I have heard about ZAPPAWEEN the last couple years and never knew what it was exactly. I thought it was similar to the Zappanale but new. I skipped this past Zappanale (Frank Zappa tribute festival held every year for the past 19 years in Germany) due to a certain someone causing havoc for me. So I was itching to be around other Zappa fans and celebrate Frank and his music. I booked a flight and room and headed down to St. Petersburg, where ZAPPAWEEN is held. Robin and John (also avid Zappa freaks) met me there. I arrived a day early as they drove all the way from Atlanta (John flew to Atlanta from Chicago). I am NOT into road trips anymore (did enough of those following the Grateful Dead around for a few years back in the 80's ).
I stayed at the Days Inn which I found online, not having a CLUE as to how that area is set up. I just wanted something close to the venue where ZAPPAWEEN takes place. Now you would think, having such an event, that happens once a year, that it would be bigger, you know, with a few Zappa tribute bands and perhaps tips on Bogus Pomps web site (they are the band that puts on ZAPPAWEEN every year) for Zappa fans who come to the area just for this event. But no. In fact, even up to show day (Nov 1st) their web site still didn't even have info on THIS YEARS Zappaween on it (I guess they are so busy they didn't get to it). I thought this event was a couple years old. But NO, it has been going on for FOURTEEN YEARS already. This surprised me as Robin, John and I were there a couple days early, HOPING to meet other Zappa fans and hang out with them, you know? BUT NO. NOTHING.
I called a Zappa fan I know from Tampa which is rather close. I don't know him well, just an online Zappa buddy. I asked him "where do the Zappa fans meet down here?". He snapped at me "This is NOT ZAPPANALE DOT! This is ZAPPAWEEN and we don't meet up, it's just that one show and that is it!!". He was so snippy about it, Robin, John and I sat there in the cheesiest fucking bar ever with our jaws dropped at his response. Not just the tone (he continued to say "You should all be in bed, like I am, FUCKING!"). Oh, ok, whatever. So, let me get this straight. Zappa fans come from all over the world (one girl came all the way from Germany but we didn't meet her until the show started), yet no one organised a meeting point or pre-Zappaween party? Why? What the fuck.
Let me try to explain to you how incredibly BORING St. Petersburg and Treasure Island (the actual beach area) IS. There are only THREE BARS on Treasure Island (all SUPER SMOKY) and walking into them is like walking back in time, and not a good time either. After hearing a few stories from "locals" we found out time seems to STOP when you escape to this area. No one was FROM that area, they are all from NJ, Chicago, Boston, etc, people who seemed to have ran away from the cold and their mundane busy lives. One waitress, who felt the need to tell us about all of her past husbands and addictions, was from NJ and has been there for 15 years. Her hair, clothes, make up and lingo that spat out of her pie hole were all set in that time, styled like life was 15 years ago. It reminded me of watching the Berlin wall come down November 9th, 1989 in Berlin. I watched the people come through the wall, dressed so old fashioned, as they didn't know any better. This was the same vibe. The music, hair, clothes, everything. It was so strange! We were all gob smacked. We just could NOT get over this time warp. Fucking BIZARRE.
Anyways, I still can't get over the fact, that after 14 years, there is no "where to go before and after Zappaween to meet other Zappa fans in St. Petersburg" web site or at least a tiny section on the Bogus Pomp web site "Zappaween Tips/stuff to do before/after". I guess I just am the type to see potential in things and wonder why no one else does. What harm could it do to have a pre-Zappaween party to get all excited for the show? Also, there is only ONE band at the Zappaween. One band, one show. So the whole Zappaween lasts about three hours. This would be worth the trip if you lived in the area.
Anyways, the hotel I stayed in was frowned upon by the rental car dealer. They asked me where I was staying, I told them and they all stopped talking. They told me NOT to go out a lone at night and "it's very dangerous" in that area. DAM, you can never tell when booking online. Apart from the pubic hairs on my sheets left from last guest and half full can of coke left in fridge, it was ok. Vama, the manager (in the pictures above and below) treated me like a queen when she found out I do massages. I massaged her for free and she let me get away with everything. Front row parking, etc. The room only cost $50 a night, so I guess you can deal with some random short and curlies in your sheets ( I slept with jogging pants and long sleeved shirt on to avoid touching sheets). She even upgraded me after the first night to a suite and that was nicer. The maid was the problem. She weighed about 400 pounds, always had a cigarette in one hand and did NOT want to work.
Vama ^ and I bonding
I was so fucking shattered when I landed in St. Petersburg as I literally had TWO hours of sleep the "night" before. I was up until ten am, slept til noon (two full power hours) and then had to rush to airport. Rented a car and could barely drive I was so tired. On my way to hotel, I saw a Thai restaurant and stopped in to eat. It was PERFECT. "Thai Orchid" is the place to eat in St. Petersburg if you like Thai. I even brought Robin and John there the next night (I'm a creature of habit). After dinner, I was so tired I could barely see, but instead of crashing when I got into the seedy room, I went out for a walk in the danger zone.I tucked my hair up under my hat and wore unattractive baggy clothes and headed out to stretch my legs. I was saddened to witness the poverty around me. I thought THIS is America? Sidewalks and streets haven't been repaired in years, in fact, bushes and weeds were growing out of all the cracks.
Shop after shop, fast food joint after fast food joint were closed down, overgrown with bushes and trees. You could smell how desperate people have become in this area. The nasty hotels all along the road were housing for many family's. I could tell the people lived there, that they were not just passing through. Some places boasted "$33 per night or $150 per week" and of course they all offered an hourly rate (lots of ratty looking hookers lurking about outside of each hotel). HOWEVER, every few blocks was a brand spanking new, sparkling clean CVS or Walgreens. Oh LORD they are doing so well. Why? Because Pharmacy's will always do well, because the Government wants us all hooked on prescription drugs. The commercials never stop. I went into several of these CVS's and Walgreens on my nightly walks, mainly to buy Reese's peanut butter cups , but also because they are open 24/7 and safe. What a massive contrast: CVS every few blocks, obviously thriving, with a Walgreens directly across the street from each one, surrounded by obvious poverty. Tsk tsk. It makes me ill.
One night after our boring fucking trek into the local bars (which turned UP the crappy music on the juke box and turned the Zappa and Hendrix we picked out down super low), Robin, John and I walked together to CVS (I think the peace pipe made us extra giddy) and we had a fucking blast in CVS. The woman behind the counter got to know me by now and I loved making her laugh out loud every night. This night, I told her I would give her $100 – or any other store employee if they could tell me the MEANING of what "CVS" actually stands for. No one in the whole freakin place knew what it meant. ROBIN DOES! How fucking random is that!! Robin KNEW!! It means "chorionic villi sampling" omfg. It's a test that is done that is done to check for birth defects. WOT???? Robin works in a woman's help center. LMFAO!!!!!! So, if you want to fuck with CVS employees, go and ask them what CVS stands for.
One advantage of me arriving so tired, is I went to bed at midnight and got up at TEN AM. I had time audition a new Dot Bot. Alison came to my hotel and massaged me by the pool side. On her massage table, out in the sun. It was lovely. I hired her, she is amazing. You will see her online very soon. She just massaged Jason Mraz for us yesterday.
I did manage to get to the beach during daylight hours (beach was ten minute drive from hotel). I jogged along the beach and watched the sun set. It was breath taking. Made me want to move there, but then again, those bars, those freaky locals and that time warp effect woke me right up. If I ever go there again, I will surely stay RIGHT on the beach, which costs twice as much but the hell, you only live once. If you're gonna do it, do it right.
ZAPPAWEEN has an annual costume contest and ^ John dressed as Vito Paulekas (freak?) posing here with Robin in front of the State Theater.
|I just dressed as Mary, the crew slut (or did I?) I love my Jetson Boots.||Robin and I lovin' life.|
Jerry Outlaw's girlfriend, Deborah, did
a great job dressing up as Amy Winehouse
Zappa fan Dave Black dressed "Potato headed Bobby" , posed with his cutie pie girl friend and Robin.
Ike was the star of the show for sure. Everyone was scared he wouldn't show or whatever, like with the Zappanale (he missed the plane) but he was there, in full force and nailed it. He is a jolly soul. Smart as whip too, don't let that goofy grin fool ya.
"Not by the hairs of my chinny-chin-chin"
Dan Campbell , violinist, fiddler and guitarist, was one of my favorite
parts of the show. At one point he was fiddling so fast, I swear I saw
smoke. I couldn't help but imagining him wanking; thinking how good he
must be at it. I asked him after and he assured me he is a pro.
The Bassist looks like an older version of one of my ex-boyfriends, also
a bassist. He was on fire. Seriously.
Jerry O. and Shane Blank bending those strings ^
A view from side stage ^
Byron Hogan, Cello player and Pat Buffo ^ (even though Pat is sporting
pig tails and a dress, he is so lumber-jack manly, he can pull it off and
still make the ladies, including me, swoon.
|Shane Blank , guitar prodigy, age 14, jammed with Bogus Pomp and jaws hit the floor.|
Mr. Zappaween himself, Jerry Outlaw, founder of Bogus Pomp. When I got into the gig, Jerry was on stage, changing guitar strings on his guitar. The audience was just chilling to the house music (led zeppelin, janis joplin and many other classics) while Jerry was sweating his balls off to get done in time. You can tell he has his plate full but works all year long to pull off Zappaween. To say the band was TIGHT would be a severe understatement. In fact, between Bogus Pomp and Project Object, ZPZ hasn't a snow ball's chance in hell at recreating Frank Zappa's music the way it is supposed to be played, like these two bands; with passion. REAL passion. Not just "I need to do this to pay my bills cause my own band doesn't cut the mustard" – passion.
Dressed as the "Spider of Destiny" (google it) won the contest and won the guitar.
Billy the Mountain came in second place I think… I found it strange they
didn't invite the costumed freaks on stage for voting. They were just called
to the front row; which was lame as no one but the band could see and judge
| This Tomb Raider babe had the men in a "petulant frenzy"
Guest vocalist, Pat Buffo ^ impressed me greatly. His rendition of 50/50 and Zombie Wolf gave me goose bumps. The mother fucker can SING. He has his own band called Rebel Pride .
Acting out "Dirty Love" (the way your mama makes that nasty poodle chew) -see the white poodle near my rump?
Ok, during the show, I received an email on my crackberry from Jerry Ford one of Jimmy (rip) Carl Black's best friends. The email came around 11pm and it said that Jimmy Carl Black had just passed away in his sleep. My reaction was LOUD, shocking and undeniable. In other words, I couldn't have hidden this emotion. Robin and John simotaneously went "WHAT? What's going on!??" The music was so loud, I couldn't hear them nor then me, so I just passed my crackberry to them to read. We all flipped out with watery eyes. What a downer. We were in between heaven (amazing Zappa tribute band) and hell (hearing of Jimmy, original Mother of Invention) passing.
Matt Koegler , fellow Zappa freak suggested keeping that news to myself, as not to bring everyone down, but I just had to tell Ike. I mean, wouldn't all the Zappa fans want to know as soon as possible so we could all send him loving thoughts? I waited until Ike had a break and went back stage and brought him out side to tell him and show him the email. The above picture was taken a few minutes after, when Robin came outside to help console him. Perhaps the tears in my eyes prevented me from focusing my camera properly or perhaps my camera has just gone to shit. Not sure.
|Holy FUCK! Some people have a lot of free time. Looks amazing doesn't it???|
So Ike decided he would announce Jimmy's passing when he got back on stage. He went on stage, whispered it into Jerry's ear and then Jerry broke the bad news. But instead of bringing everyone down, Jerry said it in such a way and dedicated the rest of the show to Jimmy, that everyone celebrated his life, rather than being bummed out about death. At least Jimmy wasn't suffering from the torture of the cancer any longer. RIP Jimmy, my friend. At least no one can sue him any more for playing Frank Zappa's music. Pffft!
Can you BELIEVE how amazing these pumpkins are? The carving must have taken HOURS. There were two of them at the show and they looked even better when the lights were out. They glowed. They seemed surreal.
I am dam proud of that picture. Great colors, mood, yes!
The two love birds were alone on stage after the show, showing love and I just asked them to pose. So sweet. Poor Jerry must need a whole year to recover from all the stress and energy it takes to put on Zappaween. I think some of his friends should help out a bit more, like with the web site, and lugging the equipment in and out as I saw him doing most of the work, but maybe he likes it that way.
Although the actual Zappaween/Bogus Pomp SHOW was fun, I have to admit I prefer Zappanale. There are 4 days of Zappa-packed fun, with Zappa fans from all over the world (total sausage fest) and the scenery is gorgeous too. Zappaween is three hours of fun. No comparison. Fourteen years of Zappaween and still no place to hang out before the show? wtf? You know I love comparisons. So lets just say, you have two amazing lovers. Both well equipped. Both can make you cum. But one fucks you for four days, a four day fuck fest, you know the kind, were you stink of sex for days in a row. The other, comes in, makes you cum really fast and leaves. Zappaween is the quickie; Zappanale will make you sore for a few days. Both are fun. It's a matter of taste and time I guess.
Ike and John after the show. The mood was somber again after the smoke cleared and Jimmy's name came up again. There was mad love for Jimmy at the show that night. He will never be forgotten. Such a talented sweet heart. Missed by many many fans, friends and loved ones.
Comment from Robin:
Dec 6, 2008 9:55 PM
great florida/zappaween blog…will add a story or two soon…like how i had NO VOICE…and that DINER we went to at 3am…what a trip that was!! omg…our dr. dot massages at the pubic hair motel…with the highest *mildew* rating!!LOL! although blurry, i like the shot of ike and me sitting outside after learning that JCB had died 🙁 your previous poster is right, for such heavy news it was great to be with you and john and ike and all the fans…RIP jimmy…RIP frank… peace and music…robin