The Editor's Back Fence

Social Notes from All Over

Saturday December 15, 2012 - 10:34:00 AM

Here's a new entry in the Branding of Berkeley saga. It's a wordless evocation of every sentimental cliche beloved of Old Blues, content-free as befits the brave new world of commercialization of what used to be a respected institution of higher learning.  


By the way, retiring Chancellor Robert Birgenau himself, putative signer of this YouTubed seasonal greeting, was spotted by our reporter thoroughly enjoying the Cal Performances-sponsored Messiah put on by the Philharmonia Baroque orchestra, a much more highbrow Berkeley event than what's spotlighted on this video. 

During the intermission and after the show, he was surrounded by a claque of admirers. He was overheard by an inadvertent eavesdropper telling one of them that "I turned down invitations to come to this!"  

Someone asked how he was doing these days. Fine, he said, "but I'll better after June 1," presumably the date he turns his hot seat over to a new guy. He said he's got his research lab all ready to go. 

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In other news, local restaurant queen Alice Waters has been reported to be taking the gospel of fancy food to Cuba, accompanied by Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates, whose son was once a Chez Panisse waiter, and his spouse State Senator Loni Hancock, whose ex-husband Joe Hancock was a very early exponent of organic farming when they were still married.  

Cuba already knows a thing or two about sustainable agriculture, having been forced for decades by U.S. embargos to do without American agribusiness chemicals, including toxic pesticides. But maybe Alice & Co. can teach Cubans about how to market their chemical-free products in a more capitalistic way.