Dear Mr. Zappa,
On Aug. 21 my SF Weekly "Slap Shots" column attributed a restroom wall quote -- "Every town must have a place where phony hippies meet" -- to an anonymous poet. I have since been informed by your loyal fans here on Earth that this lyric is in fact yours, from the song "Who Needs the Peace Corps," off your 1968 Mothers of Invention album We're Only in It for the Money. You might want to send personal thank-yous to Michael J. O'Connor of Cotati, Brian Denny of Berkeley, TShort7792oAOL.COM, AND SEVERAL ANONYMOUS CALLERS, ONE OF WHOM LEFT THE ENTIRE VERSE ON MY VOICE MAIL. MY APOLOGIES FOR THE OVERSIGHT (I WAS STILL LEARNING HOW TO SHARPEN A PENCIL AT THE TIME), AND DO SAY HI TO JOHNNY "GUITAR" WATSON.
SOME TIME AGO, CHRONICLE FOOD CRITIC MICHAEL BAUER GAVE A BAD REVIEW TO THE OCCIDENTAL BAR & GRILL, FEATURED IN THIS VERY PAPER FOR ITS MARTINIS (SEE "BEST OF SAN FRANCISCO," JUNE 26). OCCIDENTAL MANAGEMENT WAS IN NO MOOD FOR WHAT THEY PERCEIVED AS UNJUST TREATMENT AND IMMEDIATELY RETALIATED. THE SOLITARY STALL IN THE OCCIDENTAL MEN'S ROOM NOW GREETS VISITORS WITH WALLS COMFORTABLY FREE OF ANY WRITING OR OTHER DECORATION -- EXCEPT A NICELY FRAMED PORTRAIT, ABOVE THE TOILET PAPER DISPENSER, OF NONE OTHER THAN MICHAEL BAUER. SITTING AT A MICROPHONE AS PART OF A PANEL DISCUSSION, BAUER'S IMAGE HAS BEEN UNDERLINED BY THE OCCIDENTALISTS WITH THE WORDSo "In case of emergency break glass."
Sanitized for Your Protection
"Photography is permitted," announces the baritone voice, echoing off the suspended acoustic panels of Davies Symphony Hall. "In fact, flash photography is our favorite." The crowd titters with laughter. In a few minutes, handsome broadcaster John Tesh and his 22-piece orchestra will take the stage. Although the hall is only one-third full, the Tesh-heads are abuzz with excitement -- white, middle-aged folks who are not afraid to drive across a windy bridge on a Tuesday night for some quality musical milk.
Restless with hosting Entertainment Tonight and Olympic gymnastics, Tesh has carved himself an alternative career that includes composing music for the Olympics, releasing 11 CDs and videos, and performing in his own PBS Live at Red Rocks concert special. Although ignored by mainstream critics, his contribution to America's musical canon must not be overlooked; he is our generation's Andy Williams.
Somebody's laughing all the way to the bank here, and it's not you. A Tesh composition, usually a lush, simplistic instrumental, may suggest a variety of images -- an exciting day of mall shopping; leotarded tumblers from Cirque du Soleil; a restaurant waiter whose name is Blake saying he's very sorry but he's out of the lemon salmon tortellini.
The show is very loud. Perhaps he's considering his elderly fans who may have hearing problems. And the light show is a legitimate scorcher -- revolving patterns, strobes, and other theatrical effects to catch the sexagenarian's eye.
The stage action is fast. As Tesh moves from grand piano and keyboards to percussion, his accompanying guitar army and chief violinist stroll, pose, and hop their way across the stage. (Tesh in particular has an exciting way of pounding the keyboard with his left hand and raising it high in the air -- no question who's driving this train.)
The extremely competent musicians smile constantly, their great Fabio hair always falling perfectly back in place. And when Tesh straps on the portable keyboard, leaps off the stage, and runs into the audience with the guitarists and violinist, jamming furiously in front of astonished patrons, it would be wise to have local paramedics on standby: We could have a few cardiacs tonight.
Toward the end, Tesh takes a moment to sit at the grand piano for that just-between-you-and-me chat. If he smoked or drank, this would be the time to do so. "Everything that's happened on this stage tonight," he says, "it's God's mercy. God bless you all."
From the back of the theater comes a small voice, unable to resist: "Praise the Lord."
And pass the vanilla sponge cake.
Address all correspondence to: Slap Shots, c/o SF Weekly, 425 Brannan, San Francisco, CA 94107; phone: (415) 536-8152; e-mail: email@example.com.
By Jack Boulware