A columnist of heart and mind

A columnist of heart and mind
Interviewing the animals at Children's Fairyland in Oakland. L-R: Bobo the sheep, Gideon the miniature donkey, me, Tumbleweed Tommy the miniature donkey, Juan the alpaca, Coco the pony

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Go Bears!

(Above: Oski and the Cal rally committee after a recent victory in the Big Game. The axe will soon be painted blue and gold.)
Today, Berkeley will be flooded by football fans in blue & gold and cardinal & white, making their way to the newly renovated Memorial Stadium for the 114th Big Game.
This year is the 30th anniversary of The Play, the last-second kickoff return in 1982 that featured five laterals and an upside-down trombone player and turned a 25-19 Stanford win into a 25-20 Cal victory, knocking Stanford out of a bowl game.
But this weekend is not the actual anniversary of The Play because the athletic directors of the Pac 12 decided to move this year's Big Game from its traditional date, the third Saturday in November, back to mid-October.
To their credit, both Cal athletic director Sandy Barbour and her counterpart down on The Farm, Bob Bowlsby, fought this abomination tooth and nail. But they were outvoted by the other athletic directors, who were seduced by the lure of television money.
One of the casualties of this switch is the traditional Friday night Big Game bonfire rally in the Greek Theater, which always comes to an emotional climax with the recitation of the Andy Smith Eulogy, written in honor of the coach who led Cal to five straight undefeated seasons before dying of pneumonia in 1925.
All you can see is the flickering of candlelights, and the Greek is so hushed you can hear a pin drop. I get chills up and down my spine just thinking about it.
But this year, due to the switch, they can't have a bonfire rally because Bob Dylan already reserved the Greek for concerts this weekend.
But these are Cal students we're talking about, and they don't give up easily.
"We're going to have a rally at Edwards Field instead, and it's open to the public," says rally chair Kalina Kwong. "Because of fire regulations we can't have a bonfire, so we'll have pyrotechnics in its place."
But wait! There's more!
"We did some research, and we found that bonfire rallies weren't always limited to the Big Game. Back in the Andy Smith era they had bonfires before almost every game. So we're going to have a bonfire rally on November 9, the night before the Oregon game."
But bonfires don't come cheap. Kalina estimates it will take about $15,000, what with the insurance and fire safety and security measures, as well as the cost of renting the Greek Theater itself.
To date, the kids have raised $11,000, which still leaves them four grand short. If you'd like to help, you can do it online at givetocal.berkeley.edu (search for "rally committee") or by sending a tax-deductible check to Bonfire Fund, ASUC/rally committee, 400 Eshelman Hall, Berkeley CA 94720.
Please write "bonfire" on the memo line and include your return mailing address so they can send you a receipt for your donation and a certificate of appreciation.
BTW, The Axe, which goes each year to the winner of the Big Game, is mounted on a plaque that lists the scores of all previous Big Games.
Whenever Stanford wins, the Stanford axe committee changes the score of the 1982 game to 20-19, negating The Play and giving Stanford a "victory," however spurious. When Cal wins, the Cal rally committee changes it back to the proper 25-20 score again.
Hey, Cal fans: Ain't schadenfreude wonderful?