Reading through the first few years of the Los Angeles Free Press has already been very fruitful exercise! In addition to making (what I consider to be) a major breakthrough, I’ve started to find answers to some earlier questions too.
Lately–in addition to spending a lot of time writing abstracts–I’ve been thinking about where Zappa’s ideas about music come from. He’s generally considered to be a sort of musical anomaly, but I think it would be a mistake to say that his was an isolated case. Don’t get me wrong: there’s plenty about that Zappa that’s unique! But I have to wonder what influenced his (often highly polemical) opinions, particularly with regards to the status of new music in contemporary culture and the perceived division between art and pop.
Recently, one of my advisers suggested looking for a connection between Zappa and Abbie Hoffman, the outspoken yippie activist. I don’t think that Zappa had much to do with Hoffman or the yippies. If anything, he was highly critical of their motives. Posed with a question about his cynicism towards certain social movements of the late 1960s, Zappa responded:
A lot of people were really into it. They thought it was the end-all. They really thought they were going to rule the world with a flower in their hand. It was nuts. They were believing in all these Yippie leaders and whatever else these assholes were telling them. 
On the other hand, critical though he was, Zappa does seem to have a lot in common with the New Left and I think that much of his understanding of avant-garde art music stems from radical culture and politics.