Another casualty of the Winter of 2017

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On this day in 2017 this big tree on the Berkeley campus collapsed and died. It was a casualty of the brutal rainstorms of the winter of 2017. We ended up getting 38 inches of rain that year — about 15 more than usual. The tree got water-logged and rotted out and died.

And it was symbolic to me. Because a week earlier Hate Man had collapsed and died, too. Another water-logged victim of the winter of 2017. A mighty tree and the mighty Hate Man. Gone gone gone.

Then they buzz-sawed the tree into a big pile of sawdust and left it sitting there. And whenever I looked at it I felt this weird synchronicity. Because Hate Man too had been reduced to a pile of cremated ashes.

A kundalini Yoga story


No photo description available.PART ONE

I’ve resisted writing about this story for a long time. For a variety of reasons. But I finally figured what the hell, why not write it. And I can always delete it later if I decide it’s something I don’t want to share.

I started doing Kundalini Yoga in 1996. And I did it consistently on a daily basis for the next 6 years. And it really seemed to work. The more I practiced Kundalini Yoga, the more my mind and my soul seemed to get stronger and purer. Neurotic and psychotic tendencies in my psyche seemed to resolve themselves one after another. And I actually started to become the man I always hoped I could be. And I really thought there was a chance that I might actually be able to attain Spiritual Enlightment.

Now Kundalini Yoga is considered a science — a spiritual science — more than a form of religious doctrine or theology. It’s experiential, as opposed to theoretical. You experience it — like doing a scientific experiment on your psyche — and then come to your own conclusions.

The basic premise of Kundalini Yoga is that there’s this dormant spiritual energy that resides in the spine of the human being, this Divine energy. Like a coiled snake. And as you practice Kundalini Yoga, this divine energy gradually awakens, and rises up from the base of your spine, systematically cleansing and purifying all the different “chakras” in your system along the way. Until it finally reaches the final chakra at the top of your head — the “sahasrara” — and your Third Eye is permanently opened and you attain the Highest Spiritual State. Or so the theory goes.

Now one of the weird by-products of doing Kundalini Yoga is that, the longer you do it, the more you start to attain these “occult powers.” As your psyche because more purified, more powerful, and more focused, they just naturally arise in you. In my case these powers expressed themselves along the lines of that ancient spiritual concept: “Whatever you think will manifest.” For example I would be wishing for something, something very specific. And shortly after the thing would magically manifest in my life. It really was a form of magic. And it kept happening over and over, to the point where I concluded it was beyond coincidence. And this power really was manifesting within me.

Conversely you can use these occult powers in a negative and destructive manner. For example you can use them like the “voodoo doll” principal, wishing harm on an enemy, putting a curse on them. And you really have the power to inflict damage on other people.

For this reason, the spiritual masters have always strongly advised NOT to use these occult powers as they arise in you. Because they’re nothing to play around with. And they can cause all sorts of problems, accrue all sorts of bad karma, and retard your spiritual development. For one thing, the novice is like someone with the mind of a child who’s suddenly been granted the physical power of Hercules. So there’s a real danger in using these occult powers in a reckless, immature and destructive manner. And, even more importantly, if you use these powers for personal gain — to get rich, to gain power, to get sex with beautiful women, whatever — you’re using these powers to bolster your personal ego. Which is the exact opposite — and runs exactly counter-productive — to the whole point of Kundalini Yoga. Which is to gradually TRANSCEND your personal ego and merge with the Infinite. So, like I said, messing with these occult powers can really retard your spiritual progress.

So anyways, by 2002 I had been doing Kundalini Yoga for 6 years. Now according to the science of Kundalini Yoga, the process usually takes about 12 years. Working intimately with an enlightened Yoga Master, the yogi systematically goes from a novice until he finally reaches the Highest State. So, by 2002, I was at about the half-way point of the process. Getting higher and higher along the way. Until things suddenly started going south.


So anyways by 2002 I had been intensely practicing Kundalini Yoga for 6 years. And I had kept getting higher and higher. Until suddenly I stopped getting higher. It’s like I hit a glass ceiling. And could rise no more.

There were a variety of reasons for this. I started doing drugs and alcohol again. And I started using the spiritual powers I had attained for personal gain, for ego enhancement. Instead of in the pursuit of spiritual wisdom. You’re aspiring towards the Highest State after all. So there’s little margin for error. You have to be very pure. And I wasn’t. If it was easy to attain there’d be perfected Enlightened Masters hanging out on every street corner. But that’s not how it works.

So I began to get a little bitter at this point. After all the effort I had expended on Kundalini Yoga it looked like I wasn’t going to attain Enlightenment after all. Along with the happiness, love and satisfaction I had hoped for. And craved. So I started backsliding spiritually. 

Along with that, the Telegraph scene that I had invested years of my life into, was also backsliding. Getting more and more dreary and dysfunctional. Whatever magic had previously been in the scene was slowly but surely being snuffed out.

So one night I was hanging out by myself at “my” spot — the corner of Telegraph and Haste by Cody’s Books. And I started to get more and more angry how it had all turned out. This beautiful dream that I had aspired to had turned into a barren harvest that I was reaping. So in my mind I began cursing the whole fucking scene. Over and over. I even spit on the ground several times as an expression of my contempt. That whole FUCK THE WORLD!!! feeling. I curse you all!!

Now here’s the weird part. The very next day I showed up, like usual, at that corner of Haste and Telegraph. And I was surprised to find that the whole block had been roped off with yellow police tape: “DO NOT ENTER.” My first thought was: “Uh oh. What have I wrought.”

I ran into long-time Telegraph street person Crazy Allen and asked him if he knew what was going on. I could tell Allen was distraught.

“Yeah it happened a couple of hours ago, ” said Allen. “This guy was putting some money in the parking meter right down there on Haste Street just below Cody’s Books. When this crazy guy started stabbing him over and over. For no reason. I was screaming at him to stop. But he wouldn’t stop. I went running looking to find a cop. But by the time the cops got there and arrested the guy with the knife the other guy was already dead.”

“Holy shit,” I said.

“Yeah,” said Allen.

The next day when I read the newspaper articles, it turned out the killer was a guy with mental health issues. But no previous criminal or violent acts. He just seemed to snap. For “no reason.”

Of course I couldn’t help wondering if the negative psychic energy I had stirred up the night before was what had caused it. It was still spinning on that spot, like a little psychic hurricane of bad and destructive energy. And this guy — who already was in a precarious mental state — happened to step into that vortex. And it was enough to trigger his psychotic episode.

At any rate, the papers said it was the first homicide on that block in like 100 years. So it was a pretty rare thing to happen.

For a long time afterwards whenever I walked by the spot where the killing took place, I would notice the blood stains that were still on the sidewalk. And I would think about the whole thing all over again. And all the different issues in my mind. That I would wonder about. Over and over. But would never be able to prove one way or another.

At any rate, my spiritual progress pretty much came to a dead end at that point.



The last day at my vending stand

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I remember my last day at my vending table on the Cody’s Books corner. It was right before Thanksgiving, 2009. … 

My friend Duncan had died 5 months earlier. And it just wasn’t the same without my old vending partner. Plus, the ruthless Telegraph mogul Ken Sarachan had recently bought the Cody’s building. So all the signs said that the party was over. And it was time to pack up my pop stand.

A big rainstorm was forecast to come in that afternoon. And you could feel it coming in the air. So I quickly packed up all my vending stuff before I got soaked. As I went to grab my cardboard “25 Cent Books” sign a huge gust of wind suddenly hit and sent the sign flying in the air down Haste Street. I considered running after it and trying to save it as a memento. But it seemed symbolic. Let it go. Cast your fate to the wind. One part of my life was ending. And a new part of my life would soon be beginning. Whatever that would be.

I managed to get all my vending stuff packed into my shopping cart just as the rains hit. This sudden outburst of pouring rain. I forget if there really were explosions of thunder and lightening. Probably not. But that’s how it seems in my memory. This sudden explosion of rain pounding down on the pavement.

I put a plastic tarp over my shopping cart, and stashed it in the corner under an awning, then ran to this doorway on Telegraph to get out of the rain. The doorway of the Kingpin Donuts shop, boarded up and vacant at the time. And I stood there by myself as the rain came crashing down. People were running up and down Telegraph frantically trying to get out of the rain.

And I suddenly started laughing. This loon laughter. Not quite hysterical, but almost. That kind of laughter where you’re so overwhelmed by emotion it just bursts out of you. And it’s not much different than crying. Laughing and crying are the same thing at that point.

And I thought back to all the memories of all the years at that vending table. 19 years ago when we had first started. With such great hopes. And now 19 years later it had come to an end. And I was overwhelmed by this flood of memories. It was like the tape of my life was on fast speed. And all the scenes rushed by me. One after another. All the dramas at that corner over all those years. The triumphs and the tragedies. The lives and the deaths. And it was almost too much for my brain to take it. Just overwhelmed by all the things I had experienced, it was mind-boggling.

And I stood there in that doorway. As the rain came crashing down. Laughing and crying and blubbering to myself. 

And that’s how that ended.

The perennial search for an asshole-free zone

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Sometimes I find people very easy to hate.

So it’s 8 o’clock and I’m hanging out at one of my favorite late-night hangout spots on the Berkeley campus — this little niche of space away from everything. And I’m sipping on my beer and listening to music on headphones and working on some stuff on the internet.

When this person is suddenly standing in front of me. He’s some nut. One of my “fellow street people.” And he starts babbling at me. But I can’t understand a word he’s saying (did I mention he’s a nut??). But from his gestures I can tell he wants to plug his cellphone into the outlet that I am using.

“NO!!” I said forcibly. “I don’t want any company. I just want to be alone. There are plenty of other outlets right down there on the plaza that you can use.”

But does this dirtclod respect my wishes and respect my space?? HELL NO. He pulls out his cellphone and some chords and starts doing various inexplicable gestures (so as usual I’m contemplating that age-old question: ” Is he a nut?? Or is he on drugs?? Or is he just an asshole?? Or some strange combination of the three??”).

I stand up and glare at him. Give him the ole Ace Backwords Death Stare. Hoping I can scare him off with my chest-pumped-out Cowardly Lion routine. But he’s completely oblivious. Continues to fumble around with his cellphone and a bottle of something in his hand. I imagine in my mind how satisfying it would be to just punch him in the head right now with all my force, and watch his useless bulk bouncing around on the concrete. But, alas, there are laws against that.  Plus, he’s just as big as me and probably 30 years younger. So maybe he could take me. Plus I’m getting too old for this shit anyways. And punching people in the head — as satisfying as that might be in the moment — can sometimes turn out to be counter-productive (so I’m gaining a modicum of wisdom and maturity in my old age).

So instead I quickly pack up my stuff, give him one last death glare, and then stomp off.

But that’s what it’s like in Berkeley EVERYWHERE nowadays. EVERY square inch of space is being contested by SOMEBODY!!

Now I’m actually hanging out at a better spot. My eternal motto is: “It’s a big world. And the point is to occupy a part of it that doesn’t include the asshole.” THE END

A wry observation from Willow


It’s always a bit of an odd experience when I come across a comment by a Facebook friend who is no longer with us. Gail Estes popped up this morning. She was mostly known by her street name, Willow. She was part of the Telegraph street scene for many years. She was kind of quiet and unassuming, mostly stayed in the background. But she would often chime in with these wry, humorous observations. I always remember her with a smile. Willow was homeless for some time. But got a room in a house during her later years before she quietly passed away.

I always remember one thing Willow said to me. She mentioned that she had over-heard a couple of women that we knew gossiping about me. “So the women are talking about me?” I said. 
“The women are ALWAYS talking about you, Ace,” she said.

Ha ha. I found the remark strangely flattering.

I can handle being homeless. I can handle being homeless in the rain. But being homeless in the rain AND being sick as a dog?? That’s pushing the envelope



I’m sick as a dog. UGGHH!!

I fucked up. I got too drunk last night and forgot to take my sleeping bag to my campsite (uh duh). Shivered all night long under two ratty blankets. Woke up in the morning with the chills, couldn’t get warm. Had some kind of fever. And my entire body ached like somebody had worked me over with a 2-by-4. Laid there in a stupor at my campsite until 2 in the afternoon.

After much effort, I was finally able to hoist myself upright to a sitting position. When I stood up I was so dizzy I thought I was going to topple over. . . Dumped out a huge dish of cat food for my goddamn feral cats. And then SLOWLY packed up my campsite. Took me a half hour to pack up. It was like I was in slow motion. Then I staggered down to the campus, stopping several times to rest.


And just my luck, a big 4-day rainstorm is just heading in. Which can be tough enough to deal with even when you’re on top of things. Let alone when you’re as sick as dog and barely have the strength to stand up. The entire campus is locked up for the Christmas break. So I’m desperately trying to figure out where I can hole up indoors for awhile and ride out this sickness before I get soaked by the rain and really break down.

And then I got a huge break (there is a God!). Virtually every door on the entire campus is locked. But I somehow managed to find the one door that was inexplicably and miraculously left unlocked. The backdoor of Dwinelle Hall. I curled up on this rug, hidden behind a barrier. And slept until 5:30 in the evening. And here I am.

I hid inside Dwinelle until 10 PM when it was finally late enough to hit the secret doorway on the campus that I crash at when it rains.

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Managed to dump out my blankets and sleeping bag and curled up there in the doorway as the rain started coming down. But I was so sick, I couldn’t stay asleep for more than 5 minutes at a time. And then I’d wake up and spend eternity tossing and turning back and forth — alternating between shivering from the fever, and then sweating like a pig from being too hot. Until I finally managed to get another 5 minutes of sleep. Then I’d wake up again and repeat the same pattern. Over and over. All night long. Which seemed to last forever. I remember looking at my cellphone at one point and it was 2 AM. And I was wondering if this night would EVER end. And the weird thing was, during my 5 minutes of sleep I would dream the same dream over and over and over. All night long. This banal, pointless scenerio — I forget what it was. But I kept repeating it in my dreams over and over. The same pointless dream. All night long. Like being stuck in this endless tape loop. It was like a form of mental torture. And I remember thinking: “Wouldn’t it be horrific if my brain got permanently stuck in this weird loop and I got trapped in this nightmare state for the rest of my life?” Stranger things have happened to people’s brains.

But the worst thing was, as I laid there tossing and turning all night long, that horribly inane song by Ringo Starr — “The No No Song” — kept going through my head. Over and over. All night long. I couldn’t shut it out. “No no no no I won’t sniff It no more. I’m tired of waking up on the floor.” It was like an endless hallucination. Sheesh. God I hate that fucking song.

Now it’s morning and I’m sitting somewhere in a daze. And I’m almost beginning to feel like a human being again.  So I think the worst is over. Knock knock . . . . .. .

The destruction of the trees in People’s Park

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The University ended up destroying about 70% of the trees at the top of People’s Park. They claimed it was for health and public safety reasons, but that’s a flat out lie. They snuck into the park at like 5 in the morning, when it was still pitch dark, like thieves in the night, to do their dirty work.
They basically clear-cut the entire top of People’s Park. And they brought in an army of out-of-town cops to guard the tree-cutters. Planned out the whole thing like a military operation.

And you’d think chopping down trees in the dark of night during a rainstorm would be in violation of a dozen health and safety codes.

But the really galling thing is phony “reasons” the University came up with for destroying all these healthy trees. Like: “The trees blocked out light.” Yes. That’s what trees DO. They provide shade.


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Image may contain: one or more people and outdoorOne slightly surreal scene. I put down my umbrella and coffee on the sidewalk so I could take some photos of the cops. I even asked the cops permission to take their pictures. I’m polite if nothing else. Then I walked down the street to take some more pictures.

When I came back the cop said:

“Somebody tried to take your coffee but I told him it was yours.”

“Thanks,” I said. “I really need it this morning.”

So I thanked the cop for saving my coffee . . . Too bad I couldn’t thank him for saving the goddamn trees.


Bastards. Hate Man’s tree gone gone gone. He’s probably rolling over in his cremation urn. (Actually it turned out I was wrong. They didn’t destroy Hate Man’s tree. They just hacked off most of its branches.)

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If anyone is interested in the REAL reason why the University destroyed all those trees in People’s Park: Several years ago the University decided to chop down a bunch of trees by the football stadium. But tree-sitters organized a protest to prevent them from destroying the trees that went on for several years. And it ended up costing the University over a million dollars before they were finally able to get rid of the tree-sitters and destroy the trees.

So the University didn’t want to go through that again. So they destroyed virtually every tree that might be used as a tree-sit. And almost all the “reasons” they listed on their bogus Press Releases for destroying the trees are a complete lie. And an insult to anyone’s intelligence that they would even spew these lies in public.


Almost all the trees at the top of People’s Park, destroyed. Completely healthy trees and for the most bogus reasons. When we all know what the REAL reason is.

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The destruction of People’s Park. And brought to you by the Berkeley “progressives.” Mayor Jesse Arreguin and former Berkely City Councilman Kriss Worthington.

Ironic, no.

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Tree falls, kills Novato man on UC Berkeley campus


.Just last week one of the countless dead, or unhealthy trees on the Berkeley campus collapsed and killed somebody. None of the strong healthy trees in People’s Park showed any indication of collapsing. And yet the University is urgently concerned with destroying the healthy trees in People’s Park. It’s worse than a bad joke.


Anyone who wants to express their outrage over this latest travesty in People’s Park, you can leave a message for UC Chancellor Carol Christ (and her “immense intellectual vitality”) at her office.


Tell her Ace says hi.

UC Berkeley is a place of immense intellectual vitality, where some of today’s brightest students and scholars work together to deepen understanding of the world we live in. It is also a place that is steadfastly committed to widening the doors to educational opportunity, a place that sets young p….
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