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Fall, 1985 - Frankenchrist helps propel Dead Kennedys to their most successful U.S. Tour ever. But it is not without problems. Some concerts suffer last-minute cancellations due to pressure from unnamed sources on city and university officials. Local religious right operatives of the PMRC may or may not be involved. The Boise show winds up at a biker bar.
Meanwhile, a new generation of Alternative Tentacles releases includes Butthole Surfers, The Crucifucks, The Dicks, and M.I.A
January, 1986 - At the urging of friend Harvey Kubernik, Biafra makes his first spoken word appearance at Kerckhoff Hall at UCLA in Los Angeles, with poet Michelle T. Clinton. Listeners respond most to Biafra's humor and the suppressed information on current events. The L.A. music press, dismisses his warnings about the PMRC as the ravings of a paranoid lunatic. However....
April 15, 1986 - Two weeks after, Dead Kennedys are publicly targeted by Susan Baker of the PMRC, Biafra's house in San Francisco is raided and torn apart by a squad of Los Angeles and San Francisco police officers. Cops even ransack the cat-box hoping to find...well, ask them. Frankenchrist albums and Giger posters are taken from the house and the Alternative Tentacles/Mordam offices.
June, 1986 - Biafra and four others are charged in Los Angeles with one count each of "Distribution of Harmful Matter to Minors". They are the first people in American history to face criminal charges over a record; three years before the attack on 2 Live Crew. Biafra and other supporters form the No More Censorship Defense Fund to cover the money to fight the charges. Defendants face a possible one year in jail and a $2,000 fine. The law had never been used before.
The L.A. City Attorney's office admits to L.A. Weekly reporter Don Bolles that they kept files on several other PMRC-targeted musicians, but chose Biafra because it was, "a cost effective way of sending a message". The prosecuting attorney later says one of his goals was to destroy Alternative Tentacles. Fund-raising and the ensuing media circus delay the completion of the follow-up album to Frankenchrst, the appropriately titled Bedtime for Democracy.
Fall, 1986 - Dead Kennedys break up is announced around the time of the release of Bedtime for Democracy. Black Flag and Crass announce their demise in the same two week period. Interest in Biafra's spoken word activities continues to grow.
1987 - Biafra releases first spoken word album, No More Cocoons. Tracks include "Names for Bands" and "Message From Our Sponsor"; which is sampled by Ice-T for the opening to his Freedom of Speech-Just Watch What You Say album.
Also released is Dead Kennedys Give Me Convenience or Give Me Death, a semi-"Greatest Hits" package of non-LP singles and rare compilation tracks.
August, 1987 - Charges against Biafra and the other defendants are dismissed after a three-week criminal trial in Los Angeles. Even though Frankenchrist was not found to be obscene; Biafra, Dead Kennedys and Alternative Tentacles records are subsequently banned from a multitude of chain stores nationwide. This is exactly the type of de-facto censorship Tipper Gore and the PMRC had in mind.
By this time, controversy has vaulted Biafra's spoken word performances from coffee houses to the college lecture circuit, where he is brought in to "lecture" on censorship. For the first time the media is more interested in Biafra's political views than music-industry shop talk on his latest music album. His documentation of Tipper Gore and the PMRC's ties to fundamentalist Christian extremists is no longer dismissed as lunatic. He also appears as an FBI agent in the Tim Robbins-John Cusack film, "Tape Heads," wearing the same blue pin-stripe suit he wore at the trial.
1988 - Being taken seriously has its ups and downs as hopes for a new band and music tours fall by the wayside in favor of more Spoken Word and anti-censorship work. Second Spoken Word album- High Priest of Harmful Matter is an 88-minute monologue detailing the "Frankenchrist trial" and the PMRC and censorship advocatesí corporate and religious right connections; with Biafra acting out the voices of the entire cast of characters. Biafra now realizes he is not a poet so much as an anti-pundit/commentator; breaking new ground in the increasingly important medium of info-tainment.
In his second Oprah Winfrey appearance Biafra catches Tipper Gore lying on live national television. Oprah quickly cuts to a commercial. During the next few years, Biafra appears on Donahue, Crossfire, the never-aired pilot of Jesse Jackson's talk show and even at a Religious Right broadcaster's convention. Jackson is the first and only person to object to Biafra's name. These adventures are recounted on his fourth spoken-word album, Beyond the Valley of the Gift Police.
Meanwhile Alternative Tentacles is sprouting another generation of bands led by Nomeansno, Alice Donut, The Beatnigs (pre-Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy and Spearhead), Tragic Mulatto, Victims Family and Hungarian space-shamans Vagtazo Halottkemek (aka VHK or "Galloping Coroners").
Summer 1988 - While mixing Christian Lunch's Unreliable Sources EP for Alternative Tentacles, Biafra and Ministry's Al Jourgenson hatch the idea for a project of their own. The first name that pops into Biafra's head is Lard. Al falls on the floor laughing and Lard is born. The Power of Lard EP is released that fall.
1989 - Terminal City Ricochet brings Biafra to Vancouver for a substantial film role and more collaborative recording. He hooks up with D.O.A. and Nomeansno for one soundtrack song apiece; the soundtrack is subsequently released on Alternative Tentacles. Sessions go so well they each lay the ground work for an entire album. The Biafra/D.O.A. album Last Scream of the Missing Neighbors is finished first; complete with "Full Metal Jackoff", a side-long power dirge that many consider the definitive expression of horror at the onset of Bush America. It is also the only high-profile track, besides Ice-T's, to point out the Bush-CIA connection with America's exploding crack epidemic. A new round of PMRC attacks on Ice-T, Public Enemy and, yes, Biafra, begins.
After its initial release, squabbling breaks out among Terminal City Ricochet's backers and the film remains in limbo to this day. Though its take on tabloid media as an instrument of oppression and control should be shown before every American election, it has still not been released on video.
1990 - The Power of Lard EP is so well received that Biafra, Al, Paul Barker and Jeff Ward go back in the studio in Chicago for more. The result is the first Lard full-length album, The Last Temptation of Reid. Later Biafra returns to Vancouver to complete the album with Nomeansno, The Sky is Falling and I Want My Mommy. Lyrics are among Biafra's strongest, with a second version of "Falling Space Junk" as a semi-sequel to the first version from the Terminal City Ricochet soundtrack.
1991 - One of the world's most warped guitarists, Charlie Tolnay of Grong Grong, surfaces in America with his next band, King Snake Roost. Seizing the moment, Biafra and Charlie enter the studio with all three members of Steel Pole Bathtub. The result is the Tumor Circus album and two singles. No two Biafra music albums have ever sounded alike; and this one tries his listeners patience more than anything since The Witch Trials. Some punks find themselves mimicking their parents, "Turn that off. It's just a bunch of noise..." Arguably an overlooked noise-guitar masterpiece, it remains one of Biafra's favorite of his albums.