Them Or Us (The Book)

The Stories


Notes & Comments

FZ, Picture Disk Interview #2, 1984

It's due off the press in 2 weeks in the United States, and it's three hundred and sixty-something pages and I'm publishing it myself.

The first printing is 5000 copies.

It's a book for people who hate to read, and it's written in the style of a screenplay so that each situation is described in terms of what a camera would see, what the physical action is, what the people say and what they do. And so it takes you very quickly through some complicated situations where, if you had written it as a normal book it would be . . . like that.

And it's a fiction book and it's very funny.

The way it works is . . . in physics they have this thing that they've been looking for—it's the Unified Field Theory that explains the interrelationship between how gravity works and atomic energy and all this stuff—they're looking for one equation that explains it all and makes it work because right now there's contradictions. And . . . let's just say that the book is like a Unified Field Theory that will hold together "Billy The Mountain," "Greggery Peccary," "Joe's Garage," "Them Or Us," "Thing-Fish" . . . all these different stories, it shows you how they work together to make one long, really complicated story. And the Them Or Us album is only one part of this major release that is coming out this year.

There are three other albums that are released at approximately the same time. The Boulez album, the Francesco album, and the Thing-Fish album—and the book relates . . . The Boulez album is not related to it but all the rest of the stuff is related. And so if you read the book and listen to those three, plus knowing from the past "Joe's Garage," "Billy The Mountain," "Greggery Peccary" then it would make an awful lot of sense to you. But other than that it's very hard to describe.

People, especially in Europe, when they want to know more about what the lyrics mean, if they can read English the book would help them.

And if they can't it'll . . . . confuse them very much.

I took it to publishers in the United States and they were afraid of it, so I said, "Forget it. I'll just print it myself" and sell it mail-order.

When we talked to a US publisher, they were more concerned that it LOOK like a book, and this doesn't look like a book—it looks like a screenplay. And so they have taken a position that people won't read it because it doesn't say, "The leaves fell off the tree," and "It's five o'clock," and it's all in paragraphs. I personally don't like to read, and I've said in other interviews that, for me, reading is about as much fun as standing in line at the passport window in the French airport.

So, it's designed basically for people who would enjoy the albums rather than for a literary audience.


Chapter One

[p. 3] FRANCESCO, a short, paunchy man in his 50's, can be seen through the window of the stupid little house, watching a cowboy movie on a tiny TV. As the show concludes, he turns off the set and, in spite of the fact that there is snow on the ground, walks down the steps between his two concrete flamingos, dressed in baggy boxer shorts, a white T-shirt, black shoes & socks (with garters), and the appropriate hat & wig for a middle-class Milanese of the Baroque period.

Bob Zappa with Bob Stannard, Frankie & Bobby: Growing Up Zappa, 2015, p. 118-120

Our father was a big fan of TV westerns. [...] At home Dad used to sit in front of the TV in boxer shorts, athletic T-shirt, and a beret. Curiously, he never bought a western hat.

[p. 12] The scene is now a sidewalk cafe next to a church in Partinico, Sicily. Two little men talk at a table.

[p. 13] I met a charming young girl named ANGELINA, just as she was leaving the confessional at the church in Partinico.

Discoring, RAI, 1984

Sandro Paternostro: Recently you've been in Partinico. What were your impressions?

FZ: When I got there I saw . . . We drove all over around the town and I saw some parts of it that were very very poor. [I didn't have the way to ask where my relatives were. After about 20 minutes of driving around we stopped near the church, in front of a bar. The village seemed rather old-fashioned, some streets weren't even asphalted. Then suddenly we heard a loud noise coming from inside the bar: videogames. Then we walked a little and we saw a punk-store. When we returned in Palermo, we've been told some particular stories about Partinico, and so I realized that those loud videogames actually were to cover some other kind of noises].

[p. 18] In your cauldron you have seen The Phlorescent Leech and Eddie. They are standing on a fake stage in Pinewood Studios, during the filming of 200 MOTELS, in the year 1970. You are there too. Your name is Rance Muhammitz. You are supposed to be The Devil, and your wife used to be a censor at NBC.

[p. 19] You are about to entice these miniature replica fat boys with my very own personal 'Mystery Burger', after which Ringo's chauffer will eat it without having to pay you for it.


Chapter Two

[p. 52] Next to the boat
Where CROSBY flushed away all his stash


Chapter Three

[p. 67] ". . . the potential profits from a series of CLASSIC RE-APPEARANCES of, for example, ELVIS PRESLEY . . . or JIMI HENDRIX!"


[p. 72] LARRY FANOGA (a guy who wants to ride a PONY while wearing a pointed blue foil party hat, but will eventually settle for a job as a roadie for a group called 'TOAD-O') joins in:


Chapter Five

[p. 144] (We sense that ALLAN has come up with a GREAT IDEA! He has decided to produce a REALLY CHEAP and INCREDIBLE EXPLOITIVE 'VALLEY GIRL BEACH PARTY' MOVIE!)

FZ, interviewed by David and Victoria Sheff, Playboy, November, 1982

We've had calls from Universal, United Artists, even Norman Lear asking to do a film on Valley Girl. My manager and I will see about the best deal. Also, people have been sending Moon all these stupid fucking scripts; one was for a movie called Planet of the Teenagers. There have been a few others where they're looking for a voluptuous teenager who takes her clothes off and takes drugs. She's obviously passed on those. If we do Valley Girl as a movie, she'll be in it, so she'll have to miss some school. But she'll have a tutor. I refuse to let her just walk away from school.


Chapter Six



Chapter Seven

[p. 182] We see an exact duplication of the escape-pod scene from "2001" . . . a worried looking astronaut in an expensive suit.

[p. 182] The interior of the same bedroom that the "2001" astronaut found himself in at the end of the psychedelic optical sequence.

[p. 183] Instead of eating the meal Kubrick laid out for him last time, he shakes his head in disgust [...]


Chapter Eight

[p. 244] HUNCHENTOOT, still dangling the watch with one hand, reaches over with his other and pokes 'FORCE-LING' #2 first in the right eye, then in the left, finally pulling the ping-pong balls over both eyes in a perfect 3-STOOGES tic-tac-toe movement.




Chapter Nine

[p. 260] THE PRISON WARDEN (Shirley Stoller)





Research, compilation and maintenance by Román García Albertos
This page updated: 2018-05-01