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An ode to the one, the only, the truly incomparable Leland Stanford Junior University Marching Band

LINDA A. CICERO/The Stanford Daily

Oh LSJUMB! How I love thee. Let me count the ways (in a manner that is convenient for this article). You welcomed me with open arms and gave me something I never knew I needed: organized chaos. You had been my pipe dream ever since I had heard the legends about you. My high school teacher had told me about your most infamous moments: from being banned from the state of Oregon to trying to tip an airplane. Granted that these stories have been debunked as myths, my impression of the band was still that of an eccentric force of chaos. Yet, I didn’t think such chaos could have been so warm – that such chaos could have been so central to my Stanford experience.

You, my beloved, are a living embodiment of a primal scream. “Playing” the saxophone that you so eloquently bestowed onto me allows me to scream from the top of my lungs, to scream to the universe that I am here. That I am truly incomparable. That I am one. That am only the beginning of what’s to come. You, my dear beloved, are truly unique.

When I was this still a ProFro lost during Admit Weekend, overwhelmed by whether I could survive at such a prestigious university, you surprised me. You played and told me that everything was going to be “All Right Now.” I believed you. Your wacky costumes, your spirit, your quick transition to fountain-hopping quieted my fears that Stanford would suck the passion and energy out of me. But then you reached out to me. One of your wonderful Dollies gave me your business card and encouraged me to join. Her exact words: “The less experience, the better.”

It’s almost like you knew my childhood self could never afford an instrument. It’s almost as if you didn’t care who I was in the past. It’s almost like you knew me. It was at that instant I fell in love – and I fell in love hard.

You would play multiple times before I got the courage to ask you out. You played at NSO. You played at Band Run. You played with my heart. Alas, you were the one extracurricular I could not join. With a seminar at 7:30 PM my fall quarter, I was denied your love. I would watch my friends play at football games and I would watch with longing eyes at Big Game as your other, more devoted lovers would play.

I admired you from afar for the rest of my fall quarter. I loved how you wrote your own music, how you live-tweeted and let me design your half-time shows. But, more importantly, I loved your effortless beauty as you ran across the football field.

Then came winter quarter. As Camp Stanford got washed away by the rain, I began forgetting about your glorious existence. With p-sets due practically every other day, I found myself attending almost no sporting events. I found myself deprived of something. That something, however much I struggled to identify, was you.

Then came week seven. You were just a tweet on my timeline. One of my followers had blessed me by retweeting you back into my life. I took a double take and there he was, MTL playing what appeared to be a saxophone. I never took the president of our university to be a tenrz, but there I was entranced by what could have been. My jealousy then began to overcome me. The FOMO was in full force and I knew something had to change.

So, I joined the band after a Twitter exchange. It may have been week eight, but I figured there was no better time to add something else onto my plate than week eight of winter quarter. Walking into the Band Shak, I felt a foreign yet familiar feeling. As the band began rehearsal, I could hear the sweet and loud declarations of what once was my hopes and dreams. Joining Tenrz, I found myself quickly realizing I could not play a single note right nor could I remember how to place my fingers to save my life. Yet, I still “played” and I moved and I enjoyed my time there.

Then, you invited me back. Even better, you invited me to your band-quet. As an outsider, I observed a family emerge. I observed a community love another, and I knew I was going to continue to be a part of it.

In a phone call back home, I told my mom the news.

“Which band?” she asked.

I scoffed as if there was any other than the one, the only, the truly incomparable Leland Stanford Junior University Marching Band.

Contact Richard Coca at richcoca ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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Richard Coca

Richard Coca

A dark horse and a work horse, Richard strives towards bettering himself and helping others on the way. He understands that perfection is a process, and one that isn't necessarily easy. He currently plans to major in biology and maybe minor in Twitter. Contact him at richcoca 'at' stanford.edu.