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Andrea Sparoff & Scott Ferguson: Members, Artists, & Cool Californians

Andrea Sparoff & Scott Ferguson: Members, Artists, & Cool Californians

Living in idyllic Topanga Canyon, California, Scott Ferguson (writer and former graphic designer) and Andrea Saparoff (composer), have cordoned off a portion of their pantry which they only half-jokingly call their “forever young” cabinet: shelf after shelf overflowing with supplements of all kinds, many with the familiar Co-Op labeling.

I started my interview with Scott, who proudly states that he was one of the “founding members” of the Co-Op, by asking about the so-called “forever young” cabinet.

“The name came from a friend of ours with a rather sarcastic sense of humor. Truth is, as Baby Boomers, we are the first generation to simply refuse to act our age. We’re old enough to see retirement on the horizon but we’re envisioning a new kind of retirement—one that could last 30 years or more. If we want to be playing basketball in our 80s and racing sailboats in our 90s, we have to be a lot more serious about our health today.”

“I figure that in addition to eating organic foods, exercising like Jack LaLane, and channeling Richard Simmons, it’s good insurance to include the right supplements. Even though I gag down several fistfuls of vitamins every day, since I don’t take megadoses of any one element, I don’t worry about overdoing it.”

Given those fistfuls of pills, I naturally asked about Scott’s favorite Co-op products.

“Oh man, if I told you everything I take, everyone would know for sure that I’m a health geek! I’m in good shape so I don’t tend to experience earth-shattering effects from taking supplements. But I do seem to sleep better when I take your HGH Enhancer.”

“And, after suffering from years of knee pain, I started taking your Arthro 3 in addition to Joint Complex, figuring, ‘What the heck, I’m taking so many vitamins, what’s one more giant, honkin’ orange pill?!’ I noticed soon after that my knee felt better. It’s not exactly scientific, but I’ll keep taking the Arthro 3. As for the rest of the little buggers, I take them because I do a lot of research and they’re supposed to be good for me.”

Given Scott’s penchant for upstaging me with his stories, I asked him to share more about his career as a writer.

“I write to inform, educate, sell, and entertain, not necessarily in that order. To pay the bills, I write frequently about financial topics but I also do a lot of marketing and advertising communications for corporations of all types. When I write for my own amusement, I tend to focus on humorous approaches to everyday situations.”

You can find one of Scott’s articles (written for pure amusement) here.

On to my interview with Andrea, whose interest in healthy living started early, with an incredibly health-conscious mother.

“My mom read the Adele Davis books and was baking and cooking with whole grains when the rest of America was living on Twinkies and Ding Dongs. Now she’s 84 — she works out daily with weights, practices yoga and regularly passes for a woman 20 years younger. She’s a walking advertisement for healthy eating and exercising.”

Andrea has always been ahead of the masses in healthy eating, but never so much as when she was in grade school. She shared:

“I was the only kid in school who had sandwiches on whole wheat bread. No one wanted to trade food with me. I remember once opening my lunchbox and finding a whole artichoke – very uncool! Seriously though, thanks to my mom, I never acquired a taste for junk food.”

That’s not something all of our humans can say. They’re always whining about eating stuff they shouldn’t eat.

When it comes to favorite supplements, Andrea opined:

“I’m partial to the essential oils, like Borage Oil, Evening Primrose Oil, and Fish Oil. They’re good for the gal-stuff, if you know what I mean, and also for skin health. In fact, our 14-year old son takes your Fish Oil for his skin too.”

I guess it’s only fitting that Andrea’s lifestyle extends to a love of nature, as exemplified by her beautiful back yard garden and her many efforts to lure birds and wildlife of all kinds to her yard (sounds like easy hunting for felines, but I kept my trap shut). Andrea becomes quite animated when talking about her feathered and furry friends outdoors.

“I love watching the birds come to the different feeders and to see them doing their jacuzzi thing in the fountains. I especially like the hummers. I’ve also got two mischievous squirrels who come up to my studio door and beg for peanuts by standing on their haunches and placing a tiny paw on their chest. It’s just too cute for words.”

Humans are so easily amused, fortunately, I guess! Meanwhile, while Andrea’s mother was inventing the health food movement, her father provided major musical inspiration. She said:

“My father was a violinist and a studio musician who performed on many movie soundtracks. He even toured with the Harry James big band. Later, he produced some documentary films and I wrote the musical scores. That opened my eyes to the joy of expressing myself creatively through music.”

“Since those early days of working for my father, I’ve scored hundreds of commercials for major clients all over the world along with TV shows and films through my own music production company, Saparoff Music. Today, I compose music digitally using a Macintosh computer and an incredible PC-based sampler called a GigaStudio. Clients e-mail me a commercial, I score it and then e-mail the finished product back to them. The marriage of technology and creativity never ceases to amaze me.”

Good grief! It turns out Andrea can upstage me as well as Scott. Recently, Andrea wrote the music for an original Lifetime movie called “Perfect Romance” starring Kathleen Quinlan. The movie first aired in June 2004 and periodically shows up on the Lifetime schedule. Watch for it and remember where you first heard about Andrea!

I didn’t hold Andrea’s accomplishments against her and continued my interview, asking if she specialized in certain styles of music.

“I’m comfortable writing in a wide variety of styles, from funk to classical to romantic/orchestral, jazz, rock, whatever. My advertising work cultivates this breadth since ad agencies are frequently trying to push the creative envelope and they want me to come up with new and interesting sounds. I love getting an assignment that requires me to write in a style that may not be immediately comfortable for me. It’s a great creative stretch to do that.”

I asked Andrea how she does it.

“Like any artistic expression, you don’t just sit around and wait for the muses to kiss your ear. At the same time, you do need to tap into the subconscious and allow musical ideas to percolate to the surface. Sometimes I might find a cool sound on one of my hundreds of source CDs and write music around the sound. Like some haunting Gregorian chant or children’s choir sounds. I might start with something like that and then stand it on its ear, so to speak, juxtaposing those sounds with a grungy percussive track, for instance. The Sonicare toothbrush folks fell in love with a piece of mine that was built like that and ended up using the music on their TV ads for several years.”

You can sample some of Andrea’s commercial music here (you’ll need the Quicktime plugin to play the spots; if you don’t have it, there’s a link on the page to get it free.

It’s amazing who you can meet when poking around the membership list of this little Co-op.

Thanks to Scott and Andrea for sharing their world with us!