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Renegades Blog

One Guard Member’s Perspective
by Lisa Johnson

Friday Night – (because we have to make our loved ones feel important before we abandon ship for the weekend and lose sight of anything closely resembling “reality.”)

Roy and I hit a new sushi joint. We “un-hit” it in about 5 minutes. Attention Group: I believe that any sushi chef that mixes mayonnaise with their crab meat for California rolls are secretly and strategically placed here from the Japanese government in retaliation for World War II. We end up heading over to Trader Joe’s, pick up some Two Buck Chuck, a big fillet of salmon and some babaganouch. YUM!

Saturday Morning – my strange odyssey to camp:

In an effort to get to camp early and mingle w/ my non-corps buddies, I hit the freeway at about 8:45am. This *should* get me to camp by about 9:15-9:30. Note the emphasis on “should.”

Somewhere around Redwood City (about 30 minutes from Treasure Island), all four lanes of traffic come to a dead stop. I turn on the radio only to happily find out that just above Redwood City there is an overturn accident. Great…well, I’ll still get there *on time*. 34 minutes and .10 mile later, the traffic reporter informs me that before we get to THAT accident, there is another accident. %$#& ! Terrific. Call Veronica, one of our captains, and let her know that I and any other South Bay member should arrive at camp by next Tuesday.

Just as I’m about to approach first accident, a lady not paying attention rear-ends guy in front of her. Note to self: 5 minutes prior, I WAS the guy in front of her. Second note to self: Suck it up and realize all those things that Non-Californian drivers say about Californian drivers…are true.

Pass by the rubber necker accident, pass by the overturn accident…1 hour and 1.7 miles later. A few minutes after that, coming toward me, on the other side of the freeway is a speeding pickup truck with three Highway Patrol cars speeding after him. I have decided that this particular stretch of freeway is haunted. We need that old Leprechaun lady from the Poltergeist movies to come and “clean” this part of the road.

10:45 – arrive at camp, blood pressure somewhere around “EXTREME Road Rage” instantly diminishes as I walk in on the most peaceful warm up known to man, it involves good music, some comfortable yoga and really tuning into our bodies. I join in and begin to feel my muscles relax. Veronica’s got her crazy socks on and suddenly all is well in the world. It’s funny the things we take comfort in.

After a bit of this, we head out to the tennis courts to begin learning new work, what we call “Ron Frost Work.” Ron, a player-coach (meaning he’s on staff but also marching) writes some of the most musically inspired, logical, vocabulary-heavy, but easy to clean work I have ever learned. I’ve also noticed that this is the most tuned in and focused this guard as been in the now going on 3rd season I’ve been involved. Something good is happening here.

At lunch, Veronica has organized yet another healthy pot luck. Macaroni salad is like my kryptonite. I can never say no to it. However, I DO have a guard costume to get into, (hey, I’m a chick, I’m supposed to have a wacky self-image) so I lately have been saying “NO” to macaroni salad. But not camp weekends, knowing that I’m going to work it off and then some, so hand it over and keep it coming….keep it coming….. keep it coming… hahaha.

I head over to a big non-guard glob of people and have lunch with them. Mike Andrews, Chris Clavejo (50% of my “Big Brothers” that took care of me in Scranton), Rich Duarte and a bunch of others. (Sorry for messing up your Atheist joke, Rich).

One thing I did notice when I wandered by the guard staff area, there was a program for [musical/ballet/dance group name deleted for confidentiality reasons]. Knowing that they are throwing around ideas for our costumes this year, the thought of them using this as inspiration is awesome!!!!

Afternoon block is more of the same – learning, reviewing, learning, reviewing. This next part…only color guard folk will understand: some of the latest names of guard work: the “hipple,” the “nipple,” “roll it on your right boob,” “Viagra,” “jumpy skippy,” and “stinky flag” all made an appearance this weekend. (Hey….maybe I’ll make that a part of all my camp reviews: names for pieces of flag/rifle/sabre work….hmmmmmmm).

Dinner – I can never eat much at camps, (macaroni salad always the exception) and especially, I can’t eat hot, cooked food. I dunno why, I just can’t. So I grab some left overs from lunch: Hummus, cheese and salami, and an orange. I begin to nomadically wander about the island. Bitter sweet note: Steve Proud, who probably saved this corps enough money to buy a black jet with shark’s teeth by letting us use the island for rehearsals over the last two seasons, has accepted a job in another city so this will be our last camp at Treasure Island. However…..his new digs are Alameda. Hmmm…Treasure ISLAND…..Alameda….also an ISLAND…. Hmmm… “Oh Steve………” Heh.

Evening block – I dread evening block. Usually by evening block (and having been standing on cement ALL DAY) my legs feel like two bloody stumps and if I had a plastic knife I’d cut them off. Tonight is no exception. We head over to the hangar (which is completely dark and eerie….kind of Edgar Allen Poe-esque). Veronica (very afraid of the dark) and Todd and I (two very irreverent smart alecky kids) start trolling around for a fuse box in the dark and scary corner of the hangar. Veronica asks which one of the three boxes we think is the right one, and Todd responds “I don’t know, why don’t you ask that big guy in the hockey mask.” Heh. Veronica runs, screaming back to the rest of the guard and Todd and I continue trolling around to the other side of the hangar, finding these little rooms and dark hallways, trying to see if we can freak each other out. We also let our imagination run wild, knowing that this used to be a top secret island and imagined some of the rooms were secret interrogation rooms, where they used to shine a big light on some spy. Ever wonder what happens to those top secret interrogator guys after the war is over? I do. What kind of work do you go onto after being a top secret interrogator guy and do you put “top secret interrogator guy” on your resume? [/end digression].

So, unable to get the lights turned on in the hangar, we have to use the outdoor tennis courts (that are lit). It’s freezing cold, but we muddle through, review, get the ol’ muscle memory working and finish off the night performing for the gaggle of rifles across the way. They’re impressed. I’m happy. The rifles are happy. For this camp, we were able to bring in Chad Duggan who taught the Madison Scout’s guard a whole bunch of years up to a couple of years ago, amongst many other guards. Chad worked w/ our rifles for a bit and provided some consultation on what will prove to be, in my not-so-humble-sometimes-pompous-assed-opinion to be the coolest guard costumes in history. It’s always amazing to me the people we’re able to get on board to work with us. Amazing.

We head in and listen to the horns and drums go through the show. The guard always picks a place in the middle of the circle for maximum ear drum abuse. I kick off my shoes and am surprised that despite the much shoes on and shoes off I’ve done all day today, my socks are still white. (I’m always making weird, off the wall observations.)

After camp, I drag my aching bag of bones body off the island. I take a most amazing bubble bath and practically fall asleep in the tub dreaming of far off places, luxuriating like I am the Princess of Monaco or something. Thank God for bathtubs. Who invented them?

Sunday –

Shirley Dorittie, our “Performance Consultant” among other amazing things, is taking the full corps through a very interesting discussion. Shirley, long time color guard performer, instructor, judge, everything but the bus driver, got her Masters degree in Performance Psychology. We talked about the physiological, and psychological things your mind/body go through before, during and after a performance. We also talked about what happens to your mind/body when you make a mistake, how to quickly recover, etc. One of the examples she used was a recording of Casey Kasem doing his radio show and him blowing a head gasket during a recording that he messed up. There is just something funny and humanisticly (new word???) refreshing about the voice of Shaggy from Scoobie-doo copiously dropping the “F-bomb.” Haha.

The rest of the afternoon was much the same as Saturday, review, learn new work, review, learn new work and more review.

Towards the end of the afternoon, our staff shows us the sketches of our guard costume ideas and we talk, in depth, about some of the visual aspect of the show as we are listening to a recording of it. By the end, the hair on the back of my neck was standing on end. Yes, there will be a story told on the field. Yes, there will be a deep and introspective meaning the audience member can take from it. BUT, even if you don’t get the message, you will be entertained by 32 guard members completely engaged in the show and you won’t have to take any deep, introspective meaning away from it to understand what you just saw and you WILL be entertained. PERIOD. (Very important considering most people outside of California will see our show MAYBE three times).

After, we head over to the parking lot “field” where the horns and drums are running through the show. Some of the guard members are going to go through the work w/ the horns and drums. I am not one of them as I am going on my 8th hour of being completely frozen solid and since I’ve decided I am now the Princess of Monaco, I opt out.

I’m amazed and entranced by our cymbal line and mistakenly muse out loud that it would be kinda cool to be in the cymbal line. “Mistakenly” because Lee was standing right there and we need one more person in the cymbal line. I run manically screaming away from Lee as he tries to ply me from the guard into the cymbal line.

Leaving the island, I take one last wistful gaze at the sun setting over the Golden Gate Bridge and watch “The City” start to come alive with its nightlife across the bay. I have come to love this Island as a home. This season and last have been integral to the growth of the color guard. Being on this island has been a big part of that. I remember this one time (at corps camp…haha) instead of turning left to get off the island, I turned right, found a park bench right on the edge of the water and watched the sun go down over the Golden Gate Bridge. I’ll never forget the marina right next to our “cement” field. Looking at the boats floating around. Practicing in the same area “The Incredible Hulk” was filmed. The “naked photo shoot” that went on right next to our dust bowl field. Our potluck lunches. There’s just too many memories to even list. But just as one door closes……I wonder what is March going to bring us……………………

Here’s a link to a camera that, if you click on the picture and then move the mouse around, it will give you a 360 of the island.



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