“2020, the Movie.” Once upon a time, this would have been the title of a sequel to the film 2010, or a graphically esthetic date of a science fiction novel. More fantastically, it might have been a possible calendar date reality in which we got around town in our own, fits-in-the garage, gravity defying, auto-maneuvering Ford Skyliner, darting between multicolored, spiraling glass edifices, and on our way to Indianapolis for the DCI Championships. It might have been…but it is not. Had that been so, it’s title would not be, “2020 The Season That Wasn’t.”
Rather, we find ourselves house-bound, quarantined, isolated, sequestered, involuntarily (but not necessarily religiously cloistered), domestically quartered, and in most cases, imprisoned in a fairly comfortable, and familiar, solitary confinement. And, no, this has nothing to do with your prankster, police officer cousin, who forgot the password that would allow you to be legally freed from the ankle bracelet that he just wanted to, “Let me show you how it works.” Again, it is not.
Truth be told, both the real grass, and even the artificial turf in sports fields are actually starting to look greener this spring. And I’ve gone so far as to believe that the machine fabricated, verdant topography seems to have aromatically evolved into the enticing dew scented, late afternoon shower now greeting the cooler night air.
And now it is Memorial Day…or is it, or was it? A day celebrated with both deep solemnity and an eclectic cacophony of pride. But no parades this year, no grand patriotic concerts, and no drum and bugle corps contests. And yet, I can’t not do something about this…. “Taps.”
The depth of the dust on my trumpet case is almost measurable. I cough a few coughs as I open it. As terrible a musician as I was/am, I actually liked to pretend that my horn/trumpet was almost glad to see me, and greet me with the benevolent condescension of, “Hey, c’mon! Nobody’s perfect. Let’s try that old song you like so much. What’s the name of it? Wait! I remember now! It’s Chris Botti’s version of, ‘I Can’t Get Started.’ And, hey, no one’s home…so…” Although I grimaced at its last words, I surrendered.
Today it was different. Somehow or other, it seemed that the tarnished tubing is twisting malevolently as I gingerly and cringingly grasp my horn. Imagination now rampant, I seem to feel a reluctantly tenacious tug, followed by an exorcism-like groaning lamentation emanating from the darkness of its inner bell. (Panic. Did I take someone else’s meds this morning?) But, now rescued from its mummified mausoleum, my horn morphs into semi-consciousness. Even so, the looming questions remain: Can it still play? More significantly, can I still play!
My plan: Check the Internet for music. GCEG Four notes. Got it! Play the notes. Don’t got it! “What the…?” Depress valves 1 and 3. Got it! Play the notes. So very bad! “Might as well play Taps for myself!” Play again. And again. One more one. And, one more one. Got it! I hope!
2:59 PM. Go outside. Sit in a deck chair. Through the screen door, Chris shouts, “Good luck, Dad!” From Judi comes the ever supportive, “You can do it!” And I do it…almost. Slight crack on the high G. To myself: “Pretty good!” No sooner said, there comes an ever vigilant, haunting voice in my head. It’s Pepe!
“Mario ‘Bayboom.’ (Yet another story for yet another time.) You screwed it up! I’m gonna kick your ass when we get back to Brooklyn!’’ This Memorial Day is gone. So too is Pepe, and the Brooklyn we once shared, separated only by a few city blocks, and worlds of talent.
That night, I sat alone on the back deck of our New Jersey home. There are fewer fireworks this year. Now, only ghostly chartered busses bring ghostly, half- awake kids home to the once disproportionately bounteous, myriad cities and towns, with their names proudly scrolled on bass drum heads: Garfield, Newark, Jersey City, Bayonne, Audubon, Madison, Egg Harbor, Perth Amboy, Patterson, Fairlawn, Dumont. They remain. The kids and bass drums do not.
A simple green, white lettered road sign, on route 208, reading, “Hawthorne 5” could never mean very much more to the vehicle’s driver and its passengers. It simply read, “Hawthorne 5”. This, and nothing more. Nothing more? Maybe so to a Poe’s “Raven” aesthete; but to anyone in drum and bugle corps, it is the small hometown of a drum corps begun a few months more than 70 years go. And, still competing, albeit in a far lessened field of competitors, but not diminished an iota in quality performances.
Oh, I forgot. June. My birthday. There was a time when I looked forward to my birthdays. I don’t much feel that way anymore. But that, given the greater dignity of Italian is, “Un’altra storia per un’altra volta”. I digress. I apologize.
June and July. I re-start work on my drum and bugle corps autobiography, temporarily entitled, “ Whaddayh mean, three valves?!?!” In order to inspire me, I program my computer to loop the music from the four or five corps I once was with in some capacity or another.
From the e-mails that I’ve received lately, there are (approximately) in the area of two dozen people anxiously awaiting its publication…so I’ve been told. Many thanks to my sister’s six children, and three of their spouses And then there’s my brother, his three sons, and their six(?) kids. And, of course, I must include my wife, Judith. As for our two children, Chris, who, like Judi, offered, “Finally! I’ve been telling you to write it ever since I’ve known you!” I had to concur with that. But, “…since I’ve known you.”? I deserved that. On the other hand, daughter, Jean-Marie, calling from her Palm Springs home, has once again posed the question, “This time you need to finish it. Don’t just talk about it. Do it!” Once again, the realization that they all know me too well. And, I love them for it. Today, I completed two full paragraphs.
Back to drum and bugle corps where I have created several online games, complete with graphics. The first of these was “BINGO,” which because of copyrights, I had to change it “RINGO.” Unfortunately, that, too, required a name change to… “DINGO.”
And then came drum and bugle corps “Jeopardy,” and “Monopoly.” I especially liked “Monopoly,” which is based on a weekend at DCI Finals, replete with Monopoly-type traps e.g. “Your equipment truck has two tire blowouts. Go back three spaces.” My Facebook page garnered three promising leads; however, when I checked out that the respondees thought it was part of “Tik Tok,” I abandoned it. I’ve also decided to permanently suspend my game creation activities.
August. T.S. Eliot was wrong. August, not April is/was the cruelest month. And it was especially so this year. In the arguably, Silver, and Golden years of the 1950s and 60s, August was the time of a confounding conflation of emotions. Barely suppressed impatience of the next contest would be the semi-sweet, almost hormonal, tactile anticipation of the next weekend. Contrarily likewise, the season was ending, and the mostly dismaying prospect of returning to school was daunting. Nevertheless, we had a season. And, next year…
I cannot even begin to understand what today’s kids experienced this summer of 2020. If we were to maintain the theme our apocryphal movie, the “season that wasn’t,’’ would hopefully realize a similar denouement, as did George Bailey gratefully returning to his “wonderful life.” And Ebeneezer Scrooge would assuredly be personified as the redemptive “man who knew the true meaning of Christmas.”
Unfortunately, “2020: The Season That Wasn’t,” is still unfinished. The Earth’s orbit will end and begin a renewed celestial track. And, like it or not, the world can survive without drum and bugle corps. We matter only to ourselves….. and another summertime. And that is important. Hopefully, it will not be known as ,“2021: The Sequel.”