Letter to the Editor: In Defense of The Band

Jan. 10, 2013, 11:54 p.m.

I simply cannot let John E’s disparaging comments about the Leland Stanford Junior University Marching Band in his January 7 Letter to the Editor go unchallenged.

The LSJUMB, along with our Dollies, epitomizes the zest and zeal of our unchained youth, the free-spirited, whimsical, spontaneous, improvisational, creative, ultra-liberated spirit of not only Stanford, but the surrounding Silicon Valley and every entrepreneur who had crazy dreams and marched to a crazy new rhythm. Does John E. propose to capture and cage and contain this spirit, subjecting it to a regimented goose step befitting only militaristic lemmings?

John E invokes the Tournament of Roses as a kind of holy standard proudly embraced by all Pasadenans. He might wish to know that Pasadena has an equally noble tradition alongside the TORP – the Doo Dah Parade – which was launched decades ago by a motley crew of spirited natives to celebrate the city’s heritage with zany, free-spirited drill teams and floats that make the LSJUMB look tame in comparison. Perhaps the TOR is uncomfortable with surrendering the spotlight and international media coverage to these upstarts at the Doo Dah Parade, but the truth is the Doo Dah Parade represents a spirit of fun and frivolity that many Pasadenans are immensely proud of. Ditto for the Stanford Band and its students and alumni.

As a native son of Pasadena, I spent many sleepless New Year’s Eves camped out on Colorado Boulevard waiting for the Parade. As a third generation Stanford graduate (‘76) and an attendee at our last Stanford Rose Bowl victory in 1972, I made the tortuously long trek from Singapore (where I have taken up citizenship and resided since 1985), surviving hellishly crowded airports, full-body security checks and winding immigration queues to not only watch our fabulous team play Wisconsin but to also witness my best buddy “Fast” Eddie Anderson’s (‘75) daughter march with the LSJUMB at the LA Live pre-game rallies, along the Parade Route and at the Rose Bowl.  It was magical, enchanting, mystical, out of body, tear-jerking. Thank you, LSJUMB, for all that you are! You did us all proud. And kudos to Wisconsin’s band, who had a funky two-step and who joined LSJUMB post-game to serenade their very dedicated (and very impressively loud) fans.

So here’s my advice to John E: get out of the Badlands, away from the fumes of fracked shale oil, and head out West to take a hit of pure California sunshine. Your comments warrant a Biblical response from the Book of Jobs (the late Steve, not the unlucky dude from the Old Testament). “Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes… the ones who see things differently… they’re not fond of rules… You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can’t do is ignore them, because they change things.”

Long live the LSJUMB, and looking forward to another long trek out to the Parade and Rose Bowl this December/January.

John Driscoll ‘76

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