The Week

Bonsais for sale by the roadside beneath an American flag.
Pamela Ybanez
Bonsais for sale by the roadside beneath an American flag.


Homeless Advocates Stage New Year's Eve Rally Against County's General Assistance Cuts

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Wednesday December 30, 2009 - 11:42:00 AM

For thousands of Alameda County residents, New Year's eve will be anything but a party. Starting Jan. 1, 2010, the clock will start ticking on a three-month time limit on General Assistance funds received by employable economically disadvantaged people. -more-

BART to Appoint Interim Police Chief

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Wednesday December 30, 2009 - 11:32:00 AM

The Bay Area Rapid Transit will be appointing former Berkeley police chief Daschel Butler to lead its police force on a temporary basis. -more-

King Student Sent to Juvenile Hall for Bringing Unloaded Gun to School

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Wednesday December 30, 2009 - 11:40:00 AM

A Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School student was sent to Alameda County Juvenile Hall for bringing an unloaded gun to school. -more-

Berkeley Arrest Suspect in Southside Stabbing, Investigate Armed Robbery

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Wednesday December 30, 2009 - 11:34:00 AM

Berkeley police arrested 32-year-old Hercules resident Dimitar Popov in connection with a stabbing incident south of the UC Berkeley campus last week. -more-

Families of American Hikers Detained in Iran Hire Lawyer

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Wednesday December 30, 2009 - 11:33:00 AM

The families of the three UC Berkeley alums detained in Iran for illegally crossing over the border announced Dec. 27 that they have hired a prominent Iranian lawyer to help bring them home. -more-

Making the New Year Our Own

By Pamela Ybanez
Wednesday December 30, 2009 - 08:43:00 AM

Looking back on this year, it has been full to say the least. I took my first ever road trip, solo style across three states. I was proud of myself for refusing to believe (yet again) that women should continue to live in fear. I hear so often, “don’t do this” or “it’s not safe to do that.” -more-

Grace and Herb, Practical Jokers

By Richard Brenneman
Wednesday December 30, 2009 - 08:45:00 AM

Grace Boylan and Herb were the greatest practical jokers I ever met. I met them back in the days before the Interstates homogenized America, in the days when two-lane blacktops traversed the country. -more-

The Tortilla Factor

By Janis Mitchell
Wednesday December 30, 2009 - 08:45:00 AM

I got a befuddled insight at my favorite Mexican market today. I stood there suspended between two extremes and couldn’t make a decision. I was doing what I so often do, shopping for those special ingredients that turn leftovers into a newly conceived meal. -more-

Planet Puppy

Wednesday December 30, 2009 - 12:07:00 PM
Larry, a rescued terrier mix, spent his early weeks in the Berkeley Daily Planet newsroom, recovering from malnourishment and neglect. Now a lively 9-month old, he enjoys wrestling with other dogs, chewing toys and digging up vegetables in the garden.

Rocking at the North Berkeley Senior Center

By Jan Elise Sells
Wednesday December 30, 2009 - 08:46:00 AM

Like me, my new friend Naomi loves to ride her bike around Berkeley. She has a rack on the trunk of her car, so we can take our bikes to explore other places, as well. I appreciate Naomi’s energy, her get-up-and-go spirit, and her self-confidence. The fact that she is 75 years old makes her all the more inspiring! -more-


By Abigail Goldman
Wednesday December 30, 2009 - 09:35:00 AM

What strange Elysium! -more-


By Abigail Goldman
Wednesday December 30, 2009 - 09:35:00 AM

What strange Elysium! -more-


By Kay Y. Wehner
Wednesday December 30, 2009 - 09:34:00 AM

No matter how we try, -more-


By Abigail Goldman
Wednesday December 30, 2009 - 09:34:00 AM

You do not know. -more-


By Sharon Metzler Dow
Wednesday December 30, 2009 - 09:33:00 AM

It’s four in the morning in Amish country -more-

Across the Digital Divide

By Chadidjah McFall
Wednesday December 30, 2009 - 09:32:00 AM

Digital literacy is a crucial survival skill and many who have tried to remedy their deficiencies in this area have found, as I have, that they are humiliated by those from whom they seek instruction. -more-


By Sharon Metzler Dow
Wednesday December 30, 2009 - 09:31:00 AM

Dr. Wong, when you looked in the mirror that morning, -more-

Why We Need to Take Creeks Out of Pipes

By Carole Schemmerling
Wednesday December 30, 2009 - 09:31:00 AM

When the citizens of Berkeley so generously passed a small—$5 million for five years—bond measure in the late 1970s, to put parks in neighborhoods in which there were none, they created an opportunity to open (“daylight”) a portion of an urban creek for the first time in California, and, possibly, the nation. -more-


By Roopa Ramamoorthi
Wednesday December 30, 2009 - 09:30:00 AM

Today I am coughing, choking in smoke. I see human eyes peering at me through wide angle cameras where once I’d see children with balloons, lovers soaking in the sea breeze close to the Gateway. Today I hear feet pounding on my head. I hope the commandoes have come. My inside is burning. Gunshots ruining my lovely skin of wall to wall Persian carpets. My skull of chandeliers cracked. A few days and all will be quiet. Images of me burning just a curious click on the web. And the rich folk of Mumbai will return to my caresses of chicken tikka masala served by men and women who lost their colleagues and close friends today. -more-


By John Rowe
Wednesday December 30, 2009 - 09:28:00 AM

Not by chance, I had to take a chance. -more-


By Cherrie Williams
Wednesday December 30, 2009 - 09:28:00 AM

She was placed near the corner, -more-


By John Rowe
Wednesday December 30, 2009 - 09:27:00 AM

Picture this: -more-

Chocolate and Bread and Nowhere to Go

By Roopa Ramamoorthi
Wednesday December 30, 2009 - 09:27:00 AM

Today I came by train, boarded the train without a ticket in Bihar. Somehow managed to get into the second-class train compartment in Delhi. Again ticket ke bina and came vaise he to Mumbai. Same pant shirt for three days. Chatraphati Shivaji station—never seen so many people in my life. English I don’t really know. Learnt some words in my village school. But I wanted to come to Mumbai, become film star like Shah Rukh Khan. Aree Mumbai chalo, film star bano. -more-


By John Rowe
Wednesday December 30, 2009 - 09:26:00 AM

Between tips of chopsticks -more-


By John Rowe
Wednesday December 30, 2009 - 09:25:00 AM

I start here -more-


By John Rowe
Wednesday December 30, 2009 - 09:25:00 AM

You find yourself trying -more-


By Abigail Goldman
Wednesday December 30, 2009 - 09:24:00 AM

Winds winding -more-

The Vagaries of Life

By Esther Stone
Wednesday December 30, 2009 - 09:22:00 AM

When I first came to California, in 1957, and was looking for a job, I learned that I met the qualifications to be a social worker. I took the civil service exam, passed it, and in a very short time later, was a bona fide social worker! -more-

Remembering the Christmas of the Missing Robot

By George Rose
Wednesday December 30, 2009 - 09:20:00 AM

When I was about seven years old I figured out that Santa Claus was just something somebody made up. Seven is about the time you realize that there’s just no way one guy in a sleigh can haul all that stuff around the world in just one night. He just couldn’t handle the inventory.   -more-

Exploring Rusland

By Anke van Aardenne
Wednesday December 30, 2009 - 09:19:00 AM

This spring I went with my Dutch friend Irene to Russia. Russia had -more-


By Sharon Metzler Dow
Wednesday December 30, 2009 - 09:18:00 AM

They drove South to Carmel’s white sand beach. -more-


By Roopa Ramamoorthi
Wednesday December 30, 2009 - 09:18:00 AM

I got up today with the saffron sunrise. Have been traveling through the traffic jam of Marine Drive and Matunga, going through gullies, veering to avoid hitting children playing cricket in corners. Being jolted by bumps on dug up roads. Yes, I’m just another black and yellow fiat taxi on Mumbai’s roads. I’ve had my morning meal of petrol at the pump. My wheels now running and rolling. Young children in school uniforms, old women in saris and burkhas, men in sharp suits and mullahs with flowing beards all have sat in my behind. These two boys look no different—clean shaven, jeans and Tshirt. One slips a package underneath my seat. The other helps. You ask how I see this? I have eyes in my behind, rear view mirror you call it. Soon other strangers will sit in my back seat and we will go towards Santa Cruz station, complaining about the suffocating sun. I do not know now but soon those strangers and me will be broken to bits. But for now those boys slipping something underneath my seat look like ordinary, clean shaven denim jeans and T-shirt types.  -more-


By Jan Dederick
Wednesday December 30, 2009 - 09:17:00 AM

platinum platter -more-

Meeting Jane Goodall

By Sherry Bridgman
Wednesday December 30, 2009 - 09:16:00 AM

It was my job, when I was working some 30 years ago, to present our membership with speakers about subjects on the natural history of animals, once a month throughout the year. This also included one special presentation of a speaker with renowned recognition in the field of animal behavior.  -more-


By Lowell Moorcroft
Wednesday December 30, 2009 - 09:15:00 AM

Decline and Fall -more-


By Lizz Bronson
Wednesday December 30, 2009 - 09:14:00 AM

Getting Through the Holidays

By Dorothy Snodgrass
Wednesday December 30, 2009 - 09:13:00 AM

As one inclined to be a bit neurotic even under the best of circumstances, I must confess that the Christmas holiday season sends me dangerously close to the brink—not exactly bi-polar, but fairly close. -more-

Emily and the No. 88 Bus

By Linda Seccaspina
Wednesday December 30, 2009 - 09:12:00 AM

When Emily was depressed she rode the 88 bus. She rode to the east, she rode it to the west. She rode it way too much. But, that was the cure. The cure that cured all. No one should feel sorry for themselves this much. No one indeed. -more-


By Jan Dederick
Wednesday December 30, 2009 - 09:11:00 AM

apples ripen, apples fall -more-


By Irene Sardanis
Wednesday December 30, 2009 - 09:10:00 AM

I entered the inner sanctum -more-

What Is What? Definitions by Joseph Mileck

By Joseph Mileck
Wednesday December 30, 2009 - 09:09:00 AM

Emotions -more-


By Dorothy Bryant
Wednesday December 30, 2009 - 09:09:00 AM

Standing on Shattuck Avenue, -more-

The Sixties

By Andrea Carney
Wednesday December 30, 2009 - 09:08:00 AM

During the Vietnam War my father would put the T.V. next to the dinner table so he could watch the war news while we ate. -more-


By Eliot Schain
Wednesday December 30, 2009 - 09:07:00 AM

In front of the university library, nearly 50, -more-


By Mark Peters
Wednesday December 30, 2009 - 09:06:00 AM

Do your thing -more-


By Randy Fingland
Wednesday December 30, 2009 - 09:05:00 AM

enclose tomorrow -more-


By iris crider
Wednesday December 30, 2009 - 09:04:00 AM

We share the morning coffee grounds— -more-

Constructive Anger

By Richard Brenneman
Wednesday December 30, 2009 - 09:03:00 AM

In today’s America, a flock of well-to-do scoundrels would have us believe that anger, unhappiness, discontent and rage are mere problems of thinking. -more-


By Larry Beresford
Wednesday December 30, 2009 - 09:03:00 AM

It’s titled: Chicken Soup for Assholes -more-

My First Christmas: 85 Years Ago

By Maya Elmer   
Wednesday December 30, 2009 - 09:02:00 AM

Take the time-line, my time line. The present, the unspent-part stretches to the horizon of infinity. But this end is weighted heavily towards nostalgia—sometimes it takes only the flutter of a martin’s winged dance over the marsh to startle my soul into memory, or a snow-burdened pine bough drooping down ward, or a child’s china tea set. Let me tell you. -more-


By Abigail Goldman
Wednesday December 30, 2009 - 09:01:00 AM

The moon’s panting frosts the air. -more-


By Abigail Goldman
Wednesday December 30, 2009 - 09:00:00 AM

Six o’clock in the morning. -more-


By Abigail Goldman
Wednesday December 30, 2009 - 08:59:00 AM

Waft and wait. . . -more-

The Welfare of the People Shall Be the Supreme Law

By Sonja Fitz
Wednesday December 30, 2009 - 08:58:00 AM

Prior cuts to Alameda County’s General Assistance loan program and new cuts that will go into effect January 1 represent the worst tendencies of politics and bureaucracy: short-term thinking and scapegoating the poor. A county budget is a public commitment of resources to a list of shared priorities created by the people and for the people, to borrow a phrase—the key word being, People. A humane government prioritizes the basic survival needs of its people above all other concerns: there are other places in the budget to cut, and other sources of additional revenue that can be considered. -more-


By Mike Palmer
Wednesday December 30, 2009 - 08:57:00 AM

Lights are strung around the trunks -more-

Earth Crying for Joy

By Conrad T. Greenston
Wednesday December 30, 2009 - 08:56:00 AM

In the longest dark, ensconced in my cozy electrified urban habitat, this Winter Solstice, Year 2009 of the Common Era, alive on Turtle Island, planet Terra, the boob tube just gave me a brief glimpse of a ravaged rain forest segment in Indonesia cleared for palm oil production. I’ve seen this before. Watering this human male’s face, I begin crying for Mother Earth. -more-


By Dorty Nowak
Wednesday December 30, 2009 - 08:55:00 AM

I watch the shadows licking at the light, -more-


By Mary Wheeler 
Wednesday December 30, 2009 - 08:54:00 AM

On this darkest night -more-


By Robert Quintana Hopkins
Wednesday December 30, 2009 - 08:53:00 AM

7:30 A.M. -more-

Spirit Tree

By Marianne Robinson
Wednesday December 30, 2009 - 08:52:00 AM

The Christmas tree is aglow, even after four weeks. Its presence, soul, spirit fills the living room. It occupies a place of honor on the round maple table by the window. It is short, fat, bushy, full, generous for its two-and-a-half-foot height. -more-

Before La Dreck

By Dana M. Chernack
Wednesday December 30, 2009 - 08:51:00 AM

I was born on a street without a name, in a world of its own, pushed up against Gravesend Bay by high-rise housing projects and summer bungalows turned into year-round residences for real live gypsies. -more-


By Jan Dederick
Wednesday December 30, 2009 - 08:50:00 AM

food dreams come in famine -more-

Dinner in the Diner, Nothing Could Be Finer

By Helen Rippier Wheeler
Wednesday December 30, 2009 - 08:50:00 AM

I posed for my high school Class of 1944 Yearbook picture without my glasses and wearing faux pearl beads my father had handed me— “Here, you can have this”—while clearing out Wife Number Two’s things. I had tweezed my eyebrows. I wouldn’t smile because my teeth were crooked. -more-


By John Rowe
Wednesday December 30, 2009 - 08:49:00 AM

If none of it -more-

HOLIDAY BLUES (A Pantoum Poem)

By Irene Sardanis
Wednesday December 30, 2009 - 08:48:00 AM

Even though I run, it hits me again -more-

Christmas for One

By James K. Sayre
Wednesday December 30, 2009 - 08:47:00 AM

Have your beloved parents and siblings departed this mortal coil? Have all your cute girlfriends flown the coop? Have your old friends moved far away or become too odd to speak with freely? Do not despair. After all, you still have your memories of Christmases past: your childhood Christmases, your adolescent Christmases, your young adult Christmases and your middle-aged Christmases. -more-

The Bingo Cookie Club

By Edith Monk Hallberg
Wednesday December 30, 2009 - 08:46:00 AM

Life changed forever for my family just after Christmas 2005. It was discovered in the next few months that both my then 89-year-old father and his house were deathly ill. The house that my family had lived in since 1959 was filled with mold in hard-to-clean places, and my father was having chronic breathing problems in addition to his asthma and COPD from smoking cigarettes, though he’d stopped decades before. -more-


By Cassandra Dallett
Wednesday December 30, 2009 - 09:38:00 AM

A man -more-

Art Is Everywhere in New York City

By Matt Cantor
Wednesday December 30, 2009 - 09:38:00 AM

There’s something about New York City. Its hard to put into words. My wife and I have been here for the last week and we were talking about how much Berkeley is like a tiny version of NYC. Surely there are very large differences… geographically, architecturally and in terms of the complex infrastructure of each, but it’s there nonetheless. It’s social, cultural, political and, I would argue, aesthetic. Despite its large scale mechanical features (skyscrapers, subways, the elevated trains and bridges), there has always been and continues to be a love and dedication to the ways in which the built environment touches and moves it’s inhabitants, those lucky New Yorkers. -more-

The Contest

By Stevanne Auerbach
Wednesday December 30, 2009 - 09:36:00 AM

EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is an excerpt from Auerbach’s forthcoming novel The Contest. -more-


By Cassandra Dallett
Wednesday December 30, 2009 - 09:36:00 AM

We belong to the flatlands -more-

Ghosts of Holiday Movie Scenes Past

By M. Habibian
Wednesday December 30, 2009 - 12:15:00 PM

Fog Over San Francisco

By Irv Staats
Wednesday December 30, 2009 - 12:09:00 PM
The view of San Francisco as seen from Golden Gate Fields.

Mom and Pop

By Harry Gans
Wednesday December 30, 2009 - 12:08:00 PM



Wild Neighbors: Beetles, Mites, and Other New Faces of 2009

By Joe Eaton
Wednesday December 30, 2009 - 09:39:00 AM

I got an interesting press release from the California Academy of Sciences last week. The gist of it was that the Academy's scientists had described 94 new species during 2009. Although most were from exotic places like Yunnan or Burma, there were a few locals in the mix. -more-

Arts & Events

Arts Calendar

Wednesday December 30, 2009 - 09:23:00 AM

WEDNESDAY, DEC. 30 -more-

The Shotgun Players Present Bertolt Brecht’s ‘Threepenny Opera’

By Wendel Brunner and Ruth Rosen
Wednesday December 30, 2009 - 09:21:00 AM

For those of you who are Brecht fans, or might be Brecht fans if you knew more about his work, the Shotgun Players in Berkeley are presenting an outstanding production of Bertolt Brecht’s Threepenny Opera through Jan. 31. As befitting a piece that is topical as well as timeless (at least timeless so far, but we can always hope), the frame of this 70-year-old play has been updated to include 1970s punk as well as Victorian England. A new translation involves rewriting some of the dialogue and song lyrics, but the effect works even for this fanatic Brecht fan. The classic music by Kurt Weill is well performed by the band, The Weillolators, and the slightly modified lyrics are even darker than the pre-Nazi Berlin original ones, leaving listeners nearly on their own to supply whatever dialectical counterpoint of hope they might be able to muster from their own minds. -more-

Community Calendar

Wednesday December 30, 2009 - 08:59:00 AM

WEDNESDAY, DEC. 30 -more-