Dirty Franks a local dive bar in Philadelphia that dates back to prohibition. Geoffrey and I countered it as a stop on our hours-long walk of the city’s Mural Mile tour, which takes you through many different neighborhoods in search of unique street art, public artworks and memorable landmarks. Dirty Franks stands out for the murals painted on its multiple façades, which depict the likenesses of famous Franks. The mural was designed by David McShane, painted originally in 2001, and restored with additions in 2015.
Image Courtesy of MSO PR
Statement from the Family of Gail Zappa on the Occasion of Her Passing:
Gail Zappa, wife of the late Frank Zappa, passed away on Wednesday, October 7, 2015 at her home, surrounded by her children. She was 70 years old.
Married to Frank Zappa at age 22, Gail was a trailblazer, giving equal value to her domestic and professional responsibilities as matriarch of the family and overseer of all Zappa enterprises. She devoted herself to partnering with her husband in the music business and raising their children, Moon Unit, Dweezil, Ahmet and Diva.
Gail enthusiastically executed her role as guardian of her husband’s creative life and, with his passing, strove to ensure his legacy as one of the leading American composers and musicians of the 20th century. In this and all business endeavors, she passionately advocated to establish clear definitions of intellectual property and copyright laws on behalf of not just her husband, but all artists. While she conducted intricate legal negotiations with corporations as executor of the Zappa Family Trust, she never failed to impart the sense of humor that was part and parcel of her indomitable and formidable personality. Self-described as a pagan absurdist, Gail was motivated by love in all aspects of her life, kept her authenticity intact, unbowed and, simply put, was one bad ass in the music business and political world
Gail will forever be identified as a key figure in the creative renaissance that is Laurel Canyon. But more than any singular accomplishment, she defined herself in her personal relationships, happiest when surrounded by loved ones and artists, often one in the same. The memories she leaves behind are indeed her own art form. Her searing intelligence, unforgettable smile, wild thicket of hair and trailing black velvets leave a blur in her wake.
If I didn’t have a calendar in front of me I’d swear it was April Fools’ Day, because I just read about a new musical coming to off-Broadway which is based on the true story of the late sixties’ all female rock band, The Shaggs. For those unfamiliar with this pop cultural phenomenon, the band was composed of sisters Dorothy “Dot” Wiggin (vocals/lead guitar), Betty Wiggin (vocals/rhythm guitar), Helen Wiggin (drums), and later Rachel Wiggin (bass). The Shaggs were formed by Dot, Betty, and Helen in 1968 on the insistence of their father, Austin Wiggin, who believed that his mother foresaw the band’s rise to stardom. The Shaggs’ only studio album, Philosophy of the World, was released in 1969 and failed to garner attention, though the band continued to exist as a locally popular live act. The Shaggs disbanded in 1975 after their father’s death. Today, the band is primarily notable for their perceived ineptitude at playing conventional rock music; the band was described in one Rolling Stone article as “…sounding like lobotomized Trapp Family singers.” In some circles, however, The Shaggs are seen as a groundbreaking outsider music group, receiving praise from mainstream artists such as Kurt Cobain and also from Frank Zappa after he called the Shaggs “better than the Beatles.”
As art imitates life, the play tells the story of a working-class dad’s a vision of rock-n-roll destiny for his three talentless daughters, convinced that they are his family’s one-way ticket out of hardship and obscurity. Shaggs: Philosophy of the World is directed by John Langs, coproduced by New York Theatre Workshop and South Ark Stage. The book is by Joy Gregory, music by Gunnar Madsen, and lyrics by Gregory and Madsen. Personally, I can’t wait to see it.
For two evenings in April, curious Shaggs’ fans can sneak a peek of the new musical, prior to its May 2011 debut at New York’s Playwrights Horizons. On Sunday and Monday, April 17and 18, excerpts will be performed at the Guggenheim Museum (1071 Fifth Avenue at 89th Street) at 7:30 PM. Irwin Chusid will also moderate a discussion with members of the production’s creative team. It should be a good time. Tickets for this event are $30 General Public, $25 Guggenheim members and $10 for Students under 25 with valid ID. Click through to This Link to purchase.
On This Date in 1964: The Whisky a Go Go club opened on the Sunset Strip in West Hollywood, CA. The Whisky was a launching pad for such acts as The Doors and Frank Zappa’s Mothers of Invention. It’s also the club where Led Zeppelin performed their first US shows, supported by a then unknown band called Alice Cooper. Bands I can remember seeing at The Whisky include The Plasmatics and Nina Hagen. There are likely many others, but those memories aren’t really available to me anymore.
Musician and visual artist Don Van Vliet, AKA Captain Beefheart has passed away today, December 17th, 2010, in California due to complications from multiple sclerosis. He was 69 years old.