Just had an odd scene on the Berkeley campus. It’s 11:30 at night and I’m drinking by myself in the basement of Dwinelle Hall and I figure it’s time to get my ass out of there because the security guards will be coming in soon to lock up the building.
So I make my exit and start walking up the path by the Music Department building, headed towards Sather Gate. When two motorized carts — those electric golf cart type of things that the grounds-crew rides around the campus on — comes puttering up the trail. One of the carts is making a hellacious racket — it’s got something stuck on one of the wheels, a piece of metal. And it’s spewing a harsh smell liked burned rubber. As they pass me I notice there are two young black men riding in each of the carts. I don’t think anything more of it — just figure they’re campus employees. Until one of the carts suddenly stops. And one of the black guys gets out of the cart and starts running directly towards me.
I glare at him menacingly as he starts to approach me. A reflex-action honed from decades of living on the streets and suddenly having some stranger confronting me in the darkness of night. He takes one look at me. Apparently decides to change his plan of action (whatever that was) turns on his heels and jumps back in the cart. And they continue puttering up the trail.
But as soon as they get up to Sproul Plaza they notice a UC cop car parked directly in front of them.
All four of them immediately jump out of their carts, abandon their carts right there, and go running back down the trail as fast as they can.
I have no idea what it all means. Just one more full moon Friday night in Berkeley.
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.
One 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.)
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.
The destruction of People’s Park. And brought to you by the Berkeley “progressives.” Mayor Jesse Arreguin and former Berkely City Councilman Kriss Worthington.
Tree falls, kills Novato man on UC Berkeley campus
Meanwhile, after destroying 70% of the trees at the top of People’s Park (most of which were completely healthy trees) 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.
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….
There are many geniuses that walk among us in the Halls of Academia. And then there’s the other kind. . . About 10 years ago somebody decided they should have a clock in the lobby of the Student Union Building. So they brought in these workmen. And they installed the clock. Built it right into the wall of the lobby. Looked great.
But then, 6 months later, when it was Daylight Savings Time, and they had to turn the clocks back an hour, they realized — to their chagrin — that there was no mechanism to change the time.
So they brought the workmen back. And they tore the wall apart so they could get to the inner workings of the clock so that they could correct the time. So that was great.
Except 6 months later, when the clocks changed again, they had to bring the workmen back again to repeat the whole routine of tearing the wall apart.
After a couple of years of this they finally concluded: “Fuck this. This is too much trouble.” So they just left the clock the way it was.
But the good news was: For many years the clock in the lobby of the Student Union Building had the correct time for at least half the year.
Of my many character flaws, one of them is that I don’t like to have new experiences. I basically like to do the same thing, day after day. Year after year.
I’m not sure exactly why I have this animus towards new experiences. Part of it is that I’m a nervous person, and a control freak. And I hate being in unfamiliar situations where something unexpected, and potentially unpleasant, might happen.
Also too, I have so much madness and turmoil churning around in my head. My inner world is so unstable. That I at least like to be grounded in a dull and predictable outer world.
One of my least favorite experiences in this life is when I have to knock on somebody’s door, and meet somebody new, and put myself in a new situation. I DREAD that like you wouldn’t believe. I guess I would have made a piss-poor door-to-door salesman.
And whenever I go to a bar or a restaurant, I always want the seat in the back, with my back to the wall. So that nobody can sneak up behind me.
People often say to me: “Ace, what’s happening?” And I’ll say: “Nothing. And that’s a good thing.” Because when something is happening, it’s usually bad. Ha ha. (“No news is good news!”)
I often think to myself: “It’s a fine line between a rut and a groove.” And my life usually feels like both at the same time.
I’m walking down Durant St around midnight tonight. And this car full of idiots directly in front of me is slowly pulling out of the parking lot and onto the sidewalk and into the road. The problem being, I happened to be walking on the sidewalk right in front of the car.
And the idiot driver isn’t even watching where he’s going as he’s driving. He’s merrily talking out of his open window to some of his idiot friends who are standing by the side of his car.
“HEY!! HEY!! HEY!! HEYYYYY!!!” I shout, in the hopes of getting the driver’s attention as I jump out of the way of the car. No such luck.
Fortunately the idiot in the passenger seat starts grabbing at the idiot driver and alerting him as to my existence in this world. You can actually see a dimbulb sense of comprehension flashing across the driver’s face. Like: “Oh!! Uh duh. Maybe I should be watching where I’m driving so I don’t done run somebody over.”
“I’M WALKING HERE!” I reminded the idiot driver one last time.
Not to be outdone, as they pull out into the street one of the idiot passengers makes some kind of clever putdown to get in the last word. Something about how he doesn’t like how my beard looks. And they barrel off up Durant.
“THEY’LL BE SCRAPING THOSE IDIOTS OFF THE ROAD LATER TONIGHT! I said loudly to no one in particular as I walked down Durant.
I swear. Some people are too stupid to drink. And they give the rest of us alcoholics a bad name. You have to be past a certain age in order to be able to drink. Why don’t you also have to pass an IQ test before you’re able to drink?
Everybody who knows me knows I’m not a “morning person.” You wake up on the average with about 300 hangovers per year, you’re rarely in a state of good cheer in the morning.
Plus it’s pouring rain. And I only got about 4 hours of sleep last night in a cold, hard doorway. And one of my best friends was hauled off to the hospital yesterday on the verge of death. So I’m ready to kill the next person who looks at me funny (what can I say I’m a little edgy).
Fortunately its 8am and the basement cafeteria in the Student Union Building is completely empty (students are all gone for winter break).
So I take my coffee to the farthest corner of the cafeteria where I can get some much needed peace and solitude and ease my shattered soul into the day.
For whatever reason, in this completely deserted basement, this young maintenance guy picks this exact moment in time and space to come over to my little corner of the Universe and start REARRANGING ALL THE CHAIRS AND TABLES!!! For no apparent reason. They look perfectly fine the way they are.
And as he drags each chair and table across the tile floor THEY MAKE THIS LOUD SCREECHING NOISE!! I mean it’s like a fingernails-on-blackboard kind of sound. Only much louder.
And so I’m glaring at him (if looks could kill I’d be doing 20 to life right now). Is he doing this on purpose to fuck with me? Or is the Universe conspiring against me for some karmic crime I committed in a previous lifetime?? (Actually, in retrospect, when I sobered up I realized he was just doing his job and I was being an asshole. So shoot me.)
Whatever. I quickly pack up all my stuff glaring in his direction while muttering Italian cursed under my breath and rush off to the other end of the cafeteria in search of a quiet solitary spot where I’m unlikely to commit any felonies.
I had an odd scene last night. I went to Kip’s at around one in the morning for a nightcap. And I’m holed up by myself at a table in the back corner with my cellphone, blathering away on my Facebook page. And this attractive young co-ed sidles up to me and says:
“Excuse me. Do you know where I can buy some cocaine? Do you sell cocaine?”
“Sorry, my dear,” I said. “I don’t mess with that stuff. I’m just a straight-up alcoholic.”
“Oh,” she said. “So you don’t have any cocaine for sale?’
“Nope,” I said.
I turned back to my cellphone, and she walked back to her table.
I couldn’t figure if it was some kind of prank. “Hey Heather, we dare you to go up to that weird old guy in the corner and mess with him.”
Or if she really thought I looked like some guy who would be hanging out in a bar at 1am selling cocaine to total strangers.
Or maybe she was a freshman and this was the first time she’d ever gotten drunk in a bar so her thinking was a little loopy.
The fall semester starts on Monday. So this is the first big weekend of partying for all the new, in-coming freshman. And it’s kind of a rite of passage. An annual tradition where you see all the novice drinkers getting drunk for the first time in all sorts of strange ways. After midnight they’ll always be a couple of scantily-clad young co-eds puking in the gutter or being carried off by their friends. I guess everyone at some point learns the valuable lesson that there’s a right way and a wrong way to consume whiskey and gin and vodka and the other hard liquors. And they usually learn the hard way.
This is one of the favorite photos I’ve ever taken. I’m not sure why. But I always loved this photo.
I think I like how the photo captures the fleeting nature of life. How we’re all here dancing in the moment. But our bubble will burst all too soon.
The person on the bench is this obese crazy black street woman. She’s been around for years. I used to see her sometimes late at night in the basement of the UC parking garage, actually sitting inside the dumpster, eating away at all the day-old pastries they throw in there.
Usually she’s just quietly sitting on a bench with a sad, soulful look on her face.
All kinds in this world of ours.
The shadow at the top of the photo, by the way, is the guy blowing the bubbles. And the other two shadows are his kids. He’s this middle-aged black guy who sometimes comes to the Ave with his wand and soap bucket and gets everybody dancing along to his bubbles. Always adds a touch of magic to the scene.