Who IS The REAL Frank Zappa, Anyway?

Sometimes I am quite delighted to discover a fan-made Frank Zappa video like the one posted above. It reinforces my belief that the future of FZ’s public image is in the right hands: creative, open-minded, technology embracing hands. This is how I always envisioned Zappa’s legacy being spread.

This video also got me to thinking about FZ’s contemporary image. Who IS the REAL Frank Zappa, anyway? Is he just a Brand? A Trademark? An image or a sound to copyright? There seems to be at least three camps. The FAN camp. The ALUMNI camp. The ZFT camp. Each camp has their own and often dissenting views of who the REAL Frank Zappa happens to be, and how his image should be projected into the future. The ZFT camp has almost completely abandoned the very technology that Zappa had envisioned [i.e. the internet] and instead of embracing the technology, and FZ’s fans through it as a means mass promotion, they retreat further and further into an abyss of their own design – taking whatever recordings FZ left along with them [everyone is going to play by our rules, or not at all]. Of course, the ALUMNI CAMP saw this coming long before the FAN CAMP did; many alumni jumping the mothership unable to play by their strict perspective. There was little they could do except celebrate and play the music of the maestro on their own terms.

One recent victory in this three way conflict concerning the Zappa image was the victory of the Arf Society in the German Courts regarding their use of the Zappa image and the Zappanale festival.

The Zappa image, like his music, and his movies, is a living breathing thing – it continues to survive through new generations of listeners and the very minds that his work’s inspires now and will into the future.

Turning Zappa into a Brand controlled by one entity, one person is no different than turning Frank Zappa into the equivalent of a box of Cornflakes [NoName Cornflakes, at that], bland and tasteless. It’s my opinion that how we each experience FZ is what gives him his ultimate flavour.

I’m sure THE ALUMNI and THE FANS would agree, though the ZFT camp would no doubt have their own opinion. Too bad, since our’s is the only generation that will be able to enjoy Zappa’s and the Mother’s music with living alumni.

Once they are gone, there is only we fans and the ZFT.

Note: The above video is the second video used in the post. The first was removed by the user. This is prime example of the fear that still exists within the FAN camp of bringing unwanted attention upon oneself by posting anything Zappa related. For this reason, I edited out the prior users name and vidieo with added apologies.

8 Responses to “Who IS The REAL Frank Zappa, Anyway?”

  1. Olfactor says:

    AMEN.

  2. Theydon Bois says:

    “This video has been removed by the user.”

  3. urbangraffito says:

    A quote from Theydon Bois:

    “This video has been removed by the user.”

    I refer you to the addendum to this post, Theydon. Obviously, some Zappa fans do not want the attention or spotlight that a post at KUR can bring to them. Of course, I respect their need for privacy, but is YouTube really the place? There is such a thing as enabling the embedding function, too.

  4. Theydon Bois says:

    “This is prime example of the fear that still exists within the FAN camp of bringing unwanted attention upon oneself by posting anything Zappa related.”

    Well, possibly. But there’s also the possibility (and I say this with the utmost respect, urbangraffito, since your posts are always well-considered and interesting) that the creator of the video didn’t agree with your analysis of the various camps and didn’t want to be associated with it. Not all fans are anti-ZFT, after all. I for one think that the ZFT are misunderstood and badly served by the lawyers that they’ve hired to protect them, that most (not all) of the posthumous releases are pretty ace, and that ZPZ is a fun night out in this increasingly miserable world.

    Nice version of “Night School”, there, incidentally. Is that the version off the “Greggery Peccary and Other Persuasions” Ensemble Modern album? I keep meaning to buy that.

  5. Hermann Schindler says:

    @Theydon “… Is that the version off the “Greggery Peccary and Other Persuasions” Ensemble Modern album? I keep meaning to buy that.” BUY it, it is excellent hearing!!
    And as for ZFT and ZPZ: Agreed. There is too much blunder and hassle around. Let’s keep to the real stuff and hope for the best in the future
    Kind regards

  6. urbangraffito says:

    A quote from Theydon Bois:

    “This is prime example of the fear that still exists within the FAN camp of bringing unwanted attention upon oneself by posting anything Zappa related.”

    Well, possibly. But there’s also the possibility (and I say this with the utmost respect, urbangraffito, since your posts are always well-considered and interesting) that the creator of the video didn’t agree with your analysis of the various camps and didn’t want to be associated with it. Not all fans are anti-ZFT, after all. I for one think that the ZFT are misunderstood and badly served by the lawyers that they’ve hired to protect them, that most (not all) of the posthumous releases are pretty ace, and that ZPZ is a fun night out in this increasingly miserable world.

    Nice version of “Night School”, there, incidentally. Is that the version off the “Greggery Peccary and Other Persuasions” Ensemble Modern album? I keep meaning to buy that.

    Quite certainly, Theydon Bois. I know I have certainly added enough wood to the fire regarding the discussion on my part to keep that bonfire burning for a good long time. So, it’s my effort now to keep the discussion on a more even keel regarding both the ZFT and ZPZ both in the number of posts and their overall tone. Of course, this doesn’t mean I’m going to run away from a healthy analysis of the current situation. As Hermann Schindler states, there has been “too much blunder and hassle around. Let’s keep to the real stuff and hope for the best in the future.”

    I certainly do not agree with boycotts, either. I’m sure there is a common ground somewhere. Still, failing that, the animosity of the ZFT camp serves only to hurt them in the long run, financially. Tell me, what purpose does it serve not to embrace the FAN camp as FZ did during his lifetime?

    Zappa’s fan’s always have been, and always will be, the best ambassadors to FZ’s music.

    A quote from Hermann Schindler:

    @Theydon “… Is that the version off the “Greggery Peccary and Other Persuasions” Ensemble Modern album?

    Indeed, it is. I bought that album in 2002 (look for the secret bonus track after “The Adventures of Greggery Peccary”). It’s just as excellent as “TheYellow Shark, 1993″. I also recommend the various FM radio broadcasts available through Zappateers.

  7. O'Really says:

    Really? This video is what Frank’s legacy should be?

    Your eyes are my testicles.

  8. urbangraffito says:

    A quote from O’Really:

    Really? This video is what Frank’s legacy should be?

    Your eyes are my testicles.

    Considering you didn’t view the original video, or did you? Nevertheless, fan made videos are certainly the most creative hands for Frank’s legacy to be left in (in my opinion). Or do you like a future in which you pay for each and every Zappa video that you see, created by just one source?

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