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Berkeley Street Tops Chris Hedges With Ho-hum and Grave Respect for the Dishonored Dead (News Analysis)

By Ted Friedman
Wednesday May 04, 2011 - 10:12:00 AM

Berkeley's Telegraph Avenue responded Monday to U.S. killing of Bin Laden with a big ho-hum and grave respect for the dishonored dead. Mon. evening, Chris Hedges, a leading critic of U.S. government policies covered much of the street's ground. 

Many street people surveyed were less than ten years old when the World Trade Center crashed in 2001. Also interviewed were shop clerks, businessmen, and passers-by. They were all asked to comment on the death of Bin Laden 

Monday evening Chris Hedges, Pulitzer Prize winning former journalist turned best-selling author and minister to progressives, sermonized at Berkeley's First Congregational Church on the theme of the United State's morally bankrupt policies. 

Six hundred Berkeleyans, riding a wave of high-mindedness at the Hedges KPFA benefit witnessed a pep talk on dissent and civil disobedience. But with civil disobedience regularly enacted on the avenue and in People's Park does Berkeley, of all places, need the tip? 

A few of the KPFA faithful hissed their disapproval of "the killing of Bin Laden." 

The Berkeley street had 'stolen' Hedges script earlier in the day, adding spiritual notes of its own. 

Along with the ho-hum came doses of spiritual wisdom and deep political analysis, as Berkelyans--some of whom only spend their working lives here--mouthed off. Some even permitted being named. 

9:15a: Caffe Med: a no-name-please-man, who said his years in Berkeley "were stacking up" posed two questions on Bid Laden's death. "Why now"? And "Why so long, given he was living in the suburbs of Islamabad"?  

9:30a: Craig Becker, 59.and owner of the Med--"Good riddance," sounding the first note of a recurring theme. 

9:45a: Louis Cuneo, 62, founder of the Berkeley Poetry Festival, compared Bin Laden to Manuel Noriega, a rogue agent of U.S. imperialism. "Bin Laden was a good U.S. operative who went astray," according to Cuneo. Hedges said the U.S. had given Bin Laden his voice and training. 

10:45a: At the flower shop outside Cody building. Richard, owner of Lhasa Karnak, founded 1970. "I didn't like the bestial demo outside the White House, but I'm glad Osama's gone. Fuck him." He added "a chinese curse. May you live in interesting times." 

10:50a: Chevy, pharmacist at Walgreen's, Telegraph, "now Bill Maher can ask Trump whether Bin Laden is really dead. Trump says, "I don't know, where's his birth certificate?" 

11:02a: Cafe Milano students were grinding for finals during "dead week." 

11:10: street girl: "Who? Oh him; he deserved it." 

11:13a: Focus, "can you spare a dollar?" Bin Laden question again. And again, "can you spare a dollar." And once more, just to see if the repeated question was still working. 

11:17a: Reprint Mint, a clerk; "I got a phone message from my girlfriend telling me Osama was dead, but I couldn't remember who he was." 

11:40a: Robert, 64, a van camper: "Bin Laden could have been a force for good in the middle east. It's sad." 

11:50: Man in the park, "If he's committed sins, that's between him and his god." 

11:53a: In the park, "I'd like to see the body, No matter what your views, you treat his death with respect." 

12p: Kelly in the park, "we should show respect for the dead." 

12:34p: a south side mailman. "Postal Service is on high alert for possible bombs in mail, anthrax, etc. Do I worry? It's a lottery." 

1:05p: Bob Kurtz, Collectors Realm 3 on Teley. "I'm as Berkeley as it gets, born 1939 in Berkeley and I say U.S. out of middle east; mandate electric cars." 

2:03p: Comma Toes in park, "Don't blame me!" 

2:20p: Naja at Med, "I'm tired of the whole thing; it interrupted my TV program." 

3:15p: Brandon, barista at Med, "Osama's an American Hero." Say what? "I'll just leave that one hanging." 

10:10p: after Hedges and back at the Med to follow up on Brandon's hero comment. 

Brandon, an English major at Cal, is a starring barista at the Med. He said that Obama was on a trajectory to match Hitler in books, song, and opera, noting that both Hitler and Bin Laden had their own songs; "Osama Bin Laden, we're going to get you sooner or later," and "Springtime For Hitler," by Mel Brooks. 

Later just got sooner. No celebration intended. It is Springtime, though. 



Ted Friedman has embedded himself in Berkeley's South Sde..