Archive for the ‘It Can Happen Here?’ Category

I Ain’t Gonna Work On Maggie’s Farm No More

Once upon a time, in a decade far far away, I became fascinated with the music of this weird character called Frank Zappa. Then along came the internet, and it didn’t take long before I had my own little homepage dedicated to the man. We’re talking 1999. It was called “The Way I See It Barry“, and it received about 10 visitors per day. It offered transcriptions of interviews, an image gallery and, at about the turn of the millenium, a fun little regularly updated feature entitled “Hot Poop“. Soon, this little feature turned out to be the most popular section of my little homepage.

maggies-farm.jpg

Fast forward to late 2007, and we’re getting some 2000 visitors per day — Hot Poop visitors exclusively. A chill runs across much of the FZ fan-community as the ZFT issues Cease & Desist letters to KUR, tribute bands and festivals for — well you can read all about that here. Our initial reaction is to just keep spreading the Zappa Gospel, while complying to the ZFT’s idiotic demands. And then it hits — like a brick:

Exactly who the fuck are we going through all this trouble for?

Not FZ, nor his musical legacy — at least not anymore. The internet’s Summer of Love couldn’t have ended more poignantly than with the Zappa Family Trust spitting in our face for attempting to keep the music of Frank Zappa alive, and for attracting new fans. I think I can speak for all of us here when I say that C&D left us with a sour taste in the mouth. We find the ZFT’s morbid tactics of divide and conquer misguided, counter-productive and, well, disgusting. It has taken all the fun out of working on this site. We’ve had enough.

As of now, this weblog will no longer be focussing exclusively on FZ news. Mind you, the official site does a much better job at that, don’t you think?

What FZ news is there around anymore anyway? More releases from a Vault that’s proving to be less and less mythical? Another ZFT endorsed Zappa Beer? New ZPZ gigs with no Special Guests because all of the Zappa alumni are fed up with the way they are being treated like shit? More C&D’s telling fans around the world to bend over and comply?

Fuck that shit. Count me out.
I ain’t gonna work on Maggie’s Farm no more.

So now what? Stay tuned. Changes are afoot, bear with us. As much as it grieves me to give up on this blog in its present form — a baby I’ve lovingly raised and nurtured for over seven years — it is now time for a radical U-turn.

First Church of Zuppuology

Church of Zuppuology 2
R. Gayle Shiester:

Welcome to the First Church of Zuppuology!

Don’t you be Tarot-fied
We are here to help you fill the cultural vacuum
Don’t you be Tarot-fied
Just pay your dues to the estate of the founder

FRONK ZUPPU!!! FRONK ZUPPU!!!

Don’t try to look behind his eyes
(They are made of paper and/or pixels)
You don’t wanna know what he has seen
Don’t you ever try to look behind his eyes
(They are made of paper and/or pixels)
You don’t ever wanna know what they have seen

Only the First Church of Zuppuology knows the truth of Zuppu
Only We know the true way to Zuppu knowledge
Don’t mess with Zuppu blasphemy and Zuppu heretics
But follow the true path of Zuppu to Laurel Canyon

Zuppu Freak:

Oh Mystical Advisor
What is my problem, tell me
Can you see?

R. Gayle Shiester:

Well, you have nothing to fear, my son!
You are a Latent Litigation Fetishist,
It appears to me!

Zuppu Freak:

That all seems very, very strange
I have never craved a lawyer
Or been on a jury before

R. Gayle Shiester:

A Latent Litigation Fetishist
Is a person who refuses to admit to his or herself
That sexual gratification can only be achieved
Through the use of THE LAW . . .
Get the picture?

Zuppu Freak:

Are you telling me
I should go into a courtroom now
Mr. Gayle?

R. Gayle Shiester:

No, my son!
You must go into
BERGER KAHN
(the Club)

Zuppu Freak:

What?

R. Gayle Shiester:

And you will have

Zuppu Freak:

Eh?

R. Gayle Shiester:

A lot of fun!
That’s where they all live . . .
So if you want a
Lawyer to love you
You’ll have to go in there
‘N get you one

Zuppu Freak:

That seems simple enough . . .

R. Gayle Shiester:

But if you want a really GOOD one,
You’ll have to learn a foreign language . . .

Zuppu Freak:

German, for instance?

R. Gayle Shiester:

That’s right . . .
A lot of really cute ones come from over there!
These lawyers really go for a guy dressed up like a tribute band who can speak German (you know what I mean) . . .
(Fifty bucks, please)

Inside BERGER KAHN:

Little ugly lawyers dance around with tribute bands with names like Protect/Object, Kilt Ugly Ratio, Bogus Pimps, Muffled Men and Shocked Yembouties . . . and when Zuppu freak sees this one lawyer, with an enormous supeonas covered with . . . he BURSTS INTO SONG . . .

Before leaving the First Church of Zuppuology . . . and for small introductory fee . . . you can briefly enter the Ye Old Vault itself and stand in the very presence of an actual replica of the guitar that Hundrox gave Zuppu as a gift . . . also be awed by our newly renovated Utility Music Research Kitchenette — now completely redesigned and automated in line with our new corporate philosophy: Attack Anyone at Anytime For No Reason At All. Then relax in our new lounge PEW 38 and refresh yourself with a nice Freak Up Ale or a Kill Ugly Stout, before stopping by our friendly store to buy your entire family a Fronk Zuppu T-Shirt (comes in all sizes and made with care by happy Honduran workers), Portrait-sized jigsaw puzzles and posters of our founder . . . Pay toilets available in the atrium, just ask our lovely hostess Lucille for change.

kill ugly stout small

All terrestrial, extraterrestrial, and interdimensional rights reserved from this moment until the end of time itself. All music, art, images, text and other content are vicariously copyrighted for the world & the universe & beyond © The First Church of Zuppuology (unless otherwise noted). Zuppu, Fronk Zuppu & The Virgin Beard and other various hairs as of yet not grown are marks belonging to the First Church of Zuppuology. All Rights Reserved. Register & Vote for Hillary. Free Buttons for members.

Zuppu himself

This post is copyleft.

Throttling The Mother

In today’s Guardian Online Arts edition: Throttling the Mother of Invention, wherein columnist Owen Adams writes about GZ’s “lengthy campaign against those who ride on his [FZ's - ed.] memory”:

Her recent ire was directed against a laughably bad fans’ monument in the east of Germany.

I wonder what’s more laughably bad:

  • A statue of FZ, financed by FZ fans in his memory
  • A petition opposing the agressive legal actions by the ZFT — signed by some 2070 fans at this point of writing
  • The ZFT prohibiting us from using 100x100px artwork thumbs in our discography
  • A ZFT endorsed Kill Ugly Radio beer
  • A ZFT endorsed Freak Out Ale
  • An official FZ site where valuable information is deemed secondary to flashy, incomprehensible, impenetrable animation
  • ZFT Newsletters that prefer to cast aside factual clarity in favor of poorly written pseudo FZ speak (“the frost is on the pumpkins!”)

I’ll just leave that choice up to you. Moving on:

What would Frank think of this barrage of lawsuits against people who just want to keep his memory alive, enraged fans wonder? My guess is he’d approve. He was a self-proclaimed capitalist-libertarian like Ron Paul with a history of lawsuits to regain control of his music.

My guess is FZ would recognize the efforts of these tribute bands/fan sites and value them for what they attempt to achieve: to keep his music alive. Sure, he was adamant about keeping control over his own music, and rightly so — but in this case we’re talking about FZ vs Big Record Companies™ and unscrupulous bootleggers looking to make a fast buck. Project/Object, Zappanale et all can hardly be categorized as such.

Surely you can’t accuse a band playing such obtuse music as Zappa’s of being only in it for the money?

To ask such a question is to answer it.

Myself, I’d much rather hear a Zappa-informed act like the Spinto Band than a huddle of Zappa acolytes recalling Brown Shoes Don’t Make It and Why Does It Hurt When I Pee. Somehow, the Mother of Invention is the only one capable of making profane songs sacred.

The issue at hand is not about what any given Zappa fan would like to hear — it is about the alleged illegality of grassroots fan sites and small time tribute bands. It is about whether such litigation, should it ever come to court, would even hold ground.

In all: a poorly informed mish mash of an article, Mr Adams, if you don’t mind my saying so. You, Sir, are terminally clueless. Admit that, at the very least. I know: takes balls though, does it not?

Gunpoint

Outrageous: we’ve received a video showing what we presume to be a young webmaster held hostage and forced to confess at gunpoint.

Gunshots could be heard on the tape and it’s clear that the prisoner has been denied basic human rights, and contact with family for at least five years, and given no access to the outside world. I strongly advice to the faint of heart to NOT watch this video. Torture can never be justified, and must be clearly condemned.

Tension = Sales

Stanley Zappa makes an interesting point:

(…) I had occasion to speak with my friend Mark on the telephone. We talked about this and that.

“Tension equals sales” said Mark.
“It sounds like Gail took marketing 101″

Tension equals sales. (Tension = Sales)

At first it kind of sounded like Reich. In the end it just sounds like the devilry it is.

El Copyright Del Mundo Invisible

Maroual writes in with the following question:

Could the Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation send a C&D letter?

… and refers to this post he made on the Zäppî forums:

The Zappa Wazoo liner notes mention “Cover Art ‘Mundo Invisible’ (oil on canvas, 60″ x 72″) by Christopher Mark Brennan, 2003″ which itself is a derivative work of the excellent Slave Market with the Disappearing Bust of Voltaire (oil on canvas, 46.5″ x 65.5″) by Salvador Dalí, 1940.
Actually I was curious to know whether any permission was needed and/or requested to the Dalí Family Trust (la Fundació Gala-Salvador Dalí) prior painting and then publishing. This painting should not fall in the public domain before 2010 thanks to the copyright extensions, right?
Does this constitute a copyright infrigement? Does this respect the original intent of the painter?

Heh heh!

Wirtschaftliche Notwendigkeiten

ZFT’s Cease & Desist against the Zappanale festival made it into this week’s issue of leading German magazine Der Spiegel. When asked for her reasons to fight a worldwide juridical war against Zappa fans, Gail’s answer was she “needs to do this for profitable needs“.

Ho fucking hum.

Which reminds me: have you seen this as well as this?

Status Back Baby

If you haven’t already, we still urge you to sign the petition regarding the ZFT’s recent “Aggressive Actions”. 1208 signatures at this time of writing — not too shabby for a petition that’s been online for 4 days, but the more the merrier, obviously. You’ll find yourself in the company of such illustrious names as Jon Naurin, Robert Kevorkian, Don Preston, Jimmy Carl Black, Nigey Lennon and Candy Zappa.
For those of you who wish to be kept abreast (now there’s a wonderful expression): there’s a direct link to the petition at the right of this page. See that little banner with Dr Sharl’s hand waving at you? Indeed.

Meanwhile, these litigations have been gaining interest on several weblogs who specialize in intellectual property and fair use. Couple of links:

Now, when people who are actually knowledgeable in this particular legal field begin to express their doubt as to the validity of the ZFT’s claims, that has to mean something, right?

In other news, a couple of new-ish DVD releases, available on Amazon:

How questionable are these? You tell me.

Boy, I sure hope the ZFT won’t crack down on Amazon.com! :D

Links For Jan 13th

Petition: Aggressive Action by the ZFT

First, read it:

We the undersigned petition the Zappa Family Trust (ZFT) to cease and desist from making threats of legal action against FZ tribute bands, FZ fan sites, Zappa music festivals and other related activities that are designed first and foremost to honour and promote Frank’s music, despite not being ‘approved’ by the ZFT.
While we applaud the work that the ZFT has done – especially in recent years, with the Zappa Plays Zappa tours and the release of CDs & DVDs such as Buffalo, Wazoo and Baby Snakes – we do not see those threatened by the ZFT as being in any way detrimental to Frank’s legacy. Indeed, while recognising that there truly can be no real substitute, we perceive any attempt to curb such alternative activities will be more likely to have a detrimental impact on the legacy.
We consider that the ZFT would be better targeting those who produce and sell Zappa bootleg recordings and pirate memorabilia – of which there are a numerous examples on the Internet. If the ZFT are to unleash the lawyers, they should be aimed at them and not us – the truly devoted fans.

Next: sign it!

Cease & Desist: YouTube Edition

This just in via The Idiot Bastard: guy posts little clips taken at a live ZPZ show on YouTube, receives The ZFT Treatment ™ we’ve all come to know so well:

(…) come on, my vids of the show were far from professional and none of them were even full songs… I was just excited to share another great Zappa experience with other music-lovers. Gail Z taught me a lesson and I will be sure to never to help promote another Zappa Plays Zappa tour again! You win, Gail.

Isn’t it good to know GZ’s crusade against the well-intentioned fan outthere continues undaunted, while those who sell bootlegs or put up official releases for download, remain untouched.

Better get used to it: it’s a way of life…

The Year Of The Freak Is Imminent

Oh yes it is. Let’s see which sites, bands and organisations have had legal action taken against them by the ZFT in recent weeks, shall we?

Quoth The Idiot Bastard:

Apparently Gail has even threatened to remove and destroy the likeness of FZ that is in Bad Doberan – “Yes, we would definitely consider having it replaced with something we do approve,” she said.

I know you’re getting sick and tired of this dear reader — so am I.

That’s the point.

Spread the word if you can, by any means.

A permanent page, objectively documenting the progression of any of these Law Suits is in the works, and will be published as more information becomes publicly available.

Update: had to add tribute band Ugly Radio Rebellion to the list as they too are now being sued by the ZFT for alleged copyright infringement.

A Message From United Mutations

Peter of United Mutations weighs in. Quick link and quote, in case the post were to be deleted (though it can’t happen there, can it?!):

Come on, ZFT, isn’t it possible to make your point of view clear without sending lawyers? Shouldn’t we be able to communicate in a friendly way? Don’t we have a common interest somewhere?
-
Dear ZFT, I do not like the way you’re handling this, and I think I’m not alone.

These Boots Were Made For Talkin’

This post is about how legal, or illegal, it is to offer up a non-officially recorded and/or released live show for download.

Let us examine who is likely to download one of these shows in the first place. No, let us first examine the audio quality of the show in question. More often than not, it will suck. B+, A-, they are euphemisms for “bad quality audio”.

Next, on to the profile of the “Potential Downloader”. Debby from around the corner, who is into Beyonce sure doesn’t fit that profile (the poor girl’s in for a big surprise if she downloads any of this “depraved music”). This leaves us with two main categories: (1) the Curious Neophite Zappa fan — a potential customer, and (2) the Completist — a registered customer, one who has bought pretty much all of the official releases, interested in hearing any one single note difference between show A (say, November 15, 1973) and B (November 16, 1973, Late Show).

These are our demographics — agreed?

Explain to me then, how it is deemed a crime to make these live shows freely available for download online. The Curious Neophite, at best, will end up buying official releases, that have much better quality. The Completist will gently nod his head while puffing his pipe, dreaming of the next official release. Moreover, if these shows are not presented freely, some asshole on eBay will be making a profit off of selling them — regardless of how much the audio quality sucks.

A closing quote, if I may. It comes straight from the liner notes of FZ:OZ, as written by GZ:

Bill Lantz, thanks (you bastard) for (not saying by what means you came by) this tape and cooperating (anyway).

These unofficial live shows, in circulation right this minute in so many places, even if we at KUR no longer publish them, serve as food for thought and conversation. They are an essential part of keeping alive the musical legacy of Eff Zee. They provoke discussion among the Completists, lure the Curious Neophite into buying official releases; and as such, should not be banned from the net in my opinion.

Your thoughts?

We Dub Thee: Swedish KUR

Damn it’s cold over here.

gloves.jpg

Behold the new, snowy white 1024x768px-compliant lay-out for KUR, dubbed “Fronk Zippo version 1.0″. It’s still very much a work in progress, and you won’t be seeing it at the discography or the Gig List for the time being — we’re working on that. There will be more features available soon. Oh and by the way, we didn’t move our stuff to Sweden, though we are sure it’s a wonderfully liberal country! :)

As we’re still hunting down browser bugs, please do let us know if anything looks whacky. Thanks!