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Jakob Schiller:
          Local skater Aisha Lumumba lands a jump at the Berkeley’s Iceland skating rink Thursday evening.?
Jakob Schiller: Local skater Aisha Lumumba lands a jump at the Berkeley’s Iceland skating rink Thursday evening.?


Berkeley Skating Rink on Thin Ice By MATTHEW ARTZ

Tuesday December 28, 2004

City officials are threatening to shut down Iceland, Berkeley’s World War II-era ice skating rink, if the rink’s management doesn’t act fast to address dozens of code violations.  

“They’re not anywhere near up to standards,” said City Planning Director Dan Marks. 

A city audit of Iceland performed last year found 36 violations, the most serious ones connected to the rink’s ammonia system used to chill the ice surface. 

Ammonia, a common refrigerant for skating rinks, is a toxic gas that can be lethal, and turn highly combustible when mixed with oil. Common ailments associated with exposure to ammonia include nose and throat irritation, convulsive coughing, severe eye irritation, and respiratory spasms. Iceland’s ammonia system only poses a community health risk in the event of an accidental release. 

Still, with homes and Berkeley Alternative High School just blocks away from the South Berkeley rink, Berkeley Deputy Fire Chief David Orth, labeled the rink’s refrigeration system “a distinct hazard to life or property” in a Dec. 3 letter to Iceland management. 

The city’s push to bring the rink into compliance with city and state codes comes after the rink leaked 33 pounds of ammonia in June 2003. Although the rink never called the fire department, firefighters at a station one block east of the rink at Milvia and Derby streets smelled the noxious gas and raced to the rink. The leak was later found to be caused by a faulty valve that had been replaced without city permits, Orth told the Daily Planet.  

In 1998, he said, a larger ammonia leak at the rink required the fire department to set up water streams to dissipate the cloud of ammonia being released into the atmosphere. 

In response to the June 2003 release and the audit findings the city urged Iceland to hire an engineering consultant to address the city’s concerns and has met with Iceland officials seven times since this March. A letter sent Dec. 15 from City Manager Phil Kamlarz alerting city councilmembers to the city’s concerns came after Iceland’s consultant, Katin Engineering Consulting, released a report showing several safety deficiencies remaining at the rink. 

City officials are pushing Iceland management either to upgrade its ammonia system, which can hold up to 750 pounds of the gas, or to dump it for a different refrigerant, most likely freon, which East Bay Iceland, operator of the Berkeley rink, uses in its two other facilities in Dublin and Belmont. 

Jay Westcott, Berkeley Iceland’s general manager, insisted that the rink planned to stick with the ammonia system. “The city is acting like our equipment is ready to fail immediately but the integrity of the system is excellent,” he said. 

Westcott added that Iceland is conducting tests to determine the condition of the pipes and compressors that circulate the ammonia. Even if the tests’ results, expected to be released next week, show no corrosion, Westcott acknowledged the rink needs to upgrade its system significantly. 

“We know what the city wants and we’re prepared to do it,” he said. 

Deputy Chief Orth has given the rink a Jan. 8 deadline—under threat of closure—to formulate a plan to address the fire department’s three biggest concerns. Unlike modern ammonia systems, Orth said, Iceland’s control room lacks a discharge tank to neutralize escaped ammonia by dumping it into water, a water spray system to treat ammonia contaminated air and a way for the fire department to move the ammonia away from the source of the leak by remote control. 

Without such controls, Orth said firefighters responding to a leak now have to risk their safety by entering the rink’s control room. 

Although city and rink officials haven’t settled on a timetable for repairs, Orth said the fire department’s top priorities would have to be addressed quickly for the rink to remain open. 

“If they say it will take two years, that’s unacceptable, if they say 90 days, that would be OK,” Orth said. 

Tasha Brooks, who lives across the street from the rink and smelled ammonia from the 1998 leak said she was less concerned about ammonia than late night noise from the rink. 

“If I was concerned about chemicals, I wouldn’t live in Berkeley,” she said. 

Despite the city’s concerns, ammonia has been making a comeback in U.S. ice rinks over the past decade, said Peter Martell, executive director of the Ice Skating Institute, a national association of ice rink operators of which East Bay Iceland is a member. He added that he didn’t know of any rink in the U.S. or Canada being shut down because of its ammonia system. 

“One good thing about ammonia is that it has such a strong odor, if it leaks, you know it right away,” Martell said. 

In the mid 1960s, ammonia gave way as the leading ice rink refrigerant to Freon, which was championed by its manufacturer, Dupont, and seen as a less toxic gas than ammonia. However, Freon, a chloroflurocarbon, was later believed to deplete ozone and was targeted for elimination by 2025 under The Montreal Protocol, an international treaty.  

Now, Martell said that ammonia, which is cheaper and does not deplete ozone, has made a comeback in the U.S., sparked largely by Canadian rink suppliers, most of whom never switched to Freon. 

“Freon doesn’t make sense for us,” Westcott said. He estimated that switching to the gas would cost the rink nearly $300,000—a far steeper price tag than upgrading the current ammonia system. 

As it has since Iceland opened in 1940, the system works by sending the ammonia from the rink’s control room through a loop of pipes and compressors to the roof of the rink and back. The ammonia cools the salt water brine located underneath the ice surface. 

Within Berkeley, Orth said that Bayer operates a more modern ammonia system and that the Takara Sake factory recently switched from ammonia to Freon after experiencing an ammonia leak several years ago.  

John Burley, an ice rink supplier specializing in Freon refrigeration systems, said that new forms of Freon, although they are more expensive, do little or no damage to the ozone. 

Orth said that the 64-year-old rink would never be able to comply fully with all city and state regulations if it kept its current system, but that with significant upgrades and stringent monitoring, the city could keep the rink in operation. 

“Our intent is to keep it open,” Orth said. “It’s an institution.” 

Opened in 1940, by the Zamboni family, maker of the famed ice-paving machine, Iceland in its early days hosted the U.S. National Figure Championships and more recently has served as a part-time training facility for Olympic gold medal winners Brian Boitano and Kristi Yamaguchi. 

Currently, the rink claims to draw between 100,000 and 150,000 skaters every year and has more than 300 children in its hockey programs. 

“There’s a lot of sentimentality for this rink,” said Mary and Greg Wong, who had their first date at Iceland in 1977 and were skating there last week. “Generations of families have come here. It would be devastating if it closed.”›

For the East Bay, a Year Of Urban Casino Plans By RICHARD BRENNEMAN

Tuesday December 28, 2004

Was 2004 the East Bay’s Year of the Casino? 

You bet.  

Hamstrung for decades by the devastating effects of Proposition 13, local governments throughout California have been tempted by the siren songs of the slot machine and blackjack table as a means of filling empty coffers and stemming hemorrhages of red ink. 

When the year began, the East Bay boasted no gambling facilities on recognized tribal lands owned by Native Americans. 

As the year draws to a close, the East Bay has one existing tribal casino in San Pablo—a card room with grand ambitions—and proposals for large-scale urban casinos have been floated for Oakland, Albany, Richmond and North Richmond, and the modest Casino San Pablo itself has the gubernatorial blessing to transform itself into a super casino. 

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger last week announced that he would refuse his blessings to all but the Casino San Pablo deal. 

East Bay Assemblymember Loni Hancock (D-Berkeley/Albany/Richmond), a leading opponent of urban casinos, called the governor’s statement “a step in the right direction.” 

“That means we can focus on San Pablo and try to find an equitable solution,” she said. 

Hancock has called a Jan. 22 hearing at Contra Costa College to examine “the whole strategy of gambling as an economic strategy for the state. We need to know who pays and who benefits.” 

Just what power anyone has to block tribal casinos remains an open question. 

Tribes that were federally recognized as of 1988 can build no more casinos because of federal legislation passed that year. But tribes that were stripped of their reservations in the 1950s and 1960s can establish new reservations and build casinos on them. 

It is these so-called “landless tribes” that gambling promoters have targeted. 

In a Dec. 20 letter to Contra Costa County Administrator John Sweeten, Schwarzenegger’s Legal Affairs Secretary Peter Siggins acknowledged that if tribes receive East Bay land as restored reservations, “the state would be required to negotiate compacts in good faith.” 

“Not only does the [g]overnor intend to honor the exclusivity of the [Casino San Pablo] compact, the [g]overnor’s (sic) is adamantly opposed to further development of any casinos in urban areas,” he wrote. 

One of the greatest beneficiaries of the casino boom could be Berkeley developer James D. Levine, whose grand super-resort proposal targets Point Molate on the Richmond shoreline. 

Levine has teamed with Harrah’s, the world’s largest casino operator, leading hotelier Lowe’s, former Defense Secretary William Cohen and the Guidiville Band of Pomo tribespeople to offer a Las Vegas-style super-resort at the foot of the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge. 

Richmond has endorsed Levine’s proposal and agreed to sell the land, the site of a former U.S. Navy refueling station, in a deal that could yield the city a fortune if the proposal manages to thread its way successfully through the federal bureaucracy. 

If approved, the resort would feature a massive casino installed in the landmarked Winehaven building, the site of California’s largest pre-Prohibition vintner, featuring 2,500 to 3,000 slot machines and 125 to 160 table games. 

In addition to running the casino, Harrah’s would operate its own 350-room hotel at Point Molate, with Lowe’s Entertainment running the remainder of the site’s 1,100 rooms. 

Under the terms of Levine’s deal with the city, no other tribe would be allowed within Richmond city limits if his project wins the requisite approvals. 

That would torpedo plans for a second casino proposed for a site adjacent to Hilltop Mall. But that Point Molate provison wouldn’t affect another nearby proposal, this one in unincorporated North Richmond, which is closer to winning the federal nod. 

The Scotts Valley Band of Pomos, backed by a Florida man who has emerged as a major player on the national tribal gambling scene, is already well advanced in its efforts to secure federal approval. 

The 225,000-square-foot casino building would include 2,000 slot machines, 71 table games and 16 Asian card games, a 1,500-seat showroom, plus a a 600-seat buffet, an entertainment lounge, a sports bar and a food court and restaurant. 

The largest of the casino proposals—one endorsed by Gov. Schwarzenegger—was for San Pablo, which would have transformed the existing facility into the largest casino west of the Mississippi, with 5,000 slot machines—two-thirds more than the largest Las Vegas casino. 

The compact was one of five negotiated by the governor’s staff last summer. 

The number of slots was halved after strong opposition from local legislators, with Assemblymember Hancock in the forefront  

The 9.53-acre San Pablo site is currently the only proposed casino locale already designated as a tribal reservation. The casino land was proclaimed a reservation of the Lytton Band of Pomos on June 29 by Aurene M. Martin, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs. 

The Lytton casino would be run by the Wintun band of the Rumsey Tribe, which already runs the highly successful Cache Creek Casino Resort in western Yolo County. The third partner in operations is the Maloof family of Sacramento, which owns a 50-story casino resort in Las Vegas as well as the Sacramento Kings NBA team. 

Schwarzenegger endorsed the San Pablo casino in a deal which would give the facility a monopoly on casino gambling within a 35-mile radius of the giant in return for a promise to pay the state 25 percent of its earning yearly once it’s up and running. 

Because tribal lands are sovereign under federal law, states have no direct taxing authority over casinos, and the governor’s proposed monopoly could earn the state up to $200 million annually. 

The reduced number of slots means less money for the state, a sum that would be reduced still further if other casinos open within the designated turf. 

Whatever the final outcome of the other proposals, the earliest winners at San Pablo will be Sam Katz, a Republican stalwart thrice-rejected in runs for a term as Philadelphia mayor and found at fault in a civil fraud trial, and Roger Stone, a tribal gambling lobbyist and the longtime GOP operative who orchestrated the Republican protests, known as the “Brooks Brothers Riots,” that helped bring the 2000 presidential recount to a halt in Florida. 

Katz and Stone spearheaded the move to win the reservation status, helped in the end by former California Rep. George Miller, who inserted a provision initiating the declaration as a rider into a budget bill on the final day of the 2000 Congressional session. 

The duo stands to make millions when the casino is built. 

Hancock questions “the whole idea of a 2,500-slot casino blocks from I-80 and right next tot he only public emergency room within a 25-mile radius. It should still be open for negotiations, including mitigations to local communities.” 

None of the casino proposals has gone unchallenged, and the Point Molate proposal has been targeted by two separate pieces of litigation. 

The first, filed by oil giant ChevronTexaco in September, sought to block the sale on the grounds that city officials had failed to offer to sell the property to other public agencies before inking a deal with a private developer. That action was rejected by a Contra Costa County Superior Court on Sept. 24, paving the way for the sale four days later. 

Two more lawsuits were filed on Dec. 15 and 17 in an attempt to void the sale on the grounds that the city shouldn’t have sold the land without conducting an Environmental Impact Report. The plaintiffs, one the East Bay Regional Parks District and the other Citizens for the Eastshore State Park, want the majority of the site preserved as parkland. 

Yet another lawsuit doesn’t seek to void the sale but asks for a billion dollars in damages on the grounds that Levine’s Upstream Point Molate LLC and Harrah’s enticed the Guidivilles to breach an existing contract with NGV Ltd., a Florida-based partnership. 

NGV is a Florida limited partnership, with Noram-NGV LLC as the general partnership. Noram LLC is part of the multi-corporate empire which has evolved from North American Sports Management, which began as a sports talent management company. 

The interlocked corporations are the creations of Alan H. Ginsburg of Maitland, Fl., who has emerged as a major player in the Native American gambling boom, with casino ventures spanning the nation from the extreme Southeast to the far Northwest. 

After their deal with Guidivilles fell through, Noram created a new entity, Noram-Richmond LLC, inked a pact with the Scott’s Valley Pomo band, and purchased a 30-acre site between Parr Boulevard and Richmond Parkway in North Richmond, announcing plans for the Sugar Bowl Casino, a 225,000-square-foot, 2000-slot Las Vegas-style gambling palace. 

With the exception of Casino San Pablo, the Sugar Bowl proposal has advanced the furthest in the approval process. The federal Bureau of Indian Affairs has already conducted an environmental scoping procedure on the plan and is preparing an environmental impact proposal. Levine said a scoping session on the Molate proposal should be held within the next month or two. 

Noram is also the corporate sponsor of the East Bay’s newest casino proposal, a 2,000-slot, 100-table casino with a 1,000-seat auditorium and 200-room hotel on land adjacent to Oakland International Airport. 

Noram and its Oakland tribal partner, the Lower Lake Rancheria Koi Nation, a Pomo band, have promised city officials nearly $11 million to compensate for lost taxes, cover city services as well as fund a police administration and youth sports and gambling addiction programs. 

The Muwekma band of Ohlone tribespeople has contested the Oakland proposal on the grounds that the site in question was the traditional homeland of their people. 

Rumors of another East Bay tribal casino—this one at Albany’s Golden Gate Fields—surfaced as a result telephone polling calls made in early winter. 

The race track has been ailing for some time, and Magna Entertainment, the site’s Canadian owner, has also floated the possibility of an 800,000-square-foot regional shopping mall to be built by politically connected Los Angeles developer Rick J. Caruso.  

Magna has consistently declined to return calls about either proposal, though Magna was a major backer of a failed statewide ballot initiative last November that would have allowed existing horse racing tracks to add casinos to their facilities. 

Meanwhile, Hancock has issued a call for a state constitutional amendment that would impose a 60-day delay before legislators could vote on any new casino pacts.t

Major Berkeley Building Projects Dominated the Headlines in 2004 By RICHARD BRENNEMAN

Tuesday December 28, 2004

Followers of Berkeley news over the past year might rightly conclude that town suffers from an edifice complex. 

Big buildings, including a couple of giants proposed for the city center, have fueled endless controversy—and filled a significant chunk of the Daily Planet’s news pages as well. 

A Planning Commission subcommittee devoted long sessions to discussions of what could become the largest building to rise in the city in decades, a proposed 12-story-or-more hotel for the what is already Berkeley’s high-rise intersection. 

The University of California is negotiating with a private developer to build the structure at the northeast corner of Shattuck Avenue and Center Street. 

If built—and the “if” remains a big one—the edifice would rise directly across Shattuck Avenue from the Wells Fargo and Power Bar Buildings, the city’s reigning high-rises. 

The fate of the project, which would be the cornerstone of a University of California complex featuring museums and a meeting center, depends on whether the university can make the hotel profitable enough to draw the big bucks of a major developer. 

Carpenter & Co., a leading hotelier, has an exclusive negotiating with the university which expires at the end of February, a six-month extension of an one-year agreement that ended without a deal. 

A half block to the west along Center Street is the site of the Seagate Building, an already approved but legally challenged nine-story residential complex with three levels of underground parking and a ground floor that will be devoted primarily to rehearsal space for the Berkeley Repertory Theater. 

The Seagate project proved controversial from the start, and the Zoning Adjustment Board’s approval of the project has been met with an appeal which alleges that the approval failed to pass legal or procedural muster. 

Work on another major downtown project finally commenced in the autumn after a long hiatus in developmental limbo. 

Library Gardens, Transaction Financial’s 176-unit apartment complex with five street-level shops, replaces the demolished Kittredge Street Garage, just west of the central library. 

Completion is scheduled for July, 2006. 

Other projects that made news in 2004 included: 


Kennedy Buildings 

2004 proved especially momentous for Berkeley developer Patrick Kennedy. 

Teaming with multimillionaire UC Berkeley Professor David Teece, Kennedy has built some of the city’s most controversial structures and emerged as a lightning rod in the struggles between slow-growth preservationists and “smart growth” development advocates. 

The city also launched an investigation into heating units at the seven-story Gaia Building that replaced the old Berkeley Farms creamery at 2116 Allston Way. 

By promising to devote the ground floor to so-called cultural uses, Kennedy qualified for an additional floor of housing, though the “cultural bonus” space still remains vacant nearly three years after the building opened. A jazz cafe is now scheduled to open soon in part of the space. 

Kennedy won an additional floor by providing apartments reserved for low income tenants, enabling him to build a seven-story structure, two floors over the downtown plan’s five-floor limit. Critics said that by incorporating lofts into his units, Kennedy actually created the equivalent of a nine-floor building. 

Over the past two years, the Gaia Building has been repeatedly shrouded with plastic and screening as repair crews have battled the leaks that have caused ongoing mold problems.  

According to lawsuits filed by Kennedy, the repairs have now equaled the original construction costs. By year’s end, the Gaia Building was once again partially shrouded. 

Three other Kennedy/Teece projects opened in the fall: the Fine Arts Building on Shattuck Avenue and the Touriel and Bachenheimer buildings on University Avenue. 

Like most of Kennedy’s projects, they were funded by construction loans underwritten by ABAG, the Association of Bay Area Governments, which supports projects that include affordable units. 


Berkeley Bowl II 

West Berkeley’s biggest project is still in the planning stages, and sparking its own fires of controversy. 

Owner Glen Yasuda’s plan to build an upsized version of the Berkeley Bowl at Ninth Street and Heinz Avenue has provoked concerns from neighbors worried about increased traffic and the intrusion of commercial uses into West Berkeley’s manufacturing and light industrially zoned areas. 

Members of the city Design Review Committee gave their blessings to architect Kava Massih’s plans for a 91,060-square-foot three-building complex.  

Before Yasuda’s new market can be built, the Berkeley Planning Commission must first approve both zoning changes and an amendment to the city’s General Plan. 

Commissioners will hold a combined workshop and public hearing on the proposal at their Jan. 12 meeting. 


University Avenue Projects 

The heaviest action has been on University Avenue, where Kennedy’s Bachenheimer and Touriel buildings opened and plans have advanced for several others. 

Zoning Adjustments Board (ZAB) members approved one major project in December, a proposal by developer Alex Varum to build a condominium project at 1122 University Ave. 

Varum’s project features two buildings—a five-story structure facing the avenue which features 48 housing units, two live/work units and two retail spaces, with a three-story, 15-unit building in the back—and 74 underground parking spaces. 

Design Review Committee members gave their blessings to another major University Avenue project that same month and forwarded it on to ZAB. 

Satellite Housing’s 80-unit senior housing facility planned for 1535 University won the committee’s praises, and they sent the proposal on for action by ZAB in early January. 

Pacific Bay Investment won the city’s green light in November to build a five-story condominium and ground floor retail complex at the site of the former Tune-Up Masters facility at 1698 University Ave. 

While the original plans called for 38 units in a 64-foot-high building, after a series of meetings with neighborhood residents and city officials, project manager Ed Cress reduced the number of dwelling units to 25, and cut 14 feet off the height while increasing parking spaces from 16 to 33. 

Plans for a four-story condominium project that would occupy most of the 700 block of University remain on hold pending decisions on applications to landmark two buildings targeted for demolition on the site. 

San Pablo Avenue 

The largest project approved for San Pablo Avenue is the five-story condominium project at northeast corner of San Pablo and Essex Street. 

San Francisco developer Charmaine Curtis bought the property—along with city permits—from Patrick Kennedy, whose development plans had been hobbled by lawsuits and neighborhood opposition. 

ZAB approved her revised plans in December. 

Design Review Committee members approved plans for a three-story, eight-unit residential project at 1406 San Pablo and passed them on to ZAB for action next month. 


Shattuck Avenue  

On Shattuck Avenue, besides the UC Hotel and the Fine Arts Building, the year witnessed more battles in the saga of the Flying Cottage, the turn-of-the-century cottage perched atop a plywood shell at the corner of Shattuck and Essex Street. 

Developer Christina Sun’s first effort to finish the building was denied because she’d started work without the right permits, and neighbors are continuing to fight the project as she tries to get the requisite approvals. 

Design Review Committee members found little to like when presented with architect Andus Brandt’s latest plans in December, issuing scathing reviews and turning a unanimous thumbs-down on revisions even Brandt admitted were less than ideal. 

The committee also roasted a proposal for a five-story condo and retail project planned for 2701 Shattuck by the Choyce Family Trust, an inheritance tax shelter of the Rev. Gordon Choyce Sr., pastor of the Missionary Church of God in Christ and head of the troubled low-income housing builder Jubilee Restoration. 

The panel told builder Ronnie Sullivan, an officer in Jubilee Restoration, to come back again, this time with his structural and landscape architects. 


Ed Roberts Center 

The most significant project approved in South Berkeley this year was the Ed Roberts Center. 

Named for a noted Berkeley disability rights activist, the facility will house a consortium of organizations serving the needs of the disabled in a modernist two-story building at 3075 Adeline St. 

Neighbors said they welcomed the center but contested the design, saying the glass-fronted modernist two-story structure would be strongly out of character in a neighborhood of buildings erected a century ago 

Advocates say the glass is an important symbolic gesture—the antithesis of the blind walls behind which the disabled were housed for so long. 

ZAB approved the project in mid-November, and a group of neighbors appealed the decision to the City Council. 


Telegraph Avenue 

Developer Kenneth Sarachan, owner of Rasputin’s Records, filed plans in September to build an apartment and retail complex at the long-vacant Berkeley Inn site at the corner of Telegraph Avenue and Haste Street. 

He needed to file by Sept. 22 or face paying off $500,000 in city liens levied on the site after Berkeley Inn owners refused to demolish the structure after a pair of fires had left it a gutted wreck, forcing the city to demolish it. 

Sarachan’s plans call for a two-story structure at the Telegraph Avenue end of the structure, rising to five stories at the east end. Designs call for three ground floor retail spaces and a second floor restaurant with a roof garden plus 20 one-bedroom apartments. 

Significant revisions are expected before the project ever comes to a vote. 

Berkeley’s newest apartment building opened in December, the four-story Telegraph Bays apartment and retail complex at 2616 Telegraph Ave. 

The building features one-, two- and three-bedroom units with rents ranging from $745 for a one-bedroom 472-square-foot inclusionary unit to $2300 for a three-bedroom, 1087-square-foot apartment. ”

Looking for Night Life In A City That Likes to Sleep By MATTHEW ARTZ

Tuesday December 28, 2004

New Year’s Eve, the biggest party night of the year, and UC Berkeley Junior Adam Weiss knows where he’ll be hours before the clock strikes midnight. 

“On the BART platform getting ready to party...in San Francisco.” 

Weiss said one of his toughest challenges in attending UC Berkeley has been finding local venues that he would want to go to or that would invite him, a 20-year-old, in. 

“I’ve learned that being a college town and a party town are two very different things,” he said. 

Berkeley, home to one of the largest universities in the country, has avoided the glut of bars, clubs and late night eateries that typically accompany other schools. 

In Chico, Ca., for instance, home-base for the 15,000-student state university, there are 13 nightclubs featuring live music or a DJ within a 20 block radius, according to Becky Watner, assistant director for the Downtown Chico Business Association. Berkeley has eight. 

Since the 1980s several of the city’s top venues have folded or been shut down by the city. They include Keystone Berkeley and Berkeley Square on University Avenue, the Jabberwock on Telegraph Avenue, the Longbranch on San Pablo Avenue and Earl’s Solano Club, a North Berkeley Jazz house. 

“Berkeley used to have so many more clubs,” said Billy Jam, owner of Hip Hop Slam Records and a radio host on UC Berkeley’s KALX Public Affairs. “Touring bands used to have a San Francisco date and a Berkeley date, but now Berkeley doesn’t have a big enough venue to attract national acts.” 

Berkeley Planning Director Dan Marks said a combination of police apprehension towards new bars and neighborhood concerns about noise had kept Berkeley’s youth-oriented nightlife in check. 

“There aren’t a lot of locations where people getting out of a club at 2 a.m. aren’t going to disturb someone” he said. 

The police department wields heavy influence in granting permits to would-be club operators in Berkeley. Under State Department of Alcohol Beverage Control rules, Berkeley has surpassed its quota for alcohol serving establishments so any new bar or club seeking a use permit requires the Zoning Adjustment Board (ZAB) to make a finding of public convenience and necessity. Although the police declined to comment for this story, several city officials said the police typically oppose the permits on grounds that the BDP doesn’t have the staff to deal with more drunken youth leaving clubs early in the morning. 

“Because of police objections to late night drinking, the city has become increasingly restrictive in its zoning review process for late night venues,” said Dave Fogarty of the city’s Office of Economic Development. 

He recalled several cases where applicants were either discouraged from operating a nightclub or told not to bother trying for the hours of operation they wanted. 

Anna De Leon, who is preparing to open a Shattuck Avenue jazz cafe in the coming weeks, said she didn’t ask for a 2 a.m. closing time on weekends—the latest hour allowed for an establishment that serves alcohol—because she knew she wouldn’t get it. 

De Leon, who will close her club at 1 a.m. on weekends, faced neighborhood opposition seeking a permit to open her cafe both on Shattuck and at its former home on University Avenue. 

“I have a hard time understanding the level of quiet people seem to need,” she said. 

Country Joe McDonald, who moved to town and joined Berkeley’s folk music scene in 1965 said, “Berkeley has never been a late night town. 

“Whenever friends would visit and ask what there was to do late at night, I’d just laugh.” 

Now, along Telegraph Avenue, there appears to be some will among city leaders to allow bars and restaurants to keep their doors open later for nearby students. This fall, against the recommendation of the police department, the ZAB approved later hours for Kip’s a popular student bar on the southside of campus. That ruling came on top of similar decisions allowing the Durant food court to stay open later and Raleigh’s, a Telegraph Avenue bar and restaurant, to keep its outdoor patio open during late night hours.  

The city’s draft land use plan for the south of campus area calls for allowing all eating establishments including cafes to remain open until midnight without a use permit and conditionally allowing 24-hour cafes near the UC Berkeley campus. Currently, without a permit cafes must close at 10 p.m. 

“The direction the city is moving in is that nightlife is encouraged,” said ZAB Chair and UC Berkeley graduate student Andy Katz.  

Katz said that extending hours for cafes and bars along Telegraph would improve safety and increase business along the corridor. The biggest problem so far, Katz said, has been convincing the mostly family owned sit-down restaurants to stay open into the earlier hours of the morning, when the relatives who run the restaurants would rather be sleeping. 

If Telegraph Avenue does adopt later hours, not all of the residents will be pleased.  

Doug Buckwald, a south campus resident, said he is frequently awakened on weekend nights by students shouting and singing as they walk back to their homes from Telegraph Avenue.  

“It’s absolutely a quality of life issue,” said Buckwald, who feared that later hours for bars and restaurants could discourage families from relocating to the area—another goal of the draft land use plan. 

Pat Romani, the co-owner of Blakes On Telegraph, the south campus’ only dance venue, didn’t think relaxed city regulations would help the Berkeley club scene, whose decline he attributed to market forces. 

“It seems that a lot of students are more into socializing with their friends or drinking than seeing live music,” he said. “Right now a lot of clubs in the area are closing or hanging on by their fingernails.”  

When it comes to live music Berkeley still offers a variety of options. Blakes has rock and hip hop music, the Shattuck Down Low has a mix of DJs and live rock and hip hop acts, the Freight and Salvage offers a predominantly folk line up, Ashkenaz specializes in world beats, 924 Gilman is a youth oriented punk club, the Starry Plough offers rock music on weekends and Jupiter also hosts live acts. Live jazz can also be seen at Downtown and at the Jazz School. 

If Berkeley were ever to create a concentration of clubs, like in Chico, the downtown area would seem like the likeliest location. But with a slew of new housing development, the downtown might not be so fertile anymore. 

Councilmember Dona Spring, who represents the area, fought Berkeley Square and fielded numerous complaints about the Shattuck Down Low when it first moved in, isn’t eager to see many new arrivals. 

“If you want to go dancing you should go to Ashkenaz,” she said. “The regular population prefers a play or a concert to boozing it up.” 

Looking Back on Cal Football’s Golden Season By STEVEN FINACOM

Special to the Planet
Tuesday December 28, 2004

I know where old sportswriters go when they die. They become the creative muses of publicity writers for college football teams.  

A search through the archives and press guides of any team, the California Golden Bears included, yields reams of overwrought prose, delightfully arcane and overwrought adjectives, verbs, and analogies, and a deluge of statistics to emphasize the strengths of a program and minimize any weaknesses.  

This year the publicists for the Bears have had an easy time of it without the need for much exaggeration. Cal finished a ten-win, one-loss season with a No. 4 national ranking in the Associated Press and ESPN / USA Today polls.  

Even in the unlikely event that the season comes to a disappointing end this week with a loss in the Dec. 30 Holiday Bowl against Texas Tech, this year’s Golden Bears have played remarkably, memorably, and successfully. 

They also earned near-icon status for third year coach Jeff Tedford, who now has a 25-12 record at Cal. 

The Golden Bears had the best win-loss record for a Cal football team since 1950, when the team went 9-0-1. This was also Cal’s first ten-win season since 1949.  

Their single loss against USC was assuaged by the fact that the Bears came within one play and nine yards of beating what was then, and still remains, the number one team in the country. A further consolidation is that the Bears beat USC last year, the only team in two years to do so. 

And, for traditionalists like me, even Cal’s last-minute exclusion from the Rose Bowl was not irredeemably bitter, since historically it’s the Pac-10 champion who plays there and Cal came in second in the conference this year, behind USC. 

Cal was the only team to finish the season ranked in the top six nationally in both defense and offense. There were two defensive shutouts and two wins where the opponent was held to less than a touchdown, while on offense the Bears regularly scored more than 40 points per game.  

Cal fans were able to enjoy not only a great team effort, but also remarkable individual performances. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers threw a national record-tying 23 consecutive pass completions against USC and was, statistically, one of the best passers in the country.  

Tailback J.J. Arrington was arguably the best runner in the country and freshmen running back Marshawn Lynch may become the best if he has other years like this one.  

Defensive end Ryan Riddle, Arrington, and receiver Geoff McArthur all set career records at Cal, the last two coming quite appropriately in the Big Game against Stanford. 

Things were particularly charmed this year for Memorial Stadium spectators. Cal was unbeaten at home for the first time since 1950.  

Veteran Cal fans, used to years of clenching the edges of their splintery seats during the fourth quarter and hoping that the Bears could either catch up, or not find a way to fumble away a fragile lead, were treated to one decisive win after another. 

There have never be so many season-ticket holding Cal fans—nearly 35,000. And total game attendance was nearly double that number, despite kickoff times that jumped all over the afternoon and evening due to television demands. 

Memorial Stadium crowds averaged 64,019 for the season, the highest average in Cal home game history. On Sept. 11 Cal had the largest home opener crowd ever in Berkeley, while nearly 70,000 showed up for the Oct. 16 home game against UCLA.  

Particularly sweet for home game fans was the sold-out the Big Game on Nov. 20, when Memorial Stadium was a pulsating lake of blue and gold seamed by only a few small, largely silent, wedges of Cardinal red.  

Cal won by a score of 41-6, the greatest margin of Big Game victory for the Golden Bears since 1930.  

Perhaps best of all, at least from the perspective of long-time Cal fans, was the fact that this was a third consecutive win over Stanford, some recompense for the seven consecutive losses Cal suffered before Tedford arrived as coach.  

Success on the football field was complimented by a revival of participation in old and new campus spirit activities, organized by the student Rally Committee.  

The Big Game Rally on the evening of November 19 drew a standing room only crowd of students and alumni to the Greek Theatre. 

Memorial Stadium was graced by some of the best card stunts—mass, changing, displays of colored cards in the student rooting section—for decades and Sather Tower was lighted blue and gold during Big Game Week. The Cal Band delivered crisp and entertaining performances on and off the field. 

Although some Berkeley residents and officials viewed the large home game crowds and attendant traffic congestion with mixed emotions, Saturday home football games represent what may be the Berkeley community’s oldest annual mass cultural tradition.  

College football has been played in large stadiums in the southeast part of the Berkeley campus for a century.  

California Field, an angular wooden stadium designed by John Galen Howard, preceded Memorial Stadium. It sat some 17,000 spectators on the present-day site of Hearst Gymnasium and North Field. 

That seems small today but was plenty large at a time when there were just 2,839 students at the Berkeley campus and the whole town’s population was less than 15,000.  

Less than two decades later California Memorial Stadium was opened when, under Coach Andy Smith, Cal was a fully successful participant in national college football mania. The Golden Bear “Wonder Teams” were in the midst of a run of five undefeated seasons. 

Since that time Cal has enjoyed a number of great seasons and bowl appearances, but only one other truly sustained period of national football success, the Lynn “Pappy” Waldorf era from the late 1940s through the late 1950s. 

Given the results of this season and Tedford’s increasing success in his first three seasons, not a few Cal fans hope for a continued Golden Bear presence in the very highest ranks of college football. 

In recent years the Golden Bears have banished almost all of the disappointments that have marked the football program since the Waldorf era. Only three long-standing objectives remain: beating Washington State in Pullman and thus lifting the “Curse of the Palouse”; winning the Pac-10 championship outright; returning to the Rose Bowl for the first time since 1959. 

Can a prospective Tedford era come to equal the Waldorf and Andy Smith years? Perhaps, although we will need to experience six or seven more seasons to tell.  

Tedford certainly has made a good start, and the season concluded with a much ballyhooed contract renewal, as well as more than a few raised eyebrows at an annual salary more than three times that of the Chancellor. 

Is Cal football likely to become a perpetual national power under, and after, Tedford? Bear fans may dream, but the odds are long.  

Division 1A teams in major conferences that have undefeated or only one-or-two-loss seasons year after year are few and far between. Even those ranked highly for decades can fall on hard times. This year the football programs at Washington, Penn State, Notre Dame, and Nebraska are among the cautionary examples. 

Many critics would also say that level of college football success is a decidedly mixed blessing, with programs acting more like mini-NFL franchises and less like part of a genuine college athletic tradition. 

Nonetheless, Cal football has had a truly golden existence this year and, even if it proves to be an anomaly, Bear fans and Berkeley experienced a season to remember. 


Berkeley resident Steven Finacom attended his first Cal football games in the mid-1970s. He is a career staff member at the University, but is not affiliated with the Intercollegiate Athletics Department.›

Thousand Oaks Strives to Make a Home for All Students By ARWEN CURRY

Special to the Planet
Tuesday December 28, 2004

Debra Smith, 55, has watched over Thousand Oaks Elementary for 16 years. As cafeteria supervisor, she keeps the school’s kitchen and dining area polished to an immaculate gleam. She also teaches a cooking class to kids in the after-school program, and puts flowers on the tables in the warmly elegant, oak-paneled cafeteria.  

“We dress it up,” she says. “We decorate for all the holidays and special occasions. I plan to put plastic tablecloths on all the tables. That’ll make it more homelike.” 

Making the school more homelike is a passion Smith shares with staff, teachers, and parents at Thousand Oaks. 

The campus, rebuilt in 1999 with Measure AA earthquake safety funds, is an architectural welcome mat, bright and open. Students have free access to the sch ool’s garden, which overflows with pumpkins, sunflowers, and tomatoes. 

Thousand Oaks occupies a block of Colusa Avenue in North Berkeley, one block off of eastern Solano Avenue, with its shops, restaurants, and historic theater. But many students commute from other Berkeley neighborhoods to take advantage of the school’s Transitional Bilingual Program. 

The program is unique in the district because it allows children to study exclusively in Spanish from kindergarten through the third grade. By the fourth grade, they make the transition into English-speaking classes. The Transitional Bilingual model is based on the idea that strong literacy in a child’s first language provides a solid foundation for second-language learning.  

Of the 429 students who atte nded Thousand Oaks in 2003, 38 percent were still learning English, five percentage points higher than the state average. Of these students, most were Spanish-speaking. When first enrolling a child in the Berkeley Unified School District, parents whose ch ildren have limited English proficiency may choose three of Berkeley’s four bilingual programs for placement consideration. 

Le Conte, Rosa Parks, and Cragmont have dual-immersion programs, in which Spanish-speaking and English-speaking students attend cl asses together from kindergarten through the fifth grade, and are taught in both languages. 

Thousand Oaks third grade bilingual teacher Andra Tom supports both types of programs. The Transitional Program is not perfect, she admits; ideally, it would extend into the upper grades. And it separates native Spanish-speaking kids from other students. 

“One of the benefits of dual-immersion is that it blends different kids,” Tom says. But, she added, English- and Spanish-speaking classes interact several times a week for activities like cooking, gardening, physical education, and art classes. 

More than anything, Tom says, the strong support of the staff at Thousand Oaks makes the Transitional Bilingual program successful.  

“We look at all of the kids as our k ids,” she says. 

Before coming to Thousand Oaks four years ago, Principal Jesse Ramos, 42, was an administrator for the Mt. Diablo Unified School District, where he watched a budding bilingual program die after voters approved Prop. 227, which required schools to switch from bilingual programs to English-only immersion in 1998. 

Parents may request waivers that allow children to participate in bilingual programs in spite of the proposition. Still, “a traditional bilingual program like we have at Thousand Oaks is unique even at the state level,” existing in large part because of community support, says Ramos. 

“The community aspect is very good,” agrees PTA president Cherry Van Meurs, in a telephone interview, although she says the PTA could better represe nt the racial and ethnic diversity of Thousand Oaks’ students, an issue she plans to address this year. Van Meurs, who has had children enrolled in Thousand Oaks on and off since 1994, also hopes to make meetings more accessible to Spanish-speaking families. 

“Of course, we’re always looking for ways to improve,” says Principal Ramos, as he knelt down to scrape with his fingernail at a bit of graffiti in pink grease pen on one of Thousand Oaks’s broad elevated walkways. “But we have a fabulous team here. We’re very fortunate.” 


This is the fourth in a series profiling the Berkeley elementary schools. The reports are written by students of the UC Berkeley Journalism School. m

Local Supermarket Workers Keep Close Eye on Sacramento Agreement By JAKOB SCHILLER

Tuesday December 28, 2004

Workers in the Sacramento area will soon be voting to ratify a new union contract at three large California supermarkets, but Bay Area markets are still in doubt, according to Matthew Hardy, a spokesperson for the United Food and Commercial Workers’ union. 

UFCW Local 588 in Sacramento, which represents 19,000 workers at Safeway, Kroger and Albertson’s, announced the agreement last week, but would not release the details of the contract until after workers have voted. The union had threatened to strike if an agreement was not reached. 

Some 30,000 more workers in the Bay Area are still negotiating their own contract which expired later than the one in Sacramento, according to Hardy,  

“We still have yet to put our health and welfare proposal across the table,” he said. 

Nonetheless, he said, workers are preparing for a possible strike if negotiations do not go well. Workers all over California as well as in other states have prepared for strikes after Southern California grocery workers went on strike for four and a half months during their contract negotiations. 

Hardy said workers and their supporters including the California Labor Federation stood outside 54 Safeway stores in 25 Bay Area cities last week asking customers to sign pledge cards saying they would support workers in the event of a strike.   

“Even though Sacramento settled, we are still going to continue on with our program,” said Hardy. 

Letters to the Editor

Tuesday December 28, 2004


Editors, Daily Planet:  

As reported in your Dec. 21 article (“Design Panel Slams Latest ‘Flying Cottage’ Plan”), architect Andus Brandt told the Design Review Committee that a city employee looking over Christina Sun’s plans to improve her two-story rental property at 3045 Shattuck Ave. by building out the first floor / basement suggested she could add a third story. Public records on file with the Alameda Superior Court and the Berkeley Planning Department cast doubt on this version of events. 

In her legal complaint against Delta Construction and Remodeling, Sun says she negotiated contracts with Delta for both two- and three-story projects before submitting either plan to the city. On April 19, 2002, she submitted her zoning permit application for the two-story project, and on May 30, the city issued a permit. The next day, Sun executed the contract for the three-story project. Over the next two weeks, she completely demolished the first floor, leaving the second on blocks. Demolition accomplished, on June 14 she submitted plans for the three-story project. 

Robert Lauriston 




Editors, Daily Planet:  

A belated response to Bob Burnett’s article which gave his conclusion that election “irregularities” did not cause enough vote changes to make the recent election a “stolen” election. 

I would ask a different question. Do we know that the past election was honest?  

We know that the person in Ohio in charge of the election proceedings was Kenneth Blackwell, head of the Bush campaign in Ohio. We know that in heavily Democratic inner city precincts there were not enough voting machines, and that people had to wait hours and hours to vote. Many had to leave without voting. We know that some voters were given incorrect information about places to vote, and even that voting could also be done Nov. 3. We also know, as Burnett says, that some people, after finishing their voting, checked their touchscreen votes, and their “Kerry” vote had been changed to “Bush.” 

Knowing that the above very very “irregular” and I would say “illegal” things have been done by the people in charge of voting in Ohio, and also by people in charge of other swing states, do I believe that those in charge made sure that the voting machines with no paper trail gave honest results? I cannot so believe. Right now I feel that the United States of America has lost its democracy. 

Julia Craig  




Editors, Daily Planet:  

There are too many instances of fraud and abuse in the U.S. election, especially in Ohio and Florida. Electronic voting machines can’t be audited. There is no way to determine if the vote was correct. The only way for the U.S. to have an honest election that we can all agree on is to re-do it with punched-card ballots, that can be checked by independent auditors. Until then, we should stop trying to pretend to Afghanistan, Iraq, Ukraine, and other countries that we know what democracy is. 

Mike Vandeman 





Editors, Daily Planet:  

My thanks to your paper and LA Wood for the commentary on our sewer and storm drain situation (“Berkeley’s Stormwater Property Tax: Where’s the Money?” Daily Planet, Oct. 29-Nov. 1). He answered all of the questions that plague me whenever we have 15 minutes of steady rain. Though I have lived here many years, I am not fluent in the politics of Berkeley. Though I am long past being naive, I am appalled nonetheless. How is it that the city can divert monies from a specific, voter-approved purpose to cover something else entirely? Why was this done and who did It? Is that information available in the public record somewhere? Isn’t there something we (taxpaying citizens and residents of Berkeley) can do about it? This seems wrong to me, and more so because it’s Berkeley. It appears that we pride ourselves that our differentness is a superior thing; that we are better informed, more thoroughly educated, of higher awareness than average. Don’t we see ourselves as standing up for free speech, diversity, peace on the planet, social justice, good government and greener practices for the health of the individual and the health of the planet? Or have I gotten it altogether wrong because the fix is in, like everywhere else, and that’s just the way it is?  

April Corsiva 




Editors, Daily Planet:  

My comments are directed towards Susan Parker’s Dec. 21-23 column, “Teaching A Child to Swim: A Fun, Wholesome and Righteous Activity.” In her fine essay Susan chronicles her experience teaching swimming to a young African-American girl friend named Jernae. Due to Susan’s and Jernae’s persistence the child successfully learned how to swim. As Susan rightly points out, “I had always thought that swimming was a skill everyone should know. It’s easy to learn, develops self-confidence, and promotes safety.” As it turned out all of Jernae’s friends at school were not as “lucky” to have a friend to teach them how to swim. 

From my point of view, as a public pool activist in the United Pool Council, Jernae’s friends at school should not have to be lucky to have a friend like Susan to teach them how to swim. The public schools with the use of our wonderful public pools (Willard, West Campus, and King) should teach all kids not only how to swim but why to swim for health and recreation. Why is it that only middle class white kids get to experience the joys of swimming through such enriched and expensive private aquatic programs such as the Bears? 

The answer to that question is that BUSD, in its frenzy to cut all non-academic programming, has eliminated swimming from its physical education program at King and Willard middle schools, to save on paying for life guards etc. Many in the school and pool communities are trying to rectify that situation. At the same time that BUSD is cutting swimming from its curriculum the City of Berkeley is closing public pools (in South Berkeley) to meet budget cutbacks. The city and BUSD are each cutting aquatic programming for poor people in West Berkeley while at the same time not talking to each other about how to save the pubic pool system for everyone. The kids, the parents and teachers who know better and the pool community must insist that the city of Berkeley and BUSD sit down and work out a plan to save and improve our public pools for the benefit of all of pool users. We are all in the same boat. Highly paid city and BUSD administrators must use some of their exceptional brain power and creativity to figure out how to preserve a very valuable city/school resource for all of us. 

The citizens and taxpayers of Berkeley spoke very clearly and loudly in the last elections. Highly paid administrators must earn their living solving vexing problems not by creating them. 

Bill Hamilton 

United Pool Council 




Editors, Daily Planet:  

Thank you Susan Parker, for bringing up the importance of teaching kids to swim. The Berkeley public pools were built so that the children would learn to swim as part of the public school curriculum. The programs were cut a couple of years ago, and we must urge the city and school administrators to cooperate to bring the programs back. Swimming is appropriate for any fitness and skill level. The water absorbs tensions, creates a zone of pleasure and equality. It’s hard to dislike people you are in the water with, frustrations dissolve, you get a fresh perspective. A friend told me that he swam six hours a day while on a college swim team in Sri Lanka. I asked him how he had time to study, and he said that because of swimming he didn’t need to study endlessly. He reviewed what he was learning while swimming, and was able to solve problems quickly as a result. Another reason why swimming. 

Gael Alcock 




Editors, Daily Planet:  

I just completed writing a long article summarizing statistical evidence of large scale irregularities in the Nov. 2 election. Here’s a simpler approach.  

According to David Leip’s Election Atlas, which uses official state voting data, 122,293,782 people voted for president. That was 16,876,524 more votes than in the 2000 race. George Bush improved his total from 50,460,110 to 62,040,237 or approximately by 11.6 million votes. John Kerry improved over Al Gore by a few more than 8 million votes, receiving 59,027,612 votes. There were about 2 million Ralph Nader voters from 2000 that deserted Nader in 2004. New voters in 2004 favored Kerry, who received more than half of the 16,876,524 million new votes cast, accounting for more than his 8 million improvement over Gore. If we ignore all the exit polls and give Bush half the new votes, he still needed 3.2 million more votes from people who voted for Gore in 2000 or Nader. But Kerry won most former Nader votes. And from that alone Kerry should have at least a million more votes than his reported total! And so for Kerry’s reported total to be correct Bush would have had to have taken away as much as another 2 million former Gore votes. So, who are the 3-5 million people across the U.S. who voted for Gore in 2000 and switched to Bush in 2004? In particular states, who are the many thousands who apparently voted for Democrat Betty Castor for U.S. Senate in Florida but for Bush for president; and who are those many thousands who voted for Ellen Connally, the African American liberal, for state Supreme Court chief justice in Ohio, but for Bush for president. I doubt such voters exist, but without those voters across the U.S. the final numbers don’t compute.  

Marc Sapir  





Editors, Daily Planet:  

George Bush likes to say that history will be the judge of his Iraqi policy. 

It’s an easy thing to say when your opponents are incompetent and don’t challenge you, and it certainly fits with the M.O. of his so-called business life—avoid all responsibility and let others pay the price for your failures.  

In this case, that means the many thousands (civilians do count) of dead, wounded and grieving. Nine hundred American children (a wide age range?) have reportedly lost a parent, which of course must translate into many more Iraqi children.  

But what is to be done? Memory itches to take over the conversation: It’s just about the end of the sweetest times, flying through the night down the New Jersey turnpike in a green Plymouth, dozing in someone’s arms, awaking to see the rings of people around the White House, a wonderful sight.  

It’s not time for memories. There’s no sense in dwelling on a time that could pretty hard and bitter and isn’t always relevant to what’s going on now. 

But is anyone else feeling this large void between the news from Iraq, which could not be worse, and the need to bear witness and to somehow bring it home to Bush in a big way, to see if Congress can be stirred?  

For all sorts of reasons, the witnessing and the protesting have all but vanished. The die has been cast, Kerry and Congress were/are spineless, there’s the disconnect between public and government a volunteer army creates (aka the lack of a draft), maybe we haven’t reached some critical mass of American dead, there are our own all-consuming lives. 

If that’s to be part of the history of this war, then that’s what the history will be. History’s full of wars that just go on and on. And that ignorant, dangerous little son of a bitch will never be challenged for what he’s doing. 

Doesn’t feel right, does it? Gnaws at you a little bit? 

Maybe it’s time to take some readings of the groups out there—which are still viable, which have a big enough tent, which have good communications with the vets’ and parents’ groups, which are planning. 

Washington can be awfully nice in the spring. 

James Day 




Editors, Daily Planet:  

On Dec. 25, this Gentile drove down to Solano Avenue at around 9:30 a.m., planning to buy bagels. No luck: Noah’s is closed—for Christmas! 

I guess true Jewish culture is dying in Berkeley. You people, instead of slicing lox, were you singing carols around the tree I saw you smuggle into the house? 

Nigel A. Renton 




Editors, Daily Planet:  

It seems obvious that Bush and his administration is part of the problem not part of the solution. In just the past four years his policies, budgets, and legislation have lead to record level federal deficit and debt while at the same time giving a trillion dollar federal tax cut to the very wealthy; he started an unnecessary war with Iraq which is costing thousands of lives and billions of dollars; we have lost hard earned civil liberties; there is a record fall in the U.S. dollar to major currencies along with an all time high trade deficit; we have an all time low U.S. world image; and finally, we have had two very questionable presidential elections, so do I need to say more? And now he wants to “reform” social security, which will mainly benefit his friends on Wall Street and cost a couple trillion dollars to do along with being very risky. He also wants to “reform” the tax code which again will mainly benefit the very wealthy and big corporations. And finally he wants to cut the debt in half within a certain number of years without raising taxes, if anything he wants to make the trillion dollar tax cut to the very wealthy permanent. This all of course means Bush and his administration will most likely want to make massive cuts in services and programs that help the average American in order to reduce the debt that him and his administration ran up. All this and he has not even started his second term yet so at this rate Bush will take us back a hundred years to the days of the robber barons. So if you think Bush and his administration did a lot of damage during the last four years it may just get even worse during the next four years unless We The People do something about it. And at this point I feel secession is the most viable solution to get us out of this mess as it is both legal and peaceful; for more information on this check out the grass roots secession movements at www.moveoncalifornia.org or www.vermontrepublic.org.  

Thomas Husted 





Editors, Daily Planet:  

Sooo, President Bush and Wall Street wants to privatize Social Security. 

Of course, there’s no doubt that Enron and Global Crossing fully approve of the scheme. 

It appears that the Bush administration’s phony Social Security crisis scenario being played out is nothing more than a scam meant to frighten the public into allowing Social Security to be privatized.  

This is known as elder abuse.  

Sounds like that boy who cried wolf once too often, when I consider who it was that took this country into the mess created in Iraq. 

The Bush family has a poor track record when it comes to taxpayer dollars being needed to bail out their failed schemes.  

Iraq has cost America a fortune in blood and dollars. 

Let’s not forget how Neil Bush and his schemes turned into a $1.2 billion disaster at the Silverado Savings and Loan in Colorado. 

Then it was Jeb Bush that was caught up into a massive $100 million fraud scheme with the International Medical Centers in Florida.  

I am opposed to the privatization of Social Security, and suspect that the elderly would be better served by trading in their Social Security checks for some lottery tickets, rather than to trust the Bush administration to have their best interests at heart. 

Lynda Carson 





Editors, Daily Planet:  

I love the story about Mark Tarses, the landlord who gives candy to his tenants ( “Landlord Sweetens the Deal for Tenants,” Daily Planet, Dec. 21-23). It’s so refreshing to find something like that when most of your news concerns outraged citizens complaining about bureaucratic decisions made behind their backs. 

Is it possible to have more such feature stories? How about other ingenious businessmen, cultural leaders and the people who run our schools and libraries? The list is endless. 

Rose M. Green 




Editors, Daily Planet:  

You carried a commentary by Paul Hogarth in Dec. 17-20 issue (“Rent Control is Fully Constitutional and Good Public Policy”). Although you say that Mr. Hogarth was a member of the Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board from 2000-2004 and is now a second-year law student at Golden Gate University, and although Mr. Hogarth starts out by claiming that a previous commentary by Robert Cabrera “contained so many lies and inaccuracies that even a second-year law student can easily refute them,” Mr. Hogarth’s own commentary also contained a critical lie and inaccuracy. 

Mr. Hogarth cites a case as Penn Central Station v. New York (1978). There is no such case. The proper citation is Penn Central Transp. Co. v. New York City, 438 U.S. 104 (1978). This is significant, because one could not find the case if one looked for the citation given by Mr. Hogarth. Secondly, and more importantly, Mr. Hogarth claims that “Mr. Cabrera confuses basic regulatory laws like rent control and zoning restrictions with actual takings of private property like eminent domain,” and that “it only becomes a ‘taking’ under the Fifth Amendment if the regulation makes [the property] completely worthless.”  

Mr. Hogarth speaks contrarily here. At first he denies the existence of “regulatory taking,” and then he acknowledges it backhandedly by stating an entirely false criterion for it. It is true that in the case he cited, the New York Court of Appeals had denied the existence of “regulatory taking,” but that was not the conclusion of the U.S. Supreme Court. Nor is there any statement to the effect that a property must become worthless for a regulatory taking to occur in the case cited or anywhere else. Below are the relevant quotes from the case that Mr. Hogarth miscited. 

At page 120: The New York Court of Appeals affirmed. 42 N. Y. 2d 324, 366 N. E. 2d 1271 (1977). That court summarily rejected any claim that the Landmarks Law had “taken” property without “just compensation,” id., at 329, 366 N. E. 2d, at 1274, indicating that there could be no “taking” since the law had not transferred control of the property to the city, but only restricted appellants' exploitation of it. 

At page 127: It is, of course, implicit in Goldblatt that a use restriction on real property may constitute a “taking” if not reasonably necessary to the effectuation of a substantial public purpose, see Nectow v. Cambridge, supra; cf. Moore v. East Cleveland, 431 U.S. 494, 513 -514 (1977) (STEVENS, J., concurring), or perhaps if it has an unduly harsh impact upon the owner's use of the property. Pennsylvania Coal Co. v. Mahon, 260 U.S. 393 (1922), is the leading case for the proposition that a state statute that substantially furthers important public policies may so frustrate distinct investment-backed expectations as to amount to a “taking.” 

Peter Mutnick 




Editors, Daily Planet:  

It seems that all Washington officials, government spokesmen and also 9/11 commissioners are intent on causing the public to be in constant fear and panic. “We are safer than we used to be but still in danger of attack from an implacable enemy (who is declared to hate us because of jealousy).” 

However, just a couple of weeks ago, Osama bin Laden gave a speech that conveyed a quite reasonable message: “If you and your Israeli agents stop mistreating and robbing Arabs, we won’t attack you.” He also made it clear in a subsequent speech that his principal argument was with the government of Saudi Arabia, which keeps its people in a state of poverty and ignorance for the exclusive benefit of a host of Saudi princes (not to mention their American business connections). 

Our current government benefited greatly by producing fear in the American population. Shall we continue to live in fear of imagined danger or try to live a normal life? And perhaps with a less extreme government that will respect the basic rights of all members of the population?  

Max Alfert 














At Christmas Dinner, a Baby Gives A Sense of Hope for the World By SUSAN PARKER Column

Tuesday December 28, 2004

Christmas day at our house. Sixteen adults, one 7-year-old, a toddler, and two babies gather around a food-laden table in the dining room. Kanna Jo Nakamura-Parker, six weeks old, and smaller than a bread basket, lies quietly in her mother’s arms. It is her first visit to our home, her first Christmas, her first time competing for attention with an overcooked, over-stuffed turkey. 

“Pass the baby to the left,” says my husband Ralph. “And the turkey to the right.” So we begin. Kanna is slipped into the arms of her mother’s friend, Sagiri, who whispers in Japanese that soon she’ll introduce Kanna to her flying squirrels, MoMo and MiMi, who she keeps as pets in her apartment. Then Kanna Jo is handed to Rick, who says something loud and Republican. “Give the baby to me,” shouts Rick’s wife, Dee, “And stop with that Republican stuff.” Dee espouses Democratic party policy to Kanna, than passes her on to me. I give Kanna a soft kiss and hold her face up close to Ralph’s. He breathes in her baby smell and rubs his cheek against hers. “I’m the only one who’s had a flu shot,” he says. “So I’m really the only one who should be kissing you, Kanna Jo.”  

“I’ve had a flu shot,” says my mother, reaching around Ralph’s electric wheelchair for Kanna. But the tremble in her outstretched hands prompts my dad to help with Kanna’s transfer. Mom presses Kanna to her chest, to keep her close and warm, and the Parkinson’s from shaking them both.  

Annie waits patiently to hold Kanna Jo next. “Where’d your momma get this cute pink dress?” she asks. “You look just like a candy cane.” 

“She looks like her mother,” says Lynn, who lifts Kanna from Annie’s arms.  

“There’s no denying that,” adds Harvey, peering over Lynn’s shoulder. Everyone nods in agreement.  

“Except for the eyebrows,” says Rachael. “What’s up with those?”  

“Bad brows,” says my brother sadly. “It’s the Parker curse.” 

“May I have the baby?” asks Irit. She holds Kanna Jo gently and murmurs a secret prayer in Hebrew. Perhaps it is to ward off the eyebrow curse, but before she can finish, Kanna’s brother, Bryce, tugs on Irit’s sleeve. “I want my sister back,” he says.  

“Say please,” instructs his daddy.  

“Please,” says Bryce. “Give her back. Now.”  

Kanna Jo is placed in the hands of her father, who holds her like a football before passing her back to her mother. Everyone has been too busy watching Kanna’s progress around the table to begin to eat. But now it is time. We bow our heads and give thanks for the meal before us and the friends we are gathered with. We wish for peace, good health, and safety. We pause a moment in silence to reflect upon those who have less than ourselves, for those who are hungry and sick, for those in the midst of conflict and war. Then we raise our heads and make a toast to one another. Glasses click, knives and forks clatter against full plates. Multiple voices sing out in overlapping conversations: about politics and pets, football and weird eyebrows, Brussels sprouts and flu shots. Kanna Jo Nakamura-Parker never wakes up, but the rest of us know that she is here in the room, tucked against her mother’s breast, silently offering to us the ultimate gift this Christmas—a glimpse at the future, a hope for a better, more understanding world.  




Campaign 2008: Democrats Must Work Smart By BOB BURNETT News Analysis

Tuesday December 28, 2004

In Silicon Valley folklore, a typical project goes through five stages: unwarranted enthusiasm, unmitigated disaster, search for the guilty, persecution of the innocent, and promotion of the uninvolved. Evidently, the Kerry-Edwards “project” has advanced to the fourth stage where many, including Berkeley’s MoveOn.org, are being blamed for the Nov. 2 loss. 

If Democrats are to learn the difficult lessons from the defeat, they are going to have to stop whining; quit claiming that they lost because Republicans cheated or because certain individuals or groups were incompetent. Democrats need to face reality: Republicans won because they ran a better campaign; one where the GOP made fewer mistakes and did a superb job of getting out their base. Democrats worked hard, but did not, alas, work smart. 

There are five big lessons to be learned from the Kerry defeat. Democrats must take in each of these lessons if they are going to work smart in the future. 

Lesson one is that the Democratic Presidential candidate must be perceived as authentic; someone who is not easily typecast as a free-spending liberal or a member of the cultural elite. Neither John Kerry nor Al Gore was seen as authentic, but Bill Clinton was; and many contemporary Democrats, from Barney Frank to Nancy Pelosi, are viewed as authentic by their constituencies. 

To be regarded as authentic, it is usually the case that a presidential candidate must be seen as an outsider, someone not easily associated with the Washington beltway. In this past election an example of such a candidate was Howard Dean, who gained early support because he was an outsider claiming to represent, “the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party.” Many new Democratic faces, who won on Nov. 2, carry the same sense of authenticity; for example, Brian Schweitzer in Montana and Barack Obama in Illinois. 

Lesson two is that a successful Democratic presidential candidate must run as an unabashed economic populist. In 2000 Al Gore seemed to be embracing this as the centerpiece of his campaign, “They’ re for the powerful, and we’ re for the people,” but inexplicably backed away. In 2004 the Kerry-Edwards campaign flirted with populism, most notably in John Edward’s evocation of the “two Americas,” only to retreat into wonkdom. Once again, most of the new Democratic victors won because they espoused a basic populist message, for example, Obama in his rousing keynote address at the Democratic convention, “it’s not enough for just some of us to prosper. For alongside our famous individualism, there’s another ingredient in the American saga, a belief that we are all connected as one people.” 

The point is that Democrats must not let themselves be suckered by Republicans into fighting America’s class war on cultural grounds. The GOP has been successful diverting the masses with a media campaign that warns of a liberal attack on ill-defined moral values. Real Democrats understand that standing up for Americans in need, honoring our commitment to be our brother’s and sister’s keeper is an authentic moral value. When Democrats engage the GOP on the vital issues of class warfare, they should fight it over economic issues; they should fight it on their home turf—populism. 

The third lesson is that Democrats must move beyond their historic focus on identity groups, such as African-Americans, and forge new alliances with affinity groups, as MoveOn has done. In 2004 Republicans ran an affinity-group-based campaign, skillfully utilizing multilevel marketing techniques with conservative churchgoers, gun clubs, and chambers of commerce. In the future, Democrats should forge new relationships with natural allies such as environmentalists, progressive Christians, and small business people. 

The fourth lesson is that Democrats must recognize that while presidential elections only occur once every four years, America has entered the era of the permanent campaign. Bush won in 2004 because from the moment he took office, in 2000, Karl Rove began planning his reelection. The Democratic Party needs to start organizing the 2008 Presidential campaign now. 

The final lesson to be learned is that from an organizational viewpoint, comparing the Republican Party to the Democratic Party is like comparing a traditional relationship to a one-night stand. The Republican National Committee is hierarchical and disciplined; it runs the state and county committees with an iron hand and demands conservative ideological purity. In comparison, the Democratic Party is a loose coalition of groups that range in capability and ideology. The Democratic National Committee is primarily a collection of fundraisers lacking overall organizational competence. Meanwhile, the state and local committees go their own way, supplemented by independent groups, such as MoveOn, and the political wings of advocacy groups such as the Sierra Club. Every four years there is an attempt to patch together a “Party” for the purpose of electing a Democratic president. 

It’s clear that to be competitive in 2008 Democrats need to take in these five lessons: find authentic candidates who run as economic populists, embrace affinity groups as well as identity groups, and wage a permanent campaign with a real national party—one that provide a substantial infrastructure that supports precincts in every state. In other words, Democrats have to learn to work smart. 





Tuesday December 28, 2004

Normal Hours Resumed 

After a week of money-saving closures, the front counter at the city Public Safety Center resumed normal hours today (Tuesday). 


Carjack, Rape 

Police are investigating the carjacking and rape of woman who was abducted at the corner of San Pablo and Ashby avenues shortly after midnight on Dec. 20. 

The woman was forced into the back seat of her car and taken to an unknown location where she was sexually assaulted, said Berkeley Police spokesperson Officer Joe Okies. 

The suspects then fled with the woman’s car. 


Fence Fire 

Police responded to an arson report in the 1300 block of Neilsen Street at 4:40 a.m. Dec. 21. When they arrived, they found that the property owner had already extinguished the blaze, which had consumed part of a fence. 


Stabbing Suspect Booked 

Officers arrested a 46-year-old woman on charges of assault with a deadly weapon after she allegedly stabbed a 30-year-old woman in the arm at 4:30 p.m. on Dec. 21. 

The incident occurred in the 1500 block of Tyler Street, said Officer Okies. 


Bottle Bashing Bust 

When a 54-year-old Berkeley man arrived at a hospital emergency room later on Dec. 21 suffering from a head wound, he told a nurse that an acquaintance had thrown a bottle at him. 

The nurse called police, and in the ensuing investigation arrested a 46-year-old man on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon. 


Abuse Arrest 

Police arrested a 25-year-old man for child abuse late in the afternoon of the Dec. 21 after receiving a report of an incident at the Habitot Children’s Museum in the basement of the Shattuck Hotel Building. 


Brick Basher Sought 

A South Berkeley woman called police just after 9 p.m. on Dec. 21 to report that her spouse had been struck in the head with a brick after he told a young man he was tired of having him hang out in the area, near the corner of Harmon and Idaho streets. 


Gas Station Robbed 

A husky young man with a gun walked into a gas station at 1250 University Ave. just after 9 p.m. Thursday and demanded cash. 

The station attendant complied, and the bandit fled with his loot. 


Auto Arsonist 

A felon armed with a knife and a flare walked up to a car parked in the 2900 block of Oak Knoll Terrace Friday morning, slashed a hole in the cloth convertible top and dropped the flare inside. 

Police have no description of the arsonist. 


Scrooge Strikes 

A Christmas Eve Scrooge did a dastardly deed in the 1300 block of 67th Street sometime before 9 a.m. on Friday, making off with various Christmas decorations, including three seven-foot-high reindeer. 


Jewel Heist Reported 

A 55-year-old Berkeley woman called police Friday afternoon to report that she been burglarized of jewelry worth $23,000. 


Yuletide Fracas 

An Elmwood Christmas morning dustup between two brothers ended with battery arrests for both. 

Officers were summoned to a home near the corner of Russell and Piedmont streets, where they found the pair, ages 65 and 56, still angry and unwilling to yield. 

They were hauled off to the city cooler to contemplate their lack of Christmas spirit. 


Harried Krishnas 

Berkeley Police were summoned to the Krishna Temple at 2334 Stuart St. Sunday afternoon after a man walked into the building and refused to leave. 

When temple members tried to escort him out of the building, a fracas broke out in the kitchen. 

Temple members said the 43-year-old intruder battled their attempts at eviction, throwing cookware and otherwise disrupting their culinary scene. 

Police booked the man on suspicion of battery and malicious mischief.”

Democracy Derailed On KPFA Board By BRIAN EDWARDS-TIEKERT Commentary

Tuesday December 28, 2004

Two weeks ago I was elected to KPFA’s Local Station Board (LSB) with 43 percent of the KPFA staff’s first-place votes—more than twice what any other candidate received—in an election that, though unquestionably flawed, had the second-highest staff turnout in the five-station Pacifica Network. This Saturday, at what was to be the first meeting of the newly-constituted LSB, I was kept from assuming my position by what I believe to be an illegal move by the majority faction of the old LSB.  

Here’s what happened:  

Miguel Molina, who was serving as a staff representative on the old board, introduced a proposal requesting a re-vote in the staff election on the grounds that he lost his bid for re-election by a small margin (roughly 1.3 votes) and at least two of his colleagues had not received ballots. The issue was not on that meeting’s agenda, nor had Molina’s appeal been distributed to Board members ahead of time, as is customary. 

Carol Spooner, a listener-elected representative, amended the resolution to prevent any of the newly-elected staff representatives from being seated on the board—and keep the old staff representatives in place—until the appeal had received an official ruling by Pacifica’s National Elections Supervisor. As there is no longer a Pacifica National Elections Supervisor (his position has ended and will not be filled until the next election two years from now)—that could be a very long time. 

The motion passed, 11 to 10, in a vote along party lines established some eight months ago during a contentious fight over changing the timeslot of Democracy Now! Every staff representative except Molina voted against it. 

The net result? The winning faction in that vote held onto a majority it would have lost had the newly elected staff representatives been installed, replacing Molina. So much for democracy: The majority faction of the old board effectively chose its own successor. 

The LSB continued to conduct business for some three hours after that vote—with the old staff representatives still in place. If the issue is not resolved by the first week of January, they will elect the national directors of the Pacifica Foundation.  

The move appears to be a violation of Pacifica’s bylaws, which stipulate that Pacifica’s National Elections Supervisor is responsible for certifying the fairness of the election—which he did—and do not give the Local Station Boards any power to adjudicate disputes in their own elections. The bylaws also require that newly elected members of the Local Station Board take their seats in the December meeting. 

This leaves me deeply concerned that the board as presently constituted is an illegal entity, and its activities as such leave the station open to costly and damaging litigation.  

I encourage you to bring any concerns you may have directly to the next meeting of the Local Station Board, which is scheduled for Sunday, January 9, at a yet-to-be-determined location that will be posted at www.kpfa.org/lsb. 

Meanwhile, if you wish to receive updates on further developments, you can subscribe to an announcement list I’ve set up: Send an e-mail to KPFA-LSB-INFO-subscribe@topica.com; you can also visit the blog I’ve set up at http://kpfa-info.blogspot.com. 


Brian Edwards-Tiekert covers the Environmental Justice Beat for KPFA’s News Department; his freelance work airs on the nationally-syndicated programs Making Contact and Free Speech Radio News.

First of its Kind Egyptian Protest Signals Hope For Democracy By SHADI HAMID Commentary

Pacific News Service
Tuesday December 28, 2004

It was a rare moment in modern Arab political history. Earlier this month in Egypt, 1,000 demonstrators gathered in front of the country’s Supreme Judicial Court, protesting President Hosni Mubarak’s plans to run for a fifth six-year term.  

It was the first explicitly anti-Mubarak rally ever, in a region of the world so resistant to change. The 76-year-old leader has been in power for nearly a quarter-century.  

Protesters stood in solemn defiance, with yellow stickers stuck to their mouths that read “enough.”  

“This is a historic protest,” said protester Magdi Ahmed Hussein. “We’ve entered a new phase.”  

Some might ask why only 1,000 people turned out in a bustling metropolis of more than 15 million. But demonstrations, rallies, and protests -- unless they have received prior government approval -- are banned in Egypt, where Emergency Laws have been in effect since 1981. Public expressions of anger are rare, though the government and the ruling party are widely disliked.  

The protest is cause for hope. But it would be dangerous to see this as a harbinger of great things to come. This is not Ukraine, where hundreds of thousands rallied in the icy cold in jubilant solidarity. In much of the Middle East, the status quo maintains its authoritarian grip.  

If anything will break the status quo, it is the imposing shadow of 9/11. There is a new global consensus that change in the Arab world is no longer a luxury, but an imperative of the highest order. The United States has realized, in its own clumsy way, that promoting democracy is in keeping with not only its ideals, but also its national strategic interest. Republicans and Democrats alike agree that brutal Arab dictatorships have created a poisonous atmosphere conducive to the rise of extremist violence. In other words, the war on terrorism and the struggle for greater democracy are two sides of the same coin.  

Today, the United States has the opportunity to prove in practice its rhetorical commitment to the promotion of democracy in one of the most undemocratic region in the world. This is, of course, complicated by the fact that Mubarak, like so many other Arab strongmen, is supported by America, to the tune of more than $2 billion in annual economic and military aid. But the very fact that Washington provides Egypt with so much aid gives America the leverage needed to exert diplomatic pressure on Mubarak’s regime in the months ahead.  

Those who care for the future of democracy, in both Egypt and America, must capitalize on this small but significant opening. Real political reform will only come about with a potent combination of external prodding from the United States and the European Union on one hand, and internal pressure from pro-democracy secularists, nationalists and Islamists on the other.  

Hopes for greater democracy in the Arab world have sprung up before, only to be crushed. Dr. Saad Eddine Ibrahim, a noted Egyptian activist, said in 1989 that there were “beginnings of democratic transformation” in the Arab world and that Egypt was “on the road to democracy.” More than a decade later he was languishing in the notorious Tura prison, home to countless Egyptian dissidents. Ibrahim was released in early 2003, due partly to pressure from Washington.  

I spoke with Dr. Ibrahim—a former professor of mine and as sprightly as ever despite his declining health—a few days ago at a conference in Amman, Jordan. He still holds his indefatigable belief in Egypt’s potential for change.  

The Arab world is frequently rocked by alternating currents of hope and despair. Yet today, something different is in the air. For those of us who have watched the dreams of a proud and resourceful people shattered time and again, we hold on, ever so tightly and now with renewed vigor, to the belief that a new, democratic Egypt will one day come about.  


Shadi Hamid, an Egyptian-American, has lived and traveled throughout the Arab world. He is currently a Fulbright Fellow, conducting research on democratization and political Islam in Amman, Jordan.

Winter in California By STEVE KOPPMAN Commentary

Tuesday December 28, 2004

The saddest thing about California has to be its pathetic winters. Winter here is virtually meaningless. Whatever we may say about the East, at least there winter meant something: Crashing to the ground on ice-coated sidewalks, skidding happily across tractionless freeways, freezing to faintness as the bitter early morning cold cut off circulation to fingers and toes, friends calling from apartment windows before dropping snowballs in our faces, long hard afternoons of snow shoveling, Santa Claus hurtling through the slush in a one-horse open sleigh to Grandmother’s house to munch potato latkes. Like everything back East, there was so much to relish in retrospect, no matter how hard it may have been to take at the time. 

Our kids grow up on the West Coast without any of these unforgettable winter memories. To properly winterize our posterity, we need to develop, out of our own unique regional ecology, a wintry mystique appropriate to the stubbornly temperate clime in which we find ourselves. 

Webster’s, in fact, tells us the word “winter” comes from the root “to make wet,” NOT “to make cold.” Did Webster live on the West Coast? What a watershed this can be in California history, freeing us once and for all from the clutches of Eastern cultural imperialism. 

There’s no reason at all, for example, why Santa Claus should dash through snow, pulled by a bunch of stupid reindeer. Just like us, the land that gave birth to Christmas has no snow nor reindeer either. 

California Santa will wear a bright Gortex rainsuit and red and green flip-flops and hold an umbrella proudly aloft as he’s dragged through the wet winter night by a team of dogs in matching yellow rainhats. In the background, carolers will sing the great Irving Berlin song: 


I’m dreaming of a wet Christmas 

Like I remember in my brain 

Where treetops glisten and children listen 

To hear the foghorns in the rain 


I’m dreaming of a wet Christmas 

With every Christmas card I get 

May your days be merry, and yet 

May all your Christmases be wet. 


What glistening memories might the season evoke in our properly winterized descendants? Rainbows and rainbow trout, rain checks and water polo, buses racing through giant gutter puddles, merrily scattering passers-by, boots squeaking as they dash through the downpour in panicked flight; driving through pea-soup fog, water-fights with friends, wading meets and puddle poker, water witches and water nymphs, waterbugs and water rats, watermelons, water chestnuts and watercress. December showers bring March flowers. Children going door to door, salamanders in hand, offering to drain their neighbors’ walks, measuring the rainfall for school with their trusty buckets and rain gauges. 

And picture your classic California family on their yearly trek to a Christmas tree farm to chop down their own tree. Their rainshoes echo as they carry their recently claimed evergreen, bedecked already with brightly colored ornaments and beads of drizzle. As they emerge one by one out of the thick mist, a deep familiar voice intones: 


Chestnuts roasting in the open fog 

Rob Rain dripping on your den 

Yuletide carols sung by choirs 

Folks dressed up like firemen . . . 


Steve Koppman is an Oakland resident.

S.F. Chamber Orchestra Rings in the New Year With a Free Concert By IRA STEINGROOT

Special to the Planet
Tuesday December 28, 2004

If you think being locked in an aluminum shack on a hot afternoon with a life insurance salesman sounds more interesting than celebrating New Year’s Eve by going to a classical music concert, you don’t know Benjamin Simon, the music director of the San Francisco Chamber Orchestra. He wants people to feel that “Classical music is fun, accessible and not stuffy.” 

Judging by the first recording this group made live two years ago, a lyrical medley of classical and neo-classical pieces by Mozart, Haydn and Stravinsky along with some of Astor Piazolla’s Nuevo Tango compositions, this orchestra is not just fun for the audience, but fun for the players as well.  

Where jazz is free, loose, improvised, classical music requires great precision in performance. That’s the point of having a conductor, to make sure that everyone stays together. But precision alone does not make a great performance. Artur Rubinstein used to talk about freedom in handling the classics, but this is usually more honored in the breach than in the observance. 

Too often, string sections seem satisfied with exact mechanical reproduction. You won’t find mere metronomic playing on these live performances. The musicians not only play together, they seem to breathe together, indeed even achieving a kind of classical swing—and not just on the tangos. There is the occasional error, but they are the errors of passionate, not inept, performance.  

It was Adrian Sunshine who formed the original San Francisco Chamber Orchestra back in 1952 using players from the San Francisco Symphony, which in those days was a part-time gig. When he left to live and work in Europe in 1958, Edgar Braun, who’d been guest conductor since 1955, picked up the baton and held on to it until his retirement in 2002. He championed the free concerts that have been the hallmark of this group ever since. 

That is when violist Benjamin Simon took over as director. Lying down where all the ladders start, he re-created the ensemble with entirely new players from the best orchestras and chamber groups in Northern California, but continued Braun’s practice of not charging for the music. 

Well-known and critically acclaimed for his work with the New World and Stanford String Quartets; Orpheus, Los Angeles and New Century Chamber Orchestras; and Buffalo, Los Angeles and New York Philharmonic Orchestras; Simon has also shown a genius for music education. He is currently music director of the Palo Alto Chamber Orchestra, a top Bay Area youth orchestra. When he was the director of Berkeley’s Crowden School, he established the Sundays at Four chamber music series at the school. The Crowden School is deservedly esteemed for making the playing of an instrument as integral to learning as the reading of Shakespeare.  

This New Year’s Eve, for the twentieth year in a row, the Orchestra kicks off its new season with a free concert in Berkeley. In fact, remarkably, all of their concerts are free. The concerts are subsidized by membership and grants. This year’s event is particularly to be recommended for its presentation of the world premiere of Harold Meltzer’s Concerto for Two Bassoons, especially commissioned for internationally reknowned bassoonist Peter Kolkay. He will be joined by Rufus Olivier, principal bassoonist of the San Francisco Opera and Ballet. Simon told me he had just received the final draft of the fifth and last movement of the piece which he described as beautiful and accessible.  

Also on the program is the Sinfonia Concertante in E-flat major (K.364), an early Mozart masterpiece from his 23rd year, featuring violinist David Abel and violist Lesley Robertson. The back and forth movement and weaving interplay between the “male” violin and the “female” viola is one of the most ravishing achievements of any music in the world. 

Two pieces by Luigi Boccherini (1743-1805), a cellist and follower of Haydn, round out the set. The Quintet for Oboe and String Quartet (G.431) should give some idea of his light touch with classical concepts. The Sinfonia in D minor (G.506), known as “from the house of the devil,” is noteworthy for its recasting of a movement from Gluck’s ballet Don Juan, which Gluck also used as the Dance of the Furies in the opera Orphée. Boccherini’s symphony gains substance from his use of Gluck’s material which is full of diminished fifths, that is, slightly discordant tritones, the so-called devil’s interval. All in all, with two bassoons, two Boccherini pieces and a concerto for two strings, this should be a delightful way to open the double-faced doors of Janus on New Year’s Eve. 


Fractal Video Adds Berkeley Touch to Unique Works for Unique Artists By RICHARD BRENNEMAN

Tuesday December 28, 2004

Chris Odell’s created the perfect job. 

As proprietor of Fractal Video, the 28-year-old techie gets to hang around musicians, performance artists and other colorful folk—and he gets paid for his time. 

Thanks to the never-ending cornucopia of modern technology, he can do with a small camera, a computer and a healthy investment of his own time what once was accessible only to those with considerable cash, bulky equipment and endless labor. 

“I’ve done videos for fire-breathers, contortionists and other strange, oddball and unlikely acts who probably wouldn’t have been able to afford them” had they gone to other, more conventional producers, Odell said. 

“I could’ve gone after the commercial market, but that just isn’t us,” he said. “I like our clients quite a bit.” 

Odell grew up in Santa Barbara, where he learned the basics of video production in high school. “They wanted to make shows about football,” he said. 

But instead, he created his own show, posing questions to students and capturing their answers. 

“It aired after the student bulletins, but sometimes it was a little too controversial,” he recalled. 

He tested out of high school and began working with Macintosh commuters. He came to the Bay Area to take an editing course at the University of San Francisco and liked what he saw. 

Early jobs included stints as a production assistant for local cable companies and shooting surgeries for a medical company. 

He got the idea for his own company when he realized “there were enough artists and unlikely acts in the area who could use videos.” 

Right about the time he was planning his career change, Apple Computers released a piece of video editing software called Final Cut Pro, which allowed a Mac user to perform full-scale editing operations on one machine. 

The software is so sophisticated that Hollywood studios are using it. “They used it to edit Cold Mountain,” Odell said. 

His initial clientele was limited to artists and musicians, but he and partner Peter Hyoguchi have since expanded to local business, producing streaming video segments for websites. 

And the few weddings he’s shot haven’t been exactly traditional either. 

“In the last one, the father came dressed up as Darth Vader, and about half the people were in costumes,” he said. 

Odell will work for corporate clients, but only if he likes what they’re doing and they treat their employees responsibly. 

His highest-profile client is Inman Real Estate News, for whom he has been shooting a series of documentaries the firm hopes to sell as a made-for-cable series. 

The series will show how people live in various surroundings. For one of the first segments, he focused on an old brewery in Los Angeles that had been divvied up into living quarters. A future shoot might focus on a New York penthouse, another on low-income housing. 

He also does occasional work for a Santa Barbara company that’s developed a device that concentrates oxygen from the air, relieving people with serious breathing problems from the need to cart around bulky oxygen tanks. 

“It’s a good company, I like the people and they’re doing good things. They’re not out there clubbing baby seals,” he said, smiling. 

Another corporate client is Specialties in San Francisco, which produces cookies, breads and sandwiches. 

But most of his clients are typically less strait-laced. 

Consider the Stupid Fun Club, the creation of computer gaming magnate Will Wright, whose series of “Sims” lifestyle simulation creations have captured a healthy share of the market. 

Wright gives money to young techies to develop robotic creations, and Odell produced a series pilot segment about the creation of a self-learning mechanical creation powered by an artificial intelligence program. 

“Right now, they’re doing it for fun,” Odell said, “but who knows what they might come up with?” 

Another client bills himself as The Yo-Yo King, a 400-pound virtuoso of the stringed spinning top who opens his act with Black Sabbath music. 

Then there’s Rubber Boy, a world renowned contortionist. 

Others include: 

• Experimental Dental School, a small rock band Odell describes as “like a cross between Mr. Bungle and the Butthole Surfers.” 

• Atta Boy and Burke, “a couple of white guys who do rap with a rock background.” In another incarnation, Atta Boy is an Albany illustrator who makes toys on the side. 

• Mongoloid, a long-standing and popular Devo cover band who performs the groups hits in identical costumes. 

• Molotov & Felicity, a duo specializing in circus acts featuring flaming dagger and a bed of needles. 

He’s also edited the features of Berkeley underground filmmaker Antero Alli with a small but dedicated following. In addition to creating visually rich videos, Alli has drafted horoscopes for Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown.  

Fractal’s latest venture is in another medium altogether. 

Shortly after the election, Odell walked into the Odeon, a San Francisco bar that’s a favorite hangout for artists. “Everyone was upset about the outcome between Bush and Bush Lite,” he recalled. 

Then he remembered a graphic floated on a German web site and quickly echoed throughout the blogosphere, depicting the “blue” states grafted onto the country to the north, now relabeled “The United States of Canada,” the “red” states now consolidated as “Jesusland.” 

“I though I might cheer my friend up and make a little money at the same time,” he said. 

Odell’s version, printed on a shirt, adds one twist not in the original, the superimposition of the Confederate battle flag over Jesusland. 

For more information on Fractal Video and the shirt, see fractalvideo.com. 

Beauty, Truth and Bibliomania By JUSTICE PUTNAM

Special to the Planet
Tuesday December 28, 2004

“Why do you have four books by Bukowski?” She seemed disturbed as she closed The Most Beautiful Woman In Town. 

“I’d have more of his opus,” I answered, “I’m slowly re-building my library. 

“But I don’t understand, you like Bukowski?” 

“Sure,” I responded, a little tentative, not quite understanding her question, “I’ve always been attracted to his writing style. He is very spare.” 

“But Bukowski is a misogynist and you have four of his books!” she pointed at my bookcase. South Of No North, Factotum and Women, plus the one she was returning to the shelf indeed totaled four. 

I thought of all the other books I used to have, lost now from bad love affairs and bad finances. I used to have all of Will and Ariel Durant’s tomes, even a rare, Mansions Of Philosophy. I had all of Jack London’s books and stories. I had all of Cooper’s Leather Stocking Tales. 

I had most of McMurtry’s work from the ‘60s and ‘70s, All My Friends Are Going To Be Strangers prominent among them. I had Edna St. Vincent Millay’s poems and stories. I had H.G. Well’s Outline Of History. 

I had everything by Virginia Woolfe and Janet Flanner. I had obscure poems and letters by Gertrude Stein. I had most of Phillip K. Dick, Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke. I had most of Clifford D. Simak. I had a first printing of The Treasure Of The Sierra Madre by B. Traven. 

I had everything by Hemingway. I had everything by Orwell, including Down And Out In Paris And London. I had all the works of De Sade and Thackeray. I had a dozen volumes of Eugene Field. I had Dickens and Marlowe. I had Melville, Chaucer, Defoe, Voltaire, Swift, Virgil, Plutarch and Donne. I had all the English translations of Mishima. I had Kobe Abe’s Woman Of The Dunes. 

I had volumes of Dryden, Pope, Shakespeare and Spencer. I had Balzac and Fante. I had Baudelaire and Fitzgerald. I had poems by St John Of The Cross and essays by Annie Dillard. I had all of Henry Miller. I had some of John Rechy. I had volumes of Linda Paston and Marge Piercy. 

I had some of Sharon Olds and all of Jack Kerouac. I had all of Gary Snyder’s work and volumes of Eric Hoffer. I had Kahil Gibran and Rilke. I had Ovid and Nietzsche. I had Berkeley, Hume, Kant and Ghandi. I had Autobiography Of A Yogi. I had the Kama Sutra and the Upanishads. I had The Analects and The Tibetan Book Of The Dead. I had Byron. I had Percy and Mary Shelley. 

I had Ten Days That Shook The World by Jack Reed and I had volumes of Emma Goldman. I had Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison and volumes of Faulkner. I had Conscience Of A Conservative by William F. Buckley Jr. and I had The Monkey Wrench Gang by Edward Abbey. 

“I take Bukowski’s work,” I began, though I feared she was having none of it, “to be stories and characters that show us how not to be. He is taking a snapshot of life as it is, in all of its dirt and grime; in its violence, bigotry and selfishness. But I don’t take his life of the gutter milieu to be a blueprint or affirmation of bad behavior.” 

“Oh,” she said, pulling out a volume of the Alexandria Quartet, “you have Durrell. Now this is beautiful.” 


Justice Putnam, a Berkeley poet and songwriter, submitted this piece for our reader contribution issue.

Arts Calendar

Tuesday December 28, 2004



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. 



“Actors Reading Writers” Celebrating writing through live readings at 7:30 p.m. at the Berkeley City Club, 2315 Durant Ave. 845-8542, ext. 376. 


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 



“The Bright River” written and performed by Tim Barsky and the Everyday Ensemble at Julia Morgan Theater, 2640 College Ave. through Jan. 16. Tickets are $12-$35 available from A Traveling Jewish Theater, 415-285-8080. www.atjt.com 


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.  

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

Whiskey Brothers at 9 p.m. at Albatross, 1822 San Pablo Ave. 843-2473. www.albatrosspub.com 

Zero Mass The Warren Teagarden Band, Serene Lakes at 8:30 p.m. at Blakes on Telegraph. Cost is $4. 848-0886. www.blakesontelegraph.com 



“The Bright River” written and performed by Tim Barsky and the Everyday Ensemble at Julia Morgan Theater, 2640 College Ave. through Jan. 16. Tickets are $12-$35 available from A Traveling Jewish Theater, 415-285-8080. www.atjt.com 


Word Beat Reading Series at 7 p.m. with featured readers Clive Matson and Gail Ford at Mediterraneum Caffe, 2475 Telegraph Ave. 526-5985.  


Utah Phillips with Bodhi Busik at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $22.50-$23.50. 548-1761. www.freightandsalvage.org 

Frank Jordans, Carter Tanton, The Proles at 9:30 p.m. at The Starry Plough. Cost is $5. 841-2082. www.starryplough.com 

Eric Swinderman at 8 p.m. at Downtown. 649-3810.?

Pear Tree Blossoms of White And Red After Cold Nights By RON SULLIVAN

Special to the Planet
Tuesday December 28, 2004

I’d been hearing it all day, as I worked: an odd, low, chuckling call, from somewhere outside my house. Not a bird, or at least none I could remember hearing; a dyspeptic cat? A toy? A really odd phone? A musical instrument, played badly? 

After dinner, I sat down to check my mail and Joe started the dishes. Then I heard a sort of strangled yawp, and a distressed call: “Come out here and tell me if you see this too…?”  

Our kitchen, on the second floor, has a big window that faces the gallery and stairs of the apartment block next door. Strolling calmly along that gallery was a chukar. I uttered my own strangled yawp—and then the chukar chuckled, and I realized what I’d been hearing all day. 

Now, the chukar is by no means native here. There are a couple of feral populations that were stocked for grouse hunters, but the closest I know of is way down around Panoche Valley, a long drive and a bad road from Berkeley. So seeing this big gray-and-tan chicken walking around the fire escape was a bit like seeing, oh, a zebra or a pangolin. It descended the back stairs and strolled around the parking lot, then our garage roof; it didn’t flee when I approached it with a handful of birdseed, but it never let me get closer than 20 or 30 feet either. It finally disappeared somewhere up the street, and I never saw or heard it again. It might have ended up where it might have been meant to, in somebody’s dinner. 

Only in hindsight did I realize I should have escorted the poor wandering bird around the corner to Grant Street, to the row of pyrus trees there. What else could a chukar be doing on the streets of Berkeley? Clearly, this was a partridge looking for his pear tree. 

Yes, there are lots of pear trees in Berkeley, but most of them don’t bear edible fruit. They’re flowering pears. Some of them are flowering right now, in fact, just a few white blossoms along with a sparse scattering of green leaves. Others have turned bright red and deciduous after the series of cold clear nights we’ve had. 

The difference is mostly in the species—Pyrus kawakamii, “evergreen pear” and Pyrus callyreana, which occurs in a bewildering variety of cultivars, the most famous being ‘Bradford.’ For a neat compare-and-contrast, check out the two blocks of Acton Street on both sides of Allston Way. 

There are pears a-plenty all over town, including in gardens. They’re handy to plant because, at least theoretically, they’re small enough to fit under powerlines. PG&E runs a “SafeTree” program that urges people to plant only short trees under powerlines; you can find their reps handing out rulers and erasers and such trinkets at garden shows and sales. They’re entirely correct, of course, in that planting a small tree will save some decidedly ugly and unhealthy pruning to clear the lines, years later; the problem is that evidently some lines are hung so low that you couldn’t count on a rosebush’s being short enough. Between that and the apparent necessity of making every residential lane safe for hugely top-heavy freight trucks, there seems to be less room for anything so gracious and inconveniently alive as a tree in our cities. 

If you have one in your garden, give it a little summer water, watch out for fireblight, and prune out only dead or crossing branches. 

Many flowering pears, especially Bradfords, do have one vice, a tendency to grow branches at narrow angles with included bark—bark that grows into the angle instead of rolling outward at the crotch. This weakens the limb, because it forces it away from the trunk and replaces sound wood besides. That’s why you’ll see older pears (especially ‘Bradfords’) pruning themselves, leaving nasty torn wounds. They generally aren’t big enough to be dangerous to those below, at least. 

I like them anyway. They flower in winter and early spring, when we need encouragement, and/or they sport glossy red foliage, also late in the year, like right now. The leaves are even pretty when they’re scattered on the ground. It’s not litter; it’s confetti! 

Berkeley This Week

Tuesday December 28, 2004


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.  


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

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 


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

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. 

“VoterGate: Is Our Democracy at Stake?” A community forum at 2 p.m. at Berkeley Unitarian Universalist Fellowship Hall, 1924 Cedar, at Bonita. Donation requested, no one turned away. 528-5403. 

Tea at the Historic Vistorian Cohen Bray Home, 1440 29th Ave, Oakland. Seatings at 1, 2, 3, and 4 p.m. Tickets are $25 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. 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. 


Mid-Day Meander on the Carquinez Strait to learn about John Muir’s father-in-law Jack London and “The Octopus” of Frank Norris. Meet at 2:30 p.m. at the Bull Valley Staging Area. 525-2233. 

“AgriCulture: Roots of Resistance in the Midwest” Join Katharine Jolda and Ingrid Evjen-Elias for a reportback of their three-week bicycle trip in the land of corn, soybeans, and Wal-Mart, at 7 p.m. at the Ecology Center, 2530 San Pablo Ave. 548-2220, ext. 233.  

Winter Backcountry Travel Safety and Survival with Mike Kelly of the National Ski Patrol’s search and rescue team at 7 p.m. at REI, 1338 San Pablo Ave. 527-4140. 

Berkeley School Volunteers Training workshop for volunteers interested in helping in Berkeley Public Schools at 7 p.m. at 1835 Allston Way. 644-8833. 

Berkeley Salon Discussion Group meets to discuss “New Year’s Revolutions” 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. 

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



Global Disaster Plan Needed By BECKY O'MALLEY Editorial

Tuesday December 28, 2004

News of the earthquake and subsequent tsunami in Asia has shocked and scared those of us who live with the knowledge that it could happen here. When 3,000 Americans died suddenly in the World Trade Center, it seemed like an unimaginable number of deaths, but in Southeast Asia 23,000 deaths had been counted by Monday morning, with more to come as information continues to trickle in from remoter regions. For many Berkeley residents who have come here as students and stayed to become citizens, the fate of friends and family members back home caused immediate anxiety. Others of us have made friends through our travels to these countries and are worried about them now. Former Berkeleyans have settled in the affected countries, too—a good friend now lives in Bangkok, but often goes to beach resorts for vacations, and we haven’t heard from him yet. We heard from another friend who was on an island off the coast of Thailand that she was safe because she was on the landward side of the island, and we didn’t even know she’d gone there for a vacation until she e-mailed that she was all right.  

It’s not the first time that a disaster of this scale has struck somewhere in the world in our lifetime, but it’s possibly the first time that the new kinds of media which now criss-cross the globe have brought the disaster home with such immediacy. CNN’s web site, just one of many, offers news stories, maps, videos of victims and even e-mail accounts sent directly from people on the scene—just regular people, not reporters. We know more about this event two days later than we did about what was happening in Santa Cruz two days after the 1989 Loma Prieta quake.  

Scientific pundits are already saying that a decent warning system for the Indian Ocean, similar to the one which has been in place for the Pacific for the last 50 years, could have alerted many shoreline residents to the impending tsunami far enough in advance to allow them to seek high ground. According to a report in The Scotsman newspaper in Britain early Monday, Commonwealth Secretary General Don McKinnon has called for talks on creating a global early-warning system. New Zealand, his home country, has been protected for many years by such a plan. Local leaders in the affected area have said that the cost would be prohibitive for their individual countries, some of them very poor, and that they were caught off-guard because tsunamis are relatively rare in the Indian Ocean.  

This is why it’s crucial to create a new meaning for the word “globalization”, which has developed needlessly negative connotations. Dealing with risks like tsunamis, global warming, ocean depletion and other world-wide problems is simply impossible with the new nationalism which the President of the United States has been pushing throughout his term in office. We need to learn how to globalize risk, so that sub-sets of humans are not left to go it alone just because they happen to have been born in the wrong country. Developed countries like Japan, New Zealand and the United States have learned a lot about how to prevent needless loss of life in natural disasters, and their know-how should become the common property of humanity.  

The United States’ go-it-alone attitude in the international arena has had disastrous consequences for people in Afghanistan and Iraq, where we’ve made more havoc in our ham-handed attempts to help. International cooperation is what’s needed, especially when it’s a question of proactive efforts to prevent excess damage from natural disasters. It would be good if the response around the world to this most recent catastrophe could serve as a catalyst to developing a world-wide system to extend warnings equally to all threatened countries regardless of whether they’re rich or poor. 


—Becky O’Malley  

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. 



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