Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Frank Zappa Cafe (sic)

I'm staying two blocks from a place called the Frank Zappa Cafe here in Budapest. Having been a Zappa fan since high school, I've been in such a trembling state of awe and excitement that I waited a few days before making my first pilgrimage, to be certain I was fully primed for the head rush. One part of the overall superior culturedness of Eastern and Central Europe is the fact that there's always been a strong undercurrent of Zappa fans here. And Hungary is somewhat outside the reach of most intellectual property actions, hence the continued existence of this Cafe in spite of Frank's widow's notorious tightness with the trademark.

Well, it's 11pm, and I just walked over. The well-lit room was filled with well-groomed yuppie couples sitting at nice blonde wood tables. Some music was playing over the sound system, too soft and too tinny to identify (though it may well have been Zappa). No jukebox full of bootlegs, no Zappa connection whatsoever aside from a pretty poor mural of the original Mothers of Invention painted on an interior wall, which I imagined to be decorated with potted ferns.

I headed to the bar, were the vacant-eyed server told me to sit at the tables, because the bar, with three stools, isn't "nice". So I sat down at a large table table for four, reached for what I assumed to be the drinks menu, and found myself staring, instead, at a shiny card listing peppy-sounding Bailey's-branded drinks. Because, after all, what says Frank Zappa like a Bailey's Latte?

I fled, and am still rattled and traumatized as I write this.


Anonymous said...

Yeah - had I known I would have spared you. Thanks for the "review". If it was indeed something we authorized you might have had some of your expectations met - at least musically.

Music is the Best!


Big Fella said...

You know you can always right that wrong, just start a Mothers of Invention cover band when you get home, then convince our new State Department to send you over there on as cultural ambassadors. Just bring your own food.

Unknown said...

I lived in Budapest in 1991 when The Zappa Cafe was called Tilos Az A and it was a wonderful underground bar with incredible atmosphere and energy and the best live rock music in Eastern Europe. It's sad to see it such a plastic, touristic yuppie bar today. It's called The Zappa Cafe because Frank once came there back when it was Tilos Az A. We all miss him but thankfully he's not around to see what this once very cool bar has become.

Anonymous said...

The Zappa Cafe is gone. Its' March 18th 2024 and I'm sitting in what used to be the Zappa Cafe. At least Frank's musical creativity lives on and big business benefits. Sounds like the predicament of all great artists.

James Leff said...

Yeah, it all goes into the funnel. But I have no better alternative economic system to suggest. And I envy your dinner tonight.

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