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Thing-Fish is about an opening night Broadway play. The album cover even promises that it is an "Original Cast Recording" in red over-stamped print. The master of ceremonies is a genetically corrupted mutant who goes by the name of Thing-Fish. Both name and textual references suggest that this character may be based on the Amos & Andy character Kingfish. This Broadway opening night frame is going to be employed to play back to modern bourgeois musical sensibilities, a paean against the desensitizing mediocrity of homogenous, brain-numbing "entertainment”. Against this frame of denied expectations, Thing-Fish promises to deliver something quite else.
Instead of the Central Scrutinizer, the narrator was once a Black inmate at San Quentin who has been poisoned in a bio-social engineering experiment with the AIDS virus. This is Thing-Fish. Whatever did not kill them (several of the surviving "Mammy-Nuns" are in the cast) made them stronger. In Ike Willis' dense over-played dialect, the story unfolds. In Thing-Fish, AIDS is a government sponsored experiment toward a policy to kill the gay and black population. Before unleashing this on the nation at large, however, it is tested at San Quentin by being mixed into some mashed potatoes. The tubers somehow attenuated the toxins and mutated the creatures instead of killing them outright.
The claims of this conspiracy scenario are immense, directly implicating the United States government in genocide. References to the "final solution" and "the white man's burden" invoke the Holocaust and the excesses of Western colonialism, respectively. This is monstrous enough as a mere hypothesis, but there is evidence that Zappa was presenting what he believed may well have been the case. Lest we dismiss this merely as the ranting of a paranoid cynic, it must be mentioned that the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Dr. Wangari Maathai, has also espoused a similar theory. On the very last page of The Real Frank Zappa Book, he claims that Robert Harris and Jeremy Paxman's book, A Higher Form of Killing, contains evidence that a project on race-specific biological weapons and those directed at the immune system has been initiated (Zappa, 1989, 352). That AIDS's initial profile filled this bill, and that it was sexually transmitted may have given Zappa inspiration for other aspects of Thing-Fish.
In Joe's Garage the Zappa's social critique is achieved by showing how the powers-that-be seduce us into apathy, replacing the genuine with the ersatz. The ersatz is geared to cause one to become a politically apathetic consumer, grist for the mill of fascist-totalitarian capitalism. Essentially, this is a theme of both Joe's Garage and Thing Fish
Anyone coming to Zappa's plotted works looking for answers is bound to leave either disappointed or hopelessly confused. Rather, the true value in Zappa's satire is in the questions he raises, encouraging those of his listeners who hear the call to be ever vigilant of the dangers inherent in political power aligned with any and all ideologies.
The Big Laurel Canyon Conspiracy
Everyone loves a good conspiracy theory, right? How about one that exposes Frank Zappa (among others) as being part of a huge undercover operation run by The Military-Industrial Complex™, the goal of which was to infiltrate, and subsequently neutralize the “hippie movement”?
Amira is a hyper cool Canadian chef who travels the world doing her chef thing. The Skeptical Review will soon have an update on what she does and what makes her so damn cool but for now I need to respect her news embargo. So let's just say she's damn cool. Besides being damn cool, she has a damn cool "kitchen sink" conspiracy about the musicians of the hippie generation and how guys like Frank Zappa and David Crosby were CIA stooges in an MKULTRA mind-control op
A few days ago, I was talking to a lady friend of mine and brought up Frank Zappa’s marriage and assumed philandering as a trivial argument against monogamy and for honest promiscuity. I was told that apparently a biography of Frank Zappa actually tells a story of Gail Zappa getting quite angry over some new friend that Frank brought home.
I’m curious why such slanderous thoughts never made their way to any form of print when Frank Zappa died. Surely, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that a jealous and enraged Mrs. Zappa may have waited until Frank was asleep, loaded a syringe full with cancer and then plunged it deep into his prostate without anyone ever being the wiser…
The song is about conflict with others. Since the beggining his momma warned him not to go near the "huskies," because all they produce is "wee wee, and doo doo." This is to say, avoid people who cause problems. Then a fur traper draws him into conflict by clubbing his favorite seal. Like so often through history, Zappa is drawn into war because of transgressions against his allies. The fur trapper is "stricly from commercial," emphasizing the point that strangers do not harm each other out of malicious intent, but simply trying to further their material gains.
Originally posted by Son of Will
My first experience of Zappa was coming across an old video of him on the famous TV show Crossfire. It was 20 minutes of raw, unmitigated slaughter, and I immediately became a reverant underling to this great man... That video is still floating around youtube. If you've the time I think it's well worth it. It's a very interesting debate regarding free speech.
Zappa's father worked at the Edgewood Arsenal chemical warfare facility of the Aberdeen Proving Ground.
Due to their home's nearness to the arsenal, which stored mustard gas, gas masks were kept in the home. This had a profound effect on Zappa, and references to germs, germ warfare and the defense industry occur throughout his work
Zappa was often sick as a child, suffering from asthma, earaches and sinus problems. A doctor treated his sinusitis by inserting a pellet of radium into each of Zappa's nostrils; little was known about the potential dangers of even small amounts of therapeutic radiation. Nasal imagery and references appear in his music and lyrics, as well as in the collage album covers created by his long-time collaborator Cal Schenkel.
Many of Zappa's childhood diseases may have been due to exposure to mustard gas. His health worsened when he lived in Baltimore. In 1952, his family relocated for reasons of health. They moved next to Monterey, California, where his father taught metallurgy at the Naval Postgraduate School.