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Richard Brenneman: A storm-blown black acacia tree landed on top of a home at 439 Arlington Ave. Wednesday, forcing the evacuation of residents. Over the three-day holiday weekend Berkeley firefighters and public works crews responded to 120 calls, most of them storm related..
Richard Brenneman: A storm-blown black acacia tree landed on top of a home at 439 Arlington Ave. Wednesday, forcing the evacuation of residents. Over the three-day holiday weekend Berkeley firefighters and public works crews responded to 120 calls, most of them storm related..


UC’s Development Plan Aims to Remake Downtown By RICHARD BRENNEMAN

Tuesday January 03, 2006

UC Berkeley dominated Berkeley’s land use news in 2005. 

The university ignited last year’s first fireworks on Jan. 3 when it formally unveiled its 1,300-page Long Range Development Plan (LRDP) through the year 2020—a plan that seeks to transform both the face of the campus itself and the shape of downtown Berkeley. 

The plan included 2.2 million square feet of projected new academic and administrative buildings, of which more than half will be constructed off-campus, both downtown and to the south of the campus. Also included were 2,600 new dormitory beds and up to 2,300 new parking spaces. 

The plan didn’t cover an additional 2 million square feet of new construction targeted for the university’s Richmond Field Station, where a joint academic/corporate research park is planned. 

The LRDP ignited a firestorm of criticism, both from city officials and from residents worried about the impacts of the expansion on their neighborhoods and streets, the impacts on local government and the possible threats to landmarked buildings. 

Under state law the university is exempt from local zoning regulations and city plans, and any land the university acquires is likewise exempt.  

And because the university doesn’t pay property taxes on land it owns or leases for academic uses, off-campus construction could mean additional revenue losses to the city and its school system—both of which have been struggling to find ways to avoid cuts to existing programs. 

A third concern for the city was the impacts on city services, including roads, sewers and emergency services. 

The city filed a lawsuit on Feb. 23, charging that the plan violated the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) by willfully withholding crucial information about planned projects and by failing to offer adequate measures to minimize the expansion’s impact on the surrounding city. 

The city also sought $4.1 million annually from UC to help cover the actual costs of estimated $10.9 million in city services provided to the university. 

After negotiations with the university, the City Council voted to settled the suit on May 25, with three councilmembers whose districts would bear some of the heaviest impacts voting no: Dona Spring, Kriss Worthington and Betty Olds. 

The university agreed to increase annual contributions to city coffers to $1.2 million from the previous $500,000 and to join with the city to create a new downtown plan—which would not be binding for the school.  

The settlement sparked still more outrage, and at least two lawsuits, one of which was dismissed and is now on appeal and another which is still pending. 

The university agreed to contribute up to $250,000 to cover half the expenses of preparing the new downtown plan, though the university can cut its annual funds to the city by $180,000 if a final plan isn’t adopted within four years of the settlement date. 

The newly constituted Downtown Area Plan Advisory Committee, formed after the settlement, held its first meeting on Nov. 21. 


Southeast campus plans 

University officials offered an outline on Feb. 3 of their plans for one phase of the southeast campus area expansion, when the controversy over the LRDP was already boiling. 

Chancellor Robert Birgeneau announced a $120 million renovation of the western wall of Memorial Stadium and plans for a new $100 million-plus “academic commons” building just across Piedmont Avenue that would provide space for programs of the Boalt Hall Law School and the Haas School of Business. 

The news prompted an angry response from Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates, who was outraged that the university hadn’t shared its plans with the city before Birgeneau’s announcement.  

Further details emerged months later during a Nov. 10 press conference, where it was revealed that the stadium retrofit would include a 132,500-square-foot student athlete high performance center to be built next to the western wall and a complete seismic retrofit and upgrade of the stadium itself—which would include the addition of luxury sky boxes above the stadium rim, as well as permanent night lighting. 

Also included in the plans is a $60 million, 845-space underground parking lot to be built at the site of Maxwell Family Field to the north of the stadium. The playing field itself would be restored atop the facility. 

By the time of the press conference, costs for the academic commons building had escalated to between $140 million and $160 million. 

All funds for the stadium and academic commons projects, repeatedly hailed by university officials as “first class” and “four star” facilities, are to come from private donations.  

City Planning Director Dan Marks attended a preliminary CEQA scoping session on the project on Dec. 8, where he learned that the project was already entering the schematic phase of designs—which, he said, could render any input during the preparation of an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) meaningless. 

Marks wrote a scathing 19-page response to the university’s plans, which was approved by the City Council and sent out under the signature of City Manager Phil Kamlarz. 

Among the faults cited by Marks were the university’s failure to provide the kind of specifics that would enable the city to prepare detailed, meaningful comments for consideration during preparation of the environmental impact report. 

His concerns included traffic impacts (both during and after construction), the university’s plans to rely on the broad traffic, air quality and other analyses in the LRDP rather than site-specific project examinations, the wisdom of new construction directly over the Hayward Fault, and impacts on officially recognized landmarks (including two buildings slated for demolition). 

Marks also argued that the EIR should be expanded to include Bowles Hall, a landmarked residential hall immediately north of Maxwell Family Field, that is one of two possible sites the business school is considering to house a non-credit program for business executives. 

The project, which is slated to begin construction in late fall, will no doubt continue to yield headlines in the new year. 


Downtown plans 

The university continues to move forward on two major projects planned for downtown Berkeley, a museum complex and a high-rise hotel to be built by a private developer on land the university already owns—part of a larger bloc of land between Oxford Street and Shattuck Avenue stretching from Center Street to University Avenue. 

While the university’s intention to develop the land is old news—negotiations with hoteliers have been going on for more than two years—the project took a major step forward in November when the school issued a call for a project design architect for the first of the museums and the new home for the Pacific Film Archive (PFA). 

As currently planned, the project would begin in May 2009, with the demolition of the landmark University Press Building at the southwest corner of Oxford and Center streets, along with the parking structure immediately to the north at the corner of Oxford and Allston Way. 

In their place would rise a structure that would house 35,000 square feet of gallery space for the UC Berkeley Art Museum and 11,000 square feet of theater/classroom space for the PFA and addition space for the film archive library. 

The new building would also include classrooms, staff offices, collection maintenance facilities, a retail bookstore, a restaurant and rooftop areas for public events. 

The Berkeley Landmarks Preservation Commission landmarked three buildings on the larger UC parcel in June 2004 after the university’s announcement of its intent to develop the property. 

Only one of the structures is within the bounds of the initial project area, the University Press Building, a 1939 structure where the original United Nations Charter was printed in 1945 for the signatures of delegates at the founding meeting in San Francisco. The landmark designations won’t stop development on the site, but CEQA requires that the university spell out its justifications for demolition. ?

2005 Brought Disputes Over Development Projects By RICHARD BRENNEMAN

Tuesday January 03, 2006

While UC Berkeley projects dominated the politics of land use in the surrounding city, numerous other projects kept the city hopping in 2005. 


Brower memorials 

The year yielded mixed blessings for efforts to memorialize Berkeley-born environmentalist David Brower. 

On Sept. 8, the Zoning Adjustments Board (ZAB) approved building permits for the David Brower Center, proposed for the southwest corner of the intersection of Oxford Street and Allston Way, along an associated all-affordable housing structure. 

The two buildings will be built on the site of the city’s Oxford Street parking lot. To compensate for the lost parking, plans include one level of underground parking. ZAB member Bob Allen, who said he liked the buildings, cast the lone dissenting vote because he wanted two levels of subterranean parking rather than one. 

With more fundraising needed, construction is still some ways off. 

The other Brower Memorial, a massive sculpture, fared less well. The 356,000-pound artwork, consisting on a massive sphere of blue Brazilian quartzite overlaid with bronze depictions of continents and islands and surmounted by a life-sized bronze depiction of Brower, had been first rejected in San Francisco before PowerBar creators Brian and Jennifer Maxwell offered it to Berkeley. 

Though championed by Mayor Tom Bates, the Civic Arts Commission rejected a series of potential sites in the face of opposition by the public, the city Parks and recreation Commission, UC Berkeley and the East Bay Regional Parks District. 

Eino, the sculptor, then contacted Kennesaw State University in Georgia, which enthusiastically embraced the sculpture. And if all goes as planned, Spaceship Earth will be unveiled in Georgia on Earth Day. 


Ashby BART 

Two major projects are planned for the Ashby BART station’s parking lots. 

The first, the Ed Roberts Center on the station’s eastern lot, has won all the necessary city approvals, and sponsors are now assembling the needed funding. The center, named after Berkeley’s most famous disability activist, will consolidate programs and services for the disabled in a state-of-the art building designed for universal access for people with disabilities. 

In the face of neighborhood opposition, the size of the project was scaled back and a number of parking spaces slated for elimination were restored. 

The second project, a housing-and-commercial building to be erected on the western lot, is only in the very preliminary stages. While some neighbors have gone on record in support of the project, others have expressed concerns that the state laws governing transit villages could create major and potentially adverse impacts on the surrounding neighborhood. 


West Berkeley Bowl 

While most West Berkeley residents and businesses agree that a full-service grocery store along the Ashby Avenue corridor is a good idea, many question Glen Yasuda’s plans to construct a major new Berkeley Bowl and warehouse at the corner of Ninth Street and Heinz Avenue. 

The 90,970-square-foot project comprises two buildings, a 99-space underground parking lot and an additional 102 surface spaces. It includes both a market and a warehouse that would serve both the new store and the existing store on Shattuck Avenue. 

Before the project can be approved, the city would have to amend both its General Plan and its Zoning Ordinance, which currently will not allow the project. 


Building rehabs 

The biggest private development planned for downtown Berkeley is a major rehabilitation and expansion of the Shattuck Hotel, built in 1910. 

Berkeley developer Roy Nee, who had received the blessings of the Landmarks Preservation Commission for his initial plans, put the project on hold in October because of a change of architects and a need to recalculate construction costs.  

Two other venerable Berkeley buildings underwent major renovations in 2005, the landmarked Gorman’s Furniture Building at 2500 Telegraph Ave. and a similar structure at 2956 College Ave., at the corner of Ashby Avenue. 

John Gordon, who owns the College Avenue building, has also proposed to move and rehabilitate two other landmarks, the John Woolley House at 2509 Haste St. and the Ellen Blood House at 2526 Durant Ave. Five-story housing-over-ground-floor-commercial developments are planned at both sites. 

Gordon also brokered the lease of yet another Berkeley landmark, the 1917 UC Theatre at 2036 University Ave. The Zoning Adjustments Board approved plans by Gloria Mendoza and Michael Govan to transform the spacious interior into a dinner theater and jazz club with combined seating for 600. The pair had previously operated Kimball’s East, a now-shuttered jazz club in Emeryville. 


Down by the station 

Three major projects are in development at or near the old Southern Pacific Railway station just south of University Avenue in West Berkeley. 

Construction on a $2.4 million transportation plaza at the landmarked railway station began in April and will provide access to rail, bus, paratransit and taxi service. 

The largest project, still in the planning stages, would occupy the rest of the block on which the station sits with four and five-story apartment/condo buildings with room for ground floor commercial spaces. Presented with two proposals to landmark buildings at the site, the Landmarks Preservation Commission rejected one—Brennan’s Restaurant—and designated the other, the Celia’s Mexican Restaurant building, a structure of merit. 

While the City Council overturned the designation, the developer has yet to submit final plans on the 173-unit project. 

Just across the tracks to the west, developers Christopher Hudson and Evan McDonald have purchased the Drayage, a venerable sheet metal former storage building that until late in the year housed Berkeley artists in live/work units. 

After a deal by owner Lawrence White to sell the structure to developer Ali Kashani fell through, on April 19 city building and fire inspectors slapped White with fines for more than 200 code violations and an order to vacate the building. 

Many tenants refused to leave, triggering a lengthy process of negotiations that finally ended in the fall. The City Council agreed to a $45,000 settlement for the code violations early last month, clearing the way for the sale. 

The developers have declined comment about their plans for the site.  


Sold unbuilt 

Several major projects have changed hands even before construction started. 

The so-called Seagate Building, named after the original developer, is perhaps the single most controversial project now in the pipeline—a nine-story condominium project on Center Street, a half-block west of Shattuck Avenue. 

Seagate Center Partners, which planned the project and obtained the requisite permits, sold the property on May 18 to SNK Captec Arpeggio, LLC, a joint venture corporation between an Arizona builder and a Michigan financial company. 

ZAB members also gave their final approval Dec. 23 to another project that had been approved, then sold before construction. Patrick Kennedy’s Panoramic Interests and Jubilee Restoration had planned a project at 2700 San Pablo Ave., then sold the site and approvals to Curtis + Partners, LLC, of San Francisco in late 2004. 

Library Gardens, the residential complex under construction at 2020 Kittredge St., was placed on the market late in the year as construction neared the midway point. 


Failed project 

Plans to transform Berkeley’s Corporation Yard into a single-family housing tract collapsed within weeks after they surfaced. 

City officials had been meeting with representatives of Pulte Homes, one of the nation’s largest homebuilders, on a proposal to relocate the Corporation Yard—a source of numerous complaints by neighbors—and replace it with housing. 

Word of negotiations leaked to the press in late November, and the developer pulled the plug on Nov. 25. City officials said the proposal foundered on the high costs of finding a replacement site in West Berkeley. 


Scaled back 

After the Berkeley Unified School District held a lengthy public participation process to formulate plans for development on the largely abandoned West Campus site, the district opted instead for a much reduced plan. 

The board chose to rehabilitate existing buildings on the eastern section of the site and to construct a small classroom and administrative addition to the existing auditorium building. 


In the pipeline for 2006 

Other projects which will continue in the new year include: 

• The Grove, a five-story residential-over-commercial project at 1695 University Ave. that would include a Trader Joe’s store. ZAB members have let developers Christopher Hudson and Evan McDonald know that they are not happy with their current plans for the site. The developers are scheduled to present new plans early this year. 

• 740 Heinz Avenue, where Wareham Properties plans to demolish a landmarked warehouse and replace it with a laboratory and manufacturing building. The developer has agreed to scale back plans after residents of the nearby artists’ live/work building at 800 Heinz raised objections. 

• Gilman Fields, where final approvals were granted to construct the first of a series of ballfields being jointly developed along the shoreline at the foot of Gilman Street by the City of Berkeley and the East Bay Regional Parks District. 

• University Senior Housing, 1535 University Ave., a four-story project devoted entirely to seniors earning from 30-60 percent of the Oakland-area average median income, with rents ranging from $435 to $931 monthly. Construction of the highly praised project by Berkeley-based Satellite Housing is now underway. 


Redevelopment tabled 

North Oakland residents successfully derailed—at least for now—a plan that would have created a redevelopment district extending south from the Berkeley border. 

The project, located in the council district of Oakland Vice Mayor Jane Brunner, was formally unveiled at a public meeting on May 9, only to be greeted with withering suspicion of the large majority of speakers. Two weeks later the plan had been shelved—at least for the time being. 


Albany projects 

In October, Los Angeles developer Rick Caruso unveiled preliminary sketches of the open-air shopping mall he wants to build on the northwestern parking lot of Golden Gate Fields. 

The developer has teamed with Magna Entertainment, the Canadian corporation which operates some of the nation’s most famous horse racing venues, to build malls at their California tracks. Albany voters will have the final say about the project under a law that requires a referendum on all waterfront developments. 

The second major Albany project to surface this year comes from Safeway, which proposes to demolish its 1500 Solano Ave. store and replace it with a new store and some 40 units of condominiums. The plan drew mixed reviews when presented to neighbors in November..

Oakland in 2005: Campaigns for Mayor Begin as Brown Plans Exit By J. DOUGLAS ALLEN-TAYLOR

Tuesday January 03, 2006

The biggest story in Oakland in 2005 was a story not actually scheduled to take place until 2006: the race to succeed Jerry Brown as mayor. 

Oakland mayors are now limited to two terms, and after eight years in office, Brown is running for California attorney general in the Democratic primary in June. 

Two Oakland City Councilmembers opened up campaigns in 2005 to run for Oakland mayor: Council President Ignacio De La Fuente and West Oakland Councilmember Nancy Nadel. A number of other candidates also began campaigns for the office, including Alameda County Treasurer Don White and Oakland Unified School District Advisory Board members Dan Siegel and Greg Hodge. 

Many local news outlets immediately dubbed De La Fuente as the “front runner” in the mayoral race. However, private polls indicated that voter support in the city was fairly equally divided between De La Fuente and Nadel, and Oakland’s political road seemed to point toward a campaign showdown between the two long-time councilmembers beginning in January. 

All that changed in the middle of 2005 when an ad hoc group of black Oakland political activists, led by Oakland Black Caucus Chair Geoffrey Pete, surveyed the field of Oakland mayoral candidates and found that there was no one they wanted to support. The group set what seemed in the spring of last year to be an impossible task: getting former 9th District Congressmember Ron Dellums to come out of political retirement, move back to his Oakland hometown from Washington, D.C., and run for mayor. 

Gradually joined by a broader coalition of Latino, Asian, white progressive, and labor activists, the group spent the summer and fall in what amounted to a political campaign before the mayoral election campaign: gathering petitions, passing out leaflets, and putting up posters throughout the city, all designed to convince Dellums to run. 

In mid-October, in one of the more dramatic political moments in recent memory, Dellums told an auditorium of cheering supporters at the Laney College Auditorium that he would run for Oakland mayor. With several of the other candidates dropping out after Dellums’ announcement, 2005 ended in anticipation of a three-way race for the mayor’s office between the former Congressmember Dellums and the two City Councilmembers, Nadel and De La Fuente. 


Brown’s run for attorney general 

The second major Oakland story of 2005 was Mayor Jerry Brown’s scramble to come up with enough political capital to carry with him into his 2006 primary run for California attorney general against Los Angeles City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo. 

Brown came to office in 1999 on the twin promises to revive Oakland’s comatose downtown retail corridor and to make the city safer. By the beginning of 2005, neither of those campaign promises had been completed. 

In the 1998 mayoral campaign, Brown set a goal of bringing 10,000 new residents into the downtown area, with the promise that retailers would follow the influx of new money and rebuild stores in an area they had long abandoned. That 10,000-new-resident-retail-revival goal was summed up in Brown’s campaign slogan of “10K.” 

In mid-2005, ABC news reported that 5,800 of the 6,000 residential units needed to meet Brown’s 10K goal had either been completed or were under way. But two and a half years into the mayor’s second term in office, the promised retail had not materialized. 

Political and media focus on that missing retail component focused on the Forest City Project, a mixed retail-housing development proposal designed to bring 655 housing units—and accompanying retail outlets—to the so-called “uptown” portion of Oakland’s downtown around the area of 20th Street encompassing the Paramount and Fox theaters. Brown had pushed for several years to get project approval through City Council, and ground was finally broken in mid-December. 

But the Forest City Project comes with a steep price tag, at least $54.4 million in reported subsidies from the City of Oakland. And whether or not the Forest City developers will be successful in attracting retail to Oakland’s uptown will not be determined until long after Jerry Brown has left the mayor’s seat in 2006, and the bills have come due for Oakland taxpayers. 


Jack London malaise 

The media and political focus on development in downtown Oakland obscured another development story in the city, significant backward steps in the area of Oakland’s downtown where retail had been having some success: the Jack London Square area. 

In late October, according to a Daily Planet survey, of 26 commercial addresses between Jack London Square and Fourth Street on Broadway, four appeared to be long-term vacancies, three were closed and undergoing renovations, and two office complexes had listed vacancies for several weeks. 

The Oakland Tribune followed up on that story in late December with a report on developments in Jack London Square itself, once owned entirely by the City of Oakland, but parts of which were sold to private developers by the Port of Oakland Commission dom-inated by Jerry Brown appointees. “Since San Francisco-based Ellis Partners won the city’s approval to remake the waterfront district into a bustling retail center,” the Tribune reported, “more businesses have closed than opened.” 

While the Tribune article quoted Ellis Partners representatives as saying that the retail closures were simply a prelude to the eventual remake, the story included an ominous footnote: plans for a new movie theater in the Jack London Square parking lot near the corner of Broadway and Embarcadero were stalling, with an Ellis representative saying that “the land might be used to house offices.” 


Police matters 

Public safety, another Brown promise, also took a turn for the worse in 2005. 

In November 2004, Oakland voters passed a bond measure dividing up new money between hiring extra police officers and funding violence prevention measures. But funding for violence prevention stalled as Oakland City Councilmembers decided how to actually spend the money, and the 63 new police officers authorized a year ago under Measure Y have yet to be hired. 

Meanwhile, the ultimate measure of public safety—murders—rose from 88 in 2004 to 94 in 2005 in Oakland. The murder rate increase was sparked by 22 homicides between Nov. 1 and the end of the year, including one triple homicide in East Oakland in December. The Oakland Tribune also reported that other violent crime indicators in the city rose significantly: assaults with guns were up 45 percent, while robberies rose 30 percent. 


Storm Damage Calls Keep City Crews Busy By RICHARD BRENNEMAN

Tuesday January 03, 2006

Storm-related calls have kept Berkeley firefighters hopping over the past week, said Assistant Fire Chief Lucky Thomas. 

The most dramatic call came last Wednesday, bringing crews to 439 Arlington Ave., where a massive backyard tree had blown down on top of the house, with part of the limbs coming to rest on the neighboring home at 451 Arlington. 

“We evacuated the residents from 439 and turned off the gas,” said Thomas. “We determined there was no danger to the residents of 451.” 

As of late Monday afternoon, the department had responded to 130 calls over the three-day weekend, with the largest number of calls—64—coming on Saturday, Thomas said. 

It was Saturday when the firefighters from the Lawrence Berkeley Lab arrived at 1439 Grizzly Peak Blvd. in response to a call of a mudslide on private property. 

A crew from the city’s Public Works Department determined there was no imminent danger to life or property and reached the same conclusion again Monday after a report of more movement. 

Also on Saturday, firefighters and Public Works responded to a call at 1337 La Loma Ave. 

Erosion from the storms had opened a sinkhole in front of the residence which closed the sidewalk and caused part of the home’s foundation to collapse, Thomas said. 

Mudslides also closed Grizzly Peak Boulevard between Centennial and Fish Ranch roads. 

One neighborhood Internet report listed 20 mudslides on Tunnel Road across the Oakland border, including one that buried the roadway under 12 feet of the sticky stuff.

Major Changes Afoot in Land Use Laws By RICHARD BRENNEMAN

Tuesday January 03, 2006

City officials, commissioners and the public spent much of 2005 not only debating the politics of development and land use but formulating proposals for new laws governing both new development and existing construction. 

One of the thorniest issues confronting Berkeley policymakers is the city’s Landmarks Preservation Ordinance, which has become a weapon of last resort for opponents of major construction projects. 

Developers claim the law is abused by NIMBY types, while landmarks advocates argue the ordinance is a last refuge against projects that threaten the historic character of neighborhoods. 

The Landmarks Preservation Commission, the council-appointed panel that administers the ordinance, spent two years revising the existing law, while the Planning Commission drew up its own version over a period of months, which it approved on May 25. 

Mayor Tom Bates introduced his own proposals on Nov. 30, and the City Council has scheduled a Jan. 17 workshop to consider the three alternatives. 


Other revisions 

The city is also considering revisions to other controversial codes. 

Members of the Zoning Adjustments Board, frustrated that city regulations would have allowed the so-called Seagate Building downtown to climb to 14 stories under provisions that grant bonus space for projects with art space and inclusionary units at a reduced price to low-income qualified buyers, formed a committee to look at the bonuses. The panel held its first meeting May 11. 

Repeated complaints about the city’s by-right addition ordinance has also led the city to ask planning commissioners to come up with revisions. Under existing law homeowners can add up to 500-square-feet to their homes without a use permit that would require notification of neighbors. 

The issue first surfaced at an April 14 meeting of the Zoning Adjustments Board, and in October, City Councilmembers Betty Olds and Gordon Wozniak offered separate proposals for revisions. The council referred the matter to the Planning Commission on Dec. 13. 

The city passed a “soft story” ordinance in October, requiring owners of residential structures with seismically unsafe ground floors—usually parking areas—to submit engineering reports on their buildings and notify tenants that their buildings are vulnerable in a major temblor. 

The city as yet has no mechanism for mandating retrofits, a project it will consider as the new year unfolds. 

The council has also created a task force to develop proposals to revise the city’s creeks ordinance, which regulates construction on and over the city’s many creeks—many of which flow through aging buried culverts. 

For owners of 2,400 homes and other structures directly affected, the issue is determining what they can and can’t do if there’s a creek within 30 feet of buildings they own.›

Lillian Rabinowitz 1911-2005

Tuesday January 03, 2006

Berkeley Gray Panther founder Lillian Rabinowitz died Wednesday, Dec. 21 at the age of 94. She lived at Chapparal House in Berkeley for the last few years. 

A dynamic woman, she began in 1972 to organize the Gray Panthers in the East Bay, went on to found the Over 60 Clinic and sponsored the National Conference on Single Payer Health Care held at UC Berkeley in 1989, as well as many other projects and events. She received many honors over the years. 

Her three children are making plans for her memorial to be held in the spring of 2006. She asked that contributions in her name be given to the Berkeley Gray Panthers, 1403 Addison St., Berkeley, CA 94702. For more information call 548-9696. 

— Margot Smith  

Berkeley East Bay Gray Panthers

Grandmothers Organize By DOROTHY BRYANT Special to the Planet

Tuesday January 03, 2006

“Do I have to be a grandmother to come?” was the first question asked by recipients of an e-mail invitation signed by Pat Cody (co-founder, Cody’s Books, EB Women for Peace, DES Action), Clare Fischer (GTU Professor of Religion and Culture ), Marge Lasky (DVC Emerita, History), Joan Levinson (Media Consultant), Sydney Carson (CCA, Professor of Dramatic Arts), and Rita Maran (UC lecturer on Human Rights). 

The answer was, “We define the term ‘grandmother’ as a concept of love, all embracing; biology, gender, and age don’t matter.”  

Inspired by reports of groups like Raging Grannies, Grandmothers for Peace and other groups around the nation, 23 women met in a South Berkeley home on Dec. 11. Marge Lasky facilitated, standing beside an easel holding sheets of newsprint on which she had listed a simple agenda.  

First on the agenda were self-introductions: name and brief summary of activist experience. Many of the names sounded familiar if you’d been in the Bay Area for a while, and some of the women knew each other from working together before. The list of their affiliations and experiences sounded like a roster of half a century of civil rights, anti-nuclear, feminist, health, and anti-war organizations. 

“Keep that sign-up sheet moving,” said Lasky. “Don’t forget to write your e-mail address.” 

The group moved quickly into item two: a session of brainstorming. Off the tops of their well-stocked heads, women called out possible aims, strategies, actions, connections, and outreach strategies, all aimed at bringing an end to the Iraq War. 

Thoughts were boiled down to a word or two by a SFSU professor who scribbled with felt-top pens onto more sheets of newsprint. As she filled each sheet, one woman or another stepped up to tear it off and stick it to it to a window or a wall. Soon the group was surrounded by brightly colored lists of long range plans, ongoing projects to join, original immediate actions, aims, hopes, pitfalls, and possibilities. 

Now surrounded by their raw thoughts, the women were ready to identify and discuss their priorities. 

“We need a steering committee to screen suggestions, or we’ll spend all day e-mailing one another.” 

“I’m not one for attending a lot of meetings!” 

“But we need enough meetings to get to know each other.” 

“We need to schedule one short-range action and start planning now or we’ll lose momentum.” 

“Need a steering committee for that too.” 

“Someone has to work on nationwide hook-ups with other groups and media coverage. We have to think big or we’ll get nowhere.” 

“Who has media contacts? Who knows how to write a good press release?” 

“And letter-writing. Not just e-mail, hard copy.” 

“I’m already spending 20 minutes every day signing e-mail petitions!” 

“Is anybody getting all this down?” 

“Me. And give me the sign-up sheets too. I’m no good at writing letters, but I’m well-organized.” 

“How about Valentine’s Day for a group action?” 

“Anyone know a good First Amendment lawyer?” 

“Who’s going to do posters and flyers to hand out?” 

“How about this slogan for Valentine’s Day?” Helen Isaacson paused dramatically. “WE LOVE OUR TROOPS AND WANT THEM BACK HOME!” 

Finally the group was minutes from adjournment, time for the last item on the agenda: naming the group. Having thrashed out aims and actions for nearly two hours, the women were less likely to get bogged down on choice of words although—this being Berkeley—there were some strong opinions on semantics. Fairly quickly the majority voted to go with Joan Levinson’s insistence on “a strong statement, a tough statement of opposition. We’re against the war!” 

Then the women gave a final proof of long experience in activism by briskly cleaning up traces of paper cups and cookie crumbs before leaving, satisfied with having chosen: 

1. A name, Bay Area Grandmothers Against the War. 

2. A coordinating committee, to receive questions, suggestions for actions, agenda items for future meetings, etc. 

3. A date, Feb. 14, for an action at military recruiting centers. 

4. A steering committee for the Valentine’s Day action, to meet again within days for planning. 

5. A date for another general meeting early in January. 


Anyone interested in further information about the upcoming meeting and/or in joining can contact bayareagrandmothers@yahoo.com. 






Editorial Cartoon By JUSTIN DEFREITAS

Tuesday January 03, 2006

To view Justin DeFreitas’ latest editorial cartoon, please visit  

www.jfdefreitas.com To search for previous cartoons by date of publication, click on the Daily Planet Archive.


Letters to the Editor

Tuesday January 03, 2006


Editors, Daily Planet: 

I was surprised and pleased to find the recent commentary on Mrs. Sheehan in the Daily Planet. Especially surprised, for I lost hope for my hometown of Berkeley years ago due to the prevalent so-called liberal cant. But it is evident some Berkeleyans have a brain, and even if just a transient college student, the author of this piece has earned a hearty “bravo.” It was a balanced piece, and did not take cuts at the grieving mother but instead gave her credit exactly where it was due. 

Don Teeter  





Editors, Daily Planet: 

Never mind impeachment; FISA calls for five years in prison. Our slogan should be “Five more years.” I’m sure the striped suit will fit him as well as the uniform he wore to celebrate “Mission Accomplished.” 

Gilbert Bendix 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

John Kenyon’s piece on Point Molate was wonderful. Thank you for publishing articles such as this. Indeed, it is soon to be a vanished landscape, a landscape of romantic decay perhaps, but quiet, and the views are glorious. It should be part of the East Shore Park system. As Kenyon suggests, go now, especially in a storm when clouds make silver-gray patterns on the water, before it becomes a brightly lit hotel-casino, surrounded by paved parking lots and all the weeds are gone.  

Susan Cerny  




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I read in the Daily Planet that the Berkeley City Council is studying wireless Internet for Berkeley. 

Won’t wireless Internet give us cancer, like wireless cell phone antennas? 

Myrna Sokolinsky 



Editors, Daily Planet: 

The article entitled “Fee Increases Impact Peralta Community Colleges” (Daily Planet, Dec. 23), which states that there was a 1.33 percent decline in enrollment throughout the California Community College system, should not be a big surprise to either faculty nor students nor the Board of Governors for the California Community Colleges as a decline in enrollment was predicted when fees were increased. On Nov. 4, 2003, the Board of Governors issued a report which said that 175,000 community college students were being denied access because of the increase in tuition. The actual resulting “missing students” reported in your article (314,000) almost doubles that predicted amount. Kin Kwok, a Laney College art student, created “The Missing Student Project.” An exhibition of this work which was displayed in Sacramento as a protest to the rise in tuition is on display at the June Steingart Gallery at Laney College. I urge all who are interested in student activism, creativity and art to attend this important exhibition which runs until Jan. 24. 

Meryl Siegal 

Laney College English instructor 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Columnist P.M. Price suggests that people would have more “sympathy” for multiple-murderer Tookie Williams if the media would only publish more cute photos of Tookie as a little boy. Well, how about more photos of the four murder victims, lying in pools of their own blood as they’re dying, as Tookie laughs and brags about it. How about photos of the victim’s family and the years of agony they endured. We’ve seen plenty of photos of cute little Tookie in the media. But we haven’t seen too many photos of the victims and their families, have we?  

Peter Labriola 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

We write to express our vehement opposition to the proposal put forward by Council member Betty Olds that would eliminate 499 square feet of by-right additions above the first floor. 

This change to city law would be deeply disturbing on many levels. We believe that ending by-right additions would effectively strip every single homeowner in Berkeley of an important right with minimal notice and virtually no consultation. Other likely effects are: slowing the already glacial pace of the permit process, raising the cost of permits, adding more workload to the overburdened Planning Department and transferring even more power away from owners to self-serving neighbors. Requiring an AUP for every addition will mean young families or people with older parents will be forced to wait, sometimes for years, for their permit to add a small amount of needed space. 

The ending of by-right additions would be a negative, backward looking attempt to freeze a status quo in Berkeley that is idealized by some, mainly those who happened to have purchased their property before their neighbors did. Reality and the experiences of a great many people show that the AUP process in Berkeley is badly broken. In theory having all parties consult and agree on every project sounds grand, however, in practice the AUP process tends to pit neighbor against neighbor in a bitter, drawn out struggle that in some ways seems to be encouraged and exacerbated by the City’s Planning Department. Many people nowadays, unfortunately, are too quick to hire lawyers and to cynically manipulate the public consultation process so as to cause maximum damage and pain when a project is built that is not to their liking.  

If there are specific abuses, why not address them directly? We all know that views are a difficult issue; however, it is obvious that no one person can “own” a view and that views must in some sense be shared. We know that is easy to say and hard to do, but we believe it can be done. It would be a bad idea to end this important safety valve in the building permit process. 

Aleyda and Alan Swain 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I am a Berkeley High grad (1977), and proud of it. Ms. Carolyn Sellers’ comparison (Daily Planet, Dec. 27) of her apparent dream life in 1967 and the nightmare she envisions Berkeley being today reveals that she is out of touch with the possibilities of today’s Berkeley and blind to the deprivations of her glory days in the mid-1960s. 

A few comparisons: 


Then: A mostly segregated school system. 

Now: A district trying hard to bridge the achievement gap. 


Then: Land adjacent to the bay used as a dump. 

Now: Parks from the bay bridge to Richmond. 


Then: Oscar’s was fine dining 

Now: Are you kidding? 


Then: The Berkeley Gazette opposed “fair housing” laws and school integration 

Now: The Daily Planet, Internet and other entities give a voice to many viewpoints. 


Ms. Sellers, cheer up. Even though parking can be hard to find in our wonderful town, positive changes (and parking spots) are present if you have an open mind and awareness of what is around you. 

Paul Lecky 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Your holiday issues were a warm, welcome break 

(more rich than Virginia Avenue chocolate cake) 

from the pleonastic ranters whose blame- throwing threnody 

rebukes Palestinians or scolds Patrick Kennedy. 

David Altschul 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Arnold was absolutely correct on the recent nurses flap. No wonder that California is the first in the nation to mandate nurse staffing by state law. No other state is that ridiculous. Such assignments should be between a hospital and the nurses, not Sacramento. Hospital people know how to run hospitals, not politicians. The nurse’s union was so brazen that they took the dispute to the firmly-in-pocket Legislature to establish feather bedding as state law, and Gov. Davis, of course, signed it. At the same time it is a sop to the litigation locusts. If anyone dies in a hospital, they can whip out their form lawsuit and say it was because five not six nurses were on duty. The state law says so. California voters are the world’s dumbest.  

W. O. Locke.  



Column: The Public Eye: It Takes a Potemkin Transit Village By Zelda Bronstein

Tuesday January 03, 2006

In 18th century Russia, Grigori Potemkin purportedly tried to impress Catherine the Great by building elaborate fake villages along a route she traveled in Crimea and the Ukraine. Today, “Potemkin village” signifies a showy false front intended to hide embarrassing or disgraceful conditions. Sad to say, that description fits the project that the City Council endorsed Dec. 13 when it voted 8-0-1 (Spring abstained) to support an application from the city, in partnership with the South Berkeley Neighborhood Development Corporation (SBNDC), for a $120,00 California Department of Transportation Community-Based Transportation Grant. The money would be used to plan a 300-unit “transit village” at the Ashby BART west parking lot, where the city controls the air rights.  

Transit villages are dense, mixed-use developments located at transit hubs and stations. Promoted by advocates of “smart growth”—when it comes to wordsmithing, you have to hand it to these folks—transit villages are supposed to discourage commuting and fight sprawl. The one at Ashby BART, we are told, will also provide affordable workforce housing; revitalize the neighborhood economy without gentrifying it; and repair the gaping hole that the Ashby BART station tore into the urban fabric of the south Shattuck area.  

Unfortunately, there are giant gaps here between rhetoric and reality. A full inventory of the stratagems at work would fill several pages of the Daily Planet. I want to focus on one ploy that’s central to the Caltrans grant proposal: creating the illusion of community involvement and support.  

The application asserts that the project has had “public participation from the start,” thereby “dramatically improving the potential for the entitlements to be awarded without the public acrimony, lawsuits, delays and uncertainty that plague many projects.” The fact is that until an article appeared in the Dec. 13 Planet, only a handful of individuals in the south Shattuck area had even heard about plans for a transit village at Ashby BART. Yet E-mails from BART planner Nashua Kalil indicate that BART and city staff had started working with the project’s main sponsors, Councilmember Max Anderson and SBNDC representative Ed Church, at least as early as last July.  

The stealth factor becomes even more blatant once you learn that the grant application was filed with Caltrans on Oct. 14—two months before the item appeared on the council’s agenda! Ordinarily, grant applications must be approved by the council before they’re submitted to a grantor. As an excuse for this admittedly irregular procedure, the staff memo accompanying the application says that “the grant opportunity was discovered at a very late date, and there was no opportunity for advance council review.” Ed Church has told me that he found out about the grant program two weeks before the Oct. 14 deadline. City Manager Phil Kamlarz brings last-minute, off-agenda items to the council when he chooses. Why didn’t he bring the Caltrans grant to the council at its Oct. 11 meeting, three days before the application was due? Even supposing that for some good reason the item couldn’t get onto the Oct. 11 agenda, why did it take two months and seven more council meetings for it to come up for review?  

Let me suggest an explanation: Messrs. Kamlarz, Anderson and Church did what they could to keep the public from learning about the Caltrans grant application because they knew that once word got out about a 300-unit transit village at Ashby BART, a lot of people in the south Shattuck community would be alarmed. Up to a point, their subterfuges worked: on the evening of Dec. 13, the council chamber was virtually empty. Only two speakers at public comment addressed the Ashby BART grant. Their concerns were essentially brushed aside by the council majority.  

The eight who voted to support the project will have a harder time blowing off the community at large. To judge from the letters that have appeared in the Planet since Dec. 13, neighbors of Ashby BART are angry about being left in the dark. The stealth planning aside, many people are also incensed by the project’s massive size. Others, noting that the project area extends in a half-mile radius beyond the parking lot, see the transit village as a stalking-horse for redevelopment and eminent domain. Still others are worried that surrounding neighborhoods will be upzoned for higher density, as provided for by California’s 1994 Transit Village Development Planning Act (authored by then-Assemblyman Tom Bates). They fear that sometime early in 2006 the council will pull another fast one and suddenly declare the South Shattuck Strategic Plan a transit village plan, as per the terms of Assemblywoman Loni Hancock’s AB 691, enacted into law last fall and scheduled to sunset at the end of this year.  

At the Dec. 13 meeting, one of the speakers at public comment, Jackie DeBose, asked the council to direct the city manager to withdraw the SBNDC application and to use the staff time that has been dedicated to this proposal to set up a genuine community-based planning process for development at the Ashby BART station. The city could incorporate the ideas that came out of such a process into a new proposal and apply for the same Caltrans grant next fall. Her appeal was ignored. How would the council treat the same request if it came from a mobilized south Shattuck citizenry? Let’s hope we have a chance to find out—the sooner the better, because this train is about to leave the station.  


Neighborhood associations in the south Shattuck area have scheduled a panel discussion about the SBNDC grant proposal, transit villages and related matters for Tuesday, Jan.17, at the South Berkeley Senior Center (2939 Ellis St., at Ashby Avenue). The event will begin at 7 p.m. Background material, including the text of the SBNDC proposal, can be viewed on the Neighbors of Ashby BART website (http://nabart.com/).

Column: The Year In Review By SUSAN PARKER

Tuesday January 03, 2006

January 2005: A former child star and talented song and dance man, but now a drug addled nincompoop, throws a rock at our upstairs front window and smashes the pane. I climb onto the porch roof to access the damage and find an entire quarry, leftovers from the times he missed. It is a double-pane window and he has broken only the front layer. Due to monetary restraints, I don’t replace it. 


February 2005: The former child star strolls through our back door when no one is looking and breaks furniture. I rearrange tables and chairs to hide the obvious and tell all residents of our home to keep the doors locked.  


March 2005: I take down the photo collage hanging in our upstairs hallway. It is a collection of memorabilia from the early ‘60s, when the man was well known as a child star. In one of the photographs he is shaking hands with R&B star Jackie Wilson, and in another he is dressed in a custom-made tuxedo, shiny dance shoes on his feet, a microphone held in his hands, a million-dollar smile across his face. 


April 2005: Our van’s rear right tire is flat. It must be replaced. 


May 2005: The van’s rear left tire is flat. It must be replaced. 


June 2005: The front passenger side tire is flat and must also be replaced. I’m now on a first name basis with the manager of the Firestone store. We decide someone is puncturing the tires. I park the car in the driveway. 


July 2005: Rear right tire flat again, but this time I discover a sliver of wood stuck in the valve. Conclusion: The man who used to be a child star. Solution: Call AAA and get reinflated.  


August 2005: The man breaks a small pane in the stain glass window of our front door. This is the window my husband designed and made before his bicycling accident, when he could still use his arms and legs. I call the police, cover the hole with duct tape, cry a little.  


September 2005: One night at 2 a.m. the man sticks his hand through the tape, unlocks the front door, and enters our house. I find him watching television upstairs in the back bedroom. I tell him to leave and he does. I summon the police. They say they will pick him up for breaking and entering but, apparently, they can’t find him even though I continue to see him frequently around the neighborhood. I cover the door with plywood. We go into lock-down mode, keeping the front and back doors chained and bolted at all times. Andrea, the man’s former girlfriend, and my husband’s live-in home health aid, pushes furniture against doors and hangs cowbells on knobs so we can hear them jingle if someone fiddles with them. We keep the shades drawn, and ask our neighbors to call the police if they see him. “The short, fat bald guy with the big mouth?” they ask. “Yes,” I tell them. 


October 2005: He rings our doorbell and runs away. Andrea calls friends to accompany her to the nearby liquor store when she needs to buy cigarettes and lottery tickets. When there is no one available to walk with her, she takes our miniature Schnauzer, Whiskers. Whiskers weighs only 15 pounds and due to old age and poor diet she has lost most of her teeth, but she hates the former child star and on occasion has been known to attack his ankles.  


November 2005: The former child star shows up outside our house on Thanksgiving Day to wish us a joyous holiday. I tell him to go away. 


December 2005: Two thousand, four hundred and fifty-seven prank phone calls at all hours of the day and night finally take their toll. I tell Andrea she must get a restraining order, or leave. Her mother rents a car, takes her to the courthouse, and gets it done. He is not allowed within 200 yards of our house. 


Happy New Year!

Odetta Headlines Concert For Friends of Negro Spirituals By KEN BULLOCK Special to the Planet

Tuesday January 03, 2006

Famed folk singer Odetta and award-winning lyric baritone Robert Sims will be featured along with Ghanaian drummer Pope Flyne and pianist-arranger Jacqueline Hairston in Sunday’s “Let The Spirituals Roll On,” a concert and fundraiser for Friends of Negro Spirituals at Oakland’s historic Beth Eden Baptist Church. 

“Odetta’s what we call a heritage keeper,” said Sam Edwards, co-founder of Friends of Negro Spirituals. “She does not see herself as a singer of spirituals, but as a folk singer, and spirituals as folk music. Yet she’s been recording spirituals since 1953, and sings them in free combination with other songs, unlike the practice of most African-American concert singers, who reserve spirituals for the last third of a concert. There are many who are indebted to her pioneering ways, her charisma—and the force with which she performs. Odetta tends to concentrate on that variety that could be called ‘freedom spirituals.’ Her voice fills the room, with a power she says ‘comes from the strength of slaves.” 

Odetta has been widely praised by those she has influenced. Bob Dylan said, “The first thing that turned me on to folk singing was Odetta [in 1956.] I heard a record of hers in a record store ... Right then and there I went out and traded my electric guitar and amplifier for an acoustic guitar.” Harry Belafonte said, “Few ... possess that fine understanding of a song’s meaning which transforms it from a melody into a dramatic experience. Odetta, who has influenced me greatly in this area of dramatic interpretation, is just such an artist.” 

Odetta recently celebrated the 60th anniversary of her performing career, which began with the Hollywood Turnabout Theatre. She has recorded 28 albums, including “Christmas Spirituals” (1960) and last year’s “Gonna Let It Shine.” The first touring and recording solo female artist of blues, folk, work and protest songs, Odetta took part in the Civil Rights Movement, including the Selma march, sang at the 1963 March On Washington, co-starred in Bay Area filmmaker John Korty’s 1974 hit TV film The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman, and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Arts in 1999 by Bill Clinton. 

Odetta will be accompanied by pianist Seth Farber, rather than her own guitar.  

Sims, a classical singer who has performed internationally, has dedicated himself to singing spirituals. Based in Chicago, the lyric baritone made his Carnegie Hall debut last year. 

“He’s a rousing performer with a luxuriant voice,” said Edwards. “Many think of him as the successor to Paul Robeson, who was also a hero to Odetta.” 

Flyne, Ghanaian master drummer, teaches at St. Mary’s College and has been associated with Friends of Negro Spirituals the past year. “His drumming enables us to make African ceremony and tribute to the ancestors,” Edwards said. 

Hairston, a pianist, educator and composer/arranger, is an ASCAP member who began choral conducting as a child prodigy in South Carolina. “She has arranged spirituals for concert for many prominent opera singers,” Edwards said. 

Friends of Negro Spirituals was co-founded by Edwards and Lyvonne Chrisman in November 1998. Inspired by the spiritual “Joshua Fit The Battle Of Jericho” as performed by Moses Hogan, the Friends focus on the preservation of spirituals. 

“Our primary means,” Edwards said, “is through educational forums every quarter, as well as concerts, like ‘Amazing Journeys--Following The North Star with the Underground Railroad,’ or ‘Paul Robeson and Negro Spirituals.’” 

The group has worked with the West Oakland Senior Center and the Outreach Program and African American Center of the San Francisco Library. They also publish a semi-annual journal, The Negro Spiritual, and promote videos and CDs. At the end of June each year, they host a Negro Spirituals Heritage Day to celebrate Bay Area contributions to the long and continued life of spirituals. They recently honored jazz pianist Bill Bell. 

“At the forums, we sing the spirituals and discuss them, an intellectual and experiential presentation,” Edwards continued. “At the concerts, the audience is invited to join in, to sing together on a spiritual or two. Spirituals have changed, been reworked to fit many different styles. They’ve been printed as sheet music and sung in concerts of classical music. But the words are the same as they were on the plantation. They’ve always been a way to galvanize the community, provide healing, hope and some feeling of power for those who couldn’t talk freely, but could sing.”

Arts Calendar

Tuesday January 03, 2006



“The Greek Stones Speak” Travel photography lecture with Don Lyons at 7 p.m. at Chapel of the Chimes, 4499 Piedmont Ave., Oakland. Free. 654-1548.  


Hot Club of San Francisco at 8 and 10 p.m. Yoshi’s at Jack London Square. Cost is $10. 238-9200. www.yoshis.com 

Barbara Linn at 7 p.m. at Caffe Trieste, 2500 San Pablo Ave., at Dwight. 548-5198.  

Ellen Hoffman Trio and singer’s open mic at 8 p.m. at Anna’s Jazz Island, 2120 Allston Way. Cost is $5. 841-JAZZ.  



Courtableu at 8:30 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cajun dance lesson at 8 p.m. Cost is $9. 525-5054.  

Ned Boynton Trio at 8 p.m. at Downtown. 649-3810.  

Franchise at 8:30 p.m. at Blakes on Telegraph. 848-0886.  

Calvin Keys Invitational Jam at 8 p.m. at Anna’s Jazz Island, 2120 Allston Way. 841-JAZZ.  

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

Ahmad Jamal at 8 and 10 p.m. Yoshi’s at Jack London Square, through Sun. Cost is $18-$24. 238-9200. www.yoshis.com 



Word Beat Reading Series with Ann Cohen and Clive Matson at 7 p.m. at Mediterraneum Caffe, 2475 Telegraph Ave., near Dwight Way. 526-5985. 

John Oliver Simon at 7 p.m. at the Albany Library, 1247 Marin Ave. 526-3720, ext. 17. 

Nomad Spoken Word Night at 7 p.m. at Nomad Cafe, 6500 Shattuck Ave. 595-5344.  


Emam & Friends at 8:30 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cost is $12. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 

Irene Sazer’s Real Vocal String Quartet at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $17.50-$18.50. 548-1761.  

Fourtet at 8 p.m. at Anna’s Jazz Island, 2120 Allston Way. Cost is. $5. 841-JAZZ. www.AnnasJazzIsland.com 

Silver Fox Trio, jazz, at 7 p.m. at Caffe Trieste, 2500 San Pablo Ave., at Dwight. 548-5198.  

Guitar Summit with Will Bernard, Paul Mehling and Ken Emerson at 8 p.m. at Downtown. 649-3810.  

Ahmad Jamal at 8 and 10 p.m. Yoshi’s at Jack London Square, through Sun. Cost is $18-$24. 238-9200. www.yoshis.com 



“Walkin’ Talkin’ Bill Hawkins ... In Search of My Father” performed by W. Allen Taylor at 7 p.m. at the Marsh-Berkeley, 2118 Allston Way. Tickets are $15-$22. 800-838-3006. 

Shotgun Players “Cabaret” Thurs. - Sun. at 8 p.m. at the Ashby Stage, 1901 Ashby Ave. Through Jan. 29. 841-6500. www.shotgunplayers.org 


Luthier’s An exhibtion of tradition guitar and ukulele making at the Addison Street Windows Gallery, 2018 Addison St., through Jan. 15. 981-7533. 


“A Journey to Sacred Places” with photographer Jasper Johal at 6 p.m. at Studio Rasa, 933 Parker St. 843-2787. 


Dance Production 2006 at 8 p.m. at Florence Schwimley Little Theater, Allston Way. Tickets are $5 students, $10 adults. 

Freddie Roulette & Friends, blues, funk, at 9 p.m. at Baltic Square Pub, 135 Park Pl., Pt. Richmond. 527-4782. 

Choz & The ChoZen Music Fam at 9 p.m. at Blakes on Telegraph. Cost is $8-$10. 848-0886.  

Susan Muscarella Quartet at 8 p.m. at the Hillside Club, 2286 Cedar St. Tickets are $10-$15. 701-1787. 

Lua at 8:30 p.m. at La Peña Cultural Center. Cost is $10. 849-2568. www.lapena.org 

Steve Gannon Blue Monday Band at 8 p.m. at Anna’s Jazz Island, 2120 Allston Way. Cost is $7. 841-JAZZ.  

Raw Deluxe, Psychokinetics, Mickey Avalon at 9:30 p.m. at Shattuck Down Low. Cost is $5-$8. 548-1159.  

Opie Bellas Quartet at 9 p.m. at Downtown. 649-3810.  

Grapefruit Ed at 9:30 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cost is $10. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 

Houston Jones at 8 p.m. at Caffe Trieste, 2500 San Pablo Ave., at Dwight. 548-5198.  

Mike Marshall & Chris Thile, mandolin at 8 p.m. at St. John’s Presbyterian Church, 2727 College Ave. Cost is $24.50-$25.50. 548-1761.  

Stephen Yerkey and Kurt Huget at 7:30 p.m. at Nomad Cafe, 6500 Shattuck Ave. 595-5344. www.nomadcafe.net 

Municipal Waste, Bury the Living, Killed in Action at 8 p.m. at 924 Gilman St. Cost is $6. 525-9926. 

Ahmad Jamal at 8 and 10 p.m. Yoshi’s at Jack London Square, through Sun. Cost is $18-$24. 238-9200. www.yoshis.com 



Los Amiguitos de La Peña with EarthCapades, environmental vaudeville, at 10:30 a.m. at La Peña. Cost is $5. 849-2568. www.lapena.org 


“A Political Journey” Paintings by Roger Van Ouytsel opens at La Peña Cultural Center, and runs through Jan. 27. 849-2568. www.lapena.org 

“Edward Weston: Masterworks from the Collection” with over fifty photographs on display through June 11, at Oakland Museum of California, 10th and Oak Sts. 238-3402. www.museumca.org 

“New Beginnings” A group show of works by Bay Area artists in a benefit for victims of domestic violence opens at 6 p.m. at a Fusao Studios, 646 Kennedy St., Suite 108. 436-5797. www.afusaostudios.com 

“Claim the World of Art as Our Own” opens at Pro Arts, 550 Second St., Oakland. www.proartsgallery.org 


“Shortcut to Nirvana” a documentary about the Kumbha Mela festival in India with a conversation with the director at 8 p.m. at Studio Rasa, 933 Parker St. 843-2787. 


“Martin Eden” A dramatic reading of Jack London’s novel in celebration of his birthday by Page to Stage Theater Company at 2 p.m. at Barnes & Noble, Jack London Square. 272-0120. 

Bay Area Poets Coalition Open Reading at 3 p.m. at Strawberry Creek Lodge, 1320 Addison St. Please park on the street. 527-9905. 


Dance Production 2006 at 8 p.m. at Florence Schwimley Little Theater, Allston Way. Tickets are $5 students, $10 adults. 

The Sarabande Ensemble, early Italian music, at 8 p.m. at Trinity Chapel, 2320 Dana St. Tickets are $8-$12. 549-3864. http://trinitychamberconcerts.com 

Healing Muses “A Musical Tapestry” Traditional Renaissance music at 8 p.m. at St. Alban’s Episcopal Church, 1501 Washington St., Albany. Tickets are $15-$18. 524-5661.  

Yancie Taylor Quintet at 8 p.m. at Anna’s Jazz Island, 2120 Allston Way. Cost is $7. 841-JAZZ. www.AnnasJazzIsland.com 

Walter Savage Trio at 9 p.m. at Downtown. 649-3810.  

Braziu with Sotaque Baiano at 9 p.m. at Shattuck Down Low, 2284 Shattuck Ave. Cost is $10-$12. 548-1159.  

Los Boleros, traditional Cuban, at 9:30 p.m. at La Peña Cultural Center. Cost is $10. 849-2568.  

Steve Seskin at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $18.50-$19.50. 548-1761.  

Breakin’ Up Xmas Square Dance with Amy & Karen and The Mercury Dimes at 7 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cost is $6-$12. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 

Mr. Slapp, Unjust, Game Brothers at 9 p.m. at Blakes on Telegraph. Cost is $10. 848-0886. 

Dead Sea Scribes, Conscious Hip Hop at 8 p.m. at Spuds Pizza, 3290 Adeline St. Cost is $7-$10. 558-0881. 

Damond Moodie and Jamie Jenkins at 7:30 p.m. at Nomad Cafe, 6500 Shattuck Ave. 595-5344. www.nomadcafe.net 

Dudman, NK6, Signal Lost at 8 p.m. at 924 Gilman St. Cost is $7. 525-9926. 



Asheba at Ashkenaz at 3 p.m. Cost is $4-$6. 525-5054.  


Paintings by Brooke Hatch Reception from 4 to 6 p.m. at Nomad Cafe, 6500 Shattuck Ave. 595-5344.  


Poetry Flash with The Fresh Ink Writing Group at 7:30 p.m. at Cody’s Books. Donation $2. 845-7852.  


Friends of Negro Spirituals “Let the Spirituals Roll On” concert and fundraiser at 3 p.m. at Beth Eden Baptist Church, 952 Magnolia St., Oakland. Tickets are $25-$30. 415-563-4316. 

Healing Muses “A Musical Tapestry” Traditional Renaissance music at 4 p.m. at St. Alban’s Episcopal Church, 1501 Washington St., Albany. Tickets are $15-$18. 524-5661.  

Julia Fischer, violin, at 3 p.m. at Hertz Hall, UC Campus. Tickets are $42. 642-9988.  

Wild Bill Davison Centennial Celebration at 2 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $17.50-$18.50. 548-1761.  

Misturada Brazil at 8 p.m. at Anna’s Jazz Island, 2120 Allston Way. Cost is $7. 841-JAZZ. 

Blame Sally at 5 p.m. at Caffe Trieste, 2500 San Pablo Ave., at Dwight. 548-5198.  

Ahmad Jamal at 8 p.m. Yoshi’s at Jack London Square. Cost is $24. 238-9200. www.yoshis.com 



Watercolors by Ruth Koch at Cafe DiBartolo, 3310 Grand Ave., Oakland. Through Feb. 26. 


Poetry Express with Jeanne Lupton at 7 p.m. at Priya Restaurant, 2072 San Pablo Ave. berkeleypoetryexpress@yahoo.com 


Parlor Tango, French baroque music, at 7 p.m. at Caffe Trieste, 2500 San Pablo Ave. 548-5198.  

The Moutin Reunion Quartet at 8 and 10 p.m. at Yoshi’s at Jack London Square. Cost is $7-$14. 238-9200. 


Commentary: Is The Berkeley Honda Boycott A Just Cause? By Raymond Barglow and HARRY BRILL

Tuesday January 03, 2006

The strike at Berkeley Honda is nearly half a year old now, and still the new owners refuse to acknowledge the quite reasonable request that workers should be treated decently, and a union should be allowed to represent them. 

In his most recent commentary published in the Daily Planet, Berkeley Honda’s Chris Regalia argues that reducing the business at the auto dealership —which the strike has done quite effectively—harms the city, since the city depends on tax revenues from local businesses. He concludes: “You may not like business, but without thriving businesses a city cannot survive.” 

The question is, at whose expense will business at Berkeley Honda thrive? In return for the auto dealership’s tax contributions, shall we condone the dismissal of workers like Nat Courtney, a master mechanic who worked at the dealership for 31 years and whose only “misconduct” was that he served as shop steward of the union? Is it OK if a business busts a union, provided that the business pays its taxes? 

With respect to Berkeley Honda’s decision not to retain Nat Courtney and other master mechanics (who have been replaced by younger, lower-paid personnel), Mr. Regalia argued in a previous Daily Planet commentary that the National Labor Relations Board (NRLB) approved this decision, since the new owners: 

“According to the NLRB, made their hiring decisions without prejudice or discrimination. Call me silly, but could it be that those who were not offered positions might not have been top performers or as efficient as they would like us all to believe?” 

This is a false account of the NLRB ruling, which did not evaluate the competency of the dismissed workers, but judged only that there was no successor clause in the union contract that would have protected workers like Nat Courtney. The NLRB adjudicated this case on very narrow grounds, declining to examine the fairness of the workers’ dismissals. We should note that the NLRB has been making extremely anti-labor decisions since 2004, when the staggered terms of Bill Clinton’s three liberal Democratic appointees expired, and President Bush achieved a conservative majority on the five-person board. 

It’s true that our city government does need to attract business to our community—few would dispute that. But should we just look the other way when we encounter cruel, unethical business practices? Plenty of firms in Berkeley pay their taxes AND treat their workers with some respect and fairness. That is all we are asking Berkeley Honda to do.  

This strike can be settled—thereby increasing both Berkeley Honda’s business and the City of Berkeley’s tax revenues—when Berkeley Honda negotiates in good faith with the striking workers.  

In his commentary in the Planet, Chris Regalia goes on to argue that the Berkeley City Council should not be taking sides in this dispute: “As a reasonable and common sense businessman I am flabbergasted at the city’s support of the boycott. The only position a government should take in a labor dispute, especially at the outset (and without all of the facts), would be to remain neutral.” 

Is neutrality always a virtue? The Berkeley City Council’s decision to support the strike/boycott, which was not made prematurely or ignorantly, took into account the fact that the playing field in this dispute is not even. The new owner, Tim Beinke, comes from a wealthy family of Danville property developers and has hired an infamous anti-union law firm, Littler Mendelson, which specializes in defeating strikes and eliminating trade unions. Nat Courtney and his workmates, on the other hand, do not have such resources available to them. They are not able to hire expensive attorneys to argue their case. “Neutrality” in such a situation would amount to condoning the injustice of the status quo. With the cards stacked against them, the strikers’ best hope is that our community will help them counter the wealth and power that the new management wields. 


Raymond Barglow and Harry Brill are members of the Wellstone Democratic Renewal Club.›

Mudsuckers May Be Ugly, But They Have Value By JOE EATON Special to the Planet

Tuesday January 03, 2006

“The long-jawed mudsucker is not a sexy fish,” admits UC Davis marine biologist Susan Anderson. No argument there. Gillichthys mirablis has a face only another mudsucker could love: beady little eyes and a huge mouth whose gape extends back to the gill covers. It’s small (8 inches long) and sedentary, spending its whole life on one patch of mudflat. This is one fish whose name will never be bestowed on a fast car or a major league sports franchise. 

As homely and obscure as it is, though, there’s good reason to pay attention to the mudsucker. Anderson and other scientists in the Pacific Estuarine Ecosystem Indicator Research Consortium are using these fish as sentinels to monitor carcinogens, endocrine disrupters, and other nasty substances in San Francisco Bay and other coastal waters.  

Mudsuckers are members of the huge (1,900 species) and diverse goby family, which includes the smallest known vertebrates. They inhabit shallow mud-bottomed tidal sloughs in bays and estuaries from Bahia Magdalena in Baja California north to Tomales Bay. Tolerant of high salinities and temperatures, they even thrive in our bay’s salt evaporation ponds and the Salton Sea. Mudsuckers retreat into burrows in the mud during low tides; when stranded, they can survive by gulping air and wriggling across the flats to the nearest water. They’ve been known to live out of water for 6 to 8 days if kept moist. 

In spawning season, December through June in the Bay Area, male mudsuckers dig special breeding burrows and defend them from rivals, long jaws wide open in impressive threat displays. Females may lay up to 27,000 eggs, which the males guard for the 10 to 12 days required for hatching. Larval mudsuckers feed on plankton; as they mature, they settle to the bottom and switch to a diet of algae, smaller fish, and small crustaceans.  

This lifestyle exposes the mudsucker to whatever contaminants are in the local sediment. To assess the effects, the PEEIR group samples fish from five study sites: Stege Marsh in Richmond, China Camp on the Marin side of the North Bay, Walker Creek and Toms Point on Tomales Bay, and Carpinteria Marsh in Santa Barbara County. They’ve also moved mudsuckers from relatively clean sites to polluted sites to see what biological changes result.  

And if you want a polluted site, you can’t do much better than Stege Marsh with its 128-year history of abuse. Mercury fulminate for blasting caps was produced there beginning in 1877, sulfuric acid from 1897. Stauffer Chemical, which branched out into other industrial and agricultural chemicals, closed up shop in 1982, by which time AstraZeneca was cranking out herbicides and pesticides. That operation ended in 1988, leaving a toxic legacy of 160 or more hazardous substances: PCBs, volatile organic compounds, heavy metals, and more. The property is now owned by developers who capped the contaminated muck and plan to build high-rise housing on top of it, a scheme that Henry Clark of the West County Toxics Coalition calls “one of the worst projects I have ever seen proposed in this area.” 

Stege Marsh still has a remnant population of the endangered California clapper rail, and it still has long-jawed mudsuckers. But they’re not healthy fish. Anderson’s group has found fish with damaged livers and female mudsuckers with ovarian tumors. Equally alarming is the evidence for chemical damage to the fishes’ reproductive systems, with contaminants playing the role of estrogens: male mudsuckers with both ovaries and testes, or with high levels of the eggshell protein choriogenin. These abnormalities were common at Stege, less so at Carpinteria, rare or absent at the Marin sites. 

Endrocrine disrupters are insidious things, mimicking hormones or shutting down normal hormonal activity. You may have read Theo Colborn’s pathbreaking book Our Stolen Future, or followed the coverage of UC-Berkeley biologist Tyrone Hayes and his work on biochemically warped frogs. Biologists have been finding reproductive anomalies in wildlife all over the globe, from alligators in the Everglades to polar bears in the Arctic, that appear to result from exposure to PCBs, dioxin, DDT, and other chemicals.  

Mudsuckers are handy proxies because of their hardiness and limited home ranges (about a 32-foot radius from the burrow for an adult). It’s also easy to tell the sexes apart: males have bigger mouths. The PEEIR group uses nonlethal sampling to test males and juveniles for eggshell proteins that indicate their hormonal systems are out of whack. They also measure estrogenic chemicals in the sediment around the mudsuckers’ burrows, using a bioassay based on, of all things, the firefly luciferase gene. Interestingly, endrocrine-disruption effects were found at two sites where sediment toxicity was low or nonexistent. Makes you wonder. 

The mudsucker is just one part of PEEIR’s portfolio of indicator species, along with shore crabs, clams, cordgrass, and pickleweed. Abnormal embryo development in the crabs, for instance, has been linked to heavy metal exposure. Anderson says this kind of integrated science—multiple species, multiple sites, field studies linking ecology with toxicology—is the wave of the future. That overworked canary in the mine shaft is going to have lots of company.  





Berkeley This Week

Tuesday January 03, 2006


Learn How to Use Your GPS with Map Software with Jeff Caulfield of National Geographic at 7 p.m. at REI, 1338 San Pablo Ave. 527-4140. 

Family Story Time at 7 p.m. at the Kensington Branch Library, 61 Arlington Ave., Kensington. Free, all ages welcome. 524-3043. 

Red Cross Blood Drive from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Kaiser Permanente, Dining Conference Room, 1950 Franklin St. To schedule an appointment call 1-800-GIVE-LIFE. www.BeADonor.com 

Berkeley Salon Discussion Group meets to discuss “New Years Revolutions” from 7 to 9 p.m. at the BRJCC, 1414 Walnut St. 527-1022. 

Free Handbuilding Ceramics Class 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at St. John’s Senior Center, 2727 College Ave. Materials and firing charges not included. 525-5497. 

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

“Ask the Social Worker” free consultations for older adults and their families from 10 a.m. to noon at BRJCC, 1414 Walnut St. To schedule an appointment call 558-7800, ext. 716. 

St. John’s Prime Timers meets at 9:30 a.m. at St. John’s Presbyterian Church, 2727 College Ave. 845-6830. 

“Faith, Doubt, and Inquiry” with Jack Petranker at 6:15 p.m. at the Tibetan Nyingma Institute, 1815 Highland Pl. 843-6812. www.nyingmainstitute.com 


Community Advisory Group Zeneca/Stauffer Chemical Site meets at 6:30 p.m. in the Bermuda Room, Richmond Convention Center, 403 Civic Center Plaza at Nevin and 25th Sts., Richmond. 540-3923. 

“45 Days: The Life and Death of a Broiler Chicken” Documentaries on animal cruelty at 7 p.m. at Humanist Hall, 390 27th St., Oakland. Donation of $5 suggested.  

Bookmark Reading Group meets to discuss “The Mistress of Spices” by Chitra Divakaruni at 6:30 p.m. at 721 Washington St., Oakland. 336-0902. 

American Red Cross Blood Services Volunteer Orientation from 10 a.m. to noon at its headquarters in Oakland. Volunteers are needed to support the more than 40 blood drives held each month all over the East Bay. For more information call 594-5165. 

Dick Penniman’s Avalanche Safety Lecture at 6 p.m. at REI, 1338 San Pablo Ave. Fee is $20. 527-4140. 

Red Cross Blood Drive from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 1333 Broadway, Oakland, and from 2 to 7 p.m. at Kehilla Synagogue, 1300 Grand Ave., Piedmont. To schedule an appointment call 1-800-GIVE-LIFE. www.BeADonor.com 

Berkeley Communicators Toastmasters welcomes curious guests and new members at 7:15 a.m. at Au Coquelet Cafe, 2000 University Ave. at Milvia. 435-5863.  

Entrepreneurs Networking at 8 a.m. at A’Cuppa Tea, 3202 College Ave. at Alcatraz. Cost is $5. 562-9431.  

Walk Berkeley for Seniors meets every Wednesday at 9:30 a.m. at the Sea Breeze Market, just west of the I-80 overpass. 548-9840. 

Sing your Way Home A free sing-a-long at 4:30 p.m. every Wed. at the Albany Library, 1247 Marin Ave. 526-3720. 

Prose Writer’s Workshop meets at 7 p.m. at BRJCC, 1414 Walnut St. 848-0237. georgeporter@earthlink.net 

Berkeley Peace Walk and Vigil at 6:30 p.m. followed by Peace Walk at 7 p.m. www.geocities.com/vigil4peace/vigil 

Tibetan Yoga with Jack van der Meulen at 6:15 p.m. at Tibetan Nyingma Institute, 1815 Highland Place. 843-6812. 

Introduction to Buddhist Studies at 8 p.m. at Tibetan Nyingma Institute, 1815 Highland Place. 843-6812. 


Choosing a Preschool A workshop on the options at 7 p.m. at Bananas, 5232 Claremont Ave., Oakland. Registration required, 658-7353. 

Learn to Salsa Dance A 4-week class on Thurs. at 7 p.m. at Lake Merritt Dance Center, 200 Grand Ave. Cost is $50, or $15 per class. 415-668-9936. 

World of Plants Tours Thurs., Sat. and Sun. at 1:30 p.m. at the UC Botanical Garden, 200 Centennial Drive. Cost is $5. 643-2755. http://botanicalgarden.berkeley.edu 

“Transforming Negative Habit Patterns” at 6:15 p.m. at the Tibetan Nyingma Institute, 1815 Highland Pl. 843-6812. www.nyingmainstitute.com 


“Wellstone!” a free screening of the documentary about Senator Paul Wellstone, followed by a discussion, at 7 p.m. at St. Joseph the Worker Chuch Chapel, 1640 Addison St. 482-1062. 

“Facing Baseball’s Future: Issues Confronting the Game” at 7 p.m. at Oakland Museum of California, 10th and Oak Sts. 238-3402. www.museumca.org 

Three Beats for Nothing sings early music for fun and practice at 10 a.m. at the North Berkeley Senior Center. 655-8863. 

Red Cross Blood Drive from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at MLK Student Union, UC Campus. To schedule an appointment call 1-800-GIVE-LIFE. www.BeADonor.com 

Berkeley Chess Club meets Fridays at 8 p.m. at the East Bay Chess Club, 1940 Virginia St. Players at all levels are welcome. 845-1041. 

Women in Black Vigil, from noon to 1 p.m. at UC Berkeley, Bancroft at Telegraph. wibberkeley@yahoo.com 548-6310, 845-1143. 

Meditation, Peace Vigil and Dialogue, gather at noon on the grass close to the West Entrance to UC Berkeley, on Oxford St. near University Ave. People of all traditions are welcome to join us. Sponsored by the Buddhist Peace Fellowship. 655-6169. www.bpf.org 

“Developing an Inner Work Toolkit” at 6:15 p.m. at Tibetan Nyingma Institute, 1815 Highland Place. 843-6812. 


Frog and Toad, Are They Really Friends? Find out on a hike at 2 p.m. at the Tilden Nature Center, Tilden Park. 525-2233. 

Kid’s Garden Club for ages 7-12 to explore the world of gardening, from 2 to 4 p.m. at Tilden Nature Area, Tilden Park. Cost is $6-$8, registration required. 636-1684. 

Sick Plant Clinic UC plant pathologist Dr. Robert Raabe, UC entomologist Dr. Nick Mills, and their team of experts will diagnose what ails your plants from 9 a.m. to noon at the UC Botanical Garden, 200 Centennial Dr. 643-2755.  

Help Save the Bay Plant Natives from 9 a.m. to noon at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Regional Shoreline. 452-9261, ext. 109. www.savesfbay.org 

Botanical Wanderings Discover the diverse winter habitat from the hilltops to the marsh at 2 p.m. at the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge in Fremont. For information and directions call 792-0222. 

Progressive Democrats of the East Bay General Meeting with Assemblymember Loni Hancock, to discuss publicly financed election systems, at 11 a.m. at Oakland City Hall Council Chambers, 1 Frank H. Ogawa Plaza, bet. 14th and 15th Sts. at Clay St. 524-4244. www.pdaeastbay.org 

East Bay Atheists will show the documentary “The God Who Wasn’t There” which examines the evidence for the historical Jesus, and concludes he was a mythical figure based on early pagan myths, at 2 p.m. at Berkeley Public Library, 2090 Kittredge St., 3rd floor meeting room. 222-7580. 

Open House and Dance Class with Luna Kids Dance at 9:30 a.m. at Grace North Church, 2138 Cedar St. 644-3629. www.lunakidsdance.com 

Open House at Studio Rasa with sample classes in yoga, pilates, heartbeat dance and many others from 9 a.m. at 7:30 p.m. at 933 Parker St. 843-2787. www.studiorasa.org 

Freedom From Tobacco from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. for six Saturdays. Free hypnosis available. Free, but registration required. 981-5330. quitnow@ci.berkeley.ca.us 

Protest Rally at Berkeley Honda Shattuck and Parker every Thurs. at 4:30 to 6 p.m. and Sat. from 1 to 2 p.m. until the labor dispute is settled.  

Free Garden Tours at Regional Parks Botanic Garden Sat. and Sun. at 2 pm. Regional Parks Botanic Garden, Tilden Park. Call to confirm. 841-8732.  

Spirit Walking Aqua Chi (TM) A gentle water exercise class at 10 a.m. at the Berkeley High Warm Pool. Cost is $3.50 per session. 526-0312. 

Car Wash Benefit for Options Recovery Services of Berkeley, held every Sat. from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Lutheran Church, 1744 University Ave. 666-9552. 

“How to Meditate” from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. p.m. at the Tibetan Nyingma Institute, 1815 Highland Pl. 843-6812. www.nyingmainstitute.com 


Alvarado: River to Ridgetop Ramble Meet at 10 a.m. at the Wildcat/Alvarado staging area off Park Ave. in Richmond to explore the historic area once known as Grand Canyon Park. 525-2233. 

Discussion with Peter Camejo, sponsored by the Green Party of Alameda County at 5 p.m. at Niebyl-Proctor Library, 6501 Telegraph Ave. at 65th St. 

Spiritual Life Skills Workshop and Tree of Life Qi Gong A series of eight classs at 10 a.m. and 11:45 a.m., through Feb. 26 at 5272 Foothill Blvd., Oakland. Cost is $12 per class. To register call 533-5306. 

Lake Merritt Neighbors Organized for Peace Meet at 3 p.m. at the colonnade at the NE end of the lake. 763-8712. lmno4p.org 


National Organization for Women Oakland/East Bay Chapter meets at 6 p.m. at the Oakland YWCA, 1515 Webster St. Redwood Mary and Melinda Kramer, co-founders of Women’s Global Green Action Network will discuss their environmental work. 287-8948. 

“Benefits of Meditation” with Dr. Marshall Zaslove at 7 p.m. at Kensington Library, 61 Arlington Ave., Kensington. 524-3043. 

BYOCraft Night at 8 p.m. at the Living Room Gallery, 3230 Adeline St. 601-5774. 

Sing-A-Long from 10 to 11 a.m. at the Albany Senior Center, 846 Masonic Ave. 524-9122. 

Beginning Bridge Lessons at 11:10 a.m. at the Albany Senior Center, 846 Masonic Ave. Cost is $1. 524-9122. 

Free Small Business Counselling with SCORE, Service Core of Retired Executives at the Berkeley Public Library, 2090 Kittredge. To make an appointment call 981-6244. 

Mentoring Excellence in Management Consultants at 4 p.m. at the Bellvue Club, 525 Bellevue Ave., Oakland. Cost is $35-$50. 800-462-8910. wwwimcnorcal.org 

Tango Lessons with Paulo Araujo from Rio de Janeiro at 6:45 p.m. at the Berkeley Tango Studio. Series of 5 classes costs $60. 655-3585. 

Berkeley CopWatch organizational meeting at 8 p.m. at 2022 Blake St. For information call 548-0425. 


United Way’s Earn it! Keep It! Save It! needs volunteer tax preparers and language interpreters to help low-income families in Alameda County claim tax credits. No previous tax preparation experience is necessary. Training sessions run through mid-January. For more information, call 238-2415. www.earnitkeepitsaveit.org 

Magnes Museum Docent Training begins Jan. 8. Open to all who are interested in Jewish art and history. For information contact Faith Powell at 549-6950 x333. 


Community Environmental Advisory Commission meets Thurs., Jan. 5, at 7 p.m., at 2118 Milvia St. Nabil Al-Hadithy, 981-7461. www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/ 


Housing Advisory Commission meets Thurs., Jan. 5, at 7:30 p.m., at the South Berkeley Senior Center. Oscar Sung, 981-5400. www.ci.berkeley.ca. 


Public Works Commission meets Thurs., Jan. 5, at 7 p.m., at the North Berkeley Senior Center. Jeff Egeberg, 981-6406. www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/commissions/publicworks 

Planning Commission Special Meeting and Tour Sat., Jan. 7, at 9:45 a.m. at McKevitt Volvo-Nissan, 2700 Shattuck Ave. at Derby. Carli Paine, 981-7403. 


Editor’s Note

Friday December 30, 2005

Welcome to this year’s second Reader Contribution Issue. In this issue you will find more submissions from our readers, as well as a few columns from our regular contributors. 

Thank you again to all of you who sent in your essays, poems, fiction, photographs and illustrations.  

Happy New Year from everyone at the Daily Planet.Ê

A West Oakland Visit By Mertis L. Shekeloff

Friday December 30, 2005

“I talked to Elizabeth yesterday. Can you believe she’s 90-years-old? Anyway, she wants to see you,” Mother said on the phone. Miss Elizabeth had been our landlady when I was in junior high school. This was right up my alley—I’m always thrilled to take a walk down Memory Lane. 

I’m a little mushy about my past, Mother is not; she believes in letting the past take care of itself—she’s strictly a NOW person. I’m always trying to get her to take these sentimental journeys to West Oakland with me. Sometimes she agrees to come along, and sometimes she simply refuses. “I’m not interested in seeing those old houses!”  

“Let’s eat lunch at the Senior Center. It’s chicken day ... and we can go visit Miss Elizabeth afterwards,” I said, quickly before she had a chance to think about it. 

“OK, now don’t be late. You know they stop serving at one o’clock.” Mother still talks to me like I was a teenager. If, for example, I were to tell her that I was driving to San Francisco—she herself has refused to go by car or BART since the 1989 earthquake—she’d probably say: “Call me when you get there.” 

When I had a serious operation at San Francisco Hospital five years ago, she took me aside before the surgery and whispered: “Baby, I don’t think I’ll visit while you’re in the hospital. You know how I feel about crossing that bridge!” 

“Really, Mom,” I had said, unbelieving. Before the earthquake, her favorite pastime on Saturdays was taking BART to San Francisco to shop at Macy’s. The quake created a true lifestyle change for her. But the fact was she visited me many times at the hospital and at the rehab facility where I was sent to recuperate for a couple of weeks. She even moved into my house when I left the hospital to nurse me until I recovered. That’s Mom, always pulling through for me no matter what the cost. 

Miss Elizabeth still lived on 14th and Peralta, and it would be a treat to see the old house again. After lunch, I took the slow way to West Oakland and drove past places Mother and I both remembered. We had moved a lot when I was growing up—always into rooms in other people’s houses. 

“Mom, there’s the house you and Grandmother Emma were living in when I first came to California.” I said pointing to a vintage two-story house on my left. I had taken a taxi from the 16th Street Southern Pacific train station. Instead of going directly, the driver had meandered around nearby streets to make a larger fare. When the cab pulled up in front of 1412 14th Street, Mother and Grandmother had run out to greet me. 

“Of course, you didn’t know, baby, but you could have just walked here—the station’s only a couple of blocks away,” Mother said. 

“And the house next to ours belonged to the crazy woman ... you used to play with her children, remember?” 

“Yes. Mom, remember the Hiralez family? I used to help Marguerite Hiralez do housework in exchange for a bowl of that spicy stew her mother used to make.” 

“Uh-huh. Vera and her family lived in the house on the corner ... near Willow Street.” 

We both fell silent at the mention of Vera—my best friend until I left for college. She became Mother’s best friend in later years. She used to take two buses from her senior facility to come play bid whist with Mother almost every day until she went into hospice. 

“Lord, I sure miss Vera.” Mother said. 

“Me, too.” I added. Vera had died of lung cancer a couple of years before.  

I turned left on Campbell Street, drove three blocks and made a left on 11th to see the two story imitation red brick house Grandmother Emma and I had lived in when I was in high school and started junior college. I had left Mother’s when she went back to my stepfather after their brief separation. 

“It’s up to you. You have to choose between him and me. If you go back with him, I’m gonna live with Grandmother,” I had challenged. 

She chose to be with him. 

“Mom, look at Miss Sadie’s house! Isn’t it a shame?” I yelled, surprised to see that what was once, one of the best kept houses on the block, was now boarded up ... empty ... looking like it had suffered many decades of neglect. I could have wept. 

“Mom, look at those black bars! There weren’t any when Grandmother lived there.” 

It occurs to me that we never worried about robbers ... break-ins or leaving the front door unlocked. It seemed, I remember, we didn’t worry about personal safety ... the streets were safe. The house once belonged to Sadie and Jessie Rodgers, a couple my family knew back in Monroe, La. As a kid, it seemed that the whole of Monroe had moved to Oakland. We had the same friends here as there. I drove slowly by Sadie’s house, remembering that she never complained, as she had to the other roomers, about my using too much electricity. 

“Sadie wants you to study,” Grandmother Emma had explained when I asked about it.  

At Peralta Street, I made a left turn to 14th Street. Miss Elizabeth’s house had not kept up with the surge of remodeling now going on around it. Peralta Street, it seemed, was emerging from the drug induced slump it fell into in recent years. Two houses across the street were being handsomely remodeled. The one on the left of our old address was being renovated by a young white woman who smiled as we parked next door. There had been a white family living there when we first moved to Miss Elizabeth’s in the late ‘40s. I remember a pretty young girl around my age running up and down the long stairway, tossing her blonde hair, and never looking my way; nor did she ever speak to us—not once. Soon after we came, the family moved away, silently, in the night.  

There was a long stretch of stairs to climb to the front door. Mother reached it first and rang the doorbell. Miss Elizabeth opened the door in her wheelchair. She managed with the assistance of a younger 87-year-old sister, she told us later. Mother and I stood in the foyer; I gave Miss Elizabeth a big friendly smile while steadying myself with my cane. Miss Elizabeth’s smile froze as she looked me up and down. Hesitant. Puzzled. 

She looked good: unwrinkled and with a good skin tone. 

“You don’t look like the Louise I remember,” she said, trying to come to terms with the aging grey and crippled woman standing before her. Her eyes avoided mine throughout the visit. Mother ... embarrassed? ... attempted to explain my condition—why I didn’t look younger and prettier, something more like the pretty young teenager who had lived downstairs. I was beginning to feel a bit uncomfortable. 

“Well, you know,” Mother said, coming to my defense, “I was only 14 when I had Louise. So she’s in her 70s now. And she had an operation where she was cut from here to here,” she said, using her own neck to demonstrate the surgeon’s cut. To her, I was still that skinny young girl of 13 whom she had to protect ... letting no one get the best of me, if she could help it. She would do for me what she hadn’t been able to do for herself.  

Miss Elizabeth and Mother fell into easy conversation recalling the whereabouts of people who had lived downstairs with us, most of whom were now dead. 

“How long has Kenny been dead?” I interrupted. Kenny had been Miss Elizabeth’s husband; I had fond memories of him. A friendly white southerner, and a welder in a shipyard. When I came up from downstairs to talk with him, he was usually lying in bed, shirtless, reading the newspaper in the bedroom across from the kitchen. Miss Elizabeth did not talk much. She usually went about her chores while Kenny and I talked about school, what he was reading or anything else we happened to think of. 

He held the paper with both hands, and my eyes were sometimes riveted on his pink arms, where a mosaic of tiny red burn marks (stray sparks from his welding machine) had amassed for my wonderment. His gold rimmed glasses rested on a crimson, pear shaped nose. Everyone agreed that what Kenny lacked in looks was more than compensated for by his ability to provide. 

Miss Elizabeth twisted her mind and face in a struggle to remember the date of Kenny’s demise; at last she gave up trying: “I can’t remember,” she said, defeated in the effort. 

“You know Kenny always said that of all the children downstairs, Louise was the only one who would make something of herself—the others wouldn’t be shit—EVEN IF HER MOTHER WAS ALWAYS RUNNING THE STREETS.” Mother recalled. “Well, I told him that it was none of his business.” Miss Elizabeth nodded in agreement.  

“Miss Elizabeth—mind if I look out the back door to see the garden?” I asked. 

“Help yourself,” she said.  

Getting to the back door was not as easy as I supposed. Long ago washed towels and linens was strewn everywhere, hanging limply on collapsible wooden dryers, piled high on stored extra chairs ... Outside, two steps down was a sitting porch ... a deck of sorts... with a couple of mismatched over stuffed chairs for sunning. The houses next door and in front had the same decks. So close, they almost touched. No garden as such, only a few patches of unmowed grass ... essentially a dog run for the barking and mean-looking pit bull who had seen me and was now coming up the back stairs, towards me. I wasn’t sure if he could get past the makeshift barrier constructed to keep him from Miss Elizabeth’s section ... if it would be sufficient. I bolted back inside the house. 

Mother was ready to go home; she needed to take her breathing treatment, she said. We hugged Miss Elizabeth and said good-bye, promising to visit again ... soon. 

In the car on our way back to Berkeley, I remembered a question a friend had asked me the day before. I popped the hypothetical question to Mother: “Mom,” I said, “what would you have advised me to do if I had been chased home from school by a bully?”  

“I guess I would have told you to go to the principal and report it,” she said. “I remember Mary Williams beating ME up every day and taking my lunch money when I was a young girl. When I told Grandma Millie about it, she went to the yard and found a stick for me to take to school the next day. ‘I want you to hide this in the grass somewhere along the way home,’ she said, and then she went in the kitchen and filled a small cotton tobacco pouch with salt and pepper. ‘I want you to pin this to your dress, and if Mary follows you and tries to take your money, just lead her to the place where you hid the stick. Throw the salt and pepper in her face, get the stick and beat the hell out of her!’ I did exactly like she said, and you know what?” 

“What?” I asked. 

“Me and Mary became the best of friends after that!”  

“What if I HAD told the principal, but nothing happened and the person still bullied me?” I said, getting back to the point. 

“Then I’d go take care of it myself!” Mother said, defiantly.  

“I know why you advised me to go to the principal and not fight as Mama Millie told YOU to do.” 

“Well, sometimes there’s a better way to handle things.” 

“You didn’t tell me to fight because you didn’t think I would win, huh?” I continued, with the gusto of a 13-year-old who had caught on to adult tricks.  

“Yeah, you're right,” Mother admitted.  





About a Gorilla By Sherry Bridgman

Friday December 30, 2005

With a three-foot acacia branch, Bwana, the then massive male gorilla at the S.F. Zoo sits down, shucks the leaves off and stuffs them in his mouth and begins to chew. 

The gorilla is the largest and most robust of all the primates. The head being particularly massive, with a low forehead. In males the head is peaked, due to a well-developed sagittal crest, on which are attached the powerful muscles of the lower jaw which he uses to chew the tough leaves of the acacia. 

For many years my office at the zoo looked directly on to the Gorilla Grotto. Bwana was the dominant silverback male along with the three female gorillas. 

The Gorilla Grotto was all concrete. It was built many years ago with the thinking of making zoo exhibits sanitary. 

The keeper would give the gorillas burlap bags, which they dragged around, sometimes using them as a wrap around their necks, or over their heads, but when they decided to rest they would spread the bags out on the concrete and sit. 

Bwana was such a gentle gorilla; he very rarely chased the females, or threw things. What he did do that was so extraordinary was sit on his burlap bag looking very much like ‘the thinker’, with his massive knuckles propped under his chin. I would hear many zoo visitors remark to the likes of this. Then there would be times when zoo visitors would begin to tease the gorillas. Yelling, laughing and acting like apes themselves. But some would persist in their antics until Bwana had enough. He would get up from his ‘thinking’ position and turn his silverback to the teasers, which, of course made them holler more. Luckily a keeper or the director himself would come flying out of the nearby office with a stern warning not to tease the animals. There were signs all over the zoo about not teasing the animals, but over the years you find out people don’t read signs or think they don’t apply to them. 

OSHA came out for an inspection of the zoo. One of the things that they wanted done was to make steps down the side of the grotto to the moat, so the keeper would have a safer way of getting down to the moat for cleaning. The gorillas were locked up in their night quarters for almost two weeks while city workmen put in the steps. The director was furious that they took so long; he hated having the gorillas locked inside in their small quarters. 

The workmen put a railing in along with the steps, plus some large rocks to make it look more aesthetic. Finally, the concrete dried and they let the gorillas outside. They went over to inspect the steps. First they ripped out the railing, then they pulled out the volley-ball sized rocks and began to throw them in the moat where they broke up into smaller pieces that they then hurled to the walkway where visitors stand to view the gorillas. (What people don’t know about large apes like the gorilla is that they are five-times stronger than the strongest person.) 

Up went the yellow tape, trying to keep the people from being stoned. The keeper tried to get them back in their night quarters, but no luck there. They were not about to go in until their dinnertime around 4:30 p.m. The gorillas were again locked up for another week, the workmen called back to repair their sloppy work under the guidance of the zoo director. 

About a year later the then zoo director secured a large grant to construct a new larger gorilla enclosure with grass, trees, rocks and a rock water fall. He offered the contractor a bonus if he got if finished earlier. And he did. New Gorilla World went up in record time to the delight of all the staff and the director, and zoo-goers. 




The Secret Ingredient By RUBY LONG

Friday December 30, 2005

Soon after Ruff joined our household, my husband and I hosted a family event to introduce him to everyone.  

I would never have chosen Ruff as a name for our dog. For one thing, I can’t stand Dennis the Menace and for another, a handsome boxer like him deserved something more dignified—Clarence, maybe, or Nigel. Or a name related to the sport—Max, say, or Rocky. Not Ruff. But you can’t look a gift horse, or in this case a gift dog, in the mouth, so when we were offered 2-year-old purebred Ruff, we took him, name and all. He was a good-natured dog and we thought he would be a good companion for the child we were expecting. 

The neighbors who gave Ruff to us showed long faces as they offered him and made the excuse that they hated to lose him but were moving to a place too small for a dog. But I suspect that after we said yes they went inside and celebrated. I imagine them chortling and high-fiving each other at having gotten rid of him. They had had a lot of trouble keeping him in their yard and were probably tired of the struggle. 

He was a beautiful dog, with a muzzle like black velvet, but he had never had any training and had always been allowed to roam. My husband and I had both grown up with dogs and were sure we could train him. Since there was a strong board fence around our yard, keeping him home presented no problem for us. He would have plenty of room to exercise on our big lawn, we reasoned, and no need to wander. We would find out later how naively optimistic and wrong on all counts we were. But he was part of our family now and we wanted everyone to meet him. 

The day before our event, I shopped for dinner supplies. I put a lot of thought into the menu and chose a nice roast, small, sweet carrots and firm, brown potatoes. They all went into the fridge as soon as I got home, to keep them as fresh as possible. I made two apple pies and put them in there, too.  

The next day we worked in the yard, making it look as good as possible for the family’s visit. My husband mowed the lawn and we arranged the furniture on the patio so we’d be able to sit outside after dinner. When we were finished, my husband went off to visit with the neighbors. I got the roast out of the refrigerator and unwrapped it. It was at that moment I discovered, to my dismay, that I didn’t have a pan large enough to hold it.  

I’ll make a quick run to Wanda’s, I thought, as I headed for the front door. I’m sure she’ll have a big roasting pan. She’s always having company for dinner.  

Wanda, about 15 years older than I, lived two doors from us and I often borrowed things from her. Sure enough, she had a big pan I could use. I took it and dashed back to my house, anxious to get the meat in the oven. 

In my kitchen once again, I washed the pan out, set it upside down to drain and reached for the roast. But there was no roast on the counter. I could have sworn I had left it there, sitting on paper towels. I looked in the refrigerator. No roast. I looked in the garbage. Yes, the butcher paper the roast had been wrapped in was there. But where was the roast? As I stood, puzzling over how 10 pounds of meat could fly out of my kitchen, a movement in the back yard caught my eye. I half laughed, half cried at what I saw. There was Ruff, our dinner roast in his teeth, chowing down for what must have been his answered prayer, his dream meal come true.  

“Ruff,” I yelled at him. “Put that down.”  

I ran out and took the meat from his jaws. I inspected the damage. I wondered how I was going to tell my husband’s midwestern family, used to having meat three times a day, that this would be a vegetarian dinner. Ruff watched me with disappointed, accusatory eyes as I brought the roast, covered with bits of grass and dog slobbers, bits of paper towel still clinging to it, back into the kitchen. It doesn’t look so bad for all that, I decided as I gave it a good inspection. Only a small bit shows signs of being chewed on. If I wash this off, no one will know its history and the story of its rescue. Plus, I rationalized further, the oven temperature will be hot enough to kill any dog germs.  

So that’s what I did. I washed the roast carefully, getting all the grass off, turned the oven up high and stuck the meat in.  

Everyone said it was a delicious dinner. And when they commented on how tender the roast was, I kept my eyes lowered and said, “Thank you.” I never told anyone about my secret meat tenderizing method. And Ruff didn’t say a word, either. 




Supermarket Love By JUDY WELLS

Friday December 30, 2005

Last week at Whole Foods 

as I was reaching 

into the refrigerated shelves 

for the coldest tofu 

with the most future 

expiration date 

a yellow gloved hand 

from the other side 

laid itself on mine. 

I nearly jumped a mile. 

“Oh sorry!” said a woman’s voice 

from the other side. 

A man behind me laughed. 


This week as I walked by 

the same tofu 


I heard a disembodied voice 

from the other side say, 

“I needed you, 

and you have never 

been there 

for me once.” 

“Yes, I have,” 

I wanted to protest. 

“Last week!” 


Elderly Woman Arrested in West Berkeley Shooting By RICHARD BRENNEMAN

Friday December 30, 2005

A 78-year-old Berkeley woman was arrested early last Friday morning after she allegedly shot another woman in the abdomen near the corner of Sacramento and Russell streets. 

Police dispatchers received a call reporting the shooting at 4:49 a.m., and arrived to find the 36-year-old victim suffering from a minor wound. She was taken to the Highland Hospital emergency room in Oakland, where she was treated and released. 

Police arrested Ruth May Thomas on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon—a .32-caliber revolver—and two related charges. She was taken to a psychiatric hospital for observation, then transferred to the Santa Rita County Jail in Dublin. 

“She just walked up and shot this younger girl and we still don’t know why,” said Officer Shira Warren, the Berkeley Police Department’s acting public information officer. 

Thomas was arraigned on one count of assault with a deadly weapon on Thursday the 29th, along with two so-called enhancements that can lead to a more severe sentence—use of a firearm in commission and causing great bodily injury, said Alameda County prosecutor Chris Lamiero.  

The alleged shooter has no known criminal record, said Lamiero. 

Column: The Public Eye: Ten Christmas Wishes By Bob Burnett

Friday December 30, 2005

Dear Santa, 

Here are 10 political wishes that you can grant and make my Christmas.  


10. Come out of hiding, Al Gore. The Democratic Party needs you as their environmental spokesperson. After Hurricane Katrina, and the other disastrous storms of 2005, the American people don’t have to be convinced that there’s a problem with global climate change. They need to know what to do. You understand this. Your speech, “When there is no vision, the people perish,” was a superb first step. Al, you can provide the leadership that the party and the nation need to deal with this peril. Come out, come out, wherever you are. 


9. Let go, John Kerry. You’re acting out the lyrics from Lucinda Williams’ song, “Well it’s over, I know it, but I can’t let go.” You lost your bid for the presidency. You couldn’t defeat an inept president who made one disastrous mistake after another. It’s over. Quit acting as if you’re the leader of the Democratic Party. You aren’t even the leader of the Senate minority. You had your chance. Please don’t run again. Let go, John. 

8. Get a job, Bill Clinton. Charging thousands of dollars for inspirational speeches isn’t a real job. It’s celebrity fluff. How about taking on a challenge? Rebuild your reputation by making a contribution that will strengthen America. The aftermath of Hurricane Katrina left a mess that the Bush administration is unwilling to clean up. America needs the kind of leadership that you can provide. Move to New Orleans. Become our champion for the reconstruction. Bring us together. Take on a real job, Bill. It’s way too early for you to retire to a life of Oprah appearances and golf. 


7. Get out, Joe Lieberman. The Democratic Party has a big tent but no more room for you. Either quit backing President Bush and blasting your fellow Dems, or leave the party. You’re worse than an irritant. You are an embarrassment. Your statements seem scripted by Karl Rove. You’re not a “centrist” Dem. You are a Republican. Get out of the party, Joe. 


6. Get a grip, Hillary Clinton. It’s time for you to quit being coy about your position on Iraq. The Democratic Party needs leadership in 2006 and you can provide it. You have an easy re-election campaign for the Senate. No harm will come to you by taking a strong position on Iraq. Support John Murtha’s position. America needs a leader not another fundraiser-in-chief. Get a grip, Hillary. 


5. Leave town, Howard Dean. You’ve heard it said, “they can take the boy out of the country, but they can’t take the country out of the boy.” That’s the problem with your new job as DNC chair. It keeps you in Washington when you really should be working full-time with grass-roots activists. The heart of the party isn’t in D.C. It’s in the rest of the country—the sane part. There’s a lot of anger out here in the boonies. It needs to be harnessed. You can provide this leadership. Get out of D.C. town, Howard. 


4. Get an agenda, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid. A laundry list of scintillating ideas isn’t an agenda—it’s detritus from brainstorming sessions conducted by overpaid Washington consultants. The country needs a few clear notions about who Democrats are. Help us out. What do the Dems stand for besides not being Bushites? Get a real agenda, Nancy and Harry. 


3. Convert to Christianity, George Bush. Abandon the fundamentalist pabulum you’ve been spouting—the “Weekly Reader” summary of the Old Testament and the Book of Revelations. Read the Gospels. Pay attention to the teachings of Jesus: The admonition to tell the truth. Not to murder. To care for the poor. Step into the light, George. Before it’s too late for you to save your soul. 


2. Pay attention, Congress. While you’re obsessed with garnering the next big contribution, the country is going down the drain. There’s this guy Osama bin Laden and his band of thugs, Al Qaeda. While you’re wasting our money on a pointless war in Iraq, they’re gaining momentum. By the way, the people down in New Orleans who got left behind in the flight from Hurricane Katrina are still left behind. One more thing, there’s this country named China. They’re about to eat our lunch. Do your job, Congress. Pay attention. 


1. Wake up, America. Democracy isn’t a spectator sport. Eternal vigilance isn’t a video game. Everything you really care about is slipping away. It’s not just about you. It’s about your family and friends—everyone you love. Wake up, America, the bad guys are winning. 


Thanks Santa. If you grant my wishes I promise to be good for at least a week. 



Bob Burnett is a Berkeley writer and activist. He can be reached at bobburnett@comcast.net. 



Column: The View From Here: Tookie and Tina: A Christmas Carol By P.M. Price

Friday December 30, 2005

“That’s the way the Tookie crumbles,” jokes KGO’s Pete Wilson on his San Francisco-based radio show the day before Stanley Tookie Williams is scheduled to die. Upon hearing Wilson’s snide, callous attempt at humor, I am incensed. Even if considered guilty, as Wilson believes him to be, does that make Williams undeserving of even the most basic courtesy and respect as he faces the last few hours of his life? 

One reason it was so easy for so many not to feel any sympathy for Stanley Williams was due to the limited range of media images depicting a huge, glaring black man with bulging hair and even bigger biceps. There were no photographs of the child Tookie or of the misdirected teenager who formed a gang. No words or pictures of his wife, children, siblings, parents, grandparents; nothing to even remotely imply that we could have anything in common with this dark, hulking monster of a man. The Tookie photos brought to mind the purposely darkened Time magazine cover of the accused O.J. Simpson. I suppose the thinking was that the darker a black man’s skin, the scarier he is and more deserving of harsh judgment and severe punishment.  

American corporate media—which controls most of what we see, hear and read—tells us who we should care about and who should remain invisible; whose disappearance, rape or murder is noteworthy and whose is not worth mentioning; who we should laugh at; who we should feel sorry for; who we should love; who we should hate and even who should be paired with whom.  

It defines what the so-called majority thinks and therefore how we should think as well. If there are dissenters among us, they are usually painted as unpatriotic, crazy or so marginal that they should not even matter. The media also dictates who is attractive and who isn’t; it doesn’t matter whether the blond hair, big breasts and swollen lips are real or fake—it’s all about the visuals, baby. It’s all about what corporate America believes sells more products. In this consumer-driven society, image is everything. 

Which brings me to a woman I’ll call Tina, my family’s sole dinner guest at this season’s Christmas dinner. Tina was a neighbor many years ago, with a factory job and a family. One day the factory let her go and part of her mind went with the lost job. Unable to keep up with the mortgage payments, she eventually lost her home. Her family dispersed and she took to the streets, living in her car and taking care of the lawns of her former neighbors, including mine.  

Tina is a small-framed woman, a bit scruffy but clean. A red kerchief frames her smooth, youthful brown skin. Beneath her worried expression her features are delicate: you can see that she was once quite beautiful. It’s not difficult to imagine her laughing, flirting, having a good old time within a circle of friends: home at last from a hard days’ work; ready to eat, drink and play a rousing hand of gin rummy or dance to Martha and the Vandellas blasting from the radio. 

This Tina, grey-haired, brown-toothed Gardener Tina, is rarely without her favorite words of wisdom, dispensed with the turning of soil, the trimming of dead branches.  

“Vitamin C! That’s what you need. 2,000 grams. Every day. Cures everything you got.” 

As I trudged past Tina on Christmas Eve and headed up my front steps, arms laden with groceries, she asked me, “Are you-all cooking Christmas dinner tomorrow?” 

“Yes,” I replied, wondering what she was really asking. As I continued to the door she let me know. 

“Can I come by for a plate?” 

“Yes, of course,” I replied, immediately feeling guilty that I had not offered first. 

When my children learned that Tina was joining us for Christmas dinner, they were not thrilled. “What’s wrong?” I inquired. They shrugged. “I just don’t feel comfortable around her,” said one. “She smells funny,” said the other.  

“You kids need to be more welcoming,” I admonished. “You know Tina. It’s not like she’s going to hurt you or anything.” 

“Yeah,” my son agreed. “But she talks about all this weird stuff.”  

Yeah. She does. 

“We have eight personalities and two hearts,” Tina announces between the last spoon of gumbo and the first forkful of turkey. “One good heart and one that’s wicked...” 

My kids exchange glances. Here we go... 

“There are four blood types in the whole world,” Tina goes on. 

“I have type O,” I contribute. 

“There are four blood types,” she repeats, glaring at me for interrupting her. “And each type has a positive side and...” 

“I’m O positive,” I insert. She glances at me, incredulous at this second interruption. 

“And each blood type has a positive side and a wicked side,” she finishes with a flourish. 

“Oh.” One by one, my family members finish their meal and mumble their “excuse me’s” leaving me at the table to deal with Tina alone. So much for their Christmas lesson in charity and compassion. They’ve got new iPods waiting. 

Tina follows me into the kitchen, talking along while I wash the dishes. 

“I didn’t want to say this in front of the kids,” Tina confides conspiratorially, “but if your pubic area is thumping then you need to have sex. It relieves this area right here ... in the back of your head, of stress.” 

She gestures to the area between the back of her head and neck. 

“That’s why homosexuals aren’t meant to have sex because their kind of sex doesn’t relieve the stress in back of the head right.”  

“You mean they’re under a lot of stress? Maybe they should have more sex, then.” 

This remark of hers calls for some clarification. 

“No, no,” Tina shakes her head. “What they need to do is to take more Vitamin C.” 


“And one more thing,” she cautions me. “If your pubic area is thumping it doesn’t necessarily mean you need to have sex. It means you’re lucky and should be at the casino ... it happened to me...” 

“You won some money?” I ask. 

“No, I didn’t play but they called my number and I would’ve won,” she laughs. 

“And I want to tell you about Stanley Tookie Williams,” Tina says, abruptly changing subjects. “He was innocent. And now he’s in heaven. He’s just fine.” 

“Why do you think they killed him?” I ask, curious about how much she knew about the case. 

“What about all those white men who raped and killed little girls, cut their heads open and even ate people? They didn’t kill them!” (Actually, it is interesting to note that Williams was not executed for killing any black folks.) 

Tina is hot. “They’re still following slavery,” she says, adamantly. “They haven’t let go of slavery!” 


What do we believe about the homeless people who populate our communities? That they are lazy or drug and alcohol addicted? That they should have tried harder? That it is somehow their fault that they are without homes, adequate food and clothing? Or just that they smell bad and shouldn’t be invited to dinner? How do we judge them? And how would we like to be judged? 

This is the most time I’ve spent talking with Tina. It was interesting and she could be quite amusing, sometimes intentionally so. Apparently she reads a lot and keeps up with current events. I wonder if Tina votes? 

I’ll ask her tomorrow when she comes back for seconds. 


A Guide to Bay Area New Year’s Eve Celebrations By KEN BULLOCK Special to the Planet

Friday December 30, 2005

A plethora of local and internationally known favorites will ring in 2006 around Berkeley and the bay, with an array of festivities to choose from: nostalgia to glitz, humor to hillbilly music, jazz to DJs, cruise to battle ships, circus to Japanese bell-ringing. Prices also vary from high ticket extravagance, to high or low culture on the cheap, or for free.  

Among the free events is San Francisco Chamber Orchestra’s concert with special guests, the Jacques Thibaud String Trio from Berlin, 8 p.m. at the First Congregational Church on Channing Way. Dedicated to the late Edgar Braun, SFCO director for over 40 years, the program will begin the group’s 53rd season with works by Mozart, variations on Mozart’s “La Ci la Mana” from Don Giovanni by Beethoven and Franz Danzi, and 20th century music by Jean Francaix and Osvaldo Golijov (an homage to Astor Piazzola). Like the majority of SFCO concerts, admission is free; reserved seating available for associate members. For more information, call (415) 248-1640 or see www.sfchamberorchestra.org. 

At the more lavish end of the scale, the San Francisco Symphony (415-552-8000) hosts a formal party at Davies Hall, with performances by Broadway stars Christiane Noll, Doug LaBrocque and William Michals, with dancing before and after to The Martini Bros, Peter Mintun’s Orchestra and Soul University. 

A New Year’s bash in the Berlin of the Weimar Republic, onstage and off, will be featured by the Shotgun Players in a special performance of Cabaret at the Ashby Stage (841-6500), followed by a dance and holiday partying. The musical spotlights a New Year’s countdown in the Kit Kat Klub on the brink of the end to the Roaring ‘20s. The spirited cast interacts with the audience throughout, and shares the dance floor with them in all-out “carpe diem” style. 

Cabaret, pure and simple, will be served up royally in San Francisco when Lorna Luft plays The Plush Room (415-885-2800), and Weslia Whitfield holds forth with Mike Greensill at the piano at The New Conservatory Theater (415-861-8972), Van Ness and Market. 

Jazz will ring in the new at many clubs and restaurants around the Bay, including the David Jeffrey Fourtet at the Albatross Pub (843-2473) on San Pablo Avenue near University ($7), and in San Francisco at Pearl’s (415-291-8255) with Kim Nalley. The Richard Harris Trio will play on Pier 23 (415-362-5125). Dixieland will resound in North Beach with Mal Sharpe at Enrico’s (415-982-6223) and as part of an all-day New Orleans Carnival at Andrew Jaeger’s House of Seafood and Jazz (415-781-8222) in the old Condor ($5-25). Yoshi’s (238-9200) at Jack London Square in Oakland will host Latin master trumpeter Arturo Sandoval. 

Jesus Diaz and His Bay Area AfroCuban Allstars will fuel the dancing at La Peña (849-2568) on Shattuck Avenue ($25). For Blues, R&B and Funk, the reopened Eli’s Mile High Club (654-6124) in Oakland features Baron Edwards’ Motown Revue ($10), while nearby Jimmie’s (268-8445) has Disco Dave and Don Mitchell ($20-30). In San Francisco, North Beach’s oldest boite, The Saloon (415-989-7666) hosts old pro Curtis Lawson ($10), while Biscuits ‘n Blues puts up “Godson of Soul” Marvin Banks, an Afrofunk Shakedown at The Elbo Room (415-552-7788), and Oscar Myers & Steppin’ at The Boom Boom Room (415-861-5016).  

Freight and Salvage (548-1761) celebrates with Bluegrass faves High Country ($27.50) and San Francisco’s Cafe Du Nord (415-861-5016) has a Super Hillbilly Hoedown ($20). Good old Rock-&-Roll, Folk and related beats at the Starry Plough (841-2082) on Shattuck with Dave Mo’re & The Bluesdrivers and The Happy Clams ($8). Blakes (848-0886) on Telegraph will feature a Medicine Show (four bands, “belly dancers, fortune tellers and other oddities” $15). Meanwhile, Phil Lesh and the John Mayer Trio will be at San Francisco’s Bill Graham Civic Auditorium (415-974-4060), while innovators The Mermen celebrate their 10th New Year’s at the Beach Chalet (415-386-8439) for $25 a ticket. 

Decadenal nostalgia flowers in ‘80s fashion in San Francisco’s SOMA as the Cherry Bar (415-974-1585) features “New Wave Eve” with DJs and live music ($25), while a few blocks away, “1984” at The Cat Club (415-703-8964) offers all that plus a “classic 80s video game arcade” ($30-$25 in ‘80’s wear). 

For the ultimate holiday nostalgia, Irving Berlin’s White Christmas will stage its final night at The Orpheum (415-512-7770). 

The Glitz is out with SOMA’s Levende (415-864-5585) transforming into Sin City with “Vegas, Baby!” featuring lounge comics, showgirls (The Blackjack Girls), dead celebrity lookalike appearances (Elvis, Liberace, Siegfried & Roy, The Rat Pack), DJs and live music and something not off the Strip: nouvelle cuisine and a complimentary champagne or Red Bull toast. The Rat Pack is re-enacted in The Tribute to Frank, Sammy, Joey and Dean, created by Sandy Hackett, Buddy’s son, at the Post St. Theatre (1-800-348-8499). A stranger, more recent nostalgia fuels “New Year’s Eve On Fantasy Island” with hosts Cody The Pimp and Bobby Montalban at the Castro’s Lingba Lounge (415-355-0001). 

Celebrations get out on the water with a romantic cruise under the fireworks aboard the S.F. Spirit (415-453-9001) from Pier 9, or on the USS Hornet (521-8448) at Alameda Point, with swing-dancing to Cab Calloway’s Orchestra, zoot suits and military apparel encouraged.  

The Pickle Family Circus presents an afternoon family show of “High Water Radio” at the Palace of Fine Arts (415-567-6642)—which later that night will feature Comedy Countdown, headlining Mark Cross. Other comedy shows include Black Comedy Explosion with D. I. Hughley and others at the Oakland Paramount (763-7308) and Marga Gomez and Nick Leonard at the Mission’s Victoria Theatre (415-581-3500) with “Stand-Up At Its Gayest,” produced by Theater Rhino. 

The 10th annual Japanese Bell-Ringing ceremony will take place at San Francisco’s Asian Art Museum (415-863-7576) from 11 a.m.-1 p. m. to ring out the old in Buddhist style, with bamboo flute playing, children’s arts and crafts, and ceremonies ($6-10). A quick search didn’t turn up any Scottish Hogmanay celebration (no Robert Burns? No “Auld Lang Syne,” nor haggis?)—though San Francisco’s Edinburgh Castle (415-885-4074) cheerfully reports that it’ll be open, tuneful and free. 

Many clubs, restaurants and bars everywhere will be featuring some kind of celebration, cheap or for free. But a special mention goes to the Stork Club (444-6174) on Telegraph Avenue in Oakland, which last week advertising being “Open For Suggestions” and, on being asked midweek who was on for New Year’s, announced, “Nobody—and it’s free!” 





Forty Years of Donovan By Patrick T. Keilch

Friday December 30, 2005

Just in time for the December holidays and the New Year, musical troubadour Donovan is releasing The Autobiography of Donovan: The Hurdy Gurdy Man.  

The 288-page book with many photos, published by St. Martin’s Press, very personally chronicles the 59-year life and times of Donovan. He tells many colorful stories and thoughts from growing up in a hard working-class neighborhood of Glasglow, Scotland, as it recovered from heavy Nazi bombing in World War II, to performing on the world musical stage beginning at age 18 in the mid-1960s. 

The autobiography is also accompanied by the release of a new deluxe box set of three CDs and one DVD entitled “Try for the Sun.” Both are available at local stores. 

The new book and boxed set help celebrate the 40th anniversary of Donovan’s musical career which began in 1965 when he sang “Catch the Wind” on a London TV show. Donovan was initially known as a folk singer, influenced by artists such as Woody Guthrie, while the influence of British bands like the Beatles and the Rolling Stones and American folk artists like Bob Dylan and Joan Baez was spreading widely. 

In addition to his new book and package of music and film, Donovan also kicked off the holiday season and his new “Hurdy Gurdy Concert Tour” with a Bay Area concert on Thanksgiving eve. 

Introduced as a Celtic poet at the concert, Donovan Leitch, a child of the British Isles, grew up in Scotland, moved to London with his family, and later settled in rural Ireland. Playing to an enthusiastic audience at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco, Donovan treated the audience to a wide variety of some of his 1960s hits such as “Catch the Wind,” “Colours,” “Sunshine Superman,” “Mellow Yellow,” “Hurdy Gurdy Man,” “There is a Mountain,” the dramatic “Atlantis” as well as diverse songs he has penned and performed in the decades since. 

Several of these songs were among the 15 top hit songs Donovan wrote from the 1960s to the 1970s. His songs are notable for their mix of message, bohemian atmosphere, humor, romance, and the mystical. 

One timely song sung by Donovan at the Bay Area event, enthusiastically applauded and cheered by the audience, was “Universal Soldier,” for which Donovan warmly credited its author, Native American folk singer Buffy St. Marie. Recalling the Vietnam war in the 1960s, when “Universal Solider” was popular, Donovan noted that the song’s powerful anti-war lyrics are still highly relevant to the wars of today. 

Born in 1946, Donovan looked fit and healthy at the Bay Area concert, as he continues his 40-year musical career. To the degree appearance matters, he wore a simple peach-colored shirt, black slacks, and white shoes, much more simple than in past years—but still had long hair. 

With the style of a poet, Donovan introduced songs, made amusing observations, and told colorful tales throughout much of the show. He was backed by a solid four-piece band of a lead guitarist, acoustic bassist, drummer, and piano player who occasionally jazzed songs up with a smokey saxophone. An acoustic string trio joined in at times. The band members were all from the Bay Area and, along with Donovan, had the audience standing and singing along by the end of the 40th anniversary concert. 


Arts Calendar

Friday December 30, 2005



Magician Jay Alexander at noon and 1:30 p.m. at Lawrence Hall of Science, Centennial Drive. Cost is $5.50-$9.50. 642-5132. 


Shotgun Players “Cabaret” Thurs. - Sun. at 8 p.m. at the Ashby Stage, 1901 Ashby Ave. Through Jan. 29. 841-6500.  


King Wawa and the Oneness Kingdom Band, a pre-celebration of Haitian Independence, at 8 p.m. at La Peña Cultural Center. Cost is $15. 849-2568.  

Tanaora Brasil at 8 p.m. at Anna’s Jazz Island, 2120 Allston Way. Cost is $7. 841-JAZZ.  

Lucky Otis at 9:30 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Swing dance lesson at 8 p.m. Cost is $11-$13. 525-5054.  

Jennifer Lee Quartet, at 9 p.m. at Downtown. 649-3810.  

Free Persons Quartet at 8 p.m. at Caffe Trieste, 2500 San Pablo Ave. 548-5198.  

Philip Rodriguez and Colin Carthen at 7:30 p.m. at Nomad Cafe, 6500 Shattuck Ave. 595-5344.  

Nuclear Rabbit, all ages show, at 9:30 p.m. at The Starry Plough. Cost is $6. 841-2082.  

Burial Year, Bafabegiya, Acts of Sedition at 8 p.m. at 924 Gilman St. Cost is $7. 525-9926. 

Arturo Sandoval at 8 and 10 p.m. at Yoshi’s at Jack London Square, through Sun. Cost is $22-$26. 238-9200.  



San Francisco Chamber Orchestra New Year’s Celebration in Memory of Edgar Braun at 8 p.m. at First Congregational Church, 2345 Channing Way. www.sfchamberorchestra.org 

Bobi Cespedes & Her Trio at 7 and 10 p.m. at Anna’s Jazz Island, 2120 Allston Way. Includes Cuban dinner. Call for details. 841-JAZZ. 

New Year’s Eve Party at 9:30 p.m. at The Starry Plough. 841-2082.  

Paul Mooney, “The Full Moon” comedy, at The Black Rep, 3201 Adleine St. For ticket information call 652-2120. www.blackrepertorygroup.com 

New Year’s Eve Balkan Bash with Anoush, Edessa and Brass Menagerie at 8 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cost is $20. 525-5054.  

Jesus Diaz and Afro-Cuban All Stars at 9:30 p.m.at La Peña. Cost is $23-$25. 849-2568. www.lapena.org 

Johnny Steele’s Hilarity Hoedown and Jocularity Jamboree at 8 p.m. at Julia Morgan Center for the Arts, 2640 College Ave. Tickets are $25-$30. 925-798-1300.  

Flamenco Fiesta with Yaelisa and Caminos Flamencos at Café de la Paz. Tickets are $45-$75. 843-0662. 

Lyrics Born, Inspector Double Negative & The Equal Positives at 9 p.m. at Shattuck Down Low, 2284 Shattuck Ave. Cost is $20-25. 548-1159.  

Beatropolis New Years Eve Party at 8 p.m. at Jupiter. Cost is $10 after 10 p.m. 848-8277. 

High Country, Dix Bruce & Jim Nunally at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $26.50-$27.50. 548-1761.  

Fourtet Jazz New Year’s Eve Party at 10 p.m. at Albatross, 1822 San Pablo Ave. Cost is $7. 843-2473.  

Rhonda Benin & Soulful Strut at 9 p.m., Duncan James, solo jazz guitar, at 6 p.m. at Downtown. 649-3810. 

Raheem de Vaughn “Shang Hai” New Year’s celebration at 9 p.m. at 510 17th St., Oakland. Tickets are $75-$100.  

Jewdriver, Stigma 13, Second Class Citizens at 8 p.m. at 924 Gilman St. Cost is $6. 525-9926. 

Arturo Sandoval at 8 and 10 p.m. at Yoshi’s at Jack London Square, through Sun. Cost is $22-$26. 238-9200.  



Traveling Jewish Theater “Dirt and Glory: Return of the Golem” at 2 p.m. at Berkeley Richmond Jewish Community Center, 1414 Walnut St. Tickets are $10-$30. 415-522-0786.  


African Diaspora Cinema “Man by the Shore” at 2 p.m. at Parkway Theater, 1834 Park Blvd., Oakland. Cost is $5. OurFilms@aol.com 



David K. Mathews Quartet at 8 and 10 p.m. at Yoshi’s at Jack London Square. Cost is $6-$10. 238-9200. www.yoshis.com 

Trovatore, traditional Italian music, at 7 p.m. at Caffe Trieste, 2500 San Pablo Ave., at Dwight. 548-5198.  



“The Greek Stones Speak” Travel photography lecture with Don Lyons at 7 p.m. at Chapel of the Chimes, 4499 Piedmont Ave., Oakland. Free. 654-1548.  


Hot Club of San Francisco at 8 and 10 p.m. Yoshi’s at Jack London Square. Cost is $10. 238-9200. www.yoshis.com 

Barbara Linn at 7 p.m. at Caffe Trieste, 2500 San Pablo Ave., at Dwight. 548-5198.  

Ellen Hoffman Trio and singer’s open mic at 8 p.m. at Anna’s Jazz Island, 2120 Allston Way. Cost is $5. 841-JAZZ. www.AnnasJazzIsland.com 



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

Ned Boynton Trio at 8 p.m. at Downtown. 649-3810.  

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

Calvin Keys Trio Invitational Jam at 8 p.m. at Anna’s Jazz Island, 2120 Allston Way. 841-JAZZ. www.AnnasJazzIsland.com 

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

Ahmad Jamal at 8 and 10 p.m. Yoshi’s at Jack London Square, through Sun. Cost is $18-$24. 238-9200. www.yoshis.com 



John Oliver Simon at 7 p.m. at the Albany Library, 1247 Marin Ave. 526-3720, ext. 17. 

Nomad Spoken Word Night at 7 p.m. at Nomad Cafe, 6500 Shattuck Ave. 595-5344. www.nomadcafe.net 


Emam & Friends at 8:30 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cost is $12. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 

Irene Sazer’s Real Vocal String Quartet at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $17.50-$18.50. 548-1761. www.freightandsalvage.org 

Fourtet at 8 p.m. at Anna’s Jazz Island, 2120 Allston Way. Cost is. $5. 841-JAZZ. www.AnnasJazzIsland.com 

Silver Fox Trio, jazz, at 7 p.m. at Caffe Trieste, 2500 San Pablo Ave., at Dwight. 548-5198.  

Guitar Summit with Will Bernard, Paul Mehling and Ken Emerson at 8 p.m. at Downtown. 649-3810.  

Ahmad Jamal at 8 and 10 p.m. Yoshi’s at Jack London Square, through Sun. Cost is $18-$24. 238-9200. www.yoshis.com 



“Walkin’ Talkin’ Bill Hawkins ... In Search of My Father” performed by W. Allen Taylor at 7 p.m. at the Marsh-Berkeley, 2118 Allston Way. Tickets are $15-$22. 800-838-3006. 

Shotgun Players “Cabaret” Thurs. - Sun. at 8 p.m. at the Ashby Stage, 1901 Ashby Ave. Through Jan. 29. 841-6500. www.shotgunplayers.org 


Luthier’s An exhibtion of tradition guitar and ukulele making at the Addison Street Windows Gallery, 2018 Addison St., through Jan. 15. 981-7533. 


“A Journey to Sacred Places” with photographer Jasper Johal at 6 p.m. at Studio Rasa, 933 Parker St. 843-2787. 


Dance Production 2006 at 8 p.m. at Florence Schwimley Little Theater, Allston Way. Tickets are $5 students, $10 adults. 

Freddie Roulette & Friends, blues, funk, at 9 p.m. at Baltic Square Pub, 135 Park Pl., Pt. Richmond. 527-4782. 

Choz & The ChoZen Music Fam at 9 p.m. at Blakes on Telegraph. Cost is $8-$10. 848-0886.  

Susan Muscarella Quartet at 8 p.m. at the Hillside Club, 2286 Cedar St. Tickets are $10-$15. 701-1787. 

Lua at 8:30 p.m. at La Peña Cultural Center. Cost is $10. 849-2568. www.lapena.org 

Steve Gannon Blue Monday Band at 8 p.m. at Anna’s Jazz Island, 2120 Allston Way. Cost is $7. 841-JAZZ.  

Raw Deluxe, Psychokinetics, Mickey Avalon at 9:30 p.m. at Shattuck Down Low. Cost is $5-$8. 548-1159.  

Opie Bellas Quartet at 9 p.m. at Downtown. 649-3810.  

Grapefruit Ed at 9:30 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cost is $10. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 

Houston Jones at 8 p.m. at Caffe Trieste, 2500 San Pablo Ave., at Dwight. 548-5198.  

Mike Marshall & Chris Thile, mandolin at 8 p.m. at St. John’s Presbyterian Church, 2727 College Ave. Cost is $24.50-$25.50. 548-1761.  

Stephen Yerkey and Kurt Huget at 7:30 p.m. at Nomad Cafe, 6500 Shattuck Ave. 595-5344. www.nomadcafe.net 

Municipal Waste, Bury the Living, Killed in Action at 8 p.m. at 924 Gilman St. Cost is $6. 525-9926. 

Ahmad Jamal at 8 and 10 p.m. Yoshi’s at Jack London Square, through Sun. Cost is $18-$24. 238-9200. www.yoshis.com 


Plant Seeds Are a Letter of Life to the Future By RON SULLIVAN Special to the Planet

Friday December 30, 2005

Our vegetable love would grow 

Vaster than empires and more slow. 


Andrew Marvell was making a counter-example when he wrote those lines to his coy mistress. His point was that, being mere humans, members of the animal realm, we have only a short time to do what we want to, given even the classical three-score-and-ten years to live. We’re on the long-lived end for mammals ourselves; most of the best-known prodigies of animal longevity are herps like tortoises or fish like certain carp—and there’s evidence that some small, unprepossessing North American freshwater shellfish might persist in their quiet ways for a century or two.  

In fact, we have mammals around us who are effectively annuals—some shrews, especially the males, who run around in a frenzy of competing and courting and mating as soon as they reach maturity, and then drop dead. There are fish who don’t do much better, and of course lots of invertebrates with several generations in a year. In that, they share the strategy of some plants, who grow, flower, set seed, and wither all in the course of a year or a season. Such plants tend to be small and showy—they invest more in flash than substance. 

No animal approaches, in a single life, the record of the plants who use the other strategy: long, slow growth. (I’m assuming we’re not quite at the point of counting fungi as animals, though they seem closer and closer relatives, the longer we look at the structure of the cladistic tree of life.) The redwoods up- and downcoast live for centuries; there are bristlecone pines in the White Mountains older than any religion I know of, never mind mere nations; there’s a humble ringclone of creosote bush down in the desert northeast of Los Angeles that experts are saying is between 9,400 and 11,000 years old.  

A creosote ringclone forms when the plant, in its usual habit, bends its growing stem to the ground and takes root again where it touches. Eventually the oldest section dies off, and the new part of the plant keeps going in the same way. As multiple stems work thus, each leaning a little away from the rest, you get a circle of the new plant tissue around a center of its own dead wood. It’s still all the same plant. 

Ancient-growing trees like redwood use reproductive strategies closer to those of turtles than to the styles we sort-of-slow mammals use. Rather than investing lots of energy in a few offspring who will, we hope, also live long and prosper, they scatter millions of seeds in thousands of cones regularly over the course of their long lives. Of course, most of those seeds don’t grow up to match their parents, becoming instead part of the economy of the forest or desert that supports and is supported by the matriarch plants.  

But there’s one advantage we mammals can’t hope to have without some technology further advanced that we’ve ever managed. Plant seeds can “live”—or maintain their potential to grow—for very long times. National Geographic News published an item last November by John Roach, an account of the successful germination of one of several date palm seeds found in the ruins of Masada. The seeds have been carbon-dated to be about 2,000 years old. 

Roach talked to a researcher in November: “‘It’s 80 centimeters [three feet] high with nine leaves, and it looks great,’ said Sarah Sallon, director of the Hadassah Medical Organization’s Louis L. Borick Natural Medicine Research Center in Jerusalem.” She’d asked a desert agriculture specialist, Elaine Solowey, to try germinating a few of the unearthed seeds. Planted on the holiday Tu B’shevat, the trees’ New Year, one of them had sprouted and produced felty gray, then healthy-looking green leaves. It remains to be seen whether the tree is a male or a fruit-bearing female. It is apparently a member of a species or cultivar wiped out completely by 500CE.  

This is a domestic plant, and extreme, but wild trees can keep their seeds dormant for decades. Sometimes they wait for a fire to open their cones and slap the seeds awake; sometimes they sleep in some critter’s forgotten food cache until water stirs them. But to a being who might live a thousand years, such a time capsule, a letter to the future, probably looks more ordinary than it can to the fast and flashy likes of us. 



Ron Sullivan is a former professional gardener and arborist. Her column on East Bay trees appears twice-monthly in the Daily Planet. Her “Garden Variety” column appears weekly in the Planet’s East Bay Home & Real Estate section.?

About the House: If the Shower Scalds With Each Flush By MATT CANTOR

Friday December 30, 2005

A man showers happily. He is singing to himself. Not bellowing, but really singing. It’s a torch song … no, it’s Donovan. “Mellow Yellow” I think. He’s smiling. He’s soapy. Suddenly a shadow falls across the shower curtain, a figure looms, then a sound, Ahh … Ahh … Ahh … He screams, backing away ... He screams, scalded by the remaining 125-degree water.  


Is this you, my friend? Do you suffer from the desperate plague of those consigned to “old pipe syndrome”? Well, dear reader, there is hope for you. You need not toil in fear any longer. Your marriage can be spared the threat of divorce over the innocent act of draining the bowl, and children need not fear for their allowances. A few minutes with your kindly plumber (twinkling sound) and you can be scorch-free. 

Welcome to the world of galvanized piping. To many of you, this is the real deal. Not all houses with galvanized pipe have this problem, but many do. Let’s take a slightly less silly look at the above problem. When flow through a piping system is impeded, the flushing of a toilet steals both pressure and cold water. This drops flow and also changes the balance of hot and cold pressures for a short while, resulting in the showering party getting more hot than cold. It can also result in such a loss of pressure that the shower, for all practical purposes, stops flowing. While not the norm, many older houses have this unpleasant condition, and for those who live in those houses (and you know who you are), it’s no fun. This is, of course, not dangerous, and the new homebuyer who figures this out may not prioritize such repairs, placing them in line behind foundation upgrade, seismic retrofitting and a new roof. But it is something that is very worth fixing. It will make life more pleasant and it will surely raise the value of the house.  

Depending on a few factors, this need not be a very complex problem to address. But there are a few things to find out and some notions that you may want to consider prior to hiring a plumber.  

If you’re lucky, you have most or all of your plumbing on one floor with an accessible crawlspace or a basement (best of all) below. If this is the case, the majority of the guilty piping is easily reached and therefore easily replaced. That’s right, we’re going to replace it. Yes, there are methods for flushing out old piping, but I would urge you to choose replacement instead. The primary reason is that flushing systems still leave you with relatively small pipe interior diameters as well as piping that has a lot of friction and piping that’s destined to corrode internally again.  

Unlike copper, galvanized piping rusts. It also grabs minerals and holds them internally, gradually becoming encrusted until it looks like the inside of a cave. In fact, if you cut out a foot-long section of old corroded “galvy,” you probably won’t be able to see from one end to the other, even though there may be a quarter-inch opening at either end, since this passage will not be uniform and the water has to find its way through the twists and turns created by the uneven build-up. This is part of why water flows so poorly through old galvanized pipe.  

Also, older houses are usually piped in 1/2” galvanized with 3/4” being used only for the main trunks on houses from the ‘40s or later. If your entire house is piped in 1/2”, that’s at least a part of your problem. Your plumber will probably want to re-pipe using 3/4” for at least the main trunk or manifold lines and 1/2” for the final branches only. These will be the lines that lead to the sink, the toilet and so forth. 

If you’re trying to make the pennies squeak, here’s a strategy you might employ. Try replacing only those lines you can reach in your basement or subfloor area (crawlspace). I also suggest you replace as much of the main as you can easily reach. If you do these portions, you might find that things are good enough to live with for quite a while. If you do this, it’s very important to keep your new copper (the only kind of piping I recommend for water systems) separated from the old galvy by use of some sort of “di-electric union.”  

Here’s the problem: If you take a piece of steel and a piece of copper and connect them and stick the opposing ends of each into water or into the ground, you’ll make a battery. This means that one of the metals is going to become a “sacrificial anode” and that anode is the steel. The battery gradually takes the steel apart one molecule at a time. Inside your pipes, this also means that those stolen ions leave sites where minerals bond, and so you have both destruction of the original pipe and the arteriole sclerosis that makes your plumbing exasperating. 

Here’s how this gets remedied in this “partial” upgrade: Having removed all the galvanized that can easily be reached, a long nipple of brass is inserted into a female fitting of galvanized (a brass coupling is even better). I suggest that at least six inches of brass be used at each contact point. This will inhibit the di-electric effect and protect the old galvized portions which remain. Copper can then be “sweat” or soldered together to replace the missing piping. Remember to use at least 3/4” for all major lines that serve multiple functions. The line to a single fixture can be 1/2” if it’s not extremely long. You can also simplify your piping system at this time. Many old system are unnecessarily circuitous or poorly routed. 

This is also a great time to add the oft-missing main water valve at the front of the house. It’s best if it’s on the outside at a spot that is easy to find and operate. On many older houses these valves are missing or located in places that are hard to reach, and installation of one can help minimize the effects of a gushing leak by making it easy to get to and use. 

While you’re there, you may want to add a pressure-reducing valve. This might sound silly given what we’re trying to achieve, but high pressure increases the likelihood of a damaging flood, even when water flow seems poor. Have your plumber test your line pressure (this is a function of the utility company’s equipment and you have no control over it, except to reduce it on your own home). If the pressure is high (80 is the upper threshold but anything over 100 is getting serious), adding a pressure reducing valve is a great idea and doesn’t cost much (the part is about $100-$150). 

And remember, in the mean time, it really isn’t funny flushing the toilet while your wife is in the shower. 


Ask Matt

Friday December 30, 2005

Dear Matt, 

I enjoyed your article in the Nov. 25 East Bay Home & Real Estate. I wish you titled the article “A Short Course in Tragedy for the Inexperienced Architect.” You cite some excellent examples of the pitfalls of our profession and as such, many architects get a bad rap due to shoddy work by our peers or lack of attention to detail or the inability to provide basic professional service to our clients. I am now nearing 20 years in the business and I’ve seen all of those horrors you mention and more. 

I’m not sure that the rules of the game place an enormous emphasis on “A”rchitecture so much as the emphasis on the bottom line. We are always rushed to do the work, but our firm will always set aside the time to review each others work which results in a thorough and, more importantly, a well coordinated set of documents. The cost of errors and omissions is too high to not do a peer review, and as I tell my colleagues, it helps everyone continue to get better because we are focusing on finding the missing pieces, and then passing it along as knowledge from each others experience in the tradition of the Intern/Mentor relationship that is the foundation of our profession. It sounds corny, but because we are diligent about it, I sleep well at night. 

There are plenty of architects out there doing shoddy work. Earlier in my career, when I was an intern, I was told to release drawings that were not reviewed by my employer prior to going to bid. That is not to say that the design was not code compliant and safe, but the resulting change orders during construction because of notes such as “TBD” or “VIF”....well we verified, and it won’t fit! See what I mean...the bottom line and compressed schedules have great impact on a project and it is up to the professional to diligently schedule their time and their staffs’ time to maintain project deadlines & quality control from day one. 

In closing, I agree that on most projects, except for the most high profile buildings, cheapness wins. Cheapworld, USA, my home town, and yours too, but need we accept it? I’m working hard to change it by closely managing our aspect of the project, though once the construction starts it’s mostly up to the builder...maybe you can do a follow up story about the fresh high school graduate (or not) doing waterproofing work on his 61st of 200 track homes being built somewhere in Cheapworld titled “A short Course in Tragedy for the Young Contractor”! 

Paul McKenzie  

San Francisco  


Dear Paul, 

I’ve been picking on contractors all years. It was time to take a shot at the “A”rchitecture world. Contractors are, after all, expected to follow the instructions of the architects and the bar should be at its highest when the plans are drawn, assuming that it will sag quite a bit during the following exercises (commonly known as construction). I genuinely feel that the architect should try and include as many specific details as they possibly can in their drawings despite the great likelihood that there will be a range of changes as work proceeds and including the reality that some of the details simply won’t work. The more you try and conceive and plan, the better you end up. I agree that cheapness is much more the problem than the artistic aspiration, but I do think that the latter plays a role in the former. If there were less of an effort to appear as bold, new and thrilling, there might be more energy spent on making thing work well and last. One man’s opinion. 

I’ve very grateful for your response and hope you’ll keep reading. I’m sure that you’re part of the solution and not part of the problem. 

Best of luck, 

Matt Cantor 


Garden Variety: Winter Is a Good Time to Choose Seeds for Planting By RON SULLIVAN

Friday December 30, 2005

Winter’s a good time to ponder seeds as well as books. The local world’s way of bestirring itself and greening up has a way of urging us hairless, featherless bipeds indoors to be warm and dry; most of us like being cold and soaked to—or through—the skin rather less than seeds and bulbs and roots do. And the gray skies of today make us gloomy if we can’t stir up our own knowledge that they contain possibilities for tomorrow. 

Seeds are an intellectual gift, unlikely-looking little bits of matter that take the classical elements around us and turn them into sweet substance. It’s never too late to plant something here, and never wrong to think about what we’re going to plant next. Salad greens and potherbs and even natives now; early veggies soon; summer produce in a couple of months. Take advantage of that January-February warm spell we usually get.  

If you plant from seed, you can get varieties that aren’t usually to be found in nurseries, even the best ones. Most big nurseries offer ever-new hybrids, as fashions in flowers and foliage are getting as evanescent as clothing, car, or electronics fads are. Our thirst for novelty’s a good thing, but nobody’s experience is so broad that we can’t find something new that’s old, too. 

Traditional open-pollinated seeds are an investment. They more readily breed true, that is, bear seeds that will grow into something very close to their parents, than “modern” hybrids. As the fashion for heirloom tomatoes and lately other produce—apples, beans—has demonstrated, there are culinary adventures to be had in older varieties that were bred for flavor rather than shipping strength. (Remember the square tomato? What ever happened to that little stunt of technology?) 

For gardens right here in the Bay Area, the Ecology Center hosts the seed collection of BASIL, the Bay Area Seed Interchange Library. You can “check out” a batch of seeds by filling out a membership application and promising to grow them out and bring some seeds from the resulting plants back in return. Seeds are from local gardeners and farmers who donate some from their favorites, the individuals that grow best in their gardens—and, being locally adapted, QED, are likely to grow well in yours. BASIL generally hosts a seed-swapping party in March, but seeds are available for check-out all year. E-mail basil@ecologycenter.org or call the Ecology Center, 548-2220 for open hours. 

To venture further afield, try some seeds from Seed Savers’ Exchange, 3094 North Winn Road, Decorah, Iowa, (563) 382-5990, www.seedsavers.org—just their garlic list will make your mouth water.  

A personal favorite of mine is Native Seeds SEARCH, headquartered at 526 N. 4th Ave., Tucson, Arizona. Call (520) 622-5561, email info@nativeseeds.org or see www.nativeseeds.org for more about this earthly treasure trove. If you think you can grow these desert-adapted varieties, order seeds; if you’re dubious, you can buy their chiles, chile powders, beans, corn, and more.  

You don’t have to be all high-minded to prize the work these folks do. You just need an appetite. 








Friday December 30, 2005

This morning I went to the Lab on Telegraph for a fasting blood test. This means 12 hours of no food, starting, say, at 8 p.m. I get to the lab at 8 a.m. Then, phew, that’s over. I got there at 8:14 a.m. (not bad, eh?). The waiting room was crowded, and only one Blood Tech was on duty. My stomach was grumbling, and I felt like growling along with it. 

Finally, my name was called. I jumped up, as if awakened from a nap. “Come this way, sweetie” said the blood lady. “Sweetie?!!” I thought. “Don’t call me Sweetie.” But I dared not say it aloud. After all, she had the needle. 

I walked all the way to Bancroft, muttering to myself. 

Don’t call me sweetie. I may be old, not tall, gray haired. But I’m not a sweetie. I’m not your child, or your cat, or your parrot. I’m not your lover or your doll. I have a name, I have dignity. Don’t call me Sweetie, or Dear, or Honey, or…. 

Thank goodness. Now that I’m home, I can write it all down. I feel better now, but —  


Hexclusive! GOP, Fortune 500 Battle Over 2006 Hurricane Branding By ARMIN A. LEGDON

Friday December 30, 2005

In a not-so-simple twissssst of fate, the Republican Party and major corporations have joined a mythicky battle over the naming of hurricanes in 2006. Ironically, it would mean the elimination of individual (rugged?) names to identify the late summer and fall big blows. 

It all took off when the U.S. Weather Bureau received a Christmas cash transfer of $100,000 from American Airlines suggesting that next season’s first Atlantic storm be named for the already airborne company. Said a very wet AA flack: “We’d get running mention on every news report. Marketing is working on additional thrusts.” 

When the word got out, and the check had been cashed, other multi-nationals—led by the fleur de oilys from Chevron to Valero—sent their lobbyists flocking to the halls of Congress. This resulted in HR 666 being put into motion, stating that all corporations were welcome to enter the fray—and a total of $3 billion came into play by year’s end.  

The struggle then got complex when all-the-rage, off-the-wall Republican politicians proposed the leaders of the GOP be so “spun in the sky.” Leading the list was the infamous lobbyist Jack Abramoff, followed by Bush and Cheney. . .  

A veering moderate faction of the party balked, saying it wanted the hurricanes to be named after 2006 congressional candidates whose campaigns were in jeopardy. Following six years of Republican rape and pillage, such politicos could use all the publicity available, they cried. Consequently, the three groups began fighting amongst themselves, much to the bemusement of the Democrats, who didn’t know what to do. 

However, there were young (Gen Y’erd) Aderall (a latest drug of choice, composed of four time-released methamphetamines—a.k.a. as the “Fantastic Four”) sucking corporate liberals who saw this as an opportunity to shift the agenda by proposing a national lottery in which the people could select a hurricane name from party candidates—ranging from Democratic to Green to Peace & Freedom. . . This democratic process grabbed the excitement of the ever losing left, progressives, whoever, particularly when it was agreed that for $20, folks could get to pick 26 names, from A-Z.  

Democrats filibustered in the House in an attempt to stall the inevitable, even as lottery bucks dribbled into party coffers. At which point, the GOP announced that the dollar be abandoned, and replaced with something called the Reagan Rand, named for Ronald Reagan and arch-conservative icon Ayn Rand. 

Following a watershed year in which hurricanes reached beyond the alphabet into the 30s, 2006 looks like it could find stepped-up manmade global warming mixing even more with the casino economy. This development may even bring back and forward from a previous tempestuous time NomadiKoran chanting Weathermensch, as well as, say, Wobbudhists, Navahopis, Quechecwelch, Ukrainiancestors, Clintonian Croasians, EUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU U.S. isolationist teeny boppers. . .  




Armin A. Legdon, aka Arnie Passman, is a writer, cultural undertaker and executioner living in the prevailing corrosive winds in west central Berkeley.

Beds. Beds. Beds. By MAYA ELMER

Friday December 30, 2005

There’s a whole dictionary of used beds I have tried out for size in my life time. The iron cot in the room I shared with my small sister when I was 5 years old. I dream of a pretty, long, cold snake lying next to me. It wasn’t scary, but that’s what happens to a bed wetter when the sheets are wet in a cold winter morning. Mommy, I really tried to wake up.  

Teenage mattresses slumber on Marthe’s back porch where I see my first northern lights on one hot summer evening in Grosse Pointe. The green-gold ribbons wave; the stars overhead seduce our inane chatter into silence. I hear the distant wailing of trains promising a future for all.  

There’s the bed in Elaine’s guest room, my future mother-in-law’s. She was a nice enough little-old-lady; really old and really little when I knew her. And so was the guest-room bed: really old. The cotton stuffings had suffered so much through the years. Pushed apart by other bodies; where other knees had ground, other heels had pounded. My hips and spine clamber to the edges in the dark to keep from falling into this worn-out trough.  

There’s no ignoring the bed for the poor university student honeymooners: the St. Clair Inn was an old, but well-respected hotel on a Great Lakes beach front. It had class. This room must have been designed as a walk-in closet, for the double bed was pushed against the side and end walls; the door, when opened, touched the end of a dresser. Yes, there was a minuscule bathroom, too.  

We toasted to the taste of vinegary, cheap champagne. The hours of wake and sleep and the thrust of love. Then the desperation-comedy of running out of matches at 3 a.m. The ignominy of his buttoning his tweed raincoat over pajamas to go down to the lobby and get a pack of matches from the ever awake, and no doubt amused, bellboy on duty at the desk. It’s not amazing that I should remember that bed well.  

Are there always old mattresses and box springs hiding in attics to lend? Do they float in some giant airport carousel to be parceled out when a clerk beckons to help out the aspiring lawyer or the writer-to-be? With what signs of relief are these used bed sets dealt from body to body, dreams to dreams ? Do they ever start from new ?  

There was one in the rented apartment in a college town where Mrs. Yarmain and her Armenian flavors rose up the varnished brown stairs to the attic. They say “The first year is the hardest…” Will you believe me if I admit to dragging blankets into the long, old-fashioned bath tub one night of disagreement?  

Another year. Another apartment. This time the bedsprings squeaked, and the bed wobbled. There was no anonymity to our lovemaking for the landlord on the first floor.  

The ones dealt to us in wartime rooms across the U.S.A. were equally the same, but with different bedspreads: Boston, New York, Rhode Island on the East Coast. Alameda, Oakland, and Pacific Grove on the West Coast. Lower berths and upper berths, years and events roll on.  


• • •  

He never said he was ordering twin beds; our verbal jousts continue. I protest at his sailing away on a Saturday morning on his 20-foot sloop while I cope with the children. We are indeed coming apart, but our disagreements don’t seem to solve anything.  

Spring arrived early that year. The gentle pink bloom on the hawthorn tree in the middle of the lawn spoke quietly to the Michigan afternoon breezes. I watched from the second floor, through the tall clerestory window which overlooked the front yard. A Macy’s delivery truck stood in front. Surprise. I hadn’t been to the store for weeks. The delivery men approached. One with papers in his hand: “to deliver twin beds.”  

Shock. I refuse the order. They call the store. I just say, “This has been ordered without my knowledge.” I refuse to accept them. They go back.  

I have no recollection of any discussion we might have had. But it did come up in therapy. The husband, in turn, was shocked that I had turned them back; more at my audacity at confronting his authority. Dr. W. said that was part of our problem: not talking over the decisions to be made.  

What it was: he really wanted to be getting farther and farther away. I was too unknowing of the changes being generated in society to recognize them for what they were. I kept hanging on; wanting to pull together. My father had said to me the morning he left for the summer, “Keep your family together, Mary”—a paternal edict!  

So we ordered a king-sized bed. We met on a lunch hour, one Saturday and bounced on the beds in the store. But that playground of a bed didn’t help either. More and more, I felt less and less together. There was a broken trust like shattered eggshells. There was anger. On one hand my simmering anger and his simmering anger locked together saying, “ Go!” 

His won out. He abandoned me in December at Black Lake, our forest retreat, deep in cold snow drifts. Without a car, 18 miles from town. 

So I bought the new bed for a new house, a new life: a queen-sized bed to hold new dreams and future lovers. ?

A Candle for Cindy By Melanie Wendell

Friday December 30, 2005

A candle defies the darkness, 

The flame a tiny blaze 

Bending, battered by the slightest breeze, 

Brave and wordless, 

With no conscious effort 

Melting solid sturdy wax 

That weeps over its sides 

Silent tears 

Of understanding. 


A candle defies the darkness, 

And sends fear, hatred, ignorance 

Away, to hide in musty corners 

Where the air is thin and lifeless, 

And small minds shudder and grope 

For validation, to believe 

In war, in righteous pride 

And the shimmering ghost 

Of a faithless world. 


A candle defies the darkness, 

And a mother steps into the light 

To ask the question 

Burning in her heart 

Like a wick that won’t be doused, 

Tell me, now, she asks, 

Why did my son die? 

And the corners quake 

In indignation, upholding, defending 

The Lie, in the name of patriotism. 


A candle defies the darkness 

And melts the solid, waxen column 

Of willful, grasping, hopeless faith 

Bestowed upon a cynical man 

Whose determined vow 

To stay the course  

Defies all hope 

Of understanding. 


Friday December 30, 2005

When I turned 50 my mother gave me an heirloom, her mother’s only piece of real jewelry. I was surprised that it had not already been given by seniority to my older sister, Cheryl. The gift was a rose gold ring set with pieces of opal arranged as a blue flower. 

Mom had it cleaned and repaired, then presented it to me for my birthday. I had always admired the ring and I guess she gave it to me because I love history and because I care about family lineage and tradition. I know she wanted to pass on something of significance at that milestone of middle age. It was precious and valuable to her, and I wonder too if she gave it to me so that I could feel something of what she feels for her own mother. 

My mother reveres her mother. She speaks of Minnie Cordts Kuhl as if she were a saint. She always refers to her as “Mama.” Mama was widowed at a young age right before the stock market crash. She was left with three children and a rented farm she couldn’t work. My mother still has the newspaper clippings that advertise the auction held to sell off all of the equipment and farm machinery. My mother was only a baby when her father died needlessly. He was a diabetic traveling without his insulin. One story says that he was on his way to a faith healer and didn’t expect to need this medicine any longer. Another version is that he was visiting the Mayo Clinic in hopes of being cured. But surely the Mayo Clinic would have had insulin on hand. Had he felt he needed some insulin at any point on his journey he could probably have seen a doctor and gotten some. This lends credence to the faith healer story.  

My grandfather is very handsome in his photographs. I know from seeing the resemblance in his other children that he had clear blue eyes that looked far into the distance. My mother’s sister had those eyes. Her sister was six years older and her brother four years older than that. The family stayed in the same small Nebraska farm town with other relatives nearby. They were so poor that my mother had false teeth by the time she was seventeen from lack of dental care. My memories of my grandmother are not the idealized ones that my mother holds dear. 

I cannot recognize the woman my mother describes; she is completely unfamiliar to me. My grandmother lived with our family and minded us children while our parents worked. I remember Minnie as harsh and ungenerous, even cruel at times. I had felt the hardness of her hands. My best friend was afraid of her. I wasn’t exactly afraid, but I had learned to stay out of her way. I was born with a sunny disposition, and when I would wake in the morning, I had a smile on my face. My grandmother would hear my voice and admonish “If you sing before breakfast, you’ll cry before night.” If I asked for a second helping of dessert she would call me “greedy goat.” When she wanted a household chore done she would say, “Those who do not work do not eat.” I cannot remember a single thing she liked about me. I can easily remember her critical tone and routinely dismissive remarks that undermined my confidence in myself. She would not compliment for fear of engendering vanity. She would not praise because obedience and good behavior were what was expected and did not need to be recognized as an accomplishment. My singing and dancing were showing off, she felt, and not to be encouraged. 

My grandmother became seriously ill when I was about 9 years old. She had congestive heart failure then known as “dropsy.” When she could no longer get around easily she was put into a sickbed. It was my bed. This bed and its matching twin with headboard bookshelves remained in the room I had shared with my sister. I was dislodged and moved down the hall to share sleeping quarters on a rollaway cot close by my younger brother in the den. Cheryl stayed behind and her company, among our common things, was no longer within my reach. I was not really able to call my room mine anymore. There were water glasses with bent glass straws in them on the nightstand. Sometimes Grandma would call out and I would fill the glass and hold it so she could drink. I hated to look at her. Her limbs were thin and wasted while her belly was massive and distended. Her hair was dry and scraggily around her gaunt and waxy face. I was terrified that she would die while I was in the room. I can remember being left home alone with her sometimes. I was afraid she would call for me to help her with something. Whenever she did call I was berated by her, by my mother and by my sister for not being fast enough or attentive enough and labeled selfish or unloving.  

When Minnie died I was kept away from the funeral because I was “too sensitive” and the experience might be upsetting to me. I am amazed by the irony of that decision. I had participated fully in her illness and decline, but I was kept from hearing the Service For Burial and observing a family ritual that might have taught me how to mourn and how to accept death. Still, I felt guilty because I hadn’t done enough for her while she was living. I had not served her lovingly—only fearfully. I had not pleased her or earned her respect. I knew, even then, that her death was in no way my fault. But I also knew that the end of her life could have been more comfortable and sweeter if I had been more giving of myself. It was hard for me to love her because I did not feel any love from her. My own feelings about her were not those a little girl should have for her grandma and they were not feelings I could reveal to a sister who served her willingly and a mother who was devoted to her.  

What I carry with me from my childhood years is guilt and shame. Both of these are inheritances from my time with my grandmother, Minnie. Her critical voice lives on inside me and I often hear it when I indulge myself. Do I deserve this thing? I hear it when I attain something and rationalize away the value of my achievement. It enters in like an insidious worm and undermines my enjoyment of the pleasures of life. I am never able to compete without sabotaging myself in some small way. I succeed in spite of myself and in spite of her presence within me. If she were alive today I still don’t believe that I would have her approval. For some reason my mother wants me, out of all of us, to have her ring. Perhaps one day I will understand what that means. 


Lost Love By Roopa Ramamoorthi

Friday December 30, 2005

I look again at that black and white photo from more than 30 years ago. I am 2 years old, sprawled on the sand at Foreshore Beach clad in tiny pants and full-sleeved top, busy with my bucket and spade. My mother is pointing her finger telling me to look at the camera. My aunt and mother are wearing similar nylon 644 saris in that photo. I recollect my mother’s sari, large purple flowers on a white background. My uncle was on the other side taking the photo.  

I remember those vacations when I was two and three, going to my uncle’s house with my mother. My getting up early to hear the crows cawing and see them flying away from the clothesline. My getting scared if a crow came too close to me and my getting my grandfather to wave his hands and clap to make the crow fly away. For breakfast I used to eat the extra large idlis my grandmother served me and drink warm milk from the special small stainless steel tumbler with my name inscribed on it. Before 7 a.m. I would go walking to the beach with my mother or grandfather. The beach was just four blocks from my uncle’s house. I collected shells and made sand puddings by filling my small pail with wet sand using my spade pressing the sand tight in the bucket turning it over and releasing it from the bucket.  

Fishermen with their big nets were there going to catch fish. If my mud pudding crumbled I went to work again to make another one. Soon I had two or three perfect sand puddings. I proudly exhibited these to my mother. After an hour the sun would be too hot. Then I stood in the waves with my little hand catching my mother’s large hand. She rolled up my pants and lifted her sari to her knees and we stood there letting the waves wet our ankles.  

Then I went home only to come back in the evening to make more sand puddings. I would go further in the water when the waves were small and retreat when the waves grew larger with my mother always holding my hand or admiring the sand puddings.  

But the summer vacation ended. My uncle moved to Thanjavur for sometime, my brother was born and I became too big for sand puddings. The picture has changed. That beach was one of the places hit by the tsunami this year and those fishermen I used to see who must be old men now and their families were destroyed.  

Of the people in that picture of more than 30 years ago, my mother died of a heart attack two years ago, my aunt has terminal cancer and the innocent round face of the two year old has been weathered by rough roads. But once making a perfect sand pudding, feeling the wet sand in my hands was all that mattered and a spade was a spade. 


High Ropes By J. Steven Svoboda

Friday December 30, 2005

The cable traces the treacherous line 

Between falling and falling. 


Up on the high ropes, 

Tottering tree to tree, 

Everything’s sharp air and 

The blur of faded faces. 


Strapped into suburban security in 

The harness I never need, 

I hear a stranger’s heart thrumming in my throat. 


I’m frightened of these props that sustain me, 

Helping me to be more, 

Keeping me at less. 


Tricked on by some dumb dog of faith, tail wagging far below, I 

cross toward my moment of magnifi cence, 

Reaching for the next rope 

And holding on desperate as new love, 


Teetering on that precarious trust 

That two humble minutes can be this grand, 

That along the edge between death and dust 

Lies a narrow path to a warmer land.›

Christmas After Mastectomy By Ellen Scheiner

Friday December 30, 2005

Light sounds drench the world. 

Cold winter’s warmth creeps through us. 

Shimmering joy explodes. 




Soup, Glorious Soup By Claudia Pessin

Friday December 30, 2005

For the first 11 years of my life I lived in a small town outside Newport, Delaware, which was on the map, but barely bigger that the bedroom community where I lived. Winters were severely cold, rarely more than six or seven inches of snow, but often freezing rain. When the ground froze, no mother would dream of keeping a child home, and certainly not for a little ice or snow. Schools didn’t close for weather in those days, and since there were few automobiles, we were in no danger from traffic. The trackless trolleys continued their routes, and most used them to get to work. 

On days when the streets and sidewalks were glazed with ice, we were expected to—and did—walk the mile and a quarter or so to the grade school in Newport, spending more time on our well-bundled bottoms than on our feet. We didn’t feel put-upon though, but accepted this as the status quo. And there were usually compensations when we got home: cocoa and fresh-baked cookies, or cake, because winter seemed to bring out the urge to bake in our mothers. But my favorite was coming in with wet and icy mittens and snowsuit, and smelling vegetable soup simmering on the stove. 

Mother had a large pot, called a waterless cooker, that had removable compartments for vegetables that could hold a complete meal of meat and sides and cook them together. But I only recall Mamma using it as an enormous stockpot for soup. As I sat by the kitchen table warming up and doing my homework the fragrance of that soup made my mouth water, and long before it was finished I would be begging my mother for just a small bowl full. I didn’t care if it was done or not, I simply could not wait. Of course she refused, and by dinnertime when Daddy came home, I felt I could eat the entire contents of the pot, though usually two bowls were more than enough for my small self. 

When my mother died, this pot was one of the few things she had that I really wanted, and I often used it to make enough soup to freeze and some to give away. The problem was that I had learned to make it from watching her, and her method was a pinch of this and a handful or two of that. And how do you divide pinches and handfuls so you can reduce a recipe? 

Over the years, I did tinker with her recipe a bit, adding a bit of this and omitting a handful of that. But I continued to make this soup pretty much her way in this pot until my children were grown and I no longer could figure out what to do with such a great quantity of soup. So I gave the pot to my younger daughter who wanted it to cook soup in for her family. She had learned to cook Mamma’s vegetable soup by watching me throughout the years, and in her turn tinkered with it to suit her family, and had more than enough for her freezer and some to give away. She always pulled out that pot on the first cold day of winter, as I had, and put up a pot of soup early in the day, and her daughters came home in from school to the same homey fragrance that I and a generation later, my own children had enjoyed. 

Recently though, she decided that the pot was just too big and bought a somewhat smaller one and adjusted her recipe accordingly. But what to do with her grandmother’s pot? She didn’t have the heart to discard it and it sat for months in her cupboard until the adult daughter of my elder daughter, recently married, heard of the dilemma and claimed the pot for her own. 

It pleases me that my granddaughter is now making vegetable soup using Mamma’s recipe and her pot. It pleases me too to think that in a few years yet another generation will be coming home from school on a cold day and be met with the fragrance of that same soup. 

And I am certain it would have pleased my mother.?


Friday December 30, 2005

Eunice tucked her thin strands of pale red hair behind her ears, as was her nervous habit, and peered about the dining room. She was seated at her regular table in the Palace of Secretarial Eats. There was no sign of Amanda amidst the trill of anxious voices and the unsteady clatter of coffee cups refilled far too many times. The carcasses of single-serve packets of non-caloric sugar substitutes lay dismembered in unceremonious heaps on the other tables. The sight of this made Eunice swell with a perverse pride. Of the secretaries assembled, she and Amanda were the ones who ate.  

They spent their secretarial paychecks on lavish meals that were anything but secretarial. There was nary a salad nor a sugar substitute in sight. Eunice and Amanda dined on bread with fresh garlic butter and shrimp cocktails, crepes with salmon and crème fraîche, washed down by bottles of Prosecco (at one o’clock in the afternoon!), followed by crème brûlée and coffee with Frangelico. On their (rare) demure days, they forewent the liqueurs and merely took their coffee with cream.  

It was because their lunchtime personas—piratical, voracious, insatiably slurping, gulping, gnawing, devouring—stood in such marked contrast to the 40-hours weekly reality of their secretarial selves that Eunice and Amanda cherished their lunchtime excesses. Where in the office they nibbled timidly on crumbs, here they ate with unrepentant appetite. Where in the office they microwaved tepid cups of herbal tea, here they made themselves drunk in full daylight, daring neighboring tables to look askance at their debauch. Where in the office they starved, not enough to induce visions or euphoria, but just enough for a steady emptiness to whisper its dissatisfactions in the pit of their stomachs, here they ate until they had rendered themselves so sated that any awareness outside the voluptuous fullness of their bellies was subsumed entirely. 

Having learned from their respective families and their society at large that pleasure was a dish best accompanied with a heaping side of remorse, afterward, the girls did penance for their excess. They flogged themselves with the label tape from their label dispensers and made graphically detailed itemized lists of their extravagances, which they proceeded to methodically white out. Upon completing these rites, they tucked themselves neatly under their desks until it was time to turn on the phones at 8:30 a.m. sharp and commence another day at the office.  

Eunice glanced up, adjusted her round gold-framed spectacles, and saw a curvaceous blond in a tweed skirt making her way toward the table. Amanda’s face bore the pleasantly pained expression it always did when she walked. She was such a model secretary that her feet had evolved their own high heels, fleshy stiletto-shaped protuberances jutting from the bottom of her feet. It made shoe shopping quite a chore.  

Amanda’s eyes, congenial ice pics, made contact with Eunice’s and she seated herself at their table.  

“Sorry I’m late, but I wanted you to think my time was important,” she said.  

Eunice fidgeted with the sleeves of her crumpled gray blazer. She never knew what to make of Amanda’s unflinching candor, which seemed to be made possible by the fact that the alarming nature of her bald-faced truths completely escaped her.  

At dessert, Eunice cleared her throat. 

“Do you ever,”she began, her voice wobbling like the spoonful of crème brûlée she held in her quavering hand 



The crème brûlée slipped off the spoon and she made herself set it down.  

“It’s just, do you ever wonder if there might be—um—” 


“Ah, it just seems that, possibly, there might be a—better—way of—life.” 

“But who would make the coffee?” 

Eunice shivered as the cold cream made its descent down her insides. 

“I guess you’re right.” 




Holiday Spirit By GERALD COTE

Friday December 30, 2005

it’s the bottom end  

of another year 

as they’re shouting 


of holiday cheer. 


while days turn darker 

in me and out, 

the list grows longer 

of human drought. 

remembering my spirit  

what it’s about, 

beyond my troubles 

to those without. 


oh release me from 

my trifling world, 

my selfish needs 

take to their grave. 

for everyday 

should be like this, 

remembering others 

less fortunate.

Lake Merritt by Michael Howerton

Friday December 30, 2005


Late afternoon at Lake Merritt towards the end of October.e

A Holiday By Linda J. Rawls

Friday December 30, 2005

It was hot and humid as it always is in East Texas during the months of June, July and August. The year was 1956 and I was 6 years old. It wouldn’t be long now according to my daddy before I would be joining my two brothers, going to school and learning how to read and write. My daddy gave me the only head start that I got before starting first grade because my little hometown did not have a Head Start or kindergarten program. 

He taught me the ABCs, how to spell a few elementary words like cat, dog, run, and walk and how to spell and read my name. Daddy always told me how smart he thought I was and I wanted to make him and Mama really proud of me. I felt ready to learn. Most of all, I wanted to be smart and make my parents happy. 

The anticipation of starting school was barely enough to get me through those hot summer days. I had to invent ways to stay focused. I decided that I would ask every question that popped into my head. For sure, I thought this would be the best way to get smart fast. I remember asking my grandmother Pearlie Mae a question that really surprised her.  

“Ma Pearlie, how come the sun comes up over there and go down over yonder?”  

I hadn’t learned east from west yet. My grandmother’s answer surprised me, when she said, “I don’t know, baby.”  

It wasn’t too often that a grown up would admit to a kid that they didn’t know something. 

“Ya don’t know?” I asked her. 

“No baby, I don’t. The sun has always come up from the east and gone down in the west.”  

Ma Pearlie pointed to the east and then west. Even though I thought, at the time, she was not very smart I really loved my grandmother. My minor disappointment over her answer was exchanged for happiness because I had just learned east and west. 

Ma Pearlie was not only the matriarch in our family but also in the little community where I lived. She was a sturdy God-fearing woman who loved her children and grandchildren. I never heard her raise her voice to anyone or display anything that vaguely resembled a bad mood. She was half black and half Sicilian without the stereotypical mean temper or gift of being an exceptional cook.  

I liked most of the old people in my family, with a few exceptions. Old people seemed pretty smart to me and you could learn lots of neat stuff from them. I remember that it was my great uncle, Augustino who taught me how to chase the cows out of the backyard. Uncle Craig taught me how to sweep the floor and his wife taught me how to gather eggs. Little did I know at the time, that my curiosity was an excuse for some of them to get extraordinary help from a kid who was just overly eager to learn.  

I had heard from some of the other old folks in the family that a holiday was coming. Although I couldn’t quite remember what that meant, the excitement was so thick I could just feel that it was something special. One day when I was helping Ma Pearlie shuck corn, I asked her, “When’s the hollerday gonna get here?” 

“It’ll be tomorrow,” She said. 

I couldn’t sleep that night. I was so excited! 

The next morning I woke up before Mama, Daddy or anybody else in the house. I sat alone on the front porch waiting for the start of the holiday. After a while of just sitting there all by myself, I heard my dad in the kitchen making a pot of coffee. I can remember thinking that this was really a special day if Daddy was in the kitchen making a pot of coffee and Mama was still asleep. What a switch! Poor Mama, she was always tired. I thought maybe it was because she was getting too fat. She’d been having a lot of trouble lately just getting up and down the steps on the front porch. Just a few days ago she got so tired, standing over the ironing board, she almost fainted. I had to run across the road to get Ma Pearlie! 

My excitement about the day really started to build after everybody started waking up. My two older brothers got up and dressed. My father asked them 

“What ya’ll boys doing today?” 

“Don’t we have to go to the fields today, daddy?” asked George, the oldest. 

“No, it’s a hollerday, son,” daddy said. 

My eyes went wide with disbelief! I was really starting to love this holiday. If George Edward and Harry Lee didn’t have to go to the field to pick or shuck anything that meant that Mama, Ma Pearlie and I wouldn’t have to can or preserve anything today, either. 

I sat on the front porch for a while longer. Then, I heard my sister Wretha stumbling around in the bedroom we shared. Wretha was three years younger than me. Her favorite thing in the world was to snitch Kool Aid from the pitcher my parents kept on the front porch on Sundays after church. My brothers and I gave her the nickname “Koola” and to this day she hates us for it. She walked out onto the front porch with a comb and brush in her hand.  

“Mama said comb my hair,” she said.  

“Alright, go get some rubber bands.” I told her. 

“Mama said use these ribbons cause today is a hollerday.” 

“But these are my special ribbons for when I start school,” I said. 

I knew that Wretha wouldn’t lie to me. We were best friends certainly we were each other’s only friend. But, I didn’t want to share my special ribbons with her before I started first grade. I can remember reasoning that since it was a special day maybe it was all right to share my special ribbons with my sister. 

“Okay, but when the hollerday is over, you have to give them back.” 

After I finished combing Wretha’s hair, I remember sitting there a while longer thinking it might be time for the holiday to start, but I couldn’t tell time yet. I stared at the old faded clock that Pickle Feed Store gave to Daddy a long time ago, hanging on the wall between the two windows on the back of the porch, as if I could tell time. 

There was a thermometer on the left side of it, right above the words “Drink Coca Cola.” I didn’t know just how hot it was, but I can remember thinking that it had to be really hot, because the red stuff in the little piece of glass was almost all the way to the top of the red numbers. The actual clock was offset on the right side under the words “Ralston Purina.” I stood there looking at the words for a minute or so. I didn’t know what they meant but it seemed like a good time to ask another question.  

“Daddy, how you know what time it is?” I looked at him with a big smile on my face.  

“Well, dumplings, the time right now is 10:30 in the morning.” 

Daddy sat me down on his lap and explained to me how to look at the clock and tell what time it was. I caught on pretty fast. When daddy gave me a quiz later, I passed.  

“You’re gonna do good in school, dumplings. I just know it.” He was beaming with pride. 

My brothers were patiently waiting for their turn to occupy Daddy’s attention. My brother George Edward, who was three and half years older than me, wanted to go down to the creek to go swimming. I don’t think Harry Lee really wanted to go swimming, but most of the time he went along with whatever George wanted. Sometimes George could be a bully about getting what he wanted, but not Harry. I think Harry would just choose the path of least resistance. 

Even at 9 years old George would strut around the house talking about Elvis Presley and Chuck Berry. He had decided that someday he would be an even bigger star than either one of them because he thought his singing was better. Sometimes he would use the broom as a substitute microphone and sing something by one of them. He’d stand there with his chest stuck out waiting for me to start clapping my hands. Most of the time, I just laughed at him and he would get mad and storm out of the room. I can’t remember what songs he would sing because I didn’t like either Elvis Presley or Chuck Berry. George and I were in tune with music that was vastly different, even though we would both play in the High School Band and Orchestra later on. 

Harry was two years older than me. I was born on his birthday within two minutes of exactly two years. He never let me live that down when we were kids. It was always a bone of contention between us as children. It was very clear he did not want to share his special day with me and he held that against me for a long time. I never held anything against my brother Harry, not even the fact that he got so mad at me one time he pushed me on the wood-burning stove we used for heat in the winter. I was burned pretty badly. I was so afraid that Harry would get a spanking I told Daddy that I fell. 

Well, as I had suspected, George got his way. Daddy announced that we were going to pack a picnic and head down to Sandy Creek to go swimming. Mama protested in vain saying she wanted to go over to her mama’s house for a visit.  

“Bud, it’s been a month of Sundays since my mama saw her grandchillens.”  

She always called Daddy Bud whenever she really wanted something from him.  

“Your mama knows where we live. She’s welcome to come over here anytime she wants too.” He said with half a smile. 

Mama and Daddy’s mama, Ma Pearlie, had a very special relationship. But Daddy and Mama’s mama always seemed at odds with each other. The fact that Ma Pearlie lived right in front of us across the dirt road known as Prospect Road made life a little easier for Mama when she needed a baby sitter. But I know she wanted to see her mama more often than daddy was willing to.  

“C’mon now. Let’s take the kids down to Sandy. I promise we’ll visit Miz Zoret next Sunday.” 

Mama fried some chicken and my brother George decided he wanted some fresh fruit for the picnic. So he jumped over the fence to Uncle Ken’s orchard and took what he wanted. It’s a good thing that Uncle Ken was not home. He’d been known to reload buckshot casings with salt pellets and shoot at intruders. His aim was to discourage white kids and strangers from stealing his fruit. His eyes were so bad his chances of ever actually hitting an intruder were pretty slim. If my brother George had gone over and asked for fruit, Uncle Ken or Aunt Susie would give it to him. But not George, no sir, the fun for him was snatching what he wanted and not getting caught. 

My parents piled us kids in the back of Daddy’s old Ford pickup truck and we headed down to Sandy Creek. Daddy’s hound dog ran along side the truck barking as if to say he wanted to come along too. Daddy stopped the truck and opened the door on the passenger side.  

He told mama, “Slide over closer to me,” then he snapped his finger and gave a little whistle.  

That damn dog jumped into the cab of the truck with him and Mama as if he were too good to ride in the back with us kids. I hated that dog! Sometimes he got more attention from my daddy than I did. 

When we got to Sandy Creek, I could vaguely remember having been there before. I asked Mama, 

“How far away from this creek is it to our church?” 

“Bethlehem is over yonder on the other side of them trees,” she said.  

I looked up at some of the biggest trees I had ever seen. These trees were huge, I remember thinking, they looked like they were going to bump into the clouds. Luckily, their shadows cast the shade we needed for our picnic.  

“What kind of trees is these Mama?” I asked. 

“These is East Texas Pine trees baby,” Mama replied. 

“Ain’t this where I got baptized?” 

“Yes it is. I’m surprised you remember, you were just four years old.” 

“I ain’t never gonna forget that. I thought Reverend Spikes was trying to drown me.” Mama laughed and threw back her head.  

I remember thinking that she had the most beautiful teeth I had ever seen. 

The sound of daddy’s voice calling to me interrupted the special moment I was sharing with Mama.  

“C’mon in the water, dumplings.” He stood there holding out his arms for me.  

I was just about ready to walk into the creek when I looked up and to the left of where Daddy was standing waiting for me. I saw my brothers standing on the bank trying to determine who could piss further into the muddy water of Sandy Creek. To this day, whenever I hear the term “pissing contest” I always think about my two oldest brothers, God rest their souls.  

“I ain’t coming in there!” I said. 

“Why not, dumplings?” daddy asked. 

“Cause George Edward and Harry Lee is peeing in the water.” 

“That’s okay. It won’t hurt you.” 

“I ain’t coming in there. It’s nasty!” 

Daddy tried for at least a minute to coax me into the water, but he failed. 

I remember walking back to the shade of those big pine trees where Mama was sitting with my sister Wretha. It was so hot! It seemed to me with the day being a hollerday and all that it was time for somebody to start hollering. I had been waiting all day for the hollering to start. So I decided to get the hollering started on my own. I stood up, looked up at those big tall East Texas Pine trees and started hollering at them as loud as I could holler. Mama struggled to stand up to come over to me as quickly as she could. But daddy was out of the creek and running toward me before she could get to me. Daddy grabbed me up into his arms and said “It’s okay dumplings, I ain’t gonna make you get into the water.” 

“I know that Daddy” 

“Then why you crying?” He looked so puzzled. 

“I ain’t crying Daddy, I’m hollering,” I said with a big smile on my face. 

“Why on earth would you be hollering?” 

“Because it’s a hollerday Daddy. I been waiting all day for people to start hollering.” 

I had never, up to this point in my life, seen my daddy with tears in his eyes. He was laughing so hard his nose started running. I remember feeling just about as dumb as a sack of hair right then. After everybody was done laughing at me, once again it was daddy who sat down with me and explained the meaning of a holiday. Unfortunately all that laughing caused my mama to get so sick, Daddy had to rush her to the hospital. The first set of twins in the family was born July 4, 1956. 

About 35 years later, I came to regret having thought of Ma Pearlie as being not so smart when she said she didn’t know why the sun rose in the east and set in the west. One day one of my nieces, who liked to ask a lot of questions, asked me, “Auntie what was God doing before he created us?” 

“I don’t know, baby.” 

“You don’t know?” She asked with just a touch of indignation. 

“No, baby, I don’t know. But, keep asking your questions. The answers are out there somewhere.”?

I Dream of Circus Characters By Judy wells

Friday December 30, 2005

For months I’ve dreamed 

of circus characters, 

and I ask my friend Betsey, 

“Do you think I’d have 

these same characters 

in my dreams 

if I didn’t live in Berkeley?” 

She says no. 


Who are they, these strange 

denizens of the night? 

Jojo La Plume who makes puppets 

to perform for pint-sized children, 

Looks like she lives in her car 

then renews herself hiking 

the John Muir Trail 



Homeless black men living in vast barns 

who tell me it’s O.K. to stay there— 

The landlord doesn’t care. 

My boyfriend Dale, 

sleeping on a shelf 

alongside an underground escalator 

leading to a poetry reading. 

Houses of strange people  

in turquoise pants and wild hair 

showing surrealist movies in their kitchens 

and myself in a bed 

struggling with a beatnik. 


I wish there were beautiful 

wild chestnut horses in my dreams 

even blue ones, red ones 

instead of my parade 

of misfits, beatniks, and 


homeless, houseless 

underground men and women. 


Is that where the vein  

of ore lies 

The Mother Lode 

The Fat Lady?

Strolling Through Tilden By Yvette Hoffer

Friday December 30, 2005

T he beauty and tranquility of Tilden Park, a few minutes above the city soundscape, await our Tuesday Tilden Walkers. Although we have enjoyed our “secret” treasure for over 10 years, the park constantly changes and we never tire of its birds, flowers, and waterways.  

Please join our slowpoke walks of one to two hours near Jewel Lake at 9:30 a.m., meeting at the Little Farm parking lot. Occasionally, Dave Zukerman, park ranger, shows us methods of the watershed and history of the park, but we rarely get rained out.  

Call 524-9992 or 215-7672 to be sure we look out for you.  




Photo by Yvette Hoffer

Monterey Market By lENORE WATERS

Friday December 30, 2005




Pumpkins heaped one story high! 

As high as the sky! 

Pre-schoolers climb the orange  


Down again, backward. Feet first, head first, wriggling. 

Running between bins of squash 

Pink, orange, yellow-green 

Yellow and green, pink and orange 


Skidaddling among boxes of beans 

Black-brown, red, white 

White and red, brown and white 

Then up the pumpkin pile again. 

I choose this one, it’s the BIGGEST. 

I want this, IT’S THE most  


I NEED this one. 

How will you carry it? 

I can carry it I’m strong. 


Inside, the chaos is the vegetables  

and fruits 

All colors, all vying for attention 

Ugli fruit 

Rome Beauties 

Grotesque Fungi 

Pear shaped pears 


Tiny tamarinds 

Gargantuan grapefruit 

Red hot peppers 

Cool green Collards 




Browsing through the apple aisle 

I notice a hand written sign 

Arkansas Black Apple: Locally grown 

I pick one up in astonishment 

Indeed, part of it is a red so dark,  

It is almost black. 


The rest of this apple is red apple color, 

A little sunshine yellow. 

Is this fruit a metaphor, a simile,  

an allegory, or a saga? 

Did a family of Dust Bowl migrants from the 30’s bring the seed, 

Crossing deserts, mountains, and fording streams in their Model T Ford? 


I too am a migrant 

But I brought nothing as lasting  

As this apple. 


I put it in my basket. 

Two days later, it’s in the food section of the New York Times 

It’s a very trendy heirloom apple 

From Arkansas originally 

Now grown in California 


Well well well 

So much for poetry 

I eat the apple. 




Late October Evening 


Outside the Monterey Market, the pumpkin is less high. 

A few children, in that whiney mode between school and home, 

Try to climb the pile. 

Their irritated just home from work parents shout them down 


I’m here searching for the perfect  

persimmon for a salad 

I have no small children, I can take my time. 

Just a few left, all bruised and squishy. 


The purple and green figs are lying in their beds 

Looking gray and sickly. 

I take the remaining persimmons, someone has to care for them 

At least they don’t whine. 


Inside, the market looks dingy. 

The arugula, crisp this morning, is wilting. 

I hold a leaf, crush it, and sniff what I like to think of 

As the aroma of a Mediterranean hill side. 


A nice thought, a bit pretentious, 


Still, good salad makings. 

With a baguette 

This is all I need for supper 


I try to comfort a mewling child 

And go home to my solitary meal 




Editorial: Living On The Lotus Eaters’ Island By BECKY O'MALLEY

Tuesday January 03, 2006

The news reports about California’s weather at the end of 2005 and its consequences in many communities around here, coupled with the downpour on Monday, the first workday of 2006 for some of us, have inevitably engendered out-of-control metaphor formation. Here in Berkeley we have no major river to overwhelm the city, which they have in Napa. We have little fresh hillside construction to create landslides as they do in Southern California. Granted, our antique storm drains and aging utility wires create a few flooded intersections and short-term power outages, but by and large Berkeley can seem like an island in the storm most of the time. As it does, by and large, in the storm now gathering on the national political scene.  

In Washington, we’ve been finding out, the national administration has been carrying on a plethora of activities which seriously undermine the foundations of our democracy, with the illegal wiretapping scandal only the latest in a series of outrages. In New York City, media capital of the universe, the ongoing embarrassments of the New York Times—the latest, how they sat on the wiretapping story for more than a year—suggest that you can’t trust any paper anymore.  

Berkeley has become the home of the political snowbirds—people who are sitting out the storms on the national scene, and who comment on what’s going on from safe perches here. Most prominent on the Web are Brad DeLong, formerly part of the Clinton administration, who’s become a combination econ professor and blogger, and Markos Moulitsas Zúniga, proprietor of the million-hits-a-day Daily Kos. Bob Scheer has recently left the L.A. Times to join their ranks. In the mostly-print world, Robert Reich and Mark Danner are two of the many who now have a Berkeley base. 

It’s widely believed that Berkeley is different—that no matter what outrages are going in Rest-of-World, it can’t happen here. Overheard conversations at holiday parties document that belief system. One brief example: We attended an upbeat gathering on behalf of a Texas congressional candidate who had done a stint as a Berkeley radical in the ‘60s. One guest commented cheerily that she’d worked with him on community control of police way back when, and “now we have it in Berkeley.” Well, no. What’s actually happened is that the citizen-controlled Police Review Commission, formerly functional, has been emasculated by a court decision that allows its rulings to be superseded by the Police Department’s internal affairs process. And the position of PRC staff officer (who reports to the city manager, not to the citizens) is vacant, and has been for a long time. Berkeley doesn’t even have the kind of e-mail-facilitated community policing that has been so successful in immediately adjacent North Oakland. In 1973 progressive Berkeleyans founded the PRC, declared victory, and moved on. Yet in 2005, as we described in these pages, a visiting French woman of Arabic background, pushing her baby in a stroller, was subjected by Berkeley police to a humiliating procedure which included being forced to lie down on the ground, in broad daylight, despite the fact that she had done absolutely nothing wrong. She and her husband tried to get recourse through the PRC, but ultimately gave up in disgust and moved out of town. It can happen here, and it still does, often.  

And anyone who watches the Berkeley City Council meetings on cable TV these days (probably about 200 stout-hearted souls) is aware that we’ve shifted to Government Lite. The City Council reveals by their embarrassingly ignorant comments that they’re becoming the last to know what decisions are being made on their behalf by staff. The mayor rushes through meetings, unceremoniously shutting up Councilmember Dona Spring when she attempts to speak up about dubious proposals, and boasts that it’s all over in time to catch the 11 o’clock sports wrap-up on TV. The city’s recent grant application for planning a mega-development on the Ashby BART station, documented in previous issues and elsewhere in this one, was conceived and cooked up with the council in the dark about the whole scheme, yet they voted for it at the last meeting with only Spring abstaining. The Berkeley city attorney’s office is the source of endless stratagems designed to thwart the people’s right to know, as demonstrated in the clandestine settlement of the city’s suit against UC’s long range development plan. People who observe these things and who also know something about the high-handed tactics of the Bush regime are beginning to see ominous parallels. 

Greater Berkeleyans who live in the hills (or Over the Hill, like an increasing number of UC professors and administrators) can afford to be blissfully ignorant of how things are going here, since it affects at worst their commute time. People who live in the flats (also known as Berkeley’s Urban Sacrifice Zone) are forced to keep up with what’s planned for their neighborhoods whether they like it or not. These residents can’t afford to share the view of Berkeley as a progressive island in the storm. Once they get the idea that all might not be well in our happy little kingdom, they question other information as well. They look at the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision that eminent domain can be carried out for the profit of developers, and imagine that it could be applied in South Berkeley. They look at the Washington wiretapping scandals and wonder how information could be captured from radio frequency identification devices on Berkeley’s library books by the wrong people. Farther afield, some Daily Planet readers, especially those who live near current or future casino sites, eye the Abramoff Indian casino bribery scandal now developing in Washington and wonder if its tentacles might reach down into our local scene.  

Some of us, in sum, have now become aware that Berkeley, even blissful gourmet greater Berkeley where food idolatry got its start, the island abounding in milk and honey for all of us lotus eaters, can’t be isolated from the many problems now besetting the rest of the world. Figuring out what we can do about them is our job for 2006. 


Friday December 30, 2005

Takes smokes 

A young strongarm stick-up artist hit Kahn’s Smog Pros at the corner of Shattuck and Ashby avenues late in the afternoon of Dec. 19 and made off with cash and cigarettes, said Officer Shira Warren, the Berkeley Police Department’s acting public information officer. 


Botched heist 

Less than a half hour later, four teenagers tried to rob a fifth outside Cancun Taqueria in the 2100 block of Allston Way, but the would-be victim escaped, his belongings intact. 


Wallet robber 

It was just minutes before midnight on the 19th when a 21-year-old woman walking in the 2500 block of College Avenue was confronted a strongarm heister who forced her to surrender her wallet. 


Booth burner 

Berkeley firefighters and police were summoned to the 1700 block of Scenic Avenue just after 9 a.m. on the 20th and discovered that an arsonist had set fire to a phone booth. 

The unknown fire-starter had already departed the scene by the time they arrived. 


Another botch 

A strongarm bandit made an unsuccessful attempt to rob a 19-year-old man of his belongings in the 2200 block of Piedmont Avenue about 10:15 p.m. on the 20th. 


Inept assassin? 

Berkeley police arrested a 21-year-old man following a 2:50 p.m. shooting on the 21st. 

According to Sgt. Steve Odom, the man had appeared with the shotgun at the door of a residence in the 1900 block of Ninth Street, where he allegedly confronted the 23-year-old occupant about a theft. 

During the ensuing argument, the suspect pulled a sawed-off shotgun from his pant leg, accidentally firing off a round and shooting himself in the foot. 

Odom said the wounded fellow reloaded and fired another round at the departing resident, striking him with pellets in both legs. 

The shooter did more damage to himself than to his victim and is being held on suspicion of attempted murder. 


Armed booster 

When the manager of the San Pablo Avenue Walgreen’s spotted a shoplifter in the act at 3 p.m. on the 21st, she confronted the 20-something booster—who promptly produced a shiv which she brandished at the manager before hot-footing it out of the drug store. 


Armed robbery 

Three men, one armed with a pistol, approached a man near the railroad tracks on Third Street shortly after 5 p.m. last Friday and demanded his wallet. The fellow complied and the satisfied trio departed. 


Brick bashing 

A 44-year-old man told Berkeley police that a man in his 40s had bashed him in the face with a brick sometime before 2:30 a.m. on Christmas Eve in the 2700 block of San Pablo Avenue. 


Foiled robbery 

When a bandit in his late teens or early 20s tried to rob another young man in a parking garage in the 2400 block of Durant Avenue at 7:12 a.m. Christmas Eve, the victim saved his possessions and person by the simple expedient of sprinting away. 


Passport stolen 

One hour later, another young strongarm robber relieved a man of clothing and a passport near the Ashby BART station. 


Unknown attacker 

A 46-year-old man arrived at the Summit Alta Bates emergency room on Ashby Avenue shortly before 11 a.m. Christmas Eve for treatment of a neck wound. 

When he told nurses that someone had hit him with an unknown object, police were summoned, though the injured man was unable to offer any information about his unknown assailant, said Officer Warren. 


Criminal holiday 

Christmas and the day following proved singularly uneventful for Berkeley police, with no reports of robberies or other violent crimes. 

The next crime of note came late Tuesday morning, when a young woman reported that another young woman had poked her with a manicure tool. Her injuries were minor. 


Trike heist 

Two men robbed a 28-year-old man of his adult tricycle and a boombox as he pedaled along the 2200 block of Shattuck Avenue just before 8 p.m. Wednesday. 

The prompt arrival of Berkeley’s finest resulted in the recovery of three-wheeler and sound system and the arrest of two suspects, one 29 and the other 18.


Fathering 101: Tyranny, Tuning Out or FINE-Tuning By PETE WALKER

Friday December 30, 2005

Tough love? Unconditional love? Disney-Channel love? Quality-time vs. quantity-time love? The 13 different Greek words for love? The roof-over-your-head and food-on-the-table love of my parents? The pile-the-presents-so-high-you-can’t-see-the-Xmas-tree love. What’s a 59-year-old man with a 2-year-old son supposed to do? Will I heed my ancestors: “kids should be seen and not heard,” or subscribe to a New Age permissiveness that would give every kid a portable microphone? 

As a seasoned psychotherapist, I vacillate between difficult choices: cognitive-behavioral or neo-Freudian? Rewards and punishments or anal, oral and oedipal resolutions? Dr. Phil or Oprah? 

Codependent and not wanting to offend anyone, I, of course, am trying to choose an eclectic approach—a “take the best and leave the rest” middle path. But how do I know my choices won’t be denial-laden reenactments of my parents’ execrably poor parenting?  

In truth I don’t know, but nevertheless I am deeply committed to evolving my own eclectic parenting style—a hands-on, out-of-the-study, TV-dectomy approach of gentle coaching and benevolent guiding. I am attempting to balance a “love and limits” approach with an old research-proven formula that shows that kids respond best to correction when each instance of it is balanced with at least five pieces of positive attention. 

In this dauntingly meaningful endeavor and responsibility, I frequently find myself amazed at how much I am buoyed by the wisdom of the age-old metaphysics I first ventured into some thirty years ago—the psychology and spirituality of astrology.  

My understanding of astrology informs me that my son has complex developmental needs and drives—often competing and contradictory—that will only flourish if I am generous with my love and nurturance in many diverse ways.  

In this regard, I see that like every other human being, his essential self is composed of twelve different parts and that each part has corresponding drives and needs—needs that can be delineated by the twelve signs of the Zodiac. Each sign, then, describes a fundamental archetypal aspect of human being and informs me about different aspects of his Self that he will need my loving assistance to develop in a way that will promote his growing up to be a balanced, fully articulated human being. 

So Jaden, my son: How do I love Thee? Let me Count the ways 

Here then is a very abbreviated delineation of the ways—the 12 categories of loving actions that I infer from an astrological model, and that I hope will guide me to be what the famous psychotherapist D.W. Winnicott called “a good enough father.” 

Aries reminds me to nurture his need to be assertive and powerful in the world, so I love him through wresting and vigorous play. I greet his asking for what he wants, I let him make as many of his own choices as reasonably possible, and I respect his healthy and instinctive use of the word “No.” I want him to be able to say no not only to drugs, but also to corrupting influence from any dangerous authority figures that he may encounter—whether they are elected or not. 

Libra reminds me to teach him to share and compromise, and that everyone deserves their fair turn. It further informs me to nurture his ability to develop intimacy through conversations that are authentic, vulnerable and reciprocal. I won’t pass on the “no-talk” rule that was part of my Anglo-Saxon upbringing, and my enculturation into the tight-lipped male world of macho posing. I will try to show him by example that real intimacy is directly proportionate to the amount of one’s whole experience—mental, emotional and behavioral—that can be shown to and shared with another. 

Taurus instructs me to help him discover his own sense of aesthetics—his capacity to be moved by art and beauty, and to exult in color, form, texture, composition. I will create copious opportunities for him to explore arts, crafts and tools, and I will take him out frequently into nature to nurture his enjoyment of natural beauty.  

Gemini informs me to love and support his present-time, crucial and delightful developmental stage of following his curiosity and investigating everything and everyone in his environment. I love him by giving him copious time to explore—to, whenever possible, take an hour to witness his discoveries as we painstakingly [me, rarely him] circumnavigate the block we live on. Part of this discovery process is teaching him names and words to describe his experience. In this vein, I greet and love all his questions, refusing to shame him as a chatterbox or “Chatty Cathy.” 

Virgo informs me of his need to settle into healthy eating and hygiene routines. Accordingly, my wife and I have relinquished our family legacies of eating in front of the TV. We strive to make mealtime around the table a sacred family time, a time that links eating with the pleasure of conversational engagement—of sharing the triumphs, mundanities and tribulations of the day. 

Leo tells me about Jaden’s need to discover and bring forth his whole individuality in a confident, spontaneous, fully expressive way—to shine on the world his unique gestalt of talents and qualities. Playing frequently with him, with minimal directing, is the best way I know how to cultivate this. His enthusiasm, nascent sense of humor, rudimentary singing, and inventive use of toys is typically easy to actively appreciate—and even though it’s natural, sheer repetitiveness sometimes makes me feel like I am Bill Murray in Groundhog Day, I subscribe to applauding him copiously—not out of insincerity—but as a labor of love. 

Cancer reminds me to protect his fragile need to maintain an unconditionally loving relationship with himself, which as will be seen when Capricorn is described below, does not cancel out his need to be considerate of others. I am committed to nurturing his capacity to grow into being his own best friend, and especially, in the emotionally impoverished milieu of an industrial society, to love and value himself in all his emotional experience. In other words I strive to support the growth of his emotional intelligence and try to greet all his emotional expression, especially and somewhat paradoxically when I am lovingly and non-punitively guiding him to “use his words” and find non-hurtful means of emoting. I want to help him resist this culture’s pressure on males to split off their female sides—an act, I believe, that leads to the workaholic and/or drug and alcoholic management of emotions that causes so many men to die a decade earlier than women. 

Scorpio tells me that he will be periodically subject to the painful life losses that are existential to being human. Grieving is the most powerful tool that people have to recover from their losses, and he was born instinctively knowing how to grieve out his pain. His cries have always had the capacity to release both the anger and sadness that is a core part of pain, and I love him by showing him that I fully cherish him when he non-hurtfully expresses “his mad and his sad.” 

Grieving releases the stress of loss and upsets—which for him at this time in his life is so often about grieving the gradually decaying narcissistic privilege of his infancy, and discovering that there are limits and rules he has to learn to accept—that his brief birthright of being the center of the universe is coming to an end. “It’s OK that you’re mad that you have to stop playing now, Jaden; I see you’re really sad too. And you do have to stop now. You can come with me, or I’ll have to pick you up and carry you to the car.”  

To illustrate two essential life lessons about which I hope to be one of his key teachers, I will present the needs represented by the last four astrological signs as pairs of contradictory but complementary opposites. I hope to offer him throughout his childhood ongoing guidance regarding two difficult existential choices he will continuously face. I hope to help him come to terms as gracefully as possible with these paradoxical issues of life. 

Sagittarius then, informs me about Jaden’s spiritual need to recognize life as bounteous, grace-full, and replete with opportunity and wonder, while Capricorn represents his mundane need to accept that life also contains many obstacles and struggles, and that he will also need to be disciplined and work hard in order to succeed and thrive. I want him to get that life is an inordinately exquisite gift—an incomparable free ride—even though it is simultaneously a school of hard knocks and many dues will have to be paid. 

I want to nourish in him a trust in the essential worthwhileness of life. I want to help him know when to flow with the river, and when to get out, chop down a tree, carve a canoe, and start paddling upstream. I believe his maturation will be about becoming increasingly adept at finding the ever-shifting balance between taking things for granted and working like a dog to get some desired result. I think I do this for him now by ongoingly adjusting the balance of love and limits in his life—the latter something he must gradually learn about as he embarks on the long journey to adulthood. Hopefully I will do it in a way that play will always be important to him as work. 

Finally, Aquarius encourages me to nurture his evolutionary need for continuous growth and development—I hope that by providing non-pressured opportunities for him to explore a wide variety of interests, entertainments, hobbies, activities, group memberships, etc., that I am sowing the seeds for a perennial love of self-development and life-long learning—the kind of lifelong learning that science now believes is a key antidote to Alzheimer’s. 

In a somewhat opposite and complementary way, Pisces reminds me to support a counterbalancing development of his need to devote sufficient time to relaxation, letting go, and a lifelong respect for getting a healthy amount of sleep. I don’t and hopefully won’t over-schedule his day—no matter how rich the potential for growth and development. Too much of anything is too much. Overeating, even when it’s the best and most healthy food in the world, still creates digestive problems—and serious ones when it occurs over time. Similarly, too much rich experience creates very problematic psychological indigestion. 

My loving pledge to Jaden is to help him live his life like a human being and not a human doing.  


Kashmir By Roopa Ramamoorthi

Friday December 30, 2005

Beautiful land of lakes and  


Srinagar with your georgeous  

gardens and aesthetic fountains 

As a child I used to lie next to my mother  

And hear tales of her adventure 

Luscious apples eaten 

And how she was smitten 

By the sight of shikaras 

Dotting crystal clear Dal lake 


Time moved on and a trip I did take 

To the same land of mummies  

legendary tale 

But I was disappointed 

Dal lake was more polluted 

And Kashmir had changed from a lovely young bride 

To a weary old woman who had lost her innocent pride 


She had endured becoming a tourist destination 

And too much Hindu Muslim tension 

Where once she was filled with lakes with pristine water 

Her hands were now bloodied by  


By marching armies over territorial rights 


Her smile has turned to a frown 

And she tells you see you later 


Note: Shikaras are the boats that ply along Dal Lake, in Srinagar city.

Mary’s Poem By JUDY WELLS

Friday December 30, 2005

Mary saved our night blooming  


It was dying 

Mary saved our night blooming  



There was a hard freeze one night 

and the jasmine took sick 

Soon it looked like a couple of sticks 

but Mary wanted to save it 


Every day she watered it 

and coaxed a few little green leaves 

from the dry sticks 


I pruned it a bit 

clucking and shaking my head 

but Mary persisted 


Now it’s blooming once again 

by our stairway 

the sweet smell of jasmine rising 

through our kitchen window 


But now Mary is doing poorly 

She’s had a heart attack, a bad back 

a broken hip, a broken arm 

and her bones are porous 


If we could pour water into her 

If we could make her sprout 

green leaves and strong new  


we would do it in a minute 

but we can’t 


Mary saved our night blooming  


It was dying 

Mary saved our night blooming  


Berkeley This Week

Friday December 30, 2005


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


Open the Little Farm Help greet the animals as we feed them, collect eggs and do morning chores at 9 a.m. at the Little Farm, Tilden Park. Dress to get dirty. 525-2233. 

Berkeley High Class of 1975 Reunion Party at 7 p.m. at the Doubletree, Berkeley Marina. mlc22@sbcglobal.net 

New Year’s Eve Balloon Drop at 4 p.m. (midnight Greenwich Mean Time) at Chabot Space & Science Center. Tickets required. 336-7373. 


Tibetan Buddhism “Introduction to Tibetan Healing Meditation and Yoga” at 3 p.m. at the Tibetan Nyingma Institute, 1815 Highland Pl. 843-6812.  


Free Small Business Counselling with SCORE, Service Core of Retired Executives at the Berkeley Public Library, 2090 Kittredge. To make an appointment call 981-6244. 

Tibetan Buddhism with Sylvia Gretchen on “Healing Mind” at 8 p.m. at the Tibetan Nyingma Institute, 1815 Highland Pl. 843-6812.  

Confetti Arts Day from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Habitot, 2065 Kittredge St. Cost is $6 child, $5 adult. 647-1111. www.habitot.org 


Learn How to Use Your GPS with Map Software with Jeff Caulfield of National Geographic at 7 p.m. at REI, 1338 San Pablo Ave. 527-4140. 

Family Story Time at 7 p.m. at the Kensington Branch Library, 61 Arlington Ave., Kensington. Free, all ages welcome. 524-3043. 

Red Cross Blood Drive from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Kaiser Permanente, Dining Conference Room, 1950 Franklin St. To schedule an appointment call 1-800-GIVE-LIFE. www.BeADonor.com 

Berkeley Salon Discussion Group meets to discuss “New Years Revolutions” from 7 to 9 p.m. at the BRJCC, 1414 Walnut St. 527-1022. 

Free Handbuilding Ceramics Class 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at St. John’s Senior Center, 2727 College Ave. Materials and firing charges not included. 525-5497. 

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

“Ask the Social Worker” free consultations for older adults and their families from 10 a.m. to noon at BRJCC, 1414 Walnut St. To schedule an appointment call 558-7800, ext. 716. 

St. John’s Prime Timers meets at 9:30 a.m. at St. John’s Presbyterian Church, 2727 College Ave. 845-6830. 

“Faith, Doubt, and Inquiry” with Jack Petranker at 6:15 p.m. at the Tibetan Nyingma Institute, 1815 Highland Pl. 843-6812. www.nyingmainstitute.com 


Community Advisory Group Zeneca/Stauffer Chemical Site meets at 6:30 p.m. in the Bermuda Room, Richmond Convention Center, 403 Civic Center Plaza at Nevin and 25th Sts., Richmond. 540-3923. 

“45 Days: The Life and Death of a Broiler Chicken” Documentaries on animal cruelty at 7 p.m. at Humanist Hall, 390 27th St., Oakland. Donation of $5 suggested.  

Bookmark Reading Group meets to discuss “The Mistress of Spices” by Chitra Divakaruni at 6:30 p.m. at 721 Washington St., Oakland. 336-0902. 

American Red Cross Blood Services Volunteer Orientation from 10 a.m. to noon at its headquarters in Oakland. Volunteers are needed to support the more than 40 blood drives held each month all over the East Bay. For more information call 594-5165. 

Dick Penniman’s Avalanche Safety Lecture at 6 p.m. at REI, 1338 San Pablo Ave. Fee is $20. 527-4140. 

Red Cross Blood Drive from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 1333 Broadway, Oakland, and from 2 to 7 p.m. at Kehilla Synagogue, 1300 Grand Ave., Piedmont. To schedule an appointment call 1-800-GIVE-LIFE. www.BeADonor.com 

Berkeley Communicators Toastmasters welcomes curious guests and new members at 7:15 a.m. at Au Coquelet Cafe, 2000 University Ave. at Milvia. 435-5863.  

Entrepreneurs Networking at 8 a.m. at A’Cuppa Tea, 3202 College Ave. at Alcatraz. Cost is $5. 562-9431.  

Walk Berkeley for Seniors meets every Wednesday at 9:30 a.m. at the Sea Breeze Market, just west of the I-80 overpass. 548-9840. 

Sing your Way Home A free sing-a-long at 4:30 p.m. every Wed. at the Albany Library, 1247 Marin Ave. 526-3720. 

Prose Writer’s Workshop meets at 7 p.m. at BRJCC, 1414 Walnut St. 848-0237. georgeporter@earthlink.net 

Berkeley Peace Walk and Vigil at 6:30 p.m. followed by Peace Walk at 7 p.m. www.geocities.com/vigil4peace/vigil 

Tibetan Yoga with Jack van der Meulen at 6:15 p.m. at Tibetan Nyingma Institute, 1815 Highland Place. 843-6812. 

Introduction to Buddhist Studies at 8 p.m. at Tibetan Nyingma Institute, 1815 Highland Place. 843-6812. 


Choosing a Preschool A workshop on the options at 7 p.m. at Bananas, 5232 Claremont Ave., Oakland. Registration required, 658-7353. 

Learn to Salsa Dance A 4-week class on Thurs. at 7 p.m. at Lake Merrit Dance Center, 200 Grand Ave. Cost is $50, or $15 per class. 415-668-9936. 

World of Plants Tours Thurs., Sat. and Sun. at 1:30 p.m. at the UC Botanical Garden, 200 Centennial Drive. Cost is $5. 643-2755. http://botanicalgarden.berkeley.edu 

“Transforming Negative Habit Patterns” at 6:15 p.m. at the Tibetan Nyingma Institute, 1815 Highland Pl. 843-6812. www.nyingmainstitute.com 


United Way’s Earn it! Keep It! Save It! needs volunteer tax preparers and language interpreters to help low-income families in Alameda County claim tax credits. No previous tax preparation experience is necessary. Training sessions run through mid-January. For more information, call 238-2415. www.earnitkeepitsaveit.org 

Magnes Museum Docent Training begins Jan. 8. Open to all who are interested in Jewish art and history. For information contact Faith Powell at 549-6950 x333. 


Housing Advisory Commission meets Thurs., Jan. 5, at 7:30 p.m., at the South Berkeley Senior Center. Oscar Sung, 981-5400. www.ci.berkeley.ca. 


Public Works Commission meets Thurs., Jan. 5, at 7 p.m., at the North Berkeley Senior Center. Jeff Egeberg, 981-6406. www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/commissions/publicworks 

Planning Commission Special Meeting and Tour Sat. Jan. 7, at 9:45 a.m. at McKevitt Volvo-Nissan, 2700 Shattuck Ave. at Derby. Carli Paine, 981-7403.