The mournful monument: How it feels to be iconic yet forgotten

Lauren Glasby/File
Lauren Glasby/Staff

It’s the Campanile here, and I want to talk about the biggest issue in my life. Why did no one throw me a birthday party this year? Students have thrown me a birthday party almost every year since I was born on the UC Berkeley campus in 1914. It’s a tradition, one you 2016ers clearly don’t care about. Is it because you don’t understand everything I do? Do you not appreciate my talent and everything I bring to UC Berkeley? Let me just give you a quick refresher course on what I do every day to better your lives and hopefully you won’t forget next year.

First of all, you know Instagram? (Yes, I know the millennial vocabulary even though I have existed for over a hundred years. I spend all day every day standing still listening to students. I know more than you ever will.) I basically give you all those Instagram likes. If you didn’t have me, standing strong and powerful in the back of all your pictures, you couldn’t have a UC Berkeley-themed picture. Sure, you could take a picture in front of Sather Gate or Memorial Stadium, but nothing is more iconic than me. And you can tell them I said that. You need me for your Instagram pictures yet you take me for granted. Where would your Instagram account be without me? Like a Stanfurd student’s, that’s where.

I also allow you to walk all the way up my stairs to get a beautiful view of the San Francisco Bay. I let you in my doors and give you one of THE best views that northern California (or even the world) has to offer. You climb up those stairs and get out your selfie sticks, cameras, phones and whatever new technology you youngsters have, and you get to take pictures of the Golden Gate Bridge, the buildings of San Francisco and the blue waters of the Bay. And, please note that this further explains my first point: Where would your Instagram account, full of pictures and views of San Francisco, be without me? Try to imagine. I know it’s an unpleasant thought. But perhaps I will close my uncelebrated doors and shun your ungrateful faces.

Beyond Instagram and beautiful views, I provide you with the time every single hour of every single day. Do you even know how many days I have done that? Every hour I have to break from my napping or eavesdropping on students to ring my bells for the carillonists who come in. When the carillonists strike the keyboard, I have to move my bells to signify the time of day. It’s so exhausting and is more exercise than any of you have ever experienced. Those hills are nothing compared to the noontime concerts I give you. I have 61 bells, which is a ton of weight to pick up and move back and forth every single day. Replace that with your 5 pound weights, and let me know how you do.

Finally, you know when you’re at game day and you hear a song? Yeah, that’s me. Every year since the dawn of my existence I have played Cal spirit songs on game days. I play everything from “Fight for California” to “Big C,” and it’s exhausting and takes a lot out of me. Please see above if you’re still wondering why. Chiming once every hour is one thing, but playing an entire song is another. So next time you hear a Cal fight song when you’re heading to a game, do me a favor and throw me a thumbs up. And remember, I’m watching all of you from my perch 307 feet in the air. All of you.

And I hear all. And I see all. Just know that.

Basically, as you can clearly see, since you can see me from the freeway, I’m integral to the UC Berkeley campus. I am the main symbol of the University of California, Berkeley. I am greater than Oski, than Sproul and than the Free Speech Movement. I give you students so much and yet you didn’t throw me a birthday party this year. So please do throw me a party next year. It would mean a lot to me and would make all my hard work worth it. And also, I like presents.

Special shout out to the Daily Clog for reaching out to me and allowing me to write this post, for my namesake the Campanile di San Marco in Venice, my designer John Howard and Evelyn and Jerry Chambers who gifted me to the UC Berkeley campus. Without you, I wouldn’t be standing (and I mean always standing) here today.

Contact Esmé Brachmann at [email protected].