Dear Fellow Freaks

This was an exchange I had in a Facebook group for Frank Zappa fans. I am copying it here for posterity.

Q: it took me until recently to realize that “weasels ripped my flesh” is a great essential classic mothers record up there with the first 4, but i cant seem to get into “burnt weeny sandwhich”. i enjoy every note of the album in some ways but unlike “weasels” which has “oh no” and “my guitar”, BWS doesnt seem to have anything essential to his conceptual continuity and feels like it was put together without a lot of care. Can someone make a case for it? I want to enjoy it

A: Sure. Put it down for a while. Stop trying. If you’re trying, and you don’t get it, you won’t make it. Listen to “Weasels.” Listen to “Uncle Meat.” Listen to “Apostrophe.” Listen to “ABBA Gold.” Then, put on a nice dress and walk around your apartment in the dress and scream the first verse of Edward Lear’s “The Table and the Chair” at the top of your lungs. Then whisper the second part. Then say the third part like you’re Howard Cosell. Skip the fourth verse. Then sing the fifth verse to the tune of “Oh When The Saints Go Marching In.” Then, look into a mirror and say “I’m good enough, I’m strong enough, and doggone it, people like me.” Wait one week and then eat an entire pecan pie. After this, try “Burnt Weeny Sandwich” again. I think you’ll be ready.

The Urgent Salience of Biden’s Veep Pick

There is a real feeling among most Democrats I’ve talked to of waiting for the other shoe to drop. Just the other day, my dear Mother commented to me that Biden needs to stop messing around and pick a running mate already.

Whatever form it takes in the SARS-CoV-2 world in which we live, the Democratic Convention is planned for the third week of August. So we’ll know soon, at least by then. He has indicated he will announce by Aug. 1, so it will be soon indeed. I think many people want to know so they can start to see the campaign coalesce, and to have some relief that Biden has picked someone who will energize his campaign.

As it stands, the running mate pick is perhaps one of the most important decisions a candidate makes. I tend to be rather superficial in figuring on my favorites. If the candidates don’t look nice together, or if they don’t exude some kind of chemistry, they aren’t going to win voters over. I think in this regard, the Obama-Biden match was sublime. Hillary Clinton’s choice in 2016? Not so much.

You don’t even remember that person’s name, do you?


John Kerry picked John Edwards, and they looked like they belonged on a wedding cake your local true believer bakery would refuse to bake. And let’s not even start talking about a certain former governor of Alaska.

But this morning I thought of another factor that’s going to make Biden’s pick particularly important: She is likely to be the person who heads up Biden’s coronavirus efforts.

As feckless as it is, Trump’s coronavirus team is already structured via the Eisenhower. Chains of communication, data, work already completed, phone trees, email chains, all the little crap that makes things go in Washington, they are already going through the Vice-President. If I were the new Preznit, and I knew that I had to hit the ground running on this issue, I would turn to my Vice-Preznit and say “congratulations, you’re our new Sars Czar.”

Sars Czar, you like that? I just made it up. Nobody has ever heard of that before.

So when you’re mulling your own favorites, mark my word on this one: Factor in that Biden’s Vice President is likely to be the person in charge of the new federal efforts on the pandemic. Who do you want in that role? That’s your gal.

Mask Mask Mask Mask

On April 15, 2020, New York Governor Mario Cuomo announced during his daily coronavirus briefings that New Yorkers would be required to wear masks when “social distancing” would not be possible.

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that immediately following this announcement, the infection rates in the state drove downward quite noticeably.

You can see it for yourself. I screen-captured this graphic from the New York Times (from a running article updated as of today).

Now this is no sociological study. It’s a news graphic. I know. But what, that’s mere coincidence? I don’t think so.

Mask Mask Mask Mask

We Gotta Get Tempuratured

Also, over at Plague Journal 2020, my Dad, who is one of the best-read human beings walking around (chances are good he’s reading a book right now), has offered selected suggestions for reading in the context of Black Lives Matter.

I am currently reading The Impostors by Steve Benen, which is most interesting in its thesis, which draws a strong demarcation for recent Republican history. Republicans since the Obama era, it argues, are a completely post-policy party, and thus, they in 2016 elected the first wholly post-policy president. Much in the book is obvious stuff if you’ve been paying attention and in fact there is an economic point he misses when discussing Trump’s weird hard-on for a 6-percent GDP.

What are you reading?

A Story in Three Tweets

Lisa Lucas is Executive Director of the National Book Foundation. Her father, Reggie Lucas, was a musician and songwriter of some import, and he died in 2018.

Lucas tweeted this on Father’s Day:

Every American kid in my generation now has a song in their head. “Never Knew Love Like This Before,” released in 1980 and as performed by Stephanie Mills, was ubiquitous at the time. The record beat entrants by Aretha Franklin, Diana Ross, Roberta Flack, and Minnie Riperton for R&B Song and Best Female R&B Vocal Performance at the 1981 Grammy Awards.

Lisa’s mother, Kay Lucas, tweeted a response.

It turns out this was new information for Lisa Lucas.

As you might imagine, that Twitter feed is blowing up right now.

Farter’s Day

This is Fred. He was kind enough to pose for me yesterday as I enjoyed a Ruck’s Pizza Kitchen Italian Sub (Amiel’s never answered the phone) on the deck yesterday. Yes, after more than 90 days in self-imposed isolation due to the SARS CoV 2, I ventured over to visit the folks for the famous Father’s Day. It was good to break this routine, great to see family, and, certainly, it was wonderful to get some doggo time.

As stolen directly from MeFi… “Shostakovich’s first opera is a surrealist piece about a man who wakes up one day to discover his nose is missing. It features tap dancing noses.”

I am not making this up.

Heck Of A Job

From CNBC:

~ The U.S reported more than 30,000 new coronavirus cases on Friday and Saturday, the highest daily totals since May 1, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

~ New cases across the country are surging faster than ever, especially in states in the South, West and Midwest.

~ Seven states hit record cases on Saturday, including Florida and South Carolina, which had their third consecutive day breaking single-day records. Missouri, Nevada, Montana, Utah and Arizona also hit records.


And: Yes, Wearing Masks Helps. Here’s Why (NPR)

Blue Hawaii

I think Turner Classic Movies is essential during a pandemic. You can put on the TV and get a little escape while at the same time working on your cultural literacy.

I mean this even for a movie like Elvis’ Blue Hawaii. This is Elvis’ eighth feature film and was made after his return from military service. Thus, the plot of the movie, Chadwick Gates returns home from a stint in the military. His dad wants him to go into the family pineapple business (of course), and he doesn’t want to.

There are of course a buncha musical numbers. And some dramatic stuff. And of course, by the end of his movie, Chadwick Gates works out his dilemma and gets the girl. Happy happy happy.

Fun fact: The producers of Blue Hawaii took the bank they made on it and used it bankroll another film called Becket.

In Other Funny