Monday, December 15, 2008

Minister of Culture – December 26, 2008

Frank Zappa and Vaclav Havel

It isn't exactly news that Europe is more culturally advanced than the U.S., but only by a few thousand years or so. Sure, America came up up with Frank Zappa, but during his life, Frank's genius was always better recognized "over there" than here. First, them Europes don't worry so much about certain artistic elements that tend to get us Mercans all jibbered up, like naughty words and nudity.

Apart from his musical sophistication, Frank's iconoclasm was well appreciated in Eastern Europe, which had an ill-fitting communist overlay in the decades after WWII. In Czechoslovakia, Frank and his music became a symbol of independence. In the liberation period, they ecen wanted to make him Minister of Culture. Some details are here, plus there's a dated but fairly good write-up here.

Back when I was doing Zappa's Grubby Chamber regularly, I ran into KHSU's Dan Wargo, who had firsthand knowledge of this. He offered to tell me and the listeners about it, but my hostiness of the show ended before I was able to talk to him. But since I'm sitting in, I rang him up and recorded a short interview, which I'll run during the Dec. 26 show.

Also, I'm headed down to the Bay Area next week for the Zappa Plays Zappa show at the War Memorial Opera House. If anyone attended the recent ZPZ Roxy shows or has any other inkling of what to expect on New Year's Eve, do feel free to call in.