OT--Not For the Faint of Heart

I just finished up reading [u]Not For the Faint of Heart[/u] by Jeremy ";Spike"; Van Wert.  The book is subtitled ";My Journey to Manhood in the Santa Clara Vanguard,"; which should give you insight into the subject of the book.  It was a great read, I could not put it down.  Spike basically gives a blow-by-blow account of his 3 years (1996, 97,98)  in the tenor line at SCV, the first of which was a serious struggle for him as he tried to keep up.  It is a great look into not only his struggles in a world-class drumline, but into the growth of the corps during a time when the corps rose form a middle-of-the-pack top12 corps to nearly winning a DCI World Championship.  It is a fascinating look into the inner workings of a corps I have admired for over 25 years, but actually knew little about until reading the book.  One of the things I found most interesting as an educator was the different approaches used by the various staff members during these years and the reaction for the line to those varying styles.  If you're a percussion educator, this aspect of the book alone will give you some serious food-for-thought. 

If you're looking for something to add to your Christmas list (I can never seem to come up with stuff), or something to give to a friend or colleague, I highly recommend it.

Here's a link...



";Spike"; frequents his myspace page and has lots of great info there. Look him up under the title of his book.

It's Christmas, and this is a great gift for the Vanguard Alumni you grew up try to beat in drums when you marched BD. :) I'm getting it for 2 of my red team buddies; one who actually marched with Spike in 97.... Spike will autograph them for you if you ask him. Great Guy!
Reading Jeremy's book is pretty fascinating (even if it does make me feel old). It's great that he's managed to recount his perspectives to share an experience that not many get to have. This was a very important time in the corps' history and for those of us involved, really helped shape us as individuals and as a team. I'm sure this book was a hefty labor of love for Spike to produce, and I hope as many of you as possible will support his efforts.

Thanks for offering the plug here Tom. Definitely a great place for it!
Jim / Murray--  I'm kind of curious... Did you guys and the other staffers know that Spike was recording the daily happenings on tour with a tape recorder?  I would think this would raise an eyebrow or two.    One of the things I loved about the book was all of the stuff about Myron and his talks with the corps.  The excerpts about Ralph showing up and making his presence felt were very cool also. 

Spike followed a very similar path to the corps as Jim did.  Casella was in Spirit of Sunnyvale before Spike was. I think that Spike may hold the distinction of being the very last Spirit alumnus to march in SCV after Spirit folded.
  I should read his book but with family and video games I can't say I've got a fat bandwidth for it these days..

I heard that, in the original manuscript, he dotted all of his ";i's"; with hearts.
Hello everyone, Thank you so much Tom for the plug. It is always an unexpected pleasure to be recognized by people in the community. I would like to answer a few of the questions. With respect to dotting all ";i";'s with a heart. I hadn't thought of it but that would have been a great way to drive my editor crazy! Maybe next time. As far as Jim, Myron and others knowing they were being recorded, they did not know. As a matter of fact I kept it so secret that only the people on either side of me knew because they kept seeing me reaching down to my bag and pressing record. I can say with certainty that recording some of the things I recorded, if it came to light at the time, I would have been in very big trouble. I never intended to use the recordings for evil. In fact I really didn't have much more of a plan for them than archiving a special time in my life because I am a sentimental guy. I took all the recording and have made them digital but still guard them with great care. Some of the recordings in the wrong hands may give people the wrong idea about some of the people involved. Either way, they were key in making sure I could quote people exactly almost ten years after the fact. (I have a nice little clip of Jim crying so hard after 1997 finals that he could hardly get a word out. That's a special one.) Some have asked why this time in SCV history was so unique that it would require a book. As Jim acknowledged, that era was a time of great progress in a short time. We were incredibly close as a drum line and have since become quite a fraternity. We went from a section that had resigned itself to being beat over and over, to a section that was a highly aggressive, showmanship oriented, flam drag machine that won drums under Jim's leadership. If you read the book, there is more to this. I don't want to give away the ending, but an event happened that tied us all together forever. It was to this memory I wanted to write a book to memorialize my brothers and what we accomplished through hard work and excellent instruction.

As for holding the distinction of being the last Spirit of Sunnyvale member in SCV, I would love to claim that but I cannot. Color Guard members Lynn Hakes and Lisa Armstrong who marched SOS 1993 were in SCV after I aged out.
Jeremy Van Wert,

Good to see ya, bud.

Here're a few questions about your ";journey in to manhood";:

A few years ago, several people on the percussioncommunity.com had caught wind of a rumor that I was cut from the SCV drumline in 1998 and were riding me pretty hard about it. And while it is true that I ";cut myself"; from the audition process, after having moved down to Santa Clara, (and, at times, have been a flagrant personality on many of these forums), the story that was being told was that I had flipped out in the middle of a rehearsal one day, thrown some sort of grand temper tantrum over not being able to do a particular marching exercise and was subsequently cut from the drumline. And while you, I and Jim Casella know that nothing of that form or magnitude ever happened, the people at the percussion community didn't, which is why I wrote an (admittedly heated) response to those accusations. Importantly, one of several evidences that I used to assure my critics that I wasn't ";cut"; was the fact that nobody from that snare drum line had the technical proficiency with their hands that I did (and still do). As an aside, I'll be the first to admit that, having tried to walk in to a program as well-developed as the SCV, without any prior drum corps experience, I would have had to play mega catch-up in order to keep up with the drill demands and might not have been able to do it at all.

In response to my attempt to debunk this myth, and though I had no idea you existed at the time, you sought out my personal email address and sent me a 5 or 6-paragraph letter, explaining that I could never hope to be a part of a drumline as prestigious as ";The JONZ,"; as you kept calling it, that I didn't have what it took, that I had severe psychological problems, which is why I was cut from the SCV, that I would likely spend the rest of my life in some kind of institution, while you were married, had a ";high-level"; degree in psychology, dominated DCI all season long in 1998 and drove a BMW. You informed me that you saw patients like me at work all the time and that I should seek counseling, if I ever hoped to ";find my way back to reality,"; as you put it. You also explained that you and several of your friends had exchanged laughs over my post on the percussion community.

When I responded to your hate mail, I told you that you shouldn't be so arrogant about having played in what was probably the weakest sub-section of a drumline commonly regarded as the Blue Devil B-and-half group. You replied, ";Well your [sic.] too stupid to march in either group."; I also told you that if you brought your ivy-league attitude up to Southeast Portland you'd get your ass beat. In response, you said that you were going to turn me in to the police for ";violent harassment,"; which was worth a chuckle, given that you were the one who'd contacted me. Significantly, I eventually issued you a sincere apology for having offended you, which you didn't return, and to which you responded with some more high-brow psychology-oriented nonsense.

Importantly, all of this took place in 2004, which probably would have been right around the same time you were authoring your book here.

Incidentally, when I ran in to one of the instructors from the '98 SCV at Guitar Center one day, in 2005, I mentioned your email. (I actually enjoyed talking with him about drumming a lot more, but I thought I'd inquire). That instructor gave me some background on you and assured me, in no uncertain terms, that you were one of the most problematic, un-respected, mentally screwed-up members of the SCV drumline. In fact, if I remember right, he mentioned that he took you aside one day and told you that, if you weren't under 18, he would physically kick your ass. (Kind of an ongoing theme with you, apparently). He also mentioned telling you some more specific ";stuff"; in 1997, but I won't go there.

More recently, I put together some thoughts on the structure and philosophy of the DCI judging system and posted them on a discussion forum for drumset drummers. And though the topic had absolutely nothing to do with you and wasn't offensive to anyone to anyone on the planet, let alone anyone you know, you showed up on that forum and dropped off two or three more paragraphs about how narcissistic I was, how you had marched at the top levels of DCI and how I should be ignored.

So my questions are these: Isn't it kind of ironic that someone like you would be writing a book about ";manhood";? Isn't it funny that, if you're developed enough a person to write a book about character, you behave in such an immature, petty, confrontational manner? Isn't it uncanny that, while character always leads to humility, you seem to have none? Isn't it strange that, even with your being so bright and qualified, you write with grade school grammar and syntax?

And most comically, if you're such a ";high-level"; psychologist, don't you think it's just downright perfect that you don't know how to spell ";narcissistic";?



I remember the Spirit of Sunnyvale.

I marched in a group called the Argonauts when I was a freshman (1992), and then again when I was a sophomore (1993). And though it was only summer youth band, I remember winning every caption at every competition we went to. I also remember, like, 20-pointing the Spirit of Sunnyvale and winning the snare drum I&E contest at 15, though I'd only been playing drums for 2 years.

Kind of poetic justice, I guess, that you'd become such a monumentally superior drummer to a talentless, narcissistic, psychological disaster like me.

I thought that of all places that these forums would be free of this type of thing. I guess that the educational tone of this company, its forum members and the people who provide this space for us is completely lost on a few people.  I have ";wronged"; in one way or another many people on my road to adulthood and people were not always ";at their best"; when dealing with me. Putting it out for the world to read in this space seems very, very wrong. Jim, I respectfully request that you please close this thread. Thank you.

Michael Huestis
I must agree with Mike, this forum is one for expressing one's own views of the percussion community and the percussion world as a whole. This forum is not meant to cause problems, nor to be the place for talking down to one another. Understood that there are always people with different views, it doesn't make things any better when you express your personal opinions of a person or their actions in a public manner such as this. So, that said, Jim, I second Mike's respectful request to close this thread. This thread was a good read while it lasted, and I am going to bookmark Spike's page for the book (I am going to be giving it as a birthday present here in a few weeks).

It is such a shame to see that these forums, this thread rather) has become a place where people do things like this.

On a lighter note, Happy Holidays to all!

and I guess to be politically/universally correct Happy/Merry Chrismahanukwanzakah!

I have to agree with the delete/shut this post down.  No good can come from the post.

No offense, but we'd prefer to keep this a dirty-laundry-free zone. I'm going to go ahead and close this topic.
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