Gruntled:An Origin Story
It was 1964, and Frank Zappa was attempting to raise money to produce a science-fiction film called Captain Beefheart vs. the Grunt People. I was a 6 year old boy from Massachusetts with arf on my mind and zomby genes. During the surgery, I was exposed to a radioactive source that had been previously used to relieve constipation in bats, and for experimental moose antler psychopomps. A surge caused by a nearby lightning strike caused a cataclysmic rewiring of my brain, resulting in a zomby woof behind my eyes.
Mr. Zappa was extremely interested in the sociological effects of antler drift at the time, and entirely by coincidence, he learned of my case and tracked me down to my cage in a suburban Boston laboratory. I quickly gained his trust, and his cronies from the Utility Muffin Research Kitchen broke me out. I lived in a large toolshed on his Los Angeles property until I was 16, when I was accepted to Miskatonic University on a bouncer scholarship.
In 1967 I met and scuffled with Don Van Vliet, who became Captain Beefheart through use of the dark arts. He sold Aldous Huxley a vacuum cleaner, and would later claim that, in an appearance on Late Night with David Letterman, the name referred to "a beef in my heart against this society". The society to which he referred was a monstrous nightmare of pointless complexity, a perpetrator of arbitrary cruelty against the underclasses and a stew of demagoguery.
The Grunt People were what Frank Zappa called the "straights" of the day. In the 60s, straight meant one who stayed on the straight and narrow, a conformist, a normal person. Partly because Van Vliet used a Oiuja board to divine that I would take the user name of Gruntled on Illogicopedia, and partly because I make a bewildering variety of grunting noises when I play with dogs, I became the figurehead for the Grunt People. My strict Catholic parents disapproved of the notoriety I'd gained as a reputed 6 year old Satanist, and sent me to live a cloistered life on some nameless island off the Irish coast. I was raised by monks, and had for all intents disappeared.
SpaceTime passed, computers got faster and my nemesis' mother was a Thingfish. He constantly demanded Pepsi as he wielded his wizardly powers, appearing and disappearing hither and yon, such as whimsy did lure him. Thus have we come to here, now. Captain Beefheart, may he rest in peace, has gone on to meet his Maker, or not, such as it is. My own efforts with composing music have stalled, but should pick up again soon. The titanic struggle recedes into history, my hopes for recognition dashed.
Ultimately, it makes no difference, since the stuff about me was all made up. A cynic might posit that I simply wrote this article in order to add it to the Vanity template, and indeed, this may be part of my motivation. However, as a subscriber to the concept of "wu wei", I believe that bats are eating my legs.
- It is true that the correct spelling of the word is "zombie". Because it was behind your eyes, the spelling "zomby" was selected by Mr. Zappa with an occasional python boot.
- In those days, there were campus pubs at all of the ivy league schools. Scholarships were awarded to men who could handle themselves, and 6 or 7 more, in a scuffle.
- Captain Beefheart actually did sell a vacuum cleaner to famed writer Aldous Huxley. For a brief time in the 60's, Van Vliet sole them door to door.
- Wu wei" is a Chinese Taoist term meaning, "piss off, you little wanker. This is a free country, and I believe whatever I damned well please". The idea of freedom to empirically evaluate truth for oneself was so popular with fifth century BC warlords that entire cities were set ablaze in huge bonfires of celebration.