Dispatches, thoughts, and miscellanea from writer Jon Konrath

Red Mars, dumb metal

I finished reading Red Mars last night. Things get pretty weird and intense at the end of the book, and I really liked how it went. It made me think a lot more about capitalism and historic themes. Mars was a neutral place like Antartica, and then when big companies found out they could mine the fuck out of it, they broke treaties and lured human slaves to the strip mines with promises of money and good work that never happened. I read somewhere that any colonization happens not because of a lack of natural resources, but because of a lack of freely available natural resources. It took less firepower to steal land from the Indians than the French or British.

I bought Blue Mars and Green Mars, so I can keep going with the trilogy. I also saw Mark Leyner’s new book and Vonnegut’s new book, but I didn’t have the cash to buy them both in hardcover – maybe on payday. I think I’ll be busy reading for a while.

There’s a Jello Biafra interview on The Onion, and it’s amazing how much he repeats himself, sometimes in the same interview. I’d be afraid to interview him again in person and find that 50% of what he said is stuff I’ve already printed in the zine. But he has a lot of good things to say. He’s very anti-punk, in the sense that most punk rock these days is as brain-dead as the disco scene was in the 70s, and that scene was why punk was formed in the first place. Most rap is more punk than punk these days.

It makes me think about heavy metal – there was a long period where I thought heavy metal was a thinking man’s music, because my only exposure to it was reading Iron Maiden liner notes in the basement of my mom’s house. There was no metal scene in Indiana, and everyone else was listening to Warrant or whatever, so I bought my Slayer and Megadeth and Anthrax albums in the equivalent of a Musicland, and thought that with all of this anti-war stuff, that metal had sort of a moderate-left political position. Then when I started doing the zine, I found that most metalheads were mostly drunken rednecks and far to the left by default, and they listened to anti-war lyrics and thought they were pro-war and the coolest thing in the world. And it’s a strange hypocrisy – there are all these Swedish bands who bitch about the high taxes, but live off of welfare illegally while they tour America.

I’m not a hippy or anything – I guess I’m angry about such non-cerebral people taking a fake political stance and thinking they’re infallible. Most punks who hate corporate america and subscribe to that whole prefab belief are probably more conservative than your average NRA member. And most gun-slinging gangsta rappers are probably more to the left with Clinton – they all have this giant communal posse, and spread the wealth when they become famous. The first thing a rapper does when he gets signed is build a house for his mom. The second thing he does is buys a mercedes or bmw for each of his friends. It’s almost like socialism, redistribution of wealth. It’s rare I agree with rap artists, but if I had more money than I could spend, I wouldn’t just sit on it, either.

Speaking of which, how about that Ted Turner deal? That’s the first thing he’s ever done that I’ve agreed with. He loses a billion but I bet he gains it back on his stock prices. Despite the arguments from the black helicopter crowd, I think it’s a good cause. It’d be nice if the UN had the cash and the balls to figure out some thing and to get some damn money and aid to some of these poverty stricken country. It’s amazing how some countries have life expectancies that are half or even a third of ours. And despite what Sally Struthers’ fat ass tells you in a commercial, a dollar a week or whatever won’t fix those peoples’ problems. That dollar never makes it to the adopt-a-kid, because there’s some fascist puppet regime opening all the mail and eating fat on the proceeds. People gave millions of dollars of food to Ethiopia 10 years ago, and none of it got there. They should’ve starved out the fat cats and gave them a taste of their own medicine. If the US wants to do something worthwhile with their trillion dollar aircraft carriers, they should liberate some of the starving countries in the southern hemisphere – you know, the ones without oil.

Enough of the political bullshit – that Biafra interview got to my head…