The Baby Boom generation brought irony to the college marching band tradition.
At Yale, our band quit wearing uniforms, abandoned precision formations, and rather than keeping up the old ways, preferred to mock them with a combination of deliberate chaos and obscene symbolism. That’s the Ivy League for you.
One can argue with the choice, of course, but it was perfectly consonant with the old Prep School tradition of “Cool Sophistication Ãœber Alles”.
So, since my day, decades ago, the band game at certain Ivy League schools became “What can we do this game raunchier and more outrageous than we did last week?”
The Columbia Marching Band apparently has been operating in the same manner as the Yale Precision Marching Band: no precision, plenty of raunchy humor. However, the Zeitgeist has changed. Bacchus, Silenus, and the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers have been packed off to the retirement home, and grim, censorious Judge Hawthorne (who has no sense of humor at all) is back and witch-hunting enthusiastically again.
Theyâ€™ve been disbanded!
Columbia University has drummed out of existence its famously irreverent marching band â€” known for its phallic formations and cheering for the other team during home games.
Administrators at the Manhattan Ivy League institution warned the renegade band last semester that it needed to apply to become a recognized student group if it wanted any more funding, instead of operating under the auspices of the athletic department.
Skeptical band members say the move was payback for them hitting the wrong notes with higher-ups.
â€œWe are not perfect, but we always try our best to speak truth to power, punch up as much as we can, and I just donâ€™t think thatâ€™s something Columbia wants to hear,â€ said the bandâ€™s travel coordinator, Isabel Sepulveda, 20, to The Post on Friday â€” the eve of the schoolâ€™s first home football game.
The band, for which members donâ€™t have to audition, has been a thorn in the side of administrators for years.
In addition to the off-color formations and cheekily cheering on their schoolâ€™s rivals, the 45-person unit band played CeeLo Greenâ€™s â€œFâ€“k Youâ€™â€™ tune outside Trump Tower in 2016 and knelt during the national anthem at football games last season.
The bawdy music brigade also famously instituted â€œOrgo Night,â€ which involved popping up at the campus library with instruments in hand â€” on the eve of organic-chemistry finals. Orgo is a nickname for organic chemistry.
When campus higher-ups clamped down on the noisy prank, the bandâ€™s website read, â€œSince then, we have performed directly outside the library to make sure no one misses out â€“ especially the Vice Provost.â€
The band defiantly waited till this semester to apply as an independent group, but the school said they were too late. It nixed their already severely reduced budget and banned them from official sporting functions.
Trombone player Quentin Rubel, 20, said, the schoolâ€™s action strikes at the very heart of what it means to be a college student.
â€œThe band has always been a very outspoken source of counter-culturalism on Columbiaâ€™s campus,â€™â€™ he said.
But the school is just as defiant. It is tapping outside entertainment to keep fans engaged during games and creating a new spirit organization to be overseen by a faculty director, band members said.