LOS ANGELES, May 22, 2000 -- Recalling images of Pete Seeger, Woodie Guthrie and Bob Dylan in their respective primes, veteran rocker Todd Rundgren is forging an unlikely comeback around one of the most striking protest songs since the 1960s.

This time the rallying cry isn't the Great Depression or the Vietnam War, but rather the unsatisfactory quality of Internet service. Rundgren's "I Hate My Frickin' ISP" is fueling a grass-roots movement to reform the World Wide Web.

"What I hate (about my ISP) is that I'll never get back the time that I waste," says Rundgren, 51, who now makes his home in Hawaii. "That's what I hate."

"ISP" is garnering critical raves for Rundgren, who is already considered a legend for the pointed if somewhat violent anti-corporate stance he took with the labor anthem "Bang The Drum All Day."

"It's rare to see an artist tackle such risky socio-political issues twice in their career, let alone once," says noted Village Voice music critic Robert Christgau. "Backing up such a powerful message with crunching power chords and a catchy melody sets Todd apart from the folk-inspired protest singers of the Sixties."

Ever the trendsetter, the one-time Wizard of Woodstock has also captured the attention of linguists for his bold use of the word "frickin'."

"Rundgren is again pushing the envelope here," says William Safire, the "On Words" columnist for the Sunday New York Times Magazine. "Frickin' -- and derivatives such as freakin' and friggin' -- has appeared in movies and television for years, but rarely in popular song. With Rundgren's deliberate and repeated use of frickin' to modify the subject 'ISP,' most linguists have concluded that the song is a negative commentary on the state of Internet service."

The catchy rock anthem is even beginning to impact the 2000 presidential campaign, with Republican candidate George W. Bush appropriating "ISP" for campaign stops much as Ronald Reagan played Bruce Springsteen's "Born in the USA" during appearances in 1984.

"It's just like your college days, when someone gave you some fine Peruvian bl-- well, let's say, a few 'samples' for free, and then you were hooked and just had to go back again and again for more," Bush stated during a recent speech at a Great American Cook-Off in Columbus, Ohio, a town in which he for some reason appears an inordinate amount of times.

"It feels like it's raining CD-ROMs that give you twenty hours free, and then you let your service provider make a junky {sic} out of me, um, I mean, you," said Bush. "Let me remind my fellow Americans that none of this would have ever been a problem if Al Gore hadn't invented the Internet in the first place."

In the spirit of many memorable protest songs, Rundgren's words aren't welcomed by all. "Frankly, I'm offended," said some snot-nosed pube.

But others are drawn by the universal experiences detailed by the one-time Runt.

"Just like in the song, I've got no time left to jack off, and I've got deadlines that just won't back off," said Jackie Harvey, an onion farmer. "This is the first time someone have captured the world's problems in a way that speaks to me."

Perhaps Rundgren's own words best sum up the feelings of Internet users across the country: "Na na na na na na etc."

The Todd Rundgren Connection is brought to you by Roger D. Linder ( & Rocemabra Web Design Services