Meanwhile, back in the Jungle ....
Although I didn't like Der Schtink Tank in Claremont, and know full well that Upton Sinclair is completely unknown to California students (although my mother once said in 1960 as she sipped a pink lady at Henry's Drive-In located on Foothill in Pomona that if she had lived in California during the Depression, she would have voted for Upton Sinclair when he ran for Governor, but she couldn't vote then as she was living in Chicago during the Depression, buying apples from people on the street while she worked for the local Federal Reserve Bank that had armed guards on catwalks guarding all the money inside, some of whom wore crossed bandoliers of extra bullets),
my old friend Frederick Ellis
has had a hand in
creating the Upton Sinclair Institute
and if you ever want to buy a reproduction of Jack London or Upton Sinclair original first edition, he has the RIGHTS!!!
And you can order online from the link above (Upton Sinclair Institute
I once met Upton Sinclair on a bench in Claremont, right in front of the library.
I told you all once I was going to list all the famous people I have known or met in my life. Frank Zappa is but one of them.
Can you find any evidence in Frank's music that he read the book, "The Jungle" by Upton Sinclair? Perhaps my own pocket sized paperback edition that had a black cover? (That is a question I would ask my music class if I had one).
Frank also heard several of my mom's stories about working there at the Federal Reserve Bank during the Depression. How she and my Dad got married off the winnings of a race horse (a tip was thrown in the wastebasket of one of the bank executives, and he had called his bookie) -- that horse came in on 3:1 odds! A huge sum, it was, $28!! But enough to begin a married life back then during the Depression.
The guards with Tommy guns walking the cat-walks above and watching the employees work below while all the money was kept in the safe. How she would have to work late to reconcile a ten cent difference and not be paid for the overtime as her drawer had to be fully accounted for at day's banking close. Waiting for the street car in cold Chicago winter weather with winds off the Great Lakes so strong, they'd sometimes lift people off their feet as they waited to cross a street.
I'd tell Frank I just saw the thermometer on the bank and it read 113 degrees! We were dying from heat and telling cold weather stories to keep cool.
And she'd tell Frank how the executives of the bank would get on the cat walks prior to an election and tell all the employees to vote for Herbert Hoover. (She said, "I didn't! And neither did some of the other clerks, she knew because they'd talk a little bit about this while waiting to be rung in through the door when they arrived for work. "We wouldn't say a word and just go to the polls and vote for who we wanted!" And that in my mother's case was Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
She'd tell Frank how my Dad, who has been hired as a courier for the bank to carry money, was beset by thugs with guns who robbed him and smashed his head against a brick wall, changing forever the shape of his neck and back of his head.
He had been hired for that job because he had been a boxer and raised in a tough neighborhood and knew his way around.
He was unconscious and bloody when he was picked up and carried to the hospital, and when he regained consciousness enough to speak, the bank sent over investigators to his hospital bed who thought he was in on the robbery and accused him of as much.
My Dad got pissed and quit his job on the spot, saying "Your money isn't worth it" and he went to work for fifty cents an hour in the Chicago stock yards to help keep food on the table then. But before he got that job, after he quit the bank, the police came and arrested him and took him into the station to talk to him, and he wasn't sure why he was being picked up and arrested because they didn't tell you then, so he had his photo taken but they didn't to my knowledge file any charges because they had no evidence because my Dad was completely innocent. He had to have his brother Uncle Taddeus the Federal Bank Examiner come down to the jail house in Chicago and vouchsafe for him.
Because his head had been smashed by thugs in Chicago all those years prior, and because he was a boxer, years later he would watch boxing matches on television and really lean into the screen and "oomph" as if he were receiving the blow. But other times, he would erupt and become violent for no apparent reason and my Mom, sister, and I would have to skedaddle from the room to escape such an outburst.
We would be terrified of his behavior and sometimes wait outside shaking until he calmed down. He frightened us so much, because he was a big man and still in good physical condition as he worked out in a gym nearly every day.
Too bad you can't go back in the past and sue that goddamn bank for damages and all the physical and mental suffering they caused us all, each and every one, I would tell my mom and Aunt Ludmilla and Uncle Taddeus would agree (because we had another relative back East who had sued a department store and won when her kid lost a toe on an escalator ride, and Aunt Ludmilla had once filed a law suit and won, as well), but we knew even if we could, the bank with all their money would hire a slew of lawyers and blame everything on my dad's earlier boxing career. And right about that same time, my father's and Uncle Taddeus's older brother had surgery in a Chicago hospital and the doctors amputated the wrong leg!
Frank knew all of this about my family.
What song and influences might be swirling in "The Torture Never Stops" I would now ask my music class. I have my own reading of the material.
In 1960, I learned the word "abattoir".
Claremont kids however rich they were, they were such pussies compared to me and my family.