Zappa (3)

“Zappalytes say things in reviews like: ‘OK, by this point the humour was getting a little oafish, and the endless tales of groupies and on the road a little stale, and yes, perhaps we can even detect a mouse-peep of misogyny here and there, but — WOWee ZOWee — check out the model decelension in the five-minute solo on ‘Limburger Corporation Wowser’; it’s about the third best version on the record so far! Hot poop!’ No, they really, really DO say things like that! Even (or especially) the intelligent, grown-up ones. Even the ones who have an otherwise coherent grasp of the adult world and all its politics and evasions and lies claim him to be the author of some kind of on-going modern Leviathan — a splenetic contemporary satire, withering in its attack, all-encompassing in its range.”

Ian Penman, “Frank Zappa: Don’t Do That On Stage Anymore” (1995)

Penman half-nails me before I even get started; yes, “all-encompassing” is part of the story for me, and maybe the part of the story I’m most attracted to. Penman’s essay is a total gas, and I’ll probably end up quoting the entire thing piecemeal as it brings up pretty much everything Zappa haters hate about Zappa and is “withering in its attack,” to say the least. (Reading it for the first time in a long time, though, what jumps out at me more than ever before is just how much an attack it is on Zappa fandom. Critical distinction — or is it?)

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