Editorial License

Rob Hammerton, music educator etc.

Charles River Tent Flaps: 1970

[“CHARLES RIVER TENT FLAPS – THE FIRST TEN YEARS” is made up of interviews with past and present staff members and campers of the Charles River Creative Arts Program of Dover, Massachusetts and of articles from The Daily Double.” -from “Tent Flaps”, published for the CRCAP tenth-anniversary celebration, summer 1979 (David Downing, editor). We begin at the beginning…]

 

1970

In the days before an arts festival, Elsom Eldridge was at the helm…

 

That summer Peter Dewey designed a huge stage that ran the length of the middle building. It was tremendous. They rehearsed there in the sun. This was the very first stage.”

 

This place was just saturated with people. There was a show a week. Elsom tried to do a show every two weeks that the camp would produce. The Unsinkable Helen of Troy, The King and I, The Mouse in the White House, then The Music Man were done that summer.”

The King and I brought in adult actors in the major roles. The kids were a huge chorus of Siamese children. The adults were specifically hired to be in the shows; there were really no parts for the kids except chorus.”

Kippy directed all “the kid shows. Elsom directed the adult ones. Actually he was Music Director. He conducted the orchestra too.”

 

That year was the start of the Daily Double. Then it was called ‘The Daily One-Sheet’. It was handled by Chris McVicker.”

 

There was a string quartet. The people in it were hired only to teach music, play every day at noontime (they were the forerunner of the Noontime Shows), and to be the orchestra in the royalty shows. It was one of Elsom’s main interests. Cynthia and Jim Wilson were in it.”

 

Anyone who wanted to take music lessons could take them every day at no extra charge. It was a nightmare. I taught the same kids every single day.”

 

It was quite hectic because all the teachers had to teach their classes and almost all the kids were involved in the shows. Even some of the staff were involved so not much happened in the classes. The next year things calmed down…”

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June 5, 2019 Posted by | arts, CRCAP | Leave a comment

See You Next Summer

I figured it out.

It took a little while… most of four weeks… but I got it.

I’ll back up.

My image of summer camp – the stereotypical summer camp of low-budget movies – was not my idea of a good time, not least because it usually involved enforced swimming, and my experience of swimming involved the letters P, T, S, and D.

Swimming and crafts and singed marshmallows around campfires and anything overnight… yeah, kinda no.

My parents found the sixth-grade me a summer day camp.

Oh yay.

I spent the first two weeks of the four-week camp session being very side-eye about it all. At least it was a day camp. You didn’t have to take swimming. I could write for the camp newspaper. Good, I suppose. But I was pretty sure I could have enjoyed my summer just as much, riding my bike and playing catch.

I spent the last nearly two weeks of the session begrudgingly coming around to the idea of this particular camp being kinda okay after all. I connected with a couple of really friendly counselors, made a couple… no, a squadron of pretty good friends… and got mixed up in shadow drama, whaaat?, and fencing (swords, with masks and protective jackets and advance-retreat-ho-hah-dodge-parry-thrust-PRANGG). Not bad, as it turned out.

And at the end of the four weeks, there was a big ol’ camp musical. I wasn’t in it, but some of my new friendlies were, so I went to closing night.

It was tons of fun… catchy songs… good story… great performances… the thing was a full-scale musical, but it was so entertaining that it just flew by. And just like that, it was over.

I made my way over to where the pit should have been breaking their equipment down, but instead was cranking out a celebratory blues jam. I caught the eye of the counselor on the drums. “Thanks for a great summer, Bob!” He smiled, not missing a beat (ever!), and nodded once, almost ceremonially. And I peered around the edge of the upright piano, and caught the eye of the counselor banging out chords upon it. He grinned – “Robbie!” – and I called out to him, over the blues changes.

See you next summer, Jackie!”

Yeah, I said it.

I guess summer day camp was acceptable, after all.

The musical production, by the way, was called “Monopoly”.

The performance, after which I had stumbled upon the truth, that the Charles River Creative Arts Program had passed the audition … was forty years ago tonight.

It had been there all along. And there would be many next summers.

I finally figured it out.

August 19, 2018 Posted by | arts, CRCAP | , , , | Leave a comment

Worthwhile

‘Twould be hypocritical of me to crack on someone who seemed to be writing about topics about which they weren’t exactly experts.

Exhibit A: … this Blogge, hello!

Talk about not staying in my lane.

So with that in mind, I shall tread carefully.

 

Seems like almost every year at this time, someone leaps onto social media to say some intemperate thing about that curious activity about which I swoon, namely, The Marching Band. Makes sense: if you watch TV on New Year’s Day, you may be subjected to more sights and sounds of the marching arts than on any other TV day, what with the Rose Parade and various college football bowl games and all.

So it makes sense that people who are apt to be critical or prone to mockery, regarding this activity, are going to be that way right around the New Year.

And so it was, yesterday, with a fellow called Bill James.

Honestly, if I wanted to save time … I could just direct you to a piece I posted here three years ago; you could read it and every time you read the words “Jim Rome” you could replace them mentally with “Bill James” and be just as far ahead. You would be forgiven if you did this. Or if you didn’t.

Mr. James leapt onto Twitter and, as you do, Tweeted:

Does the world really need marching bands? I know I am [in] trouble for even asking this question, but what do you think?”

And offered Twitter followers a poll, the results of which happened to end up 88 to 12 in favor of “Yes, we need bands”.

A futile poll, as it happened, but 7 to 1 in any sport constitutes a convincing win, I should think.

Myself? Rather than losing my ever-lovin’ mind – as a couple of my colleagues have done – trying to change Bill James’ ever-lovin’ mind – which is futile because anyone who posts an opinion online and is then pushed back against … digs in that much harder and We Shall, We Shall Not Be Moved – I merely sighed, “ah, he’ll never understand, and it’s his loss.”

True enough, at least to me – a fellow who understands that the marching arts can be dreadful if done poorly, BUT if they’re designed and done with a certain amount of skill and caring can be positively transcendent, even if the purveyors do wear feathers on their heads. So there’s that bias built-in.

 

My curiosity got the better of me, though; and so I peeked at the replies to Mr. James’ Tweet. The replies were predictably – how dare you, sir – but it turns out that Mr. James felt the need to engage with many of the aggrieved respondents. And in the process, he revealed a couple of interesting things about himself.

First, I guess maybe I should have known who Bill James even was.

Not that jazz composer who wrote the theme from “Taxi”.

Not that fellow who co-starred with Will Smith in that romantic comedy movie of a few years back.

He’s a baseball writer. Who invented “Sabermetrics”.

Sabermetrics is the empirical analysis of baseball, especially baseball statistics that measure in-game activity. … Sabermetricians collect and summarize the relevant data from this in-game activity to answer specific questions. The term is derived from the acronym SABR, which stands for the Society for American Baseball Research, founded in 1971. The term sabermetrics was coined by Bill James, who is one of its pioneers and is often considered its most prominent advocate and public face.”

Mm’-kay.

See, I knew I should have recognized that name right away. But I guess I didn’t.

And, more importantly and with less needless snark … something else that Mr. James revealed about himself was this: it turns out that he wasn’t, after all, violating the rule of “only write about what you know”.

One Twitter respondent noted, “That’s a funny question coming from the ultimate sports nerd. Let the music folks have their fun.” Mr. James shot back:

I was in the Marching Band in high school. I was on the field at the halftime of many football games. In retrospect, I’d like to have those 500 hours back.”

In retrospect, it was a shame that there wasn’t one of the Drum Major Academy drum majors in charge of that band, as that student leader might have been able to get to Mr. James before his attitude went all toxic and he either quit the band or destroyed it. (I know; that drum major would have needed a time machine, since Mr. James’ age is closer to seventy than seventeen; you get my point, I trust.)

Sorry! I’m sorry. That was not how I meant this to go. I really wasn’t going to be all snarky about this. I was going to let all it roll off my back. I was going to stay positive.

 

I know a good way to stay positive. It’s this angle:

When another Twitter respondent wished Mr. James would respect the amount of work that goes into being in a marching band, Mr. James shot back:

I respect their work. I just think I would respect if more if they worked on something more worthwhile.”

Mm’-kay.

Is it worthwhile to commit all that time and effort to marching in a band?

Is it worthwhile to commit all that time and effort to being a Sabermetrician?

Is it worthwhile to make solar panels?

Is it worthwhile to paint sunsets?

Is it worthwhile to learn how to play chess? To play autoharp?

Is it worthwhile to create computer graphics software that will allow more realistic renderings of video-game backgrounds?

Is it worthwhile to write a blog?

Is it worthwhile to commit ridiculous amounts of time and effort to activities that other people don’t understand, and can’t understand, and sometimes even mock?

Sure it is.

Because the alternative is having a population full of people who aren’t curious, aren’t creative, don’t know how to commit time and effort to something … but instead are just drones who only know enough to be “prepared for the 21st century workforce”. Or who would rather mock the people who are curious, creative, and willing to sweat a little – because throwing Internet snark is just easier. Far less risky. Much easier to get attention any which way one can. Look at me and my disdain for people whose activity I think isn’t worthwhile. I made you respond. I win.

Unless, apparently, you get under the skin of the band people, some of whom Tweet things at you like..

It appears the father of Sabermetrics has not found a new audience amongst band members.”

…or…

We used to be awfully quiet about you, because we had no idea who you were. Must suck to be insignificant, until the bandos come after you.”

 

Then it doesn’t make you come out looking like that much of a winner.

At which point it doesn’t seem as worthwhile, I guess.

January 2, 2018 Posted by | arts, band, baseball, DMA, Internet, marching band, music, social media, sports, Twitter | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment