Brett Wilson

The Story of Miles Nioga

This story is one of the traditions of Bowles Hall at UC Berkeley. It is traditionally told at the end-of-year awards banquet, and also at other times of the year when people are gathered and a story is called for.

This version is reproduced as best as I can remember it from the definitive tellings of Brendan Bolles (pronounced the same as the building). President of the Bowles Hall Association in 1996–1997, Brendan was a master at telling this story with high energy and motions to go with all the parts.


Miles Nioga was a merry old soul and a merry old soul was he. Miles thought that he had a “roommate problem.” Now, Miles’ roommate also thought he had a “roommate problem,” but that’s another story. You see, Miles wanted the window closed (at this point, everybody in the room shouts “or open!”), nobody can really remember which, and his roommate wanted the window open (everybody: “or closed!”). Miles finally decided he had enough, and told his roommate, “If I find that window open (everybody: “or closed!”) one more time, I will shit on your desk!”

Several weeks went by, and everything was fine. But one day, Miles came home and found the window… in the offending position. So he assumed the offending position (narrator crouches down) and shat on his roommate’s desk.

After this, some people said, “this guy is pretty crazy, maybe we should give him some kind of award.” But everybody said “no, come on, there’s a lot of weird people, we can’t give him an award,” so the incident was forgotten.

Time goes by, and it’s time for the yearly canoe trip. Miles Nioga is excited he thinks “canoe trip… water; water… fish; fish… fishing!” and so he goes out and buys himself an entire set of fishing equipment, despite not knowing how to fish. But an overnight camping trip gets him thinking “outdoors… camping; camping… hiking; hiking… hiking boots!” and he goes out and buys himself a brand new pair of expensive new hiking boots.

Once actually canoeing down the river, his canoe tipped over (as the rowdy Bowlesmen’s canoes were likely to do), and his brand new fishing gear sinking to the bottom. When they get to camp, his entire body, his bags, and his especially his new hiking boots are soaking wet. As he sits by the campfire, he thinks “fire… heat; heat… dry; dry… boots!” Now, a normal person would take off his boots and lay them gently by the side of the fire. But not Miles Nioga. Instead, he leaves his boots on and walks (narrator making stomping motions) directly… through… the fire.

At this point, some people said “come on, this is pretty crazy, let’s give him an award,” but no, his behavior was still not crazy enough to merit an entire award.

As the year was coming to a close, it was time for Alakazoo. For those uninitiated, Alakazoo is a time during finals week where Bowlesmen wrestle on the front lawn to relieve stress. But all Miles heard was that there was going to be some kind of party. He thought “party… music; music… stereo!” and decided he would supply music for the event with his new stereo system.

A normal person would just point their speakers out the window, but not Miles. Instead, he brought his stereo system outside and set it up in front of the building. He had everything: a turntable, big speakers, and it was all state-of-the-art for back then. As the event started and he went to start the music, everybody started beating the shit out of each other! Miles thought “beating the shit out of each other… violence; violence… destroy; destroy… stereo!” And he smashed (narrator making stomping motions) his stereo… into… a million… pieces!

Again, people said, “this guy is so crazy, we should give him an award,” and everybody else said “fuck, OK, we give up.”

So they produced a small jade statue, which they called “The Miles Nioga Firedancing Award for Abnormal Behavior.” During the end-of-year banquet and awards ceremony, it was presented to him, and he’s up on stage and proudly holding the statue (narrator pretends to hold a small statue and smiles), when he realizes “hey, they’re not laughing with me, they’re laughing at me! Laughing at me… anger; anger… smash; smash… statue!” And he took the statue outside and smashed it… (narrator makes pounding motions) into… a pile… of rubble!

And so was born “The Miles Nioga Firedancing Pile of Rubble Award for Abnormal Behavior,” presented each year to the most deserving Bowlesman.

© 2006 Brett Wilson