Editorial License

Rob Hammerton, music educator etc.

A Live-Blogging Adventure -or- Dispassionate Journalism is Overrated

Four years ago this evening, there was a little tiny competition in Indianapolis. It involved about a dozen groups of musicians who tooted and drummed and flagged and danced. Their whole summer had been full of this activity, and as they say, it all came down to this.

As it happened, I knew personally a few of the folks involved with one particular performing group from North Carolina; and was therefore kinda pullin’ for ’em.

Thanks to the magic of the Internet and technology and such, those of us who were not in Indianapolis still got to experience the evening’s festivities, from group #1 to group #12 and then the announcements of who scored how many points.

My own particular version of the Internet, not being the fastest in the world, didn’t allow me to actually see or hear it. Video streaming was just not happening. But I had a devious method or two up my sleeve. So, wishing to put my erstwhile journalism training to work (well… sorta), I set about becoming the “pool reporter” for this event, on behalf of a number of my friends who didn’t have the fastest version of the Internet either.

The plan was to pass along the scores as they were announced. Y’know, dispassionate chronicler of events.

When I was done, I realized I’d actually broken a sweat. I was pulling for that one group pretty hard; and the intensity of the “big reveal” of Drum Corps International Finals scores at the end of the evening was a lot greater than I was expecting.

So, here’s the 21st-century equivalent, I guess, of tuning in to the radio drama and letting your imagination do the heavy lifting: behold … my Facebook post activity (and a few resultant FB Comments) from the evening of August 10, 2013.

 

The various corps presented their shows…

 

R: “So, I’ve got the official DCI Finals live blog scrolling along in one browser window and FB in another. I think this must be what it was like when all you could do was gather around the family radio.”

 

R: “DCI finals live blog commenter, re: [Santa Clara Vanguard]: ‘tempo seems to be up from the last two nights…’ • …up?!”

 

R: “From the DCI live blog, a royal announcement: ‘Live presentation of the scores will be offered FREE on the homepage DCI.org.’ At which time, the website will do its annual crash.”

 

R: “DCI live blog commenter, ‘tween corps: ‘Hearing the Cadets play Medea is so weird, since Star [of Indiana] used that in 1993, and the Cadets beat them that year. Then again, they also played Malaguena, which I am sure galled the Madison [Scouts] fans.’ … By this logic, Madison fans were angry with: every marching band in America. Hm.”

 

A friend of mine from the UMass Alumni Band days, whose niece was in a particular drum corps that night: “Getting so nervous for [Niece]!!!! Switching over to the tunnel. I just saw you, [Niece]!!!”

R: “In for 4 … out for 4 … in for 4 … out for 8 … in for 4 … out for 16 …”

 

R: “DCI live blog commenter, as [Blue Devils] finishes: ‘This is going to be a bloodbath!!!’ • DCI live blog moderator, as [Carolina] Crown enters: “The chant of ‘Let’s go Crown!’ has started in the crowd.’ • All together now: ‘This… place… is… e-…’”

 

R: “Every so often one of my non-drum-corps-watching friends posts here, … and it’s jarring!”

 

R: “[Carolina] Crown horns play, DCI live blog moderator writes: ‘Wow…that horn run back and forth and the impact of the section following it when they lay it all on the line. I can’t write the phrase I want to really use to explain my reaction to that, as I do like my job.’”

 

R: “DCI live blog moderator: ‘The crowd goes nuts! And for good reasons. Regardless of the outcome, THAT was a championship caliber performance.’ @dcihouseguyhedginghisbets”

 

R: “Hey, [Friend-With-A-Niece]… you OK over there? ;)”

FRIEND WITH A NIECE: “I’m breathing….barely.”

 

As the various corps assembled on the field for the awards retreat…

 

R: “Lemme just say this BEFORE any scores get called: I didn’t actually SEE any corps tonight. If everybody took it up a notch from Thursday night at the movies, –whoa. Good luck to everyone. Everyone’s a winner. It’s all about the audience. If you did your best, that’s all we can ask. … … Okay? Good. … … For the next twenty minutes, I am such a card-carrying member of the Sisterhood of the Purple Pants, it hurts. Get ’em Crown.”

 

FRIEND FROM THE BU BAND DAYS: “And the DCI page has crashed!!”

R: “They should have gotten the DoD tech guys involved.)”

BU BAND FRIEND: “I blame Snowden.”

R: “<*spit-take*>

 

R: “As the DCI website has apparently just crashed … *shocker* … I stand ready to reprise my role from last year as the guy with the tin can and string, posting scores from the live blog. My journalism degree, at work.”

DRUM MAJOR ACADEMY STAFF FRIEND: “I’m counting on you Dr. Rob!”

R: “I feel like I need to limber up. Arm circles!”

 

R: “No scores yet, but the Live Blog guys are taking a beating for the connectivity issues. (I know noth-ink!)”

FRIEND FROM THE UMASS ALUMNI BAND DAYS: “Ahhh! SO frustrating! I’m yelling at my computer right now… but it’s not helping!”

R: “My little fingers are hovering over the keys.”

BU BAND FRIEND: “At least the live blog is up.”

R: “I will defend that open browser window with my life.”

FRIEND FROM THE UMASS ALUMNI BAND DAYS #2: “You’re our link to the inside!”

 

Well, scoring these competitions is a complex business. Takes time. …

 

R: “If it makes anyone feel better, the Live Blog guys are blathering on inanely just the same as [DCI broadcast announcers] Rondinaro and DeLucia probably are. … ‘They’re clapping. They’re still clapping. Lots of clapping.’ … ‘Oh look, corps are marching on.’ ‘More clapping.’ … (I paraphrase.)”

 

R: “Stand by. Control-C, Control-V. Control-C, Control-V. Control-C, Control-V. Control-C, Control-V. …”

 

R: “In 13th place: ‘America the Beautiful.’ … Oh. Sorry.”

 

R: “Now [in the stadium] they’re showing a video, apparently. … … They do this on purpose, you know. #frakkers”

 

FRIEND FROM THE UMASS BAND DAYS #1: [re: what the DCI live bloggers are posting links about while the scores aren’t being announced yet] “aardvarks…. … and barn swallows.”

R: “OMG.”

 

And, at long last, here we go… blood pressure gently rising… as scores are announced approximately 30 seconds apart…

 

R: “11th, 86.40 Spirit of Atlanta”

 

R: “10th, 87.75 Blue Knights.”

 

R: “Caption awards: George Zingali Award for Best Color Guard to Blue Devils.”

 

R: “9th, 90.10 Madison Scouts”

 

R: “The top nine are 90+. Whoa.”

 

R: “John Brazale Best Visual Performance to Crown.”

 

R: “8th place, 90.40 Boston Crusaders. … Nearly caught the Cavs.”

 

DMA STAFF FRIEND #2: “Rob Hammerton is about 10 seconds ahead of [the DCI Finals “Entrance Tunnel” YouTube channel] … refresh refresh refresh” (8/10/2013)

 

R: “Jim Ott Award for Best Brass Performance to Carolina Crown. No … kidding.”

 

R: “7th place, 90.50 The Cavaliers.”

 

R: “Best Percussion Performance (Sanford Award) The Cadets”

 

R: “6th place, 93.25 Bluecoats”

 

R: “Don Angelica Best Overall GE Carolina Crown”

 

R: “5th place, 93.35 Bluecoats”

 

R: “4th place, 96.85 SCV … A 3 point spread.”

 

R: “3rd place, 96.95 The Cadets … My God, that only gets them 3rd place.”

FRIEND FROM UMASS ALUMNI BAND DAYS #3: “.1 over SCV? Scoring is crazazazy!”

 

R: “2nd place … … 98.05 Blue Devils”

R: “And Indy LOSES ITS MIND.”

R: “1st place, 98.30 Carolina Crown”

 

R: “Hey, [Friend-With-A-Niece], you can go to bed now.”

FRIEND FROM THE UMASS BAND DAYS #1: “She’s still screaming…”

 

R: “Yay performance. Yay instruction. Yay support. Not to forget, though: not for nothing are Messrs. Michael Klesch and Thom Hannum [Crown’s brass- and percussion-arrangers] in the Hall of Fame.”

 

R: “Okay, here’s a (not-) trivia question for DCI historians: Offhand, can you think of any other team of brass and percussion arrangers who have won world championships together … with two different corps? … in two different decades?”

 

R: “Hey, UMassers – this is what all the fuss was about.” [To this post, I attached My-Friend-With-A-Niece’s photo of Her Niece, who was a percussionist with Carolina Crown, along with a superimposed graphic of her corps’s final score, with a caption: “That’s my niece on the left, crying because she is a DCI WORLD CHAMPION!!!!!!!!!!”]

 

Granted, I didn’t put in the kind of physical and mental effort that any of the actual musicians did, that night … not remotely close … but I did sleep soundly.

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August 10, 2017 Posted by | drum corps, Facebook, Internet, journalism, social media, technology | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Support System, Part 2

Well, that didn’t take long at all.

Yesterday I posted in this space about the absurd travesty of a press conference conducted by the Short-Fingered Vulgarian, at his Golden Palace of Horrors, surrounded not only by the press but by a throng of loyal supporters.

Turns out? Paid supporters.

Dutifully, the online political website “Politico” picked up on this. In their article chronicling this ridiculous event, they wrote that everything has changed, and yet nothing has – recalling Orange Muppet Hitler’s event, in that same room, utilizing many people paid to portray cheering supporters.

Well, they got it half right. Everything has changed. He’s the President-Elect, not just some hack third-rate celebrity who once had a TV show. Theoretically, there is the expectation of behavior that Americans have come to characterize as “presidential” – y’know – dignity, restraint and compassion, yeah?

Well, heck with that, apparently.

But we don’t have to help in this transition from old-school “presidentialness” to whatever in the HELL this new reality is.

Buried deep in the sputtering end of the Politico article:

With nine days to go until Inauguration Day, the spectacle may be one of the last ones that unfolds on Trump’s home turf in midtown Manhattan, between the Gucci and Bulgari stores. Next up, he will be occupying the people’s home, and confront the press in less familiar, more intimidating surroundings.

Hey Politico — which the estimable writer Charlie Pierce has long called “Tiger Beat on the Potomac”, and not for nothing — this is what it sounds like when you report this crap like it’s normal.

Guess what? It ain’t.

Oh, once he gets to the White House it’ll be okay,” this Politico garbage seems to me to imply.

Oh no no no. No. NO IT WON’T.

Once he gets to the White House it’ll be TOO FREAKING LATE.

Won’t be too long before those paid supporters start showing up wearing brown shirts.

 

NOTE TO JOURNALISTS OF THE WORLD (and those who pretend to be)

THIS IS NOT NORMAL.

THIS IS NOT GOOD.

STOP REPORTING THIS LIKE IT IS NORMAL OR GOOD

IT IS NEITHER

 

RESIST. REJECT.

January 12, 2017 Posted by | current events, journalism, news | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Gloves Comin’ Off

[Ed. Note: this was originally posted on my Facebook page.]

 

I try not to get forcefully political on the ol’ FB machine. I tend more toward Star Wars references and band jokes.

But desperate times call for desperate measures. And, from here to November, I think I shall prepare to suffer whatever slings and arrows come my way. Fine. Political it shall be. S**t’s gettin’ real.

We talk about every single Presidential election as the most important election of our lifetimes. Bush vs. Kerry … Obama vs. McCain and the desperately unqualified Palin … Obama vs. Willard “47%” Romney … and the meme has threatened to become “boy who cried wolf” territory.

But … the next five months represent a stretch of time during which it will be required to convince as many people as possible that we stand at an absolutely pivotal moment in American history. Will it be oligarchy with a side order of authoritarian fascism? Or will it be an agonizingly slow but perceptible aircraft-carrier-speed turn back toward government representing the people and not the corporations?

 

With today’s Senate votes regarding gun legislation, let’s make sure that one thing is abundantly clear:

Permanently laid to rest is the idea that “both sides do it”. That “both sides are just as awful”. That “both sides are to blame”. Dead, buried, shovelfuls of dirt hitting its face, pax vobiscum.

From ThinkProgress.org: “On Monday, Republicans in the Senate proved, yet again, how strong the National Rifle Association’s grip is on the nation’s highest lawmaking body. Democrats’ efforts to pass legislation to prevent suspected terrorists from buying firearms and to expand background checks to all gun sales both failed in the Senate. Just 47 senators voted in favor of the first measure and 44 for the second.”

It may be over-the-top to write a headline like “Republicans Vote In Favor Of Continued Mayhem”. Or not, I don’t know. But at the very least, the headline should be “Republicans Vote To Keep The Gun Manufacturers Lobby From Primary-ing Their Backsides; ‘Follow the Money’ Meme Again Invoked”.

Meet the Press” and David Brooks and the whole DC pundit class won’t do it. Nor will they give up their farcical “both sides are equally bad” fetish, because the major mass-media news operations are overseen by their networks’ entertainment divisions now, which ought to tell you everything you need to know about modern journalism: it serves profit, not public service.

 

Howevah! … The Democratic senators’ filibuster last week accomplished this: it forced an actual vote on something — and the result of that vote is concrete proof toward which to point, as the general election approaches. If they play their cards right … AND IF WE VOTER TYPES GO AND VOTE IN NOVEMBER (that’s crucial) … and if the Short-Fingered Vulgarian continues his Presidential campaign all the way to Election Day and manages to drag down all the down-ticket candidates from the party of Lincoln … Democrats have a chance to take the Senate, close the gap in the House, take the White House, and ensure that the next Supreme Court nominee (or possibly the next two, with the rumored retirement plans of Clarence Thomas coming to light in the last day or so) be someone who might support the overturning of the Citizens United decision. Which would be merely a small beginning of an effort to get money (dark or otherwise) the hell out of politics; but it beats the alternative we’re living with right now.

Let’s not throw all the bastards out.

Just the right bastards.

Let’s make the pitched effort to identify, tag, and continually and repeatedly remind people of the identity of, every one of the bastards who value their political careers and the largesse that goes with them MORE than they value the lives of their constituents — be they LGBT, minority groups, or members of faith communities they can’t be bothered to understand.

Let’s be obnoxious in our desperate effort to keep reminding people who the honorable people are, and who the craven bastards are who love themselves and their money and their station in life far more than they love the health of their own nation.

So we know which ones deserve to be kicked out of DC for good.

 

Today’s roll calls represent opposition research — tailor-made and gift-wrapped for Democrats, and frankly any voter who can see past knee-jerk ideology and embrace the need to re-make our government into a group of people who want to take care of people instead of taking advantage of them.

I know. Mark Twain famously said, “I don’t belong to any organized political party. I am a Democrat.” As steep climbs go, this has potential to be very steep. We (yeah, I’m a registered Dem) are famous for screwing things up, usually thanks to apathy or really bad planning.

But today’s votes ought to reverberate — ought to echo all the way to the election in November — in the form of a question that ought to be on the minds of voters everywhere (even in my intensely-blue Massachusetts):

Are you willing to let this go on any longer?

I’m not, damn it.

Because as has been demonstrated this week in Orlando … and this year in Flint … and three and a half years ago in Sandy Hook … and for the last (pick your time period — decade? Two decades? More?) in cities and towns all over these United States:

We’re talking about people’s lives here.

 

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June 21, 2016 Posted by | civil rights, current events, government, journalism, media, news, politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments