by Rick Langenberg:
Question of the year: What voting process is as awkward, stupid and arcane as the one we use to select office-holders in Teller and El Paso counties during our infamous party caucuses, assemblies and primaries?
Answer: (And this one is going to surprise many) The rigged, insider voting held every year to select inductees to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio; the mistake on the lake. Obviously, this mistake is growing larger with the system the mighty Hall operators have devised for anointing the famous.
The final recently selected class of 2014 inductees, hit the drums please, includes Nirvana, Linda Ronstadt, Kiss, Cat Stevens, Hall & Oates and Peter Gabriel. As an inductee class, it’s not bad, especially the selection of Peter Gabriel. Pete (despite the fact that he now almost looks like Uncle Fester from the Addams Family) and his various performers definitely dazzled and wooed Colorado fans during his amazing shows at Red Rocks in the summers of 2011 and 2012. Gabriel will provide the forthcoming inauguration ceremony with a much needed dose of theatrical showmanship. Plus, his great work as a humanitarian, with such groups as Witness and Amnesty International and with the late Nelson Mandela, is quite admirable.
But then there are the big losers. And the fact that the Hall is playing with a rigged deck and is guilty of what Cleveland Plain Dealer columnist Chuck Yarborough classifies as its own version of the “Hanging Chad,” when it comes to ignoring the voice of the people.
Yes, the British progressive rock giants of the 70s, who still actively tour like they did in their heyday, got the royal, royal snub and were definitely one of the more notable Hall losers this year. Despite finishing near the top of a public participation Hall of Fame online poll, Yes’ 2014 nomination bid fell short. This occurred after the Brit “prog-ers” garnered nearly 150,000 tallies (amounting to 11 percent of the public vote out of 16 nominee candidates).
Moreover, this Hall snub even followed one of the more ambitious political campaigns launched in recent years on behalf of a British rock band. Former and current head political/media strategists from the camps of (get this combination) Rick Santorum, John Kerry, Al Gore, George W. Bush and even several key news stations and media outlets, including ABC , went to bat for the prog-rockers big-time through a group called Voices for Yes. Their message: Democrat and Republican leaders, although they clash on many issues, agree that Yes should be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. After all, Yes has recorded seven albums that made it to the top ten on the charts, when these statistics were maintained, played before sell-out crowds for more than 30 years and pioneered one of the more unique styles of 70s music that combined rock with intricate classical and even jazz musicianship. Other bands from this prog-rock genre include the Moody Blues, Emerson Lake and Palmer, Jethro Tull, Pink Floyd, Dream Theater, Genesis, King Crimson, Renaissance, and Rush, just to name a few.
But the pro-Yes campaign, even though it received much media attention, couldn’t overcome the obvious insider, good ol’ boy and girl secret balloting and outright bigotry of the Hall of Shame. Since its inception, hardly any prog-rock bands have made it into the revered Hall of Fame institution.
For years, Rolling Stone magazine has displayed an outright hatred for Yes and their fellow prog-ers.
Besides Yes, Deep Purple was also unfairly buried in the final tally, lost in a maze of purple blues. Despite receiving even more votes than Yes, with approximately 12 percent of the public poll, they were denied entrance into the land of the musical legends.
Then, there are the big 2014 Hall winners, with Ronstadt getting a whopping 6.1 percent of the public votes and Stevens, an awe-striking 5.3 percent. And as much as I like Gabriel, he didn’t exactly win any awards for public support. The only two inductee bands that fared really well in the public vote were Nirvana and Kiss.
So who exactly picks these acclaimed musical inductees? Supposedly, it is a group of 700 insiders, consisting of top musicians, critics, past inductees and so-called experts. In fact, it even took three years for the Beatles to gain admission into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Talk about a blow to musical democracy.
Needless to say, in the last week or so, the blogosphere and social media have been assaulted with posts questioning the Hall’s legitimacy. Even a few columnists, who outright hate bands like Yes and their particular genre of music, have written some scathing pieces, basically asking what is the deal? Why isn’t Yes in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame?
You either involve the public, or just proclaim your organization as an insider-only elitist group. Ignoring the sentiments of a public vote with 1.3 million participants seems a little absurd.
But as Billy Joel said during an interview on Sixty Minutes, the rock music industry isn’t for boy scouts. It abounds with much corruption and deceit. It may be time for the Rock Hall of Fame to come clean with their selection process or shut down altogether.
Hopefully, the dangers of excluding the public will be a lesson learned for our good friends in the Teller Republican and Democratic parties, with the forthcoming caucuses and assemblies to take place in the early part of 2014.
These good ol’ boy and girl ceremonies almost evoke too many comparisons with what transcends every year during the Rock and Roll Hall of Shame inductee vote: an insider-only tally that pretends to involve the public, but in reality excludes the public.
In Teller, this situation is magnified with the reality of a one-party system, the Republicans in our case, determining the fate of every county office. I still believe the whole caucus, assembly and primary system in our fine county, and in Colorado, needs an overhaul. In Teller, the possibility of 100 people (the appointed delegates to the GOP assembly) determining the next sheriff, county commissioner, clerk and recorder, assessor and coroner poses too much of a threat against democracy. It has almost gotten to the point that the regular November elections mean nothing.
We don’t want to have a Hall of Shame controversy in our county. It’s time for some changes, or else I, Charles Chambers and a few TMJ staffers may be forced to sing Yes and other progressive rock songs at the upcoming Republican Assembly, just as a protest reminder of what can go wrong when the public is excluded. Believe me, that is a performance the Teller Republicans want to avoid.