In Which I Blame Frank Zappa For Everything: Part I

Researching personal history must be easy for some.  I know of at least one person who can pretty much relate every pore on the skin of his lifetime: scars, moles, follicles…everything.  Along those lines, I see today in the NYT that author Susan Shapiro demands more personal humiliation from memoirists.

I will be providing neither hairy moles nor extreme personal humiliation in this, or pretty much any, posts here.  Two reasons:

1.  No hairy moles because my memory is the only thing I possess which is weaker than my self-control.  It’s a stretch to say I even “possess” memories; they exist in a mental fog thicker than any in London.  Well, except for the most deeply humiliating ones…which gets me to #2

2.  I don’t want to write about that stuff.  Sorry to everyone from Scot’s writing students to aficionados of reality shows and car wrecks…I’m not doing that.  Unlike Ms. Shapiro (or Nick Hornby, in the “fictional” sense), I will not be writing angsty stuff about my five greatest girlfriends or exactly what Ryne Sandberg meant to my mid-20s.  Hmmm…in fact, I will ONLY be writing about things like Ryne Sandberg.  It’s the girlfriend stuff that you won’t get here at Burque Babble.  Never have…never will.  At least that I can remember.  Icky.

Which gets me to Frank Zappa and my London pea-soup memory concerning my musical tastes at age 14 or so.  Carefully creeping through the mental fog, I remember, almost distinctly, the day I first heard “Stinkfoot” (or was it “Montana”?) from FZ’s “Over-Nite Sensation” album.  Alright, I remember zero about that first listen.  I was thinking it might have been from watching Saturday Night Live, but a quick check of what has helped replace my personal memory, the Internet, shows that FZ didn’t play on SNL until 1976, where he did a very memorable “I’m the Slime.”


No, it was before that and I have no idea what exactly happened.  My guess is that really good memoir writing involves at least 70% embellishment and invention, so I’m thinking it went like this:

We stumbled through a creek bed outside Granbury, Texas, looking for dinosaur tracks under the few inches of water flowing haphazardly toward the Gulf of Mexico.  I was on a science field trip in my 8th Grade year, a year of Watergate, uncomfortable hormones and polyester leisure suits.  It was also a year of musical exploration, and a friend, sitting far in the back of the bus with me on the trip back home had a cassette, a cassette that would change my life and the lives of the three or four other scraggly shoulder-length hair loser boys crammed within the four sonic square feet within audible range of the cheap hand-held Soundesign cassette player held, like Excalibur or the Zapruder film, by a guy named Kurt.

Honestly, I have no idea what the guy’s name was.  Or what the song was.  I think it was “Stinkfoot.”  In the upcoming best-selling classic and timeless memoir entitled My Five Favorite Girlfriends, Whatever Their Names Were it will definitely be “Stinkfoot.”  Or “Zomby Woof,” which is actually a cooler song.  Let’s make it “Zomby Woof.”

To Be Continued….if I remember.

P.S.:  “Stinkfoot” isn’t even on “Over-Nite Sensation,” but “Apostrophe” instead.  This memoir writing is hard.  Facts really are stupid things.


One thought on “In Which I Blame Frank Zappa For Everything: Part I

  1. Interestingly, I very specifically remember that 1976 Saturday Night Live appearance as being my first exposure to Frank Zappa, though it’s pretty clearly a recreation layered on more recently. Prior to my effort at recall, though, the lovely Christmas carol “Let’s Kill Gary Gilmore for Christmas” was already there, waiting to be stapled together to a post hoc Zappa memory. There’s an early girlfriend in the memory, too, but not Ryne Sandberg.

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