Marching Band Takes Sarcasm Underground

Michelle J. Lee

Columbia Daily Spectator

If the Columbia University Marching Band's Underground Tour were

a play, it would have been Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot,

where two tramps wait for an enigmatic figure who never shows up.

The prank-playing ''Cleverest Band in the World'' never went under

the sidewalk.

This past Friday, a crowd of roughly 30 people followed the

Marching Band on this ''mandatory orientation event'' around the

campus, from Hamilton to Barnard to the Law School and back.

Along the way script-reader Seth Morris, CC '01, told jokes about

buildings, students, and the administration. Lion's Court was called

an eyesore ''so shabbily built that students could hold a riot and tear

it down in 10 minutes.'' Lerner Hall ''sells beer to distract from the

ugly post-modern interior,'' while Uris Hall is a ''cheap Japanese

transistor radio.''

During the hour-long tour, the band played various songs from their

repertoire, including Madonna's ''Like a Prayer'' and Black Sabbath's

''Iron Man.'' They also played ''Stand Up and Cheer,'' and a 30-second

''cut time'' version of John Cage's ''4:33.''

The band also indulged the crowd with a few more traditional pieces,

including Columbia fight songs ''Roar, Lion, Roar,'' and ''Who Owns

New York.'' Less traditional fight songs included reworded variations

of The Flintstones and Brady Bunch theme songs, which referred to

Dartmouth as a ''frozen basement,'' Yale a ''slum,'' and Princeton

students as ''stuck up preppies who keep out minorities.'' The band

also poked fun at Barnard, at one point singing ''we go to Barnard, we

all write for Spec.''

But what the crowd had really anticipated was entering the

underground tunnels.

''I've never been on [an underground tour] before and I love band,''

Angharad Coates, CC '02, said.

Normally forbidden to students, the tunnel system connects most of

the Morningside Heights campus buildings.

''I've only seen the tunnels once, when the door was open. It was

spooky and seems fun to explore,'' Shaun Hanson, CC '02, said.

''[The tour is] good,'' Mike Guerrero, CC '04, said. ''But when are we

going underground?''

Apparently, ''Never. It's all a lie,'' said one of the band saxophone


Band member Benjamin Collins, CC '03, offered a better explanation

for the false advertisement.

''[It was] most likely for the same reason we are called a 'Marching

Band' but don't actually march, or why the 'Holy Roman Empire' was

neither holy nor Roman,'' he said. ''Perhaps the tour used to go

underground. I honestly have no idea.''

Added Angela Richardson, CC '02, head manager of CU Marching

Band: ''I think the band did a good job. It was hard to get people to

show up on a Friday afternoon, but those people who came seemed

to have a lot of fun.''

The tour, which ended on the very above ground Low Steps, drew a

mainly positive reaction from the crowd.

''The puns and gags hit you so rapidly you don't get a chance to

recover,'' Hanson said.

Some, like Claudia Mejia, CC '03, enjoyed themselves but felt it

could be improved upon.

''You people suck,'' Reina Hardy, CC '03, said. ''This stupid tour didn't

go underground.''

''The cleverest band in the world is once again clever, and I'm not,''

Vipin Sandhu, CC '01, said.