Zappa – a critical look at joe’s garage (part 2)

Records on wheels, Toronto, sept. 24 1977

Image via Wikipedia

Joe takes the councilor up on his kindly offer, and meets a girl at a church social named Mary. Things seem to be going well until one night Mary finds herself backstage (and then later traveling on the tour bus) with a band called “Toad-oh”, performing unspeakable sexual acts with both the band members and road crew. Finding himself forcefully turned away from music, and becoming disillusioned with relationships after Mary broke his heart, Joe turns to religion to ease the pain of his soul:

Arriving at L. Ron Hoover’s modernistic office / cathedral / warehouse /
condominium complex, Joe is greeted by a pre-recorded message and a dramatically
illuminated image on a wall-sized TV screen…
L. Ron Hoover:Welcome to the
First Church of Appliantology! The WHITE ZONE is for loading and unloading only!


Again we hear the mantra of the Scrutinizer, this time being recited by the ghostly video-image of L. Ron Hoover, leader of the Church of Appliantology. This intro to the track, “A Token of My Extreme” cements the direct collusion between religion and ruling in Zappa’s created world. This is also a commentary on real concerns about religion and politics mixing. Zappa obviously saw the seed of the problems we are now facing (namely, the recent inability to separate the notion of Conservatism and the fanaticism of Fundamentalist Christianity).
As Joe relates his feelings of the grief within his soul, Hoover makes a grandiose pronouncement: Joe is a latent appliance fetishist ( as explained by Hoover, “a latent appliance fetishist is a person who refuses to admit to his or herself that sexual gratification can only be achieved through the use of machines”). Now all Joe has to do to find nirvana in this life is to find himself a nice appliance to have relations with…after learning how to speak German to entice a “really good” one to accede to Joe’s advances.
The directive given to Joe, at first glance, is apparently no more than some sort of deviant joke that Zappa threw in simply to shock the listener with pure absurdity. But, upon deper reflection, Zappa seems to be making commentary on religion itself. Religions are infamous for making incredible claims that are (almost) never proved out by science or the rational and reality of logic. Along with these articles of faith, are some outrageous claims on how to attain spiritual enlightenment or some form of ascension. Zappa, in his description of religion in this track, alludes to the notion that no matter how “out-there” the words of a man on a pulpit wearing a nice suit might be, that there will be those who will follow these directives without question. Additionally, the bigger the spiritual hole in a person (in the case of this tale, everything Joe has cared for has been whisked away from him) the more apt they are to seek out solace for their soul…but caring little for the specifics of where that assistance is coming from or what it is requiring one to do.
So Joe and his newfound date Sy Borg (a hunk of gadgetry that looks like it’s a cross between an industrial vacuum cleaner and a chrome piggy bank with marital aids stuck all over its body), whom Joe seduced with his recent fluency in German, end up back at Sy Borg’s apartment for a night of (in the words of Zappa) “plooking”. Unfortunately, Joe “plooks” the machine much too roughly, causing the overtaxed gadget to break down.

Central Scrutinizer:This is the CENTRAL SCRUTINIZER… You have just destroyed
one model XQJ-37 Nuclear Powered Pan- Sexual Roto-Plooker And you’re gonna have
to pay for it! So give up, you haven’t got a chance.
Joe:But I…I, I, I, I,
I…I can’t payI gave all my moneyTo some kinda groovyreligious guy…Two songs
Central Scrutinizer:Come on out son…Between the two of usWe’ll find
a way toWork it out

Zappa uses an interesting lyrical quirk in the above passage. After the Robot is reduced to a gaggle of moist, sparking, and whirring circuits and do-dads, the Central Scrutinizer shows up to pronounce Joe’s guilt. But when asked to pay for the damage to the robot, Joe is unable to pay up due to the fact that he had given his money to L. Ron Hoover “two songs ago”. This series of lyrics denotes not only how inventive Zappa is in the use of his lyrics to paint a mental picture or to pass on a message, but also the way he uses words to create a sense of continuity throughout the entire album. Zappa makes the story seem more alive and vital and less rehearsed and linear.

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