Journal of the Plague Year 2021–chapter 209

John Lennon with Frank Zappa.

Tuesday, April 27

Paranoia strikes deep.

Last night I dreamed that I was at the bank, making fumble-fingered mistakes at an ATM machine, which then froze up. I spoke to a clerk who then went to get a higher authority to help fix things. Out came a tallish, mustachioed guy wearing a gray plaid suit who told me that, yes, I have screwed up and my account has been frozen and will remain so for a long while.

I think I just have many worries about personal affairs. Why these anxieties should center on the bank—who knows?

Did that mustachioed guy resemble Frank Zappa? 

The Frank Zappa movie on Hulu is shoddy and snooze-inducing. It features Frank himself, members of his band, and various hangers on who appear as talking heads. At great length, his wife and a couple of musicians spout a lot of pretentious gibberish—there seems to have been almost no editing in the movie. And more significantly, there’s almost no music—yet we’re told over and over just how tremendously avant-garde and visionary Zappa’s music was. One band member tells how Zappa never had a hit record—but he could have, easily…he just chose not to.

After a while, I realized what all this jabber reminded me of: the vacuous rambling of the Dennis Hopper character as he praises Colonel Kurtz in Apocalypse Now.  “The man’s enlarged my mind…I mean sometimes he’ll, uh, well, you’ll say hello to him, right, and he’ll walk right by you…I’m a little man, but he’s a great man.” And so on. 

Why did other musicians, ranging from Eric Clapton and Mick Jagger to John and Yoko, visit Zappa and pay homage to him? Such moments make one embarrassed to have been part of the empty and always posturing 1960s. You need to free your mind, man.

Our culture has hardly outgrown such stuff, as all the high-flown rhetoric about various rappers and Taylor Swift shows. But I, for one, don’t take any of this seriously anymore. Either I have grown up or just grown very old.

Dinner: wine-braised chicken with artichokes and American picnic potato salad (recipe from The Silver Palate Cookbook).

Entertainment: We’re truly running short of quality stuff to watch, as the pandemic’s toll on film production is more and more evident. We’ve viewed a number of wacky, deeply disappointing flicks, from Cold Case Hammarskjold to Zappa. So what now? Perhaps Mhz’ German police drama The Typist or the Finnish thriller Man in Room 301.