The Week

Take another piece of our hearts. "Jawzilla's" jaw. Tuesday at the Sequoia Apartments.
Ted Friedman
Take another piece of our hearts. "Jawzilla's" jaw. Tuesday at the Sequoia Apartments.


Berkeley Earthquake Late Wednesday Was 2.3 Magnitude

By Sasha Lekach (BCN)
Thursday December 01, 2011 - 10:46:00 AM

A 2.3-magnitude earthquake struck just outside Berkeley late Wednesday night, followed by a 1.8-magnitude aftershock this morning, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

The earthquake shook the area 1-mile east-northeast of Berkeley at 11:10 p.m., according to the USGS. -more-

Flash: Berkeley Firefighters Believe Sequoia Fire Started in Elevator Room, Was "Accidental", Not Intentionally Set

From Mary Kay Clunies-Ross
Wednesday November 30, 2011 - 03:53:00 PM

On Friday, November 18, 2011, at 8:48 p.m., Berkeley Firefighters responded to a reported structure fire at 2441 Haste Street in Berkeley. The fire eventually went to five alarms to control the incident. This fire resulted in total destruction of the 39-unit, four-story apartment building.

Berkeley Fire Department Fire Investigators are in the process of concluding their investigation and believe all indicators point towards the fire starting in the elevator machine room in the basement. At this time, they believe this fire originated in and around the elevator machinery. They believe this fire is accidental in nature and was not intentionally set. -more-

New: Curbing Corporate Power: The Next Step for the Movement to Slow Climate Change

By Carol Polsgrove
Thursday December 01, 2011 - 04:32:00 PM
Demonstrators in Asheville, NC, protest the Royal Bank of Canada's investments in tar sands and the Keystone XL pipeline. Six of the demonstrators were arrested at the Bank of America, one of the targets of the demonstration.

Following up on the White House demonstrations to stop the Keystone XL pipeline, Bill McKibben, founder of , is already hard at work on the next stage of the movement to rein in reliance on fossil fuels.

On a three-state speaking tour, he is calling for a constitutional amendment to undo the damage the Supreme Court did when it declared corporations as persons and campaign contributions as speech. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce spent more money last election cycle than the Democratic and Republican national committees combined—and 97 per cent of that went to climate deniers, he told an audience in Asheville, N.C., on Nov. 30. The climate change movement has to figure out how to break “the corporate power dominating our political lives.” -more-

"Killer Crane" Killing Our Past or Building Our Future? (News Analysis)

By Ted Friedman
Tuesday November 29, 2011 - 10:13:00 PM
Taking a bite out of time. "Jawzilla"--first bite. Tuesday morning at Sequoia, Telegraph and Haste.

The Killer Crane that is chomping our heritage at the nearly century-old Sequoia Apartments, which burned last Friday, is owned by a demolition company that bills itself, "clearing the way to the future." -more-

Suit Says Police Used Excessive Force at UC Berkeley Protest

By Jeff Shuttleworth (BCN)
Tuesday November 29, 2011 - 09:58:00 PM

Students and community members filed a lawsuit in federal court today alleging that police used excessive force against them during an "Occupy Cal" protest at the University of California at Berkeley on Nov. 9. -more-

Protesters Return to Frank Ogawa Plaza--Former Berkeley Mayoral Candidate Sets Up His Teepee.

By Jeff Shuttleworth (BCN)
Wednesday November 30, 2011 - 09:37:00 AM

Occupy Oakland protesters returned to Frank Ogawa Plaza in front of Oakland City Hall today, but on a smaller scale than before. -more-

New: We Came to See it Fall, But Sequoia OutStood Us: The Games We All Played While Gawkiing

By Ted Friedman
Monday November 28, 2011 - 10:30:00 PM
These two behemoths will dismantle the Sequoia Tuesday. In the foreground is the crane; in the background, the jaw.

We came to see it fall, but stayed to see it outlast us.
City Officials reported the Sequoia would be "demolished" Monday morning, but a few things interfered on the way to demolishment.

The Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association, in a tautly-written letter to Berkeley's new city manager, Christine Daniel, argued that the Sequoia has a unique heritage that must be preserved.

But preservation apparently gave way to the city's argument favoring "public safety." -more-

Flash: U.C. Berkeley Faculty Senate Registers 10-1 Vote Condemning Administration Response to Occupy Berkeley Protesters

Monday November 28, 2011 - 05:27:00 PM

The Berkeley Division of the University of California Faculty Senate endorsed, by a 10-1 margin (336-34), a group of four resolutions expressing, with varying degrees of specificity, their lack of confidence in the way Berkeley administrators have handled student protests.

Three U.C. Berkeley executives, Chancellor Robert Birgenau and two of his subordinates, attempted an explanation of their actions on November 9, when students and faculty were clubbed by police. They were greeted with stony silence by the faculty members in the front of the International House auditorium where the meeting was held, and with audible snickers from the students in the back of the room.

Professor Judith Butler, one of the sponsors of the original no-confidence resolution, moved the acceptance of her motion plus three more which had been submitted by other faculty members. -more-

Updated: U.C. Regents Finish Meeting Interrupted by Protesters

By Dan McMenamin (BCN)
Monday November 28, 2011 - 06:49:00 PM

A University of California Board of Regents meeting held via teleconference at four UC campuses wrapped up this afternoon after being briefly interrupted by protesters who criticized recent police actions in Davis and Berkeley and rising tuition costs. -more-

Press Release:

An Open Letter to UC Berkeley Students, Faculty, Administration & Regents from the UC Berkeley Police Officers’ Association

From Mary Jo Rossi
Monday November 28, 2011 - 05:48:00 PM

It is our hope that this letter will help open the door to a better understanding between UC Berkeley police and the University community. -more-

Demolition at Fire-Damaged Berkeley Building Starts Today

By Jeff Shuttleworth (BCN)
Monday November 28, 2011 - 05:48:00 PM

Demolition work is expected to begin today on the top two floors of a four-story apartment building near the University of California at Berkeley that was badly damaged in a five-alarm fire earlier this month, the head of a local merchants' group said. -more-

Dozens Speak Out at U.C. Regents' Meeting

By Dan McMenamin (Bay City News Service}
Monday November 28, 2011 - 05:20:00 PM

Dozens of University of California students, employees and others spoke at a Board of Regents meeting held via teleconference at four UC campuses today, sharply criticizing recent police actions in Davis and Berkeley, as well as rising tuition costs. -more-

CUCFA Letter to President Yudof Opposing Decision to Hire Bratton

From Robert Meister, President, Council of UC Faculty Associations
Sunday November 27, 2011 - 09:39:00 PM

This evening, The Council of UC Faculty Associations (CUCFA) sent the following letter to President Yudof in response to his decision to hire the Kroll Security Group, and its Chairman William Bratton, to to conduct an investigation of police violence at UC Davis.

Dear President Yudof,

The Council of University of California Faculty Associations (CUCFA) protests your decision to hire the Kroll Security Group, and its Chairman William Bratton, to conduct what you call an independent investigation of police violence at UC Davis. We take no position here on Mr. Bratton’s personal qualifications; our objection is to the conflicts of interest of Kroll Security itself, which is already a major contractor with UC on security matters. According to its website, Kroll’s services are not confined to securing databases and facilities from attacks by criminals and terrorists. It also protects many global financial institutions and other multinationals against threats to “operations” that may come from public criticism and direct political action.

By deepening UC’s links to Kroll, you would be illustrating the kinds of connection between public higher education and Wall Street that the Occupy UC movement is protesting. Kroll’s parent company, Altegrity, provides data-mining, intelligence and on-the-ground security to financial institutions and governments seeking to head off and defeat both private sabotage and public protest. In addition, Altegrity’s parent company, Providence Private Equity, is a major global investor in for-profit higher education companies that benefit from the decline of publicly funded higher education. -more-

New: Ford Mustang Flips-Out After Bizarre Collision With Beemer at Channing Way and Telegraph

By Ted Friedman
Saturday November 26, 2011 - 04:59:00 PM
Saturday, 11a.m. moments after Mustang (center) flips out after grazing maroon car (right) which was reportedly emerging from parking space at Channing and Telegraph. Man in wheel chair, center comes to aid of Mustang Driver.

Writing a new chapter in physics, a Ford Mustang convertible, traveling under 30mph hit a BMW leaving the curb, and then launched into the air and landed, upside-down, on its rag-roof. It happened Saturday, just before noon at Channing Way and Telegraph.

Although both drivers were taken to the hospital, they were not seriously injured, according to rescue workers at the scene.

The driver of the Mustang was wrenched from under his steering wheel by a good-samaritan street vendor, who rushed over from his Teley street stand. -more-

Flash: U.C. Berkeley Faculty Scheduled to Vote on UCPD Violence on Monday Afternoon--But They've Lost Their Email Access

By Richard Brenneman
Saturday November 26, 2011 - 11:10:00 AM

The UC Berkeley Academic Senate is scheduled to vote Monday on a resolution condemning the use of violence against students exercising their First Amendment rights.

From the meeting announcement:

Monday, November 28, 2011 – 3:00pm – 5:00pm
A special meeting of the Berkeley Division of the Academic Senate will be held in the Chevron Auditorium of the International House (2299 Piedmont Avenue). The Notice of Meeting and the resolution to be presented can be downloaded by clicking here.

We will be meeting to deliberate and reach conclusions upon a specific topic: The role of protest at Berkeley, the protests of November 2011 and events surrounding them including police and administration responses, and related policies.
In addition to the initial resolution, three others have since been introduced, and we’ll reprint them all.

But UC Berkeley’s email system suddenly shuts down

But before we do, we’ll like to call your attention to an email we’ve just received revealing that a critical mode of discussion used by the faculty members has conveniently broken down over the weekend.

Here’s what one faculty member reports:

The Berkeley email is disabled this weekend, at a critical time of organization and discussion leading to a special meeting of the Academic Senate on Monday. Those using addresses are out of email from the morning after their Thanksgiving dinners (Friday morning) until the Monday when the Academic Senate meeting takes place. The meeting is intended “to deliberate and reach conclusions upon a specific topic: The role of protest at Berkeley, the protests of November 2011 and events surrounding them including police and administration responses, and related policies.” Some see this meeting as potentially leading to a vote of no-confidence in the Chancellor, Robert Birgeneau. In my personal experience, this kind of outage is not accidental. -more-

"Knit-In" at Occupy Berkeley Site to Make Warm Clothing for Protesters

By Erika Heidecker (BCN)
Saturday November 26, 2011 - 09:15:00 AM

Some crafty Occupy Berkeley members are showing solidarity with their Occupy brethren in cold-weather areas by holding a "knit-in at the sit-in" today.

Organizers are inviting the public to join them as they knit and crochet hats, mittens and scarves to send to cold-weather encampments that are facing dropping temperatures and snow as winter approaches.

The knit-in will be held at noon, rain or shine, at Civic Center Park at Martin Luther King Jr. Way and Center Street. -more-

Andronico's Telegraph Berkeley Store Is Closing

By Bay City News
Saturday November 26, 2011 - 09:11:00 AM

Andronico's, the supermarket chain that opened its first store in Berkeley in the 1920s, announced today that it will close its Telegraph Avenue store in Berkeley.

The store was called "Park and Shop" when it opened, but the name was later changed to reflect family ownership.

The closure is related to the chain's restructuring after it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy this August, according to a representative for the markets.

Five stores will remain open and "will receive the company's full attention" as part of a capital improvement plan expected to begin early next year, according to a statement released on behalf of the company. -more-

Press Release: Faculty Senate to Take up No-Confidence Resolution

By Public Affairs, UC Berkeley
Wednesday November 23, 2011 - 09:40:00 PM

The Berkeley Division of the Academic Senate has scheduled a special meeting to take up a series of resolutions prompted by the Nov. 9 campus confrontation between police and Occupy Cal protesters. -more-

Sequoia Fire Investigation Ongoing;
Businesses Open, Temporary Traffic Routes

By Steven Finacom
Wednesday November 23, 2011 - 12:01:00 PM
Barriers remain up around the fire-damaged Sequoia Apartments at Telegraph and Haste.

The future of the fire-damaged Sequoia Apartments at Haste and Telegraph remained uncertain today, as crews worked to board up the ground floor storefronts and a fire investigation remained ongoing. All but one Telegraph Avenue business on the blocks adjacent to the fire is open, and all the open businesses can be reached by pedestrians.

The historic 96 year old building, a visual icon of the Telegraph district, looked much as it did on Saturday after the Friday night fire was largely extinguished, with a missing roof and many of the windows gone, while others looked incongruously normal with blinds closed behind the glass. -more-

Five Who Survived

By Ted Friedman
Wednesday November 23, 2011 - 11:44:00 AM
Five who survived.

Five students who survived Friday's blaze at the Sequoia apartments at Telegraph and Haste returned to the site Tuesday to see if they could re-enter the building to rescue a hamster named Tango. -more-

Forty-Seven Berkeley Faculty Members Sponsor No Confidence Resolution Against Birgeneau: Meeting to Take Place Monday Afternoon

From the U.C. Berkeley Academic Senate Website
Wednesday November 23, 2011 - 06:00:00 PM

Monday, November 28, 2011, 3:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Chevron Auditorium, International House, 2299 Piedmont Avenue
Summary of Business -more-

Press Release: President Yudof Launches Initiatives to Address Policing and Protests

From Steve Montiel, University of California Office of the President
Wednesday November 23, 2011 - 09:42:00 AM

University of California President Mark G. Yudof moved on two fronts today (Tuesday, Nov. 22) to address policing issues in the wake of the pepper spraying of UC Davis students and other incidents involving law enforcement officers and protesters. -more-

Fire-Damaged Sequoia Building Part of Berkeley's Heritage

By Steven Finacom
Wednesday November 23, 2011 - 07:57:00 AM
The Sequoia Building this week, after the fire.   Part of the interior, and almost all of the distinctive brick façade of the 1915 edifice, remains.

Telegraph Avenue’s Sequoia Apartments building, seriously damaged in a fire on Friday, November 18, 2011, is a stately and historic edifice that helped define the character of Telegraph Avenue in both the early 20th century and in the 1960s.

Constructed in 1915, the 96-year-old, 39-apartment, building was part of an early 20th century development boom that transformed Telegraph Avenue into a bustling business and residential district.

When the Sequoia was built, Berkeley was one of most populous cities in California, riding a wave of suburb development and urbanization that had started with the construction of streetcar lines around the turn of the century, and accelerated after the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake and Fire. -more-



Yudof Gets It Wrong Again

By Becky O'Malley
Wednesday November 23, 2011 - 11:07:00 AM

The University of California bureaucracy is all over the Occupy scandal, now that it’s gone viral. Seldom have I experienced such a fast response to my online opinions—but University of California President Mark Yudof seems to have hopped to, with alacrity. Unfortunately, he's only made things worse.

Last Wednesday I predicted that U.C. administrators would continue their longstanding tradition of trying stupid repressive measures against students exercising free speech. Right on cue, the dumb cops at U.C. Davis on Friday assaulted passive non-violent students with pepper spray—on camera yet. -more-

The Editor's Back Fence

Best City Council Story Ever

Wednesday November 30, 2011 - 08:40:00 AM

Thanks to Richard Brenneman for this terrific link! We think we live in Bezerkeley, but we'll never top this one.


And a Happy Thanksgiving to You

Wednesday November 23, 2011 - 12:50:00 PM

The master sets the tone: "A lot more to say about this — but I’m needed in the kitchen to chop vegetables."--Paul Krugman's blog today. Me too.

But an apology is owed to architect Kirk Petersen--I accidentally published one of his informal and private emails exploring the idea of reconstruction instead of demolition for the Sequoia building, which had been forwarded to me by the recipient, thinking it was a Letter to the Editor. I did think it was an intelligent observation, and I hope he takes me up on my invitation to write a formal commentary on the subject when he has time. -more-


Odd Bodkins: Dodo

By Dan O'Neill
Wednesday November 30, 2011 - 09:34:00 AM

Odd Bodkins: My Surreal Period

By Dan O'Neill
Saturday November 26, 2011 - 10:16:00 AM

Public Comment

Letters to the Editor

Saturday November 26, 2011 - 09:43:00 AM

Eids; Why the Super Committee Was Doomed; U.C. Berkeley Police;Resignation Vs. Moratorium;The Super Commitee's Failure; A Thought about Needed Change -more-

New: What Occupy is About: An Opinion

By Thomas Lord
Monday November 28, 2011 - 05:47:00 PM

Occupy is about mass organizing to directly address big, structural problems that create intolerable inequities and injustices.

Occupy focuses on a malevolent concentration of political and economic power in a relatively small elite who seem to exercise their power so as to increase those inequities and injustices.

Occupy attempts to organize resistance under a "big tent", improvising and using techniques of Real Democracy. -more-

Berkeley, There Will Be No Santa Claus.

From Jacquelyn McCormick, Coordinator, Berkeley Budget SOS
Saturday November 26, 2011 - 04:55:00 PM

While citizens of Berkeley are nestled snug in their beds, City Councilmembers are dreaming, not of sugar plums, but of ways to fund the City’s failing infrastructure.

At several recent Council workshops, the demise and needs of our parks, marina, pools, storm drains, sewers and streets were discussed in detail. To date there has been no mention of City buildings (except that Old City Hall is a death trap if there is a significant earthquake, so Council is pondering a new location) – although rebuilding the solid waste transfer station and recycling center was briefly mentioned last spring.

Mid-December should reveal the “total” capital project dollars that are needed for all the necessary improvements but it is looking as though that number is close to $600million. That works out to approximately $5,300 per resident, including students. Couple that with the $253 million debt for employee benefits related liabilities – most owed to CALPERS and you end up with close to $850million in unfunded liabilities, or a whopping $7,500 per resident. And we call it unfunded because, sadly, it is. Unless significant budgetary changes are made, there is no money to fund any of this and Berkeley taxpayers and the City treasury are tapped out. -more-

Why, Why Occupy?

By Kevin Gorman
Saturday November 26, 2011 - 10:39:00 AM

I’m a student at UC Berkeley - and lately, an Occupier. In the last month, I have seen hundreds of people from many different backgrounds sitting down in the public sphere and talking about what they think is going wrong in our country right now. It has been inspiring to see such a diverse group of people coming together hoping to make the world a better place.

I’ve also found myself on the wrong side of police barricades more times than I ever imagined happening. I've seen peaceful protesters in Oakland tear-gassed and shot with 'non-lethal' weapons. I've seen peaceful students on Sproul Plaza beaten viciously. The scenes I have seen – both the good and the bad – are not unique to the bay area, they've been repeated in dozens of other cities across the country. -more-

New: Thoughts on the Sequoia Apartments

By Kirk E.Peterson
Friday November 25, 2011 - 05:22:00 PM

Without my knowledge the Daily Planet published a paragraph I wrote regarding the treatment of what's left of the Sequoia. It was not a big deal, there was certainly no malfeasance, and they've apologized nicely. My words were clear and are now part of the internet's parallel internet universe. So I am now expanding on what I said, in the hope of provoking some discussion. Please consider the following: -more-

New: Alarming News! Trees in Strawberry Canyon to be Clearcut for UC Berkeley, Lawrence Lab

By Lesley Emmington, for Save Strawberry Canyon
Thursday November 24, 2011 - 08:13:00 AM

Up in the Berkeley Hills, the cutting of some 50 trees will begin tomorrow morning, the day after Thanksgiving. The tree cutting is the initial step to clear the hillside landscape for the construction of a massive "supercomputer" structure. It is the University of California's (UC) Computational Research and Theory Facility (CRT), a 130,000 GSF facility built for the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) in contract with the Department of Energy (DOE). The site is located above Hearst Avenue and, then, above the steep curve of Cyclotron Road where it meets the LBNL security gates. CRT promises to become a dominant presence spanning across the Canyon ridge, in an unstable area that has suffered over 40 landslides, contaminating Strawberry Creek's watershed and further destabilizing the hills. -more-

There Should Be a Moratorium on the Use of Pepper Spray

By Carol Denney
Wednesday November 23, 2011 - 11:18:00 AM

If all the University of California chancellors resigned simultaneously, that would still leave pepper (OC) spray, carotid holds, hog-tying, and blunt-end baton strikes available for the next bored police officer who loses patience with student protests. -more-


On Mental Illness: It Takes Courage

By Jack Bragen
Wednesday November 30, 2011 - 09:57:00 AM

People with mental illnesses are often very brave and courageous people because we have to be. We are up against the “package deal” of mental illness which includes a number of elements that are altogether frightening. And to face these elements requires fortitude. -more-

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

By Dorothy Bryant
Wednesday November 30, 2011 - 09:21:00 AM

He was one of those idealists who, struck by some compelling idea, immediately become entirely obsessed by it forever. They are quite incapable of mastering it, but believe in it passionately, and so their whole life passes afterwards, as it were, in the last agonies under the weight of a heavy stone which has fallen upon them and half-crushed them —from “The Devils”, by Fyodor Dostoevsky -more-

Wild Neighbors: Los Machos Furtivos

By Joe Eaton
Saturday November 26, 2011 - 09:18:00 AM
Red-sided garter snake: deceptive pheromones.

Hot news from Europe: in a population of western marsh harriers (Circus aeruginosus) in France, 40 percent of the males are crossdressers . Typical males of this hawk species, a close relative of our northern harrier, have overall streaky-brown plumage. Females have whitish heads and shoulders, and so do female-mimicking males. Typical males don’t seem to recognize the mimics as rivals. Audrey Sternalski, Francois Mougeot, and Vincent Bretagnolle report in Biology Letters that typical males attack decoys with their own kind of plumage at a higher rate than those with female-mimic plumage. What the mimics get out of it is access to the mates—up to three, depending on available resources—of territory-holding typical males. -more-

Senior Power … “Age insists that I be dull as a further disability.” [Florida Scott-Maxwell at 83. The Measure of My Days.]

By Helen Rippier Wheeler
Saturday November 26, 2011 - 09:27:00 AM

Disability, impairment, handicap. They’re different. While old age is not a disability, the weakening of the body’s resources exacerbates the impact of debilitating trauma or chronic disease that is likely to accompany old age. -more-

New: The Public Eye: Thanksgiving Politics: Top Ten Reasons to be Thankful

By Bob Burnett
Wednesday November 23, 2011 - 09:43:00 PM

Despite the dreadful recession, a broken political system, and other woes, Americans have many reasons to be thankful. Here is my top ten list: -more-

On Mental Illness:Remembering to Give Thanks

By Jack Bragen
Wednesday November 23, 2011 - 05:58:00 PM

If I stop myself from complaining for a little while and realize that I am fortunate in life, there are numerous things that come to mind that I ought to be grateful about. -more-

Arts & Events

Don't Miss This in the Holidays

By Dorothy Snodgrass
Wednesday November 30, 2011 - 09:30:00 AM

With Thanksgiving and Black Friday fading into oblivion— the Lord be praised — life may now return to normal so that we can give full attention to the many seasonal events lined up for our holiday pleasure: -more-

Farnaz Shandravan's Art Gallery Opens in Uptown Oakland

By Ken Bullock
Wednesday November 30, 2011 - 09:15:00 AM

A prominent feature of the art of the past century has been the juxtaposition of unlike objects, radically different motifs, stylistic elements, materials ... Dada and Russian Formalism (with its "Defamiliarization") brought this to the fore; Surrealism canonized it. -more-

Theater: Another Slew of Reviews:'Shoot O'Malley Twice' (Virago); 'Annie' (Berkeley Playhouse); 'The Soldier's Tale' (Aurora); 'Rumi x 7' (Golden Thread).

By Ken Bullock
Saturday November 26, 2011 - 10:47:00 AM

—'Shoot O'Malley Twice' (Virago Theatre Company) Since this review is running in the Planet, a note of disclosure—and reassurance—is in order at the start. The title of Jon Brooks' (who has written for the Mime Troupe) amusing play, about betting on "shooting fingers" while the Giants and Dodgers are betraying New York and Brooklyn by moving to the West Coast, refers to Walter O'Malley, owner of the Dodgers, object of such distain by the Brooklyn Faithful that—the saying goes—if you had Hitler, Stalin and Walter O'Malley together in a room and your gun had only two bullets, what would you do? "Shoot O'Malley Twice!" -more-

New: Neil Marcus: Fantastic Spastic

By Dorothy Snodgrass
Wednesday November 23, 2011 - 09:44:00 PM

I have a dear friend and neighbor, Neil Marcus, a playwright, poet and actor, who describes himself as a "fantastic spastic, creatively endowed with disability." As a perfectly healthy eight-year old growing up in Ojai, he was stricken with dystonia, a rare neurological disorder in which powerful involuntary muscle spasms twist and jerk the body into unusual postures. Neil is affected with "generalized dystonia", the most severe and painful form of this disorder. It denies his ability to speak, stand and walk and/or control sudden and sometimes bizarre movements. -more-