None Dare Call It Reason: The Odious Cloud in the Pomona Valley
Those awaiting proofs on Alice Cooper at the Berkeley Community Theater or even the subsidiary evidence about sociology professors to substantiate, I am sorry .... due to technical difficulties beyond my control (my IT tech decided to drive to Torrance for a better paying gig), I will have to delay posting those items for a bit.
In the meantime:
The electric clarinet in the Frank Zappa interview on Steve Allen Show I am positive once belonged to my Uncle Taddeus, who I have mentioned on this blog several times before. He's the one who could play Bob (or Ray) and wail out schnitzel music. Because the clarinet went missing on a subsequent visit when Uncle Taddeus was called upon to play, and my sister confessed she had sold the instrument (Uncle Taddeus had given it to her, after all when she was trying out for the Marching Band at Enterprise Junior High School in Compton, but she decided to twirl batons instead in the parades .... but she didn't sell that clarinet for much which infuriated my entire family. And, Frank was like that sometimes. I know another person who is still waiting to this very day for that final payment from Frank for a xylophone purchased about the same time and in the same vicinity, you see.)
Because I tend to sometimes use a circular form of memory with free association thrown in, and it's as confusing to me as it sometimes is to you, I will tell you now of a curious coincidence, the kind that Frank enjoyed at times (because don't we all?)
Frank and Candy and the whole fam damily lived on cul-de-sac near my Oakmont Grammar School on a street called ...... OAK PARK
(that's in Claremont, California) That's right!
And the amazing coincidence is ......
My Uncle Taddeus and Aunt Ludmilla who visited and met Frank and took him and my sister and me to Denny's in Pomona .....
They lived in Oak Park, Illinois at the time. Frank would see the endless letters from Aunt Ludmilla on top of our TV, she tended to write 17-page letters, one after another, and we'd get three, four, five of them at once. (This is a trait her son inherited from her). They came originally from The Windy City of Chicago I would have to warn Frank in advance, as Aunt Ludmilla was a real how you say yenta.
And here's the SPOO-OOOO-KY part, scarier than any Hallowe'en .....
They'd come visit in the late '50s and early '60s ..... in Claremont ..... and let us know because they didn't like it too much and were ashamed to mention it at all ..... that the American Nazi party was holding rallys in Oak Park, Illinois, complete in full regalia .... and we'd go ooooo-oooo-ooooh! CREEPY! And laugh about them.
And it would be completely ooooo-ooooh! CREEPY! because to my way of thinking, there were an awful lot of Germanic types around the Pomona Valley at the time .... especially in Claremont .....
And .... there's probably a reason
the Neo-Nazi Party
decided to march in Claremont recently
The Claremont Institute
, when Frank worked at Running Greeting Card studio, which was adjacent to the little Folk Music Store on First Street, was slightly down the street from both those establishments, tucked away next to a bicycle repair shop near the corner of First and Yale.
I'd stop in to all the businesses in town, as a kid, and the interior was .... very intellectual and frightening ... Ach, dose Eentellecktualz ... I used to call it Der Local Schtink Tank. Or because of its darkened cavernous
near airless interior, The Hyperbolic Chamber.
So we'd rent an empty storefront right across Yale from them and have a combined gallery showing and sale of all our friends' art.
(I used to run into them, American Nazi Party members, quite literally in full uniform ... as I was rounding a corner at a big Peace March in Los Angeles in 1963 ... well, I suppose I can laugh about it now ... but they were in Pomona, too.)
You remember how I was hit on the head with a baseball bat? Not the dumb rednecks, they were probably more like the deranged offspring of the local inbred families of the Klan that operated in the vicinity.
But when I was hit on the head as I was rising from my knees and the boys running away, I shouted out, "Nazis!" after them. And guess what? The boy on crutches said to me at that critical juncture of my life, "They are not!"
First he was yelling "No!" as I was hit, and he moved forward to me on his crutches. And then when I yelled "Nazis!" he yelled "No!" again. "They are not!"
He had to explain that comment to me later on, I tell you.
As I got to know the boy on crutches as life went on there, I learned he was of German extract, and was proud his grandmother had not kneeled to kiss the flag back during World War I as an enforced bid to show patriotism. And Nazis, to him, as a bright boy, was strictly speaking a socio-political monstrous phenomenon during a particular course of extremely bloody world history and professed a particularly hideous genocidal economic platform all resultant from soggy esteem in National Identity among certain ascending cultural groups from losing the First World War and losing some land and needing more elbausraum for themselves.
You see, we had bright kids in Claremont, and he was a few years older than I so I listened to him eventually when we became friends for a bit. So there are Good Germans and Bad Germans, as any student of history will tell you. He was German, and his dad taught music at a nearby college.
Anyway, that was Claremont to me and because these things had really happened to me, Frank would listen to my point of view as I related my most recent experiences in town. My point of view, I will add, is the only one I had at the time.
Der American Nazi Party was on der very visible rise even in Kalifornia back in the early sixties as some weird identity crisis the local White People were having in response to the growing popularity of the Civil Rights Movement, and when they grew nostalgic for an era they had only heard and dreamed of being like.
(Ooh, Adolf, I imagined the blond bouffant girls in my school sighing. Ooh, Eva! I imagined those same girls longing for his passionate response)
But when Uncle Taddeus, Aunt Ludmilla, and my father were young, about the age I was in 1960, they lived in the family home on Maxwell Street in Chicago. So they had some stories about THAT, too. And that's the kind of stuff I would pay attention to, because that's more fun than thinking about Nazis even though they're in the geographic vicinity.
For a party favor or some kind of present at my own graduation, every student in my graduating class at Claremont High School reeived a copy of "None Dare Call It Treason
" from an anonymous donor. That's the kind of town it was then, and all you could do was laugh about it.
Nile Running had a logo of a person running (a visual play on his name)... and I would listen to:
Sorry (I Ran All The Way Home
) by the Capris
(On the Dick Clark Show, when they sang it, sometimes they'd do a little pantomime with the lip-sync, and one of the singers would swing his arms like he was holding an imaginary baseball bat right where the drum went "snap" to imitate hitting a ball .... and I'd go "eeew! Gabba gabba gabba" because if I'd been hit any harder, as frightened adults told me at the time, "you could have been killed!" or even end up speaking like "gabba gabba gabba". Ah, the kids in my town, I tell you.)