Sunday, 27 November 2016
Oliver: Gag - The Corner Hot Dog Stand (29 February 1992)
I've seen a few tweets recently linking to songs from the past that predict Donald Trump and the alt-right. I'd like to add this track by Gag, the brainchild of Sue D, who also performed as part of a band called Tasty Bush, as well as Bald Cow. According to the publicity notes, "Sue generally had lunch at Taco Bell, and dessert at Dairy Queen".
24 years ahead of Trump, The Corner Hot Dog Stand touches on many of the themes that have facilitated his rise and occupy the minds of the Left at this crucial moment in history. The titular business, owned by a family of Mexicans, has gone up in flames, victim of an arson attack due to a refusal to pay for protection either from the Mob or the police. New York Daily Times journalist, Shaun King's Twitter feed has been my source of news about the racial abuse doled out to Mexicans, Muslims, African-Americans etc since Trump's victory. Gag talk in this song about people watching the conflagration either in prayer or silence. If they were to chronicle something similar now, they would have to think of something to rhyme with "Build the wall". Though if we aren't careful, who's to say the alt-right won't lay claim to "Burn out the old/bring in the new"?
The family go back to Mexico and in their place a shiny, new chain hot dog place - spotlessly clean, gaudily neon and one more link in the chain of faceless globalisation, goes up - further inspiring another set of protestors and objections, at least on this side of the song.
You can take so many things away from this song and the fact that that it has continued to resonate more presciently in 2016 than could ever have been thought possible when it was recorded make it as socially an important record as any that Peel had played in 1992.
If you're nostalgic for the days when a Clinton could overcome both the political establishment, and a non-racist billionaire presidential hopeful, then BBC iPlayer is currently hosting The War Room, the inside story of Bill Clinton's victory over George H.W. Bush and Ross Perot in the 1992 U.S. Presidential election.
Video courtesy of FEBear1.