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Interview with the Bruin


By Aaron Smith

Published Jul 1, 2006 12:00 AM

Illustration: Marc Rosenthal

Solid build. Strong, chiseled profile. That air of quiet coolness. Even at UCLA, he manages to stand above and apart from the crowd.

We wondered what it's like to watch the years come and go, standing guard over Westwood Plaza. What must it be like to be not just any Bruin, but to be The Bruin — the statue that has stood, stalwart and true, in the heart of the campus for more than two decades?

All these years on Westwood Plaza, you must have seen a lot. Tell us about the early days.

Dude, I'm not that old! Everybody always thinks I'm older than I am. I got here in 1984. I'll be 22 in September. Most of these guys graduating this year are older than me.

I beg your pardon. My apologies.

Don't take it personally. I'm a bear. I growl.

Yeah, that was a little scary. I mean, you're a big guy.

I'm not fat! I'm preparing for hibernation. And this fur coat makes me look bigger than I actually am.

OK, didn't mean to say you were fat.

Sorry, brah, it's just they put me here right outside the John Wooden Center. All day I watch people go in to use those exercise facilities. Makes me a little self-conscious, you know?

Do you mind me asking how big you are?

All right, I'm a little over 2 tons. But it's all bronze, OK? And I'm 6-feet by 10-feet, so that's about right for my size, don't you think?

Sure ... definitely ... perfect.

I'm not really into high-impact exercise. Yoga's more my style.

I can believe it. So tell me, how did you get here?

I was a gift from the Alumni Association to celebrate its 50th anniversary. More than 900 alumni chipped in to get me here. The Olympic Village was here right before me. Before that, a long time before, did you know this used to be Westwood Boulevard? Yeah, it used to run right across campus.

So tell me, what are you worth?

Dude, kind of crass to ask, isn't it? I like to think I'm invaluable.

Yes, definitely.

But OK, I respect your curiosity. Originally, I cost more than $10,000. They tell me that's more than $35,000 in current bills.

Who tells you that?

Well, you know, I got curious once. I looked it up on the Internet. Not too long ago, the campus set up a wireless connection that covers the plaza. Now I'm Googling and Tagging all the time. But the blog is friends-only, so don't ask for access.

What's the worst thing that's happened to you here?

Once these guys tossed red paint at me. I thought it was PETA protesters. Later I found out they were just out-of-control Trojan fans. Now they put me in a tent and let me hibernate before the big games.

And what's the best thing?

The pictures, buddy. Everybody wants to get their picture with me. Standing next to me, riding me, putting their heads in my mouth. OK, that last one's kind of weird, but it's all good. This is L.A., you know?



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