Home » ARTSY FARTSY » JEAN SHEPHERD Kid Stories, Half-time Sousaphone & (110) ARTSY Table of Contents part 6

JEAN SHEPHERD Kid Stories, Half-time Sousaphone & (110) ARTSY Table of Contents part 6


So we started to rehearse in June.  Every couple of days we’d rehearse out in the hot sun for the big fall season, and once in a while the band would get an invitation from someplace to go play. Since this was a band that had won a lot of national awards you had to play well and we used to audition every year for the same job in the band.  Guys would get cut from the band because someone would come up and could blow better.  Every afternoon me and Schwartz and Snuffy Smith and a guy named Ernie Dunker —we were the ace guys in the sousaphone section—we would practice in the band room.

You don’t just sit down and blow a sousaphone.  Oh no.  You gatta warm the sousaphone up and furthermore you gotta warm your lip up because, man, if you don’t do that—ohhhhh! It’s like going out and throwing a fast ball in a ballgame without warming up.  You could kill your lip for life!  We’d run over the scales.  We’d sit there whooooo tooooo tooooo whooooo whoooo whooo whooo doodooodooodooooooo.  And you’d open the spit valve and blow the thing out.

I used to carry my own German silver mouthpiece around in my pocket all the time so I would always have it warm, because if you ever blow in a cold mouthpiece, that’s bad news.  Once in a while, while I was sitting in a regular class like geometry, I’d hold the mouthpiece in my fist, and in my mind I’d run over different numbers we played.  You can actually blow a horn without the horn present.  You blow it in your mind.  I’m thinking of the fingering and I’m playing the “NC-4 March,” I’m playing “On the Mall,” I’m playing “Semper Fidelis,” I’m playing “El Capitan,” I’m playing all of them.

“El Capitan” was a very important for my band because it was always the march that we used to make our entrance.  Every band has a regular program.  They work out this whole thing and they rehearse it, they work on this thing all year long and each part in a good marching band’s repertory is carefully programmed so it has something to do with the beat and the tempo and it makes a statement about the one before it and it makes a statement about the one after it.

So “El Capitan” is our opening, “fanfare,” number.  We come out with all the brass marching forward.  We’re marching in place.  The drummers are using muffled sticks so it’s not heard all over the stadium.  Then the trumpets and trombones go into a big fan out on the goal line and there is a moment of silence.

Then we have, of course, Stinky Davis.  A lot of people don’t know the function of a drum major—which is different from a drum majorette.  A majorette, in most cases, is merely a twirler.  She also represents a kind of sexual symbol.  But in a crack military marching band, there is no such thing as a majorette.  There is a drum major.  He is the officer in charge of this marching band.  He sets the beat, the tempo, and even the attitude.  So the drum major is dynamic.  Only one part of his job is twirling.  Another part is discipline with his steely eyes.  Another part is fanaticism.  So we had one of the great drum majors.  In fact, he was a three-time national twirling and drum-major champion.  He was a great director of the band.  Fanatic!  Insane nut!  And totally hated by everybody.  Everybody hated this guy’s guts!



(More of Artsy Fartsy Table of Contents, this part still in progress)



LEIGH BROWN ? encounter only through her letters decades ago to her closest friend=grail—not know a grail existed!



(58) LOIS NETTLETON (Gifting—Grab Bag 1 of





INTRO TYPE BOX PHOTO type tray –Many people have such—encapsulates some ARTSY obsessions, kind of a section intro

Many collectors have, hung on walls, tiny stuff displayed in an authentic type case, of the kind in which typesetters stored individual lead letters made for plucking and arranging into words and paragraphs to be printed. Mine has nick nacks and other artsys. Spiral encounters. Guitar rosette with “eb” initials. Tiny caliper and level for who-knows-what. Pre-Columbian heads, and a pre-Columbian, Mexican bird-shaped whistle with a multi-toned twitter. Many etceteras.

IDEAS A tribute to a delightful TV commercial celebrating ideas that may seem at first to be a bit peculiar, General Electric’s “Imagination at Work,” featuring the strange, lovable, furry creature I’ve named “GEe Whiz!”

INTESTINAL DISTRESS     TV ad: An annoying, obnoxious commercial, or a superb Surrealist piece of art?

SPIRALS AMMONITES, NAUTILUS. Synthesis of circle and a straight line, which has no sense of history. Spirals—the great, near-universal organization principle of the universe!

ELEGANT FUNCTIONALITTY Skeleton watches and astrolabes as instruments artistically contrived.     

TORN BILLBOARDS Wind, rain, and deliberate human intervention contrive to create “artsy” compositions for the curious eye. (3/11/2017)

EASELS ARE FACES Faces—I see faces everywhere. My Bergdorf Goodman installation and such. (4/10/2017)

WATERCOLORS & CRAYOLAS What I did and why I did it.

WACKY AIR DANCERS We see these street buskers all the time. What inspiring, experimental dancers! (JS Invective etc. part 1 of 2 7/12/2016)

MOM’S VIOLIN, PARAKEET, and EGGS Marjorie Crosby Bergmann, our family’s original artsy fartsy artist supreme.



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