President Clinton, "zappa male"

His guitar wants to kill your mama! The prez reveals a rocking campaign strategy to get Al Gore elected.


Sean Elder
November 9, 1999 10:00PM (UTC)

Q: Naomi Wolf is reportedly advising the vice president to shed his beta male image and take on the alpha male of the White House, which is President Clinton. Now, will President Clinton defend his position as the alpha male?

Joe Lockhart: Let me just leave it as, I know you're all having a lot of fun with that, but the president is going to do whatever he can to help the vice president get elected as the next president and is confident he'll do so.

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So he'll be the beta male, then.

Who?

The president.

What comes after beta? What? Zappa? (Laughter.) The zappa male. (Laughter.) OK.

-- From the White House press briefing, Nov. 3

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President Clinton surprised White House insiders today when he announced he would assume the role of "zappa male" in deference to Vice President Al Gore, who demonstrated his newfound grasp of "the alpha dog takedown" in his debate with former Sen. Bill Bradley two weeks ago. Named in honor of the late rock provocateur Frank Zappa, the "zappa male" role will "allow the president to get in touch with his inner prankster while diverting attention to the new 'top dog,' Vice President Gore," the White House press office said.

Later in the day the president himself appeared, dressed in a woman's frock and carrying a bathroom plunger, to answer questions about this election-year strategy. When called on his familiarity with Zappa's work, Clinton claimed he had been stereotyped.

"I tell people I like Garth Brooks and Kenny G," admitted the president, sitting atop a toilet he had erected on the White House lawn, "but that's just to get some votes. You try telling voters your favorite album is 'Hot Rats' or 'Weasels Ripped My Flesh,' see how far you get."

Clinton went on to say that Zappa's orchestral work, which owed a debt to the avant-garde compositions of Edgard Varhse, were "pretty awesome" but he preferred the more agitprop sounds of the early Mothers of Invention. "My early worldview was pretty much defined in the song 'Hungry Freaks, Daddy,'" said Clinton. "And let's face it, the solo on 'My Guitar Wants to Kill Your Mama' just flat-out fucking rocks."

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In order to further alienate voters -- while reminding them, Clinton stressed, "that Al Gore is a really responsible square dude, about as plastic as they come" -- the president has proposed putting Zappa's likeness on the dollar bill and replacing the motto "In God We Trust" with one of the Mothers' better-known titles: "We're Only in It for the Money." He then suggested he answer all further questions by pulling quotes from Zappa out of a hat. The quotes included:

"Never try to get your peter sucked in France."

"May your shit come to life and kiss you on the face."

"You wouldn't know a revolution if it bit you on the dick."

"I can gross out anybody in this room."

The real Frank Zappa did not fare so well in Washington. When he appeared before a Senate subcommittee in 1985, testifying against record labeling and the Parents Music Resource Center, the composer was disdained by most of the senators present. PMRC founder Tipper Gore, wife of then-Sen. Al Gore, pointedly asked Zappa if there was anything on TV he wouldn't let his kids watch.

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"Yeah," replied the singer, "I tell them to change the channel if they see some guy in a brown suit with a telephone number at the bottom of the screen asking for money."

Except, of course, if that guy is the vice president.


Sean Elder

Sean Elder is a frequent contributor to Salon.

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