The Great Gig In The Desert, Part 1

Well, now that all is said and done, maybe they’ll stop making those fucking music videos.

Don’t get me wrong – I take pride in the fact that my university has become a muse of sorts for so many songwriters and video artists. It’s sort of like how George Harrison’s wife was the inspiration for Harrison and Eric Clapton’s best songs, only instead of a beautiful woman torn between two musical geniuses, it’s a middle of the road state college with a really good football team, and the songs themselves are mostly repurposed hip hop beats about Chip Kelly and special teams, and basically all of them came out in the space of about three months.


Would you have liked ‘Bell Bottom Blues,’ ‘Layla,’ and ‘Something’ if they’d all come out in the same three months? Well, you probably would, come to think of it, because those were all really great songs. ‘Teach Me How To Duckie’ will not stand the test of time, I imagine.

The Oregon Marching Band was flying to Glendale to watch what had been hyped up in all of those corny songs and music videos for so long – a lucky 220 people granted the opportunity to watch history in the making. How does one even begin a story so pregnant with emotion, anticipation, joy, and anxiety?

Well, I guess you’d have to start with The Sign.


Maybe the Rose Bowl last year was necessary to make my last bowl trip with the Oregon Marching Band a good one – once I’d seen the worst a trip could be, I could come to better appreciate something that, by Holiday Bowl or Pac-10 Championship standards, would be mediocre.

On Day One of our trip, when we were on the ground in Scottsdale, Arizona, we were in high spirits because our buses and plane had departed their respective locations at roughly the time they were scheduled to on the itinerary. Again, most college marching bands view bitching as their birthright, but we were all walking on air because we had successfully driven to an airport and flown to another state in the 21st century. After last year, there was nowhere to go but up.

Not only did we not wait around on these for hours at a time, but we never rode them to a 7 mile parade, either.

We checked into the hotel, sprinted a half mile to Safeway to pick up some Supplies, dropped of our Supplies in our hotel fridge, and then jumped on the buses that took us to Saguaro High School, where we would be rehearsing for the weekend.*

*I should take this opportunity to mention, having driven through some of Scottsdale, that it is pretty much a city of a quarter million people built around a gigantic golf course. While in Oregon golf courses tend to stay behind fences or in groves of trees, in Scottsdale roads curve around or simply bridge over golf courses, as though the golf courses had been there before human infrastructure, and the urban planners had opted to preserve them at their own inconvenience.

Saguaro High School recently won the 2010 4A Arizona State High School Football Championship – a truly remarkable feat, given that their field could only have been less hospitable to human life if it had the Sarlacc Pit in the middle of it. The field was brown and dusty, with tiny tan wisps of what may once, under a very broad definition, have been grass.

"I think I've got black lung, pop!" (Photo courtesy of Jack Hunter, Oregon Daily Emerald)

And there, taped to one of the locker room doors outside the football field, was The Sign:

It was, for lack of a better word, perfect.

You see, at every bowl game I’ve been to, the Oregon Marching Band develops a catchphrase of sorts for that game – something annoying and obnoxious pertaining to the bowl’s location that we can yell whenever there’s a lull in the conversation.

Sun Bowl, 2007 (High pitched voice, rapid creschendo) : eeeeeeeEEEEEEEEEEEEEELLLLLLLLLL PAAAAAAAAAASOOOOOOOOO! …onward!

Holiday Bowl, 2008 (Yelling) BAH NAH NAH SAAAAN DIEEEEGO!

Rose Bowl, 2010 (Southern accent, emphasis on first syllable) PAS-adena!

But we hadn’t thought of one for Glendale yet. Sure, we’d kicked a few around, like, (Spoken with admiration) “Fuckin’ Glendale!”, or (To the tune of the old Fox Sports Network theme song) “Ba-na-na-na Glen-dale!”, but none of them had quite stuck.

The Sign, though, stole our hearts instantly.

BCS National Championship, 2011 (Excited) OH YEAH GLENDALE! YEAH!

It completely captured all the blind hysterical excitement of Oregon’s postseason, the unadulterated frenzy that no hip hop parody overlaid with footage of the Civil War fake punt could quite top. There’s no purer expression of glee, save for perhaps an episode of Glee.*

*I should stipulate that I don’t watch or particularly enjoy Glee, but it’s been a while since I made a joke and I’m coming up on my deadline so this is the best you’re going to get.

After our last rehearsal at Saguaro High School, we took The Sign with us. It wasn’t stealing – it was a piece of construction paper pertaining to a football championship that Saguaro had already won, so if anything we were saving the custodians a job by removing litter from the premises.

At that point, The Sign was more ours than theirs anyway.

Truman Capps will hopefully be back soon with the next installment – whether it happens tomorrow or not depends on how quickly he can catch up on the school he missed while having the experiences he’s blogging about right now.