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Jakob Schiller:  
          Brennan Jung, 5, and his dad David were part of a constant stream of visitors to a well-decorated house on Arlington Avenue earlier this week.
Jakob Schiller: Brennan Jung, 5, and his dad David were part of a constant stream of visitors to a well-decorated house on Arlington Avenue earlier this week.


Am I Blue? Not on Your Life: Colorful Reflections of a Red-Voting Berkeleyan By RED LANDERS

Friday December 24, 2004

As you should know by now, in the current political vernacular, California is a Blue state. And as reported by Rob Wrenn in the Daily Planet (Dec. 7–9) the Bluest spot in our Golden state was Berkeley—where a full 90 percent of the citizenry voted Blue.  

Now, typically Berkeley trends more Blue-Green in elections. Sort of an Aquamarine. But this past November, Berkeley was True Blue, the Bluest of Blues. Not a muted, half-hearted Sky Blue or Royal Blue, but more like Indigo Blue or even Midnight Blue. 

Since the election though, I actually like to think of my fellow Berkeley residents as Black & Blue.  

Why? Because I am one of the very few Berkeleyites to vote Red. That wasn’t an aberration or a misjudgment, because I am Red to the core. Red-Red-rose Red. Fire-engine-Red Red. Or to put it in pure terms that everyone in Berkeley should understand—Reagan Red. 

The last year leading up to the November election was, to say the least, a Colorful one.  

I learned early on that here, in the birthplace of the Free Speech Movement, my opinions were a Scarlet letter. In the summer of 2003, I made one political canvasser go Purple in the face at the Saturday Farmer’s Market when I told him that I was intending to vote Red. And last Fall, when a Brown shirt for a Democratic contender threatened to beat me into a bloody Red pulp on my own doorstep, I knew that I would have to tone my Red-ness down to a pure White noise. And so I did. My public persona became Beige. 

I was Beige this summer, when I left the Cheese Board one foggy Grey morning, and a young woman—smiling her pearly Whites and wearing the Light Blue shirt of the DNC faithful—asked me if I wanted to help oust Bush. I politely declined, all the while thinking, “How pathetic! Don’t they want someone to vote FOR? Then again, how can anyone be FOR that Colorless empty suit that they have nominated.”  

I remained Beige when I was invited to a fundraiser for MoveOn by my youngest child’s pre-school. My mind flashed from the school’s bright Yellow welcome sign with little Green, Orange and Purple handprints, to my collegiate study of Chairman Mao, his little Red book and how he used the indoctrinated, brainwashed youth of China in the 1960s to lead his bloody Cultural Revolution. I became Ashen at the correlation.  

On election night, when it became obvious that President Bush was going to be re-elected, I had the urge to go up on my roof in the Black of night and scream until I was Red in the face, “Take that, Berkeley! Your four years of fire Red hate has gotten you nothing but a great White Void! Four more years people, four more years!!” But instead, I went to bed to dream happy dreams—in Technicolor. 

Weeks have now passed since that Golden night, but I still see the Red rage in many Berkeley residents as they voice their various “Black Helicopter” theories that the election was somehow stolen. I remain Beige to your faces, uncommitted and seemingly unconcerned—but I wonder when the men in the White coats will come for you. 

But now in the spirit of the Holidays, I want to encourage all the Blue voters in Berkeley to come out of their deep Blue funks and, to paraphrase Elvis, “Have a (very merry) Blue Christmas—but without me.” Because I am Red with joy at the outcome of the election. Red with anticipation for the next four years. Simply, Red with excitement.  

And given the opportunity to switch places, I know that all of you are actually Green with envy. 


Editor’s Note: 

Welcome to our holiday reader contribution issue.  

The response to our call for submissions was overwhelming. Many wonderful stories came in, too many to fit in this issue. We added extra pages to fit in all that we could; we regret we can’t publish them all, though we hope to use a few more in upcoming issues. We enjoyed reading these and hope that you will as well. Thank you to all who sent us contributions and happy holidays.›

The Unsung Deeds of Pumpsie And Wenzel By WILLIAM W. SMITH

Friday December 24, 2004

I want to use the mountain top of the Berkeley Daily Planet to shout two things that not enough people will otherwise hear or read: Richard Alan Wenzel helped save the world and Pumpsie Green single-handedly lifted the curse of the Bambino!  

Last thing first. On July 21, 1959, Elijah “Pumpsie” Green of Richmond, Calif., was sent in as a pinch-runner for the Boston Red Sox, thus making the Red Sox the last Major League baseball team to drag itself in line with the rest of baseball and integrate twelve years after integration began with Jackie Robinson. 

On the morning of Oct. 21, the day of game one of the 2004 World Series between the Boston Red Sox and the St. Louis Cardinals, I interviewed Mr. Green for UC Berkeley radio station KALX 90.7 FM. This was prior to a panel discussion on human relations in the city of El Cerrito, where Mr. Green now lives. 

During the interview, it became apparent that Mr. Green was quite fond of his experience, leaving his hometown in California to work in a notoriously uncomfortable city for African Americans, Boston. As an African American, I had to know: How did Pumpsie adjust to the change? His answer surprised me: “I experienced just as much racism in California, right here in El Cerrito, as I did in Boston if not more so! Just before I left to go play for the Red Sox I was even thrown out of the Elks Club in El Cerrito because of the color of my skin.” 

Mr. Green would go on to say that the Red Sox fans treated him like they would any white ball player; a hero when he did well, a bum when he screwed up. At this point something dawned on me: If anyone had just the right karma to proclaim a lifting of the “Curse of the Bambino,” it would be this man. So during the interview for the radio, I humbly asked Elijah “Pumpsie” Green to at long last after 86 years, to absolve the Boston Red Sox of this hex that has existed since the Sox sold Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees in 1918. 

He proceeded to do just that. Now you know why the Red Sox finally won a World Series, and in a sudden, swift, mysterious fashion. Admittedly, since UC Berkeley’s KALX is only a 500 watt station, chances are you missed this historic healing. Pumpsie is nevertheless unassumingly content with the results of his little gesture. Allow me to herald one more unsung soul from the same generation.  

April 1st, 2005 will be the 60th anniversary of a poorly acknowledged episode in military history the U.S. invasion of Okinawa, a very bloody turning point in World War II. Will there be commemorations on the scale of the Normandy memorial of this past year? I don’t know. At any rate, I don’t think there will be much notice taken around here. I like to consider myself anti-war like most folks here in the People’s Republic. 

Yet, my father-in-law, WWII marine Dick Wenzel is a good man, a humble man, and most of all has been a man of quiet heroism all his life. Well, I will not be quiet about at least this one thing and maybe a couple of others, so, excuse me Berkeley: Thank you, Dad. Thank you for doing what a good man knew was right when it was right; there seems to be so obviously few of you left in this country. Thank you for coming home and raising three daughters with your beautiful wife Betty. Thank you for having enough good will after the spirit-killing trauma of war, after losing one of the daughters to a drunk driver, after losing your partner of over 50 years to Alzheimer’s, to still tell me, your African American son-in-law, that you love me as you would’ve your own son when very few white men of your generation and background would ever say such a thing and neither did my own father, for that matter. I love you too. 




A Tale of Two Christmases By HELEN RIPPIER WHEELER

Friday December 24, 2004

A Vermont Christmas 

This is about Christmas with the grandmother who was my father’s mother. Through the years, Grandma Wheeler remained accessible to the children of her sons‚ former wives, who mostly lived nearby her in rural Vermont. I sensed that I was special to her, because I was the only child of her first-born of 13. But I also sensed that my mother imposed me on the family of her ex-husband. I was never really a part of the clan. My father remarried twice. Most of his sisters seemed to accept, if not approve of, my presence, probably for Grandma’s sake. Most of his brothers made it clear by sullen silence, glaring and absence that they did not. 

In winter, Grandma Wheeler would be in her rocking chair in the warm kitchen and in summer, on the porch. The year I was 14 I visited at Christmas. A big black stove in the kitchen and a potbelly in the living-dining room heated the small rural house. The double bed in the unheated upstairs bedroom was warmed before I jumped in, and Laddie, indifferent to the sounds of the rats scampering within the walls, was allowed on for extra warmth. I thought about my father sleeping in this bed during his visits. It didn’t occur to me then that he wasn’t alone. 

All the summer visitors and city folk with houses in the area dropped in to use the telephone, get their mail—the post office was in what had once been the living room—and gush over the country folk. The phone rang on Dec. 25. It was, of course, my mother, long distance. It seems incredible to me now that I was surprised. She managed to convey to those present that she was spending the holiday alone and that I was an ingrate for not appreciating the call—true to my indoctrination, I had snapped “How much is this costing?!” 

One afternoon during that winter visit my grandmother was the only adult present, at home with the several “state” foster children and me. She must have been around 75 years old at the time, in good health except for her rheumatic knees. I am certain I was the cause of their piling too much wood into the potbelly stove. The stovepipe caught on fire. She calmly stood up and took over, raising her raspy voice slightly but firmly. To the kids: water from the cistern in the kitchen. To the oldest child: run to the nearest house and get neighbor John Bowen. To everyone: stand back while she whacked the smoke stack down from the ceiling with her cane, onto the linoleum-covered floor. When it had burnt itself out, she took a breath and, leaning on her cane, swilled down the water remaining in the dipper that she had been holding. Neighbor Bowen knew that if Grandma Wheeler sent word, it meant now. He blew in, ran upstairs, and tore open the floorboards. Then he cleaned out the smoldering mice’ s nests snuggled up against the warm chimney. 

That evening Grandma Wheeler arranged a sugaring-off party for my benefit. 


A Park Slope Christmas 

My other grandmother perished when my mother was 11 years old. In 1903 after Christmas dinner, the seven family members gathered at the dining room table for a game of Snap . . . raisins floating in brandy were set afire, and the players snapped the raisins out of the fire. It may have seemed quite harmless to them after years of dangerous candles and gaslight. (Docents leading holiday tours of historic Victorian homes describe it as a children’s game called Snap Dragon!) It was brought into the dining room and lit, and the flames attacked Nellie, my maternal grandmother, in her long-sleeved and skirted dress. Nothing available to smother the blaze—carpeting nailed to the floor—heavy draperies attached to the window frames. The horrified children watched Papa’ s futile attempts to beat out the flames with his hands. The following day they huddled together and caught a frightening glimpse when he returned from the hospital and crept upstairs to their parents’ second-floor front bedroom, his hands and arms swathed in bandages. The house, normally filled with joy and music and people, was silent. 

It became clear that Nellie could not survive. She asked for the two older children, who were brought to the hospital, a few blocks away. (I wonder how, on Dec. 24, 1903, my grandmother had been transported to what is now the Methodist Hospital.) A good little woman to the very end, she endured the ordeal almost silently, and died after 15 agonizing days. The funeral service was held at their home at 323 Fourth St., Brooklyn in the evening. The coffin was closed. The impression made on each of them—one just a babe and two adolescent females—varied, but the influence of the horrendous experience endured in different ways throughout their lives. My mother recoiled if she chanced upon a magazine picture of a mummy. Her sister never spoke of it. Their younger brother’s struggle with food worsened. Mary Dodge Wardell scrawled on the flyleaf of her diary “Nellie, my daughter dearly beloved, died Jan. 8, 1904 at Seney Hospital Brooklyn from effect of burns received Christmas Eve Dec. 24, 2003. Thus has passed away all I held so dear. My life is but little now. God be gracious unto me, until the end. Her children are yet in my possession.” She had a premonition things could get worse and added, “I do not know how long.”›

Holiday Fairyland in The City By MAYA ELMER

Friday December 24, 2004

From the crest of a hill off Grizzly Peak Boulevard in North Berkeley, the bayshore suburbs twinkled in the creeping twilight as the tour bus left the East Bay for the charismatic magic of The City at night, especially during the holiday season. My thoughts flashed back—really, was it 70 years ago? 

I spent my early years in Detroit, Michigan, whose very hub of retail existence was the J.L. Hudson Co. For instance, the entire third floor was devoted to yard goods, materials for sewing clothes—oh, Martha Stewart, you would have eaten your heart out. When we lived in the undeveloped hinterlands where farms still crowded out the every-now-and-then colonial two-story home, my mother could phone up the store, “I need two spools of thread, one white and one blue,” and the green-paper package with the Hudson logo would be delivered in a day or two!  

At holiday time, the entire tenth floor was turned into a fairyland. No FAO Schwartz, or Toys R Us, with shelves crammed commercially full. No. Lights and balls hung from the ceiling; gold and silver garlands draped and dropped from invisible hooks and nails; crystal icicles, large and small, dripped and twirled at every breath. Christmas trees were tinseled here, there and everywhere across the huge space. Distinctive Dutch, Indian, Chinese theme decorated trees alternated to pop up in an unexpected corner. Colored banners fluttered from poles slanting over head. Trains ran around, over and under their bridges, with twinkling lamps switching off and on. Little houses, tiny skaters flew around their artificial ponds, small Santas were arriving on every miniature roof top. Christmas carols made constant music.  

Our eyes could not snatch it all in at once.  

Real live fairies with tutus and wings and Santa’s elves were there to help guide us up to the throne of the fattest, reddest, most ho-ho-est, Jolly-if-you- please, Santa. What did I ask for as I whispered in his ear? Only he remembers now; but the awe of the myriad curtains of lights, the thrill of the unknown becoming known for today—Aah, that was the fairyland for that little girl and her sister and brother in the ‘30s.  

Yesterday, here in the Bay area, I found my fairyland: for grownups, beyond the household lights of the suburbs. Twenty friends and I were driven through the darkening dusk to gawk at the gold and glitter of San Francisco celebrating the winter holidays. Believers and pagans alike explored the pageantry wrought by the wires of PG&E inspired with human creativity.  

A macramé of delight surrounded the special tree that centers in Union Square., setting off the beautiful statue atop the slender Dewey monument now cast in the darkness. On one side the Saxs Fifth Avenue building was startling in the glory of its huge gold snowflakes covering its major wall; and Macy’s wreaths in every office window up to its eighth floor. Union Street had its blocks of boutiques reflecting back at each other; Plump Jack’s, a local bistro—and named after the title of a local opera—covered its awnings in the dark ice-blue of glaciers.  

The Opera House lent its glamour to the toy soldiers painted with lights standing tall between the façade pillars encased in lights, too. Made more dramatic by the transparency of the two story glass windows of Davies Symphony Hall across the street. It seemed to float, each pane with a tree decorated by a different San Francisco school group.  

Down through the Embarcadero and a walk through the Hyatt Regency Hotel lobby with its five or six curtains of light dripping from its fifth floor atrium. Breathtaking… Into the financial district where each bank vied with the glitter of its tree, the garlands of gold in their lobby. It was hard to know which window of the bus to look out of—to the left or to the right. 

Finally back to the approach to the Bay Bridge with its double looping, swooping of lights from tower to tower. Then surprise, our journey took us left at Yerba Buena Island, around the curves, and a quick U-turn to park along the shore line where the well known outlines of the four Embarcadero Towers loomed up and over the golden glitter of The City as seen across the water. Most remarkable was the effect of the office lights in the buildings themselves. From our distance it was as if we were looking through the buildings to the hills of houses—as if the only solid pieces were the outlines themselves—the buildings had disappeared leaving us to look through them to the beyond. The Pyramid building stood tallest with a light like the north star gleamed at it’s top.  

“But,” said our guide-historian, Craig Smith, “it may be the tallest building in San Francisco, but if you want to have the highest office, reserve a place on the Bank of America Building. The pointy part of the pyramid is full of machinery and not desks!” We, all retirees now, laughed along with him.  

The major impact was the view as a whole: The hills of San Francisco, The City, seen from our vantage point, glowed in it entirety along the horizon. It was more than just the sum of its parts; Our eyes couldn’t snatch it all in at once. Indeed our grownup fairyland was laid out in front of us this holiday night in December.  


A Great Day, Even Without a Home Run By HARRY A. WENTWORTH

Friday December 24, 2004

From a letter dated August 10, 2002 


Dear Jay and Jean, 

I have to tell you about my fantastic experience going to the ballgame this week. You’ll never believe it! But that’s okay. But anyway, it’s a true story. 

So it was Thursday, a couple of days ago. A weekday afternoon game at PacBell. The Giants were playing the Cubs; Barry Bonds was going for No. 600. He had hit No. 599 earlier in the week. So it’s a game I had been planning on going to for some time as its rare to have one of these weekday afternoon games, my favorite kind. But of course, I didn’t have a ticket. I just go with the idea of picking up one at the last minute, a bleacher seat, standing room only, or whatever. Anything to get me in the park, then I take it from there. 

Well anyway, so I hike down to Rockridge about 11 a.m. for this 12:35 first pitch, ride the BART express to Embarcadero, then transfer to the Muni light rail to the ballpark. Get there about a half hour before game time. Check out the ticket windows, get in a long line. Then find out its only a line to an ATM. So where’s the ticket windows? Well it looks like there’s no ticket windows open. So I mull this over. I’ve already seen a scattering of guys on the sidewalk hawking tickets. Scalper tickets, of course. Well, I figure, there must be some kind of a window open somewhere, at the for a SRO ticket, (standing room only) which I got the last time I went to a game a couple of weeks ago. $9.00 and you’re in. So I see these three cops (SFPD) standing there close by, chatting with an eye on the crowd on the sidewalks. I walk up to them and ask, “Where’s the open ticket window?” They tell me, “Heh, there’s no windows open; it’s a complete sell out; No. 600 you know.” So it figures. I ask, “not even a way to get a standing room only ticket?” They say, “No, nothin, check around through the crowd and down towards Willie Mays Plaza, there’s guys selling scalper tickets.” So I start walkin’ down towards Willie Mays Plaza. I get about 20 to 30 feet away in that direction, and then I hear, “Hey!” I look around back at the cops and see one of them motioning me to come back. So I approach them again, say “So one of your guys got a ticket?” And they tell me, “No, no ticket, but we can get you in. Follow along with us. We’ll get you in the gate. You won’t have a ticket, but we’ll get you inside, then you’re on your own.” So I say “Fantastic” and proceed to accompany them as hey head for the jam-packed gate area. One of the cops tells me, “If anyone asks anything, we’ll say we’re looking for your granddaughter.” I was tempted to say, “Heh, my granddaughter is 40 years old, and she doesn’t want to be found!” But I just swallowed the thought and stayed close to them, as we pushed through the mob, but got some questioning looks from a couple of ticket takers, but nobody said anything. After all I was in good company! I figured everyone would think I had likely been arrested for something, and was being hauled off to a holding area. 

So anyway, now we’re inside with the mob, and they ask me, “Do you want to go up to the Club level? You won’t have a ticket for a seat, but you can sit at the bar and watch the game. Maybe after a few innings you can spot a seat as there’s always some “no-shows.’” So I say, “great, I’m good for whatever.” So they head me towards one of the gigantic elevators, get in one with a jammed crowd and head on up. Along the way, they introduce themselves, there’s Nick and John, and Sam. And I’m Harry. Now we are all formally introduced, and they ask me, “You seen a lot of Giants games? Seen a hundred games?” And I say, “Oh yeah, at least a hundred games—and then I tell them about having grown up with Ted Williams, and that we had played ball together in 1930, when I was eleven years old and Ted was twelve. And I told ‘em about having lived in New York in 1945 and 1946 and having seen in 1945 at Yankee Stadium every one of the eleven games that the Detroit Tigers and the Yankees played in New York that year, a year that the Tigers won the pennant and the World Series, and the Yankees finished second. I gather they were fascinated with my stories, especially with the Ted Williams story. They really gave me the 3rd degree on that one, and I didn’t think I would escape without giving them my autograph or signing a baseball or something. 

Anyway, they finally let me loose at the Club level to figure it out from there, which I proceeded to do—and went on to enjoy the game, sitting at one of the bars for awhile—then eventually did find a “no show” seat. They are all, like $40 on that Club level, which I had never been on before on any of my forays to PacBell. So it turned out to be a very luxurious way to see the ball game. I told them that I had twenty grandchildren and when I told them about this experience, none of them would ever believe me. 

Unfortunately, it was not one of the Giant’s great games. I had gone with the expectation that I might be there to witness Barry Bonds No. 600—but instead I saw Sammy Sosa hit his league leading #33 and #34 for this year. And the Cubs won 9-3. Just a 3-run homer by Jeff Kent in the late inning for our side. 

As it turned out Barry Bonds did get No. 600 in the very next game, which was last night after the Cubs had left town and been supplanted by the Pittsburgh Pirates. Although, again the Giants came up short, losing 4-3. So I only missed his No. 600 by one game, and did get to hear the memorable event on the radio last night. 

So anyway. Isn’t that some incredible story? How I managed to come up with a complete freebie at the ballpark. And to do it in incomparable luxury style? Well, like they say, it’s one to tell my grandkids about—and/or my kids as well, starting with you and Jean. You will also have to tell this story to Grace and Marion. I bet they will get a hoot out of it.Ã


Friday December 24, 2004

(pronounced cured after three years of leukemia) 


This child’s an apple blossom girl, 

a special harvest from a star, 

whirled down from space unmarred, 

and destined for our atmosphere. 


This child’s my apple blossom girl, 

cherished from her tiny sleep, 

beneath our taller gaze, 

growing with sturdy fragility. 


This child’s my apple blossom girl, 

the kind that melts the heart, 

that frames sweet things upon the mind, 

my apple blossom girl. 


—Kay Wehner


Friday December 24, 2004

July Garden 


I am your July garden 

I promise the sensuous richness 

of the not quite yet 

my soil does not forget 

its duty 

never duty free 

to just dream and doze 

fart and snore 

I’m not rough-dried 

nor ready-rolled 

I still dig deep 

with my pilgrim soul 

and will continue to thrive 

in this throwaway world 

where nature still holds sway 

for the natural world well knows 

there is really no “away.” 



Una Poema nos hace Ver por Prima Vez 


But one word misfit and it crumbles 

to bits of mortar and stone 

a poem the tight double helix 

of fiction and fact 

the doubling, the intertwining 

creates the art: 

I look for a new direction— 

not easy stuff 

loving words and having them 

return my affection 

is not enough; 

within my well of brass bright intention 

there is mirror and microscope 

miscarriage, invention 

soul within sentence 

syllables slowly stirring to life; 

by turns falling on the page 

in Persian patterns 

or gliding alone 

the rim of Saturn; 

all these conceits work just fine 

if a poem makes us see 

for the very first time. 



The Attic 


Moving heavy furniture 

in history’s attic— 

hearing the ormolu clock 

working the last nerve— 

feathery glass pierces my bones; 

Shiva dancing on the world 

and on my mind map; 

my ancestors: great-grandfather 

in a daguerreotype— 

cafe con leche good looks, 

says “this is more my world than yours”— 

grandmother in her wedding dress— 

her body motions me in all its movements; 

father in his uniform, one war older; 

mother, her mind filled with gold leaf, 

pushing life through a filter 

of artifice, a Duccio painting, 

A Sassetta altarpiece; 

good looks, breeding, 

proof again that life is a 

terrifying phenomenon 

of surface immediacy. 


—Phyllis Henry-Jordan

The Tuesday Tilden Walkers By YVETTE HOFFER

Friday December 24, 2004

We’re Senior Slowpokes who’ve been walking the trails of Tilden Park for over 10 years. And before us we counted on Jeanette Weiss who led us to see Jewel Lake, the Nature trail, the Sylvan Trail and the upper and lower packrat. 

We’re so enthralled with these easy trails that we hardly ever explore beyond their birds and wildlife. Jewel Lake is usually part of the pleasure as we watch the fowl and changing patterns in the water and sky. We feel better breathing cleaner air and watching wildflowers. 

Walk with us for an hour or two as we freshen our spirits with the beauty and majesty of Tilden Park. We love the Nature Area—you can share our morning strolls through one of the most beautiful and inspiring parks in the East Bay. 

We meet every Tuesday at 9 a.m. in the Little Farm Parking Lot. 

You are invited to join us capture the magic of the treasure we have, 10 minutes up Spruce Street to Grizzly Peak to the beauty of our finest East Bay Regional Park. 


—Yvette Hoffer

Berkeley Holiday Fund

Friday December 24, 2004

Christmas came early for some well-deserving, needy Berkeley residents. Appearing in over 750 mailboxes last week were checks from the Berkeley Holiday Fund, a 92-year-old institution that makes Scrooge look bad. The amount of each check will be modest, but it will be enough to make the holidays a bit brighter for the recipients. It will enable a grandmother to buy a present for her grandchild, a single parent to add something special to a holiday meal, a homeless man to buy a pair of shoes.  

Each year, a small committee of Berkeley residents sends out a letter asking their fellow citizens to make a contribution to the Berkeley Holiday Fund.  

The funds are then distributed in small checks to needy Berkeley citizens nominated by 24 local social service agencies, including Head Start, BOSS, the Center for Independent Living, the Senior Centers, WIC, the Salvation Army, the YMCA, and the Berkeley Health Department. 

It’s a no-strings-attached Christmas gift from generous citizens of Berkeley to citizens of Berkeley in need of some help. Everyone gets in the act, the Berkeley Holiday Fund Committee, the Mayor’s office, and the generous folks at Union Bank of California, Durant at Shattuck, who cash the checks for free.  

If you would like more information about the Berkeley Holiday Fund or would like to join in the fun, please send a check in any amount to the Berkeley Holiday Fund, P.O. Box 9779, Berkeley, 94709. 

For information , please contact Linda Williams at 526-9084 or lvwill@pacbell.net.›

A Dream for Peace in the Middle East By TRACIE DeANGELIS SALIM

Friday December 24, 2004

Every day I awake hoping that my dream for peace will have come true, magically in the night as I slept. Each of us is living a dream. Part of my dream took me to a land far away. A land where the people are mostly like you and me. People who want to enjoy the beauty of the moist morning dew on the ground and the colors of the tranquil sunset at night.  

Mothers and Fathers who work hard for their children to grow up safe and secure. Where is this far away land? I went to the West Bank, Palestine. 

I chose to live there for 15 months. I, a non-religious person, wearing my privileged white skin got on a plane to go see what life was like on the other side of the world where the people had been deemed “terrorists.” I was delighted with what I found in the people and in their culture. What is it that I want to share that might cause your heart to crack a bit and create space for understanding? Why do I want you to know this? Because I don’t want people to be afraid anymore.  

Afraid that “they are out to get us.” It seems that if we could all be exposed to life in the Middle East, rather than just read about it and feel fear, we would all be taking one step toward a more peaceful planet. 

Certainly, as with any group of people, there are those who one would rather not associate or socialize with.; but what group can this not be said of? They are not so different from many cultures in this regard.  

People are people. It is as if we are all characters in a big movie. And now, the actors who are taking part in the movie being played out in the Middle East are “the bad guys.” It is hard to care for them. We can’t root for the “bad guy.” But the characters are being misrepresented. We need to care for them. We need to understand them. Don’t you notice that it is when you begin to care about a character in a movie that you really begin to get hooked? I want you to care about the people living in the middle east. 

I want to share with you the feeling that I felt by seeing the joy in the eyes of the children when they celebrate The Eid. The Eid in Palestine would be what would most closely resemble the Christmas that we are getting ready to honor here in this country. It is the time of year in Muslim countries when each winter, usually sometime in November, about two billion Muslims around the world will celebrate Eid-ul-Fitr, the three-day festival commonly known as “Eid.” Eid is commemorated by many different cultural rituals, colors, and festivities in countries across the globe. 

Each region has specific customs, foods, and traditions associated with this celebration. 

The holiday marks the end of Ramadan, the holy month of fasting and is a culmination of the month-long struggle towards a higher spiritual state. 

Ramadan holds special significance for Muslims, since the Quran, the book of Muslim scripture, was revealed during this month. It is also the time when Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset each day, refraining not only from food and water but also from both material as well as spiritual vices, such as lying, cheating, violence, or theft. The fasting is not only a symbol of sacrifice and purification, but also a measure of self-restraint and a tool for encouraging compassion for the hungry, the poor, and the less fortunate. Charity and service are especially 

emphasized during Ramadan, and Muslims are required to donate food and a percentage of their savings to the under-served and neglected in society. 

I found this time of year absolutely amazing considering that the people in the area of the world where I was living were suffering day to day to survive, yet the generosity and the importance of creating a celebration for the kids was the most joyful experience I shared with the people of Palestine. Just as we prepare and anticipate being with our families and honoring the traditions during the holidays, the people of Palestine also have their traditions, their culture, their celebrations. We are not so different. We all want to live in peace and be able to share our joy with each other. 

I want to share their story, because their voices have been muffled.  

Their voices have been silenced. They wait for their freedom; these people who breathe the same air, who see the same sun, moon and stars.  

Open your heart. The world will become a much gentler place. 

Thoughts on a Planetary Life By HILDA JOHNSTON

Friday December 24, 2004

I have been reading a book called Lonely Planets and the other night as I looked up in the sky in the country where the stars are so numerous and bright, I wondered if another conscious being on another planet was wondering about me. I felt sorry that we would never meet the way we regret two lonely people looking out of the window at night in the same town may never get to know each other. 

We once thought earth was the center of the universe, and although we now know we are just one planet circling a star in one of many galaxies, we still tend to think we are the only planet burdened with intelligent life, and that in spite of having to make a living and raise our kids and keep up with the holidays, it falls to us to ask how the universe began, how it will end and why it is here. Yet like a busy mother who dreams she has another forgotten child, we keep looking for signs of life elsewhere. 

We ask what requirements life on another planet would have and guess, from our own experience, it would need water and be carbon-based since only carbon can form long chains called organic molecules. Intelligent life would need a long time to evolve as it took five billion years, half the expected life of our sun, for us to ask these questions. 

We imagine life would need a planet about the same size as ours, just the right distance from its star, and with just the right organic chemicals. But perhaps life arises not so much from a chance encounter with a perfect planet as by an arranged marriage. What life may need is a good enough planet and then by a series of changes and interchanges, a biosphere that attains a stable disequilibrium. Scientists seeking signs of life look for a biosphere with variable weather and atmosphere, a planet that appears to breathe. By the time any intelligent life evolves it will have adapted to and created the world it lives on. 

The earth’s atmosphere at first had very little oxygen which was fortunate because oxygen which rusts metal can very easily burn up carbon-based life. When over time one cell called algae, safely in the ocean, developed the trick of photosynthesis, of taking carbon from carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen into the air, the ozone level was formed and other cells began to respire, to use oxygen in small controlled fires, to burn carbon fuel, and create the caloric energy that distinguishes animals from planets as warmly alive. 

But it may again be earth-centered to imagine life elsewhere similar to ours. It would probably replicate itself in a different chemical language. Adenine, quinine and thymine seem even less universal than earth, air and water. We sometimes picture people from other planets as green, suggesting, I suppose, that they photosynthesize like plants. Would they be cold to the touch? Arthur Clark, the science fiction writer, has said that any extremely advanced technology would appear to us to be magic as the people of King Arthur’s court thought the Connecticut yankee who could light a match was a magician. 

In whatever form and however advanced, intelligent life is probably out there. Estimates range from one thousand to one billion possibly communicating civilizations in our galaxy alone. Whether any of these civilizations will communicate with each other depends on the average length of such civilizations. A communicating civilization would have to last thousands of years after the invented the technology to communicate, and the technology would have to last millions of years. 

Why then, as the physicist Fermi asked, haven’t we heard from anyone when many stars and planets formed in our galaxy long before the earth and the sun? Is it that the most technological societies self-destruct? Photographer Sabastian Salgado, who has spent many years researching humans suffering in refugee camps, crowded cities and war zones, believes that life has broken the balance it once had with our planet. Is intelligence an evolutionary asset? As much as our hearts go out to Bach and Shakespeare and Galileo and Einstein, the question is debatable. 

How hard is it to hold in our minds as we drive and shop and look at the news, that this is not science fiction, that we are the intelligent life of one planet, and the possibility of interstellar communication could rest on our ability to last here. 

Return to a Closer Place By DOROTHY BENSON

Friday December 24, 2004

For many it is a far journey to that legendary Place, 

for a few it is merely shinnying the back fence. 

The road can be thin as a blade 

and drop away like a slice; 

it can be slippery as leather on ice. 

Some fall and need a lift up. 


Where the ascent is steep and rocky, 

some sing. Others make jokes. 

Always there are those who share their bread 

or extend and umbrella 

when rain bends the head. 

Another holds a small hand 

or take a shaking arm. 

Some fall back to accompany the faltering. 

Choosing to go alone, 

some travel barefoot, 

with bowed head. 


Each goes the best way he can, 

and each does it in his own time. 


—Dorothy V. Benson

People’s Park, Berkeley By STEPHEN McNEIL

Friday December 24, 2004

An advertising plane flying a banner passed over Berkeley. In the streets below, throngs of people turned their faces upward and smiled with delight as they read: LET A THOUSAND PARKS BLOOM. It was Memorial Day 1969 in Berkeley, California, where People’s Park—a patch of sunny garden and shaded lawn—had just six weeks earlier been a vacant lot of rubble and mud.  

In April 1969, the idea for a park came up at a quiet meeting between a handful of people wishing to improve an eyesore on the campus of the University of California at Berkeley. The group soon grew into a loosely organized committee that was determined to build a “Power to the People Park.” Word spread, and within weeks the idea had moved beyond the Berkeley campus and into the community. 

So on one spring morning hundreds of people from all walks of life gathered on a block of land to create a neighborhood park. The land, which had been purchased by the university for dormitory construction, had been vacant for some time. Those who gathered ripped up concrete, hauled out stumps, filled in swampy puddles, and shoveled debris. 

They planted flowers, trees, and shrubs, and they laid sod. For days they worked side by side-old and young, merchants, students and residents-lending their muscle and their hearts to the creation of green, open space. And on April 20, 1969, People’s Park was born.  

The Berkeley community enjoyed the park for three weeks, picnicking on the lawns and napping under the trees. But in the early morning hours of May 15, the university enlisted 100 California Highway Patrolmen to erect a cyclone fence around the park. “No trespassing” signs were hung along the fence. The move engendered an immediate and angry response. 

By midday a huge crowd had gathered to protest the action, and an impassioned call was put out to reclaim the park. An estimated 3,000 people poured into the streets surrounding People’s Park where a violent conflict ensued between students, neighbors, and the police. The times were already fraught with civil strife, and the battle over People’s Park caught the attention of the media. Headlines splashed across the nation, with disturbing images of tear gas, flames, bricks, and fury. 

The unrest lasted for several days until then Gov. Ronald Reagan sent in 2,000 National Guard troops to quell the disturbance. In the end one person was blinded, another was killed, and some 120 people were injured. The Guard kept an armed presence in the area for the weeks that followed. 

When area Friends and local American Friends Service Community (AFSC) staff heard of plans for a much larger People’s Park protest march to be held on Memorial Day, they became deeply concerned about the potential for more violence. With the Quakers’ long history of peaceful protest and nonviolent resistance, AFSC staff and Friends knew there was a role for them in the upcoming march. Norman Goerlich, an AFSC fundraiser, attended the planning meetings where he and others worked with march organizers, “trying to teach people to be monitors and to squelch any uprisings or problems surrounding people… educating these groups.” 

At one point in the planning, someone mentioned the idea of having flowers to pass around and spread here and there among marchers. A local shop owner known to students as “Mother Earth” offered to handle the purchase of 30,000 daisies if money could be found. Norman immediately picked up on this. He had two loyal Service Committee donors, elderly sisters, who he felt might put up the cash. As he relates, “.. I went down to my little old ladies in San Jose and they gave me $3,000 for the daisies.” 

As the day approached and word spread, the projected number of participants grew into tens of thousands. Terry Foss, an AFSC intern at the time and now AFSC staff photographer, recalls that the Service Committee and local Friends organized a candlelight vigil the night before in order to set the stage for what they hoped would be a peaceful protest. The next day Terry helped to staff a first aid clinic in the Friends meetinghouse in Berkeley, in case there were injuries. The National Guard rolled in with bayoneted rifles and tear gas. The demonstrators swelled to 30,000, armed with peace signs and daisies. But thanks to trained “peace marshals” patrolling the crowd, and organizers well educated in the strategies of peaceful demonstration, Memorial Day in People’s Park came off without a hitch. Terry and his fellow clinic staffers had no casualties. Not a single tear gas canister was tossed. The following day, stories began appearing across the country with photographs of daisies on fences, soldiers returning peace signs from their trucks, and protesters chatting with the National Guard—a striking contrast to the earlier pictures of violent confrontation. Norman tells us, “It was quite an accomplishment, what happened that time. And it was peaceful.” 

In the following weeks, the Berkeley City Council backed away from its support of the university plans, urging the Board of Regents to preserve the park. People’s Park has remained a park, although it has also been controversial throughout the years, with some of the original issues yet unresolved. But when we recall the history of the ‘60s, amid the snapshots of violent unrest we also remember the images of daisies hanging on barbed wire fences, or popping out of military helmets and rifle barrels. Like gardens growing out of rubble, they are reminders of the persistent spirit of peace and the quiet work of Friends. 


GMO Food: The Ugly Face of America By RIO BAUCE

Friday December 24, 2004

Can you imagine dying because a company didn’t properly label their food product? Would you want to eat food that raises your risk of breast, prostate, and colon cancer by 400 percent? Could you support a type of biotechnology that has the potential to introduce a new allergen to the human race? You may be asking yourself, “What could this biotechnology be and what’s the likelihood that I am purchasing these sorts of things?” In fact, genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are present in our food supply, predominately in our major staples, like corn, wheat, soybean, and cotton, and pose serious hazards to both our health and our food supply, as well as the environment. 

The government clearly demonstrates a blatant disregard for our health and our well being. Between 1997 and 1999, GMO ingredients began to appear in two-thirds of all processed foods on the US market. They are in foods from popcorn to soy sauce, from crackers to candy bars. While you may be able to see a food labeled with fat, carbohydrate, and sugar content on the back of a certain products, you are not able to see if the bulk of these foods have been genetically modified (GM)! Not only do GM foods have lower vital nutrients in them, they also spike rates of cancer in people, have created super viruses and new allergens, may be responsible for a revival of fatal diseases, and even can cause birth defects. The list of side effects is endless. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not even require health testing of GM foods. The FDA only reviews product tests if they are voluntarily provided by the manufacturer. In other words, GM foods are not even tested to see if they are safe or not for human consumption. To add to the insult, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) does not require companies to even label their foods that contain these genetically modified organisms. Their goal is to protect the producer rather than the consumer.  

The GMO industry is destroying the environment. In three years, from 1997-1999, 25 percent of all US agricultural land (around 70-80 million acres) was being used to grow genetically modified crops. GM crops are specifically developed for toxin resistance, which require much higher use of herbicides and pesticides. According to an article by R.J. Goldburg scientists, herbicide use among farmers tripled with the raising of GM crops. Monsanto, a corporate giant in the GMO movement, has been the biggest offender in the GM controversy. Monsanto and other big companies have been buying out all the small seed companies and replacing the saved seeds with their GMO patented seeds, which are formulated to prevent plants from producing seeds that you are able to replant. This over time will make anyone who wants to plant seeds have to buy from Monsanto. 

Percy Schmeiser, a canola farmer in Canada, has been farming for 40 years. In 2000 Percy found that 320 hectares of his land had been contaminated by Monsanto’s Roundup Ready canola, a genetically altered form of canola created to be pesticide-resistant. Percy says that the pollen “could easily have blown on to his soil from passing canola-laden trucks,” and that he saw Monsanto investigators trespassing on his farmland. You would think that Percy would go to court and sue Monsanto for ruining his crop and trespassing on his land. Actually, the opposite happened. Monsanto took this small farmer to court claiming that he broke the law and planted Monsanto’s GMO canola without paying them for the crop. Schmeiser has been battling this case in court since 2000, which has effectively been ruining his life and occupation. He is under constant stress, because of court proceedings and has virtually lost all of his years of hard work trying to save seeds. As part of litigation Monsanto has made farmers, like Percy, sign contracts not to save their seeds. 

As you can see, the future of food is being threatened by the rise of big corporations and there is no stopping them unless we take action. We can’t leave future generations with the burden of a toxic food supply. It’s unfair! If you care about your health, the environment, the food supply, or about the people around you, you should participate in the fight against GMO foods. Thirty countries have already banned all GMO foods, including Japan and various European countries. However in America, these kinds of things take time and progress little by little.  

Our first step is to get the USDA to adequately label all GMO foods. Surveys show that 92 percent of Americans support the labeling of GMO foods, but very few of them are taking action. You can do your part by visiting “The Campaign To Label Genetically Modified Foods” at www.thecampaign.org. On the site you can simply choose your state of residence and the site will provide you with form letters, which are easily printed out for you to send to your state senators and representatives. If you are unable to go online or wish to voice your support by phone, you can call up the senators directly. Senator Barbara Boxer’s number is (202) 224-3553, and Senator Diane Feinstein’s phone number is (202) 224-3841. If you wish to call out-of-state senators as well, you may call the Congress switchboard at (202) 224-3121. You can tell your congressmen and congresswomen that you urge them to cosponsor legislation to require the mandatory labeling of genetically modified foods.  

Hopefully with everyone’s help, we can move towards an America where GMOs are not present in our food supply, so we can continue to live as a proud, healthy country once again. 


Rio Bauce is a student at Berkeley High SchoolF

Malvina Reynolds Way: A Proposal [See Footnote 1] By JIM GINGER

Friday December 24, 2004

We, the folk- and blues-singing, poetry-writing and/or -slamming, truth-as-we-see-it telling people of this city called Berkeley by its proud residents, and called other things by other people, are beginning a campaign to name a street in this town after one of our most favorite people: Malvina Reynolds. Malvina was born in 1900 in San Francisco and came to Berkeley to earn “all the degrees possible” [FOOTNOTE 2] at the University of California. 

Malvina wrote Pete Seeger’s first and only gold record, “Little Boxes,” a song inspired by the stucco, pastel plantation on the hills of Daly City. She also wrote hundreds of other songs, including: “It Isn’t Nice” to block the doorways/ It isn’t nice to go to jail/ There are nicer ways to do it/ But the nice ways always fail.” [a song which some of us thought should have been the theme song for the recent struggle between our beloved radio station, KPFA (which at one time featured Malvina’s commentaries), and its parent corporation’s carpetbagging leadership]. 

Malvina Reynolds’ hundreds of songs included such notables as “God Bless the Grass,” “What Have They Done to the Rain?,” “The Faucets Are Dripping,” “The Day the Freeways Froze,” “The Little Red Hen,” “If You Love Me,” “Somewhere Between,” “Turn Around,” “The Rim of the World,” “We Don’t Need the Men,” “Bury Me in My Overalls,” and “This World,” revealing her commitment not only to the environment but to feminism, to labor unions, to civil rights, to the working people who built this city and to the many people whose social activism have made this city and this world a better place. She was recently honored by a Rosalie Sorrels CD and by a retrospective: Issued by the Smithsonian. Can we do less? 

Malvina and her husband, Bud, lived out most of their married lives here, their later years on Parker Street, between Shattuck and Milvia. Malvina continued to write and record songs until her death in 1978. 

So, in the spirit of the Mario Savio Steps on the UC Berkeley campus, we propose to rename the street that crosses the bottom end of the block Malvina, Bud, and their daughter lived on, which has been called Milvia (after the wife of one of the “planters” of this town in the first half of the 19th century [FOOTNOTE 3]), Malvina Reynolds Way. If you can just get dyslexic for a minute, you can see the poetic justice of it through Malvina’s lyrical, Scrabble-player’s eyes. So, here’s to Malvina Reynolds Way, “somewhere between” Shattuck Avenue and the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Junior Way. 

Thank you for your support. With love, peace, truth, justice, and music, in 

mind and heart, body and soul, 



[FOOTNOTE 1] This proposal was inspired by her honor, the former mayor, several months ago. An article in the Berkeley Daily Planet quoted her as saying she would welcome proposals to change some street names to honor good and famous people from our lifetimes, such as Cesar Chavez (Farmworkers Union) and David Brower (Sierra Club and Friends of the Earth). I would welcome both of those, happily. But her idea tickled my brain: “Good! Let’s do that. But, let’s begin with some of our own, local, home-grown heroes and sheroes.” So, Mayor Bates and members of the City Council, will you please support this project? 


[FOOTNOTE 2] From the video of Malvina, Love it Like a Fool, available at the Berkeley Public Library. 


[FOOTNOTE 3] Street Names of the City of Berkeley (from the good people at the Berkeley Public Library).›

On Poetry and Fathers By JUSTICE PUTNAM

Friday December 24, 2004

The one thing  

That always amazed me  


Even from the  

Earliest moment  

Of your life  


Was the utter trust  

You had in me  


And I was struck  

At the time  

By the amount  

Of doubt  


I had in myself.  


Even though  

Your mother and I  

Had half a year  

To practice breathing  


I doubted that  

I could remember  

Properly when to  

Encourage the right breath  


And when the doctor  

Said I could assist  

And I finally held  



Gray and small  


I thought to that  

Distant day  

When you would 


Hold your own son  

In the same way  


And I thought of  

The resolve you would  



Just as I had  


To love  

Like no other  

Father has loved.  


So the years pass  

And I doubt  

You felt the  

Prayer of love  


Over that distance  

And separation  


You grew in.  


A correspondence  

Is a poor substitute  

For a kiss  


Yet each word  

Was a universe  

Of touch  


I doubt it  

Was enough.  


I cannot now  



For all that you  

Went through  


I wish it were  



But mere words  

And sentiment  

Are hollow.  


You are now  

A father  


Kiss your son  

While you can  



Has a way  

Of intruding  

Upon the best  

Of plans  


And apologies  


Become terrible  





—Justice Putnamü

A Substitute Teacher’s Tale: By EDITH MONK HALLBERG

Friday December 24, 2004

I’ve been a substitute teacher for 23 years. I could practically do the daily routine with my eyes shut; Go to the office and get the key and sub folder with timesheet, ICM numbers, referral/detention forms. Go to the room, put your name on the board, check for lesson plans and materials. You might have time to warm up the room unless you have yard duty (about 75 percent of the time). Then you pick the kids up on the yard, or welcome the Middle School kids at the door. The kids take down the chairs and put their things away. Then it’s Attendance and SHOWTIME! 

Yes, substitute teaching is performance art. You’re always on-stage, modeling, adapting to any changes in schedule, thinking quickly to avoid tricky transitions, gaps in the plans, and any unusual behavior. I always act confident and am ready with a good sense of humor. 

I can smell out the class clown, the stoolie, the scapegoat, or just plain not together kid. Often, if class monitors haven’t been appointed, I know which ones to choose. And, I can tell a lot about the regular teacher not just by the plans, but by the arrangement of the room and of the materials. The behavior of the class may also be an indicator, but not always. 

I really enjoy the job despite the insecurity of work availability, no benefits, and some mistreatment from students and some administrators. 

Often there’s no support when you need it, and multiple day jobs with some 

classes are almost impossible without it.  

So, the legendary Cat Lady becomes a professional persona. Elementary students call me Edie The Cat Lady, the Middle School kids have to address me by my formal name. I can’t go anywhere in the Bay Area without adults and kids greeting me because I was their substitute. I try to act as if I remember them, but I usually don’t. But they remember the stickers, stories and rewards that I bring to them, or perhaps something about the time that I was teaching their class. 

I have so many stories about my experiences teaching that I don’t know which one to tell. Substitute teachers share their stories and comments about students, teachers, and principals when they come to our monthly meetings at a Berkeley restaurant the Wednesday after payday. 

One very happy story is what happened to me at an elementary school a few years ago. I went to the office to start the day and a 5th grader came up to me. 

“Are you the sub for Mr. Watson today?” she asked sweetly. 

“Why, yes I am,” I replied as I usually do. 

“Then these are for you!” she said, handing me a large homegrown bouquet of flowers. 

I thanked her then and the rest of the class when we were all settled. Mr. Watson had not only left the “Guest teacher” a note on the board, but the kids had “rules” for whenever there was a substitute. 

Tears still come to my eyes when I tell this story. Just that one experience will keep me going for another dozen years. 

A Call for Solar Energy Production By HARVEY SHERBACK

Friday December 24, 2004

In a world where we war over oil, the development and implementation of solar electricity is the true path to peace. We are in a race with the polluters and our world is the prize!  

Because I believe in taking action, I have written the following letter to the Public Utilities Commission. My letter calls for a massive deployment of solar electric roof shingles and panels across the rooftops of California.  

This is a very good time to help set the PUC and PG&E on the true path to energy abundance.  

If you support the views expressed below, please copy and sign the letter below or write your own letter to the PUC and let them know how you feel. 



California Public Utilities Commission 

Michael R. Peevey 

San Francisco Office 

505 Van Ness Avenue 

San Francisco, California 



Fax: (415) 703-1758 

Tel: (415) 703-2782 


Dear Michael R. Peevey and The California Public Utilities Commission, 


The tragic events which took place on Sept. 11, 2001 have dramatically changed our perception of true homeland security. We have learned that the decentralization of power is the correct path to limited vulnerability. This lesson comes at a terrible cost. 

We are told that we must be prepared for any possible emergency including terrorist attacks against us and our infrastructure. Unfortunately, we are only as strong as the weakest link in our system. 

The current model being used for the production and distribution of electricity is one of our major weaknesses. We have a tendency to centralize both the production and distribution of power. Our continuing experience with brownouts and blackouts, especially during times of great demand, is an example of the kind of problem we now face.  

Brownouts and blackouts are usually associated with weather problems such as heat spells. On these super-hot days, everybody turns their air conditioners on. This puts a great strain on our power grid. Grid operators such as PG&E are forced to find and buy out-of-state electricity. 

We are then vulnerable to the whims of the energy marketplace. It is not just the high price we pay during times of crises, there are also serious questions as to the quality of the electricity we are purchasing. 

The key to our energy security is a massive deployment of solar electric roof shingles and panels across the rooftops of California. This would provide thousands of new jobs while creating an abundance of clean, reliable solar electricity. 

Solar electric roof shingles and panels create no exhaust, no noise, and no chemical reactions. The only moving parts are the atoms. 

In sunny California, both residential and commercial buildings will become providers as well as consumers of solar electricity. The production and distribution of electricity will be decentralized.  

At this time, The California Public Utility Commission (PUC) is responsible for proposing legislation that promotes net-net billing. Net-net billing allows the owners of residential and commercial buildings that have solar electric rooftop installations to zero out their monthly bills, nothing more. The production of any excess solar electricity for sale to the local utility is discouraged. 

At the same time, German utilities, working with local environmental groups and legislators, now pay a hefty premium for clean solar electricity over fuels that create green house gasses.  

Germany is currently, after Japan, the world leader in the installation of both residential and commercial photovoltaic rooftop systems. Their utilities offer a variety of generous rebate programs. They also encourage the production and sale of excess solar electricity. This helps the owners of photovoltaic systems recoup their investment in a shorter amount of time. 

The current model used by German utilities for the production and distribution of solar electricity is available on the web at http://sales.nordex-online.com/General/NXX-8-EEG-en.pdf. 

A new report delivered to Congress on Wednesday, Aug. 25, 2004 focuses on federal research indicating that emissions of carbon dioxide and other heat trapping gases are the only likely explanation for global warming over the past three decades. The United States is the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases. 

In delivering the report to Congress, The Assistant Secretary Of Commerce For Oceans And Atmosphere and The Director Of Government Climate Research, James Mahoney said that it reflects “the best possible scientific information” on climate change. 

The report can be found on line at www.climatescience.gov. 

On Feb. 27, 2003 The California Public Utilities Commission issued an order designed to encourage distribution generation. See “Order Instituting Rulemaking into Distributed Generation,” Rulemaking No. 99-10-025, Decision No. 03-02-068. (Cal. PUC Feb. 27, 2003).  

We who live and work in California call on the Public Utility Commission and Michael R. Peevey its chairman to restructure our electric utility system, based on the German Renewable Energy Law (EEG), so as to take full advantage of the immediate and long range benefits of solar electricity. 

California can once again become the world’s leader in the production and installation of solar electric roof shingles and panels. Our future’s bright, bring on the light!  

Let’s get solar!

Terrorism Begins at Home: A Personal Encounter With American Paramilitarism in America By PAUL MARCUS

Friday December 24, 2004

“Your typical platoon has never experienced house-to-house combat, where you kick in the door and toss in a grenade, and then see who’s in there. You don’t yell “Come out with your hands up” because by then you’re dead...  

That’s what I worry about when these kids come home, how that will impact them psychologically... 

Anyone who’s not nervous, ought to be...” 

—Ron Thomas, USAF (SpOps) 

as interviewed by Doug Sovern,  

March 23, 2003, KCBS Radio 



Friday, March 20, 2003 seemed to be a typical day for me. It was about 10:15 a.m., I had seen a couple of clients, and was finishing up some paperwork and listening to the news when I heard the outer door open and loud muffled voices shouting out and what sounded like banging on the walls. 

I work in a community outpatient methadone clinic. In the nearly 17 years I’ve worked there we’ve had the occasional altercation between clients, and even once or twice between clients and staff, but never anything major, and staff members are trained in conflict resolution and crisis intervention. Unfortunately, this made my first instinct to stick my head out the door to see what the commotion was. Perhaps if I’d reflexively hit the “panic” button—connected to the local police—things might have been different, or at least more interesting now. 

What I saw, silhouetted against the large front window, was four or five large figures in black uniforms and military-style helmets, guns drawn, proceeding down the hallway and kicking in the doors to the counselor’s office and the doctor’s office next to mine. I could not see, nor never heard the word “police.” 

When these men saw me they ordered my to put up my hands and step into the hallway. As I complied with this, they checked my work ID tag, forced me back into the exam room, and asked me who else was in the building. I was more or less assuming that there had been some kind of drug bust or robbery in the area, and they were conducting a sweep of the buildings. 

Then I noticed they were State Police (DOJ), and I asked them what they were doing. They then searched me, took my driver’s license, and handcuffed my hands behind my back. They said they were serving a search warrant, and proceeded to question me about what I did in the clinic, and in particular whether I dispensed methadone to clients or had anything to do with billing. They never showed me any warrant, explained my rights, nor offered explanation for the shackles. 

I was presently escorted upstairs, where I was allowed to join the other dozen or so staff members and a few unfortunate clients, sitting in a big circle in the lobby, everyone with their hands cuffed behind their backs. They then went through interviewing us one by one, and taking down information (address, Social Security number, etc.). I was one of the first few to be interviewed and allowed to leave, but when I went back by a couple of hours later the police were still there. 

This was the first day of the war, and people were edgy anyway. I actually had a toy pistol in my desk drawer (previously confiscated from a kid and never disposed of), which I was aware enough to tell the officers. Thankfully, I’m not one of those gun-totin’ Second Amendment defenders, or by all logic we’d have one dead officer and one dead Physician Assistant today. 

Apparently, this whole matter concerns allegations of MediCal billing fraud, which I am confident are unfounded. But even if the clinic HAD been defrauding the State, I cannot conceive of any rational justification for this military-style assault on our premises. If someone had just walked in and offered up a warrant for any records, I am sure they would have gotten our complete cooperation. I am pretty sure that it is a violation of clinic rules for anyone to bring a weapon into the building. 

Instead, the police chose to terrorize and humiliate the staff, and severely undermine the trust our clients will have in their safety and confidentiality. Workers are shaken, unable to work, requiring consolation if not counseling. 

The police left doors and locks broken (including one to an outside hallway which compromised the clinic’s security), and left unlocked our medical cabinet (where the syringes are), which I specifically instructed one of the officers to lock up, since they would not allow me to do it (he assured me they would). 

I believe our society is being increasingly polarized, and one manifestation of that is the growing disconnect between law enforcement/safety personnel and “civilians.” I believe police cadets are inculcated with a military-style us-versus-them, good guys/bad guys attitude, and an “end justifies the means philosophy” which leads to both less freedom and less security for the ordinary person. A society where you have to fear the trigger-happy cop as much as the drive-by crossfire. One where you have to fear the cop planting some cocaine on you if he doesn’t like your attitude during a traffic stop. 

The black uniforms, the helmets, the guns, are all meant to intimidate the innocent populace, while inflating the ego and emphasizing the separateness and superior power possessed by the police. The police now consider themselves above (or at least outside) the law instead of enforcers of it, dictators and not servants to the citizenry. 

I think we are already quite a way down the slippery slope towards abandonment of the core values and practices which made this country so different and so successful. Modern Democracy is as yet young and fragile, and may not survive the combined onslaught of religious zealotry and oligarchical feudalism pounding on our doors...Ã

Two Giant Fat People By NANCE WOGAN

Friday December 24, 2004

Based on a poem by Hafiz 


I love this poem: 

His idea hit home. 

You God, as a big fat person on a small boat 

With fat me afloat. 

When we bump into each other ‘fore and ‘aft 

We laugh and laugh. 


Fat is the big sin of our day, 

So we both are sinners? 

Hey hey hey! 


And the idea of no distance-no room to detach 

As in “I need my space” (that au courant pop-phrased catch) 

Is not the way, 

At least not today. 

But oh the idea of all this being  


Has me grin like grits-or a bowl of hominy! 


Our fatness no shame 

But in laughter we came 

Into such closeness-or maybe peril. 

If we laugh too hard, the boat as  


warns the waters all deep around, 

So we laugh and laugh from way underground 


That bubbles up to a surface calm, 

While waters beneath us offer balm. 


Fat Lordy, bump me in this  

morning’s light; 

Let dawn’s small boat recede the  



—Nance Wogan  


The Year-End General Clean Up By FUSAKO DE ANGELIS

Friday December 24, 2004

As a new year steps closer I hear my mother’s haunting voice in the air, “First, clean up the mess!”  

While I grew up in Japan, the end-year general house cleaning was a special event. We were impressed that without it we would never have a new year, not a happy one, anyway.  

I remember watching and admiring my mother, how vigorously and effectively she emptied and reorganized the closets. To me looking behind the sliding doors, made of wall paper with ukiyo-e design, was discovering another reality of the world.  

When my mother asked me to take part in cleaning for the first year helping my elder sister, I felt so proud and grown up. And I learned quickly it was more organizing than dumping carelessly. Just dumping would create another pile.  

After all, it was a few years after the end of WWII which completely burnt down the entire city including our house. Nobody had much in excess, or even enough food. And yet it was amazing for me to see things accumulated as if they had their own lives.  

Then when the new year came, I remember the bracing joy I felt being in a new world, clean, with spirits of the new year flying around us, while we ate ozoni (rice cake soup) and played hyakunin-isshu (the cards of one hundred famous waka poems) in the new kimonos my mother had made for all her daughter.  

Well, can I feel anything like that, or at least a bit of joy for the new year, if I do a general house cleaning this year? I asked myself. And said, no, I doubt it.  

I have lived almost three decades in the States, voted in the last two presidential election as a U.S. citizen. Yet I have never felt this desperate, frustrated and powerless because of the mess that my country has created all over the world. It is beyond my house and closet. How can I begin to deal with it?  

Our election fraud and abuse by touch screen machines and state officials is most appalling to me. Our electoral democracy is a mess.  

According to ex-president Carter, if the United States were a Third World country, our Nov. 2 election would not pass certification by international monitors.  

Have we lost our courage to look into the realities behind the beautiful screen doors painted with letters of democracy and freedom?  

I remember when I was listening to the Ohio public hearing on KPFA, a girl from Oakland (I think she was 14 year old) called in, and asked, “Didn’t we know this would happen since the last election four years ago?” Yes, she is right.  

Now that a new year is only a few steps away, and Bush’s inauguration at hand, I think it is time for us to look at our electoral process.  

My mother’s voice repeats in the air, “Clean up first! Otherwise you will never have a happy new year again.”  


Resolutions By BEN DITCH

Friday December 24, 2004

Once again it’s come to that time of year when mental lists become more frequently made. Lists of challenges overcome and of opportunities never seized over these past twelve months. The year is so close to its end now that your only choice is to look back in retrospect... and hopefully without too much regret. I do have a tendency to focus on the negative though, and so on these bleak gray and dreary days I often find myself dwelling on sore spots like all the chances to go swimming I passed up on this summer, rather than goals set and accomplished. 

New years resolutions. It seems like I make the same ones every year. Read more, don’t suffer squares gladly, dance more at shows and start learning Spanish. I always seem to fall short of the mark. Especially with the Spanish. We all fall short of achieving the goals we set ourselves from time to time, which poses the question do we lower our expectations or do we get back up, dust ourselves off and try again, harder. Maybe the answer is a little bit of both. We don’t have to lower our expectations necessarily, but maybe learn not to bite off more than we can chew. With a slow and steady pace we can achieve our goals in the end. 

I say “our goals” because I think that there is a common goal for many of us, and that is to make something of our lives. People, especially young people feel frustrated and hopeless in these dark days, and with good reason. I can feel that frustration building in everything and everyone around me. It’s ready to be released into positive creative energy, we just need a spark. 

It seems like here in the bay area a lot people are just sitting around waiting for something to happen instead of actively making it happen. I’m not just talking politically, in our daily lives. The personal is political, and I for one want to see more people following their dreams and doing hat inspires them. Putting that energy out into the world, that is the spark. A spark here and a spark there and before you know it you have a fire on your hands. Once the fire is burning, that’s the slow and steady part. It will continue to spread with time and persistence. But the spark, that needs to happen right now. 

Yesterday I watched the documentary Rebels with a Cause about the students for a democratic society organization of the 1960s. Now there was a spark! Those people really came together and did something amazing. They actually succeeded in changing the world with their ideas and actions. It made me feel proud and inspired to hear the stories of people who were a part of that movement, many of whom are familiar local faces. But I couldn’t help but feel a tinge sadness, despair even. Why cant we have that kind of a movement now, or at least something to call our own? Are we just going to grow up and be forgotten or will we make our mark? Why so much apathy? 

I recently returned home after spending several months in Minneapolis, and while I was away I had a lot of time to reflect on life here in the Bay Area. I used to think that Berkeley was the place where one person didn’t make a difference. There’s always been so much going on here socially and politically that I felt like it didn’t matter whether I participated or not. I think there are a lot of people here, especially younger folk that feel that way, but its not true. I no longer believe this is true of anywhere. It took time away for me to realize this. 

We are lucky to live in a place with a strong history of resistance to Amerikan death culture. Unfortunately it sometimes feels like more of a burden than the motivating and inspiring force that it should be. Maybe if there was less emphasis on the accomplishments of the past, this generation, specifically 18-25 year olds wouldn’t be so intimidated of creating our own future. 

Getting away for a while and getting a taste of the grassroots punk scene in Minneapolis was a true inspiration to me. As important as it is to build our own community at home, I think it is equally important to visit other communities. To what they do the same and what is different, and maybe take some new ideas home with you. While I was there I saw the way that I think things should be, and very easily could be here. Everybody was fully immersed in building their community, working at and operating the collective cafes, volunteering at the local punk club—which they literally built themselves—to support the space as much if not more than the bands.  

They did all this because they knew that no one else was going to do it for them, but it was never a chore. It was fun as hell all the time. Have we forgotten how to have fun and still be serious about achieving our goals at the same time? Do we even know what our goals are anymore? 

It’s up to us, you and me to make the changes we want to see and build the community that we want to be a part of. The younger crowd has a voice, and it needs to be heard and if there is no vehicle for us to realize our dreams, then we need to create our own. Sure, the world will keep on turning without me. The institutions created by those who came before me will still stand, but what will be left standing to show for my time here? Do I really want it all to happen without me? 

I have a new resolution for this coming year, and that is to immerse myself in, and commit myself fully to doing what I can to build this community and to be a part of the things here in the bay area that I care about. In short, to have a voice. Consider this little article step one. 


Thankful for a Berkeley Home By ROSE M. GREEN

Friday December 24, 2004

I am most grateful to my 17-year-old granddaughter, Mischa Minkler, because if it weren’t for her, I wouldn’t be living in Berkeley today. 

When she was born, I was enjoying life in Las Vegas while her mom (my daughter Deborah) and her dad, Doug Minkler, were living in Richmond. Now, as a proud grandma, I began flying in every month to watch her grow and even witnessed her first step! 

Since both parents were politically oriented artists, they dreamed of moving to Berkeley, but with Berkeley’s real estate market at a peak, and affordable rentals nonexistent, they felt it was the Impossible Dream. But Deborah told her real-estate agent to keep looking anyway. 

And then, Eureka! They found something! She called me immediately with the good news. She had found this big house in downtown Berkeley. And what made it special was its three empty apartments. Because of rent control, they were of no interest to investors or potential landlords and the house had been siting, unoccupied, for over a year. It was only worthwhile for a family who could use all three apartments. 

“And we might be that family, Mom,” she said breathlessly, “You’ve got to see it. If we all buy it together, we can sell our house and manage the down payment, and I’m sure you can raise your third. You can have one of the downstairs apartments, Doug and I will use the other downstairs apartment as our studio, and we’ll live upstairs. What do you say?” 

I said, “Wow! I’ll come out and take a look.” 

I flew to Oakland the next day, met the real estate agent, and while I didn’t immediately fall in love with the funky old house on the tree-lined street, I could see possibilities. However, I had one big question. “Remember, Debbie, I don’t drive. Even in Las Vegas, there’s a bus stop at my door. Where’s the nearest bus?” 

“Don’t worry, Mom,” she said with a big grin, as we walked to University and up to Shattuck, where I saw different AC Transit busses going in all directions. And two blocks over was the Berkeley BART station. What more could I ask? 

And so, we bought the house. I’ve watched it double in value, I’ve watched Mischa grow tall and beautiful, and I’ve lived, surrounded by family and friends happily ever after.

Santa and Bunny By STACEY GREENE

Friday December 24, 2004

Last December, Santa came to a shop on Solano Avenue. This poor guy didn’t know what to do when I sat my “child” in his lap! In the end they took a nice photo together. 


Stacey Greene  


The Ideal Governance For the City of Berkeley By FRED FOLDVARY

Friday December 24, 2004

For my holiday wish for Berkeley, I propose a reform to put more power to the people, more accountable governance, and a more efficient and equitable collection of public revenue. 

The City of Berkeley would be organized into neighborhood districts with a population of about 1,000. Each district would elect a neighborhood council. Call this the level 1 council. The city council districts would be level 2, and the neighborhood councils of the City Council district would elect a level-2 council. The members of the level-2 councils would elect the City Council, level 3. Berkeley would then have a bottom-up voting structure, power flowing up from the neighborhoods. 

My fiscal reform would abolish those nasty utility taxes, transfer taxes, and taxes on improvements. All city taxes would be replaced by one single parcel tax based on the size and location of plots of land instead of, as is the practice now, of the square footage of the buildings and other improvements. Some of the city revenues would be allocated to the level-1 and level-2 councils on an equal per-capita basis. Responsibility for street maintenance, most parks, zoning, and some policing would devolve down to the level-1 and level-2 councils.  

Berkeley would then have a more grassroots democracy, where money would play a much smaller role and power would be more decentralized. The reformed tax system would be friendlier to enterprise, housing, and low-income folks. There would be more local control of issues that mostly affect the local neighborhoods. For a better Berkeley, let's have more power to the neighborhoods, and to the people!  


Fred Foldvary is an economist and long-time Berkeley resident.›


Friday December 24, 2004










—Bill Trampleasure


Friday December 24, 2004

For narrow minded idiots, 

for smug complacent hypocrites, 

for noxious fumes that dark the light,  

for politics, both left and right, 

for all the pontifical play,  

about ethics... a million miles away, 

about all the smug complacency, 

about how this is the “place to be” 

for all the talk about making change, 

for status quos we rearrange, 

for inebriates that we decry, 

for those we use to get us by, 

for our disdain for those who govern, 

while we spend the times, our own ass coverin’, 

for our great concern for those in need, 

while we scrutinize our bread and cheese, 

for fractured love relationships, 

that make the shrinks and lawyers rich, 

for prejudice we cannot crack,  

for racism, both white and black, 

for all the hee-hee-hee-hee-haw-haw-haw, 

amidst the blah-blah-blah-blah-blah-blah-blah, 


OH, one more item to the list........... 

poems that rant and rave like this! 


—Marcus O’Realius

Design Panel Slams Latest ‘Flying Cottage’ Plan By RICHARD BRENNEMAN

Tuesday December 21, 2004

City Design Review Committee (DRC) members got their first glimpse Thursday at the latest plans for the “floating cottage” at 3045 Shattuck Ave., and they didn’t like what they saw. 

“Grossly overdone,” said chair David Snippen. 

“An ugly facade with no architectural features,” said David Blake, referring to the structure’s second floor. 

“This takes a really wrong turn. . .a detriment to the neighborhood,” said member Carrie Olson. 

“It’s an awful design,” said Bob Allen. 

The same panel sang the praises of the Berkeley Bowl proposed for Ninth Street and Heinz Avenue in West Berkeley, giving preliminary approval to it and three other projects: 

• Satellite Housing’s plans for an 80-unit senior residential facility at 1535 University Ave. 

• A three-story, eight-unit residential project at 1406 San Pablo Ave. 

• The landscaping and fencing plans for Congregation Beth El. 

For first-time owner/builder Christina Sun, it was not the first time that her plywood-clad box at Shattuck Avenue and Essex Street has drawn withering criticism. 

The problems began last year when she hired an architect and a contractor to raise the existing cottage, mounting it atop a two-story shell built on a new, enlarged foundation. 

Irate neighbors called the city, and an investigation disclosed inconsistencies on Sun’s building permit application, declaring that the finished product would be a single-family home, and not the multiple-occupancy dwelling with a ground floor shop she set out to build. 

Because the conversion required a use permit and approval from the city Zoning Adjustments Board (ZAB), city officials shut down construction and ZAB subsequently declared the structure a public nuisance. 

The city did allow Sun to cover gaps in the cottage’s roof with plywood and plastic sheeting to keep out winter rains. An inspection later revealed she’d laid down roofing paper, the first step in installing shingles, so the city ordered the work halted. 

“There’s been a problem with her truthfulness or lack thereof,” Senior Planner Debra Sanderson told the Daily Planet at the time. 

Speaking for Sun at the meeting was her architect, Andus Brandt of Berkeley, who acknowledged that the designs “were not the most creative solution.” 

“She was not a devious developer,” Brandt said. “Her original intent was to strengthen the foundation, and the plan-checker [at the city Permit Service Center] told her she could have two [extra] floors by carefully avoiding aspects that would trigger a plan check.” 

The architect said that neither he nor Sun had any idea that the ensuing project “would be such that it would lead to the revocation of the [building] permit over a year ago.” 

The main difference between the old design and his newer version, he said, was it added more windows to the ground floor commercial space and four more street trees. 

Brandt didn’t win over project neighbors, who heaped scorn on his client. 

“We don’t believe anything she says.” said Victoria Ortiz, a Shattuck Avenue neighbor. 

Ortiz was one of a group of neighbors who led the drive to close the liquor store at the northeast corner of Shattuck and Essex, directly across the street from the flying cottage. 

“Four months later, another form of blight disrupted our way of life,” she said, waving pictures of the structure. 

“The building’s architecture is completely out of place, and the property is way too tall. . .The neighborhood feels passionately about this.” 

Particularly vexing, she said, was Sun’s refusal to negotiate: “After one session, she refused any more mediation.” 

“Send it back to the drawing board,” Ortiz urged. 

Ava Jordain, who lives on Essex Street just east of the building, said she “was so angry when she raised this thing. I felt so powerless.” 

One of her worries was the project’s effect on parking on her street, which, unlike many other streets in the south of Ashby neighborhood, isn’t restricted to two-hour stays by residential parking permits. 

“It’s totally taken up during the day by BART commuters,” Jordain said. “Then between 5:45 and 6:45 p.m. it’s almost empty until it fills up again because of La Peña and the Starry Plough,” two popular South Berkeley gathering places. 

“The 2100 block also hosts the community hot tub, so we have all these visitors who know the code.” 

“What’s the code?” quipped committee member David Blake. 

Because the ground floor retail space would be less than 1,500 square feet, Sun doesn’t have to supply a parking space for commercial customers. 

Jack Appleyard, another neighbor, aimed his critique at the architecture. 

“It may not be the ugliest building in Berkeley, but it’s desperately trying to be,’ he said. “Jacking up a bungalow to three stories is something new, and it’s a horrible precedent for Shattuck Avenue. Would you like it in your block?” 

At the end of the meeting, as committee members laid out the specifics of what they wanted to see, Brandt sat in his chair in the audience, knitting. 

When a photographer attempted to snap a shot, a woman seated beside him grabbed at the camera. 

Committee members also had problems with Prince Hall Arms, a four-story 42-unit senior citizen residential building with street-front commercial space at 3132 Martin Luther King Jr. Way. 

A retirement facility sponsored by an African-American Masonic organization, the project was originally approved in 1995 but never built. 

Osha Neumann, a Berkeley artist and civil rights attorney who owns a Victorian adjacent to the site on the north, spoke in opposition, 

“It will be the end of the sunlight for me,” he said. Neumann asked for modifications that would either reduce the project’s overall height or provide more light to his home. 

But what committee members disliked most were the project’s rather exuberant color scheme—“It looks like how my daughter dressed when she was nine years old,” quipped member Carrie Olson—and its use of corrugated metal siding in a neighborhood filled with turn-of-the-20th-century buildings. 

The committee sent the project back to the drawing board..

Complaints From Residents Spark Changes at Senior Home By MATTHEW ARTZ

Tuesday December 21, 2004

Rita Garcia knew the senior housing complex where she lived couldn’t go much longer without a resident manager the day she locked her keys in her apartment last August. 

Receiving no response from the building’s emergency number, Garcia, a 67-year-old security guard, had to catapult her 11-year-old grandson through her open window to let her inside. 

“It’s a good thing he’s so thin,” said Garcia, who has a laundry list of complaints about her current home. “There’s no management here, period.” 

Garcia is one of several tenants who have issued written complaints to Affordable Housing Associates (AHA), the owner and manager of Shattuck Senior Homes at 2425 Shattuck Ave. bemoaning the upkeep of the building and the absence of a resident manager, responsible for repairs and maintenance, since August. 

Frustrations over the lack of a manager reached a crescendo Nov. 27 when a PG&E power outage disabled the elevator. 

Because the stairwell doors were locked from the inside, allowing residents to exit only on the ground floor, those who were already downstairs or outside couldn’t use the stairs to return to their apartments. 

Residents called the fire department, which arrived only to find that the master key didn’t work, forcing tenants to wait until a tenant still in her apartment opened the stairwell door from the inside hall, allowing other residents back into their apartments. 

“We screwed up,” said AHA Senior Property Supervisor Angela Cavanaugh. She said that AHA, a nonprofit developer and building manager, forgot to replace the outdated master key. 

After a lengthy search, AHA introduced a new resident manager last week, its first in four months. “We apologize that it has taken so long, but it hasn’t been easy finding a qualified person and we wanted to do right by you,” AHA Executive Director Susan Friedland told 10 tenants at a meeting last week. 

This past weekend Kenneth Stanley, the newly hired resident manager, re-keyed the building so that tenants can now open stairwell doors on each floor from inside the stairwell, giving them access to other floors. AHA started locking the doors several years ago after the fire marshall complained that tenants created a fire hazard by propping them open, Cavanaugh said.  

Complaints about the building encompassed more than access from the stairwell and the lack of a resident manager. Several residents in private interviews complained that the building’s community room was locked for days at a time, the emergency number often failed to yield a return call, puddles formed in the lobby after heavy rains, repair requests dragged on indefinitely and the garbage room on occasion overflowed with trash. 

A walk through the building two weeks ago showed a clean garbage room and no puddles, but dirty floors and mildew stained siding. 

“I’ve seen the building go from bad to worse,” said Garcia, who has lived in her studio apartment for two years.  

Susanne Yenne, who has lived in Shattuck Senior Homes since it opened in 1998, said that for more than half of the building’s existence, there hasn’t been a resident manager who lived on-site. 

Cavanaugh insisted that the emergency number worked and that the building was well maintained, but attributed many of the other complaints to the lack of a resident manager. 

“I don’t know what it was between August and November, but no one was responding to the job listing,” she said. To ensure qualified applicants, Cavanaugh said, AHA made the position full-time and required the manager to have more repair skills. 

Berkeley law requires resident managers for all apartments with more than 16 units. Steve Barton, the city’s housing director, said buildings typically take a few months to replace an outgoing manager and that AHA had a sound track record for maintaining its buildings. 

A routine housing inspection conducted last February found minor violations in five units, mostly related to broken front doors and windows. All of the citations were fixed when housing inspectors returned in April. 

In addition to finding a resident manager, AHA has also struggled to find a property rental manager, which Cavanaugh blames in part for AHA’s failure to fill the building’s four vacant units.  

AHA recently assigned a new property manager for the building and Cavanaugh said that the organization was finishing the paperwork to bring two new tenants into the building. 

Rent for about one-third of the tenants at Shattuck Senior Homes is paid by the federal government’s Section 8 program, up three-fold from when the building opened six years ago. Because the government pays landlords market rents for Section 8 tenants, they are more lucrative for nonprofit developers than standard rentals, which are subsidized at a lower level from a variety of sources. 

AHA receives $988 from the federal government for every Section 8 rental and charges $650 for a non-Section 8 tenant. 

At last week’s meeting Stanley, the new resident manager, who has 20 years in construction, promised tenants he would address their maintenance concerns. “I’m here to keep this place up and be here for you when you need me,” he said. 

For Armenta Shaw, a tenant who attended last week’s meeting, Stanley’s assurance was a sign for guarded optimism that improvements are on the way. 

“I’m hoping, but I have to see it first,” she said. 










Landlord Sweetens the Deal for Tenants By MATTHEW ARTZ

Tuesday December 21, 2004

When it comes to Berkeley landlords, Mark Tarses breaks the mold. 

By time Christmas arrives, Tarses estimates he will have given away 1,500 pounds of homemade chocolate this year, most of it to his 27 tenants. 

“I go overboard trying to make people happy,” Tarses said Saturday as he peeled a freshly chilled milk chocolate Eiffel Tower from a plastic mold and placed it on a shelf beside several chocolate pandas, above 30 other specialty made confections. 

Tarses’ South Berkeley home resembles a Homer Simpson fantasy. The living room counters and drawers are packed with figurines of Marge, Bart and Lisa, remnants from his failed bid to sell paraphernalia from his favorite show online, but the kitchen is 100 percent chocolate. 

At Christmastime, Tarses accelerates his year-round chocolate making operation, working several hours a day to make sure his tenants, plumbers, electricians and friends have a sweet holiday season. 

“He’s the best landlord we could ever ask for,” said Jackson Cone, a UC Berkeley junior, whose goody bag from Tarses for Christmas weighed about five pounds. Cone said chocolate had been at the center of their business relationship since day one. 

“He lured us in with chocolate-covered cherries,” he said of the Ashby Avenue apartment above Tarses’ residence. “The lease was laid out with the cherries in the center.” 

Cone said he and his roommates haven’t been shy about raiding their landlord’s stash if they are having guests or need a party favor. 

“I’m shocked by how much he lets us take,” he said. 

Tarses is an unlikely landlord and chocolatier. Now 59, he moved to Berkeley in 1970 from his hometown Baltimore, Md. “with $100 and a suitcase.” He said he first worked at the original Mel’s Diner and The Station restaurant and within a year he bought a triplex on Hearst Avenue for $37,000, with a $2,000 down payment. 

After a string of random jobs ended mostly with pink slips, Tarses decided to devote his energies to owning property. 

“You can’t fire your landlord,” Tarses said, “and besides I knew being a landlord was something I enjoyed and was good at.” He said he has never evicted a tenant or been sued by one. 

Tarses, who said he has always had a sweet tooth, didn’t start handing out chocolate until around 1980. At about that time, he made his tenants Christmas baskets filled with chocolate caramel pecan “turtles”—his lone recipe back then. 

They were grateful, he said, but not satiated. 

“As long as something is free the demand will always rise,” Tarses said.  

He now buys his chocolate in 500 pound boxes and packages his treats in specially made wrappers and tins that sport the name of his non-profit enterprise, “The Berkeley Nut Factory.” 

Tarses spends about $3,000 a year on ingredients. He said he has never sold his chocolate and doubted he could turn a profit if he tried to market it. He does, however, recoup some of the expense as a tax write-off. Tarses makes sure to include chocolate as a service in every rental agreement. 

“Any expense a businessman incurs to maintain income is deductable,” he said. “It’s no different than agreeing to pay for your tenants’ gardening.” 

Tarses insists he provides his tenants with chocolate made from the finest ingredients. He buys chocolate from The Guittard Chocolate Company, a Bay Area institution since the 19th Century, his fruits and nuts from Trader Joe’s and includes plenty of cocoa butter, a pricey item missing from most of the chocolate Santas on supermarket shelves. 

For fancy treats like the Eiffel tower, Tarses has a $1,000 chocolate vibrating table that shakes out air bubbles and forces the liquid chocolate into the mold. 

Tarses said several of his confections are tips from friends in the business including the owners of Spun Sugar, the Berkeley candy making store, or from his own experimentation. 

His chocolate biscotti truffles, for instance, came from adding a twist to a traditional biscotti recipe. 

“It called for one pound of chocolate for every 10 pounds of biscotti, so I reversed it,” Tarses said. “I think the end product is much better.” 

Many of his recent creations are the result of trying to satisfy an increasingly diverse set of tenants. When his first Muslim tenant moved in, Tarses switched to a kosher gelatin that used fish instead of pig by-product, which is prohibited to devout Muslims and Jews. He claims to make the only Rocky Road in the Bay Area devoid of pig snout, the part of the pig most often used to make gelatin in marshmellows. 

This year Tarses searched the Internet for a traditional Mexican flavor to please a new tenant and came up with cinnamon butter toffee almonds. 

He hasn’t been able to make enough.  

Tarses said he urged the tenant, one of eight brothers and sisters, to take home bags of treats for his entire family to have at Christmas. Tarses said he hoped the family would enjoy it. 

“Having people feel well of me, that’s important,” he said. “I believe good will matters.” 








Parents Fume Over Oakland School for the Arts Miscues By J. DOUGLAS ALLEN-TAYLOR

Tuesday December 21, 2004

A group of disillusioned parents of students at Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown’s Oakland School for the Arts (OSA) charter school have issued a scathing “Report Card 2004” on the school, blasting OSA for everything from unqualified teachers to undisclosed fees to what it calls “academic labeling of students.” 

The report card, issued anonymously on a one-page sheet of paper, has been circulated for the past three weeks in coffee shops, community centers, middle schools, and other areas in Oakland and Berkeley. It cautions prospective parents and students to “make a fully informed decision to avoid dissatisfaction” and says that its findings “reflect the experiences of a growing number of current and former OSA parents and students who wish they knew then, what they know now.” 

The report card results from what some OSA parents say is a “quickly growing frustration” with the school. Several of the parents involved—who asked to remain anonymous because they said they feared that the school would retaliate against their children—say that after three months of attendance, they are actively seeking to get their students out of OSA even before the school year ends. 

In an e-mailed response to the Daily Planet, OSA Director Loni Berry said, “It is helpful to get feedback as to how we might improve. It would be preferable for the parents who are circulating this document to express their concerns to the Oakland School for the Arts (OSA) administration. We are hopeful that our lines of communication with these parents will grow to parallel the many other successes at OSA. OSA has an impressive record. Certainly, there have been unforeseen challenges and setbacks; however, these start-up growing pains are not to be misconstrued as systematic institutional flaws.” 

In interviews concerning the report card, parents issuing the report said that they had repeatedly brought up their concerns to Berry and OSA Assistant Director Taura Musgrove, but said that their complaints had not been addressed by the school administration. 

“We brought these things up at parent meetings and in e-mails and letters and conferences,” one parent said. “They just didn’t respond.” 

The Oakland School for the Arts was chartered by the Oakland Unified School District in 2000 after a highly-public lobbying campaign by Mayor Brown, and Brown serves as the chairperson of its Board of Directors. The school originally opened in the fall of 2002 with only a freshman class of 102, adding a class each year to its present complement of 9th, 10th, and 11th grades. For its first two years, OSA operated out of the renovated basement and storefront space of the Alice Arts Center in downtown Oakland (since renamed the Malonga Casquelord Center). This fall, in anticipation of an eventual move into the old Fox Oakland Theater on Telegraph Avenue, the school moved into a newly-constructed portables complex behind the Fox and across from the Oakland Ice Center. 

The new school location formed part of the core of the parent complaints. “When the school was at Alice Arts,” one parent said, “we had the use of the auditorium there. Now the kids have no place to perform until the auditorium is completed.” In addition, the parents complained that students were isolated in the maze of portables dotting the new property. 

Students are admitted to OSA by auditioning in the various areas of the arts, including acting, dance, music and creative writing. On its website, the school indicates that it is a no-tuition school with a curriculum that blends art and academics, allowing students “focused training that will enable them to compete and succeed.” 

The parent report card disputes that website claim. 

Among other things, the report card criticizes the arts school for “difficulty attracting and retaining fully qualified and experienced staff,” “little opportunity [for incoming freshmen] to showcase their talents,” and an academic tracking system that it says makes “many [students] feel segregated and inadequate.” It also cautions parents to “be on guard for the carefully crafted wording of...requests for payment” for what it calls “hidden expenses.” 

Privately, the parents issuing the report card describe a school in virtual chaos, with a rapid turnover in both administrators and teachers, and many students bailing out as soon as they can find accommodation in other schools. 

“If I had known these things before my daughter signed up, we wouldn’t have chosen to let her go there,” one parent said. “Our expectations were violated. I feel swindled and betrayed.” 

The parent said that she had been attempting to transfer her daughter to Skyline High School in Oakland, which has a performing arts program. “But I was told that Skyline has too many students, and we can’t get in this year,” she said. “That’s the only reason she’s still at OSA. In any case, this is my daughter’s first and last year at the school.” 

Statistics from the California Department of Education list 93 9th grade and 83 10th grade students in the school year 2003-04, but parents say that the 2003-04 10th grade class—now in the 11th grade—has dwindled to less than 50. 

Berry acknowledged that student loss, but explained that it was normal in an arts school. “While student attrition rate is indeed significant,” he wrote, “the unique nature of the institution must be considered. Some students enroll in OSA only to discover that they prefer a more traditional high school experience, with shorter hours and a range of extra-curricular activities. OSA is holding true to high expectations in academics, arts and conduct. The challenge of this school is not for all students.” 

A 2003-04 report from the Department of Education showed that of six teachers listed at the school that year, only one had a full credential. Five were operating under emergency credentials. The Department of Education allows emergency teaching credentials to be issued for one year to individuals with a bachelor’s degree, who have passed the California Basic Educational Skills Test, and who have “taken classes that demonstrate minimum competency in the subject matter being taught.” 

One parent said that in the four months since her daughter entered OSA last August, both her science and her English teachers have left the school. She said that for a brief period of time Dean of Aacademic Affairs Peter Dragula filled in as English teacher until a replacement teacher was hired. The parent said that the second teacher later left the school, and her daughter is now on her third English teacher for the year. 

In answer, Berry wrote that “the faculty and staff turnover rate is higher than we would like.” He added, however, that “of the 13 full-time faculty members for the 2003-2004 school year, 10 chose to return this year.”  

Administrative turnover is also an issue, parents said. In a one week-period between the end of October and the beginning of November, both Dragula and OSA Dean of Students Amy Chan left the school. 

Berry said that to “address the concerns regarding the deans” OSA subsequently “restructured its administrative staff” by eliminating the positions, replacing them with assistant directors. 

Another parent complained that teachers at OSA were “too young or too inexperienced; they are coming directly out of college or out of their arts field with no idea how to deal with the problems facing 14- and 15-year-old children, how to teach them or how to discipline them. They end up sending students out of class for the smallest offense. Sometimes you go up to the school, and five to 10 students are lined up at the administration office, waiting for some sort of discipline. That’s a lot for a small school of motivated students.” 

One parent said that Dean Dragula’s resignation came in the uproar over the charging of a $25 fee for a textbook called “The Humanistic Tradition.” In a letter to parents dated Sep. 8, Director Berry called the book “a common text—to be used by each OSA student.” A month later, a second parent letter from Berry noted that “although it was announced in a recent PTA meeting that the book...is not mandatory for students, I strongly recommend that your student have this book. Teachers will assign work related to the readings in this text...” 

But while Berry said that “The Humanistic Tradition” was not mandatory, the school’s Department of Romance Languages lists the text as one of the “required course materials” for French classes to be taken in the fall of this year. 

“The issue is not the $25,” the parent said. “But this is supposed to be a public school, and required books are supposed to be provided by the school. We’ve already paid for that book with our taxes.” 

Director Berry said, in his eimail to the Daily Planet, “OSA does not require payment for required textbooks or materials necessary for OSA students. ... This past semester was the first time the textbook was used, on a trial basis. Now that we have documented success with the text, we are committed to its use and it will be distributed to all students at no cost.” 

Berry indicated in his e-mail that “copies of the referenced material were made available for all students.” But on Oct. 29 he sent a third letter to OSA parents “highly recommending” again that they purchase the book “as copying selected passages for student use is much too expensive.” 

Berry said OSA was in compliance with California law with regards to teachers with full state teaching credentials, but declined to give details about those credentials.  

“OSA’s compliance with California education law is closely monitored by Oakland Unified School District.” he said. “The District’s support for OSA’s overall performance has been validated by the recent renewal (Dec. 15) of the charter for another five years.”

Critics Win New Victory in Campus Bay Cleanup By RICHARD BRENNEMAN

Tuesday December 21, 2004

The constant flow of heavily loaded trucks scheduled to move out of Campus Bay this week marks a second partial victory for critics of the marshland cleanup at the heavily contaminated Richmond site. 

The state Department of Toxics Substances Control (DTSC) announced Friday that developer Cherokee Simeon Ventures would begin preparations to haul polluted marsh muck off the site starting the next morning. 

More than 100 trucks a day are expected to make the run between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. over the next two to three weeks, according to a DTSC site status report. 

Their payloads will be covered with tarps and trucks themselves will be decontaminated before they can be driven off the site. 

DTSC staff will be on hand throughout to monitor decontamination and to make sure dust control and air monitoring measures are properly implemented, said department spokesperson Angel Blanchette. 

The move was welcomed by activists in Bay Area Residents for Responsible Development (BARRD), a community group which has become the focal point for critics of the cleanup efforts at the site of the former chemical manufacturing complex. 

Cherokee Simeon Ventures plans to build a 1,330-unit housing complex atop a mound of 330,000 cubic yards of buried waste generated by the 100 years of chemical production by Stauffer Chemicals and successor Zeneca Inc. 

The current excavations are concentrated at Stege Marsh, a wetlands between the upland site of the former plants and the waters of San Francisco Bay. 

Crews had been hauling the excavated marsh soils to a recently opened section of the buried mound, where they were to be transferred in the spring after they had dried and been mixed with lime to neutralize the acids leached out of iron pyrite cinders generated by the production of sulphuric acid. 

Those soils will be moved after the current operation ends, said a DTSC spokesperson. 

BARRD activists Sherry Padgett, UC Berkeley Professor Claudia Carr and others had decried the process, which is being conducted under the auspices of the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board. 

Critics did succeed in forcing the handover of control over the upland portion of the site from the water board and into the hands of DTSC, but they remained convinced that the toxics agency should be controlling all aspects of the project. 

“We’re really glad that they’re hauling it out, but am I still at risk? I just don’t know,” Padgett said. 

Padgett, the chief financial officer for Kray Cabling, a firm located just outside the site, has suffered from a variety of cancers and medical problems she believes may have resulted from years of 16-hour days working near the site. 

Padgett remains critical of air monitoring at the site, which she said has yet to include real-time measurements and an expansion of the chemicals included in the monitoring. 

“They still haven’t included PCBs, a hazardous compound which earlier surveys had found at the site, and they haven’t added the additional monitors they promised,” Padgett said. 

Critics living and working near the site have reported smelling chemical scents, and the DTSC reported that on a site visit Thursday, both their inspectors and Cherokee Simeon representatives had smelled odors emanating from the marsh excavation. 

As a result, DTSC asked that the moment odors were detected, crews should cover that portion of the site with fresh earth and implement odor mitigation measures. 

DTSC officials responded to another complaint Wednesday regarding dust blowing off the site, which is prohibited. They ordered additional watering of roadways at the site and a slowdown of street sweepers. 

“We’re still not where I expected we’d be by this time,” said Padgett. 

Peter Weiner, a San Francisco attorney who has been representing BARRD, said the Cherokee Simeon and DTSC’s moves constituted “generally positive developments.” 

“We’re also very pleased that they are going to be monitoring the excavated material with photoionization detectors to make sure that they’re giving off no untoward volatile organic compounds (VOCs),” Weiner said. 

VOCs constitute a class of particularly nasty chemicals which can become airborne. 

“All in all, the level of attention the DTSC is paying to problems at the site is far more than before,” he said. 

Among Weiner’s concerns about the current phase of operations are plans to mix the excavated soils with lime to neutralize the acids. 

“Lime is corrosive, and we want to make sure that people are not going to be exposed to it,” he said. 

As of late last weeks, the trucks were scheduled to haul their loads to the Keller Canyon Landfill near Pittsburgh. 

Just where DTSC will dispatch the already excavated soils now stored on the upland site remains to be determined, she said.

BUSD Wins Measure A Funding For 3 School Nurses By J. DOUGLAS ALLEN-TAYLOR

Tuesday December 21, 2004

An Alameda County bond measure passed this year primarily to shore up Highland Hospital will now be used to put three nurses in Berkeley public schools. 

BUSD Director Shirley Issel announced at last week’s board of directors meeting that Measure A money would be used to fund the nurses. 

While public debate has centered on the 75 percent of the bond measure funds earmarked for the Alameda County Medical Center (generally Highland Hospital), the remaining funds are being allocated by the Alameda County Board of Supervisors for, among other things, “critical medical services provided by community-based health care providers” as well as for “essential public health services.” 

“Clearly, school nurse services fall under that category,” Issel said following the meeting. 

She also issued a statement through BUSD’s public information office, stating that “the ‘health gap’ is one cause of the achievement disparities we see in our schools. This school nurse initiative by our public health department which will place public health nurses in our schools represents a triumph of interagency partnership between Berkeley Unified School District, the City of Berkeley and Alameda County Health Care Services Agency and Public Health Department. I am immensely grateful for this essential help.”  

In addition, Issel said that the school district was pursuing funding for mental health nurses in Berkeley’s schools under the recently passed Proposition 63 measure to fund expanded health services for mentally ill children, adults, seniors. 

Cost of the Measure A program is expected to be $450,000. In addition, City of Berkeley Health Officer Dr. Poki Stewart Namkung said if that the Berkeley City Health Department can leverage that Measure A money for an additional $400,000 in federal Maternal and Child Health Title V dollars, the added funds can bring the total of school health nurses up to six. 

BUSD Public Information Officer Mark Coplan said that while the use of Measure A funds for school nurses seemed like a “no brainer,” it involved intense lobbying of the Board of Supervisors to counter proposals that the money focus on emergency rooms and clinics. Coplan said that Issel, Namkung, BUSD Superintendent Michele Lawrence, Berkeley PTA Council president Roia Ferrazares, BSEP manager Monica Thyberg, the mayor’s office, parents, and “all of the BUSD principals” were involved in the lobbying campaign for the nursing funds. 

Coplan said that details of how the new school nursing program will work as well as when it will begin will be released at a later date.c

Supervisors Back County Detox Center By MATTHEW ARTZ

Tuesday December 21, 2004

Alameda County took a big step last week towards building a detox center when the Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to set aside $2 million to fund a program. 

The vote was part of an overall recommendation from Alameda County Health Care Agency Director Dave Kears on how to spend money from Measure A, a March ballot initiative that raised the county sales tax one-half cent to fund the county medical center and other health services. 

The Berkeley City Council and the Telegraph Avenue Association have for years urged the county to establish a detox center to give addicts a safe place to seek treatment. 

“It’s one of the most glaring missing ingredients for social services in Berkeley and Alameda County,” said Councilmember Kriss Worthington, who noted that San Francisco, San Mateo, Marin and Contra Costa Counties all had detox facilities. 

County officials are estimating that Measure A will bring in $60 million this year, of which $20 million would be eligible for public health services like a detox center and the rest going to bail out the cash-strapped county hospital system. 

The current plan, said Lara Bice, aide to Supervisor Keith Carson, is to ensure access to detox services for residents in southern and eastern Alameda County and build a center in the northern part of the county, where the demand is highest. Bice said the county didn’t anticipate opening a center until after the current fiscal year ends in July and that county officials had not yet determined a location for the center. 

The Board of Supervisors voted to fund a detox center with $2 million this year and 9.5 percent of available Measure A funds over the next two years. 

Bice added that $2 million would be enough to operate modest detox services, but that the county would likely seek additional funds after it finalized plans to operate the center. 





Levine Ridicules Challenges to Point Molate Casino Plan By RICHARD BRENNEMAN

Tuesday December 21, 2004

“Ridiculous,” said Berkeley developer James D. Levine when asked about the latest legal challenges to his plans to build a major tribal casino, resort, shopping center and entertainment complex at Richmond’s Point Molate. 

The lawsuits, filed by Citizens for the Eastshore State Park (CESP) and the East Bay Regional Parks District, contend that the City of Richmond erred in signing a Land Disposition Agreement with Levine’s Upstream Molate LLC without a prior environmental impact report (EIR). 

The Guidiville Band of Pomos “is the first tribal group to offer an EIR,” Levine said. “The LDA clearly says the city has final authority over mitigation measures” to offset findings in the EIR. 

“I have a lot of confidence that the judge will uphold the LDA, and you don’t need an EIR to sell a piece of land—only when you get ready to build on it,” he added. 

The LDA does require an EIR before the project can be built, he said. 

A scoping session where public comments are invited to address issues to be included in the EIR will be coming in late January, Levine said. 

“In this business, you get used to people making all kinds of irrational arguments,” he concluded. 

CESP filed the original action in Contra Costa County Superior Court Wednesday seeking a writ of mandate blocking the sale. The park district’s action followed on Friday. 

Both organizations want to see most of the site incorporated into park, with the remainder to be used for light industrial or commercial uses. 

The property, one of the last relatively undeveloped stretches of land in the East Bay, had housed a U.S. Navy refueling depot until the base was closed and transferred to the city. 

Richmond city officials contend that they were obligated under federal base closure law to develop the land in the way that provides the most revenue and jobs for the city. c

Claremont Employees Stage One More Picket By JAKOB SCHILLER

Tuesday December 21, 2004

Claremont workers said they hope the 12-hour picket line they staged at the hotel on Friday will be their last. 

After marching pickets for almost three years as part of boycott and labor dispute, employees said they wanted to send a message now that KSL Recreation Corp., the company that manages the resort, is on its way out. According to their union, UNITE-HERE Local 2850, employees are hopeful that the new management company will agree to recognize the union and end the labor dispute. 

“We’re thrilled to death,” said Wei-Ling Huber, vice president of 2850 about the news. “We couldn’t imagine being anyone much worse, although we’re still cautious.” 

KSL, which used to own the Claremont, sold the landmark hotel to CNL, an Orlando-based real-estate investment trust, in February. KSL then signed a temporary contract with CNL to stay on as the property management company. According to the union, employees were told the contract would not be re-signed and will expire at the end of the year. 

A spokesperson from the Claremont did not return phone calls and the spokespeople for CNL were unavailable. 

“I think [CNL’s decision] has a lot do with the labor dispute,” said Huber. 

Local 2850 has been running a general boycott of the hotel in an effort to force it to re-negotiate two existing contracts and sign a new contract for spa workers. According to the union, the main sticking point in contract negotiations has been health care. Spa workers have unsuccessfully tried to get the company to recognize their efforts to unionize.  

“It’s very sad to be here for another Christmas,” said Fidel Arroyo, a cook who has worked at the Claremont for 10 years, as he stood next to the picket line. “The company has plenty of money, they could have settled the fight when they wanted.” 

At the picket, the union passed out bags of food and Christmas hams. They also issued monthly aid checks to workers to help them pay for their health care coverage because the Claremont stopped paying for premium increases when their contract expired. 









Bayer Backs Out of Genetic Engineering in India By PESTICIDE ACTION NETWORK UPDATE SERVICE

Tuesday December 21, 2004

Greenpeace India announced in November 2004 that Bayer CropScience has ended efforts to commercialize genetically engineered (GE) crops in India. Bayer’s announcement came after weeks of protests, including an 11- hour protest in Mumbai, during which Greenpeace activists chained themselves to Bayer headquarters and unfurled banners proclaiming, “Bayer Poisons Our Food.” 

Bayer’s intention to withdraw from GE research in India was expressed in a letter to the environmental organization on Nov. 4, in which the agrochemical giant admitted that “the future lies in conventional breeding.” Greenpeace termed Bayer’s withdrawal “an admission of immense significance for the entire genetic engineering industry.” 

Bayer is one of the leading agro-chemical companies of the world, holding nearly one fourth of the market share in the Indian pesticides industry (22 percent) with 52 products, including formulations. 

The Department of Biotechnology (DBT) in India disclosed earlier this year that Pro Agro (a wholly owned subsidiary of Bayer) had conducted field trials of cabbage and cauliflower that were genetically modified with the controversial Cry9C gene. This gene is one of a family of crystalline (Cry) endotoxin proteins produced by Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), a naturally occurring soil bacterium. The Bt gene is inserted into GE crops to kill pests by disrupting their digestive system. Because Cry9C is less affected by heat than other Cry proteins, and is resistant to degradation by gastric juices, it is considered likely to cause allergic reactions in humans and was certified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as unfit for human consumption. 

The Cry9C gene protein is present in StarLink corn, which was widely grown in the U.S. for animal feed and industrial purposes and in 2000 was found in 300 corn food products in U.S. grocery stores. The contamination caused massive recalls and lawsuits that may ultimately cost Aventis, StarLink’s developer and a subsidiary of Bayer, as much as $1 billion in damages. 

In the last few years, the Bush administration has moved to loosen U.S. regulations regarding contamination of food with experimental genetic material, reducing the liability of biotech companies for transgenic contamination. Most recently, on Nov. 19, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) proposed a new guidance for industry that would allow companies to voluntarily consult with the FDA in order to have their experimental biotech traits deemed “acceptable” as contaminants in food. 

The draft guidance states, “FDA believes that any potential risk from the low level presence of such material in the food supply would be limited to the possibility that it would contain or consist of a new protein that might be an allergen or toxin.” 

However, Friends of the Earth and others argue that no level of this contamination is safe, noting that after StarLink was found in the food supply, expert scientific advisors to the EPA concluded, “there was no minimal level of StarLink’s Cry9C insecticidal protein that could be judged safe for human consumption.” 

While FDA regulations may encourage GE experimentation in the U.S., the difficulties encountered by biotech companies in other parts of the world appear to be having an effect. Bayer’s retreat from testing GE crops in India is only its most recent demur. In March the company pulled out of GE crop research in the UK, and in June it dropped plans to commercialize GE canola in Australia. Monsanto has also limited its research and testing of GE foods, discontinuing plans for GE wheat in the U.S. and Canada and for GE canola in Australia earlier this year. 

Greenpeace credits consumers for this turnaround, “It is clear that popular resistance to genetic engineering is not diminishing as the industry had hoped it would,” said Doreen Stabinsky, of Greenpeace International. “No matter what country we’re talking about, consumers are on the same page. They don’t want to eat genetically engineered food. That’s good news for farmers and good news for the environment.” 


PANUPS is a weekly news service providing resource guides and reporting on pesticide issues that don’t always get coverage by the mainstream media. It’s produced by Pesticide Action Network North America, a non-profit and non-governmental organization working to advance sustainable alternatives to pesticides worldwide. 


Pesticide Action Network North America (PANNA) 

49 Powell St., Suite 500, San Francisco 

(415) 981-1771, panna@panna.org or see www.panna.org

Campaign 2004: Are There Signs of Life After Death? By BOB BURNETT News Analysis

Special to the Planet
Tuesday December 21, 2004

Dante wrote that the gates of Hell bear the admonition “All hope abandon, ye who enter here!” This phrase aptly conveys the feelings of many Americans as we prepare to enter four more years of the Bush administration.  

Berkeley activists are asking one another, “What are we to do? How will we endure the next term of what has been the worst presidency in memory?” 

For many of us, the answer is that we will take solace in our community and the spirit of resistance that has long been a vital part of Berkeley culture. But, as we recover from the disaster of Nov. 2, we can also take heart from a few glimmers of hope. 

In Montana, Democrats elected a governor, attorney general, and superintendent of public instruction, took control of the state Senate and decreased the Republican house majority to one vote. In Colorado, Democrats won a seat in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives and took control of the Colorado Senate and House. Throughout the West, progressive Democrats won key elections. 

In each of these races there were important lessons for the future: Democrats fielded an attractive candidate, took advantage of Republican vulnerabilities, and ran a smart campaign. 

In the Montana gubernatorial contest, Democrats chose Brian Schweitzer to oppose Republican Secretary of State Bob Brown. (In the face of a political scandal, the incumbent Republican governor decided not to run.) Schweitzer ran as a political outsider; a rancher, and small businessman who had been called to do his civic duty because of Republican screw-ups. 

Schweitzer stole a page from recent Republican campaign success by coming across to the Montana electorate as more authentic than his opponent.  

In his funny and insightful book, “What’s the Matter with Kansas? How Conservatives Won the Heart of America,” Thomas Frank observed that contemporary America is divided by a hidden class war—one where Republican ideologues have cleverly separated economic considerations from the notion of class. This neutered version of conflict has morphed into a culture war, one in which “resentment [has been diverted] from its natural course.” 

Which side you are on is no longer a matter of being a “have” or a “have not,” a plutocrat or a union member, now it is whether you belong to the “liberal elite” or are an authentic American—“the humble people of the red states [who] go about their unpretentious business, eating down-home foods…whistling while they work, feeling comfortable about who they are.” Republicans have proved adept at fielding candidates who appear authentic, for example, George W. Bush. 

In Montana, Schweitzer was more seen as more authentic than his opponent because of his bona fides as a native son. Schweitzer joined with other small business people to oppose deals that Montana Republicans had made with large, out-of-state corporations. He mobilized Montana hunters and fishers to oppose restrictions on stream and public land access, and condemn corporate destruction of prime hunting and fishing territory. And, Democrats pointed out that the GOP had been in power for 20 years, and yet had not dealt with Montana’s economic problems. 

Schweitzer knit together a revitalized populism: one in which Republicans were portrayed as the champions of big Business, and Democrats as defenders of the little guys. He reclaimed class warfare, turning the focus away from cultural issues and a fixation on a mythical liberal elite, to every day economic concerns with a spotlight on pernicious Republican greed. 

Something very similar happened in Colorado. Even though Republicans have 177,508 more registered voters, Democrats won most of the significant races. Analysts explained that the state had run up an $800 million deficit and, instead of dealing with this, Republicans focused exclusively on cultural issues, such as requiring the Pledge of Allegiance to be recited in all schools and condemning same-sex marriage. 

Republican Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell was considered unbeatable until a series of financial scandals forced him to retire. Colorado attorney general, Ken Salazar, then entered the race and waged a strong campaign as both a social moderate—pro-choice and against the gay-marriage amendment—and fiscal conservative. Salazar played up the fact that his family had operated a Colorado farm for more than 400 years, “On my desk in the Attorney General’s office, I have a sign that says ‘No Farms--No Food’… I want to be a strong voice for rural and agriculturally-dependent Colorado.” He came across as authentic and a populist. His “Sleepless in Colorado” campaign visited every corner of the state. As a result, Salazar carried many of the rural areas, which are nominally Republican, and outpaced Kerry by almost five percentage points. 

There are common elements in these victories: Democrats fielded attractive candidates who were seen as being more authentic than their Republican adversaries. Democrats ran on a populist agenda that shifted the debate from cultural to economic issues. And, Democrats ran a smart campaign; they took advantage of natural coalitions. 

If Democrats can win in the reddest of red states, Montana, they can win anywhere—they just have to remember who they are. 





Another Water Revolt Begins in Bolivia By JIM SHULTZ Commentary

Pacific News Service
Tuesday December 21, 2004

COCHABAMBA, Bolivia—Five years ago the issue of water privatization exploded here when massive public protests forced out a consortium of firms led by the California engineering giant, Bechtel. Within weeks of taking over the city’s public water company, Bechtel hiked up rates by as much as 200 percent, far beyond what the city’s poor could afford to pay.  

Now, a new Bolivian water revolt is under way 200 miles north in the city of El Alto, a growing urban sprawl that sits 14,000 feet above sea level and is populated by waves of impoverished families arriving from the economically desperate countryside.  

As in Cochabamba, the public water system of El Alto and its neighbor La Paz, the nation’s capital, was privatized in 1997 when the World Bank made water privatization a condition of a loan to the Bolivian government. The private consortium that took control of the water, Aguas del Illimani, is owned jointly by the French water giant, Suez, and a set of minority shareholders that includes an arm of the World Bank.  

Community groups in El Alto charge that by pegging rates to the dollar, the company has raised water prices by 35 percent since it took over. The cost for new families to hook up their homes to water and sewage totals more than $445, an amount that exceeds more than six months of income at the national minimum wage.  

More seriously, organizers say, the company has left more than 200,000 people with no possibility of access to water at all, by failing to expand water infrastructure to the municipality’s growing outskirts. “Without water there is no life, so really it is life that the company is depriving the people of El Alto,” says Julian Perez, an advisor to the Federation of El Alto Neighborhoods.  

Lack of access to clean water is a chief cause of child illness in Bolivia, where nearly one in 10 children dies before age 5. Families living in El Alto’ s outskirts rely on water from wells that, advocates say, are contaminated with industrial waste.  

“Aguas de Illimani committed to cover all of the city of El Alto and they haven’ t done it,” Perez says. Community groups are now organizing for a massive public action in January to take back the water company by force, unless the Bolivian government initiates a process to cancel Suez’s contract and put the El Alto water company back in public hands.  

“Once the people begin to mobilize we will continue to the final battle,” warns Perez. “We will win or we will lose.”  

Bolivian government officials agree that the Suez contract has failed the people of El Alto. “The contract is unacceptable. It leaves 200,000 people without water,” says Jose Barragán, the Vice Minister of Basic Services who has been negotiating with the El Alto groups. “If the company is willing to expand service to 200,000 people then we can talk about it. If Aguas de Ilimani isn’t prepared to solve the problem I’ ll join with the people in El Alto and demand that the company leave.”  

Cochabamba’s experience five years ago casts a shadow over the new water revolt. Both the government and community leaders say they want to resolve the dispute without the kind of government repression and violence that left one 17-year-old dead and more than 100 others wounded. Cochabamba water leaders are also in active communication with their counterparts in El Alto.  

The Cochabamba revolt’s aftermath also holds a lesson for Suez and its co-owners. After Bechtel was forced to leave, it and its fellow shareholders filed a $25-million legal action against Bolivia, in a secretive trade court operated by the World Bank. That demand—which far exceeds all reasonable estimates of the company’s investment—has drawn a firestorm of international protest.  

Last week Barragán, who is also in charge of the Bechtel case, revealed that the company wants to drop its demand, in exchange for a token payment equal to 30 cents. According to Barragán, Bechtel’s exit is being held up by one its partners in the Cochabamba water company, the Abengoa corporation of Spain. Abengoa now finds itself in the sights of social justice groups worldwide.  

Regardless of whether the people of El Alto succeed in forcing Suez to leave, one question remains, as it does in Cochabamba: Where will the funds come from to provide poor families basic access to safe water? Providing water and sewage hookups to the homes that lack them in El Alto would cost at least $25 million, on top of the costs of expanding the basic water infrastructure to the city’s new neighborhoods.  

In cities like Cochabamba and El Alto it is clear that poor water users cannot pay the full costs of water at the market prices demanded by private companies. Cross-subsidies from wealthier water users to poor ones can help, but still don’t come close to covering the enormous costs of constructing water systems. Neither can a poor nation like Bolivia afford to cover water costs out of its national treasury, which already falls short of adequately funding other basics such as health and education.  

In 2002 the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights declared, “The human right to water is indispensable for leading a life in human dignity. Water, and water facilities and services, must be affordable for all.” In Bolivia and elsewhere the question remains: Who will help the poor pay the bill? 


Jim Shultz is executive director of The Democracy Center based in Cochabamba, Bolivia (www.democracyctr.org).  

Letters to the Editor

Tuesday December 21, 2004


Editors, Daily Planet: 

I agree wholeheartedly with Raymond Chamberlin’s critique of the proposal to make Marin a two-lane road (“Two Lanes on Marin Avenue? A Design for Road Rage! Daily Planet, Dec. 14-16). Such a change would be nuts. It would infuriate drivers at all times of day, not just commute hours, and would doubtless lead to increased traffic on other neighborhood streets—like Sonoma to the south and Washington to the north. Nor should bicycling be a cover for this dopey idea. I am a bicyclist too and I avoid the arterials whenever possible. I wouldn’t ride on Marin whether it be two lanes or four.  

Sean Gallagher 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

NIMBY! NIGGER! What do these two words have in common? Both are meaningless but effective epithets, whose sole purpose and impact is to devalue “the other” and the other’s humanity and concerns. The terms add nothing but rancor to any discourse; they tell us nothing about the real characteristics of the targeted group, but they tell us a great deal about the name-callers.  

As soon as any citizen opposes a development project, the name-calling begins. Neighbors who have no concern except the size, design, density, and parking impacts of buildings in their community suddenly becoming bigots, racists, and people who hate poor people or the elderly or disabled. Were those who opposed the Outback project trying to keep the poor elderly out of their community? No, though perhaps some ignorant people might believe that propaganda. Were those who opposed the American Baptist Seminary expansion racists? No, although that was the first charge leveled by the developer. Were those who spent hundreds of hours working on the minutiae of building sizes on University Avenue secretly motivated by antipathy toward the poor? If so, it was a pretty inefficient way to achieve their purposes. Are those opposing the Ed Roberts Campus’ airport-like facade just hiding their secret revulsion for the disabled? No. Get real. 

No Berkeleyan would be caught dead using the word “nigger,” while “NIMBY” is liberally used in the public debate. “Smart growth” advocates regularly use the term, as do affordable housing advocates, our legislators, developers, and many developers’ lawyers. I wonder if the term is used by our own city planners in the privacy of the Planning Palace. Shame on Susan Parker (a regular Planet columnist) and everyone else who has sullied the pages of the Planet and the public sphere by using the term NIMBY to avoid dialogue. While one would think that name-calling and marginalization techniques would be an anathema in Berkeley, in fact it is our politically correct culture that makes such attacks possible. Although in fact neighbors are fairly powerless in Berkeley, NIMBYs are not viewed as a disadvantaged group worthy of sympathy. So I guess it’s okay to marginalize and insult them. 

Many people decry the adversarial atmosphere in Berkeley, and pretend to believe that it is better to work together to resolve problems. But those who call their ideological adversaries names reveal their true motivations. Remember: It is those who have the power and don’t want to share it that benefit by squelching the dialogue.  

Sharon Hudson 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I am shocked to see that the Berkeley City Council is considering narrowing Marin Avenue. This is a vital thoroughfare and needs to be available for citizens of North Berkeley. I work at Hilltop Mall in Richmond and must get to I-80 daily. This plan will have a negative impact on my commute as well as others. If this plan goes through, it will not get me out of my car. Riding public transportation could take close to two hours one way so this is not an option and I do not think it ever will be. 

Now the NIMBY punks in the City of Albany have already approved a plan to narrow the street in their city. This must be reversed. The City of Berkeley should lobby the state to intervene. If this does not work then they should consider some sort of retaliation against Albany. I do not know what form this could take, but we must not be walked over like this. I know this is not politically correct, but I think there is too much of this in our city. There appears to be a concerted effort to  

make car driving more difficult from lack of gas stations and parts stores to the preferences given to a small group of loud bicyclists. I think statistics will show that automobile owners are, dare I say it, a “Silent Majority” in Berkeley. I urge the council to redress this. 

Frederick O. Hebert 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Berkeley Bowl is a home-grown phenomenon that is in no way like a big box store, despite the large size of the proposed new store.  

It has the best produce at the best prices, and the widest variety of goods anywhere. The selection shows a level of care and knowledge that can’t be duplicated. The current store is well loved and always full to capacity. People line up to get in before 9 a.m. on Saturdays, and routinely wait up to 10 minutes for parking.  

Opening a new larger store will only add value for Berkeley residents creating more jobs with livable union wages and offering its great goods and services to another part of Berkeley. It may even reduce congestion at its current store. As for traffic, it means we will need to hasten dealing with flow in that area—something we should be doing now.  

I live one mile from the proposed site, and a bit farther from the current one, and I look forward to shopping at the new Berkeley Bowl. I say approve the whole kit and caboodle without delay!  

Mariana Almeida  




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Again, it seems that the Planet has half-heartedly reported technical aspects of transportation planning in a story (“Critics Assail Proposed West Berkeley Bowl,” Daily Planet, Dec. 17-20) in favor of opinions of harpsichord-toting citizens who generally don’t understand the traffic impacts of new developments. 

The Planet quotes statistics by the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) that say a grocery store generates “on average” 102 vehicle trips per day. It is then stated that this would produce “at least 5,583” extra vehicle trips. My first point is nit-picky but it should be noted that an “average” does not equate to “at least.” Your statement should have read “draw on average 5,583 additional vehicle trips.” Whether an oversight or the desire to inflate the numbers, this mistake should be noted. 

Secondly, and more importantly, there are many factors (including the ITE trip generation above) that go into analyzing the traffic impact of a site. It should be noted that the transportation consultants took all of this into consideration when making their recommendation. My point is that it would have been nice to see some of the city engineers or transportation consultants interviewed to round out the understanding of how the traffic of this site can affect our community. 

Lastly, the Berkeley Bowl is generally (with the exception of some of the recent labor issues) a positive local business. The most frequent negative comments I hear about the current location are how bad the parking lot is and how extremely cramped it is inside. It seems that their most recent plan of a larger store addresses these issues. 

Chris Douglas 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

The Berkeley Gray Panthers protests the proposed cut in taxi scrip from 40 books a year to nine. Taxi scrip is vital to our seniors in Berkeley, especially since other public transit is so poor, especially in the neighborhoods. Seniors need taxi scrip to go to the doctor, to visit friends, to participate in the community, and to have a life. To cut back on taxi scrip when AC Transit and BART are also cutting back means that many older and disabled people will be forced to be isolated in their homes. 

Berkeley is in the foreground of policy by providing taxi scrip to its seniors and disabled people. We in the Gray Panthers and the Commission on Aging have fought to keep this service intact. However, despite our continuing efforts to improve taxi service for seniors and disabled people, the City of Berkeley Housing Department has been chipping away at the program, not only to cut costs, but to undermine the concept of the program. Every year they come up with new ways to make the program less effective.  

I cannot believe that their actions are in line with city policy, which aims at providing adequate services for seniors and disabled people, and having less reliance on private automobiles. 

It is time for the city council to take a stand and support taxi service for seniors, and not permit city employees to chip away at the service without consultation with the council or the public. 

The City Council supports an arts district for Berkeley, but allows AC transit to cut services after 6 p.m.! Then taxi scrip is cut so that seniors and disabled people cannot obtain transport to the arts district. This does not make sense. 

Margot Smith  

Berkeley Gray Panthers 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

As the Daily Planet’s article in the weekend edition reported, the Berkeley City Council became the first city to adopt a resolution demanding an investigation of voter irregularities in the presidential election. It also called for congressional adoption of numerous measures on behalf of national election reform. Although the article was certainly informative, it nevertheless suffered from important omissions. 

Nowhere does the Planet mention that the resolution was the culmination of vigorous grassroots efforts. This omission is serious because it conveys the impression to the public that such favorable developments, in this case the council’s resolution, are born and nurtured only from above rather than reflecting social motion from below. 

Also, since the Planet neglected to acknowledge the role of the grassroots, readers did not learn that the organization mainly behind lobbying for the resolution was the very active members of the Wellstone Democratic Renewal Club. Just as it matters that we become familiar with the voting record of elected officials, it is immensely important and useful for the public to be continually reminded how progressive social change actually occurs and who bears responsibility for setting things in motion by organizing successful political campaigns.  

Harry Brill 

Wellstone Democratic  

Renewal Club  

El Cerrito 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

In her letter regarding the Ed Roberts Campus in your Dec. 17 issue, Stephanie Miyashiro invited readers to imagine a building “designed by and for folks with disabilities using universal design principles and keeping access for humans of all abilities in mind.” No imagination is needed: Wheel or walk over to 3222 Adeline St. to find an award-winning building, designed by a wheelchair rider, that provides nineteen apartments for low-income disabled renters. 

Neighbors who feel the proposed glass curtain wall facade of the ERC clashes with its historic surroundings have frequently cited this building as an example of more appropriate design. The architect, Erick Mikiten, did such a fine job of harmonizing his modern design with the surrounding historic buildings that many people pass it every day without noticing it—a shame, since it’s the nicest building constructed in South Berkeley in many years. 

By the way, William Leddy, the ERC’s architect, is not disabled. 

Robert Lauriston 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

In Becky O’Malley’s editorial (“Bernie Kerik: The Opera?” Daily Planet, Dec. 14-16), our editor told about a friend suggesting that someone commission John Adams the composer to do an opera on the subject. That idea is great. There is a pre-existing set of comic operas about the antics of ignorant, arrogant aging males: Rossini’s Barber of Seville, Donizetti’s Don Pasquale, Puccini’s Gianni Schicci, and Richard Strauss’ The Silent Woman. Adams’ operas fit right in. I imagine a politically charged opera, and John Adams has already had the courage to compose three political operas. 

As far as a commission, how about our Berkeley community, recently frustrated politically and always alive musically, doing the job? I don’t remember a community ever commissioning a piece of music, let alone an opera by a world-class composer. 

Let’s ask John Adams to see if he’s interested. 

Bennett Markel 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I propose that the city’s young people create murals to decorate the construction fence at the new Berkeley Hills Fire Station. The fence is located on Shasta Road just east of Grizzly Peak Boulevard. 

The City Council should sponsor a contest for groups to paint nature scenes on 4x10’ exterior plywood. Attach the beautiful murals to the fence. Field trips to see them and the Regional Parks Botanical Garden, a Berkeley fire station, and/or the merry-go-round would familiarize Berkeley’s youth with the beauty of wild park land and the role of the fire department in protecting Berkeley from wild fires. 

Please don’t leave our neighborhood with a denuded hillside and ugly construction fence for one to three years. 

Jeff Mertens 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

On Saturday morning a bag of groceries, including a large chicken, was delivered to my door by a group of girls and women. The card read “Happy Holidays from the Berkeley Fire Fighters, The Berkeley Lion’s Club and Girl Scout Troops No. 319 and 931.”  

And so thanks to you! 

Helen Rippier Wheeler 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

It’s not really fair of Marcia Lau, in her Dec. 17 letter, to characterize my Dec. 14 letter as demonstrating “a thoroughly undemocratic view of city office-holders’ role.” 

Public comment should and does have a profound effect on the decision-making process of any public body. It does this by bringing new ideas, problems and possible solutions to light. But it is not always a good measurement of public opinion at large. 

I don’t think anyone reading these words is so naïve as to think that a small self-selected group of individuals at a hearing or a handful of letters in the mail is a reliable representation of majority community opinion. The only way to accurately determine where public sentiment really falls is via an objective survey—or an election. 

The Berkeley ferry is a case in point. There is broad public support for re-establishing ferry service from the Berkeley Marina to San Francisco, and it was this support that helped Regional Measure 2 pass by a wide margin. It should not be derailed by a small group of vocal detractors using obsolete data. 

As for “diesel guzzling ferries,” let’s look at some numbers: A single-occupancy car consumes about 7,000 BTU of fossil fuel energy per mile. The least fuel-efficient ferry now in service on the Oakland and Alameda routes consumes 4,700 BTU/passenger-mile (and this number takes the empty “reverse commute” runs into account). The 149-passenger ferry that most closely resembles the proposals for Berkeley only needs 2,500 BTU/passenger mile. But let’s not stop here. That boat goes 28 knots, and we only need to go 18 to get from the Marina to San Francisco in 20 minutes. By designing for a slower speed, appropriate for our short (5.6 mile) route, it’s not hard to build an energy-efficient ferry that would achieve fuel rates closer to 1,500 BTU/passenger-mile. (You can check my calculations on the Berkeley Waterfront website, www.BerkeleyWaterfront.org.) 

Now, 1,500 BTU/passenger-mile is four times as good as a mid-size car, but not quite as efficient as a bus at 1,320. Keep in mind, however, that the vast majority of ferry passengers will be attracted to the ferry as an alternative to driving, not the bus or BART. A car parked at the marina will pollute far less than one that makes two stop-and-go trips across the bridge. And it’s worth noting that the ferry “Berkeley” built in 1898 and in service on the bay until ‘57, consumed about 1,000 BTU/passenger-mile. This vessel is still afloat and on display at the San Diego Maritime Museum. So lets not be too quick to categorize all ferries as inefficient and dirty. There are mature technologies that can make ferries extremely clean and efficient. 

Still, I agree with Marcia on one important point: Ferries do not deserve any special subsidy. Ferry service is not a cost-effective transportation solution when we already have a bridge and a tunnel. It will cost about $6.50 for each one-way ferry ride across the Bay. This includes capitalization of the boats and a new terminal (probable site will be just south of the fishing pier, so as to utilize existing parking near Hs. Lordships restaurant). The cost of a BART ride is about the same, based only on operating expenses. But BART is much more expensive if we include capitalization of the system expansion for an apples-to-apples comparison. 

WTA, the Water Transit Authority charged with implementing the new routes, suggests a $3.50 ticket price and a $3.00 subsidy per one-way ride. My proposal is to set the ticket price at $5.00, much closer to the market rate, with only $1.50 subsidy per ride. (Keep in mind that the bridge toll is likely to go up to $4, not to mention how much it costs to park in downtown San Francisco) This subsidy level is less than the subsidy for an AC Transit bus ride across the bay, and far less than the public subsidy for a BART ride. 

The higher price will also keep the scale of the service more in line with the existing marina infrastructure, and not place difficult demands on parking or road access. (There should be deep discounts for those arriving by bike or bus.) 

Ferry service will not solve congestion on the bridge or reduce air pollution in any noticeable way. But it will certainly make a small positive contribution in both these areas, and do it at least as economically as any other mode of public transit. 

Congestion and air quality aside, the main reason to support the Berkeley ferry is because it is a public amenity that will improve the quality of life in Berkeley. Ferry service provides an alternative of particular value to many users who have trouble with other transit modes, or who need to cross the bay with their bicycles, wheelchairs or dogs (dogs on the upper outside deck only, it is presumed). The ferries can be running in as little as three years if we can agree on some of these details and show the funding agencies that the project has our full support. 

Paul Kamen is a member and former Chair of the Berkeley Waterfront Commission. He has lived in Berkeley since 1973. 

Paul Kamen

Teaching a Child to Swim: A Fun, Wholesome and Righteous Activity By SUSAN PARKER

Tuesday December 21, 2004

One of the first columns I wrote and published was about teaching my friend Jernae to swim at the Emeryville Public Pool. I described how I was the only adult in the water, and how children surrounded me, wrapped their skinny arms around my neck and hollered at me to watch them as they did multiple cannonballs in my face. Most of the kids did not know how to swim and were therefore relegated to the shallow end of the pool. The deep end was empty, serene, and placid; the three-foot section was crowded, wild and noisy. Within the middle of this storm I attempted to instruct Jernae on the finer points of the doggie paddle. 

It wasn’t easy. Jernae was cold and scared, and distracted by the other kids who were creating enormous waves, and splashing and shouting at one another. Her small, thin body was stiff as a board and she had a difficult time relaxing. She insisted on holding her nose, which made it impossible to perform the Dead Man’s Float. 

But we persevered, and day after day we went back to the pool and started over. Little by little there was improvement, until Jernae was finally floating on her back and stomach without my assistance, then later jumping into my arms, and paddling to the edge of the pool. I wrote a column about her progress and received several e-mails after it was published. One of those e-mails chastised me for being a naïve, do-gooder racist. The writer insinuated that as a middle-class, middle-aged white woman, I did not have the right to teach a black child how to swim. “We can teach our own,” she said. “We don’t need or want your help.” 

Her letter made me question my intentions and values. I had always thought that swimming was a skill everyone should know. It’s easy to learn, develops self-confidence, and promotes safety. Plus, it’s a fun, wholesome activity. I knew that I was teaching Jernae to swim, in part, for my own personal satisfaction, but I also felt it was something she should know how to do, and that it would serve her well in the future.  

I ignored the letter writer but I discontinued writing about the lessons. When, a year later, Jernae was finally able to swim across the width of the pool, I didn’t bother telling anyone. When she jumped off the diving board for the first time, I didn’t write a column about it, and when she recently swam the entire length of Willard Pool and was permitted to go anywhere within its waters, I didn’t announce it to the readers of the Daily Planet.  

But now I do have something I want to say. A few days ago Jernae called me with some news.  

“You won’t believe this,” she said. “I am so cool.” 

“What is it?” I asked. 

“I’m about to tell you,” she said. 

“Go on,” I answered. 

“Well,” she drawled, “I’m at school, right?” 


“And I go to gym class, right?” 

“I think I knew that,” I said. 

“And you know that we go to a pool once a week, right?”  

“Get to the point,” I said.  

“Well,” she shouted. “I’m the only one who knows how to swim in my class!”  

“That’s great,” I said. “I’m proud and happy for you.”  

“I’m happy, too,” said Jernae. “Now if only some of the other kids could swim, then I’d have someone to hang out with in the deep end, right?”  

“Right,” I said.  

“So I’ve got this idea, right?” 

“Oh lord…” 

“That you and me could teach ‘em all how to swim, right?” 

“I see where you’re going with this. Bring ‘em over to Emeryville, and we’ll teach them together, right?”  

“Righteous,” she replied.  

“What did you say?” I asked.  

“Righteous,” she said again. “You don’t know what that means, right?”  

“Wrong,” I said. “I bet it means cool, right?”  

“Righteous,” she answered.  

“Do you mind if I write a column about this for the paper?” I asked. 

“Righteous!” she replied.  


Tuesday December 21, 2004

Cyclist Badly Hurt in Hit-and-Run 

A 20-year-old bicyclist was critically injured Monday morning when she was struck by a tractor-trailer truck at Seventh and Carleton streets. 

Berkeley Police spokesperson Officer Joe Okies said officers responded to a call reporting the accident, and after a brief search found the injured woman, who was rushed to Highland Hospital, where she was reported in critical condition. 

Officers searched for the truck and found it minutes later. The driver, Manuel Chamorro, who turns 43 on Christmas Day, was arrested on a charge of felony hit-and-run, Okies said.  


One Hurt in Berkeley-Oakland Shootings  

Police are investigating a series of weekend shootings in South Berkeley which left one youth injured and neighbors angered. 

Officer Okies said the first incident was reported at 7:21 p.m. Friday at the southwest corner of Oregon and Sacramento streets. 

A teenager sitting at a bus bench was struck in the leg by a single gunshot wound to the leg. 

Neither the victim nor any neighbors reported seeing anything of the shooter or the get-away car. 

The second round of gunshots was reported 82 minutes later near 62nd and Market streets. Officers arriving at the scene found only broken glass.  

The third incident was reported at 7:53 p.m. Saturday in the 1600 block of Ward Street, said Officer Okies. 

Arriving at the scene, officers found a gunshot-ventilated vehicle and a witness who described shots coming from a champagne-colored 2000 or later Ford Intrepid with three passengers. 

No suspects have been arrested in any of the shootings. 


No Luck for the Luck 

A strong-arm bandit walked into the Luck Restaurant at 1428 San Pablo Ave. shortly before 9 p.m. Friday and walked out the with cash. 


Face-puncher Grabs Loot 

A bandit with a wicked hook slugged a hapless citizen at the Mi Tierra Market on San Pablo Avenue in West Berkeley shortly before 3 a.m. Saturday and absconded with his cash. 


Bashers Busted 

Two young adults and a juvenile were arrested for the battery and robbery of a 19-year-old man they robbed of his bag near the corner of College and Durant avenues just before 3 Saturday morning. 


Carjackers Sought 

Berkeley police are looking for four men in the early to mid 20s who pulled a gun on a motorist at Seventh Street and Ashby Avenue about 9:30 Saturday morning and forced him to drive them to Oakland, where they robbed him and made off with his car. 


Juvie Heister Popped 

Police arrested a juvenile male for the strong-arm robbery of a citizen in the 2000 block of Bancroft Way at 3 p.m. Saturday. 


Pizza Driver Robbed 

Three juvenile bandits robbed a pizza delivery man near Acton Street and University Avenue at 9 p.m. Sunday. Officers arrived on the scene fast enough to arrest all three, who were then assigned new quarters at Juvenile Hall. 


Better Watch Out! 

Officer Okies admonished Berkeley drivers to curb their tippling over the current holiday season. 

Police are out in force, as several motorists discovered when they ran into a checkpoint on University Avenue Friday night. Three revelers were sobered up by arrests for driving under the influence, and still others were cited for driving on expired or suspended licenses. 

It’s all part of the Avoid the 21 campaign now underway county wide, designed to curb drunk driving during the Dec. 17 through Jan. 3 holiday period, said the officer. 

“There will be more DUI checkpoints and saturation patrols throughout,” Okies said..

Why Unhappy People are Voting Against Things By ZELDA BRONSTEIN Commentary

Tuesday December 21, 2004

Rarely does an elected official publicly broach spot-on analysis of so delicate a topic as the defeat of the four city tax measures that the Berkeley City Council placed on last November’s ballot, especially when that analysis puts the onus on his colleagues, their staff and himself.  

But at the council’s Dec. 14 meeting, Councilmember Kriss Worthington offered just such insight. “Why are people unhappy and voting against things?” he asked. “The single biggest factor I’ve heard why people are unhappy is that the City of Berkeley doesn’t follow the law.”  

Worthington made these remarks as the council was discussing the Zoning Adjustments Board’s decision to allow Jeremy’s, a clothing store, to expand from 2161 College Ave. into the adjacent storefront at 2163 College.  

City Planning staff had readily admitted that due to a staff error, Jeremy’s owner, Jeremy Kidson, had obtained the original use permit for his business at 2161 College Ave. in violation of the Zoning Ordinance. The ordinance limits the number of clothing stores in the Elmwood District to 10. The shop at 2161 College Ave. made the eleventh of its kind. Nevertheless, city staff had recommended that Jeremy’s be allowed to expand into 2163 College, and ZAB had followed suit.  

Jason Wayman, an Elmwood merchant, had appealed ZAB’s decision, contending that in approving the expansion, ZAB had condoned and, worse yet, compounded an illegal act.  

Faced with an appeal of a ZAB decision, the council has three choices: It can deny the appeal, send the matter back to ZAB or hold a public hearing. By choosing either the second or the third options, the council indicates that it regards the matter as sufficiently questionable to warrant further investigation.  

In the case of Jeremy’s expansion, the council voted 7-1 (Worthington was the sole nay; Councilmember Laurie Capitelli, who owns a business near Jeremy’s, had to recuse himself) to deny the appeal.  

The denial appeared to be driven by several considerations. For starters, there were councilmembers’ personal feelings about the quota system and Jeremy’s.  

Councilmember Betty Olds said she’d heard that Jeremy’s was a great place to shop for women’s clothes, but that it was too crowded to get in. “If something is so successful,” opined Olds, “we should encourage it.”  

Councilmember Dona Spring told how she’d like to patronize the store but can’t get her wheelchair down the aisles between the racks—a difficulty, she implied, that would be eliminated by allowing the shop to expand.  

The other major rationale for denying the appeal was the inconsistent administration of the zoning law. Councilmember Gordon Wozniak said the city had permitted “numerous” Elmwood merchants to expand into adjacent storefronts without considering the legal limits on their kinds of business. He also noted that “there was a mistake made in [Jeremy’s] original permit.”  

The problem, Wozniak concluded, was that Jeremy’s had “gotten tangled in the quota system.” Wozniak’s solution was to “separate” the two, which he proposed to do by making the double motion that was ultimately approved: Dismiss the appeal, and have the Planning Commission review the quota system in the Elmwood and other neighborhood commercial districts.  

Can you imagine the Berkeley Police Department proceeding in this manner? What if the BPD based its enforcement of the law on individual officers’ personal feelings about particular section of the legal codes? Or if members of the police force reasoned that failure to properly enforce a law in the past was sufficient reason not to enforce it in the present? Or if they winked at infringements because the offenders were popular? Or if they saw perpetrators as having gotten themselves “tangled” in the law and in need of extrication by the police?  

To be sure, the police have been professionally trained to do their work, while our council and mayor are amateur policymakers—seasoned amateurs, but amateurs nonetheless.  

So it’s even more galling that the council’s injudicious denial of the Jeremy’s appeal was countenanced, not to say facilitated, by the professional staff who are paid to guide Berkeley’s elected officials through the thickets of law and history. Neither City Attorney Manuela Albuquerque nor Planning Director Dan Marks said a word. The one staffer who spoke, Land Use Planning Manager Mark Rhoades, reiterated the Planning Department’s support for Kidson’s expansion.  

The only official to stand up for the law was Worthington. “We have laws about what businesses can do and can’t do,” he said. “In this case, multiple businesses have been allowed to expand with use permits. Others have been forbidden to do so. How is that fair, and how is it reasonable? It’s not fair, and it’s not reasonable, and we should not be promoting that.”  

Worthington noted that Wayman’s request for a public hearing on his appeal was supported by many other Elmwood merchants as well as “by neighborhood associations in the district with very different political perspectives….Not to give these folks a chance to hear their arguments,” said the councilman, “is going to perpetuate the notion that we tolerate unfair and illegal actions on the part of the city…and I don’t think we should do that.”  

As he, unlike his colleagues, has figured out, neither do a lot of unhappy Berkeley voters.  


Zelda Bronstein is a former chair of the Berkeley Planning Commission. ?

Invasion and Reconstruction: It’s Déjà Vu All Over Again By NEIL COOK, Commentary

Tuesday December 21, 2004

I’ve got to admit it: There were parts of American history back in high school that simply bored me to sleep. So I probably slept through extensive parts of the subject. Recent events have, however, awakened an interest.  

There was just something about the headlines the past few months that seemed remotely familiar; like a hazy dream. I couldn’t focus clearly enough to realize what it was. 

Then, with this weekend’s news of “rebels” pulling election officials from their vehicle and executing them in the street in Baghdad, it hit me. I’d heard that term “rebels” somewhere before. 

Sure, there had been all that gory Civil War stuff with its mildly interesting names—take General Hooker for instance. Or Stonewall Jackson. There were rebels somewhere in those history lessons but that stuff I could almost recall. 

Then I tried to think about what an old history teacher always liked to call “the big picture.” 

The Civil War: (1) The invasion by the United States of a sovereign nation (at least in its own mind) that (2) didn’t have a terribly expansive concept of democracy; (3) had a history of violent oppression of its minority population; and (4) had resources and trade potential the U.S. wanted to control.  

Although it had overwhelming troop numbers, superior technology, much more extensive supplies and had virtual control of communications and of the seas, the Union army had a tough time subduing the locals. As I remember it the “rebels” had the advantages fighting on their home turf; being far more dedicated than the Union’s forces because they perceived their very way of life to be threatened whereas the Union’s soldiers were largely conscripts and mercenaries; and having superior leadership. For some reason Lincoln had a series of inept dullards as generals—his armies were frequently led by fools who probably couldn’t even sign their own names. 

Once they gained the upper hand, however, Union forces cut a swath of destruction through the South. General William T. Sherman’s little “march to the sea” with his armies of the Cumberland was a real effort to win the hearts and souls of the South by stripping the countryside bare as he moved forward. Atlanta was burned to the ground as part of this “scorched earth” policy. Things got so bad for the South that they even authorized the enlistment of slaves into their army!  

But none of this stuff has any particular relevancy to headlines of the past few months. 

It was that whole era of history known vaguely as “reconstruction” that has an eerie ring to it. So I did some reading. 

Once the South had been thoroughly trounced, the U.S. government set about establishing proper democracy. Union troops remained in large numbers to restore order and to protect citizens. For some reason anybody who was seen as cooperating with the North by running for office or by trying to register voters was likely to be killed. 

These rebels were downright brutal. They kidnapped people! They beheaded them! Left their headless bodies lying right in the street as a means of intimidation. They even burned people alive. Strung them up and set them on fire! 

The South wasn’t going to be allowed back into the Union until they went along with the whole “democracy” program. Union troops weren’t going home until this happened. 

Go ahead, I dare you. Crack open a history book and take a look to see just how long those troops were there (OK, I don’t remember either). I do know it was after Lincoln was assassinated, after Andrew Johnson survived impeachment by only one vote and well after Ulysses S. Grant’s term, and not until some time after Hays stole a presidential election from Tildon (the election of 1876). You could look it up. 

So, as a net result of throwing the country into a horrible debt, devastating a generation of its youth and fostering hatred—how did that whole “bringing proper democracy to the South” thing turn out? 

Well, that’s all more recent history. There was that creation of the Ku Klux Klan thing (founded by a Confederate general), then there was basically a century of denying blacks the right to vote, the right to an equal education, the right to ride in the front of the bus, and all that. But heck, if you overlook those small details it all turned out just wonderfully. 

I’m sure Iraq will work out just as well. After all, we’ve got machines now that can sign the names of inept military leaders for them. 


Neil Cook is a Berkeley attorney.

Surviving Suprematism: Lazar Khidekel By PETER SELZ

Special to the Planet
Tuesday December 21, 2004

An exhibition of art and architecture by the Russian artist and architect Lazar Khidekel is currently on view at the Judah L. Magnes Museum. It is entitled “Surviving Suprematism” and the drawings, watercolors, sketches and photographs of Khidekel’s buildings are indeed examples of survival. 

When Khidekel was 16 he began his studies at the art school in Vitebsk where Marc Chagall and Kasimir Malevich were members of an astounding faculty. The young Khidekel was more attracted to the radical vanguard position of Malevich, the founder of Suprematism. 

Suprematism was the first movement in art, which reduced—or advanced—painting to pure geometric abstraction. It originated in Russia just prior to World War I, at a time when Russian art—Cubo-Futurism, Rayonism, Suprematism, and Constructivism—were at the forefront of innovative explorations in art. 

The most renowned works by Malevich were his “White on White” series of 1917-1920 in which not only the depiction of objects, but even color and space were eliminated in order to achieve the purest form in painting. To enter the “pure realm of sensation,” Malevich asserted, all references to reality as we know it, were rejected. It was an art in which conceptual and cerebral concerns, reaching for the spiritual, were of prime import. Malevich, did, however, make suggestions for a utopian architecture, and produced models which had an important impact on the Bauhaus, and eventually, on modernist architecture. 

Lazar Khidekel was among the young artists for whom Malevich was the paradigmatic figure. The exhibition at the Magnes presents a number of splendid drawings, which he made between 1920 and 1922. They are small and show that large ideas do not need to be expressed in big format. They were done in the early days of the Soviet Union when the progressive politics of socialism and avant-garde art were for a short time in partnership. Khidekel then went on to study architecture and became a successful practitioner. 

The Soviet Union, after a brief time of enlightened support for new artistic expression, labeled modernist art “antihumanistic, pathological and decadent” and suppressed the art of the Suprematists and Constructivists, restricting art to propagandist Socialist Realism. 

Khidekel’s work as a successful architect in Stalinist Russia can be seen as a parallel to Shostakovich’s survival as an avant-garde composer in the Soviet Union. Khidekel managed to retain Suprematist concepts in some of the architectural sketches in the exhibition. His ideas of a Futurist city remind us of the projects by the Italian Futurist Antonio San ’Elia and Le Courbusier’s city plans. 

As seen in sketches and photographs in the exhibition, Khidekel built electric power plants, lumber mills, workers’ housing projects and schools. His proposal for a Tchaikovsky Museum, which appears to float above the ground, retains Suprematist concepts. His 1959 design for a Stalin Pantheon is a far remove from his progressive ideas. Khidekel was a finalist for this project, which, fortunately, was never built. 

But it was not only Suprematism which survived in a good many of his architectural designs, but it was Lazar Khidekel himself, a Jew in the anti-Semitic milieu of the Soviet Union, who managed to survive as a successful architect. He persevered in his utopian visions, as seen in his late watercolors, which clearly hark back to his early ideas. Daniel Libeskind was able to see beyond the facades of Khidekel’s official buildings when he expressed admiration for his architectural concepts. 

The nearly 80 objects in the exhibition, which celebrates the 100th anniversary of Khidekel’s birth are on loan from his family. His son Mark Khidekel, also an architect, and his daughter-in-law Regina Khidekel spoke at a symposium about his work at the Museum on Dec. 5. The exhibition will remain on view until March 20. 


Peter Selz is the founding director of the Berkeley Art Museum and a former curator of New York’s Museum of Modern Art.  


The Magnes Museum is open 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Sundays through Wednesdays, and 11 a.m.-8 p.m. ; Thursdays, except Dec. 23 and Dec. 30 when it will close at 4 p.m. 

2911 Russell St. 549-6950. 

Donation requested.t

Arts Calendar

Tuesday December 21, 2004



Solstice Night of Noise, with noise artists, amplified plants, mutant instruments, and voltage made audible at 8 p.m. at 21 Grand, 449B 23rd St., Oakland, near 19th St. BART. http://music.acme.com 

Zydeco Flames at 8:30 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cajun dance lesson with Diana Castillo at 8 p.m. Cost is $9. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 

Laurie Lewis’ Holiday Revue at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $15.50- $16.50. 548-1761. www.freightandsalvage.org 

Peter Barshay & Murray Lowe at 8 p.m. at Downtown. 649-3810. 

Anton Schwartz Quintet with Taylor Eigsti and Julian Lage at 8 and 10 p.m. Yoshi’s at Jack London Square. Cost is $10-$15. 238-9200. www.yoshis.com 

Jazzschool Tuesdays, a showcase of up-and-coming ensembles from Berkeley Jazzschool at 8 p.m. at Jupiter. 848-8277. 


Berkeley Poetry Slam with host Charles Ellik and Three Blind Mice, at 8:30 p.m. at The Starry Plough. Cost is $5-$7. 841-2082 www.starryplough.com 


Music for the Spirit A Christmas concert with unusual Christmas Carols at 12:15 p.m. at First Presbyterian Church of Oakland, 2619 Broadway. 444-3555. 

Jules Broussard, Ned Boynton, and Bing Nathan at 8 p.m. at Downtown. 649-3810.  

Universal, salsa, at 8 p.m. at Shattuck Down Low, 2284 Shattuck Ave. Cost is $5-$10. 548-1159.  

Noah Schenker Trio at 8 p.m. at Jupiter. 848-8277. 

The Ghost Next Door, Blue Sky Theory, Musashi Quartet at 8:30 p.m. at Blakes on Telegraph. Cost is $4. 848-0886. www.blakesontelegraph.com 

Clairdee’s Christmas at 8 and 10 p.m. at Yoshi’s at Jack London Square. Cost is $10-$15. 238-9200. www.yoshis.com 



Word Beat Reading Series at 7 p.m. with featured readers Allen and Ann Cohen at Mediterraneum Caffe, 2475 Telegraph Ave. 526-5985. 


Brian Kane, solo guitar, at 8 p.m. at Downtown. 649-3810. 

Ledisi at 8 and 10 p.m., also Fri., Sun. and Mon. at Yoshi’s at Jack London Square. Cost is $22. 238-9200. www.yoshis.com 



Berkeley Repertory Theater, “Polk County” A musical about aspring blues musician, Leafy Lee, at the Roda Theater, 2015 Addison St. to Jan. 9. Tickets are $15-$60. 647-2949. www.berkeleyrep.org  


Gary Rowe, solo piano, at 9 p.m. at Downtown. 649-3810. 

Ledisi at 8 and 10 p.m. also Sun. and Mon. at Yoshi’s at Jack London Square. Cost is $22. 238-9200. www.yoshis.com 



Sister I-Live, reggae, at 9:30 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cost is $13. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 



Opera Piccola “Stolen Aroma” an interactive African folk tale with youth players at 2 p.m. followed by Kwanzaa concert, at Habitot, 2065 Kittredge St. Cost is $5-$6. 647-1111. www.habitot.org 


“O Magnum Mysterium” Tom Bickley with recorders, voice, electronics and environmental sound to create a 50-minute meditation, at 7 p.m. at Grace North Church, 2138 Cedar St., at Walnut. Donation $10. www.gracenorthchurch.org  

Fireproof at 9:30 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cost is $11. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 

David Grisman Bluegrass Experience at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $24.50-$25.50. 548-1761. www.freight- 


Odd Shaped Case, Balkan music brunch, at 10 a.m. at Nomad Cafe, 6500 Shattuck Ave. 595-5344. www.nomadcafe.net 



Poetry Express theme night “Between the Holidays” open mic from 7 to 9:30 p.m., at Priya Restaurant, 2072 San Pablo Ave. berkeleypoetryexpress@yahoo.com 


Songwriters Symposium at 8:30 p.m. at Blakes on Telegraph. 848-0886. www.blakesontelegraph.com 



Courtableu at 8:30 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cajun dance lesson with Cheryl McBride at 8 p.m. Cost is $9. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 

Stephanie Bruce and Brad Buethe at 8 p.m. at Downtown. 649-3810. 

Joshua Redman Elastic Band featuring Sam Yahel and Brian Blade at 8 and 10 p.m. Yoshi’s at Jack London Square. Through Jan. 2. Cost is $26-$100. 238-9200. www.yoshis.com 

Jazzschool Tuesdays, a weekly showcase of up-and-coming ensembles from Berkeley Jazz- 

school at 8 p.m. at Jupiter. 848-8277. 



Berkeley Poetry Slam with host Charles Ellik and Three Blind Mice, at 8:30 p.m. at The Starry Plough. Cost is $5-$7. 841-2082 www.starryplough.com 


Jules Broussard, Ned Boynton, and Bing Nathan at 8 p.m. at Downtown. 649-3810.  

Mal Sharpe’s Big Money and Gumbo, New Orleans jazz, at 8 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cost is $9. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 

QBA, salsa, at 8 p.m. at Shattuck Down Low, 2284 Shattuck Ave. Cost is $5-$10. 548-1159.  

Riley Bandy Group at 8 p.m. at Jupiter. 848-8277. 

Vienna Teng at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $17.50-$18.50. 548-1761. www.freightandsalvage.org 

The American Roots Music Show with The Shots, Red Rick & Friends, Stuart Rosh & the Geniuses, at 8:30 p.m. at Blakes on Telegraph. Cost is $4. 848-0886. www.blakesontelegraph.com 



Word Beat Reading Series at 7 p.m. with featured readers Dillon and Stephanie Manning followed by an open mic, at Mediterraneum Caffe, 2475 Telegraph Ave., near Dwight Way. 526-5985.  


Singing for Your Life with members of SoVoSó, from noon to midnight at First Congregational Church of Oakland, 2501 Harrison St. at 27th. Suggested donation $10 and up, no one turned away. 444-8511, ext. 15. www.artsfirstoakland.org 

Bhangra Mix at 8:30 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cost is $6. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 

Mimi Fox, solo jazz guitar, at 8 p.m. at Downtown. 649-3810.  



Berkeley Repertory Theater, “Polk County” A musical about aspring blues musician, Leafy Lee, at the Roda Theater, 2015 Addison St. to Jan. 9. Tickets are $15-$60. 647-2949. www.berkeleyrep.org  

Shotgun Players “Travesties” and Dada Party at 8 p.m. at The Ashby Stage, 1901 Ashby Ave. Tickets are $35, reservations required. 841-6500. www.shotgunplayers.org 


San Francisco Chamber Orchestra Classical celebration dedicated to the memory of Edgar Braun at 8 p.m. at First Congregational Church, 2345 Channing Way. Free. 415-248-1640. www.sfchamberorchestra.org 

Johnny Steele’s Hilarity Hoedown and Jocularity Jamboree at 9:30 p.m. at the Julia Morgan Center for the Arts. Tickets are $22-$28. 925-798-1300. www.juliamorgan.org 

José Roberto and Friends at 9:30 p.m. at La Peña Cultural Center. Cost is $20-$22. 849-2568. www.lapena.org 

New Year’s Eve Balkan Bash with guests Tzvetanka Varimezova, Ivan Varimezov and Kalin Kirlov at Ashkenaz. Cost is $18. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 

New Year’s Eve Flamenco Fiesta with a traditional Spanish dinner at 9 p.m. at Café de la Paz, 1600 Shattuck Ave. Cost is $65-$95, reservations required. 843- 0662. www.cafedelapaz.net  

Art and Music Salon from 9 a.m. to 1 a.m. at Giorgi Gallery, 2911 Claremont Ave. For details on the event and for tickets see www.CHARISMAfoundation.org 

Bluegrass Gala with High Country at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $24.50-$25.50. 548-1761. www.freightandsalvage.org 

The People at 9:30 at Blakes on Telegraph. Cost is $12 in advance, $15 at the door. 848-0886. www.blakesontelegraph.com 

New Year’s Eve with the Naked Barbies at 9:30 p.m. at The Starry Plough. Cost is $6. 841-2082. www.starryploughpub.com 

David Jeffrey Fourtet in a New Year’s Eve Party at 10 p.m. at Albatross, 1822 San Pablo Ave. Cost is $5. 843-2473. www.albatrosspub.com 

Gary Rowe at 6:30 p.m. and Danny Caron and Friends at 9:30 p.m. at Downtown. 649-3810. 

Kool Kyle, hip hop, at 9 p.m. at Shattuck Down Low, 2284 Shattuck Ave. Cost is $5-$10. 548-1159. www.shattuckdownlow.com 

That 1 Guy at 9 p.m. at Jupiter. Cost is $10. 848-8277. 

Rock ‘N’ Roll Adventure Kids, Sacramento at 8 p.m. at 924 Gilman St., an all-ages, member-run, no alcohol, no drugs, no violence club. Cost is $6. 525-9926. 

Joshua Redman Elastic Band featuring Sam Yahel and Brian Blade at 8 and 10 p.m. Yoshi’s at Jack London Square. Through Jan. 2. Cost is $26-$100. 238-9200. www.yoshis.com?

Celebrating the Spectacle of the Returning Grebes By JOE EATON

Special to the Planet
Tuesday December 21, 2004

The grebes are back on the bay: the chunky eared and horned grebes, the elegant javelin-beaked Clark’s and western grebes. The eared and horned have traded the golden plumes of the nesting season for winter black and white, the permanent pattern of the two larger species. A couple of days ago at Cesar Chavez Park I was watching an eared grebe just offshore as it submerged with a forward leap, then popped up like a cork a few yards away. 

They’re odd birds. Ornithologists haven’t been sure where to classify them: For years they were placed near the loons, but recent genetic studies suggest their closest relatives are, of all things, the flamingoes. Grebes have stubby legs, set so far aft they can barely walk on land; they assemble rafts of vegetation into floating nests for ease of access. Alone among birds, they eat their own feathers, and feed them to their chicks—maybe to cushion the bones of the small fish that make up a large portion of their diet. 

Some of the eared grebes I’ve been seeing may be the same birds I saw early in October at Mono Lake, where I was in the presence of more grebes than I had ever seen in my life—and I mean that in a cumulative sense. I was at the South Tufa reserve, among the ancient formations that look like melted Manhattan skylines. The aspens on the east slope of the Sierra had turned, spilling down the mountainside creekbeds like flumes of fire. And the lake’s surface was paved with grebes. 

The bird traffic at Mono is seasonal. The California gulls had reared their young and dispersed, some to their urban parking-lot niche. The migrant Wilson’s and red-necked phalaropes had come and gone. October was the time of the grebes, over a million of them. They had gathered from freshwater marshes and prairie potholes all over the interior West to feast on Artemia monica, the lake’s endemic brine shrimp.  

The grebes have been known to consume 83 percent of the standing crop of shrimp in one season. They don’t even leave the lake to drink; the bodies of the shrimp satisfy their need for water. Fattening to the point of obesity, the birds molt their flight feathers and their flight muscles lose up to half their mass. If you’re going to be flightless, Mono Lake is a relatively safe place: There aren’t that many predators capable of snatching a grebe off the water. Toward the end of the season, the wing feathers grow back in, body fat is converted to breast muscle, and the grebes begin to work out, flapping their way along the lake surface. And one day they’re off again, on the last leg of the journey that will take some of them to San Francisco Bay. 

Watching all this natural plenitude—the grebes, the brine flies in windrows on the shore—it’s easy to forget that we almost lost this whole ecosystem. Twenty-five years ago, I wouldn’t have expected the spectacle of the grebes to last until the next turn of the century. 

The creeks that fed the lake were being diverted to supply water to Los Angeles, and the lake was shrinking, becoming too saline to support even the brine shrimp and brine fly larvae. One of the islands where the gulls nested had turned into a peninsula, a causeway for coyotes and other predators. Alkali dust from what once was lakebed blew across Highway 395. 

But, thanks to a visionary named David Gaines (who, tragically, didn’t live to see the result) and a handful of activists, Mono Lake is still alive. The courts reduced the diversion, and L.A. had to take water conservation seriously. The lake began to fill up again; some of the tufa towers that had been high and dry on my last visit now have their feet wet. We’re still a long way from the days when Mono attracted great flocks of ducks and geese, along with the gulls, phalaropes, and grebes. But it’s a beginning. 

Between the grebes on the lake and the grebes on the Bay, of course, lay the election. I had spent the intervening month in deep red states, carefully not talking politics with my relatives, and watched the returns in a Motel 6 in Bakersfield. And I came back to Berkeley in the state of shock that I suspect was prevalent here. 

Forget, for the moment, Social Security, the Supreme Court, the war in Iran (not a typo): It’s going to be a really bad four years, at least, for the environment. We’ll probably lose the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge now. As I write this, the Bush administration has just brushed off an independent report on the effects of global warming in the Arctic. Russia, Canada, the Scandinavian countries, the indigenous peoples want action; the U.S. wants to study the problem a bit longer. 

At a time like this, it’s salutary to remember when Mono Lake felt like a lost cause. And there are causes now that may not be as lost as we think. It’s going to be a long hard slog, but at least we don’t have to worry about being lulled into complacency and then sold out by the Democrats. The national arena isn’t the only game, if you look both to the local and the global. There’s a whole slew of groups doing good work—restoring native ecosystems, groundtruthing the data in bird and butterfly counts, straining their eyes on the fine print of government documents, lobbying, litigating—that could use your support, financial or otherwise. 

Hubris may yet take Bush’s gang down. Meanwhile, we can’t afford the luxury of despair. As Mother Jones (the labor leader, not the magazine) said, we need to be prepared to mourn the dead—and I’m afraid we’ll have many occasions to do that—and fight like hell for the living. 









Berkeley This Week

Tuesday December 21, 2004


Morning Bird Walk at 7:30 a.m. in Sibley to see the birds of an extinct volcano. For information call 525-2233. 

Winter Solstice Celebration at the Interim Solar Calendar, Cesar Chavez Park, Berkeley Marina, promptly at 4 p.m. 845-0657. ww.solarcalendar.org 

Winter Solstice Celebration from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. at the Chabot Space and Science Center, 10000 Skyline Blvd., Oakland. 336-7300. www.chabotspace.org 

“Chiapas Montes Azules Biosphere: Coveted by Corporatations” with Mary Ann Tenuto Sanchez and John Steinbach on Conservation and Ecotourism at 7:30 p.m. at Berkeley Fellowship Unitarian Universalists Hall, 1924 Cedar, at Bonita. Suggested donation $5 to Benefit Chiapas Solidarity. Wheelchair Accessible. 495-5132.  

Berkeley Youth Alternatives Basketball Jamboree, Tues. and Wed. at 6:30 p.m. at 1255 Allston Way. Team Entry Fee $50. for details call 845-9066. www.byaonline.org 

“Hard to be Merry” Service for those feeling disconnected from the celebrations of the season at 7 p.m. at Loper Chapel, at Dana and Durant. Sponsored by Trinity United Methodist Church, First Congragational Church and First Baptist Church. 

Berkeley Salon Discussion Group meets to discuss “Should People Keep Pets?” from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Berkeley Richmond Jewish Community Center, 1414 Walnut St. Please bring snacks and soft drinks to share. No peanuts please. 601-6690. 

Organic Produce at low prices sold at the corner of Sacramento and Oregon streets every Tuesday from 3 to 7 p.m. This is a project of Spiral Gardens. 843-1307. 

Berkeley Camera Club meets at 7:30 p.m., at the Northbrae Community Church, 941 The Alameda. 548-3991. www.berkeleycameraclub.org 

St. John’s Prime Timers meets at 9:30 a.m. at St. John’s Presbyterian Church, 2727 College Ave. We offer ongoing classes in exercise and creative arts, and always welcome new members over 50. 845-6830. 


Walk Berkeley for Seniors meets every Wednesday, rain or shine, at 9:30 a.m. at the Sea Breeze market, just west of the I-80 overpass. Everyone is welcome, wear comfortable shoes, sunscreen and a hat. 548-9840. 

Berkeley Peace Walk and Vigil at the Berkeley BART Station, corner of Shattuck and Center. Sing for Peace at 6:30 p.m. followed by Peace Walk at 7 p.m. www.geocities.com/ 



Telegraph Avenue Holiday Street Fair, with over 200 street artists, merchants, community groups, musicians and other entertainers, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.  


Reduced City Services Today Call ahead to ensure programs or services you desire will be available. 981-CITY. www.cityofberkeley.info 

Telegraph Avenue Holiday Street Fair, with over 200 street artists, merchants, community groups, musicians and other entertainers, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.  


Bayswater Book Club Christmas Brunch at 9:30 a.m. at Frishmans’s New York Deli on Solano at Peralta. 433-2911. 


Boxing Day Birdwalk and Fete We’ll look for the wren and talk of its history and legends. Traditional music and refreshments afterwards. From 9 to 11 a.m. at Tilden Nature Area, Tilden Park. Fee is $5-$7, registration required. 525-2233. 

The Science of “All-Favor Beans” Learn how you smell and taste candy, make a toungue map and other games at 2 p.m. at Tilden Nature Area, Tilden Park. 525-2233. 



Reduced City Services Today Call ahead to ensure programs or services you desire will be available. 981-CITY. www.cityofberkeley.info 

Tea at Four Taste some of the finest teas from the Pacific Rim and South Asia and learn their natural and cultural history, followed by a short nature walk. At 4 p.m. at Tilden Nature Area, in Tilden Park. Cost is $5-$7, registration required. 525-2233. www.ebparks.org 


Reduced City Services Today Call ahead to ensure programs or services you desire will be available. 981-CITY. www.cityofberkeley.info 

Morning Bird Walk Meet at 7:30 a.m. at the end of Tennant Ave. in Bayfront Park in Pinole to see shorebirds. 525-2233. 


Reduced City Services Today Call ahead to ensure programs or services you desire will be available. 981-CITY. www.cityofberkeley.info 

Red Cross Mobile Blood Drive from 1 to 7 p.m. at St. Mary Magdalen Parish, 2005 Berryman St. 1-800-GIVE-LIFE.  


Alameda County Community Food Bank’s Annual Food Drive accepts donations of non-perishable food in the red barrel at any Safeway or Albertson’s. 834-3663. www.accfb.org 



A Miracle Reborn at the Freight and Salvage By GAR SMITH

Friday December 24, 2004

Last December, songwriter John McCutcheon (the man the Oakland Tribune calls “the Bruce Springsteen of folk music”) slowly approached a microphone at Berkeley’s Freight and Salvage and announced a special song. Those who knew the song grew silent. Those who heard it for the first time were soon nodding their heads in quiet affirmation. Some wept. 


My name is Francis Tolliver, I come from Liverpool. 

Two years ago, the war was waiting for me after school. 

To Belgium and to Flanders, to Germany to here, 

I fought for King and country I love dear. 


McCutcheon’s wrenching ballad, “Christmas in the Trenches,” celebrates a nearly forgotten incident from WW I—the “Christmas Miracle.”  

It was Christmas Eve, 1914. After four months of fighting, more than a million men had perished in bloody conflict. The bodies of dead soldiers were scattered between the trenches of Europe, frozen in the snow. Belgian, German, French, British and Canadian troops were dug-in so close that they could easily exchange shouts. 

Lt. Kurt Zehmisch, a German soldier who had been a schoolteacher in Leipzig, blew a two-fingered whistle toward the British trenches. To the delight of Zehmisch’s Saxon regiment, the Brits whistled back. Some of the Germans who had worked in England before the war shouted greetings across the battlefield in English. 

On the Allied side, the Brits watched in amazement as candle-lit Christmas trees began to appear atop German trenches. The glowing trees soon appeared along the length of the German front. 

Henry Williamson, a young soldier with the London Regiment wrote in his diary: “From the German parapet, a rich baritone voice had begun to sing a song I remembered my German nurse singing to me.... The grave and tender voice rose out of the frozen mist. It was all so strange... like being in another world—to which one had come through a nightmare.”  


The cannon rested silent, the gas clouds rolled no more, 

As Christmas brought us respite from the war.... 


“They finished their carol and we thought that we ought to retaliate,” another British soldier wrote, “So we sang “The First Noël” and when we finished, they all began clapping. And they struck up “O Tannebaum” and on it went... until we started up “O Come All Ye Faithful” [and] the Germans immediately joined in .... this was really a most extraordinary thing—two nations both singing the same carol in the middle of a war.”  


“There’s someone coming towards us!” the front-line sentry cried. 

All sights were fixed on one lone figure trudging from their side. 

His truce flag, like a Christmas star, shone on that plain so bright 

As he, bravely, strode unarmed into the night. 


Soldiers rose from their trenches and greeted each other in No Man’s Land. They wished each other a Merry Christmas and agreed not to fire their rifles the next day. The spontaneous cease-fire eventually embraced the entire 500-mile stretch of the Western Front, from the Belgian coast to the Swiss border. On Christmas day, more than a million soldiers put down their guns, left their trenches and celebrated the birth of the Prince of Peace among the bodies of their dead. 


Soon one by one on either side walked into No Man’s Land. 

With neither gun nor bayonet, we met there hand to hand. 


The soldiers exchanged handshakes and food. Some cut badges and buttons from their uniforms to exchange. Others shared prized photos of wives and children. Many exchanged addresses and promised to write after the war ended.  

The German troops rolled out barrels of dark beer and the men from Liverpool and London reciprocated with offerings of British plum pudding. Some soldiers produced soccer balls, while others fashioned balls from sacks of bundled straw and empty jam boxes. Belgians, French, Britons and Germans kicked their way across the icy fields for hours as fellow soldiers shouted encouragement. 

Officers on both sides, aghast at the spectacle of peace breaking out between the lower ranks, exploded with shouts of “treason” and threats of courts martial. Their threats were ignored. 

Along some stretches of the Front, the truce lasted several weeks. But, slowly, under threats from their officers, the troops returned to the trenches and rifles once more began to bark. (But many soldiers aimed so their bullets flew well above the heads of the “enemy.”) 


Soon daylight stole upon us and France was France once more. 

With sad farewells, we each prepared to settle back to war. 

But the question haunted every heart that lived that wondrous night: 

“Whose family have I fixed within my sight?”  


WW I lasted another two years. In that time, another 4.4 million men would die—an average of 6,000 each day. In all, 8.5 million soldiers perished. 

It’s Christmas Eve and John McCutcheon’s voice echoes in the room: 


My name is Francis Tolliver, in Liverpool I dwell. 

Each Christmas come since World War I, I’ve learned its lesson well: 

That the ones who call the shots won’t be among the dead and lame, 

And on each end of the rifle, we’re the same. 


John McCutcheon has recorded 30 albums and has received five Grammy nominations. “Christmas in the Trenches” appears on his 1984 album, “Winter Solstice.” McCutcheon’s website is http://www.folkmusic.com. © John McCutcheon/Appleseed Music. Reprinted by permission. 


Gar Smith is associate editor of Common Ground magazine, where a version of this essay first appeared. 



Seasonal Cheer at the Berkeley Flea By BECKY O'MALLEY

Tuesday December 21, 2004

Right about now things are starting to slow down a bit for some people (especially public employees who are taking advantage of optional holiday days off) and speed up for others (Santa Claus and the harried folks who help him out, especially mothers and fathers who have jobs they can’t escape even during the holidays). Last weekend was the countdown weekend for busy people who like to give gifts but don’t have much time to shop. And it was also the only pre-Christmas weekend for parties and such, given that the holidays are on Saturdays this year. There are those, of course, who pride themselves on using the solstice period as an opportunity to demonstrate that they can even be self-absorbed in the midst of the frenetic efforts to connect that motivate others at this time of year. While those about them are wrapping presents and singing carols, such people are taking long solitary walks on the beach.  

But for those of us who actually enjoy rubbing shoulders with our fellow humans, the cheeriest place to go on the weekend before Christmas has got to be the Berkeley Flea Market. It’s the place for those who decry excess commercialism to find interesting previously-owned presents. African-Americans are the proprietors of many of the best of these stands, taking advantage of the opportunity to enter the retail market with a good eye for quality and not much capital investment. Enterprising international vendors now occupy many slots, with merchandise from all over the world. Africans from Africa have set up shop next door to the African-Americans. Elderly Chinese traders in almost-antiques share booths with young go-getters bringing in plastic novelties from China.  

Which sellers come to the Berkeley Flea in any given year is a quick guide to the international situation. There are fewer items there now from Latin America, possibly the influence of NAFTA. Many of the stands which used to sell crafts made by Afghan refugees in Pakistan have been replaced by vendors of products made by refugees from Tibet.  

The Afghan family which sells beautiful carpets is still represented, but there have been changes. They used to stock some rugs which had pictures of Soviet helicopters and Kalashnikov rifles woven into the borders, left over from the Russian occupation, when they were made as souvenirs for the occupying army. Those have been gone for a few years now.  

For a couple of years the father of the family has not been at the market—he’s gone back to Afghanistan to see what has become of the family property there after the Americans came. This year the mother was gone too. Their daughter, who’s been hanging around in the family stall since she was a young teenager, has taken over sales. She told me that her mother is on a two-month trip home, but plans to come back to California, at least for a while. The daughter by now is a real American girl who speaks perfect English, and has, she says, no desire to move back to the ancestral home. But she knows her rugs.  

Women, especially middle-aged and older women, run many of the stalls, and they’re often ready to chat about business and family with another middle-aged woman. The lady who specializes in classy cookware and children’s clothes knows the ages of all my granddaughters and saves her best gently-worn party dresses for them. Another woman who has found many nifty items for me in the last few years has taken the bold step of shifting to selling only high-quality men’s clothes, like sweaters from the old Brooks Brothers, before it was acquired by Marks and Spencer and slid downhill. This year she told me that her family was in Alaska, and she’d be having a lonely Christmas. Vendors and shoppers often exchange more than just goods and money. 

What solitary beach-walkers share with flea-market shoppers is the desire to be outside during the short days of the solstice season. Sunshine, which we had last weekend, is a big plus for both kinds of people. And it’s really a necessity for flea-market vendors, whose yearly income rises and falls with the weather. When it’s been a good year, with several sunny pre-Christmas weekends, the regulars are in an especially expansive mood on the last Sunday afternoon before Christmas. Sellers start booth-hopping, exchanging gifts, greetings and goodbyes with their colleagues, many of whom go on vacation or buying trips in January and February. The bongo-drummers at the last Sunday market this year seemed to be twice the usual number and the volume four times as loud. The tamale vendor was sold out early, a disappointment to shoppers but a good sign for business.  

This has been a good year for the big stores selling luxury goods to the rich folks. Stores like Walmart which court working people haven’t had as much luck this year, because times are tough for many who aren’t rich. But let’s hope that the merchants at the Berkeley Flea Market, who offer patrons more than just merchandise, have had a successful year, perhaps taking some business away from Walmart. They deserve it.  

—Becky O’Malley 



Public Comment

Promoting Children’s Rights in Uzbekistan By DIANA CABCABIN

Friday December 24, 2004

As a program officer with UNICEF Uzbekistan, I contributed to UNICEF’s work on the Convention on the Rights of the Child. I was responsible for developing a child protection program that encompassed disabled children, the issue of education, juvenile justice, youth development, and disaster preparedness. 

Although some 10 years had passed since Uzbekistan became independent from the Soviet Union, NGOs were slow to grow and often needed basic organizational development and management training. I provided some guidance and links to resources for these inexperienced NGOs. Many NGOs struggle to understand their role in promoting a better life for all children and youth. 

As a result, many intellectual debates over the role of NGOs took place. 

During my time in Uzbekistan, I was responsible for outreach to local civil society organizations, which had particularly good records of experience on child protection, a proven commitment to children’s rights and a need for support. I also conducted outreach to international NGOs supporting children’s rights. I had several opportunities to exchange ideas about the Convention on the Rights of the child with Uzbek human rights experts, national government officials, NGOs, and prospective partners. 

As a UN Volunteer from the West, I faced particular challenges within a high-profile organization like UNICEF. As local staff consisted of mostly highly educated people from Russia, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Canada, it became challenging when I was also asked to recruit American volunteers, who had been working locally in rural schools and health clinics, to join in the discussions. There was no lack of cultural misunderstandings in the process. 

One of the high points of working with UNICEF was the World Water Day project. This called for travel to the Karakalpakistan region several times to work with a school called the Progress Center. Because of poor environmental decisions, this region was severely neglected and its water resources depleted through extreme agricultural usage. 

Water from the once great Amu Darya River has continued to sustain several small towns and fishing villages that have grown around the river. However, the region has become highly toxic and dangerous to live in. UNICEF led an international emergency drought mission in September 2001. Environmental issues continue to be subject areas that require attention in Uzbekistan. 

In a separate but related project, I put together a book with the translation and editing help of fantastic Progress Center interns. We gathered artwork and writings of children from the World Water Day in 2000 and presented the book at World Water Day 2001. World Water Day is an annual awareness raising opportunity for UNICEF worldwide, during which UNICEF aims to focus the world’s attention on the serious problem of drought, desertification, and the need for continuing humanitarian support. The Progress Center organized World Water Day in the region, which included the participation of children, their families and government officials from all the cities in Karakalpakistan. The World Water Day event was particularly meaningful for all the communities because it was held on March 21, the Uzbek Holiday Navrous, which means “New Day” and ushers in the coming of spring. 

As a UN Volunteer with UNICEF, I learned how central the Convention on the Rights of the Child is to UNICEF’s work. I discovered true challenges in the implementation of the Convention and in meeting our commitment to children in our world—a world led by adults who have sometimes forgotten how they have been educated, how they have developed into productive human beings, how they survived crises, and how they learned to participate in society. Our role was to remind our world’s leaders about the rights of not just some, but all children. 


Diana Cabcabin served as a UNICEF Volunteer in Uzbekistan from 2000-2001. She now lives in the San Francisco area. 

AMTRAK in the Spring By MAYA ELMER

Friday December 24, 2004

When the winds blow from the south, when my bedroom curtains billow inward over the open window, I hear the train whistles bouncing their way east from the bay shores, from way down below in the flatlands of Berkeley. I hear the whistles of Thomas Wolfe’s train in You Can’t Go Home Again. I see him looking out his window in the dark of night, I see myself looking out at the prairies and watching the lights of the farmers’ houses flash by.  

I want to be on that train, too. It’s like being on it—and yet, up here in bed, at the same time.  

The allure of the wind-brought image became reality. I was on my way to Chicago on an Amtrak sleeper-train for three slow-time days and two nights—starting with the California Zephyr which spun its way north from an Emeryville departure at 9:30 a.m. on an especially blooming Tuesday, April 20, 2004.  

I settled back against the sleeper car seat, eyes glued with avid curiosity, to look at the “backyard” of the East Bay territory I have only known from my 20 years of driving north on I-80 by its “frontyard.” The perspective had been jarred loose, and I searched for the familiar.  

The conductor came by to collect my ticket; yes, just like in the movies. I took a break from gazing outward to pay attention to the details of my temporary cubicle: the toggles for lights, and for the car-lady, a.k.a. “help me!” I slid the heavy compartment door back and forth a few times; it would give me total privacy when I wanted it. A coffee urn stood in the vestibule between car; and of course, the toilet. It was just one compartment away from mine—reassuring for night time visits. If you are as old as I am, you’ll understand the interest. If not, believe me, just you wait. Had I mentioned that all the important sleeping-car arrangements were on a second floor along with the dining car and lounge?  

Curiosity drew me back to the view unrolling before my eyes. The train was about to cross the Carquinez Straits—using the old train bridge. I was fascinated at how the engines appeared first to drive into a curve and then to meet the span head on, dragging our cars along behind.—Lo! There was the Mothball Fleet!! rows and rows of grey-ghosts floating in the bay to my right. Did the day-trippers to Reno lift their eyes from their mystery books to appreciate the ships’ existence in their present, their historical past? 

Shortly before the whistles rounded up for Sacramento and Old Town on the banks of the Sacramento River, a voice announced over the PA system that lunch would be served at noon sharp in the dining car, two cars behind. So I began the routine of lurching down the narrow aisle three times a day for meals; balancing from window to stateroom-wall to the rhythm of the swaying cars.  

“How was the food?” was the first question friends asked me on learning of my train trip. Goes to show the primeval interest hasn’t been genetically modified. The menus were great; sometimes the implementation stumbled; I forgave the dry salmon and the tough lamb shanks however; the vegetables and sandwiches were top notch. But after all, food came with the price of the ticket: food and lodging and the train trip itself all for the price of a three-day stay in a classy hotel. Couldn’t beat that.  

The best part came in the dining car: within the space of an hour, to define to three strangers who we were, where we came from and where we were going. And why we were on a train instead of a plane. Imagine my surprise to find that most of the train-trippers were terrified of flying: “Oh, are you really?” I looked doubtfully across the table at the chic blonde woman from North Berkeley who presented herself with a sophisticated air. She met my doubt head on, and laughed a bit ruefully, her eye brows pulling together slightly. “Yes. That’s truly so. Once I even took the anti-fear classes the airline offered; but it really didn’t work. I get panic attacks when I board a plane”  

The blonde turned to all three of us at the table and continued, “Yes, I’ve just learned to live with it. My husband and I have planned a two-week vacation in Paris where I’m to meet him in…” she glanced at her watch-calendar, “in 12 days. And believe it or not, I have reservations on the QE 2, the night our train arrives in New York City.”  

“Well, why did you take the train?” I was asked by the young 40-ish New York couple who had attended a wedding in San Francisco. After I saw them smooching on the platform at a long stop, I suspected THEY were the wedding pair.  

A simple answer: As I slow down in my life, so I want to travel slowly, arrive slowly; I want to smell the roses before the petals wither.  

By 3 p.m. of my first day, the train began climbing into the Sierra and I banks of manzanita in bloom, their “tiny apple” blossoms casting a pink haze over all. The dogwood trees, blanched white-white, huddled amongst the evergreens. Suddenly I was aware of a silence as the train rose to float past tree tops dusted with snow. There was no chuk-a-chuk of the wheels remembered from bygone train travel. A mystical feeling grew in the silence. 

“The rails are welded together,” said my across-the-aisle neighboring traveler in explan-ation as she noted my interest in the change of sound. A woman of 60, a county administrator, writer of a book, whose volunteerism developed into a professional life. Her hair pulled back from a lovely face, ended with a long braid which reached to her waist. I recognized a high achiever-though modest. She was the type I’d love to interview for a story.  

The Zephyr then curved itself around Emigrant Gap, Soda Springs, and Norden. All the names which figured in my ski-days. At this altitude light snow had settled on the earth and between the rails; which curved on ahead of the train like twin black magical snakes through a forest and around the rising hills. Small solid patches of snow hid in the woodlands. Nostalgia gripped me; my heart turned over at the recollection of images—for a moment how it was:  

I am there. At the top of the slope I pose, teetering and shifting my weight. The cold air like a feather on my cheeks. The sun like a warm palm on my forehead. I shiver; I just push off the ridge and slide my skis downward, sidewise.  

Trees flow past me; it is not I flowing past them. My poles, my arms like wings and knees in a crouch. Flying through the air, although grounded to the earth...how can I do—be—both?—the spurt, the spume of frosted air spins past me.  

Schussing straight down; then to pull up smartly noisily crisp in a quick jump on the pitch of the ski edge. The solitary joy of conquering .  

I grieve again, for the times past, but for only a moment. The train—and life—goes on.  

The only time I found myself angry and ready to proselytize my companions on the train about the necessity of writing our Congressmen to vote for more $$ for the Amtrak system was when the fancy toilet–gimmickry broke down. The passengers in this car would have to use the one in the next car . Imagine , dead-of-night, having to push open the doors, one for each car; and between the cars, waltz over the connecting plates ,catching fearful sight of earth moving beneath. Then to repeat the process to return to the berth.  

Thank goodness there was time for exchanging tips on marketing stories to magazines with the writer from Orinda, Calif., as the train stretched itself over the Rockies, on over the plains into Chicago; time to gently turn aside the approaches of the Seventh Day Adventist couple; time to accept the gifts of books as another traveler finished reading them. One after the other.  

Thank goodness there was time to get acquainted with the fat man whose thighs poured over the edge of the dining car banquette, with the doughy legs of the little Pillsbury man who s joining the annual reunion of submariners in Milwaukee.  

I warmed to him instantly. “My first husband, Bill, and I had spent two months in Manitowac, where his sub, the Kraken, had been built,” I offered to the conversation. Manitowac, Wisconsin was just north of Chicago by an hour or two. The ex-sailor’s face gleamed at my recognition of his journey. Memories again. The launching of Bill’s ship sidewise into the harbor’s waters; the heavy thuds with the drumbeat of music, as the timbered grids were knocked away by sledge hammers. The tsunami of a splashing wave when the ship fell off and then righted itself. I had kissed him goodbye, with love, sadly, and with misery when he, on the Kraken, had floated down the Mississippi River and ultimately to war in the Pacific. I didn’t tell my mates at the table how I wept when I read how the ship had to dive deep into the shallows off of Singapore to avoid gunfire, being stuck in the mud for hours.  

I, safe in a steel girt train and not in a covered wagon, finally arrived in Chicago where this story “from sea to shining sea,” “This Land is My Land,” and, “Oh beautiful for spacious skies”—all these clichés-in-song—had become a reality for me.

Aviary Ambassadors of Attitude By B(CYBERSPOOK) BURKE

Friday December 24, 2004

I live near strawberry creek and one of my favorite events is the daily comedy show put on by the resident crows that descend upon the giant eucalyptus and evergreens there. As I sat lazily watching them from my office recently land on branches one at a time at first, then almost on top of each other, yelling, and provoking each other I couldn’t help but recognize the correlation between those aviary ambassadors of attitude and the human variety of black suits. 


Well it’s a crow convention 

An aviary meet, 

where we all get together up on peckin’order street 


The uniforms are black, ‘cause it’s the order of the day 

we got some serious discussion 

and it ain’t no time to play 


Y’all come to order 

stop yer fussin’ 

look at me 

I’m in charge of this branch’ ..no I’m the General of the tree 


I need yer undivided tension 

yer collateral support 

need yer extra special focus 

of the patriotic sort 


So this here branch is mine 

and that’n there is yers 

you better keep yer distance worm breath 

yer just a peck away from sores 


Now listen up ya turkeys 

we ain’t no Parakeets 

this is serious discussion 

here on Peckin’order street. 


After a long rancorous discourse, sans Robert’s Rules I’m sure, they seemed to adjourn on cue and lurch into air, en mass as if on the General’s order. 



This Heart Needs a Home By PATRICIA LESLIE

Friday December 24, 2004

Kokoro’s name means “heart,” and indeed her loving heart is continually opening and unfolding like a lotus blossom. But she has not been easy to place in the perfect “forever” home. She needs someone to be her patient “pack leader,” cherishing her courageous heart and soul, taking joy in her high spirits, respecting her sensitive emotional nature, and delighting in helping her reach her full potential. 

This story began in Los Angeles, Autumn 2000. As a city pound puppy, Kokoro was adopted by a family who weren’t looking for a household companion—just a live burglar alarm. They stuck her in a backyard pen and neglected her for the next three years. So she never had a chance to meet and play with puppies, dogs, or cats during the crucial formative months. As a result, while she is loving with people, she is not socialized to other animals, and must forever be an only companion.  

During Kokoro’s third year, the older boy became ill. My friend Alice began assisting the family. She also befriended the attractive but sad dog out in back behind the chain-link fence. She suggested that if they didn’t care about her, it would be better to find her another home. The answer was always, “We need it to bark if someone gets into the yard.” Alice lost touch with the family that summer. Then in late September they decided to move, and suddenly phoned Alice, giving her one day to “come get the dog if you want it.” 

But this was only a short-term rescue, since Alice already had cats and rabbits at home. And to become adoptable, this dog would need a lot of training. My husband Karl and know dog training, have fostered dogs before, and our “doggie guest room” was empty. It made sense for us to shoulder Alice’s burden. So Kokoro arrived on November 1, 2003. Despite lifelong mistreatment, her willingness to trust us was astonishing. 

Vets and trainers had theorized that she was a (Japanese) shiba inu mix, so I gave her a Japanese name. After some months, we discovered that she is actually a Korean jindo. (This explained why, at 36 pounds, she is twice as big as a shiba.) Jindos are known for loyal devotion to home, family, and territory—much like other curly-tailed Asian breeds, such as akitas and chow-chows. They were historically used for hunting small animals and guarding property. It seems they mostly had to fend for themselves, resulting in natural selection for toughness, hardiness, and intelligence. They’re also a bit “wild at heart,” with a stronger prey drive than most companion breeds. 

Naturally clever, Kokoro caught on rapidly to her training. Over the months I expanded her challenges, taking her to busy places like Solano Avenue and Cesar Chavez Park. Now, after a year, she is a very different dog—except where other animals are concerned. Kokoro’s key issue is that she sees “her” humans—those providing affection and security—as the resource to guard. She isn’t possessive of food or toys—but she goes into a jealous rage at the sight of another animal getting friendly attention from “her” people. This is why she must be an only companion. Even so, she handles casual contact (like a loose dog running up) with wonderful restraint. 

By spring Kokoro was ready for a home, so we listed her on several dog-adoption websites. Only frustration resulted. 

Kokoro is funny, sweet and charming—but like most of us, she comes with a few issues and limitations. Her future person must be willing to make a lifetime commitment to working through them, or around them. Of course, her “special needs” include someone familiar with dog psychology—having, perhaps, lived with and loved a “difficult” dog before. Kokoro’s ideal companion will be someone who appreciates the rewarding symbiosis of the training process—a lifetime of making discoveries together, and educating each other.  

If you are interested in exploring a permanent relationship with Kokoro, please call me at 527-3273.›

Cunning Linguist Dubya to Give Inaugrowl Address in Tougues By ARMIN A. LEGDON

Friday December 24, 2004

A most millennial and controversial gift of the holiday season was a software called Glossolalia. And some say it may also explain the bulge in Dubya’s back in that second debate. 

Glossolalia (“strings of meaningless syllables of familiar sounds put together haphazardly—the gift of tongues”) was pitched to fun-duh-mental Christians in Sunday sermons as the gift in 2004—a one-time only conversion of Dubya’s inaugrowl address, and upgrade to King of Christendumb and the Wholly Moron Empire. Conversion to what, you ask?  

Conversion to tongues. Yes, that’s right, just what the faithful are panting for (and have been prepped for four years—and longer in Texas), from Dubya, who has claimed G-d does speak through him (shamanizing himself generally, and reviving the authority of kings—the Bush Dynasty!?)  

While most Americans will “cried to keep from laughing” hear the speech with its many expected slips-slops, the Christian Right can be blessed with a digitally infused expression of the babel spirit from the true voice of the leader. Of course, non-believers can still buy the software at $666, at great risk—and a great boon to the economy.  

And, yes, the CD was experimented with in its development during the infamous second debate, and was what caused Dubya to look even more dumfounded and stammer, as it were. Turns out it was Daddy’s dictum to do it, and when he told 43, Dubya, after a brief instant of madness, had to sheepishly go along with 41’s gag.  

“Don’t worry, son,” said Poppy jocularly, slapping the boy resoundingly on the back. “Ain’t nothin’ gonna happen to lose you this here election.”  

(Tapes of that moment are being offered to the select, through much fancy fiddling, at the RNC website, with the password “GBerish.” All purchases are subject to Patriot Act II inspection.)  

There are purists, of course, who take issue with the technological Roving ghost in the machination. They say the experience should be made to be as ecstatic, rapturish, as it were, as a charismatic, Pentecostal or holy roller (“vaporize the UN—IN TONGUES”) can get . 

Indeed, make it magically unbelievable, indeed mythic, for all Americans. After all, after 50 years of dumby down TV, double speak, decimation of education. . . , how natural for tongues to slip right in; voila! conversions all around! 

“All in the good end of time,” oozed technoid all the way Jerry Falwell, snake handling for the first time as re-born jefe of The Faith and Values Coalition. “Let those liberal pundits analyze this now!” 

Meanwhile, back in Ohio, having themselves a chiliastic Christmas. . .  

And south of the Bravo, a certain Billy Baba—emigrated to Texas but from the large, long-time Lebanese communities of Mexico City and Merida, with enough of a Mixtec visage—is working on an old Chevy for delivery to Crawford. . . 


Arnie Passman is a writer living in Berkeley.›

The Furry Ghost of Christmas Present By IRENE SARDANIS

Friday December 24, 2004

There’s a ghost in my house. It’s not the Ebenezer Scrooge or Bela Lugosi scary type; it’s my cat, Zeke. He died last Christmas when he thought he could outrun a car up on Sunnyhills Road. 

I thought I’d be over his loss by now. “He was just a cat,” you’ll tell me. “You can always get another one.” Not true. When we went to the animal shelter and found Zeke, he was just a small furry orange and white ball that fit in the palm of my hand. When we brought him home a few weeks later, he had us in the palm of his. Zeke grabbed a hold of my heart and he ain’t let go yet. 

Never thought I’d fall for a cat. I’ve had others before, but Zeke was special. He had a way of looking at me with those large green eyes of his and I’d just melt inside. Something about opening the bedroom door all sleepy-eyed in the morning and seeing Zeke sitting there, waiting for me to get up and feed him, started my day off right. 

Since he’s been gone. I sometimes think I hear his voice mewing outside the bedroom window, letting me know his spirit is still around. When he was alive, he had his “buddies” come over to play. One of them was a sleek black cat. Her collar said her name was “Little Lady.” She would show up and she and Zeke would run wild all over the house together. Lady still comes over and no matter how many times I tell her “Zeke is not here anymore. He’s gone,” she still comes back every other week or so to make sure it’s true. Or, does she, too, sense his presence in the house? 

Ghosts are hard to describe if you don’t believe in them. They show up in the strangest places. Whenever I open a can of tuna, for example, I expect to see Zeke jump up on the counter, waiting to lick the insides of the can. I know he is gone, but I still see his eager face, those great green eyes of his, begging for left-overs. Last week I had the flu and whenever I was sick, Zeke would get on top of the bed and lay on my feet to keep them warm. I felt his small body on the bed as I slept, keeping me company like before, as I rested. 

Okay, you want proof. The Christmas tree was still up after he dies. He used to bat the round colorful ornaments when he was alive. Zeke had been gone several weeks by then. I was in the kitchen cooking when I heard one of the tree ornaments crash to the floor and break. It was the wind, you’ll say, not the ghost of a cat. Sorry, the windows were closed; there was no wind in the room. It was Zeke, the prankster, making sure I knew that even though he was in Cat Heaven, his mischievous spirit is still around. 

I no longer leave cookies for Santa on Christmas Eve, but I’m willing to leave a can of tuna on the heath for Zeke, just for old times sake.

Walking Through Time By MARTHA E. BOSWORTH

Friday December 24, 2004

I walk old trails this morning, bittersweet 

with gathered years, on buckling cracked concrete, 

on pathways paved with asphalt, dirt and shards, 

and stone steps mounting up between backyards 

from street to hilly street. 


Sun barely gleams on topmost window-glass— 

I walk through other lives without trespass, 

or touch, by sculptured hedge and shaggy sprawl 

of berry brambles, honeysuckle wall 

and shiverings of grass. 


Nostalgic as a windbell, fragrance blows 

from freesia, lemon tree, old-fashioned rose. 

I know by changing shapes and shades of green 

that somewhere in the dark of earth, between 

deep roots, a creek still flows. 


From buried channels faintest echoes chime 

of vanished creeks whose banks we used to climb, 

clustered with watercress and jointed fern— 

I walk through my own childhood, and return 

to time before my time. 


Cleaving the center of a city block 

my trail slopes up where shadows interlock; 

gray branches of live oak and pungent bay 

deepen the green above me, chill the day 

shining Mortar Rock. 


The folk who blazed this trail by stone and tree 

are gone, their shellmounds lost in our debris; 

these bowls of emptiness their pestles scored 

in living rock are all the years afford 

to light their memory. 


Thousands of years they stayed, a gentle host 

who knew these hills and trails by touch, this coast 

by tribal legend... Blue jay dives from bough 

to hollowed stone; I wonder—here and now 

am I alive or ghost? 


—Martha E. Bosworth 


Friday December 24, 2004

Gentle waif, stalker of the urban jungle— 

born of feral mother and domestic tom,  

mottled—black on white, waiving a bushy tail, 

foraging the Northbrae neighborhoods. 

One day you happened upon our free meal, fresh water, 

friendly attention and warm fuzzy pats. 


Nesting in our backyard, you staked your claim, 

a patch of ground you called home. 

We bided our time; were you homeless or lost? 

Days became weeks till we knew you chose us. 

The time had come to rescue you from prowlers— 

night critters—skunk, raccoon or possum. 


Putting up with the vet’s exam, shots, surgery, 

you passed your physical, and settled in 

a healthy male not yet fully grown. 

The mystery will always be your gentleness. 

Where did you learn to respond to pats— 

with retracted claws, gentle nips—tummy up. 


Adventure is your forte—and despite our vigil, 

you scaled our mantle, eluded our lunge— 

plunged out the open window—ten feet to hardpack. 

Stunned and shocked, you willingly came back in. 

Now you are content to look from inside out, 

observing butterflies, birds, or outside cats. 


For play, you chase scrunched up paper balls, 

bat at a stained-glass ornament because it moves, 

criticize the waxed flower arrangement atop our piano, 

climb our window curtain or wrestle with a rug. 

A paper bag makes a great cave to peer our of— 

a paper ball replaces an errant house mouse. 


During siesta time, you retreat to your lookout 

atop the stacked corner cabinet, and sunbathe 

in the privacy of your solar-roofed window room. 

We marvel at your clever antics, precocious nature. 

We are rich beyond measure for the day you happened by, 

and chose our sanctuary as your safe haven. 


—Hal Boswortho

Arts Calendar

Friday December 24, 2004



Berkeley Repertory Theater, “Polk County” A musical about aspring blues musician, Leafy Lee, at the Roda Theater, 2015 Addison St. to Jan. 9. Tickets are $15-$60. 647-2949. www.berkeleyrep.org  


Gary Rowe, solo piano, at 9 p.m. at Downtown. 649-3810. 

Ledisi at 8 and 10 p.m. also Sun. and Mon. at Yoshi’s at Jack London Square. Cost is $22. 238-9200. www.yoshis.com 



Sister I-Live, reggae, at 9:30 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cost is $13. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 



Opera Piccola “Stolen Aroma” an interactive African folk tale with youth players at 2 p.m. followed by Kwanzaa concert, at Habitot, 2065 Kittredge St. Cost is $5-$6. 647-1111. www.habitot.org 


“O Magnum Mysterium” Tom Bickley with recorders, voice, electronics and environmental sound to create a 50-minute meditation, at 7 p.m. at Grace North Church, 2138 Cedar St., at Walnut. Donation $10. www.gracenorthchurch.org  

Fireproof at 9:30 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cost is $11. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 

David Grisman Bluegrass Experience at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $24.50-$25.50. 548-1761. www.freight- 


Odd Shaped Case, Balkan music brunch, at 10 a.m. at Nomad Cafe, 6500 Shattuck Ave. 595-5344. www.nomadcafe.net 



Poetry Express theme night “Between the Holidays” open mic from 7 to 9:30 p.m., at Priya Restaurant, 2072 San Pablo Ave. berkeleypoetryexpress@yahoo.com 


Songwriters Symposium at 8:30 p.m. at Blakes on Telegraph. 848-0886. www.blakesontelegraph.com 



Courtableu at 8:30 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cajun dance lesson with Cheryl McBride at 8 p.m. Cost is $9. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 

Stephanie Bruce and Brad Buethe at 8 p.m. at Downtown. 649-3810. 

Joshua Redman Elastic Band featuring Sam Yahel and Brian Blade at 8 and 10 p.m. Yoshi’s at Jack London Square. Through Jan. 2. Cost is $26-$100. 238-9200. www.yoshis.com 

Jazzschool Tuesdays, a weekly showcase of up-and-coming ensembles from Berkeley Jazz- 

school at 8 p.m. at Jupiter. 848-8277. 



Berkeley Poetry Slam with host Charles Ellik and Three Blind Mice, at 8:30 p.m. at The Starry Plough. Cost is $5-$7. 841-2082. www.starryplough.com 


Jules Broussard, Ned Boynton, and Bing Nathan at 8 p.m. at Downtown. 649-3810.  

Mal Sharpe’s Big Money and Gumbo, New Orleans jazz, at 8 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cost is $9. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 

QBA, salsa, at 8 p.m. at Shattuck Down Low, 2284 Shattuck Ave. Cost is $5-$10. 548-1159.  

Riley Bandy Group at 8 p.m. at Jupiter. 848-8277. 

Vienna Teng at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $17.50-$18.50. 548-1761. www.freightandsalvage.org 

The American Roots Music Show with The Shots, Red Rick & Friends, Stuart Rosh & the Geniuses, at 8:30 p.m. at Blakes on Telegraph. Cost is $4. 848-0886. www.blakesontelegraph.com 



Word Beat Reading Series at 7 p.m. with featured readers Dillon and Stephanie Manning followed by an open mic, at Mediterraneum Caffe, 2475 Telegraph Ave., near Dwight Way. 526-5985.  


Singing for Your Life with members of SoVoSó, from noon to midnight at First Congregational Church of Oakland, 2501 Harrison St. at 27th. Suggested donation $10 and up, no one turned away. 444-8511, ext. 15. www.artsfirstoakland.org 

Bhangra Mix at 8:30 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cost is $6. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 

Mimi Fox, solo jazz guitar, at 8 p.m. at Downtown. 649-3810.  



Berkeley Repertory Theater, “Polk County” A musical about aspring blues musician, Leafy Lee, at the Roda Theater, 2015 Addison St. to Jan. 9. Tickets are $15-$60. 647-2949. www.berkeleyrep.org  

Shotgun Players “Travesties” and Dada Party at 8 p.m. at The Ashby Stage, 1901 Ashby Ave. Tickets are $35, reservations required. 841-6500. www.shotgunplayers.org 


San Francisco Chamber Orchestra Classical celebration dedicated to the memory of Edgar Braun at 8 p.m. at First Congregational Church, 2345 Channing Way. Free. 415-248-1640. www.sfchamberorchestra.org 

Johnny Steele’s Hilarity Hoedown and Jocularity Jamboree at 9:30 p.m. at the Julia Morgan Center for the Arts. Tickets are $22-$28. 925-798-1300. www.juliamorgan.org 

José Roberto and Friends at 9:30 p.m. at La Peña Cultural Center. Cost is $20-$22. 849-2568. www.lapena.org 

New Year’s Eve Balkan Bash with guests Tzvetanka Varimezova, Ivan Varimezov and Kalin Kirlov at Ashkenaz. Cost is $18. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 

New Year’s Eve Flamenco Fiesta with a traditional Spanish dinner at 9 p.m. at Café de la Paz, 1600 Shattuck Ave. Cost is $65-$95, reservations required. 843- 0662. www.cafedelapaz.net  

Art and Music Salon from 9 a.m. to 1 a.m. at Giorgi Gallery, 2911 Claremont Ave. For details on the event and for tickets see www.CHARISMAfoundation.org 

Bluegrass Gala with High Country at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $24.50-$25.50. 548-1761. www.freight 


The People at 9:30 at Blakes on Telegraph. Cost is $12 in advance, $15 at the door. 848-0886. www.blakesontelegraph.com 

New Year’s Eve with the Naked Barbies at 9:30 p.m. at The Starry Plough. Cost is $6. 841-2082. www.starryploughpub.com 

David Jeffrey Fourtet in a New Year’s Eve Party at 10 p.m. at Albatross, 1822 San Pablo Ave. Cost is $5. 843-2473. www.albatrosspub.com 

Gary Rowe at 6:30 p.m. and Danny Caron and Friends at 9:30 p.m. at Downtown. 649-3810. 

Kool Kyle, hip hop, at 9 p.m. at Shattuck Down Low, 2284 Shattuck Ave. Cost is $5-$10. 548-1159. www.shattuckdownlow.com 

That 1 Guy at 9 p.m. at Jupiter. Cost is $10. 848-8277. 

Rock ‘N’ Roll Adventure Kids, Sacramento at 8 p.m. at 924 Gilman St., an all-ages, member-run, no alcohol, no drugs, no violence club. Cost is $6. 525-9926. 

Joshua Redman Elastic Band featuring Sam Yahel and Brian Blade at 8 and 10 p.m. Yoshi’s at Jack London Square. Through Jan. 2. Cost is $26-$100. 238-9200. www.yoshis.com 



“A Cocktail of Glamour and Anarchy” works by Carl Linkhart, Michael Johnstone, David Faulk, Bill Bowers, Gustavo Villareal, Joshua Friewald. Reception from 1 to 4 p.m. at Giorgi Gallery, 2911 Claremont Ave. at Ashby. Exhibition runs to Jan. 30. 848-1228. www.giorgigallery.com 


Nepalese Cultural Dance and Music at 5 p.m. at Taset of the Himalayas, 1700 Shattuck Ave. 849-4983. 

Wadi Gad & Jah Bandis at 9:30 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cost is $8-$10. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com  

Braziu, Leo Do Cavaco, Compaia at 9 p.m. at Shattuck Down Low, 2284 Shattuck Ave. Cost is $10-$12. 548-1159. www.shattuckdownlow.com 

The Girlfriend Experience, The Bobbleheads at 9:30 p.m. at Blakes on Telegraph. Cost is $6. 848-0886. www.blakesontelegraph.com 

Stereo Blasters, Humanzee, The Dead Bull Fighters at 9:30 p.m. at The Starry Plough. Cost is $10. 841-2082. www.starryploughpub.com 

Nika Rejto Quartet at 9 p.m. at Downtown. 649-3810. 

Killing the Dream, Go It Alone, Shook Ones, 7 Generations at 8 p.m. at 924 Gilman St., an all-ages, member-run, no alcohol, no drugs, no violence club. Cost is $6. 525-9926. 



Trovatore, traditional Italian songs at 6 p.m. at Caffe Trieste, 2500 San Pablo Ave., at Dwight. 548-5198.  

Songwriters Symposium at 9 p.m. at Blakes on Telegraph. 848-0886. www.blakesontelegraph.com 

Benny Green & Russell Malone at 8 and 10 p.m. at Yoshi’s at Jack London Square, through Thurs. Cost is $10-$14. 238-9200. www.yoshis.com 



The Tanglers at 8:30 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Two-step and waltz lesson at 8 p.m. Cost is $9. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 

Peter Barshay and Jeff Buenz at 8 p.m. at Downtown. 649-3810. 

Benny Green & Russell Malone at 8 and 10 p.m. at Yoshi’s at Jack London Square, through Thurs. Cost is $10-$14. 238-9200. www.yoshis.com?

Berkeley This Week

Friday December 24, 2004


Reduced City Services Today and for the whole week. Call ahead to ensure programs or services you desire will be available. 981-CITY. www.cityofberkeley.info 

Telegraph Avenue Holiday Street Fair, with over 200 street artists, merchants, community groups, musicians and other entertainers, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.  

Albany Cable Car will shuttle up and down Solano and San Pablo Aves. from 1 to 5 p.m. Free. www.albanychamber.org 


Bayswater Book Club Christmas Brunch at 9:30 a.m. at Frishmans’s New York Deli on Solano at Peralta. 433-2911. 


Boxing Day Birdwalk and Fete We’ll look for the wren and talk of its history and legends. Traditional music and refreshments afterwards. From 9 to 11 a.m. at Tilden Nature Area, Tilden Park. Fee is $5-$7, registration required. 525-2233. 

The Science of “All-Favor Beans” Learn how you smell and taste candy, make a tongue map and other games at 2 p.m. at Tilden Nature Area, Tilden Park. 525-2233. 


Tea at Four Taste some of the finest teas from the Pacific Rim and South Asia and learn their natural and cultural history, followed by a short nature walk. At 4 p.m. at Tilden Nature Area, in Tilden Park. Cost is $5-$7, registration required. 525-2233. www.ebparks.org 


Morning Bird Walk Meet at 7:30 a.m. at the end of Tennant Ave. in Bayfront Park in Pinole to see shorebirds. 525-2233. 


Reduced City Services Today and through the weekend. Call ahead to ensure programs or services you desire will be available. 981-CITY. www.cityofberkeley.info 

Red Cross Mobile Blood Drive from 1 to 7 p.m. at St. Mary Magdalen Parish, 2005 Berryman St. 1-800-GIVE-LIFE.  


Singing for Your Life, improvised community circlesinging, with members of SoVoSó, from noon to midnight at First Congregational Church of Oakland, 2501 Harrison St. at 27th. Suggested donation $10 and up, no one turned away. 444-8511, ext. 15. www.artsfirstoakland.org 


New Year’s Eve Tea Tasting Learn the culture and natural history of tea. Bring your favorite cup. At 1 p.m. at Tilden Nature Area, Tilden Park. Fee is $10-$12, registration required. 525-2233. 

New Years Party at 1:30 p.m. at the North Berkeley Senior Center with romantic songs from Your Hit Parade, with popular musician Toru Saito. 

New Year’s Eve Hike Learn the customs and traditions from around the world on this annual walk at 4:30 p.m. at Tilden Nature Area, Tilden Park. 525-2233. 

New Year’s Eve Balloon Drop at precisely 4 p.m., (midnight Greenwich Mean Time) at Chabot Space and Science Center, 10000 Skyline Blvd., Oakland. 336-7300. www.chabotspace.org 


Animal Tracks Search for tracks and traces of animals on a short walk to Jewel Lake. Make a mold of a track to take home and be prepared to meet some mud. Meet at 10 a.m. at Tilden Nature Area, Tilden Park. For children 8-12 years old, registration required. 525-2233. 

One Special Salamander Salamanders abound in the Nature Area, but what makes a newt so special? Try to find a newt (but leave it here) on a walk through the park rain or shine. At 2 p.m. at the Tilden Nature Area, Tilden Park. 525-2233. 

Tea at the Historic Vistorian Cohen Bray Home, 1440 29th Ave, Oakland. Seatings at 1, 2, 3, and 4 p.m. Tickets are 425 and reservations required. 843-2906. www.cohenbrayhouse.info 

Personal Theology Seminar with Sarah Lewis on “A Contemplative Approach to the New Year” at 9:30 a.m. at Unitarian Universalist Church of Berkeley, 1 Lawson Rd., Kensington. 525-0302. 


Legacy of Bay Environmental Pioneers Cindy Spring and Sandra Lewis, founders of the Close to Home series, speak on the pioneering work of East Bay Regional Parks, Save the Bay, and Save Mount Diablo, with photos of hills and Bay by Bob Walker and others, at 7 p.m. at at Albany Community Center, 1249 Marin Ave. Sponsored by Friends of Five Creeks. 848-9358. www.fivecreeks.org 

National Organization for Women, Oakland/East Bay Chapter meets at 6 p.m. in the Boardroom of the Oakland YWCA, 1515 Webster St. The speaker will be Alexis Reeves who has been called to active duty by the California National Guard. 287-8948. 

World Affairs/Politics Discussion Group for people 60 years and over meets Mondays at 9:15 a.m. at the Albany Senior Center, 846 Masonic Ave. Join at any time. Cost is $2.50 with refreshments. 524-9122. 


A Recycled Christmas By JOANNE KOWALSKI

Friday December 24, 2004

“In collective work, performed with a light heart to attain a desired end...each will find an incentive and the necessary relaxation that makes life pleasant.”  

Peter Kropotkin 

The Conquest of Bread, 1906. 


When I was a kid, my family always spent the holidays with the grandparents. We’d leave home early on the 24th and drive six hours for a storybook Christmas in the country complete with snow, tree, turkey and presents galore. When I was 7, going to the farm took on added significance. My dad was on strike. There was no money for gifts or decorations or fancy foods. If we didn’t go, we wouldn’t have any Christmas at all. 

X-mas eve morn, my brothers and I were up before dawn, ready to leave. Everything was packed. Except for the stuff to eat on the road (sandwich makings, fruit, nuts, veggies, sodas, pop corn and eggs) the refrigerator was cleaned out. 

During breakfast, it started to snow. We waited. It snowed harder, the snow turned into sleet and the sleet became hail. We took a long nap. When we woke, the storm had started to clear but there was a new problem. The car, my dad told us, wouldn’t start. There was no way to fix it in time for Christmas. We had to stay home. 

My father said later it was the look on our faces that made him do what he did. He put on his jacket, declared he would find us a tree and set off on foot pulling my brother’s sled. He was back in less than an hour. The Christmas tree lot was sold out. Not one left. But he had brought back a pile of leftover branches which we carried inside. Then, with the branches, twine and our old coat rack, he made us a tree. With the extra boughs, we decorated the house and made wreaths by using bent wire coat hangers as a base. Out of popcorn, old newspapers, cereal boxes, cellophane and aluminum foil we made chains, stars and ornaments for our tree. 

We fashioned colored tinsel from thread, used yarn and twine for bows, cut snow flakes out of paper napkins and drew Xmas cartoons for the walls. We constructed an angel using a toilet paper roll, paper towels, cotton and paper doilies and created a Christmas scene with action heroes, stuffed animals and dolls from other lands. We ate peanut butter sandwiches and popcorn while we worked, drank sodas, laughed and squabbled a lot. 

After we finished, we searched closets and drawers for forgotten toys and games to give to each other. We secretly wrapped our gifts using the Sunday comics, old magazines, paper bags, cardboard boxes and scraps of cloth. 

Christmas morning, we breakfasted on homemade caramel corn with peanuts and bananas and admired our work before opening the packages. That year, I got a real silk scarf, beads that went around my neck three times, a stuffed frog, catcher’ s mitt, lotion, marbles, badminton set, deck of cards and a book of Greek Myths. 

At Christmas dinner we feasted on a turkey shaped tuna fish loaf baked to a delectable golden brown accompanied by a celery/bread stuffing, candied carrots and fresh squeezed orange juice. Over desert, an apple crisp replete with raisins and nuts, we all agreed it was the most marvelous Christmas ever, at least the most fun.  

Like my father always said, it ain’t what you got but what you do with what you have that counts. 

Happy Holidays, Berkeley and Best Wishes for the coming year.›

happy free speech holiday By C.C.SAW

Friday December 24, 2004

what matters is say 

when to whom 

because in Berkeley 

every voice gets an ear 


then talk: back on the streets 

coffeehoused in & (acted) up 

down to & straight at 

stoned out & challenged logics 


until options get stated 

rebutted, then again, & resol ed 

shoes might pound on the podium 

a police car or the mayor’s desk 


there’s always the question 

why’s everything a mess 

as reported in the Planet 

on Radio Free Berkeley & B-TV 


because in Berkeley 

every voice can find an ear 

it’s a place the disenf ran- chised 

let loose the waves of change 


—C.C. Saw´


Friday December 24, 2004

The three-spined stickleback is back 

perhaps still swims…or not 

in our own Strawberry Creek 

three strikes against her 

more…or less, deflect debris 

sown to blossom, to repeat 

there may…may not…be room enough. 


—Helen Bruner?


Friday December 24, 2004

Pixie dust. That’s what its called. I know it well, for I have spent many a night in the forest. I’m a woodsman by trade. I do what I must to earn a living and stay close to the trees that I love. But I have learned to be leery of the dark past midnight. That is the time of the fairies—your people, the pixies. They think they own the wood and everything that grows within. They do not take kindly to a woodsman in their midst. But I have been clever and have not fallen under their spells. I have avoided the dust till now, for they say you never quite recover from it. 

But in the light the dust loses its magic. Then the pixies pose little danger to a clever woodsman. Powerless, for their own protection, with camouflage they must hide in the wood. Or they dress and pass as mortals. But you can always tell. Its their faces, those pixie faces. 

So I thought I was safe with you that day, even though I knew you were a fairy—and dangerous to a woodsman. Yes, I knew all along. For you have the most beautiful pixie face I have ever encountered. But I didn’t realize, though right away I should have known, you were special. The tallest of the pixies, you were the most cunning, and the most beautiful. I should have know, you certainly were a pixie queen. And there in lies the rub. Yes, pixie dust loses its power in the daylight. 

That is, for all but the most powerful of the fairy queens. And you are truly the most bewitching of them all. Somewhere in that wood, in the full light of day, you sprinkled some of your dust on me. Now I am captive to your magic. What the future holds for me I do not know. I know only that I am under your spell. 

A Community Garden Needs a Little Help By JANE HARADA

Friday December 24, 2004

“If we could just get through to spring, we’ll be fine,” said Daniel Miller, the mainstay and director of the Urban Garden Center. There was concern in this wonderful man’s voice and so I write a little to explain. 

Over this past year scores of volunteers have come together in South Berkeley to create a community garden where young and old grow vegetables and fruit. They give half of what they grow to homeless shelters and senior centers; the volunteers who work here take home the other half of the bounty.  

Daniel has been a steady, guiding force in community gardens in the Berkeley-Oakland area for over 11 years. Right now he works about 60 hours a week as a volunteer at Urban Garden Center. A very patient person, he calmly answers questions even as he oversees volunteers, sells seedlings at the Farmers’ Market, works on fundraising or sweeps up litter on the nearby sidewalk.  

By creating this garden at Sacramento and Oregon streets, people in this neighborhood have built a better community. They sell produce at cost on Tuesdays from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. and soon classes in gardening and sustainability will be given here. 

Because they are making the difficult transition from a grant-funded program to a self-sustaining non-profit, they need a little help from us now. Transforming a vacant, litter-strewn lot into a vibrant neighborhood garden, represents the best in Berkeley. 

Contributions can be sent to Spiral Gardens, 2838 Sacramento St., Berkeley, 94702. Their very informative website can be found at www.spiralgardens.org.

Who Scares Who By ANDY BLACK

Friday December 24, 2004

You wear on your sleeve your disdain for me 

When we pass on the street we do not meet or greet. 

Instead, I see eyes downcast, and sneers, 

Snickering, and fear. 


—Andy BlackÃ

Getting What You Need By MEL MARTYNN

Friday December 24, 2004

It’s an early October Tuesday, late afternoon, and most of Berkeley’s elementary students are plopped down in front of Spongebob, Lizzie McGuire, or That’s So Raven. A few may even be playing some kind of ball game outside. But not Renee Mattson. This fifth grader is selling candy and gift wrap to whomever she can buttonhole. First she starts with the obvious, after all this is a “school” fundraiser. Before she leaves the building she has begun to contact almost every adult with a checking account. Sometimes she drags along one of her friends like Jade for support, or perhaps Jade knows the potential buyer just a little bit better than she does. Mostly though she’s just out there with her confident manner and fierce determination. 

No one escapes her net, classroom teacher, aide, librarian, janitor, yard supervisor, resource teacher, even the principal. Renee is unrelenting. Each one in turn is made to believe that Renee is on a very important mission, and that she just needs one more person to help accomplish it. Most succumb, often because she is the first or perhaps the only student to ask. 

Now it’s time for dismissal. With her granddad in tow she heads for nearby College Avenue. She remembers the kindly clerk in the neighborhood market where they often purchase her favorite snack, chips doused in sea salt and vinegar. It is payback time, and within minutes she’s scored again and is out of the store and back to the pavement. But wait, she tilts her head to the hill side of the street, towards the women’s hairdresser where she sold so many raffle tickets when she was 8 years old. “Perhaps, Granddad?” she insists. Why not, he nods, and stands guard outside. Through the glass he can see Renee systematically approach one dryer after another. At first this captive audience is surprised at the con brio intruder, but quickly they recognize that Renee is determined, and that this young entrepreneur is perhaps only a younger version of themselves. Soon checkbooks come out and business is transacted. Renee returns to the struggle but now with the flush of just a partial victory, only two sales this time. Not even the reminder that this dollar sum is still greater than before can assuage her disappointment. But then, when her grandfather brags to a new friend at the bus stop that she finished in the top five two years ago, Renee will have none of it. “Second,” she cuts in, “I was second.”  

Now they head for College and Ashby avenues. This time to specifically buy some greeting cards. But Renee is unstoppable. When her grandfather’s back is turned she continues where she left off at the hairdresser’s, encouraging each customer to aid her cause, (only to be summarily dismissed to the curb when the clerk recognizes this turbo competitor). Renee is undeterred. Later at her after school program she continues to cast her spell. Ten more Bling, Blings! That evening, back in her South Berkeley neighborhood she continues the onslaught. Friends and neighbors are converted to her cause. Like Alexander the Great, she enlists all relatives within 50 miles into her services. In no time at all these mercenaries are besieging their fellow co-workers throughout the Bay Area. Victory is at hand! Two weeks later the crusade is over. Renee’s efforts add up to nearly ten percent of the school’s total. A new individual student record is set. 

It is now November, in an ice cream shop across from the UC campus. The totals have been certified, there are no recount challenges. Renee is licking a cone of her favorite flavor, chocolate chip cookie dough. I asked her what advice she could give future salespeople. “Don’ t give up. Believe in yourself, and have some real good friends and relatives to help you.” Has she been a salesperson before? “Oh sure. I’ve sold soap for my chorus group, and I cut off the bottoms of blue jean pants and turn them into purses, which I decorate. People love them.” Does she see herself as a future salesperson? “Maybe, a salesperson or a waitress, but that’ s a long way off.” How about the WHY factor in all this selling? “Well, I really wanted to win the top prize, a trip to Disneyland for me and my family, but also I like to sell stuff. I like to go and talk to people. Like, my teacher’s going to have a baby. I think I’ll bake something, then sell it and use the money to buy her a nice present.” What could be more reasonable, I thought to myself, and ended the interview by wishing her good luck in the Spring Raffle. “You rock Renee! I cheered.” And then a wide, wicked smile spread across her face. “Thank you, Granddad,” she said. 

Looking for Poetry By JOYCE E. YOUNG

Friday December 24, 2004

Last night, Sekou Sundiata said it was  

an honor to be an artist at this time.  

He talked about the imagination, and its power.  

Things could be different, if we could imagine them so.  

I can’t remember his exact words and I’m wanting  

to hear more powerful words than the ones  

I’ve been hearing on the street, on the radio, in the classroom.  


I turn on the TV, flip past tanks, smoke, sand, helmets,  

balding, gray-haired white men with mouths moving.  

I blink at maps with no words, dots, and  

magic lines that multiply to show routes  

from one place to another. I can’t imag ine these places.  


I can’t imagine these places because of my ignorance.  

I’ve never been to the part of the world  

someone lazily named “the Middle East,”  

and I live in a land where many believe  

it’s not important for me to ever imagine anything;  

a place where far too many people have forgotten  

that they have an imagination.  


I can feel how far away I am from things that  

might be important for me to imagine.  

This frustrates me and makes me look for poetry;  

sends me off to write instead of dust,  

worry, or stand still in the muck.  


Instead of thinking about whether any of us  

have a future and what kind of future we have;  

with coral reefs dying, ancestors’ graves  

being pushed to the surface, the polar ice cap melting,  

and yet another country leveled—I wonder about culture.  


Is it diminished every time people, gov ernments,  

land, and monetary systems are thrown into upheaval?  

Are the drums, songs, poems, dances, rituals, prayers,  

dreams, wishes, and stories losing their power?  


Maybe what I’m really asking is  

whether enough of us will turn from hollow words  

and images to something that will  

sustain us?  

Maybe what I really want to know is  

will dancing, writing, and reading poems,  

sustain me?  


—Joyce E. Young ›

Earthquake Country By HELENE KNOX

Friday December 24, 2004

I am always ready for them. You never know  

when the room will jolt, the walls tremble and sway  

urgently toward you and away, shim mering finally  

into aftershocks. Living on the Pacific Rim,  

I have survived 30 of them, but am always waiting for  

The Big One. I am not ready. I can never  

fully relax. My idea of paradise  

is to rest, with a clear mind, with  


to remember, and stare into the  

shifting waves  

of Hawaii, or Tahiti, or Fiji, or Bali--  

but not Malibu, which could slide out from under me  

in an instant, into the vast Pacific. So much for L.A.!  

No way will I live  

there. Even in Oakland, I watch it, how I place  

no platter on its side in my house,  

the wineglass back from the edge  

of the shelf. “Will this survive  

your average earthquake?” I ask myself.  

Hell, no. Maybe. Will I? Cats go crazy,  

then hide. What could this mean? What do they know  

that we don’t? The continental shelf  

shrugs its shoulders. Bookshelves move. Palm trees  

sway. The Chinese hire cats and fish  

as scientists, to predict quakes. We  

put seismometers on the faults, then  

nuclear power plants, and big cities  

where people don’t read the phone book  

to find out how to live, what to do:  

turn off the main gas line! Is your wrench  

ready? You never know when the earth  

might move. Nashville is next. No kid ding. Terror  

will crack the heartland of the  


Valley, and bluegrass  

blues ensue. I’m such a Californian, I find myself  

unconsciously rearranging dishes in Texas  

and Pennsylvania, just in case,  

just as I always wash glass bottles  

for recycling, even when someone else in the house  

just throws them away. To want to care—  

not to litter the land that still might not  

support you, that could suddenly jerk  

the North American Plate into better alignment,  

like the squirming skin of an itchy  

armadillo. Only when my mind  

is very clear can I stride  

with assurance down some sidewalk floating on a  

lava mantle, on this ball  

still resonating from the Big Bang,  

hurtling at breakneck speed  

in an endless curve. 



—Helene Knox 



Friday December 24, 2004

April’s not the cruelest month 

(like t.s. eliot said) 

not if you live in Berkeley. 

February is. 


That’s when 

the plum trees 

begin to sprout 

pale, delicate, pink buds. 


It’s been a harsh winter 


recording extra-wet- 




Even the streetpeople 

have stopped blessing me 

when I lower my eyes to 

“Any spare change?” 


They’ve had to  

throw on more rags 

play less music 

huddle more in store fronts 

around Cody’s. 


It’s been a harsh winter 


freezing feelings 

to a crusty finish— 

insensate survival. 



recur daily 

or nightly 


in microcosm 

on TV. 


Emergency rooms 

have no room 

for emergencies. 



have no money 

for schooling. 


The United States Government 

has 80 billion for 

a bully war on Iraq. 


“Homeland Security” made a forced entry 

into our homes— 

along with  

Enron & Al Qaeda 

Exxon & Detentions Centers 

Unemployment & Anthrax 

Nasdaq & Baghdad 

Recession & Suicide Bombers 

Deplete Uranium, Scud Missiles & Terror 


What are these things? 


But they come... 

they come... 


pale, delicate, pink buds 

in a daring display 



vulnerable naiveté 

that shocks cold resignation 

softens nurtured numbness 

dissolves icicled dreams 

and melts frozen vision 

to a warm, trickling 



Pale, delicate, pink buds 





that hurts 

so bad! 


—Harriet Chamberlain