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Frank Zappa

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(Note: the interview with FranK Zappa, leader of the Mothers of Invention, was conducted by Emmet Lake for the East Village Other and ( is reprinted from EVO via the International Times (London). ZAPPA: IL the kids who are destined to take over the country could somehow acquire the sense of responsibility. . .In other words, from time to time there's lots of talk about revolution: "Ah, we're gonna revolt man, we're revolting. . . " They could teil everybody where it's at, but they won't. Kids today, as they stand, have the potential to do a really big number. You know, VISIBLY own it Because they own it now, without I knowing it. They are the important I consumer group; they've got the na-l tion by the economie balls. But theyl have to be made to understand what I a responsibility that is. Directly and indirectly they trol the output oL all the major manufacturers. Cars are designed so that the young man of the family will sugaest to the old man of the family: J Q VJ UJ.1 N. - w - ' - "That's a spiffy model, Dad." And it also works so the father says, "Hmmm, that's a hot little number, make me feel like I got some of my youth back, if I bought one of those, ya know. " The older people identify with youth, and the younger people are responsible for a lot of the attempts at tastemaking. Of course, i up to this pomt, most 01 me "'j" manufacturers haven't the faintest idea of what the kids reaUy want or where they're reaUy at. A few of them manage to succeed in giving the kids something that is really up-to-date youth-appeal merchandise. LAKE: What are you thinking of? I ZAPPA: A few clothing ] urers, The record business tries to keep up. Doesn't make it, most of the time. I'd say they're about a V year behind. But almost everything else is based on what some young executive, which means about a 30 year old cat who probably did a lot of balling in college and all the rest of the guys in the factory look up to him. He says: "I know what those kids want. Look how youthful I am. " Beats his chest, and exerts his influence there at the place. He says: "I know these kids. They want some thing snappy. Here...." Sketches it out at the board.meeting and they all say: "Sure, youth approach. That's what's happening. Pop art. Yeah, yeah. " So they make some pajamas with Campbell1 s soup cans all over them and sell a lot of them, yes sir. That's the way it's been up to now. If the kids would get themselves together, and take stock, get an or.derly program, they could take over the country and run it. Personally, right now, I would hate to see them running it. Cause they're not ready j to run anything. They can't even run back and forth to the bathroom ( I without tripping on the wallpaper I the way they are now. I would say that in the election oL 1972 it's I, possible that a candidate who would I be neither a Republican or a DemoI crat, and youth oriented, could get ■ I it. It's possible that an 18 year old ■ vote could be lobbied in by that time 1 I and we could have an 1 8 year old president, but I'm afraid of the il ones that are over thirty. M f LAKE: What's your viewpoint on, 1 ' uh, peaceniks, and Johnson, and 1 I South Vietnam, and Paul Krassner I I and. . . . I ZAPPA: I dunno who Paul Krassner I is' 1 I LAKE: What? I I ZAPPA: Who's Paul Krassner? ■ ■ LAKE: He edits The Realist and. . . ■ ZAPPA: I never read The Realist I 1 . . . Peaceniks. . . Bullshit. DemonLIstrations of that sort don't do any - Mthing. . . They're not effective. I People have a misguided conception I lof what is effective politically. I Ican't believe those people really Wbelieve that marching around with W a sign saying "Peace". . .1 would say "Sure. You just keep on ing around with your sign and it's ronna happen." That's really dumD. [ was uptown Christmas Eve and ?ot caught in the middle of a Vietnam peace march, and here are these people, man, just walking along the street, and U's cold, and they're carrying shopping bags and mess of leaflets singing: "STOP rHE WAR IN VIETNAM, BRING rHE TROOPS HOME." All the way iown the street. Until she was tioarse. For nothing. Maybe in their minds they think: "Listen, somebody Ln town, some important person in. town is going to see us marching, and he's gonna say, 'The public is ups et about the war in Vietnam, ' and he's gonna teil one of his influential friends, and that guy's gonna go to Washington, and they're gonna hear about it, and they're gonna stop the war." That's POSSIBLY what's going on in their heads. But that's a terrible fantasy. The war should be stopped. It's a war of greed. They all are, I guess. Even the Crusades. But that's not the way to do it. LAKE: What's the way to do it? ZAPPA: It's only gonna be stopped by the President. And if you want somebody who's gonna run the country the way you want it to be run, and if you're a peacenik, and you want something done about it, I ,mean peace, get somebody in there who's gonna be effective. Get somebody into the Congress that's gonna Ido the job. Those cocksuckers man, Ithey've got no idea about who or what lis behind their government. For the [most part, the people that you can Iturn to and say, "Yeah, he's in the government," really aren't DODMG anything. Because the power is f really in the hands of a few. And a lot of them are OUTSIDE of the government, because the government is like partly controlled by I the military and partly controlled i by big business. The power strucI ture is very similar to South AmeriI can governments where the leaders are protected from the people by the military. Where would the Presidency be without the Secret Service around? Without the CIA what are we? I think it's time that most of I the kids found out that they are part I of a nation that was built on a giant llie. And because they live here, they ■ have to bear the stigma of all the ■ shit of their ancestors, man. They ■ carne to a land and just raped it. ■ They ruined this whole fucking counItry. In the beginning. The original I Isettlers here were fucked. You take I a bunch of people out of debtors' I prison in England. THE ORIGINAL I AMERICANS. Plymouth Rock. ■ Shazam. They arrive over here, you know, the ones that live through the ship ride, terrible, middle of winter on the Atlantic --they probably lived because they ate the bodies of I the ones that died. You got a bunch B of religious maniacs that land here B who are afraid to fuck. And they B set up an industrial society. And B ( continued on next p. ) S&SJffl here you've got a bunch of groovy Indians who were already happening, on a spiritual level, and OWNED the fucking country; and you get these creeps, you know, who come over here and claim the land in the name of Jesus Christ, and the cross, and the rock, and the buckles of their hats, and get a turkey, and write all this shit down so the kids can identify with it, and here we go--got a nation. From the beginning, it's all wrong. It's been carefully smoothed over. They keep putting Vaseline on it every year. They say: "Well, uh, George Washington didn't REALLY cut down a cherry tree, and, uh, he didn't really teil his father 'I cannot lie. ' He didn't REALLY do that. It was only KINDA like that. " Pretty soon we're gonna find out that he was a sodomist. And all the real facts about the guy. The actual case histories of Lincoln and all the rest of the héroes, you know. But. . . . maybe they won't. I think the kids are in a very ambivalent situation right now. They actually control the country. From the economie point of view. But they are the ones who must be the target for the hatred of everybody else in the world towards this country because of the greed that's been exhibited by the people that've been taking care of things before. Their own mothers and fathers, man. And in a way, to get the whole revolutionary job done, they're going to have to disown their parents. They're gonna have to take an honest look at what mommy and daddy really are, i which is gonna be rough for most Ë of them. I mean it's one thing to m say: "I hate my mother, I hate my ■ father, he won't give me the keys I to the car, the sonofabitch, " but J it's something else to look at him ■ and see that he's a coward. And he's an alcoholic, and if he's not I an alcoholic, he's taking pills of some sort, and he's a liar, and ■ so's your mother, and they're all V ■ just ROTTEN, man, and they ha vel 1 bad taste. . . They select the ugliestl I drapes and furniture in the world. J You know. They're censored ■ You know. They're fucked. Try ■ and get a nation of teenagers to I I really see mommy and daddy that Ml way. That's a little bit of a job, ml but it can be done. Now, the V tion is, once they perceive mommy and daddy in the proper perspective, I what do they do about it? Let them replace it with the truth. You don't want to give them a.mommy-daddy I surrogate or any of that kind of JJ shit. Let them replace it with self-fl confidence. Let them fill the gap M themselves. They should all do a M mass penance, man, for the sins of their parents. "BECAUSE MY ■ FOLKS WERE SO ROTTEN, I'M M REALLY GONNA BE PURE." They really ought to do that. They oughta really get out and he real people. What a fantasy that is. rLAKE: Do you think there's any í kind of psychotherapy that helps m 1 you to be a real per son? % ZAPPA; Yes, indeed. The MOTHERik j LAKE: What about psychiatrists ? 1 f ZAPPA: Those rotten motherfuckers.l f Those cocksuckers! Those idiots! Those cowards! Man, that's your mother and father with a different uniform on! Those poor peopl e that are deluding themselves. i (Mocking) "I'm going to this analyst." I (And it's very hip here in the vilI lage.) "I got me this analyst, he I I don'i charge much, listen, he can I really help you out. Look, he told I I me all about why I can't come. " ' Meanwhile this psychiatrist himself is so aberrated he can't stand it. Dld you ever try to listen to everybody's problems for so many 1 hours a day and try and come out lunscathed? That's like working in a ItB ward with no masK on, man. Those Iguys gotta be the sickest people in the Iworld. There's no way they can avoid J [that if they hear all those cases everyl I day. That's gotta be the most depres-M sing ■ LAKE: How about Zen and Yoga? Ij ZAPPA: I was interested in Zen for ■ a long tinne. That's what got me away I I from being a Catholic, fortunately. I But it's my observation that eastern I religions are wonderful if you are living anywhere but the United States. I The best they can do for you here is, uh, give you a certain feeling of calm, if yon can practice meditation and abstinence by yourself, away from everything else that's happening. The real joal of eastern religión, with mystical experience and all that, those aims are difficolt if not impossible to achieve in an industrial society. And I tliink that most of the people who claim to have made satori someplace in the States today really gotta be pulliny your leg. And I think that that sort of enlightenment bears very little relationship to the amount of chants that you can sing. People tend to, today anyway, equate that with, uh, all-knowing sort of intellect. Which don't happen. It's a great tragedy that the underground doesn't really exist, because if it did, man, it would sure be a scary thing. Most of the people that are supposedly a part of the underground now are very cowardly. . .and dumb. LAKE: You mean they're just in it because they can't make it elsewhere? ZAPPA: They're in it because they didn't want to do something else. They're too lazy to do anything else. "Hey. . . I found a way of life where I can be a Vegetable Man and nobody is going to say anything to me! Quick, give rae another hit on that! " And if anybody bugs you, you just tell 'em: "What, man? I'm an individualist and this is the way I do it. " I found very few of the people that I've met in this supposed underground who were really willing to work for anything. I don't mean a 9 to 5 job, keep yourself alive, but to work for any cause, real or imagined. It's all so superficial, man. Shit! If the kids I that think they're in the underground I could match even five per cent of the ■ dedication that you see in the camp of 1 the enemy. . . You've got to. . . Like, 1 these people that are running the war ■ machine are really dedicated to it, M man. You've GOT to be into that tu I do it so good. Those people are very ■ sick that are running that machine. . . but they're very dedicated. And the ones that are running Madison Avenue are just the same way, man, becaise I 1 they got something to believe in, man, they got MONEY to believe in. And the kids that are in the supposed underII ground don't have anything to believe II in. And most of them that are tripping I out on their shoelaces and the wallII paper and "cosmic consciousness" II and everything else don't even really U believe that's happening, because I they're still wondering whether or I not that's a fantasy or is this a fanI tasy? Or is that a fantasy over there? They're not sure. They're all twisted I around. But those guys out there, ■ they know where it's at. "I got a dollar. . .and if I do this and do that, I I'll have two dollars. And I believe it, and it's true, and I'll show you, I and it works like this. " And they're I on that level and they're tenacious, I man. They hold right onto it. And I THEY have built a country. An ugly, I fucking country. And her e it is. They did it. With their own minds - the size oL raisins.