Cinematheque108 Presents: Frank Zappa's UNCLE MEAT

November 21, 2013, 7:00 P.M.

The Ray Stark Family Theatre, SCA 108, George Lucas Building, USC School of Cinematic Arts, 900 W. 34th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90007

Cinematheque108 and the Zappa Family Trust invite you to a special screening of

Frank Zappa's Uncle Meat

A film by Frank Zappa
Followed by a Q&A with Gail Zappa and
Joe Travers, moderated by Dr. David E. James

7:00 P.M. on Thursday, November 21st, 2013

The Ray Stark Family Theatre, SCA 108
900 W. 34th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90007


About Uncle Meat

Frank Zappa began directing The Mothers of Invention’s one and only movie, UNCLE MEAT, less than two years after the group debuted at the Action on Santa Monica Boulevard (Halloween weekend, 1965), but it did not see release until 1987. Colorful footage from their "Absolutely Free"-era residency at the Garrick Theater in New York, and from the Sgt. Pepper/psychedelia-mocking "We’re Only in it for the Money" album cover shoot is mixed with orchestral bits from a 1968 concert at London’s Royal Festival Hall. The running monster gag stars band keyboardist Don Preston with office gal Phyllis Altenhaus; they eventually get into the shower for a hamburger massage. Zappa’s soundtrack (packaged in 1969 with a telling Cal Schenkel assemblage) set the agenda for art rock, its torque showing the consequences of reducing people to objects – the system treating human labor (therefore, life, aka "meat") as a commodity.

Footage of early Mothers Ray Collins, Roy Estrada, Jimmy Carl Black, James "Motorhead" Sherwood, Ansley Dunbar, Billy Mundi, Artie Tripp, Lowell George, Bunk Gardner and Ian Underwood winds up presaging Richard Linklater’s 1991 flick SLACKER, plus you get Rodney Bingenheimer, Linda Ronstadt and others along for the ride at the legendary Hollywood Ranch Market on Vine Street. Bitchin’ camerawork by director of photography Haskell Wexler.

Provided courtesy of the Zappa Family Trust. Not rated. Running time: 100 minutes.

Visit the Official Frank Zappa website:

About the Guests


Gail Zappa daughter of a rocket scientist, wife of composer Frank Zappa, mother of Moon, Dweezil, Ahmet and Diva Zappa. Writer, Art Director, Provocateur. Has changed a million diapers and a few minds - including her own. [Grammy winner: Gail and Frank Zappa, Art Directors, Best Recording Package - Boxed - 1995, CIVILIZATION, Phase III]


Joe Travers has been playing drums in the Los Angeles area for twenty years. A Berklee College Of Music graduate, Joe moved to LA in 1992 and by March 1993 he had landed the gig with Dweezil & Ahmet Zappa's group "Z". Since then Joe has gone on to play for the last 7 years with Zappa Plays Zappa, Dweezil's group devoted to the music of Frank Zappa. Other musical experiences over the years includes Duran Duran, Lisa Loeb, Rich Robinson (The Black Crowes), & Billy Idol to name a few.

When joe is not on the road, he spends his time being the "Vaultmeister" for the Zappa Family Trust. This entails being in charge of archiving and preserving the legacy of legend Frank Zappa, working closely with Gail Zappa, co-producing and supervising future delicacies released by the ZFT. Joe continues to play with The Mike Keneally Band, Warren Cuccurullo and composer Bear McCreary as well as fronting his own group "Joe Travers & Friends", which plays most notably at the famous Baked Potato in Studio City.

About David E. James, Ph.D., Professor of Critical Studies at SCA

David E. James is on the faculty of the School of Cinematic Arts at the University of Southern California. He received his B.A. and M.A. degrees in English Literature from Cambridge University and an M.A. and Ph.D., also in English, from the University of Pennsylvania. He has held academic positions at the University of California, Occidental College, New York University, Korea University, Shanghai University of Science and Technology, the Beijing Film Academy, National Taiwan University, and Viet Nam National University, Hanoi. His awards include an NEH Fellowship for College Teachers, Rockefeller Foundation Fellowship in the Humanities at the Whitney Museum of American Art, an Academy Film Scholarship from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and the Associates Award for Creativity in Research at USC; he has also been a scholar at the Getty Research Institute and a fellow at the Center for the Advanced Study of Visual Arts and the National Gallery in Washington, DC.

James is the author of Written Within and Without: A Study of Blake's Milton (Frankfurt: Peter Lang, 1977), Allegories of Cinema: American Film in the Sixties (Princeton University Press, 1989), Power Misses: Essays Across (Un)Popular Culture (London: Verso Books, 1996), and The Most Typical Avant-Garde: History and Geography of Minor Cinemas in Los Angeles (University of California Press, 2006), and articles and reviews in PMLA, October, Social Text, Representations, Film Quarterly, the minnesota review, Grey Room, Art Forum, and other journals and periodicals. He also edited To Free the Cinema: Jonas Mekas and the New York Underground (Princeton University Press, 1992), The Hidden Foundation: Cinema and the Question of Class (Minnesota University Press, 1996), Im Kwon-Taek: The Making Of a Korean National Cinema (Wayne State University Press, 2002), The Sons and Daughters of Los: Culture and Community in LA (Temple University Press, 2003), Stan Brakhage: Filmmaker (Temple University Press, 2006), and Optic Antics: The Cinema of Ken Jacobs (Oxford University Press, 2011), and has served on the editorial boards of Cinema Journal, Quarterly Review of Film and Video, Now Time, and Art Week. He has also published two books of poetry, and his films have screened at the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Los Angeles Filmforum and Canyon Cinema in San Francisco. His teaching and research interests currently focus on avant-garde cinema, culture in Los Angeles, East-Asian cinema, film and music, and working-class culture.

About Cinematheque108

Cinematheque108 is an alternative screening series sponsored by the Critical Studies Department at the University of Southern California's School of Cinematic Arts. The series offers a rare selection of events that highlight noteworthy experimental, documentary, and/or foreign films, many of which can not be seen anywhere else. Cinematheque108 is an educational forum that aims to expand understanding of alternative film and media. All screenings are free of charge and open to the pubic.

Check-In & Reservations

This screening is free of charge and open to the public. Please bring a valid ID or print out of your reservation confirmation, which will automatically be sent to your e-mail account upon successfully making an RSVP through this website. Doors will open at 6:30 P.M.

All SCA screenings are OVERBOOKED to ensure seating capacity in the theater, therefore seating is not guaranteed based on RSVPs. The RSVP list will be checked in on a first-come, first-served basis until the theater is full. Once the theater has reached capacity, we will no longer be able to admit guests, regardless of RSVP status.


The USC School of Cinematic Arts is located at 900 W. 34th St., Los Angeles, CA 90007. Parking passes may be purchased for $10.00 at USC Entrance Gate #5, located at the intersection of W. Jefferson Blvd. & McClintock Avenue. We recommend parking in Parking Structure D, at the far end of 34th Street. Metered street parking is also available along Jefferson Blvd.

Contact Information

Name: David James