Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Dazed and Refused: Talent-show hopes broken -- they didn't deserve us

Courtesy photo
[As I rummaged through some boxes in the garage recently, I found an old letter that I gave to one of my high-school administrators regarding a talent-show debacle. Initially, I didn't want to run this, because it's long-ago, high-school stuff, you know? The reason why I'm offering up this story is because I feel there's some things in here that we can all relate to on a daily basis. A short intro sets the scene.]

By Andy

It was our time to shine, rock, shred, rage -- you get the picture.

But we were denied by our high-school administration to participate in the senior "talent show" in 1984 in Torrance, Calif.

Greg, John, Phil and myself practiced hard for a few weeks to master our tunes: an original, "How We Rock," and our revved-up take on "Louie Louie."

We sweated it out in the SST practice space on Artesia Boulevard in Redondo Beach, the same spot where Black Flag, SWA and, later, the Descendents rehearsed. We were ready.

(We even had a name, Minas Tirith, since we had been reading J.R.R. Tolkien's "Return of the King" in class. It was a killer band name, of course.)

On "tryout" day, we packed some of the Flag PA into my dad's truck and drove over to the school. We didn't even make it in the door, we were banned. (We had already been told we couldn't play, but we showed up anyway -- just to show we were serious about our craft.)

Greg did loan his snare drum to some of our buddies doing a Van Halen "act," and he made sure to crack that drum hard before he exited the building.

We weren't included in the show because one of our members -- Phil -- didn't attend the school. True, but in the past, other bands (yes, punk/rock, like us; see previous entry) featured members not enrolled there, either. Not fair.

Anyway, here's the letter:

"I would just like to say that we are deeply upset with your judgement concerning acts to participate in the Talent Show.

It would appear that your understanding and fairness were not present during our meeting. In our school, and in today's society, open-mindedness and fair judgement are placed very highly in our set of values -- and it would seem that both of these (among others) were neglected all together.

First of all, when rules are cited to be linked with a certain function -- they should usually be stated from the start (not two weeks later -- after everyone had already begun rehearsal). I know what your rebuttal is, though, but there have always been participants from other schools in this show year after year -- and it would seem not to be as major of a deal as you have made it.

Another thing which really hit me hard was when you laughed in our faces when we stated that we've been looking forward to this event for 4 years. Haven't you ever had dreams or goals that really meant a lot to you -- that you wanted to accomplish? This was one of ours, and I feel that we have been deprived of this in a very "cheap" way.

But the real question is -- are you using the "non-school participant" as the actual reason for not letting us perform?

I have pieced this situation together very carefully, and have come to a conclusion. Is it that you don't particularly like us, or perhaps the music we were going to perform?

For your information, our act had originality in it. It wasn't a remake of a TV show or a pantomime of a popular song. It was us -- and I think that is most important in a "talent show." Who has the real talent? What is real talent?

[Editor's note: Yes, we were covering "Louie Louie," but we weren't lip-syncing it.]

In closing, I feel that the people we associate with or the music we listen to or play is no way to decide if we should perform or not.

If this is how you came to your conclusion, I think that it is very atrocious, ludicrous and a travesty to the BMHS or any other type of justice system."

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