Tuesday, April 27

The Campanile

Sather Tower, only known in the Bay Area as the Campanile, is visible from my parent's house in the North Berkeley hills. It towers above campus and, happily, one can know the time any time. It is probably UC Berkeley's most recognizable symbol, at least I cannot think of another one. Oskie maybe? The Campanile was completed in 1914 and opened to the public in 1917 (my first ride to the top in '76 or '77 on a school field trip). It stands 307 feet, making it the third tallest bell clock-tower in the world. It has thirteen floors and an observation deck on the eighth floor where the bells rest overhead giving one a slightly anxious feeling like, hey bro, I don't want to be here when they chime off (some of the Campanile's lower floors used to store fossils -- I love this tidbit). As for those bells: there are 61 of them or a full concert carillon. They range from small 19 pounders to the 10,500 pound "Great Bear Bell," which tolls on the hour and features bas-relief carvings of bears as well as the constellation Uris Major. During the Fall and Spring semesters, the carillon is performed from ten minutes at 7:50AM, noon, 600PM during weekdays, from 12-12:15PM and 6:00-6:10PM on Saturdays, and from 2:00-2:45PM on Sundays. The bells also toll the hour seven days a week between 8AM and 10PM. At noon on the last day of instruction each semester, "They're Hanging Danny Deever in the Morning" is played. Following that, the carillon is silent until the end of finals. (Sources: Wiki and UC Berkeley website).

While visiting Cal, I have a few free hours which I spend at Strawberry Canyon rec to enjoy the sunshine and swim a few laps. This was where we went back in the day, before hard-core swimming took over and we actually enjoyed the pool. I find a small patch on the green grass and am surrounded by undergraduate flesh. It is an orgy. As is the style, the dudes wear baggy trunks just above their Johnson while the girls parade themselves in barely-covering bikinis. A lot of "adjusting" goes on. I realise how outside their world I am so ease-drop like mad. The night before was Saturday - party! - and most of the youngsters complain about A) being hung-over and B) being hung over and studying for final exams. None of these kids in the library so they cannot be that bothered. The more studious read "Catch 22" or "The Brothers Karamazov" but this, I feel, somehow a less than honest effort- and besides, the drinking tonight at "Raleigh's" which, I ascertain, is a bar in Berkeley (located, to be precise, on Telegraph and Haste. Want to join me?). The girls talk about so-and-so and who did what while the bro's discuss investment banking internships and private-equity. They smack hands (the "Obama rock") and check each other out. It is all very tribal with strong sexual current, like, everywhere. It sure was not like this at Brown. Or maybe it was and I have forgotten? Or perhaps I just missed out. Probably that.

Photo from UC Berkeley.