Columbia Daily Spectator Nov. 12 2002
by Phil Wallace CUMB Wakes the Echoes of the Hudson It's a Saturday morning. I'm on my way to Penn for the Lions-Quakers football game. However, thanks to an error by the Columbia bureaucracy, I'm forced to find alternate means of transportation to Philadelphia. Since Columbia Athletics didn't bother to send down a rooter bus, I'm on the marching band bus. I look around and see bandies in blue and white rugby shirts, cheerleaders in skirts, but no sign of Catholic League President Bill Donohue, who has apparently conceded defeat after his shellacking from Band Poet Laureate Andy Hao on MSNBC. The result is a packed bus, filled with enough school spirit to bring a smile to Athletic Director John Reeves's face. As the bus begins to roll, the band begins to sing "Roar, Lion, Roar," and soon adds alternate lyrics for the other Ivy schools with lesser fight songs. Led by senior Spirit Manager Charlie O'Donnell,they sing: "Roar, Quakers, Roar, / You know that you're the scourge of Philadelphia, / Fight on for empty-headed jocks, / While those high school seniors all consider you a safety school, / And laugh at you, / If they apply, they're desperate, / Roar, Quakers, Roar, / 'cause you're the 'Ivy' school we all ignore!" I had never felt more secure in my decision not to apply to Penn. This band bus trip was different from most, mainly because of the presence of the cheerleaders. Apparently, in an effort to continue suppressing fan support, Columbia does not pay for its cheerleaders to travel anywhere on the road. They only go to the Penn game, because the band is nice enough to take them along. A competition of sorts breaks out between the two groups, reminiscent on the rap battles in the new Eminem movie 8 Mile. While the cheerleaders impressively sing profiles of themselves to the timeless tune "Shabu-yeah," they prove no match for the plethora of witty lyrics from the "Cleverest Band in the World." The short and raucous bus ride comes to a close as we pull up next to Franklin Field. "We're the most famous people here," Band Manager Thomas Berman quips. I thought about mentioning Penn star receiver Rob Milanese but quickly realized he'd never been on the front page of the New York Times Sunday Styles Section. The game itself is a dud. Columbia plays a close first half but falls apart in the second, losing 44-10. Among the game's few highlights was Rob Milanese being held to only 46 yards receiving, and the experiences of sophomore script reader Averill Leslie. As Leslie went up to the press box to read the halftime band script, a Penn security guard informed him, "You know, we won't be responsible if you get beat up after you leave here." Fortunately, Leslie was spared the royal rumble treatment from the often classless Philadelphia fans. On the way back, the band is disappointed by the Columbia loss but remains in high spirits. Personnel Manager "Country" Dan Binder is the most philosophical. "The point is that people look at it like some sort of ideological right and wrong. When you win, it's right. When you lose, it's wrong. At Columbia it's much more complicated. The key is to have school spirit rooting for a mediocre football team. It's so much harder than rooting for a winning team. Losing is a learning opportunity. Winning is great, but you don't always learn from winning," he says. I couldn't have put the trials and tribulations of a Columbia fan any better. I enjoyed the band bus trip to Penn so much that I go with them again to Harvard. Once again O'Donnell led the troupe in rounds of alternate lyrics. "Roar, Hahvahd, Roar, / And sing in that atrocious Boston accent, / Fight on for asses clad in tweed, / While those silver spoon-fed preppies haven't had a sip of beer, / Or a date in years, / M.I.T. geeks have more fun, / Roar, Hahvahd, Roar, / And pardon me, would you happen to have any Grey Poupon?" The alternate lyrics continue for every Ivy school, and then "Roar, Lion, Roar" renditions are sung for Satan, Bobbit, creationism, evolution, and Beta (sung entirely with barking noises). Then the Band sings rounds of "To Hell with Pennsylvania" with jokes so vulgar that Spectator probably wouldn't let me publish them. No group or student organization is spared. The jokes are offensive, insulting, and funnier than anything I heard in last year's dud of a Varsity Show. The next day Leslie goes to the Harvard pressbox to read the band's script, only to find that the Harvard Stadium tech crew has seemingly turned down the volume of the PA system. The crowd barely hears a joke about a controversy with Harvard Dining Services reportedly mislabeling cafeteria food. "Officials in Harvard dining services, desperate not to lose their jobs, blame the mistake on the computer system. Nice try, guys--Princeton admissions already tried that one last summer. But food's not the only thing that's mislabeled in Cambridge--Soldier's Field? Please. This place has more draft dodgers than a Clinton family reunion. But this debacle is no surprise to the Columbia Band--we've known all along that Harvard brats couldn't tell the difference between a hot dog and an ice cream bar without their mommies there to tell them. In honor of fine dining, then, the band now forms a meatball and plays 'Living On A Praline.'" The game is another Columbia loss, this time 28-7 to Harvard. Afterward, the bandies reflect on the game. "For the fifth straight week, the other band's script was mostly about us," Berman says. And while the football team may have lost Berman adds, "We've been undefeated for 40 years." Still going strong, the Columbia University Marching Band is considered by many to be the best part about Lions football. Under the direction of Drum Major Rich Lipkin, their music is sounding better too. The incident with the Catholic League has only made them stronger and more famous. "It is honestly the coolest thing anyone can do at Columbia," first-year band member Madeline Goss, recently made famous by the Spectator's Thumbtack Tales, said. "Except for me," CUMB Travel Director Zach Leiwant quips back in typical irreverent band humor.