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It's All About Words.
December 20, 2004 5:35 PM   Subscribe

In 2004, we had Jon Stewart on Crossfire. In 1986? There was Frank Zappa...
As Zappa once said, "There are more love songs than anything else. If songs could make you do something we'd all love one another." (I don't know of any song that could ever inspire me to love John Lofton, though... compared to him, Tucker Carlson is simply delightful!)

In 1986, I was a 19 year old art student. One Saturday afternoon I found myself volunteering at an event at the Roosevelt Hotel in Hollywood where Frank Zappa was scheduled to speak about censorship. I was not that familiar with him or his music at the time, but he was so funny, eloquent, and intelligent as a speaker that his many "words" made a major impression on me that day. In this interview conducted on March 16, 1986, Frank Zappa talked further about his appearance before the US Congress and his involvement in the fight against censorship.

BTW, this is my first post. I hope it passes muster! ;)
posted by miss lynnster (73 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
As the best post ever? Yeah, probably. Thank you!
posted by Pretty_Generic at 5:37 PM on December 20, 2004


I found an mp3 of this online once. It was beautiful watching His Royal Majesty Zappa turn that twit Lofton to mincemeat.
posted by jonmc at 5:39 PM on December 20, 2004


Senator GORE: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.

I found your statement very interesting and, although I disagree with some of the statements that you make and have made on other occasions, I have been a fan of your music, believe it or not. I respect you as a true original and a tremendously talented musician.

posted by Pretty_Generic at 5:47 PM on December 20, 2004


Very nice content, miss lynnster. Love that Crossfire clip...the way they set it up to gangbang Zappa, and he dances rings around them. This is beautiful, and not in a 'rip shit up Zappa' kind of way, but as a rational approach to some small-minded conservative thinking. The look on Zappa's face at some of Lofton's lines is priceless. His composure and eloquent responses in the face of these snarks is outstanding.

And seven years later, he was gone.

And anyone know the deal with that bandage on Novak's left hand? Didn't he stop beating his wife by 1986?

On preview: Thanks, Pretty_Generic!
posted by cosmonik at 5:57 PM on December 20, 2004


Thanks, I'm glad you enjoyed it. I've been reading MeFi for a while (ever since it linked to my website in Spring) & I'm very aware of all of the newbie troublemakers of late... God forbid if my first post turned out to be suckage! I'd have to hang my head in shame. ;)
posted by miss lynnster at 6:01 PM on December 20, 2004


What's your website?
posted by Pretty_Generic at 6:03 PM on December 20, 2004


Thanks for the nice welcome there, Crash. Much appreciated. Your hostility isn't annoying at all...

My site.
posted by miss lynnster at 6:06 PM on December 20, 2004


"Well, then you are an anarchist. Every form of civil government is based on some kind of morality, Frank!"
"Morality in terms of behavior, not in terms of theology."
"Well of course, but look, I mean [drowned out]..."


God does not exist. He died in 1993.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 6:08 PM on December 20, 2004


Is there a mirror anywhere? I'm back to buffering every 5 seconds.
posted by Evstar at 6:10 PM on December 20, 2004


Ok. Geez. Sorry. I should've left it off. Pardon me while I go slit my wrists in penance.

Don't worry about it. That was a great post.
posted by 327.ca at 6:22 PM on December 20, 2004


I had a long comment lined up, but the hostility in the comments on preview caused me to rethink my position on posting most of it.

Instead, I would simply like to thank the person who posted this clip. I've always been a fan of Frank Zappa's music, and have always been aware of his politics, but after seeing this clip I'd sure have liked to (a) have had him come over for a night of dinner and discussion, and (b) have seen him kick that idiot really, really hard in the nutsack.
posted by davejay at 6:24 PM on December 20, 2004


I don't know what is more amazing, Lofton's hair or his remark about incest only being a problem in the US in the last twenty years or so. It's nice to see Zappa come across as the most articulate and sane person there.

I enjoyed your post and the links..
posted by marxchivist at 6:25 PM on December 20, 2004


MoFi Zappania here. Great post, whatever number it is and whatever anyone else says.
posted by TedW at 6:27 PM on December 20, 2004


[this is good]
posted by Quartermass at 6:30 PM on December 20, 2004


I enjoyed the post so much, I want to nominate miss lynnster to be our queen.

No sarcasm there, really I mean it, even that last "no sarcasm there" wasn't meant to be sarcastic.
posted by marxchivist at 6:33 PM on December 20, 2004


Weird timing - I was reading a compendium of Zappa References on MST3K just before seeing this post and wondering if the addition of some researched links would make it worthwhile of an FPP of its own and now I don't have to sweat it. Excellent post, miss lynnster.
posted by jperkins at 6:40 PM on December 20, 2004


Welcome, miss lynster. Pay no attention to crash; he was a victim of Sudden Asshole Syndrome. He'll get over it. May you post long and fruitfully!
posted by languagehat at 6:40 PM on December 20, 2004


How better to discuss Frank than through the medium of cybersex?

/me kisses slowly up your thigh
posted by Pretty_Generic at 6:41 PM on December 20, 2004


Robert Novak: Oh come on, Mr. Zappa. Do you really believe this country is headed toward a fascist theocracy?

Zappa: Yes.

The guy was a fucking prophet. I miss him. Thanks for this, miss lynnster.

(I remember a time when you would comment about the ideas contained in the post in the blue and take your bitching about whether or not it should have been posted to MeTa. Ah, the good old days. Will you people quit shitting on every single thread? It's getting really annoying. Maybe I should post to MeTa about it... Nah, no one else is.)
posted by fletchmuy at 6:42 PM on December 20, 2004


ms. lynnster: this was an excellent post, and the hostility is totally uncalled for, but please put away the razor blades and be careful about appearing in any way to be martyred by the flames. it only makes them want more.

i think it's pretty clear y'all who the naughty and nice noobz are. this is a nice noob who has not yet learned all the ancient protocols and sensitivities. advise her, don't flame her.

vive le frank.
posted by moonbird at 6:45 PM on December 20, 2004


By the way, I would have gotten you all presents this year, but I didn't want to hear any complaints about the faded wrapping paper or the poorly-tied bow.

I crack me up.
posted by davejay at 6:48 PM on December 20, 2004


Oh, I'm not the martyring type, don't fret. I was just being sarcastic. I'm funny that way.
posted by miss lynnster at 6:50 PM on December 20, 2004


oblig
posted by Pretty_Generic at 7:00 PM on December 20, 2004


Even better...two people cry about 'n00bs and announcing first posts', a-la the other sixty times we've seen it in the last month, using fairly much the same lexicon, despite the first one's concerns being addressed by the thread. gg.

Egads, I was joking about taking it to MeTa.

On topic (!): I love how Lofton Godwinizes himself after the ad break.
posted by cosmonik at 7:00 PM on December 20, 2004


zappa was a smart man.
posted by nj_subgenius at 7:10 PM on December 20, 2004


Mentioned in passing in the show: Freedom Village. Looks like a reeducation center from a bad science fiction movie.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 7:15 PM on December 20, 2004


zappa for president
posted by moonbird at 7:19 PM on December 20, 2004


I don't WANT to be exposed to anus
posted by Pretty_Generic at 7:25 PM on December 20, 2004


miss l - don't steal my term (assholery) and then put me down.

sheeeit, noobs have no respect.
posted by bakiwop at 7:27 PM on December 20, 2004


Frank kicked some serious ass, both on Crossfire and with his music throughout his long and varied career. I must admit I never got interested in his music to the depth a lot of people seem to. Apostrophe and Over-Nite Sensation were always near the turntable in my high-school days. I also have a warm spot in my heart for Sheik Yerbouti because that was the cool Zappa album that came out when I was all into buying rock and roll records and such. "Billy the Mountain" was always a hoot also. Superficial Zappa fan that I may be, I always thought he was always a true original and never compromised that I saw.

Also, "Barking Pumpkin Records" is just about the coolest record label name ever.
posted by marxchivist at 7:34 PM on December 20, 2004


I am so writing in to the address at the end of that crossfire episode.
posted by cosmonik at 7:34 PM on December 20, 2004


[this is good]

I've never heard of this "John Lofton," but he is quite the tool.
posted by bshort at 7:36 PM on December 20, 2004


LOFTON: "I consider this national defense, pal--our families are under attack from people like you with these lyrics!"

ZAPPA: "Can I make a statement about national defense? The biggest threat to America today is not communism; it's moving America toward a fascist theocracy and everything that's happened during the Reagan administration is steering us right down that pipe."

Amazing--all you have to do is replace "lyrics" and "communism" with "terrorists" and "terrorism" and this piece could air tonight.
posted by fandango_matt at 7:38 PM on December 20, 2004


and damn the consequences
posted by Pretty_Generic at 7:43 PM on December 20, 2004


The Radical Right - Inventing New Boogeymen For 30 Years

After all, if you're scared of something then you'll vote for anyone we tell you to vote for.
posted by bshort at 7:43 PM on December 20, 2004


Thank you, miss lynnster. This is good.

(What fletchmuy said.)
posted by McGuillicuddy at 7:46 PM on December 20, 2004


Thank you for posting this miss lynnster. You can be my Queen, err in the royal sense that is (I never really did understand the monarchy, even in places like Holland, but hey, it's cool to have a personal Queen. Just don't ask for money or something). Frank Zappa is such a genius, and the world is a lesser place after his death. What I think is hilarious is that Frank Zappa IS the conservative in that group, the other two are just pretenders and tools.

As a footnote, I thought Donald Trump had a bad combover....
posted by Eekacat at 7:46 PM on December 20, 2004


Frank Zappa is one of my main posthumous boyfriends.

As for the "Queen" business--last night, Mr. Sidhedevil and I got a parking space right outside the movie theater (we were going to see Ocean's Twelve, which I highly recommend), and I said, "We rule! We're the monarchs of all we survey!" and Mr. S. said "Not exactly," and I said, "Okay, then--we're the constitutional monarchs of all we survey!" and he laughed.

Also, I like string, and this is my 2,017th post, including comments, FPPs, and MeTa threads. I would link to my blog, too, just because, but I'm too shy. However, my bra size is 36DD and my favorite flavor of ice cream is Coffee Heath Bar Crunch.

Seriously, misslynnster, this would have been a good post if you hadn't a) wasted bandwidth on telling us it was your first, and b) tried to stage-manage the thread.
posted by Sidhedevil at 8:04 PM on December 20, 2004


I've never heard of this "John Lofton," but he is quite the tool.
I agree with bshort. Lofton is still out there.
There, that is all the time I will spend on Mr. Lofton...

On to the compendium of Zappa References on MST3K that jperkins linked to so long ago.
posted by jaronson at 8:10 PM on December 20, 2004


Um, miss lynnster, if you followed the first link in jaronson's post, you'd see a little photograph of Mr. Lofton at the top right of the column. He is balding, and he wears the stupid-looking wire-rimmed glasses I associate with high school math teachers.
posted by Sidhedevil at 8:15 PM on December 20, 2004


Points noted, sidehedevil. End of my comments.
posted by miss lynnster at 8:16 PM on December 20, 2004


Miss/Queen: He looks pretty much the same as he did then. Multiple chins, beady eyes, general round quivering countenance.

It would be the ultimate statement of e-assholery to e-mail him (JLof@aol.com) and rip into him for getting owned 18 years ago on a show. Tempting.

On preview: Sidhedevil beat me to it.

Mmm, incest.
posted by cosmonik at 8:22 PM on December 20, 2004


The primary reason I never voted for Gore (or any ticket he was part of) was because I also saw Zappa debating his ditsy wife Tipper -- and knew way back then that it was nothing more than a cynical resume-stuffing PR ploy for "team Gore". It scared me that they would so cavalierly cash in hard-won freedoms for a mere soundbite.
posted by RavinDave at 8:53 PM on December 20, 2004


There are some real gems in that show.

The incest discussion is very surreal. Zappa is blamed for incest "becoming a problem in the last twenty years". Lofton seems to have an unhealthy obsession with incest.

The commercial break snippet of the offensive videos of 1986 which included Twister Sister and Billy Idol seem so quaint and silly by today's standards. All that make-up and post apocalyptic sets. So scary! Haven't any of these whining nazis been to a GWAR show?
posted by aliendolphin at 9:01 PM on December 20, 2004


Yeah, the best part was his prediction of a fascist theocracy- the supposed experts were just so incredulous.

It can't happen here...
posted by kamus at 9:11 PM on December 20, 2004


No, the best part by far is when Lofton brings up Hitler, and the "Big Lie" out of nowhere.
posted by SweetJesus at 9:28 PM on December 20, 2004


Reporter:
This is a personal thing, I think that if you wanted to make top ten hits and sell millions of records, you could.

Frank Zappa:
Yeah, but who wants to go through life with a tiny nose and one glove on?

Don't know if this is a true quote or not, but if it isn't, it should be. We miss you Frank, you magnificent bastard.
posted by Darkman at 9:46 PM on December 20, 2004


There was this guy I went to school with who just adored Frank Zappa. For the longest time I thought of him as a sort of posh Weird Al, but then I became less retar-- stupid, er, dumb, uh, I mean... oh fuck it.

I think he looks better with shorter hair, really. And he's pretty articulate. Sort of reminds me of how articulate Marilyn Manson is, and nobody ever suspects that from 'shock' rockers.
posted by Kleptophoria! at 9:53 PM on December 20, 2004


great post about a great man.

what's the problem with people announcing their first post?
posted by quarsan at 10:05 PM on December 20, 2004


Frank Zappa's Statement To Congress.
posted by mosch at 10:27 PM on December 20, 2004


Reporter:
This is a personal thing, I think that if you wanted to make top ten hits and sell millions of records, you could.

Frank Zappa:
Yeah, but who wants to go through life with a tiny nose and one glove on?


That was a real quote from "Does Humor Belong In Music", a concert DVD. Some other tasty quotes in there too.

Thanks for this post. I watched this on Kill Ugly Radio's website the other night and marveled at Frank's composure.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 10:40 PM on December 20, 2004


FrankZappa gave conpiracy theorista the late
MayBrussell her first computer!!
frank zappas anti facist remarks may have been
inspired by Mays radio show.Also let me share
Zappa Radio!!24-7
posted by hortense at 12:19 AM on December 21, 2004


thanks miss lynnster, Zappa was a favorite of mine back in the day. That said, my favorite Zappa albums were/are Joe's Garage and Joe's Garage II.
posted by kamylyon at 5:13 AM on December 21, 2004


Oh yeah, I remember watching that interview way back when...
posted by kamylyon at 5:14 AM on December 21, 2004


Amazing--all you have to do is replace "lyrics" and "communism" with "terrorists" and "terrorism" and this piece could air tonight.

Good point, but I think an even more accurate comparison would be the gay marriage distraction during the last campaign.
posted by The Card Cheat at 5:59 AM on December 21, 2004


Amazing--all you have to do is replace "lyrics" and "communism" with "terrorists" and "terrorism" and this piece could air tonight.

So are you disagreeing with Zappa?

If the same debate could air 18 years later with the same sort of sentiments coming from either side, then doesn't this mean (by your analogy) that the slippery slope pipe Zappa alludes to never happened?
posted by uncanny hengeman at 6:10 AM on December 21, 2004


By the way, today would have been Frank's 64th birthday.

Break out your Sears ponchos!
posted by turaho at 7:27 AM on December 21, 2004


From Zappa's discussion with congress:

I am opposed to the rating system because, as I said, if you put a rating on the record it goes directly to the character of the person who made the record, whereas if you rate a film, a guy who is in the film has been hired as an actor. He is pretending. You rate the film, whatever it is, it does not hurt him.

I would submit that Eminem or 50 Cent are pretending...just like actors. It seems like the mature label on their CDs is required to reinforce the image of bad boy.
posted by pepcorn at 7:37 AM on December 21, 2004


turaho, I have a real poncho.

Zappa could have done a lot more with the talent he did, instead of cranking out symphonies about scatology and groupies (not that that isn't noble, but still), and there was nothing he did as an artist that Beefheart and, oh, John Zorn didn't do twice as good, but that doesn't mean he wasn't enjoyable.

And he was way, way smarter than anyone will ever give him credit for.
posted by chicobangs at 7:39 AM on December 21, 2004


So are you disagreeing with Zappa?
Hardly.

If the same debate could air 18 years later with the same sort of sentiments coming from either side, then doesn't this mean (by your analogy) that the slippery slope pipe Zappa alludes to never happened?

Nope. Zappa was absolutely correct when he said the biggest threat to America was not communism; it was the steering of America toward a fascist theocracy. That was true back in 1986 and it's still true today--the biggest threat to us is not terrorism; it's the steering of America toward a fascist theocracy and if you don't recognize that threat and the degree to which it's grown, you haven't been paying attention these past several years.
posted by fandango_matt at 8:14 AM on December 21, 2004


The last bit where Lofton attempts to make fun of Zappa for encouraging children to register to vote is absolutely chilling.
posted by box elder at 9:18 AM on December 21, 2004


On a related note, the album wherein Mr. Zappa uses the people who tried to use him as an example of corrupting influence.
posted by ilsa at 9:44 AM on December 21, 2004


I love the bumper clip of the girls in the car at the very beginning- it perfectly illustrates Zappa's point. Novak goes rambling on about the lyrics in the songs, and how disgusted he is by them, but since he's talking over the music you can't hear the lyrics- just the extremely sexually suggestive images they're coupled with. It's almost like the producers were trying to make Zappa's point for him.

Zappa was just brilliant in this. He knew exactly when to dodge the snarks tossed out by Lofton, because he knew that any rational person would perceive what absurdity he perpetrates. Whereas I myself would have been tempted to attempt to disassemble Lofton piece by piece, thereby getting sucked into his game, Zappa just lets Lofton's asshattery speak for himself and makes the points he was going for in the first place.

Favorite line:
LOFTON: Yeah, that's a real laugh riot Mr. Zappa, but I don't see you smiling.
ZAPPA: Why should I be smiling when I'm sitting here with you?
[not verbatim but you get it]
posted by baphomet at 10:20 AM on December 21, 2004


Speak for itself. My bad.
posted by baphomet at 10:21 AM on December 21, 2004


Yeah, I've been thinking about this since I saw it last night and I think I want a closer look at this Zappa chap(pa). I used to listen to him way back when but not seriously and the only song I can definitely remember is "Don't Eat Yellow Snow" which is as true now as it was when he sung it first.

He was brilliant in this, he's passively abrasive and responds incredibly well to all the jabs. He never loses his cool or compusure and really comes off as the most intelligent of the four of them. He also makes the most coherent points, which helps quite a bit.

Again, thanks for posting this, miss lynnster.
posted by fenriq at 1:26 PM on December 21, 2004


Ah Fenriq, the Zappa I could share! Email me if you're interested.

Ilsa - That used to be one of me least favorite Zappa albums but man, it sure grew on me!
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 2:03 PM on December 21, 2004


Nope. Zappa was absolutely correct when he said the biggest threat to America was not communism; it was the steering of America toward a fascist theocracy.

I probably agree.

That was true back in 1986 and it's still true today--the biggest threat to us is not terrorism; it's the steering of America toward a fascist theocracy

I probably agree. But Zappa said America was actually "headed" towards a fascist theocracy. Wake me up when it happens already.

and if you don't recognize that threat and the degree to which it's grown, you haven't been paying attention these past several years.

Thanks for not answering my question very well.

18 years have passed since that debate. And you say the same debate could easily be aired and be relevant today, just by swapping a few words. So isn't that saying the slippery pole he predicted never happened? Surely? He's practically talking about the previous generation.

18 years ago, Zappa says: "America is headed toward a fascist theocracy."

Today, fandango_matt says: "America is headed toward a fascist theocracy."

People were probably saying that in the sixties, too!

What I'm NOT saying is we shouldn't care and fight for our freedoms. So spare me another lecture.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 3:45 PM on December 21, 2004


Spare you? Excuse me sir, you misquoted both me and Frank Zappa. Neither I nor Mr. Zappa said, "America is headed toward a fascist theocracy," we both said, "The biggest threat to America is the steering of America toward a fascist theocracy."

But Zappa said America was actually "headed" towards a fascist theocracy.
Could you please show us all where he said that? That wasn't the section I was quoting, so perhaps I missed it.

And I didn't answer your question because your question is based on something neither I nor Zappa said. So I'm not going to play that game.
posted by fandango_matt at 4:14 PM on December 21, 2004


Late to the game, but large version via bittorrent here.

Use BugMeNot if they ask you for a password.
posted by hipnerd at 6:10 PM on December 21, 2004


Beautiful post. Many thanks for sharing, miss lynnster.
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 6:33 PM on December 21, 2004


But Zappa said America was actually "headed" towards a fascist theocracy.
Could you please show us all where he said that?


No problems. It's in fletchmuy's post about 20 from the top. Here it is:

"Robert Novak: Oh come on, Mr. Zappa. Do you really believe this country is headed toward a fascist theocracy?

Zappa: Yes."


So, yeah, he did say it (or he at least replied in the affirmative when he was asked if that was what he believed). Which is not the same, but strikingly similar to your quoted post (apologies for my mix up):

ZAPPA: "Can I make a statement about national defense? The biggest threat to America today is not communism; it's moving America toward a fascist theocracy and everything that's happened during the Reagan administration is steering us right down that pipe."

Headed towards. Steering us right down. Tomay-to. Tomar-to.

Let's just both agree that I'm right and leave it that, shall we? :)
posted by uncanny hengeman at 8:29 PM on December 21, 2004


uncanny hengeman,

I understand your point, but "wake me up when we get there" regarding fascism seems a little like an excuse to do nothing and a bit like putting off removing a tumor because it's not big enough yet. You may not believe there are people in this country knowingly or unknowingly putting us on that path, but being vigilant against its spread seems prudent.

It's possible that fascism has a hard time here because people are willing to shine a light on it until it scurries back in the darkness where it belongs.
posted by john at 9:57 AM on December 22, 2004


It's possible that fascism has a hard time here because people are willing to shine a light on it until it scurries back in the darkness where it belongs.

Exactly. People like Zappa.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 3:48 PM on December 22, 2004


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