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Dragon Rock & Roll

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I've still got a way to go before I can finish this series of columns on rock & roll imperialism, but I want to stop for a minute and take this space to thank everybody who's been working on the Free John Now! campaign, all the people in the community who have supported it with their energies and their money and their beautiful selves, all the people who signed the ad in the Free Press or sent postcards and letters to the governor, all the people who've gone to the benefits and helped us raise the money we need to carry on our struggle against the marijuana laws, and especially all the dynamite people's bands who have contributed their time and their powerful music over the past two or three months so we could have these benefits - there isn't anything I can possibly say which could express the gratitude I feel. I'm overwhelmed, that's all, and I just hope this thing works so I can be with you all again and tell you how I feel about it in person. We're still waiting to hear what the Supreme Court is going to do about my appeal bond application this time, and if they give it up I'll see you all as soon as I hit the streets.

I want to thank all the people who helped on the radio special too, and the radio stations that played it for people to hear. All of this stuff is really important and we have to understand that it goes beyond being an individual thing -- I'm not in here as an individual "criminal" in the first place, I think everybody knows that already, and if I am cut loose it won't be because the so-called "legal" system wants to rehabilitate itself by finally following its own laws. It'll be because the people have shown that they're hip to the separation/isolation ruse and refuse to let the state divide us and break us down into isolated individuals like it has to do if it wants to keep us in our place. That's what it's all about, and I'm just totally wiped out behind this campaign because it represents a real victory over the rock & roll imperialists and their running dogs in the courts and legislatures of Babylon.

See, even if I have to stay here in this penitentiary for a while longer, that is, even if the Supreme Court continues to violate the obvious will of the people and the terms of its own sacred "laws, " we've still handed the imperialists a tremendous defeat, we've still won an enormous victory in our struggle for self-determination and freedom as a people, because instead of being divided and separated and reduced to pitiful little individuals interested only in our own security so we can be isolated and picked off one at a time as the rulers see fit, we're more together now, and stronger, and more unified than ever before, and we've begun to learn just how much power we have when we all move together and work with each other to deal with our own needs.

It's the benefits which are the most exciting indication of how much progress we're making, though, because it's precisely in the rock & roll business that the imperialists exert their strongest pressure on our new communality in a desperate last-ditch attempt to keep us from building up any real self-determination power. Our bands are the strongest economic force in the rainbow colony, they represent our national wealth as well as our national spirit, and as long as the mother-country rock & roll imperialists can control the destinies of our bands they can control our national destiny as well. They use our bands against us most of the time, turning them and their music into commodities and the people into consumers, and they use the decrepit Hollywood s*t*a*r* system to keep the bands separated from the people who would otherwise come together in the music as natural brothers and sisters. The dual force of the music is thus doubly perverted--its potential as a powerful unifying factor (its spiritual/political force) is undermined, and its potential as the basis of our national economic development is almost completely destroyed.

But these benefits turn all that around - the bands return their music to the community and bring the people together, and they put their economic power directly in the service of the community, making it possible for us to raise the sums of money we need to def end ourselves and to start moving on our own to create the alternative institutions we need for our communal growth. The bands are our own people first of all, they've been ripped off from us and used against us in the past and they'll continue to be used against us until our community grows strong enough to be able to support them ourselves, but with the bands' killer participation in these benefits we've made a big step forward, a huge step forward, which will have an incredible effect on our immediate future as a people. Because we've begun to reclaim our national resources from the tentacles of the octopus, we've really started bringin' it all back home, we're laying the foundation right now for a whole new communalist social order, and the closer the bands get with the people the faster we can grow into the beautiful thing we've all dreamed about so long.

Let me try to go into this a little bit deeper before I move on: as Frank pointed out so beautifully in his Rock & Roll Dope column last issue, there is a very basic contradiction between our rainbow culture and the imperialist culture which envelopes and oppresses us -- Our culture is about unity, while imperialist culture is about separation, and the only way the imperialist system can survive here in Babylon is by keeping us separated from each other. Once we start getting together with all the people who share a common interest in self-determination and freedom, starting with all our own people in the rainbow colony, we begin to develop the economic and political power which will enable us to determine our own destinies and put an end to the imperialists' control over our lives. If we live as individuals or as fragmented little groups, each concerned only with its own immediate interests, we don't have any power at all, and the imperialist vampires and the snakes, rats, and pigs who work with them can manipulate us at will. So their strategy at all times and on all levels is to keep us apart by any means necessary, and they've been doing a pretty good job of it ever since they began to realize that we really were getting it together.

This is particularly true in the rock & roll sector, because they realize how great a part the music plays in our lives and how powerful we would be if we could control all the aspects of our national music scene. They realize that the music is truly dangerous when it is an integral part of our community life, when the musicians work for the people instead of the mother-country rock & roll imperialists, when the music comes directly out of the people and goes directly back to the people without anybody standing in between the bands and the people to rip off the "profits" and carry them out of our community altogether. That's why they hate benefits and free concerts so much, because those forms show the people and the bands that the mother-country middlemen are not necessary, and benefits in partícular enable the people to begin to amass enough capital to put the outside exploiters right out of business. They can see that if we were totally united with our bands to the extent that all our musicians would play as many benefits for the people's causes as the Up does, for example, we would be able to raise money for every project we decided to undertake - we could buy buildings for People's Ballrooms, we could build recording studios and pressing plants and huge printing operations so we could produce all our own records, we could set up distribution networks and booking agencies and everything else we need in order to gain complete control of our own culture, and there wouldn't be any more room for the rock & roll imperialists at all.

And if we had that kind of control over our music, that is, if we controlled every aspect of the music production business, we could develop the music and the whole culture which is based on the music along its highest and purest lines, so that rock & roll would be able to realize its full potential as a revolutionary form. We could do away completely with sit-down concerts which sap the people's energy and reduce them to consumers instead of raising their energy level and turning them into full participants. We could do away with the ridiculous prices which are charged for these concerts and for the records we live on - the bands wouldn't charge such high prices because the antagonism between the productive forces (the musicians) and the "owners" would disappear and the whole profit factor would be eliminated. The musicians wouldn't feel the need to "get rich" because they would be one with their people and would feel good living the way the rest of us live - their needs would be taken care of, they would be full functioning members of communities, and they would be free to play as much music for their people as they possibly could. The Overexposure Ruse Frank talked about would be eliminated, and the people would get as much as they need, all the time, knowing that whatever money they would have to give up for it would be going back into the community and not ripped off by some fat greasy creeps who only use it against them anyway.

We won't be able to have free music all the time until everything can be free for everybody, that is, until imperialism is completely wiped out, but the first step toward getting free music for everybody all the time is for the people to seize control of the existing music industry and all its institutions, and to start transforming the existing economic structure of the music business from greed-head capitalism to people's socialism where the economic power of the music is used to further the interests of the people. For the time being our bands will have to continue to work within the imperialist music industry in order to survive, because we can't provide for their needs yet by any means, but at the same time the bands can contribute their time, energy and genius to the rainbow self-determination movement, like they've been doing here in Detroit and Ann Arbor, to help us create the alternative institutions which will eventually bring about the kind of situation we all need in order to survive and grow. Once our band's realize, as so many of them are starting to realize now, that their interests are identical with the people's interests and not with the interests of the rock & roll imperialists, they'll find a lot more time to play benefits and free concerts whenever they don't have paying gigs, and they'll be able to contribute a lot more to the growth of our new society. Their music will get a lot purer, the people will get a lot farther out, our community will grow stronger and stronger, and all of us will be a lot better off. The only people who can possibly suffer are the vampires of Babylon, and they'll only get what they deserve.

None of this is going to happen overnight, and it might seem a bit ridiculous for me to be so excited about five or six successful benefits for my own Freedom Fund where the money doesn't go directly back into the community, but the point is, people, that we've made a real breakthrough with these dances, we've brought the musicians back with the people and the people back together with each other in the music, and we've shown each other what we can do if we all work together like this. The last benefit at the Grande was also the first in a series of fund-raising events which will bring in enough capital to open a real People's Ballroom on a full time basis in Detroit starting the first of the year, and once that happens there's no telling what we can do! All of this has happened after almost two years of the total douce, at a time when the established capitalist-run rock & roll institutions are collapsing all over the place in the face of a general atmosphere of pessimism and frustration on the part of almost everybody in the whole community, and it just shows how much potential power we have even when things look worse than they've ever looked for us. That's why it's so beautiful to me, because it proves that all that pessimism is wrong and it teaches us that we really can get what we need for ourselves if we organize ourselves and use our own resources and put our faith in the people. That's what it's all about finally - All Power to the People! Long live Rock and Roll! Rainbow Power!

John Sinclair
Jackson prison
August 1971


People's Ballroom Progress

People's Ballroom will present a benefit performance at the Grande Ballroom on labor day evening, Monday, September 6. Featured bands will be, in alphabetical order, Brat, Frut, Harvey Khek, SRC & UP. Admission will be $2, tickets available at the door or at Hudson's. The benefit is the second in a series of fundraisers planned by the People's Ballroom committee.

One member, of the People's Ballroom Board of Directors, Sharon Burke, is currently in California to persuade a national group to play at Cobo Hall. Proceeds of that performance will go towards the purchase of the ballroom. One proposed site for the ballroom is the old Kramer Theatre, on Michigan near Livernois. The selling price of the building is $100,000 with about 20% down. Many ballroom supporters feel, however, that the site is too far to one side of town. What do you think?

[MISSING LINES] on a co-operative basis.

The ballroom committee has experienced some difficulty in booking bands [MISSING LINES]

operate only as long as its "top six" bands are not used, citing over-exposure having already killed the Detroit rock scene. DMA's "top six" are Alice Cooper, MC5, the Amboy Dukes, the Parliament, Funkadelic, Seger, Teagarden & VanWinkle, and the Brownsville Station. DMA will allow their other attractions to be booked--at union scale (for example, union scale at the Grande for a 5-piece band is around $130). What this all means is that the project will be forced to use bands that will not draw, and thus, the project will incur premium costs for these bands, DMA will collect their commission, but the ballroom will not raise it necessary funds to survive, and Leone's worse fears will be realized. With Grande rental at $450 and paying union scale for bands that have had little or not previous exposure, the break-even point for a Grande benefit will be around 600 people!



WEDNESDAY SEPT. 15th 7P.M.-Midnight