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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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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