Full Text

A laundromat trying to move into a ground floor commercial space  on Telegraph Avenue had raised the ire of potential neighbors.
By Riya Bhattacharjee
A laundromat trying to move into a ground floor commercial space on Telegraph Avenue had raised the ire of potential neighbors.


Hikers With Connections to UC Berkeley Charged with Espionage in Iran

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Monday November 09, 2009 - 04:11:00 PM

The three American hikers, all graduates of UC Berkeley, who were detained by Iranian authorities were charged with espionage Monday, according to reports by national and international media. 

UC Berkeley alumni Shane Bauer, Sarah Shourd and Josh Fattal have been held by Iranian authorities since July 31 for illegally crossing into Iran from Iraqi Kurdistan. 

Family and friends have said that the three were on a hike when they crossed the Iran-Iraq border by mistake. 

The families of Bauer, Shourd and Fattal issued a statement Monday to the Planet in response to the latest reports from Tehran: 

“The allegation that our loved ones may have been engaged in espionage is untrue,” the statement said. “It is entirely at odds with the people Shane, Sarah and Josh are and with anything that Iran can have learned about them since they were detained on July 31. Shane, Sarah and Josh have now been held for more than 100 days simply because they apparently strayed into Iran by accident while hiking in Iraqi Kurdistan. We again call on Iran to show compassion to our loved ones and release them without delay. This has already gone on for too long.” 

Efforts by U.S. government officials—including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton—to free the three have been unsuccessful. Clinton met with the families of all three hikers recently, according to UC Berkeley officials. 

According to CNN, Tehran’s prosecutor general, Abbas Ja’afari Dolatabadi, made an announcement about the charges during an interview with the official Iranian news agency IRNA. 

“The charge against the three U.S. citizens who were arrested on the Iran-Iraq border is espionage. Investigation of their cases is in progress,” he told IRNA, adding: “There will be more to say [about them] soon.” 

CNN reported that Clinton urged the Iranian government Monday to “exercise compassion,” saying “We believe strongly that there is no evidence to support any charge whatsoever.” 

Dolatabadi also told IRNA during the interview that Iranian authorities had also arrested a Danish journalism student and were investigating him, CNN said. 

“A journalist must have an official permit from authorized officials,” he told IRNA. “Therefore, the investigation will continue. We have also requested information from the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance and after they respond to our inquiry we will make our decision.” 

The Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance is in charge of issuing permits to journalists.” 

UC Berkeley officials said they would not comment on the latest charges, but expressed concern about the ongoing detention. The university’s Associate Vice Chancellor of Public Affairs Claire Holmes described the news as a “most unfortunate turn of events.” 

“Our hearts go out to the hikers and their families,” she told the Planet. “We certainly hope this gets resolved quickly and they return home to be with their families and loved ones. They are in our thoughts and prayers. We certainly hope that the State Department will do all it takes to bring them back.” 

Holmes said UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau had sent Clinton a letter urging consular access which was granted. 

“We don’t want to do anything to jeopardize their release, but the letter basically said that all three hikers graduated from UC Berkeley, and while we do not know the particulars of the situation, we urged for consular access.” 

Because the United States has no diplomatic relations with Iran, the U.S. government appealed for the hikers’ release through Swiss diplomats, who met with them twice at the Evin Prison in Tehran, most recently Oct. 29, according to CNN. 

Bauer, 27, and Shourd, 31, are freelance journalists, and Fattal, 27, is involved with a sustainable living project at the Aprovecho Research Center in Cottage Grove, Ore., the families have said. 

UC Berkeley held a vigil in August marking the 30-day anniversary of the detention.  

“We wanted to keep this topic in the forefront and get the attention of the media,” Holmes said. “It’s terrible.” 

Holmes said that it was very uncommon for college students to get detained and charged for espionage by international authorities while traveling. 

Worldwide vigils for the hikers were held on the 100-day anniversary of their arrest.  

The university is in touch with the hikers’ families through sporadic emails, Holmes said. 

A website created in support of the three hikers, www.freethehikers.org, was jammed because of a spike in web traffic Monday morning.  

Rockridge Safeway Buys Union 76 Gas Station, Moves Ahead With Expansion Plans

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Friday November 06, 2009 - 05:08:00 PM

Safeway took ownership of the Union 76 gas station site in Rockridge this week and is moving ahead with plans to incorporate it into a proposed remodeling project for its supermarket at the corner of College and Claremont avenues. 

Todd Paradis, real estate manager for Safeway’s Northern California Division, told the Planet that escrow for the property closed on Tuesday. 

A fence has been constructed around the property since then to prevent loitering and trash from collecting. According to the website www.safewayoncollege.com , created by Safeway to post updates about the development, the fence was erected to prevent the property from turning into a public nuisance. 

The website also reports that Safeway is considering “temporary commercial uses such as an auto repair tenant without gas,” who will rent the site until it is ready to be redeveloped. 

Safeway embarked on a mission to revamp its College Avenue store several years ago, meeting stiff opposition from neighbors regarding size, traffic and other issues. 

Size is still an issue for a number of area residents, many of whom balked at the idea of a 65,000-square-foot shopping center—more than twice the size of the current Safeway. 

Opponents of the plan think the scale is unsuitable and unnecessary for the neighborhood, threatening to change the area’s small-town feel. 

They also say they are worried that an expanded Safeway, with its larger selection of merchandise, would chase away the small independent shops across College Avenue from the supermarket. 

Safeway officials contend that the store, which was built in the 1960s, is long due for an upgrade. 

Some neighbors said they suspect that Safeway is sending a signal that development is “going to happen” by acquiring the gas station. Others are waiting for a chance to go before the Oakland Planning Department to comment on what they think should be included in the project’s environmental impact report. 

Oakland’s Community and Economic Development Agency and Planning and Zoning Division is preparing a draft environmental impact report for the College Avenue Safeway and has invited the public to comment on what they think should be included in the document at a meeting on Nov. 18. 

The city has crafted an initial study that says that the environmental impact report will address transportation, traffic, noise and air quality. 

Susan Shawl of Concerned Neighbors, a neighborhood group opposed to the scale of the project, said that she wanted to voice concerns about zoning and land use at the project. 

The store is in the C-31 or Special Retail zone. 

Shawl said that she did not object to the building’s external design, but is opposed to its scale. The project includes a two-story building with a roof-top garden and a pedestrian walkway next to eight retail stores, 

Safeway also plans to expand its Broadway and 51st Street store, about a mile away from the College Avenue store. 

“Why are they building two stores totaling about 100,000 square feet so close to each other when this area is already so well served?” Shawl asked. “There are parts in east and west Oakland that could use stores like this. I am concerned about the cumulative effect of both stores. What about traffic?” 

Oakland city planner Pete Vollmann told the Planet that a traffic study was being conducted by transportation consultants Fehr & Peers and would be part of the environmental impact report. 

Vollmann said there was no set timeline for when the study would be released to the public. 

Calls to Safeway’s public relations officials for comment were not returned. 

Shawl said that neighborhood zoning laws mandated that any development should “maintain and enhance what is there now.” 

“However, they are literally going to grow and change the area,” she said. “College and Claremont will never be the same again.” 

Oakland’s planning staff wrote in the study that the “proposed project would result in a taller, more massive, and more intensively developed commercial center at this key retail corner in north Oakland than what presently exists at the site.” 

“I am skeptical of Safeway’s ability to deliver a neighborhood development that is consistent with the pedestrian-oriented shopping district that characterizes College Avenue and of the project’s ability to comply with Oakland’s zoning code,” said Jerome Buttrick, an architect at Buttrick Wong Architects who lives in the neighborhood.  

“They have no track record building urban infill projects of this sort. Most importantly however, the impact it will have on the local community cannot be overstated,” he said. “The project will quickly destroy the delicate balance of small, local retail shops that has taken decades to put in place.” 




Telegraph Neighbors Clash With City Over Laundromat

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Thursday November 05, 2009 - 08:33:00 AM
A laundromat trying to move into a ground floor commercial space  on Telegraph Avenue had raised the ire of potential neighbors.
By Riya Bhattacharjee
A laundromat trying to move into a ground floor commercial space on Telegraph Avenue had raised the ire of potential neighbors.

Residents and neighbors of Southside Lofts at 3095 Telegraph Ave. are fighting to keep a national retail chain off the property. 

If this sounds familiar, it’s because it is.  

Members of the same group rallied the city three years ago to prevent fast food conglomerate Quizno’s from moving into the same space, citing quality-of-life issues, something they say has come back to haunt them, except this time their ire is directed toward a laundromat. And the city of Berkeley. 

The group is demanding a public hearing because Planning Department officials have admitted that they erroneously issued a permit for Launderland, one in a string of laundry stores owned by San Diego–based PWS Laundry. The permit wasbased on the prior existence of Milt’s Coin-Op Laundromat at the site, when in fact it was illegal for PWS to start construction without an administrative use permit because the old structure in which Milt’s was located burned down in 2002. 

Southside Lofts, a mixed-use condominium project, was built in 2006. 

In an Oct. 14 memo to the Berkeley City Council, City Manager Phil Kamlarz wrote that although Launderland’s developers stated in the application that the existing use was a laundromat, planning staff’s comments on the documents “reflected that the laundromat had burned down, but that laundry use was still allowed at the site.” 

Kamlarz concluded that the zoning certificate “was not issued based on the misrepresentation that there was an existing laundromat.” 

Although concerns from the condo owners led the city to issue a stop-work order for the project, Kamlarz said it was rescinded after the city attorney determined that the developer had already invested in a large amount of construction and signed contracts with PG&E and EBMUD. 

Southside Lofts landlord Sam Sorokin, who is keen on renting the space to Launderland, said that Milt’s had burned down because of poor maintenance by its owners, something he promises will not happen with the proposed project. 

Some homeowners who suffered property damage worth thousands of dollars in the fire said that Milt’s operators didn’t clean the lint filters, something they fear could happen at the new laundromat as well. 

Sorokin told the Planet that Launderland’s developers had printed “laundromat” under existing use in the permit application because planning staff had asked them to. 

The city’s Assistant Planning Director Wendy Cosin, denied this, saying, “We don’t tell people what to put in their applications.” 

Berkeley City Attorney Zack Cohen said the city was in the process of investigating what had occurred. 

Southside Lofts condo-owner Mahershalalhashbaz Ali, whose apartment sits directly above the proposed laundromat, said that neighbors wanted the city to hold a public hearing to hear their concerns. 

Ali, who is a 35-year-old actor, said he would have never bought the condo had he known there would be laundromat vents three feet below his bedroom window. 

“I love Berkeley, I love being here—I bought the house because I like the quality of life in the Bay Area,” he said. “I have no issues with a laundromat but I don’t want to live above one. My property value will never be the same again. How can a city which prides itself on social justice and civil rights break its own law?” 

In an article titled “Dirty Laundry” sent to the Claremont Elmwood Neighborhood Association newsletter, Marcy McGaugh, coordinator of public safety for the Bateman neighborhood, vividly recalled the morning of Jan. 26, seven years ago, when the three-alarm fire at Avenue Liquors and Milt’s had filled her street with firefighters from Berkeley and Oakland, “who worked through the night and into the morning to put out the fire.” 

McGaugh said that, during the development of Southside Lofts, area property owners had opposed any kind of commercial establishment that would pose a fire danger to the neighborhood. 

“We let Mokka come in because it didn’t involve any flames,” she said, pointing to the cafe that occupies the corner on Dowling Street. “But the amount of heat and noise a laundry creates is not something that’s safe and healthy. These people bought these homes and can’t leave.” 

McGaugh said that the group had submitted a petition to the City Council with more than 300 signatures opposing the laundromat. 

Sorokin, who said he has lost a lot of money from not being able to rent out the space after the neighbors blocked Quizno’s from moving in, said a public hearing would not solve anything. 

“They (condo-owners) bought a property on Telegraph Avenue with retail under it,” he said. “The negative comments are covering up the real issue—a classism mentality. They’d rather have a gym.” 

Sorokin added that the building was completely sprinkled, and he waved off concerns about the laundromat being a fire hazard as “ridiculous.” 

UC Berkeley graduate Joselyn Rose, who has lived in the neighborhood for 15 years, said she was concerned about the laundromat bringing more crime and parking problems to the area. 

“But at the end of the day the city is not following the law—it’s not a classism issue,” Rose shot back. “They cannot silence our voice.” 

The threat of a lawsuit from at least one Southside Lofts resident has forced the city to address the issue immediately, and Cohen will be meeting with city councilmembers in closed session Nov. 9 to discuss the legal ramifications of rescinding the stop-work order. 

“It’s a nightmare,” said Councilmember Kriss Worthington, who represents the district. “I am looking forward to what the city is allowed to do in this unfortunate situation.” 

There will be a 10-minute public comment section preceding the council’s meeting. 








Seattle Captain Chosen as New Berkeley Police Chief

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Thursday November 05, 2009 - 08:34:00 AM
Captain Michael Meehan of the Seattle Police Department was named Berkeley’s new police chief.
By Andrew Taylor
Captain Michael Meehan of the Seattle Police Department was named Berkeley’s new police chief.

Berkeley City Manager Phil Kamlarz introduced Captain Michael Meehan of the Seattle Police Department as Berkeley’s new police chief in a closed session of the Berkeley City Council Tuesday, Nov. 3. 

Councilmember Linda Maio told the Planet that the council would vote to approve Meehan in open session at the council meeting Nov. 10. 

The city’s former chief, Doug Hambleton, retired on Sept. 24. Capt. Eric Gustafson has served as interm chief while the department searched for a replacement.  

Calls to Kamlarz were not returned by press time. 

Meehan, a 23-year veteran of the Seattle Police Department, was transferred in July from the SPD Narcotics Section to head Violent Crimes, which includes overseeing the homicide, robbery, CSI, gang, polygraph, bias crimes and fugitive units. 

According to a blog post on the SPD website, Meehan previously commanded East Precinct, Narcotics, Vice, Field Training and Audit, Accredition and Policy. 

Maio said the council had a chance to interview Meehan Tuesday night. 

“He’s from Seattle, and he’s been the commander of an area and police unit the size of Berkeley’s,” she said. “He has also introduced a number of communication initiatives in the Seattle Police Department.” 

Maio said that Meehan had worked on immigration and medical marijuana issues, and regularly consulted with the American Civil Liberties Union regarding medical marijuana dispensaries and sales. 

“He has a great deal of respect for the police force and has done a lot of training,” Maio said. “We hope that gets transmitted to the new recruits.” 

Maio said that Meehan also had a lot of “very interesting ideas” about training, and the latest methods or skills being used to reduce crime, including modern data systems. 

The Berkeley Police Department has been criticized in the past for the lack of a comprehensive data-gathering system. 

“He does not think prosecuting undocumented people does any good,” Maio said. “If it’s a matter of a dangerous felon, he thinks police should go after them.” 

Meehan’s work involving a community-led policing project in Seattle’s International District received attention from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.  

Sgt. Sean Whitcomb, a spokesperson for the Seattle Police Department, which lost one of its officers in the line of duty Oct. 31, said that the department was not aware of Meehan’s Berkeley appointment. 

“But that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen,” he said. “We are just too preoccupied with the memorial services right now.” 

Comments on a Feb. 2009 blog catering to Seattle’s Capitol Hill area, a pre-dominantly gay neighborhood, discussed the possibility of Meehan replacing then–Seattle Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske, who was selected by the Obama administration to be the “drug czar,” overseeing the country’s drug-control policy. 

“I would be overjoyed to see another ex-East Precinct Commander (Mike Meehan) as the Seattle Police Chief, but suspect he’ll have to work his way up the ranks a bit first,” said Andrew Taylor, a writer on the blog. “He’s very smart, thoughtful and good with the public. And he’s very tall!” 

A PowerPoint presentation by Meehan on public safety and rescue operations during dangerous situations involving bombs and other explosives for the Health Physics Society, where he talks about federal responses as well as handling members of the media in these situations, can be found on the Internet. 

In an April 2 interview with the Seattle Times about a story on Oxycontin abuse, Meehan said that, although “his detectives investigated about 100 drug-forgery cases in 2007,” because the crime resulted “in a maximum of only six months in jail for a first-time offender there is no real deterrent for people not to forge a doctor's signature.” 



EPA Says Berkeley Violated Water Act

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Thursday November 05, 2009 - 08:36:00 AM

The East Bay Municipal Utility District and Berkeley are in trouble with the Environmental Protection Agency for violating the federal Clean Water Act.  

The EPA charged EBMUD and nine East Bay cities, including Berkeley, with discharging illegal flows through their sanitary sewer systems during rainy weather.  

During excessive rain, a combination of storm water and sewage from Berkeley, Oakland, Emeryville, Piedmont, Alameda, El Cerrito, Kensington, Richmond and Albany ends up at EBMUD’s wet weather treatment facilties, choking them and ultimately flowing out into the bay.  

EPA San Francisco’s Water Division Director Alexis Strauss told the Planet that the agency had issued a draft administrative order of compliance to all the cities involved, asking them to monitor flows with an eye to future upgrades. Berkeley City Attorney Zack Cohen told the Planet Tuesday that the city was expecting to receive the formal administrative order Nov. 18.  

Strauss said EPA was expecting cities to take additional action to identify key areas of wet weather flows, including infrastructure repair and renewal, in addition to an existing city ordinance that asks homeowners to inspect and repair pipes.  

“Their collection systems are old, and some haven’t been replaced in a while,” Strauss said of Berkeley’s existing infrastructure.  

A number of the city of Berkeley’s main and lateral pipes have deteriorated over the years, and some of its sewers are more than 100 years old.  

The draft stipulated order issued by EPA directs Berkeley to “stop sanitary sewer overflows from its collection system,” according to a staff report by Public Works. 

The city will also be required to work closely with EBMUD to “develop and implement a regional collection system asset management plan,” the report says. 

Strauss said that Berkeley was already doing its part to work with EBMUD to fix these problems.  

However, that hasn’t stopped independent environmental organizations from threatening lawsuits.  

Bay Area nonprofit Our Children’s Earth Foundation issued a 60-day notice on Oct. 5 of its intention to file suit against the city of Berkeley for “serious and ongoing violations of the federal Clean Water Act at the city’s publicly owned treatment works.”  

OCE is planning to sue eight of the nine cities admonished by EPA.  

Christopher Sproul, an attorney at Environmental Advocates, one of the law firms representing OCE, said OCE’s members are concerned that they are continuing to be adversely affected by Berkeley’s sewage discharge violations.  

“We are waiting to see what Berkeley’s proposal is to resolve the matter,” Sproul said. “EPA’s administrative order is not legally binding so we want to push the process along. It’s great EPA is doing what they are doing but sometimes agencies are slow.”  

The foundation’s members use the San Francisco Bay for water sports, wildlife watching, educational purposes and other kinds of recreation.  

“We don’t want raw sewage falling into the San Francisco Bay where we swim,” Sproul said. “We are talking about millions of gallons of waste from toilets and sinks.”  

A letter to Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates from OCE’s lawyers alleges that Berkeley has repeatedly violated the Clean Water Act by discharging raw sewage from treatment facilities without the proper permits.  

According to the letter, the raw sewage has repeatedly overflowed or spilled from Berkeley’s sewer lines, manholes and pump stations, which Sproul said was a result of “poor or inadequate system maintenance, operation or repair.”  

The letter further charges that the city has dispensed wastewater “at a location or in a manner different from that” authorized.  

A recent audit by the city of Berkeley’s auditor, Ann-Marie Hogan, found that the city has had a large number of sanitary sewer spills and noted that Public Works has been unable to identify the sewer locations that “have significant root, grease or debris problems,” which cause the majority of the spills.  

According to the most recent American Water Works Association Survey available, Berkeley has more spills per mile of sewer line than most other waste water service providers.  

Of the city’s sewer spills, 20 percent are repeat spills, the report said, and it attributed them to the lack of a closed circuit television system to monitor the cause.  

Berkeley employs 20 people to perform sewer maintenance work. The city’s 2009 budget for the Sanitary Sewer Maintenance Unit is $3.7 million.  

Public Works reported to the audit that it cleans the city’s sewer lines approximately every three to six years.  

A 1986 order from the state Regional Water Quality Board led Berkeley to replace and upgrade 61 percent of its 388-mile sewer system.  

The audit also recorded a lack of communication among different divisions at Public Works and poor coordination among workers, which it warned could lead to idleness and decreased efficiency.  

In one recorded instance on Dec 11, 2008, crew members wasted an hour and a half waiting for other members of their group to show up.  

In another instance on the same day, a sewer repair crew violated excavation procedures and traffic safety laws, which the audit said could lead to civil penalties of $50,000.  

The audit also revealed that supervisors were not reviewing work orders for accuracy and completeness or signing off on them to indicate their approval. In one case sewer funds were inappropriately used to pay for a storm drain expense.  

Hogan told the Planet that this was the first time an audit had been carried out on the city’s sewer divison.  

“This is a green issue, not just an issue about taxpayers’ dollars,” Hogan said. “It’s about how we protect our environment—we need to do a better job of taking care of our bay. Public Works has taken the audit very seriously and is taking steps to make sure these things don’t happen again.”  

Calls to Public Works Deputy Director Andrew Clough for comment were not returned by press time.  




Police Review Commission Report Finds Rise in African-American Complaints

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Thursday November 05, 2009 - 08:37:00 AM

A new report by the Berkeley Police Review Commission found that the majority of complaints filed against police officers are by African-Americans, a fact some city councilmembers view as troubling. 

Although the propotion, which stands at 67 percent in 2008, shows an increase from previous years, PRC Chair Sherry Smith warned that the overall number of complaints the commission received from the public annually was still significantly small. 

The PRC received 45 complaints last year, of which 28 were from African-Americans. Fifteen of those were made by African-American men, while the remainder were filed by women. 

“It’s very important to understand what statistics can do to you,” Smith said of the report. “I don’t see it as a problem, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t discuss it.” 

However, at least three councilmembers said they wanted the city to look into the sudden hike, following which City Manager Phil Kamlarz said he would ask his staff to compare the numbers with the Berkeley Police Department’s internal arrest records. 

“It’s very disturbing,” said Councilmember Darryl Moore. “No other race or ethnicity comes even close. Why is that so?” 

Police Review Commission Officer Victoria Urbi said that former Police Chief Doug Hambleton had attributed the occurrence to police officers having to deal more with blacks than with any other ethnic group every day. 

Some councilmembers recommended mandatory racial profiling training for all police officers. 

“These are unusually high numbers,” said Councilmember Max Anderson. “Over the years the African-American population in the city has decreased. This represents something almost contradictory.” 

Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates said that while “Berkeley was blessed to have a great police department who want to make sure everyone is treated fairly,” it is important to look at what was causing the spike. 

The report also said that most of the Berkeley Police Department’s interactions were with African-Americans, the majority of whom lived in South Berkeley. 

The PRC conducted seven closed board of inquiry hearings, five of which resulted in sustained allegations. 

Although Berkeley voters established the PRC in 1973, the first ordinance of its kind in California, to carry out civilian oversight of the Berkeley Police Department, a 2007 ruling by the Alameda County Superior Court ordered all hearings to be private, citing complaints against police officers as confidential, personnel records. 

Urbi told the council that there was less public participation at PRC meetings since the court had ordered closed hearings. 

She said that the commission wanted to do more outreach to let the public know that, although the hearings were closed, the meetings were still open to everyone. 

“We really need to reform and strengthen the PRC—it has weakened because of all these court challenges,” Councilmember Kriss Worthington told the Planet. 

Worthington said that, although he was worried about the rise in the number of African American complainants, “the biggest cause for concern was the dozens of complaints that were wiped out and not even heard.” 

In 2008, the PRC closed a total of 86 cases, of which 43 were closed because the one-year deadline to hear them expired due to pending litigation. 

The commission was not able to hear or close any cases from Sept. 2006 to Nov. 2007, because the Police Association filed a lawsuit to protect police officers’ privacy under the Peace Officers’ Bill of Rights. 

“By the time all these cases got around to being heard, they were all stale cases,” Worthington said. “It’s grossly unfair to all those people whose cases were not heard.” 

Smith said the commission’s hands had been tied at that time. 

“Anything we did would have gone on appeal,” she said. “We were stuck. It will not occur again.” 

The remaining cases were closed by boards of inquiry, dismissed or rejected for submitting late files. 

Last year, the PRC held two public hearings regarding an officer-involved shooting and crowd-control issues at the Marine Recruitment Center in downtown Berkeley. 

Smith said the PRC was ramping up its operations and had even hired a new investigator to examine complaints. 

Although the commission investigates complaints, its findings cannot be used for disciplinary action against officers. 

“Only the police chief and the city manager know who is being disciplined,” Smith said. “There is no way for us to find out or follow through. Sometimes an officer disappears or is pulled off the beat, and you can guess what happened.” 


Council Plans to Consider Law Banning Cat Declawing

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Thursday November 05, 2009 - 08:39:00 AM

The controversy surrounding cat de-clawing is about to hit close to home for Berkeley, when its City Council votes on whether to approve an ordinance banning the procedure on Tuesday, Nov. 10. 

San Francisco banned declawing Nov. 3, and cities across California are rushing to impose the ban before the Jan 1, 2010, deadline, when cities will no longer be able to enact local ordinances banning declawing, due to a recent amendment in the state’s Business and Professions Code. 

Councilmembers Susan Wengraf and Jesse Arreguin are recommending the ban to the City Council, after the Citizens’ Humane Commission passed a resolution Oct. 21 recommending that council ban all non-therapeutic surgeries for animals except sterilization. 

Although the commission’s action exceeded its agenda at that time, and should have been brought back at a future date, Councilmembers Wengraf and Arreguín explained that it would not be in time for the January deadline and asked the council to vote on the ordinance next week. 

Although declawing has been described as cruel and painful by many animal rights activists and organizations, the California Veterinary Medical Association, which represents more than 6,100 veterinary professionals statewide, has come out against the bans. 

The CMVA feels that the decision to declaw a cat should remain with the owner, in consultation with a veterinarian on a case-by-case basis.  

“Sometimes the declawing of cats may become necessary for behavioral reasons and is used as a ‘last resort’ after all other remedies have been considered,” CMVA President Mark Nunez said in a letter to the Santa Monica City Council, which was considering a ban in September. “There are certainly alternatives to declawing a cat and veterinarians are obligated and do discuss risks, as well as, alternatives to the procedure. Cat declawing is not cruel or inhumane, and as a matter of fact our members primarily perform this procedure as a last resort—to save an animal’s life.” 

Nunez could not be reached for comment Wednesday. 

A statement from the CMVA said that “declawing of domestic cats should be considered only after attempts have been made to prevent the cat from using its claws destructively or when its clawing presents a zoonotic risk for its owner.” 

Humane Commissioner Jill Posener told the Planet that she considered declawing “barbaric.” 

“It’s painful and traumatic and it’s done only to benefit human beings,” she said. “Vets need a way to say no to the surgery. A ban will help them do that.” 

Declawing is currently illegal in 25 nations, including the United Kingdom, France and Switzerland. In the United States, an estimated 25 percent of cats are declawed every year. 

“We think about declawing as just removing the nails from cats—it’s actually a very complex procedure,” Arregu´n said. “You are not just removing the nail, you are removing a portion of the finger. It’s analogous to cutting off the last joint of each finger. That’s very painful.”

Berkeley Ferry Project Makes Waves But Fails to Win Support

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Thursday November 05, 2009 - 08:39:00 AM

When news of the Bay Bridge closure broke at the Berkeley City Council meeting on Tuesday, Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates asked, jokingly: “Where’s our ferry?”  

But of course there was no ferry to whisk stranded Berkeley commuters to and from San Francisco that night, or over the next few days for that matter. The only alternative was BART, which has been especially crowded this week with the bridge closed.  

However, that could change with the Water Emergency Transportation Authority’s proposal to restore a ferry terminal at the Berkeley Marina for access from Berkeley to San Francisco.  

Ferries were used in Berkeley in 1989 to carry passengers and supplies after the Bay Bridge was damaged in the Loma Prieta earthquake, but the service was discontinued due to a drop in demand.  

However, not everyone sees the Berkeley ferry project, estimated to cost $57 million—$34 million will go toward terminal construction and $23 million for the vessels—as feasible or even desirable.  

Critics have called it “a white elephant,” “a vanity project” and a “boondoggle.”  

WETA, which returned to the Berkeley Planning Commission meeting Wednesday to answer lingering questions about the Berkeley ferry proposal, left the discussion disappointed when the commission failed to make any kind of recommendation to the Berkeley City Council. The project is scheduled to go to the council Nov. 17.  

Ian Austin, vice president of URS, a San Francisco-based engineering firm, said that the terminal, which would be located on Seawall Drive, would enhance the adjacent Bay Trail as well as the waterfront. Austin said that the project would change waterfront use by improving landscaping, adding bike racks and free parking without altering current recreational and commercial features.  

“It will bring more people to this site for transportation and recreational purposes,” he said.  

With respect to the commissioners’ questions about whether the terminal would have adequate parking, given the recent service cuts to AC Transit, WETA said the cuts “would match the level of service provided by the ferry route.”  

The ride across the bay would take about 22 minutes and would drop commuters off at the San Francisco Ferry Terminal, which also serves as a stop for the Sausalito and Tiburon ferries.  

The two 199-passenger ferries would provide an estimated 1,716 weekday ferry passenger trips by 2025, according to WETA, which the agency said would be one of the highest ridership levels among proposed Bay Area ferry routes.  

Berkeley Waterfront Commissioner Jim McGrath, also a member of the San Francisco Boatsailors’ Association, said that the proposal did not address how it would impact recreational uses on the water.  

He said that the Waterfront Commission had concerns about adequate parking and the ferry terminal’s impact on vehicular, bicycle and pedestrian traffic flow.  

The commission also doesn’t want the construction and associated windbreakers to interfere with windsurfers or kayakers.  

When Planning Commissioner Gene Poschman asked the city’s planning director if a ferry terminal was mentioned in Berkeley’s Waterfront Plan, Marks said that although “there is nothing in the plan that addresses this area at all, it doesn’t preclude the ferry.”  

“I don’t see the need for an amendment,” Marks said, when Poschman suggested one.  

A couple of commissioners said they were hesitant to make any kind of a recommendation to the council when a proper analysis of the project was lacking.  

“I agree with you that there’s not a lot, but you have what you have,” Marks said.  

Commissioner Teresa Clarke said she would like the ferry to become a recreational amenity that would run on the weekends, bringing people and families down to the piers more often.  

Commissioner Victoria Eisen said she was afraid the ferry would take away BART ridership and lead to more car trips down to the waterfront.  

Environmental impact reports indicate that 400 parking spots would be necessary for ferry riders, which WETA plans to meet by using the parking lot at Hs Lordship’s restaurant on Seawall Drive along with valet parking near the Berkeley Marina.  

Commissioner Patti Dacey, who called herself the “resident fiscal conservative” on the commission, said the proposed project was “a very headless way of acting” at a time when bus services were being slashed.  

Although most commissioners agreed that the ferry would add life to the marina and bring people into Berkeley for special events such as the Kite Festival, the commission failed to garner enough votes to support the proposal.

Partisan Position: UC Ducks Alquist-Priolo Ban on Rebuilding Stadium on Fault Line

By Janice Thomas
Thursday November 05, 2009 - 08:34:00 AM
According to California’s Omnibus Act of 2009, UC Berkeley’s Memorial Stadium site, atop the Hayward Fault, is exempt from the Alquist-Priolo Fault Zoning Act, which prohibits most new construction on earthquake faults.
According to California’s Omnibus Act of 2009, UC Berkeley’s Memorial Stadium site, atop the Hayward Fault, is exempt from the Alquist-Priolo Fault Zoning Act, which prohibits most new construction on earthquake faults.

UC Berkeley has found a way to evade the limitations that are imposed by the Alquist-Priolo Fault Zoning Act on new construction atop earthquake faults. UC has persuaded the California Legislature to add just a few sentences to its 61 page Omnibus Act of 2009. 

Alquist-Priolo ordinarily imposes a limit on the cost of additions or alterations to buildings on faults to 50 percent of the value of the existing structure.  

This session’s Omnibus Act, signed by Governor Schwarz- 

enegger on Oct. 10, contains language amending Alquist-Priolo to exempt Memorial Stadium, allowing the university to sink money into the fault-laden site without the Alquist-Priolo restraints.  

Omnibus acts are supposed to cover only noncontroversial topics, but UC’s proposed changes to Memorial Stadium have lately ignited considerable local controversy, including petitions, demonstrations and even lawsuits by students, alumni and neighbors.  

Divided lengthwise by the active Hayward Fault, the stadium will be not only retrofitted but also “reconstructed” tothea tune of $321 million. Remaining ambiguous is whether this estimate includes the entire stadium or the western half only. 

Adding in the cost of the Student Athlete High Performance Center, now under construction on the site of the former Memorial oak grove, the $136 million addition to the stadium might in combination with the stadium retrofit exceed any reasonable valuation of the stadium. Even without the cost of the training center, the cost of the stadium work alone could have exceeded the stadium’s total value. 

Without the amendment to the earthquake fault zoning act, Alquist-Priolo might very well have stopped the stadium project. The university has contended that the amendment was necessary to compensate for the expense of retrofitting historic structures. A letter on Aug. 25 from the UC Office of the President to Gov. Schwarzenegger said that “renovations to historic structures are inherently more expensive than renovations to non-historic properties.” The stadium is on the National Register of Historic Places. 

Although the university is now no longer limited by the cost of additions and alterations to historic structures on top of earthquake faults, the university will presumably otherwise follow Alquist. The UCOP letter says that “this measure does not exempt the university from the Alquist-Priolo Earthquake Fault Zoning Act, it merely allows us to exceed the 50 percent value limitation on retrofits.”  


Janice Thomas is a member of the Stand Up for Berkeley Steering Committee and vice-president of the Panoramic Hill Association. 



Partisan Position: UC Faculty Raises Questions about Value of School’s Athletic Programs

By Raymond Barglow
Thursday November 05, 2009 - 08:35:00 AM

Although it is widely believed that the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics (DIA) earns a profit for the Berkeley campus, its financial statements reveal that it significantly outspends its revenues every year, depleting precious campus resources.” 

So begins a resolution that will be taken up by the UC Berkeley Academic Senate today.  

The resolution requests that the chancellor of the Berkeley campus require the school’s intercollegiate athletic program to become self-supporting. 

This program has tens of thousands of followers, who gather at Memorial Stadium, Harmon Gym, and Edwards Track to support Cal Bears teams. At a time when UC is suffering a severe financial crisis, the fans’ enthusiasm, which consists not only of cheering but also of gift-giving, is certainly welcome. Team spirit brings thousands of Berkeley alums to the campus, some of whom might not donate to their alma mater if it were not showing its athletic excellence.  

But recently a group of faculty at Cal have made a discovery: It turns out that Berkeley’s athletic program has been running in the red for years. The resolution that is being submitted to the Academic Senate provides evidence that the cost of the program exceeds the sum of its economic benefits.  

One author of the resolution, UC Berkeley Computer Science Professor Brian Barsky, has written a letter to The San Francisco Chronicle stating that “all the revenues and donations to Cal intercollegiate athletics fall short by millions of dollars annually to cover excessive expenditures of this program, which is propped up from the campus’ coffers with funds that could instead keep the library open on Saturdays, for example.” He adds that “It is a myth that intercollegiate athletics earns money for the university; even the NCAA reports that increased spending on athletics does not increase alumni donations to the university, prompting its president to advise college presidents to reconsider their institutional spending on sports.” 

The Academic Senate resolution also proposes to tie coaches’ salaries to Intercollegiate Athletics’ net income. This would address the situation at Cal where, despite the university’s fiscal shortfall, football coach Jeff Tedford receives a $2.3 million annual salary—higher than the pay of any other California public official. 

The faculty resolution has a bearing as well upon the university’s plan to upgrade Memorial Stadium, which sits on top of the Hayward Fault. The Omnibus Act signed into law by Governor Schwar- 

zenegger exempts the stadium from safety legislation that would normally restrict such reconstruction. But if the Academic Senate resolution were to become university policy, this project would be ruled out by its expense, estimated at $321 million. 

The controversy here about the appropriate role of sports in the university has society-wide implications. I perceive this in my work as a tutor. I conduct SAT/ACT test preparation workshops at East Bay high schools and see that some of the male students are counting on their sports prowess rather than their academic skills to open doors for them. In a workshop at Oakland Tech High School, a young man told the other students and me that he planned to get an athletic scholarship to college and then become a professional football player. An hour before the workshop was over, he departed for football practice, leaving behind the other students who were diligently reviewing plane geometry. Maybe this student will get along fine without knowing the mathematical properties of right triangles. But I wonder whether he, along with so many other high school students who place their faith in an athletic career, is over-impressed by the allure of high-stakes athletics. 

It’s true that one of Oakland Tech’s graduates, Leon Powe, became a basketball star at Cal and then was recruited to the NBA. But how many students will be able to follow in his footsteps? Worry of this kind has been voiced by African-American athletes such as Arthur Ashe, Charles Barkley, and Harry Edwards. Edwards, who is Professor Emeritus of Sociology at UC Berkeley, speaks of “the tragedy of thousands upon thousands of black youths in obsessive pursuit of sports goals that the overwhelming majority of them will never attain … the drain in talent potential toward sports and away from other vital areas of occupational and career emphasis, such as medicine, law, economics, politics, education, and technical fields.” 

Given the economic and symbolic meanings of athletic performance—meanings that powerfully influence the lives of young men and women in our society—the battle that the Academic Senate is taking up this week is one whose contours far surpass the boundaries of the Berkeley campus. Cal’s playing fields and floors anchor an institutional blue-and-gold culture that draws attention to and builds the reputation of the university. “Tradition!” Cal fans shout back at the critics. And that is a weighty, although this time perhaps not a winning, argument. 


Raymond Barglow is the founder of Berkeley Tutors Network, which prepares high school students to take the SAT and ACT exams.

Remembering Alexander Hoffmann

By Elijah Wald and Lincoln Bergman
Thursday November 05, 2009 - 08:40:00 AM
Alexander Hoffmann (at left), with Mario Savio
Alexander Hoffmann (at left), with Mario Savio

Alexander P. Hoffmann, a well-known Bay Area radical attorney and activist, died Thursday evening at Piedmont Gardens in Oakland at the age of 81, after a long illness.  

A brilliant behind-the-scenes legal strategist, Hoffmann played a key role in numerous high-profile local cases, helping to defend Lenny Bruce, Cesar Chavez and many key figures in the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense, including Huey Newton, Bobby Seale, and Eldridge Cleaver. 

Hoffmann, who was called Sascha by his family and friends, was born in 1928 in Vienna, Austria, where both of his parents were physicians. In 1938, after the Nazi takeover, his family immigrated to the United States, settling first in Brookline, Massachusetts, and then in Cambridge. 

He received his B.A. in economics from UC Berkeley in 1950, but after pursuing two years in the university’s economics M.A. program transferred to Yale Law School, where he was elected to the editorial board of the Law Journal, and from which he received his law degree in 1955. Though he did not practice after the 1960s, he remained a member of the California bar for over 50 years. 

Hoffmann was active in left-wing youth movements during his college and law-school days, through his membership in groups such as the Joint Anti-Fascist Refugee Committee; the Labor Youth League, for which he traveled as a U.S. representative to the World Youth Congress in Prague in 1950; and the National Lawyer’s Guild.  

Hoffmann returned to the Bay Area in 1955 as a teaching fellow at Stanford University Law School, and by 1959 he had moved to Berkeley, where he worked as a research lawyer for the Center for Study of Law and Society at UC and edited the publication Continuing Education of the Bar. 

He had a prodigious memory, an awesome range of knowledge in many fields, a strong critical faculty, a tender sense of compassion and a powerful love of justice. He was amazingly articulate, with a wry and original sense of humor in the vein of Lenny Bruce, who became one of his close friends. 

In the 1960s, Hoffmann joined Charles Garry’s legal team, working closely with the United Farm Workers and the Black Panther Party. His legal career reads like a chronology of the 1960s in the Bay Area, from opposition to the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) to his involvement with the Farm Workers in Delano, the mass arrests at Sheraton-Palace Hotel, and the UC Berkeley Free Speech Movement (FSM), during which he developed a lasting friendship with Mario Savio. 

Another particularly close friend was Huey Newton. When Newton was in prison, Hoffman was his link to the outside world, bringing him news of what the Panthers were doing and carrying messages out to the rest of the leadership, and when Newton was released he stayed for several months with Hoffmann and Elsa Knight Thompson in their apartment on Walnut Street in Berkeley. At times, the living room became the scene of top-level leadership meetings of the Black Panther Party. 

Hoffmann shared many years of companionship and commitment with Thompson, a legendary journalist who was the Public Affairs Director of Berkeley’s KPFA radio station. They first met on a picket line at San Quentin prison, protesting capital punishment during the case of Caryl Chessman.  

Along with politics, Hoffman had a deep love and interest in music: first, with the classical styles of his birthplace, and then with jazz and rock. He worked as an extra in opera companies during his youth and extended his interests after moving to the West Coast, often in company with his college friend Ralph Gleason, who had become California’s most prominent jazz and rock critic. 

Hoffmann is survived by his sister, Ruth Hubbard Wald, and his niece and nephew, Deborah and Elijah Wald. There will be no funeral, but a memorial event is planned in December or January. 

For further information, contact Elijah Wald (elijah@elijahwald.com) or, for contacts from Hoffmann’s political work in the Bay Area, Lincoln Bergman (lbergman@berkeley.edu). 

Clarifications and Corrections

Thursday November 05, 2009 - 08:41:00 AM

The photograph of Harold Murphree that ran in the Oct. 29 issue of the Planet was taken by John Reynolds. 


The Oct. 29 story “City Council Says No to Drone Attacks in Afghanistan” incorrectly stated that the City Council unanimously passed a resolution to end drone attacks on Afghanistan and Pakistan. Before voting, the council amended the resolution, which also asked the Obama administration to withdraw troops and private armed contractors from Afghanistan, to eliminate the portion calling on the U.S. to “cease drone attacks on Afghanistan and Pakistan.” Councilmember Gordon Wozniak abstained from voting. The final council vote was 8 yes and 1 abstention.



Dealing Sensibly with H1N1

By Becky O'Malley
Thursday November 05, 2009 - 09:27:00 AM

In the last week we’ve been deluged with press releases and even proffered op-eds from quasi-medical providers who want to publicize their contrarian views on the need for swine flu vaccine, hopefully creating a profit opportunity for themselves in the process. This just in: the Planet is open to all legitimate opinions, but not to junk science, not even junk science embellished with strings of faux footnotes.  

There are not two equally valid points of view on many scientific topics: not on planetary motion in the universe, not on the general shape of the earth, not on evolution, not on climate change, or even on the need for susceptible people to get vaccinations to be protected from the H1N1 virus. But when we declined to publish an “opinion” on the imagined dangers of the vaccine, we got this sarcastic response from the writer: “I think you’re right. It’s more important to save lives in Palestine than in Berkeley.” 

Just to be sure, I checked the facts I’d gleaned from a variety of authoritative national sources with a local authority, Wendel Brunner, M.D. (and he also has a Ph.D. in Biophysics). He’s the health director of Contra Costa County, and his wife warned me that he might be too busy frantically organizing vaccination clinics even to talk to me, but he kindly called me back. He made a number of key points, all of which we’ve heard before but which bear repeating. 

First, it’s not yet a pandemic, but there are more than 10,000 cases nationwide so far. Second, the most vulnerable groups are pregnant women, kids and people with asthma and similar chronic diseases or compromised immune systems. They should be getting their vaccinations first. 

“The vaccine is manufactured in the same way as the seasonal flu vaccine,” he said, “and itss extremely safe.” He pointed out that a previous vaccine produced for an earlier epidemic of another disease also popularly called “swine flu” was completely different in origin and manufacture. That one did have reported side effects, and just to be sure, he said, there’s “extreme surveillance” going on right now of the H1N1 vaccine “as there always is” with any vaccine. 

Dr. Brunner’s not just a physician, he’s a political person, a veteran of the Free Speech Movement. I asked him what he thought of a story prominently featured on the front page of the New York Times on October 28 under the headline “Shortage of Vaccine Poses Political Test for Obama.”  

This was the lead: “The moment a novel strain of swine flu emerged in Mexico last spring, President Obama instructed his top advisers that his administration would not be caught flat-footed in the event of a deadly pandemic. Now, despite months of planning and preparation, a vaccine shortage is threatening to undermine public confidence in government, creating a very public test of Mr. Obama’s competence.” 

Wendel took the words out of my mouth on this one. “All he has to do is walk on water,” he quipped. 

My sentiments exactly. The national press hyped the idea that Barack Hussein Obama was the Messiah for a few months—it’s just a year since the election—and now it’s shocked, shocked that he has yet to turn water into wine in the Middle East, or produce loaves and fishes to pay for national health care.  

There’s a very simple scientific explanation for why there’s not as much vaccine available as we’d like as yet. The H1N1 virus that will be turned into vaccine has to grow in chicken eggs, and it’s taking its own sweet time: even President Obama can’t command it to increase and multiply any faster.  

Possible deficiencies at the Centers for Disease Control don’t alter this central fact, but in any case problems there date back to cutbacks under the administration of G. W. Bush (remember him?) This is not “a very public test of Mr. Obama’s competence” as the fatuous Times writer would like to claim. The CDC needs to have its funding restored where it’s been cut, but that won’t remedy this current crisis.  

There are worldwide problems in public health that are at work too, well-documented. For a very complete analysis, read The Coming Plague, written several years ago by Laurie Garrett—who started out more years ago at KPFA. The H1N1 situation could get worse, but it hasn’t yet. 

There are two dissonant messages that a responsible press should be communicating under the circumstances: those who need it should get the vaccine, which is safe and effective, but there’s not yet enough to go around, though no one’s to blame for that. Even Capitalism and its dread minions the insurance companies couldn’t grow viruses in eggs any faster than Mother Nature even if they tried.  

A deeply cynical friend who’s afraid to be quoted by name suggested what he thought the paper should tell those who have been inveighing against the H1N1 vaccine. “It’s the Darwin Solution,” he said. “There’s not enough vaccine to go around, is there? So tell them that if you don’t trust it, don’t get it, and the gene pool will benefit in the end.”  

Of course, that’s the kind of smartass science we can’t endorse, but it’s mighty tempting, at least where adults are concerned. But since it’s children who are most at risk, instead we urge those responsible for their care to believe the real scientists and get the kids their H1N1 vaccinations. 


Public Comment

Letters to the Editor

Thursday November 05, 2009 - 08:46:00 AM



Editors, Daily Planet: 


Scholars, authors, and people who took part in the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976) are gathering Friday, Saturday and Sunday at UC Berkeley for “Rediscovering China’s Cultural Revolution—Art and Politics, Lived Experience, Legacies of Liberation,” an unique symposium which will bring to life what actually happened on the ground in the Cultural Revolution, and present vivid counter-narratives to one of modern history’s most distorted and demonized periods. Full details about the Symposium are available atwww.revolutionbooks.org 


If you’re concerned about the state of the world, and yearn for something better, or followed the Cultural Revolution “back in the day,” I think you’ll find this symposium surprising, exciting, and very timely. 


“The Cultural Revolution was not, as depicted by the current Chinese government and standard Western accounts, a nightmare of persecution, violence, and senseless chaos,” says Raymond Lotta, a writer for Revolution newspaper and editor “Maoist Economics and the Revolutionary Road to Communism,” who will speak Saturday. “It was a society-wide political movement and struggle that brought about immense and egalitarian changes in Chinese society-in political institutions, education, health care, culture and women's participation in society.”  


The Symposium will begin at 5:00 pm on Friday, November 6 at Wurster Hall (south side of campus, near College & Bancroft) with the opening of an exhibit of poster art from the Cultural Revolution. Then at 6:30 pm, Prof. Dongping Han, who participated in the Cultural Revolution in a rural village in China and will speak Friday night on his new book The Unknown Cultural Revolution: Life and Change in a Chinese Village (an event being filmed for CSPAN’s Book TV). 


On Saturday, Nov 7, at Berdahl Auditorium in Stanley Hall (east side of UC Berkeley campus, between Hearst Mining Circle & Gayley Road), there will be two panels: at 1:00 pm on Art and Politics in the Cultural Revolution with Lincoln Cushing, co-author of “Chinese Posters: Art from the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution,” Bai Di, the Director of Chinese and Asian Studies at Drew University and Co-editor of Some of Us: Chinese Women Growing Up During the Mao Era, and Ban Wang, Professor ofChinese Literature and Culture at Stanford and author of “Illuminations from the Past: Trauma, Memory, and History in Modern China (Cultural Memory in the Present),” 


The 4:00 pm panel is titled “The International Impact and Historical Significance of the Cultural Revolution,” with Dongping Han, Raymond Lotta, Ann Tompkins, co-author of “Chinese Posters: Art from the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution,” who lived in China for five years during the Cultural Revolution, and Robert Weil, a Senior Fellow at the Oakland Institute who is the author of “Red Cat, White Cat: China and the Contradictions of “Market Socialism.”  


On Sunday at 1 and 3 pm, at Wurster Auditorium, films from the Cultural Revolution will be shown and discussed: at 1pm, Red Detachment of Women (1970), at 3 pm, Barefoot Doctors of Rural China (1975) 


All this matters a great deal. Understanding the Cultural Revolution is crucial to understanding China today. And if what people at this symposium are saying is true, then everything changes in terms of what actually is possible for humanity. 


Full details about the Symposium are available at www.revolutionbooks.org  


Reiko Redmonde 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

Your account of the most recent efforts to preserve the magnificent Hillside School brought back bittersweet memories. About a decade ago, I was part of a group of parents at the Berkeley Montessori School—then a tenant at the Hillside School—who explored whether the building could become a permanent home for the Montessori school. We discovered that although the building’s proximity to the Hayward Fault made it illegal to use the structure for a public school, state law did not prohibit a private school from operating in this dangerous location. Nevertheless, we quickly found that the cost of repairing and retrofitting the building would be prohibitive and that accomplishing this restoration in a manner that would preserve the historic integrity of the structure would be infeasible. 

Ultimately, the Berkeley Montessori School—now called The Berkeley School—decided to purchase, landmark, restore and adaptively reuse another historic campus for the school. This effort was accomplished in partnership with Congregation Netivot Shalom which converted an adjacent liquor store into a spectacular synagogue. 

Preserving and restoring the Hillside School is a noble goal. However, the location of the building and its historic status place significant constraints on the types of uses that can occupy the structure, impose formidable structural requirements, and limit the alternations that can be made to the building?s appearance. Dealing with these obligations cannot be accomplished without a huge investment of capital, for which there are two obvious sources: (1) a rich and benevolent patron could pour tens of millions of dollars into repairing and maintaining the building; or (2) the playground could be used for new buildings that could generate the revenue needed for the restoration effort. Undoubtedly, nearby residents will not be welcoming of any proposal that would eliminate the open space they cherish, change the character of their neighborhood and have other impacts they find as objectionable. Therefore, in all likelihood the Hillside School will continue its long and slow deterioration until it either has to be condemned, it falls down or it is destroyed in some calamity. We will all mourn its passage, but that will likely be the fate of the Hillside School unless we are willing to acknowledge that the status quo has downsides that may outweigh those we fear change will bring. 

Will Travis 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

From campaign trail to Capitol 

The path is passing strange: 

From “Change We Can Believe In” 

To “beliefs that we can change.” 

Gar Smith 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

How discounted can Telegraph Avenue get?  

Recently, the former Cody’s building sold for under 2 million dollars, after sitting idle for nearly five years. You’d be lucky to find a nice four-bedroom house in this town for that price.  

The new owner promptly evicted one of the longest standing businesses on Telegraph, Telegraph Flowers, opened in the mid-60s, despite the fact that there are no immediate plans for the building, or permits to do any work on the property. No notice, just a simple “Get Out!” 

This sort of ruthlessness seems to be going unnoticed by the community and city government. In fact, the city is literally afraid of this new owner, a local real estate mogul who has sued the city on numerous occasions, and also happens to own dozens of properties in the East Bay. This particular real estate mogul also happens to own the empty lot across the street from Cody’s for the last 15 years and numerous other derelict and semi-derelict properties locally. This particular property owner once tore down an architecturally significant building at Telegraph and Durant over a weekend, without permits, and barely got a slap on the wrist from Berkeley, simply because the city government is so afraid of this man.  

Time and again, in this thoroughly corrupt society of ours, we learn the sad lesson that greed and ruthlessness pay the biggest rewards, even here in Berkeley. 

W. Bartell 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Clearly the gang rape that recently occurred in Richmond was a heinous crime, despite the fact heinous is a word now attached to all degrees of social transgressions from purse snatchings and dog fighting to rape and murder. 

Still I found Mr Johnson’s column this morning (SF Chronicle, Fri., Oct. 30) more than a little disturbing. Rather than calling for calm and urging the people to allow the judicial system to run its course, Mr. Johnson poured fuel on the fire essentially saying revenge would be understandable. This at a time when the defendants already are being made to wear bullet proof vests to appear in court. 

The history books of this nation are replete with the writings of racist newspaper editors and “journalists” inflaming the populace to take justice into their own hands. Deaths attributed to “At the hands of persons unknown” is a euphemism for lynchings. Many US newspapers are as responsible for the heinous history of lynchings that darkens the legacy of this country as any other institution. It saddens me to now consider San Francisco’s leading news outlet as the latest member of that backward thinking chapter of news organizations that inflamed the populace to mob action. 

I’ve been critical of Mr. Johnson’s writings in the past but today’s column, in my opinion, is far worse than anything I’ve seen to date. The Chronicle should now cut their ties to him. 

Jean Damu 




Editors, Daily Planet:  

When “group therapy” took the country by storm, years ago, with EST and AA, and thousands of other “therapies,” we were told to “accept responsibility.” This was an ambiguous, moralistic, enigmatical concept that has gripped our nation now for at least fifty plus years. What exactly does it mean? The idea came out of a questionable philosophy called “existentialism,” which advises us that we can ‘choose’ whether or not to do this or that. In other words we are free to chose our actions and “be what we want to be!” And thus, if we can choose what to do,then,we are ‘responsible’ for what happens to us. But supppose I’m poor, or neurotic, or homeless,or working two jobs,or a single parent, or an illegal alien, or can’t speak English much, or addicted to a myriad of things like alchohol, or cigarettes, or illegal drugs, or I’m emotionally handicapped, or in terrible health, or obese, and so on and so forth? It’s then that we’re told to “take responsibility!!” The irony that no one mentions is that the one-half of one percent of those who own ninety percent of everything are never asked to “take responsibility” for their greed, their rapaciousness, ie., their fierce drive to maximise their profits however, wherever and whenever they can, which has brought us to our present economic nightmare.  

Robert Blau 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

In his Oct. 22 response to a letter I wrote that was published Oct.15, Rfael Moshe wrongly assumes that I support the use of children as soldiers. This is ludicrous. And I seriously doubt his claim that children being used as soldiers has any basis in reality in the impoverished conditions in Gaza. When Israel invaded the citizens of Gaza last winter, it resulted in the deaths of over 900 civilians, more than 400 of whom were children. Are we to believe that they were killed in battle with soldiers of the fourth most powerful military force in the world? One of the best equipped, highly trained, hi-tech forces that roams the planet? No. They were killed in their homes, their schools, their shelters, huddled anywhere they could seeking refuge from the bombs, the drones, the helicopter gunships, missiles fired from air, sea and land, white phosphorous incendiary explosives, and even experimental DIME weapons which sever limbs of those who manage to survive. 

Israel can no longer claim its actions are in self defense toward its Arab neighbors. Nor can it act as it has for so long with impunity. An end to this conflict will eventually be achieved. And I will most gladly support that. 

Robert Kanter 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Polls show public confidence in our electoral system is falling. 

Secretary Bowen did the right thing last week when she made California’s vote more secure than ever before. Even though corporate spokespeople for Diebold and some of the other voting machine makers claim that the University of California’s tests were “unfair,” the fact is that Bowen found glaring holes in the system, and she’s plugged them. Now, some uninformed commentators are second-guessing Secretary Bowen. Most computer scientists think that computerized touch screens are worse than paper ballots. Secretary Bowen was right to make sweeping reforms to a system that had lost public confidence, had lost 18,000 votes in Florida, and had failed even the most basic security check. 

Just because someone’s convertible has never been stolen, that doesn’t mean he or she should leave it sitting outside with the top down and the keys inside. The same is true with California’s electronic voting machines. Vulnerabilities exist, and the machines need to be made secure or scrapped. 

The next step isn’t to second-guess Secretary Bowen. If you care about secure elections, then volunteer in your neighborhood to help get out the vote. How the votes are counted doesn’t matter if there are no votes to count. And after helping get the vote out, sign up to become an election observer. Democracy is a privilege—not a right! Let’s stop accusing Secretary Bowen and start getting to work to take our elections back! 

Paul Matzner 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

The heath insurance industry generally opposes a public option in any health care reform legislation. Senator Joe Lieberman (I-Conn) recently said he would join a Republican filibuster of any health bill that includes a public option even though the public option is overwhelmingly favored by Lieberman’s own constituents. Senator Lieberman has accepted more than $1 million in campaign contributions from the insurance industry and more than $600,000 from pharmaceuticals and related healthcare-products companies. And his wife Hadassah previously worked for two lobbying firms, Hill & Knowlton and APCO, handling matters for their healthcare and pharmaceuticals clients. Coincidence? I think not.  

And recently he said that he will be campaigning for some Republican candidates in the next election. 

He should be stripped of his Chairmanship of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. 

Ralph E. Stone 

San Francisco  




Editors, Daily Planet: 

The United States has been in Afghanistan since 2001 at great cost and with unfortunately little progress so far. The causes are many but one aspect of the situation might be worth further attention. The Taliban and the drug lords we oppose depend on economic factors that we may be able to affect. Two areas where we can make a difference economically are: the mercenary fighters recruited by the Taliban and the opium crop whose resale profits the Taliban and the drug lords.  

  Afghanistan’s Interior Minister estimated there are at most 15,000 Taliban combatants. Vice President Biden has estimated that seventy percent of Taliban fighters are mercenary soldiers not committed to any cause. This works out to about 10,500 Taliban who are only mercenaries. They are paid about $10 per day by the Taliban. 

  It has been suggested that we could outbid the Taliban and offer them $20 per day to stay out of the fighting; they would not have to change sides. It would cost us about $6,300,000 to reduce the Taliban force by 70% for a month. One AH-64 Apache helicopter costs much more than that.  

  The benefits to our side would be great. Further, if we treated the Afghan mercenaries on our payroll in a good way, we might find we had some allies among them or at least fewer enemies. We did something similar in Iraq, successfully paying up to 100,000 Sunni insurgents $300 a month to not fight.  

  Poor Afghan farmers grow opium to survive. In 2006 they received a total of $600 million for the year’s opium crop. The drug lords resold it for $3 billion. 

Martin Varsavsky suggests we compete economically for the opium crop. Our military could to travel to farms where the opium is grown, pay the farmers for the crop at the going rate, and then destroy it. The annual $600 million needed is a small part of our aid budget. The drug lords and Taliban would have $2.4 billion less to fund their operations, a huge economic loss to them. There would also be less opium-derived hard drugs on our own streets for a time. 

It appears these things could be done at less risk to human life on all sides compared to conventional military activity. If we reduce the power of the Taliban by economic means, our military situation could improve there without the need for as many additional troops. 

Afghanistan’s total annual GDP amounts to less than our GDP for one day.  

Brad Belden

Seldom a Day Goes By, or The Shape of Things to Come

By Helen Rippier Wheeler
Thursday November 05, 2009 - 08:46:00 AM

He spent his final decades alone, a tenant—“resident” is the preferred term—in a low-income seniors’ and disabled persons’ rent-subsidized housing project. He was, in fact, all three: low-income, elderly, disabled. A paid “caregiver” jabbed, pushed and yelled at him. The apartment, a small studio, reeked. While inventorying his possessions during one of his hospital stays, she was heard to comment to a compeer, “We can sell this.” She had his pin number and had gotten her name onto his bank account. Asked why he didn’t request a different caregiver, he responded “I’m afraid.” No eccentric recluse, he wanted to be out and about. On weekends, when no building staff were on the premises, he would emerge from his cell and, leaning on his walker, navigate the corridor back and forth as many times as he possibly could. 

Many senior citizens are like him, alone and without family, dependent on a so-called caregiver. In 2006, twenty percent of reported elder abuse involved caregiver neglect. English may not be their “first language.” They may fear losing their rent subsidy. Building management may be hostile, indifferent at best. Attempts to learn the time and place of neighbors’ funeral services can be “turned off.”  

The decennial White House Conference on Aging is in the planning stages. Its purpose is to make recommendations to the President, who did not attend the 2005 Conference, and Congress to help guide national aging policies for the next ten years and beyond. The White House Conference on Aging in 2015 theme is “The Shape of Things to Come.” 

The U.S. Census Bureau projects that more than 62 million Americans will be age 65 or older in 2025. Newspapers worldwide report elder abuse, a crime in many locations. And because most “senior citizens” are women, the majority of low-income elders, both ageism and sexism are frequently involved. Older women are far more likely than men to suffer from abuse. Interestingly, slightly more than half of the alleged perpetrators of elder abuse were female (fifty-three percent) in the National Center on Elder Abuse 2004 study. 

Across the nation, newspapers headline abuse. England’s Guardian reports a government-backed study to examine risk of abuse and neglect of older people in care homes and on National Health Service wards. Cleveland’s Plain Dealer reports that “Japanese visit for ideas on elder care: Social workers want to avoid senior abuse.” California Bay Area newspaper reportage has included: ”Pastor convicted of murdering elderly rancher;” “Dementia patients mistreated, suit says; Elder abuse, fraud alleged at rest home near Lake Merritt;” “Murder, elder abuse charges for 2 in death of their client;” “Oakland man to stand trial for beating elderly people.” “Early involvement critical to curbing elder scams.” “Elder Protection Court crucial to halting abuse.” “Elder abuse a hidden national epidemic.” “$500,000 bail remains for Foster City man accused of hitting father in head.” “Not guilty plea in attack on Holocaust survivor.” “Real estate broker pleads no contest to cheating seniors.” “Senior-abuse agencies short on funds.” “Elder facility accused of abuse.” 

Because the crime of elder abuse is notoriously under-reported, no statistic comes close to telling the whole story. The most recent nationwide analysis of elder abuse estimated that reported cases increased thirty percent from 1997 to 2007. In California, half of all residents over age 65 and living alone do not have enough money to cover their housing, food, health care and other basic expenses, according to a 2009 UCLA Center for Health Policy Research study. In Florida—the state with the second-highest 65-plus population—reports of elder abuse have increased thirteen percent in the last two years, according to the state’s Adult Protective Services. The California Legislature voted to eliminate the Attorney General’s Crime and Violence Prevention Center from the State’s 2008/09 budget, and it was closed on Oct., 15, 2008. Each state has its own elder abuse laws, so definitions of abuse and prosecution for such acts vary across the country. State adult protective service programs, which handle elder abuse, are severely underfunded, a problem exacerbated by recession-era cuts in state budgets. Passing the federal Older Justice Act tops advocates’ lists of what must be done to combat this problem. 

When I approached a senior center director about the possibility of an elder abuse current-awareness program, she was skeptical but agreed to let me use the lounge. I provided the program, handouts, and publicity. It was well attended by people from several communities. Most described themselves as neighbors and relatives. They asked “Is such’n such ‘elder abuse’?,” and they wondered “What can I do when we see/hear him doing that?” I moved on and up. But elder abuse did not merit consideration, responded the Commission on Aging’s chair. 

Senior housing, senior centers, nursing homes—approximately twenty-five percent of elder abuse occurs in nursing homes and other retirement facilities—and rehabilitation facilities, ombudsmen, certain college and university classes, caregivers, and related commissions and agencies have responsibility for communicating the facts of life related to elder abuse: what it is and where to go for help. The San Diego District Attorney’s office defines elder abuse as the physical or psychological mistreatment of a senior. It can include taking financial advantage or neglecting the care of a senior. Elder abuse crimes fall into several categories: 

Physical abuse, including assaults, batteries, sexual assaults, false imprisonment and endangerment; 

Physical neglect by a caregiver, including withholding medical services or hygiene that exposes the elderly person to the risk of serious harm; 

Psychological mental abuse, including making threats or the infliction of emotional harm; 

Financial abuse, including theft of personal items such as cash, investments, real property and jewelry and neglect.  

The AARP March 2008 Bulletin published a Scam Alert titled “Harrowing Home Care.” 

If you suspect elder abuse, neglect, or exploitation,call the National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799 -7233. To connect with services by state, reach the U S Administration on Aging’s Eldercare Locator at 1-800-677-1116, or go to www.ncea.aoa.gov. 

When I shared news of a nearby community’s elder abuse workshop with a physician whose specialization is geriatrics, she responded, “This is a much-needed presentation—should be every day on the street corner. Seldom a day goes by that I don’t hear of some injustice… .” 


Dr. Wheeler is a Berkeley resident, a senior advocate who has served on the Berkeley Commission on Aging, Berkeley Housing Authority board, North Berkeley Senior Center Advisory Council, and the Alameda County Commission on Aging. 

Discrimination at Bear’s Lair Food Court

By Ann My Linh Vu
Thursday November 05, 2009 - 08:47:00 AM

My name is Ann My Linh Vu and I am the owner of Healthy Heavenly Foods inside the Bear’s Lair Food Courts.  

First of all, I would like to say thanks you to the student-led organization of the ASUC for extending the contract for my restaurant to May 31, 2010 (instead of closing on Dec. 15, 2009).  

I am deeply grateful for all the supports from the faculty and the student body with helping me to keep Healthy Heavenly Foods around. Every petition’s signature that was signed and every email was sent out, they all meant a lot to me. My restaurant has been on campus for almost twenty years serving customers who craves our unique Vietnamese flavor. Together, we and the school have built up so much memory.  

Through the article of Hannah Edwards from the Daily Cal on Thursday Oct. 15, I expressed my anger and disappointment for the unfair act and injustice of the ASUC Executive Board.  

The Board offered such an easy-going deal for Tully Coffee for $3,400 a month at the prime location on campus. In addition, Naia lounge was offered a deal of $2,800 per month for a spacious area to run their business. Both stores just signed their contracts with ease. Compared to the deals for Bear’s lair vendors, it is a flat out act of discrimination.  

The four restaurants in Bear’s Lair are: Coffee Spot, Sensation Sandwich, Taqueria EI Tacontento, and Healthy Heavenly Foods. Our old contract was $3,450 a month for each store and that sums up to $13,800 of cash flow for the ASUC.  

Under the new contract, for some unknown reason, someone on the Board of AUSC allowed Mr. Haitham Alloum to take over Coffee Spot and Sensation Sandwich and consolidated them into one store.  

Three vendors, same landlord, but three different rent contracts:  

Healthy Heavenly Foods was offered to pay $6,800 for rent and an extra $1,000 for some extra service fee only to rent a 400 square feet space. I already rejected this offer and amcurrently waiting for a new and more reasonable offer to come—I had a lease extension for one more year and pay the same rent.  

Taqueria EI Tacontento was offered the same deal except they will get a larger space—600 square feet. He has to sign the new contract by the deadline on Nov. 9, 2009. If he is going to sign he has to pay more than double rent.  

Haitham Alloum was offered the same renting rate as both of Healthy Heavenly Foods and Taqueria EI Tacontento, but lesser service charge and he will get two stores for the price of one store—about 750 square feet. He is so happy with the new contract because he will pay less. He signed the new contract two week ago.  

I wanted to point out this unjust act of the ASUC’s Executive Board so people can see the truth. I could not help but to question whether there was something crooked going on behind all of these unfair contracts.  

Being a female of color in the U.S., speaking very little English, I had to work very hard to overcome these social barriers in order to deliver the best quality Vietnamese foods to the Berkeley community.  

In return for my efforts, the ASUC Board provided me with trouble after trouble. They constantly threatened to terminate the existence of my restaurant in order to clear room for corporate fast-food chains like Panda Express, Tully Coffee, and etc.  

In 2007, my health was damaged due to excessive stress of worrying about the balance of my life after losing my business. I was drained physically and mentally. I wholeheartedly beg for the support of students, faculty, and ASUC staff. I just wanted to keep my business alive so I could continue to serve the Berkeley community till retirement.  

President Kennedy once said: “We are a nation of immigrants...”  

Please open the door to welcome and fairly treat the hard working immigrants like us. We are not a burden to this country.  

Lastly, I want to say thank you again for taking your valuable time reading this and writing emails to the ASUC’s Board on behalf of Healthy Heavenly Foods.  

Support mom and pop businesses because we are here to cater to you!  


Ann My Linh Vu is the owner of Healthy Heavenly Foods.

A New Community Garden

By Patty Marcks
Thursday November 05, 2009 - 08:48:00 AM

The community garden movement, it appears, has taken root across our nation. In cities and in hamlets, people are planting veggies and herbs for their own dining tables. Indeed, in the wake of the current economic downturn, the practice of growing one’s own food feels somehow reassuring, practical, perhaps even patriotic. In addition to lower food bills, widely touted benefits include fostering self-sufficiency and community while reducing or even eliminating transportation costs and carbon footprints. 

Recently E-Bay, the online market for just about everything, began providing garden plots to its employees, citing, among other benefits, their value in helping to develop problem-solving skills—skills that, not incidentally, benefit the company. 

And then there’s First Lady Michelle Obama, doing her part to popularize home-grown food, with her organic vegetable garden on the White House lawn. 

For those without lawns, or yards, community gardens offer many a chance to grow their own food, too. Berkeley has long had a thriving community garden scene, in addition to successful related local institutions like farmers’ markets and “edible” schoolyards. 

Now Berkeley is about to have one more community garden, on the 1600 block of Fifth Street in Northwest Berkeley. On Saturday, October 31, the Kenney Cottage Community Garden “broke ground.” There were refreshments, activities and a raffle. There was music, poetry and a martial arts demonstration, all by neighborhood people. And an opportunity to help plant a plant, build a raised wooden garden bed or scatter wildflower seeds, which many people participated in. It was heartwarming to see so many people there at the garden site last Saturday, helping to launch this project, including several Berkeley city councilmembers as well as members of Kappa Alpha Fraternity, who lent muscle to the task of building and planting. 

We invite both Berkeley residents and those who work here to get involved in helping to build and grow, not just a garden, but a community of people who will lovingly create a structure and a process by which this space can become a resource for all the people of Berkeley. It will take people, dedication, resources—including money, and, yes, love—to transform what has been an unprepossessing dirt lot, located between Cedar and Virginia streets—and which the city of Berkeley is generously making available for this purpose—into a beautiful green space!  

I invite people to become a member of Friends of Kenney Cottage Garden or of one of the other local organizations involved in creating this community resource—Northern California Land Trust, Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association, and Berkeley Community Gardening Collaborative. Come to a meeting and/or help spread the word among fellow Berkeley residents, especially among those who lack yards or a place to grow.  

For further information or if you’re interested in getting on a waiting list for a garden plot, call 526-7828. 



Patty Marcks is President of Friends of Kenney Cottage Garden, a local organization formed to help support the development of the Kenney Cottage Garden project.

To the Passion Born: Such a Full Tilt Radical Boogie Brave

By Arnie Passman
Thursday November 05, 2009 - 08:49:00 AM

Now looka here, 

All you cats ’n’ kitties, 

Hippies ’n’ flippies, 

Dudes ’n’ dudesses, 

Punks ’n’ grungies, 

Lefties ’n’ defties, 

Dot coms ’n’ commies, 

Enemies’ List ’n’ anarkissed, 

Gen Xers ’n’ hypersexers, 

Snake charmers ’n’ hog farmers, 

Out there, 

Whippin’ ’n’ wailin’, 

’N’ shootin’ ’n’ trippin’, 

Catchin’ ’n’ flyin’, 

Movin’ ’n’ lovin’, 

’N’ high-fivin’ ’n’  


Each other 

On who in the world 

Was Ted Vincent? 


What a friend we had in Teddy! I was in Barcelona when I was e-mailed of Berkeley classic Ted Vincent’s passing at 73. 

My first impulse was to get an obit and have it translated for the European press, El Pais, Le Monde, Der Spiegel. Although Teddy’s Portuguese fisher folk—it was their dream to get his father into the U.S. Naval Academy—left lineage was in no way inclined toward currying European intellectuals, his radical achievements deserve planetary hosannahs. 

Beyond plays et al.—Two Wives of Garvey, and his uncovering of Malcom X’s mother’s Garveyite beliefs—his meticulous, haunting research and hidden histories can be savored, as his Funk historian and “Uhuru Maggot” Pacifica DJ son Rickey, says, in four soul-setting black struggle “fascinating, accessible reads”:  

1970 as Theodore G. Vincent, Black Power and the Garvey Movement, Ramparts Press, San Francisco, reprinted by Nzinga Press, 1987, and reprinted by Black Classics Press, 2007; 

1972 as Theodore G. Vincent, Editor: Voices of a Black Nation: Political Journalism in the Harlem Renaissance, Ramparts Press, San Francisco, reprinted by Afrika World Press 1991; 

1981 as Ted Vincent, Mudville’s Revenge: The Rise and Fall of American Sport, University of Nebraska Press, reprinted in 1994; 

1995 as Ted Vincent, Keep Cool: The Black Activists Who Built the Age of Jazz, Pluto Press, London; 

2003 as Theodore G. Vincent, The Legacy of Vicente Guerrero, Mexico’s First Black Indian President, University of Florida Press. 

From Managua to Monrovia to Manila, he was a Mister Americas—and touched all bases in radical stride. Including being a Boogie Woogie pianist of no mean doin’—and also lover of the mixed race “Star Trek” and “Lost,” whose own personal adventure to that Hawaii locale with his beloved second wife, Selma, was planned at the time of his passing. 

His first wife, Toni, went on to be a member of the Black Panther Party. In 1964, Ted was actually a teacher of the young Huey Newton at Oakland’s Merritt College. Teddy got an M.A., but ultimately dismissed a Ph.D because of his fierce independence. 

This may also have led to his May 22 heart attack the day before he was to speak at the Oakland Museum on the great African Mexican warrior, Yanga, who Ted, a screamer over little things, it is said, introduced to the larger world. “I’m going to do it my way, not theirs!”  

Our friend’s life also made me think of great filmmakers John Sayles, Tim Robbins, Carl Franklin, John Singleton, Ang Lee, Spike Lee, who would, I believe, relish the lusty, lefty life of our too-soon-gone friend. 

Physically nonstop since birth, Teddy was, I believe, truly a real gone cat, a justice freak if there ever was one—and a radical pioneer of Full Tilt Boogie! His tragic yet epic birth killed his mother, a Naval Academy Superintendent’s daughter in Washington. Deceit was like something out of black, black, black Shel Silverstein folklore—“He was born on a night when the stars refused to shine.” His early life moving, often in terror, from town to town, at times in the heinous South, with his organizer father and sisters —to become Buddhist nuns?—and into young adulthood starting his interracial life—always fighting the good fight. 

I, alas, knew Teddy less than 20 years, and what richness he added to my life. From baseball games and Berkeley High girls’ basketball to dedicated, devoted protest, to avid runner with his third wife, Bernice, to aforementioned soulful ivories tickler, to most astonishing caring research and writing of have nots’ hidden lives and cultures, this was a tolerant cat who did all he could to make this country and planet all and awe it ain’t. 

If he had had a nickname, it might have been leftuously Lefty—Lefty Leftuous? 

On a very personal note, you know how people get their birthday headlined in New York Times facsimilies? Well, because of Ted’s exotic library, including a jazz and blues discography of the ’30s and ’40s, I was able, by purposely flipping through it, to find out that on the night of my birth, the legendary bootlegger and guitarist Kokomo Arnold had recorded seven cuts with singer “Signifying” Lil Johnson—an ex of the steeped Lonnie Johnson—bass player Peetie Wheatstraw—the Devil’s Brother-in-Law—and barrelhouse pianist Roosevelt Sykes—as bad an outfit as was ever put together. Kokomo Arnold died on Nov. 8, 1968, a few days after I returned to Chicago, by train, after four defining mid-’60s years in the Bay Area. 

Now, it gets good. That session was done at Chicago’s Decca Records studios on South Michigan Avenue, around the corner from the 12th Street terminal Illinois Central Station where migrants from the Mississippi Delta arrived in droves in the Windy City.  

More to the more, those studios were right across Michigan Avenue from St. Luke’s Hospital, where I was coming into the world. You had to be there. Thank you, Teddy! 

At the time of his sudden demise—choking, gagging, his throat being torn apart, with no surgeon in sight for an hour, a violent violation—arguably alleged Kaiser malpractice—Teddy was working on a magnificent “War and Peace”/magical realism novel of 16th-century African-Asian-indigenous Mexican-Spanish conquest history.   

  Like my dear red-diaper bubi Michael Rossman, I miss Teddy, and his great mien and smile, terribly; no one to talk to anymore about the bad weird, the good wacky and the wonderful. I deeply wish his family all that comes from his first-magnitude bright dark-star-borne heritage and legacy—including Teddy’s deep desire for a Mexican Revolution next year—as in 1810 and 1910. Presente! 


Arnie Passman is a Berkeley resident.

2020 Vision Looks Beyond Just Improving Schools

By Jennifer Tillett
Thursday November 05, 2009 - 08:48:00 AM

It seems to me that those who are opposed to the Berkeley Unified School District taking recommendations from the 2020 Vision Planning Team feel this way because they misunderstand the intentions. According to the Berkeley Unified School District, “2020 Vision is a call to action to make educational success and well-being of all Berkeley’s children and youth a community-wide priority.” After reading through the recommendations draft myself, I can confidently say that I agree with the synopsis. However, this positive step toward improving academic and health outcomes among Berkeley’s most vulnerable youth is being unfairly portrayed by opposing groups as unnecessary, and even racist. 

In a recently published opinion piece, the author stated that many of the recommendations aren’t concerning K–12 education. But shouldn’t a plan to make substantial change over the next 11 years have a larger scope than just K–12 education? No matter how much change is made around curriculum or the school’s structure, if the larger factors that affect how youth and their families are interacting with the school remain the same, why should we expect to see improvement? 

The 2020 Vision recommendations range from changing the curriculum and instruction to creating partnerships with schools and city of Berkeley services to addressing the root causes of poor health. Placing the responsibility simply on accountability of the Berkeley Unified School District School Board does little to acknowledge the trends of underachievement, especially among students of color, or the explanations for them. The planning team is recommending an approach similar to that of the Harlem Children’s Zone, which has been wildly successful in reaching youth and providing them and their families with services and resources that set them up for productive, healthy lives. 

Opposing groups have also sharply criticized the 2020 Vision recommendations for prioritizing African-American and Latino youth. True, there are students of all backgrounds who aren’t performing academically up to standard under the current public education system. But there is no denying the fact that here, in Berkeley, African-American and Latino youth are disproportionately scoring below average in academic performance, and well below their White counterparts. In fact, the achievement gap in this city falls quite neatly along racial lines. 

Whenever race is pulled into the spotlight, people get uncomfortable. But it’s crucial to address the elephant in the room in order to make some changes that will actually be meaningful. It’s not racist to shed light on the facts about the existing disparity in the school district, it’s being race conscious, which is a refreshing and overdue perspective on what needs to be done to effectively close the achievement gap. 

Since we know that academic achievement trends, as well as other health indicators, don’t fare well for African-American and Latino people in Berkeley, something should be done to explicitly target these communities. The issue is not that African-American and Latino youth are not as intellectually capable or lack the interest to be academically competitive; the problem truly exists at the institutional and community level. The 2020 vision recommendations illustrate the planning team’s deep understanding and concern, and I think it represents a voice that needs to be heard. 

A real investment by the school district and the city to improve the lives of Berkeley’s most vulnerable youth by providing more thoughtful services and opportunities is a crucial step toward closing the achievement gap in the next decade and giving today’s youth a better chance to live productive, healthy lives. By seriously considering the 2020 Vision recommendations presented on Tuesday at the Joint School Board and City Council Meeting, the elected leaders will be showing their commitment to supporting all of Berkeley’s youth, especially those who have not been prioritized in the past. 


Jennifer Tillett is a graduate student at UC Berkeley School of Public Health.

First Person: Still a Mad as Hell Doc for Single Payer Health Care

By Mark Sapir, M.D., MPH
Thursday November 05, 2009 - 08:50:00 AM

I guess I haven’t held up my end of the bargain with the readers of the Berkeley Planet. A few Planet readers have approached me to ask why I didn’t finish writing my cross-country travelogue. So what happened, they wanted to know, when you got to Washington, D.C.?  

Please accept my apologies. 

Let me start back at the tour itself. I’ve reviewed the compendium of individual TV appearances we made in local venues from Seattle to Washington. The amount of dust we kicked up—over a million citings on Google, many dozens of radio and TV appearances and interviews and print-media articles—is not to be sneezed at. We made a splash all across the United States. When I told a nurse at work that, unfortunately, we got only local news coverage in all those cities and not national media attention, she claimed I was wrong. She saw us out in front of the White House on a national Fox News feed. Fox?  

Here’s my final report on the tour. Despite many thousands of e-mails and phone calls, the White House did not invite us in. Not only weren’t we invited to share with the President what thousands of people asked us to report about—their crying need for a national health insurance program, Medicare for All—but we also weren’t invited to sit down with Health Secretary Sibelius. And we weren’t invited to some secret rendezvous, like the health insurance and pharmaceuticals people. Not even with the most inconsequential of underlings. The only interaction that I remember with the White House went like this: 

After our energized rally in front of the White House on September 30 at 4–6 p.m. (where our usual Mad as Hell show was supplemented by the regional director of the AFL-CIO, the Raging Grannies, a grassroots African-American D.C. leader and the foot-stomping charismatic Dennis Kucinich, who seemed to appear on stage out of the sky) had run its course, a group of 20 or so docs and others walked over to the White House fence and did some “single payer” chanting and singing. After about 30 minutes, the rally crowd having dispersed, this small group began to head out for the evening, and a woman, whom I didn’t know, put one of the single-payer symbolic white ribbons on top of the fence. A military guard 30 yards off within the White House grounds saw this brazen act of rebellion and shouted “take that down.” And that was the extent of the Mad as Hell Doctors interaction with the Obama White House—at least this time around.  

The next morning Congressman Kucinich sponsored a press conference for us at the House Office Building and afterward read a personal commendation for our efforts into the Congressional Record. At 10 a.m. he did a little rant for single payer and HR 676 on the House floor, with only one or two other Congresspeople in attendance  

Maybe this is anticlimactic? Here’s more.  

As we went across the country, at each of 40 stops and right there in front of the White House, we, the docs, each gave three minutes of “Why I’m Mad as Hell.” These were very moving presentations (as well as full of meaty facts), no matter how many times I heard and participated in them, because after some music and a question-and-answer period, the last 20 minutes or so of each gathering involved testimony from audience members about why they are mad as hell, getting screwed to the wall or driven to destitution, suffering or death by the non-health-care system. These stories were moving, riveting, sometimes amusing but more often heart-wrenching. (They have all been posted on YouTube via the www.madashelldoctors.com web site).  

My own three minutes at first focused on the fact that we spend twice as much as any other country on health care yet rank 37th on the World Health Organization’s composite ranking of health outcomes, an iniquity caused by Wall Street’s need to keep profits high. That talk fairly soon transformed itself into something more when I mentioned Martin Luther King Jr.’s quote about health care, which I first saw on the back of the Single Payer Now T-shirt: “Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane.” I was urged to always make this my main point and was placed last speaker among the docs.  

And so I did, pointing out that King recognized that health care is a civil rights issue and that health care and health (as stated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in the UN Charter) are human rights. We all recognize that Congress is in the pockets of those who place their profits before our health and that we cannot rely upon pressuring and petitioning Congress with e-mails, phone calls and petitions, but we have to heed King’s unfulfilled dream of equal quality health care.  

We have to rebuild a civil rights movement from coast to coast that will not take no for an answer and will utilize the same tactics that won civil rights for African-Americans in the ’60s. When I said those things, each time, the docs and the crowds cheered louder. I never failed to see people in these audiences—granted they were not huge throngs but they were audiences of varied types, ages, classes and hues, averaging about 200 people—rise to their feet and start shouting and cheering in affirmation of these words.  

There is a huge amount of anger and discontent throughout the land. It’s about health care, but obviously about so much more. I don’t know how we will rebuild a national civil rights movement in this country out of that discontent and under the present conditions of crisis, decay and corruption.  

I don’t know how we will learn to meld the civil right of health care to other civil rights: those of the undocumented who are sustaining such serious attacks; the people being driven from their homes; the 2.3 million people in prison who are deprived of an opportunity for real re-integration and education; the right to a job for those tens of millions of “requisite” unemployed and underemployed deprived sustenance by a finance system whose wealth accumulation continues, based upon vulturism, cheating, speculation and human suffering (and no longer even on industrial production); or to the rights of people denied because of their sexual identity; the right to end a pregnancy; the right to clean air, clean water, food and a sustainable habitat for our species and others. I don’t know how we build a movement upon the foundational ideas of democracy in a society that attacks those rights, changing the idea of democracy into a uniquely socialist principle (and the Right is not wrong when they imply that justice and democracy are now a socialist plot, because democracy and finance capitalism seem daily less and less compatible even as artifice). And yet, I don’t think we are going to see much positive change in our nation without all this coming together into a social movement, without class being discussed and the working class being valued and trained to lead itself out of this morass.  

Even though I have no satisfying answers, the Mad as Hell Docs tour for single payer provided me with more hope than I expected. It fortified my belief that the grassroots surge that helped Obama win the White House is just waiting out there to be reconstituted as an independent, largely non-electoral civil-rights movement to achieve justice for all. And I’ll let a goodbye note explain why I am more hopeful. A young woman, perhaps 30 years old, left it on a kitchen table for Dr. Gene Uphoff and myself after we spent the night at her family’s home in Chicago (her dad is an internist in practice and a single-payer supporter). She wrote regarding the Mad as Hell Tour, “It is so important for your message and spirit to be heard at this time, especially by the younger generations who grew up in the cynical ’70s, ’80s and ’90s. Your stories, songs, insight and compassion teach me, and can teach many others, that social movement is not copyrighted by the Obama Campaign—or any other specific movement in time. And that it is, rather, an expression of our intrinsic human spirit when we believe in and strive for freedom, peace, equality and justice. Best of wishes and safe travels.” As Corey suggests, I think it’s up to all of us to collectivize our own power. So what do you think?  




Undercurrents: Making an Alternative to Sideshows Work

By J. Douglas Allen-Taylor
Thursday November 05, 2009 - 08:42:00 AM

A friend and reader asks what I think of Mayor Ron Dellums’ and Police Chief Anthony Batts’ proposal for a safe and legal alternative to Oakland’s illegal street sideshows. The alternative, presumably, would be to recreate the street sideshow experience in an off-street location, with police and safety precautions in place, and would be designed to draw the illegal sideshow participants away from their street activity to the city-run event, thus eventually helping to shut the illegal street events down. 

While I once argued long and loud for such an alternative, and I would not turn my back on it now, I am worried that the time for that direct cause-and-effect solution may have passed. 

To understand why, we must go back briefly to the often forgotten history of the sideshows. 

Oakland’s sideshows did not start out as the wild, violent, out-of-control street events that we often see depicted on the evening news. Instead, they began sometime in the late 1990s as informal, auto-based late-night social gatherings of African-American youth in Oakland, trying to escape the violence that was flooding the many of the city’s streets, clubs, and rap and hip-hop venues. 

The original meeting place was in the parking lot at Eastmont Mall on 73rd and Bancroft in East Oakland, where young folks often spent hours socializing, playing music, dancing, eating, and showing off their cars in various ways. One way was to showcase paint jobs and accessories. Another was to do car tricks, particularly the East Oakland favorite of “doing doughnuts.” 

The Eastmont sideshows by all accounts were considerably mellower than the current illegal street events, in part because there was no rush to go stupid (in both the hip-hop and general meanings of the term) before the police swooped in—the police initially ignored these events—and in part because they were self-regulated, with many of the young folks themselves working to keep down the kind of conflicts and arguments that could lead to violence. For all those reasons, the Eastmont sideshows were not a neighborhood nuisance. 

Eventually, Oakland police moved in and shut the Eastmont events down, and the sideshows moved to the parking lot at Pac’N’Save market on Hegenberger. There the events ballooned, sometimes growing to more than a thousand participants. Relations between the Oakland Police Department and the Pac’N’Save sideshows were initially good, with participants reporting that police often sat in their patrol cars and watched, seemingly fascinated by the gatherings. But eventually the word was passed down from police headquarters or City Hall, and the OPD shut down these affairs as well, chaining off the parking lots and driving the events into East Oakland’s streets. 

And thus, Oakland’s decade of sideshow street battles between police and youth of color began. 

The idea of a safe and legal alternative to the street sideshows originated with a group of young people who were leaders or participants in the Eastmont Mall and Pac’N’Save parking lot events. While many of these folks followed the sideshows out into the streets, they were not interested in the thrill of running up and down the avenues from police, but wanted to find a way to return the sideshows to their social gathering origins. They approached several Oakland city officials with the idea of a city-sanctioned, off-street venue during the years 2002 through 2004, but the only one who listened was District 6 City Councilmember Desley Brooks. For a while Ms. Brooks waged a lonely battle to try to get Oakland to consider a safe and legal sideshow alternative, but she was fought by a powerful group of politicians: State Senator Don Perata, Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown, and Oakland City Council Public Safety Committee Chair Larry Reid. Oakland City Attorney John Russo and then-City Council President Ignacio De La Fuente were also cold to the legalization idea. Sideshows, after all, were such a convenient political target for an Oakland politician to be against. 

A safe and legal sideshow alternative was a viable option as late as five years ago, in large part because it was sideshow organizers and drivers themselves who were advancing the proposal. These were young people who had the kind of juice and street cred to have been able to pull many of the illegal street sideshow participants over into the legal events. 

But the situation has changed in these last five years. 

Sideshows are a young people’s game and few—if any—participants are out on the streets now who experienced the Eastmont Mall or Pac’N’Save venues. It’s also a good guess that the allure of the current street events is precisely the illegality of them, the thrill and risk of doing things unsanctioned and condemned by adults. For the legal sideshow alternative to actually function and dry up illegal street events, today’s sideshow participants would have to be enticed to events vastly different than what they are currently going out to the streets to experience. 

And who would do the enticing? The original sideshow leaders of 1997 through 2003—even if they could now be enticed to join such an effort by City Hall—would have considerably diminished pull, if any pull at all, among the 18-year-olds currently riding Oakland’s streets. 

Further, in 2002–04, it was the sideshow participants proposing the alternative themselves. In 2009, it is the mayor and the chief of the police doing the proposing, trying to get young people to drop a preferred activity to adopt one adults are suggesting. That sometimes works, but it is a far more difficult prospect. 

Does this mean I’ve given up hope on the idea of a safe and legal sideshow in Oakland? Not at all. I just believe that if Mr. Dellums and Mr. Batts are looking at the original sideshow alternative proposal for guidance on how to proceed, they might want to make modifications. 

If I were the mayor, I would drop the direct link between breaking up the illegal street sideshows and setting up a legal venue. In fact, I would drop the name “sideshow” from any legal alternative proposal altogether. That name has become a lightning rod for opposition, too easily associated with the illegal street affairs, and is not necessary to attract young people to legal events. 

Instead, I would tell Oakland citizens that after watching police and media and private videos of Oakland street sideshows, I’ve become fascinated with some of the car stunts and maneuvers I’d seen. Doing doughnuts in a car has no place in an Oakland intersection. But neither does letting a bull loose in an Oakland park and then running it down and catching it make sense, but hundreds of people pay cash money to see it done when it’s put in an arena up near Pleasanton and called a “rodeo.” Further, the mayor could say, while the hand-eye coordination and mechanical skill needed to do such car maneuvers is both annoying and dangerous when done in illegal venues on Oakland streets, there have got to be industries in which such talent is valuable and needed, whatever those industries might be, and one of the jobs of the city ought to be to funnel such talent into positive directions. The crazy street-stunt driver might turn out, for example, to be the perfect candidate for the job of a test pilot, or the young kid souping up cars to do seemingly impossible things in an intersection might be the one to help set a new direction in America’s automotive industry. They are doing things with cars that even the car manufacturers themselves—or people who study physics and mechanics for a living—could never imagine. Who knows in what positive direction such talent might lead, if given a chance. 

Based upon this belief, the mayor could sponsor—not a sideshow alternative—but, say, a Mayor’s Urban Driving Competition. Such an event would not be a legal alternative to the illegal street sideshows. It would be a completely different type of event, different from both the current illegal street shows or the original Eastmont Mall or Pac’N’Save events. A proper venue could be set up for a day in one of the city’s many vacant lots, with temporary bleachers constructed for paid spectators and space allotted for the many car-oriented vendors who would want to set up. 

Drivers would be invited to compete in various car-maneuver events—doughnuts, clearly would be one, but there are others—that would showcase their urban driving abilities. A panel of judges would do the reviewing, and prizes would be awarded. But the highlight of the day would be when the two or three top finishers in each category would face a drive-off with the most skilled drivers chosen by the Oakland Police Department for final bragging rights, the officers competing in uniform and in OPD patrol cars. I would guarantee that after participating in such a competition, neither side—the police nor the kids doing doughnuts or hyphy-trains out on the street—would see the other side quite the same. It would be part of the beginning of the breaking down of the authority-resistance barrier between those two sides. It would help to forge a healthier relationship between the City of Oakland, the majority of its adult citizens, and many of its young people, in which the young people’s opinions and ideas and skills are valued on their own terms, and they are shown how to use them for constructive—rather than destructive—ends. And that, not simply the ending of the illegal street sideshows, is what we really should be aiming towards. 

But would a Mayor’s Urban Driving Competition be a step towards eventually stop or slow down Oakland’s illegal sideshows? There’s no promise, but with many of the sideshow drivers working with the city, as they tried to do unsuccessfully five years ago, that certainly seems a better possibility than the police crackdowns we’ve been trying over the past decade.

The Public Eye: Financial Reform We Can Believe In

By Bob Burnett
Thursday November 05, 2009 - 08:44:00 AM

Prudent homeowners recovering from pest or water damage remove all compromised material before they rebuild. Similarly, surgeons prepare wounds for sutures by excising diseased tissue and sterilizing the damaged area. Nonetheless, as the United States struggles to restart its economy, we’re not identifying what caused the financial crisis or cleansing compromised institutions. 

In 2007, the global housing bubble burst as prices fell and defaults grew. There had been related growth in the financial services sector, particularly in non-standard banking activities—the so-called “shadow” banking system. When the real estate market collapsed, the related financial services failed, dragging down the conventional banking system, which stopped lending money. On Sept. 15, 2008, the Lehman Brothers investment bank filed for bankruptcy, causing a global financial panic. On Sept. 18, then Secretary of the Treasury Paulson presented an outline of a bank bailout plan to Congressional leaders. On Oct. 3, 2008, Congress authorized $700 billion to shore up banks. 

More than a year after the collapse of Lehman Brothers, the root causes of the meltdown remain unclear. Writing in The New Yorker James Stewart noted: “Today, it is widely accepted that the failure of Lehman was indeed a disaster. Its unintended and unforeseen consequences—the run on money-market funds most of all—could arguably have been avoided.” 

On June 15, the Obama administration unveiled a program for financial regulatory reform that has been poorly received. Writing in the New York Review, Jeff Madrick noted: “Offering little more than a wide-ranging summary of existing regulatory proposals, [Obama’s program] did not attempt to analyze why the crisis occurred or was so intense; nor did it identify in any detail the rules or regulations that were lacking that might have prevented the crisis.” (On Sept. 18, a bipartisan Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission began its work “pursuing the truth, uncovering the facts, and providing an unbiased, historical accounting of what brought our financial system and our economy to its knees.”) 

Despite the fact that many questions about the financial crisis remain unanswered, the Obama administration has promoted regulatory reform, which is being pursued by the House Financial Services Committee, chaired by Barney Frank, and the Senate Banking committee, chaired by Christopher Dodd. Thus the administration finds itself in the position of the homeowner who rebuilds upon a foundation of uncertain integrity. In the meantime, according to Madrick, “much of Wall Street has already returned to the aggressive practices that were widespread before the crisis, including high levels of compensation and the creation and trading of risky derivative contracts.” 

There are three common-sense elements of financial reform that progressives should insist on. Given the fact that there was so much confusion at the time of the financial crisis—Wall Street and Washington’s “best and brightest” didn’t understand what was going on and made serious mistakes—it’s obvious that the U.S. financial system has grown too complicated. Therefore, the first reform should be to simplify it. 

The Obama proposal advocates bringing all parts of the banking system—regular as well as “shadow” activities—under regulation. That’s a good first step. The proposal suggests making the Federal Reserve responsible for managing “systemic risk,” the situation that occurs with “too big to fail” financial institutions—such as Citigroup—that are so large that their failure jeopardizes the financial system. That’s a bad idea. The Fed didn’t get high grades for their behavior in the financial crisis—they waited too long to respond to the housing bubble. Instead, there should be an independent council established to manage systemic risk. That’s the path Barney Frank is promoting. 

A basic problem that must be fixed is the growth of bank holding companies: banks that accept deposits and also engage in investment banking and brokerage activities. These mega-banks were prohibited in the original Glass-Steagall Act but permitted when part of the bill was repealed in 1999. It’s time to go back to the original intent of Glass-Steagall and eliminate the behemoths that played a major role in precipitating the financial crisis. 

The second common-sense action should be to regulate derivatives—contracts that permit financial services firms to buy and sell securities with little capital. (One form, “credit default swaps,” brought down insurance giant AIG.) Warren Buffett famously called derivatives “financial weapons of mass destruction.” 

The Obama proposal makes derivative trading more transparent, but a better idea would be to ban them entirely. Derivatives have become so byzantine that Wall Street executives do not understand their consequences. Why make the market so complicated? 

The third common-sense action should be to regulate compensation for Wall Street CEOs, traders, and all those involved in the current system that encourages speculation (ultimately) at public expense. A recent IPS report found that “the CEOs of the 20 financial industry firms that received the largest bailouts were paid nearly 40 percent more last year than other CEOs at Standard & Poor’s 500 companies.” The bailout CEOs were paid 430 times more than their average workers. It’s time for strong action such as a cap on executive compensation. 

It makes no sense to rebuild America’s financial institutions upon a foundation that is fundamentally flawed. The Obama administration must promote a bolder program of reform or the meltdown will recur. 


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

Wild Neighbors: Honey Bees in America: Return of a Native?

By Joe Eaton
Thursday November 05, 2009 - 09:01:00 AM
European-descended honeybees like native Cailfornian flowers. These are on a matilija poppy blossom: Romneya coulteri.
By Ron Sullivan
European-descended honeybees like native Cailfornian flowers. These are on a matilija poppy blossom: Romneya coulteri.

A couple of weeks ago we heard, among others, a West Virginia group called the Dry Branch Fire Squad at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass. One of the musicians told a string of jokes that I think I would have found less amusing if they had been about Arkansas. “They just found our great aunt,” he said. “Her name was Ardi … That’s the best picture she ever took. They say she could climb trees and walk upright. I never saw her do neither.” 

Another fossil find got considerably less media attention than the early hominid Ardipithecus, but is significant on its own terms, and will require some revision to accepted ideas about biogeography—the science that explains why organisms are found where they are. Earlier this year, Michael Engel, an entomologist at the University of Kansas, and two colleagues reported in the proceedings of the California Academy of Sciences the recent discovery of a honey bee in Nevada. 

The honey bee we all know (Apis mellifera) is, of course, native to Europe. It became naturalized in North America early enough that some scholars thought it had originated here. In “Notes on the State of Virginia,” Thomas Jefferson wrote that the local Indians called it “the white man’s fly,” indicating that once the bees showed up, European settlers were not far behind. 

All the living honey bee species are confined to Europe and Asia. North America has the primitively social bumblebees and a host of solitary types, but no highly social (eusocial is the term) bees like A. mellifera. 

But that wasn’t always the case. Engel, et al., found their bee, which they named Apis nearctica, in a fourteen-million-year-old shale formation in the Stewart Valley Basin in west-central Nevada. The remains were partially disarticulated, but enough components were there that it could be diagnosed as a honey bee. A. nearctica closely resembles a contemporary species from Germany, Apis armbrusteri. It was found in company with fossil ants and wasps, one group of which is characteristic of forested environments. 

Since only one specimen was found, we can’t know whether A. nearctica was social or solitary. But its European relative A. armbrusteri was represented by a swarm of workers that had succumbed to carbon dioxide at a hot spring. (Ludwig Armbruster, an arch-category splitter, described a number of separate species based on variations among the bees and named them after his friends and colleagues. Later researchers decided they were all the same kind of bee.) 

Two questions come to mind: how did A. nearctica get to Nevada, and what happened to it? Through geological time, North America has had land connections with both Asia and Europe. During the Miocene epoch, when A. nearctica was extant, only the route from Asia—an early version of Beringia—was open.  

There was a lot of traffic between North America and Asia at the time. Mastodons, rhinos, pronghorns, true cats, bears, beavers, and pit vipers were moving into North America from Asia, while horses and camels headed the other way. Honey bees appear to have evolved in Europe or Asia, with at least one representative reaching North America. 

The bee or its ancestors would have encountered temperate forests along the way, but would eventually have run up against an arid region stretching from central Mexico up through the Midwest. That would have blocked its access to a potentially suitable habitat in the south, which may never have been colonized by honey bees. 

The Miocene has been described as a golden era of North American biodiversity, with a large-mammal fauna rivaling that of modern Africa. But the climate became cooler and drier toward the end of the period, which ended with several waves of extinctions. The authors suggest that A. nearctica may have been unable to adapt to these less congenial conditions. Maybe—a wild guess—its demise may have had something to do with the replacement of perennial herbs by annuals during the late Miocene. 

If honey bees had persisted in the Americas, who knows what ramifications would have ensued. Would the Iroquois have invented frosted cornflakes?  

The story of the Nevada honey bee illustrates once again that absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. It also underscores how much the fauna of North America, micro- as well as mega-, has changed over time, and how problematic the categories of native and alien can be. After all, the West’s feral horses could also be seen as returning natives, and there are those who would like to stock the Southwest with lions, camels, and elephants. (Let’s not even get started on the wild turkeys.) 




Arts & Events

Arts Calendar

Thursday November 05, 2009 - 09:00:00 AM



Richard Candida Smith reads from “Modern Moves West: California Artists and Democratic Culture in the Twentieth Century” at 5:30 p.m. at University Press Books, 2430 Bancroft Way. 548-0585. www.universitypressbooks.com 

Poetry Flash with Barbara Claire Freeman and Endi Bogue Hartigan at 7:30 p.m. at Moe’s Books, 2476 Telegraph. 849-2087. 

Anne Finger reads from her story collection “Call Me Ahab” at 7:30 p.m. at Mrs. Dalloway’s, 2904 College Ave. 704-8222. 

Vincenza Scarpaci on “Journey of the Italians in America” at 6 p.m. at the Richmond Public Library, 325 Civic Center Plaza, Richmond. 620-6561. 


Band Recitals: My Amp Showcase at 7:30 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cost is $5. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 

Bill Evans & Megan Lynch at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $18.50-$19.50. 548-1761. www.freightandsalvage.org 

Kelly Park Trio at 8 p.m. at Anna’s Jazz Island, 2120 Allston Way. Cost is $10. 841-JAZZ. www.AnnasJazzIsland.com 

7 Orange ABC, Valerie Orth, at 9 p.m. at The Starry Plough. Cost is $7. 841-2082. www.starryploughpub.com 

The Deep at 10 p.m. at Beckett’s Irish Pub, 2271 Shattuck Ave. 647-1790. www.beckettsirishpub.com 

Immortal Technique at 9 p.m. at Shattuck Down Low, 2284 Shattuck Ave. Cost is $20-$25. 548-1159.  

Women Jam at 7 p.m. at Chester’s Bay View Cafe, 1508 Walnut St. 849-9995. 



Actors Ensemble of Berkeley “As It Is in Heaven” Fri. and Sat. at 8 p.m. at Live Oak Theater, 1301 Shattuck Ave., through Nov. 19. Tickets are $12-$15. 649-5999. www.aeofberkeley.org 

Aurora Theatre “Fat Pig” through Dec. 6, at 2081 Addison St. Tickets are $15-$55. 843-4822. auroratheatre.org 

Berkeley Rep “Tiny Kushner” Short plays by Tony Kushner at the Thrust Stage, 2025 Addison, through Nov. 29. Tickets are $33-$71. 647-2949 www.berkeleyrep.org 

Berkeley Rep “American Idiot” at 2025 Addison St., through Nov. 15. Tickets are $32-$86. www.berkeleyrep.org 

Central Works “Blastosphere!” Thurs.-Sat. at 8 p.m., Sun. at 5 p.m. through Nov. 22 at The Berkeley City Club, 2315 Durant Ave. Tickets are $14-$25. 558-1381. centralworks.org 

Impact Theatre “Large Animal Games” Thurs.-Sat. at 8 p.m. at La Val’s Subterranean, 1834 Euclid Ave., through Dec. 12. Tickets are $12-$20. impacttheatre.com 

Masquers Playhouse “The Rocky Horror Show” Fri. and Sat. at 8 p.m., Sun. at 2:30 p.m. at 105 Park Place, Point Richmond, and runs through Dec. 12. Tickets are $18. 232-4031. www.masquers.org 

TheatreFirst “Stones in His Pockets” Thurs.-Sat. at 8 p.m., Sun. at 2 p.m. at Marion E. Greene Theatre, ground floor of The Fox Oakland Building, 19th St. entrance, through Nov. 8. Tickets are $15-$30. www.brownpapertickets.com 

UC Dept. of Theater, Dance & Performance Studies “Silences and Salutations” Seven one act plays through Nov. 22 at Durham Studio Theater, UC campus. 642-8827. tdps.berkeley.edu 


“Nesting” A multi media art exhibit exploring aspects of nest building on display to Nov. 28 at the Addison Street Windows, 2018 Addison St. 

“Pairings” Photographs, photograms, polaroids and paintings by Jim Doukas. Opening reception at 6 p.m. at Joyce Gordon Gallery, 406 14th St., Oakland. 465-8928. 

“3AM: Under the Full Moon” New work by Christopher Romer. Reception at 6 p.m. at The Compound Gallery, 6604 San Pablo Ave., Oakland. www.thecompoundgallery.com 

“The Last Waltz” Photography, paintings, sculpture by Peter Honig and Kathleen King. Opening reception at 6 p.m. at Mercury 20 Gallery, 25 Grand Ave., at Broadway. 701-4620. 

“Why the Bunny?” works by Sas Colby. Reception at 7 p.m. at Oakopolis, 447 25th St., Oakland. oakopolis@gamil.com 


“Dail M for Murder” at 8 p.m. at the Paramount Theatre, 2025 Broadway, Oakland. Tickets are $5. 1-800-745-3000. 

“Fruit Fly” screening of the musical with Q&A with director H.P. Mendoza at 7 p.m. at 2050 Valley Life Sciences Building , Chan Shun Auditorium, UC campus. Due to explicit lyrics, no children. oyama@berkeley.edu 


Orhan Pamuk reads from “The Museum of Innocence” at 7:30 p.m. at FCCB, in the sanctuary, 2345 Channing Way at Dana. Tickets are $10-$13. www.brownpapertickets.com 

Steven Winn reads from his memoir “Come Back, Como: Winning the Heart of a Reluctant Dog” at 7:30 p.m. at Mrs. Dalloway’s, 2904 College Ave. 704-8222. 

rad dad zine Release Party at 7 p.m. at Book Zoo, 6395 Telegraph Ave., Oakland. 654-2665. 


earPlay Jazzquintet at 8 p.m. at the Hillside Club, Cedar at Arch. Cost is $10-$15. 

University Choruses “Hearty Songs for the Fall Season” at 8 p.m. at Hertz Hall, UC Campus. Tickets are $5-$15. 642-9988. 

Brazilian Guitar Night with Ricardo Peixoto, Ian Faquini, Mauro Correa, and Ron Galen at 8 p.m. at the Jazzschool. Cost is $15. 845-5373.  

Lisa B. Poetic Groove Trio at 8 p.m. at Anna’s Jazz Island, 2120 Allston Way. Cost is $14. 841-JAZZ. www.AnnasJazzIsland.com 

Prestige, Mega Banton, Blade Band, reggae, at 9:30 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cost is $51-$20. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 

Bill Kirchen at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $18.50-$19.50. 548-1761. www.freightandsalvage.org 

The Deadicated Maniacs at 9 p.m. at The Starry Plough. Cost is $10. 841-2082. www.starryploughpub.com 

Geroso at 10 p.m. at Beckett’s Irish Pub, 2271 Shattuck Ave. 647-1790. www.beckettsirishpub.com 

Simple Ensemble with Pat Fahey, Randy Craig, and others at 8 p.m. at Art House Gallery, 2905 Shattuck Ave. Donation $5-$10. 472-3170. 

Terrence Brewer Trio at 8 p.m. at Jupiter. 843-8277. 

Jee Jah’s at 7 p.m. at Chester’s Bay View Cafe, 1508 Walnut St. 849-9995. 

The Realistic Orchestra “Tribute to Michael Jackson” at 9 p.m. at Shattuck Down Low, 2284 Shattuck Ave. Cost is $10-$15. 548-1159.  



Los Amiguitos de La Peña with Gerry Tenney at 10:30 a.m. at La Peña. Cost is $5 for adults, $4 for children. 849-2568. www.lapena.org 

Saturday Stories “Down by the Station” read by author Jennifer Vetter at 1 p.m. at Museum of Children’s Art, 538 9th St., Oakland. 465-8770. www.mocha.org 

The Snow Queen Puppet Show Sat. and Sun. at 11 a.m. and 2 and 4 p.m. at at Children’s Fairyland, 699 Bellevue Ave., Oakland. Cost is $7. 296-4433.  

Hanna Banana at 11 a.m. at Studio Grow, 1235 10th St. Cost is $9. 526-9888. 


“A Room of Their Own: The Bloomsbury Artists in American Collections” Opening reception at 5:30 p.m. at Mills College Art Museum. Exhibit runs to Dec. 13. www.mills.edu/museum 

“The Last Waltz” Photography, paintings, sculpture by Peter Honig and Kathleen King. Artist’s reception at noon at Mercury 20 Gallery, 25 Grand Ave., at Broadway. 701-4620. 

“rememberment: installation, separation, synthesis” Interdisciplinary art installation by Kimberly Campisano. Reception at 5 p.m. in the Art and Consciousness Gallery, John F. Kennedy University, 2956 San Pablo Ave. 647-2041. 

“transport: the alchemy of machine into awareness.” Works by Drake Logan, Julia Robertson and The Genie. Opening reception at 6 p.m. at Float Gallery, 1091 Calcot Place, Unit 116, Oakland. www.thefloatcenter.com 

“Box Art 2009” Exhibition and benefit auction at 6 p.m. at Pro Arts, 150 Frank Ogawa Plaza, Oakland. www.proartsgallery.org 


Shotgun Cabaret Burlesque and variety show at 8 and 10 p.m. at The Ashby Stage, 1901 Ashby Ave. Tickets are $20. 841-6500. www.shotgunplayers.org 

Stone Soup Improv Comedy at 8 p.m. at Temescal Arts Center, 511 48th St. at Telegraph, Oakland. Cost is $7-$10. www.stonesoupimprov.com 

“Misery Luvs Company” Six characters’ lives as they are tested by today’s socioeconomic and emotional issues, Sat. at 3 and 8 p.m., Sun. at 6 p.m. at Black Repertory Theatre, 3201 Adeline St. Tickets are $20. 652-2120. www.dlsimon.org 


Loren Rhoads reads from “Morbid Curiosity Cures the Blues: True Stories of the Unsavory, Unwise, Unorthodox and Unusual from the magazine ‘Morbid Curiosity’” at 7:30 p.m. at Pegasus Books Downtown, 2349 Shattuck Ave. 649-1320. 

Bay Area Poets Coalition open reading from 3 to 5 pm. at Strawberry Creek Lodge, 1320 Addison St. Park on the street. 527-9905. 


Mary O’Donnell on her book “Reflections of a Beloved Rebel” about Fr. Bill O’Donnell at 6:30 p.m. at Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian universalists, 1924 Cedar St. 841-4824. 

Susan Sherrell reeads from her novel “Grace” at 6 p.m. at The Estrellita Café & Bar, 446 E 12th St., between 4th and 5th, Oakland. RSVP to Steve Edwards at sedwards201@hotmail.com 


United Methodist Bell Festival Six bell choirs will perform mass ring pieces that use special bell-ringing techniques at 5 p.m. at Lake Merritt United Methodist Church, 1330 Lakeshore Ave., Oakland. Free. 415-504-7200. 

Trio Chaskinakuy performs traditional village music of the Andes on an extraordinary collection of native instruments at 7:30 p.m. at the Crowden Music Center, 1475 Rose St. Cost is $5-$12. 559-6910. 

Chalice Consort “By the Waters of Babylon” at 8 p.m. at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 114 Montecito Ave., Oakland. Tickets are $10-$20. www.chaliceconsort.org 

Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra “The Passion of Dido” at 8 p.m. at First Congregational Church of Berkeley, 2345 Channing Way, Tickets are $35-$90. www.philharmonia.org  

The Jack Curtis Dubowsky Ensemble Acoustic and electronic music at 8 p.m. at Trinity Chapel, 2320 Dana St. tickets are $8-$12. 549-3864. www. 


Kitka Women’s Vocal Ensemble at 8 p.m. at St. Vartan Armenian Church, 650 Spruce St., Oakland. Workshop at 4 p.m. Tickets are $20-$25. 444-0323. www. kitka.org 

Art Lande & Peter Sommer at 7:30 p.m. at Piedmont Piano Company, at the corner of 18th and San Pablo, Oakland. Donation $15. RSVP to 547-8188. 

Hot Pink Feathers and Blue Bone Express New Orleans and Rio-inspired jazz and cabaret at 9:30 p.m. at Cafe Van Kleef, 1621 Telegraph Ave., Oakland, Cost is $10. 

Osamu Rock con Sabor! from Havana, at 8 p.m. at La Peña Cultural Center. Cost is $13-$15. 849-2568.  

Equilibria Brasil! at 8 p.m. at Anna’s Jazz Island, 2120 Allston Way. Cost is $14. 841-JAZZ.  

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

Quartet San Francisco at 8 p.m. at the Jazzschool. Cost is $20. 845-5373.  

Charlie Wilson’s War at 10 p.m. at Beckett’s Irish Pub, 2271 Shattuck Ave. 647-1790.  

Boris Garcia, David Gans at 9 p.m. at The Starry Plough. Cost is $8. 841-2082.  

Jinx Jones Trio at 8 p.m. at Jupiter. 843-8277. 

Sotaque Baiano at 9 p.m. at Shattuck Down Low, 2284 Shattuck Ave. Cost is $5-$10. 548-1159.  

Ethan Bixby and Friends Blues at 7 p.m. at Chester’s Bay View Cafe, 1508 Walnut St. 849-9995. 

Moment’s Notice Improvised music, dance, and theater at 8 p.m. at Western Sky Studio, 2525 8th St. tickets are $8-$15. 992-6295. MomentsNoticeInfo@gmail.com  



PEN Oakland Writers’ Theatre “A Night of Short Plays” Video Screening from 3 to 6 p.m. at Anna’s Jazz Island, 2120 Allston Way. Tickets are $5-47. 681-5652. 


Playreaders Performers’ Showcase scenes from Shakespeare, Beckett, Stoppard, Giraudoux at 2 p.m. in the 4th flr story room, Berkeley Public Library, 2090 Kittredge St. 981-6236. 

“It’s About TIme” A celebration of the poetry of Adam David Miller at 3 p.m. at Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists, 1924 Cedar St. 841-4824. 

Opera Piccola Play Reading from 4 to 6 p.m. at Opera Piccola Performing Arts, 2946 MacArthur Blvd., Oakland. Free, donations accepted. www.opera-piccola.org  

Cecile Andrews, co-editor of “Less is More” on simplicity, at 4 p.m. at Mrs. Dalloway’s, 2904 College Ave. 704-8222. 


Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra “The Passion of Dido” at 7:30 p.m. at First Congregational Church of Berkeley, 2345 Channing Way, Tickets are $35-$90. www.philharmonia.org  

Bomba Estéreo, electronic dub and hip-hop, at 9 p.m. at La Peña. Cost is $10-$12. 849-2568. www.lapena.org 

Mike Rinta “Eponymous” CD release party at 8 p.m. at Anna’s Jazz Island, 2120 Allston Way. Cost is $12. 841-JAZZ. www.AnnasJazzIsland.com 

Bandworks, band recitals, at 1 and 7 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cost is $8. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 

TrumpetSuperGroup Clifford Brown Tribute Concert at 6 p.m. at the Jazzschool. Cost is $15. 845-5373. www.jazzschool.com 

Battlefield Band at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $18.50-$19.50. 548-1761. www.freightandsalvage.org 

Josh Allen Trio and Large Ensemble at 8 p.m. at Flux 53 Theater, Foothill and Fairfax, Oakland. Suggested donation $10. 338-2432.   

Roger Brown Blues Jam at 7 p.m. at Chester’s Bay View Cafe, 1508 Walnut St. 849-9995. 



Subterranean Shakespeare “All’s Well That Ends Well” staged reading at 7:30 p.m. at Berkeley Unitarian Fellowship, 1924 Cedar at Bonita. Tickets are $8. 276-3871. 

Joshua Clover reads from “1989: Bob Dylan Didn’t Have This to Wrtite About” at 5:30 p.m. at University Press Books, 2430 Bancroft Way. 548-0585. www.universitypressbooks.com 

“What’s That Ticking Sound?” with media artist Ben Rubin at 7:30 p.m. at 160 Kroeber Hall, UC campus. Free. atc.berkeley.edu 

Poetry Express at 7 p.m. at Priya Restaurant, 2072 San Pablo Ave. 644-3977. 


San Francisco Chamber Orchestra “Meet the Composers” Family Concert at noon at Julia Morgan Theater, 2640 College Ave. Free. www.sfchamberorchestra.org 



“A Brief Introduction to the Bloomsbury Group” with Peter Stansky, Prof. of History, Stanford Univ. at 1 p.m. in the Danforth Lecture Hall, Art Building, Mills College, Oakland. www.mills.edu 

Richie Unterberger on “White Light/White Heat: The Velvet Underground Day-by-Day” at 6:30 p.m. at the Berkeley Public Library, 2090 Kittredge St. 981-6241.  

Joel Schalit, editor of Zeek Online, reads from his new book “Israel vs. Utopia” at 7:30 p.m. at Pegasus Books Downtown, 2349 Shattuck Ave. 649-1320. 

Liza Dalby reads from “Hidden Buddhas: A Novel of Karma and Chaos” at 7:30 p.m. at the Hillside Club, 2286 Cedar St. For ticket information see www.berkeleyarts.org 

Sharon Doubiago reads from “Love on the Streets: Selected and New Poems” and from her 2009 memoir, “My Father’s Love: Portrait of the Poet as a Young Girl,” followed by an open mic, at 7 p.m. at the Albany Library, 1247 Marin Avenue, Albany. 526-3720. www.aclibrary.org  


Bandworks, band recitals at 7:30 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cost is $5. Children 12 and under, free. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 

Singers’ Open Mic with Kelly Park at 8 p.m. at Anna’s Jazz Island, 2120 Allston Way. Cost is $5. 841-JAZZ. www.AnnasJazzIsland.com 

David Jacobs-Strain, Cliff Eberhardt at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $18.50-$19.50. 548-1761. www.freightandsalvage.org 



“Raw-Dios: Behind the Pigpen in the Morning” the pop cultural landscape of the “Shock and Awe” era Wed.-Fri. at 8 p.m. at La Peña. Cost is $10-$12. 849-2568. www.lapena.org 


Artist Talk with Taro Hattori and Jordan Essoe at 6:30 at Swarm Gallery, 560 Second St., Oakland. 839-2787. 

Andy Worthington on “Guantanamo: Torture, Lies and Incompetence” at 7 p.m. at Revolution Books, 2425 Channing Way. 848-1196. 

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


Peter Mulvey & Ari Heist at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $18.50-$19.50. 548-1761. www.freightandsalvage.org 

Ben Farjan’s Loose Wig Quartet at 8 p.m. at Anna’s Jazz Island, 2120 Allston Way. Cost is $10. 841-JAZZ. www.AnnasJazzIsland.com 

Benefit for the Caravan of Solidarity to Support the Elders of Black Mesa, featuring Becky White and the Secret Mission, Clan Dyken, and Stitchcraft at 8 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Donations $7 and up. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 

Strange Angel Blues Band at 7 p.m. at Chester’s Bay View Cafe, 1508 Walnut St. 849-9995. 

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



Stephen King in conversation with Janet Maslin on “Under the Dome” at 7 p.m. at Rialto Cinemas Elmwood, corner of College and Ashby. 704-8222. 

Harvey Schwartz reads from “Solidarity Stories: An Oral History of the ILWU” at 5:30 p.m. at University Press Books, 2430 Bancroft Way. 548-0585. www.universitypressbooks.com 

Ted Rosak reads from “The Making of an Elder Culture; Reflections on the Future of America;s Most Audacious Generation” at 7:30 p.m. at Mrs. Dalloway’s, 2904 College Ave. 704-8222. 

Kim Hermanson reads from “Getting Messy: A Guide to Taking Risks and Opening the Imagination for Teachers, Trainers and Mentors” at 7:30 p.m. at Pegasus Books Downtown, 2349 Shattuck Ave. 649-1320. 


Oakland Opera “Dark River: The Fannie Lou Hamer Story” Thurs.-Sat. at 8 p.m., Sun. at 2 p.m. through Nov. 22 at Oakland metro Opera house, 630 Third St., Oakland. Tickts are $28. 763-1146. oaklandmetro.org 

Accordians Against Cancer with Culann’s Hounds, Big Lou’s Casserole at 8 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Benefit for Women’s Cancer Resource Center. Cost is $12-$15. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 

Michael Black at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $18.50-$19.50. 548-1761. www.freightandsalvage.org 

Jazz Singers’ Soiree with benny Watson Trio at 8 p.m. at Anna’s Jazz Island, 2120 Allston Way. Cost is $10. 841-JAZZ. www.AnnasJazzIsland.com 

The Hot Toddies, Adam Bones at 9:30 p.m. at The Starry Plough. Cost is $7. 841-2082. www.starryploughpub.com 

The Sacred Profanities at 10 p.m. at Beckett’s Irish Pub, 2271 Shattuck Ave. 647-1790. www.beckettsirishpub.com 

Country Joe’s Open Mic Night at 7 p.m. at BFUU, 1924 Cedar. Cost is $5-$10. 841-4824. 

Mark Holzinger and guests at 7 p.m. at Chester’s Bay View Cafe, 1508 Walnut St. 849-9995. 



Actors Ensemble of Berkeley “As It Is in Heaven” Fri. and Sat. at 8 p.m. at Live Oak Theater, 1301 Shattuck Ave., through Nov. 19. Tickets are $12-$15. 649-5999. www.aeofberkeley.org 

Aurora Theatre “Fat Pig” through Dec. 6, at 2081 Addison St. Tickets are $15-$55. 843-4822. auroratheatre.org 

Berkeley Black Repertory Group Theater “Sparkle: The Stage Play” Thurs.-Fri. at 8 p.m., Sat. at 2 and 8 p.m., Sun. at 4 p.m. at 3201 Adeline St., through Dec. 20. Tickets are $10-$45. 652-2120. 

Berkeley Playhouse “The Wizard of Oz” at the Julia Morgan Theater, 2640 College Ave, through Dec. 6. Tickets are $19-$28. For times see website www.berkeleyplayhouse.org  

Berkeley Rep “Tiny Kushner” Short plays by Tony Kushner at the Thrust Stage, 2025 Addison, through Nov. 29. Tickets are $33-$71. 647-2949 www.berkeleyrep.org 

Berkeley Rep “American Idiot” at 2025 Addison St., through Nov. 15. Tickets are $32-$86. www.berkeleyrep.org 

Central Works “Blastosphere!” Thurs.-Sat. at 8 p.m., Sun. at 5 p.m. through Nov. 22 at The Berkeley City Club, 2315 Durant Ave. Tickets are $14-$25. 558-1381. centralworks.org 

“Farid Mercury” Persian masculinity in the post 9/11 world with Robert Farid Karimi Fri. and Sat. at 8 p.m., Sun. at 2 p.m. at the Ashby Stage, 1901 Ashby Ave. Cost is $10-$12. 849-2568. www.lapena.org 

Impact Theatre “Large Animal Games” Thurs.-Sat. at 8 p.m. at La Val’s Subterranean, 1834 Euclid Ave., through Dec. 12. Tickets are $12-$20. impacttheatre.com 

Masquers Playhouse “The Rocky Horror Show” Fri. and Sat. at 8 p.m., Sun. at 2:30 p.m. at 105 Park Place, Point Richmond, and runs through Dec. 12. Tickets are $18. 232-4031. www.masquers.org 

“Raw-Dios: Behind the Pigpen in the Morning” the pop cultural landscape of the “Shock and Awe” era Wed.-Fri. at 8 p.m. at La Peña. Cost is $10-$12. 849-2568. www.lapena.org 

UC Dept. of Theater, Dance & Performance Studies “Silences and Salutations” Seven one act plays through Nov. 22 at Durham Studio Theater, UC campus. 642-8827. tdps.berkeley.edu 


“Urban Renaissance: New Visions of Jewelry and Sculpture” Works by Bay Area metalsmith artists. Opening reception at 6 p.m. at ACCI Gallery, 1652 Shattuck Ave. Exhibit runs to Dec. 6. 843-2527. www.accigallery.com 

“The Artwork of Leonard Peltier” Native American activist and political prisoner. Opening reception at 6:30 p.m. at La Peña. 849-2568. 

“And the Spirit Moved Her” Art by Nina Bindi, Judith Buist, Darla Engelmann, Libby Jennings and Jeannine Jourdan. Artist reception at 7 p.m. at JanRae Community Art Gallery, Women’s Cancer Resource Center, 5741 Telegraph Ave., Oakland. Exhibit runs to Dec. 18. 601-4040, ext. 111. 

Estuary Art Attack Open art galleries and studios from 6 to 9 p.m. in Alameda’s Park Street Arts District. www.estuaryartattack.com  


Romney Steele reads from “My Nepenthe: Bohemian Tales of Food, Family, and Big Sur” at 7:30 p.m. at Mrs. Dalloway’s, 2904 College Ave. 704-8222. 

Christina Hutchins and Bill Vartnaw will read their poetry at 7 p.m. at Nefeli Caffe, 1854 Euclid Ave., a little north of Hearst. Part of the Last Word Reading Series.  


Oakland East Bay Symphony “A Night at the Opera” with soprano Hope Briggs, tenor Kalil Wilson, and the Oakland-East Bay Gay Men’s Chorus at 8 p.m. at Paramount Theater, 2025 Broadway, Oakland. tickets are $20-$65. 444-0801. www.oebs.org 

San Francisco City Chorus “Brahms’ Ein Deutches Requiem and Schicksalslied” with guest soloists Angela Arnold, soprano and Leland Morine, baritone at 8 p.m. at First Congregational Church of Berkeley, 2345 Channing Way. Tickets are $12-$20. Free for middle- and high-school students. 415-701-7664. www.sfcitychorus.org  

Dance Brigade “The Great Liberation Upon Hearing” based on the Tibetan Book of the Dead, Fri.-Sat. at 8 p.m., Sun. at 7 p.m., through Nov. 22, at Laney College Theater, 900 Fallon St. at 8th. Tickets are $17-$23. www.brownpapertickets.com 

East Bay Anointed Voices at 8 p.m. at UTunes Coffee House, First Unitarian Church of Oakland, 685 14th St., Oakland. Tickets are $14-$18, children ages 6-15, $5. www.utunescoffehouse.org 

Fog Hill Classical Trio at 7 p.m. at Chester’s Bay View Cafe, 1508 Walnut St. 849-9995. 

Danny Caron Trio at 8 p.m. at Anna’s Jazz Island, 2120 Allston Way. Cost is $14. 841-JAZZ. www.AnnasJazzIsland.com 

Brass Menagerie, Gaucho at 9 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cost is $12. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 

John Reischman & the Jaybirds at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $18.50-$19.50. 548-1761. www.freightandsalvage.org 

SF Jazz High School All-Stars at 8 p.m. at the Jazzschool. Cost is $110. 845-5373. www.jazzschool.com 

Montana Slim, The Skinny, Mars Arizona at 9 p.m. at The Starry Plough. Cost is $6. 841-2082. www.starryploughpub.com 

Terrence Brewer Trio at 8 p.m. at Jupiter. 843-8277. 

The Icarus Jones Collective at 10 p.m. at Beckett’s Irish Pub, 2271 Shattuck Ave. 647-1790. www.beckettsirishpub.com 



Los Amiguitos de La Peña with Octopretzels at 10:30 a.m. at La Peña. Cost is $5 for adults, $4 for children. 849-2568. www.lapena.org 

The Snow Queen Puppet Show Sat. and Sun. at 11 a.m. and 2 and 4 p.m. at at Children’s Fairyland, 699 Bellevue Ave., Oakland. Cost is $7. 296-4433.  


Hecho Fest 10th Anniversary with headRush, Robert Karimi and Denise Solis at 2 p.m. at La Peña. Free. 849-2568. www.lapena.org 

Martin Lubner, painter and teacher at 4 p.m. at Berkeley Art Center, 1275 Walnut St. Cost is $5. 644-6893. www.berkeleyartcenter.org 

Eve Kushner demonstrates the art of Japanese writing in “Crazy for Kanji: A Student’s Guide to the Wonderful World of Japanese Characters” at 3 p.m. at Eastwind Books of Berkeley, 2066 University Ave. 548-2350. 

Derick and Jackie Savage, authors of “Sunrise Over South Africa” book talk presentation and slide show followed by Q&A at noon at the Richmond Public Library, 325 Civic Center Plaza in Richmond. 620-6561. www.richmondlibrary.org 


Young People’s Symphony Orchestra at 8 p.m. at First Congregational Church of Berkeley, 2345 Channing Way. Cost is $12-$15. 849-9779. www.ypsomusic.net 

Contra Costa Chorale with guest soloists Courtney Bowes, lyric soprano, and Chie Treagus, alto, at 7:30 p.m. at St. Jerome Church, 308 Carmel Ave., El Cerrito. Tickets are $12-$15. 527-2026. www.ccchorale.org 

Oakland Opera “Dark River: The Fannie Lou Hamer Story” Thurs.-Sat. at 8 p.m., Sun. at 2 p.m. through Nov. 22 at Oakland Metro Operahouse, 630 Third St., Oakland. Tickts are $28. 763-1146. oaklandmetro.org 

Hecho Fest 10th Anniversary with Home Made at 9 p.m. at La Peña Cultural Center. Cost is $10-$12. 849-2568. www.lapena.org 

Bryan Baker & Friends “Serenade” Concert and dessert reception at 8 p.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Berkeley, 1 Lawson Rd., Kensington. Tickets are $15-$25. 525-0302. 

Inge Swearingen Group at 8 p.m. at Anna’s Jazz Island, 2120 Allston Way. Cost is $14. 841-JAZZ. www.AnnasJazzIsland.com 

The Real Vocal String Quartet at 8 p.m. at Wisteria Ways, 383 61st St., Oakland. Donations $15-$20. Reservations strongly recommended. info@WisteriaWays.org 

Lakay & Mystic Man at 9:30 p.m. at Ashkenaz. African drum circle at 9 p.m. Cost is $10-$13. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com  

Barbara Higbie at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $18.50-$19.50. 548-1761. www.freightandsalvage.org 

Faith Winthrop at 8 p.m. at the Jazzschool. Cost is $15. 845-5373. www.jazzschool.com 

Kugelplex at 9:30 p.m. at Albatross, 1822 San Pablo Ave. Cost is $3. 843-2473. www.albatrosspub.com 

Jinx Jones Trio at 8 p.m. at Jupiter. 843-8277. 

Lost Cats Jazz at 7 p.m. at Chester’s Bay View Cafe, 1508 Walnut St. 849-9995. 

LT3 at 10 p.m. at Beckett’s Irish Pub, 2271 Shattuck Ave. 647-1790. www.beckettsirishpub.com 

Culann’s Hounds, Dark Town Rounders at 9 p.m. at The Starry Plough. Cost is $10. 841-2082. www.starryploughpub.com 

Caribe Nuevo at 8 p.m. at Art House Gallery & Cultural Cente, 2905 Shattuck Ave. Donation $10. 482-3336. 



“The Power of Voice” An evening of spoken word theater from 4 to 6 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cost is $15. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 


“Euphoric Aesthetic Insights” landscapes and magic realism of Mexico. Reception at 4 p.m. at 33 Revolutions Cafe and Record Shop, 10086 San Pablo Ave., at Central, El Cerrito. 223-8707. www.herkart.com 


Egyptology Lecture: Abydos Middle Cemetery Project with Dr. Janet Richards, University of Michigan, at 2:30 p.m. at Barrows Hall, Room 20, Barrow Lane and Bancroft Way, UC campus. 415- 664-4767. 

Michael Wild introduces his ”Bay Wolf Restaurant Cookbook” at 4 p.m. at Mrs. Dalloway’s, 2904 College Ave. 704-8222. 

Voices of Passion mystic, erotic, activist poetry, at 7:30 p.m. at Art House Gallery, 2905 Shattuck. Donations $5-$10. 482-3336. 


Beloved: A Requiem for Our Dead Elegies by queer and trans people of color at 8 p.m. at La Peña. Cost is $10-$20. 849-2568. www.lapena.org 

Amphion, classical, at 2 p.m. at First United Methodist Church, 210 Martina St., Point Richmond. 236-0527. 

Chamber Music Sundaes Chamber music performed by members of the San Francisco Symphony at 3 p.m. at St. John’s Presbyterian Church, 2727 College Ave. Tickets at the door $20-$25. 415-753-2792. www.chambermusicsundaes.org 

Cançonièr “The Black Dragon: Music from the Time of Vlad Dracula” at 7 p.m. at St. Alban’s Church, 1501 Washington Ave., Albany. Tickets are $10-$20 at Music Sources 528-1685. 

Tammy Pilkisuk & Friends at 8 p.m. at Anna’s Jazz Island, 2120 Allston Way. Cost is $10. 841-JAZZ. www.AnnasJazzIsland.com 

Pato Banton, reggae, at 9:30 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cost is $10-$15. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 

Kim Nalley at 4:30 p.m. at the Jazzschool. Cost is $15-$18. 845-5373. www.jazzschool.com 

Tracy Grammer at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $18.50-$19.50. 548-1761. www.freightandsalvage.org 

Josh Allen Trio and Large Ensemble at 8 p.m. at Flux 53 Theater, Foothill and Fairfax, Oakland. Donation $10. 338-2432. www.myspace.com/orrallenduo 

Happy Clams at 7 p.m. at Chester’s Bay View Cafe, 1508 Walnut St. 849-9995.

Burlesque Revue Takes Over Ashby Stage

By Ken Bullock, Special to the Planet
Thursday November 05, 2009 - 08:52:00 AM

Hubba Hubba Revue, a local burlesque troupe, will be mounting a show in an unusual location this Saturday night. Rather than in a club, the show will open at the Ashby Stage. 

“Normally, we’re a burlesque comedy-variety kind of show, playing in clubs, and themed acts can plug right into the show,” said Jim Sweeney, aka Kingfish, who produces and emcees the show. “But this will be special, a scripted play about people putting on a burlesque show.” 

Sweeney laughed and said, “I told somebody recently, ‘It’s not Shakespeare here!’ The people involved are all regulars in the burlesque troupe, playing themselves. I’m Kingfish in the play, because I’m Kingfish in our regular shows.” 

Hubba Hubba Revue was founded three years ago and has performed weekly Monday shows for the past two years at the Uptown Club in Oakland and monthly shows at the DNA Lounge in San Francisco.  

“We have singing and comedy acts, the mainstay of our material, with classic striptease,” Sweeney said. “There’s a big difference in what burlesque means in the industry and what it’s become today. First off, the striptease acts are not fully nude. And there’s a little story to them. The outrageous costumes are a big feature. They have a mid-20th-century look. There’ll be a couple of musicians and a singer. The music isn’t vintage; it’s all across the map. Wiggy Darlington does an incredible Carol Burnett sort of thing. Myself and my partner Eddie emcee, more old-time than modern narrator-comedians. ... And then there’s Zip, the What-Is-It?, who’s the Harpo of our bunch, with a gorilla body, but a man’s head. He grunts, he doesn’t speak. Kind of like a sideshow freak. Zip has a big car with ‘Hooray!’ bannered on it, which he runs out into the audience. It all jumps right at you in your seat. Not the kind of performance where you just sit back and let it happen!” 

Sweeney reflected on the appeal of burlesque. 

“There’s a sense of intimacy, of one-on-one with the audience,” he said. “It engages the public totally. The emcees are talking to the audience, not declaring lines from a play. And the audience heckles back! We know what a play is, what a film is—but different acts coming onstage, doing different things, all in one night—you don’t see that any more, it’s new to everybody now. It’s not like coming out of the theater with the latest special effects movie blasted in your eyes!” 

Sweeney talked about the old tradition of audience participation that he sees making a comeback: “During the seventh inning stretch of a baseball game, everybody gets up and sings ‘Take Me Out to the Ballgame’—and 40,000 people feel in that moment they’re out on the field. ... Movies came along and kind of incorporated vaudeville. People say it went away then, but it never really went away completely. It’s there, part of American culture. You can trace the elements back from Kermit the Frog through Ed Sullivan to the Marx Brothers. You just can’t do the same act in every town when it’s been on TV. The Muppet Show was the last stop of a second wave, after Ed Sullivan, Carol Burnett, Sonny and Cher. The public would accept puppets doing it!”  

Sweeney spoke about the connection with the Shotgun Players. “Shotgun really reached out to us. They’ve been a dream to work with. The nicest people! Rich Black of Shotgun does posters for us. Several have been featured in a new book, Burlesque Poster Art. And we do try to go visual! Holding up cards, like Wile E. Coyote, when it’s hard to both talk and perform—like pantomime.” 

Sweeney concluded with a few words about other local burlesque troupes, such as Barbary Coast Burlesque and the Diamond Daggers, an all-lesbian troupe.  

“It’s a real undercurrent going on right now, all these different troupes, definitely under the surface,” he said. “It’s not the first thing you see when you walk out at night! We’re the biggest, but it’s such a composite thing. It’s a tight-knit community; everybody knows each other. And in this show, everything’s the same, but it’s different. We still have the tech guys, the lighting cues, our entrances and exits, but it’s not in a club, it’s in a theater. We’re excited about it, Shotgun’s excited, ... they’re getting something new, and Hubba Hubba’s getting something new, too. It’s the first time we’ve performed in a theater. It’ll be fun to see the theater people—and see them seeing a burlesque show and for burlesque people to see us in a theater.” 

Burlesque & Variety Show with Hubba Hubba Revue 

Shotgun Cabaret 

Ashby Stage, 1901 Ashby ave. 

Sat. only at 8 and 10 p.m. 

Tickets, $20 

841-6500, www.shotgunplayers.org 




Masquers Get it Right with ‘Rocky Horror’

By Ken Bullock, Special to the Planet
Thursday November 05, 2009 - 08:56:00 AM

“You can’t rely on anyone!” laments ingenue Janet Weiss (Sophia Rose Morris) when a TV monitor reveals her nerdy fiancé Brad Majors (Raymond C. Duval) necking with their monstrously androgynous host, Dr. Frank N. Furter (Todd Carver) elsewhere in the castle that just happens to be on the route when their car breaks down in a rainstorm, setting in motion the louche goings-on—offspring of the unholy coupling of Sci-Fi, Rock ‘n Roll and a good number of the characters—comprising The Rocky Horror Show, creaking the boards at the Masquers Playhouse. 

But Janet’s no shrinking violet. Bursting into song with “Touch-a Touch-a Touch Me,” Janet reveals she’s got that kinda Girl Group thing—plus: “I’ve tasted blood—and I want more!”  

There’s less blood than flesh, and that gracefully clad in all manner of undergarments, including Frank’s turquoise bustier as he struts out in fishnet stockings, heels, all-over rhinestone fringe, singing, “I’m just a sweet transvestite from Transsexual Transylvania.”  

And the juices that flow are mostly the voltage that animates Rocky (Nic Candito), Frank’s muscle-rippling “radiological research (and Paradise will be mine!)” as he invites the clueless lovebirds to “Come up to the lab/See what’s on the slab,” with a Mae West inflection. 

“One of the Master’s special affairs,” The Rocky Horror Show (book, music and lyrics by Richard O’Brien) in its Picture Show version especially, was outrider—or hors d’oeuvres to—the glitter-&-glam rock scene of the ‘70s, though it served as intro for much more, in good-humored old burlesk style, as director G. A. Klein owns up to in his program notes. 

Whatever might have been shocking about The Rocky Horror Show is now common coin, a little quaint even, which brings out the deliberately creaky kitsch that much more, so a moment here and there actually reflects that glorious triumph of over-reaching tastelessness angst exemplified by Ed Wood in such rancid paste gems of the sub-B movie screen as Glen or Glenda?  

More’s the fun, and The Masquers’ cast of 15 swings with it and communicates it with happy agility. The Master’s servants, Magenta and Columbia (Patty Penrod and Vicki Zabarte) prove to be rave-up, warbling ghouls; their doorman cohort, Riff Raff (Ted V. Bigornia) demonstrates he knows what skulking’s all about. Eddie, the tragic delivery boy (Paul J. White), bursts out of the closet Frank’s squeezed him into with “Hot Patootie.” Eddie’s uncle, a wheelchair-bound, teutonic Dr. Everett Scott (Larry Schrupp)—shades of Strangelove!--tears up “Eddie’s Teddy.” 

Rocky poses in his gold bikini briefs to belt out “The Sword of Damocles.” Frank promises “I Can Make You a Man” (twice), bitches “Planet Schmanet Janet” at the ingenue, finally pulling out the stops with tout ensemble in “Floor Show/Rose Tint My World.” 

But we mustn’t forget the dance sensation: “Do the Time Warp.” Nor the framing tune, bookending the show, trilled by an usherette suspiciously resembling Magenta: “Science Fiction Double Feature.”  

And all the while, the five Phantoms—and even the demure Narrator (Masquers managing director Robert Love) with his pipe and smoking jacket—writhe, shimmy and rock out to Anjee Norgaard’s choreography, as Pat King conducts the hot sextet in the pit (kudos to Wesley Asakawa’s piquant tenor sax) from the ivories. 

From Dianne Beaulieu-Arms’ costumes to Anne Collins’ props, from John Hull’s set to Greg Wilson’s lighting of it, from the tip of Rocky’s gold lace-ups to the top of Tammara Plankers’ wigs, The Masquers show what a community theater can do to entertain you, even by enlarging the perspective in an intimate playhouse with a couple of follow spots and wrap-around action in the aisles, or constructing Brad and Janet’s broken-down car out of the corpus delectii of the Phantom chorines—the flat tire a scantily-clad bondage beauty--Body by Fischer, indeed! 



Masquers Playhouse, 105 Park Place, Pt. Richmond.  

Fri.-Sat. 8 p.m., Sun. 2:30 p.m. 

through Dec. 12 

Tickets, $18 

232-4031; www.masquers.org

Rep’s ‘Tiny Kushner’ Doesn’t Measure Up

By Ken Bullock, Special to the Planet
Thursday November 05, 2009 - 08:51:00 AM

Berkeley on fire!” read a recent New York Times article. It was about Tiny Kushner, five one-act plays by Tony Kushner, directed by Tony Taccone, at Berkeley Rep.  

Hard to imagine what ignited that sentiment. The production, featuring four journeyman actors—J. C. Cutler, Valeri Mudek, Jim Lichtscheidl and the excellent Kate Eidig—resemble Saturday Night Live routines.  

Humorist Mort Sahl’s remark comes to mind: Asked what the difference was between his comedy and that of younger contemporaries, like SNL, Sahl replied, “They do parody, mine is satire.”  

Kushner’s dramatic technique in these pieces is mostly cut-and-paste:  

In Flip Flop Fly! two very different women, Queen Geraldine of Albania (Eidig) and eccentric entertainer Lucia Pamela (Mudek), born in the same year and now dead, meet and misunderstand each other in a conversation on the moon (which Pamela claimed to have visited).  

In Dr. Arnold A. Hutschnecker in Paradise, Nixon’s former therapist (Cutler) waxes prosaic on his late subject. 

In Only We Who Guard the Mystery Shall Be Unhappy, Laura Bush comes to read fiction to dead Iraqi children, watched over by an angel (Eidig and Mudek again). 

Even the set reflects this kind of remedial arithmetic: big blowups of an IRS form and other pertinent ephemera, a workshop collage. 

But it’s not a lily that The Rep is gold-plating, just curtain-raisers that could conceivably electrify the proceedings at a corporate gala, or under the redwoods at Bohemian Grove. 




Berkeley Rep., Thrust Stage 

2025 Addison  

through Nov. 29 

tickets: $33-$71 

647-2949, www.berkeleyrep.org 

Wiley, Baraka Team Up for Celebration of Music, Poetry at Yoshi’s

By Ken Bullock, Special to the Planet
Thursday November 05, 2009 - 08:58:00 AM

By Ken Bullock, Special to the Planet 


Tenor saxophonist Howard Wiley, Berkeley High Jazz Band alum, will perform with his trio and with acclaimed poet Amiri Baraka Monday night at Yoshi’s in Oakland. 

“We’ll be celebrating the music and celebrating Amiri Baraka’s work,” Wiley said. “He just put out a new book, Somebody Blew Up America (House of Nehesi Publishers) which he’ll be definitely reading from, as well as other, selected works. And off the cuff. It’s always a pleasure to work with him. What he does is so much in the spirit of jazz improvisation. He uses the music as a backdrop—and works his poetry into the playing.” 

Wiley talked about what music he and his trio—Sly Randolph on drums and bassist David Ewell—will draw from. “We’ll play some music by Monk, Coltrane, ‘Tintindeo,’ a Dizzy Gillespie selection ... and Amiri has his way, he can go in so many different directions. He’s extremely fluid, like Don Cherry was, with the sensitivity of Miles Davis and Clifford Brown’s sense of articulation. Such expression; such a joy to work with.” 

Wiley mentioned three great trumpeters to describe different aspects of Baraka’s style. All three are musicians Baraka has written about, among others, in articles and books about jazz in particular and African-American music in general, like his influential Blues People. 

“Blues People is one of the things that got me into the music,” Wiley said, “and some of his articles, like ‘Jazz and the White Critic.’ It’s more about the history of the music, the social and political implications that so many musicians forget about ... He shows that what made these cats so great is that they had such purpose behind the music, that they made it up themselves. And that’s what makes Amiri Baraka so great, that same sense of purpose. When you listen to him recite, speaking by himself, it’s so musical, so melodic, so rhythmic.” 

Baraka, under his birthname LeRoi Jones, emerged in the 1950s and ‘60s as one of the most distinctive poets of his generation, his poems featured in magazines and books from Evergreen/Grove Press and his own Totem/Yugen Press. He was featured in the influential Donald Allen-edited anthology The New American Poetry.  

In the ‘60s, beginning with The Dutchman, his plays premiered in celebrated productions, often with live accompaniment by great jazz players like Jackie McLean. He performed and recorded with the avantgarde New York Art Quartet; a reunion concert in 1999 was followed by a studio recording with Baraka performing a range of his poetry on the tracks.  

From the late ‘60s on, Baraka has been involved in progressive and African American political and social work, while continuing to write, often with a satirical edge. In the wake of 9/11, Baraka’s poem about the event—the title poem of his new collection—stirred up controversy. Some political figures in New Jersey tried to rescind Baraka’s previous appointment as state poet laureate. Discovering there were no legal grounds for removing him from the position, Baraka’s detractors tried to eliminate the position itself. 

Wiley’s performed with Baraka several times over the past five years.  

“The first time I ever worked with him was for a celebration of his entire body of work,” Wiley said. “I worked with him and [tenor saxophonist] David Murray [another Berkeley High alum] on the production of his play, The Sisyohus Syndrome, at the East Side Arts Alliance ... and at the African American Museum in Oakland—we played in the church next door. I’ve played with him every time he’s come to town over the last four or five years.” 

Wiley spoke of the pleasure of “just hanging out” with Baraka, mentioning his humor and recalling in particular Baraka telling him, as they passed a display of his books, about getting a van and distributing remainders of his books to children in Harlem in the late ‘60s, “like the vans that drive through, selling them ice cream, candy, soda—but he was giving them something nourishing for the mind.”  

Wiley extolled Baraka: “Such a character in general, such an intellect—and so soulful.” 

Wiley continues to play around the Bay Area with singer Faye Carol, with Marcus Shelby’s jazz ensemble and with vocalist LaVay Smith. He’s worked with Jacinta Blanch’s Liberation Dance Theatre.  

His ongoing work, The Angola Project, named after the Louisiana State Penitentiary plantation, where inmates are encouraged to sing, and older styles of vocals have been preserved, continues as well. A new CD—The Angola Project’s second—12 Gates to the City, will be released in February. The title track is a suite Wiley started writing on his first visit there, two years ago. 

On that visit, Wiley also heard a prisoner, “there since around 1970,” John Taylor, who had withdrawn from the prison administration-sponsored musical programs six years before, feeling the prisoners were being exploited, sing for the first time in six years.  

“He opened his mouth and it was glorious,” Wiley recalled, “the voice of an angel, in a maximum security prison! He sang for my friend Daniel Atkinson, who had been studying the songs, and me. The song was ‘Thank You For One More Day.’ I think it’s Faye Carol’s favorite of the Angola Project songs.” 

Wiley reflected on “the music changing” between the first Angola Project CD and 12 Keys. 

“On the first album, I was an outsider looking in, having listened just to old recordings from the prison, like Alan Lomax’s, and reading about the place,” he said. “It’s amazing this understanding still exists in new millenium America—because it was considered rehabilitation. Rehabilitation? Picking cotton in 100 degree weather? The prisoners preserved the 1930s-40s a cappela gospel quartet vocal tradition. Those cats create music with a transcendent spirituality, with the will for the spirit to overcome adversity, even in such a dire, desperate situation. It had to be passed on in prison, under a criminal justice system that’s not dealing with poverty.”

Books: Roszak Continues Work with New Study of ‘Elder Culture’

By Dorothy Bryant, Special to the Planet
Thursday November 05, 2009 - 08:59:00 AM

In 1969 Theodore Roszak’s book The Making of a Counter Culture hit the bestseller lists and won awards for its optimistic analysis of middle-class, non-conformist, anti–Vietnam War students of the post-war-generation “baby boom.” Forty years and 20 books later, he takes up the present-day challenges and opportunities of that same generation in his new books The Making of an Elder Culture. 

If the central historical fact of the postwar boomers was their sheer numbers, the central historical fact they exhibit today, writes Roszak, is their sheer longevity. He reminds us that when the Social Security Act of 1937 was passed, life expectancy was only a couple of years beyond 65, the age at which a worker could begin collecting the unprecedented federal old age pension. The lengthening of old-age in advanced industrial countries today is such that, as Roszak told his students (at Cal State, East Bay), they are facing a new reality—their old age will be a lot longer than their youth. 

This is good news and bad news, says Roszak. The bad news first: Boomers who in the 1960s “rushed to the support of every exploited minority on the scene” now are “joining the ranks of the world’s most maligned and victimized class.”  

Gaining and keeping benefits like Social Security and Medicare have always been “a struggle against business leaders, political conservatives, and free-market economists” spreading propaganda about “greedy geezers” robbing the young. The good news? Roszak asserts that every fight made by elders to keep and expand entitlements can and must be seen as a fight to expand them to all sectors of the United States, the richest country in the world, which—despite the ranting of conservatives—can afford them, if we make the right choices. 

Instead of gauging America’s wealth by the gross domestic product (GDP), which includes the manufacture of cigarettes and weapons and the building of prisons, he demands a new standard, the NLE (National Life Expectancy), factoring in “quality of life. We would then be able to say that in a society where the NLE is improving, true wealth is being created.” 

These newly gained years of old age, says Roszak, enable boomers to complete the reforms stymied by the conservative backlash of the 1980s and 1990s. Boomers can—as they did in their youth—help others in the larger society while helping themselves. But “we have no precedent for an insurgent older generation. If anything, the stereotype for the senior years faces in the opposite direction, toward stodginess and passivity.”  

Roszak cites the Gray Panthers as an exception. A more recently founded exception to the stodgy stereotype (not mentioned by Roszak) is our local Grandmothers Against the War, started five years ago by boomer and “pre-boomer” women whose activism, in some cases, goes all the way back to anti-nuclear protests of the 1950s. GAW welcomes “all grandmotherly—that is, caring—people of all ages and sexes” to join them—at whatever level of activism suits the present state of their health and vitality—some on the picket lines, some on the phone. Such inclusionary anti-war efforts answer Roszak’s call to action. 

Nevertheless, I confess to being less optimistic than Roszak about repairing the broad social, psychic and economic damage of the Nixon-through-Bush decades. Perhaps that is why I find the heart of Roszak’s book in the later, more personal chapters, in which Roszak describes insights gained during minor mishaps and major threats of his own old age.  

For example, while boarding a plane, he is suddenly forced to redefine what constitutes a “manly” attitude (his own) as his luggage is casually swung up and into an overhead compartment by a young female flight attendant after his own attempt has failed.  

Even more instructive (to put it mildly) are the insights gained as he survives his first near-fatal illness. Lessons learned and insights gained in such major crises were rare in earlier generations when medical technology was less well equipped to snatch elders back from the brink of death—with faculties and analytical powers intact. Such recoveries, and the mind-altering insights accompanying them, may not be as sociologically dramatic as some political actions and reactions, but may deepen the understanding and empowerment of all people, young and old, in ways we have not anticipated.  

Roszak reminds us that, “Wisdom is the result of examined experience.” Long-lived elders can embody and impart hard-earned wisdom to take us closer to fulfilling an old truth: “The world does not belong to the ruthless and cunning few but to all of us—to the poets and artist as much as to the entrepreneurs, to the weak and infirm as much as to those blessed with health and agility, to the meek as well as the bold. As they take possession of the entitlements that promise them health and independence, it will be elders who must make that case for their society as a whole.” 


The Making of an Elder Culture 

by Theodore Roszak 

(2009, New Society Publishers, paper, $18.95)

Community Calendar

Thursday November 05, 2009 - 08:43:00 AM


Public Hearing on Berkeley Housing and Community Needs at 7 p.m. at South Berkeley Senior Center, 2939 Ellis St., at Ashby. 981-5427. 

“What Parents Can Do to Ensure Student Success” with Dr. Pedro Noguera, professor in the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development at New York University at 7 p.m. at First Congregational Church of Oakland, 2501 Harrison St., Oakland. Suggested donation $5. 845-0876. 

“Socialists Under the Bed” The Smear Campaigns against ACORN and Van Jones at 7 p.m. at La Peña. Cost is $8. 849-2568. www.lapena.org 

Journal and Memoir Writing: Capturing Life Stories A workshop program for seniors from 1:30 to 3 p.m. at the Albany Library, 1247 Marin Ave. Free. 526-3720. 

Alameda Community for Kids Awards with live music, silent auction, raffle, food and beverages, from 6 to 9 p.m. at Rhythmix Cultural Works, 2513 Blanding Ave., Alameda. Tickets are $25. www.childunique.net/ 


Berkeley School Volunteers, New Volunteer Orientation from 10 to 11 a.m. at 1835 Allston Way. Bring a photo ID and two references to the orientation. Returning volunteers do not need to attend. For further information 644-8833. 

“Women Lead the Way: Your Guide to Stepping Up to Leadership and Changing the World” with Linda Tarr-Whelan at 12:30 p.m. at Boalt Hall, U.C. Berkeley School of Law, UC campus. 

Heyday Institute 35th Anniversary Benefit with Laura Cunningham, L. Frank, and Robert Hass. Reception at 6:30 p.m., program at 7 p.m. at The Hillside Club, 2286 Cedar St. Suggested donation of $75. RSVP to kelly@heydaybooks.com 

Red Cross Blood Drive from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at Kaiser Center Foyer, 300 Lakeside Dirve. To schedule an appointment go to www.helpsavealife.org 

Red Cross Blood Drive from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Julia Morgan Chapel, 4499 Piedmont ave., Oakland. To schedule an appointment go to www.helpsavealife.org 

Circle of Concern Vigil meets on West Lawn of UC campus across from Addison and Oxford, Thurs. at noon and Sun. at 1 p.m. to oppose UC weapons labs contracts. 848-8055. 


Golden Gate Audubon Society Field Trip to Jewel Lake in Tilden Park Meet at 8:30 a.m. at the parking lot at the north end of Central Park Dr. for a one-mile, two-hour-plus stroll through this lush riparian area. Leader Phila Rogers 848-9156. www.goldengateaudubon.org 

“The Unknown Cultural Revolution: Life and Change in a Chinese Village” with author Dongpiing Han at 6:30 p.m. in Wurster Auditorium, UC campus. 848-1196. www.revolutionbooks.org 

“Rediscovering China’s Cultural Revolution” A conference on the art, politics, experience and legacies through Nov. 8 at Stanley Hall on the UC campus. www.revolutionbooks.org 

Jack Kornfield “Carrying the Lamp” Stories, practice and conversation with Kornfield, a Buddhist monk, at 7:30 p.m. at at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Berkeley, 1 Lawson Rd., Kensington. 525-0302, ext. 306. 

City Commons Club Noon Luncheon with Dan Damon on “How Dies a Composer Write Music?” Luncheon at 11:45 a.m. for $15, speech at 12:30 p.m., at the Berkeley City Club, 2315 Durant St. 527-2173.  

Loma Prieta Revisited With a film on how you can prepare for disasters at 6:30 p.m. at El Cerrito City Council Chambers, 10890 San Pablo Ave., El Cerrito. 215-4318. 

Downtown Berkeley YMCA One Day Camp from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. For details call 665-3271. 

Rehearsals for Christmas Choir on College Start Fri. at 7:30, concerts are Dec. 20 and 24, at College Avenue Presbyterian Church, 5951 College Ave., Oakland. For information 415-673-9139. dthalford@aol.com 

“Ministry as Vocation” A conference through Nov. 8 at Pacific School of Religion, 1798 Scenic Ave. Information and registration at psr.edu  

Berkeley Women in Black weekly vigil from noon to 1 p.m. at Bancroft and Telegraph. Our focus is human rights in Palestine. 548-6310. 

Stand With Us Stand for Peace Stand with Israel vigil every Friday from noon to 1 p.m. at Bancroft and Telegraph. www.sfvoiceforisrael.org 


“Are You Ready?” Health and Community Fair with information on emergency preparedness, safety, and prevention of chronic ilnesses, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at St. Paul AME Church, 2024 Ashby Ave.  

Berkeley Path Wanderers: Fruitvale Walk Discover a bit of Central America in this neighborhood of colorful shops, charming streets with early 1900s houses, and small parks. Meet at 10 a.m. at Fruitvale BART station. 848-9358  

Ridge Trail Service Day along Skyline Trail from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Ages 12 and older welcome, but if under 18 must be accompanied by a supervising adult. Advance registration required. 415-561-2595. 

Volunteer to Remove Invasive Plants at Point Isabel Meet at 10 a.m. on the Bay Trail near the north end of Rydin Rd., Point Isabel Regional Shoreline, El Cerrito. 235-1631.  

Compass 101 Learn the basics of using a compass to determine direction, then use it on a treasure hunt, from 2 to 3:30 p.m. at Tilden Nature Area, Tilden Park. For ages 7 and up. 544-2233. 

Golden Gate Audubon Society Field Trip to Martin Luther King Jr. Regional Shoreline Meet at 9 a.m. at Arrowhead Marsh parking lot. Leader Rusty Scalf 666-9936. www.goldengateaudubon.org 

“Hotel for Dogs” Movie screening benefit to build a dog park in El Cerrito at 10 a.m. at Rialto Cinemas, 10070 San Pablo Ave., El Cerrito. Cost is $7. Tickets available at El Cerrito Community Center, 7007 Moeser Lane. 215-4318. 

Wizard’s Lab on Wheels Festival Watch as a ball floats in mid-air, hands seem to go through solid objects and words whispered are heard from 10 feet away. For ages 5 and up at 1 p.m. at the Berkeley Public Library, third floor, Community Meeting Room, 2090 Kittredge St. 981-6223.  

4th Annual Purrcasso Art & Craft Sale Local and international artists have donated artwork to help support homeless dogs and cats at the Berkeley-East Bay Humane Society. From 7 to 9 p.m. and Sun. from noon to 4 p.m. at 715 Hearst St., at 4th St., second flr. 845-7735 ext.13. www.berkeleyhumane.org 

United Nations Assoc. Open House with fair trade gifts, multi-cultural books, UNICEF cards, refreshments and prizes from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 1403B Addison St., by University Ave. Andonico’s parking lot. www.unaeastbay.org 

“Remembering Fr. Bill O’Donnell” Reception with Mary O’Donnell for her book “Reflections of a Beloved Rebel” at 6:30 p.m. at Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists, 1924 Cedar St. 841-4824. 

Orchid Society of California “Orchid Treasures” with displays, infomation sessions and demonstrations, Sat. and Sun. from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Lakeside Park Garden Center, 666 Bellevue, Oakland. www.orchid 


Workshop on Oakland Rezoning covering changes to the commercial and residential zoning regulations, from 10 a.m. to noon at Peralta Elementary School, 460 63rd St., Oakland. 238-7299. www.oaklandnet.com/zoningupdate 

Himalayan Evening by the Bay Benefit for the Ama Foundation with Nepali cuisine, song and dance, at 6 p.m. at North Berkeley Senior Center, 1901 Hearst. Tickets are $25-$35. 847-2889. www.ama-foundation.org 

Eat Local A workshop on farmers’ markets, eating from local farms and growing your own food, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Ecology Center, 2530 San Pablo Ave. Cost is $10-$15. 548-2220, ext. 233. 

Personal Statement Editing Workshop for teens writing their college essays from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Claremont Branch Library, 2940 Benvenue. Sponsored by ecBerkeley.org. 266-2069. 

Free Beginning Email Class from 10 to 11 a.m. at the El Cerrito Library, 6510 Stockton Ave., El Cerrito. Call to sign up 526-7512. 

Vegetarian Cooking Class: Thanksgiving For the Birds Join us as we create five fantastic dishes for creating a healthful, humane holiday including Parsnip Soup, Citrus Glazed Tempeh, Cranberry, Apple and Sausage Stuffing, Shredded Brussels Sprouts with Apples and Pecans and Fresh Fig Cake, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at First Unitarian Church of Oakland, 685 14th St. at Castro. Cost is $60 in advance, plus $5 food/materials fee due on day of class Register online at www.compassionatecooks.com 

“Father Bill: Reflections of a Beloved Rebel” Book party and film showing at 7 p.m. at Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists, 1924 Cedar at Bonita. 841-4824. www.bfuu.org  

Family Day “Re-Create” Learn to take the things you toss and transform them into art, from 1 to 3 p.m. at Museum of Children’s Art, 538 9th St., Oakland. Cost is $7 per child, $3 per adult. 465-8770. www.mocha.org 

“One Year After November 2008: President Obama: An Appreciation and An Assessment” from 10 a.m. to noon at Niebyl-Proctor Library, 6501 Telegraph Ave. 595-7417. 

East Bay Baby & Kids Fair An education event from 11 a.m to 3 p.m. at Albany Veterans Memorial Building, 1325 Protland Ave., Albany. www.eastbaybabyfair.com 

Game Day with board and Wii games from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Albany Library, 1247 Marin Ave., Albany. Free. 526-3720. 

LifeSupport: A Retreat for HIV+ Christians from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Ecumenical Center of Berkeley, 2401 Le Conte Ave. Cost is $15. psr.edu 

Free Garden Tours at Regional Parks Botanic Garden Sat. at 2 p.m. and Sun. at 11 a.m. and 2 pm. Regional Parks Botanic Garden, Tilden Park. Call to confirm. 841-8732. www.nativeplants.org 

Lawn Bowling on the green at the corner of Acton St. and Bancroft Way every Wed. and Sat. at 10 a.m. for ages 12 and up. Wear flat soled shoes, no heels. Free lessons. 841-2174.  


“A Woman Among Warlords” with Malalai Joya, Afghan politician, at 2:30 p.m. at the Northbrae Community Church, 941 The Alameda. Sponsored by Grandmothers Against the War. 845-3815. 

East Bay Sanctuary Covenant’s 27th Annual Dinner with Harley Shaiken, chair of the UC Berkeley Center for Latin American Studies at 5:30 p.m. at St. John’s Presbyterian Church, 2727 College Ave. Donation $25 and up. ebscdinner@gmail.com 

Wonderfest: Bay Area Festival of Science from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at Stanley Hall, UC campus. Free. www.wonderfest.org 

Raptors from Ridges A strenuous 8-mile hike in search of birds of prey, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in Crockett Hills Regional Park. Bring sunscreen, water and a lunch. For meeting place call 544-2233. 

Medicinal Plants of the Bay Area: A Bioregional Exploration from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Huckelberry Botanical Preserve, Oakland. Bring water, snacks, lunch, hat and sunscreen, a notebook and a camera. Cost is $30. Registration required. 428-1810. bluewindbmc@gmail.com 

“How to Lower your Carbon Footprint” Learn how to calculate your carbon footprint and take action to lower it, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at EcoHouse. Cost is $10-$15. Registration required. 548-2220, ext. 239. 

4th Annual Purrcasso Art & Craft Sale Local and international artists have donated artwork to help support homeless dogs and cats at the Berkeley-East Bay Humane Society. From noon to 4 p.m. at 715 Hearst St., at 4th St., second flr. 845-7735 ext.13. www.berkeleyhumane.org 

“A Crude Awakening” A documentary on America’s love of oil, followed by discussion at 1:30 p.m. at the Albany Library, 1247 Marin Ave., Albany. 528-2261. 

“Meltdown” A workshop on the causes of the economic crisis and possible solutions at 5 p.m. at Niebyl-Proctor Library, 6501 Telegraph Ave., near 65th St.  

Community Pot-luck with music by the Wild Buds at 5 p.m. at The Cooperative Grocery, 1450 67th St., at Hollis. Free, bring a dish to share. www.thecog.org  

Free Sailboat Rides from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Cal Sailing Club, Berkeley Marina. Wear warm, waterproof clothing and bring a change of clothes in case you get wet. Children 5 and over welcome with parent or guardian. www.cal-sailing.org 

Free Hands-on Bicycle Clinic Learn how to repair a flat, from 10 to 11 a.m. at REI, 1338 San Pablo Ave. Bring your bike and tools. 527-4140. 

Bagel Brunch: Middle East Peace Efforts with a presentation by Molly Freeman at 10 a.m. at Albany Community Center. Donation $7.50-$10. www.kolhadash.org 

Personal Theology Seminars with Bill Garrett on “Al-Andaluz: Islamic Iberia” at 10 a.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Berkeley, 1 Lawson Rd., Kensington. 525-0302, ext. 306. 

Free Garden Tours at Regional Parks Botanic Garden in Tilden Park Sat. at 2 p.m. and Sun. at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Call to confirm. 841-8732. www.nativeplants.org 

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

Tibetan Buddhism with Olivia Hurd on “Meditations to Cultivate the Landscape of the Mind” at 6 p.m. at the Tibetan Nyingma Institute, 1815 Highland Pl. 809-1000. www.nyingmainstitute.com 


Berkeley School Volunteers, New Volunteer Orientation from 3 to 4 p.m. at 1835 Allston Way. Bring a photo ID and two references to the orientation. Returning volunteers do not need to attend. For further information 644-8833. 

“Tutankhamun & the Golden Age of Pharaohs” Docent talk about the current show at the deYoung Museum at 7 p.m. at Kensington Library, 61 Arlington Ave., Kensington. 524-3043. 

John Carroll in Conversation with Brad Bird of Pixar Animation Studios at 7 p.m. at Berkeley Rep, 2025 Addison St. Benefit for Park Day School. Tickets are $30. 653-0317, 103. www.ParkDaySchool.org 

East Bay Track Club Sign-Up for 2010 Season at 6 p.m. at the running track of Berkeley High School. For more information call Coach Walker at 776-7451. 


Tuesdays for the Birds Tranquil bird walks in local parklands, led by Bethany Facendini, from 7:30 to 9:30 a.m. Today we will visit the Richmond Bay Trail, Landfill Loop. Bring water, field guides, binoculars or scopes. Call for meeting place and if you need to borrow binoculars. 544-2233. 

Tilden Tots Join a nature adventure program for 3 and 4 year olds, each accompanied by an adult (grandparents welcome)! We’ll look for signs of animals, from 10 to 11:30 a.m. at Tilden Nature Center, Tilden Park. Cost is $6-$8. Registration required. 1-888-327-2757. 

Tilden Explorers An after-school nature adventure program for 5-7 year olds. We will learn about the mammels that live in the park, from 3:15 to 4:15 p.m. Cost is $6-$8, registration required. 1-888-EBPARKS. 

California Colloquium on Water “Dynamics and impacts of managed aquifer recharge on water upply and qualtiy in the Pajaro Valley” with Andrew T. Fischer, UC Santa Cruz, at 5:30 p.m. at Goldman School of Public Policy, Rm. 250, UC campus. waterarc@library.berkeley.edu 

Women’s Earth Alliance “Coming Up from the Roots” A local to global celebration of sustainable agriculture and food justice with Joanna Macy, and music and performances at 6:30 p.m. at The David Brower Center, 2150 Allston Way. Donation $15 and up. Benefits Green Youth Arts and Media Center for formerly homeless youth in Oakland. www.browercenter.org 

“Estate Planning” with Nolo Press author Denis Clifford at noon at Alameda County Law Library, 125 Twelfth St., Oakland. 272-6486. 

Red Cross Blood Drive from noon to 6 p.m. in the West Pauley Ballroom, MLK Student Union, UC campus. To schedule an appointment go to www.helpsavealife.org 

Red Cross Blood Services Volunteer Orientation from 6 to 8 p.m. at 6230 Claremont Ave., Oakland. Registration required. 594-5165. 

Weather Transition Workshop with Beth Rodden on outdoor climbing and hiking in inclement weather at REI, 1338 San Pablo Ave. 527-4140. 

German International School Open House for the bilingual K-5 program at 6:30 p.m. at UUCB Berkeley, One Lawson Road, Kensington. www.gissv.org 

Richmond Emergency Food Pantry Volunteers needed to help organize cases of canned food, from 9 a.m. to noon at 2369 Barrett Ave. Richmond. Ability to lift 50 pounds helpful.  Help needed on Fridays also. 235-9732. 

Tuesday Tilden Walkers Join a few slowpoke seniors at 9:30 a.m. in the parking lot near the Little Farm for an hour or two walk. 215-7672, 524-9992. 

Homework Help at the Albany Library for students in grades 2 - 6, Tues. and Thurs. from 3:15 to 5:15 p.m. at the Albany Library, 1247 Marin Ave. Emphasis on math and writing skills. No registration is required. For more information, call 526-3720. 

HomeWork Help Program at the Richmond Public Library Tues. and Thurs. from 3 to 5:30 p.m. at 325 Civic Center Plaza. For more information or to enroll, call 620-6557. 

Street Level Cycles Community Bike Program Come use our tools as well as receive help with performing repairs free of charge. Tues., Thurs., Sat. and Sun. from 2 to 6 p.m. at at 84 Bolivar Dr., Aquatic Park. 644-2577. www.watersideworkshops.org 

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


“The Guantanamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison” with author Andy Worthington at 7 p.m. at Revolution Books, 2425 Channing Way. 848-1196.  

“How To Save the World: One Man, One Cow, One Planet” A documentary on bio-dynamic farming at 7:30 p.m. at Humanist Hall, 390 27th St., Oakland. Donation $5. www.Humanist Hall.org 

Downtown Berkeley YMCA One Day Camp from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. with extended care. Cost is $50. For more information, contact Noelle Boero 665-3271. nboero@baymca.org 

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


Homeless Connect Health Fair with health screenings, referrals, flu shots and on-site acute care, from noon to 4 p.m. at the Multi-Service Center, 2362 Bancroft Way. dkane@bfhp.org 

Walkers 50+: Explore Alameda’s Hidden Canals on an easy, level walk. Meet at 9 a.m. in front of Safeway, 867 Island Drive, on Bay Farm Island in Alameda. Turn west into shopping ctr. from Island just N. of McCartney. Optional Chinese lunch follows. The walk, sponsored by Albany Senior Center and Friends of Five Creeks, is free, but numbers are limited. Please register with Albany Senior Center, 846 Masonic. 524-9122.   

Tilden Tots Join a nature adventure program for 3 and 4 year olds, each accompanied by an adult (grandparents welcome)! We’ll look for signs of animals, from 10 to 11:30 a.m. at Tilden Nature Center, Tilden Park. Cost is $6-$8. Registration required. 1-888-327-2757. 

Wild & Scenic Environmental Film Festival Environmental films and a celebration of the environment, complete with a pre-party, live music, and an auction at 5 p.m., films at 7 p.m. at Clif Bar & Company Headquarters, 1610 Fifth St. Cost is $10, benefits The Access Fund. www.accessfund.com/wseff  

Workshop on Oakland Rezoning covering changes to the commercial and residential zoning regulations, from 6 to 8 p.m. at Fruitvale-San Antonio Senior Center, 3301 E. 12th St., Suite 201, in Fruitvale Village, Oakland. 238-7299. www.oaklandnet.com/zoningupdate 

East Bay Mac Users Group Music Night with information on iTunes, senuti, Grace Note and more, at 7 p.m. at Expression College for Digital arts, 6601 Shellmound St., Emeryville. ebmug.org 

“New Solutions for Fibromyalgia and Chronic Pain” at 6 p.m. at Berkeley Library, Claremont Branch corner Benvenue and Ashby. Free. 849-1176. www.TheRedwoodClinic.com 

Nutrition 101 at 5:30 p.m. at Whole Foods, Telegraph at Ashby. Free. 512-0448. 


Tilden Explorers An after-school nature adventure program for 5-7 year olds. We will learn about the mammels that live in the park, from 3:15 to 4:15 p.m.. Cost is $6-$8, registration required. 1-888-EBPARKS. 

City Commons Club Noon Luncheon with Tom Meyer, SF Chronicle cartoonist on “Firing Up the People with Pen and Ink!” Luncheon at 11:45 a.m. for $15, speech at 12:30 p.m., at the Berkeley City Club, 2315 Durant St. For information and reservations call 527-2173. www.citycommonsclub.org 

Red Cross Blood Drive from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. in the Red Cross Bus, 747 52nd St., Oakland. To schedule an appointment go to www.helpsavealife.org 

Womensong Circle An evening of participatory singing for women, with Carol Swann leading Balkan and international songs, at 7:15 p.m. at First Congregational Church of Berkeley, small assembly room, 2345 Channing Way. Suggested donation $15-$20. betsy@betsyrosemusic.org 

Radical Gratitude: Jewish Wisdom on Everyday Thankfulness at 6:15 p.m. at Jewish Gateways, 409 Liberty St., El Cerrito. Cost is $7, or pot-luck contribution. RSVP required. www.jewishgateways.org 

Berkeley Women in Black weekly vigil from noon to 1 p.m. at Bancroft and Telegraph. Our focus is human rights in Palestine. 548-6310. 

Stand With Us Stand for Peace Stand with Israel vigil every Friday from noon to 1 p.m. at Bancroft and Telegraph. www.sfvoiceforisrael.org 


Turkey Gobble Gobble Visit the Little Farm and meet our resident turkeys, learn about their breeds and history, from 1:30 to 3 p.m. at Tilden Little Farm, Tilden Park. 544-2233. 

Spinning a Yarn Storytelling Come to the Little farm and watch wool being spun into yarn and listen to stories, from 3 to 4:30 p.m. at Tilden Little Farm, Tilden Park. 544-2233. 

Garden Makeover: A Greener Green! Volunteers needed to revilatize the landscaping from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the El Cerrito Community Center, 7007 Moeser Lane. To register call 215-4369. 

“Affordable Housing in Berkeley” Tour of non-profit-owned affordable housing stock from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m Sponored by Berkeley Historical Society. Cost is $8-$10. For reservations and starting point call 848-0181. 

Dropout Prevention Summit from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Castlemont Community of Small Schools, 8601 MacArthur Blvd., Oakland. Free and open to the public. 238-7906. oaklandpromise.eventbrite.com 

Art and Crafts Sale Benefit for the Berkeley Friends Meetinghouse Renovation Fund, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Berkeley Friends Meetinghouse, 2151 Vine St. 526-1403. 

Benefit for Sea Turtle Restoration Project at 7 p.m. at David Brower Center, 2150 Allston Way. Tickets are $85 and up, activist discount. www.seaturtles.org/bigsplash 

“Burdens of Proof: Iran, the United States and Nuclear Weapons” with Michael Veiluva at 7 p.m. at the Alameda Free Library, Conference Rooms A and B, 1550 Oak St., at Lincoln, Alameda. Sggested donation $5. www.alamedapublicaffairsforum.org 

“White Rainbow” Free screening followed by discussion and reception at 11 a.m. at Rialto Cinemas Cerrito, 10070 San Pablo Ave., El Cerrito. 215-4318. 

Red Cross Blood Drive from noon to 5 p.m. at the Watergate Condominiums, Room A, 5 Captain Drive, Emeryville.. To schedule an appointment go to www.helpsavealife.org 

Free Beginning Email Class from 10 to 11 a.m. at the El Cerrito Library, 6510 Stockton Ave., El Cerrito. Call to sign up 526-7512. 

Handling Relationships During the Holidays A half-day meditation retreat from 1 to 4 p.m. at Alameda Yoga Station, 2414A Central Ave., Alameda. Free, a portion of donation will go to Alameda Food Bank. www.alamedayogastation.com 

Workshop on the Import-Export Business from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Berkeley Public Library, 2090 Kittredge St. Free. 981-6145. 

Tribute to Frontier Village at Playland-Not-At-The-Beach Films, memorabilia and performers from the former amusement park in San Jose. Sat. and Sun. from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 10979 San Pablo Ave., El Cerrito. Cost is $10-$15. 932-8966. www.playland-not-at-the-beach.org 

Free Garden Tours at Regional Parks Botanic Garden Sat. at 2 p.m. and Sun. at 11 a.m. and 2 pm. Regional Parks Botanic Garden, Tilden Park. Call to confirm. 841-8732. www.nativeplants.org 

Tibetan Buddhism workshop on how to meditate at the Tibetan Nyingma Institute, 1815 Highland Pl. Cost is $45. 809-1000. www.nyingmainstitute.com 

Lawn Bowling on the green at the corner of Acton St. and Bancroft Way every Wed. and Sat. at 10 a.m. for ages 12 and up. Wear flat soled shoes, no heels. Free lessons. 841-2174.  


Family Cycling Clinic Join other parents and children, (2nd-5th grade) for a morning of fun, drills, games and a neighborhood ride, from 10 a.m. to noon at Rosa Parks Elementary School, Conference room 1107. Bring your bikes, your helmet if you have one, adequate clothing for relaxed two-mile bike ride. We have a limited number of bikes that we can loan. 533-7433. www.ebbc.org/safety 

Raptors from Ridges A strenuous 8-mile hike in serach of birds of prey, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in Briones Regional Park, Bear Creek Staging Area. Bring sunscreen, water and a lunch. For meeting place call 544-2233. 

Growing More Food in Albany A community forum at 1:15 p.m. at the Albany Library, 1247 Marin Ave., Albany. 528-2261. 

California Wrriters Club Workshop on “The Beauty of Brevity: Autobiography Distilled” with Prof. Marilyn Abildskov, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Cost is $9 for members, $29 for others. Registration required. cwcworkshops@gmail.com 

“Creating Radical Graphics for Our Liberation” A workshop for political printmakers from 1 to 4 p.m. at Eastside Cultural Center, 2277 International Blvd., at 23rd Ave., Oakland. Free, donation accepted. www.sfprintcollective.com 

Read Shakespeare Aloud An all-day experience, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., at Expressions Gallery, 2035 Ashby Ave. Cost is $25, or $20 with pot-luck dish. 644-4930. 

Personal Theology Seminars with Bill Garrett on “Islam and the 21st Century” at 10 a.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Berkeley, 1 Lawson Rd., Kensington. 525-0302, ext. 306. 

“Zen and Psychology” with author Cheri Huber at 7 p.m. at 1924 Cedar St. By donation. www.eastbayopencircle.org 

Free Garden Tours at Regional Parks Botanic Garden in Tilden Park Sat. at 2 p.m. and Sun. at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Call to confirm. 841-8732. www.nativeplants.org 

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