4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs

From the 1918 Ocean Beach rip current to Matt Baker, Ashley Babbitt, Lester Bangs, Nathan Fletcher, the 2020 drum circle

RU OK OB?

Mencken, Bangs, Baker: Keep on rockin’ in the free world!
Mencken, Bangs, Baker: Keep on rockin’ in the free world!

None of this actually happened. Except, of course, there was that Board of Supervisors meeting back in August…

[Intrepid reporter Walter Mencken is enjoying a morning stroll along the strand in Ocean Beach when he happens upon The Lifeguard statue.]

Walter Mencken: Well, good morning, Mr. Lifeguard! A very fine 2022 to you!

The Lifeguard: If you say so.

WM: Well, yes, I do. But I’m guessing you don’t. What’s sinking your floatie?

TL: You know why I’m here? I’m here because in 1918, 13 people died in a rip current out there in the water, and over 60 more would have died if a bunch of other people hadn’t put their civic duty first and gone out to rescue them. And now, look at them out there. Walking up and down on the pier, as if nature in all its rage and fury hadn’t already smashed part of it to pieces. As if the pier hadn’t reached the end of its service life three years ago. Just wandering up and down, oblivious to the danger. Or worse; they know about the danger, and they just don’t care. I’m here to guard lives, but I can only do so much.

WM: This isn’t just about the pier, is it, Mr. Lifeguard?

TL: You know. You were there at that drum circle back in 2020. You saw them, defying the lockdown, tearing up the fences, dancing up in each others’ business, burning sage and saying that it would protect them from the virus. As if the pandemic were just something cooked up in a lab somewhere to make people behave a certain way. As if hippie-dippy civil disobedience would make a positive difference. It’s enough to make a man hang up his trunks and leave OB altogether.

WM: I see. But were there any outbreaks traced back to those gatherings?

TL: Never mind that. It’s a question of principle. You start questioning public health messaging, next thing you know, you’re getting shot while trying to storm the Capitol.

WM: Oh, I see. This is about the Babbitt statue.

TL: I thought we were tearing down our monuments to traitors these days, not putting them up.

WM: But doesn’t OB have a bit of a history when it comes with violent clashes with government authority? I was paging through an old issue of the OB Fishwrap the other day — like, really old, ’70s old. Their OB in Pictures segment had a photo of some graffiti reading, “Nixon won’t live 4 years.” The Li’l Liz comic strip told the story of a brave young woman, unjustly sentenced to marriage, who heroically murders her husband, Freddy the Exploiter, plus Larry the Lecher and The Racist, Sexist Judge with a machine gun made from home appliances before “joining her sisters out in the streets.” And the Pig Justice News column objected to a man’s conviction for assaulting a police officer before declaring, “WHEN TYRANNY IS LAW, REVOLUTION IS ORDER.” Couldn’t you argue that...

TL: We’re done here.

WM: Ok then. Happy New Year!


[Mencken continues his stroll, eventually winding up at the foot of Newport Avenue.]

Walter Mencken: Les… Lester? It’s you, isn’t it? Lester Bangs? The pickled, prickly pride of El Cajon? The great gutter poet of rock and roll journalism? The actually famous guy in Cameron Crowe’s Almost Famous?

Lester Bangs: Who wants to…hic…know?

WM: Walter Mencken, San Diego Reader. Big fan.

LB: The Reader? The most ironically named publication in San Diego history? That’s still a going concern? When The Door has been closed lo these many long years? Wonders never start. You guys always were the alternative to the alternative weeklies; figures you’d survive the Big Businification of media. I’ll say this for the Reader: it comes out every week, but only once. So there’s a kindness.

WM: As I recall, you called Lou Reed “a deteriorating silhouette of a star” when you met him, and everyone knows you thought he was the bee’s knees. So I won’t argue, except to say that we must be doing something right if we’re still around. I’ll even cut you some slack, seeing as how you’ve been dead for so long. Because really, if you’d been around to see the internet come in, you might be a tad more impressed by our longevity.

The Lifeguard’s comments elicit a properly exaggerated chin stroke.

LB: Correction: I was dead. Or at least, I was silent, which is the same thing for any writer who’s in it for something more than a paycheck. But hey, it’s Christmastime, and if Charles Dickens taught us anything besides the importance of attaching your artistic output to a national holiday if you want real commercial immortality, it’s that the Christmas spirit is a right proper old ghost, come to deliver an urgent message to hardhearted Scroogemanity…hic.

WM: Banging the spirits a little hard there, Spirit? I mean, Christmas was a week ago, and it’s, what, eight in the morning? What are you drinking, anyway?

LB: Heh… “banging.” As in, “Lester Banging.” I suppose that’s what passes for humor these days. It’s Skrewball! Peanut butter whiskey! Invented right here in Ocean Beach! It’s like that old commercial for Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups: “Hey jerkface, you’ve glopped your peanut butter in my whiskey!” “On the contrary, numbnuts, you’ve sloshed your whiskey in my peanut butter!” Gulp, munch…delicious! Two great tastes that taste great together! God, that really was the end of reality-based advertising, wasn’t it? A year later, and we had “Coke is it.” Never mind what it is. From there, it was a long, fast slide to “Brand X: it’s about Y.” Bottoms up before we bottom out! [Chugs from bottle.]

WM: Why stop at just two great tastes? I was just thinking: given your fondness for grape cough syrup, you could go on to invent the PB&J cocktail. Is that the urgent message of goodwill that has you back among the living and threatening to topple that lamppost?

LB: Philistine. I do not profane my chemical romances by writing about them. They are the secret wellspring that permit me to commune with Burroughs and company, to produce the precious prose that punctures the pomposity of pop, punk, and all the rest of it. I am alive again because IT is alive again, back from the grave that it’s been digging for itself ever since the first music executive sat down with the first publicist. And unlike Coke, I’ll tell you what IT is: rock and roll. Which, as I have always cried at the top of my voice, is EMOTION DELIVERED AT ITS MOST POWERFUL AND DIRECT IN WHATEVER FORM. And whaddya know, I didn’t have to go go go up to the Whiskey to hear it, or get it sent to me at Creem’s offices in Detroit, or even descend into some grotty black basement on the Lower East Side to write it up for The Village Voice, God rest its soul. All I had to do was take the 8 from my old hometown all the way to the end and arrive here, in Baker Beach.

WM: You mean Ocean Beach.

LB: I mean Baker Beach. Many a town has been renamed for its favorite son, and it’s only a matter of time before the residents of this hippie daydream of a neighborhood wake up to what Matt Baker from Ocean Beach has accomplished. The most metal moment for San Diego music, and maybe rock and roll in general, since onetime Coronado resident Jim Morrison dangled his dongle onstage in Miami.

WM: Oh, no. You don’t mean…

LB: I abso-diddly-dutely-do. I have always, always championed rock’s essential right to be fun and dumb, even and especially in the face of endless preening opposition about how all art has a political character. I’m sorry, but Metallica playing “One,” a song about a wounded vet begging for death, at the Grammys is not a political act, no matter how harrowing the subject matter. It’s an audition for an award from the recording industry. Business as usual. A Grammy is just a particularly valuable piece of marketing material. You want to know what has a really political character? Politics. Recognizing that seemingly screamingly obvious fact is what makes Baker a genius. He walked into that Board of Supervisors meeting on August 17 and laid down the vocal track for a Grade-A banger of a protest anthem. Dude is the absolute face of rock and roll, 2021. Hell, he’s the face of 2021, period, full stop, hit send, and turn off the replies. All he needed was for a guy like Andre Antunes to come along and put it to music, and Antunes, being no fool, did just that. This is how art happens. Just listen. [Pulls out iPhone, opens YouTube to Antunes’ “Covid Rant goes METAL (San Diego Board of Supervisors meeting Remix).”]

WM: Apple? Really?

LB: No choice. Total control of the afterlife market. Anyway. Baker comes in with that low, mournful whistle at the outset, and everybody sits up. What is this shit? I mean, these poor public officials have been sworn at, screamed at, insulted, threatened, you name it. You’re a public servant, you gotta deal with the public, whatever. But whistling? What gives? And then he draws in that big sighing breath, all weariness and resolve, and begins, low and slow, but gradually building in volume and pitch. It’s showtime.

[Whistling]

That is the wind

That is the wind of time

That is the wind of history

That is the wind blowing through your ancestors’ bones, begging you to do the right thing

Now, normally, I’d wave that away as the worst sort of portentous world-historical bullshit. Except yeah, that’s the sort of language that’s surrounded this thing from the beginning: global pandemic, unprecedented times, more Americans dead than in all the wars combined, our moral duty to our fellow man, etc. etc. Baker’s just playing along. And then the real theater begins: this guy breaking in with, “Sir, can you please state your name for the record?” Baker doesn’t miss a blankety-blank beat, he keeps his cadence and replies, just as natural as ever you please, before going back to that ominous whistle.

That is the wind that Matt Baker is calling upon, from Ocean Beach

Ocean Beach! Where the most famous resident, The OB Spaceman, spent the latter part of his life handing out tickets for when the aliens came to take the lucky ones away! Fantastic! And that’s when Antunes stops his minor-key, echo-heavy, scene-setting noodling and starts thumping the strings, and Baker kicks it into second gear:

The wind that is blowing through the black people through the white people through the Chinese people through the Mexican Americans, through the people that built this building with their bare hands to raise up this nation…They are begging you, they are blowing through your veins, and they should be putting a tingle up the spine of your back, and they should be begging you to do the right thing…

Hilarious. Look where he starts: Black people — the group with the lowest vaccination rate in San Diego, just under half. Then he goes onto the whites, just to show he’s not pandering, before moving on to the Chinese and the Mexican Americans and “the people who built this building with their bare hands.” Now we don’t have a whole heck of a lot of Chinese people in San Diego, and the ones we do have are mostly vaccinated, so what’s that about? Ooh, there’s that word, about. Maybe those ad guys were onto something. It’s about historically oppressed minorities is what it’s about. The people the ruling class has always been comfortable controlling and exploiting. The people whose hopes and dreams and desires rock and roll has always prided itself for representing. That’s why he moves on to manual laborers — another routinely exploited demo, this time along economic lines. And suddenly, all anyone who’s been paying attention can think about are those Met Gala photos with the rich white attendees smiling for the camera and the POC staff all in masks. All they can think about is that photo of Fauci maskless at a ballgame during lockdown, or Newsom maskless at The French Laundry, or San Fran’s Mayor Breed maskless at a club concert. Baker is talking to the same Board of Supervisors that said racism and inequity were public health crises, so he’s taking his stand with the minorities and the impoverished they so ardently support. Rock on! And now Antunes starts to shred just a little bit, as Baker gets apocalyptic:

You’re about to open a pit of hell

Well now, that sounds extreme. But rock ‘n roll has always been devil music, am I right? And here’s the best part: he’s serious! See what I mean about gloriously dumb? Here we go:

You do not get a vaccine passport put on us

You know the population is in control

You know that the people, the politicians, once you get a power you will never relinquish it

Yeah, see also, Patriot Act, government surveillance of citizens, etc. etc. etc. But Baker’s not working in the arena of ideas and policy, because he knows that makes for crap rock. He needs concrete images. Or, ha ha, marble images:

Do you think the four feet of marble that holds you above high in this chamber will help you from the fate of humanity which you are unleashing?

And this is my favorite part. It’s a rhetorical question. It’s obviously a rhetorical question. So he pauses for effect, because no answer is necessary. Except this is rock and roll, so an answer is totally necessary, and his audience in the cheap seats doesn’t let him down. Rock and roll abhors silence the way nature abhors a vacuum, and so into the silence of that rhetorical pause comes rushing the great Cry of the People: NOOOOOOO. And Baker is ready for them, and Antunes is ready for them, and BOOM goes the dynamite, and the guitar is like the devil’s own thudding heartbeat, rising up from below like the great satanic NON SERVIAM that is rock’s absolutely bedrock foundational axiom:

Nooooooooo! It won’t!

Your children and your children’s children will be subjugated

They will be asked, ‘How many vaccines have you had?

Have you been a good little Nazi?’

Hail Fauci, Hail Fauci, Hail Fauci, Hail Fauci!

Now, ordinarily, I’m as tired of labeling the opposition Nazis as the next dead person, even if vaccine passports do call to mind the classic request, “Papers, please.” But again, Baker and his Buddies are serious here, which is essential to what makes the song work. They’re bringing up Nazis because of what came out of the trial of the good old God-blessed USA vs. actual Nazi war criminal Karl Brandt: the Nuremberg Code concerning permissible medical experimentation. It ain’t law, but it ain’t nothing, either.

There has been a lot of talk about the Nuremberg Code, well I brought you a copy!

You are all in violation of Section One

Yes you, Dr. Wooten, you are in violation of the Nuremberg Code, which is international law

And the definition is…

And now we get to the part where the rock gods intervene to save their Chosen One. There is no way that Baker is going to be able to read the first point of the Nuremberg Code — the part about how human subjects in medical experiments “must be able to exercise the free power of choice, without the intervention of any force, fraud, deceit, duress, over-reaching, or other ulterior form of constraint or coercion” — and still keep the magic going. And Antunes has already gone as far as he can go sonically, and whatever the Code is, it isn’t lyrics. So what happens? It couldn’t be more perfect if Pink Floyd put it in the script of The Wall. The Man happens, and his whinging little voice of petty authority breaks in as Baker’s mic cuts out:

Sir, your time has expired.

Genius. Bona-fide, you-can’t-teach-that-in-school genius. And the final cherry on this epic sundae? Board of Supervisors Chair Nathan Fletcher — a Marine, for badness’ sake — actually wrote a tweet making fun of Baker after the meeting: “You can get your medical advice from this guy…or your doctor.” Or, you know, from the San Diego County Board of Supervisors. This dreadlocked dude decked out in neon green just got The Man to wade into the mud with him. That’s like someone from the Pentagon taking time to address the ethics of war after Metallica dropped their video for “One.” And that’s what I’m here to tell everyone. Hey, hey, my my, rock and roll will never die — not as long as people like Matt Baker from Ocean Beach are willing to let their freak flag fly. Like it says on the shirt, man. Like it says on the shirt. [Bangs gestures to his Freedom or Death t-shirt]

WM: So you think Baker is right that…

LB: Right? Who said anything about right? Was Lou Reed right when he said “Hey babe, take a walk on the wild side?” That’s not my department. I don’t give a hoot and a holler if he’s right. He’s rock. [Passes out.]

[Matt Baker arrives on the scene, dressed like Fat Thor from Avengers: Endgame.]: Happy New Year!

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all

Previous article

Mike Schaefer uses Sarah Weddington death

Soon-Shiong loans $300 million to his covid-vaccine venture
Next Article

Mike Schaefer uses Sarah Weddington death

Soon-Shiong loans $300 million to his covid-vaccine venture
Mencken, Bangs, Baker: Keep on rockin’ in the free world!
Mencken, Bangs, Baker: Keep on rockin’ in the free world!

None of this actually happened. Except, of course, there was that Board of Supervisors meeting back in August…

[Intrepid reporter Walter Mencken is enjoying a morning stroll along the strand in Ocean Beach when he happens upon The Lifeguard statue.]

Walter Mencken: Well, good morning, Mr. Lifeguard! A very fine 2022 to you!

The Lifeguard: If you say so.

WM: Well, yes, I do. But I’m guessing you don’t. What’s sinking your floatie?

TL: You know why I’m here? I’m here because in 1918, 13 people died in a rip current out there in the water, and over 60 more would have died if a bunch of other people hadn’t put their civic duty first and gone out to rescue them. And now, look at them out there. Walking up and down on the pier, as if nature in all its rage and fury hadn’t already smashed part of it to pieces. As if the pier hadn’t reached the end of its service life three years ago. Just wandering up and down, oblivious to the danger. Or worse; they know about the danger, and they just don’t care. I’m here to guard lives, but I can only do so much.

WM: This isn’t just about the pier, is it, Mr. Lifeguard?

TL: You know. You were there at that drum circle back in 2020. You saw them, defying the lockdown, tearing up the fences, dancing up in each others’ business, burning sage and saying that it would protect them from the virus. As if the pandemic were just something cooked up in a lab somewhere to make people behave a certain way. As if hippie-dippy civil disobedience would make a positive difference. It’s enough to make a man hang up his trunks and leave OB altogether.

WM: I see. But were there any outbreaks traced back to those gatherings?

TL: Never mind that. It’s a question of principle. You start questioning public health messaging, next thing you know, you’re getting shot while trying to storm the Capitol.

WM: Oh, I see. This is about the Babbitt statue.

TL: I thought we were tearing down our monuments to traitors these days, not putting them up.

WM: But doesn’t OB have a bit of a history when it comes with violent clashes with government authority? I was paging through an old issue of the OB Fishwrap the other day — like, really old, ’70s old. Their OB in Pictures segment had a photo of some graffiti reading, “Nixon won’t live 4 years.” The Li’l Liz comic strip told the story of a brave young woman, unjustly sentenced to marriage, who heroically murders her husband, Freddy the Exploiter, plus Larry the Lecher and The Racist, Sexist Judge with a machine gun made from home appliances before “joining her sisters out in the streets.” And the Pig Justice News column objected to a man’s conviction for assaulting a police officer before declaring, “WHEN TYRANNY IS LAW, REVOLUTION IS ORDER.” Couldn’t you argue that...

TL: We’re done here.

WM: Ok then. Happy New Year!


[Mencken continues his stroll, eventually winding up at the foot of Newport Avenue.]

Walter Mencken: Les… Lester? It’s you, isn’t it? Lester Bangs? The pickled, prickly pride of El Cajon? The great gutter poet of rock and roll journalism? The actually famous guy in Cameron Crowe’s Almost Famous?

Lester Bangs: Who wants to…hic…know?

WM: Walter Mencken, San Diego Reader. Big fan.

LB: The Reader? The most ironically named publication in San Diego history? That’s still a going concern? When The Door has been closed lo these many long years? Wonders never start. You guys always were the alternative to the alternative weeklies; figures you’d survive the Big Businification of media. I’ll say this for the Reader: it comes out every week, but only once. So there’s a kindness.

WM: As I recall, you called Lou Reed “a deteriorating silhouette of a star” when you met him, and everyone knows you thought he was the bee’s knees. So I won’t argue, except to say that we must be doing something right if we’re still around. I’ll even cut you some slack, seeing as how you’ve been dead for so long. Because really, if you’d been around to see the internet come in, you might be a tad more impressed by our longevity.

The Lifeguard’s comments elicit a properly exaggerated chin stroke.

LB: Correction: I was dead. Or at least, I was silent, which is the same thing for any writer who’s in it for something more than a paycheck. But hey, it’s Christmastime, and if Charles Dickens taught us anything besides the importance of attaching your artistic output to a national holiday if you want real commercial immortality, it’s that the Christmas spirit is a right proper old ghost, come to deliver an urgent message to hardhearted Scroogemanity…hic.

WM: Banging the spirits a little hard there, Spirit? I mean, Christmas was a week ago, and it’s, what, eight in the morning? What are you drinking, anyway?

LB: Heh… “banging.” As in, “Lester Banging.” I suppose that’s what passes for humor these days. It’s Skrewball! Peanut butter whiskey! Invented right here in Ocean Beach! It’s like that old commercial for Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups: “Hey jerkface, you’ve glopped your peanut butter in my whiskey!” “On the contrary, numbnuts, you’ve sloshed your whiskey in my peanut butter!” Gulp, munch…delicious! Two great tastes that taste great together! God, that really was the end of reality-based advertising, wasn’t it? A year later, and we had “Coke is it.” Never mind what it is. From there, it was a long, fast slide to “Brand X: it’s about Y.” Bottoms up before we bottom out! [Chugs from bottle.]

WM: Why stop at just two great tastes? I was just thinking: given your fondness for grape cough syrup, you could go on to invent the PB&J cocktail. Is that the urgent message of goodwill that has you back among the living and threatening to topple that lamppost?

LB: Philistine. I do not profane my chemical romances by writing about them. They are the secret wellspring that permit me to commune with Burroughs and company, to produce the precious prose that punctures the pomposity of pop, punk, and all the rest of it. I am alive again because IT is alive again, back from the grave that it’s been digging for itself ever since the first music executive sat down with the first publicist. And unlike Coke, I’ll tell you what IT is: rock and roll. Which, as I have always cried at the top of my voice, is EMOTION DELIVERED AT ITS MOST POWERFUL AND DIRECT IN WHATEVER FORM. And whaddya know, I didn’t have to go go go up to the Whiskey to hear it, or get it sent to me at Creem’s offices in Detroit, or even descend into some grotty black basement on the Lower East Side to write it up for The Village Voice, God rest its soul. All I had to do was take the 8 from my old hometown all the way to the end and arrive here, in Baker Beach.

WM: You mean Ocean Beach.

LB: I mean Baker Beach. Many a town has been renamed for its favorite son, and it’s only a matter of time before the residents of this hippie daydream of a neighborhood wake up to what Matt Baker from Ocean Beach has accomplished. The most metal moment for San Diego music, and maybe rock and roll in general, since onetime Coronado resident Jim Morrison dangled his dongle onstage in Miami.

WM: Oh, no. You don’t mean…

LB: I abso-diddly-dutely-do. I have always, always championed rock’s essential right to be fun and dumb, even and especially in the face of endless preening opposition about how all art has a political character. I’m sorry, but Metallica playing “One,” a song about a wounded vet begging for death, at the Grammys is not a political act, no matter how harrowing the subject matter. It’s an audition for an award from the recording industry. Business as usual. A Grammy is just a particularly valuable piece of marketing material. You want to know what has a really political character? Politics. Recognizing that seemingly screamingly obvious fact is what makes Baker a genius. He walked into that Board of Supervisors meeting on August 17 and laid down the vocal track for a Grade-A banger of a protest anthem. Dude is the absolute face of rock and roll, 2021. Hell, he’s the face of 2021, period, full stop, hit send, and turn off the replies. All he needed was for a guy like Andre Antunes to come along and put it to music, and Antunes, being no fool, did just that. This is how art happens. Just listen. [Pulls out iPhone, opens YouTube to Antunes’ “Covid Rant goes METAL (San Diego Board of Supervisors meeting Remix).”]

WM: Apple? Really?

LB: No choice. Total control of the afterlife market. Anyway. Baker comes in with that low, mournful whistle at the outset, and everybody sits up. What is this shit? I mean, these poor public officials have been sworn at, screamed at, insulted, threatened, you name it. You’re a public servant, you gotta deal with the public, whatever. But whistling? What gives? And then he draws in that big sighing breath, all weariness and resolve, and begins, low and slow, but gradually building in volume and pitch. It’s showtime.

[Whistling]

That is the wind

That is the wind of time

That is the wind of history

That is the wind blowing through your ancestors’ bones, begging you to do the right thing

Now, normally, I’d wave that away as the worst sort of portentous world-historical bullshit. Except yeah, that’s the sort of language that’s surrounded this thing from the beginning: global pandemic, unprecedented times, more Americans dead than in all the wars combined, our moral duty to our fellow man, etc. etc. Baker’s just playing along. And then the real theater begins: this guy breaking in with, “Sir, can you please state your name for the record?” Baker doesn’t miss a blankety-blank beat, he keeps his cadence and replies, just as natural as ever you please, before going back to that ominous whistle.

That is the wind that Matt Baker is calling upon, from Ocean Beach

Ocean Beach! Where the most famous resident, The OB Spaceman, spent the latter part of his life handing out tickets for when the aliens came to take the lucky ones away! Fantastic! And that’s when Antunes stops his minor-key, echo-heavy, scene-setting noodling and starts thumping the strings, and Baker kicks it into second gear:

The wind that is blowing through the black people through the white people through the Chinese people through the Mexican Americans, through the people that built this building with their bare hands to raise up this nation…They are begging you, they are blowing through your veins, and they should be putting a tingle up the spine of your back, and they should be begging you to do the right thing…

Hilarious. Look where he starts: Black people — the group with the lowest vaccination rate in San Diego, just under half. Then he goes onto the whites, just to show he’s not pandering, before moving on to the Chinese and the Mexican Americans and “the people who built this building with their bare hands.” Now we don’t have a whole heck of a lot of Chinese people in San Diego, and the ones we do have are mostly vaccinated, so what’s that about? Ooh, there’s that word, about. Maybe those ad guys were onto something. It’s about historically oppressed minorities is what it’s about. The people the ruling class has always been comfortable controlling and exploiting. The people whose hopes and dreams and desires rock and roll has always prided itself for representing. That’s why he moves on to manual laborers — another routinely exploited demo, this time along economic lines. And suddenly, all anyone who’s been paying attention can think about are those Met Gala photos with the rich white attendees smiling for the camera and the POC staff all in masks. All they can think about is that photo of Fauci maskless at a ballgame during lockdown, or Newsom maskless at The French Laundry, or San Fran’s Mayor Breed maskless at a club concert. Baker is talking to the same Board of Supervisors that said racism and inequity were public health crises, so he’s taking his stand with the minorities and the impoverished they so ardently support. Rock on! And now Antunes starts to shred just a little bit, as Baker gets apocalyptic:

You’re about to open a pit of hell

Well now, that sounds extreme. But rock ‘n roll has always been devil music, am I right? And here’s the best part: he’s serious! See what I mean about gloriously dumb? Here we go:

You do not get a vaccine passport put on us

You know the population is in control

You know that the people, the politicians, once you get a power you will never relinquish it

Yeah, see also, Patriot Act, government surveillance of citizens, etc. etc. etc. But Baker’s not working in the arena of ideas and policy, because he knows that makes for crap rock. He needs concrete images. Or, ha ha, marble images:

Do you think the four feet of marble that holds you above high in this chamber will help you from the fate of humanity which you are unleashing?

And this is my favorite part. It’s a rhetorical question. It’s obviously a rhetorical question. So he pauses for effect, because no answer is necessary. Except this is rock and roll, so an answer is totally necessary, and his audience in the cheap seats doesn’t let him down. Rock and roll abhors silence the way nature abhors a vacuum, and so into the silence of that rhetorical pause comes rushing the great Cry of the People: NOOOOOOO. And Baker is ready for them, and Antunes is ready for them, and BOOM goes the dynamite, and the guitar is like the devil’s own thudding heartbeat, rising up from below like the great satanic NON SERVIAM that is rock’s absolutely bedrock foundational axiom:

Nooooooooo! It won’t!

Your children and your children’s children will be subjugated

They will be asked, ‘How many vaccines have you had?

Have you been a good little Nazi?’

Hail Fauci, Hail Fauci, Hail Fauci, Hail Fauci!

Now, ordinarily, I’m as tired of labeling the opposition Nazis as the next dead person, even if vaccine passports do call to mind the classic request, “Papers, please.” But again, Baker and his Buddies are serious here, which is essential to what makes the song work. They’re bringing up Nazis because of what came out of the trial of the good old God-blessed USA vs. actual Nazi war criminal Karl Brandt: the Nuremberg Code concerning permissible medical experimentation. It ain’t law, but it ain’t nothing, either.

There has been a lot of talk about the Nuremberg Code, well I brought you a copy!

You are all in violation of Section One

Yes you, Dr. Wooten, you are in violation of the Nuremberg Code, which is international law

And the definition is…

And now we get to the part where the rock gods intervene to save their Chosen One. There is no way that Baker is going to be able to read the first point of the Nuremberg Code — the part about how human subjects in medical experiments “must be able to exercise the free power of choice, without the intervention of any force, fraud, deceit, duress, over-reaching, or other ulterior form of constraint or coercion” — and still keep the magic going. And Antunes has already gone as far as he can go sonically, and whatever the Code is, it isn’t lyrics. So what happens? It couldn’t be more perfect if Pink Floyd put it in the script of The Wall. The Man happens, and his whinging little voice of petty authority breaks in as Baker’s mic cuts out:

Sir, your time has expired.

Genius. Bona-fide, you-can’t-teach-that-in-school genius. And the final cherry on this epic sundae? Board of Supervisors Chair Nathan Fletcher — a Marine, for badness’ sake — actually wrote a tweet making fun of Baker after the meeting: “You can get your medical advice from this guy…or your doctor.” Or, you know, from the San Diego County Board of Supervisors. This dreadlocked dude decked out in neon green just got The Man to wade into the mud with him. That’s like someone from the Pentagon taking time to address the ethics of war after Metallica dropped their video for “One.” And that’s what I’m here to tell everyone. Hey, hey, my my, rock and roll will never die — not as long as people like Matt Baker from Ocean Beach are willing to let their freak flag fly. Like it says on the shirt, man. Like it says on the shirt. [Bangs gestures to his Freedom or Death t-shirt]

WM: So you think Baker is right that…

LB: Right? Who said anything about right? Was Lou Reed right when he said “Hey babe, take a walk on the wild side?” That’s not my department. I don’t give a hoot and a holler if he’s right. He’s rock. [Passes out.]

[Matt Baker arrives on the scene, dressed like Fat Thor from Avengers: Endgame.]: Happy New Year!

Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

Park & Rec’s loving cup

Get Ur Freak On uses El Silencio mezcal cut with Real del Valle tequila
Next Article

Tamar Berk doesn’t need your permission

“I see other women do this, too.”
Comments
1

Walter Mencken's amusing sardonic description of OB's own Ashli Babbitt, shot dead by a Capitol police officer at the January 6, 2021 Insurrection when she climbed through a smashed window into the Capitol building itself, doesn't match the strangely solemn nearly respectful tone taken by U.S. Representative Scott Peters (D-San Diego.) in describing his personal witness to that unprecedented afternoon.

No, last week on national public radio and later in The Los Angeles Times, Peters alone said that day was not particularly memorable. Yet he twice mentioned that lives had been lost in the turmoil and twice named only protestor Ashli Babbitt whom he claimed as "my constituent."

An odd response from a Democratic Congressman who was being hunted by the mob. But maybe he was just being "strategic" -- trying to mollify Republicans in his split district -- just as weeks before, he broke with his own political party to vote with the GOP to block Medicare from negotiating lower prescription drug prices for all Americans.

Jan. 10, 2022

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Drinks All Around — Bartenders' drink recipes Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories Fishing Report — What’s getting hooked from ship and shore From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Outdoors — Weekly changes in flora and fauna Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Street Style — San Diego streets have style Surf Diego — Real stories from those braving the waves Theater — On stage in San Diego this week Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Your Week — Daily event picks
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
Close