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FLIPSIDE #110 - JAN./FEB. '98

CHANNELED FRANK ZAPPA, AGAIN

PART III - October 15, 1996

Bob Dobbs: Frank Zappa was born on December 21, 1940 and died on December 4, 1993. Do we have him?
Evergreens: Yes.
Bob: Greetings, Frank. Did you enjoy the publishing of Bob Marshall's talk with you, channelled through the Evergreens, in FLIPSIDE magazine?
Evergreens: "Stuck a stick up their nose, didn't it?" he says.
Bob: Yeah, there was not much of a positive response, it was sort of ignored, but are you implying that many people noticed it?
Frank Zappa: Oh, they noticed it.
Bob: Kept their reaction to themselves?
Frank: Yes, but there were reactions. You would be surprised at the number of people who cut that out and pasted it to the back of an album.
Bob: How did your wife Gail react?
Frank: Positively.
Bob: Would she like to talk to you through the Evergreens herself?
Frank: Yes.
Bob: So I should get in touch with her and tell her how to do it?
Frank: If she wants. It's always her choice.
Bob: Was she struck by the reality of it, did it seem to ring true?
Frank: She thought it was a rehash of an interview that actually took place and edited, and that it was ascribed to some source. But that interview never took place anywhere.
Bob: But it sounded so real to her, and she couldn't believe it was done through a medium, so it was an echo of an interview she thought she knew. So she's not ready to believe it yet?
Frank: If you tell her exactly how it was done, then she will know.
Bob: I could even play her this dialogue here?
Frank: If you want.
Bob: There is one particular thing - you're aware of Gerry Fialka who used to work with you?
Frank: Oh yes.
Bob: Gerry Fialka and I in August tried to find the date of your bust at Studio Z in Cucumonga in either the fall of '64 or early '65. Can you give us the exact date because the newspaper clipping doesn't have the date and the court records are lost?
Frank: If you want to rehash this, it was October 29, 1964.
Bob: Who rehashed this again?
Evergreens: He says, "It's up to you if you want to bring up all this, but it's long gone."
Bob: The records are gone accidentally?
Evergreens: Oh, they're gone. Not exactly accidentally.
Bob: Was it influenced by Frank's father?
Evergreens: No, it was influenced by a person who figured that it didn't need to be there.
Bob: Because they were thinking that Frank could benefit?
Evergreens: No, they were thinking that it didn't need to be there.
Bob: Didn't think it was important, the documents?
Evergreens: No, didn't think it important at all.
Bob: The newspaper clipping that he published, the article on his bust, didn't have the date? Is there a reason, did he not want the date to be known?
Evergreens: No, this was strictly sloppy reporting.
Bob: So he was arrested on October 29, 1964, and was in the can for ten days?
Evergreens: Yes.
Bob: Did Frank's father have a very knowing influence over Frank as a young man, more than Frank realized?
Evergreens: In a way, yes.
Bob: Because I've created this scenario, this sort of play/drama that the father was the real person behind Frank's thinking because you can look at Frank as a young man in his teens who criticized his father for watching TV so much, but in the end the last ten years of Frank's life was devoted to watching a lot of television. He ended up like his father.
Evergreens: Yes.
Bob: Was his father watching TV acutely like Frank says he did?
Evergreens: You have to understand Frank's ability to observe. He's a good observer, from the very first, and grew up to be a very good observer. Frank at that time was looking at the world wondering what the world had to offer and what he had to offer the world and so on - these things that pass through a young man's mind. And he observed his father not participating and said "You watch TV too much, you're too caught up in what television has to offer. There are other things to be offered." And his father agreed "Yes, that's true". Then turned back to the television. Frank as he got older began to realize one could observe the world also through the television.
Bob: So did he re-appraise his father?
Evergreens: He re-appraised television. But still in his own mind said that his father spent too much time doing it at a time when there were other things to see. But then what could be said of Frank is: in those days his father was observing the world through television and Frank had not realized that his father was doing this. To Frank, his father was just watching television, not observing the world, just watching television.
Bob: So his father was observing pretty discriminatingly.
Evergreens: Yes, and Frank realized that when he was older, but not fully.
Bob: Now, the metaphor in UNCLE MEAT and in some other albums of Frank's, it sounds a lot like his father's meteorological career - the fact that Frank wanted to make music in "climates". Were these there because jokingly he was making reference to his father's profession?
Evergreens: Of course it was.
Bob: So he was making fun of his father and using him as a model for satire.
Evergreens: Yes.
Bob: And yet it was useful information to bring meteorological science into the world of music. It worked for many purposes.
Evergreens: Yes. It worked to make a point, and the point is: what are you going to use to describe this world with?
Bob: So he took the experience around him - the experience he observed of his father as a working man.
Evergreens: Yes.
Bob: Now, I came up with the conceptual continuity of a particular motif that really struck me this past year, and I feel that I've cracked the code because on the first album FREAK OUT, side four has the Ritual Dance of the Child Killer. Then I noticed the dwarf motif and the Rumplestiltskin motif running through his work to the point he described his own home as "Rumplestiltskin decor". Did I hit on the meaning of the electric doll in the CAPTAIN BEEFHEART VS. THE GRUNT PEOPLE movie?
Evergreens: It's a midget.
Bob: It's a midget? Now the Ritual Dance of the Child Killer - that's what Rumplestiltskin did. Was he thinking of Rumplestiltskin as a midget in reference to that?
Evergreens: Yes.
Bob: So I did hit on the motherlode of his main motif?
Evergreens: On that aspect, yes. "There's still more to learn" he says.
Bob: Now why is the midget a useful motif, what is the meaning in relation to the Sixties?
Evergreens: Now what is a midget? A dwarf, a small person. What small people are there?
Bob: Children.
Evergreens: How much power do they have?
Bob: None.
Evergreens: You see? Power and small.
Bob: And Frank felt that was him as a fringe musician in relation to the monster mega-media machine?
Evergreens: Yes.
Bob: So it was an image referring to himself?
Evergreens: Yes.
Bob: Which is what I thought it meant. Then that can be translated into musical concepts.
Evergreens: Yes. Then again, as he says, "I dwarfed them."
Bob: And he was aware he'd do that from the beginning?
Evergreens: Yes.
Bob: So that was part of the metaphor/joke.
Evergreens: Yes.
Bob: Would the Evergreens agree that's pretty ingenious and insightful for a young man to come up with those ideas?
Evergreens: Let us speak for ourselves and not for Zappa for a moment. Remarkably intelligent and perceptive, yes. That he chose music was his choice because it was his form of expression. There are other forms of expression that he was moving towards. He was beginning to realize, and this is what worried him, that would he be as smart older as he was smart younger? We see intelligence but we see philosophy, too. Some people do not realize there is a very powerful philosophy in Zappa's work.
Bob: Is Frank happy with the new book THE NEGATIVE DIALECTICS 0F POODLE PLAY which approaches Frank as a deep-thinking philosopher?
Evergreens: Yes. He appreciates it muchly. But what he says, and let us talk for him for a moment, "How do you like the new CD set?"
Bob: LATHER?
Evergreens: The complete one.
Bob: CIVILIZATION?
Evergreens: The complete one. All of them together.
Bob: Oh, all his works?
Evergreens: Yes.
Bob: I had the experience of listening to him as one work this past spring, as I went from the first album up to number sixty, approximately.
Evergreens: But they're going to be released as one huge block.
Bob: Is this Gail's idea?
Evergreens: This is the Zappa collection. "How do you like them" he says.
Bob: Gail is planning to do that?
Evergreens: She's going to be asked to participate in it, yes.
Bob: Because you will be able to put it on a computer and experience it through the sound system of a computer?
Evergreens: One of the disks is a CD ROM and one of the disks is a CD DVD and the rest is CD. But that is '97. "That,"he says, "is going to be a true money maker."
Bob: Who gave this idea to Gail?
Evergreens: Himself.
Bob: Through dreams?
Evergreens: Through dreams.
Bob: So Gail came up with the idea?
Evergreens: Gail is going to be in that Zappa collection. You see, it's going to be put together by another organization and she will give the authorizations for it, but it is the ultimate Zappa.
Bob: In other words, instead of writing the book that Gail's been talking about, her talkings will be part of the CD ROM.
Evergreens: Somewhat, but it's much of his work put in order.
Bob: When you say Gail will be part of it, she'll be given credit as producer?
Evergreens: She'll be credited as part producer because there are others involved in the production of this.
Bob: Maybe she would like to have some of the Evergreens' channeling, as content, on it?
Evergreens: Not necessary, in truth. What is necessary to realize is that there is going to be a resurgence of that work done by Frank.
Bob: By other musicians?
Evergreens: No, in the public's re-buying of his records.
Bob: Re-interest.
Evergreens: Re-interested. Zappa is 1997. Look at how it's going to fit, look at what's happening around the world, look at the number of pieces that fit.
Bob: Should I offer my "dwarf" analysis to Gail?
Evergreens: Yes, we would suggest this.
Bob: Has she seen that in FLIPSIDE?
Evergreens: No.
Bob: It hasn't come to her attention?
Evergreens: No.
Bob: Another "dwarf idea" is the mu-mesons which Frank mentioned a lot, his physics concepts like mesons and mu-mesons. Is that a material version of midgets?
Evergreens: Not exactly.
Bob: Other concepts?
Evergreens: Other concepts.
Bob: I should pursue that for other links.
Evergreens: Yes.
Bob: The other aspect that I discovered about Zappa's work in listening to an interview with David Walley that he did in 1971 preparing for his book on Zappa. Zappa talked about the making of the film, the training film about bizarre behavior, for the Cucamonga police department in 1964. This turned out to be a setup for his arrest, but the fact that he was making a film, which Frank was happy to do to put his studio to work, in order to educate the police department about bizarre behavior in the population so they could have better public relations with these deviants, struck me that that was a basic concept that he expanded for the concept behind his first album FREAK OUT in which he wanted to educate the American public about people who do different things and bizarre behavior, but he did this through the music industry. And to me it seemed an expanded notion of his original task of educating the police department, so it is an interesting motif of his conceptual continuity that his educating the American populace through the music industry about bizarre behavior was a replay of what he did with the original police department of Cucamonga, which led to a setup. So that complex situation made Frank very ironic and self-conscious about his albums because he knew he was educating the public, but he also knew he could get in trouble for it. Was that Frank's thinking at the time of making FREAK OUT?
Frank: You're almost exactly on.
Bob: So is there anything to add to what I said?
Frank: You can educate but sometimes they don't listen.
Bob: You can also get into trouble with those people who don't want to be educated.
Frank: Yes indeed.
Bob: You learned a lot from your police bust about American society, the corrupt side, and that was always a reference point in later ideas in scripts and plays?
Frank: Yes.
Bob: So that is part of the conceptual continuity?
Frank: Yes.
Bob: Including up to CIVILIZATION PHAZE THREE, your last work?
Frank: CIVILIZATION was more of what would it be after they learned.
Bob: And, of course, the other conceptual continuity motif we discussed was the dwarf. So, we have two parallel major themes in all your work here: the dwarf theme, and the original porno bust and educating from that. I'm correct on that?
Frank: Yes, you are.
Bob: Another point - maybe you know David Walley has put out his new final edition of his biography of you, which probably was the first rock biography, and he found my interview with you from 1988 very helpful. But, of course, David and yourself had a falling out so I told him I spoke to you through a medium, and he's open to that, and he wondered if you have anything to say to him now?
Frank: Frank Zappa is a kind and gentle soul loved by millions. Never forget it.
Bob: And that's for David Walley to hear?
Frank: Specifically for him.
Bob: In that tone?
Frank: In that tone.
Bob: Because I sense a satirical tone there.
Frank: Oh there is.
Bob: You feel that's the way to say it to David at this time?
Frank: Yes. And also, to be not as sarcastic, but in truth, trying to capture another person's life in a bottle called book, it's difficult. But, nonetheless, better him than certain others.
Bob: Do you have a more positive attitude toward his book now than you did?
Frank: Oh absolutely. The point is, even though there were differences, better him than someone else.
Bob: At that time.
Frank: Even now.
Bob: But you do like Ben Watson's book?
Frank: Absolutely. But the point is, I stand by it, better him than certain others.
Bob: Okay, thanks for talking to me, Frank.

Impressions by Michael Blake Read after coming out of trance.

Michael Blake Read: I saw a thick CD slipcase, there were about eight or nine CD's in there and it was called THE COMPLETE FRANK ZAPPA, and the person who put it together didn't put the recordings in consecutive release date, he put them in consecutive order of thinking.
Bob Dobbs: Really? He imposed his system of thinking on it?
Michael: Yes, he said Frank was this way, I'd like you to hear something he did eight years later and see how they relate, these two fit together.
Bob: So he'd take something from ten years later and put it back to the previous point where similar things were happening.
Michael: So he puts it not in chronological order but he puts it in style or sense order. There is one disk that has a warning that says do not play track, you can play track one and track two on a regular CD player but after that it's CD ROM. There are a couple of movies of Frank performing.
Bob: In the CD ROM?
Michael: On the CD ROM, and there is some video files in there with the background music and everything with it and some short clips.
Bob: But he's perfect for CD ROM, that's why it will be his year because CD ROM is peaking and people are getting it and he's the guy to get.
Michael: And the other one was a DVD disk with some old interviews that were done by Frank. You see the ones that are on the CD ROM are fifteen-frame stuff.
Bob: What does that mean?
Michael: Fifteen frames a second. Regular TV is sixty frames a second. Fifteen frames is slow but you can still put it on a computer.
Bob: Oh, you're talking computer-frame?
Michael: Fifteen frames a second is all that computers can handle at this time unless you've got expensive stuff, and this goes for anyone who has a CD ROM on their computer. The other disk, the DVD disk, is one of the first DVD's produced that isn't a movie, it's a series of interviews with Frank Zappa from a number of compilations from all over, and his wife has them. She has them on tape and film.
Bob: Yeah, they have everything in their vaults. But I'm not sure what is the difference between the first one and the second?
Michael: Oh, the second one you can put it on a computer and it's got a lot of reference stuff in there. The CD ROM has fifteen frames a second stuff.
Bob: How is it different from the other one?
Michael: It's just seeing him in performance, and the DVD disk is interviews, not performance.
Bob: And because there's less information in an interview...?
Michael: The DVD disk is one of the first disks that is not a movie, because most of the DVD disks that come out are going to be movies. It's a new technology coming up, but they haven't even been introduced yet. This one is going to be a Frank Zappa DVD disk.
Bob: Because it's going to have an interview, not a movie?
Michael: Oh, lots of interviews.
Bob: It's going to be the first non-movie.
Michael: The first non-movie which will please Frank no end. The first DVD disk for interviews, just a compilation of interviews with Frank across a number of years and there is even his wife on there saying what it's like living with Frank - you know, when you're living with a mind that thinks all the time.
Bob: No one else would put out interviews with Phil Collins or Johnny Carson. It just wouldn't go.
Michael: Nobody has done that yet because the system hasn't even been thought out yet.
Bob: He's going to be the first talking head.
Michael: The first talking head is Frank Zappa. A lot of people are going to say "How right!".
Bob: Well, he considers interviews part of his composition. So it's appropriate.
Michael: It was fascinating how he said "How do you like that set, guy, how do you like that?".
Bob: He was saying that to you - he's really happy to be the first.
Michael: Yeah, oh yeah.
Bob: Okay, thank you for giving me your dream-impressions, Michael.


ADDENDUM: On August 7, 1995 Bob Dobbs met with Nigey Lennon for a freewheeling, seven-hour discussion/interview about Frank Zappa. Lennon is a musician and author whose personal and professional relationship with the late Zappa is described in her book Being Frank: My Time With Frank Zappa (California Classics Books). At the end of the discussion, Dobbs thought it might be interesting to play a tape of the 1994 sessions with the medium, Michael Blake Read, who had "channeled" Zappa and was supposedly passing along the composer's messages from the afterlife. Lennon, who professes to be a rationalist, expressed some skepticism, but she did note that the medium somehow seemed to be aware of a couple of Zappa eccentricities - namely, his tendency to call Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring, "The Rites of Spring", and also his intense obsession with audio gear. She also noticed that at another point in the tape the medium mentioned something that sounded like the "secret word" routine that was featured on Zappa tours. All in all, Nigey felt it was a fitting coda to a very 'pataphysical afternoon!

THE END
 
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