Sometimes one finds inspiration in unusual places and from unusual people. While watching a movie about one of the more eclectic figures in music of the last 50 years, I was confronted with an insight that provides clarity on the issues of today.
Those who are regular readers of my column know that one of my principle hobbies is listening to and collecting music. In fact, every one of my columns is written listening to loud, usually raucous music. I annoy my wife when we are watching a TV show and hear the first three chords of a song in the soundtrack, stop the show and ask her to name the artist. Her life is akin to the famous scene in Diner, where Shrevie (Daniel Stern) is testing his wife Beth (Ellen Barkin) about music.
I have seen just about every movie and documentary about musicians or music. Recently I saw a documentary called Eat That Question: Frank Zappa in His Own Words. I put it on my Netflix queue, it came to the top and arrived at my home.
The film has some fascinating footage of this avant-garde artist who died from prostate cancer in 1993, just short of his 53rd birthday. He had made 60 albums mostly as a solo artist. I was never a big fan of Mothers of Invention or Zappa, but I recognized his musical and cultural significance. The film is well worth watching for anyone, but there was a particular scene that just rocked me.
Zappa tells a story about arriving in Berlin to do a show in the late 1960s. While setting up for his show some students came over and asked him to help them with some political action. They wanted to set fire to the Allied Command Center. Zappa replied "I don't think that is good mental health."
Once the show started approximately 200 students were shouting, waving red banners and yelling "Ho-Ho-Ho Chi Minh." They started to blow horns, throw things on the stage and tried to ruin the concert. They started to push toward the stage in the crowd of thousands. Zappa increased the volume of the music so loud that it actually pushed the crowd back from the stage. The rest of the crowd was befuddled because the band's music was so unconventional they were not sure if it was of the part of the show.
The interviewer says to Zappa, "There were reports you called the students fascists." This is when Zappa comes forth with a brilliant statement: "Yes I did. Because I think that there's definitely a fascistic element, not only in the left wing of Germany, but in the United States, too.
Any sort of political ideology that doesn't allow for the rights and doesn't take into consideration the differences that people have is wrong. I won't go for it. I don't care what kind of label you stick on it."
I hope you read that twice because it is so brilliant and so profound and so portending of what is happening today on college campuses that I had to go back and watch that scene over and over and over again.
Can you imagine Frank Zappa performing on a college campus today? This iconic figure who wrote jazz and classical music, in addition to his better known rock music, would be restricted from many campuses. His lyrics would be found offensive to many college students. Which brings into question how any rapper gets to perform on a college campus today. The difference is Zappa, who was highly verbal and a publicity magnet, would rip into the students today and the professors who play along with their destruction of the First Amendment and he would call them fascists.
Yes -- fascist is the right term. We all know the left likes to say the National Socialist German Worker's Party was a right-wing group, but that is the big lie. The Nazis hated the communists and killed the communists in Germany. Then given the opportunity, even though it was suicidal, their hatred drove them to create a two-front war and attack Russia. That is because they saw the Communists as competition for the same base supporter.
The lesson for all of us is not to assume because someone is a Rock â€˜n' Roller or another cultural figure that they automatically support the agenda of the Left. You may know how many comedians have spoken out against the restriction of free speech on college campuses today and refuse to perform on college property. Interestingly, Chris Rock said he would not perform at colleges because they are too conservative. Zappa was much more accurate in deeming it left-wing Fascism because that is exactly what it is. Seinfeld will not perform because he said "They are so PC."
Zappa's statement rings true today. The only thing is an artist today would not make that statement because they would be afraid of being harassed and boycotted. Proof positive of the Leftist Fascism.