Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Let Me Be Frank About Frank

[Just to clarify a bit on my "I don't think Frank Zappa is funny" remarks as per yesterday's radio show appearance -- herewith my interview with the prickly auteur behind The Mothers of Invention, as it originally appeared in the April 1979 issue of The Magazine Formerly Known as Stereo Review.

Like I said at the time, as a comedian he's a great guitar player.]

PARANOIA can be a lot of fun, especially if it turns out to be justified (or as A. J. Weberman, the guy who used to poke around in Bob Dylan's garbage, observed, "Just because you don't think they're out to get you doesn't mean they're not"). That, it seems to me, is why the children of the Sixties, who responded to their parents' paranoia (There's a Commie Under Every Bed) by growing one of their own (There's a C.I.A. Agent in Every Woodpile), have become so blasé about the sensational revelations of the Seventies – from Watergate to Chile to the Bullet from the Grassy Knoll – that they shrug off each fresh outrage with a bored yawn and a dip in a hot tub. After all, what could possibly, at this point, surprise a generation that has endured persecutions worthy of Jean Valjean in an attempt to make the world safe for cannabis sativa, only to discover that red-baiting Senator Joe McCarthy was not only a morphine addict (!) but got the stuff personally from Harry J. Anslinger (!!), the Federal Narcotics Bureau chief responsible for the whole "Assassin of Youth" PR campaign? I may have a limited imagination, but I can't see how even the most lurid hallucinatory vision could top that one for paranoid surrealism.

Not only is paranoia fun, but in its lesser manifestations it's also an eminently useful commodity, producing some great comedy of both the intentional and unintentional varieties. Jackie Mason, for example, once remarked that he didn't like to go to football games because when the players huddled he was positive they were talking about him; Woody Allen has practically based his entire career on the idea that the Universe is rigged; and New Yorkers in particular have gotten mucho yucks out of a variety of paranoid graffiti artists, from the anonymous wacko who spray-paints warnings about leprosy in Times Square to the great William H. Depperman, the ex-Yippie who plasters the subways with hand-lettered posters linking the Rockefellers and Hong Kong film mogul Run Run Shaw as prime movers behind both the Kennedy assassinations and the death of kung-fu star Bruce Lee.

In other words, not only is paranoia my generation's own brand of slapstick, it's our birthright. We're paranoid, by God, and proud of it. But what has any of this got to do with Frank Zappa, whom I interviewed (for want of a better word) recently? Quite a bit, probably; the politics of paranoia go a long way, I think, toward explaining both his work over the last fifteen years and the special relationship he has with his extraordinarily loyal audience. Zappa is both a child of the times, obsessed with technology and with the elimination of the distinctions between pop and serious culture, and a fascinating throwback to the nineteenth-century stereotype of the eccentric genius. In fact, if there is anyone, upon sober reflection, he reminds me of, it's not his beloved Edgard Varèse, or even a charming weirdo like Erik Satie, but rather the ever unpopular Max Reger, who was brilliant, iron-willed, and convinced that he was beset from all sides by enemies and fools. Like Reger, Zappa is capable of being pointedly amusing and abrasive (his favorite word for other people's work is "swill"), but he seems constitutionally incapable of redirecting the mockery back toward himself; he gets off lots of good lines, to be sure, but never at the expense of Frank Zappa.

The following excerpts from our conversation, alternately witty, scathing, scatological, and thoughtful, should give you an idea of what I mean. I should add, by the way, that although we did not get along particularly well – at one point he called me a pinhead and I'm sure he meant it – I still respect the man as much as I respect anyone in pop music. After all, he plays a mean guitar.

On just having hosted Saturday Night Live:

"It's a very difficult thing to do; they never make it easy on anyone who hosts the show. All the direction and attention goes to the sketches. They're not called skits – they become incensed if you call them skits – and it's all designed to accommodate the people who are regulars on the show, so anybody who goes on there to host is at a severe disadvantage. Because they never tell you what camera is on, and you're not supposed to memorize your script because they're rewriting right up to air time. And so you're looking at the cue cards, and unless you're used to acting live on TV, you haven't got a prayer, you'll be looking at the wrong camera. It was really hard.

"And the other thing that happened was – and I didn't find out about it until the day after the show – that the first day I went there for the meetings with them they didn't like me and wanted to get rid of me. But no one said anything to my face while I was working on the thing. So they had written dialogue for me to say that I wouldn't normally say; they wouldn't let me write any of my own stuff.

"I think I'd be a fantastic television personality. I think I'd be a real good interviewer if I had a talk show, or a variety show. I'd be really good at it. But just to get up there and be the dumbbell in A Night on Freak Mountain . . . . I mean, sure, I'll do that for a laugh, but I'm not gonna build a life on it."

On starting his own label, distributed by Phonogram:

"There's a certain amount of advantage to it because then I don't have to take any responsibility by identification for the other normal stuff they release. If they do something that's in bad taste in my eyes, then I don't have to be identified with it.

"One of the reasons for going with Phonogram is that they have a huge catalog of contemporary music and it needs to be repackaged. I've already had discussions with them; if they'll let me take all that stuff and release it on my label, I think I could help make the stuff sell.

"Last year, when I first had the discussion with the president of the company, he thought it would probably be a good idea, but after making so much money on 'Saturday Night Fever' it sort of slipped his mind. When I brought it up again after the deal was actually signed, he said, 'Did I say that? Well, if I said it we should probably do it.' There's really not much interest there.

"It's from all their European branches, and old Mercury stuff; there's some Penderecki, some Roger Sessions, all that kind of stuff. And I think that the audience that buys my records would probably give it a whirl. Whether they'd like it or not is another question, but they'd give it a try if it was brought to their attention in the proper way. What I was gonna suggest was packaging the stuff in covers that look a little more intriguing to that particular market. Maybe racking the stuff in a special section of the store, so that maybe twelve selections that were gonna be released all at once in repackaged covers could be identified in one part of the store, and tie that in with ads that show all twelve items. And spend some money to advertise it as contemporary music. Because they never do."

On the English music press and rock criticism generally:

"If I were to be a bigoted individual, I would probably select the English as the target of my bigotry. The English press happen to be the most loathsome group of people I've ever had to deal with in show business. It's not just trendiness; they're so fucking twofaced and snotty. The concept behind what they write, the motivations for writing, and the whole attitude they have toward the people they write about – I really could live without it. They make me sick.

"People who write about me don't know anything about me. And to make matters worse, they don't know anything about writing either; people should be licensed to operate a typewriter. And so the image of me that goes out is all through the eyes of these nerds who have only one thing in mind: how to make themselves look good.

"They could [sic] care less for the people who make the music, or do the actual work of touring. And there's always this attempt to make it look like, ` Oh well, this is all shit really, and since I'm dealing with a really pure art form, then fuck all these guys who play rock and roll. Like, I'm an intellectual, and of course you're an intellectual too; you read. You're not just sitting in a hockey rink listening to rock-and-roll, you're a reading person. So we'll just communicate with each other and bypass all this musical swill that's going on because the printed word is Where It's At.'

"This kind of subliminal attitude that permeates all of rock journalism is one of the things that makes me sick. Because these guys aren't even competent to do it; the people that write that stuff aren't competent to pull that gag off. When was the last time you read anything in any of those [rock] publications that dealt with the music? It's all peripheral.

"I am a multidimensional person. I have a great respect and admiration for r-&-b, and dumbbell music, and electronic music, and symphonic music, and all that stuff. It appeals to me. I like to function in all those media. I feel comfortable in each and every one of them, and I'm just going to go ahead and write the music to suit me, and it is what it is. If it's "Louie Louie" one day, and something else the next, what's the difference? It's there for me to enjoy it, and after I enjoy it, if there's anybody else that happens to like it, that's a bonus."

On charges of thinly veiled condescension toward his public, especially in his early albums:

"Nothing that I've ever done is planned to be misinterpreted. And I always know before I do anything, including this interview, that it's subject to misinterpretation, erroneous transcription, and editorial tweezage. The final ultimate blow is when the guy reads it and doesn't know what the fuck I'm talking about.

"Now let's take it point by point. `Freak Out' [his 1966 debut effort with the Mothers of Invention] was never an instruction manual for anyone to go out and behave in a weird way. If you take all the lyrics on the album and see what they say, as opposed to what the liner notes say, then you find that you don't have anything to talk about. Because what you're referring to as the contents of the album is really a reference to a definition of the term 'Freak Out' as included on the jacket cover.

"Now in terms of the third album [' We're Only in It for the Money,' with the infamous 'Sgt. Pepper' cover parody] biting the hand that feeds, and 'oh! the ingratitude' – here's the way it goes. Anybody who turns into a hippie instead of a freak is not doing anything suggested by the 'Freak Out' album. By 1967 the hippie movement had been so mediated and tweezed that ... I mean, Flower Power was a sham, it was a merchandising thing by then, with poster shops and bimbos walking around with acid-glazed eyes and fistfuls of any kind of green object with a flower on the end of it they could get hold of waving it at a policeman, and they thought they were the Brave New World. Now I thought that was stupid, and I would be the first person to tell them it was stupid, and when I did that, I lost a large segment of the audience we had accumulated from the first two albums.

"If you stop and think about it, putting out an album like that would be a very courageous thing in the middle of hippie hysteria. I did two things that were definitely a no-no then. One, making fun of the Beatles, and you couldn't do that; and two, I made fun of hippies, and you couldn't do that either. All the other satirical comments in the first two albums had been directed toward their parents, and none of those kids wanted to hear anything about themselves. Looking at it now, maybe it was an easy target. But you try it in 1967."

On orchestral writing:

"I started writing orchestra music before I started collecting r-&-b, when I was fourteen. I've still got all that stuff. But the problem with writing orchestra music is the people that play it. There's never enough money to have proper rehearsals, so that a new piece can get as good a performance as an old piece the orchestra already knows. I mean, there's plenty of good versions of Beethoven's Fifth, because the fuckers have been playing it for hundreds of years. But there aren't that many good performances of new pieces because usually the rhythmic difficulties exceed what was required by the older repertoire, and if there's one thing that musicians are always bad at, it's rhythm. I swear to God, they can't count. If you can find an orchestra that plays together, it's a miracle.

"I still like to hear orchestra music, and I still write it; in fact, I have two copyists on yearly salary who are copying my stuff, and I go around delivering scores to orchestras. I'm available. But let me give an idea of what that entails. They attempted to commission me in L.A. one time like this: 'If you will buy two concert grand pianos and donate them to UCLA, then we will commission you to write some music for these instruments, and we will condescend to play it.' Real crass, when you stop and think how much two concert grands cost, and how they figure `Well, we'll give it two rehearsals and get this shit out of the way, and get the pianos and run with it.' That pisses me right off.

"And always, if I present a score to somebody, they always want to know if there's a possibility that the group is available to make an appearance at the concert, y'know, just to put a little extra grease on it and sell a few more tickets. And then, still, all they talk about is two or three rehearsals. Like when we did 200 Motels with the L.A. Philharmonic, 14,000 people came to that concert, which was the largest audience they had that year. They were all very impressed. Well, I had to pay the copying bills. Which were ten thousand dollars. Why should I have to pay for it? I really write good.

"I'm in a peculiar position because a composer who wasn't working in the world of rock-and-roll who might not have access to the kinds of facilities that I do would never be approached by these business people. Like I doubt that they'd go up to Elliott Carter and say 'If you will buy . . . .' They don't do that."

On his future:

"Generally, I will continue to operate in the areas that I operate in, except that some of them may become more important. I can't see myself in a garret; I can see myself in a basement.

"I'm elder, that's for sure, but I'm not much of a statesman. I just do my work."


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the post Steve. It's almost as long as some of my "comments.":-) To be sure he took his work seriously and is an egocentric figure. For me, comparisons to anyone else fall short because no one before or after was like Zappa.

He is sorely missed and it's coming up on twenty years already. No one can replace him and it's a shame he died so young. I have a really creepy story about what happened to me on Frank's death day in 1993. But not now.

For those who haven't already, The Real Frank Zappa Book is an entertaining and quick read. Frank was not very fond of the French either. Pauline Butcher's book looks like it might be interesting, but I haven't read it yet.

I have a friend who is a rock journalist in Europe. He too hates the British rock press and record industry fucks. And with a real passion. He says they have a very annoying attitude of superiority.

My future journalist friend went to my high school as a foreign exchange student. He was rosy cheeked and unbelievably innocent when he arrived. He didn't know his rock from his roll. JB (not his real nickname) was ripe for corrupting.

This was in the fall of 1972. JB was staying with a guy friend of mine's family. He was a virgin to just about everything. We set out to do him a favor and change all of that.

Within a twenty-four hour period JB lost his pot cherry, his virginity and saw the President of the United States in person while under the influence of mild acid.

It's a long story which I'm too lazy to tell now. Let me just say that the Nixon Rally at Ontario Airport was one of the most surreal events I've ever attended. Highlights: 1) Talking at length with Red Skelton while trying to maintain under the influence of LSD; 2) Nixon banging the hell out of his head in a slapstick manner while boarding the helicopter; 3) Being escorted out of our seats by Secret Service who told us to sit outside the area of the media shots (apparently we were too freaky looking for Nixon's image); 4) Lynn Anderson doing a splendid version of "(I Never Promised You A) Rose Garden." I always loved that tune.

For JB, it was a crash course in American teen culture of the time. Needless to say, he wasn't that rosy cheeked Dutch Boy Paint guy with an empty canvas anymore when we got through with him. We turned him into a rocker and a writer.

He's told me many times he owes his career in the music world all to his experiences as a foreign exchange student in Southern California. It gives me a sense of pride.

When he's in California, he always drops in on me unannounced. He loves the element of surprise. The running joke is that whenever he comes by I'm having sex. Coincidental but true. For that reason, plus those times in 1972, he thinks I'm an animal.

The time he caught me and my baby doing it on the roof sealed the deal. What can I say? We were painting the house and got horny. It's a story he usually tells the friends that he brings along on his visits.

It has happened about 30 consecutive times and I'm starting to get spooked. What would it mean if he dropped by unannounced and I wasn't having sex? I even had a fucked up dream about it where we go through this withering away, Dorian Gray thing as a result. Noooo!

Vickie Rock

Gummo said...

4 thoughts:

1. Yet another piece of yours I remember reading back in the day!

2. Re: SNL -- OMG, Zappa actually found himself in a situation where he wasn't surrounded by sycophants! No wonder he hated it.

3. All those comments about English rock writers being smug, self-impressed artistes? Project much?

4. I'll leave the last word to Lou Reed (and NOT from his posthumous let's-make-nice-now-that-the-guy's-dead R'n'R Hall of Fame Zappa induction speech):

"He's probably the single most untalented person I've heard in my life. He's a two-bit pretentious academic, and he can't play rock'n'roll, because he's a loser. And that's why he dresses up funny. He's not happy with himself, and I think he's right."

steve simels said...

To paraphrase Casey Kasem:

"This guy's a genius and who gives a shit."

steve simels said...

Although I must admit Frank was right about the Brit rock press.

buzzbabyjesus said...

My favorite Zappa album is the original mix of " Cruisin' With Ruben And The Jets".

Shriner said...

So, why (if you remember) did he call you a pinhead?

I think all musicians "suffer fools gladly" -- and I've been around a number myself. Zappa always seemed pretty extreme and intimidating (as a fan.)

I, too, wonder what his output would be like these days if he was still around. He'd probably still be as prolific as Prince...

Shriner said...

(and, I'm not implying the fine host of this blog is a "fool" by any means.) ;-)

Blue Ash Fan said...

I still love the guy.

I know my share of musicians, but only one who's ever had any sort of mainstream success and, while he's a damn nice guy, he's a bit more guarded and aloof than the guys I know who've never gone beyond the club level. I think these guys wind up with so many people wanting a piece of them that they get a bit prickly, just as a defense mechanism. But I could be wrong.

Either way, he was Frank, when he was great he was damn great, and we sure could use him today given the current batshit state of this country. Reed's wrong.

Brooklyn Girl said...

Frank played a brief role in my musical/political life and at the tender age of 16 I thought he was a great social satirist --- "Help, I'm a Rock", etc. --- I saw him at the Fillmore East in 1971 after The Former Turtles joined, which brought things full circle, considering the liner notes he so glibly dismissed. (Note to Frank's Ghost: I bought the damn album without hearing it based solely on the cover and the liner notes. You're welcome.) The show was funny and iconoclastic.

After that, however, I lost interest.

The album itself, which I still have, is worth $100-$200. So there is that.

steve simels said...

Shriner --

I don't remember what specifically I said to Zappa that pissed him off -- probably because I was so unprepared for his hostility in response. Like I said, he didn't suffer fools gladly, and I was naive in the extreme to think he wouldn't have told me what he actually thought.

My guess, however, is that it was that question about his condescending to his audience.

Anonymous said...

Never leave the last word to Lou Reed. What's that old saying about pointing fingers? I wonder what our Rock 'N' Roll Animal would have to say about dressing funny when Frankenstein was hiding behind the guitars of Dick Wagner and Steve Hunter?

So the MOI and VU played The Trip in Hollywood together in 1966. Neither band had an album out. The VU got a rather lukewarm reception from the West Coast crowd. The opening act, also album-less at this point, who are not even listed on the concert poster, are the local darlings and wow the crowd. Some say Zappa insulted the VU from the stage, though members of his band say it never happened.

That's the childish origin of Reed's hatred of the MOI and Zappa. As we all know, the shows were stopped by the LAPD a couple of days into the stand.Lucky for the VU they had a chance to re-record some of their songs at TTG Studios during the downtime. "Heroin" was recorded in sunny Los Angeles.

Lou Reed's early put down is quite revealing of his own childish nature. But what can one expect from a short tempered meth head and future junkie.

You can say its a West Coast/East Coast thing. You can say it's about competition to get their mutual label's attention. But it has more to do with Lou Reed just being an ass. He's made that abundantly clear over the years.

You wanna talk about condescension of fans, at least Zappa never put out something like Metal Machine Music, a 2-LP set no less. And how about his double live stand-up comedy routine?

His early work notwithstanding, Reed's had more epic fails than one should be allowed to have for all of eternity. His once monotonous tenacity is now just monotony. You couldn't pay me to see this guy anymore. I've been burnt too many times. And what about his adventurous work with Metallica? Yeccch.

Talk about surrounding himself with sycophants. No matter what dreck Lou turns out he can always count on a good dick sucking from Charlie Rose.

From what I know about Zappa, he was an anti-social, stay in the basement and compose kind of guy. So how is that surrounding oneself with sycophants? Your point doesn't seem valid. Also, I think the people at SNL thought highly of him and were very pleased to get him to host.

And as far as work ethic goes, Lou Reed is the most glaring example of lazy arrested development walking the planet. His extremely limited abilities as a musician and singer were tolerable when he was writing interesting material. But now, forget it. You'd think he'd have learned a lick or two in is fifty years in the biz.

Also, Zappa was one of the best interviews in rock. Refreshingly clear headed and humorous.

Vickie Rock

Anonymous said...

BBJ: Yeah, you gotta love Cruising with Ruben and the Jets. It's hard for me to pick a favorite because I like a lot of his stuff. He was so prolific it was hard to keep up with him.

The "Cruising" LP is not only an hommage with a twist, but it has a delicious Southern California flavor to it as well. You know, that pachuko, lowrider oldies culture.

In a lot of ways Zappa is like the Firesign Theater in that he draws on Southern California as a reference point. The places and things he name checks, or refers to, will certainly have more significance to those who have been there and experienced it.

Hey buzz baby, do you know what a Jelly Roll Gum Drop is? I thought so.:-)

Vickie Rock

Anonymous said...

Frank Zappa DJ'ed a lot and I found this list of his radio appearances and playlists online for those who care to peruse:

Also this, which is a transcript/playlist from 1980 BBC 1 show:

It might provide some of you with a little more insight into the man. Frank had pretty broad tastes. It wasn't just Varese, Stravinsky, Webern and doo wop.

Here's a few more early tidbits:

Joni Mitchell, who was boinking Motorhead for a while, did "Duke of Earl" with them at the Fillmore East in the early 1970's I'm told. Anyone see that odd pairing? Better yet, got a tape? Before the tune, Joni improvised poetically with "Penelope Just Wants To Fuck the Sea." Zappa reportedly loved her "Blue" LP. He also liked Gentle Giant, Black Sabbath, ZZ Top, Mahavishnu Orchestra and a host of others....I'm sure that will make you all love him even more.

Vickie Rock

P.S. I still don't see how paranoia has anything to do with Zappa, his music or his fans.

And this:

Anonymous said...

As far as Zappa being "constitutionally incapable of redirecting the mockery back toward himself;" and his getting "off lots of good lines, to be sure, but never at the expense of Frank Zappa:"

His mail order company was named "Barfko-Swill," for goodness sake. A good deal of his material derived from "road" experiences with his band. Of course he made fun of himself and the whole rock culture.

The music, discounting the lyrics, never takes itself very seriously. There aren't just "eyebrows" on it, there's the whole Groucho Marx novelty nose, glasses, moustache. But that doesn't make it any less brilliant. Humor does belong in music and I'm not talking about its lyrics, I'm talking about the notes and how they're put together and played.

Once again, R.I.P. George Duke.

Vickie Rock

Anonymous said...

Brooklyn Girl:
Re: "I saw him at the Fillmore East in 1971 after The Former Turtles joined, which brought things full circle, considering the liner notes he so glibly dismissed. (Note to Frank's Ghost: I bought the damn album without hearing it based solely on the cover and the liner notes. You're welcome.) The show was funny and iconoclastic."

Interesting. I remember you mentioning this about the liner notes before. I think you even said you bought it at Sam Goody's. Did you buy the 2-LP set based solely on the:

"These Mothers is crazy. You can tell by their clothes. One guy wears beads and they all smell bad. We were gonna get them for a dance after the basketball game but my best pal warned me you can never tell how many will show up...sometimes the guy in the fur coat doesn't show up and sometimes he does show up only he brings a big bunch of crazy people with him and they dance all over the place. None of the kids at my school like these Mothers...specially since my teacher told us what the words to their songs meant. Sincerely forever, Suzy Creamcheese, Salt Lake City, Utah."

description of the band on the rear cover? Or did Goody allow you to break the shrink and read inside?

Just curious.

Also, I don't think Zappa ever dismissed anything about the packaging of "Freak Out." Quite the contrary. He wrote the Suzy Creamcheese letter himself. He designed the album to bring certain people in. He was actually quite proud of it.

Vito, Sueanne and Captain Fuck were the first "freaks" in Hollywood. When Zappa moved from Cucamonga to Hollywood during summer 1965 the freak scene was in full swing. He naturally embraced it and developed some material which reflected it.

When Zappa packaged his Freak Out 2-LP set the way he did, he actually provided future historians with one of the best sources of Freak Culture circa 1966. The map of Hollywood is a snapshot of the times.

Was freaking out doing a bunch of acid and blowing your mind? Not to Zappa.

From the interior notes:

"On a personal level, Freaking Out is a process whereby an individual casts off outmoded and restricting standards of thinking, dress and social etiquette in order to express CREATIVELY his relationship to his immediate environment and the social structure as a whole. Less perceptive individuals have referred to us who have chosen this way of thinking and FEELING as "Freaks", hence the term "Freaking Out."

On a collective level, when any number of "Freaks" gather to express themselves creatively through music or dance, for example, it is generally referred to as a FREAK OUT. The participants, already emancipated from our national social slavery. dressed in their most inspired apparel, realize as a group whatever potential they possess for free expression."

Did you own any other Mothers/Frank albums beside Freak Out? I understand you losing interest. Many people have Zappa phases of various lengths. When you saw him at the Fillmore East in 1971 was it the night John and Yoko joined him? I saw them that year too, twice. Spring and Summer. That was a fun and talented band.

In Claremont they clobbered me over the head with a Peaches En Regalia/Tears Began To Fall/Shove It Right In/Billy The Mountain opening salvo. Of course, the only song we knew was the opener because none of the stuff was on record yet. I loved that era when the bands were ahead of the audience.

As far as the rest goes, Frank said it best in the article:

"Nothing that I've ever done is planned to be misinterpreted. And I always know before I do anything, including this interview, that it's subject to misinterpretation, erroneous transcription, and editorial tweezage. The final ultimate blow is when the guy reads it and doesn't know what the fuck I'm talking about."

Vickie Rock

spotcheck said...

I'd certainly take exception to the "thinly veiled" part. I remember the SNL "Night on Freak Mountain" sketch, particularly Belushi's character ("Window Pane"?) asking Zappa in amazement "You mean you wrote Ask Any Vegetable when you were STRAIGHT?"

He was one of a kind, and I wish we'd had more time with him, but his attitude certainly sucked sometimes.

Anonymous said...


It's "Call Any Vegetable," not "Ask Any Vegetable." Big fan, are you?

Your memory of the SNL episode is foggy. John Belushi's character (Windowpane) never said "You mean you weren't high when you wrote Call Any Vegetable, man?" It was Laraine Newman.

Furthermore, other than Paul Shaffer being rather amusing as Don Kirshner, it was an awful, unfunny skit which dragged on and died a thousand deaths. Zappa realized this as it unfolded and mugged for the camera accordingly.

Zappa definitely glared at Belushi after he read the line "No. I don't do drugs. I just don't like the effect it has on SOME PEOPLE." We all know what happened with Belushi after that. So how does that make Zappa a dick?

In effect, you have a cast and crew of lazy stoners and drunks telling the straight guy with a work ethic to quit fucking around. And when he didn't, our counterculture heroes showed their true group-think colors and banned him.

Both parties were initially happy with the hosting slot. But there were clashes about Zappa's irreverence for the writers and skits, stepping out of character and mugging for the camera during the live show.

And I thought SNL was supposed to be "irreverent," "edgy" and "rebellious".

Talk about people not liking the parody, satire or jokes turned on themselves.

Vickie Rock

For those who care to see the skit as opposed to relying on potcheck's faulty memory, here 'tis. You'll have to FF through The Meek Shall Inherit Nothing to get there. It starts at 3:44: