It’s Okay To Be Smart

Every Wednesday at 7:00AM on 89.3FM (in Cleveland, WCSB), there’s a “Skid Row” blues program. At the very beginning of the show, they play audio from a 1981 Frank Zappa interview. I know this because it’s one of the many things my dad loves. As part of his routine every Wednesday on his way to work, he listens to this. Naturally, his daughters started listening to it, too.

As far back as I can remember, my dad told us, “It’s okay to be smart.” It’s such a simple statement, but it’s something that always meant a lot to me. I even incorporated it into a high school National Honor Society induction speech I had to give. (In case you haven’t noticed, my nerdiness has deep roots.)

It’s been a long time since I tuned in to Skid Row, but I was thinking about it this morning, and I didn’t want to wait until Wednesday to post about it. This is the mood I’m in today: coffee, blues, and a little nostalgia.

Without further ado, here’s the text of the Zappa interview:

Well you have to understand one important fact that many Americans have tried to ignore for the past 50 years … it’s okay to be smart and it’s okay to do things intellectually and it’s also okay to do things with a gut reaction, and it’s also okay to combine the two; and usually the way the media plays on the fears of the public, especially during the 50’s and 60’s that anybody who had an I.Q. over 28, let’s say, was probably a threat to the community because a person who can think for himself is just liable to realize that commercials don’t mean anything, and what they write in the newspapers is wrong. And you know, it’s fashionable to disparage people who are smart, and the bad part is that people who are born smart pretend to be dumb so they can have friends — and that’s a tragedy. I try to encourage people that if they are intelligent to not be ashamed of it, to go out and do it and forget about having friends and acting dumb in order to have friends because those friends aren’t gonna do you any good anyway. And if you know deep down in your heart that you’re a dumb kind of a person, don’t be ashamed of it. That’s what you are. Have a good time. You can sit in front of the T.V. and drink beer and watch hockey and love it. Because the more you know, the less you like it so everybody should be happy with what they got.

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