The Summer of Frank

This is the cover of Zappa’s The Man from Utopia. This cover was drawn by the Italian comics artist Tanino Liberatore. It is collage of all the things that happened to Frank Zappa during his Italian tour. On the backcover there are scenes from the Palermo concert.

The short but intense documentary 1982. L’estate di Frank (1982. The Summer of Frank) by Silvio Cuccia, offers a triple perspective on the idea of belonging and identity. Cuccia was in the army when Frank Zappa toured Italy in 1982, and he decided to travel with his father all the way from Pordenone (North) to Palermo (South), his hometown, for Zappa’s last concert of the tour. But he could never reach the capital of Sicily in time for the show and a couple of months later his father would die and his life would change forever. The movie is, in some way, the attempt of reconnecting with something lost.

Massimo Bassoli, a journalist, instead, in the summer of 1982, as a dear friend of Frank Zappa, would be the one to assist the Italian-American rockstar/composer throughout the entire tour. Bassoli is the protagonist of Cuccia’s movie, by being the one to narrate a story of the past that will leave a mark in Italy’s music and social history, and in particular in the city of Palermo. Unfortunately, indeed, Zappa’s concert in Palermo will be mostly remembered for the riots that accompanied it. The concert was held in a stadium and the stage was positioned at the center of this stadium. The audience was sitting very far away from the stage and, therefore, when the concert started, many began to move towards the center of the stadium. It was at this point that the police attacked and the riot started. That concert only lasted about 20 minutes.
But apart from the bad events that characterized that concert, there was something else very different happening in those days: before the show, Bassoli took Frank Zappa in his father’s hometown, Partinico. In the movie, the journalist recalls that day in all its details, but Zappa’s visit to Partinico was very short. Maybe the times were different, and even if Zappa always felt a strong connection with Italy, it seems that this short trip was not a big deal for the musician. I am saying this, because it seems that he never talked about it to his children. And here comes the third perspective.The third perspective is that of Dweezil and Dana Zappa, brother and sister, Frank’s children, who decide to follow, through Bassoli’s help, their father’s route and visit Partinico. They are those who manage to “complete” the journey, by even finally meeting part of their Sicilian family. At the end of their trip Dana and Dweezil will receive the honorary citizenship from the mayor of Partinico, and are touched by the plans that the town has in order to maintain Zappa’s legacy alive.

The most interesting part of the documentary is the encounter of Dweezil and Dana with a different culture, which is, at the same time, part of their own identity. Their feelings are very similar to those of millions of Italian-American girls and boys who desire to get in contact with their heritage, their past, their deep identity.

You can watch the documentary on You Tube. Here’s the link:


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