Monday, January 26, 2015

How Classical Music Changed my Life

This piece of paper, a photocopy of a photocopy of a photocopy, spent the past 30 years in one of Michael's bookcases. The photocopy of the original came from my harpist friend Carrie Kourkoumelis, who, armed with a Xerox machine, used to send random clippings through the mail to people who might appreciate them. I did. I saved. And I am now sharing it here.

[October 2016 update: a very kind reader send me a better copy!]

I am also transcribing:
The other day at Ma Maison, as I was waiting for the attendant to retrieve my chocolate brown 450 SLC, the Saudi prince I'd been noshing with said, "Say, Bill, how did an unassuming guy like yourself come to be so rich, so trim, so . . . sexy?"

My eyes grew misty. "it wasn't always this way, Ahmed, old buddy . . ."

My mind raced back to the Bad Time, before the investment tips, the real estate empire, before Dino bought my screen play and I bought my Columbia 50 . . .

Once I was a lot like you.

Working at a nowhere job, hitting the singles bars, watching situation comedies in my free time. I tipped the scales at a hefty 232, but my bank balance couldn't have tipped the bus boy at the Midnight Mission.

Finally, I hit bottom. . . picked up by the Castiac police for barreling my old heap the wrong way over some parking lot spikes.

My last friend in this lonely world, Hardy Gustavsen, set me straight while he was driving me back to L.A.

"Bill, get hold of yourself! Start listening to KFAC!"

"Gosh Hardy, don't they play classical music? I'm not sure I cotton to that high brow stuff!"

Aside from a couple of summers at Tanglewood and Aspen, and one semester in Casals' Master Class . . .

I knew absolutely nothing about classical music.

"Bill, who would be wrong if you got better?"

Looking into his steely blue eyes, I realized Hardy was right. I resolved to give KFAC a shot.

At first, it was quite painful. Listening to all those 100-piece groups was confusing--I was used to having the drums on the right and the bass on the left and the singer in the middle. All those semidemisemiquavers made my head spin.

But I started to feel the beneficial effects of classical music listening in just one short week.

In no time, I was using napkins with every meal, I switched from Bourbon to an unpretentious Montrachet and I become able to hear sirens even with my car windows rolled up.

Soon I was spending every night with KFAC and a good book, like Aquinas' Summa Theologica.

I realized that some of the wealthiest, most famous people in this world listened to classical music--Napoleon, Bismarck, George Washington, Beethoven. . . and many others who are yet alive today.

Then I met Marlene. The first girl who knew there was more to Also Sprach Zarathustra than the theme from 2001. And I fell in love.

Today, I'm on top of the world with a wonderful wife, close friends in high places and a promising career in foreign currency manipulation.

Can classical music do for you what it did for me?

A few years back, scientific studies showed that when dairy cows are played classical music the quantity and quality of their milk dramatically improves.

Now if it can do that for plain old moo cows, imagine what it can do for you!

Can you afford KFAC?

Is lox kosher?

Even though marking surveys show that KFAC's audience is the most affluent assemblage of nice people in Southern California, yes, you can afford KFAC! Thanks to their Special Introductory Offer, you can listen FREE OF CHARGE for as many hours as you like without obligation!

Begin the KFAC habit today.

Remember, the longest journey begins by getting dressed. Don't let this opportunity slip through your fingers. Tune to KFAC right NOW, while you're thinking about it.

And get ready for a spectacular improvement in your life.

Warn your family and friends that you may start dressing for dinner.

You may lose your taste for beer nuts.

and the next time you're on the freeway thinking of playing with your nose, you'll find yourself asking:

"Really. Would a KFAC listener do this?"


The Crow said...

I knew I was missing something in my life. Little did I know it lay behind an acronym.

Most enjoyable post, Elaine!

Anonymous said...

KFAC was a staple in the house until...

"In 1986 a group of investors headed by Louise Heifetz (daughter-in-law of the violin virtuoso Jascha Heifetz) purchased the station for around $33 million. She and her accomplice (program director Robert Goldfarb) fired most of the staff announcers in the hope that new talent would attract new listeners. The highly respected engineering staff was also laid off in the new year's blood bath of 1987. Supposedly, Goldfarb had been hired to do the same for manager Wallace Smith at KUSC a few years before.

"During the next three years the station's ratings declined and it was sold to Evergreen Media, who changed its format and recast it as KKBT-FM ("The Beat", which eventually moved to 100.3 FM), an R&B station. Several years ago, Ralph Guild, the top man in charge of the company that owned KFAC, confided that putting the station up for sale was one of the biggest mistakes he had ever made." (Wikipedia's text)

I liked commercial classical radio, because the "free" station plays advertisements in the form of short blurbs as "brought to you by" and has entire weeks of "pledge" drives which is more than enough to encourage many to tune it out. With YouTube, many online radio formats now, as well as one's own collection of recordings, "commercial" classical as well as much of the "public radio" formats with their own commercials will be a thing of the past. Sadly.

John Marcher said...

Thank you for taking the time to transcribe this, Elaine. First it made me chuckle, then it made me nostalgic.

Unknown said...

Aah! I made a Xerox of this ad when I saw it in my local paper (the LA Times, I think). I cherished that terrible photocopy until I finally lost it in a move. Copier technology was so bad back then.

I loved the Gas Company Evening Concert, and the Opera Quiz!