Thursday morning at or around 9:30 am two cars burned in the driveway between the Clark Kerr Campus and the back of Redwood Gardens senior housing in Berkeley. Black and white plumes from the fires rose hundreds of feet into the air, clearly marking the location for emergency crews, campus officials, and on-lookers. -more-
On Friday, July 20, from 3– 6:00 pm. A public information demonstration will gather at the Downtown Berkeley Post Office, at 2200 Allston Way (near Milvia St). -more-
Steve Finacom confirmed rumors I’d heard when he reported on June 24 that the US Postal Service will soon sell Berkeley’s downtown post office. If that sale goes through as planned, it will be only the latest instance of an accelerating heist from the public domain as the USPS Board of Governors and Congress incrementally unravel America’s 237-year old postal system. In that sense, it is also another lurch in the direction of Ayn Rand’s utopia in which public services and the public domain simply cease to exist. -more-
Who Won Historic Anti-Sit-Lie Debate at Jam-Packed Council Meeting, Tuesday? A Snapshot of Berkeley as It Unites, Finds Its Voice Against Alleged Injustices
It was to have been a working birthday for me. I can't recommend a working birthday too highly, especially if you are running from your age, and discover the soul of Berkeley in the process. -more-
A bicyclist was killed in downtown Berkeley this afternoon in a collision with a dump truck, police said.
The 65-year-old Berkeley resident was found lying in the roadway on Bancroft Way west of Fulton Street at 3:38 p.m.
The Alameda County coroner's bureau identified him as Shlomo Bentin. -more-
Gravity has emerged as a player in Berkeley politics in the guise of a watershed and streets bond currently under consideration by the City Council. In a city bifurcated between hills and flatlands, the way water moves towards the Bay parallels the trickling down of money into the municipal coffers. -more-
This afternoon, Friday, July 13, 2012 at about 3:38 p.m., community members called the City of Berkeley Police Department (BPD) reporting a collision involving a bicyclist and a dump truck. The bicyclist, a man in his 60s, was lying in the roadway on Bancroft Way west of Fulton Street. The dump truck was not aware of a collision, but returned to the scene after being alerted by a passing motorcyclist. -more-
Off the Grid, a federation of chef-operated, moderately priced food trucks rolled onto Haste and Telegraph to help save Berkeley's besieged center, Thursday 5-9 p.m., and packed in the crowds (as many as 5,000, mostly students, over four hours). -more-
Gray Brechin's fine piece on the Berkeley post office notes that "The building has, over the years, managed to escape the tacky remodelings that the USPS has inflicted on other historic properties such as Oakland’s main post office." This is not because of luck. When the USPS threatened to remodel the lobby with its latest interior decoration ideas--formica countertops, etc.--the Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association complained to Ron Dellums, then our representative in Congress. His office arranged some meetings with the regional USPS office in San Carlos. It was a frustrating meeting with some of the most stubborn bureaucrats one could imagine, but plans were revised, and the lobby remains. -more-
Some of you who have struggled for permits of various kinds will find it unfair that the Downtown Berkeley Association (DBA) has acquired not just one permit for amplified sound, but what appears to be an eternal permit for the prime territory near the BART Station on Shattuck Avenue. But consider that, as the most powerful political group in town, they really, really want to control what goes on there. -more-
Just when you think you’ve heard everything about Berkeley politics, something else even more jaw-dropping happens. On the Fourth of July I got an email from a reader with the subject line “John [expletive deleted] Gertz!” (Though the expletive was not in fact deleted—I didn’t know Gmail allowed that.)
His news? Councilmember Darryl Moore has appointed John Gertz to Berkeley’s Peace and Justice Commission. John Gertz? What planet has Moore, who is running for re-election for heaven’s sake, been living on for the past seven or eight years?
John Gertz, in case any of our readers has forgotten, is one of the key co-conspirators in the campaign to shut down the Daily Planet, ably reported by Richard Brenneman in the paper in 2009. You can read the whole story from the archives here.
In case you weren’t around then, or you need to refresh your memory, here’s Richard’s lead: -more-
Now that the talks with Iran on its nuclear program appear to be on the ropes, are we on the road to war? The Israelis threaten it almost weekly, and the Obama administration has reportedly drawn up an attack plan. But in a sense, we are already at war with Iran. -more-
Returning to Oakland after a long absence, Gertrude Stein famously remarked, “there is no there there.” During the first week of July, conservatives made a similar discovery about Mitt Romney: he’s an empty suit. While Romney blames President Obama for America’s economic malaise, the Republican presidential candidate doesn’t understand what caused the recession and, therefore, has no recovery plan. -more-
A few weeks ago I wrote about a new citizen science initiative to monitor migrating dragonflies. In getting some background on this phenomenon, I read that dragonflies tend to follow the same migratory routes as birds, following the same topographic landmarks and avoiding the same water crossings. Cape May, New Jersey, famous for its migrant raptors and other birds, also sees swarms of southbound dragonflies. I wondered if anything similar had been observed by the hawkwatchers at Hill 129 in the Marin Headlands. Here’s a response from Allen Fish, director of the Golden Gate Raptor Observatory: -more-
Anxiety is fear, which is usually less intense than outright terror, which is constant, and which stubbornly hangs on despite attempts at relief. It can occur for a variety of reasons including but not limited to having post traumatic stress or having some type of brain malfunction. There isn't always an explanation for its occurrence. -more-
My Commonplace Book (a diary of excerpts copied from printed books, with comments added by the reader.)
Over my head, I see the bronze butterfly
Asleep on the black trunk
Blowing like a leaf in green shadow.
Down the ravine behind the empty house,
The Cowbells follow one another
Into the distances of the afternoon.
(5 lines omitted)
I lean back, as evening darkens and comes on
A chicken hawk floats over, looking for home.
I have wasted my life.
—from “Lying in a Hammock at William Duffy’s Farm” by James Wright -more-
Arts & Events
Around & About Theater: Jovelyn Richards' 'Strippin' Down to Story;' The SF Mime Troupe at Cedar-Rose Park; 'Willy Wonka' at Julia Morgan
Oakland storyteller Jovelyn Richards stages an expanded version of the piece she debuted at the East Bay Media Center in Berkeley, 'Stripping Down to Story,' about the pride of the Harlem Renaissance, Diane, aka Stardust, showing it all in the back alley striptease club in NYC, including the tattooed pictures that begin speaking to her during the black-outs ... Jovelyn holding forth, with musical accompaniment in her inimitable style, supplied by Mike Wilson, sax, and Dexter Rogers, keyboards. Friday-Saturday at 8, this weekend only, The Garage, 715 Howard at Fifth, San Francisco, part of the Resident Artist Workshop (RAW). $10-$20 (cash) at the door, $15 brownpapertickets.com in advance. (415) 518-1517; 975howard.com -more-
Press Release: They're Selling the Berkeley Post Office?! Discussion of Options with Dr. Gray Brechin Friday, June 20, at 7:30
A giant real estate company contracted by the U.S. Postal Service to sell America's post offices is doing so without user input and with no consideration for their aesthetic or historic merit let alone their vital community functions.
Now it's Berkeley's turn. Built in 1914 and modeled on Brunelleschi's Foundling Hospital in Florence to harmonize with the nearby University buildings, the downtown post office is one of the nation's most beautiful and hosts two New Deal art works. It belongs to all of us.
Dr. Gray Brechin will discuss the actual reasons for the fire sale of what the National Trust for Historic Preservation has categorically named among America's most endangered treasures and what we can do to stop it. The Berkeley City Council will consider a resolution to formally appeal the sale at its July 24 meeting. -more-
Director Fred Chacon is to be congratulated for assembling a cast of highly talented young actors and singers who believably resemble the teenage characters in the Tony Winning “SPRING AWAKENING” at Altarena. When this musical is produced, usually the actors look like they are in their twenties. -more-
Saving the Art and Fighting Post Office Closings: LaborFest presents: Gray Brechin; Dave Welsh, NALC; and Jose Carlos Riquelme, APWU at the Berkeley Arts Festival
Gray Brechin will provide the context of the closings within the push for privatization of the public sector and will describe how the New Deal not only built post offices, but also beautified them with public art. Union postal workers will talk about the national grassroots fight to stop service cutbacks and preserve living-wage postal jobs for our communities. -more-
Excellent Festival Opera celebrates the start of its third decade with a benefit this Saturday at 8, with an all-star reprise of some of the great moments of its past performances, featuring 16 splendid singers, starting with Eugene Brancovenu and Hope Briggs, as well as special guest from The Met, Susanne Mentzer ... Music and artistic director Michael Morgan, principal conductor Bryan Nies and Joseph Marcheso will conduct, with James Toland leading the 40-voice Festival Opera Chorus. $100--with a special package including restaurant party and champagne reception at intermission, $250. (925) 943-7469; festivalopera.org -more-
Press Release: COMMUNITY FORUM:The Struggle for Free Speech at the City College of New York: 1931-42
Carol Smith, retired CCNY faculty, will give a slide lecture of photographs, graphics, and cartoons documenting student and faculty political activism at CCNY in the 1930s, and the ensuing repression which led to the dismissal of over fifty faculty and staff in 1941-42. -more-