the grand tradition of such surreptitious recordings as Eddie
Lee Sausage and Mitchell D’s Shut Up, Little Man
and John Elmo and Jim Davidson’s The Tube Bar,
Frank’s Mom offers a glimpse of the mother-son
relationship in America. In it, a young man named Frank is challenged,
cajoled and viciously berated (perhaps not without justification)
by his mother. Topics include the likelihood of Frank securing
summer employment, Frank's dubious choice of an employer, Mom's
level of disappointment in him, and others. Frank doesn't have
too much to say -- but when he does offer a few words, there is
a swift and passionate response. The regional accent suggests
that this recording was made somewhere in New England, and some
clues suggest origins in the mid to late 1980s. It concludes with
tape trickery by Frank himself, whoever he may be, proving his
early mastery of the ironic remix. A segment of this recording
appeared on the compilation ‘Thirty Minutes On The World
Map’, released in 2003 by Richmond County Archives.
the full release here
(Many thanks to Stephen McLaughlin
for supplying the source recording)
FACTS AND SPECULATION
Mom speculation reaches an all-time low; dies
23 February 2008
briefly capturing the imagination of dozens of people, Frank's
Mom speculation withered by summer 2007. Most of the hard-core
Frank's Mom afficionados were satisfied that 'the team' had tracked
down The Real Frank. As a result, no more speculation is being
collected. Long Live Frank's Mom! May she never learn the extent
to which her son has disappointed her.
Frank's Mom material continues to appear on Myspace™,
Mom at Wikipedia, and a philosophical conundrum on The Real Frank
21 March 2007
has been a regular rotation of previously unheard Frank's Mom
material on the Myspace™ page during 2007, perhaps fueled
by all the speculation. It has been fairly well-established that
The Real Frank is running this page -- so this provides us with
a wonderful window into the past life of Frank's Mom. As of 21
March 2007, there was a fascinating call-in show recording from
WABC, a conversation on child-rearing and parenting concerns between
The Real Frank's Mom and Dr. Laurence Bolder [sp?]. She certainly
cleans up her language for the radio! A must-hear for all of you
Frank's Mom fanatics.
Wikipedia page on Frank's Mom briefly existed -- it was deleted
by Wikipedia for not meeting 'general notability guidelines'.
several core speculators have presented Richmond County Archives
with incontrovertible evidence as to the identity of The Real
Frank. This has raised a difficult question, however. If The Real
Frank chooses to remain anonymous, would it be unjust to reveal
speculator suggested that that The Real Frank, through his reluctance
to communicate on the subject of Frank's Mom, is giving us the
rare opportunity to know mystery in an age where complete treatises
on almost everything are easily obtained. Through his silence,
we proceed with our assumptions and facts without ever knowing
his identity with certainty. At the same time, The Real Frank
encourages continued speculation by posting new material, and
has not made any attempts to halt progress -- precisely the opposite,
as he posted this very page as his home page on Myspace™.
Perhaps The Real Frank is testing us, seeing if we are up to the
challenge to enjoy something for what it is, and not overanalyze
or drain all of the mystery out of it.
course, The Real Frank may just not want his mother to discover
his distribution of her rants to the public, which would certainly
embarass, anger or sadden her. What good son wants to do this
to his mother?
the speculation page would wither if we turn The Real Frank into
just another Frank by naming him. So we're keeping it close.
in on Frank
Sarah Defeo & Stephen McLaughlin
21 February 2007
personal information has been left out to respect Frank's privacy,
whoever he may be.
sent in the following analysis of Frank's Mom:
Frank's Mom on my iPod and was listening to it with my headphones
on (so as not to disturb the neighbors with the shouting)
.I heard Frank's Mom mumble something to the effect
of "Frank XXXXX, that's who you care about..." I
was like "SAY WHAT?? Did she just say his last name???"
(Those Bose headphones are really something.)
two minutes of Google stalking Frank XXXX, I came up
with the website of a Frank XXXX, an [deleted] computer programmer
with a ponytail and a surprisingly entertaining [deleted]
collection. He also seems to record and mix music in a little
digital recording studio. Hmm, this seems promising...
resume, which shows that he attended Boston University for
a few years and that he may actually be from Long Island
teenaged Frank, with long hair---his mother would not approve
evidence that he has a brother named James---if you scroll
through the pics you will see his parents.
this point, I was like, IT'S HIM. Several parts match up.
If it was him, I wondered if he knew that there was all this
speculation about him and that this recording was out there
on the Internet. I thought he'd want to know, so I emailed
him. That was on 29 January 2007. I never heard back.
the fact that the MySpace page appeared ten days after
I emailed him and that it links back to the RCA site (which
I sent him to in my email to him) is VERY interesting. From
reading Frank XXXX's website, I know that he records music
and that he has a [deleted] -- so he would definitely have
the capability to create the mixed tracks that are up on the
MySpace page. Furthermore, Frank XXXX has his own website
and is interested enough in techie stuff to think of making
a MySpace page when many people his age (dude is ten
years older than us, right?) wouldn't.
be WAY off, but my theory: this Frank XXXX is The Frank.
Frank himself created the MySpace page, but wants to
remain anonymous. What do think? Am I crazy or what?
added to these revelations with the following age projections:
XXXX's MySpace page indicates he is XX years old. He is
almost certainly the oldest because his dad is also named Frank
(there is a picture of his dad labeled as "Frank Sr."
on the same page as the James photo). Stefan's Friendster
page [Stefan perhaps knew one of Frank's brothers -- see below]
lists his age as XX and he did indeed go to Colgate just as
I had remembered.
this: Ken is probably the youngest and is maybe XX (the right
age to be Stefan's freshman roommate), James is the middle kid
and is maybe XX and Frank is the oldest at XX. It clicks!
Frank's Mom page mysteriously appears on Myspace™
10 February 2007
page features a Billy Joel sing-a-long (i.e. 'FrankaSkank') and
ripping remix (i.e. 'Ruining My Life') not found on the Richmond
County Archives release. Little is known about this page -- could
it be the legendary Frank himself who created it, or a relative?
We can only wonder, as the maker has remained anonymous.
interesting features of the page:
of Frank's Mom's "top friends" are also named Frank,
suggesting a penchant for the similarly named.
are many famous comedians listed among Frank's Mom's friends
(e.g., Jim Gaffigan and his pale allies). Could Frank be pursuing
a career in the comedic arts?
sent to the Myspace™ page result in an automatic response
('the hell with you, buddy!'), frustrating attempts at communication.
This act, however, belies an anti-social tendency one would
expect of Frank, particularly in light of his tumultuous past.
creation of the Frank's Mom Myspace™ page has spurred massive
speculation since its inception -- Stephen McLaughlin sent the
following thoughts on 20 February 2007:
quick observation I think you'll [all] appreciate. The new recordings
from the Myspace™ page have offered me new insight. I
am pretty sure that the singer of FrankaSkank is not Frank but
his brother, who seems to be named "Ken". This is
because he says "Frank's recording me" and he is also
singing a song making fun of Frank. This is very interesting
because if this is true, the last voice on the original recording
isn't Frank either, but Ken. This means that the last conversation
with Frank's Mom [on RCA013] is actually between Ken and his
Mom and not between Frank and his mom. I always felt like she
was much calmer for the duration of that final conversation
so it makes sense that it isn't Frank (who CLEARLY drives her
bananas); I don't know why I never noticed the subtle differences
between the voices before now!
Interestingly, the person who made the Myspace™ page seems
to understand that Frank's brother is also on the tape (he mentions
this and it is in the ID3 tags of the songs) suggesting that
this person has also listened extra closely to these recordings
OR has first hand knowledge of the recording (Frank, Ken ?,
or a friend of the family perhaps).
McLaughlin has established that Frank is not the lead vocalist
on FrankaSkank, others have pointed out that there are
two people mentioned in the song -- if you listen closely to the"choruses",
the lyrics appear to be:
It's just a Ken Skank
It's not the real Skank
Sometimes a Frank Skank
Sometimes a Skank
It's just the Frank Skank Whoa Oh Oh Oh
It's not the Frank Skank Whoa Oh Oh Oh
It's just a Frank Skank Whoa Oh Oh Oh
It's not a James Skank...
James is mentioned by Frank's Mom in the original recording, as
the person at 'the docks' with Frank's father. James was previously
thought to be the name of Frank's younger, well-dressed brother.
But who is this 'Ken'? Could Frank have two brothers? And are
they all equally as rugged?
We Think We Know: A Short List of Observations On Frank's Mom
Staff of Richmond County Archives
27 January 2007
are based on the unedited track (44 minutes 38 seconds), which
is not the one provided above. It has long periods of silence,
and a lengthy radio mix at the end that added little to the piece
as a whole. Below is a bulleted list of observations:
At the beginning
of the recording:
date is 7 June, 96 degrees F.
>There is a drought -- a local resident was fined for watering
her lawn excessively.
>Frank is 19 years old.
>He is on summer break from Boston University, and has been
since 8 May.
>Frank has a younger brother of age 16 who dresses well.
>Frank's house is air-conditioned.
>He has a friend named Timmy, who has a car.
>Metropolitan Life Company has a nearby branch, one possible
father wears uniforms that may be purchased at Sears.
>His father spends time "on the docks", owns or
works on a boat, and the family has some experience with ship-to-shore
communication -- a fisherman, marine mechanic, stevedor?
father was at the docks with James -- Frank's brother? He wasn't
working on 7 June, it seems.
Has time passed?
Is this later in Frank's life? Unclear
has long hair & works part-time.
>Frank is listening to Billy Joel's 'It's still Rock &
Roll to Me' (released in 1980), clearly on vinyl.
>Doctor Ruth has her syndicated radio show (Sexually Speaking,
start 1980) at the time of this recording.
Time has definitely
passed...Frank is now 21 and working part time.
listens to the Butthole Surfers and mixes his mother in -- there
seems to be L/R stereo separation at one point, does Frank have
>Fact: The Butthole Surfers track 'Sweet Loaf' was on the
'Locust Abortion Technician' LP, released in 1987
>Fact: The Butthole Surfers track 'Moving to Florida' was
on the 'Creamed Corn From The Socket of Davis' EP, released
>Boston University apparently costs $15,000/year at this
time (before or after financial aid, though?)
>Frank becomes interested in tape trickery -- some crude
sampling/looping is present.
radio mix with no maternal diatribes
one station is clearly announced "Solid Gold Rock and Roll,
Big-D 103FM" -- WDRC in Bloomfield, CT.
>Various songs from the 1960s (For Your Love), 1970's (Don't
Go Breakin' My Heart), and 1980's (Mad About You) appear, which
is consistent with the station's programming at this time.
>In the mid 1980's, WDRC's signal "
19.5 kw signal from a tower at 810 feet above average terrain
using a 945 MHz STL link carrying the FMX Stereo composite signal
from its Bloomfield studios to Meriden Mountain." This
information, drawn from the official WDRC website, makes it
seem likely that the recording was made in the Connecticut area.
>Michael Jackson's 'Bad' came out in 1987 -- the most recent
song appearing here (along with 'Sweet Loaf').
>Belinda Carlisle's 'Mad About You' came out in 1986
judgment is that this recording spans 1986 to 1988. We base this
largely on the timing of the music associated with the recording
- both the Butthole Surfers' "Sweet Loaf" and Michael
Jackson's 'Bad' were released in 1987. While it is difficult to
track the radio play for "Sweet Loaf", "Bad"
was Number #1 on the Billboard Top 100 through November 1987,
and dropped off after this. An end date of 1988 seems reasonable,
though certainly has not been confirmed.
We agree with
McLaughlin that it is likely that this is taking place in Connecticut,
perhaps Hartford, though the strong "Boston-area" accent
seems difficult to attribute to a completely Connecticut lineage.
Get Up and Go!: An Oral History of Frank's Mom
by Stephen McLaughlin
25 January 2007
John brought this tape to Boy Scout Camp at Camp Resolute in Bolton,
MA. He says he received the recording from Caleb Scott, who briefly
went to High School with us, but I believe ended up at St. Sebastian's
(I think). Caleb's older brother, Steven, went to Colgate University
with Frank's younger brother. When you figure that Steven is a
few years older than us, and that Frank is probably a few years
older than his younger brother, this perhaps places the recording
date as early as the mid-1980's. Of course, this is pure speculation
on my part -- I can only say with certainty that the recording
is definitely at least 17 years old. The tape briefly circulated
around a dozen or so people at our High School in 1993-1994, and
I reacquired a copy of it in 1996 via mail to my University of
Massachusetts dorm room. It was an instant classic among my friends,
and we listened to it at parties dozens of times.
Over the course
of several listenings, I have arrived at several possible theories
on exactly who Frank is, in terms of age and place of birth.
tape seems to cover several years of activity, as he is 19 at
the start and, I believe, 21 at the end. Also, I believe one of
the songs on the radio at the end of his mix is from an oldies
station that I could pick up when I was at the University of Massachusetts.
I consulted my brother about Frank again last night, and it seems
obvious to me now that Frank is from the Hartford area. My brother
pointed out that the Connecticut River is navigable up to Hartford.
Of course, the old Hartford Whalers! I also found this:
out there was a lot of construction along the river in the late
1980's. Since Frank's dad works at "the dock", I am
willing to bet Frank's dad was involved in that construction somehow
and that Frank lived nearby. That would explain the New England
accent which as I understand begins to disappear as you get south
the "Sweat Loaf" mix, I do not know quite so much about
it. One is left to assume Frank was involved in its creation-
especially as it contains material not found on the rest of the
tape. It's also interesting that the album Sweat Loaf was on (Butthole
Surfers' 'Locust Abortion Technician') was released in 1987. That
narrows the year down a little better; it's difficult to imagine
Frank was one of the first people to purchase that album and immediately
make his mix, so that probably places the recording between 1988
and 1990. This is highly dubious, but John (the 16 year-old Boy
Scout who originally obtained the recording and is responsible
for spreading it around) claims there was an entire bookshelf
of these tapes. I find it hard to believe, but one is left to
think there HAS to be at least some additional recordings. This
one might very well be a "best of".