The Imaginary Biographies of the Harvard BandAP Photo/George Frey
Danny Margolis, drums: A sophomore political science and government major from Teaneck, New Jersey, Danny runs a campus neocon blog called Francis Fuk-ya-mama. Traffic is light, but the commenters are all intelligent, thoughtful people. He listens to Immortal Technique in the gym because it’s important to consider the other side of things. Also, he has learned, like all Harvard grads, that sometimes the best way to appeal to the common folk is to wrap oneself up in delightful high-low contradictions. His favorite drummer is Mick Green of the Rollins Band.
Tabitha Engstrom, cymbals: A junior linguistics major from Glenview, Illinois, Tabitha, known as “Pithy Bithy” to her friends, wrote and directed 15 plays during her three years at Glenbrook North High School. Seven of those plays featured a protagonist named Tabitha Engstrom and all 15 took place in the late ’50s. She is one of six people in the Harvard band who wears a cape around campus. During the spring of her freshman year, Tabitha tried acid for the first time and wrote a long, meandering letter to Jeremy Lin in which she tried, unsuccessfully, to defend the People’s Revolution. Lin never responded, but a love for basketball was born in Tabitha’s heart.
Willie Bornhofft, instrument unclear: Might be the playing the role of the guy who skanks in the Mighty Mighty Bosstones. When he’s not traveling with the Harvard Band, Willie, a senior anthropology major from Bainbridge Island, Washington, is hard at work on his senior thesis: The Sexual Economy of Lillith Fair: An Ethnography. Willie was suspended for the spring of his sophomore year at Harvard. His roommate, when reached for comment, told this reporter that Willie had failed his classes because he became addicted to Chat Roulette. “I’d come back to the room,” the roommate explained (he wishes to remain anonymous), “and Willie would have his laptop on a stool and he’d be straddling the webcam and air-thrusting like a Chris Brown video. It was horrible.”
David Souza, band director: Yes, he’s one of “the Souzas.” He also plays Wes Anderson in indie porn spoofs.
Judith Butler, flute: A freshman philosophy major from Lexington, Massachusetts, Judith’s actual name is Katie Strong. Before matriculating at Harvard, Katie started going by Judith Butler as an homage to her favorite post-structuralist. (She considered going with Michelle Foucault, but she did not agree with much of History of Sexuality.) Judith has taken her namesake’s theory that gender is performative to another level at Harvard. On Thursdays, she attends class dressed as a vagina and never breaks role. At parties, she aggressively walks up to fellow students and asks, “So, what do you know about Wicca?”
Max Martinez, trumpet: A junior premed major from Sherman Oaks, California, Max really does not want to be in this photo. He joined the band because the travel afforded him a respite from his roommate, who smells terrible and stores jars of piss in their shared closet. Max is all right by me.
Patricia “Patty” Bookbinder, clarinet?: A sophomore East Asian studies major from Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Patty successfully petitioned the Harvard dining staff to offer gluten-free options at every meal. She enjoys Zen Buddhism and books about Zen Buddhism, although she secretly wonders if a life without desires is worth living. Is Zen tantamount to nihilism? She knows this is an embarrassing question to ask, but it burns her up every day. She will figure this out once she starts working as a consultant after college.
Robert “Chippewa” Johnson, flügelhorn: A junior education major from Durham, New Hampshire, Robert hopes to run for office in his hometown. Right now, he hopes to start out small at the school board level and work his way up. Robert got his nickname during his freshman year, when he claimed to have invented a sexual maneuver called “The Chippewa.” The particulars of the maneuver are too graphic to post here. Just know that it involved a crossbow and running barefoot over broken glass.
Addie Addleson, Ziploc Freezer Bag? Seriously, why is she playing a freezer bag?
Sean Flaherty, saxophone: A freshman Celtic studies major from Hingham, Massachusetts, Sean despises anyone who goes by “Shaun” or “Shawn” and does not find it tacky or even rude to berate anyone who doesn’t spell it S-E-A-N. He is the president of Harvard’s Bloomsday Society and can be seen in South Boston on St. Patrick’s Day, shaking his head with great disgust at all the foreigners who “just don’t get the point.”
M. Bison Chung, saxophone: A senior computer science major, M. Bison named himself after his favorite video game villain. This is fairly common practice in Hong Kong. M. Bison’s brother’s name is That Angry Flower From Final Fantasy III. Don’t let the exuberant face fool you; M. Bison idolizes Silicon Valley technocrats like Peter Thiel and Meg Whitman. He reads Ayn Rand around campus without a hint of shame or remorse.
Ramesh Pillay, trombone: A freshman English major from Centerville, Ohio, Ramesh has written five novels and four chapbooks of epic poetry. During a three-month trip to India after his high school graduation, Ramesh claims to have slept with four girls. He does not think it’s weird that the narrators of his novels all happen to all be Slavic women. Ramesh moderates 10 different NSFW subreddits, all of which feature girls flashing their privates in public. He was ardently against the Harvard Band’s “Harlem Shake” video.
Cyril Stoddard, trombone: A senior undergraduate studies major from Sudbury, Massachusetts, Cyril maintains a 2.0 GPA. He is the 93rd member of the class of 2013 to receive a chin implant.
Sam “Koresh” Stein, trumpet: A fifth-year senior from New York City, Sam has not shown a human emotion during his time at Harvard. For the past two years, he has subsisted on a diet composed entirely of Saltines and M&M’s. In 2025, Sam will become the youngest head of Goldman Sachs in the firm’s history. The economy will collapse soon thereafter.
Sung-Woo Kim, clarinet? A junior divinity major from Winnetka, Illinois, Sung-Woo heads the Korean Christian Coalition on campus. He delivers fiery, impassioned sermons about Harvard’s role in the outlying communities, all of which belie a troubling undercurrent of cultural dominance. Sung-Woo’s parents are Buddhists and they don’t quite understand what happened to their son. He has tried, unsuccessfully, to convert every member of the Harvard Band by inviting them to Bible study, except Robert “Chippewa” Johnson, whom Sung-Woo suspects is “a gay.” In 2018, Sung-Woo will be imprisoned for embezzling millions of dollars from the Korean Super Church of Suburban Chicago.
Filed Under: Jay Caspian Kang