Rat a Tat
by Frank Jacobson

Rat–A–Tat #5


What’s In A Name?

Greetings and salutations! Yes…Once again, I find myself delinquent in providing my paperless pronouncements to the prolific producers of sCORPSboard. My monthly column seems to have become a quarterly event, or somewhat irregular at best. Well, at least you can be greatly entertained by new sCORPSboard contributor, the evil Lee Rudnicki.

I received several pieces of e-mail on my last article relating to carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS). Needless to say, not one person had their CTS attributed to their playing percussion. Strangely, though, I recently went to the medical section of the company where I work complaining of waking up at night with both hands repeatedly falling asleep. The physician said that it sounds like CTS, and that I should get a follow-up. I went to my doc who referred me for an electromyogram (EMG). An EMG measures electrical resistance from one part of the body to another.

(A little sidebar here…EMG physicians seem to be a little sadistic. The one I was referred to looked similar to a tall version of Uncle Fester Addams. Their job is to give you little electric shocks and watch your appendages do small involuntary movements while timing the events!) The doctor attached little electrodes to my fingertips and forearm and sent a shock wave up one finger that had me howling. He gave a little giggle and moved to the next finger. With each successive shock, his giggling became more and more pronounced. At the 10th finger mark (including thumbs), I thought I heard Stooge Curley Howard going, “Nyuk! Nyuk! Nyuk! You’ve got severe carpal tunnel on the left and moderate on the right.”

Besides asking me what I do for work (extensive keyboarding and mouse work), he asked what I do for recreation (DUH – I play da drums and march). He asked me to show him how I hold the sticks and play. First I showed traditional grip, then matched grip, then bass drum grip (modified matched grip…horizontal versus vertical. Well, he outright said, “It’s not your drumming. As a matter of fact, your grips are very ergonomic.” I asked about those Formica heads (Kevlar) we play on. He again replied, “Your fingers are loose, the wood absorbs most of the shock, and the rest of the shock is lost in the loose grip. It ain’t your drumming doing this to ya!” (Spoken like a true medical school graduate who may have lived in Chicago for an extended period of time.) One cortisone injection for a tendonitis and wrist splints for sleeping every other night, an ergonomic assessment at work, and I’m fine…for now. I’ll keep you posted. (So much for my real-life follow-up to my last column! Good thing I didn’t write about sudden death syndrome!)

My real purpose of this month’s column is a discussion on the importance of identity. I’m not speaking of your personal identity, but that of your corps. As you may remember, I am a founding member of Northwest Venture Sr. Drum and Bugle Corps from Seattle, Washington. This summer, we did our first ‘out of state’ tour to California to meet our archenemies and good friends, the Renegades. We doubled our membership since last year’s exhibition year, as had they. We have rehearsed for months, this being our first year in actual competition. We had two competitions in Washington State, one being the Brass in the Grass competition in Seattle (which by the way had the largest attendance in over 30 years…in excess of 3500 people in attendance!). We were ready to take the field!

Something strange really happened in Santa Clara…a 17-hour bus ride from our most southern practice field. We were far, far away from our homes. Our pals the Renegades were there to support us in our first tour’s last competition. We had a joint corps barbecue (how do you barbecue delivered pizza and sub sandwiches in the Snappette’s 18 foot barbecue pit?). Two senior corps were participating that night. Just Northwest Venture and the Renegades. Only two senior corps!!

Then it happened. “Judges! Are you ready?” Insert the judge’s blank mouth-open stares here. “Drum Major Chris Poole…is your corps ready?” Insert Northwest Venture’s really cool drum lick to snap the horns up and drum major snap salute here. “Northwest Venture, you may enter the field for competition.” We were off and running. It was truly our best effort. All those months of long practices had paid off. We were to get the highest score of our four-competition history!

Then it happened. The last chord of “Don’t Cry For Me Argentina” (with that most outstanding mellophone soloist [and a hopeful Santa Clara Vanguard member <hint hint>] doing her job in a perfect way) was played, the horns snapped down, and Chris snapped his salute to the crowd. Then the announcer piped up, “Ladies and gentlemen, the Southern Oregon Crusaders! Give them a hand!” The audience stood on their feet and cheered. We stood in disbelief…no…horrors! Our best show ever and we are called by the wrong name! It didn’t stop there. “Give them a hand ladies and gentlemen! From Medford, Oregon, it’s the Southern Oregon Crusaders!” We started yelling our name from the field. The Renegades started charging to the announcer’s booth to correct the most grievous error. We stood fast, this time with the corps, the Renegades and the audience yelling “Northwest Venture”. Again, the announcer called the wrong name. Our DM yelled, “Well, do you know who we are?” The audience cheered us again! Finally the announcer heard our name and called us Northwest Venture.

It wasn’t over yet!! We trooped the stands to exit the field. The drum major proceeded past the stands with the crowd roaring. He was followed by the horns. The drums followed the horns and the announcer proudly announced, “Ladies and gentlemen, the Southern Oregon Crusaders!” Was it too hot for the announcer? Was it heat stroke? Did the wind blow the pages of his $3.00 program over? Did we look like a bunch of 16 year olds? Did my gray hair and mustache turn jet black?

Yes…it may have been an honest mistake and the announcer may have been an amateur (no doubt). Each drum corps establishes an identity unique to them. Yes, there was the Des Plaines Vanguard before the Santa Clara Vanguard. But each one of them was unique in their own right. Yes, the Renegades wore black. Northwest Venture also wore black but with red sashes and hats! We didn’t look anything like the Southern Oregon Crusaders! (By the way, I like the Crusaders! They are an excellent start-up and rapidly becoming larger and better!) The announcer was told over and over who we were, but it was too late. Our identity was lost.

My purpose for writing this article was to remind all of you to honor your identity and your corps. Stand in the proud tradition of those who have marched before you in honoring your corps’ names. Also, remember that there are other young adults in the other corps that are competing for the same reasons you are…to win the championship. While not everyone can win, remember that the guy standing next to you on the field in a different uniform is your friend! The camaraderie between competing corps is something to be cherished and remembered for the future. Just ask us old geezers in Northwest Venture and the Renegades. We not only shared old drum corps memories, but for a brief and unified moment, we shared our identity. Thanks, Renegades! You da best!

See you on the starting line!



Other Rat a Tat columns:

| Rat a Tat #1 (07/03/00) | Rat a Tat #2 (08/06/00) | Rat a Tat #3 (09/12/00) | Rat a Tat #4 (03/01/01) |
| Rat a Tat #5 (07/25/01) | Rat a Tat #6 (10/25/01) | Rat a Tat #7 (02/05/02) |

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