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The Cal Band highlighted a mid-day rally on a packed Sproul Plaza at Cal Day on Saturday.
Andy Liu
The Cal Band highlighted a mid-day rally on a packed Sproul Plaza at Cal Day on Saturday.


Kayaks Stolen: Youth Summer Program in Jeopardy

By Cheryl La Rosa Longo,Executive Director
Tuesday April 24, 2012 - 07:08:00 PM

The Berkeley Boosters report that a trailer with twelve ocean kayaks has been stolen and that their summer outdoor youth program may now be in jeopardy. 

The kayaks, property of the California Police Activities League (CalPAL), were located in a parking lot owned by the City of Berkeley but leased to the Berkeley Water Ski Club. 

CalPAL notified the Berkeley Boosters on April 13, 2012 that the Oakland PD had notified CalPAL that life jackets with the insignia of CalPAL had been found in an Oakland dumpster. Booster’s staff immediately went to the storage lot located in the far north end of Aquatic Park to find the trailer and kayaks missing. 

“Our most urgent concern is for the disappointment of our youth who are in the process of signing up for our summer programs now. The Kayak program is one of our most popular outdoor education programs.” said Booster Executive Director, Cheryl La Rosa Longo. 

The Berkeley Boosters had been storing the kayaks in this same lot for the past four years without incident. 

Gregg Wilson, Executive Director for California PAL notified the Berkeley Boosters this morning, April 25, 2012, that CalPAL insurance would not cover the loss and that the Berkeley Boosters were responsible to replace the trailer and dozen kayaks. 

The Berkeley Boosters did not insure for loss of the CalPAL equipment because they do not own the stolen items. 

John Abrate, Assistant VP, Priority Banking, Union Bank (Berkeley) is President of the Berkeley Boosters Board, “This loss is obviously a major blow for the Booster Kids. The financial impact of replacing the stolen equipment could bankrupt the program which is already cash strapped due to reductions in City of Berkeley funding.” 

The Berkeley Boosters PAL, serves middle and high school youth primarily from South and West Berkeley. In many cases, youth participating in the Berkeley Boosters after school and summer outdoor programs find that having access to bicycles and kayaks through the program is their only opportunity to experience biking and kayaking. Over fifty percent of Berkeley Booster youth are from families at or below the poverty line. 


Demonstrators Confront Wells Fargo Shareholders

Photos by David Bacon
Tuesday April 24, 2012 - 07:13:00 PM


SAN FRANCISCO, CA (4/24/12) - Thousands of angry homeowners, immigrants, union members, Occupiers and community groups converged on the annual shareholders meeting of Wells Fargo Bank. In a carefully choreographed protest, simultaneous marches left Justin Herman Plaza on the city's waterfront, site of the Occupy San Francisco encampment last fall. Demonstrators walked up parallel streets into the financial district, where they encircled the block in which the meeting was set to take place, in the Julia Morgan ballroom of the Merchant's Exchange Building.

Beforehand, some demonstrators had moved into the building's lobby, while others chained themselves together, putting sleeves around their arms to make it hard for police to cut them apart to arrest them.

A group of religious, union and community representatives had purchased shares of stock in the bank beforehand, supposedly allowing them to attend the shareholders meeting. Some even held proxies, allowing them to vote the stock belonging to others. As the rally swirled outside, and speeches and songs filled the streets now vacant of their normal traffic, the police closed off the building and refused to let the shareholders inside.

Maria Poblete, from the housing rights organization Just Cause, and Cinthiya Muñoz, from Alameda County United to Defend Immigrant Rights, spoke from a flatbed truck in front of the bank, reminding the crowd of the reasons they'd brought their protests to the bank's doors. "Shareholders want to meet about how to best reap profits from foreclosures, for-profit prisons and detention centers, student loans, and tax evasion," Poblete shouted. "Today the bank can see that there's no more business as usual. We say no!"

Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf, however, closed the meeting to the shareholders kept at bay by the police outside. "Wells Fargo's actions today demonstrate what communities across this country have been experiencing for years: Wells Fargo is indifferent to the havoc they are wreaking in our communities and they do not want to be held accountable," said Wallace Hill, whose home was foreclosed on by Wells Fargo in Oakland.

Earlier in April, housing rights activists met with Jon Campbell, Wells Fargo's executive in charge of social responsibility. They proposed a series of measures to meet the crisis faced by families whose homes are underwater, and a moratorium on foreclosures. Campbell refused to consider any of their demands. The bank is the U.S.'s largest servicer of home mortgages. "We are the 99%, and we won't take no for an answer!" Muñoz shouted from the flatbed truck.
Fifteen protesting shareholders were finally permitted across police lines, and went into the meeting. When Stumpf began a presentation congratulating the bank for making a $15.9 billion profit last year, in the midst of foreclosures and a recession, they interrupted him. Police converged on them, took them out of the meeting, and cited and released them. Nine others were arrested outside.

Afterwards, the remaining shareholders approved a $19.8 compensation for Stumpf's last year's labor. "The bank is pleased with the progress we've made in a tough economy," bank Vice President Oscar Suris told the media. "We'll continue focusing on our customers, and that includes our customers who are going through difficult economic times."

For more articles and images, see http://dbacon.igc.org
See also Illegal People -- How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants (Beacon Press, 2008)
Recipient: C.L.R. James Award, best book of 2007-2008
See also the photodocumentary on indigenous migration to the US
Communities Without Borders (Cornell University/ILR Press, 2006)
See also The Children of NAFTA, Labor Wars on the U.S./Mexico Border (University of California, 2004)
Two lectures on the political economy of migration by David Bacon
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Press Release: Berkeley Police Identify Suspect

From Sgt. Mary Kusmiss, BPD Public Information Officer
Monday April 23, 2012 - 09:32:00 PM

“The City of Berkeley Police Department (BPD) is identifying the suspect who was arrested after shooting at BPD officers on the night of April 13, 2012 as Calvester Stewart, a twenty (20) year old Berkeley resident.” 

“On Friday, April 13, 2012, Stewart fled of foot from a traffic enforcement stop. Officers later located Stewart inside an apartment in the 900 block of Delaware Street in the City of Berkeley. Stewart emerged from the apartment and shot at several BPD officers who had surrounded the building. Several BPD officers returned fire.” 

“Stewart then continued to flee, and was confronted by an officer who shot and wounded Stewart.” 

“BPD Homicide detectives continue to work on their investigation, which will be presented for review and charging considerations to the District Attorney by early next week.” 

“Stewart is currently being held without bail on a Felony probation violation. BPD Homicide detectives will be seeking several counts of Attempted Murder of a Peace Officer against Stewart.” 

“Stewart’s Felony Probation violation stems from a case in Jan of 2011 for negligent discharge of a firearm, a violation of 246.3 PC - Any person who willfully discharges a firearm in a grossly negligent manner which could result in injury or death to a person is guilty of a public offense and shall be punished by imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding one year, or by imprisonment pursuant to subdivision (h) of Section 1170.”

Updated: Activists Occupy Albany Plot Owned by U.C. Berkeley

By Jeff Shuttleworth (BCN)
Monday April 23, 2012 - 04:24:00 PM

About 40 activists who are part of a group calling itself "Occupy the Farm" are planting 15,000 seedlings on a 10-acre plot of land in Albany that is owned by the University of California at Berkeley, a spokesman for the group said today. 

Gopal Dayaneni, a 43-year-old Oakland resident, said about 200 members of Occupy the Farm moved onto the land -- which is known as the Gill Tract and is located near the corner of Marin and San Pablo avenues -- at the peak of a protest that started on Sunday.  

About 20 or 30 people spent the night on the land, he said. The protesters include local residents, farmers, students, researchers and activists, he said. 

Protesters are planting vegetables such as Swiss chard, kale, lettuce, peas, beans and broccoli, Dayaneni said. 

Dayaneni said protesters are occupying the land because it is the last 10 remaining acres of a 103-acre plot of land that UC Berkeley owns in Albany. He said the university has already sold off more than 90 acres. 

"They got to sell 90 percent of the land and we want 10 percent of the land to be saved for farming," he said. 

Dayaneni said he believes the university wants to sell off the remaining land to private developers who will use the space for commercial retail, a high-end grocery store and a parking lot. 

UC Berkeley spokesman Dan Mogulof said Dayaneni's comments about the university's plans for the land are inaccurate. 

Mogulof said the land is not slated for commercial development, but rather is "currently being used for agricultural research that will be impeded if the occupation continues." 

He said there is proposed commercial development on another portion of the land in same general area, and that project is awaiting approval from Albany's planning commission and City Council. 

Mogulof said a UC Berkeley faculty member grows produce on the land occupied by protesters, and that the produce "will be threatened if the occupation persists or a failure to maintain sanitary conditions contaminates the soil." 

He said UC Berkeley plans "to reach out to those involved, convey the actual facts and discuss next steps." 

Dayaneni said UC Berkeley police came to the plot of land on Sunday and warned the occupiers that they were trespassing. He said the officers eventually left. 

"They were quite respectful, and we have no reason to expect them to make arrests or to behave inappropriately," he said. 

Dayaneni said, "We're not doing anything that would cause us to be arrested. We're not too concerned about it." 

But Mogulof said, "The protesters are in violation of campus policy and state law. If the occupation continues, those policies and laws will be enforced when we determine it can be done safely and effectively." 

He said, "We do not want anything to impede the research."

University of Michigan's Dubious Deal with Dow Chemical (News Analysis)

By Carol Polsgrove
Friday April 20, 2012 - 04:47:00 PM

The terms of Dow Chemical's $10 million gift to the University of Michigan ought to raise eyebrows in universities across the country.

Under the gift agreement made public by the Ecology Center in Ann Arbor, Dow Chemical would have its own paid representative on the committee that chooses Sustainability Fellows funded by the gift.

As far as many environmentalists are concerned, Dow and Sustainability are a contradiction in terms. The idea that the university would give Dow any control at all over an academic sustainability program suggests a sell-out of monumental proportions. 

In the terms of the agreement (which you can read for yourself on the Ecology Center website), "Donor will second an employee to the University (Secondee) who will be compensated by the Donor. The Secondee will be the point person for the Program's interaction with the Donor and be involved with university and external stakeholders with regard to Program activities." 

Among the activities Dow's paid representative will be involved in are selection of the Fellows. According to the gift agreement, pried out of the university through a Freedom of Information Act request by the Ecology Center, "all applications will go through an independent review by a diverse selection committee comprised of University faculty and/or staff....and the Donor's Secondee." 

For a university with the exalted research reputation of the University of Michigan to give a corporation this kind of say in an academic program is astonishing. 

And that's not all. For one thing, although Dow's donation will not fully fund the program, the university has agreed to obtain written consent from Dow if it "wishes to solicit or negotiate with any other parties regarding this Program." 

For another, Postdoctoral Sustainability Fellows (one of three categories of Fellows) will have two-year appointments as assistant professors or assistant research scientists in academic departments. Departments would thus be accepting faculty members chosen, not by their own faculty, but by a committee that includes a representative of Dow. 

The entire fellowship program, intended to be interdisciplinary, floats free of the control of any particular department, leaving it more vulnerable to control by Dow, which has the power to continue or discontinue supporting it after the six-year term of the gift. 

I first heard of Michigan's deal with Dow from an email that John Vandermeer, Asa Gray Distinguished Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Michigan, sent out to colleagues. 

After running through points that disturbed him, Vandermeer said, "The gift, in my view, has the potential to dramatically affect some of the University’s ability to deal creatively and effectively with sustainability issues, and as such should have been, and still should be, widely debated and analyzed by the University community. What was the intent of keeping it secret?" 

He asked his colleagues to speak up, and indeed, students and faculty members across the country should join them. This is a deal the university's Board of Regents ought never have approved, and if the spirit of Free Inquiry still hovers over American universities, the University of Michigan has not heard the end of it. 

Carol Polsgrove is a Professor Emerita at the University of Indiana. This article first appeared in the Huffington Post. 

BART Honors Berkeley Accessibilty Advocate Hale Zukas

By Lydia Gans
Friday April 20, 2012 - 04:12:00 PM

More than 100 people gathered at the Ed Roberts Center on Wednesday to honor disabled activist Hale Zukas for forty years of work and advocacy for accessible public transportation. Many of the people there were old folks - many in wheelchairs or having other disabilities. These people remember when their lives were severely limited , when wheelchairs were not accommodated on BART or buses, when people who were visually or hearing impaired there had no way to get directions, before curb cuts or station elevators and a host of other things we now take for granted were available. 

The event was organized by BART which has been instrumental in developing the Ed Roberts Campus at the Ashby station. The passageway between BART and the Ed Roberts Campus has been named after Hale and a plaque placed there in his honor. Ken Stein of the San Francisco mayor's office on Disability has worked with Hale for many years. In a letter to the BART board in support of the plaque he suggests it is more than symbolic. “In a very real sense, over the decades, Hale has created a passageway between BART itself and the disability Rights/Independent Living Movement ...” 

Hale is a familiar figure, riding his wheelchair, usually at high speed, around town. Cerebral palsy doesn't slow him down. He has a pointer attached to his headband which he uses to point to words and letters on his lapboard. His speech is very difficult to understand but he has numerous friends and attendants who interpret for him. His output is amazing. People who know him describe him as brilliant, particularly in mathematics – and they all say he can be very funny. He has produced numerous research studies on subjects relevant to accessibility of transportation and architectural barriers. He currently serves on the BART Access Advisory Committee. He has also served in a multitude of capacities over the years as a consultant to BART, the Golden Gate Bridge Highway and Transportation District, the Federal Highway Administration and a great many other state and Federal agencies including being a member of the Federal Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board. 

Lynette Sweet, BART Board member representing Bart District 7 which includes the Ashby station, chaired the event. Following the usual protocol for these events, several people involved in transportation as well as representatives of Barbara Lee, State Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner, and State Senator Loni Hancock, spoke briefly and presented certificates of appreciation. 

Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates appeared in person and spoke of his many years of association with Hale and the disability movement. He recalled that back in 1972 Hale and others came to him with the idea of starting a center for independent living in Berkeley. “This was a radical idea. Run by disabled people, people on the board were disabled, people they were serving were disabled and they wanted to to change the world, they wanted to open up housing, offices, transportation available to them , work opportunities available to them they wanted to be in the mainstream. .. they had to change the transportation system in the country. (This was ) in the seventies. The bus system – they weren't about to change, BART said there are too many problems. And people said no. There had to be lawsuits, there had to be pressure there had to be activism there had to be 504 and a whole outrageous acts to hammer away and get what they needed.” (504, the Rehabilitation Ace passed in 1973, prohibited discrimination in federal programs and services and all other programs and services receiving federal funds.) 

In talking with some of the people gathered to pay tribute to Hale it was clear that the current level of accessibility was not easy to achieve. Randall Glock, current chair of the BART Accessibility Task Force, recalled how 27 years ago he was denied access to BART because he was in a wheelchair. It needed a lawsuit to force AC Transit to buy accessible buses. And it was hard for the transit company. A person from the agency explained that being the first to have them they had no model to help guide them in learning how to drive and maintain those buses. It was also clear that it took considerable convincing that devices like kneeling buses and curb cuts and elevators makes transit more accessible for all folks – mothers, shoppers, visually impaired, and others. And it was Hale who did, and continues to do a lot of the convincing. Joan Leon, co-chair of the Ed Roberts Campus steering committee said it simply. “Hale was in their face constantly. They didn't want to make changes but he wouldn't go away. And now they're proud of it.” 

Hippy Hotel Replacement, Additional Parking, Could Signal Revival on Telegraph

By Ted Friedman
Friday April 20, 2012 - 02:47:00 PM
This is the view which Ken Sarachan gave Eddie Monroe, well-known Telegraph artist, when he requested an artist's rendering for his architect on the hippy hotel. The resort hotel in Cappadocia Turkey is carved from ancient rock formations. Carved steps to left are similar to those which will wend their way to the roof top gardens of the Hippy Hotel.
This is the view which Ken Sarachan gave Eddie Monroe, well-known Telegraph artist, when he requested an artist's rendering for his architect on the hippy hotel. The resort hotel in Cappadocia Turkey is carved from ancient rock formations. Carved steps to left are similar to those which will wend their way to the roof top gardens of the Hippy Hotel.
Ted Friedman
Ted Friedman
Ted Friedman

It's not really a hotel and the hippy part is weak, but there's a sense in which Ken Sarachan's plans for an ambitious redevelopment of the Berkeley Inn burned-out site at Telegraph and Haste is best understood as a hippy hotel. The barren site has served as a sullen reminder of the bygone hippy era for more than twenty-five years. 

Work on the neo-hippy hotel could begin as early as "eighteen months" from now, according to a veteran observer in city government. Plans to develop the site have stalled in the past. 

By e-mail Kriss Worthington, district 7 councilman, writes that "After the Planning Department gets a complete application they will make a recommendation to the ZAB [Zoning Adjustment Board]. It usually takes months if not years. I am trying to fix the whole zoning process." 

This may be why Sarachan says the future of his project rests with "Kriss." 

According to Dave Fogarty, a city economic planner, plans to re-open Raleigh's and Intermezzo as temporary structures are "moving forward," after recent delays. 

A plan to extend parking on Telegraph is in the works. The plan is not connected to the hippy hotel. 

The neo-hippy hotel, 74 units of “mostly gracious" one bedrooms,” is hardly hippy, and hardly hotel. The Berkeley Inn was a true hippy hotel, with a slew of roach motel residents and guests, including roaches. 

The notorious Black Flag insecticide—Roach Motel—advertised: "the roaches check in, but they don't check out." Berkeley Inn guests got out but the roaches were toast—as advertised. 

Call the project Ken's Kastle, a mix of whimsy and functionalism, which will have etched-in-stone winding steps leading to a roof-top garden, where public events like book sales, fairs, and wine tastings will serve fun. 

According to Sarachan, movies could be projected from the Kastle's roof onto the side of the soon-to-open adjacent Anna Head dormitory. Anything for fun. 

Although Sarachan is a savvy businessman who owns at least four Teley student-oriented businesses, including Rasputin's Music at Telegraph and Durant, he likes to mix business with pleasure. Playful touches enhance everything he does. 

In the hippy ethos, playful invariably led.  

The Teley kingpin is one of a dwindling club of colorful Teley businessmen who want Teley to continue as an avenue of wacky ways, as it was in days of yore. 

But as Telegraph property owners brace for a marketing shoot-out with the university's planned 24-hour Lower Sproul Plaza business mall and food court, which aims to provide many of the products offered on Teley, Sarachan has become a one man solution to Telegraph's decline. 

That decline, according to Dave Fogarty, a city economic planner, began in the early 1990s , and has continued to dive. 

Fogarty, who is not speaking for the city manager's office, says that any upturn in profits on the avenue, which could be anticipated if Sarachan's dreams come true, could signal an upturn. 

In our November 29 Planet piece, "Killer Crane' Killing Our Past or Building Our Future?, " we anticipated better times for Telelegraph, even as we witnessed the rubble-izing of what we have called "Berkeley's Center," at Telegraph and Haste while Cody's still stood. 

Workers were tending the Cody building, owned by Sarachan, Wednesday. Asked if they were doing routine retrofitting; a worker called their work "remodeling," for a bookstore, but Fogarty and Sarachan dismissed that. 

Fearing, he said, rebuke from the ghost of Moe Moskowitz, deceased founder of Moe's books two doors down, Sarachan said he wouldn't tangle with the ghost by opening a bookstore near Moe's. Sarachan is not the only Teley ghost-watcher. We have written repeatedly of Teley ghosts, and have noticed other Teley businesses (eg. Pappy's, at the Blake’s-haunted site) responding. 

Sarachan was willing to risk a visit from the Moe ghost when he recently opened a twenty-five cent book, record, and video store, two doors South of Rasputin's. The Moe ghost is probably enjoying the treasures to be found there. 

At Tuesday's unveiling of Ken's Kastle, Sarachan told me there has been no interest by renters in the Cody site—zilch. 

Although Sarachan, who owns a fair-sized share of the avenue, is far from its major  

landlord, he is a one man business district, with plans to restore it to past glories. But first he had to rid the Berkeley Inn site of the rats for which he had been blamed. After investigating, Sarachan found the man who had been seeding the Berkeley Inn lot. 

The man agreed to stop feeding the rats, and according to Sarachan, the Berkeley Inn rats, who last starred on-line in a much-viewed video—are gone. 

But Sarachan's most ambitious plan to save the avenue is still in the planning stages. His plan—here unveiled—to expand parking validations in the city-owned parking lot just below Channing and Telegraph would go a long way to solve the Avenue's parking problems, he says. 

Parking, not street people, is the cause of Teley's decline, according to Sarachan, who noted that when he first arrived in Berkeley in the sixties Teley businesses were supported by numerous open-air parking lots. People's Park was a former parking spot for a few years, he recalls. 

Parking unavailability has killed off entire downtowns nation-wide. 

The Planet promises to keep up with Sarachan's parking plan, which must be sold to the city of Berkeley, as well as to the Planet, which is now watching Sarachan's one-businessman's efforts to save a storied street. 


Ted Friedman continues his on-going business reporting from the surprising South-side where he has lived for 35 years.

Cal Day Picture and Weather Perfect (Photo Essay)

By Steven Finacom
Monday April 23, 2012 - 04:15:00 PM
The Cal Band highlighted a mid-day rally on a packed Sproul Plaza at Cal Day on Saturday.
Andy Liu
The Cal Band highlighted a mid-day rally on a packed Sproul Plaza at Cal Day on Saturday.
A giant pencil reading “Tax The Rich To Teach The Children” passed in front of a crowded Sather Gate.
Steven Finacom
A giant pencil reading “Tax The Rich To Teach The Children” passed in front of a crowded Sather Gate.
Ken Finger, Museum Scientist in the Museum of Paleontology, explained dinosaur fossils on behind the scenes tours.
Steven Finacom
Ken Finger, Museum Scientist in the Museum of Paleontology, explained dinosaur fossils on behind the scenes tours.
The mysteries of mushrooms were revealed outside the University and Jepson Herbariums.
Steven Finacom
The mysteries of mushrooms were revealed outside the University and Jepson Herbariums.
Cal banners were in evidence everywhere.
Steven Finacom
Cal banners were in evidence everywhere.
Student astronomers set up solar telescopes and a sun dial near Sather Gate.
Steven Finacom
Student astronomers set up solar telescopes and a sun dial near Sather Gate.
Student prints were for sale in the Department of Art Practice.
Steven Finacom
Student prints were for sale in the Department of Art Practice.
An inflatable Oski loomed over Memorial Glade, next to the Rally Committee’s Victory Cannon.
Steven Finacom
An inflatable Oski loomed over Memorial Glade, next to the Rally Committee’s Victory Cannon.
The real Oski posed for pictures.
Steven Finacom
The real Oski posed for pictures.
Visitors checked their programs at the top of Campanile Way, with the Golden Gate view in the distance.
Steven Finacom
Visitors checked their programs at the top of Campanile Way, with the Golden Gate view in the distance.
A mariachi band performs outside the Phoebe Hearst Museum of Anthropology.
Andy Liu
A mariachi band performs outside the Phoebe Hearst Museum of Anthropology.
Bikini clad Cal atheists (“There is no God.  So relax and be happy”) attracted attention in Sproul Plaza.
Andy Liu
Bikini clad Cal atheists (“There is no God. So relax and be happy”) attracted attention in Sproul Plaza.
Students in armor from different eras and countries inside Sather Gate.
Andy Liu
Students in armor from different eras and countries inside Sather Gate.
By late afternoon, with temperatures in the 80s, Memorial Glade resembled a beach.
Andy Liu
By late afternoon, with temperatures in the 80s, Memorial Glade resembled a beach.
Crowds gathered in the Glade to hear Dr. Dog perform on the steps of the century-old Doe Library.
Andy Liu
Crowds gathered in the Glade to hear Dr. Dog perform on the steps of the century-old Doe Library.
Slack line artists demonstrated their styles on the Campanile Esplanade as crowds lined up to ascend the adjacent tower.
Steven Finacom
Slack line artists demonstrated their styles on the Campanile Esplanade as crowds lined up to ascend the adjacent tower.
A Cal-themed dog crossed Lower Sproul Plaza.
Steven Finacom
A Cal-themed dog crossed Lower Sproul Plaza.
What would Berkeley be without the occasional appearance of tie-dye?
Steven Finacom
What would Berkeley be without the occasional appearance of tie-dye?
Cal Football players take a ride to their Spring Scrimmage at Edwards Track Stadium.
Steven Finacom
Cal Football players take a ride to their Spring Scrimmage at Edwards Track Stadium.
The day was so warm that freshly cleaned Ludwig’s Fountain became an impromptu wading pond.
Steven Finacom
The day was so warm that freshly cleaned Ludwig’s Fountain became an impromptu wading pond.
Children clambered on the ancient California Buckeye tree in Faculty Glade.
Steven Finacom
Children clambered on the ancient California Buckeye tree in Faculty Glade.
Nearby, it was simply time to relax and read a good book in the summer-like warmth.
Steven Finacom
Nearby, it was simply time to relax and read a good book in the summer-like warmth.

Nature delivered beautiful, balmy, weather for the Saturday, April 21, 2012 “Cal Day” annual open house on the UC Berkeley campus. 

By ten o’clock in the morning some of the campus roadways and paths looked as busy as they do on a regular weekday, and the crowds continued without let up until past 3:00 p.m..  

Hundreds of campus departments and student organizations offered mostly free tours, information, entertainment, and orientations throughout the day. Although a large part of the Cal Day audience is always made up of children and prospective students, adults of all ages also enjoyed the campus-wide festivities. 

Here’s a photo essay of some sights during the activity packed day.

1948 - April 15, 2012

By Katherine Davis
Tuesday April 24, 2012 - 10:17:00 AM

Steve Drobinsky (63), proud owner of Ohmega Salvage died peacefully, April 15th, at his home in Oakland after a courageous battle with cancer.

He was born in Estelline, South Dakota and grew up in Los Angeles. Steve ran Ohmega for over 30 years, turning salvage into gold and establishing a landmark in the East Bay.  

He was an early and passionate proponent of recycling and reuse who loved his work and deeply appreciated the quality and beauty of things from the past. Steve was a loyal friend and unwitting mentor, beloved by his employees, and an inspiration to our community. An accomplished artist, photographer, architectural preservationist, and world traveler, he spoke fluent French and was both a wine and art connoisseur. He is survived by his wife, Katherine, her children Rhea and Carter Cassel, and Coleman Davis; his sister Mimi Curtis and her children Morgan, Whitney, and Austin Curtis; and his sister Rochelle Erde and her children. A memorial service was held Monday April 23 at the First Church of Christ, Scientist Berkeley. In lieu of flowers, donations to the Steve Drobinsky Memorial Fund are welcome; please visit OhmegaSalvage.com for further details.

August 25, 1938 – April 11, 2012

By Laura Morland
Tuesday April 24, 2012 - 10:13:00 AM
Becky McCathren

“With mirth and laughter let old wrinkles come.”

William Shakespeare, Merchant of Venice, I:I

John Louden Reid, 73, died peacefully in his sleep at home in Berkeley, after a brief illness.

John was born to Linnie Louden and Robert Franklin Reid of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He spent his teenaged years running high school track and perfecting his skills as a prankster and handyman. He earned a B.A. in English from Northwestern University in Evanston, where he met his wife, Susan Smith. Recipient of a prized Woodrow Wilson Scholarship, John entered the English doctoral program at U.C. Berkeley in 1960, where, as a graduate student instructor, his gift for guiding his students to literary insight blossomed into brilliance.  

John Reid was known throughout the Bay Area as an extraordinary teacher of literature. While he often lectured on the subject of his doctoral thesis, Eugene O’Neill, his greatest fame was as an ‘explainer’ of the works of James Joyce, in particular the fiendishly difficult Finnegans Wake. 

In the 1970s he was a professor of English and American Literature at Reed College (Portland) and New College of California (San Francisco). Thereafter he taught dozens of courses at Holy Names College in Oakland, U.C. Berkeley Extension and the U.C. Center for Learning in Retirement. By popular demand, a group of his Berkeley students created a private class to revel in John’s inspired interpretations of his personal list of literary gems. He taught this class at the home of the late Milly Rosner every Thursday night for nearly 30 years.  

John will be deeply missed by his neighbors, students, friends and family, for whom he always had a smile, a quip, and a wave from the latest of his seemingly endless series of conver­tibles. When someone asked how he was holding up, John would likely respond, “I’ve not a complaint in the world.”  

He was also an accomplished handyman and carpenter. His stunning lamps, assembled from driftwood he collected on the beaches of Mendocino, were sold by Sue Johnson and grace the homes of fortunate friends. 

John Reid is survived by his son, Jason Reid, his brother, Robert Reid, his niece, Elaine Reid, and his nephew, David Franklin Reid, all of Los Angeles. 

John also leaves behind an extraordinary circle of friends, fans and devoted students who delighted in his acerbic wit and ribald sense of humor. There will be a catered memorial gathering on Sunday, April 29, from 1:00-4:00 pm, at “Padre,” a picnic site in Tilden Park, where a portion of his library will be available as a remembrance. Those who knew John are welcome to bring a libation and to share a toast, laughter, and stories about this singular man.



Over-Reporting the "Mommy Wars" and Under-Reporting the Situation

By Becky O'Malley
Friday April 20, 2012 - 03:48:00 PM

The recent brouhaha about a Democratic consultant’s casual comment that Mrs. Romney had never worked a day in her life is a prime example of how desperate the media are for trivia which will let them avoid talking about the real situation in the upcoming election. 

Let’s just get that out of the way first with a brief reality check. A decent argument could be made that the Democrats, with a few exceptions, are jerks, just inept cowardly jerks to be sure, but hardly admirable. My friends who cling to the far left fringe want to dignify these Democrats with conspiracy theories and ringing denunciations, but that’s giving them too much credit.  

The president is a smart guy, probably a nice guy, the kind of person you’d certainly like to invite over for dinner (or the male version, have a beer with) but the kindest thing you can say about him is that he’s been a disappointment to many of us, including me. He’s also a rich guy, relative to most of us, as are all too many of his appointments. 

But. The Republican Party has been taken over by lunatics, certifiable lunatics, at least at the public level represented by the primary debates. The delusional Tea Partyers provide the face of this development. And on the off-camera level, the one that really counts, the party is now controlled by very very rich guys: the Koch brothers, Richard Mellon Scaife, and a few more like them with billions and billions at their disposal to buy elections of all kinds. 

A new documentary film, “Heist:Who Stole the American Dream”, shown last night at the Grand Lake Theater in Oakland, does a good job of outlining the long-term plan, hatched in the early 70s under the auspices of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which has got the country into this situation. It’s well worth seeing—there’s a DVD available so you can even watch it at home. It’s not a pretty picture.  

One thing the movie missed, however, is the recent revelations about the operational mechanism for advancing the plan, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which produces templates for state legislatures to enact into laws advancing the conservative agenda. The Trayvon Martin case has highlighted one of their worst products, Florida’s Stand Your Ground law, which has been used to justify the killing of an unarmed teenager. 

A common misconception is that the major problem is that the Citizens’ United U.S. Supreme Court decision treats corporations as persons for First Amendment purposes. But we’d be in trouble even without that, since big spending by individuals like the Kochs and Newt Gingrich’s Las Vegas godfather Sheldon Adelson, card-carrying members of the .01% of the very richest Americans, is causing plenty of harm. Some corporations are now withdrawing from ALEC, but the super-rich can still keep it afloat. 

That’s just the back of the envelope sketch. In the next election we have a choice between gullible lunatics and cowardly jerks, both of whom have super-rich friends behind the scenes. Me, I’m going for the jerks, but it’s your choice. 

What is not going on, however, is a war between what the media likes to call “stay at home moms” and “working women”. There’s still a great big gender gap: Women with all kinds of employment situations are much more likely to support Democrats than Republicans, Obama over Romney. Few women of my acquaintance are foolish enough to misunderstand Hilary Rosen’s off-hand remark about Anne Romney.  

Here I must say parenthetically that I greatly dislike the term “moms”—the coy euphemism for mothers beloved of pediatricians. Being a parent is a serious job, one which should not be frivolously undertaken or trivialized by calling mothers—or fathers—by pet names unless you’re one of their offspring. 

These days, it’s rarer and rarer for any parent, male or female, to have only one job. More than half of all mothers now have a day job in addition to parenting, as do the majority of fathers, and most of these are grateful to have paid employment to support their families in this economy. Arlie Hochschild’s 1997 book, The Second Shift, showed that, at least then, mothers did more work in two-parent homes than fathers, but most parents today have some amount of double duty. 

Occasionally some parents, more often mothers, are financially able to concentrate on the job of child-rearing, as Anne Romney was with her five boys (and with considerable household help, no doubt). Some consider themselves lucky to be able to do so, but others enjoy employment outside the home, especially after their children are older, like Nancy Pelosi, another wealthy mother of five (whose kids turned out just fine.) 

Having the choice is a privilege, now all too often the purview of the rich—that’s all that Hilary Rosen was saying, and women in general understood her. Some less-than-affluent parents choose a more modest standard of living so that one of them can pay full attention to the kids, and that’s all right too. Many parents, both single and partnered, can’t afford any choice, and that’s the real problem. 

What this country lacks, what it desperately needs, is adequate social services so that we can be sure that all of our children, regardless of who their parents are or what work their parents do, are well cared for. France provides excellent child care centers and good pre-schools for every child, as well as almost-free medical care—a pattern that is common throughout the developed world but unknown in the United States.  

We’ve known for generations now—since my own children, now parents themselves, were young—that Head Start absolutely works, that it does in fact give children whose parents work too hard to educate them at home a head start in academic achievement that can still be detected when they reach high school. Yet Head Start is perpetually threatened by de-funding. A young mother I know, whose own daughter was a Head Start participant, now works as an aide in the program, and her job has been cut back and back, with involuntary furlough periods which leave parents without childcare for weeks at a time.  

It’s time lazy reporters, many of whom are probably parents themselves, stopped devoting time and space to the non-issue which they like to call the “mommy wars” and concentrate on the real issues which the upcoming election presents. It matters not at all whether the rich Romneys (or the Obamas) are well-fixed enough to be able to afford to have a full time parent at home. What matters is what happens to the hundreds of thousands of American children whose parents, both mothers and fathers, have neither the time nor the money to provide as they’d like for the well-being of the next generation. If the current crop of rabid Republicans has their way, even the modest safety net which now protects these kids will be snatched away from them, and we can’t let that happen. 




Odd Bodkins: Our Daily Chicken (Cartoon)

By Dan O'Neill
Tuesday April 24, 2012 - 11:44:00 AM


Dan O'Neill


Odd Bodkins: McGinty (Cartoon)

By Dan O'Neill
Tuesday April 24, 2012 - 11:41:00 AM


Dan O'Neill


Bounce: No One's Perfect (Cartoon)

By Joseph Young
Tuesday April 24, 2012 - 11:49:00 AM


Joseph Young


Public Comment

Press Release: Occupy the Farm Activists Reclaim Prime Urban Agricultural Land in SF Bay Area

Sunday April 22, 2012 - 06:36:00 PM

(Albany, Calif.) Occupy the Farm, a coalition of local residents, farmers, students, researchers, and activists are planting over 15,000 seedlings at the Gill Tract, the last remaining 10 acres of Class I agricultural soil in the urbanized East Bay area. The Gill Tract is public land administered by the University of California, which plans to sell it to private developers. 

For decades the UC has thwarted attempts by community members to transform the site for urban sustainable agriculture and hands-on education. With deliberate disregard for public interest, the University administrators plan to pave over this prime agricultural soil for commercial retail space, a Whole Foods, and a parking lot. 

"For ten years people in Albany have tried to turn the Gill Tract into an Urban Farm and a more open space for the community. The people in the Bay Area deserve to use this treasure of land for an urban farm to help secure the future of our children," explains Jackie Hermes-Fletcher, an Albany resident and public school teacher for 38 years. 

Occupy the Farm seeks to address structural problems with health and inequalities in the Bay Area that stem from communities’ lack of access to food and land. Today’s action reclaims the Gill Tract to demonstrate and exercise the peoples’ right to use public space for the public good. This farm will serve as a hub for urban agriculture, a healthy and affordable food source for Bay Area residents and an educational center. 

“Every piece of uncontaminated urban land needs to be farmed if we are to reclaim control over how food is grown, where it comes from, and who it goes to,” says Anya Kamenskaya, UC Berkeley alum and educator of urban agriculture. “We can farm underutilized spaces such as these to create alternatives to the corporate control of our food system.” 

UC Berkeley has decided to privatize this unique public asset for commercial retail space, and, ironically, a high-end grocery store. This is only the latest in a string of privatization schemes. Over the last several decades, the university has increasingly shifted use of the Gill Tract away from sustainable agriculture and towards biotechnology with funding from corporations such as Novartis and BP. 

Frustrated that traditional dialogue has fallen on deaf ears, many of these same local residents, students, and professors have united as Occupy the Farm to Take Back the Gill Tract. This group is working to empower communities to control their own resilient food systems for a stable and just future – a concept and practice known as food sovereignty. 

Occupy the Farm is in solidarity with Via Campesina and the Movimiento Sin Tierra (Landless Workers Movement). 

The Gill Tract is located at the Berkeley-Albany border, at the intersection of San Pablo Ave and Marin Ave. 

• Join us: Come dressed to work! We need people to help till the soil, plant seedlings, teach workshops, and more. 

• Donate/lend: We need shovels, rakes, pickaxes, rototillers, drip irrigation tape, gloves, hats, food, and anything else farming related! 

• Monetary donations can be sent through our website at www.takebackthetract.com Gopal - (510) 847-3592\\ 

-- www.phatbeetsproduce.org ...connecting small farmers to urban communities http://youtu.be/oYHGJZtMVgg 

Contact: GillTractFarm@riseup.net Follow us on Twitter @occupyfarm #OccupyTheFarm www.takebackthetract.com 

"...if you leave the crumbs alone and we organize, then we can take the whole loaf" Kwame Ture aka Stokely Charmichael

Berkeley Police Review Commission Okays Suspicious Activity Reports

By Gene Bernardi, SuperBold
Friday April 20, 2012 - 02:26:00 PM

May 15th the Berkeley City Council will consider their fiscal 2012 Police Department (PD) agreements. April 11, the Police Review Commission (PRC) voted to recommend that the City Council approve the PD’s verbal agreements with the Northern California Regional Intelligence Center (NCRIC) and the Urban Areas Security Initiative (UASI) on condition that they be “reduced to writing”.

Additionally, PRC advised, per Councilmember Arreguin’s proposal, that Suspicious Activity Reports be submitted to NCRIC only on individuals/groups that have been charged with a crime, exempting individuals/groups who have only committed non-violent civil disobedience offences.

The verbal agreement with UASI includes a “direction” to the City Manager and Police Chief that the police should not be allowed to use tactics, they have been drilled in under UASI, if they are contrary to Berkeley PD policies. Further “direction” asks for a disclosure and oversight process, involving the PRC, of all training as long as it excludes specific tactics.

What’s wrong with this picture? 

1. There is no provision for the City Council to reconsider the verbal agreements with NCRIC and UASI (if approved) after they are “reduced to writing”. (Approving verbal PD agreements violates BMC 2.04.170 and 2.04.190) 

2. Individuals/groups who are charged with a crime are innocent until proven guilty. Often charges are dropped. 

3. Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) are not based on reasonable suspicion of criminal activity but on non-criminal behaviors such as taking a photo of a building or bridge; buying fertilizer; writing in a notebook; wearing a hoodie; etc. 

4. The NCRIC Intelligence Center is a fusion center where the SARs are permanently entered in coordination with the FBI Joint Terrorism Taskforce. Active duty military personnel are also participants at fusion centers. This violates the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 which prohibits U.S. military from acting in a law enforcement capacity on U.S. soil. (ACLU, “What’s Wrong With Fusion Centers?” 2007) 

5. Warfare is waged by the military. Training through militarized drills using urban warfare tactics under UASI may be hard to later ignore. Since the specific tactics taught will be excluded from disclosure and oversight, how will taxpayers know what their money is supporting? 

These Police Department agreements as well as their Mutual Aid Pacts will come before the City Council on May 15, 2012, 7pm in Berkeley’s Old City Hall, M.L.King, Jr. Way between Center and Allston Streets.


ECLECTIC RANT: Stopping Those Irritating Robocalls

By Ralph E. Stone
Friday April 20, 2012 - 02:36:00 PM

Thousand of people receive calls from telemarketers selling debt reduction services or credit cards with promised lower interest rates; selling extended auto service contracts after telling them their warranties were about to expire; or telling consumers that they have won or are specially selected to receive a vacation package.

Many of these worthless or dubious deals are offered by companies operating "autodialing" businesses, which deliver prerecorded messages that allow clients to deliver large numbers of prerecorded phone calls, or “robocalls.” The prerecorded messages would last just a few seconds. If a call recipient who received a prerecorded message pressed “1” during the message, the recipient would be transferred to a live operator who would attempt to sell the product or service. 

In 2003, the Federal Trade Commission promulgated the Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR) (www.ftc.gov/os/2002/12/tsrfinalrule.pdf), which implements the "Telemarketing and Consumer Fraud and Abuse Prevention Act," 15 U.S.C. 6101,­ 6108, as amended. The TSR covers telemarketing - any plan, program, or campaign to sell goods or services through interstate telephone calls. The TSR requires telemarketers to make certain disclosures and prohibits misrepresentations. It gives state law enforcement officers the authority to prosecute fraudulent telemarketers who operate across state lines. And it gives consumers instructions on how to stop unwanted calls.
In 2009, the TSR was amended to specifically address robocalls. An FTC Business Alert "Reining in Robocalls" discusses the amendment. (alt161-reining-robocalls-1.pdf)
However, companies such as banks, telephone companies, and airlines, which are exempt from FTC regulation, will now need to comply with the requirements as adopted by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The FCC rules on calls to wireless phones apply to both voice calls and text messages. (http://transition.fcc.gov/Daily_Releases/Daily_Business/2012/db0215/FCC-12-21A1.pdf)
California also prohibits any robocall unless there is an existing relationship. The California Public Utilities Code §§ 2871 et seq. holds political campaigns to the same rules as other organizations or businesses using robocalls (i.e., calls made by an automatic dialing–announcing device or ADAD). The guidelines are: (1) a "live" person must come on the line before recording to identify the nature of the call and the organization behind it; (2) the recipient of the call must consent to allowing the recording to be played; and (3) the call must be disconnected from the telephone line as soon as the message is over or the recipient hangs up, whichever comes first.
In 2003, Congress gave the FTC authority to establish and enforce the "National Do Not Call Registry." The Do Not Call Registry is a list of phone numbers from consumers who want to limit the telemarketing calls they receive. The Registry is managed and enforced by the FTC, the FCC, and state officials. (http://business.ftc.gov/documents/alt129-qa-telemarketers-sellers-about-dnc-provisions-tsr) Most telemarketers should not call your number(s) once it has been on the registry for 31 days. If they do, consumers can file a complaint at the Do Not Call Registry website. Consumers are advised to place their telephone number(s) on the Do Not Call Registry. (www.donotcall.gov)
This year, under a settlement in FTC V. Asia Pacific Telecom, Inc. d/b/a SBN Peripherals, Inc., et al. (www.ftc.gov/os/caselist/1023060/120328asiapacificstip.pdf), SBN Peripherals, Inc., a robocall operation based in Los Angeles, was put out of the telemarketing business This case is an excellent example of how a robocall company operates and the magnitude of the problem. This company bombarded consumers with more than two billion calls pitching a variety of products and services, including worthless extended auto warranties and credit card interest rate-reduction programs. The order bans the defendants from telemarketing and requires them to give up roughly $3 million in assets.
The FTC's complaint alleges that the defendants delivered illegal prerecorded phone calls falsely claiming the caller had urgent information about the consumer's auto warranty or credit card interest rate. Consumers who pressed "1" for more information were transferred to telemarketers who used fraudulent practices to sell inferior extended auto service contracts or worthless debt-reduction services. According to court papers filed by the court-appointed receiver, from January 2008 through August 2009, the defendants completed approximately 2.6 billion outbound robocalls that were answered by approximately 1.6 billion consumers, approximately 12.8 million of whom were connected to a sales agent.
To hear telemarketing sales pitches used by these defendants, go to auto warranty 1 (www.ftc.gov/opa/2010/06/audio/autowarranty-ex1.wav), auto warranty 2 (www.ftc.gov/opa/2010/06/audio/autowarranty-ex2.wav), credit card 1(www.ftc.gov/opa/2010/06/audio/creditcard-ex1.mp3), and credit card 2 (www.ftc.gov/opa/2010/06/audio/creditcard-ex2.mp3)
Of course, the plethora of laws will slow down, but not stop telemarketing abuses. Crooks don't always obey the law. What is also needed is alert, careful consumers. What do you do if you receive a robocall?
* Never give personal information, including Social Security, bank or credit card numbers, over the telephone to an unknown caller.
* Research the company with the Better Business Bureau (www.bbb.org) or online. If you cannot find any information about the company, that should raise a red flag. When considering any company offering any type of financial assistance, insist on getting a contract in which all terms and conditions are clearly explained before signing up or providing credit card or other payment information.
* Place your home telephone number(s) on the Do Not Call Registry.
* If your telephone numbers are already on the Registry but telemarketing calls persist, you can file a complaint on the Do Not Call Registry website.

ON MENTAL ILLNESS: Attempts at Working While Medicated

By Jack Bragen
Friday April 20, 2012 - 04:32:00 PM

Most of the persons with mental illness who I have encountered have some level of difficulty with employment. Being able to work, for persons with mental illness, is often incorrectly perceived as symbolic of being a worthy human being. Being diagnosed with a mental illness took away self esteem for many of us. It may seem to us that being able to keep a job could restore most of that self esteem. In fact, we deserve to like ourselves whether employed or not.


Being medicated, especially with antipsychotic medication, is a barrier to work activity. The only thing worse than being medicated, for someone with schizophrenia, is not to be medicated. Psychotic symptoms at high levels will make it extremely difficult if not impossible to function in a work environment. Antipsychotic medication, however, will slow down or impair someone's attempt at work to the point where he or she is not competitive.


In my twenties, I tried to do a number of jobs and succeeded at some. Unfortunately, there was a lot of baggage attached when the work attempts were not successful; I berated myself and was berated by others when jobs didn't work out. In my twenties, I didn't keep jobs for longer than a year.


I also tried self employment. However, I usually did not do well enough at this to make a profit. When my enterprises were profitable, my businesses were usually too stressful for me to maintain.


Medication played a part in some of my jobs being unbearable. The depressing effect of antipsychotic medication made it very hard to show up for work. In some jobs I couldn't keep pace with the speed of work that was expected. Medication has a slowing effect. In several instances of work attempts, the person who hired me believed, as I did, I should be able to handle their job because I presented well. Unfortunately, we (me and the employer) would later find out that my actual performance level didn't match how I presented myself.


For persons with a mental illness who are making a work attempt, it is a common mistake to quit medication against medical advice in order to work at a competitive rate. This is a bad idea. Usually, doing this invites a relapse of the illness which entails a setback of a number of years. You are better off losing a job due to performance or other issues than you are pushing it too hard and/or going off medication and as a result having a relapse of mental illness. I found that family members and treatment professionals had trouble understanding why I had so much difficulty with jobs. However, I was experiencing impairment from the medication and from the illness as well. I still had symptoms of paranoia while medicated, more so than I realized.


People had the incorrect notion that I wasn't trying hard enough or that I needed more fortitude in order to keep a job. This "judgment," in which others and I laid blame on me, actually fed more energy into the negative pattern. Because of this past pattern, today I am very careful about what jobs I will accept, to the point of usually being unemployed. It also helps to have a self assessment which is accurate.


In my twenties I could often work competitively at electronic repair, but could not do so at jobs that required less critical thinking. Other people had more speed of performing simple tasks and perhaps quicker manual dexterity, but they could not think as well as I could. Satisfying an employer often boils down to whether or not a person can work as quickly and as well as their peers, since a typical employer wants to use the most efficient person they can get.


At the present, as a person who writes but with no day job, I am in good company. Due to the poor economy, unemployment has become a socially acceptable profession. There are a number of jobs that exist that bring about less respect than being unemployed.


It's not uncommon for persons with severe mental illnesses, because of the medication and the illness, to have a hard time with jobs. This is in spite of the fact that the afflicted person may be more intelligent or more talented than the average person who lives next door. While you don't have to just give up and accept unemployment without a good try at working, you should at least be kind to yourself and not be your own worst critic in cases where a job doesn't work out. You also should not internalize the criticizing that other people, who may mean well, are giving you. A person can be happy with or without a regular job if their expectations allow it.


*** *** ***


Just reminding you that my book with a year's worth of columns is available at Amazon and at www.lulu.com. As always, I can be reached with your comments at bragenkjack@yahoo.com.

THE PUBLIC EYE: The Disunited States: Can This Marriage be Saved?

By Bob Burnett
Friday April 20, 2012 - 02:30:00 PM

Now that it’s clear Barack Obama will be the 2012 Democratic nominee for President and Mitt Romney the Republican nominee, we’ll probably hear from a prominent third-Party candidate. He or she will promise to end the savage partisanship that characterizes US politics – pledge to bring us together, save the marriage. But America doesn’t need a counselor; we need a good divorce attorney. 

Recently, the New York Times speculated about who might run as a third Party candidate in 2012 and former Utah Governor John Huntsman was among the names mentioned. Huntsman observed the current political system is “broken” and a third Party is the only way to fix it. While the current political system is broken, but there’s no obvious quick fix. 

Not long ago, in the aftermath of 9/11, there was a brief window of unity where political affiliations were set aside and the system seemed to work. We stood together as Americans and chanted, “USA! USA!” Then partisanship returned with a vicious edge. Comity vanished from Capitol Hill. 

Writing about our broken political system, journalist Sara Robinson observed America is like a troubled couple who goes to a counselor and reveals their lack of trust. “Just like in a marriage, when that trust is damaged, our future viability as a nation becomes a wide-open question.” 

Although partisanship had escalated before 9/11, it reached new extremes in the next twelve months – the fragile trust between Democrats and Republicans was fractured. Republicans told a dreadful lie – Saddam Hussein had orchestrated the terrorist attacks – and the Bush Administration launched a catastrophic war in Iraq. Less obvious was another GOP lie, America could pay for its new war without sacrifice – no new taxes were required. As a consequence, the US spent more than a trillion dollars on the Iraq war, suffered through tens of thousands dead and injured, incurred five trillion dollars in national debt, and busted the consumer economy.  

Voters swallowed the lies and George W. Bush was reelected in 2004. Republicans were emboldened and the “marriage” entered a new phase Robinson aptly described as “bullying.” Republicans “embraced bullying as a political strategy and an acceptable cultural norm, which has in turn coarsened our civil discourse to the point of democratic breakdown.” 

For the past decade, we’ve seen bullying spread throughout the Republican conservative orthodoxy (25 to 35 percent of the electorate). Economic conservatives are more strident, preaching: “Government is the problem;” “No new taxes;” “Corporations are people;” and “The one percent should be able to spend as much as they want to influence elections.” Conservatives have armed themselves with legions of lawyers and lobbyists to protect the power of the one percent. 

Social conservatives, the other fist of the Republican Party, are more dogmatic. They’ve latched onto the rising tide of ultra-conservative, Old Testament Christianity with its far-out morality: “The United States is a Christian nation;” “All Muslims hate us;” “Non-Whites cannot be trusted;” and “Women must be subservient to their husbands and all other men.” Conservatives preach that only those who subscribe to their tenets will be saved; the rest of us are damned. 

As the central tactic in their bullying strategy, Republicans are unwilling to compromise. It’s “take it or leave it,” “if you don’t agree with our demands then we will shut down the government.” 

If we were in a relationship with someone who acted like this – a bully who demanded that we swallow all their beliefs, refused to compromise, and called us names when we wouldn’t toe the line – and we went to marriage counseling, the counselor would throw up their hands and suggest we hire a competent divorce attorney. The counselor would observe that we no longer had the key ingredients of a healthy marriage: trust, empathy that allows one see our partner’s point-of-view, and willingness to compromise. 

But the United States isn’t a couple. We can’t get a divorce. There’s no simple way out of the conflict we’re in other than to undertake the difficult task of stopping the bullying. After all, the bullies are a minority.  

Here are four things we can do. First, we can tell the truth about what has happened to the Disunited States and what needs to be done to get us back together. We can proclaim over and over: the Republicans have had their chance; their ideology doesn’t work.  

Second, those of us who are not conservatives can stand together. We outnumber the bullies two to one. We can close ranks and stand up for the 99 percent – stand up for Democracy. 

Third, those of us who stand for the 99 percent can boycott hate radio and television, all media sources that foment bullying behavior. We can refuse to support any business that sponsors conservative propaganda. 

Fourth, those of us who stand for the 99 percent can unite behind President Obama. Conservatives are an extreme minority, but they’re attempting to buy control of government by disenfranchising millions of voters, deluging Independent voters with negative ads, and demoralizing Obama supporters. President Obama’s far from perfect but he’s infinitely preferable to plutocrat Mitt Romney, who is a bully in sheep’s clothing. 

Bob Burnett is a Berkeley writer. He can be reached at bburnett@sonic.net 


By Helen Rippier Wheeler
Friday April 20, 2012 - 04:25:00 PM

Sixty-five year old Ann Hui On-Wah is a film director, producer and screenwriter, one of the most critically acclaimed of the Hong Kong New Wave. Born to a Japanese mother and Chinese father, she moved to Macao, then to Hong Kong when she was five years old. After studying film-making at the London International Film School, Hui returned to Hong Kong in 1975. She joined TVB, a major Hong Kong TV network, as a producer of serials and documentaries.  

“In old age the servant becomes the served” is the apt title of the New York Times review of Hui’s latest film. A Simple Life, in Cantonese with English subtitles, is currently playing in San Francisco and Cupertino. Note: The title is A Simple Life – not The Simple Life, of which there are numerous—mostly how-to-have’s.  

Another reviewer perceived A Simple Life to be about the challenges and rewards of looking after the sick and aging. At a Norwegian film festival, it elicited the following response, with which I agree. A Simple Life is “… a movie which primarily focuses on every little moment of an elderly woman, but it is never a dull moment as the first impression might seem. It's a movie which really drives you to care for the characters in a natural way as opposed to many films where they "force" you with "natural" gimmicks. No, this movie broke most typical western styles, but at the same time made it entertaining and thrilling. It's a movie where there're no explosions, no foresight drama or no extreme twists... it's truly, a simple life, which showed me how simple it can be to be humble, and care for those we love.” 

Hui drew her story from real life events of producer Roger Lee and his servant. It is about the relationship of the young master of a large family, Roger Leung (Andy Lau), and Ah Tao - Sister Peach (Deanie Ip), the family servant (an amah) who raised him. In the film’s first stage, she has been with the family for sixty years. Now Roger is the last of his family in Hong Kong — the others have moved to San Francisco — and she works for him, sharing his apartment. A Simple Life. 

Now director Hui shifts their arrangement. Ah Tao has a stroke and announces her retirement. Further more, she wants to live in an “old people’s home.” (Not the “assisted living” of contemporary Western nomenclature and some reviewers.) In documentary-like scenes, Roger finds an old people’s home, and we learn about this Hong Kong growth industry, the price of a single room versus a shared one, and the various charges for an escort outside the home.  

With Ah Tao’s move, the film focus shifts again-- to the old people’s home. Roger visits her regularly. He takes her to restaurants and looks out for her as she has always done for him. A Simple Life has been criticized as too long (almost two hours). Not so. Hui conveys the shifts and stages of a such a relationship without encapsulating that would downgrade the significance of age.  

There are differences between affection and love.  

Would that some thoughtful, well-to-do person who cares about the aging and the aged, would sponsor an all-day, door-to-door outing, with lunch, to enable senior center participants and subsidized housing renters to enjoy A Simple Life. Or an organization. Yeah, and Medicare might fund hearing aids! 



My Medicare Matters is a free website that offers people with Medicare and their family members information about joining Medicare and the services they can receive. The site is sponsored by the National Council on Aging, with support from AstraZeneca. It provides free information when getting Medicare initially, choosing a prescription drug plan, and more. Note: AstraZeneca is a British multinational pharmaceutical and biologics company headquartered in London, UK, with a primary listing on the London Stock Exchange and secondary listings on the New York Stock Exchange.  


MARK YOUR CALENDAR: Be sure to confirm. Readers are welcome to share by email news of future events and deadlines that may interest boomers, seniors and elders. Daytime, free, and Bay Area events preferred. pen136@dslextreme.com.  

Fridays, through July 13. 10 A.M. Mastick Senior Center, 1155 Santa Clara Avenue, Alameda. Conversiamo in Italiano. Learn Italian with instructor Donatella Zepplin. 510-747-7510. 


Saturday, April 21. 11 A.M. – 4 P.M. Free admission. CAL DAY Concerts. Orchestra: winers of the annual concerto competition perform: Milhaud: Cinéma-Fantaisie, Joe Neeman, violin. Chausson: Poème, Casey Nosiglia, violin Saint-Saëns: Violin Concerto No. 3, Wooho Park, violin. Liszt: Totentanz, Lisa Wu, piano. BAROQUE ENSEMBLE: Corelli & Bach. CHAMBER CHORUS: excerpts from their recent concert "La Chanson". String quartets; Gamelan; African Drumming & Dance; Gospel Chorus. Hertz Hall. 510-642-4864. 

Saturday April 21. 1-5 P.M. Oakland Public Library Rockridge Branch, 5366 College Ave.. California Writers' Club, a workshop open to all writers. Contact: Anne Fox 510-420-8775. 

Tuesday, April 24. 1-2:30 P.M. James Felton, Ph.D., associate director, UCD Cancer Center, presents “Why We Get Cancer.” Dr. Felton will explore cell division and tumor growth; the affects of diet and environmental exposure; and the role of genetics on developing cancer. This Cal State East Bay Scholar-Olli program is sponsored by the MSCAB. Mastick Senior Center office, 1155 Santa Clara Ave., Alameda. Sign up in the Mastick Office or call 510-747-7506. 

Tuesday, April 24. 3-4 P.M. Berkeley Public Library Central, 2090 Kittredge. Tea and Cookies at the Library. A free monthly book club for people who want to share the books they have read. 510-981-6100. See also May 22. 

Wednesday, April 25. 12:15-1 P.M. UC,B Music Dept. Gamelan Music of Java and Bali performed by classes directed by Midiyanto and I Dewa Putu Berata with Ben Brinner and Lisa Gold. Hertz Concert Hall. Free. 510-642-4864.  

Wednesday, April 25. 1:30-2:30 P.M. Great Books Discussion Group: William Butler Yeats’ poem, Lapis Luzuli. Albany branch of the Alameda County Library, 1247 Marin Av. Rosalie Gonzales facilitates the discussion. Come to one meeting, or all meetings. Books are available at the Library. Contact: Ronnie Davis 510-526-3720 x16. 

Wednesdays, April 25 – May 16. 1:30-2:30 P.M. Fear of falling? Focus on balance in new Feldenkrais awareness through movement class series. $20. for the series. Albany Senior Center, 1247 Marin Ave. Rosie Rosenthal, instructor. 510-525-3867.  

Wednesday, April 25. 1:30 P.M. Berkeley Gray Panthers. Monthly meeting at North Berkeley Senior Center, 1901 Hearst. 510-981-5190, 548-9696, 486-8010. 

Wednesday, May 2. 12:15-1 P.M. UC,B Music Dept.: Renaissance Music, A Cappella.  

Perfect Fifth, Mark Sumner, director, is an a cappella choir in UC Choral Ensembles specializing in medieval and Renaissance music—sacred and secular, as well as contemporary art music. Hertz Concert Hall. Free. 510-642-4864. 

Wednesday, May 2. 6-8 P.M. Lawyer in the Library. Albany Library, 1247 Marin Av. Free 15 minute consultation with an attorney who will clarify your situation, advise you of your options, get you started with a solution, and make a referral when needed. Sign up in person at the Reference desk or call 510-526-3720 ext. 5 during library hours. 

Also June 6, July 11, August 1, Sept. 5, Oct. 3, Nov. 7 and Dec. 5.

Wednesday, May 2. 6:30 PM - 8:00 PM Poetry Writing Workshop with Christina Hutchins, Albany poet and author of The Stranger Dissolves, facilitates this writing workshop. Albany Library, 1247 Marin Av. Free. No registration required. Drop in and work on your poetry with a group of supportive writers. Contact: Dan Hess, 510- 526-3720 x17. Also June 6, August 1, Sept. 5, Oct. 3 and Nov. 7.  

Thursday, May 3. 9 A.M. – 1 P.M. 6th Annual Senior Health and Wellness Resource Fair. Kenneth C. Aitken Senior and Community Center, 17800 Redwood Road, Castro Valley. 510-881-6738.  

Thursday, May 3. 1:30 P.M. Albany Library, 1247 Marin Av. Cherisse Baptiste from non-profit ECHO Housing will introduce Alameda County Library system audiences to the workings of the reverse mortgage, which is a loan against accumulated home equity that provides cash advances to certain homeowners at least 62 years of age. This free program is for older adults. 510-526-3720. For dates of this presentation at libraries throughout the system, call Patricia Ruscher, Older Adult Services, 510-745-1491 

Saturday, May 5. 1 P.M. Ribbon cutting ceremony. Music, Refreshments. Claremont Library Branch Library Reopening. 2940 Benvenue Ave. Library services resume at 2 P.M. Free. 510-981-6100. 

Monday, May 7. 6:30 P.M. Castoffs knitting group. Kensington Library, 61 Arlington Av. An evening of knitting, show and tell, and yarn exchange. All levels are welcome and help will be provided. Free. 510-524-3043.  

Tuesday, May 8. 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM Second Tuesdays Poetry Night: Derek Mong & Annie O. Fisher. Albany Library, 1247 Marin Av. Stanford University poet, Derek Mong, reads. He is joined by translator, Annie O. Fisher. Both writers have translated works by the Russian poet, Maxim Amelin. Featured poets followed by open mic. Contact: Dan Hess. 510- 526-3720 x17 

Wednesday, May 9. 12:00 noon - 1:00 PM One-on-One Computer Tutoring: Reservation Required. Albany Library, 1247 Marin Av. Sign up at Reference Desk. 510-526-3720. Also May 23. 

Thursday, May 10. 7-8:45 P.M. Cafe Literario at West Berkeley Public Library, 1125 University Ave. Facilitated Spanish language book discussion. May title: La Casa de Dostoievsky by Jorge Edwards. Free. 510-981-6270. 

Thursday, May 10. Annual Spring Luncheon & Fashion Show. The Annual Thrift Shop Fashion and Spring Luncheon, Good Ship Lollipop. Tickets went on sale Friday, April 13, at 8:30 A.M. in the Mastick Senior Center Office, 1155 Santa Clara Avenue, Alameda. Cost of the luncheon is $16 per person. This event guarantees good food, fashion, and fun! All proceeds support Mastick Senior Center. 510-747-7510.  

Friday, May 11. 8:30 A.M. – 2:30 P.M. The African American Caregiving and Wellness Forum V: The End of Alzheimer’s Starts With Me. West Oakland senior Center, 1724 Adeline Street. Registration required by April 27. 1-800-272-3900.  

Sunday, May 13. 12-4:30 P.M., 1:30 - 2:45 P.M. Hertz Concert Hall. Concert and Commencement Ceremony. Sponsor: Department of Music. Concert featuring award winners in the performing arts. Open to all audiences. Event Contact: concerts@berkeley.edu, 510-642-4864. 

Monday, May 14. 12:30 - 1:30 PM. Albany YMCA/Albany Library Brown Bag Lunch Speaker's Forum: SFMOMA's Peter Samis, associate curator of interpretation, discusses the topic: EXPERIENCING THE WORLD OF MODERN ART THROUGH NEW TECHNOLOGIES. The forum is co-sponsored by the Albany YMCA and the Albany Library, 1237 Marin Av. Contact: Ronnie Davis(510) 526-3720 x16 

Monday, May 14. 7:00 P.M. Identity Theft Program. Barbara Jue, a Legal Shield associate, will offer information and advice on how to prevent identity theft and how to cope should it happen. She will also talk about children and computer use and cyber bullying. Q&A follows. Kensington Library, 61 Arlington Avenue. Free. 510-524-3043. 

Tuesday, May 15. 6 – 8 P.M. Free Legal Workshop: Alternatives to Foreclosure. Steven Mehlman, a local attorney, will offer an informational session to explain the pros and cons of each financial decision to help you make the right choice for your 

situation. Sponsored by the Contra Costa County Bar Association. El Cerrito Library, 6510 Stockton Avenue. 510-526-7512. 

Wednesday, May 16. 7-8 P.M. Evening Book Group. Women of the Silk by Gail Tsukiyama. Albany Library, 1247 Marin Av. Moderated by Rosalie Gonzales. 510-526-3720.  

Monday May 21. 7 P.M. Kensington Library Book Club: Color of the Sea by John Hamamura. Each meeting starts with a poem selected and read by a member with a brief discussion following the reading. New members are always welcome. Free. 61 Arlington Av. 510-524-3043. 

Tuesday, May 22. 3 – 4 P.M. Central Berkeley Public Library, 2090 Kittredge St. Tea and Cookies at the Library. A free monthly book club for people who want to share the books they have read. 510-981-6100. 

Wednesday, May 23. 1:30 - 2:30 PM Great Books Discussion Group: Alexis de Tocqueville's Democracy in America. Group meets on the fourth Wednesday of the month. Rosalie Gonzales facilitates the discussion. Come to one meeting, or all meetings. Books are available at the Library. Contact: Ronnie Davis(510) 526-3720 x16 

Sunday, May 27. 130-4:30 P.M. Book Into Film: Betty Smith’s A Tree Grows in Brooklyn at Central Berkeley Public Library, 2090 Kittredge. Read the book at home. Watch the movie together. Discuss the book, film and adaptation as a group. Registration required- call 510-981-6236 to sign up. 

Wednesday, May 30. 12 Noon-1 P.M. Playreaders at Central Berkeley Public Library.  

2090 Kittredge. Meets weekly to read aloud from great plays, changing parts frequently. Intended for adult participants. 510-981-6100. 

Monday, June 4. 6:30 P.M. "Castoffs" - Knitting Group. Kensington Library, 61 Arlington Ave. An evening of knitting, show and tell, and yarn exchange. All levels are welcome and help will be provided. Free. 510-524-3043. 

Monday, June 18. 7 P.M. Art historian Michael Stehr will discuss Gian Lorenz Bernini, who was the Michelangelo of the Baroque. He will also present a slide show. Kensington Library, 61 Arlington Avenue. Free. 510-524-3043. 

Monday June 25. 7 P.M. Kensington Library Book Club: The Chosen by Chaim Potok. 61 Arlington Av. Free. 510-524-3043. 

Wednesday, June 27. 1:30-2:30P.M. Great Books discussion group. July’s People by Nadine Gordimer. Rosalie Gonzales, group facilitator. Albany Library, 1247 Marin Av. 510-526-3720.  

Sunday, July 8. 1 – 4:30 P.M. The 2012 Berkeley Rent Board Convention will be held in the main meeting room of the downtown, central Berkeley Public Library, 2090 Kittredge, corner of Shattuck. A slate of candidates for the November 2012 election will be chosen. Contact: www.berkeleyrentboard.org 510-981-6100. 

Wednesday, August 22. 1:30-2:30P.M. Great Books discussion group. Selections from The Bhagavad Gita. Rosalie Gonzales, group facilitator. Albany Library, 1247 Marin Av. 510-526-3720.  

Wednesday, Sept. 26. 1:30-2:30P.M. Great Books discussion group. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe. Rosalie Gonzales, group facilitator. Albany Library, 1247 Marin Av. 510-526-3720.  

Wednesday, October 24. 1:30-2:30P.M. Great Books discussion group. Troth, by Gregor von Rezzon. Rosalie Gonzales, group facilitator. Albany Library, 1247 Marin Av. 510-526-3720.  

Wednesday, November 28. 1:30-2:30P.M. Great Books discussion group. Sunday Morning, by Wallace Stevens. Rosalie Gonzales, group facilitator. Albany Library, 1247 Marin Av. 510-526-3720.  


Arts & Events

Flash: Berkeley Symphony Conductor Injured; Replacement Scheduled for Tomorrow Night

Wednesday April 25, 2012 - 05:48:00 PM

According to an article by Sue Gilmore in the Contra Costa Times, Berkeley Symphony conductor Joana Carneiro will not be able to conduct tomorrow night's Berkeley Symphony concert at U.C. Berkeley's Zellerbach Hall because she has injured her shoulder.

New: Berkeley Symphony on Thursday: Gabriela Lena Frank premiere, Kodaly, Bartok

By Ken Bullock
Tuesday April 24, 2012 - 07:08:00 PM

Berkeley Symphony, conducted by Joana Carneiro, finishes its season this Thursday at UC Berkeley's Zellerbach Auditorium, with a world premiere of Berkeley's Gabriela Lena Frank's 'Holy Sisters,' commissioned by the Symphony, with soprano Jessica Rivera, whom the piece was written for, and the San Francisco Girls Chorus--as well as Zoltan Kodaly's 'Dances for Galanta' (premiered in Budapest, 1933) and Bela Bartok's 'Music for Strings, Percussion & Celesta' (premiered 1937, in Basel). 

Frank's piece, inspired by the poem by Portuguese poet Jose Tolentino de Mendonca, is the first of two parts, the second to be premiered next Spring by the SF Girls Chorus. Rivera will make her third appearance with the Symphony, after performances of Esa-Pekka Salonen and a stunning rendition of Samuel Barber's 'Knoxville, Summer of 1915, 'from James Agee's story, both under Carneiro's baton. 

Kodaly was hailed by his old friend and companion in folk music collecting, Bartok: "If I were to name the composer whose works are the most perfect embodiment of teh Hungarian spirit, I would answer, Kodaly." 'Dances for Galanta,' named after a market town between Budapest and Vienna, where Kodaly spent seven years of his childhood--his father was a stationmaster for the Austro-Hungarian rail system--and was inspired by a famous Gypsy band there, which had forebears dating back at least to 1800, when a book of Magyar dances was published in Vienna, some being "after several Gypsies from Galanta." 

Bartok's 'Music for Strings ... ' is marked by the division of the strings into two sections, intended to be on opposite sides of the stage, from which the composer draws antiphonal effects, especially in the second and fourth movements. Shostakovich's 13th Symphony is thought to parody this work, as a response to Bartok's burlesque of Shostakovich's 7th in Bartok's .Music for Orchestra.' 

Frank will be joined by members of the SF Girls Chorus in the pre-concert talk at 7:15. 

Zellerbach Auditorium, UC campus near Bancroft & Telegraph, 8 p. m. Thursday April 26. $20-$80. 841-2800; berkeleysymphony.org

Press Release: How Democratic is California?
22nd Annual California Studies Conference in Oakland This Saturday

From Richard Walker
Tuesday April 24, 2012 - 12:21:00 PM

A day-long investigation into what can be done to restore the power of the people

Democracy” is supposed to be the guiding ideal of American politics: a belief in popular sovereignty and representative government. Yet recent developments, from the USA Patriot Act to the Citizens United decision and from enrichment of the 1% to financial collapse, have shaken our faith in democracy. It leads us to ask: what is the present state of Democracy in California and what should be done to restore the power of the people?

In an effort to stimulate ideas and discussion on this timely subject, the California Studies Association will convene scholars, community activists, journalists, policy specialists, historians and writers for a multi-faceted discussion on the responsibilities and challenges of becoming full participants in this nation’s democracy. We hope to engage the general public in a broad but facilitated on how democracy has failed and prevailed in the recent history of our state as well as current movements, issues, and topics such as "Elections and Exclusions," "Citizenship and its Discontents," and "Popular Protest and its Enemies." 

Finally, in light of the Occupy Movement and the 20th anniversary of the Rodney King verdict and the resulting riot/uprising, we will bring together all participants in the conference for an open and frank discussion of whether California politics and government are failing to re-elect the will of the people to conclude the day. The anniversary of the L.A. riot/uprising is a sobering occasion for asking whether popular disenfranchisement and dissatisfaction are any less than they were 20 years ago. 

Participants are invited to have their voices heard by videorecording their thoughts, ideas and responses to the question, “How Democratic is California?” for later posting on the California Studies Association webpage, with videography provided by The Working Group / Not in Our Town. 

Honored with this year's annual Carey McWilliams Award is Robert Gottlieb, Luce Professor of Environmental Studies Occidental College, author of eleven books, including The Next Los Angeles, Reinventing Los Angeles, Forcing the Spring and Environmentalism Unbound. 

All events are open to the public: $40 general, $20 students/low-income. Registration includes lunch and CSA membership; it does not include access to Oakland Museum exhibitions. 

The California Studies Association (CSA) is an independent organization, dedicated to the exchange of ideas about California, the promotion of an integrated understanding of California as a region, and to creating a public discourse on the future of this richly textured state. 

Saturday, April 28, 2012
9 a.m.-5 p.m.
Oakland Museum of California
1000 Oak St, Oakland, CA (near Lake Merritt BART station) 

For further information, contact Patricia Miye Wakida / www.wasabipress.com / 559 977-1897

5 Bay Area Artists at the Berkeley Arts Festival

By Bob Brokl
Monday April 23, 2012 - 04:00:00 PM

The Berkeley Arts Festival continues at the historic Acheson Building, 2133 University Ave., in Downtown Berkeley, with a new group of artists, though Labor Day. 

The artists in the exhibit are Mark Bulwinkle, Art Hazelwood, Roberta Loach, Mari Marks, and Robert Brokl, who organized the show along with Alfred P. Crofts. 

Work runs the gamut from politically-themed prints to luminous encaustic paintings; exquisite, miniature etchings, to raucous metal screens. What the artists have in common is a mastery of their craft. 

Mark Bulwinkle’s large screens occupy the store front windows. His work is playful and antic, with serious undercurrents. The boldness of the imagery and repetition of motifs perhaps connect him to outsider art, but his “Weeping Woman” and “Horse” head also evoke Picasso and Guernica. Bulwinkle’s most viewed work must be the large reliefs at the East Bay Bridge shopping center on the Emeryville/Oakland border, and other public installations such as the Art Holladay Park Light Rail Station in Portland and the Crow Canyon Shopping Center in Danville. He also has appeared in numerous gallery and museum shows across the country. 

Art Hazelwood is a “printmaker with a focus on political and satirical art who has worked in a range of forms from screen print posters to fine press artist books. His prints are in several collections including the Whitney Museum of American Art, and regularly appears in several west coast street papers. 

Hazelwood divides his time between wearing hats as artist, impresario, and instigator. He has put together retrospectives of several artists, organized nationwide political art shows, and curated several museum shows including the traveling show, Hobos to Street People: Arts’ Responses to Homelessness from the New Deal to the Present.” 

Hazelwood is showing prints from three series at the BAF, as well as two oversized linocuts. 

Roberta Loach< is a well-known Bay Area painter and printmaker, currently the subject of a survey exhibition of acrylics, gouaches, and etchings of work from 1998-2007 at the Triton Museum of Art in Santa Clara, through July 8. She specializes in social commentary and satire. Her etchings in the BAF reference the history of art, and are, on a technical level, exceedingly accomplished, involving multiple plates and layers of color. In the digital age, with prints often produced by others in “professional” print shops, her etchings that involve acid baths, multiple plates with perfect registration, and hand-printing are a rarity. 

Mari Marks’ encaustic paintings eschew subject matter for subtle color and depth and variations of surface texture, from ropey raised relief to matte surfaces evoking Chinese celadon porcelain. She is showing one of her early encaustics, a gestural painting almost Abstract Expressionist in intensity and feeling, contrasting with later serene, quietly meditative paintings. Some of these burnished paintings have graphite rubbed into tiny veins, others are repetitions of fingerprints, rendered mysterious under layers of wax like fog. She is also showing pieces from her well-known Gingko series. 

Robert Brokl is showing work running the gamut from oversized paintings and a three-panel, double-sided, freestanding screen to prints. His largest (7’X8’) painting to date, based upon trips “home” to the Midwest, channels Edward Hopper with a lighthouse and an empty schoolhouse awaiting demolition. The screen, a Russian River swimming trip painting, and several prints (hand-colored plexicuts and a monotype) star Pugsley, a Jack Russell. Brokl considers himself firmly within the Bay Area Figurative tradition. He was awarded a Gottlieb Foundation grant in 2006. 

The exhibit will be on display through Labor Day, on view during performances (see www.berkeleyartsfestival for up-to-the-minute listings of events) and by arrangement. Pianist Jerry Kuderna performs most Fridays at noon. 

A reception for the artists will be held Sunday, May 20, from 4-6 in the afternoon. Light refreshments, hosted bar, free to the public.

EYE FROM THE AISLE: “What shall we do with Russia?”—Tony Winner at Shotgun Players

By John A. McMullen II
Friday April 20, 2012 - 04:19:00 PM
Christy Crowley, Nesbyth Rieman, Nick Medina, Joe Salazar, Caitlyn Louchard.
Pak Han
Christy Crowley, Nesbyth Rieman, Nick Medina, Joe Salazar, Caitlyn Louchard.

Voyage by Tom Stoppard at Shotgun Players is a beautifully produced, very dense play by arguably the greatest living playwright. It is the first play in the trilogy “Coast of Utopia” which won the Best Play Tony Award in 2007. This first segment is a historical drama of Russia from 1833 to 1844—a time of Revolution in Europe. 

Its direction by Patrick Dooley, is flawless and fluid down to the set changes. But for the most part it plays like a typical “Three Sisters,” with predictable Chekhov-like, “we must get to Moscow” acting. You feel like you’re in Russia at a great rural estate or in the streets of St. Petersburg, but one often needs to make an effort to discern what’s happening. It also takes concentration to sort out the characters and their relationships. In the midst of this, there are a few extraordinary performances that should be seen.  

But hurry if you want to see it, because it is selling out and closes its extended run on April 29. 

If you don’t remember your Philosophy 101 or your post-Napoleonic history of Europe, if you haven’t read Pushkin or Turgenev, if may mean less to you than if you have—or it may spark an interest. 

The play is about Russia’s struggle for freedom--a topic that is still in the headlines today. This is about their struggle a generation before Russia freed the serfs and when the Motherland was under the thumb of the Czar’s police state and his Censor. This struggle is for intellectual freedom: Russia has never had a Renaissance like the rest of Europe, free thought is as suppressed as it was in the Middle Ages and the people have been treated as children by the ruling Romanovs. The new rage is to study philosophy—Kant, Schelling, Hegel and “German Idealism.” It is mainly the sons and daughters of the land-holding gentry—their 1%ers—who are engaged in the study and the struggle. In their struggle for a life of the mind, they long for a national literature—which will give rise to Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky, Turgenev, Chekhov, and Gorky, later Pasternak, Nabokov, Solzhenitsyn—and to date five Nobel Laureates in Literature and the fourth largest book producing nation 

The cast of 21 actors are all talented and give it their best, but it is a hard-to-act piece. One performance stands above the rest: Nick Medina as V. Belinsky, the impoverished, less-educated revolutionary and literary critic, in the midst of aristocrats. Shy and awkward, ragged and a little dumpy among these lithe patricians, when he is aroused his rhetoric about the Revolution is entrancing and makes one want to rise to the Marseillaise. Medina knows how to play Stoppard: he directed Shotgun’s production of his “Travesties” a few years ago. 

Other cameos reveal how this play might have won the Tony. When Matthew Lai, Richard Reinholdt, and Patrick Jones are on stage our attention brightens. Mr. Lai has the ability to inject comedy and realism into period acting, Mr. Reinholdt is a large and charismatic actor who swept us up in “The Norman Conquests” at Shotgun, and Mr. Jones as Alexander Herzen has clear power as an actor we hope to see more of perhaps in the other two installments of this trilogy should Shotgun produce them in future seasons. VOYAGE had productions in London, New York and Moscow, which starred such recognizables as Stephan Dillane, Ethan Hawke, Billy Crudup, and Martha Plimpton. Perhaps it takes actors of that caliber to capture our attention and pull us in.  

The production values are reason enough to see it. There is the fascinating set design by Nina Ball in which the wall panels are suspended from a palm-like girder which the actors rearrange in a fascinating scene-change display. Artistic director Patrick Dooley understands that the scene change is an integral part of the show and takes no chances that attention or energy might be lost in the changing. The servants efficiently and methodically clear the table and store it just as it would be done in a wealthy home which helps take our imagination to the intended place. (The service of wine in crystal flutes by the actors playing waiters is a flawless supporting performance that truly does “take you there”.) The costumes by Alexae Visel are exquisite and a heroic undertaking to seamlessly outfit 21 players in lavish period apparel that doesn’t look like stage costumes. 

Tom Stoppard (born Tomas Straussler) is a sort of G. B. Shaw for our time: ideas and language are his topics. He has won two Oscars for screenwriting (“Brazil” and “Shakespeare in Love”) and three other Tony Awards for Best Play (“Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead,” “Travesties,” “The Real Thing”). His writing is witty and sometimes mind-bogglingly complex. There is seldom sex and violence. He writes what I call “stay-awake” plays—you must make the effort to intellectually participate. He was born in the old Czechoslovakia, emigrated to Britain as a child, and often writes about the struggle for freedom behind any iron curtain. 


Written by Tom Stoppard 

Directed by Patrick Dooley 

Nina Ball, Set Designer/ Chris Kristant, Properties Design/ Liz Lisle, Production Manager/.Joanie McBrien, Dramaturg/Matt Stines, Sound Design/Ray Oppenheimer, Light Design/Alexae Visel, Costume Design/ 

Hannah Birch Carl, Stage Manager 


Yahya Abdul-Mateen II /Adrian Anchondo/ Zehra Berkman/ Kevin Clarke/ Christy Crowley / Britney Frazier/ Anne Hallinan/ Patrick Jones* /Chris Kristant/ Matt Lai/ Ben Landmesser / Caitlyn Louchard/ Casi Maggio Nick Medina/ John Mercer/ Nesbyth Reiman/ Rich Reinholdt / Joe Salazar/ Leanna Sharp/ Alex Shafer/ Sam Tillis  

*Member of Actors' Equity Association 

John A. McMullen II is a member of SFBATCC, ATCA, SDC, and hold an MFA in theatre. E J Dunne edits. 

Berkeley Community Chorus & Orchestra Performs Dvorak Requiem

By Elaine Hooker
Friday April 20, 2012 - 04:32:00 PM

The Berkeley Community Chorus & Orchestra will give three free performances next month of the rarely heard “Requiem Mass, Op. 89” by Antonin Dvorak.

The concerts will be Saturday, May 5, at 8 p.m.; Sunday, May 6, at 4:30 p.m.; and Sunday, May 13, at 4:30 p.m. All concerts will be at St. Joseph the Worker Church, 1640 Addison St., Berkeley. The church is wheelchair-accessible. 

The 90-minute Mass, which requires four soloists, a large choir and an orchestra with brass and percussion, uses the Czechoslovakian pronunciation of Latin. Although it is rarely performed outside the Czech Republic, excerpts were played in December at the funeral of Vaclav Havel, playwright, dissident and former Czech president. 

Soloists will be Carrie Hennessey, soprano; Megan Berti, mezzo-soprano; J. Raymond Meyers, tenor; and Richard Mix, bass. 

BCCO, a non-auditioned chorus of more than 220 singers accompanied by an orchestra, is under the direction of Ming Luke. He is the third BCCO conductor since its founding in 1966. Luke succeeded Arlene Sagan, music director emeritus, who led the chorus for 23 years. 

“The Dvorak Requiem deserves to be heard live to fully experience and appreciate the richness and power of this lyrical masterpiece,” Luke said. 

Some of Luke’s recent conducting engagements include the San Francisco Ballet, Opera San Jose, Sacramento Opera, Napa Regional Dance Company, Sacramento Philharmonic and Napa Valley Symphony. Luke is director and conductor of the Berkeley Symphony’s music education program, which provides School and Family Concerts. 

Luke also is music director of the Napa Valley Youth Symphony and the Modesto Symphony Youth Orchestra. The two orchestras took top honors last year at the Los Angeles International Music Festival. 

The assistant conductor, Derek Tam, also performs as a pianist and a harpsichordist. 

For more information, contact Karen Davison, board president, at 510-433-9599, or see http://www.bcco.org.