The disgruntled campers on L.A. City Hall's front lawn — suffocating grasses and inspiring driversby since October 1, like it's their job — got some inspiration of their own this sweaty Saturday.
Occupy Wall Street's much larger crowd may have been blessed by badass spoken-word from Brooklyn rapper Talib Kweli, but L.A.'s got some pretty feisty revolution-themed talent up it's sleeve, too:
Danny Glover. Tavis Smiley and Dr. Cornell West. And definitely not least, Tom Morello, self-fancied Joe Hill of rap-rock. The daylong fest of celebrity speakers and indie bands was topped off by a raw set from the Rage Against the Machine guitarist, who calls himself “Nightwatchman” when flying solo.
Vocally roughshod and stuck in a hard, simple strum that he himself could normally pluck circles around, Morello made Saturday's show about the pain and strength of the 99 percent, outside of musical agenda. Our favorite moment was his interactive rendition of “This Land Is Your Land,” which he called a “revolutionary class-war anthem”:
Morello put extra emphasis on the song's final “secret, censored verse,” long erased from the version sung in America's third-grade classrooms.
“In the squares of the city/ In the shadow of the steepleNear the relief office/ I see my peopleAnd some are grumblin' and all are wonderin'If this land's still made for you and me.”
At that, he shouted, “Tell 'em!” — and the crowd answered with a roar too garbled to make out but most definitely affirmative in tone.
But the best part of his appearance had to be the brainstorm for Obama, re: what to do about Guantanamo Bay:
“He might as well fill those animal cages with the Wall Street bankers who savaged our economy to begin with. And if the president reads my Tweets, I would also suggest that he put those sons of bitches in those orange jumpsuits, put some black hoods over their heads and crank Rage Against the Machine, 24 hours a day. But that's just me.”
Rage's outspoken guitar man has been behind the Occupy movement from the getgo. Like many older artists and social-change vets who've been complaining about our country's modern state of apathy, he quickly embraced the late-September uprising as inevitable and long overdue.
Here, Morello and Michael Moore shut down the opposition on Bill Maher: