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Opinion: Soul train: Promoting the MTA, one punk at a time

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Protest songs aren’t what they used to be. The Kent State massacre got a timeless response from Neil Young (‘Ohio’), the Vietnam War inspired John Lennon’s ‘Give Peace a Chance,’ and even the quieter ‘80s still inspired artists such as Jackson Browne and Sting to pen diatribes against Reaganomics and nuclear arms (‘Lawyers in Love,’ ‘Russians’). Today I stumbled across the most interesting protest song I’ve heard in quite a while. Its topic? Los Angeles traffic. Oh well, first-world problems deserve first-world YouTube music videos.

The song, above, by local punk bank It’s Casual, makes up for in passion what it lacks in melody; this song grabs you by the colon and refuses to let go. More important, it does in a visceral way what a thousand editorials promoting public transit couldn’t: It makes riding the subway seem cool. Actually, it’s not the first of its genre -- a colleague who was deeply into the punk scene of the late 1970s pointed me to the song ‘Gas Line’ by the Plugz. I couldn’t find a video version, but I did discover that this guy thinks it’s a great song to listen to while cleaning a gun. Rock on.

Our editorial board tends to favor public transit because it’s a practical solution for several of L.A.'s biggest problems (traffic, pollution, high gas prices), but it’s still a challenge for people who live far from a station or don’t have easy bus connections to ride it. Of course, there are other ways to go; my preferred traffic-defeating, gas-sipping alternative even has its own music video too.

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-- Dan Turner


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