proof exercise kills : ernest chausson and the fatal bike ride


   Lisa Lampanelli, the stand-up/insult comic affectionately dubbed “The Queen of Mean”, had a joke in her 2005 “Take it Like a Man” routine where she tells the women in the audience that they need to be happy with who they are and stop trying to exercise to be “skinny bitches”. Here’s the quote (watch the scene here) :

You women gotta like yourself this way! Quit tryin’ to change yourself…cause did you hear last week? Another woman was attacked and raped in Central Park while jogging. *Sadly shakes her head* See? Exercise is no good. I tell ya, you never hear about about a fat bitch getting raped in her house while she’s eating Doritos and watching “One Life to Live”…alright?

    Apart from her crude joke (admittedly, I may have a soft spot for her "i make fun of everyone, no exceptions" policy…and recommend listening to this routine if you are a fan of blunt, vastly inappropriate humor), she makes a valid point. People can get hurt when they are out exercising. If only she’d been around to advise Ernest Chausson, the French composer of one of my favorite chamber pieces of all time (read and listen in my earlier entry), maybe he would have lived past 44.

   On June 10 1989, he decided he was going to go bike riding while he was in the middle of sketching his second symphony (which, as you can guess, was never finished). On the way down a hill…he lost control of his bike and rode right into a brick wall. Dead on impact. I know it sound selfish…but I feel like good composers owe it to society to keep living and not take risks. Look at Beethoven. He almost killed himself when he went deaf but chose to remain alive because he had more music in him and he believed he owed it to the world to share it. That was in 1802…if he had ended there “Eroica” (1803) and all subsequent works never would have happened and his monumental impact on every composer since would have never existed.

    So if you are a composer…especially in today’s era…the world needs your music. Don’t have unprotected sex (I’m looking at you, Schubert…if you did have syphilis, it didn’t magically appear…) or ride a bike without a helmet (Chausson) or smoke a cigar outside after curfew when a foreign army is occupying your city (Webern...seems smoking really DOES kill). I’m not saying live in a bubble or never go outside…just be safe…because the world (and history) will thank you for it.