The Zappa Interview
By Sheila Gavin
Monroe Doctrine, March 21, 1988
MCC student Sheila Gavin, met with Frank Zappa after his War Memorial show on Friday, March 11. Gavin, working with The League of Women Voters, helped register 330 people during the concert. The show was a new experience for Gavin's colleagues at the LWV. One woman said it was "like no other registration she's ever been to," said Gavin, adding, "one person was obviously intoxicated. She couldn't fill out the form. I told her she could take the form home, fill it out and mail it to the Board of Elections."
Sheila Gavin talks to Frank about Ron, Nancy, George and Jesse
GAVIN: How long have you been doing voter registration drives?
ZAPPA: First drive? I started talking about it in '71 . . . about 20 some years back.
GAVIN: This is the first tour that you've had the registration drive. How well has your turnout been for the tour?
ZAPPA: Nothing less than 10 percent, averages between 12 and 15 and some nights as high as 25.
GAVIN: How has your political outlook changed since you were 20 years old?
ZAPPA: Not much.
GAVIN: Can you elaborate on your political outlook?
ZAPPA: Sure, basically I hate ‘em all. And with two exceptions: I mean you have to bear in mind there are some decent people who know they are public servants, but the problem is today's politician spends more time trying to get elected and once he gets in, spends so much time trying to get re-elected that there is very little representation taking place for the constituency that put him there in the first place. Before a man gets in there, can rise to the level of statesmanship that you would expect from a public servant, he's either got to be awfully rich or he's got to have a lot of powerful friends, because every single guy in congress is groping for cash.
GAVIN: They do it nonstop, so how can they take care of the business of running the country?
ZAPPA: That's the tragedy of it, so it doesn't generate much respect in me, and probably a lot of other people will look at the congress and go ‘well, these guys are flakes.‘ There is a bill that got filibustered to death, it's called S2, that they were trying to put a cap on congressional fundraising for campaigns, and Republicans nuked it, because they wanna be able to rake in as many millions of dollars, they didn't want to have any limit at all. So with the Republicans they want it, ‘the sky's the limit‘ for senatorial
campaigns. Well, look where that takes you. l mean they will rake it in and so at that point if there is no lid on it, the only people who can afford to go into public service are going to be from a select class. That means you won't have even representation in the electorate, you'll only have patrician types who don't usually give a fuck about the guy on the street.
GAVIN: So what happens to democracy?
ZAPPA: Question mark, question mark, question mark. Then, I've felt that way for a long time and only gotten stronger since C-SPAN has been available to watch them in action, you know, that's been the main change.
GAVIN: What do you think you represent to people?
ZAPPA: Depends on which people you're talking about. You know, I'm sure there's some people who think that I'm either the devil or doing the work of the devil, or there's some people who think I'm out of my fucking mind, or there's some people who respect me. It just depends on who ya ask.
GAVIN: What's your favorite bumper sticker?
ZAPPA: Most recent one that I've seen that I think tells it all says SHIT HAPPENS. Have you seen that one?
GAVIN: Where did you see that one?
ZAPPA: Um, Pennsylvania.
GAVIN: What impact do you think Jesse Jackson will have on this election?
ZAPPA: Well, he's got himself wiggled into the position of being a power broker but basically the thing that drives Jesse is Jesse's desire to maximize his own act. That's really how I see him. His other distinction is that he's an opportunist – pretty good at writing stuff, makes a good speech, but Jesse's out for Jesse. However, he has picked up a lot of converts along the way and he'll be able to walk into the convention wielding those delegates around. He may be able, by accident, to cause certain social reforms included in the platform that might not have already been there. But I don't see Jesse Jackson as being presidential timber by any stretch of the imagination.
GAVIN: How about vice president?
ZAPPA: No way.
GAVIN: What do you think is going to be the end result of the Dole campaign?
ZAPPA: Well, you know, I used to think that Dole had some integrity but I've gotten turned off after watching him on C-SPAN. . . the only way that he can have any impact at the convention, I think, is if he forms an evil alliance with Pat Robertson, but I don't think his campaign's gonna last, cause he shot his balls off on Super Tuesday. The worst thing that's happened to the Republicans is George Bush, I think. I mean people go ‘yea’ for George Bush because it's a recognizable name, the same way people used to go ‘yea’ for Gary Hart. Gary Hart, the question still remains: Where's the beef? I don't care who Gary's fucking, but you know, I see there's nothing there. It's like a shell. It's all an image. And the same thing with Bush. The thing to remember about Bush is – since he used to run the CIA – ONCE A SPOOK ALWAYS A SPOOK. And a vote for Bush is a vote for setting covert government into the White House. You put ‘em in there, you don't know what you're gonna get. He's worse than a wimp. That's my take on the Republican section.
The most impressive Republican that I've seen, the guy who looks the sharpest, the guy who looks the smartest and seems to be the most focused is Arlen Spector, you know, Senator from Pennsylvania. I think that he's a sharp guy and one day he oughta run. . .
But, most of what you see the Republicans doing on C-SPAN is apologizing for the incompetencies of the Reagan Administration. And there's been more whitewash stirred and poured and spread by the Republican members of the Senate to cover up the inefficiencies and the shortcomings of the Reagan Administration than any time in American history. It's amazing. We have a total failed presidency. You know, he makes Carter look like a saint, and Carter was a putz, you know. But it just so happens that they have a much better PR system, they have more money, they've managed to manipulate the news. All he does is wave at people on the way to the helicopter. You can't pin the cocksucker down, so that's what you got. And Nancy's overriding concern is to make hubby look good in the history books. I'm sure they have people right now trying to correct some of his little flaws. I just don't wanna see anybody running the White House that is gonna carry over any aspect of what Reagan has done for the country over the last eight years. So many people are so much worse off. There's a handful that are better off but so many people are worse off. You get four more and if Bush goes in there and carries any of those policies forward, well you're not gonna believe the homeless problem. That ain't getting any better, you know. Did ya ever hear Bush say anything about the homeless? You won't. They don't live near him. And anybody who thinks that they can wink at it and it's gonna go away just by sticking in another Republican administration and that their paycheck's gonna be safe, they're crazy. . .
It doesn't make any difference how many missiles you build or where ya aim ‘em, because you're not gonna use them. You're just not. So why should you spend the money?
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