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A second recreated urn sits against the backdrop of oaks in a nearby traffic island at Yosemite and The Alameda.
Steven Finacom
A second recreated urn sits against the backdrop of oaks in a nearby traffic island at Yosemite and The Alameda.


Berkeley Police Arrest Woman Suspected of Vandalizing 74 Cars

By Jeff Shuttleworth (BCN)
Thursday September 08, 2011 - 08:14:00 PM

A Berkeley woman has been charged with felony vandalism for allegedly puncturing the tires of dozens of vehicles in a crime spree in Berkeley and Oakland last week, Berkeley police said today. 

Sgt. Mary Kusmiss said 33-year-old Mandisa Monroe was arrested at 12:30 a.m. Tuesday near her home in the area of the Berkeley-Oakland border, which is where all the vandalism occurred. 

Police learned of the vandalism at about 7 a.m. on Aug. 31 after a community member reported that one of her car's tires had been slashed or punctured. 

Kusmiss said a total of 74 vehicles were vandalized -- 61 in Berkeley and 13 in an adjacent area of North Oakland. 

Most of the vandalism involved punctured tires, but some vehicles had Egyptian phrases spray-painted on them, Kusmiss said. 

She said police aren't sure what instrument was used to puncture the tires but believe that it was a small pocketknife or an ice pick. 

Kusmiss said the vandalism spree occurred on California Street from 62nd Street to Blake Street; the 1600 block of Russell Street; several blocks of King Street; and Alcatraz Avenue in Oakland. 

She said Berkeley police obtained a warrant to search Monroe's home and found items that connected her to the crimes, including spray paint and a head wrap they believe she wore while vandalizing the vehicles. 

Kusmiss said police also obtained surveillance tapes from homes in the area where the crimes occurred that they believe show Monroe committing one of the crimes. 

Kusmiss said Monroe denied puncturing the tires but gave an explanation of the Egyptian phrases that had been tagged onto some of the cars. The phrases weren't threatening, Kusmiss said. 

Monroe didn't discuss a motive for the vandalism, Kusmiss said. 

She said Berkeley police are familiar with Monroe because an officer had previously responded to a report that she was spray-painting a fence. 

Kusmiss said it turned out that Monroe was spray-painting a fence on her own property, which was legal, but the officer who responded didn't know that at the time. She said the officer wound up arresting Monroe because she threw a can of spray paint at him. 

However, the charges against Monroe eventually were dropped, Kusmiss said. 

She said the victims of the vandalism spree last week "were understandably upset, angered, surprised and frustrated" by the crimes. 

WikiCable: Did ‘creepy’ Russian put the arm on Cal?

By Richard Brenneman
Monday September 12, 2011 - 05:47:00 PM

When we ran the name “Berkeley”through Cable Search, the nifty web tool that lets users troll through the WikiLeaked State Department cables, we came up with a grand total of 142 hits, many of them referring to Cal grads who’d gone on to bigger and better things. 


But one cable really caught our eye, a CONFIDENTIAL 5 February 2007 dispatch from Ambassador William J. Burns in Moscow, reporting on the strange behavior of a powerful Russian official who tried to put the arm on a representative of UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business. 


The focus of the firestorm was Russia’s leading management school, described thusly on its website




The Graduate School of Management (GSOM) is a part of St. Petersburg University, the oldest institution of higher education in Russia. GSOM was created in alliance with the Haas School of Business, University of California at Berkeley in 1993.
(And as a possibly relevant aside, UC Berkeley plutocratic professor David J. Teece , who directs the Center for Global Strategy and Governance at Cal’s Haas School of Business, also chairs of the St. Petersburg business school’s International Academic Council.) 




The Burns document is posted online here. It’s short enough that we’ll dispense with the usual extract. 




C O N F I D E N T I A L MOSCOW 000468 VZCZCXYZ0000 RR RUEHWEB DE RUEHMO #0468 0360642 ZNY CCCCC ZZH R 050642Z FEB 07 FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW TO SECSTATE WASHDC 7154 C O N F I D E N T I A L MOSCOW 000468 SIPDIS SENSITIVE SIPDIS E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/02/2017 TAGS: PINR PGOV RS SUBJECT: BIO NOTE: YURI MOLCHANOV, ST. PETERSBURG VICE GOVERNOR FOR PROPERTY AND LAND ISSUES, INVESTMENTS, STRATEGIC PROJEC... 1. (SBU) The following message was drafted by St. Petersburg CG Mary Kruger. Begin text: 2. (C) During the November 2006 inauguration of the newly-opened premises of the St. Petersburg State University School of Management, an American academic long associated with the school told CG about Vice Governor Yuri Molchanov's “sinister” presence in their dealings. 


3. (C) The Haas School of Management at U.C. Berkeley has nurtured the development of a new St. Petersburg School of Management since 1993. In addition to academic exchanges and curriculum development, representatives of the Haas school led a unique fund-raising campaign which collected $6.5 million in private U.S. and Russian funds to entirely renovate a dilapidated building for classroom use. As steward of the funds, which included a whopping $1 million from U.S. citizen Arthur B. Schultz, the Haas School kept close tabs on all expenditures. At one point in the early 1990s, when lenders were sought to renovate the old building, Vice Governor Molchanov's private construction firm placed a bid. As the only local bidder and as a close associate of the now Dean of the School of Management, Molchanov apparently expected to win the tender. He did not. This provoked an angry response in which he demanded compensation from the Haas School representatives for the costs of preparing his bid. While the Haas School did not comply with his demand, they did find a way to mollify the Vice Governor, who “was always present at all our discussions”, according to the American source. “He gave me the creeps.” Although the source did not describe any specific intimidation, it was clear that the Americans experienced some degree of fear - a not unreasonable reaction in 1990s Russia. 


4. (C) Vice Governor Molchanov is widely rumored to be corrupt, enjoying a convenient intersection of interests between his construction company and his position in the city government. He played a very visible role in the School of Management inauguration alongside Governor Valentina Matviyenko and President Putin. BURNS 






Just what the school did to mollify Molchanov remains an open question. The only mention of him on the Russian university’s website is as one of seven judges in a 23 November 2000 student business plan competition. His name doesn’t appear in a search of UC Berkeley’s website

UC Berkeley’s Plutocratic Prof: $500,000+ to GOP Candidate

By Richard Brenneman
Wednesday September 07, 2011 - 09:54:00 AM

He’s David J. Teece, a native of New Zealand, and he’s the very rich man who helped Tony Blair devise the economic policies which enshrined the neoliberal agenda in Great Britain.

But before we delve into his donations, let’s learn a little more about the man.

He has two day jobs, one as CEO of Berkeley Research Group, a high-profile consultant group which numbers governments, Fortune 500 companies, and white shoe law firms among its clients, and the other as Tusher Professor in Global Business at UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business.

If there’s one thing Teece is good at in addition to his high-flying role as “economics rock star,” it’s his ability to make millions off students.

In addition to his high-salaried teaching job, Teece was also making a tidy pile as landlord to students. In partnership with developer Patrick Kennedy, Teece was owner of Panoramic Interests, the city’s largest private owner of rental housing prior to the company’s sale — for a tidy $147 million —to an ever-richer mogul, Chicagoan Sam Zell — the fellow who also owns the Tribune Company, publisher of California’s leading newspaper, the Los Angeles Times

Back in February, the Sunday Star-Times in Auckland estimated his wealth at $180 million, but a 1 August estimate by New Zealand’s National Business Review places his wealth at $190 million, placing him in 33rd place among the nation’s wealthiest. 

Teece made his largest cash pile from Law and Economics Consulting Group [LECG] in nearby Emeryville, but was ousted from the company he helped start after he resisted a 2009 merger. After his departure, he started the Berkeley Research Group, which has since opened offices in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Diego, and Pittsburgh. 

He got his revenge on LECG by hiring away one of its leading stars, Laura D’Andrea Tyson, a Haas colleague who serves on Barack Obama’s Economic Recovery Advisory Boardand previously chaired Bill Clinton’s Council of Economic Advisers between before becoming his National Economic Adviser from 1995 to 1996. 

Oh, and the San Francisco Business Times reports his new company took in $30 million last year. 

According to the Kiwi Expat Association, a group he cofounded, “David is involved in several New Zealand ventures in farming, forestry, viticulture (Mt Beautiful), consumer electronics, and natural resources.” 

Teece also serves as one of four directors of the Bahrain-based New Zealand Australia Private Equity Fund. 

Oh, and according to the National Business Review

He is also a director (with Sir Stephen Tindall) of Highland Resorts, a company that owns Cardrona’s Branches Station, which offers exclusive access to 36,421 hectares of pristine New Zealand high country for nearly $10,000 a night. 

Oh, and he owns a nice little manse in the Berkeley Hills, where his latest annual property tax bill runs to $14,206.94. 

Altogether, then, a very rich and very powerful figure, and that doesn’t count his state salary, which amounted to a modest $140,325 in 2008, the latest year for which we could find a number. [UPDATE: A friend with access to the state salary database informs us Teece earned $147,031 in 2009, dropping to $143,912 last year.] 

We wrote a lot about Teece when we reported for the Berkeley Daily Planet, but a good place to start is with this profile

But what sparks our interest today is a story we missed during last year’s election season. 

And that’s the $502,400 Teece gave to Republican Tom Campbell, when he ran for Democract Barbara Boxer’s seat in the U.S. Senate. 

That’s right. Teece gave more than a half million dollars to Campbell’s failed election bid, with the $2,400 going to the candidate himself and the lion’s share to a Section 527 political corporation chaired by Teece and named Californians for a Balanced Budget and a Better Economy. For more on the committee, see here

Campbell lost out in the primary to Carly Fiorina — who ran a bizarre TV spot portraying Campbell as a demon sheep. Ah, what the hell. Here it is: 



Now Teece and Campbell were old pals, dating back to the days when Campbell chaired Cal’s Haas School. But not even his fortune was able to ensure a Republican victory, or even defeat the demon sheep-purveyor. 

But Teece’s money did win him a dubious honor, fifth place on the Center for Responsive Politics list of 527 donors [David Koch won the number three spot]. 

As for Campbell, he doesn’t have to worry. Lose a Senate seat and get a job. No sooner had he gone down to defeat at the polls than a new announcement came from Berkeley Research Group: 

Berkeley Research Group, LLC (BRG), a preeminent expert services and data analytics firm, today announced that Dr. Tom Campbell has joined the firm as a Director in the Emeryville, California office. 

Dr. Campbell was a United States Congressman for five terms, serving on the Banking and Financial Institutions Committee, the Judiciary Committee, the International Relations Committee, and the Joint Economic Committee of the US House and US Senate. From 2004 to 2005, he was Director of Finance for the State of California, and from 1981 until 1983, he was Director of the Bureau of Competition at the FTC in charge of all antitrust enforcement. He was a California State Senator as well – rated the number 1 overall State Senator, the most ethical State Senator, and the State Senate’s best problem solver by the California Journal. 

“We’re extremely pleased to have Tom join us,” stated David Teece, chairman of BRG. “He brings an impressive amount of experience from work in both the public and private sectors – I have no doubt he’ll be a tremendous asset.” 

Read the rest

The Urns Return: Historic Thousand Oaks Street Ornaments Recreated

By Steven Finacom
Wednesday September 07, 2011 - 09:38:00 AM
The urn restoration project will be celebrated at 3:00 pm on Saturday, September 10, in Great Stone Face Park next to this replica urn.
Steven Finacom
The urn restoration project will be celebrated at 3:00 pm on Saturday, September 10, in Great Stone Face Park next to this replica urn.
A second recreated urn sits against the backdrop of oaks in a nearby traffic island at Yosemite and The Alameda.
Steven Finacom
A second recreated urn sits against the backdrop of oaks in a nearby traffic island at Yosemite and The Alameda.

Berkeley’s Thousand Oaks neighborhood is about to get a bit more magical—or, rather, recover some missing magic from early days.

The urns are returning. Their revival will be celebrated this coming Saturday, at 3:00 pm, at Great Stone Face Park in a re-dedication ceremony open to the public. 

The north Berkeley subdivision, which turned one hundred years old in 2010, was developed by real estate entrepreneur John Spring and laid out by landscape designer Mark Daniels to conform to the topography of the land, preserve a number of notable rock features and trees, and generally provide idyllic home settings for the well-to-do, suburban style housing just a short streetcar ride away from the rest of Berkeley or a streetcar-ferry commute to San Francisco. 

Important elements in the designed landscape were large, ovoid, concrete urns that looked like something out of a Maxfield Parrish painting. The urns were positioned artistically near intersections, gnarled oaks, along staircases, and in parks, making it clear to visitors and residents alike that one had arrived in a neighborhood of picturesque enchantment. 

“Come out on the Arlington avenue car line along ‘the street of a million flowers’ and see the grandest panorama of the bay ever placed before the eyes of mankind,” one real estate advertisement trumpeted. “500 Choice Home Sites in a natural park of lawns and oaks, rock-set slopes and sparkling rivulets, overlooking the gleaming waters of the Bay”, another promised. 

The homes rose, and to this day Thousand Oaks remains one of Berkeley’s most picturesque neighborhoods. But over the years the urns—initially numbering at least twenty—dwindled. Damaged by human pranks, accidental mishaps, or nature, they were gradually removed until only one remained, at the base of Indian Trail on The Alameda. 

Nearly a decade ago Thousand Oaks resident Trish Hawthorne, also the unofficial historian of the neighborhood, and other residents including Elizabeth Shlut, past president of the Thousand Oaks Neighborhood Association, began a campaign to raise money to re-create the urns. 

With the help of a grant from the UC Berkeley Chancellor’s Community Partnership Fund in 2009, a number of new urns have been cast, replicas of the old ones.  

The first two installations have gone in—at Great Stone Face Park, and nearby at Yosemite and The Alameda. 

Those first installations and the ongoing urn project will be celebrated on Saturday, September 10, from 3-5 PM. There will be a ceremonial dedication at Great Stone Face Park (Yosemite Road and San Fernando Avenue) at 3:00, followed by a social gathering in the stone lined and oak shaded garden of the nearby Mark Daniels House, built by the man who designed the neighborhood. 

If you want to learn more about the neighborhood and the urns before the dedication event, the Berkeley Path Wanderers will have a free walk, led by Keith Skinner, at 1:00 pm the same day, starting at Great Stone Face Park. 


Winning the Vote for Women Will Be Celebrated at the Solano Stroll

By Steven Finacom
Wednesday September 07, 2011 - 09:11:00 AM

The Solano Stroll—Berkeley and Albany’s day-long street fair taking place this coming Sunday, September 11—is well known for its opening parade. Fire engines, school groups, yoga and martial arts schools, and other eclectic contingents interested in showing off their program, organization, skills and/or enthusiasm march, stroll, or amble down the Avenue at 10:00 am as a kick off for the event. 

This year, there’s going to be at least one special element of the march, a celebration of the centennial of the 1911 ballot measure that won women the vote.  

The group includes members of the Berkeley Historical Society, League of Women Voters – Berkeley, Albany, Emeryville, American Association of University Women, Friends of the Berkeley Public Library, and other historical aficionados. 

Phyllis Gale from the AAUS and Nancy Bickel from the League have been heading up the planning. Volunteers have been busy making sashes that read, “Votes for Women”, a banner has been secured, and replicas of pins from 1911 (also with the “Votes for Women” slogan) are on hand, courtesy of the University Archives at UC. 

March contingent participants are encouraged, but not required or expected, to wear costumes from 1911. Gale is asking people to emphasize white, purple, and/or gold attire, the three colors used in the early 20th century efforts to achieve women’s suffrage (the right to vote).  

You may recall that catchy little tune from the movie “Mary Poppins” in which the lady of the house leads women in a suffrage song. We're clearly soldiers in petticoats. And dauntless crusaders for woman's votes”, they sing, concluding, “Our daughters’ daughters will adore us—and they’ll sing in grateful chorus—well done, Sister Suffragette!” 

Well, that’s exactly that will be happening this Sunday. The contingent that strides proudly down Solano on Sunday is expected to include not only local families but also descendants of some of the notable women who worked for woman’s suffrage in Berkeley a century ago. One group of descendents of Hester Harland, the Berkeley campaign manager in 1911, is even coming in from Hawaii. 

Appropriately enough the Solano Stroll theme this year is “Unsung Heroes”. The suffrage activists of 1911 clearly fall into that category. 

It’s probably hard for many readers to believe that it was only a century ago that women won the right to vote in California, or that a majority of the population once thought in the early 20th century that women shouldn’t have the voting franchise.  

But in 1911 there were only 5 states—all of them western—where woman had voting rights, and an earlier effort in California had fallen short in the 1890s, discouraging suffrage advocates for several years. 

The campaign a century ago was a hard fought, close run, contest with vigorous opposition, some of which came from liquor interests (who feared women would later vote for Prohibition). Other opponents simply didn’t like what they saw as radical change, or played on the fears of men that they would lose control of one aspect of society where they had been dominant. 

(One statement against suffrage warned men that if they voted for it, they would come home some day from work to find no dinner waiting, the children dirty and unfed, while the wife and mother was off somewhere with 11 strange men—serving on a jury.) 

Locally, a majority of Berkeley males who voted cast ballots in favor of suffrage, after a careful eight month long campaign organized by both sexes but, primarily, by Berkeley women from wealthy matrons to Cal co-eds to working girls. 

That’s one of the reasons for celebrating on Sunday. In contrast, in California’s largest city, San Francisco, suffrage lost at the polls. The final margin of victory ultimately came from late returns from rural voters, after newspapers initially reported the effort had lost. 

The suffrage centennial celebrators will have a booth at the Solano Stroll as well as the parade contingent. Look for the booth next to the Berkeley Historical Society booth on the south side of Solano, just east of Ensenada. 

At the booth you can get more information on activities planned later in the year, as well as buy replicas of pro-suffrage postcards from 100 years ago and—for $1—purchase your own copy of the 1911 “Votes for Women” button to wear proudly about town. 

If you would like to participate in the suffrage contingent at the Stroll, email berkeleywomenvote@gmail.com. The current plan is for participants to gather on the lawn in front of the Northbrae Community Church at 941 The Alameda, between 8:00 and 8:30 am on Sunday. The Parade begins at 10:00 am. 

“Votes for Women” sashes can be purchased by parade participants for $10. “Votes for Women” replica buttons will be free to paraders. Participants are encouraged to wear white, purple, or gold. 

Exhibit Opening 

On Sunday, September 18 a new exhibit, “Berkeley Women Vote: Celebrating California Suffrage 1911-2011”, will open at the Berkeley History Center, 1932 Center Street in the Veterans Memorial Building. 

There will be a 3:00 pm opening reception with a guest speaker, Robert P.J. Cooney, author of Winning the Vote: The Triumph of the American Woman Suffrage Movement. Following the talk guests will be treated to a “pink tea” (pink lemonade, in this case).  

When campaigning for suffrage, women organizers sometimes called their strategy meetings “pink teas.” Women whose male family members opposed suffrage could thus honestly say they were going to a “pink tea”—which sounded like some harmless social event—rather than a votes-for-women meeting that might cause household discord. 

A series of other events, including four exhibits on local and statewide suffrage issues, and various events and speakers, will unveil during the fall and into next spring. 

Bancroft Exhibit 

One exhibit is already open, and it’s a splendid one, organized by Bancroft Library staffer Lee Anne Titangos. In the corridor that connects the Doe and Bancroft Libraries on the UC Berkeley campus there are several display cases filled with material and memorabilia from the 1911 California suffrage era, including extensive period materials detailing the campaigns for and against giving women the vote. 

You can read the newspaper articles, handbills, cartoons, and behind the scenes campaign correspondence of the era, including material from notable local personalities. For example, there’s a letter from Berkeley Police Chief August Vollmer who was for giving women the vote (because he believed in the “Golden Rule”, he wrote); other supporters included some of the local Roman Catholic priests from Newman Hall and St. Joseph the Worker (then, the Workman) parish. In contrast, Amey Webb Wheeler, wife of the President of the University of California, was against. 

The “no” campaign material is fascinating. Setting aside the flowery and formal written language particular to the era, one finds among the reasons to oppose suffrage: it blurred and violated the natural roles of men and women; the Founding Fathers didn’t endorse it; it would increase government costs and spending; traditional moral standards would loosen and the nation would decline; women would abandon their natural, vital, place in the home; there are some things (including politics) that one sex naturally does better than the other; women didn’t really have the maturity, education, or aptitude to vote sensibly, and would be flighty, frivolous, and easily manipulated and fooled at the polls; crime would increase (since women would be away from home, voting and doing other unwomanly things, and burglars could raid their vacant houses). Last, but not least, some opponents felt giving women the vote was against God’s laws. 

Do any of those arguments sound familiar? Many, if not most, are similar to arguments we hear today trotted out by America’s right wing whenever some sort of major social, cultural, or political change is in the offing. In that way, the campaign against giving women the vote in 1911 is still going on, although under different auspices. 

There is a striking similarity, for example, between 1911—when California became the first really large, reasonably populous, state to grant women the vote, giving crucial momentum to the suffrage movement—and exactly a century later, 2011 when New York became the first large state to grant the right of same-sex couples to marry. Both events were sea changes in American culture and politics, one now safety “part of history” the other still unfolding. 


For more information on the various events, visit the Berkeley Historical Society website at http://www.berkeleyhistoricalsociety.org/ and look in the “Events” section. 

(Steven Finacom is the President of the Berkeley Historical Society, one of the sponsors of the local suffrage celebrations. He is also working on one of the campus exhibits on the suffrage centennial.) 



Causes and Consequences:
Returning Cal Berkeley Students Attract Sex Perps

By Ted Friedman
Wednesday September 07, 2011 - 10:59:00 AM
An alleged sexual battery occurred on Grinnell pathway recently (pictured in daylight) at 1:30 a.m--see accompanying night shot. Cal's Eucalyptus grove, site of seven sexual assaults last year is to left. Valley Life Sciences Building, right.
Ted Friedman
An alleged sexual battery occurred on Grinnell pathway recently (pictured in daylight) at 1:30 a.m--see accompanying night shot. Cal's Eucalyptus grove, site of seven sexual assaults last year is to left. Valley Life Sciences Building, right.

She was crying hysterically as I emerged from my South side student apartment building near People's Park. She said someone had raised her skirt and touched her. 

I advised her to go immediately to her room and call the police. 

Later, I read in the Daily Californian, that there was a rash of these crimes underway in 

the campus area. That was four years ago. Crimes similar to the one outside my building continued the next month and then fell off; the suspects were never caught. 

In a recent string of sex-crimes, three suspects—all identified by the victims were quickly apprehended and charged, one with a felony. These crimes surely revive painful memories for past victims. 

Crime statistics for the South side attest to the frequency of sexual offenses. Over the years, the university police have adopted such measures as crime alerts to students, installation of emergency phones (with lights), and student escorts for students; student health services include counseling for victims and fall semester trainings. Still, sex crimes burgeon near urban universities. 

With 53% female undergraduates and 45% female graduate students, Cal remains a sex-crime destination for male sexual predators. 

Much has been written about the causes and consequences of these crimes, and although some sex crimes are as old as Methuselah, they continue to attract researchers trying to explain the phenomenon. Laws regarding these crimes have changed as have our understanding of the perpetrators. 

On-line papers, courses, and books on sex crimes are as ubiquitous as on-line pornography. Like many college graduates, I have not up-dated my 1959 criminology course. 

Here's what I've been missing: 

(1) According to an on-line crime research source, there were 56 registered sex offenders living in Berkeley in April 2010 (the offenders are named:). The ratio of number of residents in Berkeley to the number of sex offenders is 1836 to 1. The number of registered sex offenders compared to the number of residents in Berkeley is smaller than the state average. 

(2) In order for a crime, such as sexual battery to be successfully prosecuted, it must be shown that the assailant was seeking sexual arousal. As a university officer explained to me last week, a sexual battery is not merely contact, but contact to sexual organs or breasts (proof of sexual intent). 

(3)Law enforcement students studying sex-crime investigation learn to "profile" a case by studying the crime scene. Let's do that in our three recent sex-crime cases. The first case occurred at 1:30 a.m. on the well lighted Grinnell pathway between the Cal Life Sciences building and Eucalyptus Grove (site of seven sex crimes last year). The victim, a young female non-student, was crossing campus to her North side apartment at 1:06 a.m. 

A man approached her and asked for directions, according to a UCPD crime alert. When she began to give him directions, the suspect grabbed her between her legs and touched her breasts, according to Lt. Marc Decoulode, UCPD, and was arrested 10 minutes later, identified by the victim and a witness and jailed. Photo of suspect: 

According to Decoulade, the charge was felony sexual battery, because the suspect allegedly reached for the victim's arms as well, an important charging detail, which indicates he may have tried to detain her. If the charge sticks, the suspect could face the painful consequence of registering (for a lifetime) as a sex offender. 

The suspect's name and, in early accounts, his photo was published by the Daily Cal: 

The crime scenes we will profile reveal a common profile—courtship crime. According to researchers. In our first case, this profile includes, eye-contact (suspect approached); requested directions (first date), then he forced fondling (the batteries). Another profile is less obvious—thrill-seeking and risk (brightly lit path, and an eye-witness). 

Later, in another morning incident, a UC Berkeley parent was moving her son into the dorms at Unit 3, according to a UCPD crime alert, when a man approached her from behind, while she was guarding her son's stuff, and grabbed her between the legs over her clothing. 

The victim then struck the man with her purse and "exchanged a few words with him" as he fled. Photo of suspect: 

Although the alleged assailant missed making eye-contact initially, this is still a thrill-seeking courtship crime. When the victim addresses her alleged attacker, it's a bad date, but a date. The victim continued to play "bad girlfriend" by yelling at the man when he crossed the street. This crime has elements of a power-trip, as the man attacks in broad day-light in a situation in which the woman is stranded, guarding her sons stuff. 

The quickly-apprehended-suspect's photo was published in the Daily Cal. 

Later, a man, allegedly fondled a student from behind and fled. He was also quickly caught, and his picture published:  

Why do they do it? According to researchers, most of us have sexual "fantasies," but don't act on them illicitly. Perps act out the fantasies they've pre-planned. Researchers note that the public and police are appalled that perps can enact their crimes on hysterical victims (a turn-off for most) and still be aroused. 


The eucalyptus grove victim screamed, and the mother at the dorm was described by police as “very distraught." According to sources at student health services, who responded thoughtfully to my questions last week, "A person may feel less safe out in the world after experiencing an assault such as a groping, and find themselves monitoring their environment more rigorously. They may also find they avoid certain areas that remind them of the assault surroundings. 

"The emotional impact of a groping will very much depend on the individual and their previous life experiences, according to student health. One person might shake it off pretty easily, and another be quite rattled by it. 

"If a person has previous experience with boundary violations, they may be particularly upset as it brings up the feelings associated with earlier life events, according to student health sources. 

"A person might also question why he or she became the target in an effort to prevent a repeat incident. Usually something like this is fairly random and the person violated is chosen because there is an opportunity, not because of the individual’s appearance, dress or the like." 

We are posting the following services and preventions offered by student health: 

"The Social Services unit at the University Health Services (Tang Center) provides individual counseling for any Cal student who has experienced an assault, physical or sexual. Counseling may include emotional support, identifying healthy coping skills, tools to address anxiety and symptom relief. 

"Counselors can also support the student with academic accommodations, if desired, connecting to medical care, legal assistance, and with other identified needs. The unit offers a sexual assault survivors group in the spring semester. This confidential service can be reached by phoning 510-642-6074." 

There are many sex-crime prevention efforts underway at UC Berkeley, according to my health service sources. 

"Before students arrive on campus they are required to complete the on-line course Alcohol.edu/SexualAssault.edu, a detailed evidence-based program on alcohol abuse and on sexual assault. Additionally, beginning this semester the campus requires mandatory in-person trainings for all new incoming students, graduate and undergraduate, on preventing sexual assault, stalking, and intimate partner violence. 

"By the end of Welcome Week over 1500 students will have completed the on-line course requirement. Options for completion include the popular Interactive Theater Program: in which Cal student actors perform a script on a potential sexual assault and continue by interacting with the student audience while in role to answer questions and deepen the content. 

Other options include joint presentations by students and staff from the Gender Equity Resource Center and UHS Health Promotion, and a newly produced video featuring Cal students speaking of their experiences of intimate partner violence. Students can find out when presentations are to take place by checking http://geneq.berkeley.edu/preventingviolenceatcal

Finally, under the auspices of the U.S. Department of Justice, Berkeley and the entire UC system have established the systemwide “empowerU” website for students, http://ucempoweru.berkeley.edu/, with definitions, policies and campus-by-campus resources. Our Health Promotion and "GenEq" trainings and other activities will continue throughout the year." 


Ted Friedman backgrounds South side crime for the Planet. 













Exclusive: Fallen Angel Plunges From Tree-Perch Ending Eight-Day People's Park Protest

By Ted Friedman
Wednesday September 07, 2011 - 12:23:00 PM
Amy Blue, her latest name,joined Moon Shadow Friday in a "love tree" at the North east corner of  People's Park near a crowded Haste St. walkway. The two met a year ago, while fellow "travelers" on the road. The attractive pair  have put  a new face on a tired tree-sit which ran out of steam and died in January when the previous tree-sitter, Matt Dodt, 53,  was charged with attempted murder. Those charges were reduced and later dropped.
Ted Friedman
Amy Blue, her latest name,joined Moon Shadow Friday in a "love tree" at the North east corner of People's Park near a crowded Haste St. walkway. The two met a year ago, while fellow "travelers" on the road. The attractive pair have put a new face on a tired tree-sit which ran out of steam and died in January when the previous tree-sitter, Matt Dodt, 53, was charged with attempted murder. Those charges were reduced and later dropped.
People's Park tree-sit site, Monday. Sentiments of a new generation of protesters, center;
              Set-in-stone "memorial" trash receptacle to right was installed after last tree-sit. Running Wolf's thoughts on the matter are to left of center.
Ted Friedman
People's Park tree-sit site, Monday. Sentiments of a new generation of protesters, center; Set-in-stone "memorial" trash receptacle to right was installed after last tree-sit. Running Wolf's thoughts on the matter are to left of center.

First she was buoyantly up in a "dangerous" People's Park tree protesting "Everything," but now she's at Highland Hospital with a broken back, ending an eight-day protest which was a protest-in-progress. 

The angel, who called herself Amy Blue ("I have many names," she said), in her mid-twenties, was part of an impromptu group which wanted to herald in a new age of "peace and love," in a park rife with assaults 

Her last fall from the tree was her second. She fell in her second day in the tree and was caught in the arms of a friend before she hit the ground. "Moon Shadow," who was first up, last Monday, reportedly took a plunge when—out on a limb—he helped attach a protest banner. 

The illusive "Moon Shadow," miraculously survived and the next time I saw him he seemed "none the worse" when I photographed him for my previous tree-sit piece

The falls capped a whirl-wind week which saw a party-like mood added to what had been, last November, a solemn protest to curb university control of the park and return it to Ohlone Indians. 

Medical personnel arrived in the park around 5 a.m. Tuesday to attend to the fallen protester. Near-by park-heads heard her scream and rushed over to assist. Because she was told to stay on her back rather than standing, she may have avoided worse injuries, according to parkers at the scene. 

University police arrested Brandon Smith, 25, on an outstanding warrant in Napa County for theft. The park rumor-mill reported that the arrested man was "Moon Shadow," who had boasted to me, he would "mind-fuck the police"', after he descended from the tree, Monday to free himself from "the prison" of his mind while aloft. 

But the arrested man was probably, "Oberon," who had taken "Moon Shadow's place in the tree. "Moon Shadow, a master of wit and disguises, was re-disguised by a friend (his third disguise in 30 hours) and beat a hasty retreat out of Dodge. 

It wasn't the police who talked down the latest tree-sitter from his "love tree" in People's Park (although they tried for three days); he's down to follow his muse. While he's down, he plans to use his time "advising," and recruiting for the week-old protest, which is on schedule to expand into adjacent trees, and include more sitters. 

That is, when the sitter-for-a-week isn't trying to out-fox university police. 

I emerged from my Southside pad, Monday to synchronistically run into—of all people—the People's Park tree-sitter ("everything converges," he said) in a disguise so good I almost missed him. I knew he had only committed to tree-sit for a week, but he had been considering extending. He came down, he said, because he needed some time out of the tree. 

"I got tired of being in a prison in my head (we're all in prison in our heads), he said, adding, "If I come down, they'll arrest me, and if I stay up, they'll arrest me." He has a lot of plans for the sit and the park as well. 

Hold on, though; isn't this Running Wolf's protest? Running Wolf said, when told of the possible rift, "I'm no dictator; I'm down with whatever they evolve." The Oak Grove tree-sit protest, 2006-2008 commanded by Running Wolf (longest running urban tree-sit in North America) evolved into a 21-sitters-extravaganza that cost the university close to a million dollars and delayed construction on Memorial Stadium. 

Running Wolf says he envisions a six to ten man sit. But the way Moon Shadow is going, it could be much larger—perhaps another extravaganza. Those who fear (like Hate Man: } police and media helicopters don't want no f-ing extravaganza. 

Leaving Caffe Mediterraneum on Telegraph at midnight, Monday, I saw someone who caught my attention, huddled on the sidewalk, leaning against the Med. 

It was Moon Shadow, just back from "mind-fucking," he said, the police. He was accompanied by a street beauty queen and dressed differently (in street score) than when I saw him near my apartment. 

While recruiting in the park for an expanded tree sit, he had walked, in disguise, undetected among the cops. 

Bad public relations led to attempted murder charges and the end of the last sit. Now Moon Shadow, "mid-twenties," who said he knows the previous sitter, Matt Dodt, 53, is personally mending the damaged fences dividing the tree-sit from the park. 

This revived tree-sit is a lot younger and a lot more playful than the previous crew (sitter and his support). They're less protesters than romantic adventurers. They called their tree, "the love tree" with the arrival of "Amy Blue," mid-twenties, and after her came "Oberon," a male in his mid-twenties. They told me they envisioned a celebratory tree-sit, characterized by love and good times for the whole park. 

"Amy Blue" posed for a romantic photo earlier in the week with Moon Shadow, but according to him, she's not "with" anyone, but is a "free spirit." 

The "collective," as Moon Shadow calls it, is composed of "travelers" on the road, who are friends along the way. Moon Shadow, who said he has completed more than five years of college (Biology, Chemistry, and Physics) is on hiatus from an intended career as a Biology teacher. 

Glamorous "Amy Blue" is a neo-hippy chick. Trust me on this. 

The three musketeers hail from Santa Rosa ("Amy"), Moon Shadow (Colorado), and "Oberon" (no relation to Merle), mid-west. 

What are they protesting? This and that. They've picked up on the Beier-like Teley property owner's plans for "revitalizing" the park, being considered at the university. George Beier made park change a central issue in the last District 7 city council race. 

But Moon Shadow, additionally, protests the treatment of traveling kids everywhere outside of Berkeley, and the fact he can't afford graduate school. "I'm protesting for a college scholarship," he said last week, adding that he resents the privileged status of Cal students, but would settle for teaching a class there. He probably could. This is one smart young man. Trust me. 

A statement last week from the university police sergeant, who commanded, as a temp lieutenant, the massive operation last January that ended a three month tree-sit in the very same tree, said pretty much what he had said that night. "Berkeley not only tolerates free speech, but the university community cherishes the principle of free speech to the point that we tend to tolerate certain uncivil (and even technically criminal) behaviors that might be more swiftly addressed in other jurisdictions." 

The arrest of Matt Dodt for attempted murder, when he defended himself from an assault in the tree in January, was apparently intolerable. 

Moon Shadow confirms that heat from police abated in his last three days aloft. 

When I reminded, the UCP officer, Sgt. Andrew Tucker, that the previous tree-sit ended under dangerous conditions in January (and that's why it ended), he replied, "maybe we should post a warning sign in the tree." 

I have written a speculative text for such a warning sign: "POLICE WARNING!: Tree sitting in People's Park—a dangerous place—can be dangerous to your health. The previous occupant was assaulted by two park ruffians, and subsequently assaulted them back. During the Oak Grove protest, a tree-sitter released her hand while descending slowly by rope, and slid 35 feet to the ground, suffering burns to the hands, according to Running Wolf 

Perhaps the youthful neo-tree-sitters with their fresh strategies, and their park outreach, will not incite future attacks or invasions to their tree-house, a one-bedroom ingeniously rigged-by-Running Wolf, (living room, level one; bathroom, level two; and bedroom, level three)—perched on a mega-million dollar property site. 

Ted Friedman covered the November to February tree-sit for the Planet, and the ensuing court hearings surrounding the case. For his articles on the last sit: Ted Friedman Berkeley Daily Planet Tree-Sit. 





Editorial Postponed, Awaiting New Information

By Becky O'Malley
Wednesday September 07, 2011 - 11:43:00 AM

This week's editorial was supposed to be about how we might rate the performance of the Obama administration to date. On reflection, I've decided to hold it until after Thursday's "jobs" speech, in the unlikely circumstance that it might add important information to the discussion. Also, I have some personal complications, so some stories from others will be posted later as well. Check this space later in the week, maybe on Friday.


Cartoon Page: Odd Bodkins, BOUNCE

Wednesday September 07, 2011 - 11:07:00 AM


Dan O'Neill





Joseph Young


Public Comment

Letters to the Editor

Wednesday September 07, 2011 - 05:05:00 PM

UN Vote On Palestinian Statehood; Non-Cooperation; Ditch Plastic; My Apple Addiction  

UN Vote On Palestinian Statehood 

It is sad that the U.S. is trying to stop the U.N. vote on Palestinian statehood by trying to start renewed peace proposals and threatening a veto. Clearly, Israel does not want meaningful peace negotiations. In past private talks, the Palestinians humiliated themselves by offering enormous concessions with the Israelis willing to concede little or nothing. Why should the Palestinians keep trying? And Israel keeps approving new settler homes. Is that a gesture of peace? At partition in 1947, Israel was given 55 percent of Palestine. Today, Israel has 78 percent and wants more. 

The Palestinians have no choice but to call for a General Assembly vote to ratify a unilateral declaration of Palestinian statehood. If nothing else it may embarrass the U.S. to rethink its lockstep support of Israel. And it will further isolate Israel from the rest of the world. 

Ralph E. Stone 

* * * 


The Republican's 2012 election strategy: Refuse to cooperate on any of Obama's economic proposals. That is their whole strategy; The GOP feels that dooming economic recovery is the door to the White House. What malignant thinking. But, it may be working: Republican and Tea Party "do nothing" obstructionism is already eroding confidence in the economy and in the government. The GOP's active resistance to solving economic problems is actually compounding them. Obama is preparing to stimulate the job market and Republicans are already lining up against the President's effort planning to block legislation. Blocking what would be an additional two million news jobs over two years that the economy sorely needs. How insidious the Republican Party has become! 

Ron Lowe 

* * * 

Ditch Plastic 

Might I suggest a very simple way to help small business and the local economy? Use cash or checks to pay for goods and services at small and locally owned businesses. Why? Because every time you use plastic the business pays 3% to 5% of the sale to the credit card company (on top of a monthly fee). Know that the more benefits you receive, the higher percentage the business pays for your use of the card. So you might have thought the bank pays for that airline credit, but really, would you outright ask a craftsperson or the owner of your corner store to help fund your next vacation? 

And while we’re on topic, you already know how much it costs you to use your ATM and debit card. Isn’t it crazy? The more simplified and automated banking becomes, the more profit the bank makes off of our money! So every time you use any kind of plastic the bank makes atleast 3% , (and that’s if you pay your entire bill every month). No wonder they are giving their CEOs 40 million dollar bonuses and laughing all the way to the…. oops! they are the bank! 

Kersten Tanner 

* * * 

My Apple Addiction 

I've recently had the disturbing thought that I have an addiction. Nothing of a serious nature, mind you (like smoking, drinking and marijuana). No, my addiction is a more innocent one. I'm addicted to my Apple computer. I swear to Heaven there's some kind of force or energy in that computer, ordering me to turn it on a dozen or more times a day. In the morning, even before brushing my teeth, I turn on the computer to check for e-mail. Generally there's just one -- from Vantage Travel. 

But a few hours later, after I've had breakfast, read the Chronicle and made my bed, I click onto e-mail again. I don't know who I expect to hear from -- the Pope or the President (No, I get daily messages from Obama). 

A couple of hours later, returning from Peet's Coffee with friends, I turn on the computer again. This time the mail's a bit more interesting, like messages from the U.C. Retirees' Board, of which I'm a member, about a meet ing and Fall Luncheon, an invitation to a Garden Reception at the Chancellor's Home and an announcement from the Osher Lifelong Learning Program. I turn the computer off for a couple of hours then and vacuum my living room, all the while staring anxiously at that lovely Apple, again hoping for interesting e-mail. That wish is realized when I find newsy messages from good friends Madeline and Carolyn, both with risque jokes and gossip. 

So, I sail through the day and later at night, checking Apple one more time before hitting the sack, and, lo and behold, there's an e-mail from my friend Eloise suggesting that we see "Midnight in Paris" at the Albany Theatre Sunday afternoon. Actually, I'm convinced that I turn on my Apple dozens of times a day. I'm physically and psychologically unable to walk past the blasted thing, so am considering draping it in black so I won't waste precious hours checking e-mail! 

Dorothy Snodgrass 

* * *

Noise and Parties in South Berkeley

By Vincent Casalaina
Wednesday September 07, 2011 - 11:10:00 AM

How bad is it? It's much worse than you think if you live in the north half of the Willard neighborhood. There were two out of control parties on my block last weekend as well as several less wild parties on the same block. 

I called the police at 11pm and was told that they were dealing with another issue in West Berkeley and it would likely be a long time before anyone was available. I asked for the incident number and got one (578). I asked that the officer call me once (s)he had responded. 

I never got a call. The parties were loud and disruptive well past mid-night - as well as clearly drunk people moving between parties - mostly on the sidewalk but also in the street. 

When I called the BPD this morning I found that the officer showed up at the party house at 4am - and he found it quiet. I also found out that the party patrol was not in action last night (Sunday night) - even though it was a holiday night, the BPD & UCPD didn't extend the party patrol to cover that obvious party night. 

I'd give party control this weekend an F - both for responsiveness and for effectiveness. 

The 6 week limit that financial constraints have put on the program makes it too short, but it hardly makes a difference if we get so little enforcement during those 6 weeks. 

Reporting like the piece in the Daily Cal (Frat Hop like a Bro) only make matters worse. The reporter treats alcohol abuse like a game with the winner being invited back for more fun and games. 

I hope our electeds can find the money in the budget to effectively enforce Berkeley's noise and second response ordinance throughout the year. 

Noisy Berkeley Neighbors Revisited

By John Vinopal
Wednesday September 07, 2011 - 05:03:00 PM

With a second commentary regarding the vicissitudes of City living, I wonder if the first commentator might reflect on her good fortune to live next to a law-abiding neighbor who has an afternoon party once a year rather than a group house of howling students? If this is not consolation enough, she might further reflect on not living next to an elementary school (daytime yelling), a middle school (same plus trash), the high school (add car radios), or southside in general (all of the above plus public urination). 

I may be particularly unsympathetic because I read the first commentary during my neighbor's week-long infestation of tile-cutting contractors, but this does seem to be something endemic of Berkeley: if someone is having a good time, someone else seems dead set against it even if they're being wildly unrealistic. 

As a reformed (ie: aged) student hooligan myself, I empathize with both the Parker street neighbors and the hooligans. Why did the City permit the construction of a student clown-car in the shape of a SFR? What kind of student were they imagining wanted to live with 20 others? (Hint: ask District 7.) As Measure R proved, Downtown is the only place left in the City to build student slums because no other district wants the blight of additional concrete soft-story monsters (or their Trojan kin). 

But not all vicissitudes are bad! I would like to heartily thank the North Berkeley association, council-members, and the forbearance of the North Berkeley neighbors who helped make the Chez Panisse streetside cafe and Cheeseboard's party such a lovely time. Likewise the Downtown movie nights: packed with people. Or the Wednesday food truck brigade: ridiculous lines. These are events that one personally might not like, but their popularity shows they help make up for the lousy parts of living in a City. I'd still prefer my neighbor had a rooster rather than their seemingly incessant leaf-blowing, but the consolation of a streetside glass of wine helps. 

Please more events like these, and please stop building student slums downtown. 


Seabirds Lost and Found

By Joe Eaton
Wednesday September 07, 2011 - 09:29:00 AM
Probable Bryan's shearwater, Midway Island 1991.
Reginald David
Probable Bryan's shearwater, Midway Island 1991.

This has nothing to do with Berkeley, the Bay Area, California, or the continental United States. It’s about a species of bird I’ve never seen and that no one may ever see again; about the quirks of taxonomy and the unlikely places that scientific discoveries are made. 

In 1963 A. B. Amerson Jr., a scientist with the Pacific Ocean Biological Survey Program, found an odd bird in a burrow in a colony of Bonin petrels on Sand Island, part of the Midway group, in the outer Hawai’ian chain. It appeared to be a shearwater, one of a group of seabirds in the procellariform order. Procellariforms, which range in size from tiny storm-petrels to enormous alabatrosses, are sometimes called tubenoses, because of specialized tubular nostrils that allow the birds to drink seawater and excrete the salt. Shearwaters are midsized tubenoses, with 20-odd species plying the world’s oceans. Several species occur off the California coast; one, the sooty shearwater, in huge seasonal aggregations. 

The Midway bird, black above and white below with blue legs and a blue-gray bill, was identified as a little shearwater (Puffinus assimilis), a widely distributed species not previously known to occur in Hawai’i. In the name of science it was killed (one hopes humanely), skinned, transported to the mainland, and filed away in a drawer at the Smithsonian. 

There it lay until ornithologist Peter Pyle of the Point Reyes Station-based Institute of Bird Populations happened to examine it while researching a new book on Hawai’ian birds. Pyle said he realized at once that the bird was not a little shearwater “or anything else that occurred in the Pacific Basin.” He referred the specimen for genetic analysis by Robert Fleischer, director of the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute’s Center for Conservation and Evolutionary Genetics, and SCBI predoctoral fellow Andreanna Welch. 

Pyle, Fleischer, and Welch reported in an article just published in The Condor (www.birdpop.org/shearwaters.htm) that the Midway shearwater was genetically distinctive and had most likely diverged from its nearest relative at least 2 million years ago. The authors christened it Bryan’s shearwater (P. bryani) after Pyle’s grandfather Edward Horace Bryan Jr., long-time curator of collections at the Bishop Museum in Honolulu. 

That’s pretty extraordinary when you think about it. Scientists are still finding a steady trickle of new bird species, but most come from tropical forests in places like Peru and Cambodia. Hawai’i, even its northwestern islands, has been gone over thoroughly. The last new discovery there was a small songbird called the po’ouli, 

first detected in 1974 (and extinct by 2004, when the last known individual died in captivity.) 

Although classified in the genus Puffinus, the shearwater is no more a puffin than you, the reader, are a gerbil. Puffins are alcids in the genus Fratercula. Go figure. 

Pyle et al note that Bryan’s shearwater is morphologically similar to Boyd’s shearwater (P. boydi), which nests in the Cape Verde Islands off northwest Africa and was formerly considered a subspecies of the little shearwater. Shearwater taxonomy seems to be in flux. 

Where has the bird been all this time, both before the demise of the type specimen in 1963 and afterward? There’s another sight record from Midway in 1991-2 and some possible encounters at sea as recently as 2005. Shearwaters as a group are notoriously hard to identify under optimal circumstances, let alone from a pitching boat in bad weather. Some may have been passed off as out-of-range little shearwaters, or other similar tubenoses. 

Its former (and present, if it isn’t extinct) range remains a mystery. Pyle doubts that it nests, or nested, in the Northwestern Hawai’ian Islands. The two Midway birds may have been just prospecting. The species could have bred anywhere in the Pacific. 

Ironically, the Midway individuals might have been among the last of their kind. It’s plausible that Bryan’s shearwater was part of the collateral damage from the human settlement of the Pacific islands. 

The expansion of the Lapita people and their Polynesian descendants into the South Pacific is one of the great human epics. Like starship voyagers heading for another solar system, whole communities of islanders loaded their dogs, pigs, chickens, taro, and coconuts into double-hulled canoes and set out for the unknown, navigating by the stars and currents and the behavior of seabirds. Some, like the settlers of Easter Island and New Zealand, wound up in places they couldn’t get back from. 

Recent archeological research shows that those oceanic pioneers were responsible for the extinction of hundreds of bird species: at least 2000 by one estimate. The large, flightless, tasty ones like the moa of New Zealand and the gooselike moa-nalo of Hawai’i were hunted for food (“moa” means “chicken” in most Polynesian languages.) No one realized they were destroying a species; who was to know that there weren’t more of the same on the next island, or the next? 

Seabirds and their eggs were also prized. Smaller landbirds lost their habitat when island forests were cleared for farming. The descendants of those pigs and dogs, along with stowaway rats, did in some ground-nesting birds. 

Then, of course, came LaPerouse and Cook, more livestock, more rats, cats, the sandalwood trade, sugar plantations, World War II, and beach resorts. The last few centuries took their toll on additional bird species that had survived the first human impacts. 

I would be pleasantly surprised if Bryan’s shearwater escaped the fate of the po’ouli; if someone found a nesting colony on some isolated atoll. I wouldn’t count on it, though. At least now we know it was there. 




On Mental Illness: Forced Treatment--Good or Evil?

By Jack Bragen
Wednesday September 07, 2011 - 04:38:00 PM

I was contacted by a nonprofit agency that espouses the forced treatment of persons with mental illness, which includes forced drugging. In recent editions of this column, I have validated such an idea. Certainly, forcing treatment on those who refuse it and who are also in jeopardy of deteriorating into a dangerous state could stop a lot of tragedies from taking place.  

However, this is the type of heavy-handed approach that will make a lot of people very resentful. I think because of the anger that it will generate, there will be some tragedies that happen because of forced treatment, and not just in spite of it. It doesn’t give the mentally ill person a chance to come out of denial through their own thought processes. Also, preempting deterioration with forced medication without it having already happened assumes that the medical model of psychiatry is applicable in all cases. There may be a few individuals who are ready to discontinue medications who should not be forced to take medication based on the assumption that they will get worse.  

Laura’s law is at a polarity opposite that of the independence and self empowerment of a person with mental illness. This is like the abortion debate. While the consensus is that abortion is a bad thing, not all people agree that it should be outlawed. Similarly, while I believe medication will help numerous mentally ill persons, and while I advocate taking medication in my column, I do not believe that the law should universally force it on people.  

When you take choice away from the consumer, you deprive them of the opportunity to outgrow noncompliance, or else to be done with medication, if able. And while I believe that Laura’s law seems, at first glance, to be written with some conscientiousness, it is too intrusive on those consumers who would like to live with some amount of independence.  

I take medication but I personally don’t want a law to force me to do that. When I take medication, it is symbolic of my personal empowerment because I have the wisdom to know that I need it. A law that forces me to take medication takes away from that empowerment. I believe mentally ill persons, when in acute psychosis, acute mania or acute depression, may need to be forced to take medication temporarily. However, at some point in recovery, you ought to give a person a chance to figure it out for themselves, once their reasoning is intact. Otherwise, you’re ending up with someone who isn’t given a chance to become a “whole” person.  

Hope for someone with a major mental illness includes the idea that we will not be institutionalized for the rest of our lives. I believe that the wellness checks that would be a part of Laura’s Law, as well as the flexible criteria for determining whether or not someone is “deteriorating” allow the potential for extreme abuses in the name of enforcing this law. Too much power is being put in the hands of those who would enforce this law.  

Laura’s Law will create a population that is imprisoned while existing geographically “out in society.” It allows for any person diagnosed with mental illness to be subject to indefinite control.  

While theoretically, if someone has been out of the hospital for a period of four years they are not subject to enforcement, a social worker need only order someone back into the hospital before the four years have elapsed. This allows for a person to become permanently restricted.  

The purpose of this law seems to be that of protecting mainstream, affluent society against the nuisance, inconvenience, or perceived threat of persons with mental illness who are trying to coexist. The stipulation that Laura’s Law would not take money away from voluntary programs does not hold water. All that is needed is for a county to adopt this law and then make a cut to voluntary programs the following year. Politicians are sneaky.  

One of the main goals of this column is to help mentally ill person realize that they may need to get treatment. If Laura’s Law is enacted in all counties, there would be no point to writing this column. If the only choice given to consumers is “left cheek or right cheek” then you have taken away the basic dignity of a lot of people. And these are people who cherish what little dignity they may have left.

The Public Eye: Labor Day: Dreaming of Joe Hill

By Bob Burnett
Wednesday September 07, 2011 - 09:44:00 AM

For many Americans, Labor Day marks the end of summer and has little to do with the Labor movement. I wonder what Joe Hill would make of the demise of unions and the struggles of American workers. 

Joe Hill was a labor activist in the early 1900’s – the sort you used to hear more about in American popular culture. Born in Sweden in 1879, Hill came to the US at the turn of the century and worked his way back and forth across the country as an organizer for the Industrial International Workers of the World, the “Wobblies.” Hill became well known as a songwriter and activist and, therefore, subject to police harassment. In 1914 he was arrested in Salt Lake City and charged with murder; although there were grave doubts about his culpability, Hill was executed on November 19, 1915. 

Joan Baez popularized the most famous Joe Hill song: 


I dreamed I saw Joe Hill last night, Alive as you or me Says I, "But Joe, you're ten years dead," "I never died," says he. "I never died," says he. And standing there as big as life And smiling with his eyes Says Joe, "What they forgot to kill Went on to organize, Went on to organize."  

This Labor Day there will be union picnics and a few desultory parades but they won’t register on the consciousness of most Americans. It’s an indication of the loss of power of the US Labor movement. If Joe Hill were “alive as you or me” he’d be shocked. In 2011 only 7 percent of private-sector employees belong to labor unions – down from a high of 36 percent in 1945. 



"Joe Hill ain't dead," he says to me, "Joe Hill ain't never died. Where working men are out on strike Joe Hill is at their side, Joe Hill is at their side."
Labor declined for several reasons: the composition of the workforce changed; unions achieved many of their initial objectives and US workers grew complacent; the power Labor lost was sucked up by corporations; conservatives wage war on unions; and Joe Hill’s fighting spirit vanished. 

From 1900 to 2000 the US workforce experienced dramatic changes. The Bureau of Labor Statistics observed, “the composition of the labor force shifted from industries dominated by primary production occupations, such as farmers and foresters, to those dominated by professional, technical, and service workers. At the turn of the century, about 38 percent of the labor force worked on farms. By the end of the century, that figure was less than 3 percent. Likewise, the percent who worked in goods-producing industries, such as mining, manufacturing, and construction, decreased from 31 to 19 percent of the workforce. Service industries were the growth sector during the 20th century, jumping from 31 percent of all workers in 1900 to 78 percent in 1999.” Although many factors contributed to these shifts, the most important was the introduction of technology. As jobs shifted from manufacturing to service – particularly information technology – unions were not able to organize many emerging sectors. 

Over the course of the twentieth century working conditions improved. Child labor was abolished – in 1900 6 percent of the labor force was under 15. New safety laws were passed – in 1900, 1500 coal mine workers were killed; in 1999 only 35 died due to accidents. In 1900 the average manufacturing workweek was 53 hours; by 1999 it had fallen to 42 hours. Unions brought about better working conditions that percolated into most non-union jobs. Many Americans took the accomplishments of organized Labor for granted. 

Meanwhile, massive amounts of capital were required to transform the US workforce, resulting in humongous multinational corporations. They took a hard line on unions, employing specialists adept at harassing union organizers and breaking strikes. Global corporations had no allegiance to towns or states – or civil society – only profit; to discourage unions they moved their facilities to a non-union venue in a different state or country. 

Conservatives turned stridently anti-union. In 1946 Republicans passed the Taft-Hartley Act, the beginning of 35 years of coordinated attacks on Labor. 22 states passed right-to-work laws. In 1981 President Reagan broke the Air Traffic Controller’s Union and it disintegrated. Republican Administrations made it almost impossible for unions to organize. 

In Julius Caesar, Shakespeare observed: “Men at some time are masters of their fates; the fault… is not in our stars, but in ourselves, that we are underlings.” While it’s true that many factors contributed to the decline of America’s Labor movement, workers have to take some responsibility. Many became complacent. They waited for someone else to do the heavy lifting. They were too trusting of their corporate bosses. Their church taught them it was okay to suffer; they’d be rewarded in another liftetime. 

If Joe Hill were alive he’d be angry. He’d see many of the changes he fought for have been neutralized and he’d lament American workers’ lack of fighting spirit. 



From San Diego up to Maine, In every mine and mill - Where working men defend their rights It's there you'll find Joe Hill. It's there you'll find Joe Hill.

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

Is the GOP the Anti-Science Party?

By Ralph E. Stone
Wednesday September 07, 2011 - 09:41:00 AM

Texas Governor Rick Perry, Representative Michele Bachmann, and Representative Ron Paul, three of the leading GOP presidential candidates, are unabashed Darwinian evolution and global warming deniers -- as is the Tea Party Movement. The GOP is in danger of being hi-jacked by these anti-science candidates. 

The Tea Party also opposes stem cell research and science-based regulation. 

What is Darwinian evolution? Charles Darwin, whose theory of evolution set forth in his "On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life," and subsequent writings, is considered the foundation of biology. But even after 152 years, his theory supported by information which has been tested again and again over time is obviously still anathema to Perry, Bachmann, Paul, and theTea Party. 

But then again, how can you argue with that eminent scientist, Glenn Beck, who said on his October 20, 2010 radio show, "I don't think we came from monkeys. I think that's ridiculous. I haven't seen a half-monkey, half-person yet." Then he remarked, "If I get to the other side and God's like, 'You know what, yep, you were a monkey once,' I'll be shocked, but I'll be cool with it." . That, of course, assumes Beck will be meeting God on the other side, not the guy below. 

Perry’s evolution denial probably propeled him into the lead in the Iowa Straw Poll. Only 35 percent of Iowa Republicans believe in evolution to 48 percent who do not. With those who do believe in it, put Perry’ in 4th place at 12 percent, placing him behind Romney’s 24 percent, Paul’s 18 percent, and Bachmann’s 15 percent. But with the evolution deniers, Perry was the overwhelming favorite at 32 percent to Bachmann’s 19 percent, Romney’s 15 percent, and Paul’s 13 percent. 

Is global warming really a hoax? Not when more than 95 percent of scientists working in the disciplines contributing to studies of our climate, accept that climate change is almost certainly caused by human activities. But you just know that the global warming deniers will focus on the 5 percent, giving them cover to do nothing about this serious problem. Time and demonstration will eventually render clobal warming skeptics’ ideas obsolete and relegate them to the fringe. Unfortunately, we haven’t reach that point yet. in this country. 

Again the Iowa Straw Poll gave Perry and Bachmann a leg up on Iowan voters who are global warming skeptics. Only 21 percemt of GOP voters believe in global warming, while 66 percent do not. Again with the believers, Romney is in a strong first place at 31 percent to 15 percent for Paul, 13 percent for Bachmann, 11 percent for Huntsman, and only 9 percent for Perry. But with the much more numerous group of Republicans who think global warming is a hoax, Perry is the favorite at 28 percent to 20 percent for Bachmann, 16 percent for Paul, and 13 percent for Romney. 

Of course, the real test for the Republican candidates will be in the caucuses and primaries beginning in February 2012. According to a recent CNN poll, right now Perry leads by 27 percent, with Mitt Romney at 14 percent, Bachmann and Rudi Giuliani at 9 percent, and Ron Paul at 6 percent. It will probably shake out as a race between Perry and Romney.  

Romney has mostly ducked the issue of whether global warming is caused by humans, but accepts the theory of evolution. 

If Perry is ultimately the Republican candidate for president, his anti-science stance would seem to give President Obama a leg up. But Democrats should not forget the power of ingnorant people, especially in large groups.  

How are we going to keep up with the rest of the world in innovation and scientific discovery when one of our two major political parties -- the GOP -- is in danger of becoming the anti-science party. What is more troublesome is that ithis anti-science stance contributes to an anti-intellectualism and anti-rationalism in our public life, resulting in a dumbing down of Americans. The ignorance of the average U.S. adult of basic scientific facts has been well documented by surveys, finding that only about 28 percent of adult Americans currently qualify as scientifically literate.  

Do we really want an anti-intellectual, anti-rational person for president? I don't.

Senior Power Longevity is long life

By Helen Rippier Wheeler
Wednesday September 07, 2011 - 09:50:00 AM

I don’t buy books. I borrow them. From public libraries. Mostly new to me and to the library. I like before>later>after documentaries. Somebody, usually an expert, studies a group of individuals who have something in common and follows up on each. 

In 42 Up, Michael Apted interviewed a group of seven-year old girls and boys from diverse backgrounds and all over England. Starting in 1964, they were asked about their lives and their dreams for the future. Every seven years, Apted went back to talk to the same subjects.  

In Survivor M.D.: Second Opinions, Michael Barnes followed a disparate group of Harvard Medical School students and then through the first ten years of their careers in several medical specialties. Barnes focused on how hands-on medicine differed from their expectations of what a physician's life would be like.  

Genetic Studies of Genius, known as The Terman Study of the Gifted,was a longitudinal study to examine the development and characteristics of gifted children into adulthood. In 1921, Stanford University psychologist Lewis Terman (1877-1956) selected and began to study 1,500 “bright boys and girls” born around 1910.  

A pioneer in educational psychology, Terman is known as a prominent eugenicist and inventor of the Stanford-Binet IQ test. Through studies of gifted children, he hoped to learn how to educate a gifted child in the best way possible and to dispel negative stereotypes that gifted children were conceited, freakish, and socially eccentric.  

The children called themselves Termites. A 35 year follow-up (volume 5) looked at them during mid-life. The results showed that gifted and genius children were actually in good health and had normal personalities. Most did well socially and academically and had lower divorce rates. They were generally successful in their careers and had received awards recognizing their achievements. Few demonstrated the previously held negative stereotype. 


Though many Termites reached their potential in adulthood, some did not, perhaps because of personal obstacles, insufficient education, or lack of opportunity. In the 1930’s, opportunities for women were much more limited to gender roles than they are today. (Yes, I’m suggesting that they are still limited.) Terman had included girls in his original study, while minority children apparently were not. He advocated early identification of gifted children so that appropriate encouragement could be provided. The study continued after his death, as he wished. A colleague completed and published the fifth volume of Genetic Studies of Genius. 


Prior to enactment into United States law in 1972 of Title IXof the Education Amendments, little or no formal guidance counseling had been provided in most schools. I graduated from a Northern, relatively progressive, suburban public school system in 1944. The Stanford-Binet IQ test was administered when we completed grade school. While helping out in the high school office, I peeked in the kardex, but my I Q number meant nothing to me. C. Overton Tremper taught intermediate algebra, coached baseball, and functioned as dean of boys. When I achieved a high score in the Regents’ intermediate algebra exam, I wouldn’t even consider continuing with trigonometry. COT, as he signed himself on slips of paper he dashed off excusing us from things, assumed that I could do whatever I wanted to do and that I was going to go to college. And I began to think about it. About that time, my mother began with the “Grades aren’t everything” and “Dopey is the popular dwarf.” C. Overton, as we referred to him when he wasn’t around, had his hands full. He died at age ninety. 


Common beliefs and claims related to health and long life are often false, contend Howard S. Friedman and Leslie R. Martin, two California educational psychologists interested in long-term “happiness and health.” Their examples of falsity include: Get married and you will live longer. Take it easy and don’t work so hard and you will stay healthier. Thinking happy thoughts reduces stress and leads to long life. Religious people live longer. Retire as soon as you can and play more golf to stay health and live longer. Encourage your very serious child to be more spontaneous and have more fun. Give your children a big head start in school and they will thrive for life. All myths, they maintain.  

The latest book to utilize Terman’s work is Friedman and Martin’s The Longevity Project; Surprising Discoveries for Health and Long Life from the Landmark Eight-Decade Study, they considered the 720 (of the original 1,500) Termites who were still alive in the 1980s. Most were age 70+. Friedman and Martin “compared those who were highly productive in old age to those who were taking it easy and were not so concerned with racking up accomplishments.” Based on these comparisons, they explain how social connections, personality, and marriage can affect long-term health and can prevent aging. Here’s what they conclude. 

About disposition: Cheerful and optimistic children are less likely to live long lives. However, genetic factors offer only about one third of the explanation for why.  

About stress: Some stress is not a bad thing. "The most cheerful, optimistic kids grew up to take more risks." 

About optimism: "By virtue of expecting good things to happen and feeling like nothing bad ever would, they predisposed themselves to be heavier drinkers, they tended to be smokers, and their hobbies were riskier." So, they conclude, some degree of worrying actually is good, and, in fact, is the strongest individual difference or personality predictor. 

About conscientiousness: Their study of this subpopulation found that conscientious people developed better social relationships and accomplished more at work.  

About skipping a grade: Parents should not enroll their kids at age five in an attempt to give them an advantage. (The authors are presumably referring to initial enrollment in first grade, rather than kindergarten or pre-school.) Getting an early start—jumping ahead of one’s peers—is a no no. Children’s age at entering school predicted the subjects’ longevity. The children who started first grade at age five were at higher risk of dying early, and those who started school “on schedule” at age six lived longer. 

Longevity books sell. The Longevity Project… is loaded with dropped names of celebrities who were not Termites—Lucille Ball, George Burns, Dale Carnegie, Woody Guthrie, John F. Kennedy, Marilyn Monroe, etc. “Self-Assessment” quizzes and measures “that you can use to assess yourself” include Do you have a sociable personality? Are you a good emotional communicator? Are you a gloomy Chicken Little? How masculine or feminine are you?  

“The better-educated Terman participants did tend to live longer than their equally bright peers. But …level of education was not a strong predictor of health and longevity, especially as compared to other social and career predictors.” If there's a secret to old age, these authors found, it is living conscientiously and bringing forethought, planning, and perseverance to one's professional and personal life. Prudence, dependability, and perseverance make the difference in aging, productivity and health. Well, surprise surprise. 





Japan may soon lose its top longevity ranking. Suicides, obesity, smoking and poor quality health coverage all contribute, according to Dr. Christopher J.L. Murray, director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington in Seattle. In recent years, Japan has fallen behind Sweden, Italy, and Australia for men, and behind Sweden for women. 

Senior citizen Jane Fonda is in the news again. Her latest motion pictures (Monster-in-Law and Georgia Rule) demonstrate how difficult it is for old[er] women to get parts worthy of their talents. Reference to Klute (1971) usually appears in reviews of her and her recent books (Prime Time: Creating a great third act and My Life So Far). But don’t overlook Iris Estelle King (Stanley & Iris), Judy Bernly (Nine to five), Chelsea Thayer Wayne (On Golden Pond), Sally Hyde (Coming home), andLillian (Julia). As The Dollmaker, she played the mother of five from the Kentucky hills, forced to uproot her children to follow her husband to Detroit when he finds work during World War II. Her hopes and creative spirit represented by her wood-carving are systematically destroyed by social forces that are too big for her. One setback follows another and tragedy strikes the family. It is up to Gertie Nevels to find new strength and courage to keep her family together and strong. Harriette Arnow’s 1954 novel was an honest glimse into the lives of the urban poor as they were exploited by landlords, schools, unions, anti-communism, and each other. Fonda’s 1984 Gertie Nevels was a magnificent hero, strong, capable, and wise. 


On August 26, 2011, Assistant Secretary for Aging Kathy Greenlee announced two new grants totaling $761,000 for the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA). $561,000 for the NCEA Information Clearinghouse was awarded to the University of California, Irvine (UCI). The NCEA Clearinghouse will provide a national source of practical information to support federal, state and local efforts to prevent, identify, and effectively respond to elder abuse. The Clearinghouse will provide information and technical support, translate the latest research in the field, and disseminate best practices for state, local, and Tribal practitioners. The NCEA will also provide technical assistance on developing effective prevention, intervention, and response efforts to address elder abuse. In addition, a $200,000 award to the University of North Dakota (UND) for the NCEA Native American Elder Justice Initiativetobegin to address the lack of culturally appropriate information and community education materials on elder abuse, neglect and exploitation in Indian Country. 

The National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA) has called on Congress to reauthorize the Older Americans Act (OAA) before it expires this year. The OAA was signed into law in 1965 by President Lyndon Johnson and it was the first federal program that provided services for older adults, such as legal services, ombudsmen in nursing homes, home-delivered meals, senior centers, jobs and training for low-income older adults, health services, and more. Specifically, the reauthorized OAA should include more funding and better delivery of Title III-B legal services, which provides legal assistance for older adults on issues related to housing, fraud, elder abuse, Social Security, and other matters. 

Reminder: It is necessary to input your wishes more than once to the National Do not Call Registry! 1 888 382-222. TTY 1 866 290-4236. www.donotcall.gov. 




MARK YOUR CALENDAR: September and October 2011. Call to confirm. 

Readers are welcome to share news of events that may interest boomers and seniors. Daytime, free, and Bay Area events preferred. pen136@dslextreme.com 


Wednesday, Sept. 7. 9 A.M.-1 P.M. Mastick Senior Center. AARP Driver Safety Program refresher course designed for motorists age 50+. Preregistration required. $12 per person for AARP members, $14 per person for non-AARP members. Also Sept. 14. 

Wednesday, Sept. 7, 10 A.M. -Noon North Berkeley Senior Center, 1901 Hearst. Advisory Council meeting. Public invited. 510-981-5190.  

Wednesday. Sept. 7. - 10:30 A.M. Mastick Senior Center. Balance Your Walk with the Alexander Technique. Lenka Fejt, certified teacher, will begin a six-part workshop on the Alexander Technique. Prepaid registration fee of $60. required. Also Sept. 14, 21, 28. 

Wednesday, Sept. 7. 12:15 P.M. – 1 P.M. Noon Concert Series Resumes. UC,B Music Dept., Hertz Concert Hall. Joe Neeman, violin. Miles Graber, piano. Tickets not required. 510-642-4864. A full list of concert programs, colloquia, and other events are  

available at the calendar link: ttp://events.berkeley.edu/index.php/calendar/sn/music.html 

Wednesday, Sept. 7 through Nov. 3, 2 P.M.– 4 P.M. Alameda Adult School instructors provide computer instruction at Mastick Senior Center. Register at the Adult School, 2250 Central Avenue, Room 160 or on-line at www.alameda-adult-school.org.  

Wednesday, Sept. 7, 6-8 P.M. Alameda County Library, Albany branch. 1247 Marin Ave. Lawyer in the Library. Free 15 minute consultation with an attorney. Sign up in person at the Reference desk or call 510-526-3720 ext. 5 during library hours. 

Thursday, Sept. 8, 6-7:45 P.M. Berkeley Public Library, South branch. 1901 Russell St. Lawyer in the Library. Free legal advice and help with questions. In-person sign-ups only; sign-ups begin at 5pm. Names pulled by lottery at 6 P.M. 

Friday, Sept. 9, 1 P.M. – 3 P.M. Mid-Autumn Festival. At the North Berkeley Senior Center. 510-981-5190.  

Fridays, beginning Sept. 9 Impariamo L’Italiano at Mastick Senior Center. Beginning Italian, 10 A.M. - 11 A.M. Intermedia Italian,11 A.M. – 12 Noon. 1155 Santa Clara Av., Alameda. Donatella Zepplin, Instructor. Sign up in the Mastick Office or call 510-747-7506.  

Saturday, Sept. 10. 12 Noon. Beef Bowl Anime Club meeting for adults. Albany branch, Alameda County Library. 1247 Marin Ave. 510-526-3720 x 16 . 

Sunday, Sept. 11, 2011. 8 A.M.-12 Noon Berkeley Lions Club 30th Annual Pancake Breakfast. Albany Veteran's Building, 1325 Portland Ave.. Learn about local resources for persons with low vision. Recycle no longer useful eyeglasses by bringing them for donation. Local non-profits, including Berkeley Women's Drop-In Center and Berkeley Seniors’ Holiday Meals, are supported through this event. Linda Wiggins and her Band. Suggested Donation: $7.00 adults, $3.00 children. Free to seniors, firefighters, police, and active military members. Jay Touriel 510-843-7044 or jay@darlingflowershop.com 

Monday, Sept. 12. 6 P.M. Evening Computer Class. Central Berkeley Public Library. 2090 Kittredge. 510-981-6100. Also Sept. 19 and 26. 

Tuesday, Sept. 13, 9:30 A.M. to 12:30 P.M. Mastick Senior Center. 1155 Santa 

Clara Avenue, Alameda. Jewelry Making with Rose O’Neill. Beads and tools will be 

supplied. Class is limited to 10 students. Cost is $15 per person. Sign up in the Mastick 

Office or call 510-747-7506. 

Saturday, Sept. 13, 10 A.M. – 3 P.M. 34th Annual Health Fair. Allen Temple Baptist 

Church, 8501 International Blvd., Oakland. Free health screenings. 510-544-8910. 

Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2 P.M. Job Search Resources. Central Berkeley Public Library. 

2090 Kittredge. 

Wednesday. Sept. 14. 12 Noon. Playreaders. Central Berkeley Public Library. 2090 Kittredge. Also Sept. 21 and 28. 

Wednesday, Sept. 14. 12:15 P.M. – 1 P.M. Noon Concert Series Performing Arts - UC,B Music Dept., Hertz Concert Hall. John Kapusta, voice; Nicholas Mathew, piano.
Tickets not required. 510-642-4864. 

Beginning Wednesday, Sept. 14 - 1 P.M. Mastick Senior Center Cultural Events class includes 2 Berkeley Repertory Theatre performances. Minimum enrollment of 15 required. To reserve a seat, visit the Office or call 510-747-7506. 

Wednesdy, Sept. 14 . 6:30 P.M. – 8 P.M. Drop-In Poetry Writing Workshops. Free. Albany branch of the Alameda County library, 1247 Marin Av. 510-526-3720. 

Thursdays, beginning Sept. 15, 10 A.M. – 11:30 A.M. Mastick Senior Center 1155 

Santa Clara Avenue, Alameda. Computer Basic Skills class. Nancy D’Amico, Volunteer 

Instructor. Sign up in advance.  

Thursday, Sept. 15. 7 P.M. El Cerrito Library, 6510 Stockton Av. Join award-winning, local cookbook author, Marie Simmons for a talk and tasting. Her latest book is Fresh & Fast Vegetarian: Recipes that Make a Meal. 510-526-7512. 

Thursday, Sept. 15. 6 P.M. Lawyers in the Library. Berkeley Public Library, West branch. 1125 University. 510-981-6270. Also Sept. 22. 

Friday, Sept. 16, 10 A.M. – 1 P.M. 14th Annual Senior Resource Fair. Presented by San Leandro Senior Services. San Leandro Senior Community Center, 13909 East 14 St. 510-577-3462. 

Saturday, Sept. 17, 11 A.M. Landlord /Tenant Counseling. Central Berkeley Public Library. 2090 Kittredge. 510-981-6100. 

Saturday, Sept. 17, 1:30 P.M. music; 2 P.M. show. SF Mime Troupe's 2010: The Musical. Willard Park, Berkeley, CA. Outdoors. Free. 415-285-1717. Also Sept 18. 

Wednesday, Sept. 21. 12:15 P.M. – 1 P.M. Noon Concert Series Performing Arts - UC,B Music Dept., Hertz Concert Hall. Faculty Recital: Michael Orland, piano.
Tickets not required. 510-642-4864. 

Wednesday, Sept. 21, 1:30 P.M. Berkeley Commission on Aging meets in a senior center, probably North Berkeley Senior Center, 1901 Hearst, corner MLK. #25 AC bus stops at the NBSC. Phone to confirm location. 510-981-5190. 510-981-5200. 

Thursday, Sept. 22. 9 A.M. – 5 P.M. Albany Senior Center Open House. Food, entertainment. 846 Masonic Av. 510-524-9122.  

Sunday, Sept. 25. 1:30 P.M. Book Into Film: The Last Station. Central Berkeley Public Library, 2090 Kittredge. Registration required: 510-981-6236.  

Monday, Sept. 26. 7 P.M. Kensington Library, 61 ArlingtonAve. The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery. Each meeting starts with a poem selected and read by a member with brief discussion following. New members welcome. 510-524-3043.  

Tuesday, Sept. 27, 1 P.M. Mastick Senior Center, 1155 Santa Clara Av., Alameda. “Getting the Most From Your Doctor’s Visit.” Lecture by Patient Advocate Linda Garvin, RN, MSN. Register in the Mastick Office or call 510-747-7506.  

Tuesday, Sept 27, 3 P.M. Tea & Cookies Book Club. Central Berkeley Public Library. 

Tea and Cookies. A book club for people who want to share the books they have read. 

Tuesday, Sept. 27, 7 – 8 P.M. El Cerrito Library book discussion group. 6510 Stockton. Come to one or all discussions. Let the Great World Spin, novel by Colum McMcCann. 510-526-7512. 

Wednesday, Sept. 28. 12:15 P.M. – 1 P.M. Noon Concert Series Performing Arts - UC,B Hertz Concert Hall. University Symphony Orchestra - David Milnes, conductor. Ligeti: Lontano. Korngold: Violin Concerto, Ernest Yen, soloist. Tickets not required. 510-642-4864. 

Wednesday, Sept. 28, 1:30-2:30 P.M. Alameda County Library, Albany branch. 1247 Marin Av. Great Books Discussion Group. Morrison's Song of Solomon. Facilitated discussion. Come to one meeting, or all meetings. Books are available at the Library. Parking! 510-526-3720 x 16. 



Monday, Oct. 3. 6 P.M. Evening Computer Class. Central Berkeley Public Library. (510) 2090 Kittredge. 510-981-6100. Also Oct. 17 and 24. 

Wednesday, Oct. 5. 12:15 P.M. – 1 P.M. Noon Concert Series Performing Arts - UC,B Hertz Concert Hall. Felicia Chen, soprano; Daniel Alley, piano. Jason Yu, piano. Tickets not required. 510-642-4864. 

Wednesday, Oct. 5. 10:30 A.M. Mastick Senior Center. 1155 Santa Clara Avenue, Alameda. Balance Your Walk with the Alexander Technique. Lenka Fejt, certified teacher. This six-part workshop on the Alexander Technique has begun. Prepaid registration fee of $60. required. 510-747-7506. Also Oct. 12. 

Wednesday, Oct. 5 - 12 Noon. Playreaders. Central Berkeley Public Library. (510) 2090 Kittredge. 510-981-6100.. Also Oct. 12 and 19. 

Wednesday, Oct. 5. 6 P.M. – 8 P.M. Alameda County Library, Albany branch. 1247 Marin Ave. Lawyer in the Library. Free 15 minute consultation with an attorney. Sign up in person at the Reference desk or call 510-526-3720 ext. 5 during library hours. 

Thursday, Oct. 6. 10 A.M. – 1 P.M. Lavender Seniors of the East Bay’s 5th Annual Aging in Place, Symposium and Resource Fair for Older Adults. Marina Community Center, 15301 Wicks Blvd., San Leandro. Refreshments, entertainment by Stagebridge Senior Theater Company. Free. Dan Ashbrook at 510-667-9655 Ext 1 or email dan@lavenderseniors.org. 

Thursday, Oct. 6. 6 P.M. Lawyers in the Library. Berkeley Public Library South branch. 1901 Russell. 510-981-6100. Also Oct. 13. 

Wednesday, Oct. 12. 12:15 P.M. – 1 P.M. Noon Concert Series Performing Arts - UC,B Hertz Concert Hall. Andrea Wu, piano. Tickets not required. 510-642-4864. 

Wednesday, Oct. 12. 6:30 P.M. – 8 P.M. Drop-In Poetry Writing Workshops. Free. Albany branch of the Alameda County library, 1247 Marin Av. 510-526-3720. 

Thursday, Oct. 13. 10 A.M. Computers for Beginners. Central Berkeley Public Library. 2090 Kittredge. 510-981-6100. Also Oct. 20 and 27. 

Saturday, Oct. 15. 11 A.M. Landlord/Tenant Counseling. Central Berkeley Public Library. (510) 2090 Kittredge. 510- 981-6100. 

Wednesday, Oct. 19. 12:15 P.M. – 1 P.M. Noon Concert Series Performing Arts - UC,B Hertz Concert Hall. University Gospel Chorus - Another Day's Journey. Tickets not required. 510-642-4864. 

Thursday, Oct. 20. 6 P.M. Lawyers in the Library. Berkeley Public Library West branch. 1125 University. 510-981-6270. Also Oct. 27. 

Tuesday, Oct. 25. 3 - 4 P.M. Tea and Cookies. Central Berkeley Public Library. A book club for people who want to share the books they have read. Central Berkeley Public Library. 2090 Kittredge. (510) 2090 Kittredge. 510-981-6100. 

Wednesday, Oct. 26. 12:15 P.M. – 1 P.M. Noon Concert Series Performing Arts - UC,B Hertz Concert Hall. Tony Lin, piano. Tickets not required. 510-642-4864. 

Wednesday, Oct. 26. 1:30-2:30 P.M. Alameda County Library, Albany branch. 1247 Marin Av. Great Books Discussion Group. Roman Fever, Edith Wharton’s short story. Facilitated discussion. Come to one meeting, or all meetings. Books are available at the Library. Parking! 510-526-3720 x 16. 

Wednesday and Thursday, Oct. 26/Sacramentoand 27/South San Francisco, 2011 . "Dementia Care Without Drugs - A Better Approach for Long-term Care Facilities" symposia re misuse of psychotropic drugs as treatment for dementia; difficulty in managing dementia treatment; non-pharmacological approaches to care. CANHR staff attorney Tony Chicotel presentation, "Stop Drugging Our Elders!" California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform http://www.canhr.org. 415-974-5171. Fax 415-777-2904.  






My Commonplace Book (a diary of excerpts copied from printed books, with comments added by the reader.)

By Dorothy Bryant
Wednesday September 07, 2011 - 09:18:00 AM

One of the chief obstacles to intelligence is credulity. Credulity . . . is a greater evil in the present day than it ever was before, because, owing to the growth of education, it is much easier than it used to be to spread misinformation, and, owing to democracy, the spread of misinformation is more important than in former times to the holders of power.

Bertrand Russell (1872—1970) 

From Free Thought and Official Propaganda (1922) 

Russell, one of the best minds of the 20th century, was also one of the strongest advocates of universal education, sexual liberation, and democratic government. An aristocrat in social status and intellect, he labored hard to hone a simple writing style that any literate person could understand and emulate. (I could and did actually use his essays in teaching remedial writing students.) 

I had to reread the brief quotation above, several times, in admiration, wondering how he managed to say so much, so deeply, in so few simple words. 

I wonder what he would be saying now—if he had lived into our “information age” with its vast store of facts, errors, misinformation and trivial chatter released by the click of a computer key. 







(Send the Berkeley Daily Planet a page from your own Commonplace Book)

Arts & Events

Eye from the Aisle: FROST/NIXON at Hayward’s Douglas Morrisson Theatre worth the trek.

By John A. McMullen II
Wednesday September 07, 2011 - 04:45:00 PM
Craig Souza as David Frost and John Hale as Richard Nixon.
John Engle
Craig Souza as David Frost and John Hale as Richard Nixon.

FROST/NIXON strikes me as a dauntingly challenging play to produce, particularly because of the casting.  

Richard Milhous Nixon remains an archetypal “boogieman” in these parts, and every Hallowe’en there still are a plethora of masks bearing his likeness worn by children whose parents were not born during his presidency. Everybody in the theatre at the Sunday Matinee that I attended lived through his turbulent administration. To portray him is “asking for it.” 

But actor John Hale as Nixon is reason enough to journey to Hayward to the Douglas Morrisson Theatre for FROST/NIXON through September 25. 

Hale moves like Nixon, he phrases his sentences as Nixon did, he stands and sits like him, he evokes him without impersonating him. We all do our fleeting impersonations of Tricky Dick with hunch-shouldered, jowl-wobbling “I-am-not-a-crook,” our hands held high, fingers in V-signs. But to sustain the character for an hour-and-fifty minutes sans intermission is Promethean.  

The capper is the enormous video screen that looms above the two, and which has a video feed of their acting. Now as every acting teacher will tell you, there is a difference between stage and screen acting, the latter done much more with the emotion coming through the eyes. Hale bridges the gap, and when he is full on screen our attention is riveted. 

Frost/Nixon is deftly staged by Marilyn Langbehn. Exits and entrances and set changes are fluid and integrated into the action. With a large cast, many short scenes, and video integration, she has delivered seamless execution and production values. 

However, the production suffers from a lack of urgency for such high stakes. There is a dearth of subtext in the expressions of the newsmen and producers. Expressive and edgy Easterners and those immersed in the world of the Washington Beltway talk over one another, and that interruptive and conflictive energy is absent.  

Craig Souza as David Frost is pitch-perfect in accent and suaveness, but does not evoke the casual animation that Frost had, and his eyes do not convey conviction and connection which is an on-screen imperative. 

Daria Hepps is engagingly subtle and realistic in her convincing portrayal of a jet-setter that Frost picks up on a trans-Atlantic flight. 

Don R. Williams as Jack Brennan is Nixon’s political advisor in a colonel’s uniform, and the picture of military savvy and demeanor, with a gruff, flat mid-Western tone, hovering protectively around his personal Commander-in–Chief. 

Renny Madlena actually bears a vague resemblance to reporter James Reston, who was a devoted enemy of Nixon, and who is the narrator of this tale. He provides continuity and serves as chorus for the theatre-goers who despised the only president to resign the office.  

Still, he and the other cast members seem to cool down their performance to policy-wonk temperature rather than as if they were hyenas heatedly circling the crippled lion. 

Admittedly, the theatre layout has its challenges for any director: the crescent shaped “house” is at considerable distance from the proscenium, and the players never venture too far downstage, perhaps for sight-line reasons. The video screen helped, but sitting four rows back, I felt miles from the action. 


Kim Tolman’s set is excellent if monochromatic. The portal (i.e., framing around the stage proscenium) is in the shape of a rounded 1970’s television screen with many smaller replicas on both side through which more video images are fed at intervals. Several steps lead up to a platform on which the interviews take place with an enormous video monitor hovering above. 

Matthew Royce’s lighting is could be brighter. The level of brightness during the interviews would have served throughout with a bump for the high intensity TV lights Low level lighting tends to induce somnolence, yet I see it in many productions. 

Though I must say that the elderly audience of a Sunday matinee—all 75 of them in this under-attended 250-seat theatre—stayed connected if not rapt through the performance, which is high praise. 

Next to theJapanese Gardens on the edge of the Hayward Area Recreation and Park District, DOUGLAS MORRISSON THEATRE is little difficult theatre to find and is a mile walk from BART, but get out your GPS and go and find it. Since Susan E. Evans, late of the lauded Eastenders, has assumed the artistic direction of the theatre, DMT is undertaking more challenging and provocative work. 

MY VERDICT: The performance of John Hale (who, for full disclosure, I recommended for the role), along with the set and the superior staging are award-worthy and worth your attention and money.  

Do not tarry for FROST/NIXON has a short run through September 25. 

FROST/NIXON by Peter Morgan 

Directed by Marilyn Langbehn 

Playing through September 25. 

The Douglas Morrisson Theatre 

22311 N Third Street, Hayward, CA 


WITH: Jesus Fuentes, Dave Iverson, Doug Brook, Rick Daniels, Daria Hepps, John Hale, Renny Madlena, Craig Souza, Don R. Williams, Jessica Lyn Robertson, and Kendall Tieck (v-o). 

John McMullen is a member of SFBATCC, ATCA, and SDC. Editing by EJ Dunne.

Around & About Music: Schuchman, Ganz & Ronen play Franck, Crumb, Gaubert, Ibert at Unitarian Universalist Church on Saturday; Guirao-Howard-Dorman Trio with works by Brahms, Ravel, Higdon at Berkeley City Club for Berkeley Chamber Performances next Tuesd

By Ken Bullock
Wednesday September 07, 2011 - 09:27:00 AM

--Cellist Burke Schuchman, pianist Brian Ganz and flautist Yael Ronen will play Cesar Franck's Cello Sonata in A, George Crumb's Vox Balaenae, Phillippe Gaubert's Flute Sonata No. 1 and Jacques Ibert's Deux Interludes, 8 p. m. Saturday, September 10, at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Berkeley, One Lawson Road, Kensington. $25, seniors $20, students $10. (415) 672-4265; Palomarin.music@gmail.com/ 

--Violinist Candace Guirao, cellist Robert Howard and pianist Elizabeth Dorman will play Brahms' Trio in B Major, Pous 8; Ravel's Sonata for Violin & Cello and Jennifer Dorman's Piano Trio for Berkeley Chamber Music Performances next Tuesday, September 13, 8 p .m. at the Berkeley City Club. Reception to follow. $25. High School Students, free; older students, $12.50. 525-5211; berkeleychamberperformances.org

Around & About Theater: Oakland Performance Artists at San Francisco Fringe Festival

By Ken Bullock
Wednesday September 07, 2011 - 09:23:00 AM

The San Francisco Fringe Festival is now in progress, with dozens of shows from around the Bay Area--and the world--hosted by the Exit Theaters, not far from the Cable Car turnaround and BART station at Powell and Market.  

Two Oakland performance artists begin a run of shows at the Fringe this week: Catherine Debon, with her show Alma Colorada, assisted by Jennifer Gordon and directed by Erica Blue, opening this Friday at 7, Exit Stage Left, 165 Eddy Street, and continuing on Wednesday the 14th (10:30 p. m.), Saturday the 17th (6 p. m.) and Sunday the 18th (2:30 p. m.) Genevieve Jessee will perform Girl in, but not of, the 'Hood, about returning to the Oakland she (and her family) grew up in, on September 10, 11, 14 and 17, different times and locations. Individual shows: $7-$10; festival passes: $40-$75. (415) 673-3847 (Festival hotline); sffringe.org

Eye from the Aisle: Masquers’ MYSTERY OF IRMA VEP-- Scarpelli & Budinger’s Laugh Riot!

By John A. McMullen II
Wednesday September 07, 2011 - 09:15:00 AM
Jane the housekeeper (Peter Budinger, left) spurns the lecherous swineherd Nicodemus (DC Scarpelli, right).
Jerry Telfer
Jane the housekeeper (Peter Budinger, left) spurns the lecherous swineherd Nicodemus (DC Scarpelli, right).

The team of Scarpelli & Budinger have done right by the late Charles Ludlam and taken Pt. Richmond’s Masquers Playhouse up a notch in their campy 


Eight characters—male and female— are all played by D. C. Scarpelli and Peter Budinger. They met at Yale 20 years ago, and these life-partners act together like they knew each other in a former life. 

IRMA VEP is a Victorian melodrama based on a “penny dreadful”—lurid 19th century British fiction serialized stories, each story costing a penny. 

It’s got something for every culture-vulture: werewolves, mummies, portraits of the late lady of the house and predecessor of our heroine, allusions to gay-adored cinematic archetypes from “Rebecca” to “GWTW”—hell, even Anne Baxter in “The Ten Commandments” has a moment in this super-parody. 

It’s peppered with quotes from Shakespeare to Wilde, and it’s full of eye-rolling Freudian puns like, “Oh, the heartbreak of falling in love with an Egyptologist only to find out he’s hung up on his mummy!” 

The costumes are the third player. 

The design and execution of colorful, florid gowns and proper gentlemen’s apparel by Tammara Plankers and Jacki Medernach dazzle the eye and help the actors and audience enter a world of Victoriana.  

On top of which, the costumes are designed for fifteen-second presto-change-o’s which is a big “hook” of the piece. The two actors hit their marks fully dressed every time (well, maybe once a pant showed under a gown). 

Accolades to dressers Anne Collins and Steph Peek, who must be working frenziedly backstage to make it happen. 

D. C. Scarpelli plays the over-the-top characters of the bent-over, one-legged stableman, with contorted mouth a la Frankenstein’s Igor and a spot-on Cockney; Lady Enid, striking that Gloria Swanson with that side-bend, fending off the world gesture and a British Received falsetto; but particularly shines as the reconstituted mummy /sexy Pharoah-ess who speaks and sings in faux-Egyptian. Scarpelli sports a shaved head, and with his mutable physiognomy, classic features, command of various dialects, and convincing drag, he knocks it out of the park.  

Movie-star handsome Peter Budinger plays the stolid housekeeper, the Lord of the Manor, the “Rebecca” character, and an Intruder. Budinger is the salt to Scarpelli’s pepper. The pair play this genre like they invented it, and I hear from backstage talk that they are just a dream to work with. 

John Hull has designed a fully believable manor house drawing-room with stone walls and hearth, and uses the stage to its fullest with inner-chambers, sliding doors, a balcony with moonlight over the moor, and the unearthed Egyptian tomb and sarcophagus. It’s classic, campy and its design eases the quick entrances.  

However, the production is in desperate need of a more substantial lighting design to support the effort. Any kid who ever fashioned a haunted house knows that an essential ingredient is the spooky lighting. Victorian melodrama cries out “footlights” which have a phantasmagoric effect of their own, and the heightening of the tension by increasing the “scary” lighting only brings harder laughter---think “Abbot and Costello meet the Wolfman.” The performance seemed like a tech run-through without the lighting; there wasn’t even the light for the supposedly operational fireplace or for the eternal flame on the looming portrait over the mantle. The one ingenious moment of lighting with gobos (little tin cut-outs attached to the front of lights that throw a design pattern on the floor or wall) was in the entrances to the tomb.  

And there are amateur errors which I carp about every time I go to community theatre: full-minute set changes with nothing happening, men with headphones rearranging props in a near black-out; little things that burst the bubble of belief.  

But it’s worth the Andrew Jackson to take it in and watch these virtuosi run a marathon like it’s a 100- yard dash. 

Following “Musical of Musicals, this is the second hit in a row for Masquers who are now on a roll after a couple of critical disappointments.  

THE MYSTERY OF IRMA VEP by Charles Ludlam  

Through October 1, 2011.  

Masquers Playhouse  

105 Park Place, 

Point Richmond, CA 94801-3922 

Info/tickets: www.masquers.org 510-232-4031  

Directed by Robert Love, Set by John Hull, Costumes by Tammara Plankers and Jacki Medernach, Lighting by Renee Echavez, Properties by Robert Taylor, Production Management by Kyle Johnson, Stage Management by Joe Torres. Dressers: Anne Collins and Steph Peek. 

Eye from the Aisle: OF DICE AND MEN at Impact Theatre—must see for D&D’s!

By John A. McMullen II
Wednesday September 07, 2011 - 08:54:00 AM
Jonathan Brooks, Maria Giere Marquis, and Jai Sahai
Cheshire Isaacs
Jonathan Brooks, Maria Giere Marquis, and Jai Sahai

OF DICE AND MEN at Impact Theatre is about “Dungeons & Dragons” and the adults who play the game.

If you have ever been a D&D aficionado, get a ticket immediately. 

The audience loved it, tittered continuously, laughed loudly, and applauded uproariously in the always edgy and entertaining theatre beneath the pizza kitchen on Hearst in Berkeley. 

Dungeons and Dragons, the fantasy role-playing game originally designed by Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson has been around since 1974, but for me, it was like watching a cricket match. I enjoyed the reactions and enthusiasm of the crowd and all the action on the field, though only slowly did I grasp the format of the endeavor. 

The actors create immediately recognizable characters, we discover what those real-life characters do when they were not being annoyingly ingratiating or making lame attempts at wit. It was a little like being stuck at the nerds’ table. It made me uncomfortable; when it’s good acting that does that, I like it. This production has the kind of acting that makes one wonder if these people were selected from central casting and are really like that. But having seen several of them in different roles, I was entranced with how well they recreated these characters who we meet (and try to avoid) every day.If you like the character-driven TV sitcom “Big Bang Theory,” this will appeal. 

The women do a particularly exceptional job. 

Linda-Ruth Cardozo portrays middle-aged mom with family whose love-pact with her football-loving husband was to attend one another’s interest though wholly uninterested in their mate’s fascination. 

Maria Giere Marquis portrays a fully modern and sexually outspoken women who is as tough as the boys while giving them a cleavage-filled thrill. Intellectual, successful, with the active imagination of an 11-year old who longs to be an elfin princess is a fascinating combination as written, and her acting brings it to life. 

The play premiered a year ago, and a friend’s joining the Marines in the midst of the Afghan incursion plays into the conflict; the fence is diplomatically straddled about the political implications of enlistment, but realistic for those who have a dear friend joining the ranks. 


There are downsides: with other “game-driven” dramas (“Chess,” “The Changing Room,” etc.), the emphasis is on the human conflict. OF DICE AND MEN, does have love and friendship conflicts, but these share the spotlight too much with the D&D gaming action, which, for the uninitiated, quickly grows tiresome. 

Cameron McNary is a new playwright who too often gets mired in the everlasting monologue. Unless it is an eloquent aria full of imagery or internal wrangling like the messenger from any Greek play, or Hamlet or Macbeth’s misgivings, or Tom’s colored-glass speech from “Glass Menagerie,” monologues can be theatrical quick-sand. And this quagmire is bogging down far too many productions I’ve seen recently. The first rule is to dramatize the circumstances, theme and action, not chat about it to the audience. 

It is directed by artistic director Melissa Hillman with seemingly less imagination and demand than her usual stunning productions (like her recent “Romeo & Juliet”). However, Dr. Hillman knows her audience and anticipated its draw—the fellow seated in front of me was back for his second viewing having brought a friend. 

I recommend it, though for the inexperienced it might help to Wikipedia “Dungeons and Dragons” before going to see it, in much the same way that looking up the lineage of Lancashire and York might help before attending Henry VI. 


This company’s productions seem to have a lasting IMPACT on me for days thereafter. Not all drama does that—though that is one of the yardsticks of the good kind—and these are the considerations that have been coursing through my mind: 

As a critic and addicted consumer of television, video, theatre, internet, I’m always concerned about the time investment of non-participative viewing. 

Most of us--like Chauncey Gardener of “Being There”--like to watch: television, football games, our computers. Some go out of their enclaves to the theatre, cinema (IMAX-3D!), concerts, professional sporting events. They are passive, vicarious, most-reward/least-effort endeavors. 

And anything worth doing is, of course, worth overdoing. 

So we invest large portions of our limited time (listen to the count-down clock ticking away toward the crypt) in entertaining ourselves. 

Lately I’ve been watching documentaries about cavemen, evolution, and the long strange trip to Homo sapien-ism. It seems that classic evidence of behavioral modernity includes: finely-made tools, burial, figurative art, music, and game playing. 

A major evolutionary step for genus Homo was developing the ability to imagine: without it, there is no progress. 

The other evolutionary step that pushed us forward was forming bonds with family and friends that took our concerns off our selves (at least momentarily) to tend to the indisposed, pregnant, new-born, and ill. 

These D&D dweebs participate in a fascinatingly active and imaginative endeavor of character creation and free-form decision-making and interaction. 

This tale led me to believe that the endeavor results in serious bonding around this activity; more so perhaps than playing bridge or watching Monday night football. 

The “fantasy” genre—in full bloom in this century—is a portentous phenomenon. In the last decade of the 20th century, Sci-Fi peaked. But since 2001, “Lord of the Rings,” “Harry Potter,” and more recently the “Twilight” series, fiction, cinema, and television have been imbued with fantasy. As a Boomer, my youth was filled with dreams of social justice, the fight against the Vietnam War, and the fantasy of a new world instead of a New World Order. Is this latest brush with the fantastic just another escape from a seemingly inevitable Brave New World; or is it akin to what we did by turning on, tuning in, dropping acid? Makes you think. 

OF DICE AND MEN by Cameron McNary 

Directed by Melissa Hillman 

Through October 1. 

Impact Theatre performing at La Val's Subterranean, 1834 Euclid, Berkeley 

Info/tickets: www.impacttheatre.com/season/index.php (510) 224-5744 

WITH: Jonathon Brooks, Linda-Ruth Cardozo. Maria Giere Marquis, Stacz Sadowski, Jai Sahai, and Seth Thygesen 

John McMullen is a member of SFBATCC, ATCA, and SDC. Editing by EJ Dunne.