The Mother Of All Interviews


Act I


What impelled you to start writing music?

I liked the way it looked.

Where had you seen it?

Well, everybody has seen sheet music before.

But were you studying it in grade school, or was it just something you picked up as a drummer?

No. In my earliest experience I was doing a lot of drawing, sketching, painting, and that kind of stuff. And I was interested in art, and I always liked the way music looked. And I liked to listen to music, but when I started writing it, I just basically started doing it because I liked the way it looked.

When did you first start writing note down on paper?

Around 14, I think.

And it was pen on paper?

Yes. It was a C5 Speedball.

Before you even took up guitar?

Yeah. I was still playing snare drum in orchestra.

Did you have a sense of being able to hear what you were putting down?

Absolutely not. I didn't have the faintest fucking idea what it sounded like. I mean, I was so ignorant, I thought that all you did was you got an idea for the way it looked, you drew it, and then you found a musician who could read it - and that's how you did it. I was literally that naive. Fortunate for me, there weren't any people around who could read music; otherwise I probably would have stopped very early in my career.

Have you kept track of the exact number of works you've done?

No. It's in the hundreds.

Charles Ives used to pile up music that he would bind and put in the barn after a period of time. Do you have the feeling of the same accumulation of works that won't ever be heard?

Yeah. Well, I knew that most of them would never be heard from the day I started writing them. But you can hear them yourself while you're writing them - once you get past the graphic stage, at the point where you know what the symbols actually mean in terms of what it will sound like if you ask somebody to do such and such hy drawing this symbol on a piece of paper. Once you understand what the audio result is going to be of that dot that you just drew, then you hear it yourself as a writer.

Many modern composers, though, have given up because they can't get their work heard by other people. Charles Ives once said that the reason he ran an insurance company was because he thought if he'd been thinking of commercial music it would be bad for his family because there would always be conflict about whether his stuff was going to sell or not. He thought it would be bad for him because he'd always be worried about that same question, and ultimately it would therefore be bad music. How have you managed to avoid becoming an insurance executive?

Well, that's probably one of the great mysteries of musical history: how I've been able to afford the luxury of doing what I like to do and earn a living at it. One clue is that I started early, at a time in the business when, if you were doing something odd, you could get in and get a con- tract - not a lucrative contract - but you could at least get a contract of some sort to make a record. And you could build an audience based on whatever the acceptance would he in that odd thing that you did. Today it would he impossible for anybody to get a contract and do what I did. And after the first contract expired, I began looking for alternate ways to stay in the business without being the victim of the record companies. That finally led me to be my own record company, which is not exactly like being an insurance salesman. But let's just say that the difference in economic yield between what I would he having as take-home pay if I was an artist assigned to a label as opposed to being a record company executive - there is no comparison. Because even though I don't sell enormous amounts of records, the amount of cash that you can earn from selling small amounts of records and being your own record company makes all the difference in the world.

Do you have a sense of your audience today being the same as your original one?

You mean, are the people who buy my records the ones who started buying them in 1964-'65?

Yeah, the Mothers Of Invention crowd.

No. I definitely know that it's not, even just referring to the letters that we receive, which are from all age groups. There's little or no communication from anybody that would fit the profile of an early MOI fanatic. There are a few of them still out there, but basically all they liked was that early stuff. And that's all they bought. That was it.

What sort of organizational elements or ideas do you use when you're creating? Do you just sit down and think, "This is going to be a 12- tone section," or, "We're going to improvise this part," or do you just sort of wing it and then bring all your intuitive skills into creating a work?

It depends on what kind of a work it is. When I first started off writing, it was just writing. It was a graphic concept. Then I found out about 12-tone music, and I thought, "Oh, great. Now all I have to do is keep all 12 notes in order and there's no problem, and you don't even have to worry about what it sounds like because the intrinsic value is determined arithmetically by how nicely you've manipulated all these 12 notes and making sure you don't hear note number 1 until number 12 gets its turn." I was doing stuff like that at 17 and 18 years old. I finally got a chance to hear some of it, and I really didn't like the way it sounded, so I stopped doing it.

Twelve-tone music of your own?

Yeah. I mean, I had heard some 12-tone pieces by other composers that I liked, which is one of the reasons why I went in that direction, but as a system it was too limiting for me. I asked myself the basic question: If the intrinsic value of the music depends on your serial pedigree, then who in the fuck is going to know whether it's any good or not? Only the people who sit down with the score and a magnifying glass and find out how nicely you rotated those notes. And that's pretty boring. So I started moving in the direction of what you might call a more haphazard style. That's whatever sounded good to me for whatever reason, whether it was some crashing dissonance or a nice tune with chord changes and a steady beat in the background.

So you're really just interacting with your own work, and whatever musical skills you've built up over the years really are the organizational elements.

It's like being a cook. And if you were a really good cook, and you had a lot of money for really excellent ingredients and really good equipment, then you could cook just about anything. Everything that you need would be some easily identifiable delicacy. But if you don't have all the gear, and you don't have all the finest ingredients, and you don't even own a cookbook, but you still want to eat, and nobody's going to cook it for you, then you better find some other way to improvise that dish. And that's kind of the way the stuff gets put together.

Have you ever tried to specifically imitate an older form like a concerto in a grander sense?

No. I mean, I learned all about those things during the times when I was studying, and it just seemed to me that the reason why those forms existed was so that people with limited imaginations could comprehend what the composer was intending to do. A lot of those forms were inflicted on composers by royalty, who insisted that things should be in little compartments like this, this, and this. And if you weren't like that, then it wasn't suitable for the consumption of the king.

I studied music theory and harmony with a man who strongly felt that music should reflect the sounds of any given time, and that theory from Bach and Mozart's time was not very relevant to our time or music. In terms of reflecting modern times and sounds, how far do you feel one should go in sampling, say, jack hammers or women in labor? you've built up a huge catalog. Are these the elements you use?

I have a very good jackhammer recording, which was included in the album that I just finished last night - Phaze III. I've got jack hammers in it. There was a beautiful digital recording made during the construction of our new kitchen. I think that my interest in these stems from Varese's concept of organized sound. But the musical question that I have is, what constitutes organization? In other words, if you have a really good recording of a jackhammer, and you decide to splice it into a really good recording of a woman in labor, have you organized it or not? At what point are you composing and at what point are you collecting?

It's interesting to hear what Stockhausen or Boulez can do with 12-tone music, where there's beauty coming out of something that is potentially a very rigid and dogmatic approach to creating something. That's where the artistic element comes in.

Well, the element of beauty is pretty subjective, too. You can listen to those works and admire the organization, but what you hear is a result of what instruments are playing. And if you like the instruments and the way that they're being played, then the thing that you are listening to is the activated air molecules responding to a set of instructions on paper, which are then executed by the musicians, which then tickle the air molecules, which then tickle the microphone, and you get to hear and make your decision. That same piece played by any other group of instruments or the jackhammer or the woman in labor, even though it might have the same serial pedigree, might not be as fun to listen to.

Did you learn by reading out of books on counterpoint and ...

No, I never studied counterpoint. I could never understand it. I hated anything with rules, except for 12-tone, because it was so simple-minded. lt was as simple-minded as the idea of getting a pen and some paper and some Higgins ink and just drawing some music. But all the rules of counterpoint and what constitutes good counterpoint, I just couldn't force myself to do that, and I could barely make it through the harmony book, because all the formulas that you learn there sounded so banal. Every time one of the exercises was presented, you would hear how the chords were supposed to resolve. All I could hear was the infliction of normality on my imagination. And I kept wondering why should I pollute my mind with this shit, because if I ever got good at it, I'd be out of business.

When Charles Ives was at Harvard studying harmony he was going crazy the way you're describing, and he wrote home to his father, saying, "This guy wants me to resolve my chords better," and his father wrote him back and said, "Tell your professor some chords just don't want to resolve."

Well, you can tell it to a professor if you have that kind of a relationship with a professor. I mean, I really didn't have professors. The harmony training I got was because I was an unruly senior in high school, and they gave me permission to take some harmony classes at the adjoining junior college. They figured that the reason why I was such a delinquent was because my mind wasn't occupied. So they let me take this course at the junior college while I was a senior. The guy who was teaching it was a guy named Mr. Russell, who was a jazz trumpet player, and I don't think that he enjoyed harmony very much either, but that's what he was teaching. I could have said to him, "Hey, some chords shouldn't resolve." And he would probably say, "Yeah, but you'll get a D if you don't resolve them."

What book did he give you? Was it Walter Piston's Harmony?

Yeah, it was Piston.

That's a hard one to stay awake through.

You remember? I hate to read also. It's very difficult for me to digest any kind of information in that way. I'm pretty good at the news magazines. But even with all the digital equipment that I've got, I've almost never cracked a manual on any of it. Basically, I've learned how to work it by just having somebody show me. And then after I've learned the basics, I'll figure out ways to make the system do stuff that was never in the book in the first place.

It's a better way to learn.

Also, in cases of digital equipment, even the best is often accompanied by pretty dismal technical manuals. It's not just that they're boring to read, they're also incomplete. And some of the things that I do with the equipment, the manufacturers never envisioned that such a task would be performed. So even if you've read the book from cover to cover, you'd still have to call the company and say, "Will it do this? If it won't, Can you put these two wires together to make it do that?"

How many hours a day do you work; Do you have a regular schedule?

Well, I work as many hours a day as I can physically stand to. The average is about 15 now.

Seven days a week?

Yeah, eight if I can squeeze it in.

Don't you take little vacations?

When I get tired, I go to sleep.

How do you break your work time down? It's not like an hour listening, an hour practicing, an hour revising, an hour writing?

What I do depends on what kind of a job I'm working on. Like, for the last two months, I've been heavily involved in record production, so a record production workday would be a different kind of a workday than one on the Synclavier. Usually, I just get up, get something to eat, go downstairs, and go right to the Sonic Solutions [Frank's editing system for mastering CDs]. I'll transfer tapes onto the hard drive and start editing them, equalizing them, and building things. And then, after an album has been constructed, I'll dump it off, reload the hard disk, and keep going. And I usually work at night to do that sort of thing. We have an engineer - Spencer Chrislu - who works from 9:00 in the morning until 7:00 at night, four days a week. My schedule overlaps his. I'll give him instructions on what needs to be mixed, tell him how I want it done, and he'll get the thing set up. By that time, I'll go to sleep for four or five hours and then get up in the afternoon, and he will either have completed the mix or be about ready to put the thing on tape. So I'll sit with him from, say, 4:00 to 7:00 and supervise the mixes. And I take an hour off to eat. And by 8:00, I'm back at the Sonic Solutions. I usually work until about 4:00 or .5:00 in the morning.

Have you ever lost any of your music in a computer crash or a tape meltdown?


How do you protect or store your work?

Well, operating the Sonic Solutions is a little bit like playing with isotopes, because you never know when it's going to do weird things to you. It's a fantastic device, but there are some incredible bugs in the software, and it can do heinous things to you. One of the things that you have to learn to live with is a little sign that pops on the screen every once in a while that says, "Free memory is now less than 250Mb. You may wish to close some files you are not using or reboot in order to clear the system memory." And if you don't do that right away - if you don't stop what you're doing and reboot this thing, which takes about five minutes - what it will do is randomly erase whole files on the hard disk. I don't know why. It's like it's got its own built-in virus that gets you every once in a while.

Have you talked to the manufacturer?

Oh, yeah. We haven't been hired as a beta test site, but I'll guarantee you that if they haven't taken into consideration fixing some of the things that we've experienced here when upgrading their software and their hardware, they've lost a good bet. One of the reasons why I got this thing is because it's possible to do multi-channel edits in it, not just for a stereo device. And in preparation for this project in Germany, we had been doing six-channel mixes of Synclavier stuff and other things, and I needed a device that would allow me to glue these things together. So I purchased from them this upgraded, multi-channel system, and from day one, it didn't work. They've had their engineers down here fucking around with this thing. It's unbelievable. I still haven't signed the check over to them. I said the day you make this system work, you get the money. [Ed. Note: The company has since been paid. The unit works.]

How many Sonic Solutions are there?

I don't know. I hope there's thousands of them, because I want this company to stay in business, because it's a good machine. The things that it can do! I mean, can you imagine a Mac-based system that has software that will allow you to automatically take clicks and crackles and noise out of tape? The de-noising software for this thing - which is something that I didn't buy because it was too expensive - but I wish I would have had something Like that when I first started working on the catalog of all the old tapes. All you need is just a little sample of the tape hiss or the room noise or whatever it is that you want to get rid of, like just the merest amount of audio between the paper leader and where the music starts, and the machine will take a snapshot of that noise. And it builds a filter, and you run your music through that filter, and the music stays and the noise goes.

Do you oversee all performances of your orchestral music?

No, I stopped doing that after my experience with the London Symphony Orchestra.

What happened?

Well, I made two albums and there was a live performance, and as a result of the first album coming out, it let some people know that this music existed. Since the time of that album's release, there have been a lot of orchestral performances all over the world, and every time an orchestra calls up for music, they would like to have me come there and be in the concert. And that's impossible. These people can barely afford to rehearse the music. They're going to buy me a plane ticket to go there and listen to what they did [arches eyebrow in doubt]?

Kent Nagano says working with you is a wonderful experience because you're so involved with the specific individuals in the orchestra, listening to their ideas, considering them carefully, and then excerpting from them or even changing your own original idea. Have you had equal success with Zubin Mehta's or Pierre Boulez's groups?

Well, the case of working with Zubin was all pretty cut and dried. The Los Angeles Philharmonic management thought that it would he a successful concert. They certainly didn't do it because of musical content. Basically, I had to buy the privilege of having my music performed by the Los Angeles Philharmonic. In order to prepare the parts for the orchestra, I had to pay the copying rate, which in 1971 was somewhere between $7,000 and $10,000. I'll guarantee you I didn't make anything like that from the concert. Plus the fact that they wouldn't even let me make a cassette. recording of the performance. They told me that if I turned the tape on, I would have to pay the whole orchestra Musicians' Union scale. So they had two rehearsals for all this music, and - you know - it was a festive occasion because there was a rock group on stage and an orchestra playing, and it was being done in a basketball stadium. So there we have it: As far as working with Boulez, the musicians were a little bit different. First of all, there were fewer of them, so you could actually have memorable conversations with them. And a number of them had asked mc to write solos for them. One of the brass players was also the head of a brass quintet that worked within Boulez's Ensemble Intercontemperain. And he wanted me to write some brass music. And usually percussionists will come up to me and ask me for music. I never did manage to do any of those things, because they all take time.

I love The Perfect Stranger.

Well, then you're going to love the new release of it, because it's coming out on CD. When it was originally released, Angel pressed 5,000 copies. Digital recording was in its infancy at that time, and I've always been less than enthusiastic about the sound of that first CD. I thought that it didn't come anywhere near what the musicians really sounded like in the room. Last July or so, we got a new Neve console in the studio, which is far cleaner and much better sounding than the Harrison that we had for the last 10 or 12 years. So I remixed it. And those new mixes are on the CD re-release.

You've reissued so many of your albums as CDs; is that to clean up the past?

Well, to the extent that it's feasible. I received some negative comments about some of the ways that I tried to clean up some of the early albums. And now that I have the Sonic Solutions, it's possible to go back to those early Mothers Of Invention albums, take the original mixes, and run them through this device, and for all the purists out there, at some later date, put out a CD version of those original mixes cleaned up in a very professional way.

People like to hold on to the past Some cling to the notion that vinyl is better and that CDs somehow pollute what music ought to be.

I think that the major drawback to the CD is the tiny size of the artwork. I believe one of the that people who collect records like is the tactile sensation of handling a well-conceived album package. There can be stuff in it, and if you've got something in your hand, then you can read it, and the pictures look better. That's one drawback about a CD. It's a little, square plastic thing.

My aging eyes have a harder time reading the little inserts than they do the fliers that used to come in the records.

Well, I don't read them. My eyesight has gone to shit, and I'll rarely bother to try squinting at the micro type on those things. Only if I'm absolutely in need of vital information will I reach for my glasses and squint at the package. 1 like a CD because it's convenient, and to my ear it sounds better than vinyl, because I always hated the squashed dynamic range and the intrusion of all those little crackles.

What was the first performance of your "serious" music?

Actually, the first time I had any of it performed was at Mount St. Mary's College in 1962.

What was the occasion?

I spent $300 and got together a college orchestra, and I put on this little concert. Maybe less than 100 people showed up for it, but the thing was actually taped and broadcast by KPFK. Last year a guy in England, who somehow got a copy, sent me a cassette of it, but I haven't bothered to listen to it.

Are you afraid to?

No. But listen: Anything that takes place in real time needs to be budgeted. Listening requires real time. Spooling material onto your hard disk requires real time, and I'm very conscious about how much time it takes to do certain things, so I limit the recreational listening and try to spend as much time as I can actually making product and doing work.

When you were building your career, then, your focus on so-called "serious music" began much earlier than your becoming a rock and roll star.

By the time I graduated from high school in '58, I still hadn't written any rock and roll songs, although I had a little rock and roll band in my senior year. I didn't write any rock and roll stuff until I was in my twenties. All the music writing that I was doing was either chamber music or orchestral, and none of it ever got played until this concert at Mount St. Mary's.

And did it sound like music is supposed to sound?

Oh, no. It was all oddball, textured weirdo stuff.

You started out that way, and as time went on it got more so.

Ycah. In fact, this concert even involved sounds on tape. I was doing tape editing of electronic music and part of all the pieces had this little cheesoid Wollensak tape recorder in the background pumping out through mono speakers - sounds that were supposed to blend with the acoustic instruments. And there were sections of improvisation and a lot of different experimental techniques.

Varese wasn't doing that stuff. Who was influencing you at that time?

By that time, I had already heard Stockhausen. I had already heard Boulez. I had heard Pierre Schaeffer. I had a much broader musical horizon than just my first Varese album, and even owning that was a major achievement, living in Lancaster [California] and trying to get ahold of that kind of stuff. Try to figure that out. Well, the Varese record I actually got when I was in high school in San Diego. But by the time I moved up to Lancaster, I was really isolated. We were poor and albums were expensive, so if you were going to invest that kind of money in some sort of audio artifact, by golly, you were going to listen to it until it was dust. You were going to get your fuckin' money's worth out of it. And so my musical education came from vinyl and large 12-inch-square things that you could actually read on the back. And some of these albums had useful liner notes.

Did you have to pay for those yourself?

Well I got a little allowance, and I saved my allowance up, and then I could buy them, because they were too big to steal. If Stockhausen had been on 45s!

You would have been much more educated sooner:

Sure. If they would have had singles of that type then, because those are the kinds of things you could stuff in your pants or your jacket. I would say maybe 3% of my R&B 45 collection was achieved through illicit means, but the albums not.

I grew up in Kansas City, and I remember hearing Shostakovich when I was a little kid and liking him a lot, but Varese and Stockhausen just weren't at the record store. It was like trying to find black music on the radio.

All those things can be harmful to a young persons mind. In states like Kansas, you probably get the death penalty for distributing a record like that.

In medieval times, playing a third was verboten because it was considered too beautiful, and people concluded that it therefore came from the devil. And then later playing a tritone was also ruled verboten because it heralded the coming of the devil. And even in the South, when Robert Johnson whanged away on his acoustic guitar, the blues was synonymous with "holding hands with the devil." What is there about music that's considered so scary to people?

You have to remember who's writing about it. The real question is, if a person must write about music, why must he often mention the devil in the same context?

That's what I m asking you.

It tells you more about the mentality of music writers than it does about music listeners, because the goal of the writer is self-aggrandizement. There's only one reason to write: because you consider yourself to he a writer, and you want people to pay attention to what you wrote. It's the bane of your existence that you must write about somebody else doing something that you can't do. The general summary that I make of most people who are in the world of music criticism - be it for rock and roll or whatever - the important thing is how clever will your column be. A lot of people are forced into the world of rock and roll musical criticism; at least there is such a world to keep them employed, because they sure as fuck couldn't do anything else. So it doesn't surprise me that one often finds references to the devil in any kind of music criticism.

Here's the other thing you have to remember about the early writers on music: The people who could write were writing for an audience that was very limited, because not everyone could read in those days. And those who could were of the church and the nobility, people who certainly had dealings with the devil because they helped to invent the son of a bitch in order to keep the potato-eaters in line!

Kent Nagano says that you and he have had an ongoing discussion about art and entertainment. He says that you believe all art should be entertaining, while he feels art could be something more than entertainment.

Well, I don't really understand people who think of art as an antidote to entertainment something that should not give you a pleasurable experience. What's wrong with that? I mean, the idea of punitive art - that sounds like something from the East Village.

An "effete snobbism," perhaps?

I don't know whether I would use those kinds of terms, because I happen to think that snobbery is all-pervasive. Every social group has its own special snobbery. You don't have to be a guy with a top hat and a bow tie on to he a snob. You can be snobby and be a truck driver. There's always somebody who doesn't belong to your set. You're always looking for somebody who's either below you or outside your social realm. So, to put something down - describe it as an alien phenomenon, in terms of snobbery, is something that I don't think makes a very good argument. It's a strange idea, to me, to think that the more strenuous the experience is, the more artistic it is - like the ugliest picture is the best art. What do you mean? Who needs that shit? The most interminable, grinding composition, even if it's well conceived, should you be forced to consume it because somebody says it's artistic, or should you consume it because you like it?

So it s not like you would ever subscribe to one of those comments where people feel that artists are somehow better than other people.

Well, I don't think that they are better. They're definitely different.

What do you see as different?

I just think that it's a different process to create a piece of music than it is to bounce a check, even though they both may he a little hit creative. Creative people may from time to time bounce checks, but people in Congress very seldom write sonatas.

Why do you think people in Congress look so askance at artists? What's the problem with the message of art?

It's very threatening to them because there's always a chance that an artist will speak his mind, and a politician never will, and there's a certain envy there.

You say the most grinding music shouldn't necessarily have to be endured. How much consideration do you feel the artist should take in presenting or creating for an audience?

You have to have some picture in your mind of what you're doing and who you're doing it for. And the way I do mine is, I have to like it first. If I like it, then it's good, and it's done. And then if somebody else likes it, then that's good, too. And if they don't, that's too had.

And you feel that over the years you've been able to reach a level whereby you're satisfying your own particular artistic needs and luckily, at the same time reaching a volume of people who seem to like it?

Well, the biggest difficulty I have is getting the product to market, because there are so many forces aligned against me as an independent.

The tyranny of radio, you mean?

It's not just radio. I mean, I've experienced things like major record-store chains owned by Christians who refused to stock my work. The most recent example, I think, was in Billboard about a year or a year and a half ago. This chain from Washington State refused to stock my records. They wouldn't even stock instrumental albums.

Because of your strong language?

Let me just say that there isn't anything on any of my records that isn't piled four inches deep on any of the rap albums that are major economic successes. I mean, there's nothing I've ever said on any of my albums in terms of sexual lyrics that hasn't been surpassed many times over in current rap or dance music. The thing that's threatening, I believe, is the fact that these people know that if they come after me, I won't keep my mouth shut. I'll fight back. I'm not stupid. And one of the hallmarks of contemporary life is what I perceive to he a conspiracy against conscious thought. Every aspect of government at every level has conspired to minimize education and to punish any individual or group that chooses to experience the full benefits of the First Amendment. The contemporary message - the subtext of contemporary life - is keep your fucking mouth shut and he a drone. And government is set up in such a way now with its complete disregard for the value of education that they're going to perpetuate a type of stupidity that makes it possible to have an entire nation of people watching late-night infomercials on TV with their phone-in credit card. How else could such things exist, if it weren't for the disastrous state of education in America?

Is this an historical norm or a worsening trend?

Once you start this particular spiral, it goes only down, because once a couple of generations have gone through this American education mill, these people as adults will never be Likely to fund an improvement in the system, because they hated it while they went through it, because basically it ripped their brains out, and now they have children, and their children have to go through it, too. And they don't want to take time out of their busy schedule or spend their precious cash that they were saving up for their recreational vehicle or whatever it is to finance a bond issue to make a school better.

What do you think happened in this country?

Well, two important things, and each one of them has only three letters One was LSD, a chemical which is capable of turning a hippie into a yuppie, one of the most dangerous chemicals known to mankind. And the other is MBA. When people started taking MBA seriously, that was the beginning of the ruination of the American industrial society. When all decisions are based on an MBA's concept of numerical reality, you're in deep shit, because the only thing that can he judged as real is that which can be proved by a column of figures. And when all aesthetic decisions are turned over to these kinds of people, who use these criteria to make steering decisions for a company with no regard for people and no regard for what the product really is, and the only thing that matters is maximizing your profit, you have a problem. Because you can't have duality then; you cannot have excellence. Quality's expensive. I think most of these people that come from business schools have the desire to make sure everything is cheesy. That's what happens when you do things that way.

Do you think this problem permeates all establishments?

I think it's specifically an American type of thing.

Do you think we'll succeed in spreading it worldwide?

I'm very upset about what's happening in Russia and in Eastern Europe, with this new changeover to Western-style economics. They are the ones who are the most vulnerable to this kind of chicanery, because all of these so-called experts that are going in there to help them set up their new economies are people from this MBA school of thought. And having visited these areas and seen what great culture they have, it saddens me to see that now it's all going to die. And it's all going to be stopped by the MBA mentality. There's only one thing that's worse than our exploitation by so-called financial experts. That's evangelical missionary work. These two things are the most anti-cultural acts that a nation can take against another nation.

Go in and "fix" them up.

Yeah. On one hand, you have the arrogance of economists who believe that because their column of figures adds up, the infliction of this technique on another culture is something that is going to create a benefit. Well, I think that's going to be proven very wrong in the Eastern Bloc countries.

How quickly?

Within five years. I don't know if it'll revert into a more socialistic system. It's really a nightmare for that part of the world. In the past, the nightmare was the authoritarian nature of communism. I think the statistic in the Soviet Union showed that every third person worked in the KGB. That's a big fuckin' payroll. But it's full employment. They have grown accustomed to a world in which some sort of government agency Looks out for every aspect of their social well-being. And all of that has vanished. Now put yourself in their shoes. Suppose you had to change overnight to another system. And every benefit, small as it might be, from the American government was suddenly nonfunctional. It's gone. You'd be totally baffled. You'd be looking for a way to get back to something that gave you a feeling of security and a reason for going to work the next day. The people I've met over there are not just interested in money. Of course they like to own things - they want a better car, a better house, all that kind of normal stuff. But they also have an appreciation for their culture, and they don't want to see it vanish just because there's no way to fund it.

I'll give you an example of what has happened - the most ridiculous one. The revolution in Czechoslovakia was conducted mainly by artists and students. It was an artistic revolution. Under he old system, if you were an artist or something like that, you got a salary, you could work or do your craft. Now this switch-over is starting. Under the new system, there's no cash for any of that. And if you perform in some sort of activity that is language-dependent, you're sunk. In other words, if you're a painter, you can export. If you're a musician, you can export. If you're a dancer, you can export. But if you're an actor or a writer, and you're functioning in the Czech or Hungarian or Russian language, it's hard for you to export. These are the people who caused this revolution in the first place, and they don't get paid anymore! Think they're not sitting around going, "Wait a minute, what the fuck did we just do here?"

Omitting details like that seems to be a continuation of a strange new phenomenon where we have CNN presenting spectacular world events as though they're the football game of the week. We assume everything's hunky-dory when there's some Big Climax like the dismantling of the Berlin Wall or Tiananmen Square, and then we turn on the next World Crisis like the Iraqi war where we have Bernard Shaw telling us of missiles going overhead, but then in the end we get no body counts or anything no real in formation. I don't understand what all this "communication"is about that we're having these days.

Want me to explain it to you?


Okay. Well, thanks to democracy, we now have a freely elected Fascist government in the United States, elected by just plain folks - same people you graduated from high school with.