Tag: Frank Zappa

Brainiac On Banjo #109: What Jessica Walter Means To Me

Brainiac On Banjo #109: What Jessica Walter Means To Me

Don’t you ever miss your house in the country, and your hot little mamma too? Don’t you better get a shot from the doctor, for what the Road Ladies do to you? – Frank Zappa, Road Ladies, 1970

I was just 21¼ years old. Old enough to know better. And, well, I did know better.

I had started on the radio about two years earlier, doing freeform “underground” shows overnights on Chicago FM stations. Back in those days, FM wasn’t on most car radios and station owners bought them just so that their competitors could not. At that time, nobody made money on overnight FM except for those slots that were purchased — brokered — by churches, far-right-wing political howlers, and foreign-language shows. That is, nobody made money until we came along.

In short order, my peers warned the 19-year-old me that, from time to time, women would call the studio in the middle of the night and make it clear that a personal appearance need not involve guitars and amplifiers. Remember, this was during that hallowed time between the invention of the birth control pill and the onset of HIV, and it was a wonderful period to be a 19 year old with Y chromosomes that screamed louder than a pack of shock-jocks.

My peers pointed out that these ladies had never seen me, and that I had never seen them. All they knew was I was on radio which, admittedly, can be an intimate experience at 3 in the morning. According to my instructors, other than an hour’s pleasure nothing good could come out of such parlances… and quite often there’s a world of hurt around the corner.

Yeah. Right. I was pushing 20 and I was full of three things… one of which being myself.

I had just started at a station in Evanston, Chicago’s northern neighbor and their studio was along the Chicago River about two miles from the fabled “L” trains. As is wont to happen, one night my car broke down in their parking lot and I had to choose between a long walk or an even longer wait for repair. I was three hours into my five-hour shift and I knew that walk would be annoying. I mentioned my situation on the air. At three in the morning. Sadly, my “Uh-Oh Sense” declined to stop me. Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo #109: What Jessica Walter Means To Me”

Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mind #067: Talk Is Cheap, And So Is Trump

Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mind #067: Talk Is Cheap, And So Is Trump

What will you do if we let you go home / And the plastic’s all melted / And so is the chrome? / Who are the brain police? – Frank Zappa, Who Are The Brain Police, 1966

One of the many ways we get into trouble as a society is when we issue sanctions on semantics. Acts can be evil. Thoughts can provoke bad acts – but thoughts can prevent bad actions as well. We can deal with the bad thoughts if we stay vigilant and use our brains from time to time.

Controlling the language has been an effective means of political persuasion. One of the reasons I admire the LGBTQ movements is that they seized the words gay and queer, turning insults into advocacy. This started about six decades ago, so we’ve had a couple generations of Americans who do not automatically perceive those terms in their original discriminatory context. We’ve got a way to go; change takes time and commitment.

I am often bewildered by the statements made by our president, and by “often” I mean “at least every day.” Because he gets his beliefs from Fox News and Vlad Putin, our dickhead-in-chief buys into the axiom that Jews are a monolithic group who are compelled by a hive-mind. This is a complete misunderstanding of the Jewish culture. As a group, Jews love to debate and discuss, generally with open-minds (I exempt the most fundamentalist of persuasions from this argument) but usually with great passion. I was raised in a Jewish environment, and I truly enjoy this exchange. Judaism as a culture encourages debate between the religious elders and their flocks. “Rabbi” means teacher. A teacher who is willing to discuss and debate. Continue reading “Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mind #067: Talk Is Cheap, And So Is Trump”

Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mind #045: Life’s Little Killings

Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mind #045: Life’s Little Killings

According to the Washington Post, last week 17-year-old Elijah Al-Amin of Peoria Arizona stopped by the Circle K convenience store on his way home from work, one of the two summer jobs he held. He had been listening to rap music in his car, according to 27-year-old Michael Adams, who is not a fan of the genre. Indeed, rap music makes him feel “unsafe.”

Adams feels this way because, according to him, he had been attacked “by people who listen to rap: specifically, blacks, Hispanics and Native Americans.” Adams did what many unreasonable people might do under the circumstances: he leaped out with his pocketknife at the ready, he slashed Al-Amin’s throat and then, for good measure, stabbed him in the back.

Al-Amin staggered out of the store and died by the gas pumps in front. Adams said he was being “proactive rather than reactive” and that his victim did nothing to provoke him. That’s quite an admission from a guy who had been released from prison two days earlier – without access to medication. You’d think he’d know better. You’d think he was nuts. Continue reading “Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mind #045: Life’s Little Killings”

Brainiac On Banjo #042: We’re Not Getting Mad…

Brainiac On Banjo #042: We’re Not Getting Mad…

All your children are poor unfortunate victims of lies you believe / A plague upon your ignorance that keeps the young from the truth they deserve. – Frank Zappa, “What’s The Ugliest Part of Your Body?”

For those who have been following the long and lingering death of Mad Magazine, a couple days ago things took another turn for the worse when it was announced that after two more inventory-burning issues, the legendary publication would stop running new material.

That’s sad. 67 years ago Mad changed the nature of our culture, being the first comic book to confront our nation’s culture and its many foibles head-on. It was an important part of a vital movement in the 1950s spawned by innovators such as Lenny Bruce, Dick Gregory, Second City, Ernie Kovacs and Moms Mabley. Mad was all the more important by being the first specifically oriented to those not yet old enough to vote. Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo #042: We’re Not Getting Mad…”

Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mind #040: The Social Justice War

Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mind #040: The Social Justice War

Remember when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of same-sex marriage? I’m sure you do: the wailing of the bigots was deafening. Many of this ilk said the Supreme Court ruled against their religion and that they were the real victims of discrimination.

Yes, we’re discriminating against you because we won’t keep your pathetically warped hatred as a vertebrae in our national spine. You bet we’re discriminating against monsters who discriminate. And you are so dumb you think “Social Justice Warrior” is an insult! You think we’re annoying? You damn well better believe it!

And we’re standing up to all the White Nationalists who get in our way. I don’t use the phrase “white supremacist” because it sounds like a Baskin-Robbins flavor of the month. Fun fact: I get mine served in rainbow cones. Continue reading “Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mind #040: The Social Justice War”