Where on Earth, Week 41: Frank Zappa Monument, Vilnius, Lithuania

Congratulations to Nuva and Oddsocks for correctly identifying this week’s Where on Earth.

It took a bit of wandering myself before I was able to find the monument featured in the above photograph, for the simple reason that government officials in post-communist Vilnius, Lithuania were hesitant to erect a bust of Frank Zappa in the center of town.

In fact, one must certainly wonder how a monument to singer Frank Zappa ever ended up in a city with which he had no connection and never even visited.

A few years ago, I had the good fortune to share some beers with one of the students responsible for this very odd monument. He explained to me in a dark Vilnius pub how he and his friends, caught up in the early 1990s euphoria of post-communist freedom, decided to honor one of their favorite American singers whom they clandestinely listened to during communism because authorities banned his decadent western music.
Amazingly, during a crazy time when all things seemed possible, the students were able to convince the city government of their worthy Zappa cause. Even more remarkable, was that the students commissioned local sculptor Konstantinas Bogdanas to create the bust. Prior to this commission, Bogdanas sculpted only what the state told him to sculpt, which was mostly Lenin statues and other heroes of the socialist revolution.

So, if you happen to be in Vilnius, seek out this ironic monument and spend a moment with the underground hero of an entirely different revolution, one which communist authorities often tried to prevent by threatening to “beat the Zappa” out of unruly dissidents.