By stern on Mar 06, 2008
As a high school student, the original Funky Winkerbean comic strip captured my life pretty well, especially Harry Dinkle, the world's greatest band director. Mr. Dinkle was fond of proclaiming that "Football fields are for band practice," while Mr. Santoro, my own marching band director, insisted that "Band prepares you for life." For a while, it looked like Funky was winning the art imitates reality race. Funky Winkerbean is in its third incarnation, having touched on serious life issues as well as some of the root causes of band nerd harassment in the last three decades. All of the characters have aged, although being well-drawn means you age more gracefully.
At our staff meeting in Korea this week, we had dinner that featured traditional Korean songs and dance. That's Jim Baty, Susan McMynn, Anand Atre, Bob Sokol and yours truly posing with the band. And no, I didn't holler out "Freebird" before their last song. I was actually humming along with the tune, much to the surprise of Korean GSE manager MJ Sim. I recognized the song as the "Korean Folk Song", a piece that had been arranged for wind ensemble in the mid-1970s and was the centerpiece of Mr. Santoro's branching out from the traditional holiday fare for our winter concert. In one of those weird wrinkle in time moments, I recalled the song, from memory, after not having played it or heard it for 30 years. Partly I think it's because so many other parts of high school were wrapped around band (fuzzy band helmets off to you, Mr. Santoro, wherever you are, because you were right) and partly because truly learning and performing a piece of music is no different than learning an algorithm: forgetting the Korean folk song would be as difficult as forgetting the nuances of e to the i pi which I learned around the same time. Or perhaps, like Funky Winkerbean, I'm just drawn into new situations with my entire history indelibly inked.