You are What You Is…..And Vaclav Havel did not condone torture…..but loved Zappa

You is what you am. Zappa was an icon of the underground movements in Eastern Europe before the fall of the Soviet Empire. He was especially popular in Czechoslovaka, and Czech Republic founding father Vaclav Havel was a huge Zappa fan. The Power of the Powerless, as Havel wrote, was rooted in the cultural communities that could situate opposition to totalitarianism in a way that could not be broken. The enduring aspect of cultural opposition is the power to define who is an asshole and who is cool. By creating cultures within indigenous communities and gravitating toward alternative “underground” cultural symbols, sounds, and practices, the hegemonic power of the totalitarian state was broken, and the assholes who served as toadies of those states lost power and influence (except in Russia, where the assholes came back to power….but they didn’t like Zappa as much in Russia).

At Havel’s request, Zappa was supposed to be named a special ambassador for trade and culture between the United States and Czech, however US Secretary of State James Baker nixed it because Zappa had made fun of Baker and his wife during his testimony before the Senate on censoring rock lyrics. Havel appointed him in an unofficial capacity anyway.


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