Archive for October, 2013

Graffiti Baffles Berkeley’s Telegraph

Posted in Med Heads & Cafe Culture, Telegraph Avenue, The Berkeley Scene on October 21st, 2013 by admin – Be the first to comment

by Steed Dropout
Oct. 21, 2013
Berkeley, Ca


This is my beat, as twenty odd Med stories attest.

Recently, I reported on a Med tip-jar robbery, and shot a series of Telegraph cop’s assisting or arresting or both. I need not stray far from the Med for one of my South Side Tales (@Berkeley Times, print only).

I’m on to the graffiti on Telegraph. Last year, I toured Teley graffiti with Roland Peterson, CEO of its business district, and watched his two-man graffiti crew scrubbing walls.

Drop-Out Motto: 'Graffiti Gallery, Telegraph/Haste vacant lot, since '84.
Photo by Ted Friedman.

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Arrest Yourself in Berkeley

Posted in The Berkeley Scene on October 17th, 2013 by admin – Be the first to comment

by Steed Dropout
Oct. 16, 2013
Berkeley, Ca


Famous as a progressive police force, credited with first in women cops, bicycle cops, and fingerprinting, Berkeley Police (Dept.), has now taken progressivism to the outer limits.

Policing has become burdensome in Berkeley; “we foil them, frisk them, and jail them, but we can’t be everywhere at once,” said a BPD spokesman and — with budgetary concerns — the department has decided to make arrest participatory.

How do you arrest yourself in Berkeley?
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Ted Friedman’s Reporter-Death Easy to Take

Posted in The Berkeley Scene on October 9th, 2013 by admin – Be the first to comment

by Steed Dropout
Oct. 9, 2013
Berkeley, Ca


Like a lot of us, Ted Friedman, 74, didn’t see it coming — just all the time.

He was obsessed with his own death. Like John Lennon, who regularly visited emergency rooms to meet people who survived being shot in the head. He, reportedly, had a friend who believes she will be crushed to an ink-blot by a falling tree.

He, reportedly, always thought, like Lennon, that he would be murdered, although by a shot to the groin, inducing a slow filmic death of treacly molasses.

The beginning of the end for Friedman started with a staff picnic at his publisher’s, during which broad hints of their semi-retirement were served with salted peanuts from Berkeley Bowl.

Friedman commented that it was “ironic” the nuts were served because the publishers had told him he couldn’t use for his blog. “We haven’t spent fifteen years building our brand to give it away like salted peanuts,” the publisher said.

“Were’d you get salted peanuts?” Friedman asked. He had already made the historic discovery that Mr. Peanut had gone saltless. He was proud of his exclusive on this, even though the usual critics replied, “we always knew you were nuts; now we can prove it.”

Friedman, known as a self-promoting opportunist, masquerading as a marketer, wasted no time moving on. “Nuts,” he muttered repeatedly.

What he didn’t fully grasp, until it was too late, was that the loss of his short-lived career as a reporter at the Berkeley Daily Planet would kill off his identity as a reporter — even if he used “reporting” as cover for what he called, boastfully, “creative journalism.”

Friedman had a bachelor’s in journalism and a masters in creative writing. This was to serve him well in his attempts to disguise his mis-reporting. “Thank God we don’t have a corrections section,” he told anyone he could button-hole.

An online critic called him the “world’s worst reporter,” a term he warmly embraced, squeezing it for each last drop of publicity.


He sat by helplessly as his publisher first abandoned deadlines and then announced she was no longer a newspaper; he spectated at his own death as a reporter.

Don’t worry, said his editor, “we’ll still run your stuff. You’re a good writer.” This was followed by a string of copy rejections. “If I’m so good, why can’t I make it” in the paper which had run hundreds of his crazed dispatches, he bemoaned.

If it wasn’t one thing, it was another. His Planet editor doesn’t waste time with rejection slips. Either you run or you’re done. And Friedman was done.

He compensated with his blog, Berkeley Reporter, a lively Facebook, and an on-going feature called South Side Tales in a print only (of all things) publication, Berkeley Times. He had several of his tales in the can, when his reporting career died. Out of respect for his terminated reporting career, the Times (of Berkeley) promises to run what he left over for them.

A spokesperson for the Times said that Friedman worked well there because the paper despises so-called journalists.

He was reduced, at the end, to writing community “Speak Out” bulletin board squibs for Berkeley, California Patch disguised, pathetically, as reporting. He called these Embedded South Side.

He had no idea he would wind up permanently bedded.

He hoped his career as a contributing photographer at another Berkeley publication, which had baldly stated they’d rather not be associated with his reporting, would save him. But he had to face the fact that a picture was not worth six-hundred words.

He is survived by those who wish to be anonymous and refuse to be named or identified. “He saw himself as a hot-shot reporter,” a distant relative, said — off the record.

According to Friedman’s published pieces, he worked for his hometown newspaper during his summers away from college. He may have been a press agent for a summer theater one summer. He liked to say the producer there had thrown her panties in his face, but this cannot be confirmed.

It is customary to speak of the dead being missed and grieved over. In some twisted way, we honor him with “good riddance.”

At a public renunciation in People’s Park, which he said was his beat (a delusion), his oeuvre, a word, he despised, is to be printed out and burned.

Had he survived to cover the event, he might have written: “A tattered trio of Telegraph types gathered, angrily with knives and chains, to trash the tintypes and trifles of a Berkeley Daily Planet Reporter.”

It is often said, “we hardly knew ye,” but in Friedman’s case, we knew him all to well.

Berkeley Reporter has not the celestial skills to verify this weird-ass obit. The Berkeley Daily Planet had “no comment,” but his goofy copy survives in the Planet’s archive. “If we knew we’d be archiving this clown, we’d kill off the archive but it’s bigger than us and beyond our reach,” said an anonymous Planet employee, “the archive owns us, rather than the other way around.”

High in the Air With the Ghost of Roger Ebert–“Gravity”

Posted in Film Reviews on October 8th, 2013 by admin – Be the first to comment

by Steed Dropout
Oct. 7, 2013
Berkeley, Ca


If you really want the story and credits and all—Google it.

It was Kubrick’s 2001, Billy Wilder’s “Spirit of St. Louis,” (about Lindberg’s crossing the Atlantic), a little “Speed” (runaway bus) and an angel film, like “Heaven Knows Mr. Jordan.”

Roger Ebert, the most generous of film critics would score this a 3 and Siskel would have thumbs downed it.

Vincent Canby would have treated it as a before Oscars action yarn and praised it with faint dams.

Mick LaSalle jumped out of his seat.

Pauline Kael would have teed off on this Ace Hardware epic.

When Clooney sips vodka as a ghost and gives a canned speech, I can hear Kael’s bones tinkle.

Bullock emerging from water, recalls Jaws.
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Shutdown This Anthem

Posted in The Global Scene Through Berkeleyan Eyes on October 7th, 2013 by admin – Be the first to comment

by Steed Dropout
Oct. 7, 2013
Berkeley, Ca


As we enter week 2 of gov’t-gone-blooie and Saturday Night Live has rendered its own anthem, we here at Berkeley Reporter are raiding the Irving Berlin songbook.

Berlin, a Jewish immigrant, who gave us White Christmas on the way to chronicling U.S. history in lyrics, was the voice of America even before modern radio.

Here’s what he had to say about sequesters, depressions, shutdowns, and wars in 1946’s “Annie Get Your Gun.” (Annie get your gun on the tea party?)

“Taking stock of what I have and what I haven’t
What do I find?”

“Got no diamond
Got no pearl…”

“Got no mansion
Got no yacht…”

“Got no checkbooks
Got no banks…”

“Got no silver
Got no gold…”

“Got no heirlooms
For my kin…”


“What I got can’t be bought or sold
I got the sun in the morning and the moon at night.”

Did Irv (real name Israel) say moon and sun? Isn’t that too little and too light?
Not if you read: you have the next day of your life.

Too little? Your life is too ruined to welcome tomorrow? Historical accounts of stockbrokers jumping to their deaths in 1929 have been corrected (someone may have fallen off a chair) and Wall Street has bounced back from its latest bump, survived an occupation, and now rolls in dough.

As journalists plan stories of americans surviving the shutdown, Berkeley Reporter is listening to Berlin’s Annie and her guns.

Gives me a lovely day
Gives me the Milky Way…”

“… I’d like to express my thanks.”

And so would we. Thank you, Israel Isidore Berlin, 1888-1989.

And thanks to the suicidal Tea Party for saving themselves from Annie Oakley.

Opinions here do not represent those of publications in which my work appears.

Are spies mind-f-ing UC students?

Posted in The Berkeley Scene, The Global Scene Through Berkeleyan Eyes on October 3rd, 2013 by admin – Be the first to comment

by Steed Dropout
Oct. 1, 2013
Berkeley, Ca


A band of agitprop troupers entertained U.C. Berkeley students, Monday, only hours before a mysterious blast rocked the U.C. campus.

The blast caused a few (minor) injuries, but trapped hundreds of students in campus elevators. The campus was evacuated.

Several hours earlier, the troupers/performers…”artists” had enacted hypothetical homeland security spying in response to the naming, recently, of Janet Napolitano, former U.S, homeland security chief as system-wide president of one of the nation’s largest campus systems.

Say what you will about Janet N., but she for-sure has too long a name.

It took more than an hour for the troupe to “rehearse.” Channel 2 TV left in disgust. “They’re artists,” a drone explained.

FSM's Savio Returns to Cal. Photo by Ted Friedman.

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