A hole in the space-time continuum. (Notes by M.C. O'Connor.)
23 February 2008
Frank we hardly knew ye
Lagunitas Brewing Company has recently issued the third beer in their series honoring the 40th anniversary of the release of the original Mothers of Invention records. The first two were Freak Out! and Absolutely Free. The latest is Lumpy Gravy, which was actually put out as a "Frank Zappa" album, not MOI, and the next will be We're Only In It For The Money. We are unabashed FZ-heads here at TPP. I became infected with Virus FZ when I met my lovely bride many years ago. Her prized possession at the time was a complete set of all the original FZ/MOI records. Naturally we had to buy the beers, and add the empties with their neat-o labels to our Wall of Fame. The Lagunitas folks are probably best known for their IPA, which I often drank at hideously inflated prices in the former Pacific Bell Park, home of my favorite ball club. The new brew is a unique, spicy-sweet dark ale, unique in that it is refreshing and drinkable. I typically prefer dry beers, with the traditional malt & hops flavors, and have a hard time with some of the weird stuff put out by the trendy micros. My normally intelligent and articulate younger brother J-O has no patience for the fancy stuff, referring to most micro-brewery products as "butt-fuck brown." After endless "double" IPAs, "ultra-imperial" stouts and foul-smelling Belgi-clones, I can see his point. (And by the way, HAPPY BIRTHDAY, hermano!) The Lumpy Gravy Ale thankfully avoids those extremes. It is a delicious, well-crafted beer that pushes the envelope just enough to make it interesting, but not so far that you can't suck down a pint, smack your lips, and burp heartily afterwards. Frank Zappa, who left this world much too young in 1993, apparenty never drank anything stronger than coffee. He disdained drugs (other than Winstons by the pack), and was notoriously intolerant of stoners, acid heads, coke fiends and the rest of the burn-outs from the hippie heyday. But his astonishing body of work lives on, sounding as lively and "cuttting-edge" today as it must have in 1968. Sometimes Frank is just too bizarre, heaping absurdity upon cacophony like a tweaker surfing channels. Other times he reaches sublime heights of intensity and originality that few pop-era musicians and composers could match. In between there are some great rock songs, fabulous guitar solos and live jams, hilarious riffs on modern society, thought-provoking nuggets, mind-bending experiments, and mountains of intriguing, challenging, and ultimately rewarding music. Ah, Frank me bhoy, we miss ye.