The Grand Wazoo
November 27th 1972
Official Release #16
Catalog Number: ZR 3849
Produced by Frank Zappa
Paramount Recording Studios, LA, CA
Engineer: Kerry McNabb (who is not related to the other McNabs)
Special Technical Assistance: Paul Hof
“Legend” & art direction: Frank Zappa, NT&B
art & text ©1972, mmxii zappa family trust
Cover Illustration: Cal Schenkel
Photography: Ed Caraeff, Barry Feinstein & Tony Esparza
burritos: Ernie's Taco House
pizza: Two Guys From Italy
barbecued dessicated chicken: Hollywood Ranch Market
The Legend Of Cleetus Awreetus-Awrightus & the Grand Wazoo
Uncle Meat is in the basement of his secret laboratory. The lights are dim. All around the basement mysterious wires and cables dangle over, out of, around and through an unlikely collection of dust-covered desks, trunks, umbrella stands, and a huge maroon sofa, terminating in a fake maple book case like you might get if you ordered the whole Collier's Encyclopedia at one time.
Stu (which is Uncle Meat's first name) crouches malignantly near the book case, fumbling through a stack of books, records, newspaper clippings, religious pamphlets, and campaign buttons. He applies light friction to the rash on his throat, muttering "Yes, yes ... it's all here ... every bit of it ... everything I need to create my greatest masterpiece!"
Excitedly stuffing the whole bundle into the topmost empty shelf of the book case, Stu dodges swiftly to the desk, applies his protective green visor and garden gloves, laughs his special pseudo-scientific laugh, and jerks vigorously on the handle of that big electrical switch he uses all the time. As you might expect, big sparks poot out of everything and the overhead bulb blinks on and off. A filtered cello section goes DUNT DUNT DUNNNNN, but you can't hear it because the sound effects are too loud.
When he turns the switch off, all the sparks stop, and all the noise stops, and the books & pamphlets, etc. have vanished. In their place, outside the lab, not more than 5 furlongs distant, is a life-size, minutely detailed, historically inaccurate, somewhat perverted illusionary replica of ANCIENT ROME or something.
The ruler of this illusion is CLETUS AWREETUS-AWRIGHTUS, The Funky Emperor. CLETUS has a fantastic army of unemployed musicians. Him and the army run the place when they're not out fighting the war with the illusionary arch-villain, MEDIOCRATES OF PEDESTRIUM. MEDIOCRATES also has a fantastic army. These two armies punch out every week on Monday. Score of the weekly battle is posted on billboards, telephone-pole flyers, spray-painted aqueducts, and stone tables called THE CHARTS.
Every emperor, funky or not, has problems to deal with, and CLETUS is no exception. Aside from the long-drawn war, there is a problem of civic unrest. A grotesque cult of masochistic ascetic fanatics who don't like music has sprung up in the catacombs beneath the emperor's very sauna bath. These people are called QUESTIONS.
CLETUS deals with them benevolently in the civic auditorium. After they are captured and held in abeyance for on while, announcements are made to the rest of the PUBLIC AT LARGEproclaiming a FESTIVAL.
The QUESTIONS are stampeded into your usual dirt-floor oval arena. It is at this point CLETUS, in full regalia enters, and speaks to the QUESTIONS through an oversize primitive-but-effective megaphone known as THE GRAND WAZOO. First he says, "Hi, cats & kittens!", to which the audience responds: "AWREETUS! AWRIGHTUS! AWREETUS, CLETUS!" Whereupon the emperor asks: "Any you folks sing, dance, or play a musical instrument?" In some rare instances a QUESTION or two will arise from the fanatics and raise his or her hand to signify some repressed talent or interest in things of a musical nature. These reformed QUESTIONS are permitted to leave the arena and join CLETUS's army (which is, in reality, a BIG BAND). Instead of boot-camp, they get sent to work in one of the many beer-dispensing topless/bottomless night clubs under the careful instruction of a sensitive, understanding CLUB OWNER who will train them for the big stuff.
The QUESTIONS that don't answer the first time are given a second chance when a scantily-clad nubile maiden dashes into their midst with gaily painted cardboard box containing SPOONS, and, if they show some indication of natural rhythm in the use thereof, they are released and sent to Nashville.
Having been as fair as possible to the prisoners, CLETUS must now, regretfully, dispose of the ones who refuse to alter their unmusical ways. Bowing his head in official sadness, he gives the secret cue to the electric piano player in the pit orchestra, who cranks off a funky intro. At the conclusion of this, signified by the entrance of the drum set and electric guitars, a procession of union reps, squealers, goons, and contractors, all tastefully dressed, tug mightily on the end of strain-resistant nylon hauser, which propels a disturbingly large Radio Flyer wagon into the center of the arena.
The wagon contains a giant aquarium sort of thing, in which we see writhing an impressive amount of U.D.T. (UnDifferentiated Tissue), a symbolic accumulation of all the statistical errors and failed attempts of this empire's illusionary scientific community. The fetid tank is towed to within lethal proximity of the unmusicals. The union people go away, as they always do, and, after receiving a series of congratulations, awards, business cards, and fund donations, hold a board meeting off to the side, wherein it is unanimously decided to provide an ultimate solution for the QUESTIONS. The solution itself is released when a high guitar twang shatters the glass of the U.D.T. tank. It burbles and fumes for a few moments, finally gulping them all down. A hush falls over the arena as the vapors dissipate and the pit orchestra makes triumphal reprise of the opening figure.
After the fun of the arena: it's back to work as usual for CLETUS. He returns to his regal chamber for a formal dinner with his staff. On his right, the ones that give him the support he needs;ERRONEOUS, his bass player, GREGARIOUS, his drummer, and PER DIEM, his roadie.
On his left, he keeps those other kind of people that tend to hang out with your average emperor: TRIVIA, a hot girl who likes to get flogged, CRETINOUS, the biographer, NEFARIOUS, the guy with the long, stringy moustache who gives advice, EQUILIBRIUM, the pharmacist, DYSMENHORREA, the squinting female oracle, PHOTON, the lighting director, and so forth down the table.
Each week, at the same point in the dinner ceremony, just before they serve the oiled pessaries, an exhausted runner crashes through the doors, falls to his knees before the emperor, and wheezes: "They're coming! Quickly! We'll be surrounded!" The runner is then revived (he always blacks out right then) with a transistor radio tuned to Wolfman Jack. Once his consciousness has been regained, guards remove him to another area where he is pumped and waxed for further information.
CLETUS immediately calls his service. Instructors are given for BEN-HUR BARRET to contract the whole army (if Motown will let him take any outside jobs, this being perhaps the most outside job he could get). The combined forces of the Army Awreetus include 5,000 brass players (assorted) which is the AIR FORCE, 5,000 drummers (assorted) which is THE ARTILLERY, 5,000 players of electric instruments (assorted) which is THE CHEMICAL / BIOLOGICAL / PSHYCOLOGICAL WARFARE SECTION, and 5,000 guys with masonite boards strapped on their chests, each one firmly grasping half a coconut shell in either hand which they pummel rhythmically on the board... this is THE CAVALRY. CLETUS leads them into battle with his gleaming MYSTERY HORN (many believe this instrument to be nothing more than a "C" Melody Saxophone, borrowed from Jackie Kelso).
The enemy army of MEDIOCRATES OF PEDESTRIUM (known as THE M.O.P.) has similar sections, except for a new platoon of sinister mercenaries called THE STRING SECTION, or alternately, THE SWEETENER. The main difference between the two armies, however, is THE M.O.P. is heavy on vocals.
THE M.O.P. has 5,000 dynamic male vocalists in tuxedos who stand in the middle of the road, loosen their bow ties, and arch one eyebrow, 5,000 dynamic male vocalists with fringed smocks, tunics, jumpers, and Nudie shirts, 5,000 dynamic (but carefully understated) male vocalists in old Levi clothes who cry, sulk, whimper, and play harmonica, plus 5,000 more dynamic performers of indeterminate sex who can't sing at all, but dance good and do hot moves with the mike wire.
These are reinforced by 100,000 black girl backup singers (assorted) who sway in a trained manner and get funky on command. As if that weren't enough, there's another 5,000 girl Lead Singers, many of which are so sensitive they're invisible and the rest of which are so overwhelming they hurt your eyes whenever the light gets on them.
Every Monday, THE M.O.P. marches into Awreetus Country and lines up outside the main metropolitan area. By means of small-but-powerful portable transmitter, the combined forces of MEDIOCRATES proceed to croon, strut, blither, and bloop a suspiciously accessible barrage of DITTIES into the airwaves in an attempt to anesthetize the decent townspeople into drooling submission.
CLETUS 'n the Army Awreetus defend their turf by marching to a nearby hummock and playing a shuffle.