June 5th, 2002


Even Chaka Khan loved MDC once upon a time

I saw the other day that MDC* is still around. Hmmm, now that’s just embarrassing. The last time I saw MDC they were playing with Bikini Kill at Klub Kommotion. How were they? Put it this way, Bikini Kill’s guitarist stormed off in a huff over something so they played without him, Even though they spent five minutes between songs figuring out how to play them without Billy, Bikini Kill still blew MDC off the stage. But really, even the between band punk rock karaoke blew them off the stage, so that’s not saying much.

While I’d never go see MDC again, I will always have a place in my heart for them. No real** punk can argue against the importance of their Millions of Dead Cops album. I could argue that it was one of the first US punk albums to get punks to hone their political analysis against corporate control (example, "like, dude, the USA is, like, a fascist state run by the corporations. Ronald Reagan just does what Exxon says, dude."). Rare for hardcore of the time it had pro-gay lyrics, "What makes Amerikkka so straight, and me so bent?" But it was also totally funny. "Corporate death burger? Ronald McDonald!", "(John Wayne) was a Nazi, but not anymore." etc., now that’s punk humor.

And there was an MDC lyric on my lips the first time I ever got arrested. Outside the Hall of Justice after "Rock Against Reagan" at the 1984 Democratic Convention, hundreds of us got cornered by the cops as we chanted, "No war / no KKK / no Fascist USA" and protested the arrests that had happened earlier in the day.

But really, there’s no defense for many MDC records. "South Africa is free from Apartheid" still makes me cringe from all the times I had to explain it to other anti-apartheid activists. Making that a chorus years before South Africa WAS free from apartheid made it very hard to listen to in public. And let’s not even discuss Metal Devil Cokes. . .

But Dave MDC also got me through a bad situation and he didn’t even know me. At the 1988 Toronto Anarchist Gathering, I wasn’t really using my best judgement. Hell, it was the ‘80s. Reagan was gonna kill us in a nuclear war anyway. So even though I was already drunk, after a day full of heady political workshops then partying with friends, I didn’t hesitate when an affinity group friend offered me a couple of hits of acid. From her hand and into my mouth before I gave it a second thought.

I didn’t really think about the fact that cops were busting conference goers at every opportunity and charging foreigners with immigration fraud. I didn’t think about the fact that the only place I had to stay was the roof of a squat with 100 other people. And I didn’t think about the fact that acid never particularly agreed with me.

About a half-hour later, as Scream started playing, I knew I had to get out of the punk club because it was too claustrophobic. I just can’t trip indoors. I headed to the door with my friend, opened it and came face to face with about 50 Toronto cops. I froze and stared at them. I wish I could say that I saw cops with reptilian scales and slippery forked tongues but it wasn’t really a Fear and Loathing-type trip. I just knew going back in would look bad but I couldn’t bring myself to go forward into the mass of police.

Out of nowhere, Dave MDC walked up, looked at my eyes, assessed the situation and grabbed my arm. "Hey, there you are. C’mon we’re leaving." Dave led me through a narrow alley of sidewalk in front of the police line that I hadn’t seen. When we were free of the cops, he said, "Be careful" and left. I have no doubt I would have done something stupid to get myself arrested if not for his rescue

Years later, I had a chance to repay the debt. He came into my place of employment and my co-workers wouldn’t let him cash a check because he had no ID. I vouched for him, guaranteeing the $40 or so of food. A week later I was informed that his check bounced and the money would be deducted from my paycheck.

Certainly I was over idol worship. I rationalized that I didn’t really mind the money, figuring MDC had given me that much enjoyment during my life. Still, Dave came through again, repaying me the money when he found out what had happened.

But I’m still no going to any of the shows on the Milking a Dead Cow tour or whatever they’re calling themselves these days.

*Millions of Dead Cops, Multi-Death Corporation, Millions of Damn Christians etc. Texas/SF punk band from the early ‘’80s known for militant vegetarianism, political lyrics, squatting, and confrontations with local nazi youth.

**Not that I’m gonna argue about who’s a real punk. Leave that for MRR. (Hi Arwen!)

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