G.T.O.s – Permanent Damage

By Miles

International Times, February 26 - March 14, 1970

G.T.O.s - Permanent Damage
Straight (CBS)

It is not too difficult to reject the spectacle of Hollywood, to drop out, find yourself, re-evaluate your ideas, unless you LIVE in Hollywood. What if Hollywood is all you know? If the city of plastic dreams and papier-mache reality is your environment? Described by Raymond Chandler as 'The city with the personality of a paper-cup', Los Angeles houses over 8 million people – and some of them are the GTOs. Another is Frank Zappa, the only sociologist cataloguing the condition of American society, the phenomena of the break-up of today's American youth, who uses the medium of youth – records, and the form – rock & roll, and who is deeply involved enough with his subjects to recognise them all as fellow humans. Yet his phenomenal skill at editing enables him to isolate the most telling and naked statements of the precise condition.

First come a chillingly accurate and unsentimental account of the pressures and the environment which drove Wild Man Fischer and of the cruelty of his contemporaries towards him now (the hippies on the Strip). Fischer's album is followed by the GTO's singing and talking about their experiences and themselves: the soft cars, Moke [Mouche] Monsters, Cones, the high-school gym and, most important, socialising with pop stars. They talk to the Plaster Casters of Chicago on the telephone and the men who pick them up hitch-hiking across US. 'Permanent Damage' refers to the girls themselves – trying to make sense of the plastic electronic city with its permanent summer, its unnaturally large flowers blooming throughout the year, its palm-trees and its major industry: the creation and marketing of dreams and fantasies of love and fullfillment as made by the record and movie industries. L.A. as a city buys more records than the whole of Britain – continuous pop radio, tv and billboards provide the scenery, they are much more present and real than the buildings, and round Laurel Canyon, hitch-hiking and sometimes even walking, go the GTO's, endlessly circulating, socialising, looking for the promised dream and finding little more than Mokes – only the optimism of their youth keeping them going. There is a great sadness in this album and a great truth. It is more truthful than 90% of the albums in your local record store. It is produced by Frank Zappa and it tells it like it really is, and for most people that's incredibly hard to take! It's a wonderful album.


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