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CUMB F.A.Q. Version 1.69 - August 2011
Frequently Asked Questions about the Columbia University Marching Band
What are are you guys all about?
It's a sunny autumn Saturday afternoon. You're at a college football game. It's halftime. A marching band comes out with feathers in their hats and sabers in their hilts. They march in perfect unison out to the center of the field, where they form the initials of their university. They play Also Sprach Zarathrusta. Look at their stoic, concentrating faces. Look at the precision with which they all keep step. They practice for hours to get things just right. They take this -very- seriously. But who cares? Who's entertained by that? The whole marching around thing doesn't make any sense to us. So we run around on the field in between formations. In the late 1950s we started to use the power of the public address system to deliver a script. Over time, the show grew to center around the script, with formations designed to accompany the punchlines and songs used between jokes to keep the non-stop action flowing. Also, in the 60s or 70s, the Band started to take on groupies who couldn't play anything. Sometimes they were funny or otherwise useful to the Band. We decided that a marching band has no right to discriminate against people who didn't play anything, so miscies (miscellaneous) were introduced. For more information about them, read ahead. Anyway, this kind of marching bandery became known as the scramble format, and we became known as a "scramble band."
What the @!#$& is all this nonsense about G(tb)²?!?
Ah, the top secret formula for wholesome goodness, G(tb)² can be found anywhere the band passes through: On flyers, in wet cement, carved into the back of John Harvard's head, (no, not the statue, the actual corpse) scratched into Mt. Sinai (this really is true, we have pictures) and encoded on a CD-ROM on board a spacecraft on the surface of Mars. The earliest written record of G(tb)² is on an old script from 196? (we'll check on the exact year), but alums from as early as 19?? (once again, we have to check the archives) have revealed that they know the true meaning. Obviously, we're not going to tell you here. Duh. If you must know, all you have to do is join the Band and get initiated. It's as easy as falling off a log and into a gorge.
How do I join the Band?
Real simple, folks. Show up at a practice, game, or whatever. Ask. Presto, you're in the Band. It's nice if you play an instrument and/or are funny, but that's not absolutely necessary either. You must be a member of the faculty, staff, or student body of Columbia University or one of its affiliates. You must be a person, not an existential void. When you appear, in uniform, on the field at three football games or in the stands at two basketball games, you officially become a bandie and can vote in elections. And if you stick around until initiation, you become a full-fledged bandie. This means you are authorized to learn about G(tb)² and certain other things. You also have to be initiated in order to run for a spot on the Managing Bored.
What is the initiation?
Oh, wouldn't you like to know. All we'll say is that it happens during football season. Anyone present during initiation will be initiated. So if your little brother is around, he will go through everything you do. On the plus side, this means he will become a full-fledged Columbia bandie and get G(tb)² security clearance.
How is miscie pronounced?
Miss key. Rhymes with whiskey.
The band insulted my major religious deity/political hero/provincial sensibilities!! How can I best express my outrage?
Send all complaints to:
The Columbia University Marching Band c/o Lee C. Bollinger 60 Morningside Drive New York, NY 10027
Do you really post bail?
I'm glad you asked. You'll fit in well. Anyway, in the event that a bandie wound up in jail somehow, we really (really!) would all chip in and post bail. Really!
Have you really gotten all that media attention?
Yes, really. We've be on/in/affiliated with Late Night with David Letterman, The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson , The Curtis and Lisa Sliwa Show, New York 1 News, Dutch National TV, Chinese TV, ESPN, MTV, The Howard Stern Show, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Post, Newsday, The Dallas Morning News, USA Today, The Seattle Times, The LA Times, The Washington Post, The Atlanta Constitution, Sports Illustrated, Wired, and the hit movies Turk 182! and Game Day. For more information, see our News.
What kind of uniforms do you guys wear?
We've got these great BARBARIAN brand rugby shirts and four-color (white is a color) t-shirts that the Band will sell you. The other part of the official band uniform is white pants. By "pants" we really mean "ass-coverings". In other words, a white skirt counts as white pants. A white dress is white pants. A white boiler suit is white pants. A gigantic white sock is white pants. A diaper is white pants, unless it's one of those pink-is-for-girls/blue-is-for-boys Huggies. White jeans are white pants if and only if they are sold as "white" - if we let you get away with very pale blue jeans, then the next guy would want to wear their slightly-less-pale very pale blue jeans, and in a few years everyone would just be taking the field in blue jeans. Unacceptable. White sweatpants are not white pants, because they look bad. Especially if they have a logo. Especially if the logo says "Syracuse". White shorts are not white pants, unless you paint your legs white (not Caucasian white, though). For those of you too embarrassed to ask the salesman at the GAP for white pants or unwilling to ask your grandfather for the bottom half of his leisure suit, we have a tailor come in before our first game and fit people for white pants.
Why are white skirts white pants but white shorts aren't?
It's only fair. You get to pee standng up.
How is CUMB pronounced?
Come. The B is silent, like in the word bass.
Mommy, where do scripts come from?
Any bandie who's feeling particularly clever shows up in the band suite on the Sunday night (or other Sunday nights) before the event in question. The scriptwriting session takes place when the Poet says it will, typically late on a Sunday night. We throw around ideas and discuss them and whatnot, and the Poet Laureate takes notes and later weaves them into a cohesive script. Football scripts are turned in for censoring - uh, I mean approval - and are read to the Band at Thursday's practice. We have been known, in the past, to rewrite entire scripts on the bus to the game. That's just the kind of on-the-spot-clever people we are.
You mean you don't play instruments?
Well, sorta. We obviously love our trumpeters and drummers and other music makers - without them, we'd just be a bunch of hoodlums. Once in a while, though, someone comes along who is funny or otherwise useful but doesn't know their brass from their elbow. These people, known as miscies, are welcomed into the band with almost as open arms as new instrumentalists are. In addition to being clever, miscies hold music for the instrumentalists, dance (could you imagine the Band playing Hava Negila without a miscie hora?), or play "miscie instruments" - objects whose purpose is to create visual delight instead of aural.
What's this I hear about a CUMB SWAT team who pulls pranks and steals stuff from other schools?
We haven't the slightest idea what you're talking about.
What is Stew Leonard's?
It's this place we go to whenever we take a trip north. There's nothing like it. It's a great way to break the boredom (what boredom?) of a long bus ride. Bring money.