What’s New in Baltimore: Zappa

What's New in Baltimre: Zappa

Hey! What’s new in Baltimore?
Better go back and find out.
– Frank Vincent Zappa, “What’s New in Baltimore?”

Musician and composer Frank Zappa (1940-1993) was born in Baltimore, spending boyhood years in a Park Heights Avenue row house and at nearby Edgewood  Arsenal. His family moved to California in 1952, but Charm City is honoring its native son with a statute from Lithuania. There will also be free performances and a symposium at this weekend’s sculpture dedication.

Why Lithuania?  Young revolutionaries in the capital city of Vilnius adopted the music of FZ as a symbol of freedom:

We never saw Zappa, but nobody ever saw God, and they still go to church. Lithuania is a nation of mythology, legends and fairy tales. Everything is mystified. People believe really quickly, and one of the myths is that independence is good for everyone, with no exceptions. That’s why, in such an environment, the Zappa seeds were so successfully planted.
Vytautas Kernagis, Lithuanian musician, quoted by Adam B. Ellick in Rolling Stone.

After the fall of the USSR, grateful Lithuanian patriots erected a statue of Mr. Zappa in the hip Užupis neighborhood of Vilnius which, except for a medieval monastery or two, seems a lot like today’s Fell’s Point. 

The Zappa sculpture, a representation of Frank Zappa’s head by sculptor Konstantinas Bogdanas, is on a tall thin column. A duplicate of this 15-foot-tall artwork, purchased by Lithuanian admirers, was shipped to Baltimore (the city paid for crating, shipping, and installation).  The sculpture looks a bit like a huge parking meter, the kind Fell’s Point is phased out. The statue is installed near a library.

“If you want to get laid, go to college. If you want to learn, go to a library.”
 — Frank Zappa, as quoted by his widow Gail.

The Zappa Family Trust approves of the Baltimore bust, a good thing considering the international imbroglio over Germany’s  Zappanale. The East German town of  Bad Doberan began holding an annual Zappa festival before the fall of the Berlin Wall.  The Zappa family filed suit to block the event, but the courts denied the motion. Gail Zappa, the musician’s widow, especially dislikes Bad Doberan’s sculpture of her late husband by rock drummer Václav Cesák. She is not alone.

The most appropriate memorial to Frank Zappa is in Berlin, where 13th Street was renamed Frank-Zappa-Strasse. The street houses Orwo Haus, a Communist-era factory building that now provides rehearsal studios for 160 bands.


Hat tip: WCP Arts Desk.

Image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

Comments are welcome if they are on-topic, substantive, concise, and not obscene. Comments may be edited for clarity and length.

Tags: , , , , ,

One Response to “What’s New in Baltimore: Zappa”

  1. Mike Licht Says:


    “Spirit of Frank Zappa returns to Baltimore,” Richard Simon, Los Angeles Times.

    “Speeches and regalia: Zappa fans celebrate rocker: Hundreds come together to honor Baltimore’s newest favorite son,” Chris Kaltenbach, Baltimore Sun.

    “Deceased rock legend Frank Zappa honored at the Enoch Pratt Free Library,” ABC-2 News.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: