I’m pretty sure I can. The radio has gone back to playing Khachaturian and Strauss and all the other things you never hear in December, and I even went in a store (admittedly a natural food store) yesterday that was magically devoid of tinkly tacky Christmas Crap.
I had a nice visit Christmas Day with Izzy and Mrs. Izzy, who are done with Hanukkah except for a blinking colored-light menorah that’s still in the window, but, you know, no inflatable Santa on the lawn.
And late in the day I ran across this, which perfectly captures my feeling about wall-to-wall Christmas carols and what I sometimes want to do about them.*
The Christmas Chainsaw Massacre. The North Pole would never be the same.
*I know I’m going to get zinged by Az for this, but that’s part of the holiday season.
…because there are always new composers to discover, because a gorgeous performance of Brahms or Dvorak takes me back to the first time I heard it, because the intimate conversation of a string quartet elevates my spirit, because the elegant beauty of a violin or the thunder of a brass section can make me weak in the knees.
I don’t support it so I can hear for the third time in two days
O come let us abhor him
O come let us deplore him
O come let us ignore him…
(that being about the point where I slam my hand into the on-off button and pop a CD into the tray).
If I wanted to hear hackneyed old carols about aww aww the Mother And Child (a spectacle I would run a mile out of my way to avoid on any day of my life — the only thing more revolting than a human infant is a mother baby-talking to it) I would go and stand in the middle of Wal-Mart. Or the shopping mall. Or tune in a pop station. Or go to some goddam awful school pageant.
Give me this one corner of the world, please. Give me Sibelius and Mendelssohn and Beethoven and Lully and Verdi and Wagner and Haydn, give me Stravinsky and Strauss and Berlioz. Spare me the Little Town Of Bethlehem where It Came Upon A Midnight Clear, which is starting to sound to me like the title of a 1950’s horror movie.
It Came Over The Airwaves. From the depths of some festering saccharine cesspit of phony emotion.
Eleven more days.
Eighteen more days of this. I had to do something.
To: WETA Radio Audience Services
I’ve just snapped the radio off for the fifth or sixth time this week. Please, please, how many orchestral or chamber music arrangements of “Jingle Bells” and all its simple-minded ilk can there possibly be? I am sick to the bitter death of it already, and it’s only the eighth of December. I support and listen (exclusively) to WETA because it’s the only place I can find real, intellectually complex, enduring music of artistic integrity. The Magnificat (or The Messiah, if it isn’t repeated every day) — fine. I DON’T tune WETA in to hear Jingle Bells. If I want to hear that garbage, I’ll go to the mall. Please have some pity on your listeners who actually love music for music’s sake and leave all that nonsense to the other radio stations.
They promise a response within a week, depending on mail volume. [Tearing clumps of pages rhythmically out of the phone book and shredding them into confetti] I wonder how the mail is running.
Tom Björklund • Artist and Illustrator
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