Appendix II

Thing-Fish Apology

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From: (Larry Huntley)
  Date: Thu, 02 Feb 95 23:07:58 -0800
  I really LIKE "Thing-Fish"; it's one of my favorite Zappa albums.
  I like everything about it, but there are some high points:
a. The brilliant voice characterization by Ike Willis.
b. The finest version of "Torture" ever recorded.
c. The entire story line appeals to me as much or more than "Joe's Garage."
d. The uncreedible collecshum of all-purpose phrases which can be used to baffle co-workers and other unsuspecting victims:
- "Well, let's just have a little test..."
- "Once the plookin' and thrashin' be done wit'"
- "Uh-oh. Trouble. I smell Christians coming..."
- "One Adam Twelve - See the Mammy with knife. Reproach with caushum - knife MAY be open."
- "Girl: Jus' be careful with the LATCH!"
e. The conceptual continuity Crab-Grass Baby dialog that refers back to one of the spoken pieces of "Lumpy Gravy" ("White Boy Trouble.")
f. Harry, Rhonda, and Harry-As-A-Boy are all carefully drawn and the characterizations are beautiful.
g. The Mammy Nun concept is pure poetry.
h. The nakkin.
i. The tiny little sound that signifies the growing out of the nakkin. (You gotta listen for it...)
j. The synth rhythm that's used in "He's So Gay."
  I could go on, but most of you don't care. Well, some of you don't care. Maybe all of you. But I like it. It's in my top ten.
  I know that a lot of it is pretty obscure if one never saw or heard the old "Amos 'n' Andy" TV or radio shows. If you've never seen any of these, rent a couple of videos; this will at least clear up where the voice and title came from ("King-Fish" is one of the main characters. He's a shyster lawyer that Ike emulates perfectly.) The show itself is terribly politically incorrect, but are we gonna let _THAT_ bother us? Hell, NO!
  There's a lot of pure Americana represented here: "Amos 'n' Andy", "Adam 12" (an L.A. cop show), the New York City/Broadway Musical culture, themes from certain Broadway plays (the wind rushing down the plain, fairies on a string, sequin-encrusted whatchamacallits), conspiracy theories about the origin of AIDS, U.S. male concerns about cologne, the U.S. prison system (ala the Tuskeegee experiment), TV preachers, women's liberation and on and on. It's great. No, really.
  Admitting to not understanding it is one thing; condemning it as a lousy album is another thing entirely. Yeah, some of the music is warmed-over, but even most of that is excellent. Some of the songs are improved wonderfully. And, it may represent the last studio ensemble recordings.
  As a final inducement, I played the album for a friend of mine. About 10 minutes into it, she announced "Well, he's offended just about everyone now..." By the end of the album, there were very few left unscathed.
  What more do you want? Raise YO mizzibul han' up....
  I've seen the Hustler pictorial layout, but it doesn't particularly "enhance the experience" for me. I have my own mental images of Harry and Rhonda, the Crab-Grass Baby with the 'normous white pompadour, and all the others. "Ample Annie" or whoever she was doesn't fit the image of the New Yawk play-goer as played by Dale Bozzio. The text accompanying the libretto supplies all the scene-setting required.
  In summation, I'd just like to invite all those who tend to use "Thing-Fish" as a personal punching-bag to shut up and eat your mashed potatoes.

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