Page One

Don’t bash it – great stuff to buy in Berkeley

Ying Lee
Saturday December 08, 2001


Thank you for Tuesday’s “Berkeley Lite”. I appreciate news presented with a sense of humor – what a gift to be informed and to be able to smile simultaneously. You are going to spoil me; for future articles I will demand more humor so that I can belly laugh while learning. 

But back to the serious matter of the difficulty of buying underwear in Berkeley. I hate it when our city officials, in this case the mayor, bashes Berkeley for being Berkeley. It seems to me that Berkeley residents, and for that matter, people from Walnut Creek, as well as all over the world, come to Berkeley for many reasons. They come for the university and its faculty and students, for the eccentricities of our political culture, for Chez Panisse, for Cody’s, Black Oaks and for all the other wonderful stores and artists scattered over various parts of Berkeley. Another, tiny, Berkeley gem, the Juice Bar Collective is where I recently hosted two women parliamentarians from Japan who came to Berkeley and Oakland expressly to personally thank Representative Barbara Lee and the Berkeley City Council members (Breland, Miao, Shirek, Spring, and Worthington) who introduced and voted for the “anti-war measure.” We thought that we would splurge, but it was Saturday lunch and Venezia and Chez Panisse Upstairs were closed. So the four of us bought lunch at the Juice Bar Collective and ate our shepherd’s pie and other goodies on the sidewalk outside of the Juice Bar. My guests were ecstatic with the quality of the food and the utter simplicity and folksiness and I was thrilled by my cleverness at bringing them there. 

And oh yes, for appetizers we started with just-out-of-the-oven breads, and olives at the Cheese Board Collective, another Berkeley treasure. Our international visitors stayed at the Shattuck Hotel (for three nights) and bought gifts (underwear?) at Ross’ across from their hotel, then to Walgreens for multiple vitamins to bring back to Tokyo. They were charmed and delighted by Berkeley and it was fun for me to see the virtues (retail and conscience) of Berkeley through their eyes. I don’t believe that a trip to Walnut Creek would have left (yes) the experience, left an impression of a community, that had creative people doing Nobel quality work as well as having bakers producing bread that is better than Paris’. They want to come back. And some of us, would like to have them come back, not only for what they will spend in Berkeley but for their company.  


Ying Lee