In July, MIT students are back at home or otherwise away from the campus, but a few hardy souls (those with summer jobs or nothing better to do) hang around all summer. They're as patriotic as the next person, although the next person in Cambridge is likely to be a Young Spartacist and determined to smash the state. That doesn't mean they can't enjoy a nice fireworks display, especially when it is accompanied by all your favorite pop ditties rendered senseless by the Pops. John Philip Sousa, W.C. Handy, Burt Bacharach, Lee Greenwood (okay, maybe not him) - the Pops will play them all. Plus, they will render a stirring rendition of Tchaikowsky's "1812 Overture", complete with cannon.
"Watch that intonation, sucker!"
"I pity the foo' who interrupts my rehearsal!"
Trongone was short, animated Bostonian who looked a bit like a penguin when he was conducting the orchestra. He had a thick accent ("Hahns! What am I heah foh!?") that I only figured out when I got to Boston and heard others of its type. But Mr. T knew a lot about the music business and had a lot of stories to tell about being a musician and a conductor. He could talk about greats like Stan Kenton and Mitch Miller (who we even got to meet personally), and he aspired to send his students on to careers as storied as theirs. But first they were going to have to work on their intonation and get rid of those scrapey horn sounds. He told us about the bad old days, when the musicians had to form a union and fight to get royalties on their recordings. He also told us about the Pops. Mr. T was a big fan of Arthur Fiedler, even if we weren't.
The cartoon above was drawn in 1982, when unemployment skyrocketed to 10.8% by Christmas. A year earlier, the Yankees, Dodgers, Phillies and Royals had won their respective divisions during a strike-shortened season, but the summer of 1982 was very cruel to them, and none of them made the playoffs.