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.

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

In the Bubble

Tiny update for those who have visited here since Tuesday’s election:

Regarding my thought, two posts ago, that “I think that in any case, I’m not in the right frame of mind, yet, to reach out and try to communicate with the People who will one day need to be reached” … yeah, two days isn’t enough time to get into that frame of mind.

A co-worker of mine said to me today, “good Lord, stay off Facebook for a week. It’s better that way.”

And, you will recall, on Wednesday morning, I completely failed at that avoidance. And I still am failing. But I think at least partly that’s because I have so many friends upon the Facebook machine who are hurting and angry and terrified, and are posting about it, and I don’t wish to ignore them or try to make myself feel better about the world by swerving away from friends.

There are people out there who don’t have that option because every time they step out into the world, now, they risk verbal and physical abuse, just for looking like who they are – or even for looking like who somebody else thinks they are.

So wouldn’t you think the exceptionally, extremely, very very least I can do would be to go and read what they have to say?

I imagine (with no malice whatever on my part, because he’s a fine feller) that my very well-meaning co-worker might say in response to that … you’re a glutton for what? Punishment?

No. I’m not the one who’s feeling the punishment.

And on Wednesday morning, I did step gingerly into the Facebook world, afraid of what I might find but somehow needing to.

And something that I found there in surprisingly great measure … yes, alongside the genuinely frightened and sometimes frightening status posts … was affecting in a different way, and caused me to post, myself, although in no way had I expected to be able to contribute anything.

There are times when it’s not productive to live in a bubble. There are times when it’s important to step out of your bubble, your comfort zone, and find out what the rest of the world is thinking – again, so you can engage them intelligently.

This wasn’t one of those.

My apologies to those of my set of Facebook compatriots who have already read this, but … in the spirit of clutching tightly to something, anything, remotely positive this week … and in the spirit of appreciating the moments in your life when it’s blindingly obvious that you’re surrounded by angels in the form of people who are well-spoken and thoughtful even when they ought to be panicking … who even seem to panic gracefully … who can prop other people up even as they’re needing propping-up themselves …

Here’s what I offered up to those angels inside my bubble, early Wednesday morning.

 

As it turns out, I have gone on Facebook this morning.

Didn’t want to.

Didn’t plan to.

My curiosity got the best of me.

As I was doing so, I forlornly hoped that it wouldn’t be the bad decision that I knew it would be.

Every instinct was telling me, no, no, no, don’t.

Because last night when I signed off, despair was coming off the screen in waves.

And today, the cold morning light was just that. The sky was flat and grey.

Every instinct was telling me, roll over, pull the blankets up over you, get a little more sleep.

But that wasn’t happening.

And my every waking thought about any earthly subject had been, for several hours now, considered through a new and distinctly not-very-rose-colored pair of glasses.

Every instinct was telling me, hunker down, protect yourself, go fetal, put on your crash helmet.

But something dragged me over to the computer and logged me in, here.

And I’m glad.

The despair, of course, is still there.

And I can only imagine what various segments of the population — among them some of my dear friends — are feeling this morning. Despair might be merely a starting point.

But the vast majority of the things I read this morning made me glad to have come here.

The things that I read … reinforced for me that I am privileged to be connected with remarkable people upon this little social media platform — whether we’ve been lifelong friends, or have never actually met in person!, or anywhere in between.

You wrote many things that I could not have written.

That I hope to write.

That I can’t yet.

And I’m not even gay, or Muslim, or Mexican, or African-American, or female, or a journalist. Or a parent who has to guide their kid in this moment.

So I have a certain amount of firewall that others don’t have.

But what was written here … what I’ve read here … will keep me from tipping over until the equilibrium returns.

I have gone on Facebook this morning.

Didn’t want to.

Didn’t plan to.

My curiosity got the best of me.

And I got the best of you all.

Onward ‘n’ upward.”

November 11, 2016 Posted by | blogging, current events, Facebook, friends, heroes, Internet, news, politics, social media, writing | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lashing Out

So here we are, now just over two months away from a Trump Administration.

Regular readers of the Blogge will know that I’ve spent the last seven weeks recapping my activity upon the mighty Facebook, wherein every morning I have stood up in firm opposition not just to the campaign of the man who is now the President-elect, but in firm revulsion to the actual man.

What’s really frustrating is that all those haikus and all those links to articles and all those heartfelt-but-snarky memes and all those FB status posts of mine … fell on the ears of the already-converted.

And probably fell upon very very few of the People who needed to know what kind of star to which They were hitching Their wagon. Or, much more disconcertingly, the People who knew exactly what awful attitudes and behavior Their votes would sanction, not just in Their candidate but by extension in Themselves … and were okay with that.

And I live in a very very deep blue state, surrounded by other very very blue states. And so, from the relative safety and security and naivete of that bubble of belief that I was living in a country whose population was, by and large, decent … did I do enough, could I have done more, could I have done enough, did I have any hope of doing any more to reach the People Who Needed To Be Swayed?

And by “People Who Needed To Be Swayed”, I mean …

the People who don’t think They know any gay or lesbian people, so why should They care, and anyway they make Them feel icky, so why should they have rights? …

the People who don’t think women are any great thing to be respected …

the People who think anybody remotely brown is inherently inferior to Their white Selves …

the People who think it’s okay to discriminate against or protest against or legislate against or get violent against anybody who doesn’t worship Their particular version of God …

the People who think college degrees are for suckers, since They know what They know, and that’s enough for Them? …

I think that in any case, I’m not in the right frame of mind, yet, to reach out and try to communicate with the People who will one day need to be reached. And I don’t think They are, either.

 

When Snoopy stands on top of his comic-strip doghouse and reaches out a hand of friendship to the ferocious housecat next door, he does so while wearing a hockey glove on that hand. Which gets a laugh from the reader. And in the next strip, Snoopy promptly gets the hockey glove absolutely shredded by cat claws. Which also gets a laugh.

Right now, I’m not sure which character I am, in that little comic strip analogy.

Because … well, I’ll be honest. My version of reaching out, right now, today, only 24 hours afterward, to the People who have collectively caused my country to be prospectively led by an utterly dangerous person – and yes, it’s still my country, y’all, as much as it is yours, and we have to figure that out, too … well, my version of that reaching out might easily be characterized as lashing out.

And I’m not even a member of nearly any of those groups that the Vulgar Talking Yam and his Supporters will go after first. In the list of “First They Came For”s, I’m kinda low on the priority list. For the moment, at least.

See, there I go. Lashing out. It’s not something I’ve ever advocated. As a church-goin’, church-giggin’ person, it’s really not my top thing. And on the rare occasions in the past when I’ve done it myself, it hasn’t worked out well anyway. Frankly I’m just not that good at it.

So it’ll be a moment or two before I can come up with something constructive. I have no doubt that I will. But today may not be when it occurs to me.

Lemme get back to you on that.

 

So. Were my artistic expressions really enough?

Did they do any more than galvanize the already-sufficiently galvanized? Did they energize anyone to actually go out and vote, who wasn’t planning to anyway? Did they convince anyone who was a Bernie guy (person) (whatever) like me to go out and vote for Hillary, and not for Gary or Jill because in our admittedly flawed system a concentrated level of support for Hillary was the only realistic avenue for stopping the Short-Fingered Vulgarian, for the good of the Republic and for the good of the concept of civility and decency?

Were haikus really enough?

I’m worried that I know the answer to that question, and that it’s not the answer I would have wished for. And I’m worried that, in the cold morning light and with the sharp focus of hindsight, it’s been revealed unto me as exactly the tepid effort that it seems now.

Midterm elections are, at least so far as we now know, just two years away.

Thinkin’ that soon it’ll be time to get started on more than just seventeen syllables worth of outrage at a time.

November 9, 2016 Posted by | arts, civil rights, current events, Facebook, government, news, politics, social media | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment