Sunday, October 05, 2008

This One Time, At Band Camp....

I never played in a band. I don't play any musical instruments; I have a hard enough time playing a CD. But I saw a story about a university marching band this morning, and I thought I'd string together 3 marginally-related thoughts into one post.

I had a friend who was in the USC marching band. He loved it.

West Point didn't have a marching band, although we certainly knew how to march! Sometimes, at halftime during football games, the other team's marching band would perform at Michie ("mikey") Stadium. I think it was my sophomore year when Yale performed, and their show included several pointed jabs at our military. It was bad enough that our Superintendent, a 3-star General, said publicly that they wouldn't be allowed to perform there again. Let's be honest, what they did was in poor form.

And then there's this story, from which we learn that the University of Wisconsin marching band sat out a game this weekend "as an investigation continues into allegations of hazing."

7 comments:

Ellen K said...

My brother was in the SMU Mustang band back when it was all men. They probably did some stuff that was hazing, although there were never any complaints about that. One incident I remember was from the MOB-Rice University's Marching Owl Band. At the time, it was a loosely organized group of musicians-including a cellist and a keyboard player-that shared more with Monty Python than any real band. With tongue in cheek, the week they played Texas A&M, they did a tribute to TAM's mascot, Reveille, by playing "How Much Is That Doggie In the Window?" in the formation of a fire hydrant. It was a Corps trip and the band had to cower in the field house for two hours after the game as the Aggies rampaged. Of course, then there was the incident at Kyle Field where the Corps Commander threatened an SMU cheerleader with his sword for daring to do push-ups after a touchdown. Of course, that was back when SMU had a team that won games. Ah the days.....

neko said...

Okay. Now you got me curious. What were the pointed jabs they performed?

Darren said...

I don't recall everything--if memory serves it occurred in 1984--but I remember the head band dude's performing in a gas mask.

It went downhill from there.

Darren said...

I just found this on Wikipedia under Yale Precision Marching Band:

In October 1985, six YPMB members were suspended after dropping their pants at halftime during the Yale-Holy Cross game (New York Times, October 20, 1985, 11CN p. 17). Only one week earlier, the band was forbidden by West Point officials from performing its halftime show during the Army-Yale game for the script's insinuation that certain government officials were communists. The following season, in the Yale-Army game at New Haven, the YPMB took the unusual step of marching in straight lines for several minutes before breaking into its usual scatter formations. (NYT 10/7/86, B4) Before the band left the field, members removed their blue blazers on the field, spelling out "USA."

That would give credence to my belief that they had performed disrespectfully the year prior, in 1984.

Darren said...

And at the same link:

After the September 11 attacks in 2001, the YPMB became a source of minor controversy for performing a halftime show parodying the history of jingoism in American media and culture, including patriotic bowdlerization, and addressing the possibility of conscription. A strong negative reaction from a several audience members, including boos (especially when "War" was spelled on the field) and angry letters to administrators and newspapers, led the band to limit the often aggressive political content of its shows through at least the 2002 season. Negative reactions were heightened by the fact the show took place on Yale Parents' Weekend.

allen (in Michigan) said...

Lefties depending on the forbearance and tolerance of those they despise to vulgarly, but in perfect safely, demonstrate their disdain? I'm shocked sir! Shocked!

Anonymous said...

The friend from USC chimes in: There was certainly some stuff we did at band camp that could be considered hazing, I would imagine... but it had a point. First off, whenever we performed, we wore woolen uniforms, gloves, a helmets, and it wasn't that unusual that -- on the field -- the temp would be as high as 110, so people needed to build up their endurance to being in the heat and being physically active for a solid 8-10 minutes. Additionally, lots of screaming at freshmen happened to prepare them for the treatment they would invariably experience whenever we traveled to someone else's stadium. Very strange -- the host fans would be as nice as could be the day before the game or the day after, but day of... they magically transformed into intense, screaming, confrontational freaks. It was a good way to teach them how to let someone scream at them without letting it provoke them.