Frank Zappa

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Zappa was hit or miss with me. He had/did some things I loved, and others I didn't. But he was insightful, even when I didn't agree. And when I did, he was f'in brilliant. There are rabble rousers who just want to break shit and tear it all down. And there's less common nihilists that are actually selectively targeting their rage at things they don't like -- and trying to remake it. Zappa might have been a bit indiscriminate, but some of the cultural norms he wanted to tear down, needed to be torn a little.... and he wasn't a pure post-modernist trying to destroy all social conventions, or that was afraid to mock himself or others trying to tear down establishments either. He was a weird duck. But one that did make the world more interesting.


He did a video on why music in the 1960's was so innovative and eclectic -- and why that died in the late 70's and 80's. The TL:DR version is that old men with cigars in the 1960's didn't understand any of it, and they knew they did. So they tried the "throw it against the wall, and see what sticks" method. Put it out there, and let the market judge.

But they let kids in, trained them, and the young-hippie-know-it-alls, thought they knew it all, so started playing arbiters of what was good or not. And saved us (and themselves) from putting out things that they might like. Which suffocated creativity and innovation, and took the choice away from the people.... and made music much more predictable and mundane.

This is f'in brilliant observation on ego, and what likely happened and when we became too commercialized. It wasn't because of old guys who smoked cigars and took chances, it was the young hippies that thought they knew more than everyone else, so didn't take chances.

While he's too dead to make the leap, this reminds me completely of the bay area and tech. The young and lucky are often arrogant and think their success is because they are masters of the universe (gifted with some imaginary talent that makes them wiser/smarter than others) and they sincerely think have some unique insight on the world. So they want to tell others what to do, for their own good.

Their success stunted their own growth, because it suffocated their humility and tolerance for tastes not like their own. And too few people will have the balls to tell them when they're wrong. Zuckerberg Syndrome(?)... though that's just an easy example, it applies to most of the tech companies with charismatic leaders that succeeded too young. They started buying their own bullshit, or the fawning bullshit of idol worshipers, instead of retaining enough self doubt to trust others might know more than them about anything.

You can tell when they've reached critical ego mass, because they will sincere believe they can do things like censor the world, and decide what views/music/content should be shared... and that only they can be the true arbiters of what's in the public's best interest. (Like most people that call themselves journalists, but are really just opinionated polemics).


Written: 2018.05.22