The brash Exene Cervenka, who used to front legendary punk band X, is selling her stuff and packing out of Orange County, Calif. — her home for more than three decades — to settle down in Austin, Texas. Why? She’s sick of California’s oppressive regulations and laws.
Cervenka told Rolling Stone last week she’s saddened by what California’s become since she first moved there in the 1970s:
Explaining her potential move to Texas, Cervenka says, “I have tons of close friends in Austin, I love the music, I always have a magical time there.” She continues, “The other reason I’m moving, if the creek don’t rise, is that when I moved to California in 1976, Jerry Brown was governor. It was barefoot hippie girls, Hell’s Angels on the Sunset Strip, East L.A. lowriders, the ocean and nature. It was this fabulous incredible place about freedom. Now when I think about California, I think of a liberal oppressive police state and regulations and taxes and fees. I’d rather go someplace and have my own little place out on the edge of town. I’m a country girl at heart. It makes me happy when I see people in Texas open-carrying. It makes me feel safe. I’m not even a gun owner, but I’d like to see a gun rack in every pickup truck, like my boyfriend had when I was fifteen years old in Florida. An armed society is a polite society.”
She cracks a smile. “Now Jerry Brown’s governor again. He’s done some great things, like balancing the budget and libraries are open on Sundays. But things are getting to the point in this country where people are going to have to fight to survive and fight for their rights.”
What is it with American punk icons aging gracefully into common-sense libertarians? Last year, former Misfits frontman Glenn Danzig made news by calling out Obamacrats as “fascists disguised as liberals, or liberal moderates:
You’re not allowed to say anything that they don’t agree with. You’re not allowed to do anything. Also, the whole Obama, ‘I can kill anybody with a drone with no trial,’ is kind of disturbing. I’m surprised that more people who are supposedly liberal aren’t more disturbed by it. I think whatever Obama does is OK with them, because he’s Obama. It’s bullsh*t.
Late last year, David Thomas, singer for the maturing band Pere Ubu, told a pop culture magazine “I think the government has no business in the arts at all” and that an open, unregulated and unsubsidized marketplace provides the only environment in which the arts can remain healthy and free.
Among avant-rockers who’ve spoken eloquently against government infringement, Frank Zappa is among the pioneers. In 1985, Zappa told the U.S. Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee – lathered into a censorship frenzy by then-Senator Al Gore’s wife, Tipper – that a proposal to stick warning labels on musical recordings “is an ill-conceived piece of nonsense which fails to deliver any real benefits to children, infringes the civil liberties of people who are not children, and promises to keep the courts busy for years dealing with the interpretation and enforcement problems inherent in the proposal’s design.”
Better still, his anti-censorship testimony was corroborated by John Denver.
As an aside: he’s certainly no punk, but Bob Dylan’s insolent refusal to accept Rolling Stone’s presumptuous invitation to bow down before Barack Obama in 2012 ranks among his finest non-musical moments.
Update: This article has been updated to remove “Canadian art-rock” from the description of Pere Ubu.