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Party Shuts Down Telegraph for Two Hours Sunday

By Ted Friedman
Wednesday September 14, 2011 - 12:18:00 PM
"Telegraph Community Improvement District" shutting down Telegraph Sunday morning. Red Ribbon is a barricade.
Ted Friedman
"Telegraph Community Improvement District" shutting down Telegraph Sunday morning. Red Ribbon is a barricade.
The entertainment, as partiers shut down Telegraph Sunday morning.
Ted Friedman
The entertainment, as partiers shut down Telegraph Sunday morning.

Calling themselves the "Telegraph Community Improvement District"--a riff on the Telegraph Avenue Business Improvement District--seventy-five neighborhood partiers shut down a block of Telegraph Sunday morning for two hours as four police squad cars joined the peaceful scene. 

No arrests were made. The police were taking a hands-off attitude, although they wouldn't admit it to this reporter. 

A pre-publicity, poster not much larger than a postage stamp, called for fun and games, food, and music on the Avenue beginning at 10 p.m Saturday--an ersatz block party. The postage stamp announced that the group planned to shut down the street from Bancroft to Dwight without city permission. 

But by 10:30 p.m., a group sitting and lying in front of Cody's was ready to throw in the towel, and I left , after having walked the four-blocks that were to be shut down, looking for anyone who looked like they might shut down anything. 

It's not that the gathering in front of Cody's--and I've attended some recently--wasn't fun. One early reveler noted that you needn't have a party to party. "You could be the party, yourself," he noted. I said that if you didn't like the party you could astral-project yourself to anywhere in the universe. "Yeah," a celebrant agreed. 

In fact, I continued, everything is filtered through us--life is a vast social construct. 

Reluctantly, I left the party-of-the-mind, believing the event was a hoax. 

I returned at 11:30 a.m. to find a spirited one-block party underway. Although on a modest scale, the celebratory affair managed to deliver on some of its advertised promises. 

Music was provided by two solo singers with a mike and a discreet amplifier. Food left over from a church function was dropped off earlier to the party-of-the mind at Cody's, and stayed around until the event finally began. Games were paddle-ball, and catch. Hey, what do you want--the Olympics? 

Berkeley and university police were restrained, but un-approving. At one point police cut the symbolic ribbon closing off the block. That was as violent as it got on Teley this time. 

The rest of the event was an opportunity for activists, representing various community factions to network and chat each other up. Myself and another reporter were occasionally heckled, but were in there schmoozing with the folk. A good time was had by all. 

The event provides a preview of things to come when, and if, Telegraph property owners get permission for a 24-hour business zone. The Caffe Mediterraneum was recently granted city-approval for such a zone. 

The revelers proved you don't need permission in Berkeley for a 24-hour business zone, even if they only used two hours. 

Besides, the mind is its own 24 hour zone, business or party-wise. 


Ted Friedman sometimes trips out with his usual South side sources. Urban Strider contributed.