What Would Jello Do?
Occupy Wall St. / Occupy congress
Who is Jello Biafra?
Jello Biafra (born Eric Reed Boucher; June 17, 1958) is an American musician, spoken word artist and leading figure of the Green Party of the United States. Biafra first gained attention as the lead singer and songwriter for San Francisco punk rock band Dead Kennedys. After his time with the band concluded, he took over the influential independent record label Alternative Tentacles, which he had co-founded in 1979 with Dead Kennedys bandmate East Bay Ray. Although now focused primarily on spoken word, he has continued as a musician in numerous collaborations.
Politically, Biafra is a member of the Green Party of the United States and actively supports various political causes. He ran for the party’s Presidential nomination in 2000, finishing second to Ralph Nader. He is a staunch believer in free society, who utilizes shock value and advocates direct action and pranksterism in the name of political causes. Biafra is known to use absurdist media tactics, in the leftist tradition of the Yippies, to highlight issues of civil rights and social justice.
In the autumn of 1979, Biafra ran for mayor of San Francisco, using the Jell-O ad campaign catchphrase, “There’s always room for Jello”, as his campaign slogan. Having entered the race before creating a campaign platform, Biafra later wrote his platform on a napkin while attending a Pere Ubu concert. As he campaigned, Biafra wore campaign T-shirts from his opponent Quentin Kopp’s previous campaign and at one point vacuumed leaves off the front lawn of another opponent, current U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein, to mock her publicity stunt of sweeping streets in downtown San Francisco for a few hours. Supporters committed equally odd actions; two well known signs held by supporters said “If he doesn’t win I’ll kill myself” and “What if he does win?”
His platform included unconventional points such as forcing businessmen to wear clown suits within city limits, erecting statues of Dan White (who assassinated Mayor George Moscone and City Supervisor Harvey Milk in 1978) all over town and allowing the parks department to sell eggs and tomatoes with which people could pelt them, and a citywide ban on cars (although the latter point was not considered completely outlandish by many voters at the time, as the city was suffering from serious pollution). Biafra has expressed irritation that these parts of his platform attained such notoriety, preferring instead to be remembered for serious proposals such as legalizing squatting in vacant, tax-delinquent buildings and requiring police officers to keep their jobs by running for election voted by the people of the neighborhoods they patrol.
He finished third out of a field of nine, receiving 3.79% of the vote (6,591 votes); the election ended in a runoff that did not involve him (Feinstein was declared the winner).