January 15th, 2009

One of the oddest things I remember from my time as a student at UC Berkeley were the protests. This is a political school, a place where political activism has proven that it can work. And so people come there to be politically active and there is a protest, attended by at least five people, on Sproul Plaza, everyday. To be fair, at least one or two times a year something big happens and thousands show up. But the daily protests, to me, were always baffling: all that organization and passion just getting dispersed out into the general atmosphere.

Another Sproul Plaza staple is Eddie the Preacher, an elderly man with a baseball cap, backpack and Bible who speaks daily about the joys of life and Jesus Christ. There is a gray-haired man in white sailor pants and a crisp blue t-shirt called Yahweh after the name on said shirt. He speaks more to the mortal danger that the student population is in, being that it is comprised entirely of hedonsitic sinners who will burn and suffer forever in Hell, according to him. And then there is Rick Starr, crooning Sinatra into a microphone that he keeps plugged into a Nestle Quick can.

But what’s great about the University itself begins with the experience you can have just visiting the campus: it can be whatever your want it to be. Walk just a short distance to the northwest and you’ll find yourself in the serenity of rolling hills and a gently tricking creek. Just a few steps further and you’re in a real redwood forest.

OK, we’ve covered hyper-urban chaos and perfect pastoral tranquility, now let’s go east for random historical trivia. Here you’ll find the house used to film the chimney song and dance in the Mary Poppins movie. I can’t remember what department the building belongs to, so you’ll have to ask someone passing by, but you’ll recognize it for sure.

To me, this has always been a magical place. I could say more and more and more, but I would eventually have to stop short anyway. So I’ll end here by simply promising you that it’s worth a visit.

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