choice, then.
posted by sonascope at 4:35 AM on April 21


MetaFilter: “No.”
posted by Halloween Jack at 4:39 AM on April 21 [17 favorites]


There is a really good episode of Nicole J. Georges' Sagittarian Matters with Ian MacKaye -- seriously, one of the best interviews I've heard with him and I was kind of at the point where I never needed to read or hear another interview with MacKaye ever again.

I was listening to it in the car in really bad traffic (like, a 45-60 minute trip was taking about 2.5 times that, at least, and there was a lot of rain and it was a mess) and I was stressed out about my car and it wasn't a good scene.

Then, almost out no where (it sort of had a context), MacKaye says "I'm not a curmudgeon!" and I just burst out laughing. And then I think I had to back up to make sure I heard that right.

As bad as that drive home was, for that moment, everything was perfect.
posted by darksong at 4:48 AM on April 21 [4 favorites]


That was painfully unfunny. Oh! I get it now.
posted by gwint at 5:19 AM on April 21 [2 favorites]


I dunno; I thought it was mildly amusing enough to be worth the read, which is about par for the course for The Hard Times.

(People know this is Onion-style satire, right? Like, the author didn't actually do this?)
posted by escape from the potato planet at 5:33 AM on April 21 [8 favorites]


I thought straight edge was mainstream these days?

Funniest line in the whole piece.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:38 AM on April 21 [1 favorite]


Also, now I'm reading "Jello Biafra" as the name of a dish, like "Oysters Rockefeller" or "Celery Victor". I'd like to see that recipe.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 5:39 AM on April 21 [11 favorites]


I'd like to see that recipe.

Here it is!





.
posted by mushhushshu at 5:53 AM on April 21 [5 favorites]


Plus, he had a giant blue ox who'd help glue his record sleeves together.

Today's punklorists are generally agreed that "Ian Mackaye" was a composite figure combining several existing punktales such as The Grumpy Old Man Who Nevertheless Genuinely Loved The Kids, and Kitchen-Table Tape Duplication (Variant B: On Principle).
posted by No-sword at 6:10 AM on April 21 [21 favorites]


Man, what a bunch o' Grumpy McGrumpmeisters around here. I thought that this article, and The Hard Times in general, is pretty funny.
posted by NoMich at 6:28 AM on April 21 [4 favorites]


This is where I can tell my humorous mishearing story.

So, when I was young and punk rock, there was a band I really liked - composed of childhood friends of a friend of mine - called Real Estate Fraud. They were pretty good, I think, even in retrospect.

It is important for this anecdote to know that I am basically a generation too young to have had my foundational punk rock experience inevitably be the Dead Kennedys. I did not hear any Dead Kennedys until I was in college and at that point, Jello Biafra was sort of in his "punks suing punks" phase.

Anyway, Real Estate Fraud had this song about an ill-starred romance between the singer and a Christian classmate. I liked that song! "Jennifer believed in Jesus, and I believed in opera!" it went, in part. I interpreted this is "Jennifer believed in a staid, morally-upright life, but I believed in large emotions, drama, fate and tragedy - thus our romance was doomed". I thought this a very clever line, in fact, and told people all about it.

Years - literally years - later, long after the Real Estate Fraud cassette had migrated, with all the other cassettes, to a box on a shelf in the closet, I realized that while Jennifer did indeed believe in Jesus, the narrator had believed Biafra.
posted by Frowner at 6:31 AM on April 21 [26 favorites]


Ian is a neighbor and a family friend of my wife - he's actually a funny, interesting, thoughtful guy. Opinionated, yeah, but not a bore.
posted by ryanshepard at 6:32 AM on April 21 [8 favorites]


Given the times we live in Mackaye is the last person we should make fun of...Making fun of Albini never gets old though.
posted by SageLeVoid at 6:41 AM on April 21 [8 favorites]


funny story..our band was on tour in the early 90's. at a show at Gilmore st we were hanging out around our van. the other bands were slowly showing up.. at one point a player walked up and asked where we were from..small talk then he complained about how 'ian' was screwing everyone over..he went on for awhile and I said who? He said 'Ian, Ian MacKaye'..I said who is that, I honestly didn't know. He laughed, extended his hand and said " let me shake the hand of the guy who doesn't know who Ian MacKaye is". About six months later we opened for Fugazi and I related the story to Mackaye..he got a kick out of it.
posted by judson at 6:48 AM on April 21 [5 favorites]


turns out
posted by entropicamericana at 7:03 AM on April 21


This article was aimed at a subculture of which i am not a member and that is OK.
posted by Going To Maine at 7:13 AM on April 21 [5 favorites]


Is there something particularly punk about a kind of typographical style that puts emphasis in places where maybe the writing should just drive it naturally?
posted by Shepherd at 7:27 AM on April 21 [3 favorites]


The weird thing for me is that I went to elementary school with Ian MacKaye's life partner/co-band member in the Evens, Amy Farina. Amy was in the same class as my younger brother & what's weirder is that my brother & Amy share the exact same birthday, which I'm told led to some kindergarten mix-up about who was supposed to bring cupcakes on what day. Amy's mother passed away recently. So it was weird to see the obituary in the local paper about how she was survived by her son-in-law Ian MacKaye & her grandson Carmine MacKaye (who I guess would be the Frances Bean Cobain of the DC hardcore scene).

By the way, the Evens are awesome. I saw them in Fort Reno Park, but I didn't really get to meet Ian because Amy & I were like, "How's your mom doing these days?"

I guess the other weird connection to the punk scene is that Amy's old brother Geoff was my Mom's paperboy for a while. Small world, I guess.
posted by jonp72 at 7:39 AM on April 21 [4 favorites]


Is there something particularly punk about a kind of typographical style that puts emphasis in places where maybe the writing should just drive it naturally?

By my understanding, yes. (It seems very much like a Zine Thing, and zines are almost definitionally punk.)
posted by tobascodagama at 7:41 AM on April 21


Also, now I'm reading "Jello Biafra" as the name of a dish, like "Oysters Rockefeller" or "Celery Victor". I'd like to see that recipe.

One of the ingredients would have to be "A jigger of formaldehyde from the jar with Hitler's brain in it that we keep in the backroom."
posted by ZenMasterThis at 7:53 AM on April 21 [4 favorites]


Is there something particularly punk about a kind of typographical style that puts emphasis in places where maybe the writing should just drive it naturally?

Richard Meltzer.
posted by mykescipark at 8:19 AM on April 21


For once, you can read the -- three, at this moment -- comments, including:
If you realize the piece is satire, don't interact with it like it's not, it makes you look like a pillock
posted by wenestvedt at 8:29 AM on April 21 [2 favorites]


I haven't been to any Fort Reno shows in a while; I should really fix that. I have lots of fond memories of those shows. including seeing the Evens. Also a great place to play my favorite DC punk show game: "Is That Henry Rollins Or Just A Guy Who Looks Like Henry Rollins?"
posted by nonasuch at 8:32 AM on April 21 [1 favorite]


(People know this is Onion-style satire, right? Like, the author didn't actually do this?)

No.
posted by Splunge at 8:41 AM on April 21


It wasn't that funny, but at least they're fucking trying.
posted by octobersurprise at 8:45 AM on April 21 [5 favorites]


there was a band I really liked - composed of childhood friends of a friend of mine - called Real Estate Fraud.

I'd like to see them on a double bill with Sunny Day Real Estate.
posted by octobersurprise at 9:00 AM on April 21 [1 favorite]


Real Estate Fraud would also make a great name for a Real Estate cover band.
Also I feel compelled to mention Michael Azzerad's terrific book Our Band Could Be Your Life, which covers the histories of both Minor Threat and Fugazi, at least up to 2002, along with many other indie bands of the 80's. Worth the read, if only to marvel at the fact that Dinosaur Jr. ever reunited.
posted by cottoncandybeard at 9:27 AM on April 21


My favourite Hard Times headline and pull quote:

Mom Walks in on Teenage Son Recording Solo Album
“He minimized GarageBand, tried to cover up his guitar, and yelled at me to get out, but I knew what he was doing."
posted by Beardman at 9:28 AM on April 21 [6 favorites]


omg that's the most profoundly 90s joke I've ever seen.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:54 AM on April 21


For once, you can read the -- three, at this moment -- comments, including:
[Ian Rennie:] If you realize the piece is satire, don't interact with it like it's not, it makes you look like a pillock
Fourth comment: "Ian Rennie Bugger off you wanker!!!! I can interact anyway I like. Who made you the apostle of interaction!?!?"
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 9:54 AM on April 21 [4 favorites]


Ending it with a t-shirt for sale pretty good.
posted by rodlymight at 10:14 AM on April 21 [1 favorite]


In those says, I was a fan of the Replacements, who are the anti-Minor Threat.
posted by jonmc at 10:22 AM on April 21 [2 favorites]


What's a Jello Biafra?
Pay no more than five dollars, same as in town
posted by InfidelZombie at 10:41 AM on April 21 [5 favorites]


you needed to grow up in or directly adjacent to DC

I did, and I'm vaguely aware of Minor Threat and I was also a "disaffected white male suburban high school kid" but the name Ian Mackaye didn't ring a bell. Now that I've RTFA, I have a better idea. Would it be accurate to call him a Beltway version of Morrissey?
posted by Rash at 11:21 AM on April 21


Most of THT/Hard Style's comments are on their Facebook pages.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:25 AM on April 21


There is no way Henry Rollins took part in any conversation, verbal or written, contained to one word.
posted by C.A.S. at 1:51 PM on April 21 [8 favorites]


Would it be accurate to call him a Beltway version of Morrissey?

can't tell if trolling
posted by escape from the potato planet at 2:27 PM on April 21 [1 favorite]


Would it be accurate to call him a Beltway version of Morrissey?

No. Morrissey would never go into a rage about the things Ian did.

Nig Heist opened for Government Issue who opened for The Meat Puppets who opened for Black Flag at some new-to-punk venue in DC and Ian went in the restroom and one of the urinals was ripped from the wall, water spraying out of the broken pipe and he was screaming mad about that. We didn't have anything to do with it but he vented at us anyway. "This is why we can't have nice things! We put together a show and now we can't come back!

At no point did I think he was going to hit me. We got tools and shut the pipe and got to see The Meat Puppets.

Good guy. I support his rants.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 6:16 PM on April 21 [2 favorites]


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