Recreating (and advancing) pk’s censored domains:
Knatz.com / Personal / Stories / By Age / Limbo /
@ K. 1995
After graduation, waiting to get drafted, I apportioned a fair amount of my kleptocracy-mandated wasted-time with Alan: first as his no-rent-paying roommate while he tried Columbia graduate English, then in Philadelphia while Alan tried UPa architecture school. There Alan visited a Columbia classmate of ours I hadn’t known worth a damn prior to Philadelphia. I don’t remember his name: I’ll call him Louis because he was a French Jew. His father was president of Decca records, and Louis told us a priceless story;
First there are a couple of pk facts you must know:
Since an early age I’d been a mad record collector, mostly but not only jazz.
Since an earlier age I’d been stone broke except for the nickels and quarters I’d made delivering papers, mowing lawns: the only person in my family of three: Mom, Sis, and pk with any change loose in his pocket. But: college changed all that. For the first time in my life I was expected to pay tuition, there was little left for anything I loved, like music. (I’d have been much better off remaining employed by the supermarket, however little they paid me, than getting on this infinite pay-tuition-and-get-no-return cycle going to Columbia started for me. Making $60 or $75 a week gave me plenty of money for jazz and getting drunk. Oh, after a while I would have had to pay room and board, but then the supermarket would have paid me the additional $50 or $100 I’d need. I never would have allowed the habit of spending thousands to stay broke to form.
In high school I had a huge jazz collection; by Philadelphia I also had a huge collection of Bach, Mozart, Beethoven … Prokofief, Bartok. And I was a member in good standing of the Columbia Record Club.
Louis told us that he’d been mailed an invitation to try the Columbia Record Club years before. He ignored the invitation: the president of Decca got all the free records anyone could want, and so the son of the president of Decca got all the free records anyone could want also. But Columbia sent Louis a monthly selection. Louis left it unopened, unplayed in its original package, and sent it back. The following month Columbia sent Louis the next monthly selection. Louis left it unopened, unplayed in its original package, and sent it back. The following month Louis got a third monthly selection, and invitations to recommend the Columbia Record Club to his friends.
After a while Louis ceased returning the records. He left them piled in his hallway, but wrote Columbia that the merchandise was there and they could pick it up whenever they wanted to call for an appointment. And more monthly selections arrived. Then the bills came.
The first bills were standard bills, then monthly reminders. Louis ignored them all. Then bills betraying a hint of impatience began to arrive. Of course by this time Louis had gotten a dozen at least invitations to share the wonders of the Columbia Record Club with his friends and family.
Eventually a lawyer’s letter came, on the stationary of a Philadelphia law firm with a list of partners filling the left margin page-top to page-bottom. Louis collected his friends’ invitations. Louis filled in the friends and family lines with the data from the lawyers’ stationary. Louis recommended the Columbia Record Club to his Columbia Record Club’s lawyers: every one.
Louis never heard from the Columbia Record Club again.
And pk was too embarrassed to beg for the pile in Louis’ hallway!
Neither Alan nor Louis could have poverty explained to them, not and get it. Corporate lawyers like Alan’s father and Decca presidents like Louis’ father disqualify their children from understanding much of common human experience.
More stories involving Alan:
Lender Nor Borrower
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