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Soul train: Promoting the MTA, one punk at a time

Protest songs aren't what they used to be. The Kent State massacre got a timeless response from Neil Young ("Ohio"), the Vietnam War inspired John Lennon's "Give Peace a Chance," and even the quieter '80s still inspired artists such as Jackson Browne and Sting to pen diatribes against Reaganomics and nuclear arms ("Lawyers in Love," "Russians"). Today I stumbled across the most interesting protest song I've heard in quite a while. Its topic? Los Angeles traffic. Oh well, first-world problems deserve first-world YouTube music videos.

The song, above, by local punk bank It's Casual, makes up for in passion what it lacks in melody; this song grabs you by the colon and refuses to let go. More important, it does in a visceral way what a thousand editorials promoting public transit couldn't: It makes riding the subway seem cool. Actually, it's not the first of its genre -- a colleague who was deeply into the punk scene of the late 1970s pointed me to the song "Gas Line" by the Plugz. I couldn't find a video version, but I did discover that this guy thinks it's a great song to listen to while cleaning a gun. Rock on.

Our editorial board tends to favor public transit because it's a practical solution for several of L.A.'s biggest problems (traffic, pollution, high gas prices), but it's still a challenge for people who live far from a station or don't have easy bus connections to ride it. Of course, there are other ways to go; my preferred traffic-defeating, gas-sipping alternative even has its own music video too.


The MTA's gates of delirium

Pranksters to exercise the right to bare legs

Protest songs: Record labels aren't listening

-- Dan Turner


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The Opinion L.A. blog is the work of Los Angeles Times Editorial Board membersNicholas Goldberg, Robert Greene, Carla Hall, Jon Healey, Sandra Hernandez, Karin Klein, Michael McGough, Jim Newton and Dan Turner. Columnists Patt Morrison and Doyle McManus also write for the blog, as do Letters editor Paul Thornton, copy chief Paul Whitefield and senior web producer Alexandra Le Tellier.

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