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Getting Zappa


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Dear Reader,

Peter Margasak's "review" of Frank Zappa's artistic achievement ("False Idol," September 29), with its barely concealed moralizing, fit perfectly with your lead article on censorship at the U. of C. in the 1950s ["Naked Censorship"]. I would ask Mr. Margasak to consider how closely his terms of condemnation ("Zappa was a nasty person who made mean-spirited, empty, music. If you actually enjoy listening to this stuff, well, I got a Porta-John to sell you") resemble Jack Mabley's outraged comparison of beat writers published in the Chicago Review almost 40 years ago (dirty kids who "need baths," chalk obscenities on walls and have "contempt for the less fortunate than themselves"). Mr. Margasak shows no understanding of satire, in which a writer purposely creates a character not representing his own views (recall Randy Newman's "Short People," and "Rednecks"). Neither does he devote any space to Zappa's serious orchestral work. A literal "reading" of "He's So Gay," let alone the FZ "musical" Thing-Fish, would find them highly offensive, rather than the acerbic commentaries on bigotry as well as liberal pomposity that they are. Obviously, this decade is providing a sour, politically correct answer to a question Zappa himself once posed: "Does humor have any place in music?"

Richard Schmidt

N. Paulina

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