Wednesday, December 17, 2008
I AM THE SLIME
As we celebrate Eve of SLIME, the fabled 12th night of the Festival of Zappadan, I would like to present Franks Piece, I Am The Slime from the 1972 Record, Overnight Sensation. This version of his band was a classic, with Jean-Luc Ponty, George Duke, the Fowlers and Ruth Underwood. This band, performing the percussion oriented music that frank was composing at the time was technically one of the most advanced percussion ensembles of its time.
With Ponty and Zappa trading violin and guitar licks, they created a big band jazz rock ensemble that were influenced by and influenced the great Jazz rock groups like Eleventh House and Mahavishnu...as well as being able to fill auditoriums with Franks surreal social commentary and humor.
The Slime was a recitation about the insidious effect of media and those who control it. In 1972, the influence of television was already apparent. It was used as the most aggressive marketing tool for commercial products for goverment influenced propaganda.
The techniques we take for granted today were fledgling ideas being used to soften the cranial caveties of the masses.
Here in France, today, we are seeing an aggressive attempt by the goverment of Nicolas Sarkozy to coopt independant media. There are privately owned channels which use advertising and subscription as revenue. We have TF1 which is very sympathetic to the goverment in their reporting and editorial stance. They are supported by advertising and broadcast a lot of American Prime Time Series.
Then there is Canal+, which is cable. For the most part it is payed by subscription and they do advertise. They have much more independant programming and are major contributors to Frances' cinema.
Then there are the goverment subsidized free network stations, available as terrestrial, digital terrestrial and satellite signals. They are bound by strict rules as far as advertising. Sarkozy has proposed a reorganization of the system which would put it under very strict goverment guidelines. They would change the schedualing of news broadcasts and force them to take more commercials.
The director of the network is under direct authority of the president. In effect, even though, Silvio Berlusconi in Italy owns media, Sarkozy's reforms would give him much more direct control over the media than Berlusconi has in Italy.
The only real independant station left on the terrestial networks would be ARTE, which is an arts and documentary channel co managed by a French and German corporation.
The majority of Franch people, the media employees, executives and members of the goverment oppose this legislation. It is highly unpopular. The Socialists have rallied to fight it but undaunted, Sarkozy is determined to see this project through.
Because if he does, he will be able to control much of the editorial spin on the news and tighten his dynastic dreams of power. We are already being bombarded witrh non stop appearances of his wife, Carla Bruni as she tries to push her vapid cd down the throats of a scoffing public.
I believe, that this is beginning to backfire. This, along with the growing dicontent of the unemployed, the rising cost of living as wages disappear, the relentless projects to roll back benefits and public services, the attempts to cut back on education and repressive new law enforcement projects are becoming too much for many people to bear.
The goverment tries to spin the discontent in the media with its spokespersons and they believe that if they control the television editorial spin, half tEverything he battle is won.
Again, this is coming to a head. On January 29, the entire country is going to come to a standstill. France is not America, people still know that they have power and exercise it. Everything, everywhere will be on strike. If you plan to be in France on that date, plan to watch the spectacle in the streets.