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Music Picks

The Motorcade Sped On

Early hip hop from Steinski and Mass Media.

By Adrian Mack 29 Nov 2007 |

Adrian Mack writes a regular music column for The Tyee.

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America's singular moment of truth?

"The Motorcade Sped On" by Steinski and Mass Media is an old favourite from way back. I first heard it when it was given away as a free 45 with an issue of the NME in 1987. It sounds a little clunky now, but it still works like crazy, doesn't it? As blogger Gutter writes, "It's almost like a pop-song structure, with the sirens and "Mrs Kennedy jumped up, she called 'oh no'" section acting as a chorus. I think it's one of the finest examples of the early hip hop cut 'n' paste montage approach ever."

I interviewed Adam Levine from Maroon 5 a few weeks ago, and in the dying moments of our conversation, I asked him -- because he was in Texas at the time, and because I am an obsessed man -- "Who killed John F. Kennedy?"

It was foolish of me to expect much of an answer, but I had already gotten what I needed out of a fairly perfunctory Q-and-A. This was the quick-fire round at the very end. "Do you enjoy sushi? What's it like banging Jessica Simpson? Who killed JFK?" Standard industry boilerplate, really.

His response: "I don't care anymore. Honestly, if they haven't figured it out at this point.... It's probably some weird blanketed government conspiracy that we will never know the full truth about, and there have been so many more unbelievable atrocities committed since then, I think we should probably focus on those. It's, like, 20th in line."

I'll resist the urge to make some crack about "unbelievable atrocities" and Maroon 5, and just add this: at least Levine didn't say, "Oswald."

Vincent Bugliosi did, though. In May, the former Manson prosecutor published his towering work of imagination, Reclaiming History: the Assassination of President John F. Kennedy. In a brisk 1,600 pages or so, Bugliosi makes the case that Oswald was just some lone nut with a devastatingly good shot and absolutely no connection to the C.I.A. After reading about 250 of those pages in Chapters one day, I'd like to advance my theory that Vincent Bugliosi is the lone nut, but I'd be wrong; he's getting lots of help. It didn't take long for HBO to announce that it was turning Reclaiming History into a miniseries, with Tom Hanks as executive producer.

I thought I had this whole Kennedy thing more-or-less figured out until the guy from Turner and Hooch got on board. Now I don't know what to think. Maybe I'll just stop thinking altogether. I'll stop thinking about how the events in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963 made possible so many of the "unbelievable atrocities" that have followed, and I'll stop thinking about who, precisely, has benefited from it ever since.

The motorcade sped on, all right. Further and further away from America's singular moment of truth. I hate to say it, but you have to admire the machine that has driven that brain-spattered limo from the pole position in late 20th century history, and into its current place, "like, 20th in line."

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