Tuesday, June 20, 2006

200 Motels

"Lord have mercy on the people in England for the terrible food these people must eat!"

200 Motels was released around 1972 and actually played at the De Anza Theatre in Rio Nada. Impressive! Rio Nada was like Zappa's "everytown", Centerville. A real nice place to raise your kids up.

Zappa had a loyal and large following in Rio Nada. His dad even taught at a Catholic high school in town. Whenever a new high school is built, there are municipal rumblings about naming the school Zappa High. Tommy Level bought four $100 seats at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion to hear Frank and the L.A. Philharmonic play a concert version of Lumpy Gravy (Unfortunately, Tommy altered his conciousness the night before and showed up at the Chandler a day late and $400 hundred dollars short). My friend Luigi still sends Frank a card every Mother's Day and he's been dead for 10 years now (Frank not Luigi).

I was pretty anxious to get down to the De Anza before everybody else. I asked this girl, Oona Withers, if she would be my date. She had luxuriously long brown hair and a deep sultry voice. Perfect! But she lived way out in Cabbageland, so I had to hurry.

We got to the theatre 10 minutes late. I bought the tickets and hurried into the theatre. There were only two people in the whole place. Len Bass and his girl friend Joanie Waylon. Like my friend Tommy, they had altered their conciousnesses and became a bit edgy. 200 Motels is not what you would call a visually or musically soothing movie.

Oona did not care for it either. She said "Take me home." So I did.

She later became a successful real estate agent in Santa Barbara. Perfect!

So last night I am surfing the cable and what should I see? 200 Motels! Keith Moon dressed as a nun, Ringo disguised as Zappa, Flo and Eddy singing their livers out. Cheesy sets and Eclectic Helicopter montages. Bare breasts and potty humor. And Jimmy Carl Black... watta drummer! All so oblique and atonal and lovely in its own angular way.

And, oh, the Big Finish. Still gives me shivers! The entire cast, chorus and full orchestra are captive in a concentration camp replete with barbed wire and faux Nazi guards. Zappa is in one of the guard towers conducting the whole zany mess. Just as everyone says throughout the movie, he MADE them do it.

It can't happen here!


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