Friday, March 24, 2006

Are the Sun City Girls Anti-Semites?

Hey, is anyone else out there disturbed by the shadows of anti-Semitism in the lyrics of the Sun City Girls? These guys are inventive, funny, and sometimes produce brilliant music, and I really respect their Sublime Frequencies side-project, which, in its video manifestation, offers a sort of camcorder verite attempt to document the sounds of indigenous cultures at the crossroads of westernization/erasure (they also have radio collage stuff, field recordings and other valuable archival releases in the audio arm of the project). I met Alan Bishop up here when he was touring their Niger video, and I thought he seemed like an interesting guy, and I liked what he had to say, about how there is some fantastic music being made out there in the world that no one in the west is documenting or listening to, much of which stands at risk of being lost. It deeply disturbs me, though, that they have songs like “I knew a Jew Named Frankenstein” (the words of which are suspiciously absent from the lyric archive linked above, and are sufficiently garbled as to frustrate transcription, though they don't seem very Jew-friendly). They have other anti-Zionist and what start to seem like anti-Semitic barbs in their lyrics, and after awhile, they start to add up. I know that taking any of what they say too seriously or literally is kind of a doubtful enterprise, since their songs often have the quality of ridiculous, self-mocking put-ons and put-downs, but… here are a few examples of why I begin to get disturbed.

Their take on the Fugs’ “CIA Man” has a couplet to the effect of, “Who can hand feed a Zionist with a spoon/ While kicking Palestinians to the moon,” and refer to the “Mossad Institute of Terror."

In X+Y= Death, on KALIFLOWER they have a put-on line about how “26 billion non-Jews died” in an "Eat My Holocaust" -- a pretty questionable target of mockery.

“I Deal a Stick” on BOX OF CHAMELEONS has the verse,

Don't ask me who they are, because they taught you to ask me that question, so
they could hide among the ambiguous slime that shrouds their diabolical empire,
yeah, well it's been too late for centuries: Cum on them before they cum on

They uncritically repeat one of the sillier rumours about 9/11 – one which is debunked in the film PROTOCOLS OF ZION – in the "song," "WFMU Station ID: Palmer" on Carnival Folklore Resurrection 11, presenting the following as a radio broadcast:
This is Palmer from Asia and Emerson, Lake and Myself, and when I'm in the New
York area watching Israelis celebrate on rooftops as the remote-controlled
aircraft fly into two towers, and the American public are duped, as they
usually are, I always listen to WFMU Radio.

This resonates against their rhetorical, “So, do you still think Bin Laden did it?” on “Where is What it Was?” -- though I'm not sure what the band's pet theory is.

On 98.6 IS DEATH, they refer to Israel as the “angel of death” in a long surreal rant called "Without Supervision/Radio ID #3."


"Well when you -- I don't recognize no boundaries. Try drinking a
beer. You know they say when you're Roman do -- in Rome, do as the Romans do
-- or when in Israel you do as the Palestinians do, well when on the planet
of Earth, you do as you wish."

They also have a preponderance of Sublime Frequencies projects from Middle Eastern, Arab, and Muslim countries, and on one – I Remember Syria – have photographed a sign in memory of Golan Hospital, "destructed by Zionists." I also read a concert review somewhere online (I think -- or was it in an issue of Bananafish?), describing a concert where one of the band members, at some point, shouted from stage, "Fuck Zionists." (I can't find a link, sorry).

I mean, I know, I know: you could probably compile an equal number of lines from Sun City Girls songs that advocate drinking blood, cooking with Satan, and "going fishing with a hammer and sickle and a bone crusher attached to a pickle," and none of them would add up to anything you’d want to take very seriously... but given their fondness for conspiracy theories, and the seriousness, evil history, and sheer stupidity of antiSemitism... I get kinda worried by quotes like the above. Anyone have anything else to add to the list, or a rebuttal they'd care to offer?


Allan MacInnis said...

I decided to post a bit on the Sun City Girls Yahoo Group to see what people had to say. The general consensus is that the SCG are "deprogrammers" engaged in Lenny Bruce-style taboo busting and that they aren't serious in their Jewbaiting. The most interesting response thus far was from a fellow named Appearnance:

(Commence quote)

The first few response posts were going really good but....

Allan, yes, the Bishops are American-born and their family is from

I'm not sure why you're assuming the "diabolical empire" in "I Deal A
Stick" is a Jewish one. I always took the SCG critique to be of the
worldwide imperialist power elite, specifically the U.S./Israel
military alliance (because of their own situation as Americans of
Lebanese descent), but anyone profiting off of the suffering of the
masses is fair game. The phrase "ambiguous slime" seems to suggest
that this stuff isn't easily explained by any one race being guilty.

As for "I Knew A Jew Named Frankenstein." Remember, Frankenstein
wasn't the monster, he was the mad doctor....the one who thought he
could control life....but your strongest point may be with this song.
It may be a cheap shot, at best a playground joke, but I defend it in
that the SCG are deprogrammers -- people are apathetic and complacent
and this is their way of slapping 'em around so they might feel
something. I salute you, Allan, because with your blog-posting
inquiry you're not being apathetic about it, and I think ultimately
that's the ONLY REASON the SCG sang the song, to get someone out of
their chair, to bring stagnant water to a boil so we could all start
COOKING again. Cooking with Satan? Perhaps.

The remoted-controlled airplanes? Pretty silly, but people have to
think more criticially about 9/11, and if it takes a far-fetched
theory to get 'em to even entertain the possibility, then bring it
on, because if you start by going that far, you'll at least come back
in a different place than the couch where you are a potato. It's not
ideal, but it is another needed slap in the face, a necessary rug-
yank. Even the biggest SCG fans sometimes have a hard time with
their 'prankster' moves, but it is NOT a far-fetched or ridiculous
belief structure to think that 9/11 was a move designed by extremely
powerful government extremists instead of the official underground
religious extremists explanation. And those in the US/Israel alliance
are arguably the most powerful government extremists in the world
today, so let's just say that even if they shouldn't be accused
outright, they should at least be called in for questioning....

"26 billion non-Jews died in an eat my Holocaust." I don't think
they're joking, I think they're being surreal. They're doing the
opposite of trivializing, they're heightening the situation
poetically so it can be thought of in different lights. I don't know
what it means either but I kind of take it to mean that the ALL of
Western modern society pretty much went south with the events of Nazi
Germany and just as significantly the Allied response to it. The
concentration camps may have been the most explicit physical
manifestation of it, but America turned around and annihilated entire
cities in Japan, as if that was somehow a morally superior decision.
And US big business was investing heavily in Nazi Germany all along,
with Prescott Bush himself doing it right up until 1942 when the US
government finally made him stop. (After that slap on the wrist he
became a senator from Connecticut.) The world power elite has sold
out completely to the military-industrial complex -- apparently
that's where the money really is -- and it's just getting worse and
worse every year. Has the US/Israel military alliance been
responsible for 26 billion deaths since WWII? Physically, maybe not,
but spiritually? I think so.

I'm willing to hear out anyone who gets on a stage and yells FUCK
ZIONISTS. All Americans do have a particular connection to the
Israel/Palestine conflict because the tanks they use to bulldoze
settlements have USA ARMY written on the side of 'em. Our tax dollars
pay for those weapons to be manufactured and our leading customer
for 'em is Israel, and they are not being used to counter terrorism,
they are being used to perpetuate it. Of course the Bishops and all
Americans have a stake in it, our power elite is using our money not
to end the conflict, but to foment the conflict further. And I say

(End quote)

It's obviously very interesting that the Bishop's family hails from Lebanon -- their politics make quite a bit more sense, in that light (I had assumed they were originating from a non-engaged "American conspiracy theory" place, which would be more suspect.) I took issue with his reading of the 26 billion non-Jews dying:

> That's certainly one way of reading things. Another would be to say
that the
> band is mocking how Jews overestimate their suffering -- so what if
> billion Jews died in the Holocaust, lots of people die, so "eat my
> Holocaust," and stop using yours to score political points or
justify the
> oppression of the Palestinians. Actually, I think my reading makes
> sense...

To which he responded, "I do too, nice one..."

Anyhow, there's been a certain amount of hostility from some of the Group members, and a lot of them seem to find my blog "too PC," which is, I suppose, a reasonable thing to say -- it IS, a little. It's made for a couple of interesting days.

Anyhow, I'll soon be off their list, but fans of the SCG are advised to check out the Yahoo Group devoted to them...


Allan MacInnis said...

Tho' I'm off the list, a friend forwarded me some recent stuff, and once again, the best piece of writing is from Appearnance -- it gets at least a B+ for its attempts to mock me:

(Commence quote)

Are the Sun City Girls cannibals??

I find some of the Sun City Girls' music to be interesting (except those times when the singer cackles and shrieks, which hurts my ears a little, and he barely even seems to be saying words), and I think their Sublime Frequencies label is awfully neat, devoted to poor downtrodden cultures elsewhere in the sadly undeveloped part of the world, but I've come across a few things on their lyrics archive that, well, let's just say they have me a little concerned. I have to wonder – could the Sun City Girls be cannibals?

First of all, I couldn't help but notice this verse in the song "Bitter Cold Countryside."

Then we chopped him into six pieces
Two arms, two legs and a head
And his mid-section made a fine table
Next to Jimmy-O-Wilkinson's bed

And his toes now creep in the river
And his fingers they tickle the corn
And his skull flies high in the hemlock....
From dusk till the early morn

Now, granted, there are no references to the actual consumption of human flesh here, but the ritualistic dismemberment of a human body is very often part of cannibalistic practice. But, other than that, nothing is actually consumed, and I wouldn't even give it a second thought . . . if it wasn't for THIS, in the very next song on the archive, "Ruby on the Ferris Wheel":

"And I did not cry because I like to eat human flesh and all my friends are cannibals too! And if you don't like it, well just put in a complaint at the FDA."

Well, here, if I'm not mistaken, he's coming right out and endorsing the eating of human flesh! And I'm sorry, but that's just wrong. It's anti-human (not to mention anti-Semitic by default). And it's a little disingenuous to think that putting in a complaint at the FDA is going to make things alright, isn't it?

And then, only a few lines later, we have this:

"I don't have any mercy on all those people who died from any kind of tribulation. Yeah, like I'm gonna worry about it . . . I want them dead . . . I want nothing to do with 'em at all! Kill 'em, burn 'em, fuck 'em, eat 'em . . . just EAT 'EM!"

Strong words, huh? Of course, the Sun City Girls have always been known for "pushing buttons" and "breaking taboos," so maybe this is just another example? Surely they're entitled to a satirical song every now and then, right? And part of satire is that it's not to be taken literally. Fair enough, and I'm willing to let even this rather shocking pro-cannibalism treatise pass . . . . if it wasn't for enough other references sprinkled throughout their work to give me pause.

Like this, from the innocuously titled "Sour Smells in Nevada":

"You know, human flesh is addictive. Especially the meat from the head and the insides of the thighs. You can tell a cannibal by them giving off sour smells, with eyes slickly greasy as though swimming in pools of fat. Just look in their eyes. That's how you spot a cannibal."

Now, THIS seems to communicate first-hand knowledge of what it's actually like to eat human flesh. I certainly never knew any of this stuff, and wouldn't it take someone who is actually experienced in the act to know such specific information??

So, really, what do you think? Can someone can set my mind at ease about this? If anyone can vouch that they are not actually cannibals, I would sure appreciate it. I do really want to enjoy their music, and express my solidarity with those poor Arab cultures by purchasing their Sublime Frequencies records – but I don't know if I can give my money to cannibals. If anyone wants to offer any information, or a rebuttal of some kind, please do so. (Although, for the record, I actually have no intention whatsoever of being open to any new concepts of any kind. Just so you know.)

(end quote...!)

...y'all can decide for yourselves if I deserve it!

Anonymous said...

in Montreal, Alan said onstage "Do we have to use the number 6 million or can we say 5 million, 998,000 - or something like that.

YES the Lebanese Bishop brothers are anti-semites!

Anonymous said...

Who cares? Are Semites Anti-Semites?

Ilya said...

Even if they are, I don't care much about their political leanings.

Still, its an interesting an subject to ponder on - thanks for doing research/doing a post about this.

Anonymous said...

They take the piss out of every religion. As the other poster wrote: they're essentially attacking those in power, those who abuse power.
Listen to some of their live shows and you'll hear some pretty strong polemic against islam too. And well, naturally, christianity is beaten mercilessly by them.
But that's accepted as norm...we just don't have a word for it.

Ian said...

But Israel DID do 9/11, as the evidence clearly indicates. At least the former Director of Studies, US Army War College Strategic Studies Institute, Alan Sabrosky (of Jewish ancestory) says so. Look it up on yourube and you can hear it from him. And let me tell you one more thing, if the American people find out what really happend on 9/11, "Israel" is going to be eradicated from planet Earth as it sbould be, and every Zionist, Zionist collaborator, and Zionist apologist (that's you), will be hunted down and executed for the lice that they are. Just a pure statement of fact about what will happen if Americans learn the truth. Nuke "Israel" now, is my motto. shalom!

andujar said...

I don't believe they are anti Semites. I have been loving their thing for 20 years and while they will go to great lengths to piss people off, I haven't found any substance to these claims.

And if they were anti Zionist (which they may or may not be), that is a far different thing than anti Semite. I am not against people of any ethnicities but I am against all States. Therefore it makes me anti Zionist, but not anti semite. The same way that I am am anti America (the institution, not the people.)

Just laugh at's only life.