Friday, January 3, 2020

RETROSPECTIVE: Sugar Bowl 2007

As with most of the other retrospectives, I'm transcribing from an older notebook. In this case, this is a write up from January 2015 about an event that happened at the end of the 2006 football season. 2019 Simon, sitting in a hostel in Tbilisi, will comment on 2015 Simon using [brackets].

Malicious Compliance?

29 January 2015: The Sugar Bowl

[I'm skipping my written introduction about a Maynard Ferguson playlist inspiring me to write a story about trumpets. For those just joining, I played trumpet in the marching band at the University of Notre Dame (ND) and got to travel with the band to the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans. The exact date was 3 January 2007, for the record, so the events below occur a few days on either side.]

I don't remember travel arrangements being anything out of the ordinary. I flew down from Pittsburgh, sitting next to a couple of younger [high school?] teachers with whom I played a game of FLUXX. After arrival, I connected with friends and, of course, MB (my college girlfriend). Everything is a bit shuffled around (it has, after all, been eight years [almost thirteen now]), so I'll break it up into main sections.

PRACTICE: The CSC (Notre Dame's parent organization) ran a school in New Orleans. We had at least one practice on their field and the whole community turned out for a big jambalaya affair. I don't know how to describe it, but this was also intended to show us the effects of Hurricane Katrina - there was still a lot of devastation one and a half years later. I remember it being mostly fun with brief, intensely somber moments.

NEW ORLEANS: For the most part we were free to explore the city as we saw fit. Always the explorer, I did a lot of wandering around with MB. Stepped into a lot of shops, visited some boardwalk thing, and generally had a blast. MB & I made friends with Steamboat Willie, a gentleman who plays trumpet at Cafe Beignet. I still have an open invitation to come down and jam that may someday make another entry in this book. [Highly unlikely! Who knows if the guy is even still alive.]

New Orleans was also a spot for romance. MB & I kissed at midnight on New Year's Eve on Canal Street (or was it Bourbon Street?). We weren't the only romantic folks, however. Here's a tip for the youngsters - put a sock or a tie on your doorknob if you're getting busy and don't want your roommate to walk in on you. MB saw some things she wasn't ready to see on this trip.

GAME DAY: We were all rounded up for an early morning on-field practice. I shaved my beard to be in compliance with the dress code, but I did not shave my 'fro or my mustache. Pictures of me from this time look hilarious. Practice happened, and we figured we had several (six?) hours to kill before the game, so we could do something out and about. Nope - we were locked in the stadium. It had all been a clever ruse to keep us out of trouble before the game actually started. We entertained ourselves the best we could - one memorable moment requires a side story.

MONTHS EARLIER IN TENNESSEE: A band trip like any other. Buses, a practice (maybe), a game with all its ups and downs, and buses home. The only notable part was that the Mayor of Knoxville declared the day "University of Notre Dame Marching Band Day." He (or a representative) read out a whole declaration with all these "whereas" and "therefore" bits thrown in. It was fantastic and I still riff on it. [This is still more or less true.]

BACK TO GAME DAY: For whatever reason, we were given these roll-up "go team" things. They said something else, but what is more important is that they were scroll-like. Armed with the scroll and a bad sense of humor, I wandered around the band sections, stopping occasionally to unroll the scroll vertically and make a lengthy declaration on whatever the people in front of me were doing, throwing in "whereas" and "therefore" all willy nilly. [My memory is of things like "WHEREAS, we are stuck in this building and WHEREAS X, Y, and Z are playing poker and WHEREAS there is nothing else to do, THEREFORE I do hereby declare poker the official game of the Notre Dame Marching Band." Or something like that.] About five people got a kick out of it.

[My 2015 notes end here.]

The game came and went - we played our Chicago set (24 or 6 to 4, Saturday in the Park, & Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?), I think. I wouldn't normally remember this, but we'd originally had a set that included Don McLean's American Pie. The whole set was scrapped when we realized the bit about "took my Chevy to the levy but the levy was dry" might be inconsiderate in post-Katrina New Orleans. I'm 75% sure it was our Chicago set because I feel like we played that a lot - it was seen as a big triumph because the band Chicago had performed it with us at a home game (leading to my bar boast "I played with Chicago! ... along with four hundred other people").

I don't have much else to say narratively, but a few things jump out in my memory, in no particular order - I remember being happy we didn't have to play pre-game (I'm fairly sure they had local highschools play the National Anthem and stuff - we may have done the ND Fight Song). One of the nicest human beings you'll ever meet got hit in the head by a beer bottle thrown from the stands, which really sucked. I remember the flight home being a real pain in the ass because a few of us had to run to get our connections.

The whole experience was great (despite the lock-in) and went a lot better than the bowl for me. I need to go back to New Orleans someday to explore as a real adult. It'll have to wait a few years, I suspect, but it's on my to-do list.

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