As chronicled in the liner notes of Frank Zappa‘s The Grand Wazoo (1972), a mad genius named Uncle Meat creates a “a life-size, minutely detailed, historically inaccurate, somewhat perverted illusionary replica of ANCIENT ROME or something.”
The ruler of this illusion is CLETUS AWREETUS-AWRIGHTUS, The Funky Emperor. CLETUS has a fantastic army of unemployed musicians. Him and the army run the place when they’re not out fighting the war with the illusionary arch-villain, MEDIOCRATES OF PEDESTRIUM. MEDIOCRATES also has a fantastic army.
Results from battles are “posted on billboards, telephone-pole flyers, spray-painted aqueducts, and stone tables called THE CHARTS.”
But Cletus’s empire has internal problems:
A grotesque cult of masochistic ascetic fanatics who don’t like music has sprung up in the catacombs beneath the emperor’s very sauna bath. These people are called QUESTIONS.
Cletus attempts to rehabilitate them. “The QUESTIONS are stampeded into your usual dirt-floor oval arena.” Then Cletus
speaks to the QUESTIONS through an oversize primitive-but-effective megaphone known as THE GRAND WAZOO. First he says, “Hi, cats & kittens!”, to which the audience responds: “AWREETUS! AWRIGHTUS! AWREETUS, CLETUS!” Whereupon the emperor asks: “Any you folks sing, dance, or play a musical instrument?”
If they answer affirmatively, Questions can join Cletus’s army “(which is, in reality, a BIG BAND)” after training in a night club. If they don’t, a pretty lady comes in with a cardboard box full of spoons:
if they show some indication of natural rhythm in the use thereof, they are released and sent to Nashville.
Having been as fair as possible to the prisoners, CLETUS must now, regretfully, dispose of the ones who refuse to alter their unmusical ways.
The “unmusicals” are swallowed by a mass of “U.D.T. (UnDifferentiated Tissue)” released by a guitar twang.
“Eat That Question”
Following “the fun of the arena” Cletus enjoys dinner with his staff: “ERRONEOUS, his bass player, GREGARIOUS, his drummer, and PER DIEM, his roadie.”
The tyrant’s entourage also includes
CRETINOUS, the biographer, NEFARIOUS, the guy with the long, stringy moustache who gives advice, EQUILIBRIUM, the pharmacist, DYSMENHORREA, the squinting female oracle, PHOTON, the lighting director, and so forth down the table.
Back in the regular swing of things, the ritual clash with the army of Mediocrates of Pedestrium “(known as THE M.O.P.)” proceeds. Cletus’s forces are mobilized by Ben-Hur Barret.
Every Monday, THE M.O.P. marches into Awreetus Country and lines up outside the main metropolitan area. By means of small-but-powerful portable transmitter, the combined forces of MEDIOCRATES proceed to croon, strut, blither, and bloop a suspiciously accessible barrage of DITTIES into the airwaves in an attempt to anaesthetize the decent townspeople into drooling submission.
CLETUS ‘n the Army Awreetus defend their turf by marching to a nearby hummock and playing a shuffle.
Proving, if any proof was needed, that Zappa albums have heaps of funny names.