Frank Zappa: Remembering The Eccentric Genius

January 29th, 2012 by Michael Tabor
When I was a teenager and I was just discovering Rock N’ Roll (1975), I stumbled upon a performing artist who actually frightened me. No one told me about him, I just happened to find this “really cool “album cover under “Z” at my favorite record store, Mr. Mucks in Wayne, NJ (loved that little haven of hymn, harmony, and heavy metal). Yes not knowing what to expect I purchased my first avant- guarde album called Weasels Ripped My Flesh by Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention. Before actually playing the record, I perused the titles of the songs: ‘Prelude to the Afternoon of a Sexually Aroused Gas Mask’, Toads of the Short Forest, My Guitar Wants to Kill your Mama, Dwarf Nebula Processional March & Dwarf Nebula ‘ – What is this I said to myself ? Well I played about half of the first side of the album and that was enough for me; my 13-year old little brain was incapable of comprehending this cacophony of cryptic chaos. Before disposing the album for good, I took a look at the picture of Frank Zappa and it sent shivers throughout my body and I very vividly remember thinking – this is the work of the devil; Frank Zappa is Satan incarnate.
Well, I was simply too young to listen to Zappa and I didn’t even bother to discuss my having listened to this, this – whatever it was and I instinctively deposited my listening experience to my subconscious not to be retrieved again until MTV came along and Mr. Zappa released  a song in 1982 entitled ‘Valley Girl’ which featured his daughter, “Moon Unit Zappa.”This tune actually was a big hit in the 80’s and Frank Zappa was actually nominated for a Grammy award coming in at #32 on the Billboard charts No I was older – 18, in college and I no longer thought Mr. Zappa was the devil, and I actually liked his music in small doses – here and there. Love or hate him, no one can deny his musical mastery of the guitar and the laundry list of his other extraordinary talents. Frank Zappa was the quintessential modernist, satirist, and one of the world’s most creative and unique cult heroes this country has ever seen.

Frank Zappa has been dead for almost two decades (to be precise, he died December 4, 1993) and if you listen to Frank (his music or interviews) on YouTube you will see he is far from being dated. In fact Frank is more edgy than any performer today – Lady GaGa is outrageous ? Please ! Frank Zappa’s music is not only fresh, his range is simply unparalleled  – from Arabic to jazz, blues and classical chamber music. I can write several volumes on Frank Zappa inasmuch as he was a workaholic (released 60 albums – when did he sleep ?) and he simply eked out a super-abundance of material in his short 52 years of life. As you know WhaDaWeThink is not a site for comprehensive biography so let me just leave you with some fun facts about frank and some cool YouTube Links:
Check out this video of Frank Zappa playing the bicycle (literally) on the Steve Allen Show in 1963.
See what I mean, Frank was nuts; his idea of music is as he once said “is just the art of collecting and organizing sounds. “

Frank loved chemistry and he loved making explosives and blowing things up. (No Frank blew things up, not people. Frank was really a very nice man. )

Zappa had four children & he named them – Moon Unit, Dweezil, Emuukha Rodan, and last but not least Diva Thin Muffin Pigeen.

Frank was a strong advocate of The First Amendment and abhorred censorship of any kind.

Frank was a prodigiously articulate and eloquent speaker. He appeared before the Senate regarding the PMRC (Parents, Music Resource Center, which was an organization run by Tipper Gore aimed at censoring music) and persuasively argued his case.
If you see any video of Frank Zappa being interviewed on video -take the time to watch it! If you think Howard Stern is shocking, compelling, and interesting  – well trust me he’s better.

This is a follow up to the previous bullet: Frank Zappa’s words (interviews) were better than his actual music – lol.

So WhaDaYaThink ? What do you Think ? There are several biographies on Frank Zappa and he’s all over the web if you look for him. I haven’t even scratched the surface so if you want to be entertained, click onto anything featuring Frank Zappa.

Bobby Bolles – An Intimate Look At The Man of Iron

January 22nd, 2012 by Magdalena Tabor
I don’t recall the first time I met Bobby Bolles but he became as much a fixture in our lives as one of his sculptures at Broome Street, or as much a fixture as the man himself at the Broome Street Bar.
One of his best friends in the 1970’s was my then boyfriend, Marty. Marty got a job in Greenwich Village and became acquainted with a local named Bobby Bolles. I distinctly remember the first time Marty told me about him. They became fast friends and Bobby was quite literally, the sun our circle of friends orbited around. They worshipped him.
He was a hard little man, who lived a hard life and drank hard liquor. Clad in black leather pants,  a red scarf wrapped gypsy style around his head, a small gold hoop earring in one ear. He was the epitome of what the Village was at that time. It was as if the two had merged as one and you couldn’t think of Soho without thinking of Bobby Bolles. Like the empty cast iron warehouses of the neighborhood he roamed, he was crude and crass,  a bit derelict but intensely interesting. His handshake was like a grip of iron.
Apart from this, who was Bobby Bolles? First and foremost, he was an artist, and iron was his medium. I was introduced to his work by Bobby himself at the Broome Street triangle intersection. One of my favorite pieces was an oversized chicken with its tail feathers fanned out. He told me how the bikers would chain their motorcycles to one sculpture in particular and I immediately understood why – it was immovable. He went on to tell me about a sophisticated NY couple who were admiring his work there one day and didn’t realize that the artist stood in their midst. So he introduced himself but the woman refused to believe him. “You couldn’t possibly be the man who created these”, she sniffed with a snobbish look of contempt. He laughed when he told the story but I know it must have affected him. He never forgot it.
Bar hopping with Bobby was brutal. He took us to all of his favorite hang outs and we drank at every one of them. Being just a young woman at the time, I couldn’t keep up. I made sure to drink mine slowly so he couldn’t buy me another. We’d ultimately end up at McSorley’s Old Ale House where he worked after hours cleaning up on Sunday mornings. That was when he initiated Marty and the rest of the guys into helping him each week. Marty had T-shirts made up that read “Sunday Morning Clean-Up Crew” on one side and “McSorley’s” on the other. One Sunday I tagged along and sat around watching the sawdust fly as they swept up and then sprinkled a fresh layer on the floor. Dusting was not permitted. If you know anything about McSorley’s, the dust is part of the decor that has remained since its inception.
Another time, Bobby took us on a scavenger hunt for a piece of iron he saw in a dumpster. He needed help hauling it back to his workspace. He actually “rode” one of his sculptures there to get the piece several blocks away. It was an oversized scooter and since it was Sunday morning, the streets were deserted and there was no danger of colliding with anyone. We had a blast as the guys took turns riding it down an incline. But the method to his madness was using the scooter to lug the heavy piece back. His workspace was a huge basement someone let him use for free. It was filled with I beams and rusted pieces of junk he turned into art. His specialty was “angels”; pornographic versions with boobs and genitalia. They always had huge wing spans and his sketchbook was filled with them. One of his angels hung in an upscale Soho bar. Bobby donned protective eyewear, took hold of a heavy piece of iron and we watched as the sparks flew from his torch.
He took pride in bringing us to all of the Soho galleries featuring his work. Once he made a decorative iron grate for the outside of John and Yoko’s Village flat. I think mostly though, he lived on the kindness of the bar owners whose establishments he so often frequented. His living space was in an abandoned buidling one flight up. To see it from the outside and the hallway, which was a shambles, you’d never  believe anyone lived there. It was a tiny two room flat with an old claw foot bathtub in the kitchen that was covered with a piece of plywood. I think he said he used it as a table. I don’t even know if the place had any running water. There was a small cot in the tiny living room where he slept. Cramped quarters for one, let alone a group of us, or the one time Irish girlfriend who moved in with him for awhile. She was a tall blond beauty who towered over him like one of his angels. Then one day she went back to Ireland and that was that.
Marty was a good friend to Bobby. Drove him all the way to Port Washington, Long Island to visit his mother in the nursing home. And Bobby was fond of him too. Came to our wedding and I think he actually wore a suit that day. I’m sure he drank plently of Jack Daniel’s, which is sadly what killed him in the end. His idea of taking the doctor’s advice was drinking it on ice instead of his usual straight up.
Not long ago, my mother gave me something she’d found in her garage. Thought it might be mine. It was a small cross I’d completely forgotten about. I had asked Bobby to make it for me. There’s only one other piece I have from him. I wanted him to make a dinner bell for our place in the country. You know, one of those triangles you bang and yell “Come and get it!”  and everyone comes stampeding in to eat. His version was a heart shape but not just any old heart – it was a human heart shape, more anatomical. I nailed it to the tree outside the house all those years ago. It’s still there but the tree has grown so much in width that the heart is wedged deep into it. Hmmm…
By the way, that triangle intersection at Broome Street has been turned into a green space by the Parks Department. The sculptures removed by them, were promised to be restored to that space and officially renamed Bob Bolles Park….with a little more persuasion. So far, they’ve only given back three. Log on to for updates. It’s also a great site to learn about the history of Soho, the part of the Village he loved so well.
After all, what makes a green space any more beautiful than a man’s entire life’s work? It shouldn’t be erased. Bobby gave all he had to the community, (just like the two things he made for me) heart and soul.

Four More Years! We Need you Barack Obama

January 21st, 2012 by Michael Tabor
A depression was thwarted, the economy is slowly but surely gaining momentum, Osama Bin Laden is dead, and the auto industry bail out was prodigiously successful. Just the aforementioned warrants four more years for Barrack Obama; only a messiah could have dug us completely out of this mess. Obama is not God, he is a human being and a fine president, and he deserves to be re-elected.
The right has nothing to offer: Mitt Romney? Newt Gingrich? (Please – God forbid; see previous blog), Ron Paul? And Rick Santorum? That’s it – that’s the best the GOP can do? If NYC’s Mayor Bloomberg, Rudolph Giuliani, or how about Kay Bailey Hutchison were in the mix, it might be a more interesting presidential race. As far as I’m concerned this is a no-brainer – a second term for Barack Obama is clearly in order.
Let’s take a good hard look at the pros and cons of what Barack Obama has done thus far. Overall I give him a blue collar B. B is not excellent, it’s good – Obama has done a good job. First let me address his failures: 1. I thought it was wrong-headed to launch a war in Libya without Congress’s sanction (that’s something the Reagan administration would have done) 2. The Bowles – Simpson debt commission is a mess and a bad idea – drop it ASAP. 3. The Dodd – Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act is very complex (another blog) and a complicated piece of legislation which has some quite attractive elements to it but according to The Wall Street Journal, the law will make it more expensive for startups to raise capital and create new jobs.
Now here are the accomplishments: 1. Obamacare is simply a near-perfect plan for our abominable healthcare situation. I see nothing but good resulting from this – it will actually reduce the budget (per the congressional budget office) unlike Bush’s unfunded Medicare Prescription Drug benefit did. It also will enable drug and insurance companies to develop a huge new client base; Obamacare is nothing like the Clinton’s enormous and frightening plan. The reality is that Obamacare is actually so much more moderate than critics would have you believe – it simply mandates that everybody have healthcare. That translates into making 44 million “free-riders” (what republicans call people who are uninsured) pay into the system. Look, the law mandates that hospitals accept all emergency room cases anyway so I don’t want to hear that socialist medicine bunk. Everyone wins with Obamacare. 2. Osama Bin Laden is dead; not only is the most-wanted man in America’s history gone but the U.S. recovered a gargantuan trove of intelligence to further destroy Al-Qaeda. And talk about a courageous and presidential leader, Obama actually overruled the vice president and his secretary of state, he even took that extra step of bringing in extra helicopters which as we would later find out salvaged the mission – Operation Neptune Spear – Bin laden dead and mission accomplished. 3. As I mentioned in the first sentence of this blog, President Obama prevented a total collapse of the entire global financial system and without the $787 billion dollar stimulus package, unemployment and debt would have soared to unspeakable levels. Had his predecessor, Dubya, remained president any longer, this country would have literally crumbled. After the economy bottomed out and the stimulus package kicked in in 2010, 2.4 million jobs have been added. And this goes out to all you conservatives – Obama trimmed superfluous government jobs by 280,000 that’s 2.6 percent as compared to Reagan’s 2.2 percent in his first term. Put that in your pipe and smoke it!
I can go on further with this administration’s accomplishments e.g. payroll tax cut, successfully withdrawing from Iraq (no small task – must say kudos to the greatest military in the world) on time without major incident, non-carbon energy investments, and so much more. The bottom line is from day one he has planned for 8 years. All successful people know that short-term Band-Aids ultimately fail so give our current president another 4 years and I can assure you that his grade will jump from a B to an A.
So WhaDaYaThink ? What do you Think ?

Mark Wahlberg Should Change His Name to Rambo – A Single Man Army

January 19th, 2012 by Michael Tabor
Shame on you Mark Wahlberg ! As we all know, innocent people sadly lost their lives on 9/11 and there was absolutely nothing anyone could have done about it. One can do some Monday morning quarterbacking and blame the government for not acting on intelligence they had, but no one foresaw this. Nobody on the two planes that hit the WTC towers was aware of the fact that the plane was hijacked and on a suicide mission. (Maybe the last 30 seconds or so…) The passengers on Flight 93 had the knowledge (via cell from their loved ones) of the towers being hit and that the very plane they were on was being used as a terrorist weapon. These brave and heroic people on Flight 93 responded accordingly and did the very best to stop the hijackers. We all know the plane went down but we can say with certainty that these brave men and women did not die in vain – they prevented the plane from hitting another building.
This idiot, Mark Wahlberg, supposedly was scheduled to fly on one of the planes that hit the World Trade Center but took a flight a week earlier. (I even question the validity of this considering the asinine remark he made).”Rambo” said this in a recent interview with Men’s Journal :
“If I was on that plane with my kids, it wouldn’t have went down like it did. There would have been a lot of blood in that first-class cabin and then me saying, ‘OK, we’re going to land somewhere safely, don’t worry.'”
I have nothing more to say about this no-talented jerk who ought to be on some sort of medication. So WhaDaYaThink ? What do you think ? Personally, from here on in, I think I will pass on any film he stars in.

Don’t Let The Ice Melt

January 14th, 2012 by Magdalena Tabor

Do you think there’s any

In Vermont?

The kind that falls from

The sky,

Not machine made.

I could gather a cluster,

A myriad of flakes

On just one mitten,

If there’s enough for

One mitten,

And gaze upon

The rarity of snow.


Do you think I could

Bring some home, she asked,

Eyes widening

At the wonderment of it all,

The glacier

On her outstreched palm

Melting under her breath.


MMA is Bigger, Better, and Growing Faster Than Ever

January 14th, 2012 by Michael Tabor
Historically no sport (not football, baseball, basketball, etc.) has grown faster than Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), which is not even 20 years old. The sport has come a long way since the very first UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship),an 8 man elimination tournament event held at the McNichols Sports Arena in Denver, Colorado on November 12, 1993. I can vividly recall my anticipation and ambivalent feelings of repugnance and utter exhilaration after the first fight between Gerard Gordeau, a Dutch Karate stylist who was no stranger to full contact fighting, and a 430 lb. Sumo Wrestler named Telia Tuli. I thought the big guy would literally crush the tall and sinewy Gordeau but I was wrong.  It took Gerard Gordeau just 23 seconds to beat the former Sumo wrestler by simply stepping out of the way of the charging Tuli and subsequently landing a vicious right roundhouse kick squarely into his opponent’s face (who was on his knees – he fell when he charged) which sent teeth and blood flying into the audience and later we would find out that a molar tooth from the mouth of Telia was embedded in Gordeau’s right foot. Mr. Gordeau would deliver the coup de grace a second later via a right cross (punch) to the head while Tuli was still on his knees.
Unlike today, the first UFC was an elimination tournament, so Gerard Gordeau would have to fight 2 more times that night only to lose in the end to the world’s first mixed martial arts superstar – the Brazilian Jiu-jitsu expert Royce Gracie. Two things emerged from that very first UFC: a new sport and a new martial arts fighting style, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, was born and would spread and grow like wildfire.
The 170 lb. Royce Gracie was unbeatable (except for his very large family) and he was considered the toughest man on the planet. It wasn’t Royce Gracie per se who was unstoppable, it was rather his style of fighting – Gracie Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Royce and the whole Gracie family were in power but it didn’t last too long. Soon everyone learned BJJ, the Gracies got rich, and virtually every city in the world had a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu school. By the year 2000, every fighter knew BJJ and the myriad arm bars and chokes were no longer a big mystery.
This is a blog and not a history of MMA. (There are a plethora of books, magazines, and web sites if you want more. In the early days it was almost impossible to get any good information, now there is a glut) The sport evolved and grew so fast and what started out as basically bar room street fighting (except for BJJ) evolved into a highly technical and scientific art form. Mixed martial arts is now a hybrid of every fighting system under the sun including western disciplines such as boxing and wrestling. The rule of thumb is if something works in a live (not choreographed) combat situation, it is added to the MMA repository and war chest. Every professional ultimate fighter today is proficient in jiu-jitsu, boxing, Muay-Thai (or some other striking system, even karate but Muay-Thai is the best) and wrestling. Not to mention the fact that these fighters MUST have great cardio; they are without question the toughest and greatest athletes in the world.
For all you loyal and hard-core fans of MMA like me, the stuff I’ve written thus far is common knowledge. I’ll finish off with some interesting little tidbits for you guys:
The Ultimate Fighter reality show is going to have a new live format televised on FOX starting this year.
There have only been 3 fighters from TUF who have gone on to become champ: Matt Serra, Forrest Griffin, and Rashad Evans.

In the UFC, Chuck Liddell has the record for wins via knockout, which is 10. If you include Pride and the other major Promotion companies, the winner is Wanderlei Silva with 24. And when I say most knockouts I am talking “lights out baby” & TKOs are not included

Anderson Silva has been the Middleweight Champion for almost 6 years, has defended his title 9 times, has never lost a fight in the UFC, and has won 16 fights in a row. He is without a doubt the greatest pound for pound fighter ever to enter the octagon.

Many people argue that GSP is the best. Let’s find out, as soon as GSP recovers from his recent injury let’s get it on! Georges St. Pierre vs. Anderson Silva. I’m hopeful this will occur this year.

I was actually surprised to read this – Royce Gracie still holds the record for most wins via submission at 11. (This actually makes sense; remember his” girlie” punches? Sorry Royce, you’re a hall of famer and the first superstar but your striking….)

So WhaDaYaThink ? What do you think? Do you like MMA? Who are your favorite fighters? I personally trained at Matt Serra’s gym so my favorite fighters are Matt and GSP. I also loved Randy Couture because he’s my age and he’s still a warrior and most importantly a very nice guy.


Rush: 1974 – 2112, The Best or Worst Rock Band Ever

January 7th, 2012 by Michael Tabor

Rush – the rock band actually started playing together in 1968 however, they were not yet really Rush until 1974, when perhaps the most important member of the band (believed to be the case by many fans) Neil Peart,  joined vocalist, keyboardist, and bassist – Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson, guitarist in the summer of 1974 to form the world’s greatest musical trio. Rush released one Album, the eponymous ‘Rush’ with drummer John Rutsey, which to be fair was not at all a bad album and certainly one can earnestly say that Rutsey was a fine drummer, but Neil Peart he was not. (Oh and 2112, released in 1976, is a concept album and their first among many to come, truly great albums).
This not a biography on Rush which you can find on Wikipedia but rather a declaration of my favorite band of all time – Rush is easily the greatest rock band, group, performance artists, etc. ever or the worst and most pretentious band to come upon the music scene. I, being a die-hard fan since 1976 (release of 2112) believe the former to be true but I certainly have heard the detractors who absolutely loathe Rush. Knowledgeable and well-respected music journalists have hurled some of the most denunciatory opinions; the invective consisting of pretentious, noise, non-commercial, chaotic (Rush is anything but chaotic), “can’t dance to” and more.
The reason for this dichotomy is because the music from Rush is profoundly unlike any other rock band musically and lyrically. Music is a matter of taste and like art; it’s difficult if not impossible to say who is better or who is the best. However, the facts are facts – whether one hates or loves the band, no one can deny that the trio is freakishly talented. Neil Peart is arguably the best drummer ever to pick up a pair of drum sticks, Geddy Lee on the bass is in the same league with John Entwistle, “Flea”, and all the other greats  (Geddy also plays the keys and sings), and finally, though incredibly underrated, Alex Lifeson is far and away the greatest, most diversified guitarist (neck and neck, pun intended, with Steve Howe) there is. (Rolling Stone Magazine recently had a top 100 guitarists issue and Alex Lifeson ranked 98 – laughable !!! The ranking should have been Alex Lifeson and Steve Howe, one and two respectively and #3 could have been Page or Hendrix but the gap between the aforementioned and the other greats is a long way from Lifeson and Howe).
As for the lyrics of Rush, this is where one will hear and read – “pretentious garbage”. This is simply not true. Neil Peart who writes all the lyrics shrugs off the negative comments and will say something akin to (paraphrasing) “Pretentious ? I am not pretending to be anything, I’m simply writing from my heart and the words that come forth are sincerely the way I feel. “Unlike all other rock lyrics, the syntax is precise and perfect, the vocabulary is rich and varied, and the subject matter about which Peart writes is “deep” and profound. The meaning of life, Ayn Rand, freewill and determinism, metaphysics, science, science fiction, existentialism, death, and so much more can be found in the lyrics of Rush music. It is true that though Neil Peart can nail a piece lyrically, he sometimes misses and some songs are not very good (lyrically not musically) and may be cliché-ridden (in the song ‘Countdown’ from the album signals you will hear the passage “the excitement is so thick you can cut it with a knife”) but not unlike any other writer and poet he can write a masterpiece and at times his writing is mediocre or not good at all. The problem I have with the people (the elitist snobs, Ivy-league college professors, etc.) who say the lyrics are pretentious is the notion that just because you have a Ph.D. in Classical studies doesn’t mean you own Homer (pretentiousness is a topic for another blog).  I don’t think Neil Peart even has a college degree but he’s well-read and intelligent and I’m sorry Mr. snobby Shakespearean scholar, he may very well have something fresh and insightful to say.
So WhaDaYaThink ? What do you Think ? I will be spilling much more ink on Rush in the future. Do you like Rush ? Have you ever heard of Rush – lol…


Count To A Hundred

January 7th, 2012 by Magdalena Tabor

It’s only because we have more memory,

More of the past behind us

To look back on as we age

That we’re haunted by it.

(“Count to a hundred.”)

The ghost of my mother in the kitchen,

Younger then.

Brother, teasing his little sister,

(“No peeking.”)

My father working, accounts for his absence.


The ghost of my little girl self

Stares from behind a curtain

Or behind a door in an inner room

Avoiding my direct gaze.

(“…ninety nine. a hundred!”)

But I know exactly where to find her.

The toe of a blue velvet slipper

Reveals itself.

(“Ready or not…”)


The pretence of not knowing,

Prolonging the game.

(“…here I come.”)

The thrill of being found out,

Meshed with just a tinge of disappointment.

(“Tag. You’re it.”)


Caffe Reggio

January 1st, 2012 by Magdalena Tabor
If it’s not too late, we’ll go.
On a steel gray day
Even the pigeons find bitter cold.
Share a small space, you and I.
Sip some cappuccino.
In a darkened corner, toward the back,
Amid antiques Romanesque,
We’ll spotlight
Some topic of interest, and pause,
Observing life
At the next table.


Retired Professional Football Player Knows the Meaning of True Love

January 1st, 2012 by Michael Tabor

Last week I blogged about how despicable the GOP republican presidential nominee and former Speaker of the House was for hypocritically denouncing the lecherous behavior of then President Bill Clinton while all along he himself, Newt Gingrich, was having an affair as his first wife lay dying in the hospital.
Thankfully, goodness, decency, and true love do exist. Chris Draft, a 12-year professional football veteran did not abandon his dying fiancé, in fact he married her a month ago. Chris Draft was with her throughout her long bout with lung cancer and he demonstrated his love and commitment even before he took the vow of “sickness and in health.” His love of his life was so weak and sick on her wedding day that she was confined to a wheelchair.  Mrs. Keaasha Monique Rutledge, a precious human died today and will not live to see 2012. Chis released a statement that will surely tug at your heartstrings:
Not just an inspiration, but a light, and a force that led the way with a beautiful, sweet smile and bright shining eyes that both belied the pure steel of her strength and determination.
Strong is too pale, too shallow and too small of a word to describe Keasha’s vibrancy… Quite simply, she was ferocious. She fiercely held onto life, and love with a forcefulness that was absolutely awe-inspiring and completely breathtaking. Rest in peace, Mrs. Draft.