By Joe Stevens
A Non-Traditional Tradition
As Columbia wallowed in season upon
season of winless football in the mid-1980s,
a game within the football game flourished -
the Lions' halftime show.
A bare-bones and unconventional outfit,
the Columbia band was prone to bizarre
behavior, which typically left spectators
scratching their heads and wondering exactly
what they saw.
After the Lions' atypically successful
8-2 season in 1996, the band reached a
crossroads and had to decide how it would
develop. After a brief debate, it decided [Actually, it wasn't really a debate -
to continue its tradition of wacky antics. The Administration said "clean up" and
During Columbia's 24-7 home loss to we've been struggling with them ever since]
Pennsylvania, the 27-member outfit showed
its classic form.
The band's announcer, Martin Maraz, [That's "Mraz"]
started the halftime show in front of the
3,900 fans at Wien Stadium with the
proclamation: "Back despite our anarchistic
tendencies, it's the Columbia University
This announcement followed the staid,
professional-sounding Penn band, whose
announcer referred to Columbia's band as
"small and cheap."
But the Lions' band does not mind its
minuscule size. The band received undivided
attention from the fans as it played three
songs in its "halftime salute and gala to
things dead and gone."
Its first tune was an offbeat tribute to
John Denver, who died in a plane crash last
week. The band had worried about offending
fans of Denver, but Maraz retorted: "We're
not making fun of him. We're playing a
tribute." [And if you believe that, there's this bridge you might be interested in...]
Maraz said Columbia's band started its
unconventional ways in 1963 and has put on
countless memorable performances, including
one in 1970 when it re-enacted the invasion
of Cambodia with a fire on the field. [We wish.. We just did a formation of flaming villagers.]
Maraz, a junior, said that in his
opinion, the band's greatest feat in his
three years occurred last season on a visit
to Cornell. Band members sabotaged one of
the two pools of water next to the football
field, which flow red in support of the Big
Red. The band dyed one of the man-made water
[Okay, hold it, hold it, stop the article.
Mispellings and slight factual errors i can
handle, but this is just plain nuts. First
of all, there are no pools of water. Martin
was talking about the red C's in the middle
of Cornell's football field. The reporter
must have heard it as "red seas" Anyway, in
1995, someone painted the C on the Columbia
side blue. As for whether or not the deed
was done by three Band members on a cold
November night, here's what Martin tells me:
"I repeated 3 times to the reporter the
actual event: 'The red Cornell C, you know,
the one on the field, happened to become a
baby-blue C.' I then said, with great
inflection, 'But the Band knows nothing
about that, we were 70 miles away, asleep
in our beds.' Each time he didn't understand.
I then said, 'Look. There are 2 red C's,
for Cornell, on their field. *Somebody*,
we can't begin to guess who, got on the
field and painted the C blue, like
Columbia blue. WE DON'T KNOW ANYTHING
ABOUT IT. Get it?' I then winked 7 times,
elbowed him in the ribs, and punched him
in the liver, but I don't think he
Now back to the article.]
On Saturday, after playing Columbia's
alma mater, Maraz announced a roundabout
song lead-in that referred to Russian
president Boris Yeltsin as a party animal.
After Maraz explained to the crowd, "Nothing
says old-style, imperial power like the
B-52s' Love Shack,' " the band played the
popular dance song.
As an English major, Maraz predicted
that his fate, when he leaves the band, will
follow the path of previous band members.
"I'm going to end up asking for change on
116th and Broadway," he said.