OKPOP judgment

Updated: A proposed Oklahoma Museum of Popular Culture (OKPOP) for Tulsa won narrow approval in the state Senate Wednesday, but the $20 million bond issue did not get a vote in the House in part because of issues raised in this editorial posted Thursday with questions of propriety based on past judgments and Flaming Lips.

Long story short, the Oklahoma Historical Society conducted an online
contest that awarded the music group the “Flaming Lips” song “Do You
Realize” as the state’s official rock song in 2009.  The state’s
legislature voted to affirm the track’s importance, putting musician
(term used loosely) Wayne Coyne and Co. in the history books as part of
Senate Joint Resolution 24.

As Tulsa Today wrote at the time, the Flaming Lips sing and proudly proclaim in media interviews that they believe religious faith is the equivalent of believing in “little green men from mars.”  They hold an annual parade in Oklahoma City that carries this theme of ridicule of all religions worldwide.  

In published media interviews, Wayne Coyne speaks of how the group began by stealing musical equipment from a Christian church and premiering their music at a transvestite club.

Most Oklahoma musicians were flabbergasted if not angered.  Nationally, Rolling Stone Magazine in 2009 seemed stunned writing:

The 2002 track from Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots beat out some stiff competition: the 10 finalists that were “representative of the pervasive influence of Oklahoma and Oklahomans on the development of rock & roll” included “Let’s Have a Party” by Wanda Jackson (1958); “Walk Don’t Run” by The Venture (1960); “Endless Oklahoma Sky” by John Moreland and the Black Gold Band (2008); “Home Sweet Oklahoma” by Leon Russell (1971); “Move Along” by the All-American Rejects (2005); “Never Been to Spain” written by Hoyt Axton (1971); “Oklahoma” by The Call (1986); “Heartbreak Hotel” written by Mae Boren Axton (1956); and “After Midnight” by J.J. Cale (1965).
An official Official Oklahoma Rock Song Advisory Panel was convened in 2007 to recognize the role the state has played in rock history and after the nominations were gathered in 2008 (2,498 were submitted for 458 different tunes) and narrowed down to 10 by the panel, the public voted on the Website oklahomarocksong.org. When the 21,061 votes were counted, the Lips were on top.

To read the 2009 Rolling Stone article, click here.

The inside buzz is that the Legislature; didn’t pay attention to the vote proposed by the Historical Society, didn’t know anything about the Flaming Lips or have any understanding of Oklahoma’s rock history.  Thus the question of Oklahoma Historical Society Executive Director Bob Blackburn’s judgment arises.

Some suggest that the alternative lifestyle promoted by the Flaming Lips was well represented on the “Official” panel thus they became personally invested in the group’s promotion.

Wow, and some still think of Oklahoma as the “Buckle of the Bible Belt.”  Maybe if Oklahoma Muslims realize the Flaming Lips insult all faith equally; the issue could get some traditional media coverage.

Musicians are offended as the quality of other proposed songs dwarf what was selected and a quick comparison of the record chart history would show the Flaming Lips are not even in the same league with other Oklahoma rock music stars – specifically from Tulsa.

Blaming the panel has worked for Blackburn to date, but at some point, it is rumored that the Legislature would be willing to correct this designation, but alternative lifestyle participants in media, music and government strongly support the Flaming Lips.

Blackburn had requested $42.5 million for the museum, but, according to press reports, learned Tuesday only $20 million for the museum would be offered as a bond issue.

In a typical ploy for immediate passage, Blackburn is quoted saying $20 million might work, but he is concerned that the deal will begin to unravel if the bond issue does not pass.  (If it could be built with $20 million, why did Blackburn ask for $42.5 million?) The Historical Society has agreements for land for the museum from the Bank of Oklahoma and a number of entertainment figures and their families for collections.  Blackburn threatened that if the bond issue fails those opportunities might be lost.

We believe, when better judgment prevails, more support would be available for OKPOP.

Tulsa Today could repost our 2008 archives on the Flaming Lips.  Local musician and music history writer Jim Downing wrote some excellent stories at the time, but in late 2009, Tulsa Today upgraded our content management system to stop a hacker attack and the majority of our previous content waits a journalism intern with the time to post it again.  We also struggled with how much attention to provide these marginal musicians who apparently worship themselves.  However, below are Downing’s final previously unpublished notes on the Flaming Lips.  Warning, graphic language.

Editorial Summary:  Tulsa Today supports OKPOP.  Tulsa would benefit from a museum.  We honor those willing to make contributions, but if the historians in charge can’t tell the difference in the quality of rock music – do we really want them in charge of a museum dedicated to pop culture? 


Jim Downing’s final notes on the Flaming Lips:

Warning: strong graphic language.

Reporter’s Note:  This story almost made me physically ill. The more I looked at it, the worse it got.

Recently added to the list of negatives:
Wayne Coyne worked at Long John Silvers for 12 years; that says something about his ability. He admits that he dumped an ashtray in the coleslaw.

Ivins said “belief in God is f***ing s**t. “We believe in things that are real.”

They speak disparagingly of the acts they’ve opened for: “Nine Inch Nails and Stone Temple Pilots were concerned that some of our confetti would get on their little guitars. Who gives a f**k?” And Beck didn’t seem too happy with them either.

Their movie features a marching band with vaginas for heads.

It’s hard to find any negative press on them; thus they don’t take well to criticism.

How did this happen?

The Historical society handled nominations and voting, then passed the winnowing of nominees to the Film & Music Board. We suspect that’s where it broke down.

It’s telling that Lips are the only act from OKC that has ever achieved a modicum of fame, and the board evidently wanted something to represent their town.

If they wanted something young and hip, well, they got the Rejects on the list. But Hanson did not make the list.

We’ve referenced Lips chart action already. They brag of two gold records; signifying $1,000,000 in sales each, or approximately 50,000 units.  In comparison Hanson has seven Platinum disks; symbolizing a million copies each. Hanson has sold 50 times as many records, and had a world wide #1 hit single. Even now, they chart higher than Lips ever have. Yet they did not make the top ten. Something was indeed very fishy on that committee.

We and others have received tons of feedback from the music community, all in accord that this is a travesty. Music historians from now on will ask:

“With the inordinate amount of great rock and roll from Oklahoma, why did the people vote for this sleazy, third rate band?  Maybe Okies are as dumb as we thought, trying to be hip and shooting themselves in the foot.”

It takes us back to the grapes of wrath.

I read all their lyrics, every last worthless word. They have no philosophy; they don’t read philosophy or poetry, if they read at all. Most of the songs are depressing or outright offensive. Some are just gibberish. They have nothing to offer, and their shows are mindless entertainment for people who don’t’ know much about music.

declared themselves a band before bothering to learn anything about music. Some
respected musicians told us that all this band could do at first was make
noise. They embrace the punk ‘ethic’ of thumbing their noses at everything so
they are for nothing other than self-aggrandizement

Matt was playing a club when the Lips sat in the back staring at candles and lighting incense, probably hallucinating. One of them stood up and hurled a full beer bottle at the bass player. The band packed up and left.

The music community doesn’t dislike them because we’re jealous of their success. There are plenty of famous jerks we wouldn’t trade places with.

Music is not just notes, it’s the most spiritual art form. It’s also about heart and soul, and these guys probably think that is f**king sh**t too.

Notes Lips Part 4

Michael Ivins in the Montreal Mirror, 2006: “Santa Claus and Jesus Christ. Both of whom live up there—Santa in the North Pole somewhere, Jesus up in the sky—and they both watch you to make sure that you’re being good, and you’re either rewarded or punished depending on whether you’re good or bad. When you hit five or six, somewhere in that age, you have to give one of them up. One of them is not real, and you have to give him up—and you have one guess who.  Man, we have to stop. All of this stuff. Muslims, Judaism, Christianity—it’s all gotta go. It’s an idea that has way, way outlived its service. I think it’s detrimental to the whole human species. We have to move on. It just seems childish.”

From Popmatters.com:

I ask Coyne, who has penned what seems like dozens of songs name-checking that Jesus fellow, what his take on religion is.

“I think the first rock band I ever saw was in church,” he reminisces. “I thought it was the greatest thing ever, because they were playing in this old church that was all stone and marble, and they were playing the drums, and it was ricocheting, and I was like, ‘F**k, I’ll go to church if there’s a f**king rock band playing.’ ”

On meeting the guy who cut his own arm off, trapped by a boulder: “Somewhere along the way, he says he had this divine intervention and that’s why he’s alive today. And that’s fine, but why wasn’t there some divine intervention with those people trapped in the towers? God gets to pick and choose who wins a football game, who gets to live? It’s just not true. You can call it whatever you want, but no one gets to come in and say, ‘You get to live, and you don’t.'”

Flaming Lips on Drugs:
“If you’re young and you’re seeking some intense experiences, there are things like LSD and ecstasy and peyote and marijuana that let you have a subjective, personal, intense moment, and they let you get a little bit braver or have a different mindset. If you don’t want to them, you shouldn’t do them, but there’s elements of experimenting with yourself that I think are wonderful.”

From Rolling Stone, 2006:
“I can see where people think I’m some sort of psychedelic freak warrior who believes in UFOs and God, but I f**king hate that sh*t,” Coyne says gruffly. “I believe in things that are real.”

Lips lyrics:
Most of the lyrics are either psychedelic gibberish or admissions of ignorance and alienation, nihilistic fatalism, and spiritual ignorance. Then there are those that are anti-religious

From Here It Is:

Charlie Manson Blues

Cause I’m slipping into the charlie manson blues.
I’m a stupid dressed jesus son.
I’m slipping into the charlie manson blues.
I’m a stupid dressed jesus son.

Whoa, goddammit!

Jesus Shootin’ Heroin

Well, I never really understood religions,
Except it seems a good reason to kill.
Everybody’s got their own conceptions,
And you know, they always will.
These days are needles under my skin.
Jesus shootin’ heroin.

If there are priests at your party,
And you’re playing cards that are numbered,
And you got no reason to think it,
Until your chances are uncovered.
Tell me that I got to believe in,
Jesus shootin’ heroin.

From Oh MY Gawd:

The Ceiling is Bendin’

Well, it’s midnight in a liquor store
In texas on halloween
Salvador dali watches
From his window in a dream
Jesus is a rock star
Who destroys all he sees
Godzilla is a cowboy
Who is dressed up as a queen

From Telepathic Surgery:

The Last Drop of Morning Dew

I think the state of mind that I’m in
We should drop it right now
Well you’ve got yourself to blame
If you need these sunny days
And all those plans that I made
They’re all changed by the end of the day
’cause God fucked up when he made us
’cause he made us so we could hate us
And the world could end in a second
Album Hit to death in the future head

Drug Machine in Heaven

Every time that we fly together
Our plane blows up in the sky
We’re workin’ in an explosives factory
Cause we don’t care if we die

Everything, everything, everything that I wish
Give us a 20th century jesus guy
And he could make us rich

You’ve known me for a million years
And I’ve been chewed up by all your gears
I don’t wanna be no one else
I like it here, ’cause I like hell.

Felt Good to Burn

I didn’t care when that guy ripped us off
We borrowed a gun to get him, we were so pissed off
We shot his leg. he was a dick, anyway

It felt good to burn. felt like a movie star
When you hold my slippery brain
Kiss my forehead

All summer long we refused to die
We just sucked and fucked and got high
And all we’d steal. we lit up on the ferris wheel

From Clouds Taste Metallic:

Evil Will Prevail

With loving hands and their arms are stretched so wide they can’t
Seem to take a breath knowing evil will prevail, and a million people
Like a lot, and a million people can’t be wrong…

With loving smiles, and their mouths are stretched so wide they can’t
Even take a breath, knowing evil will prevail, and the magic bullet is the
Glowing mother ship, and the mother zaps you dead…

With loving hands knowing evil will prevail
Knowing evil will prevail
Knowing that evil will prevail
Knowing evil will prevail
Knowing that evil will always win…
From At War With The Mystics
The W.A.N.D. (The Will Always Negates Defeat)

(You’ve got the power in there)
(Waving your wand in the air)

Time after time those fanatical minds try to rule all the world
Telling us all it’s them who’s in charge of it all
I’ve got a tricked out magic stick that will make them all fall
We’ve got the power now, motherfuckers; that’s where it belongs

There You Are
(jesus song no. 7)
There you are
And you stand in the rain
And the rain fills your brain
And it makes you think that god
Was fucked up when he made this town

There you stand
With your bleedin’ hands
And you don’t understand
Why you work so goddamn hard
To be anything at all

There you are
And you drive in your car
And you wish for the stars
And you end up face down in the road
Dead as fuck

five stop Mother superior rain
And all my smiles are gettin’ in the hate generation’s way
Tell ’em I’m gonna go out, shoot somebody in the mouth
First thing tomorrow

My hands are in the air
And that’s where they always are
You’re fucked if you do, and you’re fucked if you don’t
Five stop mother superior rain

I was born the day they shot a hole in the jesus egg
Now the rain, it’s all so random
What does free will have to do with it at all?
And you can’t cry, but
It really don’t matter, y’end up cryin’ anyway.

My hands are in the air
And that’s where they always are
You’re fucked if you do, and you’re fucked if you don’t
Five stop mother superior rain

Plastic Jesus

I don’t care if it rains or freezes
Long as I got my plastic jesus
Sittin’ on the dashboard of my car
Comes in colors, pink and pleasant
Glows in the dark, it’s iridescent
Take it with you when you travel far

Get yourself a sweet madonna
Dressed in rhinestone, settin’ on a
Pedestal of abalone shells
Goin’ 90, I ain’t scared
Cause I got the virgin mary
Assuring me that I won’t go to hell

She Don’t Use Jelly

I know a girl who thinks of ghosts
She’ll make ya breakfast
She’ll make ya toast
She don’t use butter
She don’t use cheese
She don’t use jelly
Or any of these
She uses vaseline
(and the Tulsa World entertainment reporter says this song is not about sexual lubrication …  oh of course she is right … right)