Visitor Learns Not to Mess with the Fence

Walking to the Sky is more than just a lifeless piece of art

Walking to the Sky is more than just a lifeless piece of art

Spencer Early, Beloved Campus Icon Correspondent

During one of the campus tours on November 18, at the most hallowed part of the tour — the Fence — a prospective student jabbed a knife into the Fence, presumably to see exactly how thick those 4,724 layers of paint were. Garrett Thornburg, the alleged perpetrator, claims to have been “surveying the progress of all the organizations that made the six-legged piece of history possible.  I figured the knife would give me a good idea just how thick the paint was.” However, the knife’s 5 inch blade was not long enough to go through all the paint, so Thornburg was unable to determine the paint’s thickness. To make matters worse, a whopping 82-ounce chunk of dried paint fell off the Fence.

“AAAARrrrgggghhhh!” an anguishing voice gasped, following the spilling of Fence blood.  CMU Police heard the cries for help and called EMS for an emergency paint-aid.

With the thousands of volunteers teaming up to fill in the hulking dent, the Fence appeared to have been repaired to proper working order overnight.

Thornburg felt relieved that the Fence was not utterly destroyed by his knife, and life seemed to return to normal. But on the third day after The Incident, he noticed strange things beginning to happen. At first, it was just little oddities, like the feeling that any picture of Andrew Carnegie on his numerous advertisemen- er, college info mailings — was staring intently at him, or little pieces of gravel from the Fence’s surrounding area remaining stuck in his shoes, even after he thought he had cleaned them out.

However, the weird occurrences began amping up, in both frequency and intensity. The mailings kept coming, even after he asked to be removed from the list, and he tossed and turned in his sleep, having nightmares of that horrendous cry he had drawn from the Fence.

When Thornburg was out for walks, he had to keep looking over his shoulder, feeling like someone or something was following him. Stationary figures kept watch, appearing in the distance and walking up nearby flagpoles. Individuals with brightly-colored shirts kept sitting awkwardly still across the room in restaurants.

One day, the statues from Walking to Sky finally caught up with Thornburg. We will never speak of his fate, but let it be a warning to any who would dare incur the Curse of the Fence.

Shady Bob and the Case of the Missing Tuition


The name’s Bob. Shady Bob. They call me that because I like to stand in the shade. I’m a private eye, and I happened upon a private investigation that readme might find interesting.


It all started when I was walking by the Carnegie Mellon campus, minding my own business like usual. I had just come back from a case of a missing dog. I solved it pretty quick, because as soon as I had arrived, the dog came bursting from the bushes and attached itself to my leg. Luckily I had on my anti-canine pants. Being prepared is what separates the rookies from the professionals in this business.


Anyways, some dame came up to me, asking if I would help solve another disappearance case. Only this time, it wasn’t a dog that had gone missing. No, it was this gal’s tuition. She said that she paid the money to Carnegie Mellon, as per the directions, and then she never saw it again.


I know what it’s like to have your money just up and leave on you. Seems to happen to me just about every time the rent is due.


This case intrigued me. I decided to take it on. The offer of payment in the form of Vocelli’s helped, too. As with most of my investigations, I began by checking the obvious places: under the couch cushions, behind the dresser, and in the client’s pockets. Despite finding a few pennies and a crumpled handout from a particularly aggressive person tabling outside of Doherty, the 50,000 dollars was nowhere to be seen.


I decided to look into the recipient of the money, Carnegie Mellon. The first person I came upon who looked like they could represent the University was a man with a mop. I asked him if he had seen any of the students’ tuition. He just laughed. I asked a professor and got the same response. Must be some in-joke for those inside the ivory tower, something a regular joe like myself wouldn’t understand.


It was in Warner Hall that I finally found some answers. The Admissions Staff were quick to respond. A little too quick, if you ask me. They claimed that the money went towards a world-class education, and that the return on investment was actually quite good. I got my education in the school of hard knocks, and it’s served me well enough in my line of work. On the way out, I pocketed some of the mints in my trenchcoat.


After telling the client what I had found, I took a breather at the Walking to the Sky statue. The dame hadn’t been pleased with my results. She kept muttering, “That’s what they all say.” I did convince her to make good on the Vocelli’s, however, which counts as a success in my book. Standing on the shady side of the statue, I sucked on a mint and congratulated myself on a job well done.


It was when I was reaching inside my pocket for another mint that my elbow knocked against the metal pole. I knew that sound. It was the sound of a hollow metal container, stuffed with money. I’d encountered it many times before, on previous investigations. I popped the mint into my mouth, and smiled into the wind. Shady Bob had solved the case.

CMU’s Hellish History


Ask an average CMU student what they think of certain features on the school’s campus – for example, that infamous “Walking to the Sky” statue. You’ll find that words like “kinda”, “weird”, and “eyesore” frequently enter into their vocabulary. Rarely, however, will you encounter words like and “monument to” and “Satan’s penis”. Or, in the case of the Randy Pausch bridge, “rickety bridge to hellspawn portal”.Yet such words are the sordid reality of CMU’s grim past.

Flash back to a Saturday morning in the early 1900’s. CMU campus was a wasteland, a patchy field of dying grass and unyielding soil. Any life that stumbled into the area don’t survive long- if they were lucky. Otherwise they were found days later, frothing at the mouth and lost within the folds of their own minds (you haven’t known fear until you’ve encountered a possum in this state). Understandably, locals avoided this “Satanic Triangle”. Enter Andrew Carnegie, famed Satanist and metalwork hobbyist.

For Andrew Carnegie, this was the promised land; Carnegie had long hunted for a direct link between the human world and his demonic overlords. He immediately set up camp in the area under the guise of an educational institute. Along with the College of Fine Arts, “Walking to the Sky” was one of the first structures he erected. And erect it he did – historical documents indicate that Carnegie originally commissioned “Walking to the Sky” as a monument to celebrate the very unholy member of Lucifer, the Dark Prince. Weekly Saturday worship services usually involved tying human sacrifices along its length and cranking the monument up to a proud stand. A host of demons would then traverse the Randy Pausch bridge to claim the souls of the hapless victims. Once the ritual was completed, the demons would journey back across the bridge and stop by Tazza d’Oro for a hot chocolate before retreating back to Hell with their fresh harvests and maybe a biscotti for the Dark Prince. 

Though both Tazza d’Oro and the demonic ritual have both remained untouched since they first originated during Lucifer’s Fall, the details have changed. Tazza D’Oro no longer opens on the weekends and the ritual has taken on a more symbolic form. Instead of real human sacrifices tied to a large metal penis, Carnegie Mellon binds the hope and dreams of their students to the statue, for the consuming pleasure of our demonic overlords in Gates.

Walking to the Cry

Photo Credit: Lydia Mankins

This past weekend the Carnegie Mellon community was struck with a calamity the likes of which it has not encountered since the tragic mutilation of the fence in 2012.  The little boy at the foot of what many students have called “an eyesore” or “a giant metal dick” has lost his hand.

Those not familiar with the sculpture should know that it is comprised of an steeply inclined chrome rod a few feet around in circumference which is climbed by several skyward bound ladies and gentlemen. The artist,  Jonathan Borofsky, once described the sculpture as “a celebration of the human potential for discovering who we are and where we need to go.”

This description struck readme as particular awkward given the placement of the various characters in the design. While several men and even, notably, women, climb the rod which The Tartan once described as “a huge phallus”,  the only black people in the piece stand ever looking wistfully up at their more socially privileged counterparts as they ascend.

To add insult to injury, these two statues, a little boy holding the hand of–presumably– his father, or maybe his creepy uncle, are accompanied only by one dudebro in a douchey baseball cap. The three grounded loners are also subjected to the greasy hands of passersby and to tacky posed photographs of freshmen and prospective students each day.

The child and father/creepyuncle cling to each other to console each other against the harsh truths of our society, staring up at the ass of a sky-walking white-woman.

Now, however, they can no longer brace themselves against their everlasting torment, as the child’s hand has been roughly dismembered from his arm. Laughing students further added to his pain, terror and humiliation by placing the hand jovially upon his petrified head in a continuation of their sick game of putting silly things on the statue.

We must ask ourselves, Carnegie Mellon, is this truly what we expect from our community? Do we not expect more from ourselves and our peers? Will you simply stand by as your classmates barbarically and gruesomely torture those around them based on race, privilege and the quality of animatancy?