Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Back Before Havel Died

Sure, Václav Havel denied manmade climate change, but on the other hand he earlier appointed Frank Zappa to be his government’s Cultural Adviser as well as “Special Ambassador to the West on Trade, Culture, and Tourism, which isn't quite a wash but closer to a rectification than your average contrarian ever gets. This was back when some obnoxious Washington wives like Tipper Gore and Susan Baker (wife of James Baker) made it their business to protect the yutes of America from all the naughty lyrics then being sung by the bands of the time.

In the process the "Washington Wives" formed the PMRC and got their hubbies to get Congress to hold a hearing, where Susan Baker said
"There certainly are many causes for these ills in our society, but it is our contention that the pervasive messages aimed at children which promote and glorify suicide, rape, sadomasochism, and so on, have to be numbered among the contributing factors."
Tipper Gore looked and sounded equally dismayed, and another witness said that heavy metal was different from earlier jazz and rock-n-roll because it was "mean-spirited," which probably doubled the record sales of several bands.

Testifying for the opposition were John Denver with straight hair, Dee Snider of the band Twisted Sister with a huge pile of long blond curls, and Frank Zappa. (Some kind soul has put Zappa's testimony on Youtube, in four parts: 1, 2, 3, 4 -- they're all worth watching.) Zappa called the PMRC "a group of bored Washington housewives" and said
"The major record labels need to have H.R. 2911 whiz through a few committees before anybody smells a rat. One of them is chaired by Senator Thurmond. Is it a coincidence that Mrs. Thurmond is affiliated with the PMRC?"
which was a great question and so naturally it went unanswered. Zappa also said
"...the PMRC proposal is an ill-conceived piece of nonsense which fails to deliver any real benefits to children, infringes the civil liberties of people who are not children, and promises to keep the courts busy for years dealing with the interpretation and enforcement problems inherent in the proposal's design."
But what really ticked some people off was when Zappa mimicked Susan Baker's southern accent. Sen. Slade Gorton, R-Wash. snapped at Zappa, calling him "boorish, incredibly and insensibly insulting," like that was supposed to hurt Zappa's feelings. Frank Zappa. Right.

Anyway when US Secretary of State James Baker learned of Havel's Zappa appointment he declared,
“You can do business with the United States of America or you can do business with Frank Zappa!”
which was all I really wanted to post about in the first place.

Oh yeah: Havel caved on the Zappa appointment, so perhaps he wasn't the big rebel skeptics made him out to be after his death . Zappa went on to sell memorabilia through a company named Barfko-Swill. (Ha.) And Tipper and her girlfriends managed to completely and forever clean up all the dirty and naughty lyrics in rock-n-roll, and American children have all lived happily forever after.


Anonymous said...

Are you thinking of PM Václav Klaus?

Anonymous said...

About climate change, I mean.

crf said...

I think he is. Though all the Vaclavs I know (+ Smil) had nuanced positions on climate change.