Author Archives: michelle

Michelle Shocked February 13, 2018 City Vineyard


Michelle Shocked and Todd Almond February 12, 2018 City Vineyard


Midsummer Dreams

 

Midsummer Dreams

Cher bon vivants,
I’m not going to sugarcoat this, I’ve found the sweet spot here in Manhattan on my east coast sojourn. A millennial church, Movement NYC, is where Sister Shocked calls home these days, and you can find me practicing tai chi on the Highline, taking salsa lessons in the East Village, last night it was gazpacho (not as good as mine & Kevin’s!) at a bistro in Soho and barre hopping every single evening on Spring Street.

While midsummer dreams swelter in place, my Mercury Trilogy ventures apace. The June City Winery tour with Short Sharp Shocked producer Pete Anderson’s Trio was a burst of verve and brio, ending in a bright crescendo at the Kessler Theater in Dallas where we woke up to this headline in the Dallas Morning News.

Well, enough said, wouldn’t you say? Precious Lord, lead me on! July’s City Winery Captain Swing lineup features legendary Texan gypsy jazz musician Slim Richey’s scion, Tommy Richey, making his national debut, and a reunion with jazz trumpeter Rich “Spitty” Armstrong is a sure thrill that will fill the bill.

I’m introducing a new feature at my shows this summer, I call them Michelle Sox™ and they work like a charm to keep gadgets in check while the show goes on. After the gig, they are also available for purchase as a pair.

The Shocked Shop, soon back online at my website, will feature streaming, downloads, other cool Shocked sh*t, an Artist Rights resource center with copyright education and anti-bootlegging propaganda as well as a blogsite. Meanwhile, a few feature upgrades include this highlight, a Neck of the Woods interactive map of East Texas, so check it out.
Next month I launch my one-woman iteration of Truth vs Reality in Edinburgh’s Playhouse at The Boards to retell the tale of a few career exploits, kerfuffles, shenaningans and conflagrations, including my 1992 SXSW keynote address where I dropped a blackface minstrelsy bombshell on an unsuspecting hipster herd and got myself blacklisted for almost six years. Oh, you thought my 2013 San Francisco “Yoshi Didn’t!” episode was the first time I spoke truth to power? Think again. I am often an innocent bystander to my own genius, and this show is no exception. Onward with the #AllianceOfDefiance!
Last month, with a little help from my anti-folk friends, we launched an undercover debut as “Leaky Lou & The Whistleblowers” out on Governor’s Island for a little startup festival with big dreams, called PorchStomp.

Leaky Lou is my bright idea to support the efforts of a brilliant investigative journalist named Timothy Shorrock. Leak Culture is his work in progress, (and while I’m on the subject, Yasha Levine’s Surveillance Valley, is now available for presale,) so just wait until you get your hands on these guys writing. They’re the real heavies. My relatively minor copyfight skirmish pales in comparison to what these guys are up against, when it comes to censorship, suppression of dissent and whistleblowing.
In October I’m returning to Havana with maestro Ned Sublette, the brilliant author of Cuba and it’s Music and host of NPR’s AfroPop, for a whirlwind survey of rhumba and drums. There may be some available openings to join the group in case you’ve got the itch.Enough already. More to come. Until then, keep the faith and keep on rocking. I promise I will if you will.
J’taime,
Chel

Recommended Reading
The Black Box Society by Frank Pasquale
Spies for Hire by Timothy Shorrock
Move Fast & Break Things by Jonathan Taplin
What’s Yours is Min eby Tom Slee
How Music Got Free by Stephen Witt
When Google Met Wikileaks by Julian Assange
Shakespeare Insults
Cuba and its Music by Ned Sublette
American Slave Coast by Ned & Constance Sublette
The Smear by Sharyl Attkisson
Weapons of Math Destruction by Cathy O’Neil
Surveillance Valley by Yasha Levine

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Dallas-born alt-rocker Michelle Shocked makes few apologies for ‘epic exploit’

NEW YORK — It’s 1:30 a.m., and Michelle Shocked rocks a Rick Owens jacket while spellbound at the foot of a rinky-dink stage in Crown Heights, Brooklyn.

Texas drag artist Christeene Vale, who recently collaborated with Owens for a music video so sexually provocative it’d make Madonna blush, plows through a wicked performance that violates every measure of decorum.

Shocked, the Dallas-born Grammy winner and three-time nominee, inhales every NSFW gesture.

But when Christeene (a.k.a. Paul Soileau) notices a field of glowing mobile touchscreens recording her show, Christeene becomes incensed and screams at her audience, “Turn! Off! Your! Phones! [gay slur]!”

For a split-second, Shocked is stunned.

It’s as if Christeene’s snarling demand was dropped from the heavens — like an homage to a well-publicized incident in Shocked’s own past.

Shocked pumps her fist, belts out a mighty, “Whoop!” and smiles with vindication.

Michelle Shocked, photographed in her New York Chelsea neighborhood The Dallas Morning News (Chad Batka/Special Contributor)
Michelle Shocked, photographed in her New York Chelsea neighborhood The Dallas Morning News
(Chad Batka/Special Contributor)

Shocked, 55, has not played Dallas for more than five years. That changes Sunday night, when she will face her hometown fans for the first time since the incident.

On St. Patrick’s Day 2013, Shocked’s career suffered a harsh, almost unrecoverable nosedive when she performed at Yoshi’s, a San Francisco jazz club.

Her gig was framed in two neatly titled sets: “Truth” followed by “Reality.”

During the “Reality” portion, things got real.

Using Twitter, Shocked skimmed her audience’s song requests. One tweet suggested gospel music, which inspired Shocked to deliver a brief sermon about her Christian faith.

And then Shocked deliberately launched what she now calls her “epic exploit.”

Shocked said, “God hates [a gay slur].”

She describes her “exploit” as exaggerated satire.

Did people laugh?

“Yes!” she insists.

But after that verbal bomb, Shocked admits that she overestimated the audience’s ability for understanding. “I mean, I knew it would work. I just didn’t realize that it would work so well.”

It worked so extraordinarily well that, before you could say “hate speech,” Shocked’s remaining tour dates collapsed.

However, hardly anyone noticed how Shocked teed up that slur.

Most of the report on the Yoshi’s show referenced a 2008 interview when Shocked unhappily confessed that her new-found Christianity defined same-sex love as immoral.

Shocked accepted a Piers Morgan CNN interview invitation to explain her contradictory actions. In hindsight, a nine-minute televised segment wasn’t Shocked’s best damage-control solution.

During the rocky exchange, Shocked sincerely expressed that she’s not homophobic and said the Yoshi’s slur was “a mistake.” But she also told Morgan that her show “was supposed to be live — not recorded.”

As Morgan attempted to wrap the interview, Shocked recited an obscure couplet:

The apple tree’s got some strange fruit / Even Adam would not try

But human nature is living proof / Beauty is in the beholder’s eye

Unless it’s an inauguration, live television is a cruel venue for poetry. Shocked left viewers with an impression that was stranger than her “strange fruit” reference.

That televised confrontation was a low point, especially compared to her previous on-camera high, the 1990 MTV Video Music Awards, when Shocked was nominated alongside both Madonna and Sinéad O’Connor for “On the Greener Side,” Shocked’s dynamically clever feminist spoof of Robert Palmer’s “Addicted to Love” video.

Shocked’s work often made statements. Her 2002 song “Peachfuzz” is a down-home funky jam about a gay childhood pal who makes out with another boy at a nightclub. In the song’s second stanza, Shocked cleverly couches the British slang usage of “fags” (cigarettes) between other references to cigarettes and playing with matches.

Coincidentally, the “strange fruit” lines recited on CNN are the last lyrics to “Peachfuzz.”

Shocked was born at Baylor Hospital, but grew up “dirt poor” in Gilmer, Texas. (She would later make up the stage name and insists, contrary to myth, it is not a nod to her receiving electro-convulsive therapy.)

Her family lived in a vacant Mormon facility that had a ceiling tall enough to safely accommodate an indoor trampoline.

“That trampoline was awesome,” Shocked remembers.

Michelle Shocked in a pre-1994 publicity photo(The Dallas Morning News archives)
Michelle Shocked in a pre-1994 publicity photo
(The Dallas Morning News archives)

When Shocked hears the question, “What does the word ‘gracious’ mean?” her face lights up — like she just enjoyed an awesome trampoline bounce.

Before casting any stones, Shocked believes her entire controversial quote from that infamous night in San Francisco should be examined.

Like “manufactured reality” — now associated with genres of so-called unscripted TV — in lieu of simply saying the slur, Shocked instead baits her audience to tweet the inflammatory remark.

“If someone would be so gracious as to please tweet out, ‘Michelle Shocked just said from stage, ‘God hates [gay slur],’ Would you do it now?”

“I said ‘gracious’ with every ounce of snide insincerity I could muster,” she explains now.

She re-enacts the entire quote with her arms pompously raised to her sternum while her hands are clasped in a yin-yang gesture.

Did she lift that hammy pose from a bygone operetta?

“It’s from The Little Rascals, man,” Shocked laughs. “From the ‘Arbor Day’ episode.”

What a silly gesture to accompany so-called hate speech.

“By the way,” she says over a plate of poached octopus at a tapas bar around the corner from her Chelsea apartment, ” ‘Grace’ means ‘God’s unmerited favor.'”

So why did Shocked deliberately implode her career by hurling a hateful slur?

Two reasons.

First, she was certain that the show was being pirated, which it was.

Second, because she was livid over the now-common practice of “smartphone zombies” recording and uploading her live shows without consent.

Shocked intensely believes that digital-song services are why recording careers now go largely unpaid.

“I’m not sacrificing myself to the gods of the freemium-entertainment altar,” she vows.

Shocked says she is credited as the only artist who owns their entire major-label catalog. Achieving that honor harkens back to 1986, at Texas’ Kerrville Folk Festival.

Kerrville didn’t invite Shocked to perform.

“I volunteered for trash duty. And I got fired,” she shrugs. “Volunteers were fed and we camped in tents. For me, Kerrville wasn’t about main-stage performances. I went for the late-night campfire picking sessions.”

With a lo-fi recorder, British journalist Pete Lawrence was an audience of one who captured Shocked’s guitar virtuosity, twangy troubadour expressiveness and vivid, Woody Guthrie-like lyricism.

That field recording — or “bootleg,” as Shocked describes it — was released in Europe as The Texas Campfire Tapes, which climbed the alternative charts.

Shocked insists she never consented to the album’s release.

“They made sure to send me a standard cover-their-butts letter,” she remembers.

Overnight, she became a hit-making folk heroine. AndShocked says, that’s when the major label “sharks began circling.”

But the Kerrville field recordings made her wise.

Michelle Shocked performs during the 35th Newport Folk Festival, August 6, 1994 (Dave Hansen/Associated Press)
Michelle Shocked performs during the 35th Newport Folk Festival, August 6, 1994
(Dave Hansen/Associated Press)

She learned that most music-publishing careers (such as those of Alan Lomax, former director of the Library of Congress, and Ralph Peer of RCA-Victor) were built on regional recordings engineered in rural areas. And when it came to copyrights — from sheet music to phonographs to entire musical catalogs — Lomax and Peer reaped the advantages from unsuspecting artists who were either black or considered hillbillies.

While Shocked rose through the chanteuse ranks, Lone Star songstress Nanci Griffith issued her some savvy “take that to the bank” wisdom.

“Nanci said, ‘Keep your publishing rights,'” Shocked remembers. “After considering it, I wanted everything.”

“Everything” meant also controlling ownership of her master tapes, which Shocked negotiated — along with a three-album Mercury Records contract.

Smartphone technology and file-sharing have eroded what Shocked so intensely fought to preserve: control of her “tapes.”

Shocked maintains a reputation for impressively engaging live shows. But her smartphone-armed audiences couldn’t resist posting bootlegs. And Shocked says her YouTube infringement claims achieve erratic and infuriating results.

Shocked laughs when teased that she could out-argue a Supreme Court justice over intellectual property protections and how Google often violates the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

She also passionately describes how cultural content has now fostered a moblike mentality — especially on Twitter and Facebook.

Online commenters — Shocked calls them “gnats” — make harsh accusations that her Christian faith combined with her handsome, almost androgynous beauty have somehow destined her into being an ashamed closet case who’s too weak to face the truth.

Shocked is no wimp.

She’s a single divorcée. Her lyrics often reflect a die-hard romantic who’s nursing a broken heart. And while sizing up new companions, she mentions that a willing dance partner would be an ideal boyfriend.

At times, she possesses a tough-as-a-tomboy demeanor but insists she isn’t a closeted lesbian.

She is, however, a risk-taker who says David and Goliath is her favorite biblical narrative.

By the time the Yoshi’s gig rolled around, Shocked wanted to challenge the online mob’s tipping point. Like yelling “fire!” in a crowded theater, she baited her Yoshi’s audience into a perfect storm, deliberately hatching a viral-media rebellion in America’s most progressive gay-affirming capital.

Did it work?

The 23-minute Yoshi’s bootleg was uploaded to SoundCloud, courtesy of the San Francisco Bay Guardian. It is an electrifying performance that contains Shocked speaking and performing two original songs. The clip is also on YouTube.

Shocked shares a decision issued to her in May by the YouTube Legal Support Team. The decision states that Shocked’s complaint regarding the unauthorized recordings of her original compositions “is not valid” and will remain on YouTube.

“This means war,” Shocked vows and promises that her David-like battle against Google and YouTube is far from over.

The Yoshi’s incident resulted in Shocked being blacklisted. Venues weren’t ready to put her name on a marquee — until this year.

On Monday, she inaugurated a three-month, four-city (New York, Chicago, Atlanta and Nashville) residency with City Winery, a respected dinner-and-drinks chain known for showcasing intimate concerts with musical legends.

However, Shocked is not performing solo.

She has reunited with Pete Anderson, the six-string guitar god who produced and helped define not only Shocked’s recording career but also Dwight Yoakam’s superstar success.

Shocked and Anderson’s band make a stop in Texas Sunday night at the Kessler Theater in Oak Cliff.

What should Dallas expect?

In some ways, a return to her musical roots. Shocked recently came across video of her first national TV appearance, which was aired on Late Night with David Letterman. Shocked and Anderson jammed with Paul Shaffer and the World’s Most Dangerous Band.

That performance of If Love Was a Train is so in-the-pocket solid — part Elvis and all blues — that it began a lengthy friendship between Letterman and Shocked. She appeared on Letterman — both on NBC and CBS — “at least a dozen times,” she remembers.

Her Kessler gig means that she’ll be close to her family.

“And we’re planning to blow Dallas’ hair back,” she says.

Shocked has always forged her own path. And she refuses to apologize for overestimating her audiences’ ability to comprehend her “epic exploit” regarding pirating her shows.

She sees someone else who misjudged her audience’s reaction: Kathy Griffin, in that recent predicament where the comedian held up a Donald Trump-style mask styled to look like the decapitated, bloody head of the president.

“In the making-of video, Kathy jokes to the photographer, ‘You know, we’re going to move to Mexico because they’re going to put me in jail,’ ” Shocked says.

In the Yoshi’s bootleg, after Shocked drops that bomb, she performs her song “Wanted Man” — about a guy she meets in Mexico and discovers he’s on the lam to avoid a court date.

Will she perform “Wanted Man” in Dallas?

“You know what?” Shocked says. “I just might.”

Editor’s note: Daniel Kusner is a freelance writer based in Dallas and New York. 

Originally published via Dallas News.


Mercury Trilogy

My dear friends,
It is so good to be writing to you again; it’s been a long, dry spell and I have so much to tell.
I will be on the road this summer touring with my long time collaborator, world class guitarist and musical innovator. Pete Anderson produced two of the three albums of my Mercury Trilogy and it is a long standing dream come true to be reunited in this performance project with him. We are playing a summer residency tour at City Winery(Chicago, New York, Atlanta, Nashville – and soon, Boston) and we will perform each album from the Trilogy – Short Sharp ShockedCaptain Swing and Arkansas Traveler – consecutively in the months of June, July and August. Pete’s rhythm section will join us for parts of the show and will also feature Pete’s own original compositions.
I’ve been at Red Wally Studios in Beacon, NY laying vocal tracks for my friend Ron English’s opus, Delusionville with the brilliant lads from upstate NY’s The Package. Delusionville is a character-based musical featuring Ronnnie and Bunnny Rabbbit with a cavalcade of turtles, buzzards, sheep, ducks, wolves and even one orange elephant named Trunk. Delusionville is a place where, after falling down a rabbit hole, they all live in another dimension where even the best intentions always dissipate into apathy. Ron and I go in the wayback machine to college days in Austin. Here’s a snap from my debut as Bunnny, “the star of the show,” alongside drummer Lee Falco.
A few weeks ago I listened to a table read for Kind Hearted Woman, a new script by serious-heavy musical theater playwright Todd Almond. Todd aced it. Last year, I saw Courtney Love strut her stuff in a stunning two-hander by Todd called “Kansas City Choir Boy.” I was first introduced to him by my friend, the great guitarist Janet Robin, at a Center Theater Group production of Todd’s two-hander written for Matthew Sweet’s “Girlfriend.” We’re doing a show together at 54 Below in the fall, so I’ll send you more details about that next time.

I’m returning again this August to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in a show called Truth Vs Reality, produced by the bon vivant Church-Woods lads, Barry & Joe. I’m delighted to be a part of Civil Disobedience’s #AllianceOfDefiance with pals Christian Kelty’s Joe’s NYC Bar, Peter Michael Marino’s Show Up and Romy Nordlinger’s Alla Nazimova biography, PLACES.
It was ten days of sun and fun at the Orlando Fringe Festival  as the house band for Joe’s NYC Bar.
It was ten days of sun and fun at the Orlando Fringe Festival  as the house band for Joe’s NYC Bar.
Saturday, June 17, I’ll be on Governor’s Island at Porch Stomp with “Leaky Lou & the Whistleblowers,” supporting my friend, the brilliant investigative journalist Timothy Shorrock.
I’ll be in Dallas at the Kessler Theater on July 2nd with Pete and the boys.
I’ve been invited to stop and pay a visit to Victor Wooten’s JAM camp later this summer.But most of all, what I want you to know is that God is good. I feel very blessed to have such devoted, faithful, loyal and trusting audiences. I know the road has been rough and the journey long, with haters playing hardball. But that is what makes it all so very interesting, don’t you think? I’ve never stopped making trouble, I just went underground for a chance to catch my breath and come up for air with a little reinvention. The creeping fascism of the last 10 years – Wall Street fraud, government corruption, media manipulation and rampant copyright theft – has wreaked havoc on creators and concerned citizens alike. It just means, “the times they are a’changing and you gotta change with the times.”

That’s enough for now. I promise next time I’ll have more news about my new studio recording adventure, the Cuban-inspired copyright education project Musical Chair, (going for the third time October 5-9, join us!) Plus goss about exciting new partnerships and promising developments about my long-awaited opus, Indelible Women.

Until then, keep the faith and keep on rocking. I promise I will if you will.
xo
Chelle

p.s. Here’s a list of my current favorite blogsites and reliable information sources

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Copyright Alliance: 5 Questions for Michelle Shocked

This week we would like you to meet one of our Individual Creator Members, Michelle Shocked.

1. What was the inspiration behind becoming a songwriter? What do you enjoy most about the creative process?
I started writing songs at the same time that I started learning to play the guitar. It was a natural progression because I felt like nobody could tell me that I was playing the songs wrong if I had written them. If you sing someone else’s song, they always have something to compare you to; but if you sing your own songs, you’re judged on the merit of your originality rather than some technical standard.

2. Can you take us through your process? How long does it take? Does everything you produce make money?
Without even realizing it, you’re thinking about song ideas for most of the day. You may write down two or three, and by the end of the day, you may have had a dozen, of which you won’t really remember or archive most. But every now and again, an idea comes along that you just know will work. You can see the whole thing, you can feel the whole thing – how it works, where it turns, what it’s purpose is and how it applies universally. Then it just become a bucking bronco ride. You hang on for dear life and try to corral as much of it as you can into the most economic expression possible without losing the intensity of the creative experience.

3. What do you think is the biggest misconception about your line of work?
I think the biggest misconception about songwriting is that we are songwriters. I’m beginning to suspect that we are idiot savants. It’s both a curse and a calling, the obsessive-compulsive drama of the gifted child.

4. Have you experienced copyright infringement and if so how has it affected you personally and financially? And what do you do when you encounter someone stealing something you’ve invested your intellect, time and money into?
Yes, I have been victimized by copyright infringement. In fact, I have been blacklisted and unable to tour or record professionally for over three years because of my outspoken dissent against copyright infringement. When I encounter someone stealing my stuff, I have no more nuance to my response than if I had woken up to find someone had broken into my bedroom in the middle of the night. I’m going to scream and holler and hope that when I turn on the light it was just a bad dream. The exponential increase in blatant disregard and selective enforcement of my rights as a creator does not invalidate those rights in any way.

5. If there was one aspect of the copyright law that you could change, what would that be and how would you change it?
Simple. Congress needs to provide creators with a small claims venue for challenging copyright infringement. Going through the federal courts is simply not an option for 99% of us. There are several worthwhile proposals already on the table that legislators could effectively pass with considerable bipartisan support.

Michelle Shocked

Photo courtesy of Russell Cusick. | Slider photo courtesy of Mickey Deneher

Are you one of our Individual Creator Members? Participate in our Five Questions series! Please email us at cawebsite@copyrightalliance.org. And if you aren’t already a member of the Alliance, you can join today – at no cost – by completing our Individual Creator Members membership form!


May Daydreaming

If you’re sunnyside up, spring is here on the hemisphere. What joy! The only thing that could be more exciting is news that a Google insider has turned whistleblower. This is Big. I declare the effort to Occupy Google a complete success. Bring on the class action! Party on! The Google AdSense leak is in Part 1 and Part 2

Last month I had the sublime pleasure of swinging a few tunes at the Viva Cantina roundup with Deputy Dave Volk and the Regulators. Dave posted this video and I don’t believe I mind the cameo.

In case you’re interested what straight, white (slightly albinist!) dudes pretending to be offended lesbians look like, this Twitter troll named ‘Anna K’ took umbrage at Deputy Dave’s gracious invitation. The only follower on “Anna’s” blogspot is the ersatz Yahoo News/Hollywood Reporter who first ‘broke’ the “Michelle Shocked is a Hatemonger” story, Chris Willman. When the hysteria dies in Sterling Vs Reality, the evidence that will remain is that a ho blackmails her john while a pimp observes from the shadows.

Last night at SAG’s screening of Richard Montoya’s new Chicano noir Water & Power, I coulda swore I saw Vivenne Dominguez herself amongst the luminaries in the crowd. This film opens today in AMC theaters in SoCal. Orale!

To celebrate Cinco de Mayo, I posted the first chapter of Perrin Blackman’s stranger-than-fiction epistle, Truth Vs Reality.

I was supercharged by Vulfpeck’s most excellent Spotify spoof,Sleepify and the subsequent success of raising $20,000 with the concept, described here. I’m gonna try my hand at a variation on the theme; Inaudible Women.

Enjoy the sunshine, people!


A St Patrick’s Day Hangover Cure

Happy St. Patrick’s Day to all! Admittedly not above the radar, I have been quite feverish. By the time you read this, I’ll be in situ at the inaugural Content Creators Coalition meeting on the west coast with plenty to contribute and observe in the discussion of copyfight and artists’ rights. Here’s a snappy little video selfie that I made for the Copyright Alliance ‘Art Matters’ and the #iRespectMusic campaigns.

I guess my big news is that I am publishing an iBook by an author who has keenly observed events of the past year and I’m gauging interest in preview  material. The ebook, Truth Vs Reality, will be released this spring.

It’s an interactive project, so I need appx 2 dozen UN observers monitoring social media for a known group of conspirators who, by now quite familiar to me, have targeted my livelihood and reputation. I will provide the dossier on those involved in this smear campaign and the preview material will provide ample background for the purpose of the effort. Hit me back if you’re interested in participating.

With that in mind, I can cautiously announce plans for a UK tour in October and a US tour in November. And any who are in the LA area are invited to come down to Viva Cantina in Burbank on April 3 for their monthly Western Music Association jam. My favorite intellectual property rights lawyer, Greg Victoroff, will be swinging the brushes and I heard rumors that a delightful singer named Vivienne Dominguez sits in on a few songs! Orale!

Otherwise, it’s been a plethora of self-improvement projects; Jedi classes with Master Guo have incepted the first 15 Chen Taiji moves; a former Stockhausen disciple has infused piano chords into my fingertips with minimal catechism,  and a wonderful senora in Pasadena has me conjugating verbos and splitting infinitivos en espanol. Me gusta mucho!

TRUTH VS REALITY
BY PERRIN BLACKMAN
© 2014

Introduction

This is not a story about Michelle Shocked.  This is a story about a leviathan. This is a story about click-happy consumers who have become the by-product, and of thought leaders who operate with paid and unpaid legions of enforcers that we might as well call “thought police.”

This is a story about hate.  Not H8.

Hate.

It isn’t pretty.  But it sells!  How we love getting caught in the current of righteous indignation!  Get caught in that current and faster than you can fathom, you’ll find yourself front page news.

The underlying message: Keep your head down.

The darker message: This isn’t limited to red states or blue states.  Media content is filtered for all but the most glaring and blaring statements.  Subtlety and nuance lost, critical thinking is the casualty unless you’re willing to actively and doggedly pursue every suspicious fact you are fed.

Like pre-cooked meals, anger (and fear) sells.  Packaged and processed, news is now sold a la carte.  This is a business model that ensures profits for NOH8 campaigns. And HATE campaigns.

How? By registering your likes and dislikes, but mostly, by harvesting your clicks.  Anger feeds this monster and daily fuels the click-machine. “A click is a click,” Ryan Holiday explains in “Trust Me, I’m Lying.”  It doesn’t matter whether you clicked on a well-researched story or a sensational headline that asks, “Is Barack Obama Gay?” Even when the answer is, “of course not, silly,” it doesn’t matter because… you clicked. And hopefully you shared the story as well.

As for this story, while I am using continue


Michelle Shocked News – February 2011

Click here to see online.


Why Was Michelle Shocked Shell-Shocked? by Paul Krassner

Published on Alternet

“Please do not understand me too quickly.”
–Andre’ Gide


Which of the following ten denials are true and which are false? Richard Nixon: “I’m not a crook.” Vladimir Putin: “I’m not a thief.” Bill Clinton: “I did not have sexual relations with that woman.” Edward Snowden: “I’m not a traitor.” Paula Deen: “I’m not a racist.” George Zimmerman: “I’m not a murderer.” The New York Times (In a crossword puzzle, “Shylock” was a clue, and “Jew” was the answer): “We’re not anti-Semitic.” Lance Armstrong: “I’m not a doper.” Donald Trump: “I’m not a total asshole.” And Michelle Shocked: “I’m not a homophobe.”
 
In March, singer-songwriter Michelle had spouted between musical numbers what appeared to be a fanatical Christian anti-gay rant at Yoshi’s in San Francisco:
 
“But I was in a prayer meeting yesterday, and you gotta appreciate how scared, how scared, folks on that side of the equation are. I mean, from their vantage point — and I really shouldn’t say ‘their,’ because it’s mine, too — we are nearly at the end of time, and from our vantage point, we’re gonna be, uh [facetiously], I think maybe Chinese water torture is gonna be the means, the method — [off-handed, flippantly] once Prop 8 gets instated, and once preachers are held at gunpoint, and forced to marry [in a character voice] the homosexuals. I’m pretty sure that will be the signal for Jesus to come on back.”
 
Audience: [laughter] “Whaaat?”
 
“You just said you wanted reality [laughs]. If someone would be so gracious as to please tweet out, ‘Michelle Shocked just said, from stage, “God hates faggots[laughter]. Would you do it now?’” [laughter]
 
Disappointed fans walked out. Yoshi’s gay manager shut off her microphone, insisted that she leave the stage, and banned her from performing there for life. At least fourteen gigs at other venues were annulled, and her career swirled its way down the drain. So she decided to issue this statement:
 
“I believe in a God who loves everyone, and my faith tells me to do my best to also love everyone. Everyone: gay or straight, stridently gay, self-righteously faithful; left or right, far left, far right; good, bad, or indifferent. That’s the law: everyone. I may disagree with someone’s most fervently held belief, but I will not hate them. And in this controversy, that means speaking for Christians with opinions I in no way share about homosexuality. Will I endorse them? Never. Will I disavow them? Never. I stand accused of forsaking the LGBT community for a Christianity which is — hear me now — anathema to my understanding of faith. I will no doubt take future flack for saying so. I’m accused of believing that “God hates fags” and that the repeal of Prop 8 will usher in the End Times. Well, if I caused such an absurdity, I am damn sorry.
 
“To be clear: I am not now, nor have I ever been, a member of any so-called faith, preaching intolerance of anyone. Again, anyone: straight or gay, believers or not: that’s the law. That means upholding my punk rock values in the most evangelical enclaves and, in this case, speaking up for the most fearful of fundamentalists in, well, a San Francisco music hall full of Michelle Shocked fans. As an artist in this time of unbearable culture wars, I understand: this means trouble, and this is neither the first nor last time trouble has come my way. And that’s fine by me. I know the fear many in the evangelical community feel about homosexual marriage, as I understand the fear many in the gay community feel toward the self-appointed faithful. I have and will continue speaking to both. Everything else – Facebook, Twitter, whatever – is commentary.”
 
At midnight on Friday, June 28th — the day after the Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage, and the beginning of the San Francisco Gay Pride weekend — Michelle was a guest of Daniel Flessas, host of a weekly radio program, The Outside World, on listener-sponsored KBOO in Portland, Oregon. The call letters of that station were borrowed from a marijuana strain known as “Berkeley Boo.”
 
Having also been invited to participate in the dialogue, I asked Michelle, “Why did you convert to born-again Christianity?”
 
“I was making an album in 1991 called Arkansas Traveler that had its roots in blackface minstrelsy,” she replied. “My fiancee was a journalist, deeply researched on the history of the genre. He suggested we attend a local African-American church to explore the contemporary expressions of the music that had inspired the genre, and it was an easy justification.
 
“Gospel music, what’s not to love? Soulful, passionate pyrotechnics, a choir. But I went one Sunday too often and next thing I knew, my feet were making the altar call. The rest of me decided to join them. I went for the singing but stayed for the song. Originally, I recall thinking, ‘You know, this music would be so good if they’d just cut out all that Jesus crap.’”
 
And then Michelle had a question for me:
 
“My experience has been that people don’t wanna let the truth get in the way of a good story. My question to Paul is, having been the instigator [laughs] of more controversies than I will manage in my lifetime, the absurdity of this situation often causes me to[laughs] ask myself — I’m not exaggerating — ‘What would Paul do?’ Surely, there has to be some hilarity that I have overlooked, ‘cause I have tried everything I can come up with to make people laugh and to lighten the situation up. What have I forgotten?”
 
My response: “I think what you forgot was that audiences don’t always know the references, and so when you said, ‘God hates faggots,’ they might not have known that the reactionary Reverend Fred Phelps had said ‘God hates fags’ and meant it, and therefore they assumed that you were saying it as representing your belief when you were really, as I understood it, parodying the hatred that Phelps exuded. I mean risk-taking is risky business.”
 
Daniel: “But you didn’t always explain everything to everyone, did you, Paul?”
 
“No. When I published satire, I wouldn’t label it as satire any more than Jonathan Swift’sModest Proposal. He didn’t say, ‘I’m only kidding, folks, I really don’t mean that Irish babies should be eaten by the British in order to simultaneously solve the overpopulation and starvation problems.’ And I didn’t want to deprive readers of the pleasure of deriving for themselves whether something was literally true or a metaphorical extension of the truth.
 
“There was a singer named Tonio K. I was invited at the last minute to open for him at the Roxy Theater in L.A. — Harry Shearer was supposed to do it, but he couldn’t — and I had never heard of Tonio K. This was at a time when there were all those TV evangelicals —  Oral Roberts and Jimmy Swaggart and Jim Bakker — and they were involved in one sex scandal after another, and so I did some material about that. But the audience didn’t laugh, and I couldn’t figure out why.
 
“Only later, a review in the L.A. Times concluded that I was obviously not aware that Tonio K. was a born-again Christian singer, and his audience was filled with born-again Christian fans. So I felt relieved, because it was funny material, but humor is totally subjective, and I think that’s what Michelle got caught in. The gay community has been so mistreated by people who actually do express hostility toward them, it suddenly landed Michelle in that category.”
 
Michelle: “Paul, can I hold your feet to the fire? As the original Zen Bastard, you did not provoke for the sake of provoking, you would never ridicule an audience simply to express some sense of smug superiority. There was always a point and a purpose to the endeavor, and so I would like to submit to you that my efforts were to confound an audience that has grown so self-righteous that they needed a little prick, they needed a little poking. What was that Abbie Hoffman quote? ‘Sacred cows make the tastiest hamburger.’ I gave them a little taste of the medicine, and they did not like it, not one bit, no sir.
 
“I am reflecting back that your sensibility was not that of a provocateur, but always of one that would inspire people to think, and my experience with this is that they had grown so entrenched in their dogma that, rather than think, rather than rush to curiosity, I was subjected to a rush to judgment, and I cannot think of anyone that I would like to give more tribute to inspiring [laughs] my instigation than you. I’m blaming you for all this, Paul [laughs].”
 
“Yeah, right — I’m the little prick that you referred to.”
 
Michelle confirmed that she would be at the Gay Pride celebration on Sunday morning, “but I will be part of the contingent that is making a statement that San Francisco is proud of Bradley Manning for pursuing his duties as a whistle-blower in revealing secrets that the government would rather not listen to. And we’re basically just all gonna raise points that San Francisco Pride leadership rejected the election by all of the former SF Pride grand marshals to name Bradley Manning as this year’s grand marshal in favor of allowing their sponsors, their military and their corporate sponsors, to dictate the conscience of a community they claim to speak on behalf of, and I would love to be in that great number, marching, proud of a gay soldier who has the interest of everyone in this country above the interests of a few in this country.”
 
On Monday, I emailed her and asked how that event went.
 
“The Bradley Manning contingent in the SF Pride parade was a feisty attempt to put context to the Yoshi’s fracas,” she replied. “My story, the one I’m sticking to, is that it was a laugh riot, a second line of soul in the middle of a privilege parade. The truth is that I saw and heard countless reasons why any spirit of passionate resistance that once existed has left the disco long ago. It now resembles a Bourbon Street Mardi Gras without King Zulu. Show us yer tits! It’s the Rose Parade, and the corporate sponsors write the script. Even the Manning contingent played to the half empty grandstand like dutiful dissidents. The Star-Spangled Burqa was a hit, waiting for the photographic/video evidence to appear. So far so censored. I’ve got this nifty little shot occupying Google at the parade.”
 
And so, returning back to that night at Yoshi’s, was Michelle homophobic? Please pass the analogy. In 1952, there was a French-and-Italian film, Seven Deadly Sins, consisting of seven vignettes, one for each sin – greed, lust, avarice, pride, Dopey, Sneezy, Bashful – and at the end of the seventh sin, the narrator told us that we were going to see the eighth sin.
 
On the screen were all those images that we had been conditioned to associate with the intimations of sin – sailors, hookers, an opium den – and then the narrator explained that the eighth sin was the desire to see sin. The audience groaned with a spontaneity that served only to underscore the narrator’s point. Sometimes the ultimate target of satire should be its own audience.