A t-shirt and a playlist for the next housing rights protest.
The song, “Do Not Kill Your Landlord,” is from my 2017 album, Punk Baroque, and is the first track in the Songs for Landlords playlist below. It’s a somewhat cheeky discussion of good and bad tactics for tenant organizing. It occurred to me after I wrote it that it would make a great t-shirt — so reasonable, but so threatening at the same time.
“Do Not Kill Your Landlord” T-shirts — $20 each
“Do Not Kill Your Landlord” stickers — $1 each
Postage is free within the US, and free internationally for orders over $50. For international orders of under $50, PayPal will automatically calculate postage costs when you complete your order. I also have other t-shirts, CDs, etc. — full merch site here. CSA members get new t-shirts for free, or for a 50% discount, depending on what kind of membership they have. Members please email me if you’d like a t-shirt!
The Do Not Kill Your Landlord WORLD TOUR will take me throughout several countries in Europe and parts of the US in the fall and winter of 2017.
More thoughts on this subject…
Probably the best way to measure the overall success or failure of any society, as a society, is to see how egalitarian it is — or in most cases, isn’t. To ascertain how equal or how divided a society is, you need look no further than the housing market.
In a democracy, the idea is that as a society, the people elect representatives who then use their power as rulers of the land to do things like regulate the housing market, since doing such things is clearly in the interest of the vast majority of people in any society. But in the United States and many other countries, the cost of housing — and thus the cost of living — is skyrocketing, whether you’re trying to buy (borrow) or rent.
As I write this in 2017, I’ve lived in Portland, Oregon for 10 years, and the rent on my apartment has doubled. As with most other people, my income has remained the same, or perhaps decreased in that time. In almost all US states, legislatures of “representatives” long ago banned the practice of rent control, so even if municipalities want to try to address the housing crisis in this way, they would have to break state law in order to do so. And most of the state and local politicians make it abundantly clear through their actions (if not in their words) that they represent the big landlords and real estate developers, primarily.
The stress this economic/political crisis causes on the people in a city like Portland is impossible to calculate, but it’s massive. People work longer hours, more jobs, move further and further out of the city, causing ever-worsening traffic, pollution and general agitation. People have less disposable income than ever, and the evidence in the form of homeless people and broken cars is visibly unmistakable.
The city feels to me like the proverbial powder keg. Homeowners and renters alike are struggling to keep their heads above water. But for homeowners there is at least the hope that the value of their property will improve as the city gets increasingly more gentrified. For the renters, somehow putting a halt to the gentrification seems like the only hope, and it’s a dim one. But basically for half the city, more organic supermarkets, more bike lanes, and fewer potholes are good things. For us renters, burning down those supermarkets and smashing every Porsche in sight in order to strike fear in the hearts of every yuppie makes much more economic sense.
If that’s what has come of the concept of society, we’re doomed. In my capacity as an artist, I try to play my role in this struggle by writing songs about strangling my landlord, singing them at protests, and paying my monthly dues to Portland Tenants United.
Here’s a playlist you can stream or download for free with my favorite studio and live versions of my landlord-related songs. If you’re looking for something to play through the sound system at your next protest against gentrification, plug your phone into it and press “play.”
You’ll also find this playlist on the David Rovics smartphone app, available in Google and Apple stores. If you’re able to do so, please consider joining my CSA to make it possible for me to keep taking my music to the world and putting it all up online for free.
Hope to see you on the road and in the streets!