In my office, there’s a bank of TVs playing a different news channel in each quadrant. Every day brings a jumble of images stuck together on several giant screens: fleshy, manipulative politicians followed by a mass shooting followed by a chirpy detergent commercial. It’s confusing and perfectly now in it’s disjointed speed, squeezing the sad and happy into a neutralized (and neutralizing) experience.
On “Alex Nieto,” Chuck Prophet stops this nowness for a brief four minutes. The story of Nieto’s death is tragic, heartbreaking in it’s familiarity: a young Hispanic man is shot for being brown; the officers are acquitted. His San Francisco neighborhood–where he’d lived all his twenty-eight years–keeps gentrifying. An American repeat, played on a loop.
Over looping, pounding chords, Prophet offers a simple prayer for Nieto. Prophet doesn’t sermonize; what can you say at this point? All he can muster is a shout, rising in incredulity every time. “Alex Nieto was a pacifist / A ’49ers fan.”