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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And the truth is, going into the final 4 days of the year we still needed to raise $TK to hit our $350,000 goal and start 2021 on track. It's nerve-wracking, wondering if the big spike we normally see at the end of December is going to be another thing that doesn't go as planned in 2020, or worse, if, now that Donald Trump is set to leave the White House (for longer than a taxpayer-funded golf trip to a property he owns), folks might be pulling back from fighting for the truth and a democracy and think the hard work is done.

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