by Con Chapman
BRADFORD, Indiana. Saturday afternoons in the fall are a chance for college football teams to shine, but at perennial doormat Bradford College fans don’t get excited until the Fighting Otters head to the locker room at half-time. “Let’s face it,” says Emmett Bivens, a sophomore business major, “if our football players were any good, they would have gone somewhere else.”
But the Bradford College marching band, known as The Pride of Southern Indiana, is in another league, regularly invited to march in bowl game parades and winner of a number of prestigious awards. “They put us on the map,” says Dean James St. Andrews. “Everyone here just loves them—except for Professor Helmholz.”
The dean refers to chemistry professor Gottfried Helmholz, who regularly rails against the band’s six-figure budget in letters to the editor of the student newspaper, and by stage-whisper grousing in the faculty lounge. “Why are we subsidizing that fool in the comic opera outfit?” he complains to this reporter about Bronislaw Adamczak, the band’s director. “Their goofy hats alone cost $50 each, while I have to make my own Bunsen burners out of scavenged motorcycle parts.”
The feud between the two men escalated when Helmholz circulated a petition that would have subjected Adamczak’s salary to faculty senate approval, and the white gloves came off. “You should teach physics,” Adamczak shouted at his nemesis across the auditorium, “because your gonads are sub-atomic particles.”
But Adamczak had a more powerful weapon than mere insults at his disposal. He had the 135 members of his band, which he deployed at this month’s homecoming game to skewer his rival in a half-time show that has brought threats of a libel suit from Helmholz.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Adamczak says to this reporter with a look of innocence on his face. “We performed a very dignified tribute to America’s victories in two World Wars over the warlike—some would say barbaric–people of Germany.”
And indeed, the line between personal attack and national slander blurred, as the Otter band first formed a waving American flag, then the letters “Helmholz Sucks!” with a rotund tuba player forming the dot for the exclamation point.
“’Helmholz’ is a very common name in Germany,” Adamczak says. “It wasn’t directed at anyone in particular, just the boorish type of male so common among the nation that thinks it’s great sport to invade Poland.”
When this reporter points out that “Helmholz” didn’t make the list of fifty most popular German boys’ names for the period from 1957 to 2000, Adamczak demurs. “Who are you gonna believe,” he asks, his face a picture of high dudgeon. “Me, or the lying internet?”
Thanks to http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/ for the sweet images.