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          I’m sitting here on a nondescript Tuesday---another one of those Tuesdays that seem to come every week, unless you live in Mexico, where they are Martes-es---with the ghost of Frank Zappa. Frank visits every time I need to be reminded that the world is full of shit, and people are grubby little greed-mongers hung up on self-aggrandisement and cheap gratification.
          We are listening to “Andy,” Frank and I, from the last Mothers of Invention album, “One Size Fits All.” I have cranked “Andy” way the hell up because once, when I told Frank how much I liked it, his eyebrows went up and he said, “I love ‘Andy.’”
          Yes, it’s a beautiful work, “Andy,” with jagged, improbable rhythmic juxtapositions (what else is new in Zappa music?) and nuclear lyricism; built of a number of madcap, wildly different sections that somehow seem just right for each other. Careening melodies. It’s almost a mini-suite, really, punctuated by the antic vocals of the late, great Johnny “Guitar” Watson.
          This is about as far away from “commercial,” of course, as commercial gets, such is the originality and brilliance and goofiness and sheer inspiration. There is not another musician or composer alive or dead who ever even conceived of such music. You should rush right out and get it.
          So Frank’s ghost is sitting in the chair next to me, legs crossed, foot twitching in time to the music, smoking a Winston. He’s nodding slightly, not speaking. Ghosts don’t speak much, at least in my experience. He’s just giving me the eye, one eyebrow slightly raised, as he did in real life, the eye that says “fuck ‘em and keep on doing your work.”
          And now, as the music ends, he’s gone. But the melody lingers on.
          “One Size Fits All.” Ha. What a title. Zappa knew so much, saw through so much, saw the chicanery and artifice and cunning clearly. Probably why we hit it off. I’ve got a look in my eye, too, you see.
          And I had a little “One Size Fits All” experience just now, in fact. Ran right up against the marketing/demographic Great Wall of Greed. The money machine. I’ve had a million such experiences, really, and I don’t usually talk about them the way you don’t talk about an illness, or having one leg, or why you got fired. You know, it’s a longgggg story and all that. And it’s depressing.
          But what’s funny is that this has to do with my “Less Than Satisfying Encounters With Humanity” (LTSEWH) series of columns, which I started writing in 1994 or ’95 for the L.A. Slimes, then continued for the creepy website, World Net Daily, then the magnificent Rip Post.
          Ever read ‘em? Well, if you are a thinking, sentient person who has noticed the decline in civility, sanity, efficiency around you, and the attendant rise of narcissism, incompetence, and gimmegimme, you should read them. They’ll make you laugh. Print them out and take them with you to the bathroom, when you’re irregular. They’ll clean you right out.
          They’re in my archive, of course, at least some of them. They always get oodles of e-mail, and when they ran in the Slimes years ago, they got oodles of U.S. mail (which a bitch secretary refused to forward to me, saying “I can put it in a box and you can come and get it.”)
          Well, here’s the deal. I sent a pitch for an LTSEWH book, which I have written at great effort, to an agent. A bigtime hotshot kingshit agent. Bad idea! Here is the salient portion of the agent’s chin-stroking response.
          “I'm not convinced that a collection of such columns would add up to a commercial mainstream success, especially since you're not a nationally syndicated columnist or well-known humorist/comedian. Basically, from an agent's standpoint, it's more about an author's platform and marketing clout than literary content, however funny and entertaining.”
          Now this is one hell of an LTSEWH unto itself, eh? I mean, the guy must be psychic, as he never even looked at the manuscript! Wait. . .wait. . .I hear "Andy" again:
          "Is there anything good inside of you?
           If there is, I really want to know. . ."

          I am always surprised at how people are never ashamed to be caricatures of themselves; mockeries of their professions. Here is a translation of the above: “Rip, if you were famous, I would publish this, because there would be money in it for me. But seeing as you are not, the content and quality mean less than ant-dung.”
          Thirty-two years in the business, bylines in most major papers and many magazines---it all means nothing. I mean really---absolutely nothing. It was waste of time and energy. I was duped into thinking otherwise, that I could write articles/profiles/interviews/columns that mattered, and that would “make people happy,” and “make people think,” and improve the lot of humanity. Never mind the lousy pay!
          Can you say. . .chump?
          No, Agentmannequin, I’m not a columnist, for which I largely thank the Slimes, which once offered me a column, and then rescinded the offer because, and I quote a particular female editormannequin who still works there, earning well over a hundred grand a year, “we have too many white male columnists here.”
          No, Agentmannequin, I’m not a comedian, although frankly, I can think of no one around who has a more laughably absurd life.
          What’s really amazing here is that this vile creeping crud---let’s call him Punchinello, just for um, fun---actually comes right out and says “I am a jackass phoney pandering to lowest common denominator for a buck.” Here is how he says it: “it’s more about an author’s platform and marketing clout than literary content, however funny and entertaining.”
          One size fits all, see?
          Author’s platform. . .marketing clout. . .All that demographic buzzword bullshit. All that formulaic, soulless crap. Punchinello is so locked into moneythink that he says outright that “literary content, however funny and entertaining,” is not important. And remember again: Punchinello never even read the manuscript!
          Oh, well. Why bother anymore. I can’t get published because I’m not famous. I’m not famous because I can’t get published. The snake eats itself, and vomits. If I led cops on a high-speed car chase, or recorded a rap album about raping “ho’s,” or danced naked at a Bush press conference, I’d be famous and could get published. But all I do is write fairly well.
          I hear "Andy" again:
         "Do you know what I'm really telling you?
          Is it something that you can understand?
          Another song on that Zappa album, by the way, is called “Sofa,” which is a kind of love song, and includes the line, “I am here, and you are my sofa.” Yes, the hallowed, coveted, American sofa, the emblem of all American Dream tush-cushiness. Can Punchinello make a nice sofa out of my manuscript? No, because no one has ever heard of my sofa.
          So everything has become a sofa, just part of the massive entertainment/marketing juggernaut rampaging in through your plasma TV. (An apt term for a bloodsucking device.) All is sofa reality in this country, and most everyone in it has become “Po-Jama People,” the title of yet another fine song on this grand Zappa album, which includes these wonderful, wonderful lines:
          The Po-Jama People are boring me to pieces
          They make me feel like I am wastin’ my time
          They all got flannel up and down ‘em
          A little trapdoor back aroun’ ‘em
          And some cozy little footies on their minds.

          (Footies stamped with Chanel, of course, just in case the owners haven’t proudly stamped Chanel right on their asses.)
          Demographics, marketing, power—it’s mass-Murdoched every aspect of culture and politics. It’s as big as the sky. Meanwhile, pinhead infantile America rages at the “commies,” the “socialists,” the “terrorists,” the "godless," plugs into the big Daily Newsboggle on Fox and CNN, while all the while being spiritually raped and sucked dry of cash and the power to think and express.
          No, no, I’m not overreacting based on one little incident. I am just too careworn and weatherbeaten to make the case with any passion or illustration anymore. It’s in just about every column I’ve written, anyhow, one way or another.
          So the fix is in, the game is rigged. Doesn’t matter what you write, how good it is. If I were black or latino or Asian---or a little bit Asian, you know, so I could add a cool Asian middle-name to my own---I would have had the columnist job at the Slimes years ago. And if I were a famous “humorist,” Punchinello would have scooped my book up, even if it were covered in excrement and maggots at the bottom of a dumpster. With his teeth.
          One hilarious irony here is that this is all an ideal LTSEWH (you should see what I wrote to Punchinello!) but I just don’t have the will or interest or wit to bother to frame it amusingly for you.
          I’m tired.
          So I sit here instead, comforting a couple of cats who are terrified by the roofers hammering and pouring carcinogenic tar over our heads, lucky enough to have shared a small moment with the ghost of good old Frank, one of the greatest thinkers and creators of the 20th century.
          I love “Andy.”

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