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.