Saturday, October 11, 2008

Strike Up the Wisconsin Band

The Wisconsin Band was suspended last week for conduct unbecoming a band. Actually they’ve been on probation for two years for conduct unbecoming a band. Not shoplifting like some other bands, but much more sophomoric. The Band violated probation; something about booze, hazing, and sexual misconduct. They were apparently celebrating the 25th anniversary of Animal House.

What do you expect from a band whose mottos are “Eat a rock” and “Root, Hog or Die.”

The University imposed a written code of conduct on the Band in 2000, which is apparently as effective as laws against corruption by public officials. Forget codes of conduct and double secret probations. Simply subject the band members to the same drug and alcohol tests as the football players.

That the great band with its full plumage and regimented movements could be so undisciplined calls for a drink, or two, or better yet a pitcher of Milwaukee’s Best.

Imagine that; booze, sex, harassment, hazing at Wisconsin. The University of Wisconsin, one of the nation’s great academic universities and professional drinking schools with an otherwise outstanding band, has a drinking problem. Just shocking that the off-field activities of teenagers could spill over onto the band field simply because the bars run from the Capitol to the campus. Happy Hour was banned in the bars so now it’s served on the field and in the band busses.

President Charles Van Hise gave the nation the Wisconsin Idea a century ago, whereby the “beneficent influence of the university reaches into every home in the state,” one of the distinguishing hallmarks of public higher education. Today’s band represents the extra-curricular heritage of the Badgers.

Now we know how the Band soars to new highs. Pay close attention in the future to the high notes.

If you are going to be suspended anyway, why not emulate John Belushi and Delta House?

Present a new repertoire comprised of German drinking songs, Polish polkas, with occasional Irish drinking songs for variety. Convert empty kegs into steel drums, giving Wisconsin the most unique percussion section in the world. To signify harassment, perform the always classic folk tune, “Have Some Madeira My Dear.” The Band’s anthem should be “300 bottles of beer on the wall,” one for each band member.

The Wisconsin Band is not to be confused with the rag-tag, in-your-face Stanford Marching Band – a band of brilliant lost souls, who have repeatedly been suspended for political incorrectness, obscenities, and the standard alcohol issues. Banned in Palo Alto, banned at Notre Dame (anti-Catholic program), and banned in the entire state of Oregon (devotion to the Northern Spotted Owl). 1986, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1994, 2000, and 2006 are all years of infamy with the Stanford band. The band was suspended for the UCLA game in 1986 for public urination at the University of Washington game the week before. So far, the Wisconsin Band has only been suspended in Madison, but can still catch the Stanford Band.

My goal in life is to watch the battle of the two bands at the Rose Bowl. .

The Stanford Band’s most infamous moment, The Play, wasn’t even their fault. The Band stormed the field in the 1982 Big Game with 4 seconds left, but the play continued as Cal players weaved their way through the Stanford Band. Cal’s Kevin Moen ran over the Stanford trombone player, Gary Tyrell, to score the winning touchdown. Cal still drinks to that.

The Wisconsin Band should learn one vital lesson from the Stanford Band. The ritual pregame breakfast includes beer and doughnuts.

However, the Band was reinstated on Thursday, in time to perform against Penn State. The bandless Badgers lost at home to Ohio State last Saturday by 2 points. The Athletic Department does not wish a repeat failure.

Recently, the band director of the UC Davis band accused the band of sexual harassment, but that’s another story.

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