The Official History of the M.I.T. Marching Band covering the years 1978-1984 and including numerous Illustrative Anecdotes
by Scott Berkenblit and Boris Yost
Revised 30 October 1989
The Early Years
Of the Marching Band's original organization, only rare smidgeons are known. In the pre-historic era (starting about 1978), the M.I.T. Marching Band was a serious affair. It was even run with the assistance of the Music Section faculty. They did regular field shows and played real music. Attendance was about 50 or 60 humans, all of whom were talented instrumentalists. The official uniform was the red t-shirt with a trumpet logo on it. This was also the era of the LSC Fanfare.
Rise and Fall of the Smith Administration
Because of a lack of humans, money, and psyche, the Marching Band was reorganized as an ASA activity, under the direction of John Smith, and completely without the direction of the Music Section. For various reasons, it was reorganized as silly. The premiere silly event was the Rosy Ruiz Memorial Running Band. Rosy was a woman who cheated to win the Boston Marathon in 1980 (she took the T). After this, John Smith organized a band to retrace the route Rosy didn't run. It was a semi-success, as well as the first Marching Band hack.
Somebody called the Boston Globe about this, and a reporter was dispatched to cover the event. The reporter interviewed John, who was acting rather weird while describing the event and the organization. At the end of the interview, the reporter asked for John's name for the paper. John replied, "John Smith," to which the reporter responded with the now-famous question, "What's your real name? Again John replied (truthfully), "John Smith." The reporter supposedly shredded his notes and walked away in disgust.
John was also a prolific music arranger, and he and his friends arranged an extremely large quantity of music, some of which is still in the M.I.T. Marching Band music library. It ranges from barely OK to very bad, and sports a wide variety of ridiculous titles.
John's last year was 1981. Apathy was very high, and John let the organization die. It did. The music disappeared somewhere.
1982: The Triumphant Year 1 AB (A Band!)
In 1982, Karin Lohman and Jean Moroney took over the dead carcass of the Marching Band. Jean decided that it would be fun to have a band again, especially if she could run it and run it correctly. She conned her friend Karin into helping. Karin had never been in a marching band before. They wrote a notice for the Freshman Packet and had it printed on yellow paper. The response was very good, so they managed to get some money from FinBoard and formed a marching band. The notice called for a meeting on Kresge Oval during R/O Week, at which Karin passed around pink index cards for a mailing list. They also asked if any of the cretins who had appeared would like to assist with field shows and music. Favorable responses were received from such notables as Joe Wagner, Andy Marshall, Steve Lentz, and Boris Yost. With Karin and Jean, they effectively became the first Marching Band ExecCom of the Modern Era. During this era, the "official" MITMB stationery, bearing the letterhead of the "Banging Association of Calithumpia," came into use.
One thing that a band requires is music. John Smith had had it last; he said that it was in the Baker trunk room and that he would get it. He said this for three weeks. Finally, he confessed that he had given the old music to someone who had recently moved. In other words, its whereabouts were unknown. Karin was in tears. This had an effect on somebody, somewhere. The music appeared, magically, a week and a half later. Some of it, mysteriously, carried the stamp of Brattleborough Union High School.
The original field show was actually written out and copied for all involved. It worked out fairly well. Karin also attempted to direct a pep band. This didn't work very well. She asked for volunteers, and Boris Yost stood up and took over. This set a precedent for many later Marching Band decisions.
By the end of the football season for '82, Karin and Jean were aware that being on grades means that one has less time to spend on silly things like running the Marching Band. They had the constitution changed so that elections would take place at the last football game, along with the first annual MITMB cookout. Karin asked for volunteers for officers, and got responses from Joe Wagner, Andy Marshall, Steve Lentz, Scott Berkenblit, and Boris Yost. These names were actually printed on real ballots, one name to an office. Miraculously, these people won their respective elections by landslide margins.
Near the end of the football season, Tom Galloway joined the band. Tom was a former Yale student, first year senior, who was forced out of school by members of the faculty that didn't get along with him well. He migrated to MIT to play in the AI Lab and try to get into MIT grad school in course 6-3. He still had a grudge against Yale. He was a former member of the Yale Precision Marching Band and still had connections there.
Tom wanted to hack the Harvard-Yale game (which was at Harvard that year) using the MITMB. Karin had connections with the Technology Hackers Association. The plan was for THA to tap the PA system and play a tape during halftime. The tape would prompt the audience to hold up cards that spelled "MIT" in red and white (they were told that the card stunt would spell "Beat Yale"), while the members of the MITMB would spell "HA!" on the field. The band entered the stadium disguised as members of the Yale Precision Marching Band (i.e., wearing white pants and blue sweatshirts and carrying silly instruments). This part of the hack was surprisingly easy and completely successful. Unfortunately, THA's tap was discovered and unhooked. Instead of the original hack, the band just took over the field for a short time and spelled out MIT. In addition, everyone there was witness to the hack of the year: DKE's celebrated balloon hack.
In IAP of '83, MITMB bacame Pep Band for the basketball season. It was run by Boris Yost with an assist from Steve Lentz. Joe Wagner, our illustrious president, was not there. Nevertheless, it was moderately successful. During the summer, Boris was the only one around, so he did everything.
1983: The Year of Fascism
In the fall of '83, things were in a particularly high degree of disorder, mainly because Boris was running the group, doing nearly all of the work, and making all of the decisions. We didn't march at all, because we had an insufficient quantity of humans. However, the quality of the music was good. Boris, the leader and director at this point, was pleased and amused at this---the MITMB could become the world's only marching band that didn't march. Instead, it was a reasonably good pep band. 1983 was also the first year for true cheerleader abuse and obnoxious behavior, courtesy of two upstart trumpet players, Scott Berkenblit and Neal Hoyer. Neal contributed the ultimate marching band accessory of all time, the Official Cowbell of the MIT Marching Band. The famous triangle-with-exclamtion-point symbol made its first appearance on the 1983 schedule. Because there was no marching involved, we lost the non-instrumental crowd, and apathy in general was fairly high.
The Communist Revolution
On Election Day, 1983, the weather was rather disgusting. Because of this and the fact that no food was served, only four people showed up for MITMB elections: Boris, Neal, Tim Shepard, and Deb Meinholz. "This isn't an election, this is a coup," someone correctly pointed out, and the leftists took over. Deb wasn't interested in being an officer, so she left. We needed five names to give to the UA, so we called Scott Berkenblit and Betsy Parker and convinced them to join the coup. Neal assumed the title, Minister of Paperwork, Scott was Minister of Finance, Tim became the Minister of the Arts, Betsy was Minister of Propaganda, and Boris took the title, Minister of Security (the big guy who stood between the band and the football team, holder of the instrument room key, and in charge of keeping Scott and Neal quiet).
Every revolution must have its popular hero. Joe Wagner, our illustrious ex-president, had not attended an event since he was voted into office. Thus, the choice was obvious. Neal created the announcement of the coup which included the first appearance of the Josefski Fyodor Wagnerovich caricature. Since then, MITMB announcements have been filled with leftist drivel, propaganda written to deceive the masses, and Monty Python quotes.
Scott and Neal, as Ministers of Finance and Paperwork, respectively, went to a FinBoard hearing to acquire funding for the 1984 season. They were very lucky to appear immediately after the MIT Skydiving Club, a small organization asking for parachuting equipment at $5000 per outfit. FinBoard was not very receptive to this, and extensive flaming and haggling occurred. Scott and Neal appeared, asking for a mere $110 for an organization many times the larger. It took them less than five minutes to get it. At the end of the hearing, the FinBoard chairman asked Scott if there was anything else he desired. "No, no thanks. Well, actually... um... could we have another $1000 for a new parachute?" FinBoard gave us $160 instead of $110.
The 1984 season was a fairly typical one, highlighted by doing halftime shows thought up only five minutes before the game, abusing the cheerleaders, creating our own silly cheers ("Go papayas..."), and introducing the freshmen to the random ways of the MITMB. The Official Cookout of the MITMB was repeated in 1984. Following it there was a call for volunteers to serve as officers for the marching band and thus end the communist rule. However, only five people were persuaded to run for the five offices, so they were ratified by a verbal vote of yes and yes only. Also at the cookout (a semi-fiasco marked by an excessively hot fire and incompetent work on the grill) was the first ceremonial sacrifice of SPAM by fire.
The end of the reign of James (Fall 1995)
James "not a vampire" Moon ended his second term as Marching Band President early as the last football game was cut short by artic conditions and, well, that ever outstanding play of the football team. To James's crys of "Freedom at last," Dennis Evengalista took office as president. So began the reign of Dennis, as did my illustrious reign as secretary renound for actually continuing the marching band history after 10E1000000 years. Charles Santori remained tresurer, Joel Sokol became vice president, Chris Bruce and Joel shared music director, The ambassador to the alien nations was reserved for a particularly guilible freshman. [Insert other officers I forgot about].
Upon this momentous occasion of succesion, the annual SPAM sacrifice was called for. In this sacred ritual SPAM is sacrificed to the marching band god for a good season the next year, with plenty of new victims er.. wackos er.. recruits and well, for the Boston weather to be not totally unbearable.
Later in the year we played such noteable gigs as the Field Hockey game, a couple of basketball games, the Roadkill Buffet Show, Scared the heck out of the soccor team in the middle of the field hockey game, Had a wonderful IAP where we did marching band on ice at a D-league ice hockey game.
As the new 1996 season begins, Joel "we don't charge a performance fee" Sokol has secured us the Cambridge 150th something rather parade.
Thus is the illustrious history of the MIT Marching Band. The primary thing to note is the blatant lack of thought that preceded what has become our tradition. Marching Band will live on; it cannot die now, because there is something to pass on to future marching band members. Josefski forever!!