Petty Yankee Traders
We'd listen to KPFK now and again. I was very surprised to learn such a station even existed!
You couldn’t help but think about advertising sometimes,
it was everywhere. Ads were in
newspapers, in magazines, on billboards, on TV, and on the radio way too much
for my taste. When I went to L.A., the
ads were even on the sides of buses and back of taxi cabs. All of them telling you to buy something and it was usually dreck.
I began to like commercial-free radio a lot, and as that
station also played a lot of real “ethnic” music from far flung corners of the
world as well as offering music you just wouldn’t get to hear any other way, I
listened to it now and again. That was
KPFK, coming to our valley all those thirty-five airwave miles from L.A. KPFK was listener-supported instead of being
paid for by those big old companies sticking their icky commercial music or
commercial words in there to tell us to buy something. More especially interesting after that
“payola” scandal where record companies were bribing radio and tv personalities
to push certain records.
And even though a girl at school had told me about the Pacifica radio station, I was most surprised to learn others in town listened, too, and people I wouldn't have guessed. But even though they listened, we weren't always "sympatico".
In our home catch-up course on Black History in written form, my sister would read the life story of Billie Holiday and point out the harrowing first line and could get quite mopey just talking about Billie Holiday and listening to her records.
About this time, Lou Rawls was popular and suddenly an ad appeared in the classifieds of the little local paper, which was astonishing to me (that the paper would even obliquely mention a black person). Tickets to see Lou Rawls in concert, $5. Well, this was in a nightclub so I wouldn't be able to go, but I'm sure my sister and a friend would want to go ... so I called the guy up and because it was a small town, I knew who he was (the father of a girl in school! I could barely believe it when he gave me his address to pick up the tickets!) but on my way there, I ran into the Quaker girls who (always anxious to shun!) told me he had got those from a KPFK fundraiser donation he had made. This was my first introduction to .... there wasn't a word for it, but it seemed like ticket scalping somehow so I opted out, but returned home to call him and tell him I wouldn't be by for the tickets.
It didn't much matter, as Frank listened to a Lou Rawls album at our place, and the Billie Holiday one, and that may have even been his copy of her biography as the book disappeared after I read it.
I think my mother was eight or nine before she learned "damn Yankee" were two separate words.