Zappa Zaps the Big Lie
By Liza Williams
Los Angeles Free Press, December 30, 1966
LIZA WILLIAMS: Do you see a political solution to what has seen happening on the Strip?
FRANK ZAPPA: What I would like to propose is another party; we have the Republican and Democratic Parties, I would like to propose the Interested Party. Posters, pins, a platform that was a little more logical than two chickens in every pot – these might draw some kind of popular support from people who are interested. A platform that stood for re-evaluation of everything in the light of, in terms of, the Constitution as it stands, not as it has been diluted. OK, and temper that with certain advancements in modern technology and certain advancements in sociological fields, take into consideration where we're really at in terms of the sexual revolution and just look at everything the way it actually is today and set it up all over again. That's your only chance to make it work.
LW: What do you think it would take to make political activists of the kids who have chosen to drop out?
ZAPPA: I think that if there were ever one rallying point, something real that the kids could identify with that they could focus their patriotism on and you know, really go for, you'd have a force in the United States that nobody would believe; it would really come back to life. Right now it's pretty hard to even walk in the woods and say, 'hey this is nature and it's beautiful and I dig it, without remembering everything else that surrounds you that is nothing but a big lie. The whole system has unfortunately got down to a state where you can't believe anything anymore.
It's pretty hard to know if you tied your own shoes. So the draft and police harassment are just little extras, one small part of the whole thing which is wrong, and all this disillusioning shit about the assassination whether or not it's true that the CIA blew his brains out to think that the country that you're supposed to be ready to die for, which is what you've been taught all through school, it's just disgusting, it's a nightmare.
LW: Do you think the problem on the Sunset Strip is ended or is it just the beginning of something larger?
ZAPPA: The people in L.A. haven't realized yet that this is where it's going to happen, the whole major breakthrough from a society controlled by the youth, will occur here. (It's happening now.) That's right, this is not even the equivalent of puberty for that. It looks like a revolution, it's got all the earmarks of a popular revolt, but it's so small that it can't succeed, and it's just like they've almost shot their wad. Leadership? I think any leadership that announced itself from that mass would be swiftly shot secretly someplace in these streets.
The problem is not the police, 'cause they're only taking orders. The problem is the merchants and the money interests who are influencing the people who give orders to the cops. If it's as simple as money, the way to take over would be to have a few of the kids who are making bread from having long hair pay their own cops off. If that's the way to do it in the U.S., then....
LW: Why don't the people on the Strip want the kids? What happened to the Trip?
ZAPPA: Most of the guys that run clubs don't have the faintest idea what it's all about. They've got a building, a PA system, bandstand, tables, some whiskey, open it up and the kids will come in and dance. They don't know anything about the music, and every one of them is tempted to make value judgments about the entertainment he hires and they all have preferences, they all have favorites among the entertainers they hire. OK. The Trip went to what you would describe as sort of a clean cut sort of music, it changed their whole image, they went backward. They completely ignored the popular demand for longhair music, and they ate it. Right after Warhol they slowed down.
We were in Hawaii for a month just before Warhol. We came back and played with Warhol's thing before they closed down. We heard the rumor in Hawaii that the Trip was being sold to this idiot who owned the Peppermint Lounge in Hawaii which is still a twist place, OK? So he says, 'I'm going to Hollywood to make me some money. I'll take this band I've got here at the Peppermint Lounge, I know these guys will work cheap, and that's the Teddy Neeley Five, we knew them over there. So he bought it and starts this new thing and puts gold lame curtains up and takes all the psychedelicness out of it then cleaned it up and the Trip has been closed more than it's been open since that time.
LW: If they could have 15 teen clubs on the Strip do you think it could work?
ZAPPA: Yes, I'll tell you why. How many hot dog stands are there at Disneyland? It's the same thing. People go from club to club. If the Strip were nothing but those kind of clubs it would be like another Disneyland and people would come from all over to dig it. It would be a whole you know, it would put the Strip on the map.
Music has always shown how people think and feel, and dancing as it is performed in this area is more indicative of the feelings of the people than dancing in other areas of the country. It's not tied down to the rigid routines you find in New York, they're still doing dances you've got a name for in NY and other parts of the country. Out here they just dance, they get out there and they'll just jump around, each one will do his individual scene. If you watch that dancing, there's a lot of energy out there and if you don't give them a place to release it, those merchants that are shagging off are gonna eat it so bad that they're really gonna miss the good old days, and by then it will be too late because once those places close down...
I'll tell you one thing about lights... they're really bullshit, I'm so sick of light shows I could scream. The people who run light shows have got no taste whatsoever. They as a group are not into anything. First of all, they're not electricians. Second, they're not artists in any way. Third, most of them can't even keep time to the music while they're juggling that shit back and forth in the Pyrex dishes, they don't even know what they're doing. They saw somebody doing it, over here he gets a couple pie plates and sticks some Easter egg color in there, then you squeeze it like that and you got a light show. That's really baloney. Too bad that an element like that, it blows the structure of the music to have that alongside of it, because if it's not integrated into what's happening musically, it should be a subsidiary event, if it's not going to be integrated completely into the show it should at least be subsidiary to the music and most of the shows I've seen just detract from it.
LW: Do you think the whole thing will die out, light shows and Freakouts?
ZAPPA: Yeah, I hope it does, dies tomorrow.
Read by OCR software. If you spot errors, let me know afka (at) afka.net