Widow of Reinvention

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Widow of Reinvention

For $100,000, she gave her two cents on American culture.

by Omar Beer

#20 Gail Zappa, 51, North Hollywood, Calif. Party: D. $292,650 total contributions.

View Zappa’s itemized contributions.

You’d think a dental floss tycoon would have a better chance of slurping java with the president than Frank Zappa’s widow. Yet there was Gail Zappa in August 1995, sipping with other donors from dainty china cups in the White House Map Room. The president and vice president each gripped sturdy mugs.

“I was trying to figure out how to hold the cup, not to make noise, not to break the china,” she says. She probably could have broken as many saucers as she wanted to. Five days earlier, the Democratic National Committee had recorded her $100,000 donation. She took the opportunity to push her idea for a Department of Culture to lift the American artistic sensibility, which, she said, is “slightly lower than yogurt.”

Previously, the best-known Zappa activism had been Frank’s battle with Tipper Gore over warning labels for music recordings. Whatever ill will lingered from those encounters, however, was outweighed by Gail Zappa’s antipathy for Bob Dole.

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TIME IS RUNNING OUT!

We have an ambitious $350,000 online fundraising goal this month and it's truly crunch time: About 15 percent of our yearly online giving usually comes in during the final week of the year, and in "No Cute Headlines or Manipulative BS," we explain why we simply can't afford to come up short right now.

The bottom line: Corporations and powerful people with deep pockets will never sustain the type of journalism Mother Jones exists to do. And advertising or profit-driven ownership groups will never make time-intensive, in-depth reporting viable.

That's why donations big and small make up 74 percent of our budget this year. There is no backup to keep us going, no alternate revenue source, no secret benefactor. If readers don’t donate, we won’t be here. It's that simple.

And if you can help us out with a donation right now, all online gifts will be matched thanks to an incredibly generous matching gift pledge.

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